contact us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right.

100 Ogden Lane
Oak Ridge, TN 37830
USA

865.483.0320

_SDG5780.jpg

Weeky E-News

Prayer Day

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Wow! What an awesome, beautiful Hump Day! I'm writing this on Wednesday afternoon out on my porch and I think "Hump Day" is a new way people say "Wednesday". I guess the idea is that if you were sliding down the back of a camel, and it took a week to do it, Wednesday would be the day you go "over the hump". So they're starting to call it "Hump Day". But for Tina and me, since we generally take Thursday as our day-off, Wednesday is the end of the week. We started the week (at the nose of the camel) on Friday, the first day of our week. I guess that makes Monday our "Hump Day" and Wednesday is the day we get to the end of the week and slide off camel…or "Rump Day"! 

Lately, I've been loving how we close out Mondays! A bunch of us have been getting together to just "pray it up!" We've been trying to focus our prayers on our town and Triple C, interceding and asking God to do the things only He could do. But when we start in on our missionaries all over the map, sometimes our hearts just burst for folks all over the world! 

I read the weirdest thing the other day…

Seems this pastor in Jersey City, NJ had folks in his church write out their prayers to God in letter form and stick them in envelopes. Then, they were supposed to give them to him, for some reason. Some of the prayers were pretty goofy. One guy asked to win the lottery…twice! First, he wanted to win the $50,000 and then the $1,000,000 one. 

Whatever.

One asked God to make a certain someone "leave me alone and stay off my back."

But lots of the prayers were really…real. From the heart.

Many were from people asking God to help them with folks in their lives and families who were struggling with addictions. One needed prayers from someone they loved who couldn't stop gambling. Some were from broken hearts who needed God to change someone who was being untrue to them...One unwed mother wrote that her baby was due in four weeks, and would God "make the father fall in love with me and give our baby a dad"…A teenage girl poured out her heart on yellow lined paper in curlicue pencil handwriting, begging God to forgive her and give her a second chance…"There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about the mistake I made…"

Then the pastor of the Mount Calvary Baptist Church died. And no one knew what had happened to all those written prayers. 

Until hundreds of them washed up on the beach of Atlantic City many months later in a plastic bag. 

Unopened. 

Unread.

But the Father knew all about their soggy words. And the tears behind them. And the pain in each heart. And the answers He would bring. There is an awesome place in the Book of Revelation where the prayers of God's people are gathered by angel and put in a golden ball, specially used for incense before the altar of God in Heaven. Then John tells us that the angel took the censer containing all those prayers "and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake!" (Rev 8.2-6)

Awesome! Literally!

The prayers of God's people…even the dripping wet forgotten ones…become an explosion that makes the earth tremble! To gather with the people of God to intercede for others and for the advancement of the Kingdom of God in our town and in the world, is the most powerful way you could spend your time! Prayer, as they say… "It's the bomb"!

Join us on Mondays at 6:30 if you want!

And if you're reading this on Friday, Happy Rump Day!

Morning by Morning

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope this is an awesome, praised-filled day! And we really do have TONS of reasons to fill this day with praise! I have a class on Wednesdays at the Morgan County prison, up by Frozen Head State Park. I'm teaching it together with a fantastically encouraging and gifted brother in Christ who came to know Jesus while an inmate there twenty years ago. In fact, he's still an inmate there. Been there over half his life. This week, he gave me a tour of the kitchen where he works everyday to help make all the meals for the 2400 guys who eat there three times a day. I’m thinking…if you had anything other than a pimento cheese sandwich for lunch…if fact, if you could actually choose "where?" and "what?" at lunchtime…and you were somewhere where you could see beyond the hills that surround your home-base …and if you were wearing clothes that were something other than denim blue, top and bottom, because you had the choice to vary it up your color scheme a little…those are GREAT reasons to praise the Lord!  

Y’know, this morning I was leaving the house early for something and I switched on the news really quick to find out what the weather would be for today (I watch channel 10 when I can…Todd’s my weather homeboy!) and before the news and weather, there was a commercial on, telling me and everyone in the viewing audience, to go out and buy a new Lexus today, along with information on how we could get good financing for it. After thinking about it, I realized that if the person (you couldn’t see him…you just heard his voice) was talking at that volume in a room of people, it would probably be classified as yelling.  Right after he was done, another kinda “yell-y” person was telling us to go to a certain restaurant and buy a lot of food “smothered in butter and sizzling bacon.” I thought, “Y’know, it’s only 6:07 in the morning and already a person who doesn’t know most of us in the viewing audience has told us to go $37,000 in debt and another person who doesn’t really know who might or might not have heart problems and/or blood pressure issues, has told us to just forget about all that, come to his restaurant and send our LDL cholesterol numbers through the sun-roof of our new Lexus! 

Man! 

It just seemed kinda pushy and bossy for so early in the a.m., if you know what I mean! So far, I’ve made it through the day without doing either one of those things…

It made me stop and think about a verse in Isaiah…It’s a Scripture that talks about Jesus, written seven hundred years before He was born in Bethlehem. Listen…

“The Sovereign LORD…wakens me morning by morning. He wakens my ear to listen like one being taught…” (Isaiah 50)

It’s so awesome to think of Jesus’ heart! A heart to please the Father with every beat and every breath! The heart of One who woke up each morning, opening His ears to the Father’s voice as soon as He opened His eyes to the new day…

In Mark’s first chapter, after a night’s sleep following an unbelievably busy day of watching their Lord heal the sick and free the oppressed, Jesus’ guys woke up and couldn’t find Him. They might have panicked for a minute, but by then, they should have known that He would be up “very early in the morning to find a solitary place” (1:35) to be alone with the Father...to share His heart…and to listen…”like One being taught.”

I think the Father can and will tell you what to do, if you’ll listen. If you really want to know. He won’t yell at you like they do on TV. But if you ask Him, “Father, I want to please your heart today. All day. Show me how my heart and my words and what I do, can please You”, He’ll let you know! Psalm 16 tells us, “I will praise the Lord Who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.”

And whatever He tells you to do probably won’t raise your cholesterol. 

In fact, it’ll do your heart good!

A Praise-filled Friday

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you’re having an awesome, praise-filled Friday! TGIF! But you know, when you love Jesus, you just thank God for every day of the week! May as well say it tomorrow! “TGIS!” Then the next day, you can say, “TGIS!”…then,TGIM!...TGIT!…TGIW!...then…

I guess, when you get down to it, folks who love Jesus are supposed to pretty much praise Him no matter what! There’s a ton of Scripture for that one!

“My brothers and sisters, you will face all kinds of trouble. When you do, think of it as pure joy!” (James 1)

“Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus!” (1 Thessalonians 5)

Even when the unexpected comes yer way! 

Like Karen Butler in Portland, Oregon. Seems she went to the dentist. She had to get a tooth pulled. When she was done, she’d lost more than her tooth. She lost her American accent! She speaks with a British one instead! She started speaking like a Brit as soon as the Novacane wore off! Never been there in her life! 

It’s called FAS, "foreign accent syndrome", and there have only been 100 cases documented. It usually comes from a brain injury…but Karen got it at the jolly ol’ dentist! 

Blimey!

A Norweigian woman was hit by schrapnel in WWII and spoke with a German accent after that. Bummer! Wasn’t a good time for that one! 

A British woman got a migraine and speaks with a Chinese accent now! It’d be cool if you could actually speak Chinese after a headache! Or could play the piano!

Another lady had a stroke and now has a French accent! 

Sacre bleu!

It must be weird to have everyone stop after you meet them or speak to them and ask you, “”Scuse me but...where you from?”

Getting’ back to what we were talking about at the start… when you have a tough thing happen and instead of saying the stuff you normally hear, you really, truly stop and praise God…and thank Him for His promises…and how much He cares for you, no matter what…and how you know He has a solution and the strength you need for whatever is happening….well,that’s an accent that folks aren’t used to hearing from a normal looking person like you! 

Praise…it’s almost a foreign language! 

In the amazing, awesome book, “Pilgrim’s Progress”, when the two traveling heroes, Christian and Faithful, arrived at the awful, Vegas-y town of Vanity Fair…(”It bears the name of Vanity Fair, because the town where 'tis kept is lighter than vanity… “) they began to be stalked, mocked, and persecuted. One of the reasons is that the people who lived in that town wondered “likewise at their speech; for few could understand what they said. They naturally spoke the language of Zion; but they that kept the fair were the men of this world: so that from one end of the fair to the other, the two seemed barbarians…”

When you have a new heart and a passport from Heaven, it changes your words and the way you say them. 

“Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don't talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn't fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect!” (Ephesians 5)

What if you talked in such a way…thankful among the grumpy…praising among the grippy…singing among the grumbling…that folks stopped, looked at you, and asked, “’Scuse me but…where you from?”

A Dieu soit la glorie!

D-day

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

 

Hope you're having an awesome day! And I don't know what you have decided and planned for the day but whatever it is, it's super important!! More than you probably know!

 

"How could my plans and choices be important? It's just another day! In fact, today's the day we remember those who REALLY made super important choices to follow plans that would change the history of freedom in the world…"

 

Here's how one person described this day 70 years ago, one of the greatest days of unspeakable bravery in all of time…

 

"…The 5000-vessel armada stretched as far as the eye could see, transporting over 150,000 men and nearly 30,000 vehicles across the channel to the French beaches…"

 

800 planes took off from thirteen British airfields and 13,000 men jumped out of them beyond Omaha and Utah beaches into coastal Normandy. 

 

"By nightfall on June 6, more than 9,000 Allied soldiers were dead or wounded. 2,499 young Americans lost their lives that day. But more than 100,000 troops had made it ashore, securing French coastal villages…."

 

That so many, so young would offer so much-themselves and their very lives and futures- to fight unimaginable evil, is awesome, in the truest sense, to contemplate. 

 

One veteran of that day, "Pee Wee" Martin, 93 years old, of the 101st Airborne, who landed behind Utah Beach, jumped out of a plane yesterday and landed on nearly same spot! 

 

"It didn't compare with the first time!," he said, "because there wasn't anybody shooting at me today." Then he added, "To tell you the truth, riding around in the plane is boring. It's when you get OFF the plane... that's when it gets exciting!" 

 

I can imagine! 

 

No one back home knew these young men were deciding to offers themselves  this way, on this date, in that place and following through with the decision made. All was of necessity totally secret. Americans first heard of the assault after it had begun. One mom in Louisville said, after hearing of it on the radio at the bus station…

 

"I went into the lounge and got right down on my knees and prayed! Just last week I got a letter from my boy. He was in England, waiting, and he wrote me, 'Mother, when you hear the boys are on the way pray for us like you used to when I was a little boy and climbed up in your lap to go to sleep.' I prayed and I cried. I just couldn't help the crying and I didn't want to help the praying."

 

One voice that reassured our people was that of our President, praying. His sons said that their dad was a frustrated Episcopalian minister, and FDR offered a beautiful prayer over coast-to-coast radio that June 6, 1944. The President had sent his prayer to the papers early in the morning so that our people could read it and prayer it along with him as he addressed the nation on the radio that evening. He…and they…prayed these words…

 

 

 

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings….They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

… They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people….

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them–help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

…And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be…

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country…And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

"And all God's people said…Amen!!!"

 

So, on a day to remember such brave young hearts, what does it matter what I do today? You started this thing out saying my plans and decisions are super important, 'more important than I know'. How's that?"

 

Well, you're in a battle as well. In different ways it's as fierce and intense as the beaches of France. Everyday, it's an ongoing battle for submission and love to the King of kings. It's gone on for centuries. It's fought on every continent. The enemy is invisible. The consequences are eternal. "It's not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms…" (Eph 6)

 

"But I hear no bombs or planes overhead!"

If the enemy can keep you from remembering or sensing the battle you're in, he wins victories today. 

 

Everyday is a battle to say "Yes!" to what you should choose and "No!" to what you should refuse…to thank instead of criticize...To praise instead of complain. But unlike that top secret morning on Normandy beaches, more people than you realize know you're fighting these battles. Your mate, your friends, your kids are watching you more closely than you think. They need you to fight your battles and win victories. So much depends on it!

 

I love this ol' country song! It's called "Heroes"…

 

"He drives into the city

And works extra hard all day

He finishes up early

So he can get away

 

'Cause there's a blue-eyed kid on second base

Wants Dad to watch him play

And Daddy knows he's waiting

So he hurries on his way...

 

Cause you know heroes come in every shape and size

Making special sacrifices for others in her lives.

No one gives them medals

The world don't know their names

But in someone's eyes, they're heroes just the same!

 

She rocks her crying baby 

In the hours before dawn... 

She whispers words of hope to help her 

husband to hold on. 

 

She takes time for the children 

Making sure they know she cares. 

She's more then just a Momma 

She's the answer to their prayers! 

 

Cause you know heroes come in every shape and size

Making special sacrifices for others in her lives.

No one gives them medals

The world don't know their names

But in someone's eyes, they're heroes just the same!"

 

And not only this, but God's Word says invisible angels are watching…and learning…from YOU! Your choices. Your sacrifices. Your devotion to their King. Angels kind of HAVE to obey, i guess. It isn't because God has won their hearts. They just do. And what they learn from us, Peter says, is this:

Is God so good and His grace so powerful that it would win the heart of someone who could choose? To bow or refuse to? 

 

And as they watch you say "Yes!" to Him, they glorify God! And an eternal victory is won! 

 

The Greek word for "glory!" in the Bible is "doxa". It's where we get "doxology", a song of glory to God. 

 

And angels may very well glorify God because of your courage and choices today when no one else is watching. 

 

No one really knows what the "D" in "D-day" stands for. Some say it meant "Decision Day". Some say it meant "Designated Day". But today is D-day as well…

 

Let us be brave and true! 

 

For today is Doxology Day!

Love from where?

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you're having an awesome day, filled with praise, joy, laughter and…maybe bluegrass? It does it for me! If I just need a little boast up the "joy meter", a careful selection of tasteful bluegrass may be indicated! If you're on your way to work, may I suggest a listen-in to Freddy Smith and his early morning program, "Rise and Shine" from 6 to 9, on station WDVX, right thar at 89.9 on your FM dial! He is awesome at his job! He's won "National Bluegrass DJ of the Year" more than once, on the station that's won "National Bluegrass Station of the Year" multiple times!  His bio says, "…I was half raised in Knox County. I say half raised because I ran off and got married before mom and dad were through!  I graduated from high school in four terms. The terms were Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford! I have a degree. It's about 98.6, I think…" 

How could listening to stuff like that not cheer you up?

There is one segment,tho' of Freddy's "Rise and Shine" that often leaves me wondering. It's called "Things That Make You Go, Hmmm…". Freddy just piles up weird facts that, as he puts it, make you say, "Whodda thunk it?" I'm not sure where he gets them. Like the other day he said…"1600 Americans have been trapped in the truck at some point…"

Whodda thunk it?

Often he adds commentary. Like the Tuesday,…"Captain Kidd walked the plank on this date in 1701. Wonder if he's related to Billy the kid?…" Or "The first space food ever eaten was apple sauce. Just glad if wasn't chili!…" 

Sometimes I wonder if these facts really are true. Here's one…

 "The camel hair brush doesn't have camel hair. It's named for Mr. Camel who invented it." 

Footnote?

Or…"Ben Franklin tried to electrocute a turkey for Thanksgiving." (Turns out that is true.)

Sometimes, widely circulated "facts" aren't so factual after all! Einstein didn't fail math in high school. He wrote, "Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus." Napoleon wasn't short. He was 5' 7", which was average back then. And slightly taller than me (though I think I'm getting shorter with the years). And Vikings didn't have horns on their helmets. "…Between the eighth and 11th centuries, Viking warriors appear either bareheaded or clad in simple helmets likely made of either iron or leather. And despite years of searching, archaeologists have yet to uncover a Viking-era helmet embellished with horns…" 

But it's awesome when something you've always believed and hoped is true, turns out to be truer than you've ever dreamed. 

Here's a verse I love. It's 1st John 3, verse one...

"Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God!"

In the language John first wrote, that phrase, "what manner of" is a translation of just one word. But it's a word made of two, mushed together. It comes from the word "from where" and the word "country". "From what country is this love that makes us, who don't deserve anything even close to this, into God's children?! A love like this must come from somewhere else! It's out of this world!

And then John adds, "And we are!"

It's true! He's your Dad! You're His child!

It's a fact!

Kinda makes you go, "hmmmm!"

Or, "Hhhhhallelujah!"

Graduates

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you’re having an awesome day! Hope you’re having a day as awesome as some of y'all will have later in the week or next, on…Graduation Day! It is an awesome day when one of your "children" graduates! 

Someone asked me the other day how many children we had. I had to stop and think…

“Children?  We have four awesome kids and four awesome kids-in-law, but technically, the only children (as in, “little children”) we have are eight grand kids and one grand-on-the-way!  And now we know why they call them "grand"! They really are!! 

But all our “children” are (sniff, sniff…and at the same time, Praise God!) grown-ups! And they’re all taller and/or smarter than we are! God is so good to us!

I remember our first multi (three)-generational graduation…Grad/Parents/Sibs/Grandkids…It was an awesome one! Even though they always try to make it as boring as possible! Maybe they do that on purpose because they know that parents and others in “the fam“ are so excited and “pumped” about “our own” walking that stage, if they didn’t “bore it up” a little, the audience might start spontaneously singing for joy and square-dancing right there in the middle of the ceremony! 

One thing that is so amazing at graduation is that everyone is there for the same reason.

And everyone is there for a completely different reason! 

Everybody is there to scream, cheer, and clap for those dressed in black robes and square hats. 

But for everyone, it’s someone different! Everybody’s there for THEIR kid, husband, brother, sister, wife, mom or dad! 

As each grad walked across, some politely clapped. But some student had folks with more enthusiasm than that! And it started! They commenced screamin’ and shoutin’! More got the idea and more cheered their grad…

“Wendy Von Stickleberry…”

“Yo yo, Wendy!! Way to go, Wen!! You rock!!”

“Burt Mortleson…”

You go, Burt! Wooooooo!! Buuuuurt!!

Somebody thought to bring a cowbell when their kid’s name was read.

I thought, “That’s what a graduation needs! More cowbell!”

“Charles Andrew Job…”

When our shouting faded, Henry (almost three years old at the time) yelled out, “Way t’go, Uncle Charlie!” 

(Sniff.)

Everybody in the crowd had their eyes on one square hat. Their heart beat for the one under it.

After the whoopin’ 'n hollerin’ really got rolling, when a student walked across with no one to cheer…usually it was a foreign student with parents who couldn’t come from China or India…the silence was painful.

Know the feeling?

Ever feel like you're doing your best to serve those in your life and do what you do because you love Jesus, but it seems no one ever sees or knows. You might feel like giving up sometimes.

I wish you could hear what it sounds like in heaven! Psalm 32 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go…

and I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

He sees you! His eye’s on you! With all that’s going on, He’s watches you like you're the only one graduating! 

And He cheers you! 

“Way to go, you!! Wooooooo! You’re rocking it today!!”

Heaven will be full of praise! We’ll praise Him forever! But Paul says, “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and…at that time each will receive his praise from God!”

He’ll cheer for you!

When you hear it, you’ll know…all the late nights, all the tears, all the work…it was worth it! 

“Way t’ go, you!!!!”

And btw, Congrats, grads!!

Bumper Stickers

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

What an awesome day!! Sun's comin' up! Birds are singing! If thou wouldst use thy imagination, it seems that all the flowers are waving in praise! The waves are crashing! The pelicans are gliding! The dolphins are…

"Huh?!"

Oh. I forgot to tell y'all. We drove down here to the beach of North Carolina to spend the dat with Emi, Graham, and the boys! Soooooooooo fun!!! Back home tomorrow, but today's gonna be a beach blast!

Y'know, as I was packing up the car to drive down here, I looked at all the ridiculous number of stickers I've plastered all across the back of the trunk of the car. I've never done this before. I've read that sometimes when folks start to get tattoos, it can become a little addictive and they can't stop until they run out of space and skin to put them on. I feel this is the path I've taken with bumper stickers.

I have a sticker for most of the Young Life camps I've been to, one in Italian ("Gesu' ritornera'…ed io sono con Lui!"), one for the 82nd Airborne, one for the Braves, one that says how far I ran in a race (have ya'll seen the one that says "0.0"?), one for…I can't even remember 'em all!

Oh. I forgot. I also have the fish.

You know the little fish that says you love Jesus?

Ever wonder what fish have to do with Him? (…besides the fact that He makes them all and a couple times multiplied them?) Well…

Back in the early days when the first followers of Jesus really risked their lives to be His, if one person thought someone might be a believer, but were afraid to ask, they'd trace one line of the symbol in the sand while talking. If the other knew our Lord, he or she'd understand the gesture and trace the other curved line to make the fish! And you would have met a new brother or sister in Jesus!

"But a fish?! Why not a cross or something like that?"

Well, in the language they spoke, if you take the first letter of each word in the phrase, "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior"…

Iesous ("Jesus")

Xristos ("Christ")

Theou ("of God")

Uios ("Son")

Soter ("Savior")

…you get, "i…x…th…u…s"

And "ixthus" is the Greek word for "fish"!

It's a subtle way to say, "I love Jesus!"

Speaking of…

Our Atlanta Braves have been losing loads of games in a row. But the other night, they won one! With a brand new pitcher on his first game! When they interviewed him at the end, he said, "I'm just thankful to be a part of this!"

"…thankful…"?

I wondered…hmmmm….

So I googled his name and the word "faith".

Instantly I got an article from a ministry called "Athletes In Action" about how this person has come to know and love Jesus a few years ago!

I knew it!

Thankfulness! It seemed an unusual thing to say! But that's how I knew he loved the Lord! With all we have and all He's given, when you stop and think about it, thankfulness just bursts out! It leaps from the heart like a "fish" leaps from the sea! And lands on your bumper!

Check this…

“If you’re so low that you only have one prayer, let it be a prayer of thanks. It is the easiest way to pray and often the most powerful…In some circumstances, thanksgiving, like forgiveness, is both the quickest and the only route to joy…Imagine yourself in a meadow gathering wildflowers-violets, let’s say. When you’re finished, do you have a fistful of stones or twigs? No, you have a bouquet of violets. If you’re looking for reasons to be grateful, you’ll find them! …Give God a standing ovation every day. It’s what He’s waiting for. It’s what you’re waiting for too…Years ago, realizing I needed to develop gratitude, I began the practice of saying thanks to God for five things before I went to bed. I still do this whenever I feel the least bit low.  Looking for reasons to be thankful, instead of focusing on worries or fears, is like putting on a new pair of glasses. Life looks better through the lens of thanks.”

Thankfulness. It brightens everything! It makes your heart full yet light! It's how others know you've found Someone to help you! And they could know Him too!

I wonder if I can find a bumper sticker that says, "Thankful"?

Shorter Version

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

How could we not praise our Lord for this awesome day? We oughta praise Him even if we were having a snow storm today, but since we're not, and we're having a beauuuuutiful day instead, praising Him today will be a chip shot! It's official! "Mostly sunny, pleasant and warming with highs in the lower to middle 70s on Saturday, then upper 70s to near 80 by Sunday!"

Awesome!

Y'know, with the weather and sometimes sports commentary, I've realized these Friday emails, including an encouraging thought for the week, have gotten a little lengthy! I mean the Gettysburg Address was only 272 words and Abe was sitting' back down after a couple of minutes and some change! There is no photograph of him giving that famous talk because by the time the camera was set up and ready, the Prez was done!

I've decided I need to tighten up and get to the point a little quicker. Discipline is what I need! I've been looking into ways to limit my words and I remember an article I read about the haiku. A haiku is a Japanese poem that is only three lines long. The first line has to have only five syllables. So does the third line. The middle line has to have exactly seven syllables. The reason it has to be like this is…well, I'm not sure! But it does make you get to the point in only three lines and seventeen syllables!

Maybe a good Friday email would be…

"Hey, ev-er-yone!

It is good to praise the Lord!

See you this Sunday!"

Or how 'bout...

"Don't complain about

Stuff that might happen to you.

Phil. two, verse fourteen!"

or maybe...

"If your words are few,

you don't say "I'm sorry" much.

Proverbs ten, nineteen"

I've been thinking that another possibility to make these shorter, is to basically make this into a Friday "tweet"! 

A tweet can have only 140 characters in it. You say it and done! Tweeting is a little hard for us old fellers to learn. I was just getting used to instant messaging. But maybe I could learn!

The closest you get to tweeting in the New Testament was a letter written by an old guy (surprisingly!) 90-year old John wrote a couple of letters that are one chapter each and just like a tweeting epistle, he gets to the point, says it, and signs off.  In fact, 2 John could be called a “twistle”.

“It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love!”

"He tells us to love. 

When you love, you obey Him. 

Love is what He wants!"

(Yikes! I can't stop haiku-ing!!)

So a tweet has only 140 characters?  I’m gonna try one. Ready?

The other day, I was jogging down the road by my house thinking about stuff. My best thoughts come to me while jogging. This thought was my best yet!! Ready? I thought to mys 

Community Groups

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey everyone!

What an awesome day!! It is gonna be a fantastic day for whatever you feel like doing today! Like praising! 

Or like jogging! I bet I will! But something weird happened the other day…

I was looking for some jogging shoes on the internet. There is a new kind I've been looking into. But then, when I was checking out the news on another website, there was a little ad on the news site for the same shoes I was just looking at on the other site! I thought it was really weird! Did someone know that I was looking at those same shoes right before? How did they know to put one of those little ads on the the side of the other site?

click here x
Join a Triple C
Community Group!
They're fun!

That's one thing that is good about these Friday emails! There aren't annoying ads trying to get you to do things! It's just a thought to encourage you in your walk with Jesus and for your day! You have enough folks trying to get you to do this or join that! Sometimes even in ways you don't realize! The other day, I was reading that there whydontyoujoinoneofourcommunitygroups is a technique that advertisers use called "subliminal messages". The idea is that they joinacommunitygroup make a thought or an ad flash by your eyes so fast that theymeetat930 you don't even know you saw it! Can you imagine? They used it recently on the Food cmonandcometoacommunitygroup Network during the "Iron Chef America" show. When they viewed the show in slow joinacommunitygroup motion, the McDonald's logo and their motto, "I'm lovin' it!" were suddenly visible for a moment, tho' at regular speed therearefourtochoosefrom you couldn't see it! It is way of tricking your brain into receiving communitygroupsrock the message without realizing it! It's hard to believe that people would stoop to these levels! 

I feel like if you want to encourage someone to do something, just say it! Take our community groups that we have at Triple C on Sunday mornings, for example. I'm just gonna say it! We'd love for you to come to one if you don't! They meet at 9:30, so you're already gonna be there later anyway! There are places for kids! And they are opportunities to be together with your brothers and sisters in Jesus and get to know each other better, share our burdens, pray together, laugh together, learn together and grow together! It's kind of like an "intentional friendship"! And just by coming, you're telling everyone there, "You matter to me! I want to encourage you!" It's just such a healthy thing to do!

So, c'mon! Join one! Hope to see you there this Sunday! 

(Side effects may include slight side pain from laughing too much, temporary loss of vision due to increased tear production, heart warming or broken heartedness. Don't seek a doctor if you have encouragement or elation lasting longer than four days. Its supposed to help you make it through the entire week.)

Good Friday

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Good Friday is tomorrow. 

Around the world, our brothers and sisters in Jesus are stopping…gathering…singing…to remember. To remember moments so sad and awful. Moments many who were there so long ago tried their entire lives to forget. A church book of instructions from the fourth-century, called Good Friday, a "day of mourning, not a day of festive joy." Saint Ambrose, the fourth-century archbishop who was evangelist and pastor and mentor of Saint Augustine, called Good Friday the "day of bitterness.

"So…Good Friday? Good?! What could be so good about that Friday?"

Many believe this curious name was originally "God's Friday". It was the Friday in which God would in one day, make someday, all days His new day. 

And it is going to be a beautiful day tomorrow. Sunny and mild.

I remember a spring day like that once. It was one of those days like we had on Wednesday. Skies brilliant and blue. Air clear and crisp. I was jogging along Concord Road in Farragut. It was a Saturday about 2:15. A jeep came towards me. It was filled to overflowing with high school boys. As it got closer, one boy was leaning way out to my side, straining to keep from tumbling out. And than I realized he was slowly cocking his head back. He was going to spit on me. His friends were accomplices in this hilarity and all eyes were bright as the moment of precision aiming and launch was upon us all. I had no room to step off the side of the road so there was no place to escape. "Ready? Aim! FIRE!" I stood still as an ever-changing colloidal missile sped to its target. 

And then it was done. And they were gone, laughing and hooting. I stood by the road, covered in it. Wet with nastiness. A little perplexed. 

And I thought, "He knows."

My Lord knows how that feels. 

When Jesus was arrested and escorted in the cold dark of the night, first to the house of the high priest, Caiaphas, as lies and accusations began to build and then tumble in confusion, and all that continued to grow and strengthen was an evil frustration, and angry actions supplanted angry words, the first of them was this: " Then some began to spit at him…" (Mark 14.65) Before fists, whips or nails, spit.

He knows how it feels.

In Jesus our Lord we have so much more than our minds and hearts could ever comprehend! 

We have someone Who has given us the most amazing and healthy teachings of all time. 

And so much more!

We have Someone Who has given us the most amazing example of how life on His earth ought to be lived.

And so much more!

We have a wonderful Savior Who has paid with His own blood for this: no one living has ever followed His amazing teaching or amazing example for living, so that we can be forgiven for never having done it well, if at all! 

And even so much more than all of this!

In the Letter to the Hebrews, we read that Jesus is for us Someone Who cares about and loves you so much. 

And even more than this, He knows how it feels to go through all you do.

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:15-16)

The Message says it like this…"We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help."

What's good about Good Friday? What's good about being so sad and remembering hours so dark and painful? One thing that's good about remembering His sorrow and rejection and pain and loneliness and humiliation, is that when you are sad, rejected, hurting, lonely, and humiliated, in your heart you can say…

"He knows."

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you're having an awesome day! And it is gonna be a beauty! 76…79…82…Hike! (I'm not talking' football! Those are the expected temps for today, tomorrow and Sunday! Great day for a…hike! Or whatever you want to do! Speaking of sports…

Lee, Pottsie and I went on a short-term mission trip this week to visit one of our missionaries, Bill Reazer in St. Louis. Our mission? Hang out, catch up, have fun, laugh our heads off, and watch two St Louis Cardinals games, and do it all in two days, door to door! 

Did you know the word "fan" comes from "fanatic"? And did you know they first started using this term for followers of Cardinals baseball? Actually, I don't know if that second thing is true, but I wouldn't be surprised! EVERYBODY was wearing official Cardinal red jackets, hats, and sweatshirts (except for Braves fans, far from home) and sitting up there in Busch Stadium on Tuesday night with the deepening blue starry twilight sky above and the Cards and Cincinnati Reds players and fans doing the wave below, all of whom dressed in red and white, when it was time to stand for the National Anthem, I didn't have to look for Ol' Glory 'cause we were IN it!

What a blast! Mission accomplished!

As the season of Lent and a season of self-denial approaches its end, there may be loads of folks who feel that song rise within their hearts…

"Take me out to the ball game! Take me out with the crowd! Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks! I don't care if I ever get back" 

Sometimes during this time of year, lots of people begin to think that if they want to really be serious about their walk with Jesus, the path is one of not enjoying this, denying yourself that, and enduring weeks of depriving yourself of things you love so that you can feel greater love for Him. I really do think that it is a wonderful thing to say "No!" to stuff that is stealing your heart and all your attention. But if it's doing that, say "good-bye" to it, not just for Lent but forever!

But just to make yourself suffer for the sake of suffering…Well, many have tried this and found that it may not be doing for hearts what people think. 

In the earliest centuries of our faith, as Christianity spread around the world, many tried to live the hardest, toughest regime possible to see where it would take the heart. Some lived dressed in robes made of thorns (ouch!)…Some ate only dry bread and water (yuck!)…Some lived all alone purposefully walled up in tiny cells they couldn't get out of ("Hello? Anyone there?") One guy in the fourth century decided that to escape from the world, he wouldn't wash, change his clothes and he would live on a little platform on a pole and have goat cheese and goat milk sent up a rope. He did this for 37 years. In the end, the jury is still out on how holy he was. He did smell like a goat, however. 

I'm more and more convinced that the way you know you're "getting it"…that you and I are really beginning to understand that how much we are loved, and safe and His…or as Paul put it "chosen, holy, and beloved" (Col 3)…isn't self-inflicted pain and misery but, surprising…JOY!

It was joy that made a guy sell all he had for the treasure he wanted! (Matt 13.44)

It was joy that filled the hearts of those who visited the empty tomb! (Matt 28.8)

It was "great joy" that followed angel's glad tidings! (Luke 2.10)

It was "over-flowing joy" that pushed the Macedonians to give their stuff away! (2 Cor 8.2)

It is joy that grows where the Spirt flows! (Gal 5.22)

Joy is how you know you're "getting it"!

Did you know that "Lent" is an Old English word that means "Springtime"?

I know so many of you have a child that you support thru Compassion International. For a few dollars a month, God uses you to provide clean water, good food, health care, the love of Jesus and hope to a boy or girl in a place of the world where these are so scarce. One person wrote that their eleven year old Ugandan girl lived in a one-room hut with several siblings and her mother. Her dad had died. 

"Amongin is among the poorest of the poor of this world.  When we ‘met’ her she was weak mentally, weak spiritually, and she had almost NO confidence.  The harshness of poverty and the strain to survive had obviously taken it’s toll on her…When we first began supporting Amongin she had been struggling with school; exams and tests are scary for her.  It’s not hard to understand why!  With life literally hanging in the balance for her and her family on a daily basis, school tests and exams were a daunting pressure that could easily tip that sweet 10 year old over the edge!  Amongin’s frame of mind didn’t reach further than how to survive that day; she didn’t have hopes or dreams…"

The first year, they were able to send her an extra gift for Christmas to add some cheer in difficult days. Amongin wrote to them that she had used the money to buy chickens and meat for her family. But as her heart began to awaken to love and the love of Jesus and that special folks cared for her because Jesus cares for us all, her letters began to brighten! She began to do well in school and write of dreams of becoming a nurse and of wonderful fun she was having at her school and of her favorite worship songs. And for the next Christmas, with the money they sent, she bought some staples for home…and candy for her friends! And she bought her first Coke! And she took it home. And they popped the lid! " It made our Christmas so special, because we shared a soda together as a family!"

So…we went on a baseball holiday during Lent. 

Actually, we went FOR Lent. 

And as we pulled into my driveway at 12:45 am, there was a cheer in my heart. And it was this…

"Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

Praise Him all creatures here below!

Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts!

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

Amen!"

That's it for sports!

Dogwoods

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey everyone!

I saw 'em!

You've seen 'em!

DOGWOOD BUDS!!!!!

It's happening, folks!!

So quietly…so slowly…and suddenly…IT'S DOGWOOD TIME IN TENNESSEE!!

Did you know the Dogwood Arts Festival started on Tuesday?! It seemed like it snuck up on  us as quietly as the blossoms themselves! Don't they have  a parade or something?

Anyway, what could be more beautiful than watching dogwoods silently reign over tulips and azaleas on a cool spring evening walk? 

Some folks believe there was a time when the dogwood was even more awesome than it is today. Ever hear the legend of the dogwood?

The story is that once dogwoods were thick and tall, like oaks.  The story says that the cross that they made Jesus carry through the streets of Jerusalem was made of this tree…

”When Christ was on earth, the dogwood grew

To a towering size with a lovely hue.

Its branches were strong and interwoven,

And for Christ's cross its timbers were chosen…”

So, God decided that since the dogwood was used for the cross of our Lord, it would never be large and stately again, but gnarly and twisted…

“'The petals shall have bloodstains marked brown,

And in the blossom's center a thorny crown.

All who see it will think of Me,

Nailed to a cross from a dogwood tree.'”

Only thing is…that legend isn’t true. 

The truth is that God made them short and gnarly and decidedly unstately. And as the sun shines longer in the day and the days are warmer than winter days have been, and spring wakes them and sap rises in them, they have a beauty that makes my heart want to shout, "If that's not the official Tennessee State Flower AND Tree (which it ain't neither!), it oughta be!"

Zacchaeus was short ("…a wee little man"…How would you like to be called that? It's almost bullying to sing that about somene!) There was  one of the original Twelve followers named "James the Less" ("Little Jim"?) They say the Apostle Paul was short, bald and gnarly. 

That's the way God made them! 

A study showed the the average 50 year old American weighed 33 lbs. more in 2002 than in 1960 (but in 1960 ,he was only eight years old!) The average American guy is 5' 9 1/2" tall. But loads of them are less than that. God made us that way. Some of us are 3 1/2 inches shorter than average. In the days when our Lord walked on earth, scholars believe everyone was shorter than folks are today. But when the Holy Spirit fills a heart and the beauty of Jesus begins to bud and blossom in a person, tall or short, young or old, gnarly or un, knotted or not,  time and again, there's nothing so beautiful in all the world.

If the dogwood grew "to a towering size with a lovely hue"...if dogwoods were tall and stately, when the blossom bloomed, who could see them?

Legends or not, He like them just the way He made them. He likes you that way too.

Happy Spring, everyone!

Random Thoughts

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope your day is going soooo awesomely! If you know how to praise in the rain, it will be a wonderful day! I'm having one where I just have so many things going on I'm struggling to stay focused on anything for long! In fact…Hang on…be right back…

(I'll have to think about that later!)

Anyway, as I was saying…

What WAS I saying?! Let's see…Oh yeah. Feeling kinda scattered. I've got a head-full of random thoughts and stuff today that is all totally unconnected! So… I'm just going to throw these random meditations (actually, I haven't really meditated too much on these!) out there into the blog-o-sphere for you! 

Here goes!...

…The other day I thought, "What if we didn't have red chairs all lined up side-by-side in our church? What if we had wooden rocking chairs scattered all over like the Cracker Barrel has outside?" Would that be annoying? Everyone rocking the whole time? I don't think it'd bother me. But I've never really tried to talk to a room full of people rocking  before!

…As a Protestant evangelical in the classical sense, I'm not really a person who theologically adheres to the concept of having a pope. But if they are going to insist on having one, it's good that he's as kind, gentle and joyful as the one they have now. 

…Have you ever considered how important simple kindness and gentleness is in the Bible? 

  1. It comes from the power of the Holy Spirit of God! (Gal 5.22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…kindness…gentleness…")Without Him, no one could be kind. 
  2. If a person loves Jesus, gentleness should be so obvious! (Phil 4.5 "Let your gentleness be evident to all") 
  3. People who love Jesus should go after it! (1 Tim 6:11 " But you, man of God,pursue righteousness, godliness,…and gentleness…"). 
  4. You should wear kindness like clothes. (Col 3.12 "clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness… gentleness…") Have you ever had that terrible dream where you realize you're out and about and you don't have any clothes on? What if you're out without kindness on? Yikes! Get home and get dressed! 

Speaking of…

…I'm reading a book right now on the life of St Francis of Assisi, whom Pope Francis named for. He was amazing! He lost his family and fortune when he turned his life over to serve Jesus. His father was a super rich fabrics merchant and when Francis had given some of his dad's fabric to feed poor people, his infuriated father dragged him before the bishop of the town and demanded the money Francis had gotten from it. With all the town at the trial, Francis came out with all the cash and all the fabric that belonged to his dad, including all the clothes he was wearing at the time! He walked away singing, wearing nothing but his kindness and a smile!

...I'm not sure if church signs, where they spell out the message of the week in big black letters, is the best way to communicate. I don't really know what I think about them. I saw one that said:

"Welcome Dr Charles Bellowby

For All Have Sinned Rom 3:23

Worship Service Sun 10:30"

I guess it's good they're glad you're there but you wouldn't want to be called out like that! 

Here's another...

"Free beer!

Just kidding!

Free Jesus!

Every Sunday at 10:30"

One said…

"Congradulations To Our 2013 Graduates!" 

(Opps! Maybe someone should invent spell-check for church signs!)

The other day we were driving thru Cumberland Co and passed a little church with a sign that said:

"Big Or Small, Sin Is Sin"

I thought, "Well. Ok. I mean, we were having a really fun day until a few minutes ago. But, whatever…"

Then I thought, "That's not really true. I mean, sins. Some of 'em are different than others. Between gossip and doing meth, the second is harder on your dental and over-all health. Jesus said that whoever is angry at his brother is like the one who murders. But that doesn't mean that anger is the same as murder. Especially to the other person. I bet he'd much rather the guy just be mad at him! 

Plus, that message may not be doing for folks outside the church what the people inside think it's doing. Right?

…Did you know that daffodils are really from the Amaryllis family from the subfamily Amaryllidoideae? And it's botanical name is narcissus jonquilla. But I'm glad we don't call them those things. "Daffodils" is better. When theologians talk about how  Jesus was…and is…Almighty God Who also is completely human, they call this the "hypostatic union". But in the Message translation of John 1:14, it says "The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood!" Simple helps me. It's kind of like calling a narcissus jonquilla... a daffodil!

…Got ten or eleven minutes and want a heart that's grateful, and thankful, and filled with thoughts of Jesus? Are you looking for an exercise you could follow everyday for the season of Lent to turn your heart towards home…and Him? Why don't you go to iTunes and listen to the podcast, "Ancient and New"? The person who shares in the series called "Remember" (you know him!…his name rhythms with "Lee"!) has recorded for us daily meditations based on Luke 9-23 for the season of Lent. I love them and they are helping me grow in my love for Jesus. No one could do anything more for you than that! Check it out!

…Well, I feel better!

Got some random thoughts? Share them with your family and friends! You'll feel better too! I hear Twitter is good for this! 

Paul is Confident

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey everyone!

Hope you’re having an awesome day! Hope it’s one of those days where your heart is gently opening up to whatever God has for you, just like the daffodils outside our door are gently opening up to the spring sun one day and cold spring rain the next. Speaking of opening…

Is it really only nine days (count 'em down!) till Opening Day for Major League Baseball! D-backs and Dodgers in Sydney, Australia, mate! We've only been baseball fans for a few years so we're trying to catch up on all we missed. Soooooo….

Tina and I have been watching this ten episode documentary on PBS about the history of baseball in America (Sorry, Sydney!) and we’re learning tons about baseball!

Did you know that Connie Mack, who was a catcher with the Pittsburg Pirates before he was a manager (longest managing career in history), could make a noise with his thumb and finger that sounded just like a ball lightly tipping a bat. When a batter was going to bunt, but saw that the pitch was outside the batter’s box and let it go by, Mack would make that sound when the ball crossed the plate and the ump would call it a tipped foul for a strike!

There was a player in the African American league named Josh Gibson who, during the ‘30’s and 40’s, hit almost 800 homers in 17 years! His lifetime average was over .350! Many called him “the black Babe Ruth”, although in the African American league, they called Babe Ruth, “the white Josh Gibson”! Once he hit a homer in Yankee Stadium that reached the wall above the center field bleachers...580 feet! They said another time, that he hit a homer in Baltimore that flew out of sight and never came down. The next night, he was playing in Washington, and a ball flew out of the sky into center field in the middle of the game. The fielder happened to see it and caught it. Gibson was called out...from the night before!

This documentary talked a lot about the single most controversial moment in the history of baseball...Babe’s “called shot” for a home run in the fifth inning of the third game of the ‘32 World Series with the Cubs at Wrigley Field. 

‘Course, Babe wasn’t a stranger to controversies. In 1930, as the Depression gripped the nation, he signed a contract that paid him more than any player ever. And more than President Hoover made! Someone asked him, “Aren’t you uneasy about making more than the President?” “Nope.” the Bambino replied. “I had a better year than him.”

Anyway, with the Yanks up two games in the Series, and the game tied 4-4 in the fifth, Ruth was up The count was two balls, two strikes That’s when he yelled something at the pitcher and made a pointing gesture. Some say he pointed at the Chicago dugout. Some say it was toward pitcher’s mound. Most say it was toward the center field wall...as in, “There’s where this next pitch is going!” And it did! 480 feet over the flagpole! Across the nation, folks heard Tom Manning yell, "The ball is going, going, going, high into the center field stands...and it is a home run!" 

An unknown film of the 1932 “at bat” surfaced in the ‘80’s, but still it’s hard to tell if Babe was just pointing or predicting the impending home run. One reporter said that if all the people who said they were there and saw Babe call the shot, were put in one stadium, it’d have to hold 500,000 fans! Charlie Root, the one who threw the pitch, denied for the rest of his life that Babe pointed to center field. “If he’d pointed to center field like that, I woulda beaned him with that pitch in the ear!”

It would have been (or maybe it WAS) pretty outrageous for someone to be so confident in his abilities that he could predict what would happen to the next ball across the plate! But I read something yesterday that was a million times...even a kabillion times!...more certain! Check it...

“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus...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 1.4, 8)

Wow! Paul’s saying, “I KNOW you’re gonna make it to the end! I know God will hit a homer with you!” 

Y’gotta remember that these believers were having problems! Couldn’t get along...some drinking too much...yucky sex messes going on...It wasn’t looking too promising!

But the apostle knew his Lord and King! He is able to change us! He is able to bring us back! He is able to make us grow! He is able to keep us strong and His! He is able and He is going to bring all those who love Jesus...home! 

“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)

“...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus...” (Phil 1.6)

“...You who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time...” (1 Peter 1. 5)

Before you ever were ever pitched His way, He knew He had a homer with you! He called that shot!

No Question!

“ ...going, going, going, higher, higher...and it is a home run!" 

Three Daffodils Blooming

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey everyone!

Hope you're having the most encouraging day ever! Which I am because I saw something today I wasn't expecting!

Not that I wasn't expecting this, but I wasn't thinking it be so soon. I mean, I knew that eventually I would see this thing but I don't think I was really even  thinking about it, so when I saw them…

Hold on. I'm making this more complicated than it needs to be.

I'm just gonna say it.

Today, I saw three daffodils blooming! And, Yes! It was so encouraging! Soooo good to know that warm, spring days ARE on the way!

Three little blossoms and your whole day's better!

Speaking of three…

The other day, I heard three little words that I didn't expect to hear but they just filled my heart with joy and sent me on my way singing! Three little words that made my whole day…and maybe my life…better!!

"What?!  It was just Valentine's Day and we all know that girl of yours says those three words to you all the time anyway! How could THOSE three words be unexpected?"

Wait! I didn't mean Tina!  And I wasn't talking about THOSE three little words.It was three totally different words and I had no idea how awesome it would be to hear them!

Three little words and I'm still reelin'!

I've been interested in  how we might be able to reach out to students who have disabilities. I had heard of a ministry of Young Life, called "Capernaum". It's just like regular Young Life except it's for kids with all kinds of physical and mental disabilities. They had a big meeting…they call it "Young Life Club"…for "Capernaum kids" the other night in Knoxville and someone suggested that I come check it out. Gotta admit I was a little nervous. "Would I know what to say?…Would I be awkward?…Would I say anything dumb?…Would they like me?…Would I feel like an outsider?…How do you start conversations?…Could I ever do this?" I felt like it was my first day of middle school.

There were probably 70 to 80 leaders and kids from all over Knox County! They were having soooo much fun! Those leaders, mostly college kids, love those kids and care about them in the most amazing way! They offer to kids whom many overlook…or look away from… love, respect, friendship, and Jesus!

Nothing cooler ever!

I met a young man named Charlie. We sat in back and talked and laughed and shared. We listened together with all the kids and leaders to the sweetest talk about Jesus. Then we laughed at crazy games. In the end, the whole thing turns into a dance party! The most fun they ever have! Busting out all their moves to Katy Perry and Taylor Swift! Kids in wheelchairs out there with their hands in the air! Even me!

As I got ready to head out, so thankful I had come and gotten past my hesitations, and filled with hope that we could reach out to kids like this in OR someday, Charlie came up to me and hugged me. And he said three words.

"Thanks for coming!"

What?! I was nervous about going…Didn't know if I'd fit…And a new friend was thankful I came!

Wow! Three words…and just the ones I needed to hear!

Daffadils and beautiful words can come in  threes...

"You're the best"
"Let's get together!"
"I'll be there!"
"See you then"
"I've missed you!"
"Have some time?"
"Can we talk?"
"I love you"
"Please forgive me."
"Praying for you!"
"Thinking of you"
"Thankful for you"

I remember a song we loved from waaaay back in the day. It was one of Steven Curtis Chapman's classics.

There's a girl who's waiting day after day
To hear her daddy say "I love you,"
Now the days have turned to years.
There's a wall that silence has turned to stone
Between a man and woman,
She's holding back the tears
And he's holding on to his fear.

But while it's still called today,
Won't somebody make it right
Before the day slips into night
and the moments waste away?
While it is still called today,
We've got to say the words
That are longing to be heard
'cause tomorrow may be too late
Go on and say what you need to say
While it is still called today.

'Cause there's a time when the sun goes down
And the flowers are laid on the grave
Will the tears that fall to the ground
Be the tears of regret for the words someone didn't say?

While it is still called today, we've got to say the words
That are longing to be heard 'cause tomorrow may be too late
Go on and say what you need to say while it is still called today

Got anything you need to say to someone?

Womens Ice Hockey

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey everyone

Wow! With all the thunder boomin' thru our East Tennessee valleys and hills last night, you might have thought that you were hearing the fireworks they'll fer sure set off at the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Russia!

But today? After the storms have passed thru…it's gonna be awesome!!!  Showers should clear the area after 7 a.m…Expect clearing skies and breezy winds with cooler temperatures returning. Sunny with highs in the middle 50s!!"

If weather were a sport in the Olympics, today would be wearing the gold medal!

Speaking of…

We spent our day-off watching the women's hockey match between the USA and Canada. Wow!! And…dang!! We were tearful right along with those girls! How did our "Neighbors to the North" score two goals to tie it up with less than four minutes left!? That's not how you treat your neighbors! And then to win it and beat us in over-time! I mean, I think Canada's national anthem is cool, but it's not the one we wanted to hear!

After the match ended and the sniffles stopped, I reflected. "Y'know, there are lots of lessons that you learn from sports that you can apply to the life you lead."

Such as…

Here are some lessons I learned upon reflection after the ice was cleared of players and the Zamboni started around the rink…

Lesson #1)
Women hockey players (wonder why they call it "womens ice hockey" but "ladies figure skating"?…) wind up less often on their rear ends than the figure skaters do, even tho' the hockey girls have folks bashing and smashing into them, and even tho' the figure skaters are deliberately trying to NOT end up "up-ended"; their cans…

Lesson #2)
The commentators commentated that the American girls lost because, with a 2-0 lead, they were trying to "not lose" instead of trying to win…

Lesson #3)
I'd noticed that in this Olympics, loads of people have seemed to be elated with winning a silver or bronze medal but all the American players cried when they looked down their noses at the silver that was about to go over their heads and around their necks. One of the announcers (who had a silver medal in women's hockey in her drawer at home) explained that the reason its so heart-breaking to win the silver in hockey is that, unlike other sports, you have to lose to get it.

So, what do these sports lessons teach us and how can we apply them to our Christian life?

I have no idea.

I did read a very cool verse the other day, tho'!

It's in 1 John…Check it…"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3.1)

I know what to learn from that! We are God's very own kids! HE calls us that! And that makes it true! Even if you come is second! Or third! Or last! Last every time! It doesn't matter 'cause He loves me that much! Coming in second or third is nothing to cry about when He's my very own Dad!

In fact. Peter wrote that to make us His own, it took way more than silver or even gold! "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed…but with the precious blood of Christ!" (1 Peter 1. 18-19)

So, girls, you played awesomely and you made us proud, but if you love Jesus, hockey's only a team! You're in His family! So, dry those tears, ladies!

Opps! I mean, dry those tears, women!

That's it for weather and sports…

Olympic Skis and Snowboards

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Wow! What an awesome day! Here's your Valentine's Day forecast! "Breezy and warmer with a high near 48 degrees. Expect increasing clouds with rain showers sliding in by late afternoon and early evening…But next week, spring-like! ... with highs going from the 50s into the 60s later in the week!"

Spring'll be bustin' out soon! Sounds so awesome, especially after the last couple of days! (We've had more snow then they did at the Winter Olympics!!) If next week's weather was an Olympic event, it’d be “golden”, as they say in the Sochi!  (I think that means it’d win the gold medal…)

As the Winter Olympics are rocking', can I share with y’all a few things I've noticed?

Snow boarders are not nervous at all before they bust out their craziness on the slopes and half-pipes…

(Ice skaters, on the other hand…)

The medals are very neat-looking this time…

Curling is way harder…and cooler… than it looks.

Some Winter Olympic sports are only “sport-ish”. They don’t really seem like sports. You wonder how they got in the “Games”…What I mean is…

Some sports in the Olympics are totally…WOW! Snowboard cross…four dudes screaming down a course…jumping, turning, speeding, bumping each other, flying through the air, wiping out upside-down at 30 feet above the frozen ground! It’s an unbelievably cool sport! Why did it take so long to get in the Olympics?!

Other “sports” are…well…they don’t really seem like sports. Tough to know what you’d call ‘em. But they just don’t seem to belong with hockey or the Super G. Like ice dancing. It’s really difficult I bet, but…they’re dancing! They’re not flipping, racing, or smacking a slap shot at the goal…

They’re dancing.

How do you beat someone at dancing? Unless you completely wind up on yer rear…how do they know who wins?

Some things just don’t seem like they make a good competition. It’s not about winning or losing. Like love, for example. We just supposed to love folks. It’s not a race. It’s not about who does it more, better, or with the best style. There aren’t gold, silver, and bronze for love. We’re all supposed to do it! Like Paul said, “Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.” (1 Thesselonians 4.9-10)

Love. It’s not a sport, a race, or a contest, but…

Here's an email that jumped into my inbox the other day. It's from the US coordinator of Victor Nandigam's mission in India…

"Thank you so much for your continued faithfulness to International Christian Partners and the work that God is doing in India. We are amazed and grateful for your graciousness and sacrifice as you give to the ministry in India. It never fails that when we announce a need you respond generously.

I want to thank Pastor Tom Job and Christ Community Church who took on a special need over the Christmas holidays. There are 352 widows in the churches where our missionaries are working. These widows are faithful to pray and to serve. Pastor Job’s church placed tags on a Christmas tree for these ladies and each one was adopted. The money donated was sent to purchase the saris, as well as money to purchase each of the orphans a set of clothes for the New Year. Each year this is a need and hopefully it is one that can be shared by several churches this next Christmas…"

We threw that need out there and to tell the truth, I was a little…ah…"stretched" in my faith! "Will it happen?"

BAM!

I think something like $4900 came in for the widows and Victor's orphans! Victor wrote us and said that so many of the widows were wearing the saris we bought for them last year when they came to receive the ones you gave them this year! And that they will pray for us and our work here! Widows in poverty, in India, in love with Jesus because of love shown to them, pray for you!

I know it’s not a race or a sport, but…

When it comes to loving people with the love of Jesus, the people of Triple C get the gold medal! Y’all are “golden”!!

Olympic Figure Skaters

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.)