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'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.