March Youth Update

WOW! February was a GREAT month! It began with our church mission trip. Guatemala was AWESOME! We built a house, visited orphanages, visited a feeding station, saw the black sands & the Pacific, provided haircuts & fashion, visited the school, blessed by an inspiring service with 4 pastors speaking, created and continued many relationships with our Guatemalan family, visited Antigua and MORE. All done to give Honor, Glory, and Praise to our Savior. We witnessed His presence, counted our blessings, learned to walk closer in His steps and built a community of believers! Our mission now begins, bringing it home, sharing our love and serving our Lord. What a privilege it was to lead this team! Guatemala was a HUGE SUCCESS! We will have a church presentation on March 10th.

Speaking of March 10th, we will have a “Mexican Night” (tacos, enchiladas, beans, etc) @ 4:45 PM to benefit and begin the fundraising for State Youth Convention. Cost will be by donation. This will happen just before Pastor David’s series on ‘3:16’ and the weekly youth meeting at 6:00 PM. All youth who are entertaining the idea of SYC should come & help in earning their registration fees due at the end of the month. All parents, church members & guests are invited to kick off our Spring adventure. We are hoping to have Guatemalan pictures available during the supper. We are declaring March 17 as “Pop Can & Bottle Sunday” to help our registration drive. We also hope to have a ‘can & bottle’ collection day in town perhaps the day before the Sunday. Other upcoming fundraisers will be yard work, scripts, garage sale, Mother’s Day flower sale and hopefully another new idea coming down the pike.

Renew_2013State Youth Convention is coming quickly! Although it isn’t until the weekend of May 17-19, early-bird registration is $40 and must be mailed into the state office by March 30th. SO, we will be making our list & collecting money the week of Sunday, March 24 – 29th. The balance will be $80 due by the convention. This year’s theme is “RENEW” and will feature the concert & worship band, The Afters, with Chicago Bear Chaplain, Ray McElroy as the speaker and a special drama presentation in concert by onetimeblind. It’s one of our greatest weekends of the year.

Our February 22nd LOCK-IN was another reason February was a great month. We had almost 30 students plus adults in attendance for a night of silly games, food, movies and more. It’s great when we open up our church and invite our friends to have fun and witness the love and word of God. Since the last newsletter we also had a “Bowling” night at Northern Lanes with pizza, games and movies at Pastor Jerry’s house afterwards. It’s fun doing things together with Christ as our common denominator!

Our series, “Doing the Disciplines” ended last week. During our series we learned about Bible Study, Prayer, Quiet Times & Devotion, Serving, the Importance of Church and Reaching Out – all topics to strengthen our walk with Christ. We begin in March a series on the “Fruits of the Spirit” which will take us through May.

A new Snack Donation Sign-Up is up on the bulletin board as well as the “Student of the Month” feature and upcoming activities. Youth will continue to be @ 6:00 PM on Sundays for 7th-12th graders and on Tuesdays for 6th graders @ 2:30 PM.

We would also like to extend an invitation to Easter Week activities at the church. Maundy Thursday services will be March 28th. There will be an area Good Friday service @ Faith Wesleyan on Meridian Road. Easter will be the morning of March 30 with an Early Morning service at 9:00 AM followed by refreshments and activities for children. Easter Sunday service will begin at 11:00 AM. There will be not church or youth that evening. Everyone is welcomed!

Parents, your prayers, support and encouragement are greatly appreciated and we look forward every week to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with our students through interaction, study, fellowship and relationship. Thank you for sharing your son or daughter. We thank the congregation for your help with snacks, with your encouragement and mostly your prayers.

Love God, Love People

Pastor Jerry

On a Journey

As we move forward in the Christian season of Lent (called “Focus 40” in the Church of God), I find myself captivated by the theme of journeying.  Several of my friends in ministry, who are scattered around the country and the world, are going through different kinds of “wandering” in their own lives.  Some are anticipating a move to a new ministry location, some are expecting a baby for the first time, and some are embarking on new and intimidating adventures in their current locations.

photo by Lain
photo by Lain

When I think about the people of Mt. Haley Church of God in this context, I realize that we too are in transition; we too are on a journey.  This church is settling down into a rhythm with our current pastoral staff.  We have experienced a tremendous mission trip to Guatemala and are continuing to reflect on the impact of that journey.  We are learning the importance of active growth in our own personal faith, and we are seeing the joys of ministering with our youth and children – even though that too is a call to active involvement in ministry.

Everywhere we look, we see signs that the life of faith is a journey.  This is especially on our minds in this season of Lent, in which Christians of all nationalities are journeying toward the cross.  In a deliberate, careful manner, faithful believers just like us are considering their need for a Savior, for redemption, for hope, for Christ in their lives.

In this we are not alone.  Our biblical ancestors in the faith were wanderers, most notably when the Israelites wandered through the wilderness for forty years on their way to the Promised Land.  Later in their history, Israel and Judah each were taken away into exile because of their sinfulness and betrayal of their relationship with God.  Even in the beginning, when God called Abram to leave his home and follow him, we see a clear example of wandering in faithfulness to God.  As the Israelites repeated for generations afterward, “my father [Abraham] was a wandering Aramean” (see Deuteronomy 26) – and that defines us and gives meaning to our own periods of wandering.

Wherever you find yourself on the journey of faith, remember that you are not alone.  Take full advantage of the remainder of Lent (which this year lasts all the way through March) to focus on how God is calling you to draw closer to him and to his church.  Know that I am praying for you and that I am always available to walk with you, wherever you are!

–Pastor David

Extreme Love

We begin this year’s “Focus 40” season (the Church of God version of Lent) by examining John 15:9-17, a passage in which Jesus gives his disciples one command: to love each other as he has loved them.  In our culture of over-the-top expressions of emotional love, how can we as Christians reclaim an understanding of God’s extreme love for us?  Click below to hear Pastor David’s sermon on this passage.

Listen now!

Reflections on Guatemala

I sit here on a snowy Thursday morning and find myself reflecting on how, just one week ago, several of us from Mt. Haley were experiencing different weather, a different language, a different culture, and a different sense of community.

We as a church have been building up for this Guatemala “Shack Attack” trip for quite some time.  We gave over $2,500 toward expenses for the trip and, more importantly, for a house to be built for a family in Guatemala City.  We joined hands with a neighboring church, Meridian Church of God, to bring about this experience, in which we shared the love of Christ with hundreds of children and adults and in which we learned a great deal about ourselves and our own way of life.  I’d like to share with you a few of the lessons I learned on this trip.

  1. Though cultures differ greatly, family is universally important. The house we worked on will soon be home to a family of five, and yet it is very small – certainly smaller than our youth room at church.  This family will make this newly constructed space their home, and that is quite significant.  We also visited the home of a family whose house was built this time last year – a truly beautiful space that has quickly become their home in the past few months.  Having a space for families to live life, to build relationships, to grow together – this is a crucial component of life both in the Guatemalan community we visited and for us here in the States.  What is your family life like?  What space have you created for those relationships?
  2. Though languages differ greatly, Christian love is universally understood.  We saw this lesson most clearly when we attended a Sunday morning worship service in the church just a hundred yards down the railroad tracks from the house construction location.  We witnessed laughter, greetings, and hugs among the Christian community there.  We participated in tremendous worship of our Lord with familiar and unfamiliar songs sung in Spanish.  We experienced a remarkable display of Christian humility through a public confession of sin, and we saw the body of Christ extend forgiveness to those who made that confession.  Where do you see Christian love expressed in your life?  How would your life change if you saw it more clearly?
  3. Though personalities differ greatly, relationships are universally meaningful. 
    Andrea and Julia
    Andrea and Julia

    Many of the children we met in Guatemala were gregarious, excited to see us, talkative, and very expressive.  Some, however, were much more quiet and reserved – like me!  While I watched the dozens of children we saw each day, I noticed that some children, just like here at home, tended to be in the center of attention, while others stayed on the edges of the group.  And then, on our last day at “the tracks,” two young girls appeared at my side:  Andrea and Julia. These two girls, eight and seven years old, respectively, were very shy and not very talkative.  But they plopped themselves down next to me and were content just to be next to me or to be held on my lap for the bulk of the day.  Who are the “overlooked” people in your daily life?  Are you one of them?  How can God use your personality to be a blessing to people around you?

Whether in the sunshine or in the snow, whether in 70 degree weather or 20 degree weather, God is at work in people’s lives.  I am excited to continue bringing about the kingdom of God in our own community after seeing it at work in Guatemala City last week!  Will you join me in our ongoing mission work?

–Pastor David

Serving in Obedience

Pastor David, Pastor Jerry, and twelve other people recently returned from a week-long mission trip to Guatemala.  While there, our two-church team helped to build a house for a local family and built relationships with children and adults in the community.  Click below to hear Pastor David reflect on Luke 5:1-11 and its relationship to a theme that was on his mind during the Guatemala trip:  the meaning of making space.

Listen now!

February Youth Update

As you are reading this we are probably serving in Guatemala. We are so excited to be sharing this experience with the Mt. Haley & Meridian CHOG. This will be our 6th Mission to Guatemala to build family homes, minister and love the people of the “Tracks” in Guatemala City. Our experiences have changed our lives, changed our perspectives and guatemalaincreased our love for God and His people. We covet your prayers as we serve and hope to share this year’s mission with you soon. Because of our mission, there will be NO Youth meetings or other youth activities February 1st through 8th. We will resume our duties on February 10th with our study of Romans in the AM and the youth meeting that evening.

As the ‘glow’ of the Winter Retreat begins to dim, we are encouraging our students in “Doing the Disciplines” to enhance their spiritual walk with God. We have already had lessons on Bible Study, Prayer and Devotions/Quiet Times. On our return we will discuss God’s way of “Service.” Throughout February, we will continue to encourage students in the disciplines of the Christian walk. Pray for the students who accepted Christ, rededicated their lives and felt God’s call during the Winter Retreat Weekend. We were very BLESSED that weekend!

Our February activity will be our Winter Lock-In on the 15th. All of the details have not been worked out, but we promise a great night of recreation, fellowship, food, and the Word of God. This is a great event to invite friends and have a blast. There is NO school on the 15th so we may get started early.

Fundraisers are coming February. We need to get ready for one of our BEST activities of the year –State Youth Convention. Watch for details as we begin our efforts again to participate in great activities of the CHOG.

State Youth Convention 2013 – RENEW is the weekend of May 17-19, 2013. A $40 Registration fee will be due by the week of March 24th – 29th before the price increases. There will an $80 balance remaining due at the time of convention. This year’s convention features our speaker, Roy McElroy, Chaplin of the Chicago Bears, our concert & worship leaders, The After and a special performance of onetimeblind in concert. You will be hearing much more about this weekend and we will be working to earn our way to this fabulous event.

Your prayers, support and encouragement are greatly appreciated and we look forward every week to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with our students through interaction, study, fellowship and relationship. Thank you for sharing your son or daughter.

Love God, Love People

Pastor Jerry