High Places News & Notes: Holiday Schedule

Good morning High Places!

With the leaves changing and the temperature dropping, we can definitely see that the fall season has fully settled in. Often, the months of November and December are good opportunities for churches to take personal inventory through the rest, recharge, and celebration of the season. It can be challenging because the holidays do bring stress, but coupled with the hurriedness of the season are moments of quiet.

Our prayer is that these remaining eight weeks of 2014 will be fruitful -- not in the sense of being more busy -- but instead in the sense of just being. Outside of the "Community Thanksgiving Dinner," the High Places holiday will unfold in a fairly low-key fashion. Here's a calendar:

Thursday, November 27 --  Thanksgiving Day. Our facility is hosting a Community Thanksgiving Dinner. Last year, we fed nearly 500 people in our city who were either alone or without the means to have a Thanksgiving. This year, we are working hard to reach even more. Learn more here:  http://feedthepeople.us/  Consider how you might plug-in, but in no way shortchange your personal family holiday to do so. There are many ways to help that can still keep your holiday open for family!

Sunday, November 30 -- Tired of Turkey celebration!

Sunday, December 14  -- High Places Christmas Program

Sunday, December 28  -- No formal gathering

Outside of our Christmas parties (children, youth, adult) that's the holiday schedule in a nutshell. It's pretty low-key and that is somewhat on purpose. Savor the holiday! And as you do, think on this quote from E.B. White:

"If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy... if only challenging, that would be no problem. But it is both. So, I arise in the morning torn between the desire to save the world and the desire to savor it. It makes it difficult to plan the day." 

As you meditate, consider the possiblity that savoring is saving. That in nearly every instance of salvation we see in Scripture, there is celebration.

Apologies for the lengthy, esoteric email.

This Sunday -- 9:23AM I am pleased to welcome Kathy Strunk of the Clinch River Raptor association. A long time lover of birds of prey, she will share with us the important work of rescuing hawks, owls, and more & teach us about the beauty of birds. She is bringing with her live rescue owls! This is a great one for both the young and the young at heart!

See you all there!

Much love,


October News & Notes!

4-3-2-1 ... Blast Off!


FOUR... Opportunities to Stretch and Grow!

#1 -- 9:23-10:17 Groups begin this Sunday, with an “Advanced Health Care” learning and planning opportunity. Why is it important? Consider the Psalms in a poem by King David (whole heart!):

“Teach me to number my days Lord, that I might gain a heart of wisdom.” -- Psalms 90:12

Understanding end of life decisions, concerns, needs, and especially emotional demands is critical to reducing stress and easing the burdens of death and dying -- for both the one suffering and all those committed to providing comfort and care. All in attendance will receive a Tennessee residents guide for advanced health care planning and choices to review with family members, as well as be encouraged to consider the role that our faith plays in the death and dying process.

#2 -- Discipleship I also begins this Sunday at 1:00PM, led by David Marcotte. The small group will meet in 4-6 week bursts to cover the fundamentals of our Christian faith. This is an excellent opportunity to gain REAL handles on the faith from a Scriptural perspective. It’s not too late to sign-up and the books cost less than $15 with the first two lessons available for “free viewing” on Amazon Prime.

#3 -- Slow Church, afternoon discussion starts Sunday afternoon / evening at the Radford / Holland home. The time will be announced Sunday morning, but will consist of an informal Q&A + discussion around the key concepts of developing a “Slow Church,” or cultivating process of church development.

#4 – Freedom! Our High Places ladies group continues to meet on Tuesday’s at the home of Laurel and David Richmond. Finding freedom in Christ is essential to experiencing the fullness of His plan and purpose in our lives – and it is a great way to build stronger relationships with fellow High Places ladies.

THREE... Great Weeks of Slow Church

Slow Church is a book that Martin turned some of us onto several months back. It’s a book so rich, we’ve had to read it SLOW to take it all in. We’ll be sharing insights from this book over the next three weeks (minimum) and following each message up with a discussion opportunity at the Radford / Holland home (described above).

TWO... Special Opportunities to Give

I mentioned the last Sunday in September that October is formally “Clergy Appreciation Month” & happens to be the month that I turn 45 years old (yikes!). That’s two chances to love on your pastor and I would be deeply honored if our church would prayerfully consider supporting two efforts that I am passionate about:

#1 Would you be willing to support me as I raise money for East Tennessee Children’s hospital? I will be playing in the “EXTRA LIFE” challenge for sick children on Saturday, October 25. The fundraiser is 24hrs of straight gaming to make a difference. My fundraising goal is $500 and I am only about 10% of the way there. All gifts go directly to helping children at East Tennessee Hospital. You can give at the following link:

David's EXTRA LIFE fundraising page

#2 Would you be willing to give to help make Thanksgiving special for hungry, lonely, or shut-in people this holiday? A group of several people are working feverishly to “Feed the People” once again this Thanksgiving. Last year, we fed over 500 people and this year we hope to do even more… but we need support. Our fundraising goal is $2,000 and with that, we believe we can feed almost 1,000 people if needed.

Also, please remember that these giving opportunities are most beneficial when they supplement (not supplant) regular giving to our ministries.

ONE... Amazing Service Opportunity! 

Regarding the Community Thanksgiving Meal, you are each invited to participate as volunteers if you’re looking for a chance to give-back in person this Thanksgiving. Although this is not a formally sponsored High Places Church event, we are serving as the event’s hosts at the Grove Theater. Many of us were deeply impacted last year by the level of need and we felt the love of Christ working through us as we served. It is a great opportunity to give back and express thanks for a loving God who gives us so much.

WOW! What a great fall season we have taking shape here at High Places. As with anything however, a full calendar means absolutely nothing without full hearts. Our prayers together are that God might fill us up with His Spirit as we work and move in this community, and amongst our church family to deepen, grow, give, and serve.

“For in Him we live, move, and have our being...” (Acts 17:28)

Much love,


Mother's Day News & Notes

Good morning High Places,

Wow, what a week! It has been absolutely gorgeous & I hope each and every one of you have found time to soak it up. I managed to squeeze in a little fishing and my soul was refreshed by the deep blue skies and the sounds of birds singing. If you're up to it, drop me a note because I would love to hear of any experience you might have had during what must be the best week we've seen in East Tennessee in a long, long time.

The rain is moving in today, but should be mostly out by Mother's Day, which is this Sunday. Bring mom if you can & if you are unable, I've been asking for ...

Everyone who's lost a mom or has a mom unable to attend to please bring something that reminds you of mom! It could be a pin or a broach, a garden spade, a dustpan, or her favorite flavor of hot tea.... anything! Any special item with a memory you have attached to mom, bring it! There will be time in our meeting to share that with your neighbor in mom's honor.

We will also have baby dedications this Sunday and I know of two potential already. If you or a loved one have plans to participate in our baby dedication, please let me know as soon as you can.

I mentioned in last week's News and Notes that I was pushing back our "Gym to Gem" theme for about month to address another topic. That begins on May 18 and will last for three Sundays. I am putting in a great deal of extra time and effort into these three messages because I believe they are critical to where God has led us up to this point in 2014.

I read a cool quote from Reba McEntire last month that said: "To succeed in life you need three things: a wish-bone, a backbone, and a funny bone." It struck me as strange, but profound truth. We need to be free to wish and dream, have the courage and commitment to work those dreams to God's good, and we need to maximize opportunities for celebrating the joy of a dream realized. A life lived this way is all about Matthew 6:33 -- "Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all things will be added to you." A church living this way is too.

These three "bones" are essential to our church body at this very important juncture. Our challenges will be very specific and matched to our corresponding needs. And we going to have GREAT FUN with this as we go. Here's the plan:

Sunday, May 18 -- The Wish-Bone: Dreaming the Dream.  "Where there is no vision, the people perish." ~ Proverbs 29:18

Sunday, May 25 -- The Backbone: Working the Dream. Let us not become weary in doing good, for the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Gal. 6:9

Sunday, June 1  -- The Funny Bone: Living the Dream.  "God loves a cheerful giver."        ~ 2 Corinthians 9:7

Sunday, June 1st we have Clark Center Park reserved for our gathering, similar to last year but hopefully without all the rain. Look for singing, feasting, horseshoes, and volleyball. It's going to be a blast!

Finally, we humbly ask you as the core church to please offer many prayers for our church and its pastors & leaders, especially as we move through the month of May. Challenges abound, but His grace is sufficient.

Much love,