Leadership Transition

Our congregation is associated with the Christian group formally known as the Church of God Reformation Movement.  We balk at calling ourselves a denomination, but in the grand scheme of things, that’s what we are.  And for the past several years, this denomination has been guided along its course by our current General Director, a man named Dr. Ron Duncan.

Dr. Duncan is an excellent leader with a pastor’s heart and a servant’s attitude.  I have had a few conversations with him over the past few years, and I have always walked away grateful that he is providing such good leadership for this movement.  Yet his retirement is just around the corner, and the necessary questions are being asked now:  what kind of person do we want as our next General Director?

This is extremely significant for us as a movement, because the General Director gives voice to our collective vision.  He or she works with other leaders in our movement to strengthen congregations and to help us move forward in our mission, which is to spread the message of Jesus Christ throughout the world in a way that resonates with our theological emphases on personal holiness and the unity of all believers.  The next General Director will shape the course of this movement for years to come.

I was privileged to participate in a focus group yesterday regarding this very issue.  Several friends and colleagues of mine – we were called “young theologians” by the organizers of this group – had a 90-minute conference call with the team that will eventually search for a new General Director.  We were asked to give our thoughts on the current state of the Church of God, the challenges facing the next General Director, and the opportunities facing the next General Director.

This was an incredibly encouraging phone conversation for me!  I appreciated being reminded that there are many leaders in the Church of God who are concerned that this movement actually move somewhere, that we clearly express our vision for ministry in the present-day world.  Many individuals commented on the importance of understanding and articulating our identity in a way that drives us to service and ministry in our local communities in the name of social holiness.  Several mentioned the need for Christians to partner with other believers across denominational lines to do the work of the kingdom of God in our local communities in the name of Christian unity.

The Church of God won’t have a new General Director for another eighteen months or so.  The search process is very involved!  But rest assured that the Church of God currently has many young leaders who are committed to seeing this movement fulfill God’s purposes in the present generation.

–Pastor David

The God Who Speaks

This past Sunday was a double holiday:  Memorial Day and Pentecost.  Every Sunday, we gather to remember Jesus Christ, the one who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sake.  This week, we celebrated Pentecost, the birthday of the church, by remembering that God speaks truth about Jesus Christ through his word and through his followers.  Click below to hear Pastor David’s sermon on 1 Corinthians 12:1-11:

Listen now!

June Youth Update

Summer is here! With the warm weather we have been having, it seems like we are several weeks into it, but school doesn’t end for another week.  The month of May was very exciting as we attended the Michigan State Youth Convention.  The music was good, the speaker outstanding and what a great time our group had together.  A highlight for the weekend was Mt. Haley winning the Volleyball Tournament and bringing home a huge trophy for our ministry plus unique trophies for each participant.  We had a great time traveling with the Meridian Church of God youth group and most importantly our group grew stronger in our own relationships.  Most important though was the renewed commitments to Christ and the desire to walk in His ways. Everyone was extremely blessed in the services, communion, and our conversations with each other.  We hope to share about the weekend on Sunday morning, June 10th.

The 360 Evangelism strategy was a key component in our May youth meetings leading up to SYC. The students have selected three people they are praying for six days a week and looking for opportunities to share Christ.  In the context of these lessons, they learned the process of writing their own personal testimony and learned a method for sharing the gospel with a friend.  We are working very hard to not only live and talk the fulfilling consistent Christian life, but trying to equip them to share their testimony and the gospel to others.  This is all in the process of “Loving God, Loving Others.”

Summer brings a completely different schedule & agenda.  We will NOT be meeting regularly on Sunday night, but will have various nights of prayer, devotion, and recreation.  Our June dates are:

  • Friday, June 8 Celebration Campfire – at the home of Lawrence and Jo Adams – to celebrate the end of school.
  • Tuesday, June 12 – Banana Split night at the Texan
  • Monday-Thursday, June 18-21 – Helping with Vacation Bible School at Mt. Haley
  • Saturday, June 30 – Lake City Adventure with Nancy Farison and her summer campsite.

During July, we will be attending the Loons Game with the church, having a camping & canoe trip to Mio, a church softball game (hopefully with Meridian CHOG) and a scavenger hunt.  Our BIG weekend we are preparing for is a mission trip to Chicago on the weekend of August 24-26.  We are also looking forward to our NEW sixth graders starting in September on the first Sunday after Labor Day.  We didn’t have any seniors this year but will be adding several new sixth graders to our ministry in the fall.  Praise God!

Connie and I will be traveling in June to Indiana to attend Anderson Camp Meeting and hopefully the birth of our 7th grandchild.  My son’s wife is due on June 21 and we hope this all happens during our time in Indiana.  He lives about 20 minutes from Anderson in Indianapolis.  Thank you also for the prayers for my parents.  My dad has progressive bone cancer and will be undergoing treatments at the Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis for the next 7-8 months.  Because of the nature of the treatments and the distance from their home in northern Indiana, they will be living there in an apartment.  We will also be traveling to Denver, Colorado for the International Youth Convention the first week of July.  Keep us in your prayers.

Summer is going to be exciting this year.  Thank you for keeping our students in your prayers.

Blessings, Pastor Jerry

Old friends

photo by E>mar

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to catch up with an “old friend.”  Now, before you stop me and say, “Pastor David, how could you have an old friend?  You’re not old enough!” – maybe you can just grant me this one.  Ashley and I were good friends in college, from which we graduated ten whole years ago.  Now that we are both married and that she and her husband have just had their first child, I appreciated the opportunity to catch up with them while they were in the area.

There is something refreshing about old friendships.  People who have known us for a significant period of time, have seen us change and grow, and have watched us make important life decisions:  these people can provide a stabilizing presence in our lives.  When I spend time with Ashley, I am reminded that I have been on a journey of faith for a long time, and my life experiences form one cohesive unit.  I am one person, although I have had many different kinds of experiences.  The presence of a long-term friend helps me remember this truth.

God, like old friends, has been present in our lives for quite some time.  Unlike old friends, God has been present since the very beginning – and even before that.  If our lives are to make any sense at all, perhaps we should find meaning for our lives in our relationship with the one who has known us from our earliest days.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13 NIV)

Perhaps your relationship with God is very old, from your perspective.  Maybe you have known the Lord for most, if not all, of your life.  Give thanks for this great saving friendship that you have with the Creator of the universe!

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24 NIV)

Or perhaps this talk of friendship with God seems new, strange, or altogether foreign to you.  Take a moment to think about the value and meaning that could be added to your life through an intimate friendship with the one who formed you in your mother’s womb.  It’s certainly possible to go through life without such a friendship – just as it is possible to go through life without old human friendships.  But why not trust in the one who makes sense of an otherwise confusing existence?

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Jesus, in Matthew 28:20b)

–Pastor David

A Working Vacation

photo by SurvivalWoman

When was your last vacation? When was the last time you “got away from it all,” even for a short period of time?  Do you make a habit of taking time away from your regular responsibilities so that you can be refreshed and renewed?

Tara and I spent last week in Indianapolis making improvements to our house – mostly kitchen upgrades and yard work, although we hired a local contractor to work on other parts of the house for us.  This was a new experience for me; I’ve never done a kitchen remodel project before.  But I learned a lot, and thankfully we completed the project before we came back north – except for a small drip in the kitchen sink’s plumbing.  (Don’t worry; we’re getting that fixed by a skilled friend soon.)

That’s what I did on my vacation.  Some vacation, huh?!  Honestly, though, it was refreshing for me to work on this project with my father and my father-in-law.  You might think that we came home exhausted from the work, and to some extent that is true.  But truthfully I took that week as an opportunity to relax my mind and my spirit, to enjoy the manual labor, and to see a dream take shape before my eyes.

How important it is for us to find rest for our souls in the Lord!  Our lives can be full of pain and hardship; some of us know that more clearly than others.  Yet God asks us to rest in him in all circumstances.  He invites us to trust his ability to strengthen us for the tasks to which he calls us.  He promises to walk alongside us and to provide meaning and hope in the situations which we feel are most meaningless and hopeless.

Psalm 90, the only psalm attributed to Moses, speaks about how the Lord is our dwelling place and is so powerful, just, and righteous that we cannot stand before him in our own strength.  This psalm concludes with these words:

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children. May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:14-17 NIV)

When was your last vacation?  Have you recently stepped away from the daily grind and asked God to bless the work of your hands?

Why not do that right now?

–Pastor David