Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

Let me start off by saying that Sam Jones brought his A game on Sunday.  The kid was slinging the sticks. I love Brody’s energy.  And how about Kelci’s pipes?  Those are 3 amazingly talented teenagers!  It is AWESOME to see them using their God-given abilties to serve HIM.  Hopefully, they can continue to be a part of KATB as they begin college this Fall.

I saw Kyle come out of his comfort zone like never before.  And thank God we have Sunday mornings as an outlet for Heath.  That poor guy must sit behind a computer and desk all week.  If you know Heath, you know that he is a totally different person when he puts on an outfit.  In last Sunday’s case, it was MC Hammer. Rusty Ray, Jordan, Candace and our resident All State Agent (John on bass) all did incredible.  The 90′s music compilation was a  great kickoff to our “Jesus Loves the 90′s” message series.

Anytime we do something like we did Sunday (I.e. play “secular” music in CHURCH, dance on stage, etc.), I receive a plethora of emails and comments.  Now, my favorite one so far this week came in the form of a confession.  One of our most faithful Graystone members (I’m talking totally committed to the the 4G’s!) sent me an email confession.  OK, I am not a priest and really do not want to hear everyone’s confession. We do advocate the priesthood of the believers and that all Christians have direct access to God through faith in Jesus Christ…Sorry, I ran off on a tangent there.  I do have a little theologian in me.  Anyway, this faithful Graystone member confessed first that he was not at church Sunday but heard is was great.  And it was for the rest of you who weren’t there.  He secondly confessed that he has been to at least 5 Cinderella concerts.  But his big confession (and again this is coming from one of our most faithful members…a 40ish year old man, wears a suit to work, married, two kids, pillar in the community, salt of the earth guy, etc.) was that he went to a Cinderella concert 2 weeks ago at Wild Bills.

Really?  Cinderella at Wild Bills?  How old are those guys?   This is real life Spinal Tap.  Too funny.  My favorite line in Spinal Tap is when Nigel says, “But these go to 11.”  I better not start quoting Spinal Tap or a might get in trouble.  My blog has generated very little controversy in the last year or so, and I would like to keep it that way.

As far as my head banging friend goes, God loves you.  And yes, you are always welcome at Graystone.  Who am I to judge?  I was the only one to raise my hand that I went to a Cinderella concert.  I appreciate the honesty.

Now, if you are still with me (this post is going a little long…Johnny’s Blog old school), I had another guy come up to me on Sunday after the service.  He is a new attender to Graystone and I believe this is the first time that he heard me “preach”.  He had a huge what looked like an NIV Study Bible in his hand.  And he said, “This was awesome!  I grew up in this area and I have a ton of unchurched friends who still live around here.  There is no way that they would go to a traditional church.  They would have loved the music this morning.  I cannot wait to bring them.  I think God can use Graystone Church to reach them for Jesus Christ!”

Can I get an Amen?  That’s why we do what we do!  We want to DOMINATE our community with the love of Jesus Christ.  And we want every man, woman and child in our community to have an opportunity to know God personally.  I know there are some great churches in our community, but I think God has uniquely gifted Graystone to reach people that other churches cannot.  If Graystone is not going to reach people for Jesus than who is?  Seriously, who do you think God wants to use to reach your lost friends and family?  Do you think His plan is to send missionaries over from Korea to reach your friends and family (The United States is now the 3rd largest mission field in the world…behind China and India.)?  Maybe but I doubt it.  God wants to use YOU!

We are replanting Graystone Church (more on this in my next post…I will give you the inside scoop…the game plan to LAUNCH) and we are excessively and generously spreading the seeds of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In the words of Don Shackelton who showed up at my house a few years ago wearing a Keith Brooking jersey and an Atlanta Falcons hard hat to take me to a Falcons game…”It’s time to go to work!”

BTW, 15 people on Sunday shared with us that they committed their lives to Jesus Christ!  To God be the glory!  Get ready Graystone Church.  The dam is about to break.  We are on the verge of a spiritual AWAKENING in our church and community.  Let’s PRAY!  And let’s reach out to our lost friends, family, neighbors and basically ANYONE that has a heartbeat.

“I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” Jesus (John 4:35)

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Our good friends, Craig and Amanda Tindall, have been inviting us to their lake house on Lake Martin in Alabama for several years.  With the aligning of the stars and both of our crazy calendars coming together, were will FINALLY able to make it work last weekend.  It was EPIC.  There are not many things in life better than hanging out on the lake in late Summer with big boy toys, good food, and great Christian friends.

Also, Jennifer’s good college friends, Lee Carol Meads and Amy Christmas Tankerly, we able to meet us at the lake with their kids.  It was a college reunion of sorts with Jennifer and a few of her close sorority (ZTA) sisters.  Craig and I spent most of our time on the lake pulling the kids and me on the tubes, slalom, and knee board.  Let me just say that my body is still sore, and I pulled muscles that I did not know existed.  My mind thinks that I’m 27 years old, but my body knows and feels the truth.

One of the highlights of the trip was talking with Barrett, Craig and Amanda’s oldest son (12 years old), about the book he read this Summer, More Than A Carpenter, by Josh McDowell.  He was so excited about what he learned…mainly the strong evidence we have for our faith in Jesus Christ.  I asked Barrett if Jesus was a liar, a lunatic or Lord.  And he passionately declared, “He has to be Lord!”  It is so obvious that God has a strong hand on Barrett’s life, and I cannot wait to see how He uses him.

We love the Tindalls.  They are a like-minded Christian family and have been generous supporters of Graystone from day 1.  We are thankful that God has blessed us with their friendship.  BTW, I am on the lookout to get them some tickets to the Auburn vs Georgia game on November 12 if anyone has any connections.  Just thought I would throw it out there.

Here are a few pics from our EPIC Weekend at Lake Martin:

Sawyer, Julia, Jessie, Mathis, Barrett, and Joelan

LC, Amanda, Jenn, Jessie, Elle, Amy & EPIC double tubes

Barrett, Sawyer, Joelan in the back of the ski boat

Julia jumping off the 30 foot spot at Chimney Rock

Look for my next post with pictures of Jennifer and I jumping off the 30 foot Chimney Rock.

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Will Hollandsworth enters the world.

Julia is a beautiful maiden in school musical

Heath's ghetto rig video shoot

Gramps and Grammy gave Jessie a Sand Box

Our first Braves game of the season.

Joelan's team finished 2nd in End of Year Tourney

Heath wins animal look-alike contest

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Sports Camp is one of my favorite weeks of the year, because it is a beautiful picture of the body of Christ working together to serve God and build His kingdom.  I love seeing EVERYONE in our Graystone Church family use their gifts and abilities to minister to HUNDREDS of kids in our church and from the community.  If you have not volunteered to serve at Sports Camp and would like to, please contact Katie Landress, our Children’s Pastor (katie@graystonechurch.com).  A side benefit of serving at Sports Camp is getting to fellowship with all of the staff and volunteers.  If you are looking to get connected at Graystone, serving at Sports Camp is a great way to do it.

If your kids are not signed up for Sports Camp, sign them up.  It is FREE and you can register them here.  I promise you that they will have a blast and grow spiritually.  If you are unfamiliar with Sports Camp, below is last year’s highlight video.  It will give you an idea of the high energy and fun of Sports Camp.

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I absolutely loved our Good Friday Prayer Service.  I am praying about starting a regular Prayer Service for our church family simple to come together and pray.  I attribute much of God’s spirit moving Easter Sunday to our covering the building in prayer and depending heavily on God and expecting Him to do great things by stepping out in FAITH (sorry for the run-on sentence but it is Friday).

Why can’t every Friday be a good Friday to remember all that God has done for us?  And BTW, Sunday’s Comin’ AGAIN!

In Texas, the kids did not get out of school for Good Friday but for Earth Day.  I think I just tasted a little throw up in my mouth.  The secular agenda being pushed in some of our public schools is a little more than frustrating.  It is offensive.

Subject change.

Yesterday was a glorious day.  I hung out with my good friend Ashley Hodge.  Billy Brice (see pic below…you cannot hang…believe me) and I ate a cow at Fogo De Chao.  The Hawks and Mavs both won their first round playoff series.   Julio Jones went to the Falcons and Mark Ingram to the Saints.  Who dat?

And I have a new episode of Swamp People on my DVR.  More on Swamp People during a later post but this is hands down the best show on TV.  It doesn’t get any better than Cajuns hunting gators in the LA swamp and capturing it all on “reality TV”.

Jennifer and Katie are at the Orange Conference getting more training to help our kids and families “know God and make God known”.

There is a major buzz at the church this week in anticipation of the Echoing Angels concert.  I cannot wait to hear their new album. They begin setting up at 10AM and it sounds like (no pun intended) they are bringing in a lot more ampage.  You do not want to miss this and it appears the neighbors will not.  All the cool people and Heath will be there.  I might even wear a pair of skinny jeans and sport a faux hawk.

See you Saturday at 7ish!

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Easter Sunday (April 24) is going to be POWERFUL!  I cannot wait to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Here are 5 ways to maximize the Easter season at Graystone Church:

1. Join us Palm Sunday (April 17) as we kick off Passion Week and begin preparing our hearts and minds for Easter.  Our new service times begin this Sunday at 9:30 and 11:00AM. If you can come to the 9:30 service to create more space in the 11:00 service, we would really appreciate it.

2. Come enjoy some great food, fun and fellowship at the Easter Egg-stravaganza, Sunday, April 17 at 4:00PM. The Varsity will be on site with naked dogs, frosted oranges and the like.  There will be games, bunnies, and thousands of eggs.  This a a great event to invite your friends and family.

3. Follow the daily quiet time sheet during Passion Week as “we fix our eyes on Jesus Christ” and the events of the last week of His life.  This is an opportunity to grow spiritually and get our focus where it needs to be leading up to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. We will give out the study guides on Sunday morning (April 17), and I will post it on my blog next week.

4. Participate in the Good Friday Prayer Service on April 22 at 7:00 at Graystone Church. This will be a very stripped down simple service with a short time of teaching, worship and prayer.  The 2 purposes of the service are:

  • Thank Jesus for His death on the cross for our sins.
  • Pray for Easter Sunday and for God to bring hundreds of people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

5. Invite your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors and teammates to Easter Sunday at Graystone Church. In addition to celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we will be kicking off a new message series, Modern Family.  I will touch on the felt need of “Modern families and the trials we face” but the message will be very gospel-oriented.  This will be a great Sunday for believers and seekers.

This goes without saying, but “Kyle and the Band” and the creative team are going ALL OUT for Easter Sunday.  You do not want to miss it.  And you want to bring someone with you.  It will be life-changing!  Easter Sunday is the best Sunday of the year to invite someone to church.

Let’s make the most of Passion Week and trust God to do “immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine”!

Your Pastor and Friend,


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Read Poke the Box last week.  Got me praying and thinking about ‘starting something’

My favorite song at Hillsong United Concert: Yours Forever

Trey McKnight is joining KATB this Sunday to lead worship.  Gonna be special.

Join the Graystone March Madness Bracket Challenge here. Password: Graystone

Please pray for the Graystone High School kids who are participating in Cweekend (I.e. Disciple Now)

Mad props goes out to Rusty, Jason Hairston, and friends who built the pergola over the coffee bar.  THANK YOU!

The below picture represents the most valuable 2 hours of Joelan’s week!

Nate meets w/ Joelan & his buddies every Friday AM for discipleship group.

This weekend, Graystone is rolling out the red carpet for a very special guest (in addition to Trey McKnight).  If at all possible, please be here Sunday and bring someone with you.  I have asked the staff to be on their best behavior.  If you have seen the movie, Funny Farm, you will know what I mean when I say that we are “Releasing the Deer”.

Here’s a really funny video.  Enjoy.

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Here’s a summary of my message from Vision Night:

Hebrews 12:29 says that God is a consuming fire.  In the Old Testament, God appeared to His people in the form of fire (I.e. burning bush, pillar of fire, consuming fire on top of Mt Sinai).  In the OT, fire was a physical representation of God’s glory and presence.  After God met with Moses on top of Mt Sinai, Moses’ face glowed as he reflected the glory of God.

In the New Testament,  John the Baptist teaches that Jesus baptizes us with the Holy Spirit and with fire.  When someone is born again, the Spirit of God (fire) enters the life of the believer and lives in us. In fact, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  In the OT, God’s glory dwelt in the Tent of Meeting, Tabernacle and Temple but in the NT, God dwells in us, our earthy tent.  The glory and power of God now lives in us.  And if we allow God’s Spirit to burn bright in us, then we will be like Moses and reflect the glory of God.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  2 Corinthians 3:18

Graystone’s focus this year is spiritual growth.  We want to see the presence of God grow stronger, bigger and brighter in EVERYONE’s life. Our goal this year is to grow the spiritual flame in the life of every member at Graystone:  adults, students and children.

I gave 3 practical steps to fan the flame of God in your life:

1. Fuel the fire daily through a personal devotional life

2. Gather weekly for corporate worship (I.e. bon fire)

3. “Do life” in small group fellowship and accountability (I.e. campfire)

Challenge/Application: set yourself on fire for God and burn bright for Him

I tried to get Heath to literally set himself on fire as an illustration to my message, but he did not think I was serious.  It would have been powerful and memorable.

Check back later for my Monday Download

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We had a great crowd at Graystone on New Year’s Weekend!  Everyone did seem a bit tired, myself included.

Next year (2012), New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday.  We may have to have one LATE service.

I thought “Kyle and the Band” nailed the John Mayer song, “Why Georgia?”  Too cool.

Julia thinks the song should be more appropriately named “Am I living it right?”

The feature song along with the Seinfeld clip was the perfect set up to my message, “I want a better life”.

I can relate to George.  Of the Seinfeld characters, who do you most relate to?  Kramer?  Newman?  Man hands?

I read the book, The Prayer of Jabez, several years ago, and God laid it on my heart to share it at Graystone to begin the new year.

If everyone is wanting a healthy and prosperous 2011, I’m thinking God can come through better than black-eyed peas, cabbage and collard greens.

Several people have emailed me their Prayer of Jabez stories.  Too cool.

The challenge from the book is to pray the Prayer of Jabez every day and see how God blesses.

Let’s do it!

Let’s pray right now, “Lord, bless me indeed.  Enlarge my territory.  Be with me. Keep me from evil. Amen!”

After each service, I had the privilege to pray with people.  I think I am going to make this my normal modus operandi.

I decided last night to go ahead and eat all the candy in the house, so I could get started on the right foot today.  Jennifer made brownies tonight.

I used my Christmas money to buy sheet rock and insulation.  I spent two days last week hanging sheet rock in my basement.  What a way to spend a couple of days off.  I am now so motivated that I went out tonight and bought 21 more pieces of sheet rock.  Look out Bob Vila.

I know how to hang sheet rock, because in both of our church plants, we renovated warehouses.  Hanging sheet rock is one of the useful tools I picked up from being a church planter.  They do not teach you in seminary how to hang sheet rock.  There are actually a lot of things about being a pastor that they did not teach me in seminary.  I do not have time to get into them now.

Building THE WALL (back to the sheet rock) in the old warehouse with some of our founding members is one of my favorite memories of Graystone Church.

There is something about doing a project that just draws people together.  It is kind of like winning a championship together.

The Saints have a hard road through the playoffs.  I’m hoping for a win at Seattle, a Packer’s upset of the Eagles, Saints beating Bears at Soldier Field, Falcons beating Packers, and then an NFC Championship Game in the Georgia Dome of a Saints vs Falcons rubber match.  I would be happy with the Saints or Falcons in the Superbowl and would love to see them beat Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Speaking of the Superbowl, I beat Joelan in Madden 11 last night to win the Superbowl (Saints 35 over Falcons 28).  Joelan was so mad, because that was my first time to play Xbox…beginners luck?

I’ve actually been playing a lot of video games over the holidays to spend time with my family.  Jennifer owns me in “Words with Friends”.  She gets major points spelling words that she does not know the definition while using high letter values on triple word spaces…Not that I am competitive or anything.

I’m really pumped about the next two Sundays at Graystone.  We will be focusing on dating and marriage.  Both weeks, “Kyle and the Band” have cool country songs planned.  This week for “I Want a Better Wife”, they are covering a Brad Paisley song.  Can you guess what it is?

Well, I gotta go.  The Orange Bowl is about to kickoff.  And it’s my play against Jennifer.  She played ‘GIP’ 12 hours ago for 12 points.

Don’t forget to read the Bible today!

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I love Mark 2:1-5 that tells the story of 5 guys (not the burger joint).  4 friends carry their paralyzed buddy to the house Jesus was preaching the word.  There was such a large crowd that they could not get in (Let’s pray this for Christmas Eve!).  So, the 4 friends dig a hole in the roof of the house and lower their buddy down to Jesus.  Because of their faith, Jesus heals the man.

What stands out to me most about this story is that these 4 guys loved their friend so much that they were willing to do whatever it takes to bring him to Jesus.  Are you willing to do whatever it takes to bring people to Jesus?

Jim Hollandsworth, our Missions Pastor, has rented a 50 passenger coach bus to pick people up in the Gwinnett Estates community to bring them to Christmas Eve at Graystone. The reason Jim is doing this is that he loves the people of Gwinnett Estates and wants to see them come to Jesus.

If Jim is willing to rent a bus to bring the people of Gwinnett Estates to Jesus, what are we willing to do to bring our loved ones to Jesus?  Christmas Eve is one of the best opportunities of the year to invite our friends and family to church.  The message (I.e. entire service is the message) God has given us to share is a powerful one.  Let’s not miss this opportunity.  Let’s do WHATEVER it takes to bring people to Jesus!

Who do you need to invite to Christmas Eve?  Pick them up and bring them with you.  Rent a bus if you have to.

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