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!