Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday wrap-up, Sunday preview

As I wrap up the week and look forward to worship at Greer High School on Sunday, here's what's on my mind:

- I love summer, but I'll be glad when my girls are home more often. Emily is away until tomorrow at a World Changers project in Chattanooga. She also has already been to camp and to Gran and Grandbob's house this summer. Grace has been to camp and Gran's as well. Things are out of whack around the house when one or both of them aren't there. Even the dog notices the difference.

- John Mellencamp exceeded expectations. He played three songs from his new album, which were great and well-received by the crowd, along with classics like, "Pink Houses", "Rain on the Scarecrow", "Paper in Fire", and "Check it Out". The highlight of the night for me was a tooth rattling version of "Crumblin'Down" followed by a surprise playing of "Hurts So Good" to end the show. As a side note, Heritage Park was a great place to see an outdoor show. The lawn, parking, access, and just general atmosphere were all top notch.

- Grace has been attending Coach Neely's basketball camp at Greer First Baptist every morning this week. I'm proud of her because none of her friends were able to attend this week, so she went in Monday morning without knowing anyone other than Coach Neely and some of his helpers. She has made new friends everyday and told us last night that she has loved the week.

- We begin a new series of messages this Sunday. We are calling the series Reboot. Be sure you are there this week. If you are on the pre-service reading program that Dr. Waterfield recommends, here is your assignment for the weekend: Job 1-2

Teaser: Hold Sunday afternoon August 23 open on your calendars. I'll tell why on Sunday morning.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Now that's funny

There's nothing quite as therapeutic as good, hard laugh. Enjoy this video of two guys who can't stop laughing!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Minutes to Memories

In a couple of hours I will be leaving the office to head towards Simpsonville to see John Mellencamp in concert. I am excited because it will be the first show I've gone to at the relatively new Heritage Park. I am excited because I will also get to see Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan. I'm excited because I'll get to hang out with my brother from another mother Mark Johnson and his son Miles. The main reason I am excited though is that I will finally see John Mellencamp (the artist formerly known as John Cougar) in concert.

Several years ago I made a list of artists I wanted to see perform before I die, or they die (the latter of which I hope happens first). Some friends of mine have called it my bucket list. Of course at the time I made the list that movie had not come out yet. When I first made the list it included four acts: John Cougar Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, The Eagles, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. When I first came up with the list I really thought it was a lost cause. The reason why is that at the time the Eagles weren't even speaking to one another, and Bruce and the band had not performed together in some time. Well if all goes as planned this evening, when I wake up in the morning I will only need to see Tom Petty to finish the list.

Throughout my high school years and during my freshmen year of college three Mellencamp albums got tons of play on the Clarion cassette deck in my Datsun 210. The songs on "Uh-huh", "Scarecrow", and "The Lonesome Jubilee" hold a ton of great memories for me. So tonight if he plays "Crumblin'Down", "Small Town", or "Paper in Fire" I won't just be in Simpsonville. In my mind I'll be cruising down Hwy.378 in West Columbia, with a bag full of Rush's cheeseburgers, to meet Pauley when he gets off work at Little Caesar's. It seems like I was just there yesterday. As Mellencamp sings, "days turn to minutes and minutes to memories".

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday catch-up

Sunday was one of those amazing days that you have from time to time as a pastor of a church that really can't be explained. The way I usually react to those days is that I have a huge adrenaline rush, and then the following day I have very little energy as I come off of the natural high. As a result, I didn't even consider trying to post a blog yesterday. Instead, here are some of my thoughts about the Sunday that was:

- I hope you were there. Baptism is one of those things that I never want anyone to miss out on, because I believe as we do it we get a glimpse into Heaven. People openly proclaiming their love of and commitment to Jesus, cheering and clapping at what He has done, hanging out with friends, are all part of what happened Sunday afternoon, and those are also all things we will get to do for eternity in Heaven.

- I love watching other people do the dunking. Donny and I only baptized 5 of the 16 folks on Sunday. Instead of us, a husband baptized his wife, Dads baptized their kids, a brother baptized his sister, and a friend baptized a friend. Seeing those Dads walk into the lake with their kids was really something special. As I said on Sunday, John the Baptist had never been ordained or gone to Seminary and he baptized Jesus. Obviously Donny and I are not the only ones qualified.

- I was reminded that it's never too late. One man came to see his adult daughter be baptized, and as we were talking before everyone arrived he told Donny that he needed to be baptized. He accepted Jesus in 1965 but never followed His example by being baptized. He decided that he could not wait any longer, so he took off his shoes and socks and waded into Lake Lyman in his street clothes. Kinda reminds me of this verse in Acts.

- Doing baptism at a public lake is a great way for people to see what Freedom is all about. Several people noticed that as we were baptizing, a boat with four guys in it stopped and watched. We don't who they were, but they saw an example of the church doing what Jesus commanded.

Thanks to Kathy Hannah for the great picture of Jason Trusty baptizing his daughter Leah. I hope you don't mind that I stole that shot off of your facebook page Kathy!

God continues to do some great things at Freedom! I believe that it is only the beginning of what He has in store for us.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Come on in boys the water is fine

Normally on Friday I have a list of things that I want you to know about, but this week the list has only one item on it: Baptism. This Sunday at 5:00 we will celebrate the fact that Jesus has changed the lives of 14 people by baptizing them. I tell people all the time that this is the most important thing we do as a church. The reason why is found in this scripture. Jesus commanded us to do it, that makes it top priority. Baptism is not what forgives us of sin, only Jesus' sacrifice on the cross does that, but it is the way He commanded us to let people know we have been forgiven.

Here are some of the details you need to know to be ready this Sunday afternoon:

- Start time is 5:00.

- You need to bring a lawn chair, and an appetite. Because we believe this should be a party, we will have Bucky's BBQ for everyone to eat afterwards.

- Baptism will take place at Lake Lyman Lodge. If you want to google it for directions, the address is: 100 Lyman Lodge Rd., Lyman, SC

- We believe the proper way to respond to baptism is excitement and joy, therefor not only do we not mind if you clap and yell when someone is baptized, we encourage it. It makes no sense for us to celebrate more at a football game, which has no eternal consequences, than we do at a baptism.

The number of people being baptized is not set in stone. If you are interested in talking to someone about being baptized let me or Donny know on Sunday morning and we will get you all the information you need. Don't miss the celebration! I look forward to seeing you there.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer Camp Memories

On Monday of this week I had the chance to drive a van full of boys up to Sunset, SC and drop them off at Camp McCall. When I was a kid I always loved spending a week away from home at summer camp. Camp McCall, Camp York and Camp Harmony were three that I went either as a child or teenager with my church. Here are some fun memories I have from those times:

- One year at Camp York there was a kid in my cabin who was crying at night before bed. When I asked our counselor what was wrong, he told me that the kid was homesick. I can vividly remember thinking to myself, "What's wrong with that kid?". Here we were sleeping in bunk beds with all of our buddies, we got to swim in a lake everyday, shoot bow and arrows and cool stuff like that, and this kid would rather be at home? For me it just didn't compute.

- Camp was the first place that I ever had any part in a worship service. Once again it was at Camp York and our pastor Lonnie Shull asked if I would say the opening prayer. I remember being so nervous when I walked up to the microphone that my hands were shaking.

- We had a kid in our cabin one year who would run back from the showers to the cabin in the nude. My friend Andy called him "the running butt", because that was what we saw as he passed by us. We thought he was crazy, but looking back it wasn't that bad because there were no girls in that section of the camp. That experience just prepared me for living in Quad 2 at Charleston Southern years later.

- I always loved camp fire time at every camp I went to. There was something cool about everyone sitting in a circle around a huge fire and singing cheesy old praise songs like "Pass It On".

I'd love to hear about some of your favorite camp memories. Don't be shy, leave a comment!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Start today

This past weekend Tom Watson was 8 feet away from the impossible. On Sunday, Watson missed an 8 foot putt that if it had gone in would have secured his sixth British Open championship and his ninth major championship overall. What made all of this seem impossible is that Watson is 59 years old. In fact, he will be 60 in just a few weeks. It would have been an amazing story if the putt had gone in, but even though it did not the fact that he led the tournament all the way until the final hole is a major accomplishment.

As I watched Watson on the final four holes on Saturday, and then on the final three holes on Sunday I thought about what I will be able to do at age 60. What is certain is that I will not be able to compete for a golf championship of any kind at that age. The reason why has nothing to do with health. Who knows, I may be in fantastic shape at that age. The reason why is because I don't play golf now. Tom Watson's ability to compete at age 59 is the result of years and years of playing competitive golf, practicing his swing, and staying in shape. He didn't wake up at age 59 with the ability to drive, chip and putt.

If I want to be in great shape at age 60 the time to begin work on that is now. If I want to play an instrument, excel in a sport, learn a language, know the bible, have the respect of my kids at age 45, 50, or 60 the hard work that is required must begin today. Christian theologian and author Eugene Peterson called following Jesus, "a long obedience in the same direction". I can't expect to know who Jesus is and how He wants to change me overnight, but if I want to be closer to Him at age 60 than I am at age 40 then the journey begins now.

Friday, July 17, 2009

VBS wrap-up and Sunday preview

This has been an incredible week. I turned off my alarm at 3:00 a.m. this morning because I knew I wanted to sleep past the 6:30 a.m. time it was set for. I woke at 7:45, which is later than I've slept in awhile. I think I have what you might call a VBS hangover. Here are some final facts and thoughts about the week, along with scripture for Sunday:

378 - the number of hot dogs that Ken and Mary Floyd and their crew (which included Trey and Jill Frick) grilled last night. When all the fuss was over last night there were only a handful left.

Amazed - The comment I got from lots of folks about the number of volunteers that were helping every night. The number was over 100 each evening. I am thankful God allows me to pastor a church where people are anxious to work hard.

0 - the amount of rain that fell during VBS this year! We have done outdoor VBS for four summers now, and this was the first year we escaped with out anything getting rained out.

30 - the approximate number of times I got dropped in the dunking tank. It was funny that the only adult who knocked me down was my lovely wife, but there were plenty of little ones who did me in. John Nick Hannah knocked me in every time he got up there.

50 - the approximate number of times Donny got dropped. I went first so I think by the time he got up there the kids were warmed up. By the way John Nick put him down as well. The Greenville Drive need to offer that boy a contract.

Pleasantly surprised - the feeling I had when I woke up this morning and wasn't half as sore as I expected to be after my time in the tank.

405 - amount of dollars raised by the kids during the Penny War. The girls beat the boys, but the winners are the children in Botswana (that's in Africa by the way) who will use that money to buy library books.

Too many - individuals that need to be thanked by name for all they did to make VBS happen this year. I don't want to leave anyone out, so if you helped out at all with any element of VBS, THANK YOU!!! What you have done in the lives of kids cannot be measured.

This Sunday we will continue our current message series. We will be talking about "The Commitment". Here's a list of scriptures you might want to read to be ready: Luke 5:31-32, Matthew 28:18-20, Romans 10:9, Matthew 3:13-17.

Also, Mike Breece is putting together a VBS highlights video that we will show Sunday. Be sure you are there!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

VBS facts day two

We had another great night at VBS yesterday. Here are some facts:

140 - the number of kids present last night

118 - the number of volunteers present last night

1 - new song during the opening and closing celebration

232 mph - the speed Amber Pitts' fingers were moving last night as she and Tamara Whitener entered the attendance into the computer

1,000 - number of slices it took for Mary Kauffman and the rest of her crew to get all the fruit cut up for tonight's snack

5 - number of months that Amber Pitts has been planning and organizing everything that is happening this week.

immeasurable - the impact that is being had on the lives of all the children participating each night.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

VBS facts from day one

Wow. Last night we kicked off Vacation Bible School at the new property, and it was a great night. Here's some observations and some facts from last night:

129 - the number of kids who were there

119 - the number of youth and adult volunteers who were there

10:30 a.m. - the time the first crew of volunteers arrived to begin set-up

Smiles and hugs - what I saw our workers giving freely to the kids

The Bible - was being taught in every small group at some point in the evening

Cool dancing - what Trey Frick did as he led the opening and closing celebrations, especially on the walking on water song.

300 grams - the amount of sugar that must have been in the extra delicious double doozie cookies that Mary Kauffman made for snack time. (yes, I participated in snack time!)

48 - number of miles Shelley Kauffman walked last night as she checked on how everything was going.

Thankful and excited - two feelings I had last night when I saw all that God was doing.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sunday scripture

Friday is here, and I'm thankful to see it arrive. This has been a very productive week, and it is time for a little break. Here are a few things to look forward to, as well as a look back at things from this week:

I'm looking forward to continuing our message series Sunday on "The Basics". This week we will talk about "The Promise". For Dr. Waterfield and any one else who cares to prepare before they arrive, the scripture you need to read before Sunday is as follows: John 14:1-7 and 1 John 3:2

Next week is Vacation Bible School. This is always one of my favorite things we do at Freedom. This year's VBS will be extra special because we will be meeting at the new property on Hwy.290. That will give us a lot more freedom in how early we can set-up and what we can do.

There was a good bit of organizing and cleaning that went on in the office this week. Getting settled in and organized has been a big job. Robin Wellmon, our ministry assistant, has done tons of cleaning, sorting, and just moving things to their correct place. If you see her Sunday, be sure and thank her for all her hard work.

After a wedding tomorrow and hopefully some time to just relax, I will be looking forward to seeing all of you on Sunday!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Loose ends, important and irrelevant

Here are a few loose ends that need to be tied up. I'll begin with the important ones first:

- The office phone number never changed. A couple of weeks ago I announced in front of everyone at worship that when we moved into the new office our phone number would change. I announced this based on what the folks at Charter Media told us. Well, when they installed the new line we discovered that our number was exactly the same as it had been: 877-3604. We are glad the number is the same, even if the Charter people made a liar out of me.

- Opening on the trip to Botswana, Africa. Due to circumstances beyond any one's control one of the folks on our Africa Mission team has had to drop out of the trip. This means there is a chance for a lady, with a passport to go. The passport has to be current. If you are even remotely interested in going please contact Mark Johnson immediately:

Now for the irrelevant ones:

- I just used the term heebie jeebies in describing how camel back crickets make me feel. As I said it I wondered, "What is the difference between the heebie jeebies and the willies?"

- If all goes as planned we should have a DVR installed in the house next week at this time. That way I don't have to watch the Carolina Clemson football game live this year. I can just wait until it's over and if Clemson wins, as they have most of my life, I won't have to watch it. It will be much better for my blood pressure.

- I'll be glad when this whole Michael Jackson thing blows over. How many hours can CNN milk out of this? A lot more than I want to watch apparently.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Tragedy?

Many of you were probably as shocked as I was at the news of Steve McNair's murder. If you don't know the details here is the condensed (Cliff's Notes!) version: Steve McNair former NFL MVP, a married father of four, was apparently shot by his 20 year old girlfriend who then killed herself.

When the news of this first broke I heard many people classify it as a tragedy, and I would agree that there are tragic elements to it. It is tragic that two people died by being shot. It is tragic that one person killed another person. It is tragic that four young men will grow up without their father. It is tragic that a young lady with many years ahead of her decided to end her own life. Even considering all of those things it is hard for me to call what happened to Steve McNair a tragedy. In my mind a tragedy is something that was unavoidable and often unexpected. The murder of five people in Gaffney last week, one of which was a 15 year old girl, was a tragedy. If Steve McNair had been home last week with his wife and four boys and someone came into their home and shot him that would have been a tragedy, but the hard truth is that if he had been home with his wife he would still be alive. That's why I can't call his death a tragedy. It was avoidable. If he had put his marriage and kids before his own desires everything would be different now.

Another sad part of this story is that up until last week, McNair was known for his toughness, his community involvement, and his devotion to his family. Now he will be forever remembered for the way his life ended, instead of for what he accomplished.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A busy week comes to an end

I have decided that all weeks in my life are busy, except when we I'm at the beach, but this week has been even busier. It's been good, but I haven't had any problems getting to sleep at night. Here are some random thoughts and updates:

- Pray for Sherry's family today.
Sherry's grandmother, Allie Mathis passed away on Wednesday afternoon and the funeral is today. Grandma Allie had been in poor health for awhile and she was a follower of Jesus so there is no sadness over where she is now, but the service today will still be difficult. Also, pray for me and Jimmy Hawkins as we lead the service.

- My girls come home today!
Emily has been at Go Camp this week and Grace has been getting spoiled by my parents all week. This has probably been the best week for them to be gone since things have been so busy, but I will be glad when they are both sleeping at home tonight.

- I'm praying for the people in Gaffney.
I can't imagine what the folks who live in that community must be feeling this morning. I pray that the police officers there will be able to find the man responsible for the killings and bring him in before anyone else is hurt.

- Power Plant was great.
Thanks to everyone who prayed for me this week as I taught. I was very encouraged by what I saw in the lives of the teenagers and their leaders. Getting to teach them every morning this week was a real privelege. I'll write more about this next week.

- Sunday will be a great day.
It seems that every week I get more excited about what God does in worship on Sunday mornings at Greer High School. This week we begin a new series of messages called "The Basics". This week's basic is "The Call". You can go ahead and read the following scriptures if you want to be extra prepared for where we are going this month: Matthew 4:19, 8:21-22, 9:9, 19:21, and John 10:27.

- The Braves swept the Phillies.
Is it time to believe that the Braves can make a run for the division title in the second half of the season? We'll have to wait and see if they keep hitting like they have the last few games.

See you Sunday!