The Grace of Caring


It has been five years since the time Galina and I joined the Ooltewah Seventh-day Adventist Church. Every day we feel blessed and honored to be a part of a vibrant, caring, and growing church. Two messages that came to my attention this morning proved to me that God is at work in this church family.

The first one came from Sarah Penagos. Her mother was in critical condition just a few weeks ago. Many of you agreed to pray for her. Here is her email to our church: ”

“Dear Friends,
Thank you so very much for the lovely flower arrangement and especially for the many prayers lifted to God’s throne for my life. God did indeed save my life! It is wonderful that so many of God’s people lifted my name to God in Nashville, Chattanooga and with our many missionaries all over the world. My husband was mission pastor at our church for over 26 years. What an army of prayer warriors. How great is our God! I am slowly gaining strength. Love to all of you, Diana (and Mick)  Antanaitis, parents of Sarah Penagos”
The second one came by regular mail and was written on a piece of paper. Here it is:


Today is Water Day at OAKS. The weather is just right for joyful outdoor splashing activities. Here are a few photos from this morning.

Lupina Haney shared the following encouraging report from the Season of Change Ministry with me: “Last Thursday we had a wonderful turnout (57) to hear Sharon Williams talk about the ways to help widows in India through “Jesus for Asia.” Our ladies contributed over $2000 last year, and yesterday alone we received $410 in donations. Our project this year is to help build a widows’ school in Odisha, India, where they can come and stay, while they learn a sewing trade to support their families.”

The luncheon theme was Vintage Victorian Lace. On the photo below Sharon Williams discusses the hardships of widowhood in India.

Haney’s hungry hombres are meeting this Sunday! Here is a word from Edymar Penagos: “In addition to a breakfast feast, we will have two guest speakers: our Community Service Director Lucas Patterson and Douglas Na’s with SALT. The focus this month is going to be on the spiritual value of community service. As Pastor Peter put it 3 weeks ago in his sermon, service is worship.

Pastor Matts also made an excellent point in his sermon two weeks ago. He asked the question, how do we, as followers of Christ respond and combated the different types of hate in this world? What is the ammo (if you will) that we as Christians have to “fight” against hate? Well, the answer is simple but difficult at the same time, its love (1 Peter 4:8-9, ).

As you know, the men’s group at Ooltewah has an initiative called Love in Action. This ministry has been a blessing to so many, recipients and volunteers alike. God wanted it this way, each of us serving one another, and the Bible is very clear on how Christians should live. I encourage you to read the following passages and ask God, “Lord, how do you want me to love my neighbor?” Philippians 2: 3-5, Colossians 3: 12-14, John 13:34-35, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.”


HOPE FOR OOLTEWAH. Please don’t forget to sign up for a time slot in our Prayer Marathon which is starting in a few days. Donna Caswell will visit your Sabbath School class with a sign up schedule sheet this Sabbath morning. Miracles happen when we start praying.

Be on the alert. Scammers continue to send text messages and emails to our church members impersonating your pastor. They ask for gift cards. Please never reply to these messages. Your pastors will never contact you by email, text or phone with a request for money or gift cards. These are “evil people and impostors who will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.” (2 Tim 3:13)

FROM MY HEART.  Tuesday night was a night of vigilance and prayer. , The husband of our oldest daughter Anastasia, took her to the AdventHealth hospital in Orlando late at night. Their second baby was eager to see the world! At 6:47am Caspian  triumphant cry (which reached us through a video text message) made us celebrate, cry and laugh! What a miracle! What a wonderful blessing!

Worship God in His Sanctuary



Traditional weekly church attendance is clearly on the decline. Modern technology brings spiritual music and God’s Word straight into our cars and homes. We find good reasons to spend the Sabbath in a circle of our family or friends. Tithe and offerings can be sent via our mobile devices while we are on a cruise or tanning on a beach. It is true that we can worship God in our homes, on a nature trail, under a starry sky, but it is only in His Sanctuary that we renew our faith and restore our joy. “I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.” Ps. 63:2


Early Sunday morning our Pathfinder Club left for Oshkosh. Based on Facebook posts and text messages they are all safe and enjoying the activities. Thank you, church, for your prayers for our Pathfinders.

Here are a few photos saved from Facebook posts:

Donna Caswell, the Prayer Ministries director, is helping our church start a Prayer Marathon where every church member can “run.” Your participation is needed even if you are weak, bedridden, have heart issues or have never ran a marathon. Your “running” is your prayer. Here is what Donna is engaging us into: “We have a plan where we want everyone to choose an hour between 8am and 8pm in which you are willing to spend some of the time praying. Think of a day and time of day that would work for you. Look at your schedule. When are you doing things that could be prayer time? Examples would be pumping gas, folding laundry, or maybe taking a walk.”

This week, start thinking about it and practicing prayers of thanksgiving and praise to God. Next Sabbath, we will have a sign-up sheet in your SS class for you to choose a day and time for prayer. Our goal is to have every hour from 8am-8pm covered with prayer 7 days a week. For those who do not find SS convenient, we we will provide a texting number or a sign-up sheet in the foyer.”

If you follow this link you can read the full description of this initiative. Click here.

“Pray in your closet; and as you go about your
daily labor, let your heart be often uplifted to
God … Satan cannot overcome him whose heart
is thus stayed upon God. There is no time or
place in which it is inappropriate to offer up a
petition to God … A closet of communion may be
found wherever we are.” SC p. 100

Group of interlocked fingers praying together

Last Thursday was the first day of school at OAKS. We have a solid number of 122 students. Praise God for the miracles happening at our church school. This morning I was asked to speak for the first OAKS chapel this semester. My key verse was taken from 1 John 3:1 “we should be called children of God!” As God’s children we are born of Him.” We find His genes in us. This is why we want to be like Him in our academic achievements and in our daily life. It was great to hear all of the OAKS students say together “I am a Child of God!” We missed 14 students who are currently in Oshkosh with the Pathfinders. They are in our prayers. Thank you, Shelly, for your spiritual and creative leadership. Thank you, teachers and staff for your love and dedication.



Please continue prayers for Sharon Bremner.

Pathfinders’ safe travels back home on Sunday.

FROM MY HEART: Our oldest daughter Stacey and her husband Javan are just a few days (possibly hours) away from welcoming their second baby. Have I shared with you that our youngest daughter, Barby, got engaged to a perfect young man, Jared Pemberton? And our second grandchild Mila is turning a full two months tomorrow! 😉 My father’s/grandfather’s heart is picking up the pace. Prayers please 🙂


Lay Down Your Life for Your Brother


We live in a harsh world. Mass shooting is no longer news to us… It is a daily reality. However shooting starts not when the trigger is pulled. It starts in our hearts and minds. We shoot one another with unkind words, with aggressive attitude, or the spirit of unforgiveness. We keep crucifying Christ for His love to sinners. Weird, crippled and sick have no room in our revised version of the Gospel. We all can make a difference, but it should start in my heart. “This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.” 1 John 3:16-17

This new life starts when we unite ourselves with Christ. I invite you to celebrate the power of God’s love tonight during the Agape Feast which starts at 7 pm.



This morning Sharon Bremner was admitted to the hospital. Please pray for Sharon.

Carole Darmody has been in the hospital this week with a heart issue. Please pray for Carol.

Beth Best fell and fractured her shoulder. Prayers for Beth!

Jerry Johnson has been in pain this whole week. Praying for Jerry.

Our Pathfinder Club will be traveling to Oshkosh starting early Sunday morning. Prayers for the children and staff please.

Our Church is doing a new pictorial directory! We want everyone to get a new picture made so that our new directory will be complete. IT WON’T BE COMPLETE WITHOUT YOU! You can make your appointment at church on the sign-up sheets, or, you can click on the link below and make your appointment on-line. Please go ahead and do that now.

Photo dates are:
September 15-19, 22-26, 2019
Please allow approximately 1 hour for your appointment. You will have a professional photography session, see your proofs immediately on computer and have the opportunity to purchase extra portraits for family and friends.

A Life of Worship



Again and again the Scripture is inviting us to worship God. Psalm 99:5 “Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.” We worship God in His house every Sabbath. We worship Him in hymns and prayers. We add time for worship to our busy daily schedules. Eventually worship turns into an event that happens in a specific segment of time. Is this the “acceptable worship” Paul talks about in Hebrews 12:28? In Romans 12 Paul connects the concept of worship to a living sacrifice. Worship is no longer a spiritual compartment of our human nature. It is life itself in its fullness.


Last Sabbath our church celebrated pastor Matthew’s ordination. It was a wonderful service. I felt the presence of God’s Spirit in every part of the service. Let us continue to pray for Pastor Matthew, Emmalee, and their boys. They are a blessing to our congregation.


On Sunday, July 28, Men’s Ministry team volunteered to prepare and serve breakfast for the OAKS workbee participants. Delicious food was clearly appreciated by all who came to support OAKS. If you don’t trust me see photos below 🙂 Here is a short note from Edymar: “Mens ministry would like to thank everyone who came out early to help prepare breakfast for the workbee volunteers and then took time to help at the school. A special thank you to Steve Kulik, Aaron Brewer and Jim Easter for making sure the food was ready on time!”

This week both Matthew and I attended the summer pastor’s meetings at Cohutta Springs Conference center. Every one of these retreats is a wonderful learning and bonding experience. I love the serenity of the area … beautiful fields, the smell of hay, and the buzz of the crickets.



Sondra Otto had knee replacement surgery. Yesterday she was still at Erlanger East hospital. Prayers for Sondra, please.

Janet Goss had a rough week. After many tests and procedures the doctors determined that she urgently needed a stent placed in one of the arteries in her heart. The procedure went successfully, and Janet is in recovery. The family appreciates your prayers and visits.

From the Stewardship Director:

4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Time

Money is precious, but you can always earn more. Cutting back or picking up a second job can increase your revenue pretty quickly.

The same can’t be said of time, though. Once a minute or an hour has passed, we can’t get it back. It’s the most limited resource we have.

That might lead us to become “time hoarders.”

Now, you’ve probably heard of money hoarders. They get cash in one hand and never let it flow out the other. And you might know about people hoarding stuff from stories on TV.

But hoarding time?

Yep, it happens. People get so wrapped up in their schedules that they can’t pull themselves away from the clock on the wall. They live in bondage to seconds and minutes and hours. And, ironically, they end up wasting the time they’re trying to protect.

Time hoarding is a subtle enemy that creeps into our hearts and minds. But you don’t have to be its victim. Here are four things you can do to become a better steward of the time God gives you.

1. Figure out how you’re using your time.

If you want to be wise with your time, figure out where you stand right now. For the next week or so, take a few minutes at the end of each day to complete a time diary. List what you did and how long you did it. While you’re at it, make a list of things you wish you had done, but couldn’t squeeze in.

Be honest and ruthless in your evaluation. It might be a little uncomfortable, but it’s a step you really need to take.

2. Make sure the main things are the main thing.

In your monthly budget, you set priorities for spending. You figure out what things are most important and cover those big rocks first. Time works the same way.

To effectively use time, you’ve got to know the difference between what’s good and what’s best. You can fill your schedule with a lot of activity, but that doesn’t guarantee you’re focusing on what really matters. The time you invest in identifying (and nurturing) the main things in your life will be time well spent.

3. Intentionally schedule fun.

Let’s be honest: You start with great intentions, but the calendar fills up before you include any downtime with family and friends. That’s why you have to be intentional about scheduling some fun time into your day.

Fun won’t magically happen. You’ve got to make it happen—and you’ve got to eliminate all the distractions that could pull you back toward the tyranny of time.

4. Give yourself grace.

Remember that guilt you feel over every “wasted” moment? Well, the Bible says that God’s grace removes the condemnation we’re tempted to carry around (Romans 8:1). So, here’s the real question: If God offers us incredible amounts of grace, what gives us the right to withhold grace from ourselves?

You’ll never be perfect, so cut yourself some slack. Be intentional with your time, but give yourself grace when you fall short of your goals.

The apostle Paul once challenged his readers to live wisely by making the most of their time (Ephesians 5:15–16). Time is still an important piece of our stewardship puzzle. God wants us to use it His way for His glory.

So, own your time instead of letting your time own you.

Our Summer Agape Feast is on August 9 at 7 pm. Everyone is invited!