Thursday, November 29, 2007

Challenging questions

Two Sundays ago, Donny concluded our message series about redesigning our lives with a very challenging message about redesigning the garage. Most of us have garages filled with stuff other than cars. One of the things Donny emphasized is that what the bible teaches about possessions is very different than the American ideal that we always seem to be striving for. Nowhere does the bible teach the importance of gathering as many possessions as you can in order to make yourself happy. Donny closed out the sermon with some great questions that should cause us all to think about how we handle the money God has given us. Here they are:

· What if you and I were as diligent about seeking out people who had a need and meeting that need as we are about preparing for our own retirement?

· What if we desired seeing poverty eliminated as much as we do our own careers taking off?

· What if we searched as intently for helping the poor, the widows and the orphans as we do looking on the Internet for cheap tickets to the next game?

· What if, as a part of our regular individual budget, we set money aside for the sole purpose of giving it to someone who needs it?

· What if we pursued righteousness with the passion that we pursue our favorite hobby?

Richard Foster in his classic book Celebration of Discipline said, “May God give you and me the courage the wisdom, the strength always to hold the kingdom of God as the number one priority of our lives. To do so is to live in simplicity.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thoughts on last week

The events of last week were by far some of the most difficult I have ever dealt with. Please continue to pray for Kenny's family. Here are some reflections and thoughts about last week.

- Prayer really works: I'm sure you're thinking, "duh", but I was reminded on Thursday of the truth that prayer really does make a difference. Preparing the funeral message on Wednesday for Kenny's service was extremely emotional. I was very concerned that I would not be able to deliver the message on Thursday without losing it. Throughout the day on Wednesday and on Thursday morning I received lots of e-mails and calls from many of you telling me that you had been praying, and that you would especially pray during the funeral. When I woke up on Thursday I felt strong. I told Sherry that I knew people were praying because what I had felt I couldn't do on Wednesday I now knew could happen.

- Bill Hybels was right: In his book Courageous Leadership, Bill Hybles talks about how when you lead a church with the right people you should be so close to them that you would love to retire together. After the funeral on Thursday, I thought back on all the people of Freedom that were there grieving together, and I couldn't think of another group I'd rather spend the rest of my life doing ministry with.

- It's a shame you've got to live so long to be so wise: That's actually a quote from Donny about Rev. Crocker. I was honored to perform Kenny's funeral service with "preacher Crocker" (that's what everyone calls him) at my side. The words he shared brought me so much comfort, and I know his words and presence brought comfort to Kenny's family. The time I spent with him before and after the service confirmed what I've known for years, everyone loves him because he has spent years showing love to others.

I promise to write more often this week. By the way, Blake keeps complaining about a linc to his blog not being on here, so I have added his blog to the blogroll, for now.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


On Monday's blog I promised to write later this week about Donny's sermon and this weekend's game. The reason I haven't done that is because on Monday afternoon I got a call that has changed my plans and the lives of lots of people in Greer. One of my friends, who was a faithful member of our church, took his own life on Monday. Monday evening and all day Tuesday were filled with lots of tears, prayers, questions, and hugs. Please spend some time in prayer for the following people:

- Barbara and Nicole: Kenny's wife and daughter. Nicole is 13. Kenny and Barbara were married for 23 years.

- Jack and Jan: Kenny's parents who lost their only other child, Tina, in a car accident over 20 years ago.

- Scott Nix, Mike Whitener, Steve Salvato: Kenny had so many friends, but these were three guys who had spent hours and hours with him trying to help.

- Freedom Fellowship: There's really no way for me to explain what Kenny meant to so many people in our church family.

- Me: The family has asked me to lead the funeral service tomorrow at 11:00. Pray that I will bring words of comfort to the family.

I along with so many others loved Kenny dearly. One thing I can be thankful for is that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Kenny is with Jesus, and for the first time his mind is at peace.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday Morning Quarterback

I had a great weekend all around. Here's some of the highlights as well as some other stuff on my mind this morning.

- Dan and Amber Ploof invited us to their place on Saturday night for a cookout. Dan works for Hormel so we had four different meats on the menu. It was a vegetarian's nightmare, and since I'm not a vegetarian it was awesome! I could have made myself sick on the beef brisket. Also, Dan gave me some of this classic meat product to take home. It now comes in single servings. Just what we've all been waiting for.

- Sunday morning Donny did a great job teaching us what the bible says about our possessions, or as I normally call it, our stuff. He challenged us with some questions we should ask ourselves. I will post those questions on tomorrow's blog.

- Tom Glavine is coming back to the Braves! I know that he is not as good as he once was, but to (kinda) quote Toby Keith, "he's as good once as he ever was". It will just be cool having Smoltz and Glavine in the same rotation again.

- The guest drummer on Sunday was Brett Ensley. Hopefully, Brett will be playing with the band about once a month. Brett is also a very talented keyboard player. It doesn't seem fair that he can tear it up on two instruments, and all I can play is my ipod. I guess I should have practiced my piano more when I was taking lessons from Mrs. Shrontz as a kid.

- I noticed on my way to Wal-Mart the other day that a Copper River Grill is being built where the old Quincy's was. There is one in Columbia that my parents love. With all the cool new stuff coming to Greer, (maybe a Bass Pro Shop) pretty soon we won't need to go to Greenville or Spartanburg anymore.

- The Carolina Clemson game is this Saturday. I will not be making any predictions, but I will write a post later this week detailing why this one of the greatest rivalries in sports.

- Sherry and I took the girls to the movies and out to eat last night. We saw "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" and it was great. I thought it was one of the best non-animated kid's movies I've seen in a long time. There is one sad part, but my girls didn't cry. I did, but they didn't.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Self awareness: Music

As long as I can remember I have loved music. Every once in a while someone will ask me what type of music I like, and I usually say, "all of it". There is not a form or style of music that I have heard that I don't like. Obviously, I prefer some more than others, but I generally like everything from rock, rap, country, blues, etc.

There's something more to my love for music that I have become aware of. I don't just love music, I need it. Sometimes during the middle of the day, if I haven't left my office because I am in the middle of studying for a message, I will take a break and listen to two or three songs on my ipod. When I'm done I feel energized and more creative. I experienced this exact thing about an hour ago. I was at a point in the day where I wanted to take a nap and couldn't concentrate. I put my earbuds in, listened to The Eagles, and now I'm ready to finish out the afternoon.

What are the things in your life that God uses to refresh you?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

SC Baptist Convention, and Bob Dylan

The South Carolina Baptist Convention annual meeting begins today in Florence (South Carolina not Italy). For the first time in several years I will not be attending any of this year's meeting. The main reasons are the timing this year is not good for me personally, and because the meeting is in Florence. Nothing against Florence, I was born there, but I just didn't want to go there this year and have to get a hotel room and all that stuff.

The SCBC meeting is two days of reports and usually some discussion over issues. The reports I usually enjoy. It's cool to hear about the good work going on at schools like Anderson and Charleston Southern, or to listen to stories about how God is working through mission efforts all over the state. The part that I can't get into much is the discussion over issues. I love a good healthy discussion (even a debate) over issues that really matter. The problem is that the issues that are talked about aren't that important. That's probably not a fair statement to make. Maybe what I should say is that the issues discussed aren't important to me. After all, life is all about me right? ;) The main issue that I keep harping on is the 3.5 million lost people in South Carolina. That should always be the main topic of discussion. It's obvious that the old tried and true methods for reaching this huge group need to be evaluated and where needed, changed.

If I were given the chance to speak before the group at the annual SCBC meeting(which won't be happening any time soon) I would probably read the words of a Bob Dylan song. He does a better job of making the point about the changes that need to be made than I could:

Come gather around people wherever you roam,
and admit that the waters around you have grown,
and accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you is worth savin',
then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone.
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come writers and critics who prophesize with your pen,
and keep your eyes wide the chance won't come again,
and don't speak too soon for the wheel's still in spin,
and there's no tellin' who that it's namin'.
For the loser now will be later to win.
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen (maybe pastors and DOM's?) please heed the call.
Don't stand in the doorway don't block up the hall,
for he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled,
the battle outside that's ragin'
will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls.
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come mothers and fathers throughout the land,
and don't criticize what you can't understand
your sons and your daughters are beyond your command,
your old road is rapidly aging please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand.
For the times they are a-changin'.

This sinus junk is still kicking my tail. I'm going home to get back in bed.

Monday, November 12, 2007

That's how you do it!

A few months ago one of my friends at Freedom approached me after the service and said, "I felt like shouting today. Do you mind if I do that?" My response was, "If God leads you to shout, then next time you better shout!" Since then my friend has shouted and I love it. It always fires me up when people get overwhelmed by God in a worship service, and they let loose with praise. I'm not talking about putting on a show to try and impress people, but really just being moved by God's Spirit to shout, dance, jump up and down, whatever. Yesterday the band did their bluesy version of Trading my Sorrows, complete with harmonica, and when they finished one of the kids behind me busted out with a loud, "that's how you do it!" That was without a doubt my favorite moment in worship yesterday! Just being free to have fun while worshiping together is something we should experience every week.

I had a great time Saturday doing a wedding for a couple who grew up in the youth ministry that I was in charge of at Fairview Baptist for ten years. That made me feel kind of old. Maybe the real reason I felt old was this sinus infection I am fighting. I should buy stock in Kleenex this time of year.

Thanksgiving is a week from this Thursday. I can't wait. That is my favorite holiday. Don't overlook it and go straight into Christmas.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Marriage book you ought to check out

On Sunday I will continue the series of messages I began last week about re-designing certain rooms of our house. This week I will talk about re-designing the bedroom. The focus will be on your relationship with your spouse. Just recently, I have discovered the best book on marriage that I have ever read. I will be using some material from it in this week's message, it is called Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. It's a marriage book that even men will like!

If you want to purchase your own copy of this book you can do so here.

See you on Sunday!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Leadership Community

Well, I have managed to successfully follow-up a week where I posted five straight days with a week where I have written one post on Monday and now the second on Thursday. One reason why is that I spent lots of time preparing for our Leadership Community Meeting on Tuesday night. These meetings are times when I am able to sit down with some of the key leaders at Freedom and share ideas, dream big, and look forward to the future of what God wants to do in Greer. Some of the things we talked about this week are:

- The need for Jesus in our state: This Sunday there will be 3.5 million people in South Carolina who are not in church. We believe that Freedom Fellowship exists for these people, not just for us and our families. That is also why we are committed to be a church that helps start more churches. New churches reach new people. It's simple but true.

- We can't play it safe and reach the 3.5 million: We are at crucial point in the history of our church. We could survive for 100 years at the size we are now. We must be sure that we aren't satisfied with where we are, and that we are constantly trying new methods to reach our community with the unchanging message of Jesus.

- We are determined to keep things simple: If we try to do everything we will accomplish nothing. We will not be pushed into starting a ministry to fit in every niche. Our plan is to do a few things and do them well.

- The first and most important step is to ask God to do it: I challenged our leaders and now I am challenging you to pray everyday for Freedom Fellowship. Pray everyday that we will find new ways to effectively reach our community. Pray everyday that God will do what only He can do, transform lives for eternity.

By the way, our Budget Planning Team has almost finished the budget for 2008. I am very excited about the new churches we will be supporting, as well as some other things we will be giving money to. I will tell you more about those next week.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Monday Morning Quarterback

If I continue to do these Monday morning updates after football season is over, do I have to change the title to something other than Monday morning quarterback?

We had a great morning of worship at GHS yesterday. I thought the skit was very funny and it was obvious that Lance and Ivey were prepared. Andrea wrote the skit and she did a great job of setting up the message about effective parenting. The band did awesome yesterday especially on the new song "Hosanna". The way they lead us to worship week after week is incredible.

I had a great conversation with a couple who had visited with us for the first time after the service. They talked about how friendly everyone had been to them and how welcome they felt. So many of you do a great job each week of spotting new folks and helping them feel welcome.

My parents came to town for worship and we got to spend time with them yesterday afternoon. We ate at Rock's, and my Dad got my usual order and loved it. Next time you want something good for lunch you should try it: grilled bologna and cheese sandwich and an order of onion rings. Don't eat it everyday or even once a week, or your doctor will love you.

If you were at worship yesterday I'm certain you noticed that I got a haircut last Friday. I certainly got my money's worth on this one. The lady that butchered me must get paid by the amount of hair she sweeps up after each client. When she got done with me there was more on the floor than on my head. It's just hair. It'll grow back.

One more useless piece of information about me: The Patriots / Colts game yesterday was fun to watch. I can watch NFL games for the fun of it, therefor they are more enjoyable. I watch every second of every Gamecock game that's on, and I take it way too seriously. In fact, I am considering recording the games and only watching them after the fact if Carolina wins. That way I won't put my body through all of the emotional ups and downs I experience during a normal game. I really should just lighten up. I'm trying.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Real pictures of my awesome family!

I finally figured out how to put pictures on this thing, so get ready, now I'll probably bore you to death with thousands of pictures of my girls! These are pictures from Halloween. Our girls dressed as old ladies about to go to bed. The first picture is of our cool jack-o-lantern, before the squirrels demolished it.

Building character: part 3

The guys that wrote Deadly Viper: Character Assassins shared some of the questions they asked one another that got them thinking about character building being a team sport. I think these are some good ones for men to ask one another.

- How come we never talk about the really important stuff?

- What are the big issues that are ready to take us down?

- What are the stupid choices we are on the verge of making that would wreck our lives?

- How could we help each other be healthier leaders and find true meaning for our lives?

About a year ago, a minister friend of mine who I have known for 20 years left his wife and kids after having an extended affair with another woman. I can't help but believe that if he had been in a relationship with some other men where they asked and answered these types of questions, he would still be married and raising his kids. The consequences of refusing to build our character are too great to ignore.

I'll finish this subject (for now) with another quote from the book that I thought was great.

"Choosing honor, nobility, and the good can become extensions of who we are. We reject the small-minded, ineffective approach of those who focus simply on specific bad behaviors and miss the lifestyle approach."

Building character is a daily endeavor.

Have a great weekend. Bring someone with you to worship on Sunday!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Trick or Treat update

Two posts in one day! I just remembered that I promised to give a pumpkin carving update. We went with a fairly traditional triangle for the eyes and nose face on our pumpkin. I did try and make the mouth extra big this year. We took some pictures and I think I know how to actually post pictures on this blog. If I figure it out I will put a picture on here soon.

On a side note, I was a little disappointed with the turn-out in our neighborhood last night. I guess since it was Wednesday night lots of people were at church events. Many of the houses we normally go to had their lights off. My friend Jonathan Everette wrote a great post about the low turn-out in his neighborhood that you can read here.

Building character: part 2

If building character is done best in community what are some things we need to consider to make that happen?

- It will not happen by accident. This is especially true for men. If you put two women who don't each other in a room, within 30 minutes they will know about each other's personal life. If you put two men who don't know each other in a room they will talk for 3 hours about work, sports, and politics and not have learned anything about the other guy's personal life. That's just the way we men are, so if you want to build character together with some of your friends you will need to decide to talk regularly about personal issues.

- You'll have to be real. The whole idea of meeting together with your friends to discuss real life issues will be a waste of time if you decide not to reveal the real you. Building character won't happen if you don't admit what areas you need to improve in.

- There has to be trust within the group. From the beginning you will need to be sure that everyone in your group understands that what is talked about is private. If that is the environment that you create then getting real about your character issues is more likely to happen.

- Character isn't built quickly. The guys who wrote Deadly Viper put it this way, "Character isn't a destination, but a journey towards becoming a more whole, complete, and healthy leader."

In part 3 I'll give you some questions the guys who wrote Deadly Viper ask each other on a regular basis.