From the Mind of Matt & Wes – A Week Without Coffee

The new feature at our monthly Uprising event is a huge hit, and it's back by popular demand. This month the boys tackle very serious issue of coffee addiction. I have no idea who the modeled the main character after. I'm sure it's completely fictional and any similarities to a real life person are purely coincidental.

From the Mind of Matt & Wes: Mannequin Man Strikes Again

Okay, so you you're not allowed to ask what the heck this is. Well, you can ask, but you won't get an answer, because I honestly have no idea. I gave two guys who work with our student ministry the task of coming up with a random video for Uprising event every month. I asked them to take ownership of it and create the video from beginning to end. The only boundaries I gave them: 1) Don't be Vulgar. 2) It has to be funny. 3) All of the video must come from you, from inception to fruition. 

We call the segment "From the Mind of Matt & Wes" (in case you didn't figure it out, those are the names of the guys who are responsible for the segment). A few weeks ago, they aired the first ever "From the Mind of Matt & Wes." I've debated ever since then about sharing the video on my blog, because… well… it's random, makes little or no sense, and might be a little demented (maybe I should have added a fourth rule: don't be demented). I'm not even sure if it's funny. But since it's airing, I've had multiple requests to put it on my blog, so I've finally decided to do so. 

So here it is. If it doesn't make you laugh, it will probably at least somewhat entertain you. You will find it popping into your brain randomly throughout the day as you continually ask yourself, "What the heck was that?"

Why I’m a Die-Hard Fan of Caribou Coffee

Caribou Well, if you follow me on Twitter, by now you know that I'm
pretty much a coffee addict. But I'm not just addicted to any coffee. I like
good coffee, and good coffee can be hard to come by. Now there are some pretty
good shops in the Triangle that have good coffee, but few of them have
consistently good coffee. For instance, Starbucks has a few roasts that are
good. "Pike's Place" (pretty much the only coffee they offer after
noon), which I affectionately call "Puke Place," is not a good
coffee.

But the one coffee shop that is pretty consistent is Caribou
Coffee. That being said, lately I've been frustrated, because the only Caribou
location that is convenient to where I live and work has only been offering one regular coffee, and
it's usually a lite roast. Now, I'm not necessarily a lite roast "hater," but there are only a few lite roasts that I really enjoy. When I inquired from a barista as to why they only offered one regular coffee, I was
told it had to do with the economy and it was too expensive to brew two
different types of regular coffee. So basically, they have been more concerned
with saving a few extra bucks than attracting the picky coffee aficionados like
myself. That sounds more like Starbucks than the Caribou that I know and love. So when I go in the morning (as I did this
morning) and they are only offering their "Columbia" roast (which I
don't care for), that's irritating. So I pay the extra cash to have French
press of a roast that I do like.

Well, this morning I was reminded of why I'm such a die hard
fan. After paying the extra cash for a French pressed Mahogany, I sat down, went
on-line to their website, and filled out a survey. I was very kind in the
survey, but expressed my irritation at the daily roast selection. No more than
2 hours later, I received the following email from the district manager:

Hi,

I am the District Manager with Caribou Coffee and first off
want to say Thank you for taking time to write us with your feedback regarding
Triangle Town Center. At Caribou we strive to offer products of the highest
quality while delivering superior customer service. I apologize that was not
the case during a recent visit to one of our locations.  I have spoken with the team at the location
in an effort to not have this happen again. 
The staff will be developing a way to offer a better variety of our
blends and a plan to be able to offer a french press at the coffee of the day
price in the event we are not brewing a particular roast.

As a token of my appreciation for your feedback and to
express my regret for your recent experience, I would ask you to respond back
to me with a mailing address that I can send a gift card for your next visit to
any of our locations
.  Thanks again for
your feedback and for allowing Caribou to be a part of your coffee experience.

Thanks and have a great day!

Sincerely,
 Richard Freeman
 District Manager – Raleigh, NC

That is what I call customer service. Thanks Richard. Thanks for reminding me of why I'm a die-hard fan. And
thank you Caribou for caring about coffee, maybe as much as I do.

Summer Camp Gag Reel ’09

This year, we were privileged to have Wesley Matlock join us as a leader. Most of you who read my blog probably don't know Wesley, but if you did you would understand the constant goofing around, pranking, and other shenanigans that happen when he's around. Thankfully, we were able to capture some of them on film. Here are some of his better moments.

Diligence vs. Hastiness

At times I can be a busy man. I lead our student ministry at Journey, our first impressions teams, media, marketing, some weekend experience stuff, and occasionally some other things that come along. I also lead an adult small group and a high school small group. I am also a husband and father of two (soon to be three) girls. Now, I like being busy. I actually would rather be too busy than not busy enough. I'm a doer. I like to get things done. I enjoy staying busy. I'm not one of these guys who thinks being busy makes them more important, I just enjoy having stuff to do. 

Now, there's nothing wrong with being busy, but sometimes it becomes an obsession for me to see how much I can cram into every day, and that's probably not a good thing. It's the difference between diligence and hastiness. If your busyness is a sign of your diligence, that's a good thing. But too often what happens is we try to cram in so many things we end up making hasty decisions for the sake of expedience. 

Proverbs 21:5 says, "The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty."

The other day, I had a busy day. I had multiple back-to-back meetings, and I was late for the first meeting which became a domino effect and made me increasingly late for each following meeting. Now, I started the day with my Jeep's tank on empty. For the sake of time I continued to push it. I actually prayed that God would not let me run out of gas but would help me get to each appointment. At the time, stopping for gas seemed unwise. I thought I needed those few precious minutes to make up for lost time. I actually went the entire day with my gas warning light on. I never stopped for gas. On my way home, I was going to stop at the gas station that is about a mile from my house. But by then I was running late for the meal that my wife had prepared. So I decided to pass by the gas station. I figured that I could simply get gas on the way to work this morning.

So this morning I left my house at 6:00 for a 6:20 appointment. I got down the road in our neighborhood when my engine died. I had to run back to the house to get the gas can that goes to my lawn mower. There was not much gas in it, but I thought it would be enough to get me to the gas station. I grabbed the can, ran back to my car, put in the little bit of gas, ran the can back to my house (I didn't want it to sit in my Jeep and stink it up all day), and headed to the gas station. By then I was running late, so I had to call my 6:20 appointment and let him know that I was not going to make it. While I was on the phone with him, my engine died again. Now I'm stranded between my house and the gas station, and I don't even have my gas can. So I called my wife (who is not a morning person), explained to her my situation and asked her to grab the gas can, come pick me up, and take me to get some gas. We argued about it because she didn't want to wake up our girls (3 years old & 2 years old). I finally decided she was right. So I walked to the gas station, bought a new gas can at an outlandish price, bought $3 in gas, walked back to my Jeep, put in the gas, drove back to the gas station, and filled up. By then I had missed my second appointment of the morning!

In an effort to save time, my hastiness on a previous day ended up costing much more today. It caused strife with my wife. It cost me money for an item I didn't need otherwise. It caused me to miss two appointments. There is a big difference between diligence and hastiness. I always want to be diligent to use wisely the small amount of time the Lord has granted me. But if I am not careful, busyness can result in hastiness which ends up actually wasting more time than idleness! 

I'm not usually a big fan of The Message, but occasionally it has a unique way of expressing the meaning of a passage of scripture. This is one of the times. The Message translates Proverbs 21:5 like this:

Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; 
   hurry and scurry puts you further behind.
 

It certainly put me further behind today. For the sake of being good stewards of the time that God has given us, may we all be diligent and never hasty.

Meeting with God on the Mountaintop

Wednesday morning of this week, Rob Wetzel and I skipped out on the morning of sessions at Innovate Church, and opted instead to get up early, drive out to the Peaks of Otter, and hike to the top of Sharp Top. There was a period of time on Tuesday afternoon when it seemed like the trip might not work out. 

But God had a special appointment for us. We had not been hiking for more than five minutes when we stumbled upon the picture below.

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All of these pictures were taken from my Iphone (which has no zoom). So in case you can't tell what that is in the picture below, it's a black bear. A 400 pound black bear by our estimates. And he was sitting 5 feet of the side of our trail! When we first saw him he was about 25 yards away. I spotted him first, and then the following conversation ensued:

Smooth: Rob, is that a bear?

Rob: No, no. That's not a bear.

Smooth: Rob, I think that's a bear, but is it real or is it like a carving or something?

Rob: There's no way that's a real bear. (then clapping and yelling at the top of his lungs) HEY BEAR! HEEEEY BEAR! HEY BEAR! … (bear doesn't move) … See? That's not a real bear.

Smooth: Rob, I think that's a real bear.
(bear turns his head and looks directly at us)

Rob: Holy crap! That's a real bear!
(we slowly start backing down the hill)

Well, we stood there for about 10 minutes debating about how badly we wanted to make it to the top. When finally the bear slowly started making his way into the woods. As he moved, we moved… slowly. Every so often he would stop and turn and look directly at us. We would freeze as if we were in Jurassic Park rather than the Peaks of Otter! Eventually we felt we were safe to continue our journey, and about an hour later we arrived at the top.

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It's been more than a couple of years since I had been to the top, and I had forgotten how breath taking the view is. The white that you see in some of these pictures is not water but clouds! After looking around for a bit, Rob and I separated and each spent some time with God on the mountaintop. That time of solitude was so needed for me. God spoke very clearly to me up there. It was absolutely amazing to commune with God surround by the grandeur and splendor of his creation. 
Well, eventually it was time to make our way back down, but God wasn't done with our special appointment. We came down off the rocks, back down to the trail and suddenly found ourselves in the middle of three grazing deer.
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Truth be told, this was the highlight of the conference for me (well, that and going to Mill Mountain Coffee, the best coffee shop in the world). I have the greatest Father in the world. Thank you Father, for meeting with me there. Thank you for that special appointment. Thank you for speaking to me that day and everyday.

What I’m Up To

I've decided to start "twittering." Man, for some reason there is not way to say that without it sounding gay. Anyway, I have officially started, and I'm trying to bring the rest of the staff on board as well. You'll notice the new section in the left-hand column called "What I'm Up To." I'm using Loopt as my client on my iphone which updates my twitter which in turn updates my blog. The advantage to this is that you will not only know what I'm doing, but where I am at (because of Loopt's GPS function), and I can also post a picture. 

So enjoy. I'll try to keep it updated as often as possible.

On a side note: it seems really arrogant and prideful to assume that people actually care what we're up to every minute of every day. Then again, people really do seem to love this kind of junk.

The Movement Continues With a Minor Setback.

I'm talking about "Love God. Hate Sin." Okay, so maybe it's not quite a movement, but it could be. There is one small setback, and it comes by way of a blast from the past. Mylon LeFever already wrote a song called "Love God, Hate Sin" back in 1987. When I found that out, I have to admit I was a little excited. I used to love some Mylon LeFever back in the day. I thought maybe I had stumbled onto the theme song for the movement. I was gravely disappointed. The song sucks! And he sucks for stealing my mantra. Okay, not really. You can catch a depressing snippet of the song here.

Nevertheless, the movement continues unabated. I'm gunna make a t-shirt… and sell it on my blog… and get rich… or at least I'll wear it, anyway.

My Back is Out

I’m blogging from my phone right now because I’m flat on my back. A little over a year ago, I learned that I have a herniated disk in my back. It doesn’t give much trouble, but my doctor told me to “live in constant fear.” He said that I would be completely fine one moment then the next moment my back would go out. Well, its been over a year and I’ve had a few scares but no big flare ups… until today. After a great weekend, I am now flat on my back and can’t move. FUN! Meanwhile things are piling up. Awesome. On the bright side, God allowed me to get through the weekend so that I could preach. Thank you God for that. By the way, if you get the chance, go by takeajourney.org and listen to or watch my message from this weekend. It’s the message called “Gratitude.” Also, thank you to Pastor Jimmy for allowing me to speak this weekend. You’re an awesome pastor and leader. I love working for you.My Back is Out

Driving Home from Work

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Yes. I'm blogging from my car. Yes. I am driving. I had to drive to the
other side of Raleigh to pick up a key that I need first thing
tomorrow. It was going to be brought to me but that didn't work out.
That's why it is now after six and I'm running late for dinner. I'm
definitely hittin' up a Starbucks drive thru. Thank God for youth
parents who decide to bless you with a Starbucks gift card. God is good! And so is coffee… But God is better than coffee.