Pastor's Blog

My 5 Favorite Places to Eat in Eatonton

We have a wonderful small town and being that Eatonton literally begins with the word "eat" I thought I would share some of my favorite local places in the area.  If you are new to town or want an idea for your next date night, our town has something to offer for any occasion and any mood.  These are just some of my favorites.  They are not in any order and range on varying budgets.

Prontos - $

Prontos has a very versatile menu.  It ranges from subs to pizza to pasta to even some nicer choices like steaks and other specials.  It is not rare for my family to eat here multiple times in a week depending on how busy we are and what we have going on.  They are extremely affordable for the food you get and very delicious. Here's some of my favorites:

  • Southwest Salad - This is a must have.  Prontos has some of the most delicious salads but this is my favorite.  I usually mix the jalepeno ranch with a normal ranch because it can be a little spicy.  The chicken is delicious, the lettuce is always fresh, and it comes with two garlic knots.  This salad is so good I had to learn how to make this at home myself so I could enjoy it often. 
  • Calzone - The calzones are quite filling and have a great taste to them.  I do like Pronto's marinara sauce and I have yet to be disappointed in their calzone selection.
  • Ribeye Sandwich with Fries - Pronto's  battered home cooked fries are on another level from your typical fries.  They are usually cooked just right and taste fantastic.  If I am not mistaken I believe they actually use potatoes to make their fries in house instead of frozen, but I cannot say 100%.   The ribeye sandwich is decent in size and very affordable.  All of the above meals taste just right with Prontos sweet tea.

Smith's Coastal Grill- $$

Smith's Coastal Grill is a little southern Savannah style mixed with a little Caribbean.  They have a wide selection of meals to fit any mood from burgers to fish tacos.  We will eat at Smith's at least once a month if not more.  The atmosphere is great and the decorations really fit the mood. 

  • Fish Tacos - Their fish tacos are perhaps the best you will find. They come with a side of corn and green beans and I think a piece of cornbread.  This is my wife's go to meal when we eat here.  Let me just say, adding a side of cheese grits really sets this meal over the top.  Smith's by far has my favorite cheese grits ever.
  • Fried Green Tomato BLT - If you are eating here for a Sunday lunch/brunch, this is the perfect meal.  It has a fantastic remoulade sauce (you'll want extra) and the bacon is nice thick cut bacon.  It comes on delicious toast with a side of fries.  Ok I just realized Smith's fries are on par with Prontos and dipping them in their ranch sauce is OMG!
  • Bacon Cheese Fries - I know this isn't really a meal but as I mentioned earlier their fries are outstanding.  Adding bacon and cheese to their fries, are you kidding me!!!!? 
  • Low Country Boil - This may just be a special but the last time I ate there I got the Low Country Boil for 2 (yes I did share with my wife).   It was outstanding with plenty of shrimp, corn, sausage, and potatoes.  It was all we could do to eat it all, of course I probably ate 3/4 of it.  It was a fantastic bithday meal. 

Trophy's Bar and Grill - $

We just tried this place out a few weeks ago for the first time and I will definitely be choosing to go back often.  We have been twice already.  If you want a low key quiet small town back in the woods place to eat, this is it!!  It isn't very big and the staff is very friendly and helpful.  The sweet tea is great and there is a pool table if you want to kill time waiting on your food.  

  • Big John Burger - Named after the late founder of Trophy's Bar and Grill, "Big John", this burger lives up to its name.  It has a fantastic flavor and has been cooked to perfection the two times I have gotten it.  It will surely feel you up and the fries that come with it are very good.  If you are looking for a good burger without spending a ton of money, try this joker out.
  • Wings - They have several different flavor wings that all sound good.  My wife has gotten the wings both times (FYI they have wing night on Thursday nights) we came.  She's enjoyed them and I have always enjoyed being able to eat 1 or 2.  They are very decently priced in my opinion and I look forward to trying them out more.  You can get them with a side of fries or a side of..........
  • Fried Pickles - I must admit I am not a fried pickle lover.  However, my wife gets fried pickles as a side with her wings and let me tell you, these jokers are good.  I may get them as a side if the darn fries weren't so good too.  I love eating at all these places with my wife because she doesn't eat all her food and I get the rest, but this may be my favorite because I love wings and their fried pickles are the best I have ever had.

Da Corrado Ristorante - $$$

Da Corrado is a must try date night meal.  Leave the kids at home and take your spouse out to one of the finest dining restaraunts in the area.  I may be cheating a little bit because this is actually out on Lake Oconee.  However, if you live in this area, you must try this place at least once if you like Italian food.  Everything tastes so fresh and delicious.  The atmosphere is outstanding and the mood is very romantic.  If you go on the weekend then sometimes they have a soul singer present who makes you feel like you are in the finest place in New York City back in the 1960s. It's fantastic although can be expensive.  We've never gotten anything we didn't love from this place.  It's worth the money and the mood it sets.  Men if your wife loves Italian food this will definitely build a lot of lucky points if you know what I mean. 

  • Chicken Parmesan - The chicken is massive, breaded, and cooked to perfection.  If you eat all of this meal then you can be sure that you'll need extra time at the gym.  The noodles are always "al dente" and this place knows how to do pasta.  The marinara sauce is the best I've ever had and tastes extremely fresh.
  • Angel Hair with Meat Sauce - My wife loves angel hair with meat sauce or Italian sausage.  I don't know that she has ever gotten anything different from here.  But why should she?  It's her favorite meal at one of her favorite places.  We eat here at least once a year for our annual weekend getaway.  Sometimes if she's really nice I'll spring for twice a year, once on her birthday and once on our annual weekend getaway.  
  • Dessert - Honestly I am not an Italian food lover so I don't know what it was called but the desserts here were outstanding.  I highly recommend springing for the sweets if you can force yourself to cutback on the goodness of your main course. 

The Griffin Household $-$$$

My wife and I love to cook.  We love cook a wide range of meals.  While you may not be able to eat here I personally love it.  When you are here you are family.  If you'd like to join us for dinner then maybe we can make that happen.  Cooking with your spouse sometimes can be stressful especially when you are both good cooks.  She has her meals that are always so much better than mine and I have mine that just seem to have just the right manly touch to them.  Sometimes we spend more money trying to create meals than we would have spent by just eating elsewhere, but it really is quite nice to sit around the table with friends and family in the sometimes quiet (two young boys don't always make for a quiet meal) solace of our dining room and eat a meal as a family.  We try to eat here weeknights but it's not always possible.  I have had some of the greatest meals ever put in my mouth at the Griffin Household because it has that extra taste of love.  Again, if you care to join us and you aren't a serial killer we do enjoy having guest over from time to time but before you come my wife has one rule, "Don't look at the mess!". 

Conclusion

These are just some of my personal favorites to eat in the area.  If you have your own I'd love to hear them.  And just so I can make this a Christian post, Jesus loves you and He has certainly blessed the food at these locations.  Please share your feedback and if you haven't tried these places out, give them a go and let me know what you think.  

 

 

 

Get Involved: From Sidelines to Service (November 2015 Edition)

We wanted to share a couple of opportunities we have for you to use your knowledge, gifts, and abilities to serve here at CCE on a weekly basis.  As many of you know we only have one worship service a week.  This is by design so that we can put our resources into making it impactful and sustainable.  Therefore if we are going to continue our growth and reach we will need to continue to develop volunteers and offer opportunities for people to serve.  I wanted to share a few needs and offer a way for you to get involved.  These needs are very specific and if they aren’t for you but you would like to volunteer then please reach out via email at online@churchcentral.cc or call 478-456-0712 to see how you can get involved.  As a new and growing church, these positions are volunteer, however if you are exactly what we need and we need to help reimburse you for any costs it takes to be a part of CCE please let us know.  There will be training for each of these so don’t feel like you will be walking aimlessly should you choose to volunteer in this position.   If you would be interested in helping us out please contact us at online@churchcentral.cc, through Facebook, or call/text our pastor at 478-456-0712.  I will also work on having a form on our website.

As a side note if you are reading this and are not a part of CCE right now this may be a good chance to get connected with us.  If you are currently serving in another church then I hope you will continue serving there faithfully, but if you are just sitting on the sidelines and think it is time to get in the game then please feel free to get in touch.

The current needs and opportunities we have are (qualifications and requirements will be listed below):

1.       Hospitality Director

2.       Greeters

3.       Piano/Keyboard instrumentalist or musician

4.       Bass instrumentalist or musician

5.       Sound/Video tech

6.       Kid Central Assistant Teachers

7.       Nursery Volunteers

Qualifications and Requirements

1.       Hospitality Director

a.       Must be able to lead a team of greeters each Sunday morning.

b.      Must be able to look for areas to improve our welcoming experience.

c.       Must be able to develop ideas to make first time visitors as well as returning visitors feel at home.

d.      Must be able to work with our Hospitality Crew to get these ideas accomplished. (Hospitality Crew is the team we have that does the behind the scenes work)

e.      Must like people and not be a jerk

f.        Requirements: A weekly 15 min phone conversation with Pastor (timing is flexible), attend a monthly meeting on a Wednesday with our other church leaders, and lead a monthly meeting with our Hospitality Crew. 

2.       Greeters

a.       Must know how to smile and shake hands

b.      Must not be over-bearing or annoying

c.       Must know how to say “welcome, we’re glad you are here.”

d.      Ideally we will need about 3-4 each week

      i.      One greeter will be at the front door (no guest should have to open the door themselves)

      ii.      One greeter will be at the welcome center

     iii.      One or Two greeter(s) will be able to show newcomers where to go as well as help those with small children get checked in and introduce them personally to our Kids Central leaders.

e.      Requirements are to be at church on a weekly basis or let our Hospitality Director know you will not be there so they

3.       Piano/Keyboardist

a.       Currently our pastor plays the keyboard and isn’t that great.  Must be able to play as good as or better than him (again if you can play the keyboard or piano then you probably can).

b.      Must be able to work with worship leader and under his direction

c.       Must not fall asleep on stage

d.      Seriously, really you just need to know how to play the piano well and want to use your abilities to lead others in worshipping.

e.      Requirements: Must faithfully attend the worship services as well as practice unless otherwise noted by worship leader.  Singing is optional.

4.       Bass Instrumentalist

a.       Must be able to play the bass guitar (hopefully you have one that you can use)

b.      Must be able to make it all about that bass without it being all about the bass player

c.       Must have a little rhythm

d.      Requirements: Must faithfully attend the worship services as well as practice unless otherwise noted by worship leader.  Singing is optional.

5.       Sound/Video Tech - In the world today, people need the service to tell a story.  This can be greatly improved through utilizing sound and video technology to tell that story.

a.       Must be a little bit of a nerd or gadget geek

b.      Must know how to push buttons, turn knobs, and slide sliders correctly.

c.       Must have an ear for good sound

d.      Must know how to work an Apple computer

e.      Must be able to communicate needs to the pastor

f.        Must be able to pay attention to what is going on in the service.

g.       Requirements:  Attend church each Sunday during warm-up and stay for the service.  During the service look for ideas we can utilize technology to tell the story.

6.       Kids Central Assistant Teachers – We have a great Kids Central leader but even she needs help.  We are looking for 8 people that can rotate on a weekly basis (one per week) in helping with Kids Central.  You will only have to help once every 8 weeks.

a.       Must like kids

b.      Must assist in whatever our Kids Central leader has planned

c.       Must not yell or raise your voice when kids aren’t paying attention

d.      Must have plenty of patience

e.      Must have a smiling face and welcome children into the room

f.        This can be male or female.

g.       This is one position where we need to trust you.  That means for this position you must come highly recommended or have been a part of our church for some time.  We cannot and will not let just anyone around our children.  We want to make Kids Central a safe place and a fun place.  In other words, you will have had to gain our trust befor

h.      Requirements: Attend church when it is your week to help or communicate with others if you need to swap.  Be available to help wherever is needed during the service.

7.       Nursery volunteers – We are looking for another 8 people so 16 all together, that can rotate in this position and help our parents with looking after their little ones on Sunday mornings.  You will not need to make a curriculum or lesson but giving them a chance to learn about Jesus is making the most of the opportunity.

a.       Must like kids

b.      Must not yell or raise your voice when kids aren’t paying attention

c.       Must have plenty of patience

d.      Must have a smiling face and welcome children into the room

e.      This can be male or female.

f.        Must be able to change diapers, warm bottles, or whatever else is needed to take care of the needs of babies and toddlers.

g.       Requirements: Attend church when it is your week to help or communicate with others if you need to swap.  Communicate ideas on how our nursery can be improved.

An Open Letter to My Football Parents

2015 Putnam Blue Eagles 7-8 year team prior to last regular season game.  

2015 Putnam Blue Eagles 7-8 year team prior to last regular season game.  

Dear Parents and Guardians,

First off, allow me to say thank you for such a wonderful season.  I frequently hear of nightmare situations where parents really take a lot of the enjoyable experience out of youth sports.  I can honestly say that coaching this season has been one of the most delightful experiences I have ever had coaching.   I have coached 3 years of football, 2 years too many of soccer, and 3 years of baseball.  This will go down as one of my most memorable seasons for various reasons but it really starts with the flexibility and pleasant attitude of you all.  So again I say thank you for the opportunity and trust you have placed in me to work with your young men.

Another reason this season will be one of the most memorable is because it almost didn’t happen.  To be honest when my son went down with his arm injury and we were unsure of how long he would be unable to play, I seriously considered passing this responsibility on to someone else should they be willing to step up.  After all, one of my top priorities in coaching was to spend time with my son.  However, I was reminded by my mother why we moved from participating in the Freedom Football League in Milledgeville to the PCRD League and that is what I wanted to share with you in this letter.

If I can share just a portion of my story very quickly with you, it may help shine light on the reason this season may be my most important yet.  As a young child I was often bullied and somewhat neglected.  We were poor and didn’t have much in means of material possessions.  I was just a small white kid born to a teacher and mechanic.  Even within my own family I often questioned the very importance of my existence.  But at age 11 I started playing this game of football.  My first year I was awful!  I got penalties for lining up incorrectly, I couldn’t tackle, I couldn’t block, and I couldn’t run.  Needless to say, I was that kid that the coach probably tolerated because he had no choice.  (I am lucky I don’t have any of those on our team.)  However, Coach Shep still invested time in me.  The second year I progressed under Coach Baggerly and played a more important role because he believed in me as I played tight end and defensive end and made the All-Star team.  The third year I played, I started at middle linebacker and tailback.  That season we went undefeated while actually playing in the Putnam-Baldwin County league under Coach Baggerly again.  It was through these years that I fell in love with the sport and would continue playing and progressing under my coaches until I graduated high school.  Football gave my life purpose but it was only because these men invested their time with me and in me.  Football taught me so much about life, but there was still something missing.

While during the seasons I played, life had meaning and purpose.  But what happened in the off season and when I was unable to continue my career?  Life again had little purpose to the point where I considered whether I should continue living.  I lived with witnessing my abusive father beating and threatening my mother.  I lived with being verbally and physically abused as well.  So while football was an escape from reality, reality was always there to greet me after football was over.  There was yet one other man who would invest time in me.  At age 15, I was sent to live with my uncle in New Mexico for about 12 weeks.  He knew nothing about football, but he knew a lot about the love of Christ.  While my mother was a solid rock and loved the Lord greatly, I never knew what it meant to be accepted and loved just as I was from a male figure.  It was that summer that my life truly found purpose in that love of Christ.  That is the purpose I wanted to briefly share with you.

As our season comes to an end I hope that I have allowed the love of Christ to shine through me.  I know I have failed in many ways to live up to the standard your boys deserved but I can truthfully say that I have grown to care for each of them very much.  I have not shared that I also pastor a church here in Eatonton up to this point.  For one I didn’t want you to get a bad impression of the church because I act like an idiot sometimes with football.  I have found that while I have the heart of Mark Richt, I often have the enthusiasm,  attitude, and demeanor of Steve Spurrier.  I just don’t make anywhere near the money they do and know very little about football compared to them.  But I also didn’t say anything because I didn’t want the church to make me look bad either.  I must admit the church in general has done a really good job at religion and rejection instead of its true purpose of redemption and recovery.   It is for this purpose that I so passionately wish to invest in these boy’s lives.  My desire was not to push a form of religion or set of beliefs down their throats, but because I never want them to forget they have purpose and that they are loved.

You may have heard me either fuss or praise them by name.  It isn’t because I want to call them out or embarrass them.  It’s because their name is special and their names matter.  They are not some number on my team.  In fact, when discussing with friends or family about the games if they ask what number is the kid I am talking about, I have no clue!  I don’t see them as a number, a position, or what they can bring to our team.  I see them as young men who have the potential to change this world.  I see them as people that I care about deeply. I want no one to go unlooked or feel unloved.  It is for this reason that this season is my most memorable and enjoyable experience yet.  I had an opportunity to come back to Putnam County Rec Department where I found this love for the game of football as a child.  More importantly I had an opportunity to hopefully speak love, compassion, and purpose into their lives.  These boys deserve the most this world has to offer and if I can be anywhere near as meaningful in their lives as my coaches were in youth sports then I continue that purpose I found at age 15 when I met Christ.  I so fiercely wanted to make the playoffs and continue on not just because winning is fun but because I wanted to spend as much time with these young men as possible.  I simply wasn’t ready for the season to be over.  It hit me when I bumped into NiDavion recently at McDonald’s that I am going to really miss these boys after the season.  I won’t miss practice and the work that goes into football, but I will definitely miss the joy they have brought to my life, even those times I wanted to make them run for not paying attention.

So in conclusion, if there is any way I can continue investing in them, please know I would be more than blessed for that opportunity. I don’t want you to think I only did this to get people to come to my church. It really is because that is the best way I know of being able to continue seeing and spending time with your boys.  I am so grateful I made the decision to continue on with these guys.  They have blessed my life in so many ways.  I am even more grateful for your dedication and grace you have shown me as I learn how to be a better coach, person, pastor, and father.  You have made this a very enjoyable experience for me and my family. 

2015 Putnam Blue Eagles 7-8 year team after winning the championship game.

2015 Putnam Blue Eagles 7-8 year team after winning the championship game.

As a disclosure, allow me to say I originally wrote this letter prior to our first playoff game.  I had no idea at the time that we would continue to win out and bring home a championship.  I am adding this to let you know that I was very much prepared to lose our first playoff game when playing the undefeated #1 seed team and would have still cared about them as much.  I care not because of what they do but because of who they are.  This is not a letter because we won; it is a letter because we played.   It’s a letter because we grew and worked hard. And because we played and did things the right way, God allowed us to bring home that championship.  For many reasons I will never forget this EPIC season!

Love in Christ,

Coach Griffin

 

Why I Will Never Preach on Hell Again

Here is why I will never preach on hell again:

Ok that isn't entirely true. I am not saying I will never speak about hell while preaching but I honestly don't think I have a need to preach on hell.  I am sure some may say I just want to tickle people ears but let me lay some groundwork.  I believe hell is a very real place and those who reject Christ's propitiation (that's for those who made it to church Sunday) will spend eternity there separated from God.  I also believe the Bible paints a very grim picture of this place called hell.  One word it uses to describe separation from God is darkness.  And that's why I don't need to preach on hell.  This past weekend I took my family camping.  I didn't spend a lot of time telling them all the ways the darkness could scare them and hurt them. I didn't do what I could to scare them away from the darkness.  You know what I did? I put a flashlight in their hand and taught them how to use it. 

What does that have to do with hell? I have no desire to scare someone away from hell.  It does very little to scare the hell out of people.  I would rather put a flashlight in their hand and teach them how to use it.  It doesn't mean I don't recognize that darkness and hell exist, but I'd rather preach on Jesus so you don't have to fear hell.  He said Himself, He is the way, the truth, and the light.  Here is another Scripture, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John‬ ‭1:5-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So no it isn't that I want to make people feel good about sin and pretend hell doesn't exist.  But quite frankly no one walks in the light by trying to avoid darkness.  They walk in the light when they hear about the one who is the light. They walk in the light by having the light in them.  That's where my time is much better spent.  So here's a flashlight, let me teach you how to use it so you won't have to fear the darkness.

Consider the Throwback

CCEfirstSunday

HOW FAR WE'VE COME

As I was posting a #TBT I came across this picture.  This picture was from July 19, 2014, just a little over a year ago from this post.  We had just signed the lease on the building, built a few falls, painted, cleaned, cleaned, and cleaned some more.   We had the following:

  • NO A/C
  • Only about 25 mismatched chairs
  • The sound table sitting in the middle of the floor by the stage
  • A stage made of OSB
  • A gazillion windows shining through
  • A dirty destroyed kids area
  • And a lot we did without

Needless to say we were a work in progress.  I can further say, WE STILL ARE!  I often find myself frustrated that we aren't THERE yet.  Both in my personal life and pastoral life I can be known to beat myself up for not being a completed work yet.  Unfinished things drive me crazy!  However I couldn't help but realize a few things as I shared this picture.  It isn't how far we have left to go, it is how far we've come.  In just a year we have come further than I could have imagined.  Through the ups and downs, we have continue to make progress.  Looking at the #TBT encourages me because if we made it this far in a year, imagine where God can take us in the years to come.  We aren't THERE yet but we are heading that way.

WHERE IS THE THERE?

Do you ever wonder why we beat ourselves up for making mistakes, falling back into the same traps, not being "further along" in life?  It's because we think that there is some destination we are supposed to achieve.  As a church, we think there is some finished work we are supposed to look like.  As Christians, we think there is some portrait of a completed Christian we are supposed to reflect.   David said in Psalm 25:4 (NIV) "4 Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths."  The truth is there is no THERE.  It's called a Christian walk, walking with the Lord, and a life journey for a reason.  There is no destination until we reach heaven.  If you are still alive and reading this God is still working on you.  Only when you go home will His work be complete.   There is no THERE while we are still HERE.

CONSIDER THE THROWBACK

Whenever you get frustrated at your same mistakes, or beat yourself up because you haven't beat that thing yet, consider the throwback.  Here is an exercise: find a picture of yourself in middle school, now thank God you don't look like that or dress that like anymore!  You will feel a lot better about yourself when you consider the throwback of your middle school years and see how far you have come.  We are human and will fall down, often times tripping over the same thing.  But in your journey you can still find progress and rejoice in the progress.  We are all growing spiritually, physically (unfortunately in the wrong places), and maturely.  Consider the throwback, now get excited about how far God can grow you in the upcoming years.  Celebrate your small victories and the baby steps.  I know I did when my boys were still just babies.  Focus not on the distance remaining, but on the distance covered.  Constantly pray, "God show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths" so that we may journey together with God!  And one day, we'll get THERE but it won't be while we are still HERE.