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Blog: Tom Job

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February 7th, 2014

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope your heart is warm with praise to the Lord of all the earth…even though your toes might be a little chilly and wet, walking around in His world these days!

We're so pumped! Can you hear it? "bum BUM ba-bum bum Bum bum…bum buddity bum…babum bum bum buddi-Bum bum bum…buddi-bum bum…!"

(Oh, sorry. That was the Olympic theme song.)

We love the Olympics 'round our house! Y’know, the Winter Olympics have a whole other suspense than the Summer ones do. In the Summer Games, you’re wondering, “Who’s going to cross the line first?...Who’s going to touch the wall first?...Who’s going to go higher?...” In the wintry sports, it seems that so much of it is about just one question....

 “Will he fall on his can?”

“Will she land on her behind?”

“Are they all going to wind up on their b#tts?”

From the speed skating to the snow boarding cross to the half-pipe, it’s all about doing what you do best on the slickest, slidy-est, slippery-est places they can find, with most of the world watching,  and trying to finish without a soakin' wet rear end…or worse, a black ‘n blue one!

And those figure skaters! They so graceful…until they’re not! Wham!! They hit it harder than anyone! They look like gliding swans until they slip, do the back-side-first landing and try to get up, looking like a duckling just hatched from the egg! When TV shows it in slow motion, and you can watch the moment of “rear end impact” start the “wave” through their whole person…well, I have to take some Advil just from seeing it!

Last night, the American guy Jeremy Abbott was just starting to do his skating thing. This was BEFORE the Opening Ceremonies. In other words, the Olympics he'd been preparing four years for, hadn't even started! 17 seconds into his thing…swoosh…swoosh…oops!…WHAAAAMMMM!! He hit so hard I thought his rear was going to break thru the ice and wind up in the water! (I guess there isn't water under the ice, is there?)

What if you had to do your job with everyone watching and wondering the same thing…”You gonna crash onto your behind?”

I’m so thankful Jesus isn’t like me when I watch those Games! When we fall…when we flop…when we splat on our can, He lets us get up every time! He lets me start over. He doesn’t remember it even happened! 

Paul says, “Forgetting what is behind, I press on to the prize…!”

And because He always lets us start over and stays with us no matter what, Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me!”

“Forgetting what’s behind…”

“I can do all things through Him…”

That’s a “behind”… a “can”…I can gladly and happily fall on every day!

Enjoy the Games, folks! 

(Let it go, Jeremy.)

January 24th, 2014

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!!

Hope you’re having an awesome Friday! If you let praise fill your heart all day, it'll be warmer on the inside than it'll ever be today on the outside! (Tho' technically at 98.6 degrees and a high today of 29, that would be true in any case, whether you spend the day praisin' or spend the whole day grumpy!)! 

And just nine more days until the big holiday weekend! 

"Huh?" 

Well, I guess officially it's NOT a holiday but the Super Bowl has ALMOST made it into the holiday classification! Something like 108.4 million people stopped everything on a Sunday evening and watched the last one on TV. And we Americans ate 43.8 million pounds of quacamole dip during the game! That's enough to fill an average stadium 10-and-a-half feet deep! 

Gross.

We don’t even call it “Super Bowl Sunday” any more. It’s “Super Sunday!”

Reporters were already asking players questions TWO WEEKS before the game. Sometimes, they run out of good questions and wind up asking some dopey ones. Once a reporter asked 49ers QB Joe Montana: "So why do they call you Boomer?"

One Sports Illustrated reporter started writing down quotes (103!) from other reporters that he thought were worth remembering, most of them because they were goofy.

You know how reporters say stuff like, “If they want to win this game, they’re gonna have to put some points on the board…”

Y’know…technically, I don’t think it’s possible to win without doing that.

Or…

“If they want to win, they gonna have to play some defense…”

I mean, if you don’t play ANY defense, even if you score some, you’ll lose by 185 points!

 Here’s that reporter’s favorite quotes of the week…

“Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning always looks like he's changing plays at the line. Many people think he's bluffing. The Broncos teammates insist he's not bluffing. But those Broncos teammates could be bluffing…”

When the Saints beat Peyton when he was at Baltimore a few years ago, one reporter wrote, “People in New Orleans have been inspired by the Saints….The Saints insist it's the people of New Orleans who have inspired them…It's like a big inspiration circle…”

How 'bout this?...“The offensive lines will play an important part in the game…” 

(Like…what if you didn’t have one?)

Here's a fun fact…this year our National Anthem will be sung for the first time by an opera star! Renee Fleming! (She's the one who sings all those songs on the "Lord of the Rings" movies…y'know…where the only words are "Ahhhhhh…") If it's like any of the operas I know, it should probably takes seventeen to nineteen minutes to get to "…hoooome the of braaaave!"

Speaking of time…

From the “Did you know…?” department:

With all the interviews, , and all the commercials, all the slow motion replays, and the half-time show, the game will last three hours, plus. But if you count the time of actual playing…from the snap of the ball ‘til the ref blows the play dead…the actual time when the game is being played, taking all the plays together, is only about eleven minutes!! Usually there is 50% more time spent showing replays then is spent showing the real plays!

Wow! Just eleven minutes of “ball-in-play” time”! 

And when it’s all over with, will anyone (besides certified sports nuts!) really remember the details of Super Bowl XLVIII and what happened in those eleven minutes?

Quick!

Who was the MVP of the Super Bowl in 2003?

Who won the 1997 Super Bowl?

Who was the defensive player of the game in the Super Bowl last year?

What quarterback led his team to victory in 2005?

It’s just eleven minutes…and it doesn’t really matter much. Not many will remember much about it. But…

Quick! 

Who was the person who told you about Jesus?

Who was someone that you know has prayed for you in the last year?

Who are the three most spiritually encouraging people you know?

Who would you most like to be like, spiritually?

It’s easy to remember those people, isn’t it?

What if you took eleven minutes next week and…

…prayed for someone…and told them that you did?…

Or…

…Wrote someone an encouraging note in eleven minutes and told them what they mean to you?

Or...

…In eleven minutes, shared with someone what Jesus has been doing for you lately and how He could do something like it for them?

You could do something in only eleven minutes that someone might never forget as long as they live! 

That’s what I call, “Super!”

 

January 10th, 2014

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Or as they say around here, "Hey, y'all!"

Or as 12.63% of Americans, mostly in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska say, "Hey, you all!"

Or as 0.20% of us, mainly living in Ohio and Pennsylvania say, "Hey, y'uns!"

If I said, "Hey, yous!", y'all would know I was sending a shout-out from Cape Cod, where most of the 0.67% of us who say that, live.

I was shocked to realize that 42.53% of our co-citizens, mostly across the upper Midwest and California, would have started this CCC Friday email with, "Hey, you guys!"

With choices like "y'all", "y'uns", "yous guys", and "you lot", that many just go with plain ol', "You guys"? Really?

I personally feel "y'all" is quicker, easier to say and it's more inclusive than "you guys". But they didn't ask me.

Actually they asked thousands of folks tho'!

I found out all those stats from a survey that linguists and profs at Harvard took, asking folks across the land to tell how they say or pronounce a variety of things. There are 122 questions in all, and after they compile your answers, they can tell where you come from and/or where you live. Fer instance…

Question 119…"What do you call food you buy at a restaurant but take home to eat?"

Most of us call it, "Take-out" but 6.40% call it "carry-out", mostly from Ohio and Indiana.

Did you know 8.10% of Americans call a grocery "bag" (90.26%) a grocery "sack"? You'll hear that in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. 0.13% living in upper West Tennessee call it a "poke"! 

Do you know what 0.06% of us mean when they say, "bog rolling"? They mean "tp'ing a house" (57.71%), or "toilet papering" a house (21.04%) or. as we called it, "rolling" a house (6.68%, concentrated in the Southeast…That's what I'm talking about!)  Did you know 7.78% of Americans don't even have a word for it?! I believe that's mostly in the Amish regions.

If you say "hair elastic", you're from Maine or Vermont. 

If you call an easy course in school. "crip", you're from the Southeast. 

A highway is called an "expressway" only along the Gulf Coast of Texas. 

0.02% of us call "lightning bugs" "peenie wallies". Seriously!  

Along the Great Lakes and New England, "poem' has one syllable.  

"Caramel" only has two syllables in the Midwest. 

"Crayon" only has one syllable in Lower Michigan. 

They only call her their "Aunt" (as in "ahh-nt") and not their "Aunt" (as in "ant") in Connecticut and Massachusetts. 

In Louisiana, "Mary" and "merry" sound the same, but "marry" doesn't. 

59.68% of us keep the "l" in "almond". 5.65% say, "ah-mond". If you say it like that, I'm one of y'all. 

Or one of you guys…one of yous…one of you lot…y'all know what I mean!

If you go on nytimes.com and look up, "How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk" , you can take the test yourself! My results told me I was from the Southeast near Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville! They almost guessed we live in Oliver Springs! (I noticed they didn't ask how we pronounce "springs"…or "wrestling")

Ever wondered how folks can tell a person, no matter where they were born or live, is a citizen of the Kingdom of God and is heading home to Heaven?

I guess folks who know Jesus say all kinds of things in our own unique ways. Others don't use the word "do" like we do ("do life together"…"do ministry") We use "just really" a lot. Others don't "love on" people as much as we do. But Paul says you can tell a person belongs to Jesus best by what we DON'T say. Check this…

"Do all things without…complaining, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky…!"

Wanna shine like a star in the night? A bright light and a child of the King in a world of grumpy, griping grumpiness? As Paul Overstreet wrote and Alison Kraus sang, "You say it best when you say nothing at all!" 

Feel like complaining and just want to say what's bugging you? Don't!

We have a heavenly Dad Who loves us in ways we can't even take in! He's making every single thing that happens or doesn't, fit into the perfect plan for us! He knows whatever we need and the One Who feeds the birds of the world so brilliantly, thinks we're worth tons more than they are! When you think about it, we have no right or reason  to ever complain again!

What if you made a choice to make it to the end of the day without complaining once about anything today? I think it makes the heart lighter, our faith brighter and…

If you string a few complaining-free days together, someone might get the courage to just ask you, "Hey! Where are y'all from?"

"Who me?"

"Yeah! You and all you guys!" Or as they say down here, "All y'all!" (1.87%)

January 3rd, 2014

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you're having an awesome, albeit chilly, day! (I think that may be the absolute first time I've ever used the word "albeit" in my life! I'm not sure what it means but it seemed to fit! 2014 is gonna be awesome!) 

Speaking of the New Year, loads of folks take this opportunity to resolve to make some real changes in the way things have gone on up to this point. Old bad habits out! New, healthful, wholesome ways in!  "Resolved: no more __________ (fill in the blank)! From this day forward, January 1 in the Year of our Lord 2014, unto Eternity, I am never going to eat ______ (fill in the blank) again, or say _____ (fill in the blank) again, or watch ____ (fill in the blank) again. Instead I am going to daily ______ (fill in the blank), everyday without fail, the whole year long, for as long as we both shall live"

Sometimes, it doesn't always work out.

Only 15% of those who resolved to quit smoking in 2013 were still smoke-free on Dec 31. Altho' as those of us who wrestled with that one know, technically you could quit on the 31st of December and reach your goal of quitting in 2013. Even if you start back up without intending to the first week of the new year. You still quit in 2013! Maybe more than once! As Mark Twain said, "Quitting smoking is easy! I've done it a thousand times!"

For those who determined to go to the gym everyday of 2013, Time magazine says only 40% of those memberships are used at all! By February, attendance is back to pre-New Year levels. I bet some wonder why they don't get any healthier. "I pay that gym every month! I pay my utilities every month and we always have lights on! Wonder why I stay the same!"

Some resolved to learn Spanish in 2013. So, intiendes algo de lo che digo? If not, maybe this year will be better! 

You know that feeling that settles in somewhere between mid January and the first of February…"I still am a mess sometimes! I was going to be so different this time! Why can't I just stop? Why can't I be change ____(fill in the blank)?!"

You ARE changing! One beautiful verse says that "He Who began His work in you is going to finish it!" (Phil 1:6) Your Lord is never going to give up on you! John 15:1 says He's a gardener, weeding and snipping when things need to go so that you can grow. Paul says more than once that He IS at work in you! (Eph. 2:10) 

But since His work won't be done until we're home, maybe we'll always feel sometimes, "I'm not yet the person I wish. I thought I'd never struggle with ____ or ____ (fill in the blank) again. I thought I could do ______ (fill in the blank) easily by now. Mercy!"

Mercy! Exactly!

There will never come a time when we won't need His mercy! Daily! Just to know that He just loves me! He just knows me! He knows I'm not who I think or hoped but it doesn't change the love He has for us in His immense heart! Even tho' I didn't reach my goals for the day or didn't exactly become the one I thought I should be by this date, He LOVES us! He gives to us! And cares for us! And will never get tired of us! I don't earn it or deserve it at all! It's just Him! It's just His heart! It's just…what should I call it?…free, undeserved, undeservable, loving, beautiful…mercy!

There'll never be a time that I won't need it! There'll never be a day in the New Year when I won't need Him to be the way He is- full of free, undeserved, undeservable, loving, beautiful mercy! I noticed that when Paul wrote all his letters, he'd started them out by saying, "Grace and peace to you…" But when he got older…when he was an old man…he added a word in his later greetings. "Grace, MERCY, and peace…"

"…to you!" "And to me!" he thought! The older I get, the more I know, there'll never be a day when I don't need free, undeserved, undeservable, loving, beautiful…mercy!

If it's not too late, here's an awesome resolution to add to your list. Or if you've already blown 'em all by now, just start over with this one…

An old saint from the Sinai desert named Gregory wrote these instructions in the fourteen century for guys he was helping to grow in Jesus. It's called the "Prayer of the Heart":

"Sit down alone and in silence. Lower your head, shut your eyes, breathe out gently and imagine yourself looking into your own heart. As you breathe out, say, 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.' Say it moving your lips gently or simply say it in your mind. Try to put all other thoughts aside. Be calm, be patient, and repeat this frequently."

Wow! I can do that! And if I do it enough, maybe I'll fall so in love with the One Who has so much mercy for me, it'll help me finally ______(fill in the blank) everyday!

December 20th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey everyone!

Hope you're having a super sweet and joy-filled week before Christmas! And I hope it's not getting too…silly, I guess. You know how Christmas just gets kinda goofy! Grown-ups walking around with Santa hats and antlers on, wearing big red Rudolphy noses. Which is awesome, f'r sure! It's just that…

Huh? Where does Rudolph came from? Oh, well, that's an interesting story…

This dude named Robert May used to tell his daughter about the crimson-nose caribou every night before bed. Each nightly re-telling got more and more elaborate. At first he called him "Rollo the reindeer". Then it changed to "Reginald". They both finally decided they liked "Rudolph" best. Unfortunately, he was different, born with a nose "as red as a beet and twice as big and bright". 

Came in handy, tho'!

One Christmas eve the regular reindeer were so blinded in the extraordinary dark fogginess that they "almost hit a plane" and "got tangled in trees". So Ol' Santa followed the red glowing light to Rudolph and had the "greatest idea in all of history!" 

And you know the rest!

You may not know that in the original, Santa told Rudy that "on judgment day, he would get as many gifts as the happier, handsomer reindeer"! 

"Judgement Day"?! Seriously, Santa?

Folks at Montgomery Ward where Bob May worked, had heard him talk about it and made him tell the story at the company Christmas party. Loved it! They made a book of it for the Montgomery Ward Santas to give away to kids who came to the "workshops" and in five Christmases, 7,000,000 were out there! 

Robert's brother-in-law took out the lines about Judgement Day and the "greatest idea in all of history" (it was good, but not that good!), made the words rhyme and put it all to music…Bing didn't want to touch it. Neither did Dinah Shore. The "Singin' Cowboy" Gene Autrey had a song he just knew was gonna be a Christmas blockbuster ("If It Doesn't Snow This Christmas"…Remember that one?) He needed a song for Side B (Remember those?)…

BAM! "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer"! The second best-selling Christmas song of all time!

Kinda silly, really.

'Cept, Robert May made up the story for his youngest. She was struggling. With being different. 

She was different from her friends. Just like Rudolph. She was different because her mother wasn't like their mothers. Mom never got out of bed. She had cancer. She didn't make it to Christmas, 1939. So Bob May's daughter Barbara was even more different. She didn't have  a mom. 

A couple walked through the streets of Bethlehem in a hurry. They looked like a normal pair with a baby on the way. But they weren't normal. And they weren't in a hurry. They were in panic! This Baby was coming! And they had no room nor help. Their families showed them nothing but backs turned and doors slammed. Unkind things had been said and untrue things believed. They were alone and afraid and a poor young man was trying to help a poor young girl be brave. 

As silly as Rudolph is, it's really the story of two who were alone and afraid…the story of a poor young man trying to help a poor young girl be brave. 

As normal as folks look, everywhere you go this Christmas, there are those who are having a tougher or sadder time than you'd imagine, just looking. For every red reindeer nose you see during the day, there's one that's red at night from crying at home alone. For all the Christmas silliness, there's lots of Christmas sadness. Everywhere this Christmas, people are alone…or afraid…and trying their best to be brave. 

Kindness…Gentleness…some kind, gentle words of encouragement at Christmas to hearts that others may miss…

THAT just may be "the greatest idea in all of history"!

November 15th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!


Hope you’re having the most awesome Friday ever! Hope it’s filled with praise and laughter all day! Y’know, the other day I was going to…

 

(Wait a sec. I didn’t really mean to say some of that stuff. I need to start over…)

 

Hey, everyone! 


Hope you’re having the most awesome day ever! Filled with praise and thankfulness and joy! But if you have a heart that needs to break, or a tear you need to shed, or someone’s hurt you need to share, that’s OK, too! A day with pain in it…sometimes feeling yours and sometimes sharing someone else’s…doesn’t make your day a bad one. 

 

I was reading this article the other day about the history of anesthesia. This young British doctor, Humphrey Davy (that sounds like a name out of Gilbert and Sullivan!) was trying to find a cure for tuberculosis. He fixed up a makeshift gas chamber and was inhaling different gases in there (risky!!) to see if they helped him breath better. He tried a cloudful of nitrous oxide and found that he didn’t breath better but he did see better. In fact, he saw things that didn’t exist! 

 

"…Trains of vivid visible images rapidly passed through my mind…I was now almost completely intoxicated. The sensations were superior to any I ever experienced. Inconceivably pleasurable. I seemed to be a sublime being, newly created and superior to other mortals."

 

He thought about this goofy feeling the next time he had a throbbing toothache. “Maybe if I breathe some of that nitrous stuff, it’ll calm this pain…”

 

He tried it. And it did! They changed the name of nitrous oxide to “laughing gas” and dentists started using it for screaming patients around the world ever after. 

 

But not until decades after!

 

It had never occurred to doctors or dentists to use anything to take pain away from anyone! Extractions and all kinds of surgeries were done with no anesthesia! English didn’t even have the word “anesthesia” until 1846! The only word they had for pain relief up ‘til then was, “YYYYYYYYEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!”

 

The reason was that doctors thought pain was good. All the screaming encouraged them to work faster (seriously!) and they thought it was a sign the body was fighting back and healing! 

 

Pain is really a gift from God. Pain in your mouth tells you something about your tooth. Pain in your heart tells you something about yourself. Pain in your friend’s heart because you are going through a hard time tells you something about love. 

 

Heaven will be the place where there will be no more tears or pain. But somehow, Heaven isn’t that way yet. Jesus is there and He feels and shares all your tears, hurts and pain. 

 

It would mean the world to someone to know that you hurt when they hurt. Two girls, Yaguine Koita, age fourteen and Fode Tounkara, age fifteen, were found frozen to death in the landing gear bay of a Belgian airliner, where they, so desperate for a better life, had tried to hide and escape Guinea, their country. They wrote this note in case they didn’t survive…

 

“We suffer enormously in Africa. 

Help us. 

We have problems in Africa. We lack rights as children. We have war and sickness. We lack food…

We want to study, and we ask you to help us 

so we can be like you, 

in Africa.”

 

What it would’ve meant to know that someone somewhere knew…and cared…and shed a tear. Or many…for them.

 

…Or for the hundreds of thousand who stand waist deep in misery, over their heads in grief and hopelessness in the Philippines today.

 

…Or for the broken hearted who head into their first Christmas season alone.

 

…Or for the army kids I've heard about all week at the Young Life Military conference here in Denver who literally shake while seated at their elementary school desk whenever they see soldiers walk into school dressed in fatigues because they're convinced that someone is coming to tell them their dad isn't coming home.

 

…Or for those we know and love who are having the hardest time they've ever had, because they're trying to show the love of Jesus to those who would have never known it without them.

 

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12.15)

Or as the Message puts it, “Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down.”

 

Hope you have a joy-filled day! But if someone you know needs a hug from you, give it! If someone needs a “listen” from you, do it. If someone needs a tear from you, shed it! 

 

That WILL make it an awesome day! For them! 

 

And for you!

August 30th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you're having an awesome day! It is gonna be awesome today! Todd the weather guys said that…(ding!) Sorry…hang on one second…Todd said that today was gonna start out…(ding!)…hold on…lemme check this real quick…Could y'all give me a sec. I need to answer this. It'll just take a minute…aaaand "send"…there! Y'know, as I was saying, it's almost "Football Time in Tennessee!!" We're all so pumped! And with football, as you well know, there also comes…(dong dong DONG dong…dong dong DONG dong)…Oh. Sorry. that's my phone. I thought I put it on vibrate…um…Could y'all hold on? I need to get this. It might be important….Hello?…Hey! What's up?…Really?…No way!…They did?…That's awesome!…Huh? I can't believe that!…Listen, when it's done, can you call me or text me?…Thanks! See ya, dude. Bye!…

I'm back. Sorry, folks! I'd been waiting for that call. Let's see…As I was saying…Actually, I don't remember what I was saying. Man! It seems like that happens to me a lot! With my phone in my pocket now, instead of screwed into the wall of my house where it used to be back in ancient times, and with all the texts and tweets and dinging and donging, I can't hardly keep my mind focused on much! I'm finding out that in our world of multi-tasking and trying to do two or three things at once (talk to someone, check my emails, order movie tickets online, and drive simultaneously) I'm not super good at doing any of them! 

In fact, new research is showing that (ding!)…Sorry….uh…one sec…let's see…"send"…um…research is showing that folks who think they're good at multi-tasking, really aren't! A professor at Stanford says…Lemme see…google search…stanford…professer…professor…clifford…nass…there!…"The research is almost unanimous, which is very rare in social science, and it says that people who chronically multitask show an enormous range of deficits. They're basically terrible at all sorts of cognitive tasks, including multitasking…"

The main problem is that when people try to do too many things at once, the brain can't tell which one matters most! Professor Nass says, "People who multitask all the time can't filter out irrelevancy….They're chronically distracted. They initiate much larger parts of their brain that are irrelevant to the task at hand….They're suckers for irrelevancy. They just can't keep on task….All because they have been multitasking, they've lost that ability to focus on one thing…So they're pretty much mental wrecks!"

Yikes! That sounds terrible! I think (done dong Dong…)…I can't deal with that right now…I think it might be affecting our ability to know what really matters!

One time, Jesus and His guys were having a time of dealing with a ton of things at once. They were having discussions on diet and nutrition, having to help loads of hungry people, there were healings to do, and opposition to face. It seemed like a crazy time for them! 

So Jesus invited three of them to get away. They went up on a mountain where no one could find them. Some believe that where they went was a hill in the NE corner of the Valley of Jezreel, about seven miles from Nazareth, and I bet it doesn't have satellite phone coverage even today! So no tweets, texts or incoming calls. No people…no yelling for help or asking for stuff... It was quiet, dark, and still. A silent night, holy night. All was calm…And suddenly…

All was bright!!

Jesus began to…glow! Matthew says that "His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light!"

Mark adds, " His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them!"

Wow! Jesus gloriously glowing! Chasing away all darkness! 

I'm sure those guys were on their faces, shaking and praising!

I'll bet they had…(ding!)…I'm ignoring that…nothing on their minds but Him and His awesome amazingness! To be with Him! Alone with Him in His glory! What privilege! What wonder! What could ever measure up to that? 

Our Lord prepared them for this moment. He had said to them about a week before that they were about to "see the Kingdom of God". To be alone with Jesus in all His glory-this IS the Kingdom of God! 

In our world of tweets and plinks and plunks, texts and tocks, and "please leave a message!"s and "I'll get back to you as soon as I can!"s and instagrams and google search, and trying to do it all at once and at times able to finish or focus on none of it… 

It's NEVER been so important to find some time and be alone with the King in His glory and listen to no one else! 

And to do nothing else!

And be with no one else! 

And talk for a few minutes… 

or more…

to no one else…

but Him!

To have a few moments enjoying with Him the Kingdom of God!

In our tweeting texting world, where it's more and more difficult to feel what is worth giving your attention to…

Nothing matters more!

August 23rd, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

What an awesome day today’s gonna be! You can KNOW that no matter what you go through today, God’s there for you! Here’s how you can be sure of it…

Acts 14. 17 says, “…God has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven, he provides you with plenty of food and…and fills your hearts with joy."

Did you get that? You can know He’s there for you because He sends “rain from heaven”! It’s a testimony to His love and faithfulness! 

Listen to this awesome forecast…

“More showers are likely today...Mostly cloudy skies with scattered showers developing from late morning through mid-afternoon as a frontal boundary approaches.  A few spotty showers are still possible Friday evening

It’s gonna be an awesome day!

And if you’re not having an awesome day…

if it’s just a tough one…

if you’re struggling to get through it…

if you feel weighed down with more than you can deal with…

why not stop right now, right where you are, and take these simple steps…

Step 1) Take a deep breath…

Step 2) Read these words: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you!!” (1 Pet 5.6-7)

Step 3) Read them again…

Step 4) And again…

Step 5) One more time…with feeling!

Step 6) Try to figure out specifically what it is that is weighing on you, bothering you, worrying you…I have several, personally, top-of-the-list being a daughter in Africa trying to get their boys home…

Step 7) Do what Peter says! Cast that trouble, anxiety, bother, problem, whatever… on Him! “Cast” is the same word translated “throw upon” in Luke 19.35…When Jesus was almost to Jerusalem, and got ready to ride a donkey into town, ”they threw their cloaks on the colt”…

Whatever is bothering you…throw it on Him! Say to Him, “Here it is. I don’t know what to do about it. I can’t solve it, resolve it, fix it, or make it go away. I’m giving this problem to You. You take it!”

Seven easy steps to a more awesomer (“awesomer”?) day! Aren’t you glad you get your weekly Triple C email?

While we’re on the subject…

I was reading this book where this dude wrote that he himself was also reading a book. The book he was reading was on prayer. The book he was writing that I was reading…in which he talked about this book he was reading…was also about prayer. (Man! That got complicated in a hurry!) Anyhooo…

He said that in this book he was reading, the author said that you shouldn’t pray about trivial things like parking places, as in, “God, give me a parking space.”

He told this to his mom, who after raising five kids, went to be a missionary in the slums of Uganda and Dublin, and who at 82, was living in London, reaching out to South Asian women, still a full-time missionary. 

He shared this author’s feeling about trivial prayers… Her answer? 

“How you supposed to find a parking place?”

August 16th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!
 
Hope you're having an awesome week! Especially because today is gonna be…hang on one sec…Let's see…w…b…i…r…dot…com…(scrolling…scrolling…) Bam!
 
"More clouds today with a chance of a few pop up showers in the afternoon. Winds will still be light from the north around 5 - 10 mph. Highs will only reach near 81 degrees…"
 
Won't be too hot today! With just a few chances of showers! Not bad at all!
 
I love how you can just look stuff up on the computer now! Got a question? Google the answer! 
 
"Who was the eleventh President of America?"
James K Polk!
 
"Who invented bubble gum?"
"…In 1928, Walter Diemer invented the successful pink colored Double Bubble, bubble gum…"
 
"Why does the moon look bigger at the horizon than up in the sky?"
"Actually the image of the moon in our eyes are identical regardless of whether it is high up or low down but because the moon at the horizon seems to be closer to Earth our brains interpret the moon as looking bigger.

Apparently if you turn with your back to the moon, bend forward and look at it through your legs, because you see everything upside down, your distance clues are all gone and the moon looks its normal size. …"

Amazing! It's like you don't even need a brain anymore! You just need google, when you used to use your noodle!

Yesterday I had to know how many ounces in a cup. 

Eight! 

(Unless you're talking about a British imperial cup, which is ten. But I never talk about those!)

I did have a question someone asked me this week that I had to think about. The internet didn't help…at all! 

A guy I knew from Young Life work in Germany is moving to California. Because he is gonna be looking for one, he wanted to know what makes a church a good church.

"Wow!" I thought. I don't really know! I'm always in one, so strangely, I never think about it! It's like asking a large-mouth bass, "How's the water?" He's always in it so he doesn't really know. But I thought about it…

Here's what I wrote…

"Hey, Scott!

Wow! It was so cool to hear from you! It's awesome that you're going to school! I knew you had a heart to learn and study that was unstoppable! 

Man! That was a humongous question you asked me! What makes a good church? I don't know much about churches and what they do because i'm always at one and don't get to see others! (I hear stuff tho'…)
 
Let's say that you're looking at churches and you've already made sure that the ones you're checking out are theologically sound and healthy...
 
I think if I were looking for a church, I would ask, "What if this church were a person? Would I like this person? Would I consider this person a healthy, helpful brother or sister in Christ? Would this person be a good friend?"
 
Here's an example of what I mean…
 
I think that usually, churches start with the idea that they are going to serve people with the love of Jesus. That's why they started.  "This church exists to help and serve you." Sometimes, at some point tho', there's a shift. Or a switch. All of the sudden…or maybe subtlety…because someone has a "vision of what God is calling us to be" , you exist to serve that church! Or you are there to share in achieving this "vision". It all started with the idea that the church was there for you, but now you're there for it! In the end, the person sacrifices and serves the church, with its programs and goals, rather than the church and those who work there serving and sacrificing themselves for the people who come to it. 
 
Everyone is having a hard time in life. The church is there to make life better and more full of Jesus for the folks who go to it. Those who go there should feel this! The church isn't there to use people, suck their life and energy, and make their life more stressed. 
 
If that church were a person…a person who sees you as someone to use and exploit for his or her dreams and ambitions, rather than a person who loves and serves you, and lives to make your life and walk lighter and sweeter…would you want that person for a friend?
 
Here's what the apostle Paul said…"But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us." (1 Thes 2:7-8)
 
If I were looking for a church, I'd ask…What do they talk about? If you go to a church and they talk a lot about themselves…and what they going to do next…If the Sundaymessages are often about the next thing, or new plans they have for reorganizing or reaching their community, instead of talking about Jesus and Who He is, and how He loves, and what He can do for you in the life and walk you have, I don't think that's good. If you hear the church's name all the time…If their website is a lot about what they've been doing, or plan to do next, or how awesome they are, or how "real and authentic" they are, this doesn't seem healthy to me. When we were missionaries and returned home for a few months periodically, it seemed that some churches and their pastors were always preaching about their church and "what we're going to do now". I thought, "If I went here consistently, I'd be starving!" I used to wonder about some single mom, sitting out there, who is struggling to make it thru the week…maybe wondering if she matters to Jesus at all…especially if she doesn't have the energy for the latest push or the next thing the pastor's promoting.
 
If that church were a person…who always talks about themselves all the time, instead of who Jesus is and why He's awesome…instead of listening to you some…would you be friends with that person?
 
" For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake." (2 Cor 4:5)
 
Is the church generous? Do they give a lot of money away? Do they give lots of  money to support people who are out there where they never could be, reaching people for Jesus? Do they give money away to the poor? Or do they spend almost all of their money on themselves? Their programs? Their buildings? Their school? Sending their own people on weeklong mission trips? Many churches give away less than 2% of their budgets to missionaries or to help the poor. 
 
What if that were a person? What if a person gave away less than 2% of his money and spent the rest on himself or herself? Would this be a person I would want to know better and to follow? 
 
"So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?" (luke 16:11)
 
Followers of Jesus are supposed to be real servants of people. They are supposed to be humble, gentle, and kind. They are supposed to be generous and giving. So are churches!!
 
I'd look for a gentle, sweet, humble, servant-ish, generous one!
 
Well, there you go! I guess I had more to say about that than I thought! Let me know what you think!…
 
A million blessings!
 
Tom"
 
And then I wondered…
 
I know these are our goals…to be this way, but...Are we that way?
 
If Triple C were a person, would you want to be friends with him or her?
 
Will you tell us if and/or when we're not? We don't want to subtly switch or shift. Will you tell us if we do? We're counting on you to help us be and stay this way.
 
Those of us fish swimming around here all the time don't know what the water's like…because we live in it!
 
Splish! Splash!

August 9th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you're having a heart filled with praise on this rainy day! Today and tomorrow, you might want to sing to yourself that praise song that says, "Grace like rain falls down on me!" My weather guys says…

Wait a sec! I wasn't gonna start with the weather today. I'm gonna start with sports!

"Fourteen in a row!"

Need I say more?

I know you're as excited as we are in our household to see if our very own Atlanta Braves make it fourteen straight wins tonite! It's all coming together on Turner Field! …Striking out less…Jay Hey and B.J. are finally hitting the ball well…and the young pitchers! Wow!

Altho' one of them seemed to temporarily lose his skills on the mound for a just a brief moment the other night. Julio Teheran was "enfuego" all game, throwing sliders and heaters past batters…All was well until he threw one pitch a little too high and a little too over the plate to Bryce Harper, who sent that one soaring over the fence for a homer. It was such a beauty of a home run that the batter stood and admired the lovely, arching flight of the ball as it sailed out of sight, before he started trotting around the bases. Inexplicably, the next time he came to bat, Julio momentarily seemed to have lost his brilliant accuracy from the mound and a fast ball hit Harper directly in the left…uh…"backstop"!

Harper was super upset and "shared a piece of his mind he couldn't afford to lose!" Teheran is from Colombia and I'm not sure his English is good enough to understand everything that was said. But, Hey! Sometimes, for whatever reason, you're just not perfect with every pitch! Calm down, Bryce!

But one time, there was a pitcher for the Pittsburg Pirates who just woke up terrible! Steve Blass had been amazing all thru the '71 and '72 seasons and the  All-Star was probably considered the best pitcher in the game going into the '73 season.

Then the season '73 started. And Blass started…to stink! He was terrible! For no reason, he suddenly just couldn't throw the baseball where he wanted. He could've found the lost continent of Atlantis easier than the strike zone! In '72 he struck out three batters for every base-on-balls; in '73 in was the opposite! Three walks for every strike out! His earned-run-average went from 2.49 (really good!) to 9.85 (shooooooooey!!) That's like Tiger Woods shooting a round of 113 in the Master's! Or Peyton throwing eleven interceptions and two completions. Or Michael Phelps in the 200 butterfly, swallowing water, choking and gagging on it, and having to get pulled out by a lifeguard!

There was no explanation for why, all the sudden, he just wasn't good at it anymore!

Finally, in a game against the Braves, Blass came to the mound in the fifth and in an inning and a half, gave up five hits, seven runs, six walks, with three wild pitches! Shooooooooey!

After that game, they flew to Cincinnati for the next game on the schedule and Steve didn't even sleep in the hotel. He just walked the streets of Cincinnati 'til sunrise, wondering what had happened to him.

He'd lost it. And it never came back. He was done.

Today, when a person who is awesome at something, suddenly, inexplicably, and overnight loses that skill, and is terrible at something he or she rocked at,  they call it "Steve Blass Disease".

Ever worried about that? You're doing awesomely at something that really matters to you…and to God. Maybe it's fighting off temptations that have "sunk your battleship" your whole life…or learning a whole new way to talk to those you love that they've been waiting for you to learn for years…or having sweet times with Jesus when no one else is around and it's giving you new confidence and a hopeful, worry-free heart…

…Until one day…

Suddenly, you're back to that sassy mouth…or forgetting Jesus…or feeling polluted by a string of failures and flops in something you thought lived in your ancient past.

"Have I lost it? Was my progress all in my imagination? Am I doomed to be what I've always been and always hated? Do I have spiritual Steve Blass Disease?"

No, you don't.

Maybe it's a "rough patch". Maybe you haven't strung together many good days all in a row lately. But you can't lose these skills and desires for a new way to be! God won't let it happen! Check these!

"He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ!" (1 Corinthians 1)

"You, by faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time!" (1 Pet 1)

" To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy!" (Jude 24)

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ!"

Or, as another version puts it, "There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears!" (Philippians 1)

He's the one Who gave you a new heart with new powers and longings! In fact, you have these desires and hopes to be different from what you've always been because He lives there in your heart now! You're heart is His home! And He has the home field advantage!

Don't be afraid! If you fall, fail and/or sin, you can be super sad and sorry. But you don't have to be afraid! In the light of eternity, it's just a slump! He is going to keep you and keep you growing!

As if says in the Book of Hebrews, "So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid!' "

Or as Paul says, "Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold!...Therefore we don't lose heart!…Therefore we are always confident!"

Or as they say at Turner Field, home of the Braves, "That's why we chop!"

That's sports!

August 2nd, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you're having an awesome day! I really hope your day is filled with thanks! And if it got started just a little quicker than you were ready for, and it's gotten a little away from you, and you realized just a little bit ago that you're a little grumpier and/or flustered than you had planned to be by this time in your Friday, you can fix it!

Why not just declare a three minute vacation? 

"What do I do with my three-minute vacation?"

Thanks for asking! First off, you know how when you go on vacation, it always takes a little bit to get in "vacation mode"? Well, during the first minute of your vaca, write down four reasons you have right now to be thankful.

During the second minute, just thank God for those four things. It should take about fifteen seconds per thing.

During the last minute, just relax in the joy of a thanks-filled heart! For one whole  minute. 

Wow! As far as vacations go, that was convenient, quick, and cheap! 

Since I'm giving out free advice, here's some more you may one day thank me for…

The biggest mistake folks make when mowing the grass is setting the mower too low! You really only need to take off one third of the blade of grass! It leaves your individual blades healthier! You should probably set your mower to the highest setting possible.

Did you know your mower blade is circling at about 200 mph? Going that fast, it's chopping up the clippings into tiny, little pieces…If you don't bag 'em and let 'em just fall back down on your yard, you give nitrogen back to your soil. Over the summer, it's about the same as fertilizing a whole other time!

I guess I'm telling y'all this because I just love mowing! I'd come mow your yard if you needed me to! There's not many jobs that, once you've done it, it's just…done! And it looks done!

If you're a teacher, at the end of the day, you may ask yourself, "Does he REALLY understand compound fractions? Does she REALLY understand why Beowulf changed all of literature?"

I know doctors must go home wondering, "Well, I told him he needs four to five times of exercise per week…Do I really think that's gonna happen?"

To be perfectly honest about it…Even with my job…If I go up and pray for someone who's really sick in the hospital, if they get better by God's goodness, it's not usually that second. They usually don't beat me to the exit on my way out…

But when you mow the yard, BAM! Done! And looking awesome!

I have three separate patterns I use on my yard. I pick the pattern I want when I start, depending on how I feel at the time. (I actually didn't realize that about myself until this very moment!) Once I start, I don't have to think about where I am 'til I'm done.

I have a new blessing I've added to the overall mowing experience recently. I just realized a few months ago that I can listen to audiobooks on my iPhone with earbuds during the mow! Now, I can learn stuff as well as enjoy the time I spend pacing up and down the yard! Who knew there was a way to make mowing even more enjoyable?! 

The other day, I was mowing and listening to a book by one of my heroes, British Anglican, John R. W.  Stott. The book is called, "Why I Am a Christian". In it, Pastor Stott explains why it is philosophically and historically logical and reasonable to believe that Jesus is the One He claimed to be. The pastor's thinking and reasoning  is wonderfully simple and beautifully arranged. But, frankly, these were arguments that I've thought through many, many times. I knew in my heart where he was going to go next and what he would present after that. 

Listening to this book was kind of like mowing the grass. I was going down rows and patterns I've walked over tons of times.

At one point, he was explaining that one of the reasons it is sensible to believe that Jesus is the One He claimed to be, is that Jesus said amazing things about Himself…things that no ordinary person would ever say unless he or she was unbelievably conceited or nuts…yet He still had astounding humility. "In the upper room before He died, He said He was their Lord, their master and judge of all, but He took a towel and washed their feet like a common slave. Is this not unique in the history of the world?…Why am I a Christian? It is because of the paradox of Jesus Christ…He who claimed to be His disciples' Lord humbled Himself to be their servant."

This is such a wonderful reasoning!

I've heard and read this millions of times before. But somehow, it was exactly what I needed to hear and think about in that moment! I could feel myself kinda "puddle up" as I heard Simon Vance read those words with his impeccable British English.

For the reason I just heard…and for many, many more…it totally makes sense to believe that Jesus is Lord of all and King over everything! And I really needed to remember that!

As you know, my youngest is in Africa with one of her best friends, Janet (she made it!), trying to get all the documents they need to bring Emily and Graham's new adopted babies home. It is a long, frustrating, risky, intense quest. There have been dangers and joys, disappointments and set-backs and miracles. But the temptation is always to become discouraged. It's a new, unexplored and uncharted journey for everyone. And on that day, while mowing the grass, as my heart was being tugged down toward discouragement about everything, an old, simple, familiar, well-worn and well-learned thought rescued me. 

"It just makes sense that Jesus is the One He said! He IS Lord of everything! He's is Lord of all this world and everything in it!" 

And it just makes sense to trust Him! For Emily and Graham...and for Janet's trip… and for Des and Quince…and for documents… and for African courts…and for news of possible malaria…and to  trust Him Who claims and proved to be Lord of all, for all the other problems and situations none of us have ever faced before! 

When you're in the scary and the unknown, the confusing and the unexplored, the best thing you can possible do is to remember things about Jesus that are simple, familiar and true.

You think, "With everything I don't know right now, at least I know THIS is true!"

It's like when you you're having a frustrating day of things you can't solve, fix, or finish…

Go home and mow your yard. And think, "Well, at least THAT'S done!"

July 26th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you’re having an awesome day! Hope you’re having an awesome, more-relaxed-than-usual summer day! “Cause you can feel it coming…”Back-to-school!” days! Vacations done! Pools drained! School bell ringin’! Bands practicin’!  Wow! That happened fast! 

I remember “back in th” day” when I was one of seven kids in a C-house with one bathroom trying to get out the door for school! My dad never understood why the shrubs outside the backdoor never grew well…

Hello!! 

Every first morning of school, it was always breakfast of sizzlin’ bacon, eggs, and pancakes! “This year, we’re doing this every morning! The most important meal of the day! To be your best in school, you gotta…” You can finish the speech yourself. By Day Two, we were staring at… and munching sleepily with… our ol' pals Cap’n Crunch and the Alpha-Bits bear…

But it must have been unbelievable trying to get seven kids combed, brushed, and ready for the school bell to ring! So… 

What would you do if you had 10,024 kids!?

One of my all-time greatest heroes was a guy named George Mueller. He began orphan homes in Bristol, England back in the Oliver Twist days of the 1800’s. when there were thousands and thousands of orphans living in the streets When he started, there were only places for 3,600 orphans to live in all of England. Twice that many under the age of eight were in prisons! He inspired so many people that fifty years after he started, there were homes for over 100,000 orphan kids! Besides raising 10,024 orphans in the “Mueller homes”, he preached 10,000 times between 1830 and 1898! When he turned 70, he started traveling to preach in other countries…42!! A sermon a day ‘til he was 87! Over 3 million people heard him! Before microphones were even invented!

And he got thousands of kids ready for school…before Cap’n Crunch was even born!

He must have been a busy dude!! How do you do all that stuff? How do you get everything done?!

He had a secret! Before he would start looking for kids’ schoolbooks, lunch money, his list of “to do-s”, or sermon notes and train tickets, he’d look for one thing first…his joy!! Wasn’t ready for the day ‘til he found it!!

George Mueller said that he discovered that his most important duty, job, whatever you wanna call it…was each day, to “get his heart into a happy state…” 

He’d wake up, brush his teeth, open the Scripture, find some reasons to praise God, do that, and stay at it ‘til his heart was filled with joy! Then he was ready for the day!

Check this quote... 

“While I was staying at Nailsworth, it pleased the Lord to teach me a truth…the benefit of which I have not lost, though now . . . more than forty years have since passed away. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state…

… According to my judgment the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you, the Lord's work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself! Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life. This has been my firm and settled condition for the last five and thirty years…”

Wow! 

That is awesome!!

“Above all things, see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord!” 

That’s one of those things you could write over your door and smack it on your way out of the house like football teams do with the sayings that they have painted over the exits from their locker rooms on their way to the field. You know how they have their favorite saying over the door and as they run out, they all reach up and smack it? Like…

""Play as hard as you can for as long as you can."

Smack! Smack! Smack!

Or…"Hustle, hit and never quit!"

Smack! Smack! Smack! 

How 'bout the one down the road?

"I will give my all for Tennessee today!"

Smack! Smack! Smack!

Or this famous one up north somewhere…

"Play like a champion today!"

Smack! Smack! Smack!

Well, why not paint this inside your house above your front door and smack it in the morning when you leave?

“Of supreme and paramount importance, see to it that your soul is happy in the Lord!”

Smack!

Or (if that one won't fit) …"First thing, get your soul into a happy state!" 

Smack! 

Or maybe…"Above all things, happy in the Lord!"

Smack! 

Or…"“A Heartful of Joy in Jesus…Don’t Leave Home Without It!” 

Smack! 

Only thing…If you wait 'til you're leaving your house to remember it, you’re too late! You’d have to go back inside ‘til you find your joy! 

Maybe you should paint it inside the bathroom just above the bathroom door,  or maybe above the fridge, so you see it first thing in the morning…

Somethin' like…"First, some coffee or tea, then joy in Thee!"

Smack!

July 19th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey everyone!

Hope you're having an amazing summer day! I know it's hot and humid and the air is filled with sunshine and water droplets (and there ain't nothing we can do about that!) but it could also be filled with singing and praise! And there IS something you can do about that! Praise!

And sing!

Why not just try to sing the song from that classic Charlie Brown cartoon? Remember?…

"Summertime is here!

Happiness and cheer!

Oh, that we could always see

This spirit thru the year…"

(Wait. That's not right…)

I know it's not always easy to praise God for everything "summer-ish".

"Ol' poison ivy and sunburn on children.

Sweltering temperatures, keeping the kids in…These aren't a few of my favorite things!"

And how 'bout those mosquitoes?

"What mosquitoes?"

Oh. You must be one of the ones they don't bite as much!

Folks have always suspected that mosquitoes like some people more than others. If you're covered with lumps and itchiness and your bff is an official mfz (mosquito-free zone), the Smithsonian Institute now says there's a reason! There's something' about you that you may not even know about that earns you "two thumbs up!" and one "needle-nose down" with those flapping pests!

"Sluuuuuuurp! Yuuuum!"

"What is it about me that they love so much?! I'll change it!"

Some you can. Some you can't.

If your blood type is O, you're two-times more mosquito-likable than your friends with type A. And 85% of folks secrete a chemical that gives away your blood type. Sorry, O's!

Mosquitoes can tell it's lunch time when Co2 is in the air. They can smell it from 164 feet away. If you breath more than other people do, you're more likely to be a blood donor!

They really love folks who have more bacteria on their skin. (I didn't see that one coming!) That's why they go for the invisible but over-crowded bacteria villages on your feet and ankles!

If you drink a 12 oz beer, you up your chances of having your blood sucked. Scientists don't know why. Unless it's that they like a cold one on a hot day, too. And your skin is easier to puncture than the can!

So, if you put hand sanitizer on your feet instead, hold your breath, and remember "This Bud's NOT for you!" your deliciousness-index may drop significantly in those tiny little annoying minds.

Sorry, O's! You're stuck! In more ways than one!

Maybe you never knew those are the reasons you're so attractive to mosquitoes. It's why they love you so much! They like things about you that you never imagined you had!

Ever wonder why God loves you so much? After all, Jesus said that if you wanted to know Him, it's because He wanted you first! There's a ton of deep, mysterious Scriptures that say that if you believe in Him, it's because He wanted you, chose you, picked you first!

I wonder why!

Is it because He saw things in me that attracted Him? Are there things about me that I may not even know about that made Him want me? Just like my blood type makes me delicious to mosquitoes even if I don't even know what my blood type is, do I have hidden qualities I'm unaware of, so that it just made sense that He would pick me instead of someone else?

Nah. I don 't think so.

I don't think there is anything about me that He needed. He doesn't want us or decide to make us His own because He was lonely! We have one God Who (I know this is incomprehensible to us…) is Three! Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Always in love and loving Each Other! Never lonely or needy! In fact, He is infinitely and totally powerful and mighty! He wasn't looking for our help…or a hand…or that unique contribution you or I could uniquely make to His cause that He couldn't get along without! He didn't pick us for that hidden skill or talent we didn't even know we had!

He doesn't need our help!

He doesn't need anything from us!

He doesn't need us all!

It's a load better that way! If God loved or wanted you because of something you had or could do that He wanted or needed, there's more pressure in that than you could ever bear!

He just loved you! 

He just loves you! 

He just wanted you! 

He didn't pick you like mosquitoes do…for your blood type, or breathing patterns, or bacteria count…

There's no reason you could put your finger on for why He loves, wanted, picked and chose you!

The only reason is His heart! Love is His blood type! 

In fact, unlike mosquitoes who like you because they want to suck your blood, Jesus loves you just because He does and He gave HIS blood for you! 

So, have a great summer day!

July 12th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Salut à tous!

Opps! Sorry! 

I meant to say, "Hey, everyone!" I've just been working a little on my French pronunciation lately. Mostly names. Did you know…

When you say, "Michel" in French, you should really say it as if it was "me+shell" instead of "me+chill" or "me+kell". "Louis" is more like "luu+WEE" than like the one in "St Louis". If your name is "Antoine", we'd call you "an+toy+n" but you'd prefer "ant+juan". If your name was Benoit, you'd really hate the way Yanks would call you "ben+oint" (like "ointment") instead of your real name, "ben+waah"! 

I'm gonna need to know these things one day! I have a lots of French friends I haven't met yet…and so do you! We're gonna need to know how to say their names when we meet them! 

Many of y'all know Paul and Karan Davis from the times they have visited us at C3. They have been in France for, like, forever! They have been leading people to Jesus there for years! And in each village they live in at the time, they bunch the new Christians together (in a country that has one of the lowest number of them in the world!) into new baby churches. And just like you do with other babies, they feed them, change them, and protect them until these new-born congregations are able to stand and walk on their own…Then the Davis leave these churches in someone's care and moved on to do this again in a new place! It's amazing! 

Their latest one is in a little village in the Alps, named Pontcharra. They've been encouraging a few believers in Jesus there and leading the "interested in Jesus" to become believers and followers of Him! And soon they had so many gathered together in the town that they started looking for a place to meet and be a church together! 'Course, the "church" is never a building…it's people! But when you have a place of your own in those tiny, spiritually desolate towns in Europe, it gives you identity, visibility, and "legitimacy" in the minds of the folks who live there and who don't have  a clue what a "born again Christian" is! Having your own place to meet, for a new church is like bringing  your new-born from the hospital…You already have the baby, but now it has a home! 

So…they found a place! Right in the middle of town! 8000 sq. feet! If you went to the post office, you'll pass in front of the "Evangelical Church"…the "E'glise E'vangélique"! 

"Sacre bleu, Gaston! What is a église évangélique?"

"Je ne sais pas! I think it has to do with believing in Jesus…it says, 'Bienvenu!' Maybe we should check it out! We both kinda feel like somethin's missing, right?"

Wow! So many people have and will come to know Jesus thru the Davis' thru the years! And we at Triple C have had a share in supporting them financially month by month for a looooooong time! 

There's an unusual story in Luke 16 (it's too complicated to get into!) that ends, "So, use your money to make friends who can receive you into eternal dwellings!"

"Huh?"

Well, one thing that could mean is that if you give money so that people come to know Jesus, in Heaven you'll have friends you've never meet who will be waiting to give you a big "welcome" hug and maybe a kiss when you  arrive! A "Welcoming committee" just for you! They'll be there because someone shared Jesus with them! And those guys could be there to do that because others gave so that they could! So loads of people will be in Heaven partially because some folks, including you, cared about their hearts and their eternal future! 

It'll be clear on that day that you were one of the best friends they'd never met!

That's why, since you go to…and give to…a church that gives your money to expert, experienced missionaries that live in countries and speak languages we don't, folks they bring to Jesus are going to be your friends in Heaven! And if you don't want to be too embarrassed when you meet 'em, you might want to work on your pronunciation of their names!  

"Juliette…Emilie…Adrien…"

Only problem…

We (you!) help support bunches of missionaries around the world! 

The Fiores are in Italy so you'll need to work on Italian names ("Giuseppe"…the "s" is like a "z"…and "Lucia" is "loo+CHEE+ ah")

But their church in Milano, besides the Italians, also has a Korean, a Latino, and a Romanian congregation…It's a "four-in-one"! 

FYI, top Romanian names are Ovidiu, Krisztina,and Mihaela…

Of course we also have the McNamees in Spain…You might want to start learning to say names like "Manuel, Miquel, and Angel"…

But then we have Victor in India leading thousands to Jesus! So, you may have friends in Heaven with names like Sanjana, Khushi and Akshara!

Plus, there are the Matthews and Melissa in Kenya and Tanzania, so you could have brothers and sisters who love you as dear friends, named Akello, Hilda, and (one of the more popular names there…) Elvis!

Along with Bill and Maria, Erica, Matt, Devo and Erin, Travis, Glen and Jane, Jed and Hallie, Pete, and Tasha working to reach folks in the States, you're gonna have loads of friends in Heaven, thankful for you…

Thankful that you cared!

And thankful that you gave!

...so that someone could share Jesus!

…so that they could be there!

Thankfully, Heaven is gonna last forever, 'cause it's gonna take a while to greet and know all the friends who will be so happy to finally meet you!

July 5th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope y’all had an awesome fourth! The other day, I was trying to get that "Fourth-kind-of-feeling". I knew we were gonna have more waterworks than fireworks this year so I figured it'd take some work to get in the Independence Day spirit. So…  

I was reading some fun "Fourth facts"…Did you know...

On this 4th, Americans slammed 155 million hotdogs, smothered in all kinds of things, mostly depending on where you live and how long you’ve been around. Kids prefer catsup, adults, mustard. New Yorkers like steamed onions, and in the Windy City, they throw tomatoes on the puppies. In one survey, kids were asked what they would put on their dogs “if mom wasn’t watching”. 25% in a "mother-free zone" would go for the chocolate syrup! Gross! 

By the way, those 155 million are just a few of the 60 hot-dogs-eaten-per-American-per-year! Whoa! I might surprise myself if I counted, but I think someone else is doubling up and getting some of mine! I may down 60 dogs per year…but I don’t think so!

It was probably a little easier to get your heart ready for the Fourth in Liberty, Missouri, or Liberty, Colorado, or Liberty, Ohio…or in Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty and West Liberty, Iowa…or any of the other thirty one towns in all in the USA named “Liberty”! 

And there are nine towns named “Freedom”… 

I had to work hard to to get psyched up on July 4 a few years ago because on like, the 3rd of July, my favorite dog of all our dogs died. That year we had a sadder Fourth than I thought we would. 

Tell ya the truth, it was sadder than I thought it would be. We knew it was coming. He was a humongous St. Bernard and was about 140 in dog years. Couldn’t see or hear. He could just smell,tho!  And he did! A lot sometimes (before Tina shampooed all 200  somethin’ lbs of him!) I’m definitely not a big “dog-guy” (and Harley was a big dog!) and I’ve never really had a desire to have a bunch of dogs. I’m a big "Tina-guy", however, and she loves them! Consequently, of all our thirty eight years together (yesterday!) not many of them have been dog-less. 

We’ve had dogs that were “rescue dogs”…the kind you rescue from ending up on death row in the pound…”Dead dog walking”…Some of those were a little traumatized and frankly, a little psycho. Harley was a rescue dog, too. A lot of times, people get big dogs and than realize that they eat half a house daily, and do other things in a big way, as well, and decide they don’t want them. We got two St. Bernards almost at once that way. I wasn’t sure where it was going to end and how many “saints” we’d eventually wind up with, but I was getting prepared to celebrate All Saints Day! 

One of them was kinda grouchy and mean…well, not exactly mean…just mean-ish. But Harley was the sweetest. He really was the sweetest dog we every had. Always! Always kind…always wanted to be around you…wanted to touch you. If you walked down the street, he wanted to rub up against you when you walked. It was a good way to wind up in a ditch! He just wanted to be around you. He just wanted a pat on the head. He just wanted to please you. He was just sweet. And when he was old and walking into poles and trees and stuff, it didn’t bother him at all. He ate the worst smelling dog food everyday…same thing everyday…and never complained! About anything! 

When he was really old, he slept most of the time. He snored like Bronco Nagurski and you could hear it all over. It is quiet now out there at night.

And I was kinda surprised how much I missed him. He was just a dog. But in a way he was more and I didn’t know it. He was kind of a mentor. A mentor who left dog hair everywhere. But a spiritual mentor. Like the way he just wanted to be around us and how he was happiest with that. And he just wanted to please you. And I want to be like that with our Lord! Like Harley! Just happy to be around Him. Content to know He’s there. Only goal is to please Him and that’s all. And if I know my Lord is pleased with me, I just wag my tail, spiritually speaking, and I’m totally content and filled.

And what if a person could be so kind all the time, and so sweet to people that when you’re not around, it’s what they missed the most. To live so that when you’re not there, no one will remember a time when you barked at or bit anyone… 

Mother Teresa of India said, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better or happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting” 

Don’t lick people in the face, though. It’s not as cool as dogs think it is.

June 28th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you're having an awesome day! If you are, it's probably because you had an awesome night! Wow! I was getting ready for our "Four Wednesdays" on "How to live in a body…How your body and your soul affect each other" and this last one was on sleep…Man! I learned tons I didn't know! 

For example,…

If you didn't get enough sleep last night, it affects you negatively in many ways. If you didn't sleep enough… 

…You may be experiencing memories problems. 

Quick test! What was the date yesterday? Who was Jimmy Carter's Vice President? Who was the runner-up in the World Series last year? You may need more sleep if you can't remember that stuff!  What's the name of Tennessee's football coach? (Wait. That wasn't really fair…It changes so much, it's tough to keep track…)

If you didn't sleep enough last night…

…You have a much higher risk of accidents. Unless you're reading this on your phone while your driving. If you're doing that, not sleeping enough probably isn't your most riskiest behavior! PLEASE STOP READING AND DRIVE!  THIS EMAIL ISN'T WORTH RISKING YOUR LIFE!!! 

If you didn't sleep enough last night… 

You are 17 times more likely to be anxious and fearful… 

BOO! 

Did that bother you? You may need more sleep!

When we don't sleep enough our mental efficiency is not that awesome. One drowsy dude was complaining to his girl friend that he couldn't find his cell phone anywhere. "Have you looked in the bathroom?"'"Yes." (Some folks talk in there apparently)

"Have you looked under your carseat?"

"Yes."

"Wait. How are you talking to me right now?"

"Oh."

2/3 of our fellow countrymen and countrywomen testify that they don't sleep enough.  Everyone has to sleep. Flies do it. Giraffes do it. Elephants sleep standing up but have to lay down to dream…This keeps them from sleep walking. (Sleep-walking elephants would NOT be good!) 

Dolphins sleep with half their brain and swim with the other half. Then they switch! Amazing! I knew someone once who talked with only half his brain. I believe the other half was asleep.  It was somewhat less than amazing.

Tina said she could tell I was super sleep-deprived in our seminary days. I'd sit down to read the kids a bed-time story and fall asleep right in the middle of the reading it! She said sometimes the story would just take this wacky turn… 

" 'I know," said Oliver the Pig. 'Yes, Oliver," said Mother. 'Thank you, Mother," said Oliver. 'You're welcome…well…come here, Olive…say…here…welcome here…hear what…what…wha…www…zzz…zzz…ZZZZZ…ZZZZ"

"HONEYYYYYYY!" 

"Wha…!!! Oh. Sorry, kids!"

Scientists say we all need at least 71/2 hours of sleep…and more like 8 or 9!… every night. One doctor says that the percentage of Americans who can live healthy on 5 hours sleep, rounded to the nearest zero, is ZERO!

Not getting enough sleep is an economic problem…Helping folks fall asleep is a $32,000,000,000 industry!

It's a major health problem…One study shows that not sleeping enough causes more risks factors for mortality than high blood pressure or smoking! Yikes! 

It's also a spiritual problem, I've found. Today, many feel "guilty" for sleeping as much as they need. Being tired and sleeping little is a point of pride and self-importance. "I'm too important to be out for so long." One person called it, "taking an adversarial stance against our own bodies". 

One coffee shop mug read, "Sleep is for the weak." 

Actually, sleep is an act of worship! 

It's a way to admit and confess, "I am not in control. I will lie down and let my God protect me all through the night! "In peace I will lie down and sleep for You alone, o Lord, keep me safe!" (Psalm 4.8) 

Sleep is a way of saying to Him, "Results are not up to me! They are Your responsibility! "The kingdom of God is like a man who sows seed, and whether he's awake or asleep, it grows and he doesn't know how…" (Mark 4)

In the Book of Genesis it says, "It was evening and morning, the first day…evening and morning, the second day…evening and morning, the third…" The day starts at sundown So the first thing you do each day is go to sleep! It's not the last! It's the first! Then you wake up to discover what God has done while you snoozed!

"Sleep forces you to let go. Everything is beyond our control while we sleep. We can't check emails or Facebook. We can't make connections or plans. Sleep is the only human activity that requires our undivided self. You can't do anything while you sleep but sleep.." 

So, tonight, just let go! Let God care for you! Let Him work while you rest! Go to Him with your stuff and then go to sleep! For a long time!!

If you don't, you'll be sorry! I've had a few nights where I haven't been able to sleep as much as I should and I feel it…Like this morning, I was trying to start a thing…start…thing…stop…start…sta…thing…think…th…th…zzz…zzz…ZZZZZZ

Huh?!

Sorry!

June 21st, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Welcome to summer! I know lately it's been hot at times but you've officially only enjoyed the "good ol' summertime" since about 1:43 a.m…Which makes today the longest day (sunshine-wise) of the year! So you'll be able to stay out on the golf course, keep on mowing,  or work in the garden 'til about 8:30 or so! And on behalf of your tomatoes, "Thanks for all you do!" 

Speaking of golf, the other day…Wednesday, to be exact…I had one of those days when I felt just like Tiger Woods! In fact I felt like him and Peyton Manning and Shaquille O'neil, rolled up into one! It wasn't exactly because I hit a 340 yard drive or threw a 70 yard strike to the end-zone…It was because I had noticed, while watching sports on TV, that those guys all encourage us to buy Buicks. And yet, my bet (I may be wrong!) is that those three, in all probability,  don't actually drive Buicks. So, it's possible that they may be asking us to do something that they don't actually do themselves. 

Which brings it home to me. I've been encouraging y'all to come to our Four Wednesdays series that we're having, and on this last Wednesday, I didn't even come myself! Just like Tiger, Peyton, and Shaq, I feel like I was trying to get you to do something I didn't actually do! 

There was a reason I couldn't be there, however. A BIG reason!

It all started about 4:30 that afternoon…and I wasn't sure when it was going to stop!

Tim Bowerman was helping me in an awesome way on my roof over the ol' farmhouse down in OS. I noticed that there were a bunch of bees and wasps buzzing' around. Then one noticed me. I also noticed it. We noticed each other. I'm sure he or she was thinking, "Should I? Should I not?…What the heck! Let's do it!"

Bam! Right in the kisser! ("One of these days, Alice!") 

I mean, he or she stung me so hard right on that upper lip, it crossed and watered my eyes and took my breath away! And I knew that wasn't the end of it! Only the beginning!

That lip started to swell and swell and SWELLLLL! Before long, I looked like a cross between Daffy Duck and "every Who down in Whoville"! "Is it gonna stop?" I wondered…"What if I can't drive because that lip's smushed up against the windshield?…What if I can't get my T-shirt over my head?…What if all my food falls out because 13 inches is as close as my lips can get to one another?…"

I texted Tina (as soon as I could see) and told her to please bring home some Benadryl. And I told her to get her heart prepared for what she was going to see. Well, she wasn't really ready for it…

When she got out of her car and looked at me, she started to…

"Gasp and faint?"

Nope.

"Weep for shock?"

Not quite. 

She actually started laughing soooo hard that tears began to flow! And she was trying to not! She looked away, worked up a sympathy face with all her might, and then looked into mine…Busting with laughter! The side-splitting, leg-crossing kind! 

Actually, I did too. 

It was hilarious! My lip was so big, my talking was crazy! 

 "Bdo youb bthink itb blooks btoo funnby tob gob bto Fourb BWednesdabs?" …

 And it was funny because there was something that we both knew…

We both knew it'll be back to normal soon!

In a few hours or maybe a day, it'd just be a story, a picture, or a Friday CCC email! 

If we thought I was stuck that way forever, there would have been no laughing then! Not even a chuckle! If I had to warn kids when I was coming, or ask the photographer to back up so he could get all my face in the picture, for the rest of my life, it would have been super tough to face! But we knew it was just for a moment…

I guess it's all how you look at it…How you look at time and how you see forever. Moses says that one thousand years is like one day to God (Psalm 90). No matter how long we're down here, compared to Heaven's clock, it's just for a little while! That's why Paul can say that any and all of our troubles…and his were some tough stuff!…are "just for a moment"! (2 Corinthians 4) And Peter says that "it's just for a little while"! (1 Peter 5)  

I have a friend who had a super puffy face once. He was on steroids because of chemotherapy he was facing. It seemed he suffered for a long time. But it wasn't long in Eternity's timetable! And he's been in Heaven for years! And his face isn't just normal again…It's radiant and glorious!! 

Bmy faceb isb almost bback bto normal…itb won't bbe loongb bnow!

June 14th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone! 

Hope you’re having an “APFF” so far! (“awesome, praise-filled Friday”)…It’s gonna be a sunnier and increasingly hot weekend! I remember once the weather guy saying, “The atmosphere is going to be hot and unstable today”, and the guy who reports the traffic conditions said, “Hey! That sounds like my first wife!” 

Anywhoooo… 

Speaking of hot, here’s something that may be hotter than you realized…”Georging”!  

“Huh?!”

Yeah…georging!

“What on earth is georging?”

Glad you asked! (Otherwise this email would be basically over…) 

“Georging” is when people (“georgers”) write “wheresgeorge.com” (as in, “Where’s George?”…as in George Washington’s face on the $1 bill)) on dollar bills, and other people who receive that bill go to wheresgeorge.com, enter the serial number of the bill at the web site and you can find out every where that dollar’s been in it’s circulatory “life”.

“Who cares?”

Thanks fer askin’, again! Apparently a lotta people do. 3.2 million have done it and as of this month, Where's George? is tracking over 229,821,410 bills totaling more than $1,000,000,000! One pizza delivery guy has registered over 130,000 $1 bills by himself! The furthest one ever went in its travels is 14,000 miles from Springfield, IL (Lincoln’s hometown!…It shoulda been a $5! "Where's Abe?") to Samoa to Oregon!  

George gets around! 

Y’know, after reading all that, I just started thinking the other day…you all at CCC are soooo faithful to give to God and to His work here at CCC!! It is sooo beautiful to watch how He puts it on the hearts of sooo many to be sooo faithful in giving!

Here’s what Paul told the Philippians about their giving to God’s work:

“I have received…the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering… pleasing to God.” 

In other words, the way you give…mmmm! Sure smells good! 

But I was thinking in a “georging” kinda way…about where the money you give, goes. Where does it travel?…

Some of the “Georges” you give to the work at CCC will be on their way to Sharp Top Cove in Georgia, later this month! Young Life of Oak Ridge, Oliver Springs, and Clinton is taking 50some kids to Young Life camp! Many of the kids who are going, LOVE Jesus! But many who are going, don’t know Him yet. I know many kids will come to know Christ this week! 

Some of your “georges” go to India to support amazing Victor and Indian evangelists who travel on bikes to villages where Jesus’ name has never been spoken! They face hostility and threats but share His love week by week!

Some of your money goes to Chicago so Glen, Jane, Pete and Tasha, and our very own MATT KING(!!), and Jed and Hallie can share the love of Jesus to the “least of these” (as they love to say!) and help ex-offenders, addicts, and felons come to know the “love that passes all understanding”.  

Some of your money goes to Spain so kids who live in Madrid can know Him and, even further, so Jim and Barb McNamee, responsable for Young Life in all Western Europe can help reach kids from Portugal to Greece!

Some goes to Missouri so Bill, after years of serving Jesus all over, can reach kids where he grew up, and fulfill the words of Jesus…”"Go home and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." 

Some goes to France so Bible studies and churches can begin in Alpine villages where people have never had a chance to really hear the Message in a way they can understand it. 

Some goes to Africa so that kids without parents can have a safe, loving, Jesus-filled home in Tanzania, and so that five language groups can finally have some Scriptures in their own language! 

Some goes to Houston, Texas where our very own Erica Sender, who is presently in Colorado at Frontier Ranch, serving Jesus by serving kids, has been helping kids find Jesus all year, with her joy-filled heart! In fact, the money we send to her goes first to Young Life headquarters in Colorado, then to Houston…Then this summer, it goes back to Erica in Colorado! That's what I'm talking about, George!! 

Some goes to Italy so that people on the streets can have an encounter with the Message of Jesus and come to know “l’amore di Gesu’ che sorpassa ogni intendimento!”!

Someone told me that families at CCC probably support over 50 (!) kids through Compassion International around the world! Those $32 per month per child, are going all over the planet!

More incredibly amazing than that, is this! Jesus said that if you give to the poor, you have treasure in heaven! He said when you give, you store your treasure in Heaven! When you give…as you give…and because you give… so that others can eat, live, and know love in Jesus, your “georges” go to Heaven!

That’s travelin’! 

All the way to Heaven!  

Try to beat THAT, all you “georgers” out there!

I thank God for y’all!

June 7th, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Well, just a quick reminder…this Sunday is the second Sunday of the month, which means, of course… that this is the Sunday when we usually have our after-church pot-luck! Only this time, since it's summer, we're going to the Emory Valley pool for a cook-out… 

Just wanted to make sure you get in on it!

Y’know, the reason we have those get-togethers is that hanging out and sharing food together is a super important way for us to be together, get to know each other, and encourage each other! It’s a way to make sure other brothers and sisters in the family of God feel included in your life!  

It’s so easy to feel like you’re not really included sometimes!

I was reading about an experiment this dude did in a church. He asked for ten volunteers to come up on the platform in the front. When they got there, he formed them into a circle. Out of the circle of ten, he picked one of the bigger guys. He took him to other side of the platform and told him he had to do whatever he needed to do to break into that circle of people. He could pull. He could push. He could jump into them. It didn’t matter if he drew blood! He had fifteen seconds to break into that circle anyway he could! 

The whole time he was giving these instructions, you could see the nine drawing a little closer, circling up a little tighter, locking arms, huddling up, gritting teeth, growing more and more determined that that guy was NOT going to breaking into their circle!  

“Go!” 

He ran at them and was repelled the first time. He stumbled back, took a longer run at it,  hurled himself through the air in a full swan dive, and landed on the wall of their exclusive resolve that he wasn’t coming in! He pulled, scrapped, and shoved until half of them fell to the floor and he tumbled over the top to the middle of their collapsing circle. 

It might have been a little “over the top” for a worship service but the important thing was that…he made it!

After the clapping (and bleeding!) stopped, the guy conducting the little experiment said, “Y’know, in giving out my instructions, there was one thing I never said. Anyone wanna guess what I didn’t say?”

No one could.

“I NEVER said that the nine in a circle were supposed to NOT let him in. I never said it was their job to keep him out! He could have just walked up to the circle and said, ‘Hey, guys! Mind if I come back in the circle?’ Or they could have said from the word ‘Go!’, ‘Hey, Frank! C’mon in here! We’ve missed you while you were gone to the other side of the platform! Get up in this circle where you belong!!' Then they could have opened up a space for him, and welcomed him in. That 'being so exclusive' just came out of nowhere!"

Well, it didn’t just come out of nowhere.  

It’s just easier moving in the little circles of the people we know and are comfortable with.  “With people who are like me”. But Paul said that churches are like a body where every part…even little toes…matter a lot! He said it’s where everyone is family and no one is a guest. Jesus said it’s like a flock where every sheep counts! 

It’s why we have community groups on Sunday morning. It’s why we have potlucks, dinners, "Four Wednesdays", get-togethers, swimming pool cook-outs, and small groups. 

It’s because we’re a community. 

We’re a family. 

We’re the Body of Christ! 

Want to make others feel like they matter? Want to make them feel included? Include yourself! Come to stuff! Stay for stuff! Tell us we matter to you! 

Oh yeah…And I almost forgot…

The second Sunday of the month is also Communion Sunday. This is when we remember how much Jesus hurt, suffered, and bled for us…to make us one…to make us a family…to make us into a flock… to bring us together!

It’s just a little cracker and half a sip of juice. Later in the day, at the pool, there will be a lot more! Burgers, chips, watermelon dripping off elbows…But in the morning, we'll just eat together a tiny taste and a little reminder of what it costs so that we could belong to Him…

And to each other! 

May 31st, 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

What a day! It's gonna be an awesome evening to play some softball! Or maybe you're thinking about heading for a hike in the mountains…or just taking the day to follow a golfball into the weeds and woods…But whatever you have in mind, it's a perfect day for praise!! And thanks!! Like I'm sooo thankful we live in such an amazing spot on the planet!

A couple of weeks ago, we went up to the Smokies and I saw Smokey! Well, I'm not sure if it was Smokey the Bear, but it was one of his cousins! At least I saw his big, round rear as he scooted across the road. I was jogging at the time. When I go jogging, I always think about all kinds of things. This time I thought about, "What do you do if a bear wants to eat you?" I'm not sure why I thought about it. Maybe it was because…I JUST SAW A BEAR CROSSING THE ROAD!!!

When we got home, I found that this thought remained with me…"What do you do if you're face to face with a big ol' bear?" So I looked it up. Man! There's a lot of confusion and differing opinions out there! 

Here are the facts. "Bear attacks in the Smokies are rare".

 Nice!

"Bears in the Smokies usually weigh about 250 lbs. But they can be double that… One once weighed in at 600 lbs!" It's like on that show "The Biggest Loser"! If you ran into him, you WOULD be the biggest loser! 

"Most injuries from black bear attacks are minor and result from a bear attempting to get at people's food…"

Good to know…This is when the advice  gets a little nutty…

"If the bear's behavior indicates that it is after your food and you're physically attacked, separate yourself from the food…"

Really?! What else are you gonna do?! Hold on to it? "You're not getting MY sandwich, you furry free-loader!!"

Beyond that wisdom, the websites differ so much, it's hard to know who to believe…

One says,"If the bear gets closer, talk loudly or shout at it. Try to intimidate the bear."

Another says, "Talk quietly or not at all…" 

Which is it, people?! Shout or shhh?

One says,"Make yourselves look as large and intimidating as possible…" ("intimidating"?)

Another says, "Turn sideways or bend at the knees to look smaller…"

Folks, make up your mind!! ! Do I make myself big or small?! All I know is I need to look as undelicious as possible!

Some of the advice just doesn't really make any sense at all. Like this…

"Stay calm. If you see a bear and it hasn't seen you, calmly leave the area. As you move away, talk aloud to let the bear discover your presence…"

My presence and anything associated with it is the one thing I DON'T want discovered!!

"Being too close may promote aggressive behavior from the bear such as running toward you… Don't run, but slowly back away…Try to increase the distance between you and the bear…"

Let me get this. He's running! I need to increase the space between us…by NOT running but moving slowly…Huh?! Like the two guys running away from a bear. One yelled,"It's no good! They can run 30 mph! We can't out-run it!" The other guy yelled back, "I don't have to out-run it! I just have to out-run YOU!"

Y'know, I'm just glad when you need to know what to do in a tough spot, the Scriptures help you a lot more than  the internet! I can know what to do! Jesus said that if a person will determine to do His will, he'll know what to do! (John 7:17,,,check it out!)

For example, let's say during the day…maybe first thing in the morning…or turning a corner at work…or walking in the door at the end of the day…you run face to face with a big, grumpy, growly "bear" of a person. You didn't expect it but you can tell that this person…whether it's your boss down the hall, or your five year old just wiping the sleep buggers out of his eyes, or the one who looked into your eyes so long ago and said, "I do!"…is in an aggressive, angry, grizzly "bear" of a mood. Almost like they just got up from a five month hibernation and they're hungry, achy, and grumpy. 

What do you do?

"Do I try to act big or small?"

If you said, "small", you're right! Listen to this…

"Be completely humble and gentle"…"He must increase; I must decrease"…"clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Eph 4:2; John 3:30; Col 3:12)

"When you have to face a bear, some say I should talk softly and some say I should yell and shout. When it's this kind of 'bear', which is best?"

Answer? DON'T yell! Talk quietly and calmly, with only love! Here's unambiguous advice for you…"Do everything without arguing"…"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, yelling and name-calling"…"do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up….((Phil 2:14; Eph 4:30-31)

"Ok. Well, should I run or stay there? Some say one thing and some another!"

Don't run away! You've committed to caring for this person! Even when they're as grumpy as a…well, you know! In fact, in Ephesian 4:2 it says, "Bear with one another in love!" 

In a world where some say, "Do this!" and others say, "Do that!" it's awesome that God can tell you and me exactly what to do!

Only thing…

The next time we go camping, if I stumble into a real bear of the Smokey variety, I still don't know what to do. But come to think of it, the Scripture does say, "Pray without ceasing!" (1 Thes 5)…and "Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed!" (Lam 3:22)

How 'bout this? David the shepherd boy said…

"When a bear came…I went after it…When it turned on me, I seized it by its fur and struck it!"

Wait a minute. I think that's against park rules.