Was It Good For You? Losing the Leaf, Week 1

Or should we say- Is it good for you? God didn’t and doesn’t think so.

18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18

How is he alone, Adam is with God in the garden, right? Also, up to this point after everything God created, He said it is good. God was displeased that man was alone. God had Adam name the animals, but no suitable helper was found for him. God is Trinity, He is plurality in oneness. So, since man was to be created in His image, God needed to create a plurality of persons. The word helper is used not to suggest that Adam needed help working in the garden, but that he needed help not to be alone. So, God put Adam to sleep and formed woman, Eve from Adam’s rib (some of His best work). God’s supreme achievement was not the creation of a solitary man, but the creation of human intimacy and community. Genesis chapter 1, verse 31 – after he created everything and He says, “It was very good”.

Later during Jesus’ ministry time here on earth, he identifies the two foremost commandments and reinforces his original plan for community, both with Him and each other.

37 And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 This is the great and [a]foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ Matthew 22:37-39

The making of an intimate community cannot be a side issue or an optional matter for Christians. It is as important to God as one’s individual salvation. Without intimacy with God and others, there is no Christianity. Intimacy is central to God’s purposes for humankind.

So, as we prepare to begin our group study in Week 1 of Losing the Leaf, take a look at this video segment from Pastor Art and Doctor Ann as they unpack God’s design for intimacy with Him and others.

Also, to help get you in the mood for your intimacy discussion, please enjoy this song titled Intimacy as performed by the Corrs.

Maps, Markers, Gauges and Nav Lights (Part Two)

Now we are well into the 17 mile portion of our unmapped part of the trip, and we notice that the fuel gauge is still on full. Wow, this thing gets great mileage! A few seconds later we look at it again and it is on empty and bouncing back and forth like crazy. So, with no idea where we are exactly and if there is a marina anywhere nearby, we did what any other experienced boaters would do. We prayed, or at least we guys did, because we told our wives that everything was fine, no worries. To pass the time and keep my mind occupied on something other than our fuel situation, I began to look at the Loudon Map. After doing some mileage calculations, I realized we had about 10 more miles to go than we were initially told. So, the 60 mile trip is now 70 miles. At our current speed, that is about 2 to 3 hours more than we thought.

We finally make it to the lock, “Thank God”, just before dark. All we have to do now is get through the lock, and we can fill up with fuel just to be sure we can make it the rest of the way. Never been through a lock before, but seen it done, so how hard could that be. Once inside the lock, we tie up to one side, the rear gate closes and the Lock Master begins to fill-up the lock with water to raise us up to the same level as the lake on the other side of the dam. After about 45 minutes the lock is almost full and water starts swirling around inside. Suddenly our boat starts turning around with the swirling water and due to the fact that we only tied off the front end of the boat, we are now going to have to come out of the lock backwards. I’m sure we provided some great entertainment for the Lock Master. It is now very dark and it has begun to rain as we awkwardly back out of the lock, get turned around and head for fuel at the nearby Fort Loudon Dam Marina.

As we pull into the marina at about 9:40 pm, we discover that it is closed for the day. Unable to get any assurance of extra fuel we have little choice but to press on toward our final destination. While waiting for the lock gate to open, I had decided that it might be a good time to check the navigation (Nav) lights. Upon checking them, we realized the front lights didn’t work. I took the cover off to check the bulb and the cover broke. The bulb also didn’t work and we had no spare bulbs. So, since we were so well prepared we had a flashlight. I took the flashlight and proceeded to the front of the boat where I would remain for the remainder of our trip.

I had made this trip before from the dam to Concord Yacht Club, but it was a few years ago and in the day time. I had been on the lake at night before but not that far from the dam. My job was pretty easy, watch out for floating logs of which there were many, and keep us between the Channel Markers. The markers were not lighted and only reflected my light. So, I would have to stop watching for logs long enough to find the markers and then resume watching for logs, all the while continuously communicating the whereabouts of each to my friend who was steering the boat. It was pretty stressful to say the least. About half way, we encountered a part of the lake that I wasn’t familiar with. I couldn’t find any markers and the lake seemed to end. We stopped moving and as I was trying to figure out which way to go, my friend asked what the map showed. I could sense the tension in his response to me after I told him I didn’t have the map and was going from memory. I couldn’t ask our wives for the map, because they had decided to go below when it started raining earlier and were now sleeping soundly through this whole stressful time. In the pitch black darkness of this long night, I was cold, wet, tired, and feeling pretty alone when suddenly out of nowhere another boat passed by and their light revealed a marker in the distance. We decided to follow them and it paid off. We found the main channel again and we figured out we were not far from our destination. A short distance and another hour later we spotted the familiar lights of the yacht club. We made it, tired, wet and happy. All of our troubles we had faced during our journey didn’t seem so bad now. Oh by the way, we later figured out that the fuel tank held 22 gallons. We took the boat to get fuel a few days later and would you believe it only took about 5 gallons to fill it up. Oh well, all that worrying for nothing.

In this life we trust in so many things to help us navigate our journey. But it’s important to know that when we are in the darkest hours of our journey and none of those things are available or working to show us the way, we may need to be still and wait for the light and direction that only God can provide. Psalm 46:1-11

Maps, Markers, Gauges and Nav Lights (Part 1)

Have you ever embarked on an incredible adventure and encountered the unexpected in route to your destination? Sometimes, if you are like me, we focus on the destination and not the journey.

A few weeks ago one of my best friends bought a sailboat from an individual who lived on Watts Bar Lake near Ten Mile, TN. For those of you who don’t have a clue where Ten Mile is, we were told it is about 60 miles by water to Concord Yacht Club (CYC) on Fort Loudon Lake near Knoxville. First problem, but not really for us experienced motor boaters, is this is a fairly large sailboat at 34 feet long and trailering it home to CYC is not an option. So, an opportunity for an adventure (and we do love an adventure) lies ahead for us. So, we will just pilot it up the Tennessee River to its new home.

A few days before we are scheduled to meet the previous owner to pick up the boat, we do what any other experienced boaters would do; we make a list. This list included questions for the previous owner, a list of food supplies and refreshments for the long voyage, and any other necessities like maps, life jackets, flashlights, and fuel. You may be wandering about the fuel need, because after all this is a sailboat. The sails are all new, but not rigged up yet for sailing. Fortunately for us, as we do not have a lot of sailing experience, the boat can be motored via a small diesel inboard motor. Now we are talking, this baby has a motor. This motor will push the boat along at a crisp 5 to 7 miles per hour. At 60 miles going against the current and wind, it’s going to be a long day. But what could be better than 4 seasoned boating friends spending an entire sunny day together in a boat on the water like we had done so many times before.
We have now picked up all of our supplies and after much anticipation, the day finally arrives. We decided to set out early (about 7:00 am) for Ten Mile since we are estimating about 11 to 12 hours for the trip, which includes some time to pass through the lock at Fort Loudon Dam. Now after spending some time going through our initial pre-boating check, we were ready for departure to go get fuel and fresh water at a marina very near where we picked the boat up. After filling the boat up with fuel and fresh water and loading all our gear, we headed out about 10:00 am, a little later than planned, but hey, we were on our way.

Being the experienced boater that I am, and given the fact that I am not real familiar with Watts Bar Lake or that portion of the TN River, I mapped out our route on the lake map that my wife had encouraged me to pick up. Now I assumed that the Watts Bar Lake map ended where the Fort Loudon Lake map begins at the Fort Loudon Dam and Lock, but it was several hours into our journey before I realized that wasn’t the case. Well actually, it was right before we got to the end of our map, and I figured we had about 17 miles of unmapped river before we would get to Fort Loudon Dam. No worries, we will just stay in the main channel and keep the boat between the channel markers. Oh, I forgot to mention that the previous owner didn’t really know how big the fuel tank was, but he believes the fuel gauge works. He thinks a full tank will make the trip, or worst case we can fill up again at the Fort Loudon Dam Marina. Want to know how it ends? Read Part Two to find out!


(This post was written by Rob Patrick, Associate Groups Pastor)

A man searches for it, but can’t find it on his own. He wrestles with his thoughts all day long.

He doesn’t understand the master plan, because he doesn’t know the Master.

Friendships are made and his friends help him along. They grow strong.

The friends find a way into his heart, opening it up, just slightly. The Master floods in and his heart is full. They grow strong.


A man searches for it, but can’t find it on his own. He needs the Master’s love and friends to help him along.I wrote this about someone that I know and love. Their heart is just beginning to open, but they’re not quite there yet. Sometimes we have to be willing to share our lives with someone before we can share the gospel with them. Who do you know that is searching for it? Are you helping them along in their journey to meet the Master?

“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8

Sign Me Up!

I am excited to announce that a new sign language class and Deaf/ASL Bible Study group just had their first meeting this past Saturday, May 14th, at the Pellissippi Campus of Faith Promise Church.

The ASL sign language class is being held on Saturdays from 4:00 to 4:30 pm and the Deaf Bible Study group will be meeting right after the sign language class from 4:30 to 5:30 pm, both in Room 222.
George Sierra, a regular attendee here at Faith Promise Church, and a Deaf ASL instructor, will be teaching the sign language class at the beginning level. George will also be leading the Deaf Bible Study group. George would like anyone who is interested in attending the sign language class to feel welcome to also attend the following group meeting as well.

George recently shared with me that one of his dreams is that the speaking community of Faith Promise Church and the greater Knoxville area would form friendships with the Deaf community. He says the people in his world are starved for relationships with hearing people. If you have not noticed, our Deaf community here at Faith Promise Church attend the 6:00 pm Saturday night service and sit up front on the right hand side of the worship center facing the stage. So let’s do our best Faith Promise, to help our Deaf friends get and feel connected to the whole body. If you are interested, sign up for the class, or at the very least, take some time before, or after, a Saturday night service to make some new friends with the people that sit up front on the right. Don’t worry if you can’t sign, there are interpreters serving in that area that would love to help you communicate with each other. If there is not an interpreter around, use a pen and paper. Remember, there is no interpreter needed for hugs or handshakes!

Also, George is planning to start an online Deaf/ ASL Bible Study Group soon. More details on that as soon as they become finalized.

Below is a recent letter we received about George from his Groups Coach:

Dear Brad and Rob,

I just wanted to thank you for your compassion and care for people. Yesterday, Rob helped George set up his first meeting for the ASL sign language class he is beginning at the church, and the Deaf/ASL/ small group Bible Study that meets afterward. Rob took the time previously to meet with George and an interpreter to help him understand more about the vision of FPC with Small Groups. Rob is also providing support in that he has also offered to help set up the Deaf online bible study group that George wants to start. Deaf people are the world’s 5th largest un-churched people group. I know these groups will be used by God to reach lost people and disciple new Christians.

Yesterday, with me as an interpreter, Brad responded immediately and compassionately to George’s spontaneous request for prayer after the service. George had listened to Pastor Chris’s message and realized he needed to share information regarding his current situation and allow another Christian to come alongside him in prayer to “help hold the ladder.” Brad responded in a tangible way to help meet a need he had previously known nothing about. Just like previously when another group from FPC had helped them move, George saw instant proof of God’s promise to provide, and a tangible demonstration of the love of his church family.

I am so blessed to be going to a church that loves others the way Christ would. Thank you so much for the love and compassion you constantly show to others, not because it is your job, but because you are fulfilling God’s purpose and plan for your life by being the hands and feet of Jesus. You are living the message preached by Pastor Chris this weekend, and heaven will be a fuller and more joyful place because of it. I am overwhelmed by the honor of being a member of such a church.

In the meantime, thank you for helping to guide and support George in the work God has planned for him. Thank you both for all you do. I know this was just one small snapshot of very full days and weeks, but I just wanted you to know that you are greatly loved by God, and appreciated by His people.

I am honored to be involved with George and his group. Thank you for this opportunity!



(This post was written by Rob Patrick, Associate Pastor of Groups)

We all have them, use them, push them, and fasten them. Some are small, some are large, some are flat and recessed, and some are tall and stick up. Some are round, some are square, and some are rectangle. Some are big, round and red, and say “that was easy” when we push them. Some open and close windows and doors. Some help keep our clothes on.

What buttons are you pushing or fastening? Are you opening or closing doors in your life that you should or shouldn’t? Or what do you say or do when someone pushes your button? How is it that others can’t visibly see our special buttons, but they know just where and when to push them? You know, the ones that when pushed set into motion a flurry of thoughts or actions that can harm us or others.

This past weekend I was on my way to church and pulled onto Pelladega Parkway from the infamous U-turn ramp in Solway, and a vehicle that I pulled out in front of (which I must say was a good safe distance from me, but traveling about 60mph in a 45mph zone) had to change lanes to pass me. He of course pushed his horn button which pushed my button of “who does he think he is”, and he had a FPC logo in his back window I might add. I immediately began to think about how embarrassed he would be when I pulled in behind him at church wearing my staff badge, no less. I would show him. But I decided that had I not been running late, I would have taken the longer safer route to church. And after all, he might have been one of the very people we are trying to reach every week. So, I did what any “good” Christian person would do–I expressed my sentiment to my wife and any others that would listen.

But not all of our buttons when pushed produce bad results. Some, when pushed, stir up in us a deep feeling of empathy for those in need. Some even push us into action to save others from harm, like the good traveler in the story of the Good Samaritan.

The more we grow to become like Christ, He begins to reprogram our buttons to motivate us to do good when they get pushed. God’s word says “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will”. Romans 12:2