This has been a week packed with many ministry activities, visitations and committee meetings. I am glad I can finally let all worries and stress go away by entering into God’s rest, His Holy Sabbath. As I am posting this blog so late in the day I’ll not be taking your mind away from the spiritual things, but will rather share with you a verse from God’s Word:
“Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” “I will not let you go,” Jacob replied, “unless you bless me.” Then Jacob asked, “Please tell me your name.” “Why do you ask my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. ” (Gen 32:26,29)
“Jacob got the victory and the blessing not by wrestling, but by clinging. His limb was out of joint and he could struggle no longer, but he would not let go. Unable to wrestle, he wound his arms around the neck of his mysterious antagonist and hung all his helpless weight upon him, until at last he conquered.
We will not get victory in prayer until we too cease our struggling, giving up our own will and throw our arms about our Father’s neck in clinging faith.
What can puny human strength take by force out of the hand of Omnipotence? Can we wrest blessing by force from God? It is never the violence of wilfulness that prevails with God. It is the might of clinging faith, that gets the blessing and the victories. It is not when we press and urge our own will, but when humility and trust unite in saying, “Not my will, but Thine.” We are strong with God only in the degree that self is conquered and is dead. Not by wrestling, but by clinging can we get the blessing.” —J. R. Miller
Do you feel like Elijah when he ran from Jezebel? ( “I’ve had enough. Just let me die!” 1 Kings 19) Frustrated? Fearful? Depressed? Be assured you are not alone. This state of mind was well known to the prominent heroes of the Bible. They were friends of the Almighty One, but they were still human. Even when we run from God, He is still there with us. He is with us in the desert and in the whale’s belly. He is with us in the nursing home and in a broken marriage. God is never giving up on us. He knew how to pull Elijah out of the cave (1 Kings 19:9) … He knows how to pull us out of the depths of despair. It is under His wings that we find assurance and strength to get up and keep going.
Yesterday I experienced a huge blessing attending OAKS graduation. The outdoor setup was just perfect. The teachers and staff did a great job for the graduates to remember this very special day. Pastor Matthew had an engaging message for the students. Thank you, Shelly Caswell and your team for another excellent year. It was one of the toughest years for our school because of the pandemic, but by God’s grace we made it through. (Thank you, Aaron Hall, for the fantastic photos!)
This Sabbath we’ll have a guest speaker. John T. Anderson, Senior pastor of the Mentone Seventh-day Adventist Church and author of many books, will speak for all three services.
Donations for the Cornerstone Building Fund, our new sanctuary and Sabbath school classes project, keep coming! We want to be a church looking forward and creating an adequate ministry environment for the future generation until the day Jesus comes back. You can use the website or the paper tithe envelope for your contribution. Be sure you mark your donation as CORNERSTONE BUILDING FUND.
With the new CDC recommendations in place, our church will be transitioning to one 9 AM service. It may take a few weeks before it actually happens, and you’ll be hearing more from your pastors. Meanwhile, you’ll see that “Reserved” signs will be removed from the left side of the sanctuary pews. Those who prefer larger distancing can continue to use the right side of the sanctuary for a few more weeks. Stay safe.
If you agree that our world has become more rigid there is something we all can do: show mercy to other people. It should not be all about policies, political statements or theological trends…we may not feel that everyone deserves grace and kindness, but this is where mercy is needed. Give mercy to those who fall short of your expectations; to those who are blinded by pain or suffering; to those who are stuck in their selfishness. What better option do we have? Mercy is like a ray of sunshine which can melt even the coldest piece of ice. “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;” Luke 6:36-37
The Ooltewah church now has 13 volunteer virtual Bible workers to follow up interests for Bible studies, free literature, etc. A few months ago, the church engaged the services of Sermon View, an evangelistic resource center, to advertise on Facebook for us in order to help us find Bible study interests here in Ooltewah. So far, we have received 19 non-SDA interests who requested studies and our Bible Workers have been faithfully following them up to find out if they want Bible studies, either in person, online, by mail or by e-mail. Soon, we should know the outcome as to how many of them responded to our follow- up efforts and are receiving studies.
Also, at our March Church Board meeting, the church voted to help the Albany, GA SDA Church to follow up their media interests from It is Written, Voice of Prophecy, Amazing Facts, PeaceFinders (Project Steps to Christ), and Bible Research. The Albany Church has 150 interests, but they only have 25-30 members attending church and only a couple members who possess the spiritual gifts to do follow-up work. So, in response to the Georgia-Cumberland Conference’s appeal to larger churches such as ours to help these smaller congregations who have a huge amount of interests, we volunteered as a church to help Albany. We have assigned 65 of the interests already to our Virtual Bible Workers, and the Albany Church is following up some interests as well. We are planning to get results and feedback and assign the remaining interests in June. It is our goal to find several folks in Albany who are interested in receiving Bible studies or more spiritual literature and to pass these interests on to the Albany Church for further follow-up this summer. Please pray regularly for the Lord to be with our Bible workers as they follow-up the interests in Albany and right here in Ooltewah. (Special Thank You, to Mike Doucoumes for coordinating this effort).
Last Thursday was the final session of the Reversing Diabetes seminar. Here is a brief report from Edwin Reynolds: “We just completed the 8-week Reversing Diabetes Seminar on Thursday night. It was well attended and highly appreciated. It was also well supported by many volunteers from the church under the capable and well-organized leadership of Sylvia Hyde. The seminar was taught by Stephen and Karen Wickham, representing the Grundy County Health Department that sponsors the Wickhams’ seminars. The information given every Thursday night by Steve Wickham was the best and latest medical information pertaining to what causes Type-2 diabetes and how it can be reversed through good dietary practices, regular exercise, drinking water, proper sleep habits, and other natural means like fresh air and sunshine and trust in God. The most important and effective of these remedial agencies is a good diet, focused on eating whole foods at the proper times and in the right quantities and of the right nutritional content. These lifestyle changes will benefit everyone, not just people with Type-2 diabetes or prediabetes. If consistently practiced, people will arrive at the proper weight, have adequate energy, sleep better, avoid cardiovascular disease, and function more healthfully in many ways. If you missed the seminar, don’t miss it again when it will be offered near you in the future. It was a real blessing and everyone left feeling better and more hopeful for a brighter future.”
I invite you to continue prayers for the Cornerstone Building Fund project. Our church youth and children will have a great place to worship and to study God’s Word. The church business meeting voted to raise 2.3 million dollars to lessen the burden of the construction loan. We can all be a part of this mission with Christ being the Cornerstone of our church and ministry. When contributing to this project please indicate that your donation goes toward the Cornerstone Building Fund.
This weekend we will honor our mothers. I am blessed to have been raised by a caring and hard working mother. Galena lost her mother when she was only thirteen, but she herself became the perfect mother to our four daughters. It gives me great joy to now see our daughters build their motherhood on the strong foundation of their mom’s example. From what I’ve seen and learned so far mothers don’t sleep and don’t rest. They do not seek their own interests. Their children take the first place in their hearts and thoughts. Their love can be compared only to God’s love. No wonder the Lord says through the prophet Isaiah: “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you;” (66:13).
Take some time this weekend to assure your moms of your love and your appreciation of all they have done for you. There is a good reason one of the Ten Commandments instructs us to “… honor your … Mother.”
This week I used a few of my vacation days and took the mother of our children 🙂 to Savannah, GA. It’s been several years since our visit to that beautiful city. Magnificent trees on the city squares and the charming architecture made us want to go there again and again. If you ever go there ask me about the best waffles in Savannah. Out of the two days we were in Savannah we went to Mirabelle Cafe three times to enjoy their waffles. Delicious! 🙂