Love Genuinely Lived




“The world is overcome not through destruction, but through reconciliation. Not ideals, nor programs, nor conscience, nor duty, nor responsibility, nor virtue, but only God’s perfect love can encounter reality and overcome it. Nor is it some universal idea of love, but rather the love of God in Jesus Christ, a love genuinely lived, that does this.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Jenny Spicer shared the following report and photo with me: “This past weekend, six of our youth attended OASIS, a conference event for kids who are home-schooled or attend public school. We also hosted two youth from another church. The kids who had attended in previous years were excited to be going back. The speaker talked to us about having gods in our life that prevent us from fully devoting ourselves to the true God. The Biblical examples he gave were very relevant to us today. Most, if not all, of the kids said they want to go back next year. I look forward to going back again myself.”


Last Sabbath, for both worship services, we enjoyed beautiful music by Katherine and Sarah Bremner. That same afternoon they brightened the spirit of The Bridge Assisted  Living residents. Thank you, Bremner family, for your ministry to the elderly in our community. We hope their example will inspire others to participate in this wonderful outreach ministry.


Community Services. Last Sabbath night a good group of church members and a few SAU students went to the Samaritan Center to help them move donated items inside the warehouse. Galina and I were happy to get a good workout that night. We were done in just a little over an hour. This ministry always needs volunteers! Talk to Lucas Patterson if you are interested in helping next month.

Tuesday afternoon a group of Health Ministry enthusiasts gathered in my office to share their vision for the ministry for this year. It was exciting to see their passionate spirit. You will be hearing more about their plans after the new leadership is voted by the church board at the end of this month. Kelly Myers had to step down from the Ministry Leader position due to a new job that she just started. The new job has increased the workload for Kelly. We are grateful for Kelly’s ministry in the past months. I hope Kelly will continue to be a part of the Health ministry team.

There is a wonderful event planned by the ministry for February 16 at 4 pm.

“Plant-Based Cooking Class UPDATE!  Our cooking demo and sampling event will be held in our Fellowship Hall on February 16th, with an updated start time of 4:00pm.
Come learn how to make simple, healthy dishes that actually taste great and are quick and easy to prepare!  The menu is mock chicken salad on sprouted bread… an Asian stir fry… scrambled “eggs” and banana dream pie. Christine promises these dishes are gluten free and taste AMAZING!  Also perfect for diabetics. Copy of all 4 recipes will be provided. There will be several raffle prizes too!  Those include a gift card to Cashew, the vegan cafe downtown… Christine’s favorite plant-based cookbook… and an entire banana dream pie!   Invite your friends, bring along the kids, and COME HUNGRY!  RSVP REQUIRED BY FEB. 13th:  Text your name and number of people attending to Christine Martins at 423-504-3172. For any questions, or to help with the fun, contact Diana Dodd at 423-605-2080 “

On Thursday night Finance committee members came together to pray and work on a financial proposal for the church expansion. I could feel the presence of God’s Spirit at that meeting. The proposal will now be presented to the open Church Board meeting on February 22 @6:30 PM. I hope that meeting will be well attended. Everyone is welcome to come and participate in the discussion of the proposal.

The church board is inviting the whole church to fast and pray on Sabbath, February 22,  about God’s guidance in our church’s spiritual journey. The Lord has abundantly blessed our church in the past fifty years. The church has grown from 70 to 700 + members. Pioneers of our church showed great faith in starting this ministry and building the church for seventy people. Where will the Lord lead us in our future ministry until the day we see Him coming in glory?


Maurice Robert’s full recovery after surgery.

Prayers for God’s guidance in our church’s ministry expansion.

CONGRATULATIONS! Philip and Molly Recchia welcomed a new baby girl Lucy Madelyn Recchia on January 21! How exciting!


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God’s Timeless Promises



Studying the Book of Jeremiah I see the whole treasury of God’s promises (ex. 29:12-13). Words of rebuke and calls to repentance are wrapped in dozens of powerful promises. God’s promises are of a special nature. They are not like our promises which may be forgotten or changed. God’s words are powerful and sure. They are to be taken by a believer and applied to his or her life. Knowing these promises, admiring them, memorizing them will do us no good unless we claim them, and receive them as our own possessions.

This Sabbath morning I will continue my sermon series based on the book of prophet Jeremiah.


Last Saturday night we had two meetings. First all those who give Bible studies met to report on their progress, to share stories, and to learn about the available resources. Not all of those who asked for Bible studies in the fall of last year are interested in continuing    the course. We agreed to pray for them, and to be available in case they change their mind. I’m grateful to Mike Doucoumes for his excellent coordination of this ministry.

Later that night church elders came together to set ministry goals for 2020.  The main focus of our discussion was on staying connected with our church members. Everyone coming to worship at our church needs to feel that church leaders care and pray about them. This is the only way to reach the spirit of true community in our growing congregation. Elders agreed to schedule the Spring New Member banquet for March 28. Mike Doucoumes and Bradley Hyde were recommended to the church board for the church elder position.

On Monday night our church leaders came together for the Finance committee meeting and later that night for the church Board meeting. Rita Rogers, our church treasurer, shared the December financial report which showed steady growth in our local giving and tithe. The average monthly local church offerings go over our set goal! What a huge blessing! Thank you, church, for your faithful support of our church ministries’ needs. The Board agreed to work together on the church expansion proposal. For that purpose a new Visioning Committee was established to work along with the Finance committee and the Church Board. On February 6 there will be an open Finance committee meeting with only one item on the agenda: Proposal for the New Expansion Financing. This proposal will be presented to the church Board members on February 22. All these meetings are open to all church members to attend and to participate. The Board recommended to set aside, Sabbath, February 22 as a day of Prayer and Fasting. We need a clear vision of where the Lord is leading our church family. The church Business meeting is scheduled for March 7.

Men’s Ministry. Here is an update from Edymar: ” The first Haney’s Hungry Hombre’s (HHH) men’s breakfast of 2020 is in the books and man was it good! The hardy HHH breakfast consisted of biscuits and gravy, western style scrambled eggs, tater tots, pastries, fruit and breakfast links. A manly breakfast like this would not be possible without the culinary ninjas who show up early to set up and cook. To you, I say THANK YOU!

In addition to the stick to your ribs breakfast, we started the meeting with a devotional on James 2:14-24, “faith without works is dead.” James is VERY clear on this, just read verse 20. At the end of the meeting, the guys all agreed and made a commitment to demonstrate our belief in God with deeds, deeds that we defined by the following verses; John 13:35, 1 Corinthians 12:26, Colossians 3:13, 1 Peter 4:8-11 and John 3:16-18. Guys, all of these verses boil down to one thing, love your God, and demonstrate love in action.
After the devotional, we highlighted some of the wonderful things God did through the Ooltewah men group in 2019 and discussed the ministry’s vision for 2020.  I am excited and eager to get started this year. The Ooltewah men’s ministry will continue it’s focus on, to quote Marty Miller, “building better men.”
We will do so by encouraging spiritual growth (alone time with Jesus), studying resources like 33 Series, Every Man a Warrior and The Quest for Authentic Manhood. We will continue building brotherhood and blessing others with our Love In Action service projects. New to 2020, we will increase our efforts to have fun! We will do this by scheduling events like white water rafting, hiking, biking, etc.
Please keep the Ooltewah men’s group in your prayers. May we live to glorify our God, savior and friend, Jesus Christ by serving our brothers and sisters. Thank you to all who contributed your time, effort and resources to men’s ministry in 2019. Because of you and God’s blessing we are making a difference.
I also want to thank Marty Miller from Blue Print for Men (BP4M) for coming by and sharing the ministry vision and goals for 2020. If you would like to learn more, I encourage you to take a few minutes and check out the BP4M website, You will find a ton of events, resources and channels of communication to help you grow into the man God created you to be.” Edymar Penagos.
Thank you, Ooltewah church men, for your spirit of service and Christian love.


Barbara Kraner has been moved to Morning Pointe in Collegedale. Prayers for Barbara.

Carol Darmody – recovering after heart procedures.

THANK YOU! Yes, you all became a part of a wonderful miracle last Sabbath. We prayed for a breakthrough in our January local giving. God did hear your prayers. He did make a miracle through your loving and generous giving.

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Who is Your God?



“‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.’” (Jeremiah 7:23). Following God cannot be a hobby or an event in our daily schedules. It is a matter of wholehearted commitment, where His presence and His Spirit fuel our every action and our every thought. All our daily activities should center around our relationships with God. He needs to be the priority and the essence of our whole existence. Without true love that kind of commitment will inevitably fall apart. That is why Yahweh calls Himself a “jealous God” (Ex. 34:14). He will never be happy with a part-time marriage. This Sabbath morning I invite you to continue our study of the key themes of the Book of Jeremiah.


OAKS. This morning I had the privilege of speaking for the weekly service at OAKS. It always impresses me how our students fill up the full sanctuary. We are truly blessed to have a great and active school. They are successful not only in the area of spiritual growth, but show high academic achievement. Check out the photo below to see the number of straight A students who received a certificate of achievement. Thank you, teachers, for your excellent job!

Here is another great report with photos from Lupina Haney. “Season of Change celebrated The New Year 2020, All Birthdays for the year and the Chinese New Year. We served sparkling bubbly, Vegetable Fried Rice and Mixed Vegetables with Tofu (catered by our friends at China Kitchen), Asian Coleslaw and for dessert Cupcakes, ice cream and fortune cookies. I thought we might have lots of leftovers since I plan for 60 but we ordered more and it was a good thing-we had 85 in attendance. Thanks to all who made today’s party a wonderful delicious experience.”

Evangelism. November’s evangelistic meetings generated lots of new Bible studies. I’m receiving reports from many of our church members who continue to study with the seminar participants. This is truly encouraging. It shows that our church believes in evangelism. There will be a meeting tomorrow at 4:30 pm for all who give Bible studies. Please make an effort to attend the meeting. Thank you, Mike Doucoumas, for the excellent coordination of this important part of our local evangelism.

Cereal Barrel. The Cereal Barrel looks great. It is actually overflowing with your donations. Thank you, all who Brough your gift. Let us remember that many families in our community need your help daily. Every donated cereal box finds its way to a grateful family thanks to the Samaritan Center distribution system. Please remember that this is the ongoing need.

Church and mission growth needs. Following last year’s business meeting the Building committee has been working with the architect on conceptual drawings for the new sanctuary and lower division Sabbath school classes. Two weeks ago the Building committee met to review the submitted drawings. After a thorough discussion the committee voted unanimously to recommend the expansion concept to the church business meeting. The church finance committee and Board members will be meeting in the next couple weeks to prepare a proposal for the business meeting. These meetings are open to the whole church. I would want as many of you as possible to come to pray with the committees, and to participate in the discussion of the proposal. The dates for these meetings will be finalized early next week. I will share them with you in the church bulletin and in my blog next week. The Spirit of God has been leading our church to this day. He is bringing more and more people to our church every year. I have no doubt that He will help us see how we may broaden our ministry to the local growing community and to the members of our church family.


Local Budget. I do not remember the last time I made an appeal for the local church budget giving. You all have been supporting our local needs generously every month last year. So far we had a slow start. This is the last Sabbath of January. Let us all pray for a miracle and contribute faithfully and wholeheartedly tomorrow to the local church budget account. I believe that we all can be a part of this miracle!

Happy Sabbath! See you tomorrow,


All Things New


MESSAGE. The day is coming when Christ will proclaim “I make all things new.” We will see the new Jerusalem, we will hear a New Song, we will learn our New Names. All that is yet to come, but as we enter into 2020 we can allow Christ to start these “new things” in our hearts and homes. New attitudes, new words of kindness, a new spirit of service, new initiatives in extending forgiveness – all that can start now. We do not need to wait until the New Earth to see what a “New Me” can look like. Let this be a year of new and wonderful things for us all.

MINISTRY.  Sabbath Celebration. The first service of the last Sabbath of the year was beautified by many wonderful moments. Emma Jospehs and Ken Lue Phang joined our church through baptism. Pastor Matthew and Dr. Reynolds officiated the baptisms. Nick and Elena Gorev joined the church through profession of faith. They have been attending our church for the last four years and now they are officially part of our church family! Praise God for our new brothers and sisters! It was truly a morning of spiritual celebration. I had a full six minutes to preach my sermon 🙂 !

It was a special Sabbath for our family. Our eldest daughter Stacey and her husband Javan presented their youngest son, Caspian, for a prayer of dedication. It was quite an emotional day for Galena and I when our whole family came together for this celebration.

Cory Goss had a great children’s story for both services. All the kids were fascinated by the live lizard. Thank you, Cory, for a wonderful spiritual lesson and for your creativity.

Jenny Spicer shared a few photos with me of the Youth vespers/Christmas party. They decorated cookies to donate to a homeless ministry. They clearly had a great time!

PRAYERS. Today is Rick Bank’s birthday. He is the Head Deacon of this church. Let us wish Rick a happy birthday and say a special prayer for him.

Galena and I celebrated the beginning of the New Year by watching the sunset on December 31 right across the road from our house. It was a clear and beautiful night. We want you to know that we love you and are grateful to God for the time when we can serve our dear Ooltewah church family. Happy New year to y’all 🙂

Just a reminder: Join the Agape Feast Tonight @ 7 PM in the Fellowship Hall. Unknown


Zealous of Good Works

UnknownMESSAGE. In Titus chapter 2 apostle Paul helps us see our higher calling. He writes: “waiting for the blessed hope and manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who did give Himself for us, that He might ransom us from all lawlessness, and might purify to Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Christ “did give Himself” so that we would live to do good to others. This “zealousness” for good works will be the defining trait of Christ’s “peculiar people.” This broken world needs more of our compassionate spirit. I invite you to spend every day of the New Year doing good to those people who the Lord sends your way. They may not be worthy of our goodness; they may be upsetting and annoying; they may differ from us in their religious or political views… Keep doing good to them. This is what being a follower of Christ is all about. 

MINISTRY. The Christmas worship services at our church last Sabbath were exceptionally wonderful. Songs and music lifted our hearts to heaven. After Larry Otto’s testimony we all knew that God Himself was behind every piece of the program planned for that Sabbath. Mary Wilcox shared with the church a miracle of answered prayers about His Orchestra musicians. In spite of all the challenges of the previous weeks both Sabbath services were uplifting, joyful and spirit-filled. I felt grateful to God for our loving church family.


While I was in Siberia I received a text message and a photo from the Loves family. They were grateful for the singers from our church who stopped by their home to sign Christmas Carols.  Here is what they wrote: “What a wonderful heart warming surprise from our Ooltewah SDA church tonight.  Their voices blended beautifully with the Christmas carols they sang. It touched our hearts.  Thank you, David and Nita Love.”

That night several groups of singers were visiting our church members and sharing the joy of Christmas. Thank you, Lucas Patterson, for putting this program together.

Lupina shared with me the the following report and photos: “We had a very merry and delightful Christmas gathering for Season of Change widows. Barbara Smith did the cranberry salad (for over 60) and it was delicious. We had Shepherd’s Pie with Sister Schubert’s rolls followed by assorted deserts. Of course prizes were awarded to the glittery glitzy ugly sweater winners. The kitchen angels all wore their finest headgear along with their beautiful smiles and spirits.”

Men’s Ministry had a successful year of service. Here is an update from Edymar Penagos: “Another year is almost behind us and as I reflect over the previous 12 months, I am overwhelmed by all of God’s blessings. One such blessing is all of YOU.  THANK YOU, MEN! Because of your time and/or resources, we were able to serve our church and the community around us. Your fellowship, support and dedication to the Ooltewah men’s group has been such a blessing to so many of our brothers and sisters. You all embodied what “church” is all about. You have been men of honor and sacrifice, men of vision and action, men of service and leadership. The two photos attached have a wonderful story behind them. It’s a story that you helped create simply by following God’s vision for our lives and providing love in action.  These two pictures demonstrate so much of what the previous year has been about and I, for one, cannot wait to see what God has in store for us in 2020. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. May you be abundantly blessed as we begin the start of another year in service to our Lord, Father and Friend, Jesus our King. “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth”. 1 John 3:18 “

Special Christmas Offering. Rita Rogers keeps updating me on your loving support of the Student Aid fund. As a church we agreed that this December the Student Aid fund would receive our special attention. Do you know that your faithful contributions to this account help dozens of families send their students to OAKS and Adventist Academies in this conference? This school year the account needs over $120,000. I’m confident that we’ll not let our students down.

PRAYERS. Barbara Kraner fell right before Christmas. She was admitted to Erlanger hospital for tests. She is still there as of this morning. Prayers for Barbara’s recovery is very much appreciated.

Betty Chastain is back at home after the hospital and rehab. Prayers of Praise!


Oh how I wish I could take you all to Siberia! It was not as cold as it is usually there in December. The power of the Holy Spirit, mild weather and hard work of the local church made these meetings a wonderful experience. Every night of the seminar was well attended by church members and visitors. To help you get the right perspective I’ll say that the territory of the West Siberian Mission is exactly half the size of the continental USA. There are only two thousand Seventh-day Adventists on that vast territory. Challenges for the Gospel proclamation are immense! Religious liberty limitations and active media defamation of the SDAs makes it really hard to bring new people into our churches. In spite of all the hardships a solid group of those visiting during the seminar joined the baptismal class. Ten of them got baptized on December 14. Many more are preparing for baptism in the coming weeks. Praise God for each one of them! Your generous support allowed us to help many needy families with warm clothes and food. I invite you to keep them all in your daily prayers.

FROM MY HEART. This Christmas brought our whole family together. Two tiny angel-babies were added to our family in 2019. Praise God for the blessings of this past year. Tomorrow morning during the first service our oldest daughter Stacey and her husband Javan will seek God’s blessing upon their second son, Caspian. Below are a few family photos from this past week. 🙂

“I Always Thank My God For You”




Revelation Today. The prophecy seminar is at the finishing line. Last night a precious girl named Grace, touched our hearts with two special songs. Tonight pastor Douglas will talk about the deep spiritual meaning of baptism. I invite the whole church to pray for our visitors. Let the Spirit of God touch their hearts and lead them to the most important decision of their life.

We have a large number of individuals who are interested in studying the Bible further after the seminar. This is where I need your help. If you’ve ever prayed about giving Bible studies this is your day. Please, contact me right away by phone, text, or email. I’ll introduce you to a Bible student who needs your help. This task will not be possible without your participation. If you are interested and willing to help I invite you to stay tomorrow for a few minutes after the Fellowship Meal. We’ll meet in the sanctuary at 2 pm. If you cannot stay for the 2 pm meeting, contact me tonight or tomorrow after church and I’ll help you get involved. Thank you in advance!

The Seminar video recordings are available on the church YouTube channel. Here is a direct link  You can also access the archive by visiting the church website and clicking on the Communications tab in the top menu. That same link can be found on the church Facebook page.

Christmas-caroling-123RF-kakigoriChristmas caroling. On December 7 from 6-8 pm, singers and musicians from our church will visit home-bound members and other friends who need a smile, a song, and a hug. There is no Singspiration that night, so we would love to have the faithful attendees from that monthly event join us for this seasonal opportunity. We will be meeting at the church at 6 pm and loading into multiple 12-passenger vans to spread out and cover as much ground as possible in a 90-minute window before returning to church. If you’re interested in singing or playing an instrument with the group—or if you have the name of someone we should visit—please contact Community Services coordinator Lucas Patterson so we can plan accordingly: (423) 582-1678,

5a398cd4c563c.imageMany hugs to those who have already contributed to the Ooltewah Community Services account in support of the Feed My Starving Children program. So far we have already raised a little over $3,000. $5,000 more is needed to reach our goal by the end of December. As we are preparing meals to celebrate Thanksgiving let us remember about those children who will be blessed by your contribution.

Baby shower. There were over 50 guests for the Baby Shower for Barbara Angelin and Spencer Ekleberry. The Social Committee (Avril Williams, Dina Cole and Konika Wright) did a great job decorating and arranging the reception at the Mulberry Park Clubhouse.
Proud soon-to-be Grandmother Mary Wagoner-Angelin and Aunt Rachel Angelin hosted along with Margo Haughee and Connie Reynolds.

Last Sunday Katherine Bremner played for the residents of Greenbriar Assisted Living center. Thank you, Bremner family, for your active ministry to our community.


PRAYERS. This week we had several of our members taken to hospitals. Donna Jamieson fell on Sabbath night while coming to the seminar. She had surgery and she’s now recovering at home. Prayers for Donna, please.

Maria Easter was diagnosed with leukemia. Yesterday she was transported to Vanderbuilt hospital in Nashville, TN. Prayer for Maria.

Bettie Chastain fell at home last night and was admitted to Memorial hospital. It looks like she may not need surgery on her hip, but instead will be moved to Syskin for physical therapy. I invite you to pray for Bettie.

Light of Hope Ministry. We are exactly two weeks away from the opening night of the evangelistic meetings in Siberia. The pastor of the local church in Krasnoyarsk sent me a photo of the banner they were allowed to post on the church fence. Praise God for that! I am inviting you to pray for those people who will see the banner and come to the meetings.


See you tomorrow,


A Powerful Testimony for Christ



“… and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Ephesians 5:2

“The more closely we resemble our Saviour in character, the greater will be our love toward those for whom He died. Christians who manifest a spirit of unselfish love for one another are bearing a testimony for Christ which unbelievers can neither gainsay nor resist. It is impossible to estimate the power of such an example. Nothing will so successfully defeat the devices of Satan and his emissaries, nothing will so build up the Redeemer’s kingdom, as will the love of Christ manifested by the members of the church.” —Testimonies for the Church 5:167, 168 (1882).


The “Revelation Today” Seminar has united our church in study and service. It is truly a blessing to see consistent support from our various church ministries. A special Thank You to our table leaders! I am very encouraged to see that seminar participants continue to attend the meetings. Good relationships are growing at each table. Last night Edwin Reynolds surprised us all with a beautiful piece of music which he played on a carpenter’s saw. Please, continue to pray for pastor Douglas as he presents the Word of God in a very clear way. The seminar continues this Sabbath and Sunday night, and will end next weekend. Please, keep in mind there will be no nightly meetings next Sabbath and Sunday.

It was an early Thankful Thanksgiving for Season of Change. Here is what Lupina Haney shared with me: “Delicious meal of salad, corn, green bean casserole, stuffing, dinner roast, cranberry sauce and magic pumpkin bars for dessert. We had a very talented group of 5th and 6th graders from OAKS sharing their Veterans’ Day Program with us. There were over 70 widows in attendance with 5 kitchen angels helping. God has truly blessed the widows Ministry.”

Edymar is reporting: “The Love in Action crew has been busy this month. They made sure a fire place was in good working order, they installed a exterior light fixture with a motion sensor for one of our widows, they helped a mom of two small children move, and they made easy work of relocating and installing a deck for one of our members (see attached pictures).
THANK YOU to all the folks who took the time to serve our church and community, you embody what “church” is all about. A special THANK YOU to Jason Smith. You saved a lot of backs bringing your skid steer to the job site.
 If you would like to get involved or learn more about the love in action projects, let me know!
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth”. 1 John 3:18 “

OAKS did an awesome job on Sunday at LifeCare Assisted Living Center in Ooltewah. Thank you, students and teachers!

PRAYERS. Our sincere condolences to Mike Haughee, whose brother died of a heart attack this week. Please remember Mike and his family in your prayers.

MISSION. We are just three weeks away from our international evangelism project. The Light of Hope evangelistic meetings will start in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, on December 7. I invite you to pray for the pastor and the church in that Siberian city. Here is a link to the lates Light of Hope Newsletter with more details on the upcoming trip November 2019 



For the last few days we had two of our daughters visit us with our grand babies. We had tons of fun! 🙂