Monday, June 30, 2008

Better late than never

Well, as soon as I get one girl home from camp the other leaves. This week it's Emily's turn to be gone. She left yesterday afternoon with our teenagers from church for GO Camp in Columbia. The house won't be too quiet, however. Our niece Kylie is staying with us for a few days to keep Grace company. They've already been swimming today, and we are heading to Dillard's tonight after supper for ice cream. I think a trip to see Kung-Fu Panda is somewhere in the plans for the week as well.

Yesterday was a cool day for our church. I've heard great things about yesterday's service and Scott's message. Everyone did a great job of making Scott feel welcome. I was honored to bring the message at Springwell yesterday. The folks there really have a heart for seeing churches work together to build the kingdom of God. Switching out pastors really helped me understand what ONE Prayer is all about. It's been a pleasure to hear teaching from different pastors each week this month. It always amazes me that God speaks through all different styles of teaching. Next week you're going to have to deal with me again. I've missed getting to teach at Freedom this month, and I can't wait for Sunday!

Some of you are probably wondering what the offering was yesterday. Remember, we are giving all of it to Mid-Town Fellowship and the GAIHN project we are partnering with Springwell on. There was still some money coming in this morning, so I will post the amount on here tomorrow. I have an estimation of what it is, but I don't want to put it on here until it is official.
Now I've just given you another reason to read this poor excuse for a blog tomorrow!

Friday, June 27, 2008

This Sunday

Here's the vital info you need for this Sunday at Freedom:

- Scott McAllister will be bringing the message. To close out the ONE Prayer series Scott McAllister, pastor at Springwell church, will teach about his ONE Prayer for the church, while I will do the same at Springwell. Be sure and do what y'all always do, and make Scott feel loved and welcome. Scott is a real pioneer in the Greer / Taylors area when it comes to church planting. He started Springwell before church planting was fashionable, and as a result tons of lives have been changed. Scott and other guys like him helped pave the way for us to start Freedom.

- Be sure to give to the offering this week. Remember, we are giving away all regular offerings this week to two different ministries. Some will go to renovate a house in Greenville for homeless families to live in, and some will be sent to Midtown Fellowship in Columbia. If you are not in the habit of giving regularly, this week would be a great time to start.

Be there this Sunday, and bring some friends!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rude awakening

I woke up this morning at 1:30 to the sound of the washing machine filling up with water. There was one small problem, we hadn't turned on the washer. I jumped up, opened the door to our bedroom and stepped in water. One of the hoses on the washing machine had burst. I moved as fast as I could without falling down to turn the water off, and then Sherry and I pulled every old towel and mop out to begin the clean-up.

Thankfully, I had awoken pretty quickly, and there wasn't too much water to sop up. None of it got on any carpet, and the laundry room and hallway were the main soaked areas. I got back in bed around 2:30, and as I tried to go back to sleep I was so thankful we were home when the hose burst. We were at the beach for seven days just two weeks ago. That's a scary thought. Now I have a Lowe's trip scheduled for this evening.

On a different topic, "Divide the Sea", Ben Patat's band, played a show at a coffee house in Inman last night. Emily and I went, and they were awesome. They will be leaving out tomorrow for TN, and they won't return to SC until the end of July. The tour they are on will take them as far west as Colorado. You can follow how they are doing and how you can pray for them by regularly checking Ben's blog. He is doing some video updates that are cool.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hanging out with Emily at Barnes & Noble

Yesterday I did something awesome. I left the office early and took Emily to Barnes and Noble. Emily loves to read (I mean she really loves it), and she had a gift card that she received for Christmas she hadn't used yet. Since Grace is at camp (I still haven't cried), it was the perfect time for me and Emily to have some one on one time.

We both got frappuccinos and wandered around talking and reading the titles of books. Emily knew exactly what she had come to buy. She bought the newest Pendragon book and an Eragon paperback. I also had some birthday money with me, but I wasn't so sure what I wanted. I considered but did not buy biographies of Stevie Ray Vaughn and Chris Farley, and I looked for some type of book on Native American history (specifically Cherokee) but couldn't find anything. I must have been looking in the wrong section of the store. I did end up buying a book about Gamecock football and a Springsteen concert DVD.

Here's some other observations from our afternoon:

-Emily is really fun to hang out with. She is definitely a low-maintenance teenager. She doesn't always want me to buy her stuff, she's flexible and easy to please, and she's smart, funny, and can laugh at herself.

- It's cold in Barnes and Noble. Maybe it's because I was walking around with a Frappuccino in my hand, but by the time we left I was almost shaking.

- The Starbucks in Barnes and Noble doesn't accept Starbucks gift cards. I knew this when we went yesterday from a previous experience, but that doesn't make it any less stupid. Can anyone explain to me why they do this? I'm a simple man who can't comprehend all the complexities of the universe, but it seems that if you have a sign posted that says, "Starbucks" you should accept a Starbucks gift card.

- Ben Jones has written an autobiography. Wondering who Ben Jones is? He played Cooter on "The Dukes of Hazzard". Who is buying this book? Is the world so desperate for another book that we need to learn about the life of Cooter? I can't wait for the biographies of Schneider from "One Day at a Time", and Sam the butcher from "The Brady Bunch".

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Catching up

Yesterday was a busy Monday, and I have discovered that if I don't write a post on here before lunch it's not going to happen. It was around 3:00 yesterday when I realized I had not thought about the blog at all. Here's some random thoughts for today:

- God really used Wayne Cordiero's message to speak to me on Sunday. I am going to make an effort to study God's word and let it speak to me without me always reading it to figure out what I can teach to our people.

- Rhett and the rest of the band did a great job on "Signature of Divine (Yahweh)". In case you didn't know, that song is performed by NeedtoBreathe. They are a band from right here in the upstate.

- I think it's weird that Major League Baseball managers wear a uniform like the players do. We went to Atlanta on Friday to see the Braves play, and it made me laugh that Bobby Cox is introduced in the starting line-ups as "wearing #6 Bobby Cox". It's as if he might pick up a bat and go in as a pinch hitter if needed. What if basketball coaches wore the same uniform as their team? Imagine Phil Jackson or Gregg Popovich sitting on the bench in shorts and a sleeveless jersey. On second thought, don't imagine that.

- Sherry, Emily, and I took Grace to camp yesterday morning, and I didn't cry when we left. That doesn't mean I didn't want to, I just didn't.

- We took Emily and two friends to see the new Indiana Jones movie last night. If you haven't seen it yet, I won't spoil it for you here, but I will say that the ending was out there. In fact, it was a little too out there. I would give it 2 out of 5 stars.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Realization #2 from this year's beach trip

One of the things I love to do every time we are at the beach is eat seafood. Fried oysters and shrimp are my favorites, but I also can tear some scallops, flounder, crab, tilapia, mahi, and just about anything else.

We tend to eat the same seafood places every year, but this year we switched things up a bit and went to a place in Murrlles Inlet called Russell's. It is a small place that features a bar that is as big as the dining area. It's decorated with all kinds of local pictures and old fishing equipment. The food was good. It wasn't the best I've had, but I really enjoyed eating there and I want to go back.

The reason why I enjoyed it so much had more to do with the atmosphere than the food. When we walked in Russell greeted us at the door. He commented on how our girls looked, and how he was glad we came by. During the meal, he stopped at our table to ask if we needed anything and asked my ten year-old nephew Austin if he was paying for everyone. Then I saw him check with the couple at the next table, and when they asked him a question about the restaurant he sat down with them and told them the history of his life in the restaurant business in Murrlles Inlet.

All of that reminded me of how important it is that when people show up at Freedom each week they are genuinely greeted. Russell let each of us know that we were the reason he had opened up the restaurant that evening. The same is true at worship each Sunday. The new person who doesn't know Jesus or is looking for a place to connect is the reason we do what we do each week.

We have a team of amazing volunteers who do a great job of greeting new folks week after week. If you are already part of that team, thank you for all you do! If you are not a part of this team and you regularly attend Freedom, you can still do what Russell does at his establishment. Look for ways to make people feel at ease when they come in every week. Try it out this week.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Happy Birthday

Today is my birthday. Although turning 39 is not as exciting as turning 6 or 16 was I discovered something today that got me pumped up. Today is also the birthday of the Tazmanian Devil! I also discovered that I share a birthday with Paula Abdul, Salman Rushdie, and Garfield, but none of them are as cool as Taz.

Taz and I have something else in common as well. The story goes that after the first cartoon featuring Taz entered theaters, the head of Warner Bros animation ordered that Taz not be used again because the character was "too obnoxious". I have been accused of the same thing.

Taz made a comeback and is responsible for what I think is the funniest line spoken in a Looney Tunes cartoon. If you know what it is leave a comment. The prize for a correct answer will be the satisfaction of knowing that you watched too much TV as a child!

Have a happy Tazmanian Devil day!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Getting older - Part II

I know I already wrote something today, but here are two more things that let me know I'm getting older:

Emily (13) got her braces off today. I guess that means the next big thing I'll have to pay for is a car!

Grace (7) leaves for camp on Monday. I can't believe my baby will be away from home for four nights.

Now for some totally unrelated to me getting older prayer requests:

My friend Jerry Chapman is taking a month off from pastoring and needs our prayers. You can read more here on his blog.

Ben Patat who plays in our band and works with our students is going on tour Friday with his band. Pray for safe travel, and for them to reach thousands of teenagers with the gospel. The band's name is Divide the Sea, and if you're brave you can check out their music, and see their tour schedule here.

Warning: you will want to turn down the volume on your computer speakers before accessing their site. If loud, heavy, scary sounding music offends, you don't go to the site at all!
Still pray for Ben and the band though!

Realization #1 from this year's beach trip

I got another reminder while we were on vacation this past week that I am getting older.

One morning on the beach there were two teenage girls near us who had rented an ocean kayak. They struggled a little getting it out past the waves, but once they did they took off paddling towards the pier which was about a mile away. I knew as they left, that due to the way the current was flowing they were going to have a much harder time coming back from the pier than they were having paddling towards it. Sure enough, an hour or so later Emily and I looked down the shore and saw the girls struggling to get back. It got so hard to paddle against the current that they gave up and paddled into shore, and as a result they now had to carry or drag the kayak a couple hundred yards to get back to where they needed to be.
When I saw this, I got up and began heading towards them to offer and help carry the kayak. As I was heading their way I thought to myself, "I hope they don't think I'm flirting with them by offering to help."
That's when I realized I'm not young anymore. When I reached where they were the conversation went something like this:

me: "Can I help y'all?"

teenage girl one: "Oh, yes sir!"

teenage girl two: "Thank you sir, we've got to carry this all the way back to our house, and I didn't think we could make it."

Two "sirs" in 30 seconds. I'm pretty sure they didn't think I was hitting on them. I felt like congratulating the girls on their manners, but then that would have really made me seem old. Sherry was in the bed sick the day this happened, and when I told her about it that afternoon she laughed hard.

Just for the record, I've got one year left in my 30's, so I'm not that old. I'm just not that young either.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Back to work

Last week was a blast. Spending some time at the beach always leaves me energized and ready to go! I'm back at the office this morning getting caught up on everything that happened while I was away. Hopefully by lunchtime I'll be able to begin figuring out what needs to be done for the rest of the week.

Other than Sherry being sick for a couple of days last week, the vacation was perfect. I am always in awe when I stand on the shore and look at the ocean. It is one of the most tangible reminders for me about how big God is. I learned some cool stuff while I was gone that I will write more on later, but for now here are some quick hits from yesterday and last week:

- Perry Noble's ONE Prayer message yesterday was right on the money. I have read that passage from Luke 7 many times, but I had never caught the fact that there were two distinct crowds that came together. That was good stuff.

- The band did an awesome job again yesterday. Big thanks to Kent who handled everything concerning practice, slides, planning etc., while Sherry was gone last week.

- I love fried oysters.

- I love the look in Grace's eyes when she is eating a Klondike bar.

- I love body surfing. I'm going to try and keep doing it until I'm 80. There was a guy down the beach from us that was my inspiration for this. I didn't ask him how old he was, but he looked like he should be in a nursing home. I looked down his way on Friday, and he was out in the surf riding in waves!

- I realized again this week that Emily isn't a kid anymore. She didn't need any help putting on sunscreen, rinsing off after getting back to the house, or getting a snack out at the beach. Not to mention that she carried just as much stuff back and forth from the house each day as I did!

- I saw a dude on the pier without a shirt on that had one of the biggest beer guts in the history of mankind. I can only assume that he was shirtless because he was proud of all the hard work it took to create that thing.

- Emily beat me on the Pop-A-Shot machine at the arcade. Normally I don't like getting beat by a girl, but I didn't mind losing to her one bit.

- When we went out to the beach, Grace spent 95% of the time in the ocean. I think she is part fish.

- I wasn't ready to come home on Saturday, but when we walked in the door of our house that afternoon I was glad to be home.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Vacation time

We're heading to the beach tomorrow! Don't look for anything new on here next week. I will not be taking my computer with me, that way I won't be tempted to read and respond to e-mail.

Be sure you come to worship on Sunday. We will continue the ONE Prayer series we started last week. We will use video teaching by Craig Groeschel from Life Church in Oklahoma. The ONE Prayer emphasis was his brain child, and his one prayer for the church is "Make us One".

That's all for now. I can't wait to sit in the sun, get knocked down by the waves, eat some seafood, and just generally chill out with my girls for a week!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Summer movies

It's hot, kids are graduating from high school, the grass needs to be watered, and we're heading to the beach this weekend. It must be summertime! Summer is my favorite season. I hate cold weather, so I try not to complain when temperatures get up around 95. One thing I love about summertime is the cool movies that are always released this time of year. Here's a list of some of my favorite summertime movies. These aren't necessarily my favorite movies of all time, they are just ones I can remember seeing in the summertime as a kid. I guess you could say these are ones I have fond summer memories of.

- Rocky III
Me and several of my neighborhood buddies went to see Rocky beat Clubber Lang, and I experienced my first testosterone high. I was so jacked up when I left that I would have volunteered to get in the ring with Sugar Ray Leonard.

- The Karate Kid
"Wax on wax off", "Sweep the leg", "You beginner luck" all great quotes from a movie that inspired all the underdogs of the world. I catch this movie on TV from time to time, and I always watch until the end when Daniel uses the crane kick to win the tournament.

- Rambo: First Blood Part II
I know it's another Sylvester Stallone movie. Let's just say I wasn't really into movies that made you think back then. This is a special memory because I had gotten my driver's license that day, and going to see this movie was the first place I ever drove myself to. That was the sweetest drive in a Dodge Omni hatchback that anyone has ever experienced.

- Star Wars
I think I saw this movie five times the summer it came out. Everyone one of my friends who had a birthday party would take all of us to see Luke blow up the Death Star again. From that summer on I was hooked. I bought the action figures and trading cards, and I tried my best to build a light saber.

What are some of your favorite summer movie memories? What are your favorite Karate Kid quotes?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Give it away

One of the things we wanted to do with the ONE Prayer emphasis was to give a significant amount of money away. Scripture teaches us to give at least 10% of our personal finances, and we believe the church should do the same. Last year we gave away almost 25% of all the money that was collected through offerings.

On June 29th all offerings that are given to the general budget will be given away to two different ministries. None of it will be kept in our checking account to pay for the day to day business of Freedom.

The two ministries that will be receiving these funds are GAIHN and Midtown Fellowship. We are already partnering with Midtown by contributing monthly. The new partnership with GAIHN will continue throughout the year as we work with Springwell Church to renovate a house for a homeless family.

Here's the challenge for June 29th: If you are consistent giver, continue to do what you always do. If you give from time to time, be sure that 6/29 is one of the times you give. If you never give, begin the discipline of giving on or before 6/29.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Quick hits before I get knocked off-line

The ol' computer is doing some strange stuff today (could be due to the unexplained power outage we just experienced) so this will be a brief update.

- I've received lots of positive feedback about giving away all of our offerings on June 29th. If you missed that announcement on Sunday, be sure and check in tomorrow. I'll write more about it then.

- I'm really ready to go to the beach with my girls next week. Sun, surf, and seafood!

- VBS is going to be great this year. I got to hang out with over 50 of our volunteers at a VBS planning meeting on Sunday afternoon. There was also some great BBQ from Bucky's there!

- Ben blew my mind on Saturday night! His band was amazing. I'll write more on this later in the week.