Friday, February 29, 2008

Clapton on silence, Chikezie and more

Eric Clapton, one of the world's most talented and celebrated musicians had this to say when asked what he had learned over the years:

One of the most beneficial things I have ever learned is how to keep my mouth shut.

In other news, Chikezie survived the cuts made on American Idol last night. America has at least one more week to use the word Chikezie in their conversations without people thinking they are nuts. I am considering using the word Chikezie as part of my day to day communication. It could be a great exclamation. For example, Chipper Jones hits a three run homer in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Mets and you respond by yelling "Chikezie!", or your boss calls you in and says you will be receiving a 7% raise for your hard work, you can pump your fist like Tiger Woods and quietly say "Chikezie" through clenched teeth. Just a suggestion.

I have been enjoying reading through Matthew 20-28 this week as we get ready for Easter. One thing you can never say about Jesus is that He tried to make everyone happy. He spent much of the teaching time He had in the days before His death calling the religious leaders, "hypocrites", "snakes", "tombs", and "evil". That is a great reminder to me that as I stand to teach each week my focus should be on God's truth, not what others might think about that truth.

Last night I was able to spend some alone time with Grace. We went to Pizza Inn, ate too much pizza, then came home and played. When I think about the the meaning of joy, Grace comes to mind. I don't know if she knows how to have a bad day. Spending time with her reminds me that there is much more to be excited about in my life than there is to be worried about.

See you on Sunday! Invite a friend to join you this week, you'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dangerous journey

I was reading today in the study our Life Group is doing about Ernest Shackleton. He was a British explorer led the first expedition across Antarctica. Shackleton and his 27 man crew departed for Antarctica in December of 1914. The recruitment ad that many of the crew responded to read as follows:

"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success."

Why would anyone respond favorably to that plea for help? Do you think people in those days were that desperate for "honour and recognition"? I'd love to talk to the 27 men who signed up for the life threatening trip to find out. I suspect that the men who went were looking for something more than the average life. They knew the trip would be dangerous, but it wouldn't be dull. Maybe they were tired of the same routine day after day, and the thought of "bitter cold" and "small wages" was not enough to scare them away from the possibility of adventure.

The life God has called us to live for him is an adventure with times of danger, excitement, and challenge. The problem is that too often we settle for the mundane and boring. We are willing to follow God's path as long as we understand it and can figure out how to do it. God is looking for people who will follow Him when it doesn't make sense and there seems to be no way for things to work out. I don't know what God is tugging at your heart to do, but whatever it is, don't delay in doing it! There's a ship leaving for Antarctica today, don't miss your chance to be on the crew.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More important than being a whiz at Trivial Pursuit

If you've spent anytime at all listening to the messages at Freedom, you should know that I think reading the Bible is important. One of the things I find myself saying over and over is, "the Bible is the best tool we have for understanding who God is and what He wants us to become." I began reading a new book yesterday called, "The Organic God". The author is Margaret Feinberg, and I found out about it from the folks at Catalyst.

In the first chapter I read this sentence about the nature of scripture: "...the book God gives us is like no other. God seems far more concerned with transformation than mere information."

Those words really resonated with me. I was just talking this morning with the guys I had breakfast with about how I need to be careful when I read the Bible that I am not merely trying to find verses for the next series of messages that I will be delivering at Freedom. Instead, I should just go to God's word as a follower of Him and allow His Spirit to transform me as I read.

I am a natural information gatherer. Whether it's sports statistics, music trivia, or funny jokes, I like to hear as much as possible so I can have a knowledge of lots of different things. I need to be sure and not allow the scripture to just become a subject that I could win a trivia contest with. Transformation, not just information. I'll try to remember that.

- By the way, the spell check is working again. I will no longer be held responsible for misspellings.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wisdom from Evel Knievel, Chikezie update, etc.

When I was a kid, nobody was cooler than the man pictured to the right. I'll always remember the Christmas that I received the Evel Knievel action figure from Santa. It had the motorcycle that you could wind up and let race across the room, knocking over things and putting holes in the sheetrock. Here's a very practical quote from the man who claimed to have broken every bone in his body, (all for our entertainment of course):

"Anybody can jump a motorcycle. The trouble begins when you try to land it"

In other news, Chikezie survived the first round of cuts on American Idol last night. It looked for a moment like he might be going home, but he's still alive to sing for another week. He overcame a sub-par performance, a poor choice in wardrobe, and Simon mispronouncing his name. The only way I can explain how he made it is that America must have Chikezie-mania!

I had a great time speaking this morning for FCA at Riverside High School. It was very cool to see such large group of teenagers willing to arrive at school at 7 a.m. to worship together. Pray today for the teenagers in your life. The temptations and struggles they face today are great, and I believe God wants to do some amazing things in their generation.

I mentioned last week about a possible opportunity concerning land and a building for Freedom. An initial meeting yesterday went well. Please pray for the following guys who will be looking over this information as we try to determine what God's next step is for us: Tracy Burkhalter, John Bostic, Lance Owens, and Brian Thomas. Pray daily for these men by name. We know the only plan that will work is God's plan, and we want to do nothing but that!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gimme some Chikezie

Maybe you didn't watch it last night. Perhaps now that American Idol is in it's 7th season you can't commit the 5 hours a week it takes to follow the competition. I completely understand if that's where you are. I didn't watch all of it last night, but the part that I did watch included a performance by a guy named, Chikezie. No last name, just Chikezie.
I didn't think he was all that good, but you've gotta be pulling for a guy with that kind of name. The name Chikezie is made even cooler by the fact that he doesn't use his last name. That puts him in the same class as Bono, Cher, Madonna, Ichiro, Prince, and Sting. I guess a first name like Chikezie would lose it's effectiveness if it was followed by a last name like Smith or Jones. I'm hoping he lasts several weeks into the competition so I can continue to say, "Chikezie".

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I listened to a great podcast recently from the folks at Catalyst, where some of the staff at Buckhead Church in Atlanta were interviewed. Here's what they had to say about the value of excellence:

"Don't confuse success with excellence. Success is comparing yourself with someone else, excellence is comparing yourself with your potential."

"We should wake up each morning and ask, 'Did I take a step yesterday toward reaching my God-given potential?' "

Those are good things for me to remember.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday morning quarterback

Yesterday at Freedom was another great Sunday. The skit about Life Group myths was hilarious! Shelley Kauffman was sitting behind me, and I'm pretty sure she laughed until she cried. Dan and his crew did a great job, and it was obvious they were prepared. Also, thanks to Tracy Burkhalter for being willing to share about the difference accountability has made in his spiritual journey. I had several good conversations with folks following yesterday's service. One that I loved was when a friend of mine who is part of AA said, "I'm glad to hear you talk about confessing our sins to each other. I've been doing that for years!" I think it is interesting how being open and honest about our faults is easier when we hit bottom. I guess it's then we realize that we have nothing to lose.
Other randomness from this past weekend:

- We got some new carpet installed in our office on Friday. I was here working when the guys were putting it in, and that glue they use gave me a nasty headache. The guys who were installing the carpet weren't wearing masks. I don't know how they do it.

- We had plenty of help moving furniture back in the office yesterday afternoon. Thanks to everyone who pitched in! I asked for about 7 guys, and we ended up with over a dozen. We were finished in 20 minutes, plenty of time for everyone to get home in time for the green flag at Daytona.

- I coached both of my girl's basketball teams on Saturday. Charles (Emily's coach) had the flu so I filled in for him. I have realized that I hate to lose a lot more when I coach a game than when I played. I can't imagine what it must be like for college and professional coaches who know their jobs are on the line. Maybe I should be a little less critical of their decision making, but I probably won't.

- There's lots to be done this week. Please pray that I will use my time correctly, and that God will give me wisdom in decision making. I am excited about what God wants to do at Freedom, and I hope you are as well!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Wisdom from Princess Leia and other random Friday thoughts

I ran across an issue of Esquire magazine last week called the "What I've Learned" issue. It is a collection of interviews of famous people where they tell what they think they have learned so far in life. Some of the quotes are good, some are way off base, and some shouldn't be repeated. I thought for the next several Fridays I would share one quote that I thought was interesting. The quote for this week comes from Carrie Fisher. Any man who grew up in the 80's knows her as Princess Leia Organa. Here's what Princess Leia has to say:

"Kindness is a more valuable commodity than intelligence"

My college buddy Dave wrote a great post on his blog about excercising our faith. It is a must read. Check it out here.

I'm looking forward to worship on Sunday. Come ready to be challenged in a very specific way about how you can take your spiritual life to a higher performance level. If you want a preview, read James 5:16.

When does American Idol go to Hollywood? Emily and I haven't been watching it yet, but we will start when all the people who embarrass themselves on national t.v. have been weeded out.

Mark Johnson and I went to see an amazing bass player at the Handlebar on Wednesday. His name is Victor Wooten and he is most famous for playing with Bela Fleck. I never knew a man's fingers could move that fast!

Donny goes to the Neurologist for a follow-up visit today. Pray that he will continue to heal and get his energy back.

One last thing, keep praying for the future of Freedom in regards to where we will eventually have a building. I had an interesting conversation today with someone that could possibly lead to something important, or it could be nothing but a dead-end. Pray that we will have the wisdom to know the difference.

Still no spellcheck available on blogger. This is getting old.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Truth or Consequences

Today Roger Clemens will appear before members of Congress to answer questions regarding possible steroid use. Up to this time, Clemens has been considered one of the best pitchers in the history of baseball. His name has frequently been mentioned in the same breath as former greats like, Koufax, Gibson, Ryan, and Tiant. (Just kidding about Tiant) After watching all the opinions and other talk on ESPN this morning (thanks to Mike & Mike) I believe the damage is done. No matter what he says from this point on, his image and legacy are badly damaged. Maybe that's why he's fighting this so diligently.

Regardless of what Clemens has or hasn't done, his best move now is to tell the truth. As my 7 year-old, Grace, told Sherry yesterday, "when you tell a lie, you have to tell another one to cover it up, then it becomes a chain reaction of lies." She learned that from Angelia Marzka and Allison Bregg on Sunday in Break Free Kids. The most important lessons really are the simplest ones aren't they? Maybe Clemens would do well to remember the lessons he learned in Sunday School as a child. Perhaps we all would benefit from that. If I were one of the Rocket's advisors I would ask him the best question ever: "What is the wise thing to do?"

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Play it loud

I began reading the book of Ezra this morning, and I was struck by this passage. That's a great example of what worship should be like. Some people will be prompted to cry while others feel like shouting. We can express our feelings to God in so many different ways, and all of them bring joy to His heart.

I love the last part of v.13 where it says that, "the sound was heard far away." It wasn't heard far away because the Israelites had an awesome sound system with giant woofers that could pump out a huge bass line. It was heard "far away" because the worshippers were so jacked up about God that they were shouting, screamimg, crying, clapping, and singing, and they weren't concerned with what anyone else thought! That's the kind of worship I pray we'll have at Freedom.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday morning quarterback

I know that football season is over, but I have decided to continue calling the first of the week post "Monday morning quarterback". Amanda Somers reminded me that with recruiting, spring practice, and summer workouts, football is a year-round sport anyway. Here's what's happening today:

Donny is slowly improving. The loss of feeling on his right side has caused him to feel very drained when he tries to go places. I talked with him this morning, and he said he felt better yesterday than he did on Saturday. He goes back to the doctor on Friday for a follow-up visit.

I was reminded yesterday of why I love Freedom Fellowship. When I stood on stage yesterday and looked down at all the people who were on their knees during prayer time, I started to get emotional. It was cool to see senior adult couples, a mentally handicapped man, college students, married couples, teenagers, and families all praying openly to God about what's going on in their lives.

I'm glad I don't own Guitar Hero. That doesn't mean I don't like Guitar Hero or don't want Guitar Hero. The Breece's came over for supper last night and Mike brought Guitar Hero II for the PS2 and it was awesome. The reason I'm glad I don't own it is that if I did, I'm pretty sure I would spend way too much time playing it. I only played four songs last night, but I did score 98% on Strutter by KISS. I felt like Ace Frehley! Maybe I'll start painting my face.

I married way over my head. I was reminded yesterday morning how awesome Sherry is. Donny had been originally scheduled to preach yesterday, but due to his illness I got to bring the message instead. Normally I like to have the message totally finished by the Wednesday before, but things being as they were last week I didn't begin the message prep until Thursday. Needless to say I felt a little stressed out about that. Sherry knew that, and she prayed faithfully for me on Thursday during the prep time and throughout the service yesterday. I am blessed to have such an amazing partner to do this whole pastoring thing with. Not to mention that I really like to look at her and hang out with her as well.

I'm looking forward to a new week. We'll see what God has in store for us! Spellcheck is still down on blogspot. That, coupled with my lack of phonics knowledge is a recipe for disaster.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Friday stuff

Well it's Friday. This has been an odd week with all of the excitement over Donny's stay in the hospital, but he's home now and things are beginning to get back to normal. Here's what you need to know:

- Amber Ploof is doing a great job revamping our "guest services" ministry. There are still opportunities for you to be involved in welcoming guests to Freedom. This is a very important, yet very simple way for to be involved in what God is doing each week at our worship gathering. If you think you might be interested, or if you would like more information about this opportunity, talk to Amber this Sunday. You can find her at one of the tables in the atrium where the welcoming team sign-up sheet is located.

- We will be continuing the message series about fellowship being the fuel that helps us move forward on our journey with Christ. Donny did a great job last week kicking things off. We will talk Sunday about the "messiness" of getting involved in the lives of others.

- Blake has posted two of my favorite commercials on his blog. Check them out here.

- I sent ya'll to Jonathan's blog earlier this week. That was for something serious and meaningful. Go there today for something silly. Click here.

- I'm a little bleary-eyed this morning. Sherry and I had to do some middle of the night care for Grace who got a touch of the virus that has been going around. Extra big thanks go out to my main man Trey for letting me come get their carpet cleaner at 11:30 last night. Sorry I had to wake you dude!

- Sherry and I are going on a double date tonight with a girl (I guess now I should refer to her as a lady) who grew up in my youth group at Fairview and her husband. That makes me feel old.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Donny's back home!

He's home! That's about all that's new.

Donny update - Thursday a.m.

Donny will be coming home from the hospital today. The doctors are going to treat him with medication, and he will not have any type of surgery or other procedure. When he gets back, he will be able to resume all of his normal activities. Thank you for praying these last few days. I will let you know when he gets home.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Donny update - Wednesday

The test Donny had this morning revealed that he has a small defect in his heart that has been there since birth. This is probably what caused his problem on Monday. The good news is that it is not uncommon, and it can be corrected. The procedure would not be open heart surgery, and it is something that people normally have done as an outpatient procedure. When I left the hospital, Donny and Shelley were waiting for the doctors to make their recommendations. This is good news. Keep praying!

P.S. - Evidently the spell check on blogspot isn't working, so please ignore any misspellings. If they don't get this fixed I'll have to move this blog to a different provider.


Keep praying for Donny. I will be heading over to the hospital to see him shortly, and I will post a full report when I get back.

On to some other things that I haven't written about since all the excitement started with Donnny first thing on Monday:

- What a game! I have watched a lot of football in my life, and I have seen most of the Super Bowls; this one was right at the top. It's too soon to say it was the greatest Super Bowl ever, but I'm having a hard time remembering a better one. One of the first things I thought about after the game was that I hoped my sister and brother-in-law let my nephews stay up watch the whole thing. They'll be able to tell their kids one day about the awesome Super Bowl of 2008. By the way, did anyone notice if Bellicheck cried after the game?

- I have been in Hendersonville, NC for the last two days doing some praying and brainstorming about the messages for 2008. It is always so helpful for me to get away, slow down and listen to what God wants to teach me.

- My friend Jonathan Everette who is in the process of planting a new church in Spartanburg has written a great post on his blog about vision and direction of church. Click here to read it.

That's all for now. Keep praying for Donny and Shelley.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Donny update - Tuesday p.m.

I saw Donny this afternoon about 5:00. He will have one more test run in the morning, and then he hopes to be home by tomorrow afternoon. One doctor looked at his MRI, and he seems to think that the problem should correct itself in about 4-6 weeks. Pray that Donny and Shelley will get plenty of rest tonight, and that he will begin to regain feeling on his right side.

Donny update - Tuesday afternoon

Donny has had both an MRI and EKG, and he is waiting for the doctor to come by and discuss the test results. As soon as I know something more I will post it here.

Donny update - Tuesday morning

I just got finished talking to Shelley, and she said Donny rested well last night. He will be moved downstairs to begin an MRI shortly. Depending on the results of the MRI, the doctor will determine what other tests need to be run, but she said they have already told them that Donny will have an ultrasound done of his heart today as well. The numbness on the right side of his body has not changed since yesterday. Continue to pray for healing, for peace, and for the doctors and nurses who will be caring for him.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Stop now and pray

Please be sure to pray for Donny, Shelley and their boys. In case you haven't already heard, Donny has been admitted into Greenville Memorial for tests. He was excercising this morning when he started to experience numbness on his right side. After going to the ER at Allen Bennett Hospital, he was sent to Memorial where he will be under the care of a neurologist. Tomorrow the doctors plan to run several tests to determine what has caused the problem. I will keep you updated here on this blog tomorrow as the day progresses.

Friday, February 1, 2008

This blog is now video enabled

For some time I have wanted to post video on this blog, but since I am a computer doofus I have been unable to do so. Blake has taught me how to upload videos, so I present to you the inagural video for this blog. It won't inspire you to greatness, but it might inspire you to greater heights of stupidity. Special thanks to my Dad for sending me this in an e-mail some time back. Enjoy!