It is hard to find a friend. We want someone who likes us; some one flawless; someone who shares our worldview and our lifestyle. Where are these perfect people? No wonder many of us have no friends in church even after twenty years of attending the same place . However, this was not the case with Jesus. It took him less than three years to say to at least twelve people, “I have called you friends” (John 15:15). How many of us have twelve people who we truly can call ‘friends’?
I suppose the problem is that we do not see other people through the eyes of Jesus. We see them as thieves, drunks, immoral, unreliable, selfish, etc. These were actually the people Jesus saw as His friends. He saw them as the ones needing help, love, support, guidance. No wonder they were inviting Jesus to their parties and would run on foot to find him on the other side of the lake (Matt. 9:10; 14:13). Friendship for Jesus was nothing but immersing Himself into the life of those who needed help, and identifying with their joys, burdens and pain. Try this approach and you’ll never say that you do not have friends.
OAKS is off to a great start with two weeks of school already gone. Students and teachers took a break from their studies to enjoy a water day hosted by our Home and School organization led by Patty Geraghty. A big thank you to the many volunteers who came to help the kids play safely and to serve a yummy lunch. OAKS is very blessed with a community that supports our program in so many ways. More pictures and news to come on our OAKS Sabbath, September 25. -Shelly Caswell
Kitchen and Youth room renovations are going full speed. A huge Thank You to Laura Herren for coordinating these extremely important projects. Here is just a peek into the new kitchen:
Last minute preparations are being made for the Bible Seminar starting at our church in exactly seven days! Let this be the Seven Days of Prayer and Action. Below is a link to the seminar website:
If we receive the Bread of Life without sharing it we become spiritually obese. Hungry crowds are all around us. Christ is still speaking to us saying, “You give them something to eat.” Take the Word of God from the hands of Jesus and share it with your family, friends, and neighbors. Christ is expecting us to be His coworkers in this important task. Ask yourself what is your mission all about? Do you feel the burden of sharing the Bread of Life with your community? I invite you to examine this crucial command of Jesus this Sabbath morning during our hour of worship.
Last Sunday morning dozens of young people gathered at Harrison Bay to celebrate Melinda Jubea’s baptism. I could see that her baptism attracted other people who were there on the lake. They stood nearby listening to the beautiful spiritual songs and witnessed Melinda’s decision to follow Jesus. This Sabbath morning we will welcome Melinda into the fellowship of the Ooltewah Adventist Church. Here are just a few photos from that wonderful morning.
On Monday night the church Board met for the regular monthly meeting. I was very happy to see a good turn out and the spirit of unity among our church leaders. Among other important decisions the Board approved a new budget for this fiscal year. In this new budget a strong emphasis is made on supporting our school and academy students. The Building committee presented a proposal for the General contractor and other subcontractors for the Cornerstone project. This proposal was unanimously approved by the Board. Church leaders also reviewed the final steps in preparation for the September Bible seminar.
In the last few weeks many of our church members have been receiving phone calls from the church elders. Our plan is to help every church member feel connected with church leaders. If you need help, encouragement or a prayer don’t hesitate to contact your elder. Here is a link to the directory of our church elders.
“There comes a crisis-hour to each of us, if God has called us to the highest and best, when all resources fail; when we face either ruin or something higher than we ever dreamed; when we must have infinite help from God and yet, ere we can have it, we must let something go; we must surrender completely; we must cease from our own wisdom. strength, and righteousness, and become crucified with Christ and alive in Him. God knows how to lead us up to this crisis, and He knows how to lead us through.” (Streams in the Desert, L.B.C.)
Last Sabbath I had the honor of ordaining two new elders in our church. Mrs. Donna Caswell and Dr. Tom Klinner accepted the call to serve as church elders and joined the team of the church leaders. Please uplift them in your prayers as they pray for you and serve your spiritual needs.
Below is a photo from the ordination service.
A new school year at OAKS had a great start. School teachers and staff were presented to the church during both services last week. We promised to support them daily as they educate our children and lead them to Christ. Here is a photo of our school team:
We are 20 days away from the Healing in Jesus Bible seminar. More info is available on the following site: https://www.prayforhealing.net. Have you put this seminar on your schedule for September 10 through 18?
Please extend love to the Hartman family. Dr. David Hartman’s father, Carl Lee Hartman, passed away last week. Hartman served in pastoral ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist Church for more than 40 years in Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, and Iowa.The Memorial service is scheduled to be August 28 @ 5 P.M. in our church. In the photo below are Carl Hartman and his wife Betty.
A number of our church members are in quarantine because of COVID19. We have no reason to believe that they got infected while at church. Please pray for their health and their soon recovery.
I also invite you to extend loving support to Mary Ellen and Marlin Walter. They lost their sister-in-law. This week they travelled to Pennsylvania to attend the funeral service.
I extend my sincere condolences to Marichu McCatcheon and Ann Weeden who lost their father. They both travelled to Florida to attend the memorial service there. Please pray for these dear families.
Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south, blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out! (Song of Solomon 4:16).
“Sometimes God sends severe blasts of trial upon His children to develop their graces. Just as torches burn most brightly when swung to and fro; just as the juniper plant smells sweetest when flung into the flames; so the richest qualities of a Christian often come out under the north wind of suffering and adversity. Bruised hearts often emit the fragrance that God loves to smell.” (from “Streams in the Desert”)
Last Sunday we had parents with young children came to our house for breakfast. Galena and I were very pleased with a good number of families who came together for an early morning time of food and play. Trying to talk was not too easy because of all the happy voices of the kids playing with one another. I felt that it helped our church families to get to know each other better. Below are a couple of pictures from that event.
That same morning the older children from our church came to a big pool party in our neighborhood. I counted about twenty children in the pool. The weather forecast did not look promising but it turned out to be a very pleasant day for the kids and their parents. The Reynolds family was an absolute blessing for the Sunday events. They were cutting fruit, pouring water, delivering pizzas, etc, etc.
In the afternoon a group of the church youth came to that same pool for their own party. It was a busy but happy day. Thank you to everyone who helped with planning all these activities.
Enjoy a few photos below:
While we are raising funds for the new sanctuary and SS classes (Cornerstone Building Fund) many repairs and renovations are taking place in our existing building. On Thursday I walked into the kitchen and couldn’t believe my eyes! The new kitchen room floor looked absolutely wonderful. I can’t wait to see the new cabinets and other furnishings in the renovated kitchen. The Youth room upstairs is also under major renovation. David Denton is almost finished with the paint project. However he had great helpers working on this project. See a couple of photos below. The youth leaders and the youth itself wanted to be a part of this renovation. Thank you, everyone who helped to brighten up and to upgrade that room for our church youth.
This week we lost our dear church member, Shirley Schlender. She’s been an active member of the Ooltewah church for many years. The graveside service took place on Thursday. Pastor Fernando Verduzco officiated the service. The Memorial service is being planned for August 14 at 4 P.M. at our church. Please continue to uplift this dear family in your prayers.
We are only five weeks away from the opening night of the Healing in Jesus Bible seminar taking place at our own church. The first night of the seminar is on September 10. Here is a link to the additional helpful resources and the prayer schedule. www.prayforhealing.net
I believe you will be happy to know that Laura Standish is putting together a team to offer interactive Children’s Bible study class during the meetings. Invite your friends and family to attend. We all need healing.
Both worship services this Sabbath, August 7, will be led by the children and the youth of our church. I am looking forward to a dynamic and uplifting worship experience. Come and you will be blessed.
No one can love God and fellowship with Christ without loving others. Thus, our true love, devotion, and service to others in the name of Christ is an authentic demonstration of our communion with Christ.
This Sabbath we will have the worship service which we call “communion.” We are so used to that term that we often do not think about it’s deep spiritual meaning. Communion with Christ implies that we “abide” in Christ. We live in His presence. We seek Christ in prayer. We listen to His voice. We obey His words. We love and follow Him. However, “communion” with Christ leads us into a wider circle of His people. One cannot abide in Christ without being in communion with His followers. These followers may be weird and wild, annoying and troublesome, wayward and confused… It does not matter. If Christ needs them then I need to be in “communion” with them.
Christ was proactive in building His community. He has the same expectation when it comes to us, His followers. Seek connections. Extend love. Show grace. It is easy to love those who love us back. I invite you to show the spirit of Christ. When you participate in the “communion” service tomorrow find someone who is not on your list of your close family or friends. Show them love by washing their feet. Pray with them. Connect with them. Let this be the “breakthrough moment” in your relationships with the family of God’s children.
We are in the second week of the “Finding Healing in Jesus” prayer calendar. We are seeking healing for our broken souls. Last year brought frustrations and grief to millions of people around the world. Some of us lost our closest friends or family members. Peace in our soul was shattered. Do not ignore that pain. Seek healing in Jesus. Offer to pray for someone who may be struggling with grief and confusion. Christ is strong to heal. He gave us the promise: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:28-29)
We are six weeks away from our evangelistic meetings which will start on September 10. Our community needs hope. Share hope. Disseminate the darkness by spreading the light.
If you cannot participate in the communion service this Sabbath our elders will be happy to visit you at home. Please call or text me if you would like a “communion” in your home with one of our church elders.
The Youth and Young Adults are invited to participate in a pool party this Sunday. You can register online on the church website: www.ooltewahchurch.org
“We once saw a man draw some black dots. We looked and could make nothing of them but an irregular assemblage of black dots. Then he drew a few lines, put in a few rests, then a clef at the beginning, and we saw these black dots were musical notes. On sounding them we were singing,
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Praise Him all creatures here below.”
There are many black dots and black spots in our lives, and we cannot understand why they are there or why God permitted them to come. But if we let God come into our lives, and adjust the dots in the proper way, and draw the lines He wants, and separate this from that, and put in the rests at the proper places; out of the black dots and spots in our lives He will make a glorious harmony.” Let us not hinder Him in this glorious work! –C. H. P.
This week was all about the children. Children were all over our church campus. They were singing, clapping, running, learning… This was the Vacation Bible School week. Huge Thank You to Cory Goss and his incredible team of volunteers! To God be the glory for the excellent program where the children were learning how to be happy in Jesus. Here are just a few photos of the VBS activities:
We are glad to offer a virtual Sabbath school class to those who cannot attend our church in person. Here are the links:
Topic: Sabbath School Time: Jul 24, 2021 10:20 AM every week on Saturdays through Sep 4, 2021 10:20 AM
When I first met Vasiliy he was a gangster in an Eastern European city. His wife and two daughters would hide under their beds when he came home. They prayed for him to become a different person. My visit with Vasiliy was in a restaurant closed to other customers and with two bodyguards standing at the door. Our lunch lasted for over an hour. The conversation was direct and to the point. Vasiliy wanted his life to be changed but he did not believe that there was any hope for him. He asked me to pray for him at the end of that meeting. Several years later I came back to that same city. One of the first families I met in the foyer of that church was Vasiliy, his wife and two teenage daughters. It was the same Vasiliy, but his smile reflected a totally new person inside of him. His two daughters were happily clinging to their dad. That change was clearly the result of God’s transforming power. This is why apostle Paul affirms that, ” if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17)
This Sabbath morning I’ll share Part 2 of the Spiritual Makeover sermon series with you.
Last Sunday many parents brought their kids to a pool party in our neighborhood clubhouse. The weather did not look promising, but it turned out to be a fun morning. Thank you, Earl Sigsworth and Pastor Matthew for coordinating this event for the little ones from our church and their friends. Here are a few photos that Earl shared with me:
There will be another pool party for older kids on August 1. Please contact pastor Matthew if you are interested in participating.
On Sabbath afternoon over twenty “prayer warriors” gathered at the Chilson’s residence. This was the first time they came together after the Pandemic interrupted their gatherings about 18 months ago. Sondra shared with me that they had a wonderful time eating and planning their prayer ministry for our church and the community around us. Below are a few photos from that event:
We are grateful to our “prayer chain” members. They are like blood cells keeping us united in love and care for each other. This large group believes in the power of prayer and they have a place for you in this important ministry.
VBS is starting this Sunday! Cory and Amy Goss need your help. I am glad that many children have already registered for this program online. If you have not done that yet for your kids or grandchildren here is the link.
Please remember to pray for the Cornerstone Building Fund. There is nothing impossible for the Lord. There are many who the Lord can and will bring into His church if we are ready and willing to receive them. Don’t forget to reserve November 7 for a special church banquet.
Not many of us can give ourselves a good haircut. If you can you are a rare genius. Most of us, including myself, go to a hairstylist with a good reputation. (In my case, I call my wife, Galena 🙂 ) Just as makeovers with hair require that we spend some time with a good hairstylist, makeovers of the heart require that we spend time with our Heavenly Father. My desire to become more like Christ will only be realized as I set aside time to listen to Him and study His word. It is during those times that He will shape my heart and my will to conform to His. “… put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” Ephesians 4:24
This Sabbath I am starting a 3 part sermon series entitled “Spiritual makeover.”
Pathfinders is vamping up again for the coming year so be thinking about registering and participating. Plans are in the works for a great year of activities and trips. Events are opening up and no virtual activities are planned conference-wide. Watch for more news! If you are interested in getting involved or have questions about the coming year please don’t hesitate to call Director David Reynolds (423)505-6658 or send an email the following address: David.Reynolds20@gmail.com
Last Sabbath night was a wonderful social and spiritual experience for those who attended the evening event. Actually, there were several events: fellowship dinner, a concert and Singspiration. The initial setup was planned for a hundred people. A few minutes after 6 PM our deacon team had to bring more tables and chairs for another 100+ people. The ladies serving dinner started to look a bit stressed when the food started disappearing from the serving tables. It was absolutely great to see all of you eat and visit at the long tables set in the Fellowship hall. The concert was an absolute blessing. Below are a few photos I took during the concert. Thank you, all who participated. Many also stayed for Singspiration. I hope we’ll have these gatherings more often as we all hunger for the spiritual and social reconnection after COVID19.
With many activities taking place on our church campus there are others who go out and visit our elderly members. Last week Nancy Smily invited Sarah and Katherine Bremner to put on a concert for the Lopes at LifeCare of Collegedale. Thank you, ladies, for your ministry to those who cannot attend church due to their health issues.
Here is more about these young ladies. Steve shared a poem with me that Sarah wrote. The America Library of Poetry would like to publish this poem in a special book of student poetry called “Expressions.” Congratulations, Sarah!
Every time I walk through the church lobby I feel excited about our church’s future. There is a drawing of the new church sanctuary and Sabbath school classes displayed there on a tripod. Our Cornerstone fund is growing because of your faithful support. Don’t forget to put November 7 on your calendar. There will be a big church banquet that night. I am sure you wouldn’t want to miss it. Thank you for showing faith and bold vision as you continue to contribute to this fund.
We will not be able to continue with the Sabbath school sanctuary class livestream. Discipleship SS class also discontinued their ZOOM option. But Friendship class offers weekly ZOOM study. Here is the info:
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit (Jeremiah 17:7-8).”
While in darkness we get confused and disoriented. We readily put our trust in those who offer us their way out. King David experienced his fair share of anxiety, sorrow, and pain. Just because he loved the Lord doesn’t mean his life was easy. David wrote Psalm 56 while fearing for his life, and in Psalm 56:3, he shares the key to overcoming danger and difficulty: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you [God].”
Fear turns into faith when we place our trust in God. Turning to friends, family, and experts is not a bad thing, but turning to God is the best thing. Our perspective changes as we stop focusing on how big our problem is and start looking at how big our God is. Like David, we’ll find that our faith grows as we remember God is for us, praise God’s goodness, and recall His promises (Psalm 56:3-4, Psalm 56:9-11).
As we prepare to celebrate July 4 let us ask ourselves who we trust. A politician? a preacher? a blogger? or the only One who can keep us safe and free, the Almighty God of the Bible?
This Sabbath, July 3, I invite you to celebrate God’s goodness to the USA not only during our worship services, but also in the afternoon, at 6 PM in the Fellowship Hall, where dinner will be provided for you. After the meal there will be a concert followed by Singspiration. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Last Sunday many of you came to help with the work bee at school and a kitchen renovation project at church. Here is a brief report and photos from Shelly Caswell: “OAKS had a strong turn out for our summer workbee Sunday. Many families came to join the fun as we assembled new furniture and cleaned out old closets. Thank you to all the kids who carried chairs and old equipment and to the adults for the grunt work that was required to get the building ready for the new school year. OAKS feels so very blessed to see such strong support from our church community. Only 44 days until school starts!”
At that same time a few tough men were removing old and rotten kitchen cabinets. If any of you had doubts that the kitchen needed renovation you should have to come last Sunday to celebrate this project. Old kitchen furniture and cabinets served their purpose well for many years, but the time has come when they need to be replaced. Thank you, all who came to help!
The church board had a meeting last Monday night. Among many important items the Board put a strong emphasis on our preparation for the September Evangelistic meetings. The opening night of the meetings is September 10. I invite you to start praying about your part in this ministry to our community. If we are Christ’s disciples we’ll be leading others to Him.
The Board expressed sincere appreciation to Rita Rogers, who served as church treasurer for about 10 years. Rita was an example of a faithful leader and an administrator. Presently Rita is considering a new role of leadership for our church. I’ll keep you posted.
We are grateful to Aaron Brewer, who served as Finance committee chairman for the last two terms. Aaron will continue serving as Building committee chairperson. We need his full concentration on this immense project.
For many years Nancy Smiley was our Greeters’ coordinator. For many visitors coming to our church she was a symbol of a smiling and hugging church. Nancy loves to serve, and I am happy that she’ll continue to be on the deaconesses team. Thank you, Nancy
Steven Bremner is our beloved church leader who needs time to recover after his surgeries. We’ll continue daily prayers for Steve as he continues weekly treatments. We certainly want Steve on the elder’s team as soon as his health improves.
We’ll all miss Lupina Haney who was leading the Season of Change. This was one of our most active ministries. Covid19 put a pause on their activities last year. Thank you, Lupina, for being an inspiration to many ladies in our church and in our community. We’ll always consider you a part of the Ooltewah church.
Prayers for Lisa Patterson who is taking the Season of Change under the Women’s Ministry wing. She is putting a team together to restart regular meetings and activities.
Please pray for the new leaders who are starting their term this week. These are the servants of the Lord willing to serve God’s church.
I am excited to share with you that Young at Heart resumed their monthly lunches. We will be having our first event on July 7, 2021 @ 1 p.m. at Thai Chili Asian Bistro located at 9203 Lee Hwy #12, Ooltewah, TN. Please contact Willis Adams at 937-609-3070 for additional details.
____________________________ Don’t forget to register your kids for the church Pool Party scheduled for July 11. Learn more here. Register here.
Christian discipleship is not just about following Christ and learning from Him. To be a true disciple of Christ one must lead others to Him. It is like a train where the engine pulls the cars, but each car in turn pulls the ones behind it. It is hard work. We all need to become intentional about being a part of this train. One can lead by example, the other by teaching and instructing in the truth. What is your way of leading others to Christ? This Sabbath I invite you to the third part of my short sermon series: What Is Being a Christian All About?
This is turning out to be an active summer for our church. There are many areas where your help and engagement is needed. Kitchen renovation is going full speed. On Sunday morning Aaron Brewer will lead in the kitchen cabinets removal. Please talk to Aaron if you are available to help. OAKS is having a big summer Work Bee this Sunday from 8 am to 2 pm.
The evangelism committee is excited to share with you some great news: Our church will have a series of evangelistic meetings in September. Please mark your calendars. September 10 is the opening night of the “Healing in Jesus” series of meetings. It will be my honor to lead in these meetings. Evangelism committee coordinator, elder Mike Doucoumes, is actively recruiting volunteers for the various important positions needed during the meetings. Please contact Mike if you are willing to help. The dates of the meetings are September 10 through 18. After that I will study twice a week with those who express an interest in any in-depth Bible studies.
VBS is coming to Ooltewah!!! I am sure this will be a great program, because we have awesome leaders planning this event. You can register your children online by going to the church website www.ooltewahchurch.org
Kid’s Pool Party is planned for July 11. There will be food and activities for the children that morning. Please register online www.ooltewahchurch.org It will help us to know how many kids to expect for the party.
Men’s Ministry update:
Love in Action:
This Sunday, 9am until the job is complete, we will be taking apart the kitchen at the church in an effort to get it ready for the remodel. Bring your drill and battery to charge it!
Lucy Vasques is moving out of her son’s house and into an apartment at 9am on Sunday, 6/27. If you are able to help, please meet at 7255 Lee Hwy apt 615 Villas at Oak Crest. Once everything is loaded up, everyone will head to 5075 Ooltewah Ringgold Rd Apt 201 Spring Green Apartment to unload. I don’t think there is a lot so it should go quickly. Her number is 423-802-2030.
Haney Hungry Hombres:
There is no breakfast for the month of June, but we WILL have it in July. More to follow!!
Are you ready for a church Fellowship meal? I am!!! Our first “together meal” is coming on July 3 at 6 PM. You do not need to bring anything. Food will be provided. Just come to eat, to fellowship, and to celebrate July 4. Another great piece of this event is a concert scheduled right after the dinner. Here is the preliminary outline of the program shared with me by Larry Otto:
1. Martin Young, Vocal 2. Randy Fowler, Guitar, 3. Kathy Sabo & Carol Phillips, Piano Duet, 4. Mary Wilcox & Family, Instrumental, 5. Martin Young, Vocal, 6. Randy Fowler, Guitar, 7. Mary Wilcox & Family, Instrumental, 8. Kathy Sabo & Carol Phillips, Piano Duet
There is more to that night! After the mini concert you can stay and join the Singspiration, led by Ron Maloch. Exciting, right?!