August 2010

At first glance, you might think this post is referring to the runaway hit dance movies that have made it to the big screen over the past few years.  I’m talking, of course, about Step Up, Step Up 2: The Streets, and the more recent Step Up 3D, which at my wife’s hometown movie theater consisted of a movie poster with a piece of paper over the “D” and this handwritten note: “This film is not showing in 3D here.”  Honestly, they wouldn’t know 3D if it jumped off of the screen at ’em.

Editor’s note: Wait. What?

But I’m not talking about those dance movies, nor any dance movies.  I swore off of dance movies back when they tried to put Baby in a corner.

[single tear]

But I digress.  The step up I’m referring to is the fact that we’re prepping for Frontline on September 11th, and many of you who call Summit home need to step up and serve.  We’re featuring four ministries on that day: First Impressions, Summit Kids, Production (cameras, sound, lights), and Worship (band & choir).

Maybe you’re brand new at the Summit and want to get involved.  Maybe you’ve been sitting on the sidelines for a while and want to make a bigger impact than the indention on your chair.  Maybe you want to find out more about what these ministry teams are all about.

Either way, Frontline is the place to go.  At Brier Creek, that’ll be happening on Saturday the 11th at 9:00 AM.  If you attend our Cole Mill or West Club campuses, sweet talk your campus pastor and he’ll give you those details.

Want to serve, but not in one of those four areas?  Email me.  I’ll connect you, help you find a job, and help you uncover your passion.

Because nobody should put you in the corner.

Yesterday I saw a prime example of what it means to be the church.  Not attend the church.  Not have a name on a roll at the church.  Not drive by the church on the way to the golf course and yell at the crazy guys in orange vests who are trying to get you to pull into the church.  I saw the Church in action.

If you were a part of our services this weekend, you know that Pastor J.D. continued in our “This is What the Heart Looks Like” series.  Yesterday was commandment #7, “Thou Shalt Have Great Sex.”  Or “Thou Shalt Not Wear Ankle Length Panties.” Or “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery.” (really, any of the above could apply)  You can catch that message here if you missed it.

It was a message that called for immediate application, and after the service I spoke with and prayed for a young lady who told me, “It’s time.  I’ve been living with my boyfriend, this relationship is going nowhere, and it’s not what God wants for me.  What do I do?”

There are plenty of next steps: Pray for her.  Encourage her to have the conversation with him.  Get in a small group so people can walk with her through this.  Meet with one of our staff counselors.

But the practical reality of the conversation was, This girl has gotta have someplace to go.

And so I turned to my favorite social media outlet, The Twitter.  Now normally, The Twitter is relatively quiet on Sunday afternoon.  Many of our pastoral staff is in a coma on the couch.  Most of you are doing something redeeming with your time, like eating lunch with friends or playing in the back yard with your kids or screaming at cars that are going really fast in circles around a track.  And so Sunday afternoon is generally not the best time to put out a request like this on The Twitter:

After svc 2day, met girl who wants to move out from b’friend & do life God’s way. NEED: free/temp housing. Got ideas, church?

And oh boy, did you have ideas.  By this morning, I’ve had a half-dozen offers of a free room, a free apartment, or an available couch.  I have people who want to meet with this girl, befriend her, and help her get through this emotionally wrecking time.  And as the week goes on, I have no doubt that the action of the church will strengthen the direction of the Spirit in this young lady’s life.

As a church, we must understand that it’s one thing to talk about life change.  It’s quite a different change to provide environments and resources to help people make life change happen.  I’m thankful for my church.  I’m thankful for generous people that I’ve seen spring to action.  And most of all, I’m thankful that Jesus changed one more life yesterday, and I got to watch it happen.

By the way, there will be more conversations like this one.  If you can host or house someone else as situations like this come up, email me.  I’m keepin’ a list!

The recent Car for Sale post generated quite a bit of buzz.  For those of you who haven’t abandoned this blog in pursuit of better things like, oh, let’s say bedbugs in New York, here’s an update…

The SnotRocket’s successor has been named.

That’s right.  As of Friday, the Franks family has a new used car.  And by “Franks family,” I mean “me,” since my wife, kids and dog refuse to be seen in it.  My wife still drives her sporty little SUV-type thing with her fancy cupholders.

Me?  I’m the proud new owner of a ’97 Oldsmobile 88.  This is not your grandma’s Oldsmobile.  Oh, don’t get me wrong…it’s somebody’s grandma’s Oldsmobile.  If this thing were in a Nascar race, it would be sponsored by K&W Cafeteria and Polident.

And it’s big.  This weekend I went to Chapel Hill…and didn’t even have to leave Durham.  That sucker sits in two different zip codes.  It’s trackable via Google Earth.  I had to pick up a new long distance plan just to call my oldest son, who enjoys riding in the trunk (his embarrassment knows no bounds).

And ugly?  Ugly doesn’t begin to describe it.  Some people at church on Sunday said, “Hey, that’s not so bad,” which is Christianese for “Ouch ouch OUCH GET IT AWAY IT’S BURNING MY RETINAS.”  Maybe it’s the fuzzy pink steering wheel cover I added for effect, I don’t know.  It’s like I bought this thing at the corner of Shame and Desperation.

But the best part of the new hooptie is the backstory on the previous owner.  I bought it from a cop who had bought it four months ago for his college aged daughter.  Apparently she threatened to move to an Amish community where she could seek asylum from driving such an old, large, ugly car (as if the horse and buggy would have been any cooler at UNCW), so the cop decided to get rid of it.

He purchased it from an elderly couple in North Durham.  The wife had her own car, but this car belonged to the husband.

The husband who is legally blind.

The husband who is legally blind but still made his way out to the driveway twice a week and cranked the car to keep it in good running condition.

The husband who is legally blind but still made his way out to the driveway twice a week and cranked the car to keep it in good running condition and maybe sometimes took it for a spin around the yard and bumped every single tree in the yard and now the hooptie has dings and scratches on every fender.

And to that story, I told my cop friend, “You had me at ‘legally blind.’  I’ll take it.”

Hooptie Deux has a low, low 58,000 miles on it, which is approximately 262,000 trips around the North Durham backyard.  It’s got a cassette deck, which is awesome.  (True, there’s a cassette hopelessly stuck in there – probably 1930’s swing music – but still, it’s a cassette deck).  It has a working cigarette lighter, which I haven’t had in one of my cars in well over a decade, so now I can charge my phone while driving (hey, it’s the little things).

And best of all, it has an old man smell so powerfully pungent that my wife doesn’t like me to hug her when I get home and my Social Security payments will probably kick in any moment.

Which is great, because K&W can get expensive.

Ye olde blog is normally pretty quiet on a Sunday.  I don’t usually blog on the Sabbath, but there’s a story in scripture where Jesus says, “If your ox falls into a ditch, and it’s awesome enough to blog about, thou shalt doest so…especially before your Lead Pastor has a chance to.”

This morning we had tons of first-time guests that showed up at all of our campuses.  One couple arrived at our Brier Creek Campus about 45 minutes after the service began.  Now, 45 minutes late is the norm for most of our covenant members, staff spouses, etc, but a little unusual for guests.  What follows is the story of  one family, whom I’ll call “Ken & Barbie,” since I haven’t gotten their permission to share it…yet:

Ken & Barbie were invited by friends from our brand new North Raleigh campus.  Because that campus has been in incubation stage here for the last few months, Ken & Barbie mistakenly showed up here at Brier Creek…but only after they’d gotten hopelessly lost.  After driving around the Brier Creek area for what seemed like an eternity, they finally stopped off at Wal Mart.

In desperation, Barbie walked up to the Customer Service Desk and asked the lady if she knew where the Summit Church was located.  Customer Service Lady had no idea.  Barbie asked her, “Would you mind making an announcement over the intercom?”

Stop.  Go back and read that again.  Drink it in.  And then know that Customer Service Lady DID IT.

“If anybody in the store knows the location of the Summit Church, would you please come to the Customer Service Desk?”

Now hold your horses…THAT’S not even the best part of the story.  THIS is the best part…FROM THE DRESSING ROOM, one of our covenant members yells out, “HEY! I know where the Summit is!  Let me get some clothes on and I’ll be up there!”

Ken & Barbie made a friend, all of Wal Mart knows about the Summit, and unfortunately there’s no word on whether our unidentified member made the purchase.

That is why I love being a part of this church, and a part of this community.  Where else can the Summit get a shout out on Wal Mart’s intercom?

Sam Walton would be proud.  Unidentified member, you rock.  And Ken & Barbie, I’d love to meet you.  Your story made my day.

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t weep bitter tears over the demise of the Crummy Church Signs blog.  The guy who ran that thing gave voice to a truth that I’ve always known: church signs are a bad idea.  Giving a church a marquee is like giving a dingo a baby…eventually, something’s going to go horribly wrong.

I was reminded of that truth earlier this week while driving down a rural road in the deep south.  (In the south, summer doesn’t officially begin until a church sign says, “Brother, if you think it’s hot here…”)

So I was thrilled / mortified to see these signs, all on the same road, all within 2/10 of a mile of each other:

“Are you sick and discouraged? Come inside to meet the healer.”

The  poor health theme continued on the other side of the street.  I repeat: directly across the road was where I saw this sign:

“Sick and tired of being sick and tired? Come in for some life meds, no appt. needed.”

Not to be outdone – and just in case someone didn’t recover from their sickness –  let’s go back ACROSS THE STREET, where the flip side of Church #1’s sign said this:

“The death angel knows your address.  Are you ready?”

(“Gee, Doctor, it’s the strangest thing.  Timmy’s night terrors started just about the time we started attending that new church.”)

And finally, entry #4 comes from a church just down the street from these two.  I think it’s an appropriate benediction for this post:

“Without the bread of life you’re toast”

On Sunday I visited what may be The Cleanest Church In America.  Oh sure, they wouldn’t capitalize themselves in that hoity-toity way, but in their heart of hearts they know it’s true.  Clements Baptist Church in Athens, Alabama, is as neat as a pin.  If they were a TV character, they’d be that Oscar guy from The Odd Couple.  Or maybe Felix.  Honestly, I’m too young to remember.

But what impressed me about Clements was their attention to detail.  The lobby was immaculate.  The auditorium was spotless.  The bathrooms smelled good, looked good, and flushed well.  It was a veritable toiletry triumvirate.

I didn’t poll any of the church members or leaders (my bride glazes over when I start talking shop while on vacation), but I’d bet that Clements adheres to the “Second Look” principle.  This principle, which I made up just one sentence ago, is what sets churches, business, and customer service models apart from everyone else.  It’s the second glance that helps you see what you missed in the first.  It’s the over-the-shoulder review that highlights what would have gone unnoticed.

The second look helps you catch the gum wrapper on the sidewalk.

The second look means that you know there are paper towels in the dispenser you used, as well as the other dispensers in the restroom.

The second look means that a guest doesn’t go without a greeting.

The second look sees the smudge, smells the odor, notices the locked door, and replaces the burned-out light bulb.

The second look takes intention.  It takes practice.  It takes a continual commitment to making sure that this week’s quality matches or surpasses last week’s standard.

Get in the habit of taking a second look.  Because chances are, your guests already have.

This post should come with a James Taylor soundtrack.

It was ten years ago today that the Franks family loaded up the ’89 Ford Aerostar, said goodbye to friends and family, braved the Smoky Mountain pass known as I-40, crossed the state line, and became residents of the Tarheel State.

We came so that I could pursue a masters degree at Southeastern Seminary, and we had every intention of returning to my home state of Tennessee roughly six minutes after I graduated.

And of course, God had other things in mind.

Ten years, one more kid, multiple vehicles, one apartment, one house, two churches, tons of lifelong friends, and countless incredible experiences later, we’re still here.  We stuck.  What was supposed to be a three year vacation turned into a huge chapter of our lives.  What should have been the pursuit of a degree turned into a realized dream.  What should have placed me in a community of seminary students placed me in a community of the Summit family.

And I couldn’t be more excited.

I don’t know what decade #2 will hold.  I can’t tell you if we’ll still be North Carolina residents in 2020.  I learned a long time ago never to try and predict God’s hand.  But I can tell you this: as long as he allows, I’m excited about living in the Triangle and being a part of what he’s doing here.  It’s not always a barrel of laughs, but it’s always a challenge.

Following God always is.

(Editor’s Note: the car is not really for sale.  No phone calls, please.)

On Tuesday, the Franks household lost a dear member of the family.  My ’93 Honda Accord – forever known as the Snot Rocket – went to be with Jesus.

I’ve had the SnotRocket for at least six years (it seems like forever).  It has held other names throughout the years, such as The Big Green Booger (you think it’s funny, but itsnot) and a few other descriptive terms that I shan’t print here.

The acquiring of the SnotRocket was a miracle in itself.  It replaced my ’91 Honda Accord (named Lazarus…it kept coming back to life), which was stolen out of the church parking lot when we were back on Holt School Road.  But that’s another blog post for another day.

And so it goes that all good things must come to an end.  My mechanic broke the news to me on Tuesday that SnotRocket is in a better place (or will be, just as soon as the junkyard comes to pick her up).

So all of this got me to thinking – what if I could actually sell the SnotRocket? What would that car ad look like?  I think it might resemble something like this…


A car with character!
(If by “character” you mean it has 214,000 miles, a rusty side panel, and is the color of mucus.)

This vehicle is HOT!
(The air conditioning broke back in May, just in time for summer.)

Temperature controls in the palm of your hand!
(Every time you hit a bump, the knob falls off and you have to pick it up.)

A real attention-grabber!
(The muffler is shot, so people hear you coming a half-mile away, which causes your middle schoolers to ask you to drop them off ¾ mile away.)

Enough room to seat an army!
(It’s an army of ants that invade every few weeks.  No, I don’t know where they come from.  No, I don’t know where they go.  They’re just….there.  And they bite me.)

Interesting water features!
(Whenever it rains, the back floorboard collects two inches of water, which freezes beautifully in the winter.)

A car that will grow on you!
(Much like the black mold that’s growing in the trunk because it also leaks.  I already ripped out the trunk carpet but the plywood is still infested, which might explain my respiratory issues.)

iPod Equipped!
(Mainly because the antennae broke off to a little stub and you can only pick up a radio station if you park on top of the radio tower, so yeah…you’ll want to bring along your illegal earbuds while trucking down the road.)

Brand new brake lights!
(The driver’s side brake light keeps melting the wiring harness, so it gets replaced every six weeks.)

Get back to nature!
(You have to roll down the windows since the A/C is shot.  Which is awesome during a thunderstorm.  Ask me how I know.)

Working dome light!
(The dome light actually does work.  What, you think this car’s a total LEMON?!?)

A real conversation starter!
(The windows down plus the busted muffler means your passengers have to scream at the top of their lungs.)

Automatic headlamps!
(They automatically switch from low to high beams for no reason whatsoever.

A ride with get up and go!
(You’ll Get Up and Go call AAA when it won’t crank.  Which is every few days.)

Tinted windows!
(The windshield fogs over and the defroster doesn’t work.)

You can’t stop this car!
(The brake line needs to be replaced.)

This is one smokin’ vehicle!
(The radiator needs to be replaced, too.)

Convenient dual axle!
(The rear axle is about to snap in half and also needs to be replaced.)

Will cause other drivers to take notice!
(Mainly because if you’re hypothetically driving down I-40 there could be a hypothetical situation where the chrome seal hypothetically breaks off of the windshield and makes the car behind you swerve into the other lane to miss it.  You know.  Hypothetically.)

Other features too numerous to mention!
(But let’s give it a shot: the windows don’t roll all the way up, the glove compartment drops open when you hit a bump, the retractable cup holder hasn’t retracted from day one, the neighbors may or may not get annoyed when you crank the car and it sounds like you’re coming through their bedroom wall, and you will alienate your kids from having any sort of cool factor for their entire teenage years which kind of makes it all worth it.)