Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sunday preview

I've been reading the new Harry Potter book this week. I bought it Saturday for Emily, my oldest daughter, and by Saturday night she was finished with it. That has left it available for me to read this week. I have no knowledge of J.K. Rowling's relationship with Jesus, but one theme that keeps coming out in her books is the deceptive and destructive nature of evil. This Sunday, the message I will be sharing is about this topic. We all struggle with sin, and so often it enters our life very quietly, but it doesn't take long for it to destroy us. Thankfully God has provided a way out for us through Jesus! That's the good news we'll be talking about on Sunday. See you then.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Random thoughts on a great day

If Keanu Reeves had been at Lake Apalache for baptism last night he would have described the scene with one word: "Whoa" Last night was one of those days that I would dream about being a part of before Freedom ever got off the ground. We had the privilege of baptizing 12 people! If you missed it here are some highlights of the evening, along with some stuff going through my mind.

- Two of the people we baptized last night were a mother and daughter, the mother had just become a follower of Jesus yesterday afternoon!
- I love it that when we baptize I get wet all over from getting hugs when folks come out of the water.
- Mutt's did a great job with the BBQ.
- Last night was the first time I ever included some one's nickname when I baptized them. Brandon "Professor" Howitt
- It's awesome when adults get baptized because it reminds us that it's never too late to accept Christ.
-It's awesome when kids get baptized because they can live a full life of service for Christ. Pray that the six kids we baptized last night will do that.
- I was zapped when I got home last night. It was a serious adrenaline crash after the day we had experienced.
- I need to put more rock salt in my ice cream churn next time. I prefer Oreo ice cream to Oreo soup.
- On the way home Sherry and I were talking about how much we love Freedom. There's no other group of people I'd rather hang out with.
- How cool is it to baptize in a place that the kids can swim in once the service is over?
- Yesterday was also my sister's birthday. Happy Birthday Robin!
- Baptizing 12 at one time is cool, but we need to start praying now that at our next baptism 12 will seem like a small number. There are thousands of people in our community who need Jesus!
If you were there last night and you took pictures please send them to me. I'll get someone to help me figure out how to post them on here, and you'll all be able to see them.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Party Time!!

I hope you don't have plans for this Sunday afternoon, because if you do I'm gonna ask you to change them. The reason why is, we will be celebrating baptism this Sunday afternoon at 5:00. I've said this a lot but I'll say it again because it's true, baptism is one of the most important things we do as a church. This week we have 10 people that we will be baptizing in Lake Apalache, but we are praying for more!

We make a big deal out of baptism because each person who is baptized is celebrating the fact that Jesus has changed them. Jesus said that when that happens there is a party in heaven. "I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." John 15:10 The way we figure it is, if there is a celebration in heaven then there should be a celebration here on earth! We will have BBQ and home-made ice cream, and we want as many of you as possible to be there. Come ready to celebrate because Jesus changing lives is worth celebrating!

If you don't know how to get to Lakewood Hills subdivision we will have directions available on Sunday morning. Also, if you prefer to get your own map off of Mapquest the street name you'll be looking for is Lakewood Circle in Greer. Make plans to be there Sunday!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A small part of something big

Sorry I haven't posted anything here in the last couple of days. I was in Columbia on Tuesday and Wednesday for a training conference. I was learning how to interview potential church planters. Before we started Freedom, Sherry and I endured a four hour interview that covered every area of our lives to determine if we had the right make-up to plant a new church. I know that the main reason we passed was because of Sherry. I'm like most guys, I married way out of my league! Anyway, I was learning how to be on the other end of the interview this time.

The best part of the training was getting to hang out with some great guys who are planting churches all over the state of SC. When I go to these things it humbles me to realize that Freedom Fellowship is really just a small part of a much bigger movement. God is using couples all over this state to start new churches that reach people no other church is reaching. I think it's awesome that we get to be part of that!

Let me quickly tell you about three guys I was this week that you can be praying for. (Anyone starting a church will tell you that prayer is what they need most, the second thing they need is money)
- Carl Martin: Carl was pastor at East Pickens Baptist Church for many years, but God has called Carl and his family to move to Bluffton, SC (outside of Hilton Head) to plant a new church. The area surrounding Hilton Head is the most un-churched area of our state, and Carl is committed to planting a church that plants churches in order to penetrate that area with the message of Jesus.

-Ronny Byrd: Ronny is the pastor of Palmetto Shores Church in Myrtle Beach. Palmetto Shores began on Easter of this year and they are already seeing over 150 people a week come to worship! Ronny has a vision for Palmetto Shores to plant 10 new churches in the next year.

The guys from Mid-Town Fellowship: Mid-Town Fellowship is a one year old church in Columbia that currently meets at the State Museum on Sunday nights. They are reaching lots of USC students. They have a full staff of guys who moved to Columbia with their pastor Dustin Willis, and got jobs in the business and retail world in order to finance this new work.

Each one of these new churches are facing different challenges. Pray for God to meet the needs of the pastor's and their families, and pray that they would reach the un-churched in their communities.
Be sure to check in tomorrow. I will be giving a baptism update as we look forward to throwing a big baptism party on Sunday afternoon!

Monday, July 16, 2007


I'm starting to get fired up about something! If you haven't heard, Freedom is putting on a big back-to-school event on August 12 at Century B park in Greer. Tamara Whitener just dropped by the office to show me some of the planning their team did yesterday, and I'm very excited about the impact this event can make. Here are a few reasons I think this thing will be big.
1. It's in a public place
Century B park is where tons of kids play little league baseball every year, so people know where it is. Also, it's directly behind Kid's Planet playground.
2. Everything is free
When we made the decision to do this we chose to provide everything from rides, hot dogs, snow cones, and more at no cost to the community. We think that is a great way to let people know that our church cares about them.
3. Free school supplies
Here's the part I'm really excited about. We will give out 500 backpacks filled with school supplies to kids who need them that night! Imagine if your family was in a tight spot and you were dreading the beginning of school, because that meant you had to spend money you didn't have. Then you hear of a church giving away free school supplies, and your kids get to have a ball at a carnival type event. I believe that will matter to families.
4. It will take a lot of people to pull it off
I love when we do stuff that involves a lot of volunteers. When people find a place to serve some cool things happen. New relationships begin, old relationships get strengthened, people's confidence rises in the abilities God has blessed them with, and lots of other great things.
Here's what you can do. Pray for the planning and execution of this event. Volunteer to help: there are sign-up sheets in the atrium of Greer High School on Sunday mornings. Buy school supplies: This week Wal-Mart has spiral notebooks and glue sticks on sale for ten cents. Remember, we need to fill 500 backpacks!
This event will be a great way to let the people of our community experience the love of God in a tangible way. Find a way to get involved!

Friday, July 13, 2007

World Series of Pop Culture

Last night Sherry and I had fun watching the World Series of Pop Culture on VH-1. If you haven't seen it you ought to check it out. There are teams of three people who compete against each other to win $250,000. It's amazing that you can win that type of money by knowing facts about Alec Baldwin movies. (That was one of the topics last night)
Every time I watch it I think about Dave and Chip that I went to college with, and I'll say to Sherry, "I bet me and Dave and Chip could win that thing." So keep your eyes open, maybe you'll see me on TV soon trying to remember who played Freddie "Boom Boom" Washington on "Welcome Back Kotter".
I'm looking forward to seeing lots of you on Sunday!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Here's someone who gets it

One of the interesting things about starting a new church and trying to do things a little differently is that not everyone gets it. Some people get it right away, others get it after a longer period of time, and some never get it. The "it" I'm talking about is lots of things. The vision of what Freedom Fellowship should become, the way we are trying to get there, how we should respond to criticism, and how we should feel about lost people are all part of what "it" is. Now I want you to understand that just because I am the pastor at Freedom, that doesn't mean that I always get it either. God has to regularly remind me of what's most important!
Let me share with you about a couple in our church who gets it. Their names are Ben and Crystal Schulte. One of the things we are always reminding our people is, that much more can be accomplished to change our community if each individual finds ways to serve instead of waiting on the pastor's to do everything, or tell you every step to make. This past weekend, our church hosted a golf tournament that was specifically designed to reach out to the unchurched in our community. There were over 60 people that participated, but the coolest part is that 40 of them were not part of our church! That brings me back to Ben and Crystal. This entire event from idea to execution was handled by the Schultes. The only thing Donny and I had to do was make an announcement or two on Sunday's, other than that everything from making reservations, handling registration, getting donations, organizing teams, and all the rest was handled by Ben and Crystal. I can guarantee that this event would not have happened if you had waited on me to do it, but because Ben and Crystal saw a need, and because they get it, 40 people who need Jesus were influenced this past Saturday!
When you see Ben and Crystal on Sunday be sure and thank them for their hard work, and keep looking for ways you can impact the areas God places you in this week. By the way, Donny would never say this to brag, but I just thought you'd like to know that his team tied for first on Saturday! If I had been on his team that wouldn't have been the case.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sunday update

Wow. This past Sunday was a great time of worship! There were 276 people in attendance. That's not bad for the middle of summer, of course there are always more people not in church than there are in church on any Sunday morning, that should remind us to continue inviting friends to come. As usual our band did an awesome job of leading us in the right direction to think about who God is and how we should respond to Him. After the service was over, I talked with four people about being baptized at our next service on July 22. One is an adult who accepted Christ a couple of weeks ago at the end of the message! That's what starting a new church is all about! If you have friends that aren't followers of Jesus keep praying for them that the Holy Spirit will change their heart, and keep praying that God will give you opportunities to share how Jesus has changed your life.

With all that happened last Sunday I can't wait to see what God will do this week. Donny will be continuing our series on "The Army That Will Save America". He will be teaching us about following our marching orders. I'll see you there.

Friday, July 6, 2007

G.O. on discipline

I just finished having breakfast with Gary O'Sullivan at Southern Thymes. Gary is a great friend and encourager to me. Gary has the opportunity to impact people all across the country through his consulting and coaching business. He speaks to business leaders from all over about key leadership issues.

One key to spiritual growth is the dreaded concept of discipline. We all need it whether we like it or not. (I will be doing a message on this uncomfortable topic in August) Gary has developed a great definition of discipline that he uses with the people he coaches. Gary says, "Discipline is doing the things you need to do, when you need to do them, the way they need to be done, whether you want to or not." I have that definition on my office wall right above my computer so I see it often. I think the last part of it is what keeps so many of us in the undisciplined camp. That part that says, "whether we want to or not" is really the key for me. On just about any task that needs to be done I can find something else I'd rather do instead.

So much of following Christ comes down to doing what we already know we are to do, even when it is hard to do it. I love the story in Luke 5 about Peter fishing. He had fished all night long and hadn't caught the first fish. Jesus comes along on the shore and tells him to throw the nets out on the other side of the boat. Now that was a crazy idea. Naturally the boat floats on top of the water, so any fish that are on one side of the boat could swim under the boat to get to the other side right? So what difference does it make which side of the boat the net gets dropped from? I believe Peter was thinking the same thing, but his response to Jesus is my favorite part of the story. In verse 5 he says,"Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But, because you say so, I will let down the nets." Of course when he does they catch more fish than they had ever imagined could fit in their nets!

The part of Peter's response that I think is important as it relates to discipline is when he says, "because you say so". I believe there are times in our life that we just feel stuck spiritually and don't know where to go or what to do next. It's during those times that we have to say, "I will do what God's already told me to do." Because He says so, I will read His word, because He says so, I will talk to Him, because He says so, I will treat others with love, even though I might not feel like it. That type of true spiritual discipline can be a challenge, but I believe it is what we need.

Have a great weekend! I can't wait to see ya'll on Sunday. Remeber to bring a friend with you

Thursday, July 5, 2007

It's official

I have tried to deny the truth, but there's no way to hide it anymore. I am now officially old. I had suspected it for a while based on a few things. First of all, I'd rather sleep in my own bed than anywhere else. When we visit my parent's in Columbia we go for the day because I want to get home to my bed. Also, I cant' sleep past 7:00 a.m. anymore, and if I do I feel like I've missed half the day.
The events of last night have confirmed my passage into old age. We spent a great day at Lake Keowee with the Krezdorn's which was followed by a July 4th celebration in downtown Salem. Well, the fireworks didn't end until 10:30, so we didn't get home until 11:30 and I didn't get in bed until 12:15. There was a time in my life (not that long ago) that getting in bed at 12:15 would have been turning in early. Those days are gone. I had a hard time driving home last night and getting up this morning was a killer. Now that I have given-in and proclaimed my oldness, I will be applying for a part-time job as a Wal-Mart greeter. I've always wanted one of those cool red and blue vests! Please come by and visit me, I will check your receipt for you with a highlighter before I'll let you out the door.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Looking forward to the 4th

I don't know about ya'll,but my family is looking forward to tomorrow. We will be heading up to Lake Keowee to spend some time with our friend's Carl and Teri Krezdorn. Carl is the pastor at Salem First Baptist Church. He does a great job there, and it would be awesome if all of you would remember to pray for them from time to time. Salem is a small town, and when you are the pastor of the First Baptist Church in a small town you have to wear lots of hats. Carl and Teri act as counselors, cab drivers, teachers, nurses, and many other things for the people in their congregation and community. I'm thankful for the people of Salem that God called them there.

Have a great 4th! Don't get burned by any fireworks, and try not to eat too much!

Monday, July 2, 2007

A Big Step

Well here it is. I have gone and done something I never thought I would. I've started a blog. A year ago I didn't even know what a blog was. Six months ago I couldn't understand why anyone would waste their time reading or writing one. Now you're reading mine. (or maybe you're not)

There are a couple of reasons why I never thought I would have a blog. First, I'm afraid of computers. It's not that I don't like computers or that I don't think my life is easier because of computers, I'm just afraid of computers. I think it goes back to the time I saw "2001 A Space Odyssey". I'm afraid that my computer will turn on me one day just like the HAL 9000 did on those astronauts! (HAL's voice was really creepy) Another reason I was not going to blog is that I thought the whole idea of someone posting their thoughts on the Internet for everyone to read was a little self-centered. I mean who really cares what I think about politics or American Idol? Finally, sometimes I say things that I regret as soon as it leaves my mouth. If you do that on a blog it's read by a lot of people, and could result in a lot of trouble.

So all that aside, why I am writing this anyway? One of the things I realized is that in the early days of Freedom Fellowship I would spend lots of time sitting and talking with people about what we wanted the church to become, and how we would try to get there. Naturally, the more people that started to attend it got harder to get that message out. That's where this blog comes in. I will put my thoughts, ideas, and questions on here to try and help us all move in the direction God wants us to as a church. I will also use this space to promote upcoming events, and report on the cool things going on in the lives of our people. And, from time to time I will comment on some totally trivial stuff that I just want to write about!

So there it is. I 'm officially a part of the blogging world. Now there's no turning back.