Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sham-Wow on auto tune

I don't own a Sham-Wow, but the video below almost makes me want to run out and buy one.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Year in Review

I had an idea the other day to write a Year in Review post here. Instead of writing about my personal year, I though it would be cool to give my opinion on some of the bigger news events of 2009. Things like government bailouts, balloon boy, and "hiking the Appalachian Trail" would be covered. Just as I was getting some thoughts together I ran across a year in review column written by syndicated columnist Dave Barry. Obviously he does a much better and more thorough job of hilariously commenting on all the big events of the year. Take about 15 minutes and read it here. I think you will be glad you did. As for my thoughts on a few big events of the year, I will comment using one word descriptions. Why one word you ask? Because after reading Dave Barry's column you won't have the patience to read what I think.

government bailouts: scary

balloon boy: moronic

Captain Sully: hero

Michael Jackson: legend

Hiking the Appalachian Trail: sad

Jenny Sanford: strong

economy: struggling

America: still great (I know that's two words)

2010: hopeful

Monday, December 21, 2009

Weekend Wrap-Up and Billy Squier

Yesterday's service where we celebrated the Lord's Supper together was a highlight of the year for me. Every time we remember the sacrifice of Jesus by taking the bread and the cup I am overwhelmed by the reality of His love for us, and yesterday was no exception. Chris and the band did a great job with the music to set the stage for what we were doing. I thought that the entire service had a very relaxed and family-type feel to it. Maybe it was just me, but I got the sense that we could all be real and trust one another as we sought to honor Christ together. It was a very cool experience.

Now for an update on my unfinished Christmas list: after this past weekend all of my unfinished business is now taken care of! Friday was lunch at the Beacon in spite of the sleet, Friday night Em and I watched "A Christmas Story", then on Saturday I successfully fought off the crowds to buy Sherry's gifts and enjoy a Peppermint shake. Saturday night we drove around and enjoyed Christmas lights. With all of that out of the way, I can relax a little before the big day on Friday.

Here's the final Christmas video for 2009. I promised you one a week, and I have saved my favorite for last. I posted this same video last year, so I hope you will enjoy it again. This one always takes me back. Lots of fond memories of Christmases past.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas to-do lists

The blogging has taken a small hiatus this week, but now I'm back with another post filled with useless information about my life. Sorry, that it's not an inspired piece of writing, but all my inspirational concentration has been focused on prepping for this Sunday's Lord's Supper service and the following Sunday's message. Now for the useless info:

List of things already accomplished this Christmas season:

- Watched "It's a Wonderful Life". If you can watch the end of that movie and not cry at all you are a cold-hearted dude.

- Drank eggnog by the Christmas tree while watching Monday Night Football. One of the more obscure Christmas traditions, but one of my favorites.

- Watched "Merry Christmas Charlie Brown" with Grace. To me it's not really Christmas until I hear Linus quote from the gospel of Luke.

- Helped Sherry with the shopping for the girls. She does 98% of the Christmas shopping, but I do enjoy going with her to shop for Emily and Grace. Of course one trip to Wal-Mart tests my enjoyment of Christmas shopping to the limit.

List of things still to be done this Christmas season:

- Buy Sherry's gift!! Don't accuse me of waiting until the last minute, it's not Christmas Eve yet.

- Piled everyone in the car (including Buddy) and driven around to see Christmas lights. By the way, leave a comment with your suggestions for the best places to go, the brighter and tackier the better.

- Watch "A Christmas Story" with Emily. I realized the other day that she hasn't seen this classic yet. I feel I have let her down as a Father, but we will fix that situation next week.

- Drink a Peppermint shake from Chik-Fil-A. I had one last year and it was mighty tasty.

- Eat at the Beacon. I eat at the Beacon a once a year whether I need to or not. For the last 15 years that meal has taken place the week before Christmas. There's nothing like some greasy onion rings, lemon flavored iced tea, and the pain of indigestion, to help you ring in the Christmas season.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's Christmas time in Hollis Queens...

For the past three weeks the video opener for each message has featured part of an old hip-hop song by Run-DMC. A couple of weeks ago I asked if anyone knew the song, and Margaret Bowen told me after the service that not only did she know the song but she still has an old Run-DMC shirt! Here's the video for the song. I may be wrong but I'm pretty sure that "Christmas in Hollis" was the first Christmas hip-hop song recorded. Hope you enjoy this "old school" Christmas memory.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sunday scripture

This week we will be continuing our Christmas message series. I hope you will be able to make it. The scripture you can read if you want to look ahead at what we will be talking about is Matthew 2.

Also, remember to bring your check books or cash to purchase a Botswana Project t-shirt. They are $15, and all of the proceeds will be sent to Old Naledi Baptist Fellowship in Botswana to feed children.

There's no need to panic, but Christmas is two weeks from today! Try and enjoy the next 14 days even if you feel rushed to finish shopping and get everything together for a big family celebration. Don't miss the joy of the moment!

Have a great weekend and I hope to see you and a friend on Sunday!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Proud Dad

Everyone one at the Marshall house woke up excited this morning. Thanks to Ben Patat, Emily had her first opportunity to perform her songs before a live audience. Ben's band The Lilies and Sparrows were playing a show at The Channel, and he asked Emily to open for them. She played six original songs, and I know I'm just a little biased, but she was amazing. She had lots of family and friends who came out to support her, so the atmosphere was like a big gathering of friends, which I'm sure helped her not to be nervous. Overall it was a great night, and when I finally fell asleep last night I slept very soundly from all the excitement.

I've included a video from YouTube for you to check out. It's a a short message from Matt Chandler, the pastor of the Village Church in Texas. Matt faced a life threatening health situation recently, and in this video he talks to the members of the Village Church before he went in for surgery. I think his attitude towards health challenges will inspire you.

Sorry, for those of you just now tuning in. The video evidently has been removed from YouTube, so I have deleted the link. If I am able to find it on another site I will upload it. It was really good stuff.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Feed the World

For the second Christmas music video I have chosen "Do They Know It's Christmas?". The song and video were put together very quickly in November of 1985 in order for the song to be released for the Christmas season that year. What began as an idea for raising some money for the famine in Ethiopia grew to become a world-wide emphasis that led to USA for Africa and then the Live Aid concerts of the next summer. I have been hearing this song on 98.9 and 102.5, and each time I hear it I am reminded of what Christmases were like back in high school. If you're a child of the 80's like me, I hope this will bring back some pleasant memories.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Inside Pride

Since I've been working hard on Christmas messages lately, I've been spending lots of time in the first couple of chapters of Matthew and Luke. After Mary finds out from Gabriel that she will give birth to the Son of God, she visits her cousin Elizabeth and while there begins to talk about the greatness of God. Her words are found in Luke 1:46-55. Some refer to this as Mary's Song (of course it doesn't say whether she sung it or not) and the traditional name for this section of scripture is the Magnificat. You can read those verses here.

As I was reading those verses today I was struck by the theme of humility that runs all through the passage. Mary begins by praising God for being aware of her although she is just a humble servant. Then she talks about how God humbles the proud even those who are proud only in their "inmost thoughts". That got me to thinking, none of us like to be around someone who is outwardly proud or cocky. I mean who really likes to hear a know-it-all talk other than the know-it-all himself? While the problems with being prideful on the outside are well known, this passage talks about how God will deal with those of us who are proud on the inside. Evidently, even well concealed pride is something God takes seriously. I think that might be because any pride we have detracts from our ability to completely trust God. Pride is a form of trusting in ourselves which is dangerous. I don't think it's a coincidence that Jesus was born in a barn, in an out of the way town, to a working class parents. By the way He arrived on the earth He was sending the message of how we should live on the inside and out, with humility.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rain, rain go away...

The weather today is unbelievable. I knew it was going to rain, but I had no idea we were in for this type of rain. This is rain of biblical proportions. In order to try and be positive I will not complain about the rain, temperature, or wind. There are many things you can't do on a day like today, but to remain upbeat I will list a few things you can only do on a day like today.

- Kayak down the side of Hwy. 290.

- Use the phrase "we sure need this rain" like you are a farmer.

- Find out how good of a job the crew did who put your roof on.

- Start collecting samples for that science experiment on acid rain you've been meaning to do.

- Discover whether or not your dog can swim.

- Catch a 2 lb. bream of your back deck.

- Dig a hole in the backyard to get that in-ground pool you've been dreaming about.

- Swim to the neighbor's house.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Strange Partnership

I thought it would be fun to post a music video here each week leading up to Christmas. I first saw this video on MTV when I was about 14 years old, and I remember thinking, "How in the world did Bing Crosby and David Bowie ever get together to sing a song?" You can read about how that happened here. It certainly is an odd pairing, but I like how they sound together. The scripted banter before they sing is kind of weird, but it adds to the overall experience of two guys performing together that you never thought you would see. Hope you enjoy it. Also, leave a comment with suggestions for future videos.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Friday blog on Wednesday

Today feels like Friday, because thanks to Thanksgiving today is my last day in the office for the week. I'm looking forward to enjoying food, family, and football over the next two days. Here's some Freedom info you need to know:

- Botswana shirts will really be available this week. There was a mix-up last week, and the shirts didn't make it to GHS. This week I will be sure that they are there, ready for you to purchase. Remember, the shirts are $15, and all the proceeds will be sent to Old Naledi Baptist Fellowship in Botswana.

- We begin a new series of Christmas messages this Sunday using clips from one of my favorite Christmas movies. You will need to show up this week to find out which movie. I'll give you a hint, "the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear".

now for one non-Freedom related point...

- The game will be played this Saturday. If you don't know which game I'm talking about then you probably didn't grow up here in the Palmetto State. As a Gamecock fan who struggles to control my blood pressure during games, I am glad this year's game will kickoff at noon. My plan is to record the game on the DVR and do yard work or other jobs until around 3:30. I will check the score, and if the Gamecocks win I will then sit down and watch the game. If they lose (which is normally the case) I will delete the recording and never watch a down of it. I wish I was different, but that's the only way I can handle the rivalry. My heart will thank me for following this plan.

I hope each of you have an enjoyable Thanksgiving. Take some time amidst all the events to reflect on how much God has blessed you with!

Monday, November 23, 2009

What a weekend

I don't know about you, but there are times when I just need a good weekend to kind of cleanse the palette of work concerns. By the time Thursday afternoon arrived last week that is exactly how I felt, and thanks to some good friends I had a weekend that will be remembered for a long time. It all began with a facebook post...

- Thursday night I got to see the great Texas singer/songwriter Robert Earl Keen. Thursday was my buddy Mark Johnson's 40th birthday, and he made a comment on his facebook page about going to see Robert Earl that night. I wrote back to him to have a good time and that I was a little jealous. It wasn't thirty minutes later that he called and said he had an extra ticket. Mark had gotten two comp tickets by helping out at WNCW the weekend before. So, my weekend began early when we went down to see REK play on Thursday night. He played all the songs people expected, (Merry Christmas from the Family, Road Goes On Forever, Amarillo Hwy.) as well as some great new ones.

- Friday morning I got to hang out with Mark again as we, along with David Faucette, hiked to the top of Table Rock. Mark had planned this hike several months before, and the weather couldn't have been better. When we reached the summit, the views were spectacular. Thanks to David we also walked a little further to the Caesar's Head side of the summit and took in a beautiful view that included a waterfall and one of Greenville Water System's reservoirs. On the way up the mountain I thought my lungs would explode, and on the way down my legs felt like jell-o jigglers. David and Mark were great encouragers, and they wouldn't let me fall behind. All in all we made the entire trip up and down in about five hours, that's not too bad for a few almost old guys.

- Saturday was yard work (those leaves just keep falling) and spending some time with the girls. Saturday night Mark had some friends over to celebrate his 40th. Tricia had do it yourself pizzas which was a very cool idea, then we played Catchphrase. The teams were women versus men, and I'll just say the better looking team won. Although I wasn't victorious the best part of the night was the laughter. Two answers that really made laugh were "Jesus" when the real answer was "Ty Pennington" and "soft pie" when the real answer was "easy as pie".

- Sunday we had a great worship experience at Freedom that was further proof that God's word is powerful. There was no sermon or message from me, instead we used scripture on the screen along with a few questions and prayer reminders to create an environment where God could speak to each person individually. We've done this a couple of times before, and every time people comment on how moving it is for them. Again, proof that God's word needs no further explanation from me or anyone else.

After a weekend like that I am reminded that I have so much to be thankful for: a beautiful wife who is also my best friend, two wonderful girls, lots of good friends, and a church where we can freely worship the God who created all this good stuff. I'm glad this is Thanksgiving week because I am feeling particularly thankful!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Things are looking up

This week has been challenging. It's funny how no matter who you are or what you do there are just some times that are little more difficult than others. It would be cool if you could schedule those times, then you could prepare yourself ahead of time. Of course life doesn't work that way. Although there have been challenges this week things are certainly looking up.

It began last night at Life Group. The group I have had the honor to lead this term finished our study last night, and it was cool to hear each person share how their time in the group has made a positive impact on them. We will get together in two weeks for a Christmas party, and I left last night looking forward to hanging out with all those folks again.

Then this morning there was an envelope stuck in the office door when I got here. I opened it to find gift cards for all the staff! Target cards for the ladies (Wendy, Shelley, and Robin) and Texas Roadhouse cards for the guys (Donny, Blake, Chris, and me). Everyone was excited about the early Christmas surprise. Big thanks to the "secret Santa" who made that happen!

The day continued to get better when my main man Mark Johnson called and asked me if I'd like to go see Robert Earl Keen tonight. Here's the even better part, it's free! He had a couple of comp tickets and he is sharing the joy of live music with me. Very cool.

Then finally, and this might not seem like a big deal, I had a positive experience with the billing department at Charter Media. Most of my experiences with dealing with mistakes on the bill have been anything but pleasant. However, today I called about a rogue $35 "service charge", and the nice lady on the phone told me they had already removed that charge and told me the new balance. I was pleased because I didn't have the energy to argue with her about it.

Next, for lunch I got to hang out with a good friend and discuss leadership styles and how I can learn to do things better and learn from past mistakes. This is a man I respect, and we have very similar personalities. Because of that, he knows where I have the tendency to mess up because he's been there.

Two other things that have me feeling good about where things are heading and both of them have to do with what will happen at Freedom on Sunday. First, we will have a unique worship experience this Sunday. It's something we've done a couple of times before and it is always powerful. If you want to read ahead of time you need to check out Ephesians 2:1-10. Second, the Botswana Project shirts have arrived! Beginning this Sunday and lasting until all the shirts are sold you can purchase a cool looking Botswana Project t-shirt for $15. The money will be sent to Old Naledi Baptist Fellowship in Botswana to feed children. Come Sunday prepared to buy yours. Also, they would make good Christmas gifts.

I realize this post is longer than usual. Maybe it's because I haven't written all week. Hope you made all the way through. Hope to see you Sunday! God is at work at Freedom!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More content to come later in the week

What?!? Another video? I know that I should have some real content up here by Tuesday, but there have been some events in the last 48 hours that have been very challenging for me. For those who worry when I write something like this, don't. God is so in control of what's happening at Freedom that it's not even funny, and I am more sure than ever that He has great things in store for HIS church. As a result of what's been going on, there's not a whole lot of ideas in my head that are firm enough to type on the old blog here. Hope you will enjoy this re-make of a familiar youtube video. This proves that an auto tuner can make anything sound like a bad hip-hop song.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sunday scripture and other assorted thoughts

Based on yesterday's blog I wanted to include the picture you see here. Part of the report on NPR was about how Sammy Sosa has recently been accused of lightening his skin color. He claims it was the lighting, but I'm not so sure.

- On a more important topic, I am looking forward to teaching this Sunday and I hope you are planning to be at Greer High School at 10:30 for worship. The scripture for this week's message is from John 4. Go ahead and read John 4:1-42 if you want to have a head start on what we will be talking about. Also, when you show up on Sunday be sure and grab a name tag. You'll see why.

- Based on all the rain and wind of the last three days it looks like most of my weekend will be spent cleaning up leaves. Yippee!

- When you come to worship this Sunday check out how Chris is the oldest guy in the band by far. This week's line-up will feature two teenagers and three guys in their 20's. That means that Chris, Donny, and I will be the oldest people on stage by almost 20 years. I think that's pretty cool.

- Sherry and I will be heading over to Woodruff tonight to watch her cousin play football. The playoffs began last week, so we expect this game to pretty good. Woodruff finished the regular season undefeated for the first time since the mid 80's, so all the folks there are hoping for a state championship.

- I borrowed a Joe Cocker CD from the library yesterday. After listening to it I am convinced that he is the greatest white soul singer in history. He's even better than me when I sing along with Aretha Franklin in my truck.

That's all for now. See you Sunday!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wanting what we don't have

I was listening to NPR on the way to the bank this morning when I heard something very interesting. The newest target audience in the world of cosmetics marketing are Indian men. The country of India has a population of 1 billion, half of which are male. So what, you may ask, is the cosmetic product that marketers are targeting towards men in India? It's skin lightening cream. Evidently, this had been a desire for Indian women for years and now Indian men are getting into the act of wanting their skin to be less brown. Now before we hear this and make a joke about Michael Jackson, think about the fact that Americans spend hundreds of thousands (maybe even millions) of dollars per year trying to look darker. Whether it's tanning beds, tanning lotions or just a good old fashioned sun burn, Americans will go to great lengths to change their skin color as well. Skin isn't the only thing we desire to change either. For years I've joked about how women who have straight hair pay money to make their hair curly and women with curly hair use irons and special products to straighten theirs out. I won't even get into what we do for different color hair or what men do who are losing their hair (can anyone say comb over?).

It seems like all of us humans, whether we are American, Indian, male or female, suffer from the same disease. We want what we don't have. Of course this goes well beyond skin color and type of hair. We can be completely satisfied with our house until we visit a home that's bigger and newer. Suddenly our home feels old and out of date. We can't enjoy the job we have now, because we are busy dreaming about how good things will be when we get a promotion. When we were in high school we couldn't wait to be in college, and when we were in college we couldn't wait to be done with school forever, and now that we are out of school and paying the bills we reminisce about how great and care free high school and college were.

The book of James says, "Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming." I think we would all do well to remember that this life is not all there is. If you think you are too dark or not dark enough it's only a temporary condition. That bigger house you want probably has more issues than you realize, and even if you lived there it wouldn't be your permanent home. I believe we should always be striving to be better, know more, and go farther, but I also believe there are situations that it would help us to just be content. Be patient, just be patient.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More fun with YouTube

After vacation last week (which was great) this week has involved a lot of catching up and several long meetings. Since the blog is always the thing that gets pushed to the rear in weeks like this, enjoy this video. Chances are you've already seen it, but this one features a slow motion section that I had not seen before. Hope it makes you laugh!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday Musings

First of all, I don't even know what a "musing" is. It sounds way too girly for it to be something I would do, but I chose that for today's title anyway. Here's what I'm musing about:

- Follow-up to yesterday's message. I had a friend of mine ask me a great question after yesterday's message on money. He asked, "When I start to tithe, how do I do it cheerfully?" This question addresses one of the great biblical paradoxes. In scripture we are commanded to give 10% of our hard earned money away and we are also commanded to give it away cheerfully. For most folks the giving away of that much income is anything but cheerful. Here's a condensed version of how I answered my friend yesterday. The first time you give 10% you probably won't feel very cheerful, but as you continue to give, and as you continue to see that God is providing all of your needs even as you give away a large percentage of income, you will begin to experience a joy that can only come from being free financially. I also had another guy tell me that he actually enjoyed yesterday's message. That was a pleasant surprise. Maybe he enjoys root canals too.

- Donny has started a blog! Here's a linc to Donny's new blog. I will also add him to the blog roll in the sidebar when I get a chance. He will be following up on each week's message with some practical ideas and resources that should help you apply what you learn each Sunday.

- We are looking forward to hitting the road this afternoon for Williamsburg, VA. The last time we went we experienced a good bit of rain. This year the forecast is for sunny skies. That will make walking around much nicer.

Even though I will be out of the office this week I hope to blog a couple of more time before Sunday, but I'm not making any promises!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Lots of different stuff

Friday's here already? Maybe I'm getting old, but it seems like time is moving faster these days. Hope you are ready for a very random set of things to read.

- Here is the scripture for Sunday's message. I'm not going to tell you what it's about, because I want you to show up anyway. Of course, if you read the scripture it will be obvious. Let me just say this, it's a topic that people complain to the Pastor about if he teaches on it too often, but the Bible has tons to say about it. In fact, Jesus talked about this subject more than He talked about Heaven and Hell.

- I watched highlights on Sportscenter of game 2 of the World Series. Ryan Howard struck out four times last night. The woman doing the highlights referred to striking out four times in a game as a "Golden Sombrero". I have been a pretty serious baseball fan since I was 12, and I have never heard of a "Golden Sombrero". I've heard of a "Texas Leaguer", "high cheese", "round tripper", "dinger", "ribbies", "taking the bump", "frozen rope", "a look what I found catch" and tons of other baseball sayings. I'm thinking the folks at Sportscenter are trying to create a new term. I don't even know why four strikeouts would be "golden" and what does it have to do with a giant Mexican hat? I think striking out four times in a game should be called "guess I need to spend more time in the batting cage" or "Dang, I'm glad I didn't get to bat five times tonight", or maybe even "I'm overpaid".

- Sherry and I ate at Soby's last Friday night for the first time, and now I'm trying to figure out a way I could afford to eat there once a week. It was that good. Thanks to Chris and April for generously sharing their gift certificate with us!

- Our friends in Botswana need your old cell phones! If you have used (but still working) cell phones you can donate them to Moruti James ( the pastor of Old Naledi in Botswana) when he visits next week. Any used phones, other than Sprint, will work. You can bring them by the office next week.

- I haven't been to see a movie in a while, but there are several I'm interested in seeing. "Where the Wild Things Are" looks cool, and I'd like to see how the writers took a book with about 10 sentences and made it into a two hour film. The new version of "A Christmas Carol" should be good, although that animation like they used in "The Polar Express" is kind of creepy. I'd love to see "The Men Who Stare at Goats", but that will have to be a guy's afternoon out because Sherry draws the line on stupid looking films that star George Clooney.

I'm looking forward to seeing all of you on Sunday! By the way, keep washing those hands swine flu is still running wild.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tribute to the Greatest of all Decades

If you graduated from high school when I did (1987) or in the handful of years before or after that, you will get a chuckle from this video. Thanks to my man Trey Frick for sending this to me. I'd love for you to leave a comment about some of your favorite things from the 80's. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Excuses, excuses

To my eight regular readers (yes it used to be seven, but Jimmy White now makes it eight) I need to apologize. Wednesday afternoon is far too late to post the first content of the week. Here are a list of excuses for why this has happened.

I haven't written on the blog this week because:
- I've been trying to hammer out a new health care bill with Jim Demint & Bob Inglis.
- An adverse reaction to the swine flu vaccine.
- Been too busy putting orange lights in the yard for Halloween.
- Had a painful bout with IBS.
- No time due to finishing up my first studio album of me singing Bob Dylan songs where you can clearly understand the lyrics.

Actually, there's no real reason other than the fact that I struggled a little more than normal writing this Sunday's message, and some normal pastor type things came up that slowed me down a little. Just normal stuff, but as a result the blog got put on the back burner. Here's some stuff you need to know now:

- Freedom loves Africa. As many of you know, we have been financially supporting Old Naledi Baptist Church in Botswana for the last year. Four of our folks spent a week there on mission this past summer. On Sunday, November 8 the entire service will focus on what God is doing there and how we can be more involved. It will be a special day. Also, next Thursday (November 5) the pastor of Old Naledi, Moruti James, will be here in Greer speaking at out new office about the ministry in Botswana. That meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m.

- Halloween Hoopla was a huge success again. Big time thanks to Shelley Kauffman, Chrissy Kemp, Crystal Schulte, Misty Corbett, and of course Donny for organizing the whole thing. Of course, there were over 100 others of you who volunteered to make everything go off without a hitch. Pray for wisdom for the planning team as they get together soon to evaluate everything and plan to make next year's event have an even greater impact.

That's all for now. The World Series begins tonight. I predict the Phillies win in seven.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hoopla Time!

Everyone around here is gearing up for Halloween Hoopla in downtown Greer tomorrow. This is one of my favorite things we do as a church, and here are a few reasons why:

- The city supports it. The only reason we are able to do this event is because the city of Greer asked us to take it over. This had been an event that they put on, but due to the fact that they had a difficult time finding enough volunteers the folks in charge asked if we wanted to take it. Because of that, we never have any problem getting the city to agree to close the streets,hang a banner, provide police support, etc. I think that partnering with our city is a pretty cool thing.

- Our volunteers are awesome. Once again there will be well over 100 volunteers from Freedom who will make everything happen tomorrow. It's obvious that without them this event would not happen. In addition to handing out candy, there will be faithful Freedom volunteers doing everything tomorrow from cooking burgers to picking up trash. Not only do they work hard but they do it with a great attitude.

- It makes kids happy. There's not a whole lot of things that are better than seeing a child smile. Halloween Hoopla brings smiles to the faces of kids from lots of different backgrounds. Hopefully the message that Freedom loves kids will be communicated loud and clear tomorrow.

- It's not about us. Now that God has blessed Freedom with a piece of property we could put on an event that would cater more to the needs of our families. It's more difficult to move everything in and out of the downtown area for one day, but we want the community to know that Halloween Hoopla is our gift to the families in this area. It's a gift, and all the best gifts require some sacrifice on the part of the giver.

Looking forward to seeing you there tomorrow! If you didn't get on a team to help, just show up early and tell someone you want to pitch in. There will be plenty to do!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Good for a big laugh

This is the kind of stuff that always makes me laugh. Hope it helps you through your day!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Importance of Water

As many of you know my wife Sherry had a horrible experience this weekend. She had to endure the excruciating pain of a kidney stone. Thankfully, the stone passed this morning, and she is beginning to feel normal again. If you have had a stone before you know that the main thing any doctor will tell you to do is to drink lots and lots of water. It's pretty obvious why, the kidney stone should eventually get flushed out if you drink enough. All the water focus at my house since Sunday got me thinking about how the effect water has on our body is similar to the effect God's word has on our lives. Now I'm not a doctor, (but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night) but it seems like the two main things water does for us are this: 1. it hydrates our body which is necessary for survival 2. it flushes out impurities from our body. I'm sure there are lots more things that water is needed for but those are two obvious ones that I thought of. My 10th grade Biology teacher, Mr. Anderson, would be so proud.

When it comes to hydration, we need to put water into our bodies everyday. Most experts agree that we should drink at least 64 ounces a day. It's needed for our bodies to function correctly, and it must be replenished daily because we are always losing water. I had a doctor friend tell me once that most people walk around in a mild state of dehydration, and that not being hydrated can make anyone more susceptible to disease. Likewise, if we go days or weeks without reading the Bible we are much more susceptible to making unwise moral choices. Daily scripture reading is needed for us to live as we should day by day. If we choose to ignore this and become spiritually dehydrated we can't be the people God wants us to be.

As far as flushing out bad stuff from your body water is the best thing there is. It does a better job than Coke, juice, milk or beer because it's pure. Everyday we are subjected to images, sounds, and ideas that are not in line with God's teaching. Unless you move away to a monastery and completely isolate yourself from society there is no way to avoid this. That's another reason why daily reading the scripture is so important. Just like water does for our body the Bible can flush out all the impure junk from our lives. As you make daily Bible reading part of your life, the flushing out of impure ideas will naturally happen even when you aren't aware of it. Soon you will begin to recognize ideas and thoughts that are contrary to God's plan. The impurities of the world around you will become much clearer. That's all part of scripture flushing out the junk from your life.

So drink up! Make some time to read some scripture everyday. You will be healthier spiritually if you do. It wouldn't hurt to drink more water everyday as well. You'll probably feel better by doing that as well.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It feels like Friday.

Today feels like Friday due to the fact that I will be out of the office tomorrow. Normally I only spend about half a day in the office on Fridays anyway, but just knowing that I'm not coming in at all tomorrow feels good.

This week has been very nice. Granted, the weather has been pretty dreary, but what's going on in my heart has been nice. Maybe it's the fact that I was at Catalyst last week, but I have had a greater sense of calm in my spirit about the future of Freedom than ever before. Don't get me wrong, things aren't perfect. Yes I'd love for attendance and giving to be way up, yes I'd love for more folks to be volunteering to lead Life Groups and work at Halloween Hoopla, but through everything that is going on right now God is reminding me that Freedom is His church and He will take care of us. That's something that I have known since the day Freedom began, and have reminded myself of that fact over and over, but this week my awareness of it has been much clearer. It makes me think that God is preparing us for some big things! I can't wait to see what they are.

Here are few more random things to look at and know about:

- Halloween Hoopla is a week from this Saturday, and there are still opportunities to participate. If you are a regular Freedom attender or a partner you need to sacrifice a few hours on October 24 to this project. This is one of two big community-wide things we do each year, and we want it to be huge. If you haven't signed up to help, send an e-mail to Shelley Kauffman today. Don't hesitate. Her e-mail is: shelley@freedomfellowshipsc.com

- Check out this great blog post from Seth Godin.

- "God takes full responsibility for the life wholly devoted to Him" - Andy Stanley shared that quote from his Dad Charles at Catalyst last Thursday.

- Donny will continue the "Best Question Ever" series this Sunday. Invite someone to join you.

- Duracell and Energizer batteries have exactly the same life span. At least the 9 volts do. I replaced the batteries in two of the smoke detectors in our house a few months ago. I used a Duracell in one and an Energizer in the other (just because that's what was in the house, not because I was doing an experiment). They both began beeping early this morning to indicate they needed to be replaced. Next time you see an ad that tells you one battery outperforms the other, don't believe it.

- The guy who wrote this article thinks my Gamecocks will beat Alabama this Saturday. I wish I agreed with him. My heart is with my team, but my head won't allow me to believe they'll win. Did I mention Alabama is the second ranked team in the country, and the game is being played in Tuscaloosa?

Last, here's a video from Catalyst you should check out when you have an extra 20 minutes. It is without a doubt one of the most moving things I've ever seen. I would venture to say that all 13,000 of us who were there will never forget it.
Have a great weekend and see you Sunday!

Catalyst 2009 Compassion Moment from Catalyst on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


In addition to all the great speakers at the Catalyst Conference, there were also lots of cool moments that didn't involve teaching. Check out this video of one of those moments. We actually missed seeing this live because we were on our way back from lunch. I'm glad they posted the video, so we can enjoy it now. By the way, if you think you could do this please let me know.

Professor Splash Breaks World Record! from Catalyst on Vimeo.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chuck's Wisdom

Last week I was able to attend the Catalyst Conference for the third straight year in Atlanta. Every time I've been I have discovered a new speaker who can bring the truth of the Bible home in amazing ways.

This year in addition to being exposed to speakers who were new to me, I also re-discovered one of the most gifted teachers I've ever heard. On Friday, the Catalyst team presented Chuck Swindoll with a lifetime achievement award for leadership. After the presentation he spoke on the subject of leadership in ministry. Andy Stanley told him before he spoke to "let us have it with both barrels" and he certainly did that. The cool thing is, I know there were younger leaders there who came to Atlanta not knowing who Chuck Swindoll was, but they left having been impacted by the teaching God did through him.
Here are a few highlights of what he said:

- When God wants to do an impossible task He takes an impossible person and crushes him. Leave room in your life for the crushing.

- Tradition is the living faith of those now dead. Traditionalism is the dead faith of those still living.

- Ten things that are true about ministry leadership
(these are now printed in my office for me to see everyday)

1. It's lonely to lead.
2. It's dangerous to succeed.
3. It's hardest at home.
4. It's essential to be real.
5. It's painful to obey.
6. Brokenness and failure are necessary.
7. My attitude is more important than my actions.
8. Integrity eclipses image.
9. God's way is always better than my way.
10. Christ-likeness begins and ends with humility.

Chew on that for a few days. (He didn't say that, I did.)
That is a small part of what he taught us during those 40 minutes. I'll fill you in more tomorrow on some other highlights from the trip.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Read this right away.

Attention Freedomers! An opportunity for you to be involved in something has just come up today, and I wanted to make you aware of it. Over the last few days the two guys who were heading up basketball at Freedom have had to give up those responsibilities. Both of them have lots going on with their families (all good things) and as a result have had to choose to get some things off their plates.

Here's where the opportunity comes in: If you have talents and gifts in the areas of organization we could put you to work right away in getting basketball teams together for our kids at Freedom this season. This would be a commitment for this season only. Most of the hard work will need to happen within the next three to four weeks and would involve things like, recruiting coaches, handling registration, finding appropriate practice locations and times, etc. Once the season begins there would be much less to think about.

If you have any interest in this at all please let Donny know right away. You can reach him via e-mail at donny@freedomfellowshipsc.com

Monday, October 5, 2009

Weekend Wrap-up

On a rainy Monday like today it's good to recall the sunny weekend that preceded it. I had a great weekend, and I hope you did as well. Here are a few highlights, as well as some things I think you should know:

- Friday evening I got to be with my three favorite ladies. We went to Stax Omega for supper. They have the largest menu I have ever seen there. Largest in terms of number of items to choose from not in terms of the physical size of the menu. (as far as physical size it's actually quite normal) If you can't find anything you like to eat at Stax Omega, you must be on a hunger strike. After the meal we headed to Barnes & Noble, so Emily and Grace could spend their birthday gift cards. I picked up at least a dozen books that I would love to read one day. Am I the only person whose desire to read far outweighs my ability? I mean, I can read but I will never be able to read fast enough or often enough to read everything I want to.

- Saturday was spent running a lot of errands and building the compost bin in the backyard. Now the fun part of putting the right ingredients in the bin and letting them rot will begin. I am a composting novice, so if any of you have experience in this area I will gladly accept your wise advice.

- Sunday was another great day at Freedom. The surprise I talked about here on Friday was revealed: a new logo and website. Check out the new site here, and read Chris' blog here to see the new logo. Of course the logo is on the website, but I'm trying to hook Chris up with some more readers for his blog. If the seven of you that read mine start to read his then his total will be up to nine, maybe ten. By the way Jimmy, I'm including you in the seven.

- My sister Robin and her family came to visit this weekend as well. Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning the Marshall house was at full capacity. The boys brought their new band instruments with them. Jacob is learning the sax while Austin has chosen to master the much less popular oboe. (You just never hear any cool oboe solos in rock songs) I was surprised at how small the oboe was, but then Austin told me I must have been thinking about a bassoon. Evidently it's the big one of the clarinet family. We had a great time with them, and I think they enjoyed their first trip to the best restaurant in Greer, El Mariachi.

Here's the linc for purchasing the "Best Question Ever" from Amazon. I promised y'all yesterday that I would put it up here again.

Sorry I didn't get this posted until late in the afternoon. For those of you who read this blog on your lunch hour it will be a Tuesday blog, but it's really a Monday blog. Since it's a Monday blog here's a Monday Night Football prediction: the Favre-led Vikings beat the Packers tonight, thanks more to Adrian Peterson than Brett Favre. A second prediction is that I will wake up tired in the morning because I am determined to watch the whole game if it's a close one.

Thanks for reading. Don't be afraid to leave a comment.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sunday Preview and Very Random Thoughts

It's been awhile since I've written about the random things I've seen or am thinking about, so I'll give it a shot today. Before I do that, let me give you a little preview of Sunday's message. We are continuing the "Best Question Ever" series, and this Sunday's edition of the series is very practical. The scripture you need to read before you arrive is James 1:13-15. As I said at the beginning of this series, these are great Sunday's to invite your friends to join you at Freedom. Why don't you take some time today to call a friend and ask them to come with you on Sunday?

- I'm looking forward to hanging out with the girls tonight. Since Emily and Grace both have just had birthdays they have some gift cards that need to be spent. We will spend lots of time this evening at Barnes & Noble, which is one of my favorite places to go, and then follow that up with a Starbucks visit. You may be thinking, "Isn't there a Starbucks in Barnes & Noble?" There is, but they do not accept Starbucks gift cards. Dumb, I know.

- I'm planning on planting my first ever vegetable garden next spring. To get ready I am going to build a compost bin in the next couple of weeks, so I can turn all the leaves, gumballs, and limbs around my yard into fertilizer. I have never tried anything like this before, but I am looking forward to it.

- Emily has started her own blog. If you are interested in reading about the life and thoughts of an exceptionally gifted and talented, (I can brag on her if I want), 15 year old you can check it out here.

- I'm a summer guy but I am really enjoying the cooler weather. Isn't it funny how what precedes something changes our perspective? For example, the temperatures we have had the last couple of days have been referred to as cool because they follow summer, but you could have the same weather in late March and we would call it warm because it followed winter. Interesting, or maybe not. Either way it feels nice.

See you on Sunday!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's Good to be Back

Hello faithful readers. I hope you are still there even though I haven't been a very faithful writer this week. The reason is that I have been out of the office doing some planning. Every six months or so I have found it to be very beneficial if I leave town for a couple of days to plan message series ideas. Maybe you're thinking, "Cliff why can't you just do that at the office?" My answer to that is, "I don't know why I can't, but I wish I could." I would love to be able to walk into the office, turn off the phone, and be able to concentrate enough to map out nine months worth of messages, but my mind will not allow that to happen. You see, I'm kind of easily distracted. I always have been. It can be frustrating, especially when there is thinking work to be done, and most of what I do is thinking work. The strange part of this affliction is that the main struggle occurs when I try to concentrate on important things (i.e. - preparing a message, balancing the checkbook, remembering what Sherry asked me to get at Ingle's), it rarely is a problem when I'm watching football, listening to my ipod, or reading Sports Illustrated. Anyway, on Sunday evening I headed down to the beach where I stayed at a friend's place to pray, brainstorm, and plan for the direction the messages will be going at Freedom over the next several months. This is probably the sixth or seventh time I've tried this type of planning get away, and this was the most productive by far. In the past I had been unrealistic about how much I could accomplish in the time I was away. I had such wild expectations of how much I could read, write, and plan that the Apostle Paul couldn't have lived up to them. The result was that I would get some things done, but ultimately I would get bogged down in what wasn't getting finished, and I'd come home frustrated. This trip I took a handful of legal pads, a folder full of message ideas, and my Bible. I had one goal which was to get as many message series down on paper as possible. The result of focusing in on what really needed to get done was pretty amazing. When I got back home yesterday afternoon I had a folder full of enough message ideas to take us through next October. To say that I was happy with the results would be a huge understatement. Now it's time to get together with the team and put the ideas on the calendar and then begin the hard work of making them happen.

Here's a teaser for this Sunday: There's a neat change coming to Freedom, and if you are there Sunday you will be the first ones in on it. Also, you will want to sit close to the front!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Grace!

My regular readers (that includes you, Jimmy!) know that I normally write my blog during the day when I'm at the office. It just works out better for me to get it done there. So, what would make me write a blog post at 9:30 p.m. on a Friday night? Well, I didn't get a chance to write about my baby girl's birthday yet. Nine years ago today God blessed me, Sherry and Emily (the big sister) with a big brown eyed, chubby cheeked, head full of black hair, baby girl that we named Grace. We had prayed for Grace's arrival for several years before she finally arrived on the scene. We have told her all her life that our table wasn't full until she was born. We had the one vacant chair that was being saved just for her.

Today I didn't have time to blog because I left the office early to hang out with Grace on her special day. We did lunch at Moe's. She had the kids cheese quesadilla, a white chocolate chip cookie, and a drink where she added a little of every type carbonated beverage into one cup(we used to call that a suicide at the skating rink). While we were at Moe's I asked Grace, "Now that you're nine, what did you enjoy about being eight?" Her reply: "Being older than everyone who was seven." Of course I laughed so hard the other patrons stuffing their faces with massive burritos gave me some strange looks. That was the first of many laughs of the afternoon. Next we headed to the Starbucks located in the front of Target, so she could get a Vanilla Bean Frappucino. The we went into Target so she could figure out how to spend some of her birthday money. Part of the conclusion she came to is that $50 is too much to pay for a new Wii game. After that we headed home to look at a cookie cook book she got from the library and to play some Wii.

During the whole time we were together, I was reminded of what a blessing Grace has been to us. The things that made me laugh, her wanting to share everything on her plate with me, the non-stop talking in Target about everything she saw, and a surprise Dolly Parton singing impersonation, were just a few things that confirmed what I have always known: Our Grace is a gift from God.

Happy Birthday Rascal! I love you!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

This should be on AFV

If I want a guaranteed laugh I can always turn on America's Funniest Videos. My friend Ben Patat is very talented musician and songwriter who plays in two bands. Check this video out of the last song in his group's performance last week down in Columbia. Hopefully he will send this to the folks at AFV. One thing I love about the video is that it's obvious that Ben and his guys don't take themselves too seriously. That's a good reminder for all of us today.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Best Questions

In case you didn't have a pen yesterday, here are the three questions we can use as a filter for all of our decision making. Remember these questions are based on Ephesians 5:15-17. Also, if you would like to get your copy of "The Best Question Ever" by Andy Stanley you can click here.

Now for the questions:

In light of my past experiences, what is the wise thing to do?

In light of my current situation, what is the wise thing to do?

In light of my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?

I thought we had a great start to the new series. Continue to invite your friends for the rest of the messages.

Make it a great Monday! Also, don't let the rain get you down.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Boss comes to Greenville!

On Wednesday night I had the rare opportunity to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in concert. This was the first time they had ever played in Greenville and they put on their normal high energy, almost three hour long show. This was my second time seeing Bruce, and even though he will turn sixty soon this show was even better than the first time almost seven years ago.

The only drawback to the show was the sound in the Bi-Lo Center. Most of the high stuff sounded garbled, but that didn't take away from the total experience. It did however contribute to the ringing in my ears that didn't subside until last night.

One of the interesting things that Mark Johnson and I noticed before the show was the diversity of the crowd. There were folks there who are probably collecting social security, elementary age children, bikers with full leather, guys who came straight from work at the bank, long hair, short hair, and everything in between. (I even heard there was a preacher there!) One thing everyone there had in a common was a love for the music. I would guess that the place was 95% full, and when the band played "Born to Run" it was amazing to hear everyone sing along.

The set list featured two songs from the new album, several hits, some rare gems, a beach music tune, a couple of folks songs, some 60's R&B, and even a classic song from the British invasion. The band was great as usual and featured Jay Weinberg on drums. Jay's Dad Max is the regular drummer, but due to his day job (as Conan O'Brien's band leader) he had to let Jay sit in for him. The kid just turned 19 and he made his old man proud I'm sure. Clarence Clemons looked pretty good considering that he is due to have back surgery when the tour is over. I guess that's what happens when your band is made up of guys who have been playing together for 35 years. Bruce was the amazing showman he usually is. From bringing two little girls on stage to sing, to wandering through the crowd, and climbing on top of the grand piano, he kept the crowd involved and raised the energy level in the whole building.

I had lots of folks ask me yesterday if I enjoyed the show. My response has been, "It exceeded my expectations, and my expectations were pretty high."

For those of you who are interested, here's the set list with my comments:

10th Avenue Freeze Out
Badlands - (I thought this would be first)
No Surrender
Hungry Heart - (the crowd sang the first verse)
Outlaw Pete - (new album)
Working on a Dream - (new album)
Seeds - (didn't expect this, rare selection)
Johnny 99
Atlantic City - (really glad he played this one)
Raise Your Hand - (during intro he went into crowd taking requests)
This Hard Land - (requested)
Satisfaction - (requested, the first time the band had played this Stones song)
Ramrod - (requested)
Waiting on a Sunny Day - (let two little girls sing the chorus on stage)
The Promised Land
Backstreets - (another one I didn't expect, very cool)
Radio Nowhere - (a heavier version than usual)
Lonesome Day
The Rising
Born to Run
Hard Times Come Again No More - (old folk song written by Stephen Foster)
Double Shot of my Baby's Love - (brought the Swinging Medallions on stage to help)
American Land
Glory Days
Detroit Medley - (Devil w/a blue dress, Good Golly Miss Molly, CC Rider)
Dancing in the Dark - (I was sure this was the final song and then...)
Thunder Road - (This was perfect finish for what had already been a great show)

Now I've got to start saving my money for the next tour!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sunday Preview

One of the things we emphasize every week at Freedom is bringing your friends with you to worship. We have tried hard to create an environment that folks who don't normally attend church can enter into without feeling too awkward. This Sunday is another day when it will be important for you to invite your friends. This week maybe more than usual. This Sunday we will be kicking off the "Best Question Ever" message series. The messages in this series are all focused on how to make wise choices, which is a skill that everyone can benefit from. You will hear this again on Sunday, but I believe that the "Best Question Ever", if implemented correctly, has the potential to foolproof your life against stupid decision making. Who doesn't need that?

Here is the scripture you can read in order to be ready for this Sunday's message:
Ephesians 5:15-17

If this seems like the blog I normally write on Friday it's because it is. I plan on using tomorrow's blog to write about my awesome experience at the Springsteen concert last night. You've been warned, so you don't have to log on tomorrow if you you're not interested in the Boss.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Emily!

15 years ago today I became a Daddy when God blessed Sherry and I with Emily. It is very hard for me to believe that she is 15. It seems like yesterday when the nurse placed her in my arms, and I couldn't believe a baby could be so tiny. To celebrate her birthday today I got to take her to lunch at El Mariachi, and then we went to Petsmart and bought her a guinea pig. She named him Lenny. Lenny the guinea. The reason we did those things at lunchtime is because tonight she will be at LINC (she wouldn't dream of missing that even if it is her birthday), and I will be at the Bi-Lo Center visiting my friend Bruce. In case you are wondering, Emily did give me permission to go to a concert on her special day. Happy birthday Emily! You are the sweetest, smartest, most considerate and compassionate teenager there is, and I am proud to be your Dad.

Here are some other things on my mind:

- Teaching the message this past Sunday was very liberating. Just being brutally honest and getting everything out on the table was very healthy for our church. I want everyone who participates at Freedom to understand what's important, and to be working as hard as possible to make those things happen. It's messages like what we taught the past two weeks that helps us stay on that track. If you were out of town or working with the children the last two weeks and missed the messages you can click here to listen to them. I would suggest you do that. It would be good to listen to them even if you were here both of those Sundays.

- A big thanks to Trey Frick for leading Life Group tonight while I go see Bruce and the band. I'm sure he will do such a good job that our group might vote me out as leader tonight.

- It's 3:00 now and I'm beginning to have a hard time concentrating in the office. This will be the second time I've gotten to see the Boss live and I know he will not disappoint. I'm hoping he plays "Thunder Road" tonight. The last time I saw him he didn't, but he has been featuring that song more on this tour. I'll let you know tomorrow if he does or not.

Tune in tomorrow. I will preview the new message series that begins this Sunday. I hope you are making plans to invite someone to come with you!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Video Tuesday

I saw this commercial and thought it was awesome in a stupid kind of way. It also features a band that I loved in high school which made it even funnier. Hope you enjoy it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Football Friday - Sunday Preview

I just finished looking over my notes for Sunday's message, and I got so excited about what we are going to talk about that I actually felt butterflies in my stomach. Pretty cool for Friday morning in the office with no one around. If you are a partner or regular attender at Freedom this is a Sunday you will not want to miss. I want everyone to be sure and be in the auditorium ready to worship at 10:30, and I also want to ask you to sit down as close to the front as possible. We will be discussing some serious stuff, and want to be sure that all of our regular Freedom folks don't miss it.

Now that I've shared my excitement with you, here's what you need to read to be ready for the message: Hebrews 5:12-14, Matthew 16:13-18, Numbers 13:31-14:4, Numbers 14:21-23.

Let's move on to the less important but still exciting subject of football. The football season has slowly started over the last couple of weeks. First with high school games, then college last weekend, now as the NFL begins we can enjoy football all weekend for the next couple of months.

This weekend will be full of football for the Marshall family. We began last night by watching the Blue Ridge JV team lay some serious smack on Travelers Rest. One of my favorite kids in the world, Steven Greene, looked awesome out there directing the Blue Ridge defense.

Tonight we are heading to Woodruff to watch them play Abbeville. Sherry's cousin Jake Lambert is Woodruff's QB, and he's doggone good.

Tomorrow we are going to to Spartanburg to watch our alma mater Charleston Southern take on Wofford. You might remember that CSU took a beating from Florida last Saturday in order to make $450,000 for the school. They won't get a check like that this week, but will probably get beaten again. I'm still a proud alum however. When Sherry and I went to school there we didn't even have a real football team!

Then on Sunday I plan on enjoying a full afternoon of NFL action. I'm a little droopy eyed this morning from staying up to watch the end of the Clemson game as well as the NFL opener which went into overtime. Also, Carolina plays Georgia on Saturday, and because I will be at the CSU game I will use our new DVR to record the Gamecocks. If they lose I will delete the recording without watching it. Let's hope I get to watch it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hardy har har

When I head home from the office later this afternoon, I can go home excited about what got accomplished today. The highlight of the day was the brainstorming meeting where Donny, Blake, Chris, and I threw out and discussed ideas for upcoming messages. It was cool to hear the creative give and take that was happening across the table. Our hope is to have all of the messages for 2010 on the calendar over the next several weeks.

Today's meeting was just another reminder that God has brought together the right guys on the team here at Freedom. One way I know that is that every time we meet we laugh a lot. I don't want to serve with anyone who can't laugh at themselves, and who doesn't enjoy the naturally humorous things that happen everyday. Even though there was plenty of laughter today that did not deter from work getting done. As a matter of fact I think the laughter encouraged work to get done. Think about it, you are more productive when you are joyful. That's just part of how God has wired us up. If you are stressed at work today, take some time to laugh. If you work with other people you shouldn't have to look far to find something that will make you chuckle. After all, we're all pretty funny whether we know it or not.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What day is it?

The calendar says Tuesday but it sure feels like Monday doesn't it? I told Sherry this morning before I left the house that I felt a little down. Maybe it was due to the fact that summer is over, or that I spent all day (literally) painting on my day off from the office. Whatever the reason, once I got to the office and started prepping for Life Group tomorrow night my attitude rebounded, and now I'm back to normal (well as normal as I can be). Stuff going on today includes:

- I went home at lunch to watch President Obama's speech with my girls. Even though some parents kept their kids home from school to avoid this, we home-school our girls and made sure they would see it. By the way, Sherry and I are not communists, socialists or even Democrats. I had read the text of the speech on the White House website beforehand, so I knew that it was good stuff for them to hear. I think the uproar over this thing proves that our country is more divided now than anytime in my memory. Since when did telling kids to work hard, take responsibility for themselves, and not to give up become a bad thing? This controversy reminds me that you'd have to be crazy to want to be President, and that I'm glad that my real home is in Heaven not in America. Also my leader isn't a President. My leader is a King named Jesus. He was my leader when Bush was in the White House as well.

- I took a walk along the trail on the property after lunch and disturbed a decent sized black snake from his or her rest.

- Chris has already had several folks sign-up to participate in auditions for the band. If you can sing or play an instrument you need to sign-up. You can do so by clicking here or you can do it the old fashioned way on Sunday morning in the atrium of GHS.

- We enjoyed four free Chik-Fil-A sandwiches for supper last night. I would love to see the stats on how many freebies were given away nationwide yesterday. Sherry and I discussed the strategy of giving away free food on the way home, and I told her that chances are someone tried a Chik-Fil-A sandwich yesterday for the first time because it was free. Of course I don't know anyone who has never had Chik-Fil-A before. If you have never eaten a Chik-Fil-A sandwich, or if you know someone who never has please leave a comment. Also, if you want to leave a comment on all the political stuff I wrote about earlier I'll read those as well.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sunday scripture and more

Friday has arrived! I know lots of you will be heading out of town this afternoon for the last big weekend of the summer. Be safe as you travel and know that we will miss you at Freedom on Sunday. Here's a few stray thoughts to lead you into the weekend:

- I wrote on here yesterday about Sunday's message, now I need to share the scripture you should read before hand. It is: Genesis 12:1-3 and 22:15-18, John 10:14-16, Matthew 28:18-20. I am very excited about teaching this Sunday.

- Charleston Southern University (mine and Sherry's alma mater) open the football season Saturday night against the Florida Gators. Florida has won two national championships in three years, are favored to win another this year, and their QB is a Heisman Trophy winner. Due to all of those things, Florida is favored to win by 73points. I know my school's team will not win, but I don't think they will lose by 73! The great thing about this game is that it has generated nation wide publicity for my school. It doesn't hurt that the CSU athletic department will get a check for $450,000 from Florida either. Go Bucs!

- Tomorrow I will do something I haven't done in over four years. I will play golf. I just found out two days ago that the tournament the church is having will not be a shotgun start, so that means when I tee off on #1 there will be people watching. My goal for the entire tournament is not to embarrass myself on that first tee. I just want to hit it in the air, where the ball goes after that is not my concern.

Keep praying for the Africa team, and be sure and check their blog. Today is their last day of work before they begin the long journey home. See you on Sunday!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Early Sunday Preview and Happy Birthday

This has been a week where the days have flown by. It is hard to believe that it's Thursday already. I am very excited about everything God is doing at Freedom. Donny and I had a conversation this morning about how we both sense that we are about to see God break some barriers in our church. It just seems to me that we are heading into uncharted territory, uncharted for us at least. Thankfully, God has already been where we are going and is pushing us to get there.

Normally I preview Sunday's message on Friday, but I spent some time working on it this morning and I am pumped about it! I'll give you some scripture to read tomorrow to be ready, but for now spend some time praying and asking God to speak clearly to you this Sunday about the importance of His church. It is His by the way, not mine or yours!

Happy Birthday Sherry! Today is my wonderful wife's birthday. I will not tell you how old she is, but I will tell you that I've been celebrating birthdays with her for 21 years(18 married), and she keeps getting more beautiful and sweeter each year.

College football season begins tonight! Hopefully at 10:00 tonight I'll be happy.

Keep praying for the Africa team! They are updating the blog daily, and God is doing some great stuff through them.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

In lieu of actual content...here's a video!

Today turned out to be pretty crazy (and tomorrow ain't looking too good either), so instead of a real blog, enjoy this video clip from one of my favorite shows, "The Big Bang Theory". It's the only show I've ever known to prominently feature nerd humor. Hope you find it as funny as I do.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday notes

Yesterday turned out to be a fantastic Sunday! We had over 400 people in attendance for the second week in a row, and there was a definite feeling of excitement in the air as we concluded the service. Here are a couple of things to remember today:

- Keep praying for the team in Botswana. Be sure you click here to get updated on everything that is happening on the mission trip. God is using Freedom to make an impact around the world through the faithfulness of these four volunteers! That's awesome.

- As things continue to move rapidly forward at Freedom each week, I am reminded that the devil is at work to slow that progress down as much as possible. A couple of things happened over the weekend that brought this to my mind. Let's all be sure that we are on guard against his attacks, and that we are wearing our spiritual armor. It seems like the easiest place for us to be attacked is in our attitude. I am praying daily that God will give me His attitude towards every challenging situation that I face.

- Fall is here. I know that to be true because football is here. The arrival of football season is the only thing that makes the coming of fall bearable for me. I love summertime, but it is exciting that HS football started Friday, college games begin Thursday (go Gamecocks!), and Pro games begin a week from this Sunday. That means we are two weeks away from Monday Night Football. Click here to see the best promo for MNF that ESPN has ever come up with.

Have a great Monday, and remember that God's power is at work within you today!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Africa Blog

I will be out of the office for a couple of days, so this is the last blog post until Friday. On Thursday our team of 3 men and 1 brave woman will be heading to Botswana. They will report what they are up to over there on a blog they have set up. Be sure you check the blog daily while they are away, and pray for them a lot.

Here's the linc to the blog: http://freedom2africa.blogspot.com/

Talk to you (well actually I'll write) on Friday.

Monday, August 24, 2009

New Land, Ice Cream and Community

I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning. Part of it was the normal Monday doldrums, but I think the main reason was the amount of homemade ice cream I consumed last night. I made myself stop after five bowls in a futile attempt to regain some semblance of self-control. The final count of bowls was, one bowl of peach, one bowl of peanut butter, and three bowls of Oreo. Other than me overdoing it with ice cream some other things happened yesterday as well.

- It was really cool to see Freedom partners and attenders spread out all over the new property praying together. One thing I think is interesting is that some folks think that there is a master plan for the property that we haven't revealed yet. Nothing could be further from the truth! That's why we gathered together to ask God for wisdom last night. A lot of big decisions will have to be made about what the next steps are for the property, and we want to only do what God would have us do. The great thing is that according to the promise found in James, God gives wisdom if we ask for it. I sure do need it.

- I thought it worked out great that on a Sunday where the message focused on the importance of community, we had a chance to spend some time together yesterday afternoon. Whether it was sitting around talking, throwing football, or walking the trail, lots of people made connections with each other yesterday. All of those connections are important to what God wants to do through Freedom.

- Thanks again to Trey and Jill Frick for organizing everything for yesterday's get together! The two of them along with the volunteers they recruited handled every detail that made yesterday special, and Donny and I were able to just enjoy hanging out.

I truly believe that God has some amazing plans for Freedom, many of which will include the use of the new property. I also believe, as I said yesterday, that this is only the first step in much bigger journey that God wants us to follow Him on. I am thankful to be traveling that road with each of you.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sunday Preview

I always look forward to Sundays at Freedom, but this Sunday should be extra special. In addition to the regular worship time at 10:30, we will have fun hanging out together on the new property from 4-6 p.m. Here's what you need to know:

- We will continue the re:boot message series this week. The message is entitled "Network", and here are some verses you can read to be ready: Genesis 2:18, Proverbs 27:17, Genesis 28:3, and Acts 4:32-37. I hope you are planning on inviting your friends to join you this Sunday.

- Be sure and bring a lawn chair with you for the get together in the afternoon. Also, there is still an opportunity for you to bring a churn of homemade ice cream as well. If you have any questions about the ice cream, send Trey Frick an e-mail: tfrick@nuvox.com Also, feel free to bring frisbees, footballs, etc. with you. Bringing along some bug spray wouldn't hurt either if you are planning on walking the trail.

- This next section is for Freedom partners and regular attenders only! Due to the increased attendance we have experienced this summer, parking spaces in the main lot on Sunday mornings are at a premium. If you could begin parking in the large (gigantic, actually) lot to the left of the high school on Sunday mornings that would be great. It is a longer walk to the entrance, but your heart could use the exercise I'm sure. The last thing we want is for someone who attends Freedom for the first time to drive through the parking lot and leave because there are no spaces available. Thanks for helping with this!

Can't wait to see all of you on Sunday morning and in the afternoon at the new property (3075 Locust Hill Road).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Summer Movie Review

When I was a kid my Mom would load up the car each week in the summer with me and my sister and a couple of our friends and head to the summer movies. This was before the age of summer movie blockbusters and sequels. I'm talking about the free summer movies (at least I think they were free, I wasn't paying). It was there I saw classics like "War of the Worlds", "Pipi Longstocking", and "The Time Machine". Now as each summer arrives there are always a ton of new movies released that I want to see (but they aren't free). Now that summer is officially over (I know it is because Walgreeen's has all flip flops marked down 75%) I will share with you my ratings for the movies I had the chance to see. I am rating on a five star scale because Blake thinks four is not enough.

Wolverine - 2 stars
I seriously considered a one star rating, but the special effects were good enough for one star all by themselves. This was the first movie of the summer that Emily and I went to see, and I was expecting it to be as good as last summer's first movie which was Iron Man. I was very disappointed. When this comes out on DVD don't rent it, borrow it from a friend.

Night at the Museum 2 - 3 stars
Sherry liked this better than the first one. I still like the original better, but this one was very good. Two new characters, Kamunrah and General Custer, added to the already funny mix. Also, my girls were happy with the voices of the Cherubim.

Star Trek - 4 stars
This was a movie that I didn't even care to see when it first came out. Then I started to hear great things about it, so Sherry and I went to see it on a date one night. It turned out to be my favorite movie of the summer. It had what too many summer blockbusters lack, a plot to go along with all the CGI and explosions. Also, it included lots of the elements from the original Star Trek series that guys my age used to watch after school on reruns. I can't wait until the DVD comes out so I can watch it all again.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - 3 stars
I had high expectations for this film, perhaps too high. The Half Blood Prince was my favorite of all seven of the books, but the film did a poor job of measuring up. I know that the book is always better, but I felt the climatic scene was so poorly presented in the movie that it lost the significance that was so evident in the book. I think that those who have read the book and seen the movie will agree.

G.I. Joe - 2 stars
I would have thought this movie was awesome if I was 12, but I'm 40.

Ones I missed that I will see on DVD:
Terminator Salvation and Public Enemies

No I didn't see Transformers. Frankly, I thought the first one was just o.k., so I didn't see the sequel. I know I'm in the minority on that, but I'm cool with it.

Leave a comment and let me know what you thought about this summer's films.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Freedom folks are givers

I was reminded yesterday about how generous the people at Freedom are, and I wanted to share it with you. A friend of mine is helping out another friend by providing him a place to live for a few months. Friend #1 called me Monday night and asked if I knew of anyone who had some extra bedroom furniture for friend #2. I sent out an e-mail to Tamara Whitener about the need, and she forwarded it to everyone in an e-mail database she has of Freedom partners and attenders. Within two hours of me sending the first e-mail every piece of furniture needed for the bedroom had been donated! Friend #1 called me last night to say that when the calls started coming in so quickly it was all he could do not to cry with joy while he was at work. I never cease to be amazed at how the folks at Freedom really understand what it means to be the church and not just go to church.

Donny suggested three great books that people might want to read as a follow-up to this past Sunday's message about being Maxed Out. They are:
"Margin" by Richard Swensen...Restoring margin to overloaded lives.
"Holy Discontent" by Bill Hybels...Fueling the fire that ignites personal vision
"Made to Count" by Bob Record...Discovering what to do with your life

By the way, there had been a problem with getting the messages up on-line, but that has been fixed now. You can find all of the messages from the current series at freedomfellowshipsc.com or on itunes or by clicking here.

Two other things:
Ice cream fellowship and Prayer Time on the new property this Sunday, August 23 from 4-6 p.m. Bring a lawn chair, and a smile.

Partnership Class - Sunday, August 30 from 3-5 p.m. You can sign-up in the atrium at Greer High School this Sunday.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Stuff I'm Thinking

Random Monday thoughts:

- I loved it that we opened things for yesterday's service with "Running On Empty". Ben (the cool looking guitarist) had never heard of Jackson Browne until the band started working on that song. That either means I'm old or that he needs a 70's music education.

- I struggled with concentration issues big-time leading up to the moment I got on stage to teach. God really reminded me that He is in control when He helped me focus when I needed to.

- I got to the LINC back to school party in time to see the belly flop and back buster competitions. The prize was an XBox 360, and those kids sacrificed their bodies in order to win! There were a ton of beet red backs and bellies when everything ended. This gives me a lot of hope for the next generation of leaders in our country.

- I challenged Blake, Ben and Ben to do a back buster after the competition ended. They refused to try. They have been demoted in my mind from full man status to some type of man/girl hybrid.

- We had a great time visiting with Tony and Bettye again this weekend. They are friends from Charleston that we've known for a long time. They've been to see us twice in just a few months, now we need to plan a trip to see them. The girls missed their dog Kiki who didn't make the trip this time, but I think Buddy (our dog) was happy to have Tony all to himself.

- I am looking forward to the get together on the new property this Sunday afternoon. If you didn't sign-up to bring a churn of homemade ice cream, you can still do so. Just send Trey Frick an e-mail and he will get you on the list. tfrick@nuvox.com

- I wish Ryan Howard had gone on the DL last week. If so, the Braves would only be 4 games back of the Phillies instead of 6. There's still six weeks of baseball to be played, so their not out of it yet.

That's all for now! Leave a comment if you're not too scared.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sunday preview and Friday wrap-up

For whatever reason this week has gone by faster than normal. I know it really hasn't, but it feels like it has. Maybe that's just a way to justify the unfinished items on my to do list.

I am looking forward to another great Sunday at Greer High School! This week we will continue the re:boot series with a message called "Maxed Out". Here are the main scripture passages we will be covering this week: Exodus 18:13-26 and Acts 6:1-7.

Here's a gentle reminder about something you already know, the service begins at 10:30. That is the time you should be seated in the auditorium. If at 10:30 you are still in the atrium eating doughnuts and drinking coffee you will miss something. I am reminding you of this because, you will not want to miss the first song this week! All of you who are classic rock enthusiasts will especially enjoy it. We have begun using a countdown timer at 10:25 to let you know when the service will begin. When the timer hits 0:00 the band cranks it up.

Summer is coming to a close now that kids are having to go back to school. That means people will be home more often, which also means we have a great opportunity to invite them to worship each week. Call someone today and ask them to join you at Freedom this Sunday. See you then!