Young Life 75th Anniversary Celebration

YL Logo

Happy Birthday, Young Life! The preeminent ministry to high school students turns 75 this year.  It is worth a celebration.  Faithful to their vision, “Every Kid, Every School”,  Young Life has developed ministry to reach as many teens as possible: Wyld Life for Middle School; Young Lives for teen moms; Capernaum for students with disabilities; and of course YL Clubs at as many high schools as they are able – and still counting.

I am among the beneficiaries.  It was through Young Life in Nashville, Tennessee during the early 1980’s that Jesus ceased to be a historical yet mythical figure in my mind, and by grace that ignited faith, I understood that not only was he a real person in history, but that he is a real person in reality.  In short, through Young Life I became a Christian.  My involvement continued into college, where I participated in the preparation program to become a Young Life leader to a high school campus.  Due to other commitments I never did become a Young Life leader. But in subsequent years I have had the opportunity to on the local boards (“Committee” in Young Life lingo), even serving as chairman in Pittsburgh and for a brief time in Williamsburg, where I now live.  Perhaps, one day in the future, I will again have that opportunity.

In the mean time, I will join the celebration; excited that both of my sons are presently volunteer Young Life leaders in East Tennessee; delighted to have several of my closest friends serving as Area Directors and Regional Directors scattered around the USA.

Check out Young Life 75 celebration video: It All Started With a Prayer


Symbol of a New Day Dawning

Rooster Colors

From time to time I am asked why I have a rooster for a profile picture, both on my blog and on Facebook.  What’s more, the rooster is also the screensaver on my phone.  I use these images for more reason than just the bucolic tranquility they depict.  The rooster has a long history as an interesting symbol.

While Celtic and Norse cultures saw the rooster as a creature of the underworld – a messenger screeching warnings of danger, and calling for the souls of those killed in battles; most have viewed the rooster in a more positive light.

In art, the rooster has long symbolized the fanning out of brilliance – i.e. showing the world the shimmering facets of ones personality.  As one  scholar has noted, the rooster is used in art to display courage, strength, pride,  honesty, vigilance, watchfulness, as well as flamboyance.  Most of these are excellent qualities. And flamboyance is not entirely bad, though too much of it may be somewhat obnoxious.

In Christianity the rooster is associated with Peter’s denial of Christ on the night of betrayal, leading up to the crucifixion.  So the rooster is associated with Christ’s death – which while tragic, was also God’s intention, the reason for which Jesus was born.  And while not lessening the tragedy, it is important to remember that Jesus himself says of the crucifixion: “I lay down my life, no one takes it from me.”  (John 10.11-18) Jesus laid down his life that those who believe would have life. Yet the effect of his substitutionary death only reached its full effect upon his resurrection – which Jesus hinted at in John 10.17.  In that sense the rooster, which symbolizes betrayal and death, cannot be separated from the purpose of Jesus’ death, and thus cannot be separated from the resurrection.  Therefore, the rooster is an appropriate symbol of the gospel itself.

What the rooster most symbolizes, at least to me, is the dawning of a new day. This is the reason I use it so freely.   The rooster crows at the first hints of new light.  This was a primary reason the rooster was used as a symbol of the Reformation – it was a reminder that the Reformation itself signaled a new day.  Of course the resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate sign of a new day.  And God himself tells us, through his prophet Jeremiah, that “his mercies are new every morning”.  (Lamentations 3.22-23)

So to me, the rooster is a constant reminder of the gospel, and that today is a new day – every day is a new day.  This being New Years Day, the rooster seems to me to be an especially appropriate symbol.

Grace Found at a Theme Park: An Open Letter to Kennywood


My friend, Jay Mitlo, has written An Open Letter to Kennywood, to thank the workers at a Pittsburgh area amusement park for the simple kindnesses that meant much more than most realize. The post was so well received, and so re-posted, that it effectively broke Facebook – Facebook flagged it, shut it down, until they were able to confirm it was not a virus laden spam.

In his post, Jay writes:

I write this letter to you on the eve or your opening for the season so that you may share it with your wonderful staff. Working at an amusement park cannot be an easy job. The hours are long and the people not always so nice. However, in the midst of the line cutters and helicopter moms who insist that their child is in fact tall enough to ride a given ride, a warrior angel may be in their midst. Each one of your staff had a hand in giving a kid with terminal cancer (and his family) a day of rest, a day of joy, a day of memories (which are all we have of him now) that will last many a lifetime.

What you need to know, if you do not know Jay (which most of you do not), is that Jay was writing only months after the passing of his young son, who had suffered for four years with a neuroblastoma cancer.

Jay concludes:

So when your staff is down, tired, and bitter, when they measure their desire to work on their paycheck alone, please remind them that another warrior angel may be the next one in line.

Take a moment to read Jay’s letter.  You might want to get some tissues.  And then pass it on to someone who may need some encouragement. I share it because it deserves to be read.  I share it because it is a reminder that how we do our jobs, and live our lives, makes a difference whether we are aware or not. I share it because your work matters, whatever you do.

Volunteer For Life

A new season on the gridiron kicks off today.  While my playing – and coaching – days are long behind me, they still seem very near.  And while I would be dismayed to become one of those guys whose feel my best days are the by-gone ones of long ago, I am frequently reminded afresh about how the game shaped my life, giving me perspective and character that transcend the field, sidelines, and locker room. If continually cultivated and lived out, they support the promise that, by God’s grace and providence, the best is still ahead of me.

One of the chief shaping influences on my life were the four years I got to spend as a Volunteer at the University of Tennessee.  This video, featuring former Vol – and Vol For Life – Icky Johnson, is a powerful reminder of what makes it “Great to Be a Tennessee Volunteer” – and the great privilege I have to be a Vol For Life.

Qualla Boundary Bound

Headed to the Qualla Boundary to work with teens of the the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation at the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina for the next week.  I will be speaking Sunday night to the mission teams that are gathering, and then at the Cherokee Youth Center on Monday and Tuesday.  My son, Matthew, will be speaking to the teens at the CYC on Thursday.  Please pray for hearts to be opened, and for the gospel to be vividly demonstrated and clearly explained.

PCA GA 2012

Whew! This has been a busy couple of weeks.

  • I had a couple of unexpected funerals to perform – a married couple where both husband and wife passed a few days apart, both of natural causes.  The husband was in ICU for serious pneumonia, when the wife collapsed and died one morning. Five days later the husband passed – without ever knowing his wife had preceded him.  A godly couple – which makes their passing bitter sweet.
  • I have been preparing for an upcoming mission trip to Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina.
  • Baseball season snuck up on me. I know it’s been going on for a couple months now in the big cities. But in the Appalachian League Opening Day is tonight.  I serve as chaplain for the Bristol White Sox, the Rookie League affiliate of the Big League folks from Chicago. So I have spent the past few days meeting and greeting the new players and the coaches as they have arrived in town. And I won’t even be in town to watch the opening home stand!  I have business out of town – which I will get to in a minute.
  • In addition to the above, I have been preparing a number of message. In addition to my regular message prep, I spoke at chapel service for a mission agency last week, and I am preparing in advance for both my messages for next week  and for my chapel talks which begin next Sunday.  All this while being gone and in meetings for the rest of week.  On top of that, I have a column to complete for the local newspaper. Deadline comes while I am out of town.

I am not complaining. Sometimes these things all come together.  This is one of those times.   It’s all good.  It’s just that this time everything has come  while I am preparing to leave town for the remainder of the week.

It is not a vacation I am heading out to. It’s work. It’s enjoyable work. But it is work nevertheless…

This morning, my wife and I are headed for Louisville, Kentucky. We’ll no doubt hook up with old friends. But beginning this evening, and continuing through lunchtime Friday, I will be a commissioner at the 40th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America.

General Assembly – or GA, as it is commonly called – is a privilege of Elders within the PCA to review the work of the Church and guide the future direction of the denomination.  It is a privilege but it is not always a pleasure.  We have serious discussions, and sometimes with serious discussion comes serious disagreement.  But even in the less pleasurable moments, it is still an important gathering – one I have always appreciated as a churchman.

Just in case anyone is interested, G.A. will be Live Streamed at ByFaith Online. and updates will be regularly posted on Twitter.

Grid Watch 2010


These are the college football players I will be keeping a close eye on this coming season. Most of these guys, including my oldest son, played for high school teams I had the privilege to coach. Others are family friends:

On Mission to Cherokee

We just got back from the 38th General Assembly of Presbyterian Church in America last night.  This morning we head out again, on a mission trip.  We’ll be serving the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation at the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina for the next week. 

I won’t have access to a computer while in Cherokee, so I won’t be posting anything this week.   Check out some old posts or check back July 12.  And prayers for our mission team will be greatly appreciated.

Cancer Suggestions from Johns Hopkins

I received the following Update in an e-mail.   It describes findngs from Johns Hopkins University about causes and preventative measures that guard against cancer.  Having gone through treatment for colon cancer, I thought this worthwhile to pass along and preserve.


1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size. 

2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person’s lifetime. 

3 When the person’s immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors. 

4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has multiple nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic, environmental, food and lifestyle factors. 

5. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet and including supplements will strengthen the immune system.. 

6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow, gastrointestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc. 

7. Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages healthy cells, tissues and organs. 

8. Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce tumor size. However prolonged use of chemotherapy and radiation do not result in more tumor destruction. 

9. When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and radiation the immune system is either compromised or destroyed, hence the person can succumb to various kinds of infections and complications. 

10. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and become resistant and difficult to destroy. Surgery can also cause cancer cells to spread to other sites. 

11. An effective way to battle cancer is to starve the cancer cells by not feeding it with the foods it needs to multiply.. 


a. Sugar is a cancer-feeder. By cutting off sugar it cuts off one important food supply to the cancer cells. Sugar substitutes like NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, etc are made with Aspartame and it is harmful. A better natural substitute would be Manuka honey or molasses but only in very small amounts. Table salt has a chemical added to make it white in color. Better alternative is Bragg’s aminos or sea salt. 

b. Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the gastro-intestinal tract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and substituting with unsweetened soy milk cancer cells are being starved. 

c. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based diet is acidic and it is best to eat fish, and a little chicken rather than beef or pork. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics, growth hormones and parasites, which are all harmful, especially to people with cancer. 

d. A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds, nuts and a little fruits help put the body into an alkaline environment. About 20% can be from cooked food including beans. Fresh vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach down to cellular levels within 15 minutes to nourish and enhance growth of healthy cells. To obtain live enzymes for building healthy cells try and drink fresh vegetable juice (most vegetables including bean sprouts) and eat some raw vegetables 2 or 3 times a day. Enzymes are destroyed at temperatures of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C). 

e. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high caffeine. Green tea is a better alternative and has cancer fighting properties. Water-best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tap water. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it. 

12. Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive enzymes.. Undigested meat remaining in the intestines becomes putrefied and leads to more toxic buildup. 

13. Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering. By refraining from or eating less meat it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls of cancer cells and allows the body’s killer cells to destroy the cancer cells. 

14. Some supplements build up the immune system (IP6, Flor-ssence, Essiac, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, EFAs etc.) to enable the bodies own killer cells to destroy cancer cells. Other supplements like vitamin E are known to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, the body’s normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted, or unneeded cells. 

15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor. Anger, un-forgiveness and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life. 

16. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising daily, and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells. 

1. No plastic containers in micro. 

2. No water bottles in freezer. 

3. No plastic wrap in microwave. 

Johns Hopkins has recently sent this out in its newsletters. This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as well.

Continue reading

Sullivan Central’s Andrew Griffith Latest Local Brevard Signee

By Steve Wilmoth –

With a head coach and three assistants with ties to the Northeast Tennessee area, Brevard College has made serious in-roads acquiring local talent for their 2010 football recruiting class.

The latest is Sullivan Central wide receiver/defensive back, Andrew Griffith, who inked with the Tornados in ceremonies at school on Friday.

Griffith joins Sullivan North place-kicker Arrick Blevins, Daniel Boone lineman Isaac Bowman, and Science Hill lineman Joel Shrum as local signees with Brevard. Like Blevins, Griffith said Brevard came on strong late in the recruiting process.

“I really wasn’t considering them at first, but I went for a visit and I just kept getting more and more interested,” said Griffith.

Griffith was recruited by Marshall Doss, a former player at Emory & Henry. In addition to Doss, Brevard has on staff former ETSU lineman Jim Beverly and defensive backs coach Teddy Gaines, a former player at Dobyns-Bennett and the University of Tennessee. All are under the direction of former ETSU head coach Paul Hamilton.

“He thinks I can come right in and contribute,” said Griffith of Doss who recruited the former Cougar as a wide receiver. “Hopefully I can make an immediate impact.”

Griffith came to Central as sophomore transfer from Pennsylvania and was also considering Geneva College, close to his former Pittsburgh home, Emory & Henry and University of the Cumberlands were also in the picture.

“Since Brevard was a Division II school, I chose them,” added Griffith. “I just decided I would rather play Division II than Division III.”

Griffith has plans to major in elementary education while at Brevard.


This article first appeared in Tri-Cities on February 20.  Tri Cities is a subscripton based publication that covers colege, high school and middle school sports around the Mountain Empire.  This article is published here in whole with thank to Steve Wilmoth.  Links have been added.

Our Brief B&B Binge


Just back from a weekend in the Smokies.  Carolyn & I appreciate the generosity of our church, who provided this get-a-way as a gift to us.

Here’s where we stayed, Richmont Inn:


Making it all the more nostalgic, Carolyn & I had our first date just around the corner from this Inn.  We were, at one time long ago, frequent visitors to the Smokies, with Townsend and Cades Cove among our favorite destinations: