May Youth Update

“Rain, Rain, Go Away!” Hasn’t it been wonderful with all the rain God has blessed us with?  It just makes us appreciate the warmth of sunshine all the more! Michigan – you have to love it! Needless to say, we need some sunshine to dry up Olive’s yard so we can get it cleaned up for her & help earn our money for State Youth Convention. It’s looking like next week because her large puddle is slowing going away. God will provide!

State Youth Convention is this month, May 17-19 and we need your prayers for this “divine appointment.” As of today (4/30), we have 15 students on our list with 4 counselors plus kids from Bay City and Meridian CHOG traveling with us and occupying a floor at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. In the next week, everyone will receive a “departure” letter helping you with what to take, schedules, guidelines, times, etc about the convention. Please watch for that letter because it will include important information for both students and parents. We still need to account for $80 from each student to fulfill the balance for SYC. We are trying to provide opportunities for student to earn the money, however, if you are able, we would appreciate any contributions you could make for your son or daughter to attend. Thanks!

By the time you read this, we will have completed our Gift Card Sale and our Youth Garage Sale. Students have the opportunity to sell “Hanging Baskets” from Kutchey’s until May 5th where they make $6-$8 per item sold. We hope to begin the work at Olive’s the week of May 6th.

photo by Lawrence OP
photo by Lawrence OP

Congratulations to our SENIORS from the Youth Ministry who will be graduating from Bullock Creek on May 31st. Our seniors are Paul Hassen, Chase Brenske and Corey Forster. Special prayers and best wishes for them as they pass this milestone in their lives. Students are allowed to participate in the Youth Ministry one year after they graduate from High School, so we could still see them in the ministry.

Our “Fruits of the Spirit” study is almost finished. We will be done with the study on May 12th. We will NOT have a Sunday night Youth Meeting on May 19th, because of the SYC; however, the 6th graders WILL have Youth on Tuesday, May 21st. We will NOT have Youth over the Memorial Day Weekend and our LAST youth meetings of the school year will be Sunday, June 2nd and Tuesday, June 4th. We will not have scheduled youth meetings on Sunday evenings throughout the summer.

Our summer schedule begins the first week of June. The tentative schedule is:

  • Friday, June 7 @ 8 PM – Campfire Meeting @ the home of Lawrence & Jo Adams
  • Thursday, June 13 @ 7:00 PM – Softball Game & BBQ with Meridian CHOG
  • Wednesday, June 19 @ 7:00 PM – Scavenger Hunt
  • Saturday, June 29 – Day at the Beach in Ludington State Park on Lake Michigan
  • July 7 – July 22 – Pastor Jerry & Connie out of town
  • Thursday, July 25 @ 6:00 – Mt. Haley @ Loons Game
  • Saturday, August 3 – Traveling to the Michigan Adventure theme park (whole family welcomed!)
  • Friday, August 2-9 – St. Louis Camp Meeting
  • August 11-17 – Midland County Fair
  • Friday – Sunday, August 23-25 – Camping/Tubing/Canoeing in Mio

There will probably be other spontaneous activities as well. We will also begin the planning, fundraising and preparation for next summer’s trip to Nashville to attend the International Youth Convention & Mission. This event is opened to any student entering high school in the fall of 2014 and any student one year after their high school graduation. We hope to take a group to this significant celebration of Church of God youth. Watch for details.

We thank our congregation for all the prayers, support, encouragement and the help in our fundraisers as we minister to the youth of our church and the Mt. Haley community.

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 encourage everyone to come and be a part of our weekly Mt. Haley Worship every week at 11:00 AM.

Love God, Love People!


Pastor Jerry

Purpose for Those Who Follow

A disciple is one who follows someone else.  What happens when the one being followed disappears from the scene?  This is the situation foreseen by Jesus in John 13:31-35, a passage dripping with emotion in which Jesus prepares his disciples for his departure through crucifixion.  How does Jesus’s gift of purpose for his disciples affect us in the church today?  Here is Pastor David’s message on this passage.

Listen now!

What is Ordination?

Last October, I reported to you that the Credentials Committee of the Church of God in Michigan had approved me for ordination.  I was indeed ordained at the state’s General Assembly meeting in November, and now we are in the midst of planning for my formal ordination service at Mt. Haley on May 25, one month from today.  Through a couple of conversations, it became apparent to me that it might be helpful for you to know exactly what this process has entailed and what it means for my ministry.

Miller Chapel, Anderson University School of Theology
Miller Chapel, Anderson University School of Theology

The Church of God ordains pastors on a state-by-state basis.  I began the ordination process in 2007 while I was in seminary in Indiana.  I met with Indiana’s Credentials Committee twice, took a Bible content exam, and began reading a selection of required books.  This was in addition to my seminary reading list:  over five years, I took ninety hours of graduate courses to earn a Master of Divinity degree.  Also, as part of the ordination process, I wrote and defended fourteen theological statements (which are available on our website, if you’re interested to read them).  All of this preparation was to ensure that I am theologically sound and at least somewhat prepared to enter a ministry position.

During this time, I moved through the first two phases of the ordination process.  In Indiana and Michigan (and most states), the Church of God classifies ministers as “commissioned,” “licensed,” and finally “ordained,” in increasing order of call, trust, and responsibility.  At the beginning of my process, I was “commissioned” in Indiana; that was a recognition of the fact that I sensed a call to enter ministry – and that it seemed right to the committee as well.  After I completed the work listed in the previous paragraph, I became “licensed.”  This allowed the world to consider me a minister from a legal perspective:  I could perform wedding ceremonies and file taxes as a minister.  For all intents and purposes, a licensed minister can do anything you’d expect a fully ordained minister to do.

All of this happened in Indiana.  Then, when Mt. Haley called me to become its senior pastor and Tara and I moved to Michigan, my ministerial credentials were transferred to the Church of God in Michigan.  Since that time, I have met with Michigan’s Credentials Committee twice so they could review my theological statements, get to know my call to ministry, and prepare me for full ordination.

Another part of that preparation is a relationship with a “supervising mentor.”  Rev. Dr. Kevin Earley, pastor of the Metropolitan Church of God in Detroit, was assigned to serve in this role for me.  We were acquaintances from seminary – he earned his doctorate while I worked on my master’s – and in the past year we have had a handful of phone conversations about pastoral ministry, its challenges, and its opportunities.

photo by ToniVC
photo by ToniVC

Another component is a document called a “Life and Ministry Plan,” which is like a personal mission statement for pastors.  This “LAMP” is a living, growing document that is to inform and adapt to my life and ministry over the course of my life.  This requirement was waived in my case because I am currently working on my “LAMP” with my “SHAPE” group (“Sustaining Health And Pastoral Excellence”), a group of five pastors who meet each month for connection, support, and mutual growth.  (My “LAMP” should be completed sometime this year.)

All of this culminated in the Credentials Committee’s recommendation that I be presented for ordination at the state General Assembly meeting last November.  At that meeting, four other candidates and I were presented to the assembly.  We each gave a three-minute testimony/summary of our call to ministry, and then the gathered ministers and church representatives voted whether or not to ordain each of us.  The rules state that if six “no” votes are received for any candidate, then his or her ordination is withheld for further consideration.  That did not happen in my case, so my ordination was technically approved in November.

What remains is a formal ordination service, which we have scheduled for May 25.  At this service I will be given my official certificate of ordination, and the whole process will finally be complete.

Ordination is a call to ministry in the church.  If I were not serving in an official ministry position, I could not be ordained.  And in the future if I should not have a ministry position for a significant length of time, my ordination credentials could be revoked.  Ordination means that I am fully recognized as a minister in the Church of God, but it also means that I am fully accountable as a minister in the Church of God.  I am welcome to serve as pastor, but I am not free to do whatever I wish.  I am trusted to serve the church well, but I must not abuse that trust.  I have the support of the Church of God movement behind me, but that is not license for me to go astray from what God intends for my life and ministry.

The Bible is full of examples of priests and Levites who were called to serve God.  Many of them served faithfully for their whole lives, while others went astray and were censured by God and by the faith community.  I intend to be found in the “faithful” group when the final tally is counted.

If you have any questions about the ordination process or what it means for me or for Mt. Haley, please feel free to ask me!

–Pastor David

How to be a Levite: Reading Scripture

This past Sunday, a group of us worked together on the practice of reading scripture in worship.  Reading scripture is something that should be taken seriously and done well, because the Bible is the primary way that God speaks directly to us!pros

By popular demand, the notes from this workshop are available here in PDF format.  These ideas may be helpful to you in your own devotional reading of the Bible, even if you are not a regular scripture reader in church.

For more information and for a terrific resource on the public reading of scripture, please check out Clayton J. Schmit’s book Public Reading of Scripture. Buy a copy yourself, or see me and I’ll be glad to lend you mine!

–Pastor David


The other day, I saw a bug in my office.  Normally, I exterminate such pests without a second thought, but this time was different.  This time, I was already deep in thought working on this week’s sermon, and the bug was on the other side of my desk.  Rather than getting up, walking around the desk, and doing the necessary deed, I decided to take the more passive approach: I just watched the bug for a few minutes.

photo by cyriltw
photo by cyriltw

This bug had it in its little brain that the most important thing in the world was climbing straight up the window.  Hanging onto the window for dear life, it crawled higher and higher until it lost its balance.  Then it fell harmlessly to the windowsill and began its trek upward again.  Over and over again, this cycle repeated itself:  the bug climbed up, fell down, and climbed up again.

One word came to my mind as I watched this bug:  persistence.  No matter how many times it fell down, it got back up and began the upward climb once more.  And then I thought, “There’s a sermon in that.”

Of course, there is a humanistic lesson to be learned:  no matter how many times we fail, we must pick ourselves up and move on, resume the course, carry forward one more time.  The world is good at teaching us this message through all sorts of motivational speakers.

But there’s something deeper here.  While my office bug was able to pick itself up and climb upward on its own power, we have no power to pick ourselves up spiritually.  While the bug naturally showed persistence in achieving its goal, we struggle to move forward in our walks with Christ.  It is natural for us to be sedentary, hopeless, passive.

The goal for us as disciples of Christ is in the same direction as the bug’s goal:  to move upward, to climb higher:  to grow and become more like Jesus, to bring about the kingdom of God on earth.  And yet so often we find ourselves falling back into old habits and unredeemed ways of living.  We look around, startled to find ourselves where we began, having the same spiritual ground yet to cover.

This is the point at which God’s grace steps into our lives.  Grace is what God gives to us that we absolutely do not deserve.  Knowing God, having faith, receiving forgiveness for our sins – these and many others are gifts from God brought by his grace in our lives.  Another gift from God is how he picks us up when we fall and puts us back on the path of growth.  We simply can’t do that by ourselves.

Yet such is our journey:  ever upward, ever toward Christ, no matter what lows we experience.  Carry on, fellow believers, and keep the goal always in mind!

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.
(Proverbs 6:6-11 NIV)

–Pastor David

Restoration for Those Who Fail

Peter failed miserably by betraying Jesus three times.  Yet after the resurrection, a miraculous catch of fish, and a lakeside breakfast, Jesus restored Peter three times – and gave him work to do.  How does this story (John 21:1-19) relate to our struggle to deal with failure in our lives?  Click below to hear Pastor David’s sermon on the gifts Jesus gave his disciples in this passage:

Listen now!

April Youth Update

Spring Break – a great time of the year as we gear up for the last couple of months of school. For the Mt. Haley Youth, it means fundraising season begins to earn our way to State Youth Convention.  We are meeting this actual day to go Pop Can collecting to begin the quest to pay the $80 balances needed for SYC. The real “PRAISE” was the blessing of the recent Mexican Supper we had where enough money was raised to pay everyone’s registration fee to SYC.  God always provides!

Other fundraising opportunities will include:  our “Garage Sale” on the weekend of May 3-4.  If you wish to contribute we will be collecting items in the Mt. Haley garage up until April 20, then we will transfer and be collecting things at the Grahams until the sale.  The Mother’s Day Flower Sale will begin next week with plants being delivered after 4:00 PM on Thursday, May 9th.   We will also have a gift card sale where we receive a percentage of the costs beginning in a couple of weeks.  These make great gifts for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduations, and for general use – especially for gas & food.  Every card sold profits the youth group.  As soon as the weather clears, we plan on doing yard work for our favorite person, “Olive,” plus any other people who would like to hire us after school for spring clean-up.  Of course we will continue to have “Pop Can Sundays” and collect ink cartridges.  We know God will provide.

We are excited for State Youth Convention on the weekend of May 17-19. 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.

grossologyThe Sixth Graders had a marvelous time at the Midland Center For the Arts “Grossology” exhibit. We enjoyed the presentation and the museum for a couple of hours, then went to Happy’s Pizza with the added treat of a McDonald’s Sundae.  A great day of fun for the 6th graders.

The “Fruits of the Spirit” are being studied & discussed in our youth meetings using our brand new Quickview NIV Bibles furnished by the congregation and church council. We want to express our appreciation and thankfulness for the new Bibles; they are working out great and really add to our meetings.  We have done patience, self-control, faithfulness and goodness so far –do you know what’s left?  Anyway, that should take us through May.

We are gearing up for the summer.  Although we will not have meetings every Sunday night, we will be having lots of events. Last summer, we had some great outings such as the canoe weekend, the lake trip, Loons game, banana splits and more.  There will be no mission trip this summer because we will begin the planning, fundraising and preparation for next summer’s trip to Nashville to attend the International Youth Convention & Mission.  This event is opened to any student entering high school in the fall of 2014 and any student one year after their high school graduation.  We hope to take a group to this significant celebration of Church of God youth.

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 also encourage everyone to come and be a part of our weekly Mt. Haley Worship every week at 11:00 AM.   Love God, Love People


Pastor Jerry

Is This Just Crazy Talk?

On Easter Sunday, we remember and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  It’s a truth that forms us as people of faith, but have you ever stopped to wonder:  is this just crazy talk?  Are we expected to believe something that’s just simply ridiculous and unbelievable?  Click the link below to hear Pastor David’s message on Isaiah 65:17-25, an Old Testament passage with similar “crazy talk” characteristics.

Listen now!