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Change Begins with One Choice

Everything in your life is a reflection of a CHOICE you have made.  If you want a different result, make a different CHOICE.”

I ran across this quote recently and thought, “this is exactly what my blog is about”.  Therefore, as you see, I have decided to make my first blog article about it.

The title of this entry is also the tagline for OneChoice, Change Begins with One Choice.  My belief is that if you are looking for something different in your life, regardless of your present circumstances or situation, you are simply one choice away from changing it.

Choices Change the Future

Now, you may be thinking, it’s not that simple Jason.  You don’t understand my situation.  It will take more than a single choice.

I will say that the choice has to be accompanied with action (because if there’s no action have your really made a choice?), but I am convinced that a single choice can not only change your current situation, but has the power to impact generations to come.

For a powerful illustration of this and a great read, pick up a copy of 7 Men by Eric Metaxas.

That is a pretty powerful statement and you may be wondering why I am so confident that this is true.  Well, allow me to share a story.

One Man’s Choice Changed My Life

My grandfather (my dad’s father), who we called Pepaw, was one of the greatest men I have ever known.  But it wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned how special this man really was.

pepawPepaw_Memaw with me and josh

Now let me say, he wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but isn’t that the beauty?  You do not have to be perfect in order to be great and impact the lives other.  But that is a post for another day.

My grandfather grew up poor and without a father.  His real dad left his family when he was very young.  His mom (Mimi Mac to us) remarried a man who was a great provider, but a very hard, stern man.  It is safe to say that growing up, Pepaw never had a man in his life that told him he loved him or showed him any kind of true affection.

There is a lot more difficulty to my grandfather’s story and I will most likely share some of those details in the future.  But for now the important thing to know is that my grandfather, despite his lack of a loving father figure, made quite possibly the most important decision of his life.

Leaving a Legacy

My grandfather made the statement one time that he made this choice as a young man:

If I ever have children, especially boys, I will tell them I love them and show them I love them regularly.

The fact that my grandparents ended up having 3 boys is in my opinion no coincidence.  And my grandfather followed through on his decision as a young man and my dad was a recipient of his love and affection his entire life.

But you see, although my grandfather most likely never thought about the reach of his choice, it changed my life.  You see, I have a father who has told me and shown me my whole life how much he loves me.  With that being my example, my children have benefited from the same.

Your Choices Matter

Because of Pepaw’s choice my children are different and their children will benefit and their children’s children and so on for generations to come (not to mention my brother’s three children).  What’s amazing is that my children never met my grandfather, only through stories.

You see, there is so much more at stake than simply accomplishing some goal.  Those things are important, but there are so many others who need you to make the choices that bring change because YOUR CHOICES MATTER.

So, what change do you desire in your life?  What change do you desire for your children? Your wife? Your community? Your world?

Now, what choice, or choices, will be the catalyst for that change?

We Need To Share Some Things With You


Friends and Brothers we need to share some things with you.  As many of you know we have been in the midst of loss.  We have been walking with Jason Carter and his family through the grief and loss of their beloved daughter Katie Beth in a car accident Monday, Sept. 5, 2016.  As we have all tried to deal with this tragedy we have come to the decision that we need to cancel the fall Freedom Weekend scheduled for October 6-8, 2016.  Our next weekend is scheduled for April 27-29, 2017.  Let me share how we got to this decision.

“Death is such an assault on the soul. Having someone you love, someone you have shared so much life with, suddenly yanked from your life is a violent and disorienting experience. Death is so hostile, so explosive to God’s design for us, the soul experiences it as trauma. This wasn’t meant to be. I think that was part of the tears we see in Jesus’ eyes, as he stands at his friend Lazarus’ tomb – This wasn’t meant to be. Our souls were never meant to go through this, so we reel like a ship in high seas. I’m grateful for Jesus’ tears. Even though he knows he is about to raise his friend from the dead, there are tears. That provides space for our hearts to express our tears, too.” – John Eldredge

We have some core values that guide how God uses this ministry – Every Man Needs

  • A Battle To Fight
  • An Adventure To Live
  • A Beauty To Rescue
  • Every Man Needs To – “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life” – Proverbs 4:23

The foundation of each of these is developed and lived out only in community.  A band of brothers living life together.  We have always wanted it to be evident that our weekends grow from the ground of the four of us doing life together, carrying each other’s burdens, being there for one another.  It is deep in the desires of our hearts that we: “Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.” – Proverbs 3:3-4 MSG.  We have a brother down and we are convinced that we need to stay with him.  It would betray who we are to go on without him.  But the idea of letting men down is very painful.  We exist as a ministry to fight for the hearts of men.  Our hope, our prayer, is that you and all the men who are watching us will come to understand that this is really us trying to move forward in integrity fighting for the heart and family of our brother.  We have to focus on being real, and being who we say we are and living the way we encourage others to live.

Again, we covet your prayers for the Carter family as they grapple with the loss of Katie Beth.  We also covet your prayers for our ministry.  We recognize that we currently see through a glass darkly, but with all our hearts we are trying to do what we feel God would have us do.

With Faith, Hope and Love in a Father that will make all things new.  

Wally, Jason, Tim and Mark

Plant a Tree – Build an Ark

tree sunset

About three and a half years ago our family made one of those life decisions that set us on a much different course than we could have anticipated previously.  We sold our house in Chattanooga and moved to the Ocoee area of Southeast Tennessee.  It is a beautiful place and I have said about the area, I think God was practicing for making heaven when he designed it.  We have several acres and ever since we moved there I have often wondered if there is something I could do to use the land in a productive manner.  One idea I’ve considered for some time is to plant a plot of Christmas trees each year.  It takes 5 – 7 years for them to mature enough for harvesting.  That time to maturity is something that has caused me to pause.

The last few weeks our group at church has been doing a small group study using Mark Batterson’s book All IN.  The portion of the book I read this past week included a story Batterson shared about Noah and his “all in” commitment to follow God’s call to build an ark.  Depending upon which biblical scholar you read it took somewhere between 60 and 120 years to finish the ark.  Batterson shared the Jewish tradition that not only did Noah build the ark, but he planted trees!  Trees which grew to maturity; trees he then harvested and cut into boards to be used in the ark.  Yeah, I kind of chuckled at my hesitancy to plant trees that take 5 – 7 years to mature.

Which leads me to a question worthy of our consideration.  Noah planted trees to build an ark to save his family from the coming flood of destruction God had warned him was coming.  The ark I want to build is one that could provide another small source of income for our family into the future.  Oh, the question; what ark do you need to build?  Your ark may be a relationship that needs to be built or restored and the trees that need planting may be an encouraging word or act of kindness.

As for me – I think I’ll plant some trees…

Wally Hindman

Wild Hogs and Living the Adventure

Adventur“Women are often attracted to the wilder side of a man, but once having caught him they settle down to the task of domesticating him. Ironically, if he gives in he’ll resent her for it, and she in turn will wonder where the passion has gone. Most marriages wind up there. A weary and lonely woman asked me the other day, “How do I get my husband to come alive?” “Invite him to be dangerous,” I said. “You mean, I should let him get the motorcycle, right?” “Yep.” She shrank back, disappointment on her face. “I know you’re right, but I hate the idea. I’ve made him tame for years.” Wild at HeartJohn Eldredge

Every Man Needs an Adventure to Live, a Battle to fight and a Beauty to rescue – John Eldredge

I don’t include the above quotes because my wife made me tame.  I did! — I lived out of duty and responsibility – because that’s what I thought good godly men did.  I have come to realize that I need adventure to make my heart come fully alive and live as the man God has called me to be.  The adventures that I enjoyed as a young man have been calling me back.  Things like hunting, fishing hiking have all begun to make my heart come alive.

I recently went wild hog hunting with a knife.  Not a gun but a knife!  A good friend of mine and I went to Chappy’s Outfitters in Moore Haven Florida for an adventure that I will be telling my grandchildren about.  We got four wild hogs that day, two each.  The third hog was in a dense Florida thicket which was so dense I could not see through.  I could hear six dogs barking and the hog grunting and squealing.  My friend could see through the thicket and what was going on.  He said “quick find a tree to hide behind he may be coming our way”.  My adrenalin and heart were pumping but thank God my pants stayed dry.  The adventure of that day made be feel alive.

Is this enough?  If the only way I can live the adventure is chasing wild hogs – me and the hogs are in trouble.  I could live the rest of my days and never chase a hog and be ok.  The adventure that I could not live without is the journey that I walk with people each day into the thicket of their lives.  Entering into lies the enemy has planted helping them understand who they are in Christ. Hearing the pain of how the enemy has tried to distort truth and love and leading them to freedom that can be found in the unconditional love of Christ.  My role in the Kingdom is to help people find a new path, a new place, to live in wholeness.  This is the adventure that I would get up early and stay up late for.

To find our role in the Kingdom and live it fully alive as his beloved children – this is the adventure that I think God wants for us.  We have to be willing to risk and be inconvenienced.  You can’t play it safe.  The adventures that I have come to enjoy in the woods again have opened my heart to more.  I want to live fully alive.  I want to live a life that makes people ask questions about a God that is fully alive and present in my life.

How about you….are you longing for more or just playing it safe?

Mark Carpenter
TJM Leadership Team

Importance of Remembrance

memorial day

Being a deep thinker (those of you who happen to know me well stop laughing – this is serious), I’ve been thinking a lot about Memorial Day lately.  This led to an interesting discussion with some good friends this past Sunday.  One of the guys in the circle offered the origin of what we in these United States commemorated this past weekend.

It all started soon after the Civil War (always thought this to be a very odd name for a war).   Anyway, it was originally referred to as Decoration Day, where family and community members would decorate the graves of those who died in the “War Between the States”.  Various states and regions of the country observed the tradition at different times until after World War I when the tradition expanded to honor the WWI dead.  Finally, in the National Holiday Act of 1971 the day was formalized by Congress to be commemorated on the last Monday of May to honor all of our fallen heroes.  I think it is an awesome tradition.

As I continued thinking about this I was struck by the similarity of this tradition to something I remembered reading about the Old Testament Israelis.  They would occasionally memorialize significant dates and events.  One of the most significant was in Joshua Chapter 4 when they erected a stack of 12 uncut stones (one for each of the 12 tribes of Israel) to memorialize God’s act of stopping the flow of the Jordan River and leading them to cross into the Promised Land on dry land.  The scripture specifically says the purpose of this “memorial” was so that when subsequent generations of children asked about this memorial, they would be reminded of how God had supernaturally intervened on behalf of the nation of Israel.

As I thought about this, I was struck by the fact that we Americans typically do a poor job of remembering, much less honoring our past.  We tend to be focused on the present day or perhaps the future, and give little value to the past – a pity.

We in the church are no different.  As our discussion this past Sunday evolved, it found its way around to our own faith stories and whether or not our own children even knew the story of how we came to faith.  My resolve is that very soon I plan to make sure my children know more about my story, and consequently their own.

I think this is important.  What do you think?

Wally Hindman
TJM Leadership Team

Give It Away

Presently, I’m reading the book “Letters by a Modern Mystic” by Frank C. Laubach.  The book is simply his entry journals from his time in the Philippines from 1930-31 when he was attempting to modern mysticlive in a conscious moment-by-moment relationship with God.  His aim was to literally be thinking about and/or talking with God each and every minute of his day regardless of what he might be doing.  I would highly encourage you to go pick up a copy.  I’ve provided a link at the bottom of this entry that will take you straight to this book on Amazon.  Anyway, let me get to what I want to share from this gem.

As I was reading today Laubach’s entry for June 1, 1930, he made a statement that was incredibly simple, yet crucial for a vibrant relationship with the Father and non-negotiable if we are to make a difference in the lives of those placed in our path.  Here’s the passage:

“This week with its failures and successes has taught me one new lesson.  It is this: ‘I must talk about God, or I cannot keep Him in my mind.  I must give Him away in order to have Him.’  This is the law of the spirit world.  What one gives one has, what one keeps to oneself one loses.  Do you suppose that through all eternity the price we will need to pay for keeping God will be that we must endlessly be giving Him away?”

After reading this and re-reading this several more times, I began pondering what my typical day looks like in relation to my awareness of God throughout my day and how much I give Him away.  I wouldn’t say I’m a complete failure at this, but sadly most of my days are spent simply surviving the day, living in a much smaller story than I was meant to live.  But I’m intrigued by same question Frank Laubach posed….”What would it look like if I were in constant, minute-by-minute communion with the Father.”  Heck, what would it look like if it were just hour-by-hour….if I made a concerted effort to think about and talk to God just once every hour of the day.  My guess is that my world would be much different, less stress, less worry, more joy.

I’m convinced that my world would be drastically changed and that is a good thing.  But what I believe would be  impacted most, would be those around me.  Think about it!  If we were to be continually focusing our thoughts, motives, actions, and hearts on God, the lives of the people around us would be transformed.  How would I parent differently, how would that impact my relationship with my wife, what about the high school students I teach each day, and most importantly, how would my life impact all the people that come across my path that are hurting and searching and crying out for hope, something to believe in?  The implications are huge…the stakes are eternal!

In Psalm 19:14 the psalmist says:

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

We aren’t after this just for our sake.  If we’re living out the mission of Jesus (to bind up broken hearts and set captives free), then our calling, our desire is that our lives not only impact others, but transform their hearts.  So, could it be that Laubach’s lesson really is at the heart of the Gospel?  Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-39 that the two greatest commandments were to love the Lord and love others.  So, we must give Him away to others and in turn that continually draws Him closer to ourselves.  Sounds accurate to me.

So, are you continually giving others Jesus?  Giving them love, forgiveness, grace, truth, boldness, compassion, hope?  This is the way to the heart of God.  How I long to know and live from the heart of God.  Let us give Him away!

Click to go get the book Letters by a Modern Mystic by Frank Laubach.

Know Your Role…and Your Goal


As a life-long baseball fan and one of four generations of Dodgers fans in the Cook family, I was super excited to hear that a couple of weeks ago, we Chattanoogans, were going to be given a very special opportunity.

See the city of Chattanooga is home to the Lookouts, the Dodgers AA minor league affiliate. Now, since I live about 10 minutes from the stadium, I try to take in as many games as possible throughout the summer. But 2 Wednesday nights ago, something extraordinary was being afforded to us. The Dodgers’ ace, Clayton Kershaw, was going to be making a rehab start here! Certainly no team wants its ace to be hurt or placed on the disabled list. However, if it’s going to happen to CK, I’m glad to be a Chattanoogan!!!

Now for the bad news…it was taking place on a night when I was called to be at my post of duty for my church. Being a music minister, Wednesday night rehearsals are a big deal. After one of my friends offered me to join him in his front row seats, I had to decline so I could be at my post. I had to know my role! This begs the question – where have you been called where you might not have been as faithful as you could have or even should have been?

Because I wasn’t at the game, doesn’t mean I didn’t follow the progress and take in as much of the radio broadcast as possible. I also took to social media to get updates from the fans in attendance. Many reports were complete with pictures of CK in his “Lookouts” uniform. For those of you who might not be baseball fans, Kershaw is an amazingly gifted talent. He is only 25(ish) years old and has already won two Cy Young awards. He has, arguably, the best curve ball in Major League Baseball today. Which leads to my next point…

I saw several tweets from folks who weren’t impressed with his stuff while watching at the local stadium. Then there were a couple of tweets comparing this kid disparagingly to other Hall of Fame pitchers! Here is my issue…

In Chattanooga, Kershaw’s goal wasn’t to show off his filthy nasty ‘stuff.’ His goal wasn’t even to win the game (would have been nice – but lack of defense didn’t help him any)! This was a REHAB start…his goal was to get through about 80 pitches without reinjuring his back. While the Lookouts lost the game and while the local pitching aficionados weren’t impressed, Kershaw accomplished his mission. Since being activated from the DL, he’s won his two appearances and looked extremely sharp doing it!

But the spiritual application here is, to me, obvious…we have got to know our goal! If not, we could be sidetracked; we could be brought down by the naysayers. Stay vigilant in what He has called you to! We all have our position in the army of the Lord – know your role and know your goal….

He will take care of the rest!!!

Tim Cook
TJM Leadership Team

Five Ways to Celebrate the Women in Your Life


May is the month we celebrate Mother’s Day.  I am convinced that each of you have a mother or a woman that you love dearly in your life.  As men we become too busy and have trouble speaking “woman”.  The focus of this list is, doing something.  Don’t just go out for dinner, buy a card.  Spend some time and effort to express your affection and appreciation.  Here are some easy practical suggestions to help you celebrate the women in your life.

  • A thank you letter – Don’t just buy a card.  Write a letter that expresses what she means to you and all the ways that she has impacted your life.
  • Create a Playlist or CD – Music is the language of the soul.  If you have a hard time expressing things with words find the music that does.
  • Breakfast In Bed – This can be great especially if you have kids.  Create an experience she will enjoy.  Do it without complaining or grumbling.  If this is out of your comfort zone – stretch yourself and try.  This has always been an event that I have enjoyed with my family.  Check this site out for some Ideas.
  • Give Mom the Day Off – You can get creative with this idea.  Take care of the errands, chores, meals, pets and kids.  I can assure you if you do this well, she will appreciate it and you will grow to appreciate her more when you see all she does.  Take this idea the extra mile and take her to a spa day while you cover all these areas.
  • Spend Time With Her – Gifts are great but experiences and time together bring more lasting satisfaction.  Time is the real language of love.  Spend time with your mother or wife in activities that she enjoys and she will remember and cherish the time.

A Couple Extra Ideas

  • Coupons for services or things they need.  This website has a funny and practical list of coupons you can even print out.
  • Plant flowers she loves – I have done this several times.  She loves it.  The flowers are there to enjoy all summer.
  • Serve Organizations that Serve Women – There are so different organizations that need you.  You are needed!  The strength and energy that you could bring to impact a family or organization are priceless.  This is a great idea if the women of your life are long distant.  Go serve and send a letter to your loved one telling them of how you served in honor of them.

Okay guys, I wanted to make it simple, practical and easy.  Give me your ideas.  What have you done to serve the women you love?  Give some ideas.

Mark Carpenter
TJM Leadership Team

Power of the Tongue


This past weekend I was privileged to attend a men’s breakfast at one of the best churches I know of in our area (Stuart Heights Baptist).  We had a great time and those guys really know how to put on a breakfast.

During the meeting we talked about the Power of our words.  Throughout this week I have continued thinking about this subject, thinking often about the impact our words have on those around us.  I think Proverbs 18:21 says it best: The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit.

 Some time ago I read that if we had equipment that was sensitive enough we would still be able to detect and hear every word that has ever been spoken by receiving the sound waves still reverberating through the atmosphere.  Yeah I know, its probably a far-fetched sci-fi thought, but can you imagine, being able to hear Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, or Jesus actual words as he gave the sermon on the mount, or the words he uttered on the cross!  Or how about, “let us make man in our own image”?  Wow!!!

What words from history would you most like to hear?

As I let my mind run for a few minutes with this “sci-fi” thought, all of a sudden it hits me.  Oh no, how many of my own words are still reverberating out there.  Man, I wonder what percentage of my own words would I like to delete from the atmosphere so they could never be heard or felt, again.  Then another thought hits me – my words have already found their mark on the hearts of those I love the most, and I’m struck again by the truth of the Proverbs passage from above… sobering thoughts.

This gives me a stronger desire to measure my words – to listen more, think more, and speak less.  The New Testament book of James has some great instructions for us about our words and the potential our tongue has for blessing AND cursing.  Join me in spending some time considering this.  I encourage you to strongly consider brother James’ words, especially from James chapter 3.

Wally Hindman
TJM Leadership Team

Muddy Water, Meteorology and Perfection

mi_meteorologyI once heard an older, much wiser man than me say that, “in order to get muddy water clear, leave it alone.” I must say that I readily agree with this premise. I remember a time in my life when it seemed as if every way I turned, my world was a complete and utter mess. The harder I tried to “fix” the situations in one compartment of my life, the more it would seemingly have a negative impact on not only that area, but other areas as well. I worked hard at trying to figure out the problem and then to prepare a strategy to attack and correct the issues, but it was a futile attempt at a solution. The only thing I accomplished was to end up exhausted, frustrated and confused.

Then I began to question that which I KNEW to be truth…

How could God let this happen to me?

Why are other, less-spiritually-devoted men, successful and have it all together?

Why have You forgotten about me?

Why are You not keeping Your word?

The bible tells us in Matthew chapter 5 that “he…sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.” Here is what I know…

Life is going to come at you and come hard.

Sometimes the more we do to try to correct – the worse situations become.

He is faithful to His word and will see you through!

One of my favorite scriptures is found in James chapter 1 verse 4. It reads, “Now let patience have her perfect work that you might be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

I have learned that through the process of being a child of our Father, storms will come and storms will go. I have learned to stand steadfast in the middle of the battles of life because one prognostication every weather person in the world can get right, is that the storm will pass!

Praise the Lord – during this Easter season – stand strong in the process, be patient, perfect maturity and completion is coming!

Tim Cook
TJM Leadership Team