Doing vs. Becoming

During today’s Wednesday evening small group meeting, I was reminded of a profound truth about the path of Christian discipleship.  We are studying the devotional book “Extreme Love” which was the centerpiece of the Focus 40 (Lent) season earlier this year.  In one of the daily devotional readings, we discussed the difference between “doing” and “becoming”:  how we as disciples should be concerned more about who we are becoming rather than what we are doing.

photo by banlon1964
photo by banlon1964

Does that apply to your life at all?  We all live incredibly busy lives; I have even heard many retirees wonder aloud how they ever managed to go to work in years gone by.  Our society places a high premium on what you can do, accomplish, or achieve.  But I think there is something meaningful in thinking carefully about who we are becoming instead.  How is your character being shaped?  What changes to your values do you notice?  How does faith in Jesus Christ form you into a new kind of person – even if you have been a believer for years or decades?

And now:  how does this apply to us as a congregation?  It is easy for churches to be wrapped up in programs, ministries, and events – things that we do.  Rather than expend all our energy (and use all our God-given talents) on “doing,” what if we focused on “becoming”?  How is God shaping us as a church?  How is the Holy Spirit moving among us, to create something new among us?  What does our future look like as a congregation?  What are we going to become?

Two reminders.  First, we will have “Mission Conversations” throughout the fall season to address these very questions.  And second, you may join in this small group discussion by meeting with us Wednesdays at 7pm.  Take advantage of these opportunities for spiritual growth!

–Pastor David

August Youth Update

August already!! By the time you are reading this, we will have had a GREAT day at Michigan Adventure.  As I am writing, we have 37 people going and I am just getting ready to order tickets.  The month will go fast and kids will be back at school and our Sunday nights will be in full gear.  We are planning on celebrating “Rally Day” at the church on Sunday, September 8, then the youth year will begin on Sunday night, September 15th @ 6:00 PM.  It will be GOOD to see the kids every week.

photo by gaspi *yg
photo by gaspi *yg

Also, on the weekend of Saturday, September 7 through Monday, September 9, the youth will have a room full (about 75 plants) of mums for sale to kick-off the fundraisers for the International Youth Convention in Nashville next summer.  We haven’t received the costs yet, but Kutchey’s promises the best selection of mums in the area.  Hope you can support the youth and make your yards more beautiful.  More details coming.

July was a busy month for Connie and I.  We enjoyed the Mt. Haley Loons game night and were joined by several of the kids.  Connie and I had an extraordinary opportunity in Oklahoma City for a week.  We served as youth leaders & counselors at the Church of God Leadership Summit for a gathering of over 160 outstanding young people from more than 20 states.  We had outstanding speakers, worked an afternoon of Tornado Disaster Relief in Moore, Oklahoma, and visited the Oklahoma City Bombing Museum & Memorial, plus many group sessions and interaction with some great young leaders in the Church of God.  It was an awesome experience and was thrilled to be involved.

The St. Louis Camp Meeting is this week and we encourage everyone to attend.  There will be great services every night and an opportunity to gather with Church of God people from all over the state. The Midland County Fair comes quickly after that and involves many of our youth.  We invite you to get to the fair and see their pigs, goats, and other animals.  On the weekend of August 23-25 we will be having our adventure in Mio at the Adam’s cabin & campsite.  Our plans are to go tubing on the AuSable (costs will be coming soon), attending church at the Mio Church of God, eating out traveling there & back, and just generally having a good time together.  Sign up will begin after Michigan Adventure.  Every Sunday morning and with events we will continue to either have devotions or lessons on the “The Parables of Jesus.”

A major event we would like you to consider and pray about is Baptism on Sunday, August 18th. Baptism is an important step of obedience in a believer’s life, as an acknowledgment of the salvation experience already accomplished and a personal public testimony of your acceptance of Jesus Christ as your Savior.  Pastor David or I would love to have the privilege and honor of baptizing you in the morning worship service on that Sunday.  If you are thinking of being baptized or have definitely decided, please contact me about our service.  We will help to answer all questions, concerns and thoughts.

There will be two introductory meetings we will be having soon.  The first one is a Guatemala Mission Meeting on Thursday, August 22, 2013 to introduce the 2014 Mission Trip.  We will discuss costs, purpose, what we do, etc for those who are interested in possibly attending in February.  There is a $100 registration DUE by September 8th for this mission.  In September (date to be determined) there will be a parent & student meeting about attending the International Youth Convention in July of next summer in Nashville, TN.   A $115 Early Bonus Bird Registration is due by December 12, 2013. We will need to discuss purpose, missions, fundraising and other important details.  We hope you will come and hear about this wonderful opportunity for your kids.

Parents and Church, 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 and hope to see your kids the Sunday morning meetings and the summer activities.

Love God, Love People


Pastor Jerry

The Institution of the Church

What does the title of this article mean to you?  Does it bring to mind any images, people, or customs?  Does it evoke feelings in your heart, either positive or negative?  Or is it a foreign term to you because of the vagueness of the term “institution”?

When I use the phrase “the institution of the church,” I am referring to the necessary structure that develops among Christians of similar theology, history, and practice.  Let me unpack that a little bit:

photo by foje64
photo by foje64
  • “Necessary structure”:  Just as people gather to live in neighborhoods, villages, towns, cities, regions, and nations, so do all human organizations.  Any organization, if it is going to maintain its identity and purpose, must develop some kind of structure to keep itself going into the future.  Over the course of time, the earliest Christians developed a structure to keep themselves afloat in the world; today, we call this structure the Roman Catholic Church.  Even our brand of Christian faith, the Church of God Reformation Movement, has developed structures and systems that support the identity and purpose of this movement.  That development began back in the 1910s and really flourished during the mid-1900s.
  • “Similar theology, history, and practice”:  Christian groups vary widely in these three categories, and perhaps others.  But when believers have these in common, they tend to stick together.  They have campmeetings and conventions; they have unity services and missionaries; they trade pastors and, all too often, church people.  They might even work together on joint projects, like we did in Guatemala with Meridian Church of God earlier this year, and like we did with two other Church of God congregations for the Global Gathering last month.  The structures we develop support and protect our investments (material and spiritual) in our beliefs, our shared history, and our shared experiences.

This is all well and good.  But many people today have been driven away from God because of the problems in the institution of the church – whatever its label.  And this isn’t good.  In our humanness, we create issues that cause people to turn away from God.  We argue among each other; we criticize those who disagree with us on political issues.  We discriminate against those who aren’t like us; we harbor jealousy of those who are successful.  We distrust those in power; we fail to consider the needs of “the least of these.”  And all these things can occur within one particular church group – I know, because I have seen them in the Church of God itself!

Yet I do not run away.  I remain committed to the Church of God (and to the Mt. Haley congregation in particular) because I believe in the Church of God’s theology, history, and practices.  I find the institution frustrating at times, but I also find it incredibly valuable because it connects me to something bigger than myself.  And at the same time, I constantly work to remember that the Church of God is connected to something bigger than itself as well.  We speak openly about salvation, unity, and holiness with Christians in our own fellowship and those in other backgrounds.  We do so because we share “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:5-6 NIV) and we take seriously Jesus’s prayer that we might all be one (John 17:22-23).

With all this in mind, I invite you to read two more articles, these written by good friends of mine, Joe Watkins and Jael Tang.  They are two of my “people” – the group I’ve mentioned to you before, my seminary friends who form for me a special community of support, inspiration, and challenge.  Please take a few minutes to read what they have to say; I promise it’s worth your time.

Read Joe’s blog here:

Read Jael’s blog here:

–Pastor David

July Youth Update

Time!  It moves so fast!  We have already held three of our summer events and they have been GREAT!  Our Camp Fire @ the Adams was extremely successful and we actually surprised Corey Forester with a Graduation Party – a beautiful night with lots of people.  THANK YOU Adams for hosting this popular event. Our second event was the Mt. Haley-Meridian CHOG Softball game and we had a fabulous night.  AGAIN, lots of people & participation with a good time had by all.  It was just old-fashioned FUN!  We ended up postponing the “Scavenger Hunt” because we didn’t have enough for at least three teams, but we will be revisiting that in the future. Last Saturday was the major God-Sighting as 28 of us traveled to Ludington State Park on Lake Michigan for a day @ the beach.  It rained most of the way across the state, then with about 10 miles to our destination the skies cleared and we had a beautiful sunny day.  Although it was a little bit windy, we managed to have our cookout, played in the water and on the sand, climbed some dunes and I think most of us got TOO much sun.  Great day together in the Kingdom of God!

Connie and I (plus Pastor David) had a wonderful time at the Global Gathering in Anderson, Indiana as we enjoyed the services with speakers from around the world and it was especially special to meet Sudipta Nanda, a pastor from northern India who oversees over 700 congregations.  What an opportunity and privilege for our church to be able to join two other churches and sponsor him for the Global Gathering.  I would encourage you to check out the Mt. Haley web page and read Pastor David’s reports on the Gathering (here, here, and here).  It was truly a BLESSING to have the opportunity to attend and participate in the Global Gathering.

Connie and I have another opportunity this month also.  We will be departing for Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on Sunday, July 7, to attend the Leadership Summit and work as pastoral & adult leaders for a gathering of youth from all over the United States.  As well as hearing outstanding speakers, we will be doing Tornado Disaster Relief work, visiting the OKC Bombing Museum & Memorial plus many other activities.  This is part of Connie’s job as Michigan State Director of Youth and my role as chairman of the Michigan Student Leadership Institute.  We will be returning to Michigan by Tuesday, July 16.

Our next activity is the Mt. Haley CHOG day at a game for the Great Lakes Loons on Thursday, July 25.  Tickets are $9 each and it is DOLLAR night.

Our BIG event is for the youth & their families (anyone in the church) if they would like to attend.  On Saturday, August 3rd, we will be traveling to Michigan Adventure in Muskegon, Michigan. If we have over 25 people, we will have the group rate of $24 per person.  There will be a sign up for this and we will be promoting all this month.  Also, St. Louis Camp Meeting of the CHOG begins on August 1st and continues on through the next week.

At every summer event and on Sunday mornings at 10:00 AM in the high school class we are having devotions and lessons on the “Parables of Jesus.”  We encourage you to check out the parables and the message Jesus has for you every Sunday morning.

photo by NewSpring Church
photo by NewSpring Church

Another significant opportunity this summer is a service of Baptism on Sunday, August 18, 2013.  Baptism is an important step of obedience in a believer’s life, as an acknowledgment of the salvation experience already accomplished and a personal public testimony of your acceptance of Jesus Christ as your Savior.  Pastor David or I would love to have the privilege and honor of baptizing you in the morning worship service on that Sunday.  If you are thinking of being baptized or have definitely decided, please contact me about our service.  We will try to answer all questions, concerns and thoughts.

Looking ahead to August our youth ministry will be going to Mio for a tubing/canoeing/camping weekend on August 23-25.  We will be staying at the Adams’ cabin, spending the day on the AuSable and attending church in Mio.  We had a wonderful time last year and looking forward to another good time.

Parents and Church, 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 and hope to see your kids the Sunday morning meetings and the summer activities.

Love God, Love People


Pastor Jerry

The Necessity of Gathering

At last week’s Global Gathering, a powerful thought captured my attention:  as people of faith, we need each other to survive.

Sudipta and his family
Sudipta and his family

Pastor Jerry, Connie, and I had the privilege of meeting Sudipta Nanda, the church leader from northern India whose attendance at the Global Gathering our congregation helped to support.  We met Brother Sudipta along with the pastors of our sister churches, Rev. Shannon New Spangler (Harvest Point Church of God, Lordstown, Ohio) and Rev. Jonathan Frymire (Orchard View Church of God, Grand Rapids, Michigan).  Sudipta is a warm and compassionate man with a strong heart for Jesus Christ.  He and his young family are committed to sharing the gospel among the millions of people in northern India.  His presentation showed us many of the challenges he faces:  other religions that are firmly entrenched in his region, social and community problems that oppress individuals and families, and physical needs that face everyone on a daily basis.  As pastor of a congregation and overseer of over 700 others, Sudipta has a tremendous amount of work.

And yet, on many occasions, he expressed his gratitude to us for helping him to come to Anderson.  This experience of gathering with other believers from around the world was a powerful, meaningful experience for Sudipta.

Personally speaking, this Global Gathering served an important purpose for me, as well.  I was refreshed and renewed through rekindling relationships with some very dear friends of mine, including the two pastors mentioned above.  We have always taken the opportunity to spend time together at this annual convention.  Often, we have stayed up late into the night talking about important issues of life and ministry – and, to be very honest, simply having a lot of fun together, too.

But this year, I came away with another impression.  I can imagine how vital it was for Sudipta to come to this Global Gathering; his ministry will surely benefit from his experiences.  For me, I am learning that this kind of connection is indispensible; I would not be who I am today if I did not meet regularly with these important individuals who can speak truth and joy into my life.  Going to Anderson is an annual spiritual pilgrimage, not for the location but for those whom I meet there.

Do you have meaningful relationships like these in your life?  Are there people who help you make sense of life and without whom you would feel lost?  How often do you get to see them, to be refreshed by them, and to be spiritual refreshment in their lives?

Are you fortunate enough to worship in the same congregation with any of those individuals?  How important it is for the saints of God to come together each week for refreshment, nurture, and companionship!

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25 NIV)

Global Gathering

During the last week of June, the Church of God came together for a “Global Gathering” in which delegates from 63 countries came to Anderson, Indiana, for a week of worship, celebration, prayer, fellowship, and encouragement.  I was blessed to attend the majority of this gathering, and I’d like to share with you some highlights from the week.

  • The major theme of the Global Gathering was “Standing Together” – a testament to our convictions about Christian unity.  Regardless of our nationalities, ethnicities, and languages, we practiced loving, accepting, and encouraging each other because of our common faith in Jesus Christ.  This too was an important theme through the week:  that Jesus Christ is at the center of who we are as the people of God.  Perhaps the most moving experience of this truth was at the opening worship service, in which all the delegates from around the world entered the convention hall behind their respective nations’ flags, accompanied by a sustained standing ovation by everyone else.
  • Each day, we all came together for three worship services – morning, afternoon, and evening – and each service had a preacher from a different part of the world.  We heard the Word of God preached by individuals from Russia, Zambia, Brazil, Jamaica, Australia, Ghana, India, Paraguay, and the United States.  The diversity of life experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives on life was amazing!  And there are some fantastic preachers in our movement around the world! (Remember, you can watch the services online at
  • All week long, we gave offerings out of love and thankfulness to our Lord.  Now, in the past, the offerings for the North American Convention have gone to cover the costs of the convention itself, or to support other components of the Church of God structure.  Not so this year.  All of the offerings – every dollar and penny – were given directly to an organization called Water4 (
    • water4This not-for-profit has the goal of eliminating the current world water crisis.  (There are millions of people on the planet who cannot just turn the faucet and get clean drinking water; instead, many must drink from unsanitary, infested pools located sometimes miles from home.)  Water4 exists to train, equip, and support local individuals as they learn to dig freshwater pressure wells in their own communities using simple, cost-effective materials.  From beginning to end, one well costs just $1,000 through this organization.
    • The goal at the Global Gathering was for us to raise $100,000 for Water4.  An anonymous donor made a challenge:  up to this amount, he or she would donate $4 for every $1 that we gave.  This encouraged us to give even more, and by the end of the week, we had given over $106,000 – meaning that the total donation to Water4 from our group was over half a million dollars.  This will sponsor 500 new freshwater wells throughout the world.  Thanks be to God!

This Global Gathering was a tremendous experience.  I am already looking forward to next year, even though it will be back to our regular North American Convention!

You know, you can come along too, even for just a weekend or for part of the week.  This is our convention!

–Pastor David