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Wit and Wisdom of Gateway Church Athens GA

As we begin our new church life … so too a new blog!

Friday night at 6 pm is an important night for Gateway and Mison Latina. We are meeting to have our second prayer and healing services. This one is a bit different. Our dear brothers and sisters at Mison Latina have been going through some really tough times recently and we are gathering to fellowship with them and encourage them. I think it is important that we show our strong support for our brothers and sisters in Christ and use this time to pray for them and encourage them.

There will be praise music prayer and food! Dinner starts at 6 pm. I will be there around 5 pm to start setting up tables so if anyone can come and help then I’ll see you there!

Also, don’t forget Saturday the 5th at Mike and Claudia Woodruffs!  Bring your  bathing suit and fishing pole and lets eat some hot dogs and burgers!  Maybe we can get sun burned at the same time!


Tom called me the other day and told me he wasn’t going to be able to be in class on Sunday. We talked about going over the last chapter of the book but he basically told me to do whatever the Lord and I decided on. So I’ve been thinking about it and mulling over Sunday and suddenly, a thought came dancing across the fertile fields of my mind. Get people’s input and feedback on the class by giving them a couple of questions to ponder.

Good idea Lord, bet you wish you would have thought of it first huh?

So I have some questions for you to ponder. The goal here is to pick one and plan on sharing on Sunday your answers.

  1. How has your life been touched by the class?
  2. How has your life been changed by the class?
  3. Were there any tough places the class touched in your life? (Did the Lord touch some really sore areas)
  4. What is the one thing you took away from the class that you will remember the most?

I personally am going to answer question 4. I thought about doing it here, but I’m going to wait until Sunday. In order for this to work, we all need to be there and start on time. If you are late, come in anyway, you are among friends! I plan on starting at exactly 09:30, give or take 15 minutes. That will ensure we have time for all to speak. For example, let’s say there are 15 people there. Then each would get about 3 minutes. We all know it won’t be this structured, but humor me and let me think it will until Sunday.

Personally, I want to thank Tom Crane for his faithfulness in teaching this class. He has been a faithful friend and servant of the Lord whose heart reflects the Love of Jesus and a desire to be the best he can be for Christ. It was a wonderful class full of challenges and the love of Christ.

I will see you all on Sunday!

The Lay Leader

There was a time in my Christian faith when my goals were lofty and my confidence was high because I KNEW what God was up to and I KNEW He was going to use me to accomplish great things. I KNEW it. Boy, what was I thinking!

I spoke recently with a good friend in Tulsa and asked him this question:

If you were in a Sunday School class with a young couple just married and full of Christian zeal, what one thing would you tell them that you KNEW when you were their age that has changed with your advancing years (he’s a couple of years older than me)?

Jim is a wise man and has been through many wars. He is a veteran whose wisdom I highly prize. His answer was clear and precise. “I don’t have as many answers or responsibilities as I used to have.” Translation: He doesn’t know it all and he is no longer taking responsibility for things that are really none of his business anyway. David says he doesn’t bother himself with things too great for him.

Ps 131:1 O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me.

I have a confession to make. I’ve committed the sin of worry. Worry is really getting involved in things you have no business being involved in. I’ve worried about oh so many things. I’ve worried about work. If I don’t get the crisis of the moment solved, will I get fired? Will I get a bad review? If I get fired, what will I do? What would I say to Julia? What about Gateway? What have I not done to help us grow? What about my internal failings? What will I do if something happens to Julia? I’ll be alone. What then? What about this and what about that and is God mad at me because I didn’t do this or because I did do that. What will the boss think and so forth and so on. I stand before you and confess this mess right now. I’m embarrassed because I’ve not operated in the very venue I encourage people to operate in. I want to operate in faith. I want to be what God wants me to be. I want to be helpful to Gateway. I just can’t help anyone while operating in fear. (None of you can either!)

God’s not mad though. That’s the good news here. He’s not mad at me. Actually I think we are both somewhat relieved because it is finally dawning on my lightening quick mind that I don’t have answers to most of the questions I have and in many cases pursuing some of the answers is a waste of time. God knew it. Julia knew it. Andy seems to be the late bloomer here. Again though, that’s not a bad thing. I am learning.

I experienced a real jolt of faith today. Mison Latina and the Hispanic community in our area have been devastated with the new immigration law passed last week. I spoke with Efrain and Haydée and they explained to me how it has affected Hispanic congregations. I’ve been thinking and praying for them. I love them so dearly and want to help them so much. I worry about them, all of them. (Do you see a pattern here?). Well I told Haydée that I wanted to come over Sunday and worship with them. She readily agreed and I made plans to go. Well, I just got a sense that I needed to ask Roque to go with me. So we headed over to worship with them. Of course, I KNEW the Lord was going to use me and my superior knowledge of three Spanish words to speak some words of encouragement that would uplift everyone. Boy, what was I thinking?

During the singing, Roque leaned over and told me that he felt the Lord gave him something to share with them. I told Efrain and when Roque got up and started to speak, I watched the congregation. They were captured by his testimony. I watched as they kept their eyes glued to every word he spoke. Some of my good friends there were wiping tears from their eyes. They nodded their heads in approval. I was getting nervous about the time. Then the Lord quickened to me to cool my jets and let him be. It was obvious Roque was the reason we were there, not Andy.

Oh Lord: PLEASE forgive me for my arrogance and pride. Thank you for men of wisdom and experience like Roque. His simple act of obedience brought words of encouragement to a group of people that so desperately needed it. Thank you Lord.

One problem in talking about faith is actually using it. Don’t go to God and discuss faith issues with him unless you are willing to put YOUR faith on the line. I know what I am talking about because I speak from experience.

The last week, was a week of tests for me. I was involved in several business related issues that didn’t go as I had expected them to go. In fact, they went south. I might add, they went south in a hurry. I experienced being “thrown under a bus” by someone I had trusted. This was a good old fashion sneak up behind them and stick them in the back when they aren’t looking kind of thing. My beloved happened to be with me on the way to dinner when I got the unexpected back stabbing.

I would love to tell you I stopped the car, jumped outside and threw my arms in the air yelling “praise God for this opportunity to suffer for you Lord.” I would love to tell you that, but then I would be adding lying to the whole sordid mess. What did I do? I swore. Loudly I might add. My beloved didn’t say anything but I knew she was concerned. As we ate dinner, I thought about what had just happened. Normally, I would sulk and pout and whine about it. I didn’t do that this time. Well at least I didn’t do it as long as I normally do.

I kept quiet and when I got home I asked the Lord what to do? The distinct impression I got was to do nothing. Don’t dig into it until the morning. My beloved asked me a question after we watched Gibbs, Kate, Ducky, Abbey and Denozo work through another sticky situation on NCIS. (Boy, wouldn’t it be nice to work through every situation in 45 minutes with time for several commercials as well thus stretching the problem out to an hour with a neat and tidy bow on it at the end.) I told her I didn’t want to deal with it until tomorrow.

When the morning came I sat down refreshed and ready to do digital combat with the former friend turned villain that so treacherously stuck me in the back when I wasn’t looking. As I started, I began blasting out an e-mail worthy of John Steinbeck, John Ludlum or Margaret Mitchell. It was awesome. When I was ¾ of the way through it, I asked the Lord to comment, and He did. I began to see scripture and how it tied to this situation. I saw 1st Corinthians 13 in a new light. I saw how the Lord wanted me to respond. Here are the distinct impressions I got:


  1. First of all don’t return evil for evil. Galatians tells us that.
  2. Love doesn’t keep track of wrongs suffered. 1st Corinthians tells us that.
  3. Jesus, when confronted with wrong doing, kept his mouth shut not responding to his opponents.
  4. Jesus relied upon God to respond for him. He didn’t respond on his own.


Well with this in mind, I asked the Lord to help me write a professional response that dealt with the issues raised without attacking or trashing the person involved. It took 4 hours, but was worth the struggle. The final document accomplished the goal of alerting everyone to the problem at hand, but did not respond in kind to the person involved.

This faith thing is tough. I’m determined to get it right though. In the process I sense the Lord making progress in my life. That’s a good thing.

Lord: Help me to respond to situations like this one consistently in a way that honors you and helps me to grow in Christ.

Two Sundays ago I taught a Bible study at church talking about living in faith and walking by faith and not by sight.  The Lord convinced me I was to teach this.  I spoke to Tom about it and He agreed, it was the right thing to do.  This week I had abundant opportunity to practice my new found truths

This has been a week of extremes for me.  Extreme pressure, extreme hours, more extreme pressure and of course, travel.  A couple of days ago, I had responded poorly to a challenge I had been presented with.  Quite frankly, I responded in a not so Christ like way.  I remember thinking almost aloud while sitting in the car at the hotel: “It’s like I am two separate people.  There are times the good Dr. Jekyll is speaking and other times it is the evil Mr. Hyde.”  There is the good Andy and the bad Andy, but there is definitely two Andy’s.  I didn’t give it much thought as I had a lot of training to do.

The next morning (Thursday morning) after an allergy riddled night, I stepped out of the shower and suddenly I remembered a document I received at Onsite last November.  I was so caught unaware, that I simply stood there almost speechless.

An old Cherokee Chief was speaking to a young warrior.  He told him there were two wolves that lived inside of him.  A good wolf and a bad wolf.  They were constantly fighting.  The young warrior asked him, “Who will win?”  The wise old chief answered “The one you feed the most.”

I got goose bumps galore and in a flash, I saw something I had been told, but it didn’t sink in until this morning in the shower in a hotel in Asheville NC.  I am a task oriented person for sure. I want a formulae to work with, something I can do that makes me feel like I am accomplishing something.  I’ve not been able to overcome things in my life that are driving me batty!  I’ve tried and tried and tried, but to no avail.  Gritting my teeth and trying harder produces less results and more frustration.  That clearly isn’t the answer.

But here, in a lonely hotel room under all kinds of pressure, the Lord in his infinite kindness gave me an answer to a question I asked just the day before.  The answer came at the right time, in the right manner for me to understand.  My problem is, I’m feeding the wrong wolf.  Suddenly pieces of the puzzle of my life just plopped into place.  I had a key to my life.  Well, at least the key to a door I couldn’t seem to get through.  Stop feeding the bad wolf and feed the good wolf!  Simple yet profound.  Profound yet something I can do.  Simply stop feeding the bad wolf!  Wow!  My heart was full of hope.  I sensed the Lord smiling as one of his kids “gets it”.

I finished drying off, got dressed and logged on to prepare for my day by reading Small Straws in a Soft Wind by Marsha Burns.  This was for 5-12-2011:.

Haven’t I said that I would give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches in secret places?  Stop and ponder.  You will find that I have brought the light of revelation in areas of your life that you didn’t even expect.  Rejoice that you are growing in understanding because this understanding will make you more effective in My kingdom, says the Lord.  I have given you a taste and a glimpse of My glory, which will make you desire even more.

  Isaiah 45:3 I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the LORD, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel.

Oh most gracious Lord …. Thank you for your patience and kindness.  Thank you for teaching me in a way I can understand.  Forgive me for being so slow Lord but thank you for your secret places.

Hebrews 11:1 Amplified Bible

NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see {and} the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

​Over the last several months, I’ve been looking very closely at Biblical faith and what it means.  I’ve always been one to read something and then try to figure out how it applies to me.  So it has been with the subject of faith.  I’ve really been trying to get my arms around Biblical faith and what it means for us to operate in faith.  I want to please God.  I want to do what He wants me to do.  I want to be what He wants me to be.  But in order for me to fulfill these lofty goals, I better understand faith.  Hebrews 11:6 adds a bit more fuel to the fire so to speak:

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please {and} be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly {and} diligently seek Him [out].

I believe the Lord has given me some guidance on this topic and I felt so strongly about it I asked Tom if I might have some time to discuss it with the class. He graciously agreed and so this Sunday during our class in the “blue room”, I want to dive into this subject and see how we can make it applicable to our daily lives.  It’s clear that faith is vital to our walk with God.  I wonder if we give it enough due consideration for it to be a force in our lives.

Take some time today or tomorrow and read the 11th chapter of Hebrews, the “hall of faith” and then meditate on it.  We are going to look at some very practical things and attempt to tie them to our daily lives at Gateway.

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!


PS:  Right after I posted the original blog, I received this timely “Small Straws” update:

SMALL STRAWS IN A SOFT WIND by Marsha Burns — 4/29/11:

I saw the letters “TGH”. What does this mean, LORD? “To Greater Heights!” It is time for you to go forth with a sense of action, adventure, excitement and expectation. If you stay where you are spiritually, you will miss out on one of the greatest moves of My Spirit that has ever been. Watch for opportunities to launch out in faith and do what I’ve given you to do. Be courageous, and refuse to allow fear to keep you from My HIGHEST and best, says the Lord.

Luke 5:4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

If you don’t know about “Small Straws in a soft wind”, it is a prophetic ministry that has been so timely and uplifting in my life.  I encourage you to check out Marsha Burns ministry as well as sign up for the daily word she sends out.  Ms. Missy was the first person to tell me about this wonderful ministry. 

Here is the link to sign up:

“If you believe in Jesus, you will not spend all your time in the smooth waters just inside the harbour, full of exhilaration and delight, but always moored; you will have to go out through the harbour bar into the great deeps of God and begin to know for yourself, begin to get spiritual discernment.  If you do not cut the moorings, God will have to break them with a storm and send you out!” – Oswald Chambers Devotional Bible February 21st.

I have been called to jury duty this week and while awaiting the selection process I was given a couple of hours for lunch.  I proceeded to Barnes and Noble and as I was eating lunch, I received a vision.  It was a powerful vision that affected my breathing, my posture and I believe my life.

I saw a large three masted ship leaving a harbour at a good clip.


It was headed out into the open seas.  I was standing on the deck and looking out the starboard side.  I could see the swells starting to build.  I could actually feel the ship moving and I adjusted my position in my seat at the bookstore to accommodate the change in the ships pitch and roll.  I looked over the side and could sense the water beginning to move.  My breathing began to pickup as I looked at the back of the ship and saw 5 “banding lines” of the type used to hold paper goods on a pallet, trailing from the ship and going back to the dock.  They were attached to the dock.  The banding lines were small and quite incapable of holding the ship to the dock.  The Lord then quickened to me the banding lines represented the things that have held me back in life.  I saw the ship was headed out to the deep open sea with an open sky and an unlimited horizon.  What was going to break the lines was the act of leaving the harbour, not waiting for the lines to be broken before I left the harbor.

As the vision faded I realized my heart beat was much faster and I had just seen that my time had come.  My ship was leaving the harbour and I was no longer going to be bound to the dock.  As I started to think through the vision, I began to see some things I hadn’t really understood before.

Things I had experienced over the last couple of months and wasn’t quite sure of why was because my ship was preparing to leave the harbour for the open waters.

I also began to realize I have been in harbour for a long time, trying to get the bands off the ship before I sailed.  I thought I had to get these things fixed in order to sail.  But it was actually the act of sailing that broke the banding lines that entangled my life.  It was in the act of leaving for the open seas that will break the lines.  I don’t have to worry about them, I simply need to look out the front of the ship and not worry about those lines, they will be broken for good, and they will no longer inhibit my ship from moving.  Since I am in a wind driven ship (ie: the Holy Spirit) I don’t have to worry about them fouling the propeller or anything like it. 

Mark 4:35 is the story of the storm and Jesus asleep in the back of the boat.  The whole story started with a command: “Lets cross over to the other side.”  As Paul Harvey would have said, “Now for the rest of the story.”

I’ve heard the Lord say a couple of things to me: “Whom shall I send to the Hispanic Mission field?”  I said “I’ll go Lord.”  “Ok” He said, “Let’s go over to the other side.”  I am in the boat and it’s leaving the harbour, heading for “the other side.”  Yes there will be storms ahead, big storms.  But I don’t want to stay in the harbour any longer.  I sense the Lord’s timing is right.  I’m where I’m supposed to be.  We are headed for the deep.  When I look at the people I have looked up to and wanted to be like in my life, they are people who have accomplished great things.  Lewis and Clarke, Earnest Shackleton, the Apostles Peter and Paul as well as many others.  All left the safe harbour of life and attempted to do great things.  Some made it, some didn’t but they all tried.  Well, I believe God has given me a charge and I’m going after it.

As the Lay Leader of Gateway, I ask you to pray for us as a church and for me as your friend and Lay Leader.  I believe God is getting ready to do a great work in our lives.  My boat is much larger than I can manage on my own and I need shipmates to help.  Anyone want to go for a boat ride????

Lord: I think of the great Irish seaman’s prayer.  Oh Lord, your sea is so big and my ship is so small.  Help me lord navigate to the other side and help mis hermanos y hermanas as they wade through the immigration morass in this country.  Help me to see them and their situation as you do and to keep focused on you and your Word as we sail this sea together.

Thanks Lord.

Now full speed ahead mates!