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:

- 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

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!