Monthly Archives: October 2011

Pride comes before a Catastrophic Failure

I learned something interesting recently: the phrase “Catastrophic Failure” is an actual technical term in engineering. It refers to what happens when a structure, vehicle or machine has some small part that wasn’t built to spec or otherwise was weakened that then causes a domino effect that leads to the whole thing to falling apart. There’s a page about it on wikipedia which includes a list of famous catastrophic failures like the disaster at Chernobyl and the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.

The most recent was the collapse of a the I-85 west bridge going over the Mississippi river. When it happened it was remarkably instantaneous. Despite how large the structure was – it happened in just seconds.

Security Camera Footage of the bridge collapsing


This catastrophic failure cost the city of Minneapolis millions of dollars and thirteen people their lives. No one saw it coming. Experts spent months investigating, trying to discern what could have caused the collapse of a seemingly perfect bridge. They were able to determine that it was most likely caused by one faulty joist.


Someone found this picture from four years before that shows a very slight bowing of the joist that may have lead to the eventual and sudden collapse of the entire bridge.

When I saw this I thought of all the times that we Christians have some small thing in our lives – some little joist, some little piece that needs attention, but we ignore it – we don’t replace it – we let it sit. I know that there have been times in my life where I’ve allowed a faulty joist to exist. I knew about it, even though no one else did – then one day, boom- Catastrophic Failure. Usually its anger at someone, but it could be many things.

The only reason why one doesn’t examine these small things that eventually lead to failure is Pride. My question is what is your faulty joist? What piece in your life needs attention? What needs to be reinforced or replaced? What is keeping you from replacing it? Is it because you may have to seek the help of someone else? I’ve found the only way to strengthen those joists in my own life is to remain humble by being held in honest accountability.

Consider proverbs 16:18 from the message:

First pride, then the crash—
the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.

Proverbs 16:18

Catalyst 2011

Catalyst is always a major inspiration to me – in fact last year’s Catalyst was the inspiration for me starting this blog. Every year that I go to this, my favorite Christian leadership conference – I’m challenged, encouraged, refreshed and very much inspired.

So this year, like last year I thought I’d tell you about some of my favorite moments of this past year. In no order whatsoever, here are a few of my favorite moments from this year’s Catalyst Atlanta event.

– The first few moments of the conference were filled with crowd participation – my personal favorite of which was the LED lights that we were all given that everyone was wearing like rings. It was really cool to see 13,000 twinkling lights all around the arena as people participated in worship by lighting their LEDs and raising their hands in the air.

– Katie Davis, a 22 year old young woman who, after high school left for Uganda and now has adopted 13 Ugandan children. She’s released a book Kisses from Katie that was on sale at Catalyst. Her genuine, enthusiastic faith was plain for all to see and very inspiring.

– Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS and one of the people who inspire me about whom I did an entry a few months back. I bought his new book Start Something that Matters. Need I say more?

– Tripp and Tyler had numerous funny videos that I hope to post here later. There was ‘God Bods’ a christian aerobics video a video uncovering the secret of how Andy Stanley gets so much done (he has a twin named RAndy) – but my favorite was probably a parody video called “TIMS” displaying the TOMS one for one model applied to smoothie machines – for every $600 smoothie machine you buy TIMS will give one to a child in need… it was pretty hilarious.

– Juda Smith asking the question “Since when is Jesus not enough?” – he preached great sermon – he’s a young pastor of a church called ‘The City Church” which, btw, has hands down the coolest website of any church I’ve seen. (I heart minimalism)

– The “Present Tents” area, which was a single tent in the corner of the Arena and at the beginning of the conference two pseudo-randomly selected guys were given the opportunity to have free Catalyst tickets for life as long as they stayed present in the area directly surrounding the tent for the whole two days. It had food, sleeping bags and even a toilet for them – they got the tickets.

– Jeff Foxworthy coming out to talk about his involvement with a ministry in Atlanta that caters to people who are substance addicted.

-David Kinnaman coming by to talk about the latest research on young adults and their thoughts on the church – more details in his books Unchristian and You Lost Me copies of which were available at the conference – the research sounds like it might be helpful to anyone trying to reach 18-35 year olds – so, hopefully – anyone in the church.

– A representative from 58 – a movement that is working towards the eradication of extreme poverty globally; a goal they seem to be making significant progress in. They shared a fact that was quite surprising: In 1981 global extreme poverty was at 52% – over half of the world wasn’t able to afford their basic needs. Today that number is 26% – half of what it was 20 years ago; if our generation keeps pace then it is possible for us to eliminate extreme poverty globally. For more information on 58 visit their website.

– Getting to see people from my church who are involved in a powerful ministry, Inner City Evangelism –  as they too were inspired by Catalyst the same way I am every year. It was a huge blessing to be able to share this event with them.

– Well I debated mentioning this, but it was such a huge blessing that I don’t know how I could not say something about it. Every year at catalyst the vendors have give-aways to promote their products – Books, discipleship resources, services to churches and families, etc.- This year, like the year before, many of them were giving out iPads and also like last year I entered several of those drawings. I didn’t expect to win anything which is why I was shocked when Zondervan contacted me via email to ask if I would come to their booth to claim my shiny new iPad 2! I was so shocked I couldn’t believe it. I thanked God for trusting me with this blessing and I only hope that I can use it for whatever creative projects He has in mind for me over the coming year. Such a huge surprise and a wonderful blessing!

This list just scratches the surface – there are many more wonder tales to tell of Catalyst 2011 – but alas, they will have to wait for now. I hope all of you consider taking the time to attend a Catalyst event – I’m not at all exaggerating when I say that they are life-changing. If I see you around maybe we can talk more about all the moments I was challenged, made to laugh, awed and inspired at this year’s Catalyst.