Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Good stuff from Dad

One of my Dad's good friends sent me an e-mail last week. In it, he said that he enjoyed reading the blog, and that by reading it he could tell that "the apple didn't fall far from the tree". That got me to thinking about some of the things I have inherited from my Dad. I had a conversation with a guy I graduated high school with several months ago and he said , "I graduated from college, got a job, got married, had kids, and I woke up one morning and realized I had turned into my Dad." Whether we like it or not we received a bunch of stuff from our parents and we will pass just as much on to our own kids. Here's some cool stuff that my Dad gave me:

- A big smile. I don't smile with just my mouth. When I smile, my cheeks move up, the area around my eyes wrinkles up, and most significantly my eyes disappear. Those disappearing eyes earned me the nickname "Squint" in college, and led my friend Jeff Caldwell to ask me when we were kids if I could see when I smiled. My Dad's eyes do the same thing. The other thing My Dad gave me concerning smiles is that we both have a hard time not doing it. That's generally good, but there have been times when a smile would be inappropriate, and I do it anyway. If something strikes me as funny I'm going to smile.

- A love of laughter. This kind of goes along with the whole smiling thing, but thanks to my Dad I grew up in a house with lots of laughter. He laughed a lot, and he created situations that we all laughed at. There's not much I enjoy more than sitting around listening to and telling stories that make me laugh. Laughter goes well with just about everything.

- An ability not to take myself too seriously. This is something that is vital for anyone in ministry, and anytime I'm able to do it I realize that I learned it from watching Dad. My Dad is one of the wisest men I know, but he doesn't come across as a guy who thinks he has all the answers. He's always willing to learn from someone else, and he can admit when he makes a mistake. The best part of all is that he can laugh at himself.

- An example of how to treat my wife. I learned from Dad that a wife should be treated with special respect, and that respect should be given to her by the children as well. Over the years of doing ministry I have unfortunately seen the inside of a lot of bad marriages. Every time I do I am thankful that my Dad loved my Mom, and that it showed. I'm not a perfect husband, but I know that so much of the things I get right in marriage I saw lived out in my house everyday growing up.

The list could go on, but that's the things that came to mind today. What are you passing on to to your kids? What have you inherited from your parents?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday Afternoon Quarterback

I just got into the office about 30 minutes ago. I have been helping out with Field Day for the
1st - 5th graders at Emily and Grace's home school co-op. We had a great time. I got to help oversee great sporting events like the three legged race and tug of war. I think that tug of war should be an Olympic sport. Surely a team of Americans would be able to jerk any team from Europe, Asia, or Africa into a pit of mud. On second thought, the Japanese team might all be Sumo wrestlers who also participate in the tug of war. Maybe an American silver medal would do. Here's some highlights from the weekend that was:

- We had a smaller crowd than usual at worship yesterday. I think it had something to do with Greenville County schools being off today, but that didn't keep people from enjoying worship. Jake told me after the service that for the first time from where he was standing, he could hear the voices of the congregation over the voices of the band singers. By the way, he was standing on the stage playing guitar.

- Friday night I wore a suit. I now only wear a coat and tie to three events, weddings, funerals (sometimes I don't even wear one to funerals), and the home school Patriot's Ball. Friday was the ball and we had a ball. (bad pun, I know) Every year we all get dressed up, me in my suit, the girls in their fanciest dresses and gowns and we dance at the ball. This year was loads of fun as usual. The only difference this year was that my oldest daughter Emily no longer looks like a little girl. Somewhere between last year's ball and this year's my girl has grown up. I've accepted it, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

- Saturday was spent painting the porch. All day long it took and the job isn't finished. The only thing that made the job bearable was the good music I had playing. If you need to paint, the Allman Brothers and Stevie Ray Vaughn make for an easier day.

- Blake received a wedding invitation last week that measured 24 inches by 18 inches. That was a first for me, inviting people to a wedding by sending them a poster. Maybe the couple wanted to be sure that when people put it on their fridge it wouldn't get covered up.

- Check out another great post from my buddy Dave. You can read it here.

That's all for now. More important posts to come later...I think.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More power from the Word

I read a great verse this morning that I thought would be an appropriate follow-up to what I wrote yesterday.

1 Corinthians 4:20
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Don't mess with me

You want a piece of me!?!

If dogs spoke English I believe that's what you'd hear that little weenie dog saying. What could that tiny dog be thinking? As my 9th grade P.E. teacher, Coach Richardson would say, "Boy, your mouth's writing checks that your body can't cash."

Maybe you're in a spot right now where it feels like life is the big dog and you are a little chihuahua or toy poodle. I read a verse of scripture last week that I thought about it when I saw this picture:

2 Timothy 1:7
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

I try to remember every morning before I leave the house that nothing will happen to me that God doesn't already know about. Not only does He already know about it, He's already working on it. That knowledge alone should allow me to live a powerful life. When we face troubles and hardships, (and we will from time to time) we should remember that God's Spirit lives inside us and His Spirit is powerful not timid. Whatever you're facing today, look it straight in the eye and say, "You want a piece of me?"

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday Afternoon Quarterback

This week has begun the way last week ended, busy. I guess that's to be expected. Here's what I'm thinking about today:

Sherry and I had a great time this weekend. Our girls spent Thursday and Friday night with Sherry's parents, so we were able to enjoy some much needed uninterrupted time together. We love our girls like crazy, but a couple of days alone is always nice. We spent Friday at the mall, and it was fun! Normally I'd rather take a beating than spend a few hours at the mall, but this was different. There was no hurry, not a big crowd, and we had plenty of time to talk and laugh. When Emily came back from Granny and Pops' house Sherry said to her, "your Dad was good at the mall." Maybe she'll let me go back.

I'm looking forward to baseball. Yes, Major League Baseball is in full swing but I'm talking about Greer Recreation league baseball. For the third year in a row I am helping Dean Hawkins with one of his boy's teams. This year we are the Cubs, and our first game is Tuesday night. I can't wait to start "coaching" this week. When I say "coaching" I mean saying things like "good eye" and "nice cut". That's about all the coaching I'm qualified for.

Rambo rescues woman from smoke. That is the headline across the top of today's Greenville News. Apparently a dog named Rambo woke a woman who was asleep in a burning house over the weekend. Of course when I saw the headline I imagined John Rambo, Vietnam veteran and vigilante warrior, shooting down the door to a burning building with a machine gun and carrying a woman to safety across his shoulders. That would have been more exciting.

Evidently lots of y'all that read this can relate to an overflowing septic tank. I have received more response to last Thursday's blog about pumping out the tank than any of the others. I guess the image of "stuff" bubbling up in the yard really makes an impact.

Men don't forget to let me know if you want to go to the Greenville Drive game on May 7. Send me an e-mail at: cliff@freedomfellowshipsc.com

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pumping out the tank

I've had this idea in my mind for some time. I haven't shared it yet because of the delicate nature of the subject matter. I wanted to be sure and share it in as non-offensive a way as possible. I'm still not certain I've figured out how to do that, but here goes:

Two months ago we had the septic tank at our house pumped. The guys came out and did a great job, and it didn't cost as much as I had feared. Here's the interesting part: We weren't having any problems when we decided to have the tank pumped. I didn't know that it was strange to have someone pump out your septic tank before things go wrong until I called to make the appointment. When I called the conversation went something like this:

Me: I'd like to make an appointment for y'all to come out and pump my septic tank.

Septic dude: How long have you been having problems with it?

Me: I'm not having any problems with it.

Septic dude: Oh. That's different.

Me: What's different?

Septic dude: Well everyone else who calls here is already having serious problems, like sewage backing up in their shower or bubbling up in the yard.

Me: That's what I was wanting to avoid.

My strategy was based on the fact that our house is ten years old, and the tank had never been pumped. Now I don't know anything about septic tanks, but I figured anything that had been getting filled up with, will call it stuff, for ten years could probably use a good cleaning out. The last thing I wanted was a situation like the guy told me about over the phone, so I decided to fix the problem before it happened. I guess you might call it preventive maintenance.

Is there any, once again we'll call it stuff, that you are filling your life with that you can see a future problem from? Right now things are fine but you know that if you continue with this certain habit or relationship or schedule, one day you'll wake up with stuff bubbling up or backing up in your life. Don't wait until the mess comes to pump out the tank. Go to counseling before you get separated from your spouse, start exercising before you have a heart attack, spend time with your teenager before he fails the ninth grade. What areas of your life could use a little preventive maintenance?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A few of my favorite things

I know as Americans that we are spoiled, really spoiled. We have access to things that people in other parts of the world only dream of. I thought about that last week when Cuba made cell phones legal, and people were lined up down the street to get one for the first time. With that in mind, here's a list of some things that have me spoiled. These are things that I know I could live without, but I hope I never have to:

wool socks - I can't imagine wintertime with just regular cotton socks

ipod - the most awesome invention ever (in my opinion and this is my list)

reduced fat Cheez-Its - much better than the regular greasy Cheez-Its

peanut butter - Jif is my favorite, but I'm not picky. I made a tactical error by not taking any with me when I went to Brazil four summers ago. By the end of the week I would have given $100 for a spoonful.

crossword puzzle in the Greenville News - working on this two or three times a week has kept me from going crazy

Nestle Quik - the powder

Bible - obvious, but I wanted to be sure I listed it so y'all won't think I'm just about food and other unimportant things

Crocs - When they first came out I made fun of people wearing rubber shoes, then I tried some on. Most comfortable shoe ever. I'll still be wearing them when they go out of style, which may be now for all I know.

That's about it. What would be on your list?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Attention Men: Baseball

The weather is warm (sometimes), the trees are in bloom, and The Masters is over. It must be time to go to a ball game! The Greenville Drive are playing a daytime game against the Rome Braves on Wednesday, May 7, and I want as many of you men who can to go with me. You need a reason to knock off from work early every once in a while, and what better reason than to go to the ballpark? This would be a perfect opportunity for you to build relationships with some of the unchurched guys you work with by inviting them to join us.
The game starts at noon. We'll order tickets as a group if there is enough interest, if not we'll just purchase them individually that day.

If you want to go, send me an e-mail at: cliff@freedomfellowshipsc.com

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday morning quarterback

The weather keeps getting weirder. Almost 80 on Friday, 35 this morning, it's definitely time to keep a jacket close by. Here's a peek into my head this morning:

-Yesterday had a little bit of everything for me. First of all the, band sounded great! I was especially excited to have Liz Wood playing guitar with us for the first time. Liz was in my youth group my last couple of years at Fairview, so it was very cool to have her help lead worship at Freedom. Talking about the whole Connection Card thing was kind of strange. I didn't want to sound like I was fussing at our regular attenders at all, but I just wanted everyone to understand why filling out the cards are important. It has already proven to be a great tool for connecting with our first time guests. Then to top off a great Sunday morning I had the opportunity to be there when a little girl began a relationship with Jesus! That's why we do what we do every week!

- Friday night we ate a ton of guacamole. Sherry and I went to El Mariachi for our regular Friday night date, but this week we had the girls with us. We ordered a large order of guacamole dip because Emily likes it too, and when they brought it out I started laughing. It was a large salad bowl full of the yummy green stuff. Then when the bill came out I really started to laugh. The dip cost more than Emily's entree! It sure was good.

- We're on the verge of some big stuff. I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago on this blog, but God has been giving the same message to some other people as well. Just last week I had someone stop me and say, "I think we better get ready because I sense that God wants to do something big here." I feel the same way. We need to be sure and be ready to do whatever He commands.

Don't let the unseasonably cold weather get you down. Have a great week!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Jesus: Not as offensive as He used to be

So Emily turns on American Idol last night and Seacrest announces that the show will open with the contestants singing "Shout to the Lord" again. I immediately begin telling Emily how they aren't going to sing "Jesus", and how mad that makes me. I then get up to check on Grace getting ready for bed, and as I'm walking out of the room I heard it. They sang "My Jesus..."! That was pretty cool, and it did shock me.

In other more important matters:

Be sure and invite your friends to join you at worship this week. We're continuing the "Worship is..." series. This week the emphasis is, "Worship is Life-changing". If you haven't already done so, read Isaiah 6:1-8.

I was reading in the book of Judges this morning when God used part of the story of Gideon to remind me of something important. He's our king. He is our ultimate authority. The Israelites were so anxious to have a human king, and when they tried to recruit Gideon for the job he reminded them that God should be their only king. If I will remember that God is my authority that will make a big difference in the choices I make.

I'm looking forward to worshipping together with y'all on Sunday. Don't miss it!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Jesus: He's so offensive

Something bothered me last night. It didn't really surprise me, but it still bothered me. I was half-way watching "Idol Gives Back", (that means I was switching between Ultimate Fighter, the Braves game, and Idol) when it occurred. To close the show, the final eight contestants came out dressed in white (cheesy) to sing "Shout to the Lord". When Ryan Seacrest said what they were about to sing I couldn't believe it. I was expecting to hear another song with that same title, but when the music started I knew it was the "Shout to the Lord" you've heard in church a thousand times. Then it happened. The first four words of the song (as you probably know) are: "My Jesus, my Savior...". Instead of those words, the Idol contestants sang, "My Shepherd, my Savior..."

Removing the name of Jesus reminded me of what we talked about two weeks ago in the last message of the Uncensored Grace series. The concept of one way to God is offensive to people. The idea that the only way you can be forgiven of sin is through Jesus is seen in today's culture as narrow-minded and just plain wrong. Of course the concept of Jesus as the only way to heaven is exactly what is taught in the bible. Remember this verse or this one? Like I said, it didn't surprise me, but it did bother me. With Oprah doing her web casts on spirituality and Bono singing in concerts about "Jesus, Jew, Mohamed, True" we need to be certain as followers of Christ that we hold fast to truth. The truth is Jesus, whether Idol sings His name or not.

Whew, I feel better now.

Read Isaiah 6:1-8 in preparation for this week's message on worship.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A prayer to the Organic God

One of the things that I probably should add to this blog is a list of the books I'm reading or have recently read. When I figure out how to add a list that includes pictures of the books, I will get one on here. One great book that I've just finished reading is "Organic God" by Margaret Feinberg. It is an uplifting look at several different attributes of God and how they impact us. One day as I was thinking about what I had just read, I wrote this prayer. Maybe you can relate to it.

Father God,
Please forgive me. I have limited my relationship with You to a list of rules and a desire for the sure-footed, easy path. I want to totally embrace the wonder, mystery, danger, awe, and excitement of who You are. Help me to live, love, and lead in that way. Amen.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Monday morning quarterback

It was great to see the sunshine yesterday! I don't think I could live in the Pacific Northwest where it rains all the time. The effect last week's gloomy weather had on my emotions makes me understand why so much of the music that came out of Seattle in the 90's was so depressing. Here are some sunny highlights from the weekend:

- Babies are awesome!
Getting to do baby dedication as part of yesterday's service reminded me that getting to see and hold babies always brings me some joy. The cool thing now is that if the baby is in a bad mood I can just hand them back over to their parents! Maybe that's why everyone makes such a big deal over being a grandparent.

- Speaking of babies...
Wendy Trusty told me that the preschool area was overflowing with kids yesterday. There are still some teaching and greeting opportunities in the preschool ministry. If you are regularly attending Freedom and you are not serving in any area yet, this could be your place of service. If you are interested or have questions send Wendy an e-mail at: wtrusty@bellsouth.net

- I had a guy tell me after yesterday's message that he couldn't believe I said "jack squat". This guy really thought it was funny because I said it during the invitation! I promise I didn't have "jack squat" written in my notes. Stuff just comes out of my mouth sometimes. I get it honest, my Dad suffers from the same condition.

- I got to spend some alone time with Emily yesterday. Grace was off at a friend's house, so Emily and I watched one of the Harry Potter movies in the Fortress of Solitude. I would rather hang out with Sherry or my two girls than anyone else.

There's a lot to get started on this week. I'll keep you updated on all the latest news. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday quote and other info

I haven't included any quotes from famous people for the last couple of Fridays, so I thought ya'll would enjoy this one from the man who never got any respect.

"The only normal people are the ones you don't know too well."

So true.

Here are a few other things that might interest you:

- Keep praying about land and buildings. We will be making an announcement about this fairly soon, but in the meantime keep praying for wisdom for the team working on this project. There will be an important meeting this Tuesday morning at 8:00 that should clarify things even more.

- Have you read Psalm 100 yet?

- The Braves are 1-3. I know that there are still 158 games left to play, but the bullpen is worrying me. Not to mention the fact that Mike Hampton, who hasn't pitched in almost three years, got hurt last night. He didn't get hurt during the game mind you, he got hurt warming up. To quote modern day philosopher and renaissance man Allen Iverson, "We're talking about practice. Not a game, practice."

- I'll probably write more about this later, but I ran across this verse in Proverbs the other day. That's what I pray would be the effect of Freedom has on Greer. Greer should be a better place to live because of the presence of our church!

- I'm looking forward to seeing ya'll this Sunday. Be sure to bring your friends!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Worship is...

I'm really looking forward to the new series of messages that we are starting this Sunday. After some conversations with different people over the last couple of months and lots of praying and thinking, we decided several weeks ago to focus April's messages on worship. I believe worship is very misunderstood by lots of church folks. I'm not going to claim that a four week message series on worship will cover all there is to know, but I am very excited about the things we can learn together about worship this month.
Here's some stuff I want you to be working on:

- Invite your friends!
I know that is the standard thing I always encourage you to do, but I wanted to be sure you continue to do it this month. You might think that a message series on worship would only apply to followers of Christ, but that's not true! What better way for a friend of yours that does not know Jesus to learn about His love and care by listening to messages about why He should be worshipped?

- Read Psalm 100.
Each week I'll post a specific scripture passage for you to read here. This week the message will come from Psalm 100. It would be cool if you would read it everyday this week. As you read it, ask God to speak to your heart about how He wants you to worship Him.

- Tell other Freedom attenders about this blog.
No I'm not looking for more readers so I can feel better about myself. At least not totally. If everyone who is a regular Freedom attender comes on Sunday having read Psalm 100, and knows the direction we're heading I think it will make a difference in what happens during worship. Send a linc from this post to your friends in an e-mail, or just ask them if they've read Psalm 100 yet.

Thanks for all ya'll do to make Freedom happen week after week. Let's keep it up!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What's Happening on April Fool's

I've never really gotten into April Fool's Day. Probably because to pull off a really effective April Fool's joke lots of prior planning is required. Prior planning is not my greatest strength. I was trying today to think of some great April's Fool's Day jokes that I've heard about, and only a couple came to mind.

One was when Sports Illustrated wrote an article about a new pitcher in the New York Mets organization named Sidd Finch who threw 168 mph fastball. Supposedly the magazine received lots of letters from people wanting to know where they could see Finch pitch.

The other which I have only recently heard about, so I'm not sure if it's true, is even funnier. I heard there was a radio show in Baltimore, MD where the two DJ's promoted for weeks that Tyra Banks would be their special guest at an appearance they were doing. The day of the appearance, tons of people showed up to see supermodel Tyra Banks and instead they got....Shirley Hemphill. You remember Shirley from "What's Happening". I'm sure that there are people out there who like Shirley Hemphill, but when you were expecting Tyra Banks that would be quite a shock.

What's the best April Fool's Day joke you've been a part of, either as the joker or the jokee?

By the way, just to be in the spirit of things: Eddie Van Halen called today and asked me if I would go on tour with the band. They fired David Lee Roth (again) and would like me to be their new singer. I am leaving the office in a few minutes to be fitted for a spandex outfit. (Now that would be funny!)