Monday, December 22, 2008

What gets you in the Christmas spirit?

There are certain things that just fell like Christmastime to me. One is going to look at Christmas lights. Last night me, Sherry and the girls loaded up and rode through Greer checking out the light displays. The main thing we are looking for on those trips is excess. When it comes to Christmas lights you can never have too much as far as I'm concerned. The closer the house comes to looking like Clark Griswold decorated it the better. Last night we found a great display in Greer right off of Hwy 101 near Victor Baptist Church. If you live in town here you should check it out.

Another thing that feels like Christmas to me is eating lunch at the Beacon Drive-In. I know that's not a normal Christmas tradition but, I've been eating lunch the week of Christmas at the Beacon for about 14 years now. I just got back about an hour ago from eating a plenty plate, and now I'm remembering why I only eat there once a year. It's a great way to get my digestive tract greased up and ready for all the food I'll eat this Wednesday night and Thursday at lunch.

Those are two of my traditions that get me feeling all Christmasy. What are yours? Leave a comment, and let me know.

By the way for all of you out there who were complaining that the warm weather we had last week didn't feel enough like Christmas, I hope you're happy today. The single digit wind chill would have Santa himself running for cover.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A reminder of what matters

I was cleaning out my e-mail inbox today when I ran across this article someone sent me. It is written by Matt Chandler, a great bible teacher and pastor from Dallas, TX. This was something I needed today, maybe you need it as well.

Merry Christmas from an 80's guitar legend

If you grew up watching MTV in the 80's like I did, you might remember this bit of Christmas fun. Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What will your gift be?

Every year at this time I am always sure to add Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1-2 to my reading list. I know that it's good to read those passages of scripture anytime of year, but reading them regularly during the Christmas season helps me remember what all the fuss is really about.

This Sunday we will focus on the wise men and the fact that they brought gifts to Jesus. Of course that is where the tradition of giving gifts at Christmas got it's start. Funny how we spend lots of time and lots and lots of money on gifts for everyone else but Jesus. It is His birthday we are celebrating after all. Part of the problem is that a gift to Jesus can't be bough at Wal-Mart or ordered on-line, so we struggle to know what to get Him.

During worship this week I will challenge you to answer the question, "What will my gift to Jesus be?" Go ahead and read Matthew 1-2 to get prepared.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Truth is stranger than fiction

The story below goes in the "It's a Sorry World" file.

If you are not easily offended you can read the story here.

I wonder how someone begins that type of hobby. Tim Wilson was right, it is a sorry world indeed.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Santa in need of a bailout

It's no secret that the economy in our country could be better. Financial institutions as well as auto manufacturers are being bailed out by the federal government to the tune of billions of tax payer's dollars. The airlines are threatening bankruptcy, and unemployment is higher than it's been in years. All of this is hard to handle, but today comes economic news that is more shocking than anything that has happened yet.

Reports from the North Pole tell us that the economic situation for Santa's operation is in serious trouble. It seems that Santa has been operating for years under a misguided business model where he produces billions of dollars of products every year and never receives any payment. An official spokeself for Santa, Papa elf, explains the situation: "We just can't continue to give everything away. I've been trying to convince the boss for years that something has to change, I mean, who can run a business when the only revenue you bring in is milk and cookies?"

When asked what the possible solutions are Papa elf responded, "The way we figure it, we have three choices, we can begin charging kids for big ticket items like video game consoles, bikes, ponies etc. or we can breed more reindeer and get into the ranching business selling items like reindeer skin jackets and reindeer jerky, or we can ask Congress for a $750 billion bailout." Sources close to the situation indicate that Santa will not consider charging kids for toys under any circumstances, and he is afraid of the reaction of environmental groups like PETA and the Sierra Club if he begins with the reindeer projects. It looks as if a bailout of Santa is the only option left.

Wall Street has reacted strongly to the news of Santa's possible economic failure. This morning the Dow is down 700 points and the NASDAQ has dropped 275 points. Reports from Washington are that Henry Paulson has already boarded a private jet and is on his way to meet with Santa and his representatives to try and hammer out a deal to save Christmas.

When notified of the situation, President-elect Obama issued the following statement, "I have always supported Santa and when I take office I will continue to support Santa. It's important in these difficult times that all of us, human, elf, reindeer, grinch, and snowman, come together to work out the best economic solution."

Keep watching CNN (the Christmas News Network) for further updates.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dreaming of a White Christmas?

I'm a warm weather person. During the winter I often go on the Weather Channel website and check what the temperature is in places like Florida, San Diego, and Puerto Rico. I know there are lots of you who love the cold weather, and the ultimate dream is to have snow on Christmas day. What are the chances of that happening? Here's a linc to a map that will tell you the probability of experiencing a white Christmas this year.
By the way, if you live in SC and want the white stuff this Christmas you should be making plans to travel!

As you continue to prep for the big day, try and enjoy the moment without letting all the busyness get you down. Take time to remember why this time of year is special!

Friday, December 5, 2008

How big is your heart?

For the next two Sunday's the messages will be focusing on the size of our hearts. Christmas is the time of year when our hearts seem to grow larger with a desire to help others, but what about the size of our hearts the rest of the year? There are tons of verses of scripture that discuss our hearts. We will look at them for the next two weeks and try to determine together what God thinks our hearts should look like.

Go ahead and read the following verses before you arrive at Greer High School to worship this Sunday:

Proverbs 4:23, 14:10, 17:3, 27:19
Psalm 44:20-21

I'm looking forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Messages now available online

Many of you already know this, but I still get questions regularly about how you can get copies of the messages that are preached every Sunday at Freedom. Thanks to Ted Roberts you can listen to the message from our website, or download it for free from itunes onto your ipod.

Our website address is:

On the website, simply click on the "multimedia" tab then select "audio" or "podcast" to begin listening to or downloading the message.

If you go to the itunes store you can download the message there as well. You can type "the podcast of Freedom Fellowship" into the search bar, and you will see our logo in the search results.

Also, once you have downloaded the messages onto your computer please feel free to share them with anyone you'd like. You do not need permission to burn copies onto CD's and give them to your friends. In fact that would be great.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Feeling much better today, thank you

I'm still recovering from a stomach bug that woke me up at 2 a.m. Sunday night in a most unpleasant manner. Needless to say, I didn't make it to work yesterday. I'll spare you the details, but will let you know that according to our bathroom scale I lost five pounds yesterday. I hope you will enjoy this silly video I found in lieu of an actual post of any meaning or consequence whatsoever.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Do you believe in Magic?

This past Sunday I noticed in the TV Weekly section of the paper that the World Magic Awards will be televised sometime this week. I never had heard of the World Magic Awards. The fact that they are on television is proof that there is too much TV air time to fill. However, here are some folks that I think should be honored at this year's ceremony:

Award: Special achievement in making stuff disappear
Winner: Tommy Bowden and Steve Spurrier (tie)

Bowden managed to make a top ten ranking, dreams of a conference championship and appearance in a BCS bowl, and his job all disappear.
Spurrier has done special work in this field as well. Somehow a man who has been known for teams with amazing offenses has manged to make all the offensive fire power vanish from Williams-Brice.

Award: Special achievement in hypnosis
Winner: America's Financial Institutions

Hypnosis is the only explanation I can think of for how the big banks in this country convinced Congress to give them $750 billion. I know a lot of small business owners here in Greer who are wondering when their bail-out from the tough times is coming. My advice: Start learning hypnosis.

Award: Best Newcomer
Winner: Barack Obama

Four years ago he was a newly elected Senator, and today he is the most popular President-elect in decades. John McCain is sitting in Arizona wondering what I always wonder after watching a great magician, "How did he do that?".

Award: Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner: Doug Henning

He was all over the TV when I was kid back in the late 70's. He always looked like he came straight from a party at Jerry Garcia's house.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sunday scripture and my favorite holiday

The first part of this post is for my buddy Dave. Of course, everyone else can read along as well. Dave thought it was funny that in yesterday's abbreviated post I reminded everyone that the holiday coming up next week was Thanksgiving. I did that partly to be a little sarcastic and here's why: Thanksgiving gets overlooked! It seems that now everywhere I look people move directly from Halloween to Christmas. It even seems that Black Friday gets more attention than Thanksgiving now. That's why I reminded everyone yesterday that this Thursday is Thanksgiving. You might have forgotten that fact from listening to the radio (which is already playing Christmas music), riding down the street (where in Greer the Christmas decorations are already up), or watching TV (where Christmas commercials are being shown).

I love Christmas. I am not a Scrooge, but I'd like Thanksgiving to get a little more love. Hopefully, this Thursday you will take time to relax with your family, eat some good food that God has provided for you, watch football, and just generally slow down the pace of life long enough to be amazed at how good we have it. No matter what the stock market or housing market is doing we have a lot to be thankful for!

This Sunday we're continuing our series on parenting. We will talk about "When a good kid makes bad choices". Go ahead and read Luke 15:11-24 to get ready. I'm looking forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Enjoy the humor of The Office

After being gone on vacation last week, and knowing that next week is shorter due to my favorite holiday (Thanksgiving)I've been a little too busy to blog this week. To all seven of my normal readers I apologize. In an effort to make it up to all of you, I have downloaded a funny clip from the current funniest show on television, The Office. Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Best week ever

We're back from Disney. Sherry and I both agree that this vacation was as close to perfect as one can get. We had way too much fun to be able to tell about all of it, so prepare yourself for another post of random thoughts about the week that was:

- Our kids are awesome. We saw a lot of children at Disney this week. Most were well-behaved, but at least once a day we'd see some kid having a conniption over something. It made me more appreciative of Emily and Grace and how laid back they are.

- I think we walked 1,000 miles around the four parks. Without a doubt the most steps were taken at Epcot. That place is really spread out.

- With a good bit of coercion Grace rode Space Mountain. She didn't cry or even whine too much while we were on the ride, but Emily and I couldn't get her back on it when we went back later that day.

- Strangest sight of the week: Three Buddhist monks on Space Mountain. It was really odd to see them in their orange robes and shaved heads sitting in the rocket cars while the ride workers checked the snugness of their lap bars.

- We got in the Christmas spirit on Monday night when we watched a special Christmas parade in the Magic Kingdom. Free cookies and hot chocolate also added to the atmosphere.

- Emily and I rode the Tower of Terror for the first time. I was not looking forward to it, but it turned out to be great. It was much more fun than it was terrifying, but I guess calling it the Tower of Fun wouldn't sound near as cool.

- The first part of Rock and Rollercoaster is the best start to any ride I've ever been on. Anything that pins your head back against the head rest is awesome.

- 2nd best part of the week: Connecting with two families of friends who live in the Orlando area. The time we got to spend with the Marks' and the O'Sullivan's was a great bonus to an already fun trip.

- Best part of the week: Getting to hang out with Sherry and the girls uninterrupted every day for a week!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


We're off to see Mickey Mouse and all his friends in the morning! We're looking forward to catching up with some old friends while we are there as well.

Donny will be continuing the message series on parenting this week with a powerful message about discipline. Be sure you bring a friend to worship with you.

Don't expect any blogs next week, I am leaving the computer in the office. I believe a week away from blogs, facebook, and e-mail will do me a lot of good. I'm having a hard time concentrating today, because I' already thinking of all the fun we'll have next week! I'll fill you in on all of it when I get back.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What now?

We're finally finished. The almost two year process of selecting the new leader of our great country has finally come to an end. No more yard signs, negative TV ads, debates, conventions, or primaries. What's next? Here's a couple of things I think we would do well to remember:

Nothing takes God by surprise.
A couple of years ago I heard a message on leadership from Andy Stanley based on Daniel 4:17. If we believe that verse to be true then we understand that God places leaders in positions of authority for His purposes. We might not understand what those purposes are, but we understand that He is a good God who only wants what's best for us and our country.

The morality of our country doesn't depend on who is President.
When Jesus left earth and returned to heaven He left the job of changing the world to His church, not to any government. As followers of Jesus we need to quit putting so much hope into who is on the Supreme Court, and remember that Jesus wants His church to set the moral direction of our nation. We do that by influencing people in our communities one life at a time.

We should always pray for the leaders of our nation.
Blake read this scripture yesterday at our staff meeting, and it reminded me that praying for our President and other national leaders is something we should do regularly, not just around election time. Whether you are happy or unhappy with the outcome of yesterday's voting, we are still followers of Jesus who live in America, and one of our jobs is to ask God to give wisdom to our leadership.

Hopefully, if we can remember these things we'll quit worrying so much about things we have no control over anyway. Be thankful today that you live in a country where you can freely live for Jesus! Take every opportunity to be a shininbg light of His hope wherever you go!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I just arrived in the office this morning after voting. The wait was more than any other time I've voted, but not as bad as I had feared. It took an hour and 15 minutes at my precinct. I'd be interested to know how long you had to wait.

No matter how long the wait is, the whole process is always pretty cool. I'm always thankful that we have the freedom to make a choice, even if the vote doesn't always go the way we want.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Everybody sing-along

Yesterday was a great Sunday morning of worship! It was awesome to see the front of the auditorium filled with parents and kids on their knees praying together. The rest of this message series on parenting will be very practical. We always want you to invite your friends to Freedom, but this month will be an especially good time to do so.

I don't know about you, but I've got presidential election fatigue. I don't think I've ever been more ready for an election to be finished. The negativity has just gotten to me I guess. I thought it would be fun for all of us to be reminded how this great country of ours got started. Check out this video on Youtube.

If you watched cartoons in the 70's you should know all the words. Keep them in mind as you vote tomorrow!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween and Sunday preview

Today is Halloween in case you need to be reminded, and I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite childhood memories of the spooky holiday.

- The Halloween Carnival at my elementary school. Every year at Seven Oaks Elementary there would be a Halloween Carnival that I loved to go to. The thing I most remember was the haunted house. I was too scared to go in until probably the fifth grade, but once I did I loved it. I was scared, but I loved it.

- The year my friend had a costume no one could figure out. One year my friend Darrin who lived across the street wanted to be the alien monster from the movie "Alien". There were no costumes or masks you could buy, so he made his own mask using a balloon, toilet paper rolls, and plaster of paris(is that how that is spelled?). Every house we would go to people would try to guess what he was. I think the most common guess was "mole". Darrin didn't like that too much.

- The first year my parents let me trick or treat without their supervision. I was probably in the 6th grade or so and I'm sure it took a lot of begging on my part, but there was a Halloween where me and a group of friends roamed through the neighborhood alone. I remember feeling like I was so mature. I also remember walking home from my friend Jeff's house all alone at the end of the evening, and wishing I had a parent close by. It was dark and I had visions of Jason or Micahel Meyers coming to get me. Being independent and mature wasn't quite as cool as I had thought.

I'd love to hear you memories. Leave a comment so we can laugh together about them.

Sunday we are beginning a new series of messages on parenting called "What Every Parent Needs to Know". You can go to the church website to see the schedule for the month. This week we focus on Psalm 127:3.

Invite some friends to join you this week. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mascots fighting...are you serious?

My friend Lance was telling me yesterday that at one of our local high school football games this week there was an altercation between the mascots. Yes, you read that correctly, the mascots. The only thing stupider (is that a word?) than two people getting in a fight over sports is two people dressed in fuzzy costumes with over sized heads getting in a fight over sports.

With that in my mind here's a video courtesy of the good people at YouTube of one mascot executing a spear on another mascot that would make Bill Goldberg proud.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend wrap-up

It's hard to describe how exciting this weekend was. Halloween Hoopla exceeded expectations, and worship yesterday was amazing.

First, let me begin by thanking everyone who volunteered at Halloween Hoopla on Saturday. There were around 150 different people who did everything from set-up, clean-up, give out candy, paint faces, cook hamburgers, greet people, and too many other things to list. If you are one of those 150, you are awesome! Your willingness to give up several hours on a beautiful fall Saturday enabled us to put on a party for the families in our community. I can't tell you how many different smiling faces of kids I saw downtown on Saturday. To see the streets of Greer filled (and I mean filled) with families thrilled me.

Just when I was thinking that the weekend had hit a high point on Saturday, we came together to worship on Sunday and things went to a new level. This was the second time we've done a self-directed worship service and once again the results were awesome. I was reminded yesterday about how powerful the words of Jesus are. We added nothing to His words yesterday in the way of explanation, and the truth of His message rang out loud and clear.

I can't wait to see what God has in store for Freedom next!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rainy, random Friday

It's been awhile since I've jotted out the random thoughts in my head on this blog, so here goes:

- Today is the type of day here in the upstate where you'd like to stay inside a read a book.

- I've got Buddy (our dog) with me at the office for awhile this morning until his appointment at the groomer. I wish I got half as excited to meet new people as he does.

- Dustin wrote some great stuff on his blog about true repentance. Check it out here. By the way, continue to pray for Dustin and all the folks at Midtown Fellowship in Columbia. They are doing an amazing job of reaching students at USC.

- I have loved the World Series so far. Of course I haven't been able to stay up and watch an entire game, but the first 6 innings of games 1&2 have been great.

- I'm looking forward to Sunday's worship. Switching up how we do worship from time to time is a good thing. I'm praying that the change in format will help all of us focus more intently on the words and life of Jesus.

- I forgot to mention this yesterday. Happy Birthday Blake! He does a great job teaching our teenagers who God is and what He expects from them. By the way, he turned 24. That makes him the youngest member of our staff by...a lot.

- Am I the only person who is ready for this election to be over? There's too much negative talk coming from both parties for my taste.

- Carolina and Clemson are both guaranteed not to lose a football game this weekend. At last, everyone will be happy!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Halloween Hoopla

Lots of preparation will come to fulfillment this Saturday in downtown Greer. In case you haven't heard, Halloween Hoopla happens this Saturday at 4:00. This will be the second year we have put on this event, and if it's anything like last year, we are expecting big things.

If you are already signed up to serve this Saturday be sure you carefully read the instruction letter you received from Shelley. All the information you need about when to show up, what to bring, what your job is, etc. is contained in that letter. If you did not sign-up to help, you should come anyway and help by cheerfully greeting people and pitching in where needed.

Here's some things to remember as you come to help on Saturday:

A smile is priceless - The look on our faces and the tone of our voices will go a long way in the impression we make on the people who come downtown on Saturday. Smile, hug kids, laugh, and speak words of encouragement to everyone you come in contact with.

Flexibility is important - We have a great team of folks who have planned this event out to the last detail, but there are always unexpected things that come up. When you come to help be prepared for something to change during the event that you weren't expecting.

You represent Jesus and His church - We are praying that most of the folks who come on Saturday will be in need of a relationship with Jesus. The impression we make on them will influence what they think about the church. We are Christ's ambassadors and that's a job we shouldn't take lightly.

Time serving is always time well spent - I know that you have a busy schedule, and I am thankful you have committed to take a nice fall Saturday and spend it serving others. There are lots of other things you could spend Saturday doing, but none of those will be as fulfilling as sharing the love of Christ with kids!

I can't wait until Saturday! I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Luke 10:17-20

I haven't blogged in almost a week now. What should I write about to get back in the swing of things? How about something from God's Word.

I was reading Luke the other day when I cam across the story in chapter 10 where Jesus sends out 72 of His followers to do ministry. When they return from their time on the road they are amazed at the power they experienced during their time away. verse 17 "The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." The response of Jesus is what I found most interesting. He said, "I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. HOWEVER, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

We are so easily influenced and enamored with power. So much of what drives our society is a quest for more power whether it be in the area of money, politics, or fame. Jesus reminds His followers that power is not what life is about. Even the power that He gives is not what's most important. Instead our thoughts should always be close to the fact that He has saved us. Having your name written in heaven, which only comes through Him, is a far greater gift than any display of power we'll experience on this earth.

Dwell on some of that today as you deal with the people God puts in your path. Remember that our self-worth comes from the fact that He made us and died for us. It doesn't come from our accomplishments, even if they are miraculous acts straight from Him.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Last post for the week

This will be the last blog from me this week. There's a lot of stuff in my mind that I'm trying to get down on paper, and the never ending struggle for me to be more organized has been harder than usual for the last two weeks. Also, I am singing with the band this week and I have some new songs to learn. Therefor, I won't be updating anything on here until at least next week.

For those of you who are naturally perceptive and your tendency is to ask "what's really going on here?", everything is great. I just need to take one thing off my plate for a few days, and the blog is an easy one to dump off.

Be sure you are at worship on Sunday, and if all goes well I'll write more regularly next week!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Catalyst and weekend wrap-up

Last Thursday and Friday I got to hang out at the Gwinett Center with 12,000 of my closest friends at the Catalyst Conference. Here's some quick bullet points of what it was like along with some stuff from Sunday.

- Blake drove me, Mark W, and Kent down to ATL on Thursday morning. It was dark and rainy but we had a great time telling stories and laughing a lot.

- Andy Stanley's sessions were challenging and insightful as usual. Here's a quote that stuck in my mind from his first session: "The boldest leadership move you can make is to release bitterness."

- Jim Collins did a session based on his book "Good to Great". I took three pages of notes while he spoke. I wrote a ton of ideas and questions in the margins that I plan to start working through today.

- Craig Groeschel always brings it when he speaks. This time he brought it harder than usual. If you sat in that session and weren't challenged, inspired, and encouraged you need to check and see if you're alive.

- The whole first day this dude sitting in front of me continually sent twitter updates on his iphone as the guys were speaking. That only served to reinforce my extreme dislike (my Mom taught me not to use the word hate) of twitter.

- We stayed up too late on Thursday night (after getting up at 4:30 a.m.) watching football, the Office, and baseball.

- Blake woke up Friday morning complaining about Kent snoring.

- Dave Ramsey brought a strong message on Friday about the 5 enemies of unity. Afterwards the host did a short interview with him about the current financial mess in America. Dave's basic message: "Don't panic"

- Blake has been screaming to me for months about how awesome Matt Chandler is. Well on Friday I got to hear him for myself, and Blake was right. One take away from his message was this statement: "No man can avoid the painful job of self-examination."

- It was great to be back on Sunday to worship with our Freedom family. If you haven't invited anyone to come with you to this series about the true ID of Jesus be sure you make that call this week. Donny will be bringing a great message this week. If you have friends who are confused about the true nature of Jesus they need to be there.

- The Panthers looked horrible yesterday. How does a team score 44 points one week and then 3 the next?

- Stephen Garcia finally made headlines on the field for the Gamecocks. Maybe all of his past stupidity is behind him and he can concentrate on playing football. We'll see...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Busy two days

I am really looking forward to heading to Atlanta first thing Thursday morning for the Catalyst Conference. If it's anything like last year I expect to have my eyes opened and to be challenged. At the end of a session during the conference last year Blake looked at me and said, "If you're satisfied with where you are and what you're doing you don't need to come to this." That pretty much sums up what Catalyst was for me. Two days that caused me to ask questions I wouldn't normally ask. God used that in a big way in my life.

In order to go, there's a list of things that must be finished before we leave at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday. Sermon for November 2, Life Group prep for tomorrow night, a church planter assessment to write and send to my buddy Art, lots of e-mails to respond to and send, etc. It will be crazy here for the next 48 hours.

One last thing, Donny, Blake, and I are having lunch today with two guys who have planted a church in Brooklyn NY. We will be talking with them about what God is doing there, and about the possibility of partnering with them next year. Pray that God will give us wisdom as we make that decision.

Have a great day.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sunday scripture and baptism

Last week due to the minor flood in the office I didn't get to post the scripture for Sunday's message. I know of at least one person who likes to read ahead, so I made sure to find time to get this stuff on here. There are three passages all from the book of John for this week's message. They are: John 2:13-16, John 18:19-24, and John 19:1-11.

This week has been one of the more stressful ones I have experienced as pastor of Freedom. A friend reminded me yesterday not to carry all of the burden of leading the church myself. Nothing has happened this week that has taken God by surprise or is too big for Him to handle, but my friend is right. I am asking you to pray for me to have wisdom and discernment. That will be the best way for me to relieve the largest part of the burden.

Although this week has been a challenge, nothing can dampen my excitement about Sunday. Not only do we get to worship together that morning, but we will be baptizing four people on Sunday evening. Be sure you are at SSI at 6:30 to experience the most important thing we do as a church!
See you then.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Attitude still matters

The longer I work with people the more convinced I am that having the right attitude is vitally important. That is especially true when it comes to church. If Freedom is filled with people who have a positive attitude towards the mission, values, ministries, and leadership of the church then there will be no limit to what can be accomplished. On the other hand, if a negative attitude begins to sprout up among the people at Freedom and nothing is done to stop it then the work God wants to do here can be severely slowed.

The harsh truth that I have learned over the years is that a negative attitude spreads much faster than a positive one. It takes only one negative person to poison the outlook of several others they have influence over. That's why daily checking our attitude and outlook against what scripture teaches is so important.

When we really get down to it, attitude is all about what's going on your heart. If you generally are critical and negative in your outlook on life, it is a reflection of what's in your heart. Proverbs 27:19 says "As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man."

We all need to be sure and guard against a negative attitude towards the church. If that is where you are today, spend some time in the Word and in prayer asking God to change your heart. If you hear negativity coming from someone else don't be content to let it pass by. Take time to peacefully confront the negative behavior. What God is doing at Freedom is far too important for us to allow a negative attitude to get in the way!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Even heroes die

After the NBA Finals concluded this past June there was an editorial piece that appeared in Sports Illustrated titled "The Death of Cool". Well, this past Friday cool took another hit when the coolest actor of all time passed away. Paul Newman had the look that the ladies liked, and the men wished they had. When he was on the screen he commanded the attention of everyone watching.

I haven't seen all of Newman's films, in fact there are some of his classics that I have yet to see, but of the ones I have seen here are my favorites:

- Cool Hand Luke: This is without a doubt one of my favorite movies of all time. There's a ton of religious symbolism, but Newman's portrayal of a guy who would rather die than conform to the system is what makes it a classic. This was also proclaimed as the sweatiest movie of all time once on an episode of "Cheers".

- The Hustler: You don't even have to like or understand pool sharks to appreciate this film. The final scene where Newman's character finally beats Minnesota Fats is really cool.

- The Sting: I never get tired of watching this one even though I know about the surprise ending. I like Newman's work with Robert Redford in this picture even more than in Butch Cassidy.

One last thing, I am heading to an 80's charity event this weekend and am looking to borrow some clothing items.
- a pair of black Chuck Taylor high tops (size 9 or 9 1/2)
- a mullet wig
- any cheesy 80's t-shirt or collared shirt
- a thin silk tie (like they used to sell at Record Bar)

Let me know if you can hook me up with any of these vintage items. Thanks.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday morning quarterback

Here's the high points of the weekend that was:

- Friday morning I came to the office and got an unwelcome surprise. When I arrived at the office I opened the door to discover water everywhere. Sometime during the night before, the water heater had begun leaking. That's why I didn't post the scripture for Sunday's message here on Friday. During the time I would normally do that we were moving furniture and arranging to have everything fixed.

- Sherry and I had a great date on Friday. We ate at the best little Mexican place in town, El Mariachi, then we headed to the Peace Center to hear Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. The music blew us away, and it was obvious that all of the performers were having a ball. We ran into Mark and Tricia and their boys in the lobby before the show so I knew it would be good, because Mark doesn't waste time listening to bad music. The food and music were great, but the best part of the evening was just being able to relax after a crazy week with the person I can be most relaxed with.

- Saturday had a little of everything. I spent time cutting down a tree, riding on the lawnmower, watching football, playing Guitar Hero, and playing Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader with Grace. I don't claim to be the smartest dude in the world, but the average 5th grader can not answer those questions. I don't care what Jeff Foxworthy says.

- Every week I see new folks at worship. Yesterday was another one of those Sunday's where I spotted several folks that I had never seen at worship with us before. I'm thrilled that God keeps sending new people our way!

- Silly observation of the weekend: On the way back to the office from worship yesterday I passed by the Comfort Inn in Greer and the marquis read like this, "Welcome Albino Skunks". I'm not making that up. I have no idea what that means, but it almost caused me to have a wreck.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Grace!

Today is my baby girl's eighth birthday. It is hard to believe that it has been that long since she came into the world with a head full of black hair and some of the chubbiest cheeks I had ever seen on a baby. We always tell Grace that we waited a long time for her to arrive. When Emily turned two we thought it would be a good time to have another child, well four long years later God blessed us with Grace, and she was certainly worth the wait!

There's not a week that goes by that she doesn't make us all laugh at the dinner table with her nutty personality, and she always brightens my mornings by waking up with a smile on her face. These last eight years have been a blast with her in our lives, and I'm looking forward to the next eight as well.

Happy Birthday Rascal! You bring us so much joy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New website up and running

As Donny announced on Sunday the new Freedom website is on line. This will be the main place for you to get all the info you need on what's happening when, and what's coming up next. Just go to to get there.

You can also download sermons from the website or from itunes. If you go on itunes just search for Freedom Fellowship, and you should see our logo. Currently there is only one message up, but we hope to have more by the end of the week. Check out the new website and let us know what you think. If there's something you'd like to see added, let us know.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sunday scripture and podcast update

Today has been interesting so far, I ended up having to spend more money on a car repair than I expected. A little more than twice as much as I expected in fact. It's as if God wants to see if I really believe what I taught about this past Sunday. You remember, how our trust should be in Him and not in our money. I have been reminded of that this morning.

Here's the good news: Thanks to Blake the message from the first Sunday of September is now on itunes! Here's the catch: If you go on itunes and search for Freedom Fellowship you won't find it. The folks at itunes are telling Blake it will take a couple of days yet. I'll keep you updated on the progress. Once we get things going we hope to have the previous Sunday's message available to download by Thursday of each week.

This Sunday we will be talking about the second tool we need to do the job God has given our church. Before you come read 2 Samuel 23:8-22 and try to guess what the tool is.

One of the things I want you to do week in an week out is invite your friends to come worship with you at Freedom. I especially want you to do that during the month of October. During that month we will be focusing on the true identity of Jesus. If you know someone who needs to have a better understanding of who God is, begin now inviting them to Freedom for October.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

If you need a chuckle...

I don't know what's funnier in this video, the way kid yells or how the woman laughs at the poor kid the whole time. Maybe this will bring a smile to your face.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

14 years ago today

On September 16, 1994 I experienced the most life changing event since Sherry and I were married. When the nurse in the delivery room placed Emily in my arms, I knew things would never be the same. When they handed her to me there were three things that struck me immediately.

First was how tiny she was. I hadn't had a lot of experience holding newborn babies. Come to think of it I probably didn't have any experience holding newborn babies, but even compared to most newborns Emily was small. Because she came into the world several weeks early she only weighed 3 lbs. 9 oz. I had never seen such a tiny face.

Second was the fact that she had blond hair. There wasn't much there, really it was just fuzz, but what was there was blond without a doubt. Not once when I would imagine what my first child would look like did I ever picture a blond haired blue eyed baby. I just assumed that any child that I was the father of would have dark hair and dark eyes like me.

The last thing that struck me so hard that it was almost too much to handle was how much love I felt, and how protective of her I became the moment I held her and looked into that miniature face. I didn't have to wait to get to know her or see how she would turn out. The sudden filling of my heart with all of that love was one of the most unexplainable things that I had ever experienced.

Today my first baby girl turns 14. She's a young lady now. There's not much little girl left in her anymore. Being her Dad each step along the way has been an honor, and I can't wait to walk through her teenage years with her as well.

Happy Birthday Em! You are wonderful!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Afternoon Quarterback

Random thoughts to start the week:

I still love the beach - On Friday afternoon while we were at Hilton Head I got to spend about an hour and a half on the beach. The water temp was perfect so I was able to body surf and just generally relax and enjoy the ocean. Nothing energizes me like time spent on the shore.

God won't give you a job that your character can't handle. - Richard Blackaby said that this weekend at the conference we were at. He used the example of Peter's denial of Jesus. Peter told Jesus he would follow Him all the way to his death. Jesus warned Peter that his character had not reached the level it needed to be at in order to follow Him that far. Jesus was going to a place Peter was not yet prepared by God to go. Peter went anyway, and we know how the story ends. Blackaby challenged us all weekend to go to deeper levels with God than we are experiencing now. He also reminded us that the only person who can keep you from experiencing God at a deeper level is you.

Here's the headline on today's Greenville News: Gas Pain to Linger - I didn't know if that was referring to fuel prices after hurricane Ike or a story about the effects of eating at the Beacon Drive In.

I haven't received any hate mail after yesterday's message on money - Of course part of that may be due to the fact that my e-mail has been down all day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sunday scripture and leaving for the weekend

Sherry and I are heading out to Hilton Head this morning for a Pastor's conference. It should be a great time for us to relax and learn together. We'll be back Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning we will discuss the first tool we need to do the job God has given our church. Here's some of the scripture we'll be teaching from this week. 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Since I haven't written much this week, I'll share with you a rare video I discovered on Youtube. This is some footage of our praise band in the early days. Hope you enjoy it. ;)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Scattered thoughts

Here's some thoughts from Sunday as well as other random things in my brain.

- The response to Sunday's message was very positive. I always have a little apprehension before I share one of those in your face, get with the program type of messages. I had several people say things on Sunday like, "that's what I needed to be reminded of", and "I like it when you're blunt."

- There have been other worship songs that I used to really love that I eventually got kind of tired of, but I think it will take a long time before I'm tired of "God of This City".

- As much as I didn't enjoy watching football this past Thursday night, I really enjoyed watching NFL games Sunday afternoon and last night. The Panthers win with two seconds left was pretty amazing, and I was glad to see Brett Favre win his first game in NY. Aaron Rodgers did a great job last night of helping the folks in Green Bay accept the fact that life must go on without Brett.

- Blake is using a website called wordle that creates pictures out of the words in a document. He has typed in this blog address to see what words I use a lot. The more a word is used the bigger it appears on the picture, so in an attempt to give Blake something to laugh at I will write the following (feel free to ignore this and move on to the next point): Blake Blake Blake Blake Blake Blake Blake Blake Blake Blake Blake Blake Blake Blake, jell-o jell-o jell-o jell-o jell-o jell-o jell-o

- Sherry and I are heading to Hilton Head this Thursday for a conference. I can't wait to spend a weekend with just the two of us, eat some good seafood, and walk on the beach. Oh yeah, we'll get to hear some speakers too.

- Donny just let me know that Freedom's new website will be going live in a couple of weeks. We've needed to pay more attention to our site for some time now, and Donny has done a ton of work to get this new one going. As soon as it's up and running I'll let you know.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Not much to read here

Today has been busier than a typical Monday due to the fact that I'll only be in the office three days this week. Also, we begin a new Life Group this Wednesday so that adds a few more items to the already full to do list! All that to say, this all I have time to write today. I'll try to get more on here tomorrow about Sunday. It was another great day of worship at Freedom!

Friday, September 5, 2008


I never cease to be amazed at how important attitude is. If you live life with a negative attitude you drain yourself and everyone around you of energy and excitement. If you generally have a positive outlook you give energy and excitement to the people you come in contact with. We all have people in our lives that we would identify as energy drainers and energy givers.

I had the chance to spend some time this morning with someone who is an energy giver. Gary O'Sullivan spends more time than he would like traveling around the country helping businesses and business owners be more effective, and when he is home for a couple of days in a row I always try to get a little bit of his time. Every time I sit down with Gary to eat breakfast I learn something, and I walk away with two or three new ideas to think about. Gary is an energizer. I want to be an energizer. Who are the energizers in your life? Are you an energizer for those around you?

Sunday morning update: I'm looking forward to speaking again this week. Donny did a great job these past two Sunday's helping emphasize Life Groups. This week we will be focusing on the job Jesus has assigned Freedom Fellowship and all of His churches to do. If you want to read ahead to be extra prepared for the message, here's the scripture you should check out: Colossians 1:15-20, 2 Peter 3:9, and Revelation 2:4-5.

One last thing, so many of you are doing a great job at inviting your friends to join us in worship. Keep up the good work!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Sherry

Today is Sherry's birthday. We will be eating at our favorite place tonight to celebrate, El Mariachi. We don't make big deals about adult birthday's in our house but, I wanted to be sure and let everyone who reads this blog know that I am blessed to be married to such an amazing woman. Everyday I see new ways where God knew exactly what He was doing when He brought Sherry and I together.

Happy Birthday sweetheart! You are the best, and I thank God for you each and everyday! Emily, Grace, and I would be a mess without you.

Son, that boy could play!

Jerry Reed who died at age 71 today was more than a bad actor in "Smokey and the Bandit". He was also a really good guitar picker. Check out the video of him and Chet Atkins, and you'll see for yourself.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My weekend: Gustav and an ascot

Here's what is happening in my mind today:

- I'm thankful Gustav wasn't another Katrina. I watched a lot more CNN yesterday than I normally do, and as each report came in about the storm weakening I was thrilled. Since Katrina hit I have gone to New Orleans with a group of men from our church three times to re-build houses, and although lots of progress has been made the city has along way to go still. Another flood would devastate the area in ways we can't really understand.

- I went with the girls to the mall yesterday, and we saw a dude wearing an ascot. I had to look twice to be sure I was seeing straight, and then I had to ask Sherry what it was called.(the ascot not the guy) Here's what I think is even funnier than this guy being way overdressed at the mall: He worked in one of the kiosks. It would be one thing if he worked in a fancy schamncy men's clothing store that sold ascots, but this guy was wearing his ascot and sport coat while he tried to sell sunglasses to people. In order to carry this new trend forward I'm thinking of preaching this Sunday in a velvet smoking jacket.

- Depending on who you pull for the first weekend of college football was either exciting or horrendous. Either way you'll enjoy this story about a pretty big mix-up that happened on Saturday. Thanks Trey for telling me about it.

- Today feels like Monday, but I realize it's Tuesday and now I'm worrying that I'm running behind. That's not a good way to begin the week. That's all for now. I need to get busy catching up!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Not a single comment?

This post will contain almost no new content, instead I just want to make an observation. Yesterday, I posted a funny video of one of the candidates for President, and I expected at least two or three comments. I figured I might get some negative comments from folks thinking I am endorsing Obama, or at least a comment or two from folks who found the video amusing. I mean the video was amusing for the simple fact that it featured a Rick Astley song! I'm not complaining I'm just surprised that I logged in this morning to find no (zero) comments. Maybe we are all just a little frightened to have an open discussion about politics for fear of being labeled "right wing" or "liberal". My philosophy is that there is enough goofiness in both parties to get lots of laughs out of.

By the way, I'm not endorsing Obama for President. If you are wondering who I am endorsing, I will reveal my choice for the Oval Office in a new post here on this blog in a couple of weeks.

There is one thing I want you to know about: It looks like you will be able to download any of the Sunday morning messages from Freedom on itunes very soon. We are working to have them available beginning the first week of September. I'll give you more info soon.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, your next President

Blake sent me this and it made me laugh. Hope it makes you chuckle.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rainy days

I can't get enough of this rain we're having! I find myself running to the window every time it starts like I can't believe it's real. At the risk of offending Sammy, who hates when church planters make everything on their blogs spiritual, seeing so much rain after a long time without it reminds me of a verse from Isaiah.
"As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."
- Isaiah 55:10-11
God's word (popularly known as the Bible) does for our life what the rain we've had this week does for the earth. It refreshes us, nourishes us, and helps us grow. The cool part about those verses is that God makes a promise that His word "will accomplish" what He desires. Pastors (of which I am now one) are often guilty of making people feel like they need our help to understand what the Bible really means. These verses remind us that God's word is a gift for everyone to have, and God will use His Spirit to speak to us as we read it.
Don't wait until Sunday to hear what the pastor has to say about God's word. Read it for yourself this week, and allow it accomplish the purpose God sent it for! You'll be glad you did.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Final Olympic thoughts

I was going to write this tomorrow, but I'll get it out of my mind today. Here are some of my final thoughts on the Olympics:

- NBC showed way too much diving and not enough cycling, boxing, judo, badminton, etc.

- It was exciting to see the lead singer of Fine Young Cannibals win the decathlon to become the worlds' greatest athlete.

- I enjoyed all two weeks of the Olympics this year, but it did lose a little excitement for me after Michael Phelps was finished. Winning by 1/100th of a second was one of the coolest things ever.

- Bob Costas dies his hair and eyebrows. Not that he shouldn't, I'm just saying I noticed it.

- Mary Carillo needs her own show. Her reports were usually funny and interesting. I especially enjoyed the one about kites and kite fighting.

- During the closing ceremonies the drummers in the middle of the arena formed a circle that looked just like a Bloomin' Onion to me. The more I watched the hungrier I got. I wonder how much Outback Steakhouse paid for that product placement?

- The next race I want to see is Usain Bolt vs. a cheetah.

- Now that the games are over I can get back to going to sleep at a reasonable hour.

Congratulations, you made the team.

Yesterday as I walked around meeting folks after worship I was reminded of something that I have written on here earlier. There are new folks at worship every single week and, yesterday was no different. In fact there were more guests yesterday than usual.

Here's what you've read on here before, but I think we all need to be reminded of: We have a great Welcome Team who works hard each and every week to get the atrium area set-up, greet folks as they come in, make sure everyone has all the info they need, and just generally make guests feel welcome. To those of you on that team I want to say a big "Thanks", but even if you aren't serving on the Welcome Team you play a vital role in whether people feel welcome at Freedom or not.

If you are a regular Freedom attender I want to challenge you to greet and talk to at least one new person every single Sunday. Also, look for people in the atrium that look like they need information. Maybe they have slipped by our greeters and they don't know where to register their children for Break Free Kids or they don't where the auditorium is. There are lots of easy ways that you can help a guest find their way around and have a better worship experience.

In the coming weeks we are going to see an increase in the number of people at worship. The way we greet and welcome each person will make a huge impact on whether they choose to come back again the next week. Remember, doing church is a team sport and when it comes to making people feel welcome we are all on the team!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Facebook and Life Groups

I've had a Facebook account for just a couple of months now. I was late getting on the internet connection site band wagon, but not that late for people my age. Now before you think that I'm a real forward thinking guy who understands the power of the internet, I didn't set up my account. I went to lunch one day, and when I walked back in the office Blake said, "You need a Facebook account so I went ahead and set you one up." My response was, "Why do I need a Facebook account?" Instead of trying to convince me he said, "Just try it out, and you'll see."

It didn't take long for me to see why being on Facebook was a good thing. It is one more way for me to connect with people. I can communicate with folks in a quick, easy to use format, and the biggest bonus of all is that I have been able to re-connect with friends I haven't seen in years as well. Just last week I found a friend of mine on Facebook that I grew up with that I haven't talked to in 20 years. Now we are sending each other messages to catch up on what we've missed in each other's lives.

No matter what other people use it for, (games, political agendas, etc.) Facebook for me is all about making connections. This Sunday at Freedom, you will have the opportunity to sign-up to be a part of a Life Group if you haven't already. Life Groups are all about helping you make connections with other folks at Freedom, and about helping you make a deeper connection with God. If you are nervous about signing-up because of past experiences or because you are just a private person by nature I would say the same thing to you about Life Groups that Blake said to me about Facebook: "Just try it and you'll see."

See you on Sunday!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Football quotes

I can't help it, but since Michael Phelps is done at the Olympics I've really had football on the brain. Here are some great quotes that I ran across from old football coaches. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

"The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it."
- Lou Holtz

"I don't expect to win enough games to be put on NCAA probation. I just want to win enough to warrant an investigation." - Bob Devaney / Nebraska

"In Alabama, an atheist is someone who doesn't believe in Bear Bryant." - Wally Butts / Georgia

"I make my practices real hard because if a player is a quitter, I want him to quit in practice, not in a game." - Bear Bryant

"There's one sure way to stop us from scoring - give us the ball near the goal line."
- Matty Bell / SMU

"If lessons are learned in defeat, our team is getting a great education."
- Murray Warmath / Minnesota

This last one sounds more like a philosophy of how to live life not just play football.

"We live one day at a time and scratch where it itches." - Darrell Royal / Texas

Remember those words of wisdom as you carry out the tasks of today!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Trampoline at the Olympics

I was going to write some of my off-beat thoughts about the Olympics today, but my buddy Dave beat me to the punch. The funny thing is, many of the things I was thinking he has put into words, and he's done it in a funnier more succinct way than I could have. So, instead of putting forth the effort to re-write what he wrote and claim it as my own, I'll provide this helpful linc so you can read what he wrote for yourself. It's funny stuff.

I did have one thought he didn't have:

Last night I watched the women's trampoline competition. Am I the only person who didn't know you could win a gold medal in trampoline? What those ladies were doing on the trampoline was pretty amazing. Their tricks were much more difficult than the standard jump high land on your bottom then bounce back on your feet trick that I perfected on a friend's trampoline when I was 12.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Blessings I don't deserve

Last night after the excitement of the day had died down I sat in my recliner and thought about something from yesterday's message. I talked just a little bit about how God had blessed David out of His goodness, and not because of David's goodness. God does the same thing for us. He blesses us constantly in ways we don't deserve and could never earn. As I sat there vegging out, I thought of a few of those ways that God has blessed me out of His goodness. Here's some that came to mind:

Forgiveness. He always gives it and I always need it. That's a perfect combination.

His Word. Over the last few months I have been reminded that the more time I spend reading the Bible, the more I understand what God wants me to become.

My wife. God knew exactly what He was doing when He chose to bless me with Sherry. She is my best encourager and my biggest fan, and there's nowhere I'd rather be than by her side.

My girls. Being a Dad to Emily and Grace is one of the things I'm most proud of. God has given me beautiful, smart, and fun daughters, and I love to hang out with them.

Friends that let me be normal. I never was comfortable being around pastors who were always "pastoral". I learned after serving on church staff that some guys always act that way because the churches they serve expect them to be that way. They have tried to fill the role of the perfect pastor because they think it's what people want. Thankfully, God has blessed me with friends at Freedom who just expect me to be Cliff. It doesn't bother them that I'd rather listen to Bruce Springsteen than Casting Crowns, or that I get so mad watching the Carolina Clemson game that I only watch it alone. If I ever had to be pastoral I'd have to quit being a pastor because I'm not very good at it.

The list could go on and on. Take a few minutes to today to think of ways God has blessed you out of His goodness. I'd love to hear what some of them are if you're not too scared to leave a comment!


With football season just around the corner (one week from tomorrow), I've seen plenty of interviews with players and coaches recently. Here are two things you normally hear in just about any pre-season interview.

- "We're just going to play one game at a time." Of course you are. Even with the changes in sports over the years I have yet to see a team play two games at the same time. So playing one game at a time is really the only option.

- "Step up." This is a code word for improvement. It's usually used in a phrase like this, "Coach says I need to step up my game this year, especially during conference play." Here's the translation of that sentence: "The coach has threatened to revoke my scholarship unless I actually give some effort this year, because last season my play in conference games was pathetic."

I really am ready to watch players "step up" and "play one game at a time". The great thing about cable television is during football season you can watch a game almost any night of the week.

By the way, we had a great crowd of folks at worship this past Sunday. Remember, if you are a regular Freedom attender it's your job to introduce yourself to guests, and do all you can to make them feel welcome.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Another random friday

This has been a slow week as far as blogging goes, so you might be wondering what I've been doing all week, but you probably are too busy with your own lives to really wonder what I've been doing. Either way here's an incomplete recap of stuff from this week.

- Completed the message for September 14. It took longer than usual, and now that it's done I'm pretty sure it needs some re-working before I actually teach it. What is the subject that caused such a struggle in preparation you ask? You'll have to wait until 9/14 to find out, but I'll tell you this, it's something everyone cares about, and has an opinion on.

- Spent a good bit of time preparing to lead our Life Group that will begin on September 10.

- Finalized some details for our trip Disney World in November. We can't wait!

- Watched Blake in his office here.

- Watched Michael Phelps win six gold medals.

- Checked out another bad rap video from the guy on Dustin's blog. If you want to waste 4 minutes of your life click here.

- Ran across something in scripture I had never noticed before. I was reading in 1 Kings about King Solomon and all his riches and I read in chapter 10 verse 22, "The king had a fleet of trading ships at sea along with the ships of Hiram. Once ever three years it returned, carrying gold, silver and ivory, and apes and baboons."
Apes and baboons? I wonder what he did with the new stock of primates he received every three years?

- Listened to Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd all the way through for the first time in a while. That's got to be one of my favorite albums of all time.

- Played lots of Rummikub and Uno with the girls.

That's part of what happened this week. On to what's happening Sunday, we will finish the message series on the life of David. Before you come, go ahead and read 2 Samuel 7.

See you then!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Life Group sign-ups

Things here are still winding down from Back to School Bash this past Sunday. Other than that it has been a fairly quiet week.

One thing I do want to remind you of is to be sure and sign-up for a Life Group. Registration began last Sunday and will continue for the next three Sundays or until the groups are full. This is a great way for you to make real connections with other folks at Freedom. You can sign-up in the atrium before or after the service on Sunday.

Dustin has posted another video of an idiot on his blog. It's only about 40 seconds long and you can see it here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympics events you won't see

The Olympics are in full swing on NBC. For the last few nights I have stayed up later than normal to watch swimming, gymnastics, beach volleyball, etc. There are so many different Olympic sports that some of them never get on television. It is a shame for all of the athletes who train for four years or more to not get a little air time. Here are two events that won't make it to television this year:

Men's and Women's block crushing: Athletes compete to see who can break the most cinder blocks with their head in two minutes. Women's gold medalist Olga Meinhammer from Germany will attempt to break her own world record of 73 blocks. Word is that if she is victorious she will set her sights on competing versus the men in the 2112 games.

Chopstick fly catching: Competitors are placed in a small room full of common houseflies where they try to catch as many as possible. There is no time limit. Each athlete may enter the room as soon as the opening ceremonies end and remain there until the start of closing ceremonies. Usually all of the competitors have broken their chopsticks and stormed from the room by the end of the third day. Only one medal has been awarded in the history of this event, due to the fact only one person has ever actually caught a fly. Daniel LaRusso took home the gold at the 84 games. Although it was a historic event, some have claimed that the gold medal victory was simply beginner's luck.

Please enjoy all of the events that will be televised, but remember what you could be watching.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back-to School Bash = Awesome

It's hard for me to find the right words to describe last night's Back-to School Bash. The number of people who showed up, and the hard work of all the Freedom volunteers was outstanding! Here's a few things I think you'll want to know about:

518 backpacks were given away! Because of the donations from everyone at Freedom we had 550 backpacks full of school supplies and at the end of the evening there were only 32 left. I'm sure we will have folks come by the office this week to pick up some, and any that are left will be donated to one of the local schools. Seeing the expressions on the faces of the kids and watching them immediately open the backpacks to check out what was inside was awesome.

At Freedom we have the hardest working bunch of volunteers anywhere! Last night there were over 100 folks who did everything from set-up, greet, serve food, paint faces, make sno-cones, empty trash cans, and just generally show the Greer community that Jesus loves them. It was obvious to everyone there that each volunteer was there to serve and show compassion. If you helped in anyway with Back-to-School Bash, THANK YOU!! You are a hero to our community!

The impact of last night will go on for a long time. There were more backpacks given out last night than at last year's event. There will be more given out next year than were given away last night. The effect of events like Back-to School Bash are bigger than one night and bigger than a spike in worship attendance that may follow it. The effect of serving our community year after year will be bigger than our church. We want to build God's kingdom and serving our city is one way to do that.

One Olympic item: I stayed up late last night to watch the Men's 4x100 Freestyle Relay at the Olympics. I'm glad I did. That was one of the most exciting things I've seen in sports in long, long, time. If you didn't see it you should take ten minutes to check it out here.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Sunday scripture

Here's the scripture for Sunday's message: 2 Samuel 11-12.

Be sure you're at Back to School Bash on Sunday evening. That's all for today, see you on Sunday!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Back to School Bash is almost here

I can't believe that the last post about Wasp Nest Street didn't yield a single comment. I figured lots of you would tell me about some weird named street your great aunt used to live on. Oh well, moving on to more important things...

Back to School Bash is this Sunday! Tamara and her crew were here yesterday stuffing backpacks, all the assignments have been given out to those of you who have volunteered to help, so the only thing left is the actual event. Everyone is invited to come out to Century B ball field (behind Kid's Planet) from 6-8 p.m. to enjoy free inflatables, hot dogs, and sno-cones. Come whether or not you need a backpack of school supplies or not.

We are hoping to give away all 550 backpacks of supplies to families that need them for the start of school in two weeks. If you are helping with the event on Sunday you need to be sure and arrive no later than 5:00. If you are a regular Freedom attender and you are not signed up to help, your presence is still important. We need as many people as possible to greet and make all of our guests feel welcome.

This is the second year we have done this event and I continued to be amazed at the generosity and helpful attitude of our folks at Freedom. This is a great opportunity to show our community that we care about them, and you have made it happen! Pray that children and adults will come to know Jesus through what happens on Sunday.

Stuff that's not important:

- Check out this stupid video on Dustin's blog. The idiot train rolls on.

- Brett Favre is a New York Jet. I really didn't see that one coming.

- There's only one good thing about school starting back, football season is right around the corner. The Gamecocks kick off three weeks from tonight.

That's all for now...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

You live where?

I have seen some strange street names in my lifetime. When I was in college in Charleston I ran across a Jedi Street in North Charleston. I thought that would be an awesome street to live on. Perhaps Jedi Street would dead end into Obi Wan Kenobi Circle. Also, I heard on the news several years ago about a poor woman who lived on Anthrax Street during the time of the anthrax terrorism scares. Well yesterday Emily and I saw a terrible street to live on. We spotted it on the way to a friend's house in Inman.

The name of the street was Wasp Nest Lane. The dude that came up with that name probably got stung by wasps as he was clearing the land to put the street in. I didn't turn down Wasp Nest Lane, but my fear was that it would have been part of a larger neighborhood with other dangerous pest related street names. Imagine giving someone directions and saying, "turn right off of Wasp Nest Lane onto Fire Ant Mound Way, then you'll take the second left onto Den of Rattlesnakes Drive."

Personally, I think I'd rather live on Anthrax Street.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Monday morning quarterback

Yesterday started out stressful and ended up being great. For the first time in three years we had a major communication breakdown concerning one of our trailers. The cool thing is that once the trailer arrived everyone who was present pitched in to help get all of the stuff unloaded and set-up. In the end everything worked out fine. My blood pressure spiked for nothing. Here's a few more thoughts on my mind this morning:

- All of the school supplies are in. Tamara let me know yesterday that the only thing still needed to fill up the 500 backpacks is about 100 packs of wide ruled notebook paper. Once again, all of the folks at Freedom have responded in a huge way to meet a need in our community. I am looking forward to seeing all of the kids that will receive a backpack full of supplies this Sunday at Back-to-School Bash.

- Glorious One is one of my new favorite songs that we sing in worship. The band sounded great all around yesterday, but Glorious One was special.

- Jeanne Brown made me an awesome peach pie. Jeanne had made two of them for last week's baptism party, and after I bragged so much about it she decided to make me one all for my own. I ate two pieces yesterday afternoon. That means I need to do about 20 extra minutes on the treadmill today.

- I just found out a little while ago that Skip Carey died last night. Evidently he had been sick for some time. I had no idea because I still heard him on the radio this season doing Braves home games. Braves fans will miss his low-key delivery, his well placed sarcasm, and his call of "Braves win! Braves win!"

- To follow-up on my post concerning great breakfast cereals, evidently "King Vitamin" isn't sold everywhere. My brother-in-law Chris told me last night that growing up in Winnsboro he never heard of "King Vitamin", and his Dad worked for a grocery store! The good folks in Winnsboro have missed out, and I imagine they never got to enjoy "Kaboom" either.

- Brett Favre is supposed to report to Packers practice today. That ought to be fun.

- When I was in seminary I never dreamed that teaching the scripture would give me an opportunity to use the phrase "dancing in your drawers". If you weren't there yesterday, that's part of what you missed.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sunday scripture and breakfast cereals

It's Friday! Here's some quick thoughts for the weekend:

Be sure and read yesterday's post about the list of still needed school supplies for Back to School Bash.

The scripture we'll be covering this Sunday is 2 Samuel 6. This is a chapter that contains some pretty surprising stuff.

Yesterday Sherry went grocery shopping and brought home a box of Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch. That is without question my all time favorite cereal. Here's a list of my five favorite cereals:

1. Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch - There was a time in my life where I ate at least one bowl of this everyday. I've always wondered if Cap'n is an official title. If he were in the actual Navy would he be Captain, but in the world of cereal military it's just Cap'n? Who is the cereal Navy defending us against?

2. Reese's Puffs - The next best thing to PBCC. It has peanut butter and chocolate flavor puffs.

3. Frosted Flakes - Even with a tiger as the spokesperson I still like this cereal.

4. Honey Nut Cheerios - This one is actually good for you. That fact almost disqualified it from the list.

5. Apple Jacks - One of the best parts about eating Apple Jacks is the way the milk tastes when you're done.

There's the top five. In reality I like just about any cereal with the exception of frosted mini wheat. If I want something like that I'll sprinkle some sugar on pine straw and put it in a bowl. Also, I'd like to send out a long distance dedication (a la Casey Kasem) to King Vitamin. The King and I shared some good times in Middle School and High School.

I hope I have given you enough useless stuff to think about over the weekend. See you on Sunday!

School supplies needed

Yesterday at Six Flags was fun, hot and sticky, but fun. Grace rode her first roller coaster which was good practice for our trip to Disney World later this year. We have been trying to talk her into riding Space Mountain, and I think her experience yesterday will help.

This weekend all school supplies bought in South Carolina are tax-free. That's perfect timing because this Sunday is the last chance you have to turn in any school supplies you have purchased for Back to School Bash. Remember, we are packing 500 backpacks full of school supplies to be given away to families in need. Tamara gave me the following list of items we are still running a little short on at this time:

Wide Ruled notebooks
Wide Ruled Notebook paper
Pencil Boxes
Glue Sticks
Boxes of crayons
Colored Pencils

When you're out this weekend, pick-up some of these things and bring them with you on Sunday!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gone for the day

We're headed to Six Flags first thing tomorrow morning with the students from church. This will be the first trip I've taken to a theme park with teenagers where I'm not in charge. I'm looking forward to it. I'll update you tomorrow on how it went.

Quick thoughts on Tuesday morning

- It actually rained at our house last night. I was so excited I thought about getting up out of bed and walking out on the porch just to look at it. Of course I really just turned over and fell asleep again.

- I saw a bumper sticker this morning that said this: "If you were twice as smart, you'd still be stupid." That's an encouraging thought.

- I've been praying through and brainstorming ideas for September and October messages the last couple of days. I'm pretty excited about what God wants me to teach during those eight weeks. Please pray that God will make it very clear to me what needs to be said and how it needs to be said as well.

- We're less than 30 days from the start of football season. I am past ready for it to get started.

- The Braves are done. Making the playoffs every season for 14 years really spoiled me. I guess I need to accept the fact that the current team is like the Braves were when I was a kid, good enough to win some games, but not good enough to win the division.

Shine a light where you are today!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Blown away

The day after we do baptism it is always hard for me to describe how I feel about this church and what God is doing here. The best thing I can tell you is to come see for yourself. No matter how I describe yesterday's celebration the words won't do it justice. Nothing gets me more excited than seeing adults and kids make a public statement about how Jesus has changed their lives. If you couldn't be there last night, we will be scheduling another baptism for September that you will not want to miss!

At the risk of leaving some important people out, let me thank some folks for the hard work they put in to make last night's party a reality:

Springwell Church - for letting us borrow their portable baptistry. Springwell is a church that is only interested in building the Kingdom of God. They are not selfish with any of the resources God has blessed them with. I pray we will always have that same attitude.

Lisa Varn - for organizing all of the food. Lisa took care of the catering with Bucky's BBQ (which was awesome), getting people to bring desserts, and recruiting people to help set-up and serve. Lisa does this for every baptism celebration and I never have to worry if it will be taken care of. If you ate too much last night and loved every minute of it be sure to thank Lisa!

Chad Roddy and Mark Sears - for taking care of the sound. The best part about working with these two guys is their attitude. Both of them are concerned first and foremost with how they can help. Their positive outlook made the technical part of last night's party a breeze.

Blake Comer - for volunteering to try out the baptistry. Before everyone arrived Blake allowed us to "baptize" him so we could be sure the water level and temperature were right in the baptistry. Too bad Blake's parents couldn't be there to see it.

Various volunteers - for filling in the gaps. So many of you just pitched in and helped when you arrived. Whether it was taking trash to the dumpster, setting up tents, helping serve, keeping track of kids, or greeting people as they arrived here's a list of people I saw helping out in various ways: Mark Wilson, Trey Frick, Randy Price, Mark King, Phil Hannah, Lin Raffaldt, Phil Smith, Jason Collins, Steve & Debbie Bateman, Laura Beth Comer, Seth Kauffman, and many more.
If you helped out and I didn't list your name, please forgive me. I'm certain lots of you were serving in ways that I didn't even know about. That's one thing that makes Freedom such an amazing church to be a part of, people pitch in to get the job done without having to be asked or recognized.

As I said earlier we will have another baptism in September because we have four people who couldn't participate last night. Until then, take every opportunity to tell your friends about the true freedom they can only find in Jesus!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sunday scripture and random goofiness

I'm looking forward to hearing Donny bring the message this Sunday. We will be resuming our series on the life of David called "God at Work". If you are reading ahead, you'll want to be sure and check out 1 Samuel 21-22.

Remember baptism this Sunday afternoon at Lake Cunningham. We will begin at 5:00, and be sure and stay afterwards for some awesome BBQ.

Other stuff for you to think about this weekend:

Yesterday Blake told me that when he plays miniature golf (or putt-putt as we used to call it) he always brings his own putter. I laughed at him. I know that people bring their own cue to play pool and their own ball for bowling, but there's something inexplicably funny to me about taking a Titleist putter to a putt-putt course. Of course my main man Mark Wilson agrees with Blake. Mark and Lisa used to take their own putters and their own golf balls with them. I told Blake that the only thing funnier than taking your own putter to play putt-putt would be to take one of those really long putters that guys hold with two fists up around their chests.

Dave has a funny video on his blog that you should check out. I'm thinking that dude's insurance is going up soon.

NCAA 08 update: Blake told me that I could change the settings on my game to junior varsity to make things easier. I did that, and last night I beat NC State 48-6. I don't care if changing the settings is like cheating. It's more fun when you win.

See you on Sunday!