Blowing On the Hot Spots: Growing Stronger by Focusing on the Gooding

It may be winter, meaning only the most adventurous of us are braving the elements to go build a camp fire, but as we enter into a new year as a church family, we want to take a moment to learn a lesson from an old camping phrase, “blowing on the hot spots.” For those of you who build camp fires, you know that often to keep it going, to keep the fire burning and growing, you have to literally blow on the hot spots, the places in the fire where heat is found, where flames are growing, where the fire is thriving. As you do this, the heat spreads and fire catches. The entire fire becomes brighter and stronger as you blow on the hot spots. The same is true in life. There are going to be areas of life that are discouraging and hard, areas that maybe don’t catch fire as quickly as others, and sometimes we can spend so much time focusing on the bad, that soon even the good, bright areas of our lives can fade until our entire fire is put out. As a church, we want to be the light God has created us to be. We want to come together to encourage one another (Heb. 10:25), to grow into a brighter, stronger instrument of the Kingdom of God. To do this, your church staff will blog weekly about some of the past, “Hot Spots” to encourage us to look at all God is doing to truly, “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Together, we will blow on the hot spots, allowing our fire to spread and grow that we might better carry out the mission God has given us as a church. So join us here every week for our weekly “Blowing on the Hot Spots.” 
This week we turn our attention to a very exciting hot spot. This past weekend 21 teenagers and 9 youth leaders journeyed out to Hume New England Camp and Retreat Center for their annual winter retreat. The process of getting the teenagers and leaders there was not easy. There were many hiccups in the process, ones that were unexpected and completely out of our control. There were moments the week of the retreat that leaders questioned whether or not it was actually going to happen, but God, in his infinite goodness, made a way for those teenagers and leaders to not only go on the retreat but encounter him in mighty ways in the process. 
The theme of the weekend was “Trade-Up” and teenagers were encouraged to trade up what the world says is important for what God says is important, to trade up anything that might be pulling them away from God, anything that might be distracting them or causing them to live a life that is not pleasing to God, that they might truly live as the young men and women God has called them to be. It was an incredible weekend where we saw teenagers draw nearer to God, allowing him to soften their hearts that they might be more like him. 
It’s amazing what God can do in a weekend, especially a weekend that from human perspective and human understanding should have been a train wreck. However, our God is greater and his ways are higher than ours. Our hot sport for this week reminds us that even when life seems to be spinning out of control, our God remains capable of doing far more than we could ever hope or imagine. May you rest in that truth this week. Our God is on the move. 

Blowing on the Hot Spots: Easter Weekend at Oak Ridge

Wow! What a weekend we had! Easter is always an exciting time in the life of the church. We get to celebrate the fact that Jesus is alive, that death has lost its sting and that we can have hope in the resurrection of Jesus. It’s a wonderful time of year. 
This year we added something to our usual Easter celebration. Along with our annual Maundy Thursday service and Easter Sunday services, we put together an Easter Extravaganza for our community. We had never done an event quite like this before, so there was an eagerness to see whether it would actually come together. The result? One amazing, fun-filled event that everyone from the kids, to their parents, and even the volunteers absolutely loved. 
We saw over 100 kids and their families come through our church doors that day, and every last one of them was loved and cared for. The smiles and laughter were contagious throughout that building. Kids made Christ centered crafts and snacks, helping to emphasize the meaning of Easter. The obstacle course and cross toss were favorites, with kids returning to play the games over and over again. We hid over 1,000 Easter eggs throughout the church and watched as kids ran to find them.  It was truly a blast!
The following day, Easter Sunday, we gathered as a church family and worshipped our risen savior. It was standing room only in the sanctuary, but no one cared. In fact, the crowd added to the celebration, as the presence of Jesus was felt and we proclaimed together, “Christ is risen, He is risen indeed.” 
How great it is to serve a God who is not dead, but is alive and moving in our community! 
Thank you to all who worked to make this weekend possible! Pictures to come soon!

Blowing on the Hot Spots: Freedom Sunday

Our Freedom Fair was this past Sunday and it was fantastic! We saw four children sponsored, sold a lot of SEED product, and tasted some fair trade chocolate. Our kids even took steps towards ending modern day slavery by writing cards to the children our church already sponsors. 
It’s a great thing when the people of God come together to participate in his work. After all, God calls us to
Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him. (Micah 6:8)
On Freedom Sunday we did just that. We acted justly, by buying products made fairly by men and women all over the world. We loved mercy by extending grace to children in far away places that need a helping hand. Finally, we walked humbly with God by realizing that He is the one truly working to bring an end to modern day slavery and is simply inviting us to be a part of it. 
How wonderful to be part of a church family that comes together to serve God! 
Pictures to come soon! Keep watching for those!

Blowing on the Hotspots: Youth Overnight

This Friday, the youth group got together for an epic overnight event. The night included a time of group games such as human foosball and four corners, as well as some fantastic ice cream sundaes. Then guys then headed up to “the lodge” for some male bonding time, including video games, a five hour game of risk, and manhunt in the snow
Meanwhile, back at the church the girls played some fun games testing their knowledge of One Direction and Taylor Swift lyrics, played Just Dance, did their nails, and sang some karaoke! Once morning came, the boys returned to the church to hang with the girls and eat some pancakes!
Amidst all the fun, relationships were built. Kids got closer to one another, the youth leaders, and God. Meaningful conversations were had, as kids sought God and found Him! 
All in all it was a great night!