One Nation Under God

UnknownMESSAGE.  II Chron. 7:14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

In just a few days we’ll remember the birth of the United States of America. Let us pray that we continue to live “under God” as “one nation” where there is room for everyone. I see as it is becoming almost impossible to worship God in many parts of the world. I pray that we learn how to respect our religious, social, and political differences. It is in diversity that I find the strength of a nation. Dictators suppress free speech. So called “national’ religions take away a person’s right to pray according to his or her conviction. I pray that we show the whole world what great beauty there is in the tapestry of multiple colors. God creates in color. I may be a fan of blue or green political ideas, but without yellow, black or white my world is far short of God’s artistic standards. Let us pray that God strengthens our unity and makes us truly “one nation.”



Edymar Penagos shared the following report and pictures with me: “Our monthly breakfast was last week and it personally was one of my favorites (see attached photos). We had a lot of new faces show up to help prepare the food and to fellowship. We spent a good amount of time getting to know each others stories before we started our focused discussion on having a service minded heart. As usual, The food was AMAZING. We had cowboy eggs, loaded tater tots and several other delicious items. Thanks to all who came out early to help cook and set up, you guys rock!
The food was great and the meeting afterwards was inspirational. I was humbled by what the guys shared and their desire to serve others. Jesus was very clear on how we as Christians are to set ourselves apart in this world. John 13:35 says, “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The bible has verse after verse on how we, as the body of Christ should live our lives (John 13:34, 1 Peter 4:8-9, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). My prayer is that each of you experience the join that God wanted us to have when He commanded us to love/serve another.
Upcoming event:
Mark your calendars! July is right around the corner and instead of our regular breakfast, we will be hosting Marty and Gale Miller with Blue Print for Men. This event was developed as a couples seminar and is titled “Marriage Love Boat.” It will be on July 27 (Saturday) from 4 to 8pm in the Ooltewah church fellowship hall. Last month, Marty presented us with tools to “tune up” our marriages, I can’t wait to see what the two will present in July. More info to come over the next several weeks so stay tuned!
Love in action:
  • This Sunday, I need two able bodied men to help a family move.
  • Next week, we will need 3 to 4 guys to help a new family moving into our area unload their U-Haul.
  • Love in action project at Mikes house is SO close to being done. We just need two guys and a few hours to wrap it up.”

Season of Change Ministry had their monthly event last Thursday. Here is Lupina’s update: “We had a great red, white and blue turnout for Season of Change. Our guest speaker, art therapist Brooke Montague, from Hart Galleries had us work on an interactive art project to express our feelings about loss and the recovery process.” At the  last Finance committee meeting Lupina shared with the group exciting news about their Ministry’s international emphasis. This year the Season of Change will be supporting a women’s shelter in India. Thank you, Lupina and your team, for your creativity and leadership.

Ed Demaree just sent an encouraging report and photos regarding the Building Hope project. The work is approaching its finishing stages. There have been no major problems or concerns with the project except for the heavy equipment messing up the school parking lot. It looks like we’ll need to compact and repave those areas. There may be a blessing in disguise as the existing layer of asphalt was not deep enough, and the parking area was slanting towards the school building. It looks like we may have enough funding in the contingency budget line for this work. Once again, thank you church for generously supporting our school’s very much needed renovations.

Prison Ministry update shared by Steve Bremner:  “I was in prison and you came to Me.“ Matthew 25:36. There is a ministry that can help you apply this verse to your life. The Ooltewah SDA Church has a church service every week at the Silverdale Correctional Facility from 6:00-7:30 P.M. They provide prayer, song service, and a sermonette for the prisoners, and they can often share their prayer requests with the group. It is a blessing to everyone.  I would like to thank Edwin Reynolds and Anita Shelton for volunteering to be a part of this wonderful ministry.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A CHRISTIAN STEWARD?  – “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” — Micah 6:8, NRSV

In Jesus’ time, the steward was the manager of the household. The steward was not the owner of the assets, but a responsible administrator of the owner’s property.

We are all stewards of some possessions and influence. We either take care of the earth or we pollute the earth. The question is: “What kind of stewards are we?”

A starting place is the recognition that God has invited us to be responsible for our lives and resources. We are not likely to manage well unless we acknowledge that we are managers. We are not likely to exercise good stewardship unless we recognize that we are stewards.

Giving money for the work of the church is one very important aspect of stewardship, but it is not the whole of stewardship. When stewardship is reduced to financial giving, the richness of the biblical symbol is dismissed. When financial giving is magnified to the whole of stewardship, the richness of a whole life committed to Jesus Christ is missing.

Christian giving is a responsive act. It represents gratitude to God. It is a symbol of self-giving. Therefore, giving is not a once-for-all event, but a regular part of life. It is a spiritual discipline that reminds us who we are and whose we are.

PRAYERS.  This week Sharom McKee fell and broke six ribs. She had to spend a few days in the hospital. Presently Sharon is back at home. Please, pray for her soon and complete recovery.

Rita Rogers had abdominal pain for several days and had to go for some tests. Prayers for Rita, please.

On a personal note: This week Galena and I celebrated 35 years of marriage. It is in our relationship that I learn what eternal heavenly love is all about. If someone tells you that love fades away with years, don’t believe them. Ask me and I’ll prove to you that it actually grows bigger and better with every new year. I’m grateful to God for my caring, hardworking, God-loving and always up beat wife. She makes my life feel like it is heaven already.


The Life of Faith



“[Enoch] was ever under the influence of Jesus. He reflected Christ’s character, exhibiting the same qualities in goodness, mercy, tender compassion, sympathy, forbearance, meekness, humility, and love. His association with Christ day by day transformed him to the image of Him with whom he was so intimately connected.”—Reflecting Christ, p. 20:5.

Faith that pleases God is not an event, it is life lived in constant communion with Christ. This Sabbath morning I invite you to learn from the life of Enoch what true faith is all about.



Over a hundred and twenty children filled our church during the Vacation Bible School. Add to that number parents and grandparents who accompanied the little ones! The church sounded like a beehive. The program picked for the VBS was a great draw for the parents who wanted their children to learn more about Jesus. I attended only the Friday morning, but was very much impressed with the wonderful music. Many of our church teenagers served as volunteers. Their participation and help were absolutely invaluable! Special thank you to Carleen Zalabak, Jaude Barbosa, and Pastor Matthew. Along with a great team of volunteers they went an extra mile to accommodate this higher than expected VBS attendance. I am sure that many of the little ones learned how to feel safe in Jesus.  Below are a few photos from that week (courtesy of Aaron Hall) and a link to a 5 minute video:



Opal Vega is requesting prayers for her son Eric who has been diagnosed with stomach cancer. He is currently at Erlanger downtown.

Howard Kennedy had surgery on Thursday. He is back home and grateful for the prayers.

Sondra and Bill Chilson had a car problem traveling home. The repairs are under way and they are thankful for the all the angels who kept them safe.


This was an eventful week in our family. Late Monday night our second daughter Dasha gave birth to their first baby. The whole delivery process was not without complications and we are grateful to God that the mother and the baby are doing fine. On the same level we are thankful for Dasha’s husband Kevin, who was with her through every moment during her stay in the hospital room. Mila Natalia Crawford came into this world as an 8 lb 11oz precious angel of a little girl. Thank you church for your prayers and for sharing our joy.


Growing Strong in Faith


“… who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations” Romans 4:8. The starting point of Abraham’s faith did not look promising. He was old, his wife was way beyond the childbearing age… His future looked bleak; even hope itself was not making sense. This is the place where we normally stop and give up. Abraham chose to believe in a way which went beyond all mere impressions of probability. He believed in hope against all hope. When logic and reason fail, when even faith in any possible outcome becomes meaningless Abraham “believes in hope.” This is the only path which leads to faith that sprouts against all odds, and starts growing strong.


Vacation Bible School preparations are going full speed. We are just two days away from the first day of the “Rescued!” adventure. Don’t forget to pick up a flyer at church and share it with your family and friends. The VBS team still needs volunteers. Please join the crew. Talk to Carleen or Jaude tomorrow after the worship service.

Have you had a chance to drive by the school building and see for yourself the ongoing “Building Hope” project? I have great news to share with you, church! This week we reached the set goal of $190,000! A heartfelt THANK YOU to all who supported this super important building project. There is nothing impossible for the Lord. Some donated a little, some donated a lot and the Lord brought it all to a wonderful point of celebration. Our children, our OAKS students will have the school building fully prepared for the new school year. Praise God! Thank you, church!

Last Sabbath in spite of the camp meeting in Collegedale we had two full services. A wonderful children’s story was shared by Steve Darmody. Uplifting special music was presented by the Williams family. I wish all of you could hear them sing. Thank you, Avril and family, for the way your blessed our church last Sabbath.


Community Service: We have recently initiated a monthly service project with the Samaritan Center (9231 Lee Hwy, Ooltewah) and need your help on June 8! On the second Saturday night of each month we bring in and sort donated items that have been dropped off outside their building. We needs 12-15 volunteers age 8 and older. Last month we had 7 volunteers and would appreciate additional help! We will begin at 9:30 pm – the standard start time is 45 minutes after sundown – and work for 60-90 minutes. To sign up for this activity, please contact Lucas Patterson (423-582-1678) or John Turner (423-383-0036).


Last Wednesday a few students from the Standiford Gap School Summer Literature Team brought books for sale to our prayer meeting.  This was their way to raise money for their school tuition assistance. Here is a note from the team leader:

“Pastor, Your church family is wonderful. There were 21 people there tonight. The donations we collected total $282. We praise God for you all. What a blessing to our kids and their families.”

Please remember about the SALT training this Sabbath @6 pm and Singspiration @7pm.

Happy Sabbath. See you tomorrow.