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.