The essence of the Sabbath day can be found only in Jesus. If Jesus is not in the very heart of the Sabbath observance it turns into a legalistic ritual. This is the reason Christ calls Himself the Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8). This truth is fully proclaimed in His invitation: ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28). Sabbath observance serves as a passage into the presence of Christ where we find rest from the burdens of sin and guilt.
I invite you to study this important truth this Sabbath morning during our worship service times.
Last Monday we had a very good participation at our monthly church Board meeting. I was impressed with the spirit of unity among our church leaders. I have no doubts that the Holy Spirit will help us to see healing of the wounds of 2020 and equip us for even stronger service to the needs of our church family and our community. It was good to hear encouraging reports from several of our ministries’ leaders. The pandemic is still here, but they are finding creative ways to lead our church forward. Among many other agenda items church board members agreed to start exploring ways to turn our church into a ‘living body’ consisting of active and growing ‘cells’. You’ll be hearing more about it in the next few weeks as this concept is being fine-tuned by various ministries.
Here is a report from the last week’s Men’s breakfast:
As we discussed in our quick Bible study; we want to remain focused on building a more “David-esque” like faith, always relying on God’s strength rather than our own. We also want to be wary of the traps and snares that often follow close behind, when we serve “self” and forget to humble ourselves to God.
In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, we learned that we are not here to run the race of life to get earthly prizes…For they all fade! And let’s be honest, most of us have enough faded stuff in the closet or garage as it is! Our prize is not found here, but rather it is a reservation in Heaven! where we can again Thank & Praise the Lord for all He has done for us. I pray that we are all training in a manner to be able to stand at the end of the race and be found to have won. Let’s also be found willing to help others train as well.
In that vein, I’d like to remind everyone that the small group classes will be starting in the not too distant future. If you are interested in signing up for either of the classes we are working towards (or know someone who may be), please do not hesitate to contact Edymar for more details. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind slotting you into one of the groups.
Finally, we heard from our brother and friend Marty Miller of the Blue Print For Men Ministry. Let me just say, something quick about what they do. Last fall I attended their “Ignite the Fire” men’s retreat, my first men’s retreat ever. It was, simply put. Awesome! I had a great experience and was able to bond with like minded Men in Nature. I made new friends, experienced new things (Warning Hammock camping is pretty cool!) and had some amazing personal time with GOD in His Creation. Please feel free to contact them for questions regarding any of their events, they come highly recommended. https://blueprintformen.org/
Lastly, I wanted to say thanks again to all of you who came out and made this first Breakfast a great success. As the Bible says “though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12. Imagine what we can do when we weave 30 men together around the braided center of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit! Matt Geraghty
Next Friday, February 5, we’ll have a Memorial service for Dale Smith, who passed away in December. The service is scheduled for 4 PM in the Fellowship Hall. All are welcome to attend.
Our head deaconess, Dina Cole and her team did a great job cleaning the church kitchen. It looks fully transformed! Thank you, ladies. Your hard work is sincerely appreciated.
Please continue your prayers for Steven Bremner and his family. Steve had surgery two weeks ago. This coming Monday he’ll have another big surgery. Presently Steve is on a paid sick leave. I would be grateful if you keep this in mind and try not to contact Steve with any questions related to church business. He needs some quiet time during the next few weeks. Summer Bradford will be our interim church office secretary effective immediately. Please continue to use the regular church office phone number and church office email address as Summer will be the one answering the phone and email messages.
Pastor Matthew and Emmalee are grateful for your prayers for Malachi. Here is the latest update: “The growth they removed was Langerhans cell histiocytosis. We don’t know much more right now, other than that Malachi will likely have more MRIs in the future to monitor his condition. We have an appointment with the neurosurgeon next week, and I assume at some point we’ll be meeting with the oncologist too, but he hasn’t called us yet. “
The current events in our nation and around the globe teach us to trust our Creator even more. He is the only One who can resolve political battles and bring healing into this world plagued with a pandemic. Satan sows seeds of hatred and dissension but the Spirit of God brings peace and unity. Allow the Spirit to control your mind and your heart. Look into the future with confidence. This is God’s world and He will not leave us as orphans. (John 14:18)
As His church we have a mission to share the Good News of the coming King. To fulfill this mission we need to be equipped by the Holy Spirit. We’ll learn what this equipping is all about on Sabbath morning. If you cannot attend church in person you can still worship with your church in virtual reality. The Spirit of God keeps us together.
Together – this should be the most frequently used word of this year. Every member of our church needs to feel that she or he is prayed over, appreciated and needed for the ministry. Together we’ll be strong in the battles with illnesses and in social and political struggles. Please, be intentional in reaching out to a small circle of church members who need to feel the warmth of our Christian community. Use your phones, text messages, email or post cards. Let me know if you need addresses of those who are lonely. If you are willing to prepare a dish and deliver it to the front door of a church family ask one of our elders and they will give you the name and the address.
At the last church board meeting we talked about a new vision for our church building project. The pandemic of 2020 made us all aware of the fragility of this world. Does it mean that we need to stop all projects and shelter in place? Certainly not. God is in charge of the events in the history of this world and He will come at the appointed time. Meanwhile, we need to do everything possible for the growth of God’s church. The Board discussed an alternative plan where the existing Fellowship Hall will be remodeled and converted into a larger size Worship Hall allowing up to 350 seats. To meet the social needs of the church, as well as to create space for big church/school events (like graduations or concerts), it was proposed to build a new Fellowship Hall which will include Sabbath school classes, a new bigger kitchen and church offices. Currently the building committee is gathering information on this new approach to the building project. The expectation is that this approach will make the whole project considerably less costly and more manageable for our church. Please, keep this project in your prayers. You’ll be hearing more in the next few weeks. The new concept will be presented to the business meeting by early March as it was agreed at the last business meeting in February of 2020.
Men’s Ministry highlights: Men’s Breakfast 1/24/21: Attention Haney’s Hungry Hombres! Plan to join us for some great food and company next Sunday. In addition to some great food, we will have a short devotional on the importance of walking together with God.
If you would like to help prepare the food (we always have too much fun doing so), plan to meet in the fellowship hall at 7:30am. Otherwise, we will start grubbing at 8:30am sharp. Please note: we will follow all social distancing guidelines but masks will not be required.
Men’s Sabbath School class, every sabbath: We are currently studying last day event prophecies while learning how to live during them.
Prayers. Please continue to pray for our church members who are struggling with various health concerns. Special prayers are needed for a. Malachi, pastor Matthew’s and Emmalee’s son; b. for Steve Bremner’s recovery after surgery and his future treatments. c. David Love, who is dealing with serious health issues.
The first week of 2021 didn’t give us a break. I was deeply troubled by the events that took place in Washington, DC on Wednesday. I saw this kind of violence in Russia in the early nineties and it is definitely not a path to peace and freedom. On Wednesday night many of our church members gathered on ZOOM and YouTube to pray for our nation. We found comfort in the words of the Holy Scriptures that this world still belongs to the Sovereign God. He promised not to leave us alone until the day He comes back to establish His eternal Kingdom of grace and justice. “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all.” 1 Chronicles 29:11 I invite you to pray daily for our country. We need healing in this New Year.
I encourage you also to seek ways to break the walls of distancing and division in our own spiritual community. If you are a ministry leader or an elder, connect with the members of your group; help them find support; encourage them; engage them. We need one another. I expect this to be the year of togetherness. Be proactive in praying for one another, studying God’s Word together, laughing together and crying together. If you are interested in starting a small group of prayer and study, talk to me and I will help you to launch this ministry.
Praying for one another is a key element of this “togetherness”. This week I invite you to pray especially for Steve Bremner, who is recovering after surgery. In the next few weeks he will need to make some important decisions regarding his future treatments. I solicit your prayers for pastor Matthew’s and Emmalee’s son Malachi. He had a rough week packed with many doctors’ visits and tests. Pray that the Lord touches Malachi with His healing hand.
COVID19 is still agressively spreading in our nation and in our county. If you feel vulnerable or have cold symptoms you don’t need to feel excluded from our Sabbath worship services. You can be with your church online via YouTube streaming. We’ll be praying for you. Tomorrow, during all three services Jaime Jorge will be praising God on his violin. I will continue my three sermon series on the subject of the Holy Spirit. Jan 2: Guided by the Spirit. Jan 9: Filled with the Spirit. Jan 16: Equipped by the Spirit.
I am deeply grateful to all who came to the Samaritan Center last week. The amount of donated items was higher than I have ever seen before. About a fourth our our church volunteers finished the project in less than two hours!!! What a team! What a spirit! Connie Reynolds, thank you for the brownies. They were delicious. Galena, thank you for the hot chocolate. We all loved it.
This morning I received a Men’s Ministry update and photos from Edymar Penagos. Here is Edymar’s message:
“So, what did you learn from 2020? Did it put things into perspective or did it cause you to feel lost? Personally, I feel as if God is working on giving me 2020 vision on what really matters to Him: His children. All of them.
With that said, the Ooltewah Men’s Group is going to be laser focused on two things 1. growing closer to God and 2. growing closer to each other. As Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-40 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Men, I am calling you to join me in action. I am encouraging you to stop looking to worldly leaders and solutions and instead look to God and serve Him. He and only He can direct us to what REALLY matters. We know things are NOT going to get better but we must not lose faith and miss our calling. God gave us one commission and it has nothing to do with judgment, conversion or justice. Those are His and His only to administer. We are to love, that is how the world will know we are his disciples.
I watched a TED talk titled, “Great Leaders Live Like Drug Addicts” (hard to ignore a title like that, am I right?) and from that I took three principles that I believe mirror how we as christians should live. We ought to, Practice Rigorous Authenticity, Surrender the Outcome and Do Uncomfortable Work. As we begin to move forward in 2021, let us be real with each other, trust in God and do His will.
Let’s hit the ground running this month, below are 4 initiatives the men’s ministry at OSDA will be pursuing this year and I pray that God will bind us closer together like we have never before.
Mens breakfast (socializing and learning together)
Mens sabbath school class (currently learning how we are to live during last time events)
Love in Action (serving and blessing others while growing closer together in common mission).
Mens small groups (we will be starting with Every man a warrior) the plan is to launch this at the men’s breakfast at the end of January.”
The video below will help you see ways of supporting our church school:
Happy New Year, Ooltewah Seventh day Adventist Church!
Most of 2020 went under the shadow of social distancing. I invite you to make 2021 the year of new connections. There are dozens of safe ways to grow in unity with one another. I am working on my list for this year. Make your list of ways and methods to connect with the your family, church members, colleagues, and people in the community. Cracks of distancing went too deep. Healing is still an option. Make it your mission and your goal. God is with us. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” — Psalm 147:3
You are invited to participate in the Agape Service tonight, January 1, @ 6 P.M.
This Saturday night is our turn to volunteer at the Samaritan Center. Are you ready? 🙂 Last month it took less than an hour to finish the project. If many of you come tomorrow night we can be done in no time.