Handmade by God

MESSAGE: In Ephesians 2:1 Paul says, “As for you, you are dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world.” You follow that? In and of ourselves we are in the ground! We’re dead! But God came to save us and he sent Jesus Christ. He died on the cross to pay for our sins. He rose from the dead to conquer it! And he poured out his Holy Spirit so that he might enter us and make us alive so that we might be his workmanship! Do you understand that this requires great thankfulness on our part? Spiritually we were worthless, but God turned us into a work of art! We are God’s workmanship ‘created in Jesus Christ!’ Isn’t that amazing?!

Tomorrow morning I’ll continue my sermon series on the Book of Ephesians. Please, read chapter 2. My emphasis will be on Ephesians 2:8-10.

CHURCH LIFE. Last Sabbath our church parking lot reminded me of a nice skating rink. I was a bit nervous about the safety of our church members who would be brave enough to drive to church for the first service. As always our deacons were ready to help. Mike Haughee and his deacons on duty were standing outside in the freezing temperature offering free valet service. Great job deacons. Thank you!

Understandably the first service had lower attendance, but the Pathfinders were ready to roll. Praise music and songs were wonderful! Pastor Aubrey’s message was great and her method was innovative. Second service was a pleasant surprise. The church was full in spite of the hazardous road conditions. Both services went super great. Thank you Cory and Aubrey for a wonderful Sabbath day.



The Sabbath night OAKS variety show and pie auction were absolutely awesome! Thank you Shelly and OAKS staff and teachers for the great church/school event. We have lots of talented students at our school. Praise God for each one of them!

Here are a few photos from that event:


OAKS new website was launched that same night. Check it out. It’s user friendly, neat and professional. The address is www.oaksonline.net

. Our local church budget did suffer some dents because of the wintery weather. I trust and pray that tomorrow we’ll bring a double portion of our gifts to God. I would really not want us to dip into the reserve operating fund. Let the Lord touch your heart and impress you to support our local church ministries needs. For those traveling or not able to attend remember about the online giving option available on our church website. Choose ONLINE GIVING on the home page menu at http://www.ooltewahchurch.org

Just FYI: our church office is gradually transitioning to a new office email address which is office@ooltewahchurch.org. Please make a note of it.

PRAYERS. It was good to see many of you at our Wednesday night Prayer Meeting. We continue to study The Sanctified Life by Ellen White. A good portion of our time is dedicated to prayers. I hope that many more of our church members will be joining Wednesday night meetings.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE. A few snow flurries last weekend made us feel nostalgic. We wanted to see more snow. On Sunday morning we drove to the Smokey Mountains. What a gorgeous day it was.

Galena found enough snow to make a snowman 😃

See you tomorrow. Happy Sabbath.


Pathfinder Club Sabbath

  WEEK OF PRAYER. During the last 8 days twice a day a group of our prayer warriors got together to pray about our church. Many prayer requests were placed on the cross in the front of the church. We’ve been praying about our church growth, about spirit-filled living, our daily connection with Jesus, victory over illnesses, financial troubles, marital problems, etc. Thank you, Sandra and Connie, for making daily arrangements for this program. I hope we’ll be repeating our common church prayer sessions throughout the year. It’s good to pray together.

PATHFINDER CLUB SABBATH. Tomorrow the worship service will be presented by the Patnfinder Club with pastor Aubrey sharing the Sabbath morning message. Due to possible hazardous road conditions, the OAKS band will not be able to participate in the program, but I have no doubts that we’ll have two great services. 



If you do not feel safe driving tomorrow morning I recommend that you stay home and watch the live web-stream of our service. You can find the link on the main page of our website at www.ooltewahchurch.org 


  Have you ever tried giving your tithe and offering online through our church website? It is safe, convenient and easily accessible. When you open www.ooltewahchurch.org click the ONLINE GIVNG button in the main menu. I personally use it every week.

Speaking of tithe and offerings, I’d like to encourage you to keep our local church budget going steady and consistent. This will help us to avoid fundraising campaigns in November and December. How much do I contribute weekly towards the local church budget? I’d like all of us to ask ourselves this question every Friday night as we prepare for Sabbath worship service.

PATHFIDER CLUB ACTIVITIES. Here are a few photos from the Pathfinder club trips last weekend. Juniors went to Cross Fit at Cohutta Springs, and Teens went on their Ski trip to Beach Mountain Resort. Looks like they had lots of fun! Praise God there were no injuries and they all safely came back. 



OAKS. Our school is inviting everyone to attend their annual Variety Show this Sabbath evening at 6:30 in the Fellowship Hall of our church. There will be a cake and pie auction. Please, bake lots of pies and bring them to the auction tomorrow. All proceeds will go to benefit OAKS  Worthy Student Fund. 

SABBATH VESPERS. All of us are strangers in most corners of the world. The refugee crisis in Europe has been brought into our lives via the media. Elder Markus Alt, the Director of GR3, Geneva, Switzerland will present a program about his recent trip to the Greek island of Lesbos and his efforts with the humanitarian crisis of refugees trying to escape the Civil War in Syria. Elder Alt will provide compelling video and pictures with his presentation. Vespers will start at 5 pm in the sanctuary.  

On a personal note… Galena never stops to amaze me with her creativity. Because of the NO SNOW Wednesday night her office closed early. When I came home that night she baked rose-shaped apple pies. Made from scratch! Looked awesome and tasted absolutely delicious 😋

Be safe and be blessed!

Happy Sabbath.


Roots of Adventism 

WORSHIP SERVICE. Tomorrow morning we’ll have the blessing of learning more about the Seventh-Day Adventist Heritage. Our speaker for both services is J. Kenneth Ford D.Min. C.S.P.G., Director of Planned Giving and Trust Services at Southern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Following the second service everyone is invited to stay for the Church Fellowship meal. 


. Pastor Ford will continue his Adventist Heritage seminar right after the Sabbath Fellowship meal.


. The seminar will take place in the Fellowship Hall. Share this message with you friends and family. Invite them to learn how the Lord raised the last days Movement to prepare the world for His soon return. I have no doubts that you’ll be richly blessed by Dr. Ford’s presentations.

MINISTERIAL MEETINGS. Last Sunday afternoon all Georgia-Cumberland Confernce pastors and leaders came together for the winter ministerial meetings. Some mornings it did feel like winter… See a few of my photos 😃 from the Cohutta Springs Conference Center below. Each day was filled with praise and worship sessions, training seminars and reports from the Conference departments. We are a part of a great sisterhood of churches. There are almost 40,000 members in our Conference, and over 160 pastors! 

Some of my new friends 😃

 OAKS. Ooltewah Church school is an oasis of God’s Kingdom on Earth. Many of OAKS students take Bible studies with Ron Malloch, Pastor Aubrey, and me. See our selfie below after the Wednesday afternoon study. It is so much fun to see their excitment as they learn about the Bible and their Creator.

On Thursday morning I was asked to speak for OAKS chapel. Thank you, Jesus, for every one of our OAKS angels.


On Thursday night many of our super committed church members were helping with the setup for the Week of Prayer… They were copying and sorting devotion readings, moving around tables, shopping for muffins and bagels… Thank you, my friends, for your love to God!

 The other group of our church members transformed the Fellowship Hall into a Ballroom. Lots of baloons, nicely decorated tables, tons of great smelling food and a fabulous birthday cake. All that for Don Schlender’s birthday party. Don turned 70. Happy Birthday, Don!!! 🎉 (Greg, your chili  was awesome! Thank you!)


Thank you for showing amazing support of our local church budget. This proves that you treat Ooltewah SDA church as YOUR own church family. Think about the many much needed programs and outreach activities that are being funded by your giving! God bless you for your love to this church and its ministry. 

Happy Sabbath!

Chosen in Christ

MESSAGE: Tomorrow morning I am starting a new sermon series based on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. This will be an exciting journey as we learn about his concept of the “the new man”. Starting a new year we want to be sure we know know where we stand in our relationship with Jesus. Ephesians 1:3-5 will be in the heart of my message tomorrow. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”

“Divine sonship is not something that we gain of ourselves. Only to those who receive Christ as their Saviour is given the power to become sons and daughters of God. The sinner cannot, by any power of his own, rid himself of sin. For the accomplishment of this result, he must look to a higher Power. John exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Christ alone has power to cleanse the heart. He who is seeking forgiveness and acceptance can say only,—
“Nothing in my hand I bring;
Simply to Thy cross I cling.”
But the promise of sonship is made to all who “believe on his name.” Everyone who comes to Jesus in faith will receive pardon. (The Review and Herald, September 3, 1903.)

CHURCH LIFE. Our worship service on the first Sabbath of this year was a huge blessing. Thank you, Larry Otto, for the wonderful time of spiritual celebration in praises, hymns, and music. I was in my brother’s church in Auburn, AL that day, but I couldn’t resist the temptation of peeking into the live web stream from our church. I received many exciting messages from our church members commenting on the excellent service. We truly have many reasons to celebrate God’s goodness. Last year was a time of many miracles that God perfomed in our midst. Let His name be glorified.

On Tuesday night the Evangelism committee reviewed our outreach plans for the new year. I hope that in the next two-three weeks these creative ideas will be finalized and shared with the church. I am thankful to God that our church takes Christ’s commission with great sense of responsibility. I am looking forward to many wonderful activities and programs designed to reach out to the needs of our community.

Wednesday afternoon Rita shared with our office staff great news of this church’s faithful stewardship. The whole point of the Fresh Financial Start was to eliminate deficit in our local church budget and to start the new year with at least $1 in the newly established operating reserve fund. At the meeting Rita reported that as of January 1 there was about $23,000 in the operating reserve fund! This is what God can do when we give ourselves into His hands. I pray now that we get out of the “projects mode” and show faithful consistency in our local church giving. God is faithful to us not only in November or December. He showers us with His blessings during cold winters and hot summers. I challange myself and our church family to see His blessings and to respond with open hearts and hands. 

On Wednesday night I had lots of fun visiting visiting the Adventurer’s club program. We have great leaders in that club! Thank you, Becky Denton, for your excellent leadership and for your happy spirit. David Denton asked me to spend a few minutes with his group of Adventurers. The kids had some deep questions for me. Here is a photo from my Adventurer’s night 🙂

That same Wednesday night during our Prayer meeting we agreed to study a new book by Ellen White, called The Santified Life. What great depth of wisdom and guidance in our daily walk with Jesus! Please, join us for a study next Wednesday night. Our head elder Steve Bremner purchased all in stock copies of this book from the Collegedale ABC store. Don’t ask for this book at the store. Come to the prayer meeting and we’ll be sure you’ll get your own copy as a gift from the church.

On Thursday I had an honor of having lunch with the Young at Heart team. We had good Mexican food and excellent fellowship time. I felt even younger after that lunch! Thank you guys for inviting me to be a part of your group. As far as I understand this is an open group for anyone who would want to feel young and to eat good food. Talk to Nancy Smiley or Lupina if you are interested in joining this happy circle.

A week from today, January 15, I invite you to participate in our own Week of Prayer. To accommodate different work schedules there will be two sessions: at 8 am and at 6 pm. Thirty minutes prior to each session there will be hot herbal tea with muffins and donuts in the morning and bagels and cheese in the evening. You don’t have to stay for the whole hour. Come when you can and feel free to leave earlier if needed. There will be no 8 am sessions on Sabbath mornings. The last meeting is on January 23 at 6 pm.

Please pray for OAKS. Over a hundred children come there every day to learn about their Creator. Shelly, her staff, and teachers need our constant prayers. Many of the OAKS students are taking bible studies and are getting ready for baptism. Our youth pastor Aubrey is providing spiritual guidance to the teachers and the students. I invite you to pray for Aubrey daily.

Happy Sabbath, my friends!