Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ninja Warrior to play drums with our band this Sunday!

There's a cool show on cable network G4 called "Ninja Warrior". It's basically an impossible obstacle course in Japan that people try to complete. The guys on the show are all Japanese, and they are all in amazing shape. They have to climb things, jump long distances, swing on ropes and all kinds of other cool stuff. The funniest part is listening to the announcer (who gets really excited) and reading the subtitles to see what he is saying.

Ben Patat who is our bass / guitar player, is in a band called "Divide the Sea" and the drummer from his band will be playing drums with our praise team this Sunday. His name is Brett Simms and he is a great drummer, but he is also a ninja warrior. Well, he hopes to be one. Brett can do tons of cool tricks, and he has posted a video on the G4 website to try and get on the Ninja Warrior show. You've got to check it out. Here's the linc:

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Best Question Ever

This morning I finished the message for this coming Sunday and I'm excited about it! We're beginning a new series of messages this week based on a great book by Andy Stanley. The book is called, The Best Question Ever - A Revolutionary Approach to Decision Making. It is an easy read, (it's only 187 pages) and it is one of the most practical books I have ever read. You might be wondering, "what is the best question ever?" I'm not going to tell you now. That will be discussed during Sunday's message, but I will tell you this, if you practice this approach to making decisions it will have a massive effect on your life. There is a linc to at the bottom of this post, so you can order your own copy to read this month to go along with the messages. By the way, thanks to my Dad, or Grandbob as my girls call him (who is a regular reader of this blog) for telling me about this book.

While you'll have to wait until Sunday to find out what the best question ever is, here is a list of questions that are definitely not the best question ever:

Do you want fries with that?

Does this look infected to you?

Would you like free tickets to the N-Sync reunion concert? (confession: I think I have an N-Sync song on my ipod.)

How much do you weigh? (asked by a man to a woman)

How much money did you make last year? (asked by anyone to a man)

Can I borrow your new Shelby Mustang GT convertible to take your daughter out?

Do you want a spanking? (has any child ever said, "Yes, I would love one"?)

Here's the linc for the book at

By the way I'd love to hear some questions you thought of that are not the best ever.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pray this prayer

Here is the prayer from the book "Go Big" I wrote about yesterday. This is a prayer that the author's of the book challenge all pastor's to pray for their churches. I think it is something we all should be praying for Freedom.

"God, I'm going to do this! I've been talking about it long enough; I'm going to do it because people need you. God, I will give you my all; I will step out in faith and believe you for bigger things. Please God, allow my church to grow by your pace and for your plans. And God, I refuse to believe that I can be stopped. I know with only you, I already have a majority. Give me boldness; may I achieve the dreams that you have. In your name I pray. Amen."

That's some cool stuff. I love the line, "I'm going to do it because people need you." That's the motivation, to glorify God by leading people to Him so their lives can be changed for eternity. We don't need to build a big church to impress other Christians. We need to do it because there are thousands of people in our community who need true freedom in Jesus. That's what should motivate us.

I also love the line, "I refuse to believe that I can be stopped." That reminds me of Romans 8:31 where Paul writes, "if God is for us who can be against us?". I think if we will pray that prayer and then live like we believe God can do it, there will be no limit to what will happen!

By the way, I'm still learning how to work all the controls on this blog, and I turned off the comments section the other day. I think I have turned it back on. If you feel like it, leave a comment so I can find out if it will be published or not. While I'm on the subject, please comment regularly (it lets me know you're really reading this), but don't include lincs to other websites in your comments if you don't mind. I just want to be sure that we don't accidentally send someone to a website that's not good. If you know what I mean.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

New tools

I'm reading a great book right now called, "Go Big - Lead Your Church to Explosive Growth". It's written by Bill Easum and Bil Cornelius. That's not a misspelling, one guy is a one "L" Bil while the other is a two "L" Bill. There were two things from the chapter I read last night that I wanted to share with you. The first is this quote:

"One of the most frustrating things about being the pastor of a growing church is that the tools you have to learn to grow the church to one level won't work at the next level. As soon as you go to the next level, God asks you to turn in those tools and learn some new ones. You just got good using those tools and they don't work anymore. Now you have to pick up new tools that are uncomfortable to you."

When I read that I underlined it and put a big star beside it. I feel like that's where we are right now. I believe God will continue to bless Freedom with growth, but for that to happen we all (me most of all) will have to learn to use some new tools. We can't continue to do things the same way and expect new things to happen, and the structure and strategy that worked when we had 100 people coming to worship might not work now that we have 300 people coming to worship. So what are those changes? I'm not certain yet. I've got a pretty good idea, but I'm still praying through everything. When I know, you'll know, but here's the main thing, I'm completely committed to do whatever God asks us to do! It's cool to know that many of you are as well.

Tomorrow I will share with you the other thing from "Go Big" that I thought was great. It's a prayer that we should be praying about our church.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Simple stuff

Donny and I had the chance to eat lunch yesterday with a couple who are interested in Freedom. I love being able to share the dream that God placed in my heart some time ago with others. I really love when God brings others into our church and the dream of reaching people becomes their own dream. So many of you who read this blog are those people. God has brought us together for this specific place and time to accomplish His mission. As I thought about the lunch we had, I thought I would just outline a simple version of what we're trying to do at Freedom so you can share this with people who might ask you the same questions.

- Our mission is: "Helping people discover the true freedom only Christ can give." We believe people will try lots of things as they search for freedom, but only Jesus brings true freedom. Our mission is based on Galatians 5:1, John 8:36, and 2 Corinthians 3:17

- Our main focus is to reach people that haven't found freedom in Jesus yet.

- We also want to be a place of healing and a second chance for people who were in church but have given up on it for whatever reason.

- If you are already a passionate follower of Jesus and you come to Freedom, we expect you to go to work! There are plenty of other places you can go and just warm a pew. There are literally thousands of people in our community who don't know Jesus, and it will take all of us to reach them.

That's about it. Pretty simple. There's lots of other details to how those things happen, but when everything is boiled down to the basics, we exist for those who don't know Jesus or have turned their backs on Him, and we expect everyone else to get busy!

By the way, this was the first post that I have written with no misspelled words!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Getting rescued

One of my favorite things about our worship services is how lots of members of the band lead in the singing and the introduction of the songs. It's always good when someone other than me gets to share a cool insight from God with everyone in attendance. Andrea Owens sings with the band regularly, and whenever she leads into a song I'm amazed at what God says through her. Let me share with you what she said before the song "Rescue" a couple of weeks ago:

I love TV, I always have, and one of my favorite shows growing up was Gilligan's Island. That show had some of the goofiest episodes, but it had one common theme, and that was getting rescued. They tried a million different ways to get rescued from the island, but you know how you can tell the show wasn't real? They never prayed about it. Now I don't care if you're the biggest atheist in the world, if you see a headhunter coming at you, you're gonna start praying!
Psalm 91:14-15 says, "If you'll hold on to Me for dear life, " says God, "I'll get you out of any trouble. I'll give you the best care if you'll only get to know and trust Me. Call Me and I'll answer, be at your side in bad times; I'll rescue you."
Notice that the verse didn't say, "I'll remove you from bad times" it said, "I'll be at your side in bad times." When Jesus rescues us, often it's not by removing us from the storm, but by reassuring us in the middle of the storm, and swimming beside us through the storm. We don't have to be out of harm's way to know we are in His care. If we ask Him to, He will never leave us. That's our rescue.

That's something we all need to be reminded of.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Back to School Bash - Wow!

It's hard for me express the excitement I feel about what happened last night at Century B Park! Those of you who were there know what I'm talking about. Here's some quick points about the evening:

- We gave out somewhere between 360-380 backpacks full of school supplies.

- The event began at 6:00, but the line began forming at 5:20.

- Our set-up team did an amazing job getting everything put together neatly and quickly in extremely hot and sticky conditions.

- I can't count the number of kids I saw with blue and green lips from eating snow cones!

- Bill Haynes and his cooking crew cooked so many hot dogs that they had to use a shovel to get them off the grill. I'm serious, a shovel, I watched them do it.

- Our volunteers were overwhelmed with how thankful the folks we gave backpacks to were. There were people hugging our workers and telling them "thank you" all over the place.

- Our band did their usual great job playing. I thought it was good for the people there to get a taste of what Sunday mornings at Freedom are like.

- Kenny Plumley and Jim Grubb must have made ten trips to Kenny's shop to keep us supplied with ice for the snow cone makers.

- There's not a lot of things I enjoy more than seeing excited kids, and in the area where the rides were I saw tons of excited kids.

You might be asking, "what are we going to do with the remaining backpacks?" Well, I'm glad you asked. We are planning to give out a few more this week from the office for people whose kids couldn't be with them last night. The rest will be divided up and given to area schools. We believe that the teachers in our schools will have the best idea of who needs the supplies, and they will be able to get them in the right hands quickly.

Last, I want to thank Donny Kauffman and the rest of the planning team that made the Back to School Bash happen. Donny led a team that included, Brian Thomas, Steven Somers, Tamara Whitner, Shea Dorris, and Barrie O'Sullivan. They did all the organizing and directing of this event, and they did it well.

We are already talking about doing this again next year, so let us know what went well and what can be improved. Thanks for your help, and let's pray the seeds that were planted last night will grow into changed lives. Wouldn't be awesome if the first step to someone finding true freedom in Christ was eating a free hot dog and receiving school supplies for their kids?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Back to School Bash update

I wish you could have been at the Freedom office yesterday. I went to Greenville to see someone in the hospital, and when I got back the office was filled with people stuffing school supplies into backpacks. Tamara Whitener and Laurie King had their group so well organized that they filled 500 backpacks in just over an hour! Of course all this is leading up to our first ever Back to School Bash this Sunday afternoon at Century B Park in Greer. I can't wait to see all the opportunities God is going to bring our way that afternoon!

If you have volunteered to help with this event I want to say a big "thanks" in advance. The last time I checked with Donny there were around 120 people who have signed up to help. Your participation in this event can make a real impact on our community. Through the article in the Greenville News (see yesterday's blog) and through word of mouth, we are already receiving positive feedback from people in the community about this event. I envision us doing this next year on an ever bigger scale with local businesses helping with the contributions. Some have already said they would be interested in doing that.

All this is just a reminder that demonstrating Christ's love in tangible ways always gets people's attention. Our desire is not to have people's attention for ourselves, but to point them to Jesus. Begin praying now that God will lead people who need Him to Century B on Sunday afternoon. I believe He will!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Back to School Bash publicity

The Greenville News did a great article about the upcoming Back to School Bash. Check it out here.

Some like it hot

It's hot. The forecasted high for today in scenic Greer SC is 104. As Matthew Broderick's character in the film "Biloxi Blues" said, "it's Africa hot". I was trying to remember some of the hottest days I've experienced, and there's been a lot of them. I have had the privilege of living in some ridiculously hot locations. Columbia and Charleston SC, and New Orleans LA can all be unbearable during certain parts of the summer. In Charleston and New Orleans the humidity really is worse than the heat.
Many of you who spent lots of time with me know that I prefer heat to cold anytime, so I'm not going to complain too much about temperatures that break 100. When I think about hot days I will always remember a summer day in Columbia when I was a teenager. Me and some of my friends went to the movies, (I think we went to see St.Elmo's Fire) because it was too hot to do anything else. My buddy Bill Verner drove his car. He locked the doors and rolled the windows up when we went in because he had his portable stereo, better known as a boom box, in the back of his Ford Escort. When we came out of the movies it had gotten so hot in his car that the back panel of his boom box was melted. That's how hot it got that day! The funny thing was that the radio part of the boom box still worked because he had batteries in it, but the back was so deformed that you couldn't replace the batteries or plug in the power cord. So, Bill enjoyed the radio on that boom box until the batteries ran out then he had to throw it away.
This is your official warning not to leave anything important locked up in your car this week!

Check back later today or tomorrow for a final update on the Back to School Bash that we are sponsoring this Sunday evening.

Monday, August 6, 2007

It's good to be back!

Sorry I haven't written anything on here for a while. I was out of town last week on a mission project in New Orleans. I had the pleasure of going with 7 other guys to work on houses that were damaged by hurricane Katrina. It has been almost two years since that storm, and there are still thousands of homes that aren't ready for people to live in yet. The good news is that there many more than there were when we took our first trip down to work there in July of 06. The city truly is coming back.
Sherry and I lived in New Orleans for almost three years while I attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. "Nawlins" (as the folks down there call it) can be a tough city to live in. There's a lot of poverty and not a lot of opportunity, so I think it's been great how followers of Christ from all over the country have been coming there week after week to show God's love by rebuilding homes. I'll tell you more about those projects later, but in the meantime here's some random thoughts about last week's trip.

- Our crew consisted of: Jake Ticknor, Jim Grubb, Chris Roberts, Danny Terry, and Brian & Patrick Thomas.

- Danny, Jim, and Chris did electrical work in houses with no AC while Jake, Brian, Patrick and myself did finish carpentry work in a cool house with AC and ceiling fans. Danny only complained about that set-up a little bit!

- Jake can do amazing things with a tape measure, saw, and a nail gun.

- We forgot to take a radio so Brian and I provided entertainment by singing bits and pieces of songs that came into our heads. The most random one was when Brian busted out with part of that old "Morning After" song. Jake loved it when I sang "Umbrella" to him. Just try singing a line of that to him and see what reaction you get. If you don't know those songs Brian and I will be glad to give you a sample.

- We got to fatten ourselves up on some awesome bread pudding at Mulate's again this trip. I'm glad that they don't sell that stuff down here or I'd weigh 300 lbs!

- After working with him all week, Chris noticed that Danny is really good at giving orders on the job site. Somebody has got to be in charge, right Danny?

- I noticed after spending a week doing that type of work, with Jake telling me what to do next, that my body was more tired than usual, but my brain was much more relaxed.

- As much fun as we had it sure was good to get home to Sherry and the girls on Saturday.

All in all it is good to be home.