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100 Ogden Lane
Oak Ridge, TN 37830
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865.483.0320

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Weeky E-News

Weekly e-News for June 5th

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you're having a beautiful day, filled with thanks, praise, love of life itself, excited about what God has prepared for this day!

If you are feeling this way, I betcha you might've had to make a decision or two upon waking up, to transport your heart across the state boundary from the State of Sleepiness, the State of Confusion, or even the Great State of Grumpiness into the State of Gladness! 

'Cause some folks wake up from sleep…sleepy! Most days, your joy is the last thing to wake up!

The other day, I woke up just feeling heavy in my heart. I was just gloomy and down and I wasn't sure why. Then I remembered. 

I had had the saddest dream in the middle of the night.

I was at a basketball game, cheering for my team (I have no idea who my team was. I'm not that much of a hoops fan…) Suddenly play was stopped because a player had collapsed on the sidelines. He was gasping for breath. Then he stopped breathing and died. 

And the saddest thing about it was that he was a duck. 

Just laying there, with his snowy feathers so still. And he had been playing so well! He was the only duck on either team. He was kind of a play-maker for his squad, dribbling up the sidelines  just as easily with his left wing as with his right! And suddenly, he was gone.

I just remember waking up with such a feeling of sadness for the loss we all shared. Then I remembered…

Wait. 

Even tho' it seemed like it, that wasn't real! 

It didn't really happen! Ducks can't play basketball! 

That morning might've been a little extreme for my norm, but often I wake up groggy, mentally and emotionally disheveled and confused, wondering why coffee is so hard to find when it's always in the same place as the night before. Sometimes I wake up a little worried about I-don't-know-what. 

But if I wake up bubbly or bumbling, I just do what I always do. I sit down with a steamy cup, and open up the Scriptures and find out what is true! Not what my sleepy heart or the residuals of random crazy dreams might be telling me, but what God in His holy Word tells me! 

About Himself! 

About myself 

And about the blessing awaiting me in the day ahead!

One of my all-time heroes was a British transplant from Hungary named George Mueller. You might heard of him! He built five orphan homes in Bristol, England in the days of Oliver Twist, and cared for 10,024 kids!

When he started in 1834 there were accommodations for 3,600 orphans in all of England and twice that many children under eight were in prison! One of the great effects of Mueller's ministry was to inspire others so that “fifty years after Mr. Mueller began his work, at least one hundred thousand orphans were cared for in England alone!"

One of the amazing thins about him is that he financed all of the food, clothes, homes, and schooling for all those thousands of kids just by trusting the promises of God! He never asked anyone for one penny (or shilling!) He would just pray and ask God for help! 

What faith! 

What a heart! 

But I bet there were times when he didn't wake up that way! I bet he had kooky dreams and woke up groggy and confused just like we all do. But he had a morning plan! 

To nudge his heart across the line to the state of faith…Check this…

“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, and how my inner man might be nourished . . . Before this time my practice had been at least for ten years previously as a habitual thing to give myself to prayer after having dressed in the morning. Now I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the word of God and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted and encouraged…I began, therefore, to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning early in the morning…searching as it were into every verse to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the word; not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my soul.” 

Wow! 

First thing…"to get my soul happy in the Lord!"

Open up the Scriptures and find awesome things for your own heart! 

About your Lord! 

About yourself! 

About your day!

And about what is true!

So you can have a heart of thanks, praise and joy!

Because no matter how real it seems, ducks don't play basketball.

They just don't.

 

Let’s not forget to remember.

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!!  Hope you’re getting ready to have an awesome Memorial Day weekend!! 

Here's your official Triple C Memorial Day week-end forecast!

"…Sunny and cool today! Initially we'll stay dry for Saturday and Sunday, butMonday we'll start to see enough moisture in the air to support a pop-up shower or two in the afternoon/evening. But we'll see a gorgeous weekend ahead!"

What a weekend to praise God and enjoy stuff!! 

Don’t forget to check out our own Dale Pendley conducting the O R Community Band Memorial Day Concert! 

In fact that’s an awesome way to not forget to do what you supposed to do on Memorial Day…

On Memorial Day, you’re not supposed to forget to remember!

If you came from Mars, you’d probably have the impression that Memorial Day was to celebrate the fact that summer’s just beginning and the earth is almost half way around the sun for the year (on Mars it takes 687 days to get around once so they’re only ¼ of the way)…

Or you’d think that Memorial Day is to remember that they’re offering special Memorial Day two-for-one furniture sales this weekend only.

But Memorial Day is to not forget to remember…

The first Memorial Day was in Waterloo, New York in May, 1866. Back then, they called it Decoration Day and it was to remember those fallen in the Civil War. More Americans died in that war than all wars our nation has fought put together. 

One day I was reading about the Battle of Campbell’s Station. On a chilly, rainy, sloppy morning, November 16, 1863, divisions of Confederate soldiers and Union soldiers were racing to get to Knoxville first. The control of the railroad from Virginia to Chattanooga was the prize. Lincoln thought it was very important. The armies came face to face in Farragut. After just a few minutes, right there on the corner of Kingston Pike and Campbell Station Road, where the Fresh Market is on one corner, and Aubrey’s Restaurant and the Super Krogers are on the other, 970 soldiers lay dead with rain falling on them.

It gave me a chill to think about. All the times I passed by there…I never imagined. 

I wonder if anyone remembers them.

During the Civil War, over 350,000 soldiers accepted Jesus as their Savior! 10% of the soldiers in the war were converted to Him! 

Just like Courtney Birdsey, a soldier who came to a strong faith in Jesus after He protected her through an unexpected fire-fight in Baghdad during the Irag war. 

She wrote…

“Finally, in April 2004, my unit returned home to Colorado Springs. As the National Anthem played over the loudspeaker celebrating our arrival, I felt the tears I had been unable to cry for months stinging my eyes. I thought of my love for this country, my prayers for the safety of the units still in Iraq, the loss of those I had known, and of my family waiting in the stands to greet me…The visions and sounds of Iraq are never far from my thoughts…I'm not the same person, spiritually or emotionally, that I was before I left. I still suffer from images that come alive in my sleep, especially after a stressful day. But each time I see or hear of events in Iraq, I am reminded of how God faithfully protected me. I know now, no matter what the future brings, I'm never alone.”

On this Memorial Day week-end, let's not forget to remember to pray for all of our Triple C'rs serving in our military!

Today is a beautiful day here in East Tennessee. But did you know that at any given moment, there are 18,000 thunderstorms booming and blowing around the world?

We live our faith in peace and comfort. But all around the world, brothers and sisters in Christ…in Africa, Asia, Arab nations, Latin America…are in storms of faith, risking, praying and weeping, reaching out and suffering for it, all because they love our Lord so much. 

On this Memorial Day week-end, let’s also not forget…

Let’s not forget them.

Let’s remember today that…

This world isn’t our home.

There are spiritual battles to fight.

There are causes bigger than our comfort.

There is still work to do.

There are prayers to pray.

There are people to reach.

Who cares if they’re selling furniture two-for-one this weekend only.. Let’s not forget to remember what matters!

Let’s not forget to remember.

The Hills are Alive

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

"The hiiiiiiiiiiillllllllllssss are alive! With the sound of muuuuuusic!!!…."

Well, actually I haven't heard any yet but I expect to soon 'cause I'm right down the road from where Maria Kutschera almost became a nun before Cap'n Vonn Trapp stole her heart! And where I'm sitting right now is totally surrounded by snowy Alps! When I flew over them yesterday morning, I thought, "How on earth did those Vonn Trapp kids walk across these mountains?! It didn't seem like they were dressed warm enough for that!!" 

I looked it up. Turns out they took a train. They changed that part for the movie! Whew! Good to know!

I've been worried about those frozen little toes for years! 

Speaking of "a few of my favorite things"…

I'm here in Austria, encouraging a bunch of folks who work with YL Military, which is a branch of Young Life that reaches out to high school and middle school kids, living on US bases around the world who have parents in the Army, Navy, or Air Force, and who lots of times are serving our country someplace other than where their kids are living. Wow! These are special kids with loads of needs! And I'm here with the super awesome folks who are tirelessly reaching out to them, working with simple devotion to Jesus in a world of complex challenges! 

It is soooo easy to encourage them! 

Just to tell them that their work is amazing…

and that Hebrews 6:10 says that even if it seems at times that no one knows, understands, or cares about what they do, God will never forget it…

and that Paul promises that they will "reap a harvest if they don't quit"…

My job is so easy here! Sometimes I feel that often amazing folks who are giving all they have to serve our Lord, are so starved for encouragement, you could burp and they would think it was helpful! They're just so thankful that someone would come here to say, "You're not forgotten and you rock!"

Whenever I get to do cool stuff like this, I thank God soooooo much that I have a church family that cares about what God is doing in the world! And helps me go share with folks who need a boost and a pat on the back and an encouraging word! And when I talk about you with them…

and I tell them about a church family that is so sweet…

and giving…

and caring…

and loving…

and "out-reach-y"…

and helpful to each other…

and "praise-filled"…

Well, I've only been gone a few days and I miss you all so much just from sharing with folks about my life, about my friends, about my spiritual family… from sharing about you! 

This morning the hills are alive with the sound of my thankful heart! 

Raindrops on roses?

Whiskers on kittens?

Triple C is one of my favorite things!

Love y'all!

YODELL-EEEHHHH-HHHEEE-HHHOOOOOOO!!

April News (my apologies for being late)

CCC Oak Ridge

April 24, 2015

Hey, everyone!
 
Hope you're having an awesome, sunny Friday! I, for one, am getting ready for the snow! Not here, of course. In the Alps near innsbruck, Austria! I'll be there on Wednesday helping out at a conference for all the folks with MCYM Young Life who work, reaching out to kids whose parents serve with the US military on our bases around the world!
 
What a privilege! I'm a little nervous tho…
 
My last trip didn’t start out so well. 
 
Tina and I have this thing we do when I have to go on a trip by myself without her. We smooch good-bye as I’m about to go through the security check. Then, when I’m all checked out and before I put my shoes back on, I look and see her way back there among the non-departing, unsecurity-checked. And we wave one last time. Then I put my shoes on. And I look for her again. And she’s still there! So we wave like I’m being deployed for the next year. We do it every time. Except this time.
 
“We’re going to have to ask you to step aside,” the security lady said.
 
Somehow I set off the security alert. She rubbed a piece of paper on my hands. “We’ve found something on your hands that is causing our sensors to go off. Would you mind stepping into our secured room, please?” 
 
“But I’ve got some waving to do”, I thought…but I didn’t say it. They looked like they weren't kidding.
 
Two dudes were waiting on me in there. One of them was telling me all the things he was going to do to me and all the checking me out that he was about to do, so that I wouldn't be too surprised about how well we were about to get to know each other. Meanwhile, the other guy was going through all my stuff and turning my bags inside out. After about ten minutes they said I was OK and I could go ahead to my gate. Before I thanked them for keeping our nation safe, I asked them what it was that they thought they might have found on my hands that set the thing off.  “We can’t tell you that,” they said. “Wow!” I thought. “You now know what size my underwear is, but you still can’t tell me anything about you!”
 
I was rocking in those rockers they have at McGhee Tyson, talking to my daughter, Val on the phone about my little adventure, and she said, “Dad, did you handle any fertilizer this morning?” 
 
Well, I guess I did! We had about a half a bag of cow manure we got from Home Depot. It’s called “Moo Poo”. I just decided to put it on our baby tomato plants while I was waiting to go to the airport. I washed my hands a lot after though. Val said that’s what they found. Apparently, terrorists make weapons out of fertilizer. I don’t know how you’d make anything other than a stink bomb out of Moo Poo, but I’m not a security expert. 
 
I was trying to think of all the spiritual lessons I could learn from that episode. 
 
Was the lesson…
 
“When you get into something spiritually stinky, it lingers even if you think it’s gone?”
 
Or maybe…
 
“Even if you think you’re clean, your sins will find you out!”
 
I don’t think it was either of those! I wasn’t doing anything wrong! 
 
I was just taking care of my ‘maters! 
 
Even if gardening makes someone suspect that you might be an international criminal! 
 
The whole time they were checking me over, I had total peace. I knew I hadn’t done anything or hidden anything that they had reason to suspect me for.
 
In fact, the lesson stirring in my heart as I was getting myself together and saying goodbye to my security guard buddies, was…
 
“When voices halfway imply that I might possibly be guilty…or unacceptable…I can know in my heart that no matter what they might be thinking, in God’s mind, I’m clean!
 
“Being justified by faith, we have peace with God!” Paul tells us. 
 
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”
 
“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children”
 
Been feeling criticized? Feel like you’re always failing somebody’s tests that you didn’t even know you were taking? Feel like somebody’s always pointing out stinky things about that you thought were long ago washed away?
 
It’s not your Lord saying or thinking those things! In His heart, you are “His chosen people, holy, and dearly loved! (Col 3.12) He rejoices over you with singing! (Zeph. 3.17)
 
And that’s the opinion that matters!
 
So I say, Poo on nagging false guilt!!
 
(Just not the morning before you have to go thru airport security.)

 


April 17, 2015

Hey, everyone!
 
Well, I'll just go ahead and bring up the subject that is on everyone's heart…
 
As you know, Tuesday was the 150th anniversary of the night President Lincoln went to Ford's Theater to watch a play. 
 
He didn't see how it ended. 
 
No one did.
 
He was born on Feb 12, 1809. It must have been cold in that tiny log cabin in Sinking Spring Farm, Hodgenville, Kentucky on that February morning!
 
Ol’ Abe didn’t like to be called “Ol’ Abe”…or “Honest Abe” or even “Abe” for that matter! He always signed stuff, “A. Lincoln”
 
He was the first president to have a beard (he only had it for four years) and the only one to have a beard without a moustache.
 
He went to about three months of school but became a really successful self-taught lawyer and he tried cases before the Illinois Supreme Court over 400 times! 
 
He's the only President with a U.S. patient for an invention!
 
In the library of Congress, there's a box that contains everything that President Lincoln had in his trouser pocket on the night he went to Ford’s Theater for the last time.
 
He carried $5...
 
...of Confederate money…
 
He also had some eye glasses repaired with a piece of string.
 
And he had some old beaten up newspaper clippings.
 
They were articles that praised him for his accomplishments. 
 
That is a sad thought. 
 
Abraham Lincoln was one of the most amazing and beloved Americans ever! We all know this! But in those days, many didn’t. Many made fun of him. Others really hated and ridiculed him. At times he seemed to be all alone in decisions he had to face and make. Someone said once that it’s kinda sad to imagine tired and weary Abraham Lincoln, sitting alone by a lantern late at night, with old strung-together glasses propped on his nose, reading cut-out newspaper articles over and over, trying to convince himself that…
 
someone cared…
 
that someone believed in him…
 
that someone would remember him…
 
Maybe even that someone loved him.
 
You’ve had those days, haven’t you? 
Maybe you’re having one today! 
Wishing that someone noticed the stuff you do…
wishing that someone cared…
that someone believed that you could do it…
that someone would be less free with their criticisms…
that someone believed in you.
 
Want something to put in your pocket that you can pull out and read when you need to? 
Something better than old newspaper articles with your name tucked away inside?
 
Why not scribble down Colossians 3.12 on a scrap of paper and carry it around? 
When you having one of those “moments”, you can pull it out and read it! 
Listen to this…
 
 “Therefore, as those chosen by God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…”
 
Did you catch that? 
 “…Chosen by God, holy, beloved…” 
When someone thinks you’re a dufuss…
When you feel criticized for breathing…
When you can’t seemed to do anything right in some people’s opinion…
 
God says you’re beloved! He looks down on you and loves what He sees!
 
God says you’re “holy”! Among other things, it means “special”. 
In His heart, there’s no one like you!
 
And after reading amazing facts about President Lincoln, here’s an amazing fact about you…
 
You’ve been “chosen by God”! It’s almost impossible to understand all of that, but it means that before the world was made, He wanted you! 
 
Be encouraged today! Because you’re…
 
“Chosen by God”! That’s even better than being elected the 16th President of the USA!
 
The ending's a whole lot better, too!

 

 

April 10 ,2015

Hey, everyone!
 
I just realized…I always start these Friday emails out by saying, “Hey, everyone!” Never really noticed that before! I don’t begin with a “Hi!”…or “Greetings!”…or “Top o’ th’ mornin’, govna!”…Always just, “Hey!”
 
I wonder where that “Hey!” comes from?
 
Not that there’s anything wrong with it. It’s probably a colloquial form of “Hi”…which is short for “Hello”…which comes from the greeting, “Hail!”…which comes from the Old English, “Heill”…which means “Health!”, as in “May you be in good health!”…
 
The French often say “Salut!”, which means “health!”, too! 
 
In Israel, they say, “Shalom”, which means “peace”, but also “health, and well-being!”
 
I hate to admit it, but “Hey!” probably comes from watching Gomer Pyle on the old “Andy of Mayberry Show” when I was a kid! Remember how he’d say, “Tell Aunt Bea, Gomer says ‘Hey’!”?
 
It’s amazing how we pick up expressions without realizing it! The other day, I was talking with someone and answered, “Yeah, yeah…”
 
“Where have I heard that?” I thought. “Someone else says, ‘yeah, yeah’…who is it?” Then I realized that my first grandchild Henry used say it when he was little. 
 
“Yeah, yeah!” 
 
I got it from him! His mom used to say (when he was about two) that "the first time he says, 'Dang!' (like his grand dad), you’re in trouble!"
 
I was thinking about this the other day when I was reading Mark 10. This blind guy named Bartimaeus, was yelling like a nut for Jesus to help him. Jesus’ guys were trying to get him to “shut it”, but it didn’t work. 
 
Then Jesus stopped. His heart is so much bigger than we know!  
 
He asked them to call the guy.
 
They did.
 
“Tharsai!” they said.
 
“Huh?”
 
“Tharsai!"
 
It's a Greek word that means, “Cheer up!, take heart!”. It comes from the word, “tharsos” which means, “Courage”, and basically means, “Take courage!”
 
“Tharsai, dude! He’s calling you!” (Mark 10.49)
 
That exact expression…”tharsai!” is used eight times in the New Testament. Seven of eight times, it’s used by Jesus. He was always telling people to “have courage!...to cheer up!”
 
"Tharsai! (take heart!), son; your sins are forgiven."…(Matt. 9.2)
 
"Tharsai! (take heart!), daughter! Your faith has healed you…" (Matt 9.22)
 
"Tharsai! It is I. Don't be afraid…” (Mark 6.50)
 
“…Tharsai! I have overcome the world." (John 16.33)
 
Mark 10 is the only time His guys ever used this expression. 
 
“Tharsai! (Cheer up!) He’s calling you!”
 
Wonder where they learned that expression? I think they learned it from Him! Well, maybe they didn’t really “learn” it…Maybe they just picked it up! From hanging around Him! Maybe He just said it so much to so many that it just slipped into their vocabulary!  Kinda like “Yeah, yeah!”
 
With so many reasons to “cheer up”…”take heart”…”have courage”…maybe I’ve found a better way to start these weekly emails! And I didn’t get it from Gomer Pyle!
 
“Tharsai, everyone!”

 

 

April 3, 2015

Hey, everyone!
 
Hope you’re having an awesome week! Or better...hope you’re having a holy week! Hope you’re having an awesome holy week! Christians around the world call this week “Holy Week”...or they call it “la Semana Santa”, or le Semaine Sainte, or la Settimana Santa, or Karwoche... It all depends in what language or country you worship our Lord during these days. 
 
Tonite at 7:00, we’ll have our Good Friday service. Then we’ll hav...
 
What? “Why do they call it Good Friday? “
 
Great question!
 
I don’t think anyone really knows why they call it Good Friday. Sometimes, churches have services on Maudy Thursday to remember the night our Lord Jesus ate the Passsover with His closest followers and washed their feet. “Maundy” is an Old English form of the Latin word, “mandatum” which means “commandment”. It comes from the Latin version of the words Jesus said on that holy Thursday...”A new commandment I give you that you love one another...” John 13.34  ("Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos.”…I’m not good at writing Latin but I’m getting better at Googling stuff)
 
Some people think “Good Friday” comes from “God’s Friday”. Like “good-bye” comes from “God be with ye”. 
 
Other people believe that we call it Good Friday because of all the good that came on that day.
 
“What was good about that day?”, some wonder. It was the saddest day in the history of the earth. The sun hid its face so it didn’t have to watch. 
 
It was a day of all things sad and painful...
Jesus stumbling...
hammers ringing…
thieves swearing...
soldiers betting…
Jesus bleeding...
soldiers mocking…
women weeping...
friends hiding...
Jesus dying...
friends grieving...
stones rolling…
sun setting…
darkness reigning…
 
In the first moments of His nailing, our Savior asked the Father to forgive those who so horribly abused Him. Then He assured a criminal of a place in Heaven with Him that very day.  Then it became dark. For three hours, there was darkness in the whole world. 
 
And it became quiet. Our Lord suffered silently.
 
As an old spiritual says, “They crucified my Lord and He never said a mumblin’ word…not a word…not a word.”  The cruelest, coldest hearts on the planet, employed to nail humans down and hoist them up, and do it without a qualm or shiver, watched the Son of God suffer in silence, as blood and love flowed. 
 
And then He spoke. And one thing He said just before He breathed the last time was, “I’m thirsty.”  Why would He say this? Say that to the most unconcerned, uncaring assembly of human beings of all time?  Did He hope that from those emotionless, cold, dead hearts, someone would care that He was thirsty? That hands that had hammered Him would now help Him? 
 
And yet…And yet…
 
“And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink.” (Matthew 27.48)
 
Could it be that one of them, having heard words of forgiveness and of a home in heaven…royal words spoken from a cross where a King ruled through love…had opened his heart to Him? And out of that new and reborn heart that moments before had been only dark and cold…out of that unlikely place…some pity…some caring…some good had come?
 
In almost the next verse after this, our Lord was dead. But just before that darkest of moments, on that darkest of Fridays…on the worst Friday ever… someone with love for Jesus, did something good.
 
And this goodness grew.
 
Today it circles the earth. 
 
Good Friday, tonite at 7:00.

Try Being a Donkey Today

CCC Oak Ridge

 

Hey, everyone!

Hope you’re having an awesome, praise-filled day and a heart-full of hope because…it’s almost Palm Sunday! It’s almost Easter Sunday! It’s the season of hope! 

It’s hope season! 

I love Palm Sunday! Just the thought of soooo many people yelling…praising!...”hosanna-ing”! All because they wanted Jesus to be their King! And they wanted Him to rule over them! I wonder what it must have been like on that day!

It didn’t last very long, though.

By the end of the week, so many of them…so many of the same ones…were yelling, “We don’t want Him any more! No! We don’t want You any more!”

One of the gladdest days in the history of the world and the saddest day .of all time only had five days between them.

With Tina in California this week, I'm taking care of all the critters 'round here. And I always realize in times like these, that I like goats less than I thought I did, but our ol' dog Capt'n Marshmellow  more than I thought I did. I mean, how could you not?! He's always so calm, peace-filled, content…’til one of us gets home! Then, it's “goin’ crazy-time”!

“Hey! Hey! So excited to see you! Hey! (Don’t remember your name) Hey! You’re my best friend!  Will you pat my head? Huh?! Will ya!? Huh?! Huh!?  Hey! I live to be with you! Me! You! Hey!”

Sometimes I’ve wondered, “Father, why can’t I be more like that with you? Content. Filled with peace. And just so happy to be with You! Make me like Capt'n!” 

Wow. Just re-read that…Can't believe I really said it. 

Y’know, I think that being discontent with how it is, and wanting everything to be instantly better, instead of having that doggone peace and contentment, is what turned the hearts of the people of Jerusalem from yelling, “Hosanna!” to yelling, “Give us Barabbas instead of Him!” 

I think it was that heart that says, “We want results! We want to see things change around here…NOW! If You don’t do what we expect and make stuff better…and quick!...we won’t like You any more!”

That’s why I’ve got another four-legged role model this Palm Sunday week… the donkey! 

Remember him?

“They went and found a donkey colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway…They untied it… When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, "Hosanna!” (Mark 11)

Poor li’l dude! Tied up…stuck…roped to a door! Until Jesus wanted him! They untied him! He was free! Even with Jesus sitting on him! Being sat on had never happened to him before and usually they’re not too happy about it! But he didn’t care! It was because of Jesus that he was untied and free! “He can ride on me anywhere! I’ll carry Him all day!”

In Job, God said, "Who let the donkey go free? Who untied his ropes? I gave him the wasteland as his home, the salt flats as his habitat. He laughs at the commotion in the town…” (39.5-7)

That donkey doesn’t care where he lives! Even if home’s in the salt flats! He’s content no matter what! He laughs all day! Even if everyone else is running around stressed out in the town, he’s just happy! He’s just happy God let him be free!”

Because of the King, you’re free! You’re not tied up or tied down, no matter where He has you! Even if you feel “sat on”! Kick up your heels! Or your hooves! 

Try to be like a donkey today!  It’s harder than you think!

March Madness

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Can you believe it's here?! The daffodils are blooming! The sunshine warms the earth! ("…Warmer temperatures will finally return Saturday with highs back up into the middle 60s…")This can only mean one thing!

March Madness!

You know it! The NCAA basketball tourney when we go from the Sixty Four Best to the Sixteen Even Better Than That ("Sweet!"), to the Four Almost the Most Best ("Finally!"), to the Best of the Best!

You know how folks fill out the bracket (it's kind of a flow chart of the schedule of all the games) to predict, game by game, who will beat the other and move on to play other winners 'til we make it to the championship game? 

Bet it was looking pretty good yesterday morning!

But who thought UAB could do that?!

I know we might feel confident that our guesses are pretty good but I read the other day that the chances of a person who knows something about the teams,  making all the picks that wind up with a "perfect bracket" (when it's all said and done, you picked all the winners) is one in 772 billion! You have a better chance of lining up everyone in the world in a line, picking one person randomly out of that crowd, and have it be, by chance, one of the eight living people who have walked on the moon! Or, you have a better chance of drawing a royal flush in 5-card poker twice in a row! (I'm not sure what that is but the chances are one in  422,162,067,600)

If anyone thinks they could really come up with a perfect bracket with all the winners, that really is "March madness"!

One thing that I was wondering about…

Ever wondered why they rank the teams in "seeds"? 

They don't place the teams in groupings, ranks, or preliminary heats, but "seeds" The least awesome teams ("16th seed"…"14th seed"…") play the best teams first ("Number 1 seed"…"number 3 seed")…Why do they call them "seeds"? Sound like they're doing spring planting…

That's it! That's why they call it "seeding"! Turns out the best teams play the worst teams in the different regions at the beginning so that the better teams meet each other later. If the teams were seeds planted in the bracket, it would hopefully bloom 'n blossom into more exciting games later in the month as the winners emerge! 

Like "seeds"! 

Get it?

It made me think…

Lately, I've been reading the Letter to the Galations and one thing Paul says about our Lord Jesus is that He is the "Seed of Abraham"…Check this…

"The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed,' meaning one person, who is Christ…" (3:16)

Later he says, " …we were in slavery under the  spiritual forces of the world. But at just the right time, God sent his Son, born of a woman…" (4:4)

Hmmmm…..

It's almost like Jesus was sent from Heaven to earth, God becoming a human baby, and growing and living, dying and rising, "planted" at just the perfect moment in history so that in the end, He wins the victory over all! 

I remember hearing 'bout someone who was reading the Book of Revelation and a friend asked, "Wow! That's so complicated with all the visions and prophesies!! Do you know what it all means?"

"Sure! Jesus wins!"

As Corrie Ten Boom always reminded us, "Jesus is Victor!"

I'm not sure how this tournament is going to come out, but no matter what you're facing today, if you puts His Name down as the winner every time, no matter what you're going thru, your chances at a perfect bracket are 100%

That's it for weather and sports!

Patrick

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Happy St Patty’s Day Week!! 

When is it?…Tuesday?….

Man! It’s really a big deal! 

Everyone'll be wearing “the green” and there'll be apparently lots of pinching going on over the world, along with rivers of parades and oceans of green beer! The fountains on the north and the south lawns of the White House will spout green water that day only! Lots of people really get pumped for this holiday! Sometimes you wonder if many even know why! 

Kinda like the cartoon I saw of two pastors in the stands at a football game, in the middle of a bunch of screamin’, goin’-crazy fans. One says to the other, “Who you for?” and the other says, “Nobody! I don’t even know who’s playing! I just like to be some place where people are excited about something!” (‘pparently, that pastor has never been to Triple C!)

Did y’ know…

The traditional color for St Patrick was blue? Green didn’t become a thing until the Irish picked it to show that they were fighting for independence from the British…and they wanted their own color! George Washington let his soldiers celebrate St Patrick’s on March 17, 1780 because they were fighting against the Brits, too! That’s how it became such a big deal in Boston and NY!

Anyway…with all the clovers and leprechan-look-alikes, y’wonder if many really even know why Patrick was such an awesome Irish dude…

Turns out, he wasn’t! 

Awesome, yes…Irish, no!

He was actually a Brit himself! His mom and dad loved Jesus and he grew up saying he did…sorta. But when he was kidnapped by Irish slave traders 1609 years ago and shipped to Ireland, the land of druid priests and warrior chiefs of pagan clans, he was forced to shepherd pigs on the Irish hillsides. That’s when he really called out to the God his parents knew. (Sound like another prodigal son you’ve heard of?)

"I would pray constantly during the daylight hours…The love of God and the fear of Him surrounded me more and more. And faith grew...In one day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and at night only slightly less."

One day, he heard a voice that told him to run to the coast! “Your ship is waiting to take you home!”

He took off and after 200 miles, reached the sea. A ship taking a load of Irish wolfhounds (y’know…the dogs!) to France had room for one more smelly, shaggy passenger. Before long he was home!

But one night he had a dream. 

A guy Patrick called Victorious appeared to him in this dream with letters from Ireland. One was signed, “the Voice of the Irish” 

“, 'We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.' I was deeply moved in heart and I could read no further, so I awoke."

So, filled with God’s call and courage to return to the land of his enslavement, he set sail for Ireland!

The Pat was back! 

He knew that Ireland wasn’t a kingdom of anyone, but an island of tribes and their chiefs. If you get the chief in charge to believe in Christ, that rest would be easy! The first one to accept Jesus was Milcu…his former master!

Not everyone was thrilled that he was sharing the message of Jesus all over the Emerald Isle

"Daily I expect murder, fraud or captivity," Patrick wrote, "but I fear none of these things because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God almighty who rules everywhere."

And he was unstoppable, sharing Jesus with people in the north, east and west of Ireland! Only Munster in the south was still unconverted to Jesus when he died. Some say he almost completely stopped the Irish slave trade by himself and he baptized 100,000 folks! 

What a difference! All because one heart was unafraid to follow his Savior and share the Good News of Him in a tough place!

Makes you almost wanna pinch YOURSELF!

"Do over"

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope y’all’re pumped and ready for this amazing and important Sunday coming up! Not only is this the second Sunday of the month when we all bring delicious stuff from home and eat together after church (if I was in the “Sound of Music”, C3 fellowship meal would be one of my favorite things! Whiskers on kittens don't really do anything for me, personally…) but also this Sunday is... 

“Change-Your-Clock-And-Spring-Forward! Sunday”! 

That’s right! 

This Sunday at precisely 2:00 am, we jump ahead into the future by one hour! 

Many people just set the clock ahead before going to bed on Saturday night.  You already lose an hour of sleep, so it would make it worse to have to wake up and do it at the exact time of the change-over.  But wouldn’t it be cool just once in your life to have the full experience and wake up at five minutes to two, get up, do a count-down together, and turn your clocks  forward at precisely 2:00 am on the minute!, and then go back to bed! 

Just once! 

It's like the only chance we have to time-travel and we all just sleep thru it!

There must be a very important reason for changing the clocks, even though in Algeria, Singapore, South Korea, Swaziland, Venezuela, Burundi, the states of Arizona (except for residents of the Navajo Nation) and Hawaii, along with Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Marianas Islands, and loads of other places, they just leave the clocks alone all year and snooze on. (Did you know China has only one time zone?) 

I know springing forward and falling back time-wise, must be important...but I’m not really sure why. I've always heard farmers like it, but they are the ones who have always grumped the most about it. They are the only ones in history to have lobbied against it in Congress. They say it messes up the cows' milk…Sends ol' Bessie into utter confusion!

Y know, it isn’t really called “daylight savings time”.  It’s “daylight saving time”. And it doesn’t really save any daylight. You get the same amount. 

It's really all about what you do with the hours of daylight and dark that you get.

Remember what Gandalf said to Frodo, when he complained about having to deal with the ring thing?

Frodo-"I wish the ring had never come to me. It wish all this had never happened…"

Gandalf-"That is not for us to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

Sometimes, I bet almost all of us wish we really could "fall back" in time and live a moment again…You know, have a "do-over". A word I could say or not say…A choice I would unchoose, if I could…

Others might rather "spring forward"…

If I could jump into the future, nestle down into a seat and watch from there the things that happened and know the reasons…and see why it had to be…and all God has done for good in the moments that were so painful. There are plenty of broken hearts today that long to know why and what good will come from the painful present. ..

But no matter how much we turn our clocks and watches, we don't-and can't- "fall-back" or ""spring forward" in time. All we can do…and the best we can do…is to trust and love and worship Him Who knows what He is doing, why He is doing it, and what good will come from all that makes up this day, both pleasant and painful. 

That's why we remind you to set your clocks ahead Saturday night. Otherwise, you might miss the only thing that makes any sense. 

Praise and worship this Sunday at 10:45 am.

Same time as every week. 

Only an hour earlier.

"Esther 4:16 principle"

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone! 

Hope you’re having an awesome, joy-filled day! You know, the other day I was…

“Hey! What if I’m not!? What if I’m NOT having an awesome, joy-filled day? What if I’m having a yucky day? What am I supposed to do about it?”

Oh.

Well, there are some things you could do if you’re having a yucky day, depending on the reason for the yuckiness.

If you’re having a yucky day because of the weather…

Well, there ain’t a whole lot you could do about the wet, cold, "how-many-times-is-it-gonna-snow-in-a-row?"-iness except to remember...

…that tons of folks have had  (literally!) TONS more snow than we have...

…and that whatever the weather, “God says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth…’ " (Job 37) and “lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds do his bidding...” (Psalm 148)…

So, we pretty much have the weather God chooses for us! 

…and that no matter what the weather, in your heart, it can always be spring!  Because...

“the righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon... They will always stay fresh and green” (Pslam 92)

Or maybe you're having a yucky day because of the things you see on the news. If it’s because of the sufferings of so many people who have a difficult life that just keeps getting more difficult...

There is something you can do! You can lift them to the throne of God! We could pray for brothers and sisters in Christ who are there, trying to be faithful, brave, and true to their Master in a tough situation. 

In Revelation 8, there is this amazing scene where an angel takes this golden incense ball full of fire from the altar of God and “...hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake!” In the golden ball, this angel had collected and included “the prayers of the saints” (Rev 8.3). In the middle of hate and animosity and shootings and beatings and explosions in the troubled places of the world, the prayers of the people of God become a bomb of love, goodness, and strength in God for those who are struggling to walk with Him! 

If you pray, you can have an important role around the world! 

Amazing!

On the other hand, if you’re having a yucky day because…

Let's say there is someone in your life who is driving you nuts. Maybe it’s because they have something going on that isn’t right and that God doesn’t want. You know it, but they don’t. 

Or maybe it’s because they just have some annoying ways that kind of make you kooky. You know how all of us can be irritating at times. 

To have a brighter day, maybe you need to talk to that someone about that something in their life that isn’t good. Especially if it’s something you know ain’t God’s will for them! We all need someone with the courage to confront us from time to time!

Or maybe you just need to ignore and put up with their little irritating ways, knowing that we’re all annoying to others from time to time!

“So how do I know if I should talk to them or just put up with them? How do I know if it’s something to confront or something to forget?”

Why not try the “Esther 4.16 principle”? 

She had to get the courage to face a scary king about a situation and decided that, before she made a move to confront, she’d pray about it for three days. Somebody breaking your heart? Or driving you nuts? You can’t tell whether it’s wrong or just annoying? Just pray about it for three days. Ask God to tell you whether you should speak up or shut up! 

“Yeah, but...let’s say...someone cuts in front of me in traffic.. I'd have to to decide whether or not I should tell him/her off and possibly point out through my gesticulations their short-comings.  If I wait for three days before deciding, my opportunity would be gone!”

Yes, it would.

Have a joy-filled day!

Simple as that

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Wow! What a week! It's really been quite a fall!

"Fall?! Dude! Winter's hopefully winding up! Especially after this week! Whaddaya mean, fall?"

Oh. I meant the one I took on Wednesday. 

That was quite a fall.

I was out jogging in the winter wonderland, taking in all the wonders of falling snow on ice and meditating on the wonder of slumbering flowers under white frozen fields, just waiting for their moment to bloom in nature's wonderful arrangements, when suddenly something less than wonderful happened…

Opps! 

Bam!!

Or as the song says…

"A slip! 

A slide! 

On my backside!

I think I mighta

bruised my pride!"

My first thought as I lay in the street, looking up at the wonder of snowflakes, each one wonderfully unique, landing on my face, was…

"I wonder if anyone saw that!"

Anyway, after about the ten minutes it took me to stand up, I thought, "Sumthin' ain't right. My right arm isn't supposed to just hang down like that…"

So I figured I better go to the ER and find out what happens when you break your shoulder off. Pottsie did ambulance duty and as we made our way out of the 'Springs, I thought, "Wow, Lord! How complicated did my life just get? Will this mean surgery? Or surgeries? Physical therapy? Arm transplant? WILL I EVER PLAY THE BANJO AGAIN?!"

When I registered, the lady asked, "What happened?"

"I slipped and fell while jogging," I said.

"That was stupid!"

"Falling? You can't help it if you slip on ice!"

"No. Not that part. The jogging on snow and ice was stupid."

"I see your point."

Thankfully, my bro' in Christ, Dave Drum was working back there! After he read the X-rays he said, "Nothing broken! Just a sprain! Let's throw it in this sling and in a couple of days, should be good as new!"

Wow! That was simple! 

I thought I had a really complicated problem that would need a complicated solution but it would all be easy and simple!

What a wintery wonderful feeling!

Y'know, that wasn't the first time I had a simple answer to an intimidating problem this week!

I thought I was having major power steering issues in my car. There was this growling noise. Called another bro' in Christ, Julio…

"Do this. Stop. Turn the wheel as far left as it can go. Then as far right. Repeat. I think there are bubbles in the line…"

Left…right…left…right…FIXED!

Seven seconds and no bill! 

"…And I said to myself, 'What a wonderful world!' "

While we're all stuck in this winter wonderland…

I wonder how many times we miss that wonder?

An easy fix when we thought the solution would be so complicated?

Here's a problem that has an easy answer…

Sometimes, folks live for weeks, months, or years with regrets and remorse for dumb choices or hurtful decisions made "way back there". 

"How can I ever get past this? How can I ever lift my head again? How can I ever feel clean again?"

John wrote, "If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

"Confess" means, "Just call that mess and wrong what God calls it. No making Him promises. No need to plead or beg. Just admit it!"

Bam! Clean and new! 

That was easy!

How 'bout when you're filled with anxiety and worry about a thing you can't fix and you don't know what to do about it…

Answer? Listen…

"Be anxious for nothing (the Greek for "nothing" is the word, "NOTHING!") but in everything by prayer and asking, including thanksgiving, tell God what you want. And the peace of God that passes all understanding WILL guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!" (Philippians 4:6)

Did you hear that simple solution?

Tell God what you want Him to do about whatever makes you anxious, worried or nervous, thanking Him that He's awesome and full of love and power, and you WILL have peace! 

It's a promise!

Simple as that!

Easy!

Here's another simple solution to potentially complicated problems…

If you're confused and don't know what to do, all you have to do is ask God yo tell you!

Check this…

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you!" (James 1:5)

Wisdom for James didn't mean understanding the philosophically intrinsically inscrutability of life's mysterious mysteries. It's a ton more practical. "James" was about the first thing in the New Testament written, when most everyone was Jewish in Jesus' movement. And for Jewish people, wisdom was a lot more Proverb-y, plain ol' everyday "What-do-I-do-now?" stuff. Advice and direction for the situations of life. 

Don't know what to do?

That's easy!

Ask God to tell you and He promises He will!

If you do it, you'll save yourself tons of troubles!

"God, it's snowy and icy out there. Since I'm almost a senior citizen and falls ain't as easy on a feller like me as they used to be, do you think I should go jogging in this?"

"No, my son. That would be stupid."

That's it for the weather!

Valentine Weekend

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Wow! Hope you've got some fun plans for Valentine's weekend 'cause this forecast looks amazing! Perfect weather coming! Check this from Todd the Weather guy…

"Very cold this weekend!! Saturday will see an arctic cold front coming, with bitterly cold air arriving Saturday night into Sunday! Lows plunge to near 10 degrees with snow flurries likely! Highs on Sunday will only reach into the 20's! It looks like there's a good chance for wintry precipitation next week! Stay tuned!"

Doesn't that sound awesome? At least down at our little house in the country, there's no gagging, tears, or near-puking in the weather predictions!  As far as I'm concerned, it can frost and freeze and snow a foot, as long there's no STINK in the forecast! 

Remember that skunk I was telling y'all about last week under our house? 

Gone, baby!

I delivered the li'l sweetness to it's new home somewhere waaaay down the road on Tuesday! 

If I ever get on Jeopardy, I think I'm picking this as my little personal interest fact they use in that eight second interview they do in the middle of the first round…

"It says here that one time you trapped a skunk and released it into the wild all by yourself."

"That's right, Alex! I've had some help in the past with catching and releasing the little stinkers but this time I did it from start to finish all by myself!"

"Good for you. Next, we have…"

"Wait, Alex! I haven't told you what I used to catch it! Honestly, I'll have to say that not many folks have ever done this by themselves! I'm kinda proud of the fact that…"

“Sorry. We need to move on to the next contestant. It says here you once juggled live turtles in a circus…"

Anyway, if Alex doesn't want to know, I'll tell you what food I did use to catch it…Skunks are really amazing critters! They eat grasshoppers, mice, grubs under the ground, and poisonous snakes! 

Speaking of amazing skunk facts, did you know that their stink remains on you for four to eight days? 

Did you know that their smelliness comes from two streams that burst out of their rear ends and travel separately thru the air for up to one foot before they combine in mid-air to make a fine mist?

(I bet the guy who first filmed this in slo-mo had to wait four to eight days before anyone wanted to see it!)

Skunks have to be able to put that tail straight up to let you have it! They can shoot five to eight times before the tank is  empty, and it takes a week to "fill 'er up!"

They normally travel alone (duh!) and only socialize with each other during mating season (I guess some times instincts are stronger than stinks!)

And besides grubs and snakes, they love Li'l Debbie's Honey Buns! That's what I used!

I bought this little wire trap at Tractor Supply that's about as big as a shoe box. You put the H-Bun in the back. Mr. Skunk eases in for a munch, steps on a flap that makesthe door shut behind him, and Wham! You gotta skunk-in-the-box!

Now what?!

That's where it gets scary…

You gently throw a towel over the whole thing and speak to your prisoner in gentle tones…

"There you go, li'l buddy…It's gonna be fine…just enjoy yer bun while I sloooowly lift you into my truck…We're goin' fer a ride…This is probably your first time in a truck, huh?…Easy…Let's keep our tails down,ok?…D'you know Key Springs Road? You'll love it there…You'll need to stay off Hwy 61…I think I saw one of your cousins there this morning…Wasn't pretty…"

Then when you arrive, you pull over and calmly lift the trap and trapee out of the truck. 

Then comes the most delicate moment…I was trembling and sweating. My heart was pounding. I felt like one of those specialists who defuse live WWII bombs when they find them in Europe's farm fields. Sloooowly I lifted the door. And as steadily as shaking fingers could, I hooked the latch…It's open! I stepped back slowly then ran to the truck! And watched! 

Nothing!

 "C'mon, dude! Get out!" 

And there he came! Waddling like cross between a duck and a ten-ton elephant, scooting about his business like he rode in trucks going 60mph everyday!

"I did it!" I thought! "Yes!"

I wiped a tear and cranked my truck.. And drove away with a song in my heart.

I had a familiar feeling…

It felt like the first time (and every time!) I preached on the streets and piazzas of Italy.

Or the first time I ever held a hand and prayed in an ICU.

Or the first time I ever walked thru the steel doors of a jail and heard 'em close behind me.

It's the feeling you feel when you have something that's scaring you and you trust God and, with His help, face that fear and do the thing.

There's no feeling like it in the world.

Even if the fear never really goes away no matter how many times you find yourself in an intimidating moment and place, you begin to understand that with Him, you're not alone and you're going to be OK!

Whether it's deciding to have a tough conversation that is long overdue…

or whether it's deciding to share a word about Jesus with someone who needs it…

or especially if you have to decide if you have what it takes to set a skunk free…

Just do it!

'Cause fear really stinks!

Music and Singing

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re having a fantastic day! 

Hope your day started a little “fresher” than ours did a week ago! 

You know that feeling when you’re really totally asleep and all the sudden…you’re dreaming about…what is it?...”Why am I dreaming about…coffee? Why is this coffee so strong? In fact, it’s so strong…and I like it strong…it’s just a little much for me…” And then you’re awake and you know where the java-like smell’s coming from…

SKUNK UNDER THE HOUSE!!

So, picture this. Or better, get a whiff of this…

 It’s 3:15 am… your eyes are watering… you feel close to almost throwing up… both of you…and you look at each other and ask, simultaneously, “What do we do now?!” Sleep isn’t an option. We made coffee, but frankly I felt like I’d already sniffed a whole pot. 

Then I remembered what we did last year when a skunk snuck (and stunk!) under 834 Johnson Rd, O.S…

I went into the living room, turned on the Mac, clicked the itunes thingy, put the speakers on the floor, facing down and found my anti-skunk play list. Actually it’s my double-strength, no-kidding, straight-up, turbo-charged traditional bluegrass play list. I like Nickel Creek, Rascal Flatts and all that, but they’re not on that list. This is my Lester n’ Earl, “Shuckin’ the Corn”, Bill Monroe, “Goin’ Back to Ol’ Kentucky”, Stanley Brothers, “Uncle Pen”, Martha White Flour play list. 

Cranked it up, and went outside to make sure it wasn’t rockin’ the ‘hood. And we let it play. As the yodels, high lonesome harmonies, and banjo breaks rolled, the piyew-iness diminished. After a while, we were convinced it’d worked. Ol’ Stinky had gone back home.

Funny, but apparently skunks don’t like bluegrass. Who’da thunk it? I would’ve thought they’d have liked it. Maybe all the singing out the nose makes their favorite defense less offensive. We love bluegrass and don’t like skunks under the house at 4:00. So …it all works out!

Y’know, one thing the Scriptures say that sometimes is hard to remember, is that we are in spiritual battles everyday. It might not always seem like it, but those who love Jesus have an automatic enemy. He’s mean and wants to keep you discouraged, frightened, and/or upset. 

I like how the Message puts it…

“So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way…

Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet.” (Eph 6)

One of the weapons we have to stay encouraged is praise! Praise music and praise singing! In the chapter before the one we just read, Paul says that praise…and singing it…are the best and easiest ways to keep your heart full! 

And here’s another tip: The enemy of our hearts…you know, the one who wants to steal your joy…he hates to hear praise about as much as skunks hate bluegrass! Get your “praise on”! There’s someone who can’t stand to be around it!

Ahhhh! That smells better!

Tell 'em

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

It goes without saying, but I hope y'all are having a day filled with praise and…

Whoa!  

Stop!

I need to start this whole thing over 'cause I started out from the very beginning saying something really dopey!

"What? That 'Hey, everyone' thing? You say that every time!"

No, not that.

The next thing! That "It goes without saying" thing...Shouldn'ta said it!

I'm starting to think that there is too much of that! 

I'm starting to feel that there are too many times that I assume that folks know what I feel or want for them and that it isn't necessary to say it. "It just goes without saying", as they say. 

But, you know what? It really doesn't! 

There are so many folks who walk around with a heart full of questions they shouldn't be asking. 

"Does that person care for me? 

Do they like me? 

Will they be waiting when I get there? 

If I need them, can I call? 

Would I bother them? 

Am I one of them? 

Do they think about me?"

"And why do they ask this?" you ask.

Because it doesn't go without saying!

If you care, you need to say it!

If you're friends, let 'em know!

If they can count on you, tell 'em so!

You need to say it!

The other day I was listening to a bunch of bluegrass and country songs shuffling on a playlist and I heard the coolest song by a singer that Tina and I love named Claire Lynch. The banjo was ringing', with a groovy fiddle jumpin' in'… But even tho' the melody was bright and light, the words made this the saddest song I've heard in a long time!

"He's so fine!

No ordinary kind of thinker!

Half the time 

i stop and wonder what is on his mind.

I have to tell myself he loves me, 

'cause he don't like too talk about.

What he feels, he keeps it in his own hip pocket

that's the deal and I just have to take or leave it.

But in my heart i know he loves me.

He just don't like talk about it.

Sometimes I wish he would tell me more!

Move me with flowery phrases!

Swear by the heavens his everlasting love!

Its hard for him to say he loves me.

He just don't like to talk about it.

But still i find I wouldn't change a thing about him.

Why should I?

I never want to live without him.

He doesn't have to say he loves me,

if he don't like to talk about it."

What!? Yes he does! 

This poor heart is on the edge of broken! She's sitting there, telling herself that he loves her! Trying to talk herself into believing it! 

'Cause he won't say it!

"'Cause he don't like to talk about it!"

C'mon, man!

Say it!!

My heart was so perturbed! 

Sometimes bluegrass will do that to a person...

But then another song came on the shuffle! This one was written by Paul Overstreet ("You say it best when you say nothing at all"…Remember that one?) He's one of the sweetest and one of the best at writing country songs for a healthy heart.

Listen to this…

"He stood looking at his father who is 85 years old

He remembered all the ball games they played so long ago.

Then he put his arm around him and kissed him on the cheek.

He said 'Dad, it's time I told you what a friend you've been to me!'

'Cause when you love someone

You gotta let 'em know.

When you're thinking of someone

You need to tell 'em so.

Don't know what makes us think

Our minds and our hearts can be read!

What's going without saying should be said!

She stood in the kitchen doorway, all grown up with children, too,

Watching as her mama cooked just like she used to do.

She slowly walked up to her and she held her wrinkled hands

She said, 'Do you know you are the greatest mom a daughter ever had?'

'Cause when you love someone

You gotta let 'em know.

When you're thinking of someone

You need to tell 'em so.

Don't know what makes us think

Our minds and our hearts can be read!

What's going without saying should be said!

No one needs your roses

When the sun of life's gone down.

If you're gonna send a message of your love

Then send it now!

'I don't believe I've let you hear the things you should have heard.

I don't believe I've truly put my feelings into words.

'Cause to me you are so beautiful, much more then words can say!

But if you don't mind and you've got the time

I'd like to try today!'

'Cause when you love someone

You gotta let 'em know

When you're thinking of someone

you need to tell 'em so

I don't know what makes me think

My mind and my heart can be read

What's going without saying should be said!"

I was talking to someone recently and asked, "Did your dad tell you that he loved you?"

"Yes he did! But it was later in his life that he really started to say it freely."

"Did you teach him by telling him you loved him?"

"Yeah. I guess I did."

There are lessons that are passed down from father to son, but what better lesson could be passed up from son to father?

If you love someone, why don't you tell them today!

What's going without saying should be said!

Up where the Son always shines

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Wow! It's gonna be an awesomely bright and sunny one today! Skies of bluest blue made bluer still by golden beams of the sunniest sun!

"Really!? I just heard we can "expect considerable cloudiness and a 70% chance of rain all day and into your Saturday with a 50% chance into tomorrow afternoon…"

Oh…well, that's true for the just the very first of the sky. 

The slice nearest to us. 

Under the clouds, it is going to be pretty wet and sloshy for the next couple of days. But in most of the sky, it's gonna be clear as clear can be! 

I was reading about a fella in the 40's wrote  "The Weather Book". He explained that the sky (everything "up" until you get to outer space) is about 250 miles high. But the slice of sky where the weather happens and where the clouds "live"…we call this the "troposphere" (well, actually I've never called it that!)…is only about 18,000 feet high. So…

It'll be bright and crisp and clear in almost all the sky today! And every day! 

It'll only be cloudy and rainy in the lowest levels right above our heads, meteorologically speaking. 

So the forecast for today and for everyday till Jesus comes is "…mostly sunny and clear! (with some variations in the lowest levels where clouds may or may not be, depending)"

Which reminds me…

Tomorrow, I'll be at two funerals.

During the funerals, there will be singing, shouting, dancing, eating, praising, and endless joy joy joy!

"Wow! I can't remember ever being at a funeral like that!"

Oh, sorry. I didn't mean "at" the funeral. I mean "during" the funeral. 

At the funeral, there will be hugs, smiles, tears, encouragement, remembering, soft quiet singing and prayers. Mostly they are like this. Down where we are.

But up above, where those who are loved and gone will be during the funerals…Up beyond the troposphere and the sky…

There will be singing and praising and joy like we have never yet known! All the time! 

It is always and neverendingly thus! 

Both now and forevermore! 

Worlds without end! 

Amen!

And all of us who love them and who love Jesus as well, will be joining them soon! And if it happens to me before He comes to gather us, while y'all are down here "below the clouds" at my funeral, with your hugs and smiles, I'll be dancing and praising like Gene Kelly and Mahalia Jackson and I-don't-know-who, all rolled into one! 

Praising my Savior and loving my new life!!

Up where the Son always shines!

Y'know, one time, the Apostle Paul wrote that he had the very unusual experience of getting to visit Heaven for a moment before his "time". He said there are not words in any language to describe the wonders above that he saw and the wonders above that he heard! He spoke of "inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell!" (2 Coringthians 12.4)

As the song says, "...Just too marvelous! Too marvelous for words!"

Some scholars believe that this may have happened when Paul was taken outside the city walls of Lystra and stoned to "death" by some folks who were more upset at him than humans should ever be at anyone. 

"They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city…" (Acts 14.19-20)

A pile of stones.

A circle of weeping, hugging friends.

Quiet words.

Tearful prayers. 

A stone moves!

And than another!

A hush!

Our dusty hero standing tall!

"Really!? You've been with Him?! What was it like?"

"You have no idea!! I can't even talk about it!"

Hallelujah!

"Keepability"

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you're having an awesome January 16! According to "This date in sports history", this was a huuuuuge day for Stan Musial in 1952! Got a raise to an amazingly unprecedented salary of $85,000 a year! Considering that this was equivalent to Clayton Kershaw making his $32,500,000 this year (according to MLB Salary rankings) no matter what you make, Stan the Man's salary has to make you feel better about things in your life!

When Babe Ruth signed a contract in '29 that gave him more money per year than the guy in the Oval Office, a reporter asked him whether he thought, considering the Great Depression and all, he deserved as a ball player to make more than President Hoover did. The Bambino answered "What the *%&# has Hoover got to do with it? Besides, I had a better year than he did!"  

If you have any resolutions to keep…how’s it going on those? I just found out that January 1 wasn’t the official “New Years Day” until 1752. Before that it was March 1. It’s kind of a bummer because if the year started on Jan 1 and New Years wasn’t until March 1, it gave you three months to practice on your resolutions and get the flops out of your system before you had to seriously do them. If you had to lose weight, it gave you three months to go ahead and get your weight up to an even number before you had to start losing it!

Anyway, one of the keys to keeping your resolutions is to make some you CAN keep. "Keepability" is the secret! Let me give you three suggestions if it’s not too late to add a few…

Eat some chocolate every day. Chocolate is so good for you! Researchers tell us that “the anti-oxidants mop up the damage done by free radicals” (don’t ask). The flavanols in chocolate relax your artery walls and keep platelets from sticking to them.  All you need to eat every day is the amount the size of a stack of business cards, 1/3 inch tall.

If you have more than that, you’re on your own.

Laugh everyday in 2015! Laughing is very good for you and good for your heart. A study at the University of Maryland found that people with heart disease are 40% less likely to laugh at funny things that other people.  One report said that “ Laughter can be a great workout for your diaphragm, abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg, and back muscles. It massages abdominal organs, tones intestinal functioning, and strengthens the muscles that hold the abdominal organs in place. “  Maybe that’s TMI but it’s good to know.

Pre-school kids laugh 400 times a day while adults only laugh 17 times! What happened? 

"Why was 6 afraid of 7?"

"Because 7 8 9!"

Think that's funny? Well, kids do! See the point? (Maybe the point is that kids think stupid jokes are funny and you lose that somewhere along the way)

Let’s see…

Eat chocolate daily.

Laugh daily.

And…

Oh, yeah! Join a Community Group and attend it every week! 

On Sundays, we have what we like to call “Community Groups” during the 9:30 to 10:30 hour.  They are sort of like small groups that you would attend during the week, except they are on Sundays at church (where you’re already planning to be…We’re trying to make it as easy as possible!). Community groups are a super time to be with other people who love Jesus and become better friends. It’s a time to be in the Word and also get to know other people in your church family better! It’s a time to share and encourage!! 

 

And Community Groups are good for your health! They could even save yourlife! 

Harvard researchers studied 7000 people over nine years and found that people with terrible health habits like unhealthy eating (not including daily chocolate!) and smoking but with good friends live a lot longer than people with good habits and no/few friends. 

“If you belong to no support groups and then join one, you cut your risk of dying over the next year IN HALF!” 

The Journal of the American Medical Association found that people with strong emotional connections were four times less likely to get colds, were less susceptible to viruses and had significantly less mucous than isolated subjects, proving that…

"...unfriendly people are literally snottier than friendly people.”

If you don’t come to a community group, why not start in 2015?  

Other people need you!

And your friendship!

And your encouragement! 

And it will be good for your health!  

And you’ll get fewer colds!

If you decide to not come to one, I’ll go ahead and say it. 

Gesundheit!!

Eating Together

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey everyone!

Wow! Today is gonna be Awesome Friday! Sun's comim' up at 7:47 and going down at 5:38! Just last Friday it went down at 5:33 so our days are getting sunnier! And even if the sun doesn't stay up long tomorrow, it's gonna be freezing so you wouldn't want to be out there much anyhoo! Wouldn't it be awful if the really cold days were like in July when the sun is up the most? You'd have plenty of daylight but it'd be too cold for swimming or softball! I think it's better this way.

(Wait a sec. Maybe that's why it IS warmer in July…)

But mostly, no matter what happens, it'll be awesome, spiritually speaking! *

(*Romans 8:28)

Y'know, usually on these Friday Triple C emails, I try to have a thought or two to encourage us for our day before we get to the announcements for the week (and I do  have one for today!) but we have an important reminder, so I thought I'd give you that news first…

Sunday is the second Sunday of the month and that means "Fellowship Meal!!"

"What is the 2nd Sunday Fellowship Meal?"

Well, ever since CCC started, we've been doing this thing where everyone (mostly) brings food from home and after worship, we put it all together, grab a plate, and we just eat together! Sometimes, folks can't stay for whatever reason, but if you can, it's a bunch of fun!

"How do you make sure everyone doesn't bring the same thing by accident? What if everyone brought green bean casserole and that would be all we had? Or what if everyone brought banana pudding and we just had banana pudding to share?

Well, I know some who would consider the banana pudding thing a sort of miracle…but just so it doesn't happen, we have a plan! There is a list. and usually, on the week before, this announcement goes out…

This Sunday, January 11

is our monthly covered dish luncheon

immediately following the Worship Service.

 

Please plan to stay and eat!

Bring 2 dishes to share from the following categories:

 

meat / veggie / salad / bread / dessert

 

The refrigerator is available to keep cool things cool

and the oven is ready to keep warm things warm,

so come on early and put your food

in the kitchen until after Worship Service!

 

So, you just pick two total from whichever categories. When we put it all together, it's always a balanced diet! Tho' not always a WeighWatchers diet! You're on your own, as far as that goes!

"Why do we do this every month?"

That's a great question! There's a simple answer and a complex one! 

Simple answer? We're hungry! 

Complex answer? Turn in your Bibles to the Gospel of Luke.

"What chapter?"

Wow. You could just read the whole thing! 

It's amazing how much food and eating together is in there! in Luke's Gospel Jesus loved eating together with people! The super religious crowd was upset with Him constantly because, not only was He friends with folks they considered "less than acceptable", but He ATE with them!  "Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them.  But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law complained to his disciples, 'Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?'” (Luke 5)

Jesus told the story of the Prodigal Son to some people who were upset with Him and said, "Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1)

I remember hearing about a girl named Edith who was afraid she had been too sinful for Jesus to welcome her into His family (of course, He would welcome her!!) but she was encouraged when someone read in church this verse from the ol' King James…"This man receiveth sinners…and eateth with them!" She thought he said "Edith" and…well, you get it!

Our Lord did miracles so people could eat together (Luke 9).

He raised a child from the dead and first thing, got her something to eat (Luke 8)

He promised we'd always have food (Luke 12)

He told stories about food (Luke 17)

He shared His deepest secrets at the table, eating with His friends (Luke 22)

And two folks were shocked and amazed to find He was risen from the dead! Because He was at their table, eating with them! (Luke 24: 30-31)

One super interesting thing is that the Book of Acts was written by Luke as well! It's kind of "Luke vol. 2" And IT'S full of food! 

Luke says the first believers in Jesus… "studied what the apostles taught. They shared life together. They broke bread and ate together. And they prayed. Everyone felt that God was near… All the believers were together. They shared everything they had.. Every day they met together in the temple courtyard and in their homes they broke bread and ate together. Their hearts were glad and honest and true. They praised God!" (Acts 2: 42-46)

The word Luke used for "shared together" is the Greek word (Luke's language) "koinonia" We often translate it, "fellowship". It means…uh…"to share together"! They shared tons of stuff! 

Including their food!

Eating together is a way of saying, "You're important to me! I like being with you and knowing you better! You're like a family in Jesus to me!"

And, amazingly, verse 47 of Acts 2 says, "…They praised God. They were respected by all the people. Every day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved!"

People wanted in! 

Because lots of hearts want to be in something that makes them feel that someone thinks they're important…

That someone likes hanging out with them and knowing them…

That someone thinks they're family!

Fellowship Meal this Sunday!

Now for my thought of the week…

uh…

I can't remember what it was…

Well, rats!

New Year

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you had a peaceful News Years' Day and I really hope that you are blessed beyond all you could ask or imagine this coming year! 

And as we look back on 2014, and evaluate the year gone by, I was wondering…

Can we really say in all honesty, that we twa hae run about the braes, and pou'd the gowans fine? Do you feel this year that we've wander'd mony a weary fit?

Have we? 

Really?

Even tho' seas between us braid hae roar'd, we twa hae paidl'd in the burn, frae morning sun till dine…

Did you truly have those in your life that you would say of them, "And surely ye'll be your pint stowp! And surely I'll be mine! And we'll tak a right gude-willie waught!"

Have you seriously taken a right gude-willie waught?

Seriously?

(Actually, I don't know if I have either! Or if I shoulda!)

Let me look it up…one sec…Oh. Apparently that means "to lift a glass of good-will".

Those are all the words to the traditional New Years Eve chorus "Auld Lang Syn". The lyrics are tough (as in, impossible!) to understand because they were written by Robert Burns in 1788 in the Scottish language. But folks sing it (or try to!) around the world as the clock strikes and the ball drops and the fireworks boom at midnight, every January One. Once, when I was in like 3rd grade, we were doing a field trip to McGhee-Tyson airport and just by chance got to meet Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians as they were arriving in K'town. They were some kind of "swing band" from the old Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman days. Apparently he's the one who started the "Auld Lang Syn" thing on New Years Eve at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York in 1929. It went "viral", as we say, and there you go! Singin' it ever since!

It's the only part of "It's a Wonderful Life" that I woulda changed. In the last moments, they were rockin' "Hark the Herald Angels" right when Harry arrived and  lifted his glass to "my brother George! The luckiest man in town!" That movie woulda been PERFECT if the last words woulda been, "Glooory tooo the new-born Kinggg!!!"

Instead, it ended with George winking up to Clarence and crooning, "We'll take a cup o' kindness yet for auld lang syn…"

"What on earth does that mean?!"

Apparently, in ancient Scottish, it means "for the olden days" or "for old times' sake" or something' like that.

Apart from all the incomprehensible Scottish words, even the words in that song you CAN understand don't make sense! 

"Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot and auld lang syne?"

I remember Billy Crystal saying in one of his movies, as the clock struck twelve, and the singing began...

What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. I mean, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot?’ Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances. Or does it mean that if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot them?”

That's why I like to wish y'all something you really can get your mind and heart around! I want to wish you a "Blessed 2015!"

Ever wonder what that means? When we say, "Bless you!" at a sneeze…or "say the blessing" at supper…or when Tiny Tim says, "God bless us, everyone!"…what are we really saying? 

Actually, in the New Testament, "to bless" is made up of two Greek words scrunched together. The words are "to speak" and the word "good". "To bless" you means "to speak good over you" "God bless you!" means "May He speak good things over you!" 

And as it says at the beginning of the world on the Bible's first page, "He spoke and it was so!" If God speaks something good over you, it will be true! 

And as the Apostle tells us in his letter from prison to the Ephesians, God "has blessed us with every spiritual blessing Heaven has to give!" He goes on to say God chose us! He loved us! He adopted us! He is always blessing you! Always speaking good over you! He calls you…

"My beloved!" (Ephesians 1:6)

"My child!" (Ephesians 1:6)

"Mine!" (Ephesians 1:7)

Y'know, our English word, "blessed" comes from an Old English word, "bloedsian", which means "marked or bought with blood" And that's exactly what our Paul tells us! All the blessings are ours because "in Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins"! And because of His blood, we have every other blessing as well! 

Guaranteed!

So if I "wish" you a blessed New Year, I'm really only reminding you of what you have and always will! God has already said it! He has and will always bless you! In 2015 and forever!

It just makes you wan ta tak a right gude-willie waught!!

Gift Exchange

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Or better…"Whew! Everyone!"

As in, "Whew! Christmas is over! "

Only thing left to do is go to the mall to exchange gifts that didn’t “fit”, continue the digestion process after yesterday, pack those decorations back up next week, stow 'em all away back in the attic or shed, and in the meantime, enjoy the "after Christmas glow"!

By the way, if you didn't make it to our Christmas Eve service, our Christmas choir rocked the house! And it was packed! We had so many candles lit by the end of “Silent Night”, it was getting kinda warm in there!  I thought the sprinklers might go off! That would have been a Christmas memory!

I didn't really get everything done I needed to this year. I was going to make all these amazing, spectacular Christmas cookies...and I have also decided that I'm going to become a master baker and there were several delicious dough-y intentions I found in the December Southern Living that never made it into or out of our oven.

I hadn't really thought about how disappointed I was for not getting everything done 'til I read about Chet Fitch. He died in October at 88 a few years ago. He knew it was coming. So he wrote notes on thirty-four Christmas cards for special friends and gave them to an accomplice to mail in December. The return address was "Heaven"!

The notes inside said, "…Wish I could tell you about things here but words cannot explain… I'll probably be seeing you (some sooner than you think). Wishing you a very Merry Christmas. Chet Fitch"

A friend for nearly 25 years, Debbie Hansen Bernard said, "All I could think was, 'You little stinker!!' It was amazing," she said. "Just so Chet…always wanting to get the last laugh."

Guess he did!

And he also got his Christmas cards done! Even though he was 88!

And dead!

So, I'm not feeling so good about not getting stuff done!

It's amazing how the holidays…and especially this one…can “get to you” in some of the darker corners of your heart. You feel like you just didn’t do enough. Maybe you didn’t try hard enough, Yuletide-wise. You feel like you’re the Christmas tree light bulb that burned out and made the whole string go out. And if they keep trying ‘em all, somebody’s gonna find out it was you! 

Sometimes it feels like, after the eggnog carton is (thankfully) in the garbage and the multi-colored, torn up wrapping paper is all in the big black plastic bags, that Christmas guilt just keeps hangin' around.  Sometimes Christmas guilt feels like the last package you open!

"Did I do enough?"

"Did I get the wrong thing for that person? Did they really like it?…or did they just say they did?"

"Did I spend enough on this person to really say 'I love you'? How much money says, "'I love you'?"

Yikes! Santa didn't leave that gift of "Season's Guilt-ings"! I think Satan's the one that leaves you that stuff!

"Jesus is the reason for the season"….and giving you and me a clean, forgiven heart is the reason He came. So we could be free of guilt!! At Christmas and all the year through! “Nothing to lose and nothing to prove!” 

Both Now and Forevermore !! 

Amen!!

Jesus came to give gifts. He said…

 "I came to give eternal life…"

"My peace I give you…"

I give a spring of water welling up to eternal life"

If you wound up with a box of Christmas guilt, why not take it back and exchange it? It doesn’t fit you. And it doesn’t look good on you. You don’t need a receipt because it isn’t really yours.

Exchange it for the gifts Jesus came to bring you, like…

Peace. 

A clean heart.  

His whole-hearted acceptance and affirmation of all of you, all the time.

And unlike that electric nose hair trimmer and that Christmas necktie where Rudolph’s nose lights up…

His gifts are gifts you can really and truly love and enjoy everyday!

All day!

All year!!

Merry Post-Christmas, everyone!

Merriest Christmas Ever

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everybody!

Ever notice that your Christmastime heart is always filled with names and faces that you maybe haven’t thought about since last year? It’s like you put their memory away in the attic of your mind and bring them out like your old, familiar favorite Christmas tree ornaments, and you think, “There you are! So glad to see you again!”

I’m not talking about Santa or the wisemen. I mean those less-than-protagonist characters who have their moments on stage in the Christmas play that takes place in your heart each year. Folks like…Bing Crosby (don’t you love where he whistles a harmony part near the end?)…George Bailey’s wife, Donna Reed (Have you thought about her ONCE this year? See?)…along with Ernie and Bert, the cop and taxi driver of Bedford Falls (Did you know that they named the Sesame Street Ernie and Bert the same thing and it was a complete coincidence?)…Nat King Cole (“…Altho’ it’s been said many times, many ways…”)…Bob Crachit…Speaking of Bobs, Bob Newhart, Will Ferrill’s adoptive dad in “Elf”…then there’s Bumble, Yukon Cornelius and Hermie, the elf who wants to be a dentist…

Wow! The list is longer than the one I used to give Santa! 

Speaking of minor players in Christmas stories…Did anyone think of Anna, the Christmas prophet? Maybe she’s been closer to your heart than you realize this Christmas…

Remember how in Luke, chapter two, after the Holy Couple found a barn…and after the Holy Babe was wrapped in swaddling clothes…and after the angels’ surprise appearance to the shepherds…and after the shepherds’ surprise appearance to Mary and Joseph and the Baby...in fact, a week after…

…the Holy Family went to the city of Jerusalem, four miles or so down the road, to dedicate our Lord in the temple. It was time for Him to receive His Name. And there were plenty of people there, as always. But there was one person who was always there. Had been for YEARS! It was an old prophet named Anna. Her life had been very sad, but it says she was a prophet and she must have known that her day was about to get…wonderful!

She had been married for seven years. Then her husband died. If she was married at the normal age of thirteen, she was left a widow at twenty. She remained a widow for…eighty four years! So she was 104! The widow’s life was usually very tough in those days. They couldn’t seek a profession or career options back then. They had to trust God for everything, everyday. That’s why she “never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying…” (Luke 2.37) She came around the corner at the very moment the young parents did, and she saw… the Infant King!

Another older person named Simeon had asked to hold the Child, and he did. 

I’m not sure if Anna asked, “May I have a turn as well?” 

(“Uh…I don’t think so. You’re like, 100…and we don’t really know you.”)

But after all those years of widowhood, she saw in the arms of a young couple, the One Who loved her most!

Luke says that “…she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem…” 

Last month, you heard about widows in India. Just like Anna, many of them become widows at a very young age. With children to care for, and no way to support their families, so many who have heard  the “glad tidings of great joy!” from Victor Nandigam and his faithful, courageous friends, have opened their hearts to Him, turning from harsh, heartless, fearful beliefs, to Jesus and His love!  Victor tries to care for them all he can. He prays that God will allow him to provide one sari, the native dress, for each widow every Christmas. It will be their whole wardrobe for the year. So…

We put dozens of envelopes on a Christmas tree! One tag for $25 bought 2 and 1/2 saris. Enough tags to buy 325 saris for 325 widows ! Along with 60 envelopes for the 60 orphans who live in Victor's home (!), at $20 each tag, this bought a school outfit and a book bag for each of the kids. That tree was covered with envelopes! By this past Sunday, the envelopes were ALL GONE! 

WOW!!! 

Psalm 65.4 says “the streams of God are filled with water!” And the hearts of Triple C are filled with Christmas love!! Along with a greatest Christmas dinner ever for 180 inmates at the Morgan County Prison…and sending $1200 to Jane, Tasha, and Hallie in Chicago, so that ladies from the inner-city can have help preparing themselves for that up-coming job interview …how could we ever thank you enough for caring and loving orphans and widows in India?! And loving  an Indian brother who has so little and cares for so many!! This is the greatest Christmas EVER!!

Because along with children with no parents except a Heavenly Father, 325 widows will have a Christmas when they see the love of Jesus flowing to them from the hearts and gifts of those far away who love Him and them! And in India, they will “give thanks to God and speak about the Child to all who are looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem…”

And India!

Wow! Thanks for making this the Merriest Christmas ever!

Happy "what" days?

CCC Oak Ridge

Hey, everyone!

Hope you're caroling your way thru your day for all the seasonal reasons! It's gonna be awesome! From what I heard, "…Sunshine returns today with high temperatures slowly warming into the upper 40s…Tomorrow, mostly sunny skies will continue with highs continuing to warm into the middle to upper 50s!"

So, I just hope you're having the "merriest of Decembers!" And while I'm at it, "Winter Greetings! 

That doesn't quite do it, does it?

I guess I was just thinking about what they say on TV commercials anymore at Christmastime. We were watching a ballgame the other day and the ads were encouraging us to buy a new car to "make this the best December ever!"…or to shop at their "Winter Event!" One even wished us "Happy Honda Days!" 

"Hey! Let's just put our name where His used to be!" Bam!

It seems crazy that many business and marketing folks hesitate to wish us a cheery "Merry Christmas!" anymore. Even tho' "79% of Americans think Christmas should be about Jesus" and "73% of 'Nones' (those who don't have any religious beliefs or faith) think songs about Jesus should be sung at school Christmas programs",  lots of retailers just don't want to say "Merry Christmas" in their ads. 

But, if you think about it, I guess it makes sense. 

I mean, since Jesus was born into poverty, grew to have "no place to lay His head", and said that we must "be on your guard against all kinds of greed!" because our life "doesn't consist in an abundance of possessions", if I was just trying to get people to buy more stuff, His would be the last name I'd want associated with that!

On the other hand, if it's just about celebrating a "December to remember" or a "Winter event", it seems like you couldn't find a worst time to buy a new car! In December that new auto is a lot more likely to slide on sleety, slippery streets into a fire hydrant or get slush all slopped up on it from the other cars sloshing by! 

Maybe one year, they'll just try to get us to forget what holiday, month or season of the year it is, and simply say, "Buy stuff!"

This is a little random, but the other day, I was listening to a Bing Crosby Christmas record and I heard that warm, sweet voice sing these words about the "faith of our fathers" and how they lived with all their heart for Jesus, not just at Christmastime, but always…

Check these words...

"Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,

Were still in heart and conscience free.

How sweet would be their children's fate

If they, like them, could die for Thee!

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!

We will be true to Thee till death!"

Wow.

That's what I call a Christmas carol! It was recorded for the album, "White Christmas" in 1945. 

Why does it seem like three hundred years ago?

But maybe in some ways, it's healthier this way. Maybe it's better if some just say, "Happy holidays". Maybe it's better for them, spiritually.

"Christmas" is a Latin word. It comes from the word "Christus" (which means Jesus is the coming King of all), together with the word "messa" or "sending", which comes from the word, "mittere", which means "to send" (like in "emit" or "transmit"). "Messa" is where we get the word "mission". Christmas is "the mission of Christ to our world".

Maybe it's best that wishes of true Christmas joy and cheer are spoken only by those who love Him whose mission into poverty and suffering and whose rising from that tomb, alive from the dead has filled their hearts with gladness and merriment!

Maybe if more folks who still haven't come to believe in Him and love Him, made less wishes of merry remembrance of things that really have no place yet in their hearts, they would be more likely to stop and think…

"It's the end of December. They called it a 'December to remember'. I have new perfume and new jewelry, new clubs, and a new car. Yet, I'm not happy… Hmmm…I wonder what's missing in my life and heart?"

"A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!” cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew…

“Bah!” said Scrooge, “Humbug!”…

“Christmas a humbug, uncle!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “You don’t mean that, I am sure?"

“I do,” said Scrooge. “…Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas! What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer?… Much good it has ever done you!”

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew. “Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!…I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute….But I’ll keep my Christmas humour to the last. So A Merry Christmas, uncle!”

And a Merry Christmas to you!