...plus, BIG, HUGE Announcement!
Over the last several weeks we have been talking about standards in parenting. This week I expected to discuss the concept of the “weaker brother” found in I Corinthians. However, I am going to pivot.
With our event in Nashville coming up this week, and Rogers soon after, I decided it was very important to change gears.
I have a huge announcement!!
But, first I want to tell a story that has to do with discerning the Lord’s will. We get questions all the time from families asking about how to understand the Lord’s will or how to know when the Lord is directing you to do something or to make a decision.
For our family, there have been moments when I have received a very clear indication of direction from the Lord. Almost from the point of prayer, I have had experiences of a “spotlight” where it seems like everything else is fuzzy and shadowy except for the direction the Lord is pushing me toward which is clear and sharp. Buying our first home when Leslie and I were still engaged was one of those. Starting Teach Them Diligently was another.
Other times, the urging of the Lord is more subtle. His direction seems to come like a story in a book in which each turn of the page or step reveals just a little more.
I remember a sermon one time from the pastor of the church that Leslie and I attended when the children were young. He was preaching from the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan in Joshua 4. Go ahead and read the chapter.
In this story, Joshua is directing the Israelites on what they are to do. He says that this is how they will know that the Lord their God is with them. And then he explains that the priests will be carrying the Ark of the Covenant about 3,000 feet from the Israelites, which is more than 1/2 a mile.
When the priests step into the water, the Jordan River, which was at flood stage, would stand on a heap on one side.
The original language here does not indicate that the priests step in and whoosh, the water piles up in a heap. The original language suggests that the priests take one step and the water in front of them moves. Then they take another step and another section of water moves. And another step and another section of water. And another and another, until they are in the middle.
Now the people were instructed to not come within 3,000 feet of the priests which means that they could see what was happening but it was distant.
And, sometimes the direction of the Lord is similar. He does not give us all the answers at once, and he does not remove all the obstacles suddenly at once either. We take a step and a section is revealed. Then we take another and another section is revealed and another and another and so on.
So, I am about to make a big announcement that has developed over many months and maybe even years.
I have joked that it has been developing since the cheerleaders…Those that were there that year will get that joke. Matter of fact, if you were at Nashville that year, you might not be laughing.
Anyway…I think you guys know that we have been extremely grateful to the Gaylord Opryland this last 9 years. Overall, they have been a great host, and their staff has done a really good job.
The contract that we signed for this year at Opryland was signed 3 1/2 years ago. Over that 3 1/2 years there were things—steps if you will—that kept happening that made us increasingly uncomfortable with the relationship with Opryland. During this time, we went from enthusiastic partners to sincerely wondering if there was a better place. So, we devoted this to prayer this past year. Nashville was the last event we were able to run because of the pandemic so we actually had a lot of time to pray and seek the Lord.
Yes, the situation with the cheerleaders was part of this. But, the hotel room rates increasing each year, and putting gates up around the free parking at Opry Mills also played a part. We received an offer from Opryland recently for 2022 that included significantly higher hotel room rates for our families.
Then, in January, we received a letter from the hotel management that basically threatened us over the mask mandates for 2021. At that point, we decided to visit somewhere else (well, we visited really only one other place).
I felt like the Lord was nudging us, but I still was not confident in the direction. We were unsure. As we thought of an ideal location if we were to move from Opryland, we thought of a few things:
- We wanted the parking to be cheap or free
- We wanted the places to stay to be more family friendly in terms of size of rooms and prices.
- We wanted it to be enjoyable, as in families would want to be there.
- We wanted it to be friendly to Christians, in that we would not have as deep a concern of being “cancelled”.
- We wanted to be someplace that would be extremely excited about us being there.
- We wanted a place that would give the event room to grow and would be willing to commit to us as we were willing to commit to them.
So, I am not going to tell you where we visited quite yet. However, there were some confirming things that happened on this visit. The first was that at the hotel we stayed at there was a family that recognized us. They were a homeschool family that was on a quick getaway. They came up to us and asked us, “Are you the Nunnerys? We love coming to your events and can’t wait to see you in Nashville.😊 !!” I am not making this up.
The next thing that happened is that the sales manager we met with told us in the first few minutes that they have two contracts with organizations they work with that literally reference “until Jesus returns” regarding the length of the agreement :).
As we went through the tour and talked with the sales manager and staff of the facility over the next three days things became increasingly clear:
- We will never have to share the facility with any other event (we have it all to ourselves).
- The main room will hold 6,000 people and as many as 11,000 (although we will use part of this room for exhibits).
- 14,000 free parking spaces.
- Hotels and cabins surrounding the facility, within a very short walk, that are at least 30% cheaper per night than Opryland.
- The facility is right in the middle of town and a wealth of food options.
- And, this place is most likely in a place that the vast majority of you already visit at least once a year or you have always wanted to go there. This is quite possibly in the most family friendly destination in the country.
Have you guessed this location yet?
It’s Pigeon Forge! And, we haven’t signed a contract “until Jesus returns,” but it is for multiple years. And, we pray that you will join us there.
I don’t know if you remember the year that James Dobson cancelled speaking for us at the last minute and the Benham Brothers spoke for us, I said,
“After everything that has happened to bring us to this point, I would be scared for anyone not to hear what the Benham Brothers had to say.”
Well, I can tell you that after everything that has happened to bring this move to reality, I would honestly be scared to death for any of you to miss what the Lord is about to do at Teach Them Diligently in 2022 in Pigeon Forge.
To return back to the story of Joshua and the Israelites above,…God instructed Joshua to have the Israelites pick up twelve stones and stack them on the other side of the Jordan. These stones were to become a remembrance to what God had done. This was meant to build the faith of the Israelites—to help them remember that God is always with them. And, I can tell you that each family should have these stones as well for their children. These stones or remembrances are reminders of who God is. How He loves us! How He will not leave us alone! How He always answers prayers! These stones are remembrances of answers to prayers that all of you share.
I can tell you that our family personally has many stones of how the Lord has worked through the event in Nashville. We also have stones for how the Lord directed us toward Pigeon Forge. God is good! His love endures forever! And, He will not leave us alone!
The date for the event will be May 5-7, 2022, at the LeConte Center, which is a beautiful facility in a beautiful area of Tennessee. I encourage you to stay for the entire week. And, we have invited some of the favorite speakers Teach Them Diligently has ever had.
We also have a special offer that will go away when our Nashville event begins Thursday of this week to encourage you to be there with us the first year.