MARATHON News and Notes: Bible Studies, Retreats, Easter, and MORE!

Good Friday afternoon High Places!

We have so much going on that I feel like a squirrel on a freeway, not knowing which way to run. One of these tires may get me, but I am praying not!! Here's the breakdown of some of what God's church at High Places is up to in the coming weeks... but first, a quick thank you.

Last weekend was full-on whirlwind of activity at the Grove. United Way of Anderson County had their 2nd annual fundraiser and I am happy to say we had at least a dozen High Places folks out, connected and working and volunteering and just rubbing elbows with the community. I couldn't have been happier. Some of you I didn't even have a chance to thank yet (looking your way Jean Keil) and others I haven't thanked with a big enough smile. I am excited when I look at the energy and dedication HPCC is starting to pour into our community as we continue to serve with the venue. Jason, Tim, and Matt are just killing it with our audio-visual. It's nearly a full time job. Our kitchen crew is navigating some big time messes with incredible GRACE. Our "Mountain Movers" children's crew is 2nd to NONE.  

The great soup of humanity around the Grove Theater is simmering! 

United Way was able to raise about $2000 last Friday night and that money is going to help hurting families, provide safe places for battered women, and invest in youth and children sports events. We're making a dent for the good folks and it feels GREAT. Being salt and light as Jesus asks. 

The Saturday night event wasn't quite as successful, but we were there supporting. Thank you Trina and Matt and anyone else who I may have missed for making some connections. City of Refuge really seems like they are right up our alley, providing mental health to blended families and children in the foster care system. Great causes, great effort, and praise God for POSITIONING our church to serve. He is working!

April is a bit lighter affair for our church in the community service department and provides us with some good opportunities to connect and deepen as a church family. We need more of that! Here's what April has for us as family --

TOMORROW our men's group meets again at the Grove at 7:30AM as we continue working through Ephesians. Men, if you haven't come out yet, it isn't too late to join in. I believe a church whose men are committed to scripture and the pursuit of God's love and instruction is a church that cannot fail. Tomorrow's bible study is a BYOB -- "Bring your own breakfast!" So grab a biscuit and come on down the Grove. 

SUNDAY our women's group meets again at 9:15AM. "So Long Insecurity" is the theme and I am sure that if you haven't already plugged in, room will be made for you at the table. Thank you, thank you Laurel Richmond for leading this important work. Our High Places men, I am convinced, would be lost without the weekly dedication of our ladies to growth and spiritual development. In fact, our women have led the way in this deepening process and it has been contagious. Thank you, thank you!!!!

NEXT WEEKEND -- our adult retreat begins with nearly 30 HPCC adults committed to spend the weekend together studying, fellowshipping, and sharing life together. True confesssions #1 -- I feel behind the 8-ball in planning. I'm mostly worried about our menu even though I know the food at High Places always manages to take care of itself. I am behind on planning the content, but I also know that each of you brings content with you just by your very presence. I was glancing down the list this week and realized that there will be a combined 500+ years of Christian life experience at this retreat. How could we ask for more? 

We will start the retreat with a video from a training I went to last year, that I believe will be stimulating enough to launch us into the weekend. It's that good! From there we will unpack the DNA of God's forever church He has been building through time, and we'll think about what re-imaging the Gospel for the next generation might look like. It's not too late to sign-up!

EASTER is coming in two short weeks. I'm nervous, but trusting God. There's alot left undone at this point, but in High Places fashion I feel like I can rest knowing the ways we all pull together to get the big stuff done, especially in a crunch. In fact, of all the groups I have ever worked with, I have never seen a group of people capable of accomplishing more with less time and less resources than this church. In God's world, less is more and He has proved it over and over again. We'll have an Easter egg hunt for the kiddos, lunch afterward, and an hour dedicated to the greatest event in the history of the Universe -- the ressurection of Jesus Christ. Praise!

In May, I'm feeling a little under the gun as I plan for a community-wide celebration of Walt Whitman's 200th birthday (May 31) followed immediately by our city's 2nd biggest celebration, the Flatwater Tales Story-Telling Festival. They outgrew the Playhouse and have asked the Grove to host on June 1st. We have a few months to prepare, but this event is going to be a big one and I am trusting the church to show up in force. 

Then on June 5th, we have the honor of being the drivers behind a community-wide People's Supper in conjuction with the Secret City festival. I still hope to find one more HPCC person to help serve on the planning committee and I'm deeply in prayer for the funding needed to fly Lennon and Sean back to Oak Ridge from California. It's an honor to be trusted by our city for such a big, big event. I believe we can do it, or I would never have said "Yes."

Speaking of saying "YES" this week's message is all about letting our "Yes be Yes, and our No be No." In a world that no longer values the RSVP or the idea of service and responding to needs, it is our aim at High Places to be different. Our goal is to become the change we want to see in our community, not for our sake, but for God's. That starts with commitments and being able to say "YES" or "NO" based on how God is speaking and leading.

Whew, that's a lot going on. But it's good stuff... and dare I say even... GREAT stuff. God's working and moving, I saw it today even in the school system as administrators, teachers, and staff constantly extended to me words of thanks for all this church is doing through Chad and our youth ministries. So much contagious good. So much appreciation. So much potential to change the world. 

I believe we can, and I believe God will. I believe in us and in you. Keep our church, our reach, our ministries in prayer. The road is always rocky, but the view from journey is always worth the effort. Our old motto used to be, "High Places: With a View on Life at its Best." The more things change, the more things stay the same!!

Much love,