An Analysis of Worldview — “Knowing”

•March 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment

There are basically two ways to watch a movie … with your eyes (mind) open or with your eyes (mind) closed.  Either of these ways will serve a purpose, but it can definitely make a difference what you take away from a film.  The same ideal applies to reading a book … you can just read the words or you can read between the lines for deeper meaning.  But if you are looking to critically analyze a movie or book, it is absolutely necessary to keep your eyes (and mind) wide open.

The 2009 film, “Knowing” stars Nicholas Cage, and the film did not received outstanding reviews by most media outlets (3.5 stars at the most).  And I concur that the movie is not one of my favorites, but if one is on mission to analyze a film’s “worldview” and/or to see symbolism of God-messages, then “Knowing” is a good one to watch.

If you go see this film and are a professing Christian, I recommend you step back from what you think you know about “end times” … and let your imagination or perspective be free to “wander.”  I’m not suggesting that this film in any way represents any biblical accounts, but in consideration of the fact that “Hollywood” probably doesn’t even realize, (without the more obvious reference to aliens) this film has closely represented what could be symbolized or interpreted as “the rapture.”

The plot is centered on Jon Koestler, an MIT scientist and professor, and his son, Caleb, who have recently lost their wife and mother to death in a fire.  The film opens up with a brief conversation between the two, whilst star-gazing, about life on other planets or beyond earth.  The father makes the statement, “No, it’s just the two of us!”  Later, he realizes that perhaps his son was also asking the question because he was wondering about Heaven. He tells his son that he can believe in Heaven if he wants (needs) to, but as for him, he says, “there’s just no way of knowing.”  Another early scene in the film depicts Jon teaching students at MIT about the different ideas of how the world was formed … pre-determined or by a random “bang.”   He challenges his students to spout out bits of information that they “do” know, but gets distracted in his thoughts when it comes to deciding between “pre-determinism and random circumstance.”  When asked by a student what he believes, he basically admits that it’s all just random.

Jon is struggling with grief, dealing with it by withdrawing from family and friends, drinking too much and there is an ever-present evidence of anger.  As the story goes on, it is plain to see this anger leads to a rejection of religion and faith and acknowledgement of God.  It is classic Darwinism or atheistic worldview.  However, throughout the film there are continuous references and opportunities to reach out and embrace a Christian worldview.  Ironically, Jon’s father is a pastor, but Jon has been estranged from him for a very long time.  Jon’s sister, GRACE, comes by to check on him and offers to pray for him, to whom he responds, “Please don’t.”

The plot of the movie centers around a time capsule contribution that was made by a little girl named Lucinda, in 1959.  The students were challenged to draw a picture of what the world would be like in fifty years, and those drawings would be placed in the time capsule to be opened by students of that era. Viewers recognize that Lucinda is “different” from the other children as she is obviously hearing voices which lead her to write a series of numbers on a piece of paper to be placed in the time capsule.  Fifty years later, the capsule is opened and Caleb is given Lucinda’s letter.  He thinks the numbers “mean” something, but at first, Jon dismisses it.  Then, by “random circumstances” Jon’s attention is drawn to the letter with the numbers, and he starts recognizing patterns and sequences that correlate to world disasters since 1959.

As Jon continues to research and decipher the number sequences, his son is being visited by “life forms” who are obviously trying to communicate … but it is all in whispering.  Jon begins to recognize that the number sequences are providing info (dates and GPS coordinates) of upcoming disasters which he tries to prevent to no avail.  The final sequence on Lucinda’s letter indicates that on October 19, 2009, everyone on earth will die.  Through a few other “subtle” biblical “Revelations,” he sees a “pre-determination” as to why he and Caleb have received this letter, based upon a previous discovery he made about “sun flares” that will end up burning up the Earth.  He begins to see the “connection” of all these circumstances … and HE KNOWS.

There is no hope for survival on Earth.  The movie offers a rather random and ambiguous realization by Jon that leads him to find the last GPS coordinates Lucinda (and his son) was given, and he proceeds to get to that location in hopes of surviving the “burning sun.”  There he finds his son and Lucinda’s grand-daughter who have been kidnapped by those “life forms.”   He starts to shoot the “being” but Caleb stops him and says, “Dad, its okay. They were protecting us, not trying to harm us.”  These life-forms are offering them an escape from the “hell on earth” that is about to take place.  A bright light … in Hollywood fashion an obvious ship from another universe or dimension … comes down to earth to these coordinates to provide this escape.  Upon seeing the “ship” … ironically, Jon falls to his knees in awe. 

They start to board the ship, but Caleb is told that his father cannot come.  This is the tenderest moments in the film when it is explained that “only those who heard “the call” would be able to go.”    Caleb is torn because he doesn’t want to leave his father behind.  Jon is torn because he “knows” that his son must go in order to survive and live out his purpose.  He assures his son that it’s okay … and that they will be together “forever,” — along with his mother.

Caleb goes with the “being” and boards the “ship.”  Viewers who want to see, CAN SEE, the symbolism of “angels” rather than “aliens” in this scene.  In fact, look closely for the “wings” and the “spiritual” realms indicated by the “escape.”

Jon watches his son ascend from the earth, as he falls to the ground in great mourning. The next morning he awakens and heads back to the city to find total chaos.  People are looting and walking about in complete daze and confusion.  Jon goes to the place where his father, mother and sister live. (which appears to be in a church or parsonage)

In a moment of repentance and reconciliation with his father, they all gather in front of the window, holding each other as the waves of fire overtake the whole earth and every living thing is annihilated.  The movie ends with Caleb and Abby being placed in a beautiful wheat field, with beautiful mountains, streams, trees, blue skies and the perspective of peace and new beginnings.

I found it quite ironic that as I left the theater, mulling over the great symbolism I found in the film, I heard comments such as “How stupid!”  “That was so retarded.”  “I can’t believe we even watched that … how dumb.”  And I thought … “Oh, you must have watched with your eyes closed.”

Simply, at face value, this was a Hollywood science-fiction film.  Some will only see that it is portraying an atheistic world-view that says there is “no way of knowing what’s really out there.”   But, I think it absolutely offers a “Christian worldview” that WE CAN KNOW.  While Lucinda’s letter was left in the time capsule to let people KNOW what’s coming … we have the Bible and God’s Revelation to let us know about what is coming.  Unfortunately for Jon, his “knowing,” came too late to experience the “rapture” with his son. But what he did truly know in his heart, came from the teachings of his father and the Bible, and led him to that place of reconciliation and the “knowing” of eternal life.

What I saw as “blatant” biblical and Christian worldview references may be only subtle to others.  And I do find it sad that so many walked out of the theater seeing nothing but the “sci-fi.”  Perhaps this review will enlighten others to watch films with “eyes wide open” and look for what you can learn and know, rather than simple face-value.


When We Gonna Stop Doing What We’re Doing … and Do Better

•December 28, 2008 • Leave a Comment

A few days ago, I came across an advertisement for a new “church” in the Chattanooga area that I found to be a great example of the disappointment that I have for the way “church” is communicated in our society today.  It is the Net Church that will soon be gathering at The Rave movie theater in Chattanooga.  Now this is not the only church that has succumbed to this type of marketing; and I will readily admit that there are plenty of “traditional” or “old school” churches who need some reprimand too.  This is not to “slam” church in any way … but my heart simply breaks at the lengths “we” are going to … to “market God” in today’s society.  Frankly, I’m sick of it.  Instead of using the media for a positive tool to share the love and hope of Jesus with a lost and dying world, we are spending too much time and money and effort … competing with each other.

I have the notion that I should start a web site titled, “” because I fear (I really do fear) that the church has lost her focus, especially when we are trying to be anybody’s dog that will hunt.   Regarding the message from the “” site, I posed this question  … Is this evangelistic?

I guess it reaches who they are trying to reach. “People who hate church.”  I pray that TRUTH will be shared, but like so many other emergent and program-based churches, I have a feeling that TRUTH is “relative” and not absolute.  After posing my question, I received this “great” and philosophical response from Garnett Doty, a “Right of Way Specialist” and good guy with common sense.  I invite you to read his perspective and of course, offer your own comments.

From Garnett Doty …

What we have here is a failure, not only to communicate, but a failure to understand what God has said over and over.  Hate the sin and love the sinner.  Why are the two “hot button issues” that fire the “church people” up the most, abortion and homosexuality, worse than cheating on your taxes, divorcing your wife for another, ignoring the poor (in Spirit and finances) among you, and yes, even the unmentioned sin of gluttony. (Did I spell that right?)

I am not saying that we shouldn’t oppose the “hot button issues”.  But, we should have sound Biblical principles and know how to present them in a loving and kind way.  We must oppose sin, but not in such a way that we make bitter enemies of the sinner while doing so.  One of the particular things that stood out in the last election was how if you were for one particular candidate, you were made out to be some kind of hell-bent sinner.  If you were a real Christian, you couldn’t support someone who thought that although you weren’t gay yourself, you couldn’t see the human-ness in someone that was.

If the average Bradley Countian knew how many gay people they come in contact with on a daily basis, they would faint.  How many people do you know who have taken in a young lady, supported her spiritually and financially, so that she would have the child instead of aborting it?  How many people do you know who gripe constantly about the welfare situation, but won’t contribute or help in any way to organizations who try to get people off welfare?  How many people do you know that even knows what Nancy’s House is and is ready to help?

As I get older, my patience wears thin with these folks who want to tell everyone how to live.  Diversity is a good thing.  Trying to understand how people who are not like you think, so that you can show them God’s love, is not a bad thing.  I know that if you wallow with the hogs, you will get hog stuff on you, but my faith in God and His ways is strong enough to resist what is not right.

I really think that I can live in San Francisco’s gay district, and not become gay. Where in the Bible does it say that a gay person can’t be saved?  Do we abandon these people because we find their sex life abhorrent?

These guys [] are trying to reach a people who don’t want to be reached.  That is admirable and Godly.  I am afraid that they are setting a poor example, though.

What is the Church? It is people.  Why are these people not in church already?  Most of the time it is because of something that someone who claims to be a Christian have said or done that wronged them, and they think that if that is Christianity, they don’t want any part of it.  Most of them were raised in church and were hurt or offended in such a way that they don’t want any part of it either.

How do we reach these people?  We don’t do it by saying “for people who hate church”.  We go into the community and love, help, witness and pray, until God sends the harvest.  I hope that these fellows have a successful effort, but I also hope that they will allow God to lead.

A lot of the persecution of the Church is the fault of the Church its self.  The Falwell, Robertsons and Kennedys, et al, brought a major portion of this hatred and persecution by their intolerance and hatred of anyone not like themselves.  Of course, by doing so, they built large empires.

Do you remember Falwell’s tape of the Gay Inaugural Ball at Clinton’s first inauguration?  For $75, you could get the actual taped footage of the gay’s dancing and celebrating Clintons rise to the Presidency.

Of course, no one mentioned that Liberty University had 75 million dollars worth of bonds that were due and that Liberty was about to go bankrupt.  Robertson begged for money on the 700 Club for years, and then sold it to Rupert Murdoch and Fox for 1.6 Billion.  Did you get your share of that through the mail?  Has Billy Graham been censored, hated, put in the headlines in a derogatory way for something he has said?  No, because Billy Graham has stayed true to his calling and preached the simple truth.  God loves you, sent His Son to die for you … won’t you say yes to His love?

I think if the Church will stay true to God’s calling, what persecution that comes will be dealt with in God’s timeframe and will.

I Would See Jesus! A Christmas Story in the Ocoee Region

•December 21, 2008 • Leave a Comment

by: Carole Hicks

I tell you the Truth … my desire this Christmas season … my prayer and at the top of my “wish list” was simply … to see Jesus.  I confess that disappointment and disillusionment had caused an uncomfortable amount of cynicism to grow in my heart and mind, especially the gross amount of “things” that we fill our lives with … things that are “just things” and end up meaning nothing at all, especially nothing to do with the REASON FOR THE SEASON.
As I broached this holiday season, I prayed, and asked God to let me see His Son.

“I want to see Jesus.” I said to Him.  “I want to see His story told as it has been for many years.  No technical light show. No “drummers drumming, ladies’ dancing or five golden rings.”  I just want to see the story of hope through Your Son Jesus Christ.”  I wanted to see and feel and hear … to experience … the JOY of Christmas in the purest form.

In my feeble and limited perspective,  I thought that would be through the “telling” of the Nativity story … complete with shepherds in bathrobes, and angel wings made out of coat hangers and shiny garland … a bale of hay, and Mary and Joseph and a baby doll, all with a glittering star hanging overhead.”

I called all across the Ocoee Region asking different churches about their Christmas presentations … and either from a lack of information or a “plan”  —  or the simple truth that there would be no such presentation, I was somewhat disappointed with the information that I was given (or not given) in some instances. Oh there were musicals, cantatas and plenty of other kinds of presentations, but only a few who could answer in the affirmative, “Yes, we will be presenting the Nativity story at our church.”

I’m sure as more plans unfolded … there were more churches who did or will present the story.  The problem seemed to be a lapse in “communicating” that information to people who might be “looking for Jesus” as I was.  This added to my growing cynicism, and so I prayed again and said, “Lord … have we [the church] also taken Your Son out of Christmas?  How will people who don’t know Your Son, hear about Him, if we don’t tell the Story?”

Well … I think God said to me … once again, “I don’t need a presentation to tell people about My Son.  You don’t need to look for a play, a song, or a film to see My Son.”  And that’s when The Christmas Story truly began to unfold …

The Inn Was Full To Capacity!

It is an uncomfortable and unsavory circumstance for anyone to find themselves  “homeless” and having to bed down with complete strangers at night (if they are lucky) — the unlucky ones bed down “wherever.”   But imagine a husband and wife, and their five children, in that situation.

A simple statement was made about the situation at the local Emergency Shelter that was full to capacity.  The accommodations were lacking, but at least it was a warm place to stay at night.  The statement was that there were no towels and the managers had resorted to tearing up bed sheets for the guests to dry on.  The simple statement quickly evolved to a community towel drive for the shelter with more than 250 towels collected for their supply closet.

But that was only the front side of the story.  The statement about the conditions at the Shelter included the information that a family of seven (five children ages 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10) were staying in one room of the shelter.  Once “communicated” through whatever “people network” (word of mouth) took place, an incredible Christmas (GOD) story began to “play out” right before the eyes of everyone watching.

It’s a story good enough for the Hallmark Channel … telling how hundreds of people became a part in how God intended for His story … His Son’s story  … to be told.  I was personally reminded many times over during this holiday season of the book and musical, Experiencing God, by Henry Blackaby.  He urges to “look for what God is doing and join Him there.”  I knew that this community was full of good, caring, decent people who loved the Lord and each other.  But my cynicism and skepticism offered doubt that any response to the needs of this family would take place without “one church or another” taking the lead (and maybe even the credit) for the mission.  But this is not the case …

Again, I believe God disproved that theory by showing me in no uncertain terms that HE IS ON HIS THRONE and HE IS THE ONE WHO MOVES and SHAKES … and HIS TERRITORY is more FAR-REACHING than any ONE PERSON, ONE BODY of BELIEVERS or ONE DENOMINATION.  And, HIS GLORY cannot be shared.

So as I sat with my laptop … in lap … communiqués from people I did not even know began to filter through my emails.  Messages were left on my phone from folks I absolutely did not know.  Each of these wanted to know how to be involved in ministry to this family.  I was able to witness THE BODY OF CHRIST come together without a designated leader … a designated mission team … without a designated “vision” statement or even an organized collective effort.  People just made themselves and their resources available to be involved in “what God was doing, right here where we are.”

As I watched it all take place, I believe that I have been given the greatest Christmas present I’ve ever received.  My heart is full to overflowing to have a bird’s eye view of such a big and incredible picture of the Body of Christ working as it should be.

This morning, I dropped by the home of William and Mandy, who now reside at a house on Norman Chapel Road (two houses directly behind Wesley UMC).  I was warmly welcomed inside the home and met with the gleeful faces of five precious children.  They were so excited, smiling and laughing and showing me the ENORMOUS Christmas tree that someone had brought to their new home.  Mandy invited me to sit on the couch and as I did, I said, “So tell what’s been going on.”

Several times, she was on the verge of tears.  Their lives have gone from hopeless to hope at lightening speed.  She expressed that their heads were mostly spinning at how everything had come together.  Even at the Shelter, Mandy seemed to be holding up under the circumstances.  But today, there was a peaceful difference in her demeanor and her face.

The children wanted to show me their bedrooms.  They were so excited!  Someone brought them a bed (one of those that have a bunk on top and then a futon type on the bottom).  This went to the little girls, and allowed their twin beds to go to the brothers.  The boys were very  excited about their room too, pointing out a “cool” black light clown poster they had put on the wall.  Then they showed me their “big bathroom” and the youngest one, Will, (age 2), told me that he got to put “bubbles in the tub.”

I stood in the dining room, looking out the French doors to the backyard, and watched Austin, (age 10) ride his bike around the parking lot of the Methodist church (their landlords).  The large dining room table was set up neatly with placemats for every one … and even a booster chair for Will.  Honestly, it was all I could do to hold back my emotions.  I was so thankful for them.

Then Mandy said, “We’ve been so blessed.  All we want to do is just stay home.  We spent 35 days, all day, in the van.  These little ones were so confined and now they are able to be at home.  We’re so blessed.”

Mandy and William both said they wanted to write letters to everyone who had helped them, but they didn’t even know who they all were.  I told her … it didn’t matter because they too were blessed to be able to help.   I told her I would certainly convey  appreciation through the same network of people … but that we all could thank God for allowing us to be a part of His story.

I knew that their hope was to keep the children in Blythe-Bower School because they were doing well there and it had been a source of stability for them.  Living on Norman Chapel Road, I knew transportation would be an issue if they didn’t have gas to get them to school.  Today, as she was telling of how the pieces of the puzzle had come together — she said that someone from the school came by to check on them and tell them that because of the “Homeless Act” — there is a grant or something that provides for bus transportation for the children to remain in Blythe-Bower.

At that news … I was overwhelmed with God’s affirmation and Presence in this situation.  I said to all of them, “My friends, for some reason Divine Providence has brought you here … whether it’s for you, or for us … or for these precious children … God means to get our attention here.  WE must thank Him. We must acknowledge His Hand in this.  THIS IS a GREAT CHRISTMAS STORY!”

And they absolutely agreed.

Now to you, my dearest friends and neighbors … this is a story that we should all hold near and dear to our hearts and tell again and again.

It’s REAL LIFE … Emmanuel — “God With Us.”   I can only guess that hundreds of people have been affected (and have been “effective”) in this story.   Perhaps the “Innkeeper” who provided a manger for Mary and Joseph never even realized the role he played in the greatest story ever told.

Perhaps many of us may not realize the role we have played in this Christmas story.   But I promise each of you this … you drop by that house on Norman Chapel and you will see the glory of the Lord shining on the faces and through the eyes of those children.

What we ought to do is “all gather in the parking lot of Wesley UMC on Tuesday evening about 7:00 PM and conduct a carol sing to celebrate this most memorable Christmas for this family … and let’s face it, for us too.”

In fact, if you are up for that, join me there.  And bring a “Merry Christmas” card to give the family so they can know their new friends and neighbors in this fine community of believers.  (or maybe you and your small group would like to go at some other time to carol and card)

On behalf of William, Mandy and the children … thank you all for being the hands and feet (The BODY) of Christ.

Merry Christmas!!!

Operation: Brother’s Keeper

•December 8, 2008 • Leave a Comment

John Bunyan once said, “You have not lived until you have helped someone who can never repay you.”

Could you believe that?  Could you live and work and exist with that kind of mentality.

What it is … is “love without condition.”  It’s “unconditional love.”  It’s something we all long for but find very elusive.   But oh … when it does happen, it’s an amazing, heart-rending, life-changing experience that we find difficult to live without.   It’s good for the giver and the receiver … “when we GET IT!”

Operation: Brother’s Keeper is Salt & Light’s initiative to coordinate, communicate and connect ways to live out John Bunyan’s quote.  Specifically, it’s about recognizing that “we’re all in this together,” and God surely meant business when responding to Cain’s questions, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  (read the story if you need a reminder)

As we face some pending uncertain and unstable economic times, we will surely see more and more people “down on their luck” and in need of “love without conditions” and “help that cannot be repaid.”  Speaking as someone who has received a great deal of “help” in my life, I can attest to the tremendous impact those who lived out John Bunyan’s ideal, had on my life.  One of the greatest friends I ever had helped me a lot when my daughters were younger, and I said to him, “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to pay you back.”

He said, “You will pay me back when you see someone else in need and find a way to help them.”   And so … life goes on … and that is “living.”

And Jesus was more than clear about this in Matthew 25 as He discusses pending judgment of the sheep and the goats.  Please read:

The Sheep and the Goats

31″When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34″Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

41″Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44″They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45″He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46″Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

As a result of a recent project to help meet the needs of a local emergency (homeless) shelter, there have been many asking, “What else can I do?”  The initial project was a simple “towel drive” for the shelter — a project that, once communicated, seemed to take on a life of its own and thus far, more than 150 towels have been collected and given to the shelter.  Additionally, some have stepped in to help provide the financial means for a family with five children to get out of the shelter and into an apartment.  Also, several families, local businesses and churches have discovered the need and now taken the opportunity to prepare and serve meals at the shelter (which by the way offers temporary refuge from the cold for 40 people who are homeless).

Still, there are folks who are turned away (for lack of space) …  and other needs that can only be met by those who can adopt John  Bunyan’s philosophy about “really living” and God’s intent for us to help and care for the “least of these.”  Therefore, the following is provided as suggestions, ideas or ways that you can personally become involved in ministering to the poor, unemployed and/or homeless in your local community.  If you would like to participate in any such projects as a “co-op” with others, please feel free to contact Carole Hicks at to make connections or to share other opportunities.

This list will also be updated as information becomes available, so please check back often, or to receive timely updates, send Carole an email request.

  • Feed My Sheep: Suppertime comes around daily and supper needs to be served at the Cleveland Emergency Shelter (and other shelters around the country) every evening around 6:00 PM.  Groups, (churches, families, clubs, businesses, friends, small groups, individuals) can call Jamie Gregg at 478-1458 to sign up for a date to provide such a meal.  It need not be elaborate … casseroles, soups, chili, sandwiches, home-cooking, breakfast for supper, spaghetti, meatloaf, whatever.  But there needs to be enough for everyone … which means a bit more than just leftovers.  After you sign up for your date, simply call Jamie a day or two before and find out how many guests he is anticipating … and prepare your meal accordingly.  (usually utensils, plates, bowls, etc., are provided by the shelter)

Jamie is presently making out the calendar for 2009, so calling now would give plenty of time to pull your plan and team together, and hopefully create commitments to participate on a consistent basis. (i.e. once a month, or every other week, etc.)
Incidentally, Jamie did share that Sundays are a day when rarely anyone brings food for the guests … this might be a good opportunity for Sunday Schools, small groups and others to get the “ox out of the ditch.”

  • Man vs. Wild: We all see “them” at the off-ramps, or intersections or wherever there’s traffic congestion.  Where we might not see them is in abandoned buildings, under bridges/underpasses, back alleys and underneath shrubs and trees.  Homeless people … people holding signs, asking for money or food, or work.  Our hearts are tendered and yet, there is some trepidation about whether this person is “truly” homeless or just making a good day’s wage working the off-ramp. Some hand out money through a slightly rolled-down window … while others hold back in lieu of the idea that they’d just spend the money on liquor or drugs.  It’s hard to know what to do … especially when you are not prepared to minister.
  • Here’s an idea that is a great personal or family ministry project … Survival Kits for the Homeless. Take a back-pack (old, new, slightly worn, doesn’t matter) and fill it with items that will genuinely help someone “survive” in a homeless state.  This survival kit would not be money … but it would contain legitimate items that any person could use. Here are some suggested items to include: snacks that contain protein and carbohydrates (canned tuna (with pop top), peanut butter crackers, beef jerky or sticks, energy bars, granola, etc); small cans of fruit, raisins, dried fruit; bottled water;  gift cards to Cracker Barrel, McDonalds, Hardees or Waffle House (restaurants that are often near the Interstate or are in every town). Gift cards are not cash and can only be spent for food/drink — so you’ll feel better about its potential use.  Other items that will fit and fare well in a back-pack: a rain poncho, a compact umbrella, caps and toboggans, an inexpensive air mattress (sold at Dollar stores and Wal-mart) that can be easily blown up and deflated again to fit in the back-pack; clean socks; thermal underwear, handkerchief, gloves; a towel/washcloth; bar of soap; toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, lotion, sunscreen, band-aids, Neosporin, Tylenol (even travel size); chewing gum, hard candy; fix a zip-lock baggie with small packets of salt, pepper, sugar, a few plastic forks and spoons; a cigarette lighter; a small flashlight or penlight; a small-cell battery powered radio with ear-buds;  a pre-paid phone card; some stamped envelopes with paper and pens, or stamped post-cards; a good book to read like Louis L’Amour or a Grisham novel; (go to the library and buy a used book for a quarter to put in there); puzzle books, Sunday school books or a Bible. You might also include a card with information about a local shelter, soup kitchen or medical, church/missions group that would help in an emergency.

The idea is not to make it so loaded down that the poor soul could not carry it … but to provide some necessary and personal items that might bless and help to survive until the next stop on the journey.

Place the back-pack in your car … and you’ll be prepared to minister the next time God brings someone less fortunate across your path.  You could also fill such a back-pack and take to the Shelter for the manager to give to those who are leaving the Shelter or are turned away.  This would be a great on-going family project — then every time you give away your Survival Kit  — you go back on mission to build another one until God opens up another door to minister.  Always take the Survival Kit with you in your car … when travelling … and it might even come in handy to minister to yourself in times of emergency or breakdown.

  • Teach a Man to Fish: Without a doubt, there are people who just won’t work.  But there are also people who just can’t find work.  Someone could be in so deep a hole of despair that they could not possibly pull themselves out to the point where he/she could make an impression on potential employers.  Check your own attitudes about the homeless and answer the question … “what would keep me from hiring him or her?”  Some of those reasons might be legitimate. However, some may simply be based upon stereotypes you developed, and your own fears of what you “just do not know.”

We’ve got to hold fast to the ideal that people want an “honest wage for honest work.”  That’s how this country should function, and what true success is.

In these pressing times, it might be difficult for any one business to commit to employing “the homeless” — but we don’t know what the future holds for any of us and “any of us” could find ourselves without work, and possibly having to learn and do something different.

Empathy for just situations is a necessity – that is why we give out fish for a day.

But “teaching a man to fish” will help him help himself and another … so life goes on.

A personal prayer of mine is asking and seeking God’s direction as to how I can come alongside those who want to work … and help them find some kind of work.  This may involve conducting some kind of training; it may involve helping those who need a little boost of confidence, with resumes, clothing, presentation, or transportation; it may involve making connections with people who have work that needs to be done and asking, “will you help this man fish for a while?”

These are just three different ways that God has revealed to me how we can help each other … and be “Salt & Light.”  Operation: Brother’s Keeper will continue to be a category on this site, featuring stories and ideas of ministering and even eliminating homelessness (and hopelessness) in the Ocoee Region. Won’t you join me in this mission?


Are You Ready for the “Holy-Daze?”

•October 12, 2010 • 1 Comment

Are you ready for the “Holy-Daze”?

“Happy holidays … happy holidays.  While the merry bells keep ringing, may you’re every wish come true.”

Ahhhh …. It’s that time of year again. The fast approaching holiday season.  The ghouls of Halloween … the drools of Thanksgiving … and then the yules of Christmas.  It’s the best (and the worst) time of the year.

Do I sound like Ebenezer Scrooge?  Well I certainly don’t mean to.  I love this time of year. I love the festivities. I love the “good-heartedness” of people. I love the sounds and the sights. It’s all so nostalgic … or at least it could be.  Should be?  Would be!  If only ….

If only the “holy daze” did not have to overtake us.  

The holiday season for me has never been like what you envision from the scenes of a Hallmark card. Why, I was 17-years old before I fully embraced the idea that Christmas was about Jesus. I was so ecstatic to discover it was more than just presents, parades and parties.  (by the way, I feel the same way about Easter and egg hunts)

Nevertheless, those festive traditions have their place as long as we don’t leave out the true reason for the season … Jesus.

Several years ago, I wrote a blog article titled, “Happy Holy Daze.”  A link to the article is below.

After saying my piece about all the hub-bub from folks feeling robbed of the “reason for the season,” I set out on an adventure … a scavenger hunt of sorts … to find Jesus in the holidays.  I thought surely, with all the Christian disgruntled-ness about Christ being omitted from the holidays, my friends and neighbors in the “buckle of the Bible belt” would surely not let me down.  My plan was to use my communication skills to promote anything … any event … musical, play or sing-a-long … that would tell the story of Jesus to someone who wanted and needed “happy holidays.”

I did this the first time in 2008 … and my heart was quite broken by what I discovered.  I called and emailed churches and found that way too many had no plans to share the story of the Nativity.  Oh, there were the usual choir specials and musicals of sorts.  I was purposefully searching for someone to tell “The Nativity” story … about the wise men, and the manger and the shepherds. 

I was quite surprised when I called upon one church and was met with great suspicion.  My question was, “Can you tell me if you will be telling the Nativity story in your Christmas play or presentations?”  And the response on the phone was, “Why do you want to know?”


I was calling as a consumer … just asking.  I didn’t say a word about helping promote it or anything.  I was just an inquirer on the phone.  My response was, “Well, perhaps I was hoping to come and watch.” 

And then she said, “Well, we’ll have something but I’m not quite sure what or when. So check back.”  (and this was the second week of December that I called)   Sadly, this was not the only church to respond this way … either defensively or with basic lack of planning or communication.

Another call I made was even more disturbing.  I asked the same question, and the response was, “No … our music leader is contemporary and he doesn’t do old fashioned things like that.”

Be still my heart!  I wondered if he would tell the old fashioned story of the Cross at Easter.

All was not lost, for I did find a few who were having Christmas plays, telling the story of Jesus birth … but they were small churches, without a huge budget or ideas about inviting the public. 

In 2009, I had better luck.  I used the social media platform (FACEBOOK) to spread the word, and gather the word.  Instead of calling churches to talk to secretaries or whoever answered the phones, I relied on this other network and word of mouth. (the old-fashioned kind of communication)

I found greater success, and so, I plan to do the same again this year.  My scavenger hunt is about to begin as I go “In Search of the Nativity in the Ocoee Region.” 

You see, I want people to have “happy holidays.”  Nothing would do my heart better than to know that in all the world … here in the Ocoee Region … we KNOW and TELL what makes a holiday happy.

Ironically, as I was writing this piece, I got the old Bing Crosby tune in my head …  do you know it?

Happy holiday, happy holiday
While the merry bells keep ringing
May your ev’ry wish come true

Happy holiday, happy holiday
May the calendar keep bringing
Happy holidays to you

But that chorus is as much of the song as I know … so I decided to look up the lyrics. Do you know the rest of the song?  You might be surprised …

Happy Holiday
Happy holiday, happy holiday
While the merry bells keep ringing
May your ev’ry wish come true

Happy holiday, happy holiday
May the calendar keep bringing
Happy holidays to you

Come To Holiday Inn
If you’re burdened down with trouble
If your nerves are wearing thin
Park your load down the road
And come to Holiday Inn

If the traffic noise affects you
Like a squeaky violin
Kick your cares down the stairs
And come to Holiday Inn

If you can’t find someone who
Would set your heart a-whirl
Take your car and motor to
The home of boy meets girl

If you’re laid-up with a breakdown
Throw away your vitamin
Don’t get worse, grab your nurse
And come to Holiday Inn

 Hmmmm?  So as we gear up for the “Holy Days” ahead of us … let’s not succumb to a “holy-daze.”   I implore you … Christians … open the doors of your hearts, homes and churches so that people who are seeking Happy Holidays will not end up at the Holiday Inn. 

Send your Nativity event information to me at, or message me on Facebook.  Events will be promoted through this blog and the FACEBOOK group, “In Search of the Nativity in the Ocoee Region.”

I’m Sorry Dr. King

•January 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment


The Magi and Me

•December 8, 2008 • 4 Comments

As stated in the link from Commonbond.wordpress.comI am on a journey to find the “place where baby Jesus lay” in my own community.  I’ve been calling and researching and collecting information from anybody who will share it with me … about how/when/where/why/how much/and what kind of Christmas celebrations are taking place in the Ocoee Region this 2008 Holiday Season.

So here’s what I have gleaned by calling churches, sending emails, doing drive-bys and checking web sites … to the best of my present knowledge. (This list will most likely be updated daily, so please check back)

(visit the Bradley Baptist Association web site for church directory with phone numbers, addresses etc.

December 7

Big Springs Baptist Church (children’s choir) will present “Cool Carols” at 11:00 AM.

First Baptist Church – Cleveland will present youth ensemble and ladies’ ensemble Christmas music at 6:30 PM.

Waterville Baptist will present a children’s musical/play, “Meet Me At The Manger”  at 6:00 PM.

Shenandoah Baptist (Waterlevel Hwy) will present a children’s program at 6:00 PM

December 12

Candies Creek Ensemble to perform at Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights

Philippi Baptist (Harrison Pike) will host a drive-thru “Life of Christ with Nativity” (also on the 13th)

December 13

First Baptist Church – Benton will present “In The Fullness of Time” as a dessert theatre at 6:30 PM.

Philippi Baptist (Harrison Pike) will host a drive-thru “Life of Christ with Nativity” (also on the 12th)

December 14

Thompson Springs Baptist, (Bates Pike) will present “What God Wants For Christmas” with adult and children’s choir, and handbell choir, at 6:00 PM

Emmanuel Baptist (Powerline Dr)  Christmas Musical, 6:30 PM

First Baptist Church – Benton will have an encore presentation of “In The Fullness of Time” at 7:00 PM

Candies Creek Baptist Children’s department will present “Joy Story” at 3:30 PM and 6:00 PM

First Baptist Church – Cleveland Choir/Orchestra will present music cantata at 6:30 PM

North Cleveland Baptist will present children’s program at 6:00 PM

Westwood Baptist will host a coffee house at 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM

Waterville Baptist Adult Choir will present a musical at 6:00 PM

Mt. Olive Ministries (Harrison Pike)  “God’s Grace” musical presentation at 9:00 AM, 11:00 AM and 6:00 PM

Valley View Baptist, Christmas Cantata, 10:30 AM

December 17

The Church at Grace Point Children’s presentation at 6:30 PM.

December 21

Bellfounte Baptist Choir (including children’s choir) will have a presentation at 11:00 AM

Candies Creeks Adult Choir will present “All Bow Down” at 8:00 AM and 10:30 AM.

Clingan Ridge Baptist will present an adult play at 6:00 PM.

First Baptist – Charleston will present an adult musical in the 10:45 AM service; and children’s program at 6:30 PM

New Friendship (`344 Chatata Valley Road) Adult Choir presentation, “Joy To The World” (with DVD accompaniment), 11:00 AM

* New Friendship, “The First Christmas” play and music presentationfeaturing combined Youth/Children’s groups,  6:00 PM

North Cleveland Baptist will present adult choir musical and drama at 6:00 PM

Waterville Baptist will host a candlelight service at 6:00 PM

Mt. Olive Destiny (Boys/Girls Club)  “Christmas Extravaganza” with gifts for children ages 1-14. (contact Josh Sarmiento at for more details)

December 22

Clingan Ridge Baptist will present “encore” of an adult play at 7:00 PM

December 24 (Christmas Eve Services)

North Cleveland Baptist The Lord’s Supper at 6:00 PM

Westwood Baptist The Lord’s Supper at 6:00 PM

First Baptist – Cleveland The Lord’s Supper (4:00 for families/children) (6:30 PM w/Adult Choir & Orchestra presentation)

First Baptist – Charleston 6:30 PM

Candies Creek Candlelight Service with The Lord’s Supper at 2:00 PM

New Friendship Candlelight Communion Celebration, 10:00 PM

Valley View Baptist Candlelight Communion, 10:00 PM

Shenandoah Baptist Candlelight service, (no time indicated)

December 31

Waterville Baptist The Lord’s Supper at 6:00 PM