Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween and Sunday preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mascots fighting...are you serious?

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

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

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend wrap-up

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rainy, random Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Halloween Hoopla

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Luke 10:17-20

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Last post for the week

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

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

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

Monday, October 13, 2008

Catalyst and weekend wrap-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Blake woke up Friday morning complaining about Kent snoring.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Busy two days

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

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

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

Have a great day.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sunday scripture and baptism

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Attitude still matters

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

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

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

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