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100 Ogden Lane
Oak Ridge, TN 37830


Weeky E-News

He loves me because I am me

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Isn’t fall awesome? Beeeaaauuutiful blue skies! Amazingly rich oranges and reds in the leaves! That nostalgic odor of everyone burning their leaf piles in their yard…

Oh yeah. I forgot. We don’t get to do that any more. I miss that smell! 

Y’know, fall doesn’t really have any smells. Spring has hyacinths and crab apple blossoms…Summer’s all about chlorine and watermelon…Christmas…you pick! Pine…roast turkey…Christmas cookies fresh from the oven…As the song says, “It’s the most smelliest time of the year!” 

Fall doesn’t really have any smells that go with it (any more!). Bend down and smell a pumpkin in the store. 

I get nothing.

Smells are the quickest and strongest ways to return to the days of your past. You know the feeling of smelling something you didn’t expect to and immediately you’re transported to some moment of years gone by, with accompanying emotional flood.  It’s actually because in your brain…

“...the olfactory bulb has intimate access to the amygdala, which processes emotion, and the hippocampus, which is responsible for associative learning…”

I didn’t know I had a hippocampus in my brain! Sounds like something smart and heavy.

The other day, I rode a smell to a “long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”.

 I was jogging down the country road in front of my house. It was still dark. You couldn’t see much but you knew the cows and skunks were out there! The smells were totally Oliver Spring-y! Suddenly…

I was in a slummy, broken down old dormitory on a foggy night in the outskirts of Milan, Italy. I was in a room with a bunch of Arabic guys from Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, watching them grow in their new faith in Jesus. One of the most sincere and humble people I’ve ever known was there. Antoine Stefan grew in war-torn Lebanon and had come to Milan to study. He accepted Jesus, eventually finished his masters in engineering, and together we started an Arabic language church in the city. He went from being a learner and beginner with a lot of problems to one of my dearest and closest friends and brothers. 

In the beginning, my collegues and I just kinda felt sorry for those lonely guys. We wanted to help them because they had so little and were so far from home. They became kind of a “mission of mercy” for us. Once we gave Antoine a coffee can full of change for his birthday so he could call home to Beriut on the pay phone. You NEVER give money to an Arab as a gift in front of his friends! It’s is a total humiliation! But, hey! we didn’t know and we felt so sorry for him! 

But in a couple of years, Antoine was truly a precious, faithful brother and friend. Besides Tina, he was about my best friend over there. He lives on Milan with his wife and three kids and I know he's doing well. But I had a moment early on an Oliver Springs morning, when I really missed him. 

Then I thought of an amazing verse I had read that morning. In the Gospel of John 15:9, Jesus said something astounding. “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you…” 

Jesus loves me like the Father loves Him! I am daily deeeeeeply thankful that Jesus has pity on me! He loves me with an infinite mercy for a helpless weakling! Compassion, pity, mercy…”I Need These Ev’ry Hour!” 

But He has more! 

The Father loves the Son just because He is Who He is! I would never associate pity or mercy with the love the Father had for Jesus. He just loved Jesus! For being Jesus! 

And Jesus loves me like that! With pity? Yes! With mercy for the weak and helpless? Hallelujah! But also…He just loves me! Because… I’m me!

At first, I cared about Antoine with a kind of sympathy. Or somethin’ like pity. But after a while...

After a while, I just had a huge place in my heart for Antoine Stefan, because…he was Antoine!

The Father loves the Son because…He’s Jesus! And Jesus loves me because…among other things…I’m me!

You’re you!


“Wow!! Where did all that come from on a country road in OS?”, I wondered.

Then I knew.

An Oliver Springs school bus had just passed me…I’m smelling diesel fumes… Smelling diesel in my hippocampus…all the hippos are smelling it…In an instant, in my memories...I’m on the bus…a diesel bus……in Milano…talkin’ and laughin’ with my homeboy, Antoine!

John 15.9…”Come il Padre ha amato me, cosí io ho amato voi…”

I love that diesel smell!