Sunday, March 29, 2009

go ahead...ask

A recent survey reports that people are more likely to attend a church if they have been invited by someone. This morning at TrueNorth Church, Steve asked in each service for those in attendance to stand if they were at TNC because someone invited them. I was amazed at the massive amount of people who stood in response.

After second service, I felt a tap on my shoulder. As I turned around I was greeted by a friend from my old neighborhood. He thanked me for inviting him and his wife to TNC five years ago because it was home to them now.

I remember how nervous I was, inviting them to this new church that would challenge their perception of what church should look like. I knew they did not have a church home and I wanted them to experience what we had been experiencing. But would they think we were weirdos? Would they start avoiding us if they didn't like it? Could it change their lives forever?

Is there someone in your life who is waiting for an invitation? They have probably seen a difference in your life and they want it too. All you have to do is ask and God will do the rest.

What are YOU waiting for?

Friday, March 27, 2009

"C" is for cutbacks

Once upon a time, "C" stood for cookie. These days, "C" stands for cutbacks. Even the most beloved street in the world is not immune to the current economic woes. Sesame Street announced this month they would lay off 20 percent of their workforce. I would hate to be the person to decide if Cookie Monster or Elmo got the ax. Or if it was finally time to split up Ernie and Bert.

I bet the sunny days have been a little cloudier behind the scenes at Sesame Street lately.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

facedown - april 5

TrueNorth Church will be celebrating a Facedown service on April 5th in each of the morning services in North Augusta and Columbia County. Facedown is a unique worship experience as we participate in communion as a church family. We have a special service planned to commemorate the week leading up to Easter Sunday. If you are going out of town for spring break, you might want to wait until after the Facedown service on April 5th!

Monday, March 23, 2009

the hot seat with tucker

I am resurrecting The Hot Seat with a special guest appearance by our boxer, Tucker Napoleon Owings.

1. Tuck, what is your favorite thing to do during the day?
Scratch my own back underneath the cypress trees.

2. Do you know why we haven't let you come inside lately?
Does it have anything to do with hiking my leg on the wall?

3. When are you going to learn that trampolines aren't for dogs?
They're not?

4. What is your favorite thing to play with?
A Shrek slipper.

5. Do you by any chance know how the seat on the golf cart got ripped to pieces?

Tucker, our family would be incomplete without you!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

yard sale

We have a couple of future business entrepreneurs in our family. Matthew and his cousin Maddie decided to host their own table at our yard sale this morning. Instead of following their initial idea of running a lemonade stand, they decided that at 7am in freezing weather, customers would be more willing to buy hot chocolate. So with a little help and financial backing from their moms, the duo made two dollars and made some early bird shoppers smile using their various marketing schemes. Songs. Antics. Megaphones. Spy gear. All for two dollars. I don't have the heart to tell them that it's not "profit" until costs are covered!

Friday, March 20, 2009

sushi for dummies

Kacie and I have a new tradition of going to eat sushi when she is home from Clemson. We have both been anticipating our lunch date today at Takosushi. It took me 41 years to try sushi and now that I know I like it, it is my new craving. I have started out very basic, of course, with the rolls. My favorite is the Cary Roll at Takosushi. It is lightly breaded with white sauce drizzled on top. I have not ventured out much because of not knowing exactly what I am eating. I prefer trying something that has been recommended to me.

Since I am an uneducated sushi beginner, I am seeking the advice of sushi experts. If you know of a sushi place that I should not miss in the Augusta area or a particular type of sushi that I should try next, let me know. I am ready for a sushi adventure!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

things that make you go hmmm

Dunkin' Donuts is preparing to launch a $10 million campaign that would shift consumers' focus back to their basics....the fact that they sell DOUGHNUTS! Ummm...Duh? It appears that the company ventured off into the fancy breakfast sandwich business, but has now decided to return to its first love.

What if Chick-fil-a added beef items to their menu? Or if Dollar Tree items cost more than a dollar? What if MTV stopped showing music videos? (Which they did for the most part.) And what if the church began shifting its focus away from Jesus? When a successful business gets too far away from its core values, it runs the risk of dying or it will eventually come back around full circle.

I am happy about Dunkin' Donuts reassessment of their values. I would hate for them to go under, because I think their coffee tastes better than Starbucks. Yeah, I just said that!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

aunt betty

My Aunt Betty is dying of cancer. Unless God decides to whip out a miracle, Sunday may be her last birthday celebration. The family has asked everyone they know to send her a birthday card, even if they don't know her. They want her mailbox to be filled with cards, especially lighthearted and humorous ones, because she has not lost her sense of humor.

So I was at Walmart yesterday, trying to pick out a card for Aunt Betty. It is difficult to find a funny card that isn't crude or suggestive. It is even more difficult to find a funny card for someone who is dying. It is like the pink elephant in the room. You pretend it is not there, but how could you ignore something that big?

What could have taken five minutes, took twenty. I finally found a card that said something about her trying to be the center of attention. I can hear her chuckling right now.

If you feel like touching someone's life in a simple way, please pray for Aunt Betty and her family. And if you would like to go a step further, send her a birthday card telling her you prayed for her. It would make her birthday.

Betty Davis, 416 Heathwood Drive, Aiken, SC 29803

Monday, March 16, 2009

jeans, bathing suits, and bras

What do these three things have in common? Most women would agree that shopping for these items qualifies as stress-induced shopping. So many choices. So little patience. Trying on jeans, bathing suits, and bras should not be attempted all on the same day. One category at a time is enough torture. Considering how we view our bodies and the way the mirrors and terrible lighting highlight our flaws, dressing rooms can become drama rooms.

Here are some things I do to make the stressful less stressful:

1. I take a female with me who will give honest feedback. When I ask "Does this make my _____ look _____?", I need to hear the truth. My personal shopper is my 12-year-old, Allison. She tells me when something looks bad and when something looks great. I trust her opinion, because she wants her mom to look good.

2. I know when to give up. When I feel like I have approached the point of frustration, I stop. Just because I go shopping, doesn't mean I have to buy something.

3. Don't take myself too seriously. I am not defined by my outward imperfections, but by my inner beauty. Right? Right?

4. I treat myself afterward. Starbucks, anyone? After all...I survived the drama even if I leave empty-handed. Besides, there is always next time...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

dream on

We have approached the midway point in our "Supernatural" dream series at TrueNorth Church. The band in North Augusta nailed Aerosmith's Dream On. It is such a difficult song musically and vocally, but they pulled it off with excellence. I love the fact that I go to a church that can take a secular song and bring out the spiritual meaning in it. Looks like I'm going to have that song in my head for the next few days!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

sharing the bad news

One of the most dreaded parts of my job is breaking the news to someone that their work needs tweaking. Or that we had to make some changes to a service, therefore eliminating something they contributed. I am definitely getting more comfortable in sharing what could be perceived as bad news since I have had so much practice these past couple of weeks. The last time I had to break some sensitive news, I was thinking about how much this stinks. I began realizing that God probably wants me to see it as a privilege to be the bearer of bad news. Then I wrote down this quote from the Unleash conference: Jesus called you to hurt somebody's feelings. But Jesus also called somebody else to hurt my feelings. I just hope I receive it in the same manner that I want others to receive it from me.

Friday, March 13, 2009

what had happened was....

Well I messed up my 40 Days of Blogging streak by not posting yesterday, but I'm still going to finish it out. See, what had happened was...I spent all day Thursday at the NewSpring Unleash conference in Anderson with the TNC staff. It was a very long and inspiring day and I was wiped out by the time I got home last night. Blogging was not an option.

I took tons of notes and I am excited about the possibility of implementing some ideas that I feel would help us work smarter and not necessarily harder at TNC. As I look through the notes from various sessions, I thought I might share a few that jumped out at me:

If you tell certain people they can't come to your church, you've just told God he can't come.
People who get mad about teaching finances at church probably aren't giving anyway.
Are you manufacturing energy for anything in your church?
If ministry is drudgery, you are either overworked or just slack.
The Holy Spirit is not limited by our preparations.
Pastors carry a weight you could never imagine.
We are in ministry only by the mercy of God.

I also learned a lot about the people that I serve with at TrueNorth. It is amazing what can be experienced in a 15 hour day together.

But what happens at Unleash, must stay at Unleash!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

i smell abercrombie from here

I could smell it from the mall parking lot....the smell of Abercrombie and Fitch. The smell of clothing and wood fixtures and money. The most common marketing strategy of clothing focuses on appealing to the sense of sight, some visual stimulation if you will. And A&F has quite the reputation for stimulating the eyes. The sense of sound cannot be ignored based on the loud, obnoxious music coming from within:

Employee: Hey, how's it goin?
Me: Huh?
Employee: Hey, how's it goin?
Employee: Hey, how's it goin?

The store has kicked up the competition a notch by using the sense of smell as a temptation for customers to follow their nose right into the store. The employees are spraying A&F products directly onto the clothing and probably into the air system as well.

Aside from the controversy surrounding the scantily clad models in their ads, I think the A&F multi-sensory marketing scheme is brilliant.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

unleash 2009

I'm looking forward to attending the NewSpring Unleash conference this Thursday with a handful of TNC staffers. I attended a couple of years ago and blogged about it here. No doubt that we will all be inspired as leaders and treated like royalty. Those Buckle-wearing NewSpringers put on a great conference!

Monday, March 09, 2009

mannequins are people too?

Have you seen the quirky, new Old Navy ad campaign featuring the Supermodelquins? The commercials showcase the Supermodelquins "talking" about their clothes and interacting with each other. There is also a comical behind-the-scenes documentary about them that "models" itself after Real Celeb Stories. I have seen the Supermodelquins in the stores and it's kind of creepy that I know their names and their backgrounds because of the marketing. They don't make me want to buy more clothes, but they do make me smile!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

crisis and opportunity

I went to Newspring Church with Kacie this morning. They kicked off a financial series entitled Where's My Bailout?. Many times people complain when a church teaches about money. "Here they go again. They want my money". But in these tough economic times, I believe people are more willing to hear about God's desire for their finances. Why? Because that is what they are thinking about. Money...particularly the lack of it!

During the message I began thinking about President Obama's recent challenge to “discover great opportunity in the midst of great crisis.” I don't know what his exact motivation was behind that statement, but we can all use this advice and find ways to honor God with our money. We can look for opportunities to give generously. Re-evaluating our budgets is a great opportunity to begin spending wisely. But the greatest opportunity we have right now is showing God's love to others. It is free and it is priceless.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

barbeque barn

Friday, March 06, 2009

countdown to 180 weekend

In about two hours, over 100 students have the opportunity for a life-changing experience this weekend at Element Student Ministries' 180 weekend. I have seen the leadership team behind the scenes...crunching numbers, detailing, dreaming, organizing, sweating, more detailing, and lots of praying. Host homes are preparing for an invasion. Bands are practicing. Counselors are arriving in town. Students are anticipating. It's going to be an amazing weekend where middle and high school students have an opportunity to connect with each other and connect with God in their own unique way. As the name 180 weekend implies, they will arrive headed in one direction and will leave in another. They could come home changed forever!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

ironing for jesus? part two

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Colossians 3:23

So you're working on a project and you are putting your heart and soul into it. You have a great attitude, while striving for excellence. The law of Murphy steps in and everything falls apart. The efforts of your work don't appear so excellent now. And by the looks on the faces of those around you, they ain't too happy about it.

It is difficult to please others, because sometimes your best isn't enough. But your best is always good enough for God, even when it is mediocre in the eyes of man. When you strive to please God instead of man, you will never be disappointed in the response. His grace is much more abundant and satisfying than the praises of man.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

ironing for jesus? part one

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Colossians 3:23

This scripture caught my attention recently and it has caused me to take a close look at my motives and attitude as I go about my day. My mother-in-law gave me a cookbook a long time ago and inside the cover she wrote a short note that said "Always cook with love." Since then, not one day has passed that I have cooked for my family without love in my heart. Now... sometimes I get frustrated because I can't think of anything to cook and there are times when my cooking isn't all that great. But I can honestly say that I have "always cooked with love".

Too bad my mother-in-law didn't give me a new iron with a note saying "Always iron with love." Because I always iron with hate and a bad attitude! I usually set up the ironing board in my bedroom and it takes me a week or more of starting and stopping to get a stack of clothes ironed. I am convinced that ironing is of the devil.

Is it difficult for you to find enthusiasm in the tasks that you just don't like? At home? At your job? Of course there will be times when we work at "whatever" with ALL our heart, and the results aren't ideal. But that's where grace comes in. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

free stuff

Bruster's will be giving away free single scoop waffle cones this Saturday, March 7. The only catch is that in order to claim your free cone, you must be wearing your pajamas. One free cone per person. On our fake "snow" day this week, I took the kids to Bruster's for ice cream and I got the Graham Central Station and I have been thinking about it ever since. Yep, I'll be wearing my pajamas around town for some free Bruster's this Saturday. See you there?

Monday, March 02, 2009

things that make you go @#!*

A 15 year old boy in Los Angeles is trying to get a proclamation passed that would make the first week in March NO CUSSING WEEK in Los Angeles County. He is hoping that this will ignite cuss-free campaigns across the nation and worldwide. What caught my attention when I read this story in our local newspaper was that it was under the heading "Odd News". I don't think it is odd, I think it is cool that this kid is wanting people to be more respectful. And by the way, I am not implying that I am completely innocent in this manner. When my heart is ugly, ugliness has been known to leak out on occasion.

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45

Sunday, March 01, 2009

no line on the horizon

I wonder how many worship leaders are anticipating the release of U2's twelfth album ,"No Line on the Horizon", on March 3. Churches that program mainstream music in their services have oftentimes counted on U2 to bring some goods. After glancing at the titles of the songs on the upcoming CD, I am anticipating some thought-provoking songs about love, hope, and redemption that can be brought into a worship environment.