Trusting God for Our Children’s Safety

Except for the most abusive or negligent parents, we all want our children to be safe. When they are babies, we check their breathing at night. We buy outlet covers and baby gates in the early years, helmets and knee pads a few years later. We try to incorporate enough stranger danger warnings to make them alert without causing fear of everyone they don’t know. As much as we wish we could protect them from every physical harm, we wish we could bubble wrap their souls even more.

So I can understand the Israelites’ concern for their children in Numbers 13-14. After being miraculously led from Egypt, seeing God’s provision of food and water in the wilderness, receiving God’s law, and constructing the tabernacle, they were finally at the outskirts of the land long-promised to them by God.

But they didn’t want to go in.

A man from each tribe was sent to spy out the land. They came back with a mixed report. The land was good and fruitful. But the people in it were bigger, stronger, and more numerous than Israel.

Then the people “wept that night” and “grumbled against Moses and Aaron.” They feared they would be killed and their wives and children would become prey. Only Joshua and Caleb encouraged the people to go forward and trust God, who had already told them He’d given them the land. But the people responded by threatening to stone them.

God had enough. He is longsuffering and merciful. But these people had tried Him and refused to believe and obey Him ever since they left Egypt. God wanted to obliterate the people and start over with Moses.

Moses interceded for the people, and God pardoned them. But forgiveness doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences. All the generation that complained and would not enter the promised land would die in the wilderness over the next forty years. Only Joshua, Caleb, their families, and the children of the current generation would enter in. “Your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness.” But, ultimately, the children would be the recipients of the promise that the adults rejected.

In our church’s Bible study time in the passage last Sunday, my husband pointed out something I had never thought of. The population of Israel would have numbered over a million by this time—some say over two million. If you subtract an estimated number of children, that still leaves tens of thousands of people to die in the next forty years. Forty years of wilderness wandering, no promised land, just death and destruction ahead. How depressing! My husband commented that the weight of this may have fueled some of the rebellions that occurred in the next few chapters.

But rebellion would only make a bad situation worse. Suppose you’re a parent in this situation. You realize you failed big time in not believing God and obeying Him. But your children that you were so afraid for will go in. The best thing repentant parents could do would be to pour everything into the time they have left with their children, teach them God’s ways, and teach them how to some day get along without their parents.

In some ways, that’s what we all have to do, isn’t it? Pour our lives into our children, teach them God’s ways, teach them to be responsible adults and to stand on their own two feet without us.

In our early married days, I remember a woman sharing during prayer meeting a need for her children and how God answered. She commented, “It’s one thing to trust God for my needs—it’s another thing to trust Him for my children’s.” It’s true: we’d much rather struggle with a need or loss or illness ourselves than see our children do so. But it’s through such things that we all grow and learn dependence on God.

When Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth ministered as missionaries in China in the early twentieth century, the Chinese were intensely suspicious of what they called “foreign devils”—basically anyone who was not Chinese. Plus sanitation was nearly unknown and disease ran rampant. So when Jonathan proposed to Rosalind that they take their children on a ministry tour around the country, Rosalind refused. Four of her children had died already. She could maintain a level of cleanliness in her own home. But out there, not knowing where they would be staying or where they could get food from village to village? It was too risky, especially adding the possibility of persecution.

Jonathan begged Rosalind to reconsider:

Rose, I am so sure this plan is of God, that I fear for the children if you refuse to obey His call. The safest place for you and the children is the path of duty. You think you can keep your children safe in our comfortable home in Changte, but God may have to show you you cannot. But He can and will keep the children if you trust Him and step out in faith (Rosalind Goforth, Goforth of China, p. 157).

But she refused. So he left, alone.

The next day, their one-year-old baby became ill with dysentery, with no hope of recovery. She died a short while later.

Was God being vindictive? I don’t think so. In fact, Rosalind writes that as the baby was passing, Rosalind “seemed to apprehend in a strange and utterly new way the love of God—as a Father” (p. 159).

Humbled and softened, Rosalind determined to go with her husband. Years later, at a conference of women missionaries, some wives with similar fears to hers asked publicly if her children suffered as a result of their touring. She responded that none of them had picked up any infectious diseases or come to any harm while they toured. In fact, they’d had two more children during that time. She found she had more time to give them since she didn’t have her regular housework. “And, best of all, God has set His seal upon this plan of work by giving a harvest of souls everywhere we have gone” (Rosalind Goforth, Climbing, pp. 150-151).

Of course, we’re not guaranteed that our children won’t get sick or die while we’re following God. We all know of children who have died of cancer after years of prayer and treatment or teens who had died suddenly in car accidents or of unknown causes even though their parents were faithful followers. Sometimes God delivers by taking children on home to heaven. From our human perspective, that’s a loss. But from God’s viewpoint, He’s lovingly welcoming them home.

Missionary Timothy McKeown takes issue with the statement that the safest place is in God’s will:

After studying Scripture and ministering in this context for many years, I have felt compelled to modify this saying for my own use: “The most fulfilling, joyful, and peaceful place to be is in the center of God’s will.” But it is not necessarily the safest.

It seems to me that the Bible is full of examples of God’s people often—not occasionally—being placed in unsafe, uncomfortable, and dangerous situations. . . .

Most prayers in Scripture focus not on the personal safety and benefit of believers but on the power, majesty, testimony, and victory of God over his—and, of course, our—enemies. . . .

I do not advocate foolish and irresponsible “risk taking.” . . . However, biblical reality dictates that there are, indeed, times in which God will lead us into the valley of the shadow of death, where our prayer needs to be for faithfulness as reflections of his light and saltiness in this needy world.

I want to urge my fellow Christians to use extreme caution in allowing the infectious and deadly “health, wealth, prosperity, and personal comfort gospel” to become our motivator in seeking his will for our earthly lives. The Lord calls us to obedience in spite of the “costs”—not to personal comfort and safety! Oh, how I pray for the Lord of the Harvest to raise up more laborers to go into his fields no matter what the personal costs might be (Peace, If Not Safety).

Missionaries from one of our former church’s were once accused of child abuse for raising their kids in a primitive jungle setting. I loved their oldest daughter’s response here. “A mud hut does not an abusive environment make. . . . Yes, we missed out on many of the materialistic things this world has to offer. And for that we thank God often.”

God doesn’t promote recklessness. Parents and grandparents are supposed to try to keep children safe. But we have to admit that we are limited. We can’t lock them away in a tower for protection. We can’t raise them to be fearful of going forward. We can’t avoid God’s will due to possible risks. We have to do for our children as we do for ourselves: trust and obey. He has determined how long each person’s race will be. What matters most is not the length, but hearing His “Well done” at the end.

(I often link up with some of these bloggers)

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

I wanted to let you know that I have a guest post appearing at Almost an Author: Sculpting a Masterpiece. What does Michelangelo’s David have to do with writing? I invite you to take a look and find out.

And now, here are some great reads discovered this week, the first few related to Mother’s Day:

Prayer Warrior Challenge: You Don’t Have to Dread Mother’s Day this Year! “I remember clearly the momentous day when, deep in the weeds of Toddler Parenting, I realized I could do everything ‘right’ and still end up with a wayward child.”

Great Is His Faithfulness, HT to Challies. “My guess is that in this messy life, many are experiencing a measure of both joy and grief tangled up together this Mother’s Day week.”

How to Pray for Your Teen When You’ve Run Out of Words. “Handing our children over to God when they were infants was relatively easy compared with the task of entrusting them to God’s care now that they are jingling car keys in their pockets and making their first financial decisions.”

Training Children to Honor Their Parents by Honoring Our Own, HT to The Story Warren. “As I think about training my own children to honor their parents, I’m realizing how much is caught more than taught. The way I treat my parents will likely have a direct impact on the way my kids treat my husband and me.”

Beautiful Mother’s Day Gift Ideas Handmade with Love, if you need any last-minute gift inspiration. The Skip to My Lou site is a treasure trove of neat ideas.

The Childless Man or Woman, wise words from Elisabeth Elliot. “Children, God tells us, are a heritage from Him. Is the man or woman to whom He gives no children therefore disinherited? Surely not. The Lord gave portions of land to each tribe of Israel except one. ‘The tribe of Levi… received no holding; the Lord God of Israel is their portion, as he promised them’ (Joshua 13:14, NEB). Withholding what He granted to the rest, He gave to Levi a higher privilege. May we not see childlessness in the same light? I believe there is a special gift for those to whom God does not give the gift of physical fatherhood or motherhood.”

What God has Made Crooked. “Sometimes God makes our way crooked to slow us down. He has something beautiful to show us. He wants to be seen along the way. He has designed even the crooked ways with beauty.”

Aging Doesn’t Make You Faithful. Jesus Does, HT to Challies. “It is folly to expect to wake up more faithful to Christ twenty years from now if we’re not feeding our faithfulness today with the means of grace God has ordained for our growth. God has invited us into the process of spiritual growth.”

What Is Anxiety? HT to Challies. “Most of our sinful anxieties are tied to proper concerns. It is proper to do your job well, to support your family, to care for your children, to fulfill the duties that God has called you to do. We should be concerned with all of them. The question is, When do these proper concerns turn into sinful ones? When does godly care become godless worry?”

The Dull Conversation, HT to Challies. I’m sorry to admit I chafe during seemingly meaningless conversation. I recognize that’s unloving toward the person I am listening to. Ed Welch has some good ideas to discern “What is that person saying in the litany of information?”

I have to say, though, I disagree with this part of the last post: “With those who are closer to you, each day deserves these two questions: What was the best part of the day? What was the hardest part of your day?” My difficulty with superlative questions (best, worst, favorite) is the way my mind works. To figure out the best part of the day, I’d have to look back over all the events of the day, line them up, compare them to each other, weigh the two or three that rise to the top. It’s exhausting. So, instead, I usually reply something like, “Well, one good thing from the day was…” You might think that whatever floated to my mind first was the best. But later, as I think back over the conversation, some other part of the day with come to mind, and I’ll think, “Oh, I should have said that instead.” Am I the only one who overthinks like this?

Forgive me for that rabbit trail. 🙂

Finally, this is a cute video about mom superpowers:

Happy Mother’s Day tomorrow to those who mother in any way.

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

I found some good reads this week. Maybe a few will be of interest to you.

God Can Redeem Your Worst Year Ever. “If you’re a believer and 2020 was your worst year ever, not one minute of it was wasted.”

Why Crucifixion? HT to Challies. If you’ve ever wondered why Jesus died this specific way, this article gives some good answers.

Rehearse Book, HT to Kim. “When a problem comes, rehearse God’s Word, not the problem.

Please Stay, HT to Challies. “Stay in your Bible preaching church with imperfect people, imperfect pastors and imperfect teachers. Stay and commit to hiding God’s word in your heart, reading and meditating every single day. Stay and humbly repent of your own sins. Stay and pray for others. Stay and serve. Stay and speak a kind word. Stay and confront a grievous sin. Stay and be confronted. Stay and forgive. Stay and encourage your pastor, who is often left alone to carry the weight of his calling and the weight of his flock.”

Four Defining Moments for Young Marriages, HT to Challies. “Decisions regarding marriage and within marriage can become defining moments for marriage. God sprinkles the newlywed years with these moments — experiences, events, or decisions that determine (and sometimes alter) a young couple’s direction.”

Help! I Don’t Know How to Answer My Kid’s Tough Questions. All parents deal with this, but the rapid changes in our society are likely to bring about even more hard-to-answer questions.

Ignore the Noise and Shepherd the Flock Among You, HT to Challies. “I don’t need to get involved with every issue out there. I need to care for the people entrusted to me.” This is geared to pastors, but I think it has applications to everyone.

When Martyn Lloyd-Jones Confronted a Pastor Who Loved Controversy and Denunciation, HT to Challies. A great example of kindly confronting a contentious Christian.

Gospel Tracts Don’t Work: Agree or Disagree? They can. The author shares points that can make them less effective.

Do You Think You Will Marry Again? A widow’s perspective. We really need to stop making single people feel incomplete without a spouse.

A Formal Farewell to Prince Philip, HT to Laura. I had not watched his funeral, so I appreciated this detailed account of it as well as A Royal Funeral with a Message for Everyone, HT to Challies. “Behind the awe inspiring grandeur of this yet simple royal funeral, probably overlooked by many and yet very present, a word of hope was offered.”

Heartwarming: an older couple reunited after four months apart:

Hope you have a good Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

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I’m way behind on blog reading, but here are some good ones I’ve come across the last couple of weeks:

So You Want to Be Relevant? “What does the Bible say about itself that will convince the reluctant and indifferent reader to dig in and spend time in the Word, to begin seeing biblical fidelity as the key to remaining relevant in every phase of life?”

Finding Repeated Words and Phrases in Bible reading. “Authors didn’t have bold and italics back then, so a common way to emphasize a point was to repeat it multiple times. It’s like saying, ‘Hey, don’t miss this!’”

Where’s the Lie, HT to Knowable Word. “Con artists don’t look shady. If a lie were obviously false, it wouldn’t be dangerous. Christians know that ‘the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick’ (Jeremiah 17:9), and yet we regularly overestimate our ability to spot error. We need a consistent standard by which to compare every suggestion we hear. Because of God’s gracious provision, we have such a standard. The words God has already spoken are completely and always reliable.”

When It’s Time to Leave a Church, HT to Challies.

Bucking the Trans Trend, HT to Challies. I’ve been astounded at how far this trend has gotten with so little known about the effects. Thankfully, at least in England, it’s being questioned.

How Forgiveness Displays the Gospel to Our Kids, HT to The Story Warren. “And then it hit me. Only minutes before, I’d shown such little grace to my own daughter, but here I was showing mercy to myself for the very same mistake.”

Finally, I came across this quote this morning. Many of us don’t like change, and not all change is good. But much is necessary.

Have a great weekend!

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

Here are the latest thought-provoking reads I’ve seen:

Would It Be Okay for Me to Be Angry With God? “And who am I to be angry at what God has done? Who am I to disapprove of what he has permitted? Who am I to conclude God has done something he should not have, or to even suggest the notion?”

Start Here: How to Begin Reading the Bible this Year. “If you’ve been feeling like reading Scripture will be too hard for you, as though there’s no way you’ll be able to do it on your own—stop now and thank God. Knowing that we need Jesus is a gift. We can’t do this without Him, and He’s ready and able to help.

The Prayer Group, HT to Joanne. “These women have prayed so hard their knees have gone bad. They’ve prayed for rowdy husbands who are bad to drink. For children who are ill. For couples who fall upon the rocks. They have even prayed Carol through her cancer. Twice.”

Ministry With, Not Merely To those with developmental disabilities, HT to Challies. “My friend and mentor, Rich, heads up the Friendship Bible Study, and he constantly reminds us that we will minister with and not merely to those who come. It’s my observation that such a mentality fuels ministry that has the capacity to endure. Consequently, this demographic that is among the most unreached in these United States is a demographic which has most reached the congregation I serve.”

The Wide Gate, HT to Challies. “Since Time magazine announced God was dead in 1966, people have done their best to manage without Him, notably in relationships. God’s narrow way of one man and one woman monogamously raising offspring has been paved over with multilane beltways, bypasses, and loops that must look sort of messy from angel altitude.”

Visiting the Sick, HT to Challies. “The topic . . . comes at a tragically unique time in history: when visiting the sick and our ability to go to hospital to care for the infirmed, weak, or dying is greatly diminished. And yet, care for those in the church who are ill or afflicted among us, is some of the most foundational stuff of our true religion.”

No Strings Attached, HT to Challies. “There is simple kindness, among few, in the art of gift giving. An offering presented with joy and weightlessness; a smile of anticipation in the knowing of the goodness to be shared.”

A friend with a young baby posted this on FaceBook. A young mom wants to know how to keep strangers from touching and kissing her baby in public. The answer is hilarious.

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

Here I share the first set of recommended reading for the new year!

2020–What a Beautiful Time to Be Alive. “Don’t let bad thinking take this year from you. Don’t grit your teeth and just try to get through. Life is too precious for that and entirely too short. Live this year as you ought to live every other.”

The Longest Night. Long periods of waiting are not unusual for the children of God. “Years of waiting were not caused by a delay, but were part of God’s design. . .We can also trust He has a purpose in the waiting. Sometimes, while we are concerned with our circumstances, God is more interested in growing our character and our dependence on Him.”

Reading the Bible Requires Rules We Already Know, HT to Challies. “It’s easy to misinterpret the Bible when you don’t follow basic rules of interpretation. Therefore, I’ve offered the approach of asking three questions when reading any passage.”

The Bible Reading Plan I Recommend for 2021. You can find all kinds of Bible reading plans this time of year. Bible Gateway has several. Our church uses a five-year plan, though it’s laid out a little differently from this one. I’ve found that I like having a five-day-a-week plan. That gives time to catch up if you miss a day, plus time to consult other sources (commentary or Bible reading notes), plus a day or two to do other reading if you’re doing a Bible study or project.

Proactive and Reactive Bible Intake, HT to Challies. I had not heard the term “reactive” Bible reading, although I have done it. “In many ways, proactive Bible intake prepares us to know where to open the Scriptures when we need reactive Bible intake.” Both are needed.

Expecting Less From the Church, HT to Challies. I would not have thought of advising lower expectations from church, but I see the wisdom from this article. Sometimes our expectations are so high that we set ourselves up for disappointment because no church can meet them. “We have expectations of course—baptism, the Lord’s Supper, theological orthodoxy, preaching Christ crucified, prayer—but these do not include at least one new insight per sermon and arena-quality worship. These do not include my passive presence that waits for an experience like I had watching a recent movie.”

A Parable from the Dead, HT to Challies. I’ve been troubled by the news of Ravi Zacharias. This draws out some truths from the situation

Marriage: The Beginning of a Revolution, HT to Challies. What a sweet story, and an illustration of what a testimony a godly wedding and marriage can be. “The road to this joyous occasion was paved with tears, persecutions, and pain. In the Lord’s wisdom, it was this very pain that grew the character of the bride and groom and helped them to understand the value of a husband and the value of a wife.”

Someone Will Catechize Your Kids. Don’t Outsource It. HT to The Story Warren. Some might be turned off by the thought of catechism as rote or ritualistic teaching. But the basic idea in the article is just teaching truth. Kids will be exposed to all kinds of values: we need to be sure to teach them God’s truth o a level they can understand.

And finally, I don’t think we’re so far from Christmas that we can’t enjoy this sweet story (if you see this via email, you might have to click through to see the video):

Happy first Saturday of 2021!

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

Here are some great reads found this week, the first few Christmas-related.

Christmas Is for Dark Times, HT to Challies. “For many, 2020 has been a dark year – physically, emotionally, mentally, financially. People have lost their loved ones, their jobs, their security and their health. Does this mean Christmas should be cancelled? No. The real Christmas happens in the darkness.”

3 Ways to Have Less Stress at Christmas. We can all use less stress, especially this time of year. I love Stacey’s tips.

An Advent Mindset: Mary’s Prayer. Sarah brought out some aspects of Mary’s prayer that I had not considered before.

A Simple Strategy for Meditating in God’s Word, HT to Challies. “God speaks to you directly through His Word. He directs your heart as you read it and meditate on it. Here is a simple strategy that can help you to feed on God’s Word directly.”

Can a Difficult Marriage Change? Sarah shares from 20 years of experience.

The Biggest Threat Faced by the Church, HT to Challies. “What is the biggest threat faced by the church today? Many in the U.S. seem to think the answer is government tyranny. Tyranny is always a danger, but tyranny is not the biggest threat faced by the church in the U.S. or any other nation.”

All Moms Need to Do Is Remain, HT to the Story Warren. “But moms already have so much work to do, and our relationship with God is often put on the backburner. Well-meaning friends, family, and podcast hosts may tell you that it’s okay, busy moms just don’t have time to meet with God. People think they are letting you off the hook, but it makes remaining with God seem impossible (or at least improbable).”

Are Masks a Conscience Issue? HT to Challies. “I’m not qualified to offer a defining medical word on masks, but I want to offer some thoughts on the implications for Christians who refuse to wear a mask because they say it violates their conscience.”

And finally, a fun look at different kinds of Christmas shoppers, HT to Steve Laube:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

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Here are thought-provoking reads found recently.

Counseling for Those Struggling with Assurance.

Don’t Fall For It, HT to Challies. “Satan is clever. He’s happy to distract you with global disturbances while he chips away at the foundations of your devotion to Christ.”

Loving Difficult Neighbors Isn’t Optional, HT to Challies. “Imagine standing before God with this logic: ‘Yes Lord, they were made in your image and starved for gospel hope, but their dog’s barking always woke us up at 2 a.m., so we shut them out.'”

Taking on the Revolutionary Program of Ibram X. Kendi, HT to Challies. Several serious concerns about the book How To Be an Anti-Racist.

How to Lead and How to Follow. Applying the “Golden Rule” to both.

Catching Our Reflections in the Lives of Our Children, HT to The Story Warren. “What can we do when confronted with the sin of our children, sin that turns out to be ours as well? The discouragement can be crippling, preventing us from seeing any fruitful way forward. Even in the midst of this discouragement, God invites us to move forward in hope, pressing into the gospel of grace.”

Things to Do in November for Kids and Parents, HT to The Story Warren.

And finally, HT to Lisa:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

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Here are some noteworthy reads from the last week or two:

The Do Not Depart site is focusing on “Snap Shots of Bible Study” this month. Each writer will share the tips they’ve found most helpful. The two articles so far have been good.

How to Influence Your Teenager’s Quiet Time With God. Good tips here.

Small and Holy, HT to Challies. For those who lament not knowing the exact time of their salvation, “It is not only a beginning date, but our following, stumbling, and returning to God that matters.”

Don’t Quarrel Over Opinions but Welcome One Another, HT to Challies. “Our commitment to unity is only really put to the test when something comes up that we have different and strong opinions about. One way to maintain unity would be to eject the minority who think differently. That would leave a very united congregation! But it would be the artificial unity of the cults, where everyone has to think the same on every issue. Gospel unity looks very different – that’s where we bear patiently with one another, love one another and strive to think the very best of one another.”

FAQ: Aren’t Missionaries Really Just Colonists? HT to Challies. “It is more than a little ironic that the Americans leveling colonization accusations argue based on American presuppositions. They attack missionaries across an ocean, assuming they know what is best for the Africans. Were they to come, sit down, and discuss the issues with our neighbors, they would walk away with a very different perspective.”

Acedia: the lost name for the emotion we’re all feeling right now, HT to Rachelle. Many have mentioned kind of a listless, can’t get thoughts together feeling since the pandemic started.

This is a cute video about a baby who gets very excited about paint samples. (Maybe an HGTV show is in his future!) HT to Steve Laube, who said if books were substituted for paint samples, book lovers would have the same expressions.

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading onlineHere’s my latest collection of good online reads:

Why Unhealthy People Crave Controversy, HT to Challies. “Over the years I’ve seen Christians who have engaged in controversy when needed, and I’ve observed the way that the Christlike among them so often do it—with a sense of love for the good, and for the well-being of those they believe in error, not a love for the fighting itself. And I have seen those I thought were ‘zealous for the truth’ who, in time, proved to just be zealous for the feeling of zeal.”

How Perfectionism Makes You a Spiritual Quitter. “It has taken me 43 years to begin to learn that there is a happy, spiritually-nourishing medium between praying for an hour a day and not praying at all. Between reading five chapters in my Bible and not reading a single word. Spiritual disciplines don’t have to be feast or famine, and they shouldn’t be.”

Small Miracles. A neat story of answered prayer from author Lynn Austin.

4 Ways to Help Your Kids See the Bible as Truth, HT to Story Warren. “How do we grandparents and parents convince, show or prove that we can rely on God’s truth?”

Stories Teach—Even If We Do Not Want Them To, HT to Story Warren. “When we are hoping to be merely entertained is the precise moment when we let our guards down the most, and it is in the letting down of our guard that we are most susceptible to dwelling with and admiring and eventually imitating.”

No photo or video this morning because I don’t have one handy and need to go somewhere in a bit. But, you may have heard a tiger was spotted loose in Knoxville recently. I haven’t heard whether they’ve found it, though either another one was spotted in Kingsport or this one traveled that way. Anyway, almost immediately someone started a Twitter account for Knoxville Tiger. I love people’s humor and creativity. My favorite is this one.

Happy Saturday!