Thursday, February 25, 2010

I've Been Waiting All Day To See You!

Several weeks ago I took Grace to a friend's house on a Saturday afternoon to play. When we arrived at the house, Grace's friend was in her front yard talking to the man who lives next door. I pulled up to the house with the window rolled down, and when Grace got out of the car I heard Grace greeted with these words: "Grace! I've been waiting all day to see you!" What a cool way to be greeted by someone. I think everyone likes to feel that someone is glad to see them. In fact I would say not only does everyone like it, I believe we all need it. I believe that's why dogs are so loved by their owners. A good dog will always make you feel like they have been waiting all day to see you.

After I dropped Grace off that day I started thinking about how people who visit Freedom on a Sunday morning are greeted. We have a great team of greeters who have the official job of saying hello to folks and to help them get any info they need, but I believe that all of us at Freedom have the opportunity and the ability to make people feel welcome. When someone shows up at Greer High School on a Sunday morning I want them to feel like there are people there who have been waiting all day for them to arrive. Even if they aren't impressed with my teaching, or the music, or the facility, I want them to walk away remembering that they were warmly greeted.

I've said this before and I'll probably say it again, if you are a regular Freedom attender, you are a key part of the greeting team. Put those skills to work this Sunday!

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Psalm for Today

My journey of reading straight through the Bible has landed me in Psalms for awhile. I read Psalm 19 this morning and was encouraged about the fact that in the midst of a world where truth seems to be hard to find, and the lines between right and wrong are always blurred, if not non-existent, the unchanging law of God still reigns supreme. Read it for yourself and let it encourage you:

Psalm 19
For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.

7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.

8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.

9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.

11 By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can discern his errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.

13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.

14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

That's good stuff. Enjoy your Monday!

Friday, February 19, 2010

What I'm Thinking Today

I haven't done a bullet-point random thought blog in awhile. I know all of you have missed those so here goes:

- I love the Winter Olympics. Any Olympics is good, and two summers ago I was big-time into the whole Michael Phelps story, but when it comes to awesomeness the winter games come out on top. Short track speed skating, snow board cross and half-pipe, luge, and even curling are all cooler than anything in the summer games. I think I feel that way because all of the winter sports are more unique. The summer games feature lots of swimming, running, and basketball, all things I have done before, and that makes them a little less intriguing. On the other hand, when I see a dude lying face down on a tiny sled the size of a cookie sheet and hurtling 90 miles per hour down an icy track, I am aware that not only have I never done that, but I don't even know anyone who has ever done that. Maybe if I grew up in Canada or Minnesota I would be less impressed, but I doubt it.

- ESPN has gone crazy with the whole Tiger Woods thing. This morning on both ESPN channels that was all that was being discussed. He hasn't made his public statement yet, and I'm already tired of hearing about it. I feel sorry for Tiger's wife. It's bad enough that she has to deal with her tomcat of a husband, but she has to deal with him in front of the whole world. This whole story should serve as a huge warning to anyone who desires great fame. The more famous you become the more famous your mistakes become as well, and we are all going to make mistakes.

- Donny is preaching for the next four weeks. It has been a long time since I took a break from the Sunday morning teaching schedule. I will still be working on messages during the break, and my plan is to be four weeks ahead when it's over. On Sunday Donny will be continuing the "Heroes" series with the first of two powerful messages about Moses.

- No rain of snow is in the forecast for this weekend! I am really looking forward to a dry warmer weekend. There are lots of outdoor projects to be done around the house and I plan on jumping on some of them starting this afternoon.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lessons From a Facebook Fast

Exactly one week ago I began a seven day fast. This was not a traditional fast where I didn't eat food. I went on a social network website fast. Like many of you for the past couple of years now I have used Facebook and Twitter almost daily. The reasons I went on the fast were all personal. It had to do with me feeling that I was spending way too much time surfing those sites for one thing, and by eliminating them for a few days I figured I would find out if there was any real benefit to me using them at all. Here are a few things I discovered during my time away:

- Social networking sites really do help me stay connected with people. Other than all of the useless stuff on Facebook (i.e. Farmville, Mafia Wars, etc.) the other elements (status updates, photos, private messages) have helped me know what's going on in the lives of people I care about. It took less than 48 hrs. away for me to feel disconnected. Facebook and Twitter should never replace actual connections with people such as talking on the phone or going to lunch, but it does allow me to stay connected with a larger group of people more efficiently. There's no way I can know that a friend from out of town's kid made honor roll, or that someone at Freedom needs prayer unless I am talking to those people everyday. In reality, I can only keep up with a handful of people at a time if I am required to daily talk with them, but with Facebook it allows me to know what's happening with hundreds of people.

- I need to set times when I will check Twitter and Facebook. One of the reasons I felt so addicted to these sites was that every time I passed a computer I felt a need to quickly log on and see what I was missing. It was like I had to know right away if I had a new friend request or if someone had written on my wall. I haven't yet figured out how it will work, but in the next day or two I am going to set times that I will check the sites, and also set times where the sites are off-limits. Also, as a Pastor there is an added dimension that I need to protect myself from. I have to make decisions on a daily basis about the direction of Freedom, and often those decisions make people upset. Some of the folks who get upset with me like to talk about how upset they are, and how I should be doing things the way they would like for them to be done. Every now and then those type of comments end up in a status update, in a veiled non-specific way of course. The other limit I will set for myself is that if I know someone is talking about me or the church then I don't need to look at their Facebook profile to see what they are saying. All it does is make me want cuss people out. Which I generally try to not do. When I figure out what my self-imposed limitations will be as far as times are concerned I will let you know.

- The best way to get the word out about this blog is through Twitter and Facebook. I didn't blog last week after I made the decision to fast. This wasn't really by design, I just realized that I couldn't list in my status update that I had written a new blog. Other than the handful of folks who subscribe, the large majority of folks who read this here blog find out that I have posted something new when I alert them to it on Facebook. Again, these sites help keep us connected.

So there it is, it seems that I am in this whole e-networking thing for good now. My advice to you would be, don't let anything other than Jesus take over your life and that includes the internet.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Reality Check

One thing no one wants their pastor to talk about is money. I once heard someone refuse to go back to a church he had visited because the first Sunday he was there the pastor taught about tithing. According to this guy, "I just don't think it's right for a preacher to talk about money". I found that comment funny since the Bible has a lot to say about money.

Well, whether you like it or not I have to address the topic of money here today. In order for Freedom to operate on a daily basis money is required for things like utilities, supplies, missions, technical equipment, staff salaries, age-graded ministries, etc. The list is long and expensive. Those things are funded through the weekly offerings that are collected in the two black boxes in the atrium each week.

January of 2010 was a great beginning to the year as far as attendance is concerned (over 350) but not good as far as giving goes. In fact, the third week of January was one of the lowest offerings collected in the history of Freedom. (Christmas credit card bills coming in?) That brings us to the snow / ice storm of last weekend. As a result of the weather, we were forced to cancel the worship service, therefor no offering was collected. Missing a Sunday offering has the same effect on the finances of the church as missing a paycheck has on our personal finances. It might not make us go bankrupt, but it sure is difficult. Since we missed an opportunity to give last Sunday that means that everyone who couldn't give last week will double their offering this Sunday right? I wished it worked out like that, but history tells me that the majority of folks only give to church when they come. If they miss a Sunday they don't normally make-up for it later on.

Here's what I am asking you to do: tithe, give 10% of what you earned this week to the offering. I don't expect you to do anything more than what God has already asked us to give in scripture. I guarantee you that if everyone who attends Freedom this Sunday were to tithe, the offering would be the largest we've ever collected.

I know this is not the most enjoyable thing to read on the blog, but I want to be sure that we all do what's best for Freedom. If you read this blog and you attend another church be sure and give to that ministry. Thanks for understanding.