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:

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: 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 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.

- 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!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back to School Bash by the numbers

As I said in Monday's blog, what happened at Century B Park on Sunday afternoon was pretty amazing. Here's a recap by the numbers:

3 - the number of churches who had volunteers present on Sunday afternoon. In addition to the big crowd of Freedomers, there were hard-working folks helping out from Springwell Church and Ridgeview Church. Also, Living Way Church made a financial donation to help off-set costs. We were thrilled to be able to partner together with other churches who care for the community.

130 - approximate number of volunteers who made everything happen.

1,500 - estimated total number of people present. Needless to say, we were rather overwhelmed, especially since most of the signs we had put out to advertise had been taken down pretty early on.

725 - number of backpacks full of school supplies that were given away. This is the first year we have given away every single backpack. The last two years we have had some left over that we then donated to area schools.

1,000 - conservative estimate of the number of backpacks we should plan to give away next August.

100 - combined pounds lost by our cooking crew as they sweated over their grills on the hottest day of the summer. This crew never got a break, and they never complained.

4:45 - time that the first folks got in line at the gate to receive a backpack.

6:00 - time the event began.

30 - the number of folks it took to put together the big white tent where the food was served. We believe in working together you know!

0 - number of parking spaces left in both parking lots and also in the lot of the church across the street. Not to mention all the cars parked up and down the road.

250 - number of hearts broken by Miss Upstate, Stephanie Vaughn (who was giving away signed photos) when the boys found out she's already dating someone.

??? - the impact made in the lives of kids and their parents who received the backpacks. It simply cannot be measured.

A huge thanks to everyone who participated by volunteering on Sunday, or by donating school supplies! A special thanks to Donny for arranging so many of the details and to Laurie King, who headed up the backpacks, and Brian Thomas, who headed the food crew. Sunday was another great way to let the community we live in know that we care. The hard work and dedication of the folks at Freedom never ceases to amaze me!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Six Questions

I'll get a longer post on here tomorrow about the Back to School Bash. For now you need to know it exceeded our expectations, and we had pretty high expectations! Until then, here are the six questions I asked everyone to think about as part of yesterday's message:

Sabbath questions
How comfortable are you with silence?
Could you spend a day (24 hrs) without TV, Internet or your cell phone?
You are in a room with nothing but a place to sit and your bible, how long can you last?

Confession questions
When talking to God, are you honest about your sin?
What are you trusting in to earn your forgiveness?
Is there something you have been carrying too long?

That's a lot to think about.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday wrap-up

The week is coming to an end, but as normal that means we are heading into an eventful weekend. Here's what you can look forward to:

- Virus Scan is the theme for Sunday's message. This will be the second in the re:boot series. I encourage everyone who will be in worship Sunday to come prepared to let down your guard, and get really honest with God. Read the scripture we will be focusing on this week, and you might get an understanding of why I'm making this request. Exodus 16, Mark 2:23-24, Psalm 32:2-5

- Back to School Bash is this Sunday afternoon! For the third straight year we will have a big party at Century B Park in Greer in order to give away free school supplies. In our office right now are over 600 backpacks full of everything needed to start off the school year, and I cannot wait to be there when our volunteers give them away. (A big thanks to Laurie King and the rest of her crew that worked hard to get everything seperated and then put into the backpacks!) There will also be free hot dogs, face painting, and inflatables. What a great way to be the church instead of just going to church!

- Emily and I are going to see the new GI Joe movie with Jake today. It's awesome that my daughter enjoys cool movies. I think the movie is based on the GI Joes that were popular back in the mid to late 80's. Those are the ones that were small. By the time they came out I had outgrown playing with GI Joes. I grew up playing with the tall Gi Joes with the fuzzy hair and kung-fu grip. I had the GI Joe tank, helicopter, jeep, six wheel vehicle (don't know the real name), and foot locker. Not to mention all the guns, helmets, boots, and dog tags that went along with them. By the way, even though I spent hours playing with GI Joes and my hundreds of little army men, I have never shot at or tried to attack anyone with a least not yet.

- I found an app for my Google calendar that allows you to download a picture from the web and make it the background. I found a picture taken from the pier at Garden City, and now I see it every time I open my calendar. I will keep it up until I get too sad that I'm not going back to the beach anytime soon, and I guess I'll take it down then.

Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


So it's Thursday and this is only the second post this week. That doesn't mean that there has been nothing going on. In fact, a lot has happened since Monday. I'll fill you in on some of it in the normal helter skelter, out of order fashion that is normal for me.

- Chris and I got to hang out with Kent Bateman over lunch yesterday in Columbia. I've known Kent since he was about eight years old, and it thrills me to see the man he has become. He has been able to use many of the gifts and talents God has given him at Midtown Fellowship. We had lunch at a great burger joint in Five Points called "Pawley's Front Porch". Of course on the way back we stopped at Zesto's, and I got two pieces of chicken to eat on the ride home. Can't waste a trip to Columbia without getting Zesto's or Rush's.

- I had a great time on Tuesday at the Bi-Lo Center with Grace. She wanted to see Demi Lovato, and since Sherry is not a fan of concerts, I got the call. First of all, Demi Lovato is talented. She isn't one of those made for television pop stars that can't actually get it done. Her voice was as good as the CD's, she played the guitar and piano, and she writes songs. The funny thing is that since she came on third, Grace was getting very tired. It was already past her bedtime. We stayed for well over half of her set, and then Grace was ready to hit the road. David Archuleta was one of the opening acts on Tuesday. Here are a few observations: he is just as goofy in person as he seemed on American Idol, mothers of little girls seem to like him as much as the little girls do, if the screams and squeals of 6-14 year old girls could be converted into cash he would be Bill Gates. I'd estimate that there were probably 8,000 people there at the concert and 97% were female. Take away the Dads like me who were there and the number is probably 99.5%.

- I had a great conversation with a friend today who is going the extra mile to help a friend in a tough situation. He is helping even to the point of rearranging his living situation. It challenged me to think about what I would do to help someone. Am I willing to do that for someone who needs it?

- Prediction: When the Taco Bell in Greer re-opens, the crowd will be out the door, even though the building is the only thing that has changed. The Chalupas, Taquitos, and Pintos and Cheese will taste exactly the same, and be just as greasy as they were before. People are funny.

Monday, August 3, 2009

He's got amazing timing

I never cease to be amazed when God makes it clear that He knows exactly what He is doing. I have had tons of moments like that in my life, but the last seven months they have been happening more often than ever.

Yesterday I taught a message about what we should do when life crashes. I focused on the fact that although our circumstances in life change, God never changes. His love for us remains the same when times are tough or easy, and that He has not abandoned us when tragedy strikes. Since the service ended yesterday I have had person after person tell me that they needed to hear those words, which proves that whenever there are a few hundred people gathered together there is a lot of hurt and heartache present.

Here is something that is really cool about the timing of yesterday's message. The idea for that message, and all the messages I will teach this month, came out of a brainstorming session back in February of 2008. From time to time I will leave town for a couple of days to pray about and brainstorm new ideas for messages. In February of 2008 I spent two days in Hendersonville, NC and I wrote out the ideas for the "re:boot" series that we are doing now. I tucked them away in a folder labeled "Future Message Series". Since then I have pulled out that sheet of paper several times as I was scheduling messages on the calendar. For whatever reason I would look over it and decide to put it back in the "Future" folder for consideration later. A couple of months ago I decided that August would be a good month for the series. This afternoon I found out that sitting in yesterday's service was a child who only days earlier had lost a parent. This child had never been to Freedom before, but was visiting with a friend. When I discovered this I couldn't help but be utterly amazed at how God knows exactly what needs to happen when. If I had taught that message seven months ago, seven weeks ago, or even just seven days ago this child would not have been there to hear it. What a great reminder that I need to begin everyday asking God to move me out of the way so that He can do what needs to be done.