New Beginnings

New Beginnings

Many of your children or grandchildren have started back to school in the last two weeks. With the start of every school year, or anything new in my household for that matter, chaos, anxiety, excitement, uncertainty and stress may be present until a routine or “normalcy” are created. (A lack of sleep is also present) Many of us as parents are experiencing that right now as we try to schedule our way through all of the new things as we begin a new year.

It is so easy when things are uncertain and somewhat chaotic, to allow ourselves to become anxious, stressed and to even worry. I have found that it is in those moments that Satan works on me and my family the most. Those moments where we are consumed with things we may not be able to change. Those moments when our focus is shifted and we try to place ourselves in control.

When you think of the words “new beginning,” what emotions or feelings are brought to your mind? Uncertainty? Anxiety? Stress? Opportunity? Success? Excitement? Some of you may view change and new beginnings very positively. Some may really dread it.

As I have thought about all of the new beginnings in my own household, I have also been drawn to think about the new beginnings in my Northside family. Individually, many of us are dealing with new circumstances. New “normals”. The death of a loved one, a cancer diagnoses, a new job. New beginnings and change come in all different forms. Northside as a body faces a new beginning as it begins to search for a new preacher. It is normal for us to be uneasy or anxious about that process. It is also normal to be excited about a new opportunity for this body.

This week I want to encourage you that no matter what “new beginning” you are facing, try to face it with positivity. Try to face it with prayer and with your focus on the only One who matters - God. He did not die for us to worry about those things we can not control. He did not die to give us all of the answers. If you are a “fixer” like me, this is especially hard. The unknown is difficult. How we choose to act in the unknown moments shows our character. Who do you represent in those moments? I’ve been reminded this week of different scriptures that I have held close.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and sound judgement. 2 Timothy 1:7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

I’m excited about the new school year for all of our kiddos, and I am so excited for the next chapter in Northside’s future. I pray that we all will choose to show Christ’s character of humility, kindness and grace throughout our “new beginnings” moving forward.


Adam Braseel Is Free

Many of you at Northside have been praying for Adam Braseel’s freedom for five years.I first met Adam in 2010, as Churches of Christ began a new ministry at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.  Adam was 27 years old.  He was 24 when convicted of murdering Malcolm Burrows and assaulting Burrows’ sister.  Adam asked me to serve as his mentor at Riverbend and I quickly agreed.  From the beginning, Adam maintained his innocence and urged me to read his case, which I did.  We prayed a lot.

After the murder of Malcolm Burrows and the terrible beating of his sister, the person who then served as Sheriff in Grundy County went looking for a suspect.  Two  witnesses said that the perpetrator had red hair and drove a gold car. Adam was red headed and drove his mother’s gold car, so he was questioned by the officers.  Knowing that he had nothing to hide, Adam readily offered his clothing and his car for examination.  Even though officers found no blood evidence, and even though none of the fingerprints at the crime scene matched, Adam Braseel was indicted, tried, and given a life   sentence of 51 years. 

In 2015, a Knoxville attorney appealed Adam’s conviction based on a faulty photograph I.D. and testimony of witnesses not called in the first trial.  The Honorable Justin Angel, newly elected District Court Judge for the county, awarded Adam a new trial and set him free until he could be tried again.  Freedom was short lived, however.  The     Criminal Court of Appeals overturned Judge Angel’s decision.  

James Kelley, Adam’s new mentor, and the Northside church continued to pray.

By 2017, Adam had a new attorney.  Alex Little, convinced of Adam’s innocence, has been relentless.  Having discovered multiple new evidence, he asked Judge Angel for another hearing.  Having read the discovery evidence, the District Attorney of Grundy County offered Adam a plea deal before the hearing even began:  take an Alford plea  admitting to murder, spend four more years in prison, and go free.  Adam refused.  

In the new hearings, held in July and August of this year, the new evidence was presented by Adam’s attorney.  1) A deputy sheriff testified that Malcom Burrows wallet and money (the supposed motive in Adam’s conviction) was still on the body when      discovered. 2) A witness from the Tennessee Bureau of investigation testified that at the time of the murder, fingerprints were found in the car of the deceased but could not be matched to anyone.  In 2017, the fingerprints were run through the TBI system again.  They perfectly matched a known felon named Kermit Bryson, who had red hair and     resembled Adam Braseel.  This man was known to Malcolm Burrows.  He had later killed a deputy sheriff and then killed himself. 3) a third witness testified that the car Kermit Bryson drove was gold.  4) A fourth witness testified that she had done drugs with Kermit Bryson and that he had admitted to killing Malcolm Burrows.

A recess was called in the hearing.  We were told that negotiations were being held.  Eventually, Adam and his attorney appeared before Judge Angel.  A deal had been reached.  Adam took an Alford plea (allowing him to remain silent when asked if he had done anything wrong) holding him accountable for the beating of Burrows’ sister but not for the murder.  It was not a perfect day, but here is the result.  1) Adam Braseel is free.  2). He will not have to endure another trial which could possibly return him to prison. 3) Adam will be able to appeal his guilt of any charge relating to the crime and have the charges expunged.  4) He can never again be in prison for anything relating to these crimes.

Adam says he wouldn’t change anything.  He has taught and baptized many whom he met in prison during the past 12 years.  He will no longer endure incarceration for something he did not do.  He is with his family, and he will live his life honorably,    continuing to serve the Lord with a new vision of fighting for others who, like himself, were wrongfully convicted. 

We are thankful for your faithful prayers, and we praise God for his mercy and grace—providing just the right people at just the right time to give Adam freedom.

—Jim Pounders

Letter from the Shepherds: Running the Race

      I’m tired. Are you? I’m a runner and it feels like I’ve been running full blast with church activities lately in addition to my daily workouts. But that’s a good thing!

Heb. 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

      It’s certainly a business summer here at Northside. Vacation Bible School and Church Camp were both major successes. (Thanks to Megan Swanger, Chris Gannon, and everyone who worked so hard on both events).

      We have our preacher search committee chosen. Mikki Perry is chairing it. We’ll introduce the entire committee next Sunday morning, so be here.

      The shepherd selection process starts today with Charlie Hooks heading it up. We need everyone’s participation, so puh-leeze get involved as we look to add new leaders to help guide our church family.

      We’re also getting back on track with our 2020 Vision plans. If you’re not a part of these plans yet, contact Stan Cunningham, Kenny Wyatt, Greg Tolbert, or Yours Truly to get involved.

      I said I was tired, but I’m also excited about all the things going on in our church family. I have no doubt that our best days are ahead. In another running analogy: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31.

      If this were any other church family, I might be nervous about all the changes taking place. But not with the Northside family. The years and months ahead with doubtless see us grow spiritually and in our efforts to reach a broken world.

      Kenny, Greg, and myself look forward to working with our staff and all of you, our brothers and sisters in Christ, to accomplish great things for the glory of God.

“So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” — Rom. 12:5

In Christian love,

Dennis Sellers

(writing for the Northside shepherds)

Dragging Our Way into LIFE

       Last week I mowed the yard in what felt like a 350-degree oven.  At one point, completely drenched in sweat, I had to sit down in the shade of a tree to catch my breath and cool down a bit.  I was feeling sorry for myself, and talking to God about it, when something moving along the ground caught my eye.  As I watched, I realized that it was a butterfly.  It’s wings, however, were dragging the ground and appeared to be moist and not fully formed.  This little guy was     crawling with absolute resolution toward a tree.  It was a difficult journey over sticks and rocks and hot dry ground, but it managed to climb into that tree to a height of about 2’ off the ground… and it stopped right there.  It was just high enough for a slight breeze to blow against its wings.  And I sat, utterly amazed, as I witnessed a miracle.  Its wings were droopy but began to unfold and straighten out.  As the moisture dried, the wings began to take form and more vibrant color. It sat right there in that spot, opening and closing its wings, until they were fully formed as God had always meant them to be.

      I had witnessed a part of transformation (metamorphosis) where a caterpillar sheds its cocoon and becomes a butterfly.  I did not see the cocoon, nor did I see the caterpillar.  But those past experiences were very real for that little fellow, and I had witnessed the difficult portion of its journey after escaping the cocoon, where it trudged across difficult terrain in blistering heat to find a place where its wings can dry off, expanding over and over again, growing in strength and stability, until finally it becomes able to lift off and fly into the sky to live life to its fullest as it was created to do!  What an incredible sight to see!

      God had given me a gift at a moment when I felt much like a soggy caterpillar wriggling along a broken and battered world, desperately trying to find a place where I can feel the wind of God blowing strength into my feeble body.  And, what’s most astounding to me is that a seemingly insignificant little butterfly is actually a type (or metaphor) of US.  Paul writes:  Do not conform 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) The word “transformed” in that text is actually the Greek word “metamorphoses”. As Paul was writing encouragement to the battered church in Rome, he had his mind on a caterpillar who would, through its own suffering, one day be given the glorified body of a butterfly.  God wants us to know that we are not meant for the cocoon, or even for the dry and parched ground of a sin-cursed world.  We were created to soar with God!  And we are, even now, through all kinds of difficulties and suffering, having our beleaguered bodies transformed into glorious bodies that will one day surpass all the butterflies in this world. And when that day comes, we will know what true LIFE is!

       That, my friends, is who we are!!  May you never stop believing that truth.  And may we never stop believing that God is not finished with us.  Thank you, Lord, for finishing what you start!!

God Is So Good!

As many of you are aware, this building was “transformed” as VBS took place last week. We had a regular nightly attendance of over 120 people, both children and volunteers. We sang praises, watched skits, and traveled back in bible times! I want to personally thank each and every person who helped with this HUGE project or volunteered in any way. I also want to thank the parents for trudging through the week with me and trusting me with your children!

The week was better than I could have ever imagined, but I wanted to give you a few highlights of ways that I saw God working in this body throughout the week.

  • After last week, your children KNOW that God is always good, regardless of the circumstances. Just say to them “When life is unfair….” and listen to their response! 

  • I saw big kids helping little kids, and TONS of sharing going on - rarely any fighting.

  • I had countless volunteers step up to the plate for last minute needs.

  • Even when children were scared or uncertain or felt things were unfair, I saw the wheels in their head turning as they would say “but it’s ok Mrs. Megan…God is good and He will take care of us!”

Lastly, I want to let you know how important service work is to me. You see, I have this belief that if you can teach children habits or ways of thinking when they are young, they can carry them on through their life. I also believe that when children view us as adults doing something, they are more likely to follow suit. Service work is something that is important to me and therefore I want it to be important to our children. Some of us are better at things than others but we can all do something! If we use our God given talents and gifts for His glory and don’t “bury” them, it’s amazing what we can accomplish.

After learning about children in other countries this week, I challenged the children and their families to try to raise enough money to send one Pilipino boy to school. By the end of the week, the children and their families had raised $930, which is more than enough to send TWO children to school.  

Meet June and Christine May. 


Because of our children, they will be provided food, schooling, bible teaching, books, and uniforms for the next year. I am so very proud of our Children’s Ministry. Let the kids know how proud you are of them too!

Letter from the shepherds: Full speed ahead

Despite the challenges we face as the Northside family, there are a lot of exciting things in the works as we look forward to 2020 and beyond. 

For one thing, we’re working with Interim Ministry Partners (IMP), an organization that helps churches fill the position of pulpit minister. The shepherds, staff, and our spouses recently met with a representative of the company — Tim Woodroof, whom you’ll see more of VERY soon — to discuss the hiring process and the results of the survey that our church family recently completed. We discussed the vision of where all of us want our church to go and began the process of filling the pulpit minister position.

On Saturday, June 6, Tim met with those invited to serve on a Northside committee who will work with IMP to fill that position. More on that soon. Meanwhile, David Swanger and Chris Gannon are on tap to preach in the weeks ahead, something we’re excited about.

Second: we’ll be starting a new shepherd selection process soon with Charlie Hooks heading this up. More on this soon, as well.

Third: we took a brief break, but now we’re back-on-track with our 2020 Vision plans. If you’re not a part of these plans yet, contact Stan Cunningham, Dennis Sellers, Kenny Wyatt, or Greg Tolbert to get involved.

Philippians 4:13 tells us that we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.” And He is certainly providing strength to the Northside family and will continue to do so as we grow individually and as a church family in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

In Christian love,

Dennis, Kenny, and Greg

When life is WILD, God is GOOD

"God loves me too much to answer my prayers in any other way than His way and in any other time than His time."

I've been reading a book lately that has really touched my heart. In the book "It's not suppose to be this way" by Lisa Terkeurst, she describes so many trials that she has faced recently and how our plans and ideas are not always how things turn out. She also emphasizes that even though life isn't always "good", God is ALWAYS GOOD.

It's funny how one thing can coincide with another or how things happen at the same time unintentionally. I chose our VBS theme at the end of the year last year before any changes, any books were read, or any new trials were faced. Our VBS theme for our children is "When life is WILD, God is GOOD"

I hope that you will invite all of your friends, your neighbors, and your family to join us July 14th - 17th from 6:00pm-7:30pm.

Throughout the week we will be going on a safari to discover how 'wild' life can be! We will be looking at the lives of the Israelites and Moses. We will see how when life is good, when life is unfair, when life changes or when life is scary, GOD IS ALWAYS GOOD.

 How can you help?

  • Pick up some of the flyers from the table in the lobby to hand out to your family and friends.

  • Check out the info sheet for snacks, and sign up to bring an item. Turn it back in to the table or Megan's office (Room 104)

  • Sign up to be a tribe leader and walk the kiddos around from station to station.

  • Show up each night and just be present. The kids see you. They love you. They appreciate you.

Thank you all for all of the love and support that you not only show this ministry, but to me personally. You touch my life in ways your will never know!


Summer Memories

When I think about summer, so many memories flood my mind. I remember the smell of the freshly cut grass. I remember catching lightning bugs in a jar and saving them for as long as I possibly could. I remember all of the late nights playing cards with my Ma. She always won. I remember FINALLY gaining the courage to jump off of the diving board. I remember the countless encouraging notes written and funny songs sung at church camp. I remember the late night praise sessions at UPLIFT. I remember choosing to follow Christ and be baptized.

All of these memories flood my mind when I think about the summers from my youth. You probably have similar ones, or maybe you have very different ones. The summer is such a fun time for so many. So many events and activities take place, and so many memories are made. Not only are the memories special to me, but who I made those memories with are even more special and important. The camp counselors who taught me and mentored me, the late nights with my grandmother, the long talks with my dad before deciding to be baptized, the moments of praise songs with hundreds of other students, those people had a huge impact on my memories and what they mean to me now. 

The people that we surround ourselves with play a role in those memories. Our youth and children will make memories this summer, and how exciting is it that we can play a huge role in those. What lasting impact will you have on those around you this summer? May I suggest some ways that you can make a lasting impact on the youth of this church this summer? In the coming weeks, our youth group and children’s ministry will be going in a million different directions, but there are ways that you can help. If you aren't able to physically help and be there for those memories, there are ways that you can make it easier for us this summer. In the upcoming weeks we would love for you to be praying for the youth of our congregation. Here are a few additional ways that you can help: 

  • Save your condiments from your fast food restaurants - they can be used at camp. 

  • Check the sign up sheets and consider walking around with the kids at VBS as a Tribe leader 

  • Check the “items needed” list located on the kids board for VBS snack items needed 

  • Provide scholarships for those who may need help attending camp (Help them make those memories!) 

  • Attend VBS 

  • Provide cookies and brownies for our girls and guys nights in June 

More than anything, we would love for you to be prayerful about our youth and children this summer. So many memories will be made this summer, and we pray that they are life changing. 


Pieter van der Horst, professor emeritus in the faculty of theology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and author of Studies in Ancient   Judaism and Early Christianity, suggests that the predominant world view toward poor people has always been negative. This has been a societal norm for as long as history records show. During the Greco-Roman world domination, leadership promoted the idea of philanthropy and benevolence, but those concepts were much different than today’s interpretation. Ancient philanthropy was always directed toward those who could reciprocate with a greater gift. Think about that for just a moment. Let me say it again…  ancient philanthropy was always directed toward those who could reciprocate with an even greater gift. What does that mean? It means that people of means were eager to give gifts to other people of means, and the recipient of any gift was socially obligated to respond to that giver by upping the ante.  I might give you a very generous gift, but you would have to give me something even more generous. Society frowned on those who broke the code. And, since poor people were unable to reciprocate appropriately, they were never considered as suitable objects for benevolent giving.  

God wished to change that. When He spoke the Law into existence for the people of Israel, He said things that were directly opposite of world view. While the world ignored the poor, and heaped societal obligations upon the rich, the Hebrew people were told things like, “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God.” (Lev. 23:22).  This was a very RADICAL and WORLD-SHAKING command.  To give to someone who cannot give something nicer in return simply made no sense to people of the ancient world. 

But Jesus took it one step further. The poet Hesiod, around 700 BCE, had coined the phrase “Give to him who gives, but do not give to him who does not give.” This phrase well defined the attitude of giving. If the giver cannot be repaid with something even greater, then he should keep it to himself. Now hear the words of Jesus in Luke 14:12-14, “Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Did you hear how Jesus attacked the very core of societal norms concerning the poor? He strove to create a society that urged people to give to those who are totally incapable of giving in return. And by urging people to live with that kind of generosity in their hearts, He was urging His people to create a society where everyone is to be considered an equal, with equal possessions and equal opportunities. This was a RADICAL and WORLD-SHAKING idea. And it’s one that you and I, as ambassadors of Jesus Christ, are being urged to embrace. As 2019 fades into the next decade, this should become a primary focus of our church.  Let’s work hard this year with 2020Vision to prepare for a GREAT, RADICAL, AND WORLD-SHAKING future for our church family, and for the community around us.  

You Already Have Your Ticket

When Corrie Ten Boom, of The Hiding Place fame, was a little girl in Holland, her first realization of death came after a visit to the home of a neighbor who had died.  It impressed on her that someday she and her family would also die.  Like any little girl, she was frightened by that thought.

Corrie’s dad comforted her with this thought, “Corrie, when you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?”  She answered, “Why, just before we get on the train.”  “Exactly,” her father answered, “And our wise Father in heaven gives us our ticket before we leave this world so that we know we have safe passage to where he will receive us.”

Fear of death is natural.  God understands.  So he regularly in his word gives us reminders that we have nothing to fear because of his love and the death of Jesus for our sins.  “Since the children have flesh and blood, Jesus too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who has the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”  Hebrews 2:14-15  And just a moment later, we read that Jesus made “atonement for the sins of the people.”  Hebrews 2:17

Adam and Eve were sinners.  Are they in heaven?  YES.  Abraham was a sinner, a liar.  Is he in heaven?  YES.  Rahab was a prostitute.  Is she in heaven?  YES.  David was, well David was a lot of things.  Is he in heaven?  YES.  Peter vowed that he had never known Jesus.  Is he in heaven?  YES.  The sinful woman from the streets who washed Jesus’ feet, is she in     heaven?  YES. The thief on the cross was a, well I guess he was a thief.  But he was a murderer too.  Is he in heaven?  YES.  


If you haven’t accepted Christ’s sacrifice for your sins, do you need to do that?  YES.  And God will safely bring you home to him forever when you die. 

Don’t worry about your ticket.  He has your name in his book.

What Is Your "Word"

We’re two weeks in to the new year. Have you kept your New Year’s resolutions? Did you make any? According to surveys done at the beginning of the year, the top resolutions were to be healthier and to save money.

Some people make resolutions. Some people simply decide on one word that they want to represent areas of their life over the next year. For example, someone may choose the word “content”. They may want to strive to be content in all areas of their life over the next year. Someone may choose the word “passionate.” They may want to strive to be passionate in everything that they do. Someone may choose the word “joy.” They may pursue being joyful in every circumstance over the coming year. Choosing a word for the year has become a new favorite thing of mine!

If I could choose a word for Northside over the next year, it would be “service.” Not only are we striving to serve together in the 2020 Vision campaign, but my hope is that we serve together in regards to those around us in the community and in the everyday lives of those in this congre-gation.

One word that MANY of us would use to describe Jesus would be servant. Jesus didn’t “go to church” and leave it at that. His life was a life of service. He didn’t simply preach, but He practiced what He preached. We are commanded to serve one another, and we are called to be like Christ. Are we living a life where others are captivated by our words but our actions are far from our words? If we aren’t serving in some way, how are we striving to be more like Christ?

Do you have a word for 2019? If you could think of one word to describe the change you would like to see in different areas of your life, what would it be? 

Don't Write 2019 in Olde English Script

     This is the first Sunday of the new year.  There has never been a 2019 A.D. This year is brand new. The calendar rolling over is always a chance to mentally renegotiate with yourself. There are certainly things of the past that we want to keep, cherish and honor.  For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne (whatever that means).

    But don’t stay stuck in the past with your same fears, bad attitudes and negative thinking. God is doing so many wonderful things in our church family right now. Make a resolution to joyfully join in and see what he will do this year in your life.

     Make some personal resolutions. Don’t worry about what you    haven’t gotten done yet in life. Pick up where you are! You are not too young. You are not too old. God is always making all things NEW.

     My favorite “Dear Abby” of all time went something like this: “Dear Abby, I have always wanted to go to law school. My family encourages me to go. But I am thirty-eight years old. In three years, I will be forty-one! What should I do?” Abby’s response is brilliant and so encouraging.  “How old will you be in three years, if you don’t go to law school?”  That’s great! Go for it! Let’s take that attitude with us into this year.

     Friday, I have a birthday. It one of the big ones. And no, I’m not  going to be a hundred.  But it is the one where I get to go on Medicare.  Actually, that does sound like a hundred. But life here with God, my family and all of you is still so great. I thought that I was finished with full-time preaching. God had other plans. And I am so excited about the future we have together.

     Most of you are younger than I am. Some of you are older than I am. That’s irrelevant. I want God to use you in powerful ways until he takes you home. I want you to be a thriving part of this church family. I want that for myself too. Don’t let age or physical limitations or lack of talent in some areas keep you from joyfully doing all you can do in the kingdom of God. You are part of the body. You are just like God needs you to be.  

     Do what YOU can. Celebrate that. Don’t worry about what others can or cannot do.  

     You be the best you in 2019. That’s what the church and God and YOU need from YOU.

     I just checked that Medicare card.  It’s not in Olde English script.

Harvard And Science Journal May Be On To Something

     Harvard University and Science Journal are two places people go to learn some deep truths. And this time, I think they are on to one of the deepest of all. Their study was about how much money it takes to make someone happy.

     Here’s the finding: If you live below the poverty line, more money seems to make you a little happier. Life gets easier; some of the daily pressures lessen. But…hear this…If you are above the poverty line, having more money does not make you any happier. Interesting.  Hmm.

      The study showed that even if a family who earns $45,000 per year has their income doubled to $90,000 per year, they are no happier than before. Michael Norton, professor at Harvard Business School said, “Most people think that if you make a lot more money, you are going to be happier, but our studies showed that this is not actually true.”  

      But there is something the study showed about happiness and money. And it doesn’t have anything to do with your earnings, but rather how you use your money. Norton went on to say, “It’s what you spend your money on that makes a difference in your happiness.”   

      Regardless of income levels, those who spent more money on others in need or gave to worthy causes reported greater happiness in their lives. Those who spent money on themselves were not as happy.

      They then conducted a second study. Sixteen corporate employees were given bonuses, anywhere from $5000 to $10,000. And they were asked two months later how they used their bonuses. The results showed that the size of the bonus had nothing to do with their happiness. The only thing that related to happiness was that those who spent a portion of their bonuses on causes they believed in were the happier ones.

      Next forty-six volunteers were given from $5 to $20 to spend that day anyway they wanted. You’re probably catching on by now, but just so you know, the ones who spent their money on others or gave it away were much the happier group. Buying someone else coffee makes you happier than buying it for yourself.

     Now the SHOCKER! Harvard and Science Journal concluded… Are you ready for this?

      “It is better to give than to receive.” I think I heard that somewhere before.

—Phil Kinzer

2020 Vision

I suffer from myopia.  That’s near-sightedness, which means that I can see quite clearly things that are right in front of me, but everything becomes more and more blurry the further they are from me. Glasses correct the problem and can bring my eye-sight back to that wonderfully visionary goal of 20/20.  With corrective lenses, I’m able to see quite clearly that which is near and that which is far.    

That’s a reality that many of us share, but it’s also an interesting metaphor for something that is happening right here at Northside.  As we come to the close of 2018, we draw one year closer to the year 2020 and, therefore, one year closer to a new decade.  As the elders and staff met recently, we remember that we must not be myopic, only seeing what is right in front of us.  We need a vision of our church’s future that enables us to see what is further away.  That’s never easy, but with God’s help, we can have our vision correctly adjusted to see what He is calling us to. 

With that in mind, we’ve begun talking about 2019.  We want to spend time in this next year planning and preparing for the future.  We’re calling this endeavor “2020 Vision”, and we’ll be sharing some exciting  ideas with you on Nov. 18th.  Meanwhile, we ask that you pray that God will give us a clearer vision of the future, and the conviction and wisdom that we’ll need to step boldly toward that vision.  We, the Northside     family, will celebrate our 40th Anniversary next year.  We can look back at the first 40 years and approach the future with passive myopia, or we can observe the past 40 years and then go flying toward the next 40.  I hope you’ll be as excited as we are about the future our King is preparing for us.

Thank you for your part in the first 40 years!!  God bless you and your family for helping us to arrive at this giant milestone.  And thank you, in advance, for your family’s involvement in the next decade.  May He be glorified, and His Kingdom is firmly established on earth as it is in Heaven!!


First and Ten!

Football season is in full swing. The Titans are playing well. My Kansas City Chiefs are 5-0. The Vols and the Dores are . . . Well, as I said, football season is in full swing.

And in this season we are beginning a new slogan for our offerings to God: “First and Ten!” I am so grateful for your response to the lessons on giving. You have been so supportive as we have talked about using our money for God’s glory.

Our FIRST AND TEN campaign is simply this: Our church leaders are asking each family unit to give at least ten percent of a recently received pay to our church offering on the FIRST SUNDAY of each month. And now you can give online too!

Some of you have already started! Thank you! But we hope that everyone will join in on the first Sunday of November. Please do this in November, December, January and February. In four months, you may decide that God is blessing you and your heart is following your treasure and you will just keep on doing that. Some may jump to that ten percent giving level all the time.

At Northside, we are excited about our future together as a church family. There are so many opportunities to serve God and grow spiritually and in bigger numbers. We need every part of the body in on these goals.

Thank you for serving together with me.


“I Love You to the Moon and Back”

I read an article in the New York Times the other day about Neil Armstrong. It was a very interesting article, and it focused a lot on his two boys. The two boys, Mark who was six at the time and Rick who was 12 recalled the evening that Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the moon. Mark had to go to bed at nine, and his mom woke him up just before his dad stepped on the moon. Rick, being older was able to stay up the entire time and watch it. When Neil returned to earth, he and other astronauts were treated like celebrities. There was a period when they first returned that they had to stay in quarantine for several weeks, to make sure they didn’t catch any sicknesses from the moon. It was during this time that Neil’s boys were able to first talk to him. They said that he didn’t talk too much about the moon. “It was more ‘What had we been doing? Are you helping your mom? Are you mowing the grass?’ All that kind of stuff.” Here is this man who has just made history and helped to change the trajectory of what is humanly possible and when he gets the chance to talk to the people who are the closest to him, he is more interested in being their father than he is about being someone famous.

I loved this story, and parts of it reminded me about our Father God. God comes to us from his place on high and when you indeed consider all that he has done, our day to day issues and concerns might seem inconsequential, or silly. God, being the perfect father, has a love and care for us that surpasses all things. With all that God is doing and all that he has done and will continue to do, his primary concern is for his people. His children.

Chris Gannon

Seeking Good Balance

There are many books written about church growth.  I’ve read a bunch of them.  Sixteen years ago, when Linda and I first moved to Nashville to accept the position here as the Involvement Minister, I must have read a dozen or more of those books.  I was convinced that if we built it (or renovated it), people would come!  So we renovated the worship center.  At that time we averaged around 300 people in Sunday attendance.  Now, sixteen years later, we are averaging around 300 people.  Hmmm… we built it, but they didn’t come.

I began to read other church-growth books, some of which said churches were focusing on the wrong things.  Giving out prizes to visitors, cranking up the worship bands, staging incredible light shows and video presentations, and creating mini-magic kingdoms in the children’s and youth ministry areas were said to be extraneous fluff that doesn’t really help families grow in their faith.  And so I knuckled down on the Gospel, creating new ministries that are geared to take the good news into the world around us.  I was convinced that if we took evangelism seriously (and, to be honest, I’m not sure I have yet), the church would become an evangelistic powerhouse, and Northside would grow like never before.  Hmmm… 

Here I am today… somewhere in the middle of two extremes.  I know, and believe with all my heart, that it is the Gospel that has the true power to transform lives.  Read the first chapters of nearly every one of Paul’s letters and you’ll find him stating that in various ways.  Jesus Christ is God’s answer to the problems in this world.  But I’m also convinced that visitors are looking for more than doctrinal accuracy.  They are trying to find a church home for their families.  They are looking for the place that will have a big and positive impact upon their children.  They are looking for a place where they can create new friendships, a place where they can grow in their faith and in service.

That balance is important for the church.  Any church that focuses too much on only one side of that coin is in danger.  Many churches wind up with incredible facilities, and a watered-down gospel that prevents true spiritual development. Those churches are often overflowing with people, but they don’t know how the gospel can be “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Other churches may wind up with great ministries and teaching, but they wind up with facilities that look old and worn out.  Their membership is likely to be very faithful to that church family, but newcomers don’t feel like it’s a place where they can invest their lives.  As the old membership dies, the church dies also.  

Northside is in an interesting place right now.  Our teaching is strong… probably stronger than it’s ever been!  But through the years, besides the renovation of the worship center, we’ve merely maintained the rest of our facilities.  If something breaks, we fix it.  But if you asked some of the young families who have visited recently, they’d tell you our building looks old and dated.  And, sadly, a lot of that old stuff is beginning to break down. We don’t need to tear it down and start all over, but there are some things we can do to bring new life to the facilities.   And, while we’re at it, we can create an new energy and excitement, while offering a high level of involvement as members share in the work of re-creation here at Northside.  

We’ll be talking about this some more as we near the end of the year.  Please, pray that we do whatever God’s Spirit leads us to do, and may we represent well the Kingdom of Heaven right here on earth.

Since You’re Here Already…

Someone may have handed you this bulletin a few minutes ago.  Or if you’ve been busy, maybe it’s Sunday afternoon or evening.  Perhaps it has been on the kitchen counter for a day or two, and you are just now picking it up.  

In any case, if you are reading this, it likely means that you were in worship Sunday morning at the Northside Church.  Let me say thank you for coming and worshiping God together with other believers.  

If you came and stayed for Sunday school, thank you again.  You took another hour or so on the Lord’s Day to study God’s Word and fellowship with a smaller group of people.  

Sunday school is so important to our family at Northside.  Most of you know that already.  But if you come to worship and go home without Sunday school, let me talk to you as a friend.  I want to encourage you to take another small step and stay for Sunday school

Our culture thrives on being convenient.  Sunday School is convenient. 

You are already here.  You will still be out by lunchtime.  You may not beat all the Baptists to the restaurant, but you’ll beat most of them and all the Pentecostals.

You know how you go over to someone’s house to eat, but then it turns into more than just a mealtime?  The meal is great; it’s why you went over there.  That’s worship. Everybody needs to eat.  But after the mealtime, you go into another less formal room and chat and laugh; new subjects come up for the evening.  That’s Sunday School.  

At the big table, everyone sits together.  That’s needed.  That’s worship.  But when you leave the table, the kids go off by themselves.  You can have adult talk in one room and kid talk in another room.  That’s Sunday school.  

And you get it all done in one trip!  So, don’t eat and run.  Stay for another hour and enjoy a relaxing time in Sunday school.  

That’s been my habit forever.  And I am better off for it.  

What’s your rush? Stay a while.

World Famous Northside Annual BBQ

Well, we’re not exactly world famous yet, but we certainly know how to cook a pork shoulder!!  It’s almost that time of year again, with our feast scheduled for Saturday,  October 6th at 6pm.  If you haven’t been to one of our feasts, you better get this on your calendar and start inviting friends.  It’s a good time had by all.  

This is also one of our big fund-raising events.  Every year the money raised goes toward a particular mission or ministry.  This year we plan to purchase some new equipment for our much-used kitchen.  Our kitchen equipment is O-L-D!  And that fish you smell in the refrigerator simply must go away!!  We’ll sell our BBQ and sides by the plate for $8 (kids under 10 are free), and we usually also sell pulled pork by the pound.  We’re planning to talk to some other folks about the possibility of cooking some ribs to sell by the rack too. 

Also tied to the BBQ is our silent auction.  Each year we have received donations of new, or like new, items to sell in this auction.  We’re currently asking for donations now (please, no yard sale quality items).  Not just physical items, but services, trips, concert tickets, game tickets, etc.  If it’s of value, please consider donating it for this cause!  Bring your items to Stan’s office asap, or write him a note if it’s a service type item.

And, in the past, those who are involved in the all-night cooking that is required on Friday night have enjoyed a special meal and fellowship as the pork is smoking. That’s always been a fun evening for the cooks and families. This year we want to extend that invitation to others. In fact, some have said they can’t come to the Saturday BBQ but could join us Friday. So we’re now planning ways to extend our fund-raising and fellowship to include that cook night!  How about a Corn-Hole tournament?  Board games?  A Penny War (see Shannon Hudgins about this one)?  And, of course, more great food, fellowship, and fun!   We’ll have more details soon, but let us know if you have some ideas and would be willing to help.


Northside is a great church, and we’re always looking for ways to expand the family!  So let’s also commit to bringing a friend this year.    Everyone loves a good BBQ… and everyone NEEDS a good, strong family to love.  Northside offers both!!   Let’s start cookin!!!

Not goodbye- Simply lending a friendship

For those who don’t know, I grew up in Cookeville. It use to be a small town about an hour and a half from Nashville. Josh and I were married there, and all of my extended family still lives there, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. After we were married, Josh was presented with a job opportunity in Nashville that we simply could not turn down. I was blindsided. I’m not exactly sure why because I knew that a future in our fields wasn’t likely in Cookeville. Neverthe-less, I cried the entire evening. But, after much prayer and thought, we knew that there really wasn’t another choice. Some were excited, some were worried, and some were sad. We knew that we could use this as an opportunity to grow closer to each other and the Lord, but it was a difficult decision nonetheless. I can honestly say now that it was a life-changing, and for the better, decision. I can now see God’s hand at work through it all. 

We all face times in our lives where difficult decisions arise. Some-times, neither choice is right or wrong, but the decisions are hard. We are called to be His hands and feet and need to stay vigilant for ways that He can use us and our talents. 

Before becoming the children’s minister five months ago, I asked for God to send me a “burning bush” so to speak. I knew that that wasn’t likely, but I wanted to be absolutely positive and to be at peace with my decision. Whatever that may be. The outpouring of love and encour-agement from those at Northside was overwhelming. The staff and eldership were unlike any that I had seen and I had a sense of peace that I can not describe. 

Notably- Leslie made me feel extremely welcome and a part of the team. Les has known my father in law and family for years, but the thought of working with him myself was exciting and helped me to feel even more secure in my decision. Les has helped me, like so many of you, personally, spiritually, and relationally. I would not trade the last five months for anything, nor would I change any decisions that were made. 

I know that Les will be missed. Personally, I have cried many tears and was devastated by the news. I know how precious he and Mrs. June are. The impact that they have had at Northside and on my life is immeasurable. I also personally know the congregation that they are going to, so I know how much potential and greatness that they bring. God is going to use them to work in the hearts of so many, and I truly feel like this was a “burning bush” opportunity for them. They saw the potential and are using their gifts to further His kingdom. 

I want to personally thank Les and June for their support, their love for my family, their teaching, and most of all for their friendship. It is a cherished friendship that I will never lose. It is not goodbye. I like to look at it as I am simply lending them to others so that they may bene-fit from the same friendship and teaching that I have. 

Love you both immensely and praying for your new journey and influence. -- Megan