One of the joys of walking, driving, or riding a motorcycle at this time of year is seeing all the tremendous, vivid colors of the changing leaves. I hope you are taking time in these weeks to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation!

Do you know why leaves change color just before they fall? Let me summarize, to the best of my limited understanding, why this happens. Leaves are green during the spring and summer because they contain chlorophyll. This green chemical allows plants to absorb the sun’s energy, which empowers the plants to grow and thrive and multiply. (Of course, this turns out to be a good thing for us humans, because plants take in carbon dioxide and expel oxygen, which is the reverse of our breathing process.) This chlorophyll must be constantly produced by plants in order to take full advantage of the boundless energy of the sun.

But when it comes time for trees to take a long Midwestern winter’s nap, they stop producing chlorophyll. They have stored up as much energy as they need to survive the winter, and they say farewell to their leaves, which cannot survive cold temperatures.

When the leaves stop receiving chlorophyll from the tree, their greenness disappears. It is then that we can see their true colors. The reds, yellows, and oranges we see in this season are actually the real colors of leaves all through the spring and summer, as well. Only when the leaves are connected to their branches, when they are filled with live-giving chlorophyll, do we see them in their healthy green state.

People are just like these leaves. We come in many different sizes, shapes, colors, and varieties. And it truly is a beautiful thing to observe the diversity and complexity of humankind. (Those of you who have gone to Guatemala on our recent mission trips will understand!) God has done marvelous work in forming us, each a unique creation loved deeply by our Creator.

“I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 NET)

And yet when we are connected to the true Source of Life, namely Jesus Christ, something amazing happens. The life given to us by Jesus Christ changes us in fundamental ways:

  1. Jesus makes us truly healthy. Just like leaves filled with chlorophyll, we are able to take in the life-giving Spirit of God and expel toxic, harmful behaviors and attitudes.
  2. Jesus unites us. Just as red, yellow, and orange leaves share the same greenness during the spring and summer, we all carry our own unique identities, but we are deeply united in our connection to Jesus Christ.
  3. Jesus gives us life. Just like leaves only stand a chance of surviving while connected to the tree, we are designed and built to be connected to the true Source of Life.

May God fill you with his Spirit each day, and may you remain connected to the Lord throughout the changing seasons of life!

Pastor David

A voice from the past calls us into the future.  A journey begins with a simple yet profound ceremony.  We lift our eyes to the hills ahead of us.  Those intimidating mounds must be crossed.  We realize that our help comes not from the thrill of hill climbing but from God, the maker of the hills, the guide along our journey (Psalm 121).

I have begun a professional academic program at the Anderson University School of Theology.  In four years, I will earn a Doctor of Ministry degree (see these preliminary thoughts).  My DMin degree is an applied degree that will be intimately tied to the life of Mt. Haley Church of God.  The program culminates in a “professional project” in which we will work together to address a ministry-related issue in the life of the church.

This is our journey, not just mine.  I intend to keep you updated on my classes, readings, ruminations, and dreams throughout this process.  Soon, I will ask a few of you to serve on a “local support team” which will work closely with me over the next four years and will help give shape to my DMin project.  (Would you be interested in that responsibility?)

For three weeks a year, I will be in Anderson for intensive classes with the eight other students in my cohort.  The first of those weeks is taking place right now.  I want to share with you a wonderfully meaningful event that took place at the end of the seminary’s chapel service this past Tuesday.

All of the new DMin students (including me) and new master’s degree students were asked to come forward and kneel at the chapel’s altar rails.  The faculty and other mentors anointed us and prayed God’s blessing on our upcoming journeys.  And then we were given a small, silver cross.cross

Take a close look at this image.  Look at the date and the signature.  This was signed on September 2, 2003 by Dr. Gilbert Stafford, one of my mentors and seminary professors.  (Dr. Stafford was pastor of East Ashman Church of God in Midland prior to his time as seminary professor in Anderson.)  He was endlessly enthusiastic and deeply theological; he inspired, challenged, and transformed his students in remarkable ways.  He was a writer, a thinker, a discussion partner, and a worship leader.  And he prepared small, silver crosses like this to give to incoming students at the beginning of their time in the seminary.

Dr. Stafford died of bone cancer in 2008.  I was working on my Master of Divinity degree in Anderson then.

Just recently, the seminary’s leaders discovered these signed crosses in a long-forgotten file and decided to give them to this year’s incoming students, including me.

Where were you on September 2, 2003?  I was beginning my second year of math studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.  I was 23 years old and was not married.  I had not yet begun seminary studies, let alone service as a pastor.

Somehow, across the years, my life keeps intersecting with Dr. Stafford’s life in meaningful ways.  I can only hope that my ministry intersects with his just as meaningfully.

A voice from the past calls us into the future.  A journey begins with a simple yet profound ceremony.  Stand on the shoulders of yesterday’s giants.  Can you see what the future holds?

Will you join me on this journey?

Pastor David

In the final sermon of this series, Pastor David helps us investigate a scandalous Old Testament story:  an attempted extramarital affair involving Joseph and the wife of Potiphar, found in Genesis 39.  How do we misuse human sexuality – and other relationship aspects – in today’s world?  And how do we make use of self-control to battle temptation?  Listen in to this week’s sermon:

Listen now!

Welcome to new 6th grade parents, students, our congregation and youth parents & people in our community, to a new school year and the beginning of a new year in the Youth Ministry at Mt. Haley. There’s always excitement and anticipation with the arrival of a new grade level for our students, whether they’re making the transition from elementary to middle school, middle school to high school, becoming a “Senior,” or just moving up one more grade.  Then there are the transitions to adult life or college with all the challenges that await some of our recent graduates.  It’s always a fresh start with new resolutions, goals and dreams.  There’s always an expectation of doing better, making a team, finding a job or becoming involved with a new interest.  With this same new determination in our student’s educational growth we all share as parents, we encourage you to have this same excitement in their spiritual & church life as we train them up to be disciples of Jesus and giving God the glory for their lives.

Mt. Haley Youth meetings begin on Sunday, September 7th at 6:00 PM with the series “Becoming a GREAT Youth Ministry” through 360 Evangelism & Knowing  “Who is God, Jesus & the Holy Spirit.”  Our youth meetings are for 6th graders through one year out of high school.  On Sunday mornings @ 10:00 AM will be the topic, “InTune with God Through Purpose, Purity, Power & People,” with our high school students.  We will be also adding a special new group/class on Sunday nights at 8:00 PM beginning on September 14th for recent high school graduates who are either in college in the area or working.  This will be called “Grads @ Grahams” and will rotate between meeting at Mt. Haley or the home of Pastor Jerry & Connie.  They will be receiving details of the new start-up and we will be determining our course of action for the new group.

We have a wonderful ministry in our church where we partner up people in the church with students praying for them on a daily basis as they live their walk of faith at home and in school.  We will be reorganizing, adding students, and letting go of people who have moved into adulthood (although they still need prayer) this month.  If you would like to join our prayer warriors for students let us know and we will work you into this ministry.

Summer was an extremely exciting time for the Youth Ministry with the International Youth Convention, our trip to Ludington, baptisms, and the Detroit Mission.  Our Detroit CSM mission went extremely well despite some variables in who was going & schedules but God knew what he was doing because he sent exactly the right amount of people to accomplish the mission. The general theme was believing in the HOPE of Detroit and all the ministries that are promoting the rebuilding and meeting the challenges of this great Michigan city.  Our first evening after a wonderful Polish dinner we spent time traveling around the city on a prayer tour learning and praying for various sectors of Detroit.  On Saturday, we worked at Gleaners Food Bank, a Thrift store and serve meals at the Detroit Rescue Mission.  We were then treated to dinner at the “Sonshine Café” which featured a banquet of “Soul” food.  Sunday morning we all worshiped at the New Hope Community Church and were extremely blessed by the people and the service.  Finishing off our weekend at a Thai restaurant we then returned home Sunday afternoon.  It was a powerful, serving, God-filled weekend and we will go back again with more kids.

Our Scripts gift card sale went very well and we thank you for the support and hope you enjoy your gift cards.  On Saturday, September 20th, 100 Mums of various colors will be delivered to Mt. Haley in the Fellowship Hall.  You may order plants from students for us to reserve or come on Saturday (1:00-4:00 PM) or Sunday after church.  The plants are $9.50 each or 3 for $26.  The choice of color is first come, first serve.  We would like to get all of them out the door and sold, so we do not have very many to return to Kutcheys.  Pre-order will provide for particular credit for individual student’s accounts or you can designate a student to receive the profit upon the sale.  Thank you for supporting this fundraiser for our students.  The next big event where students need money is Winter Retreat at CranHill Ranch on the weekend of January 9-11, 2015.  (Money due in December)

The Guatemala Mission Trip dates have been set for this year and registration is this month. The cost for the mission per person is $350 with a $150 deposit due by Sunday, September 21, 2014.  Plane ticket transportation could vary from $400 – $800 contingent on the best deal we can obtain.  The designated dates arranged with our missionary, David Beam, are Thursday, February 5, 2015 through Thursday, February 12, 2015. Dates can be a slight variable contingent on plane fares. (Please pray for this!)  Upon your registration for the mission team, there will be a monthly 2-hour meeting in preparation in October, November, December, and January. Dates and times for meetings will be determined after we have a team. We request that you attend all meetings. Our goal is to have our churches & teams pay $5000 to help in the cost of construction of a family’s house. Beginning this year that cost will come in proportion to the number of people on the team and the church they attend. We will obtain the needed funds through contributions and fundraising.  If you have any questions contact Pastor Jerry.

New 2014-2015 Parental Medical/Permission Release Forms were mailed to each family during August.  We NEED to have these forms completed and turned into Pastor Jerry by Sunday, September 28, 2014.  Please help us have this necessary paperwork done for the year by this date so students can attend meetings, ride in the church van and attend any youth event.  Thanks for your help!

We want everyone to know that our ultimate goal is to bring glory to God as the youth of Mt. Haley accept and develop a relationship with Jesus Christ and grow spiritually every day of his or her life. We have adapted seven spiritual growth principles (adapted from Andy Stanley) that we will work to develop in our youth.  They are:

1.    Authentic Faith:  Are our kids trusting God with the critical areas of their lives?  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

2.    Spiritual Disciplines:  Are our kids developing a consistent devotional and prayer life? (Romans 12:2)

3.    Moral Boundaries:  Are our kids establishing and maintaining Godly moral boundaries? (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8)

4.    Healthy Friendships:  Are our kids establishing healthy friendships and avoiding unhealthy ones? (Proverbs 12:20)

5.    Wise Choices:  Are our kids making wise choices in every area of their lives?  (Ephesians 5:15-17)

6.    Ultimate Authority:  Are our kids submitting to the authorities God has placed over them?  (Romans 13:1-2)

7.    Others First:  Are our kids putting the needs of others ahead of their own? (Philippians 2:3-11)

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 and our congregation for holding the youth up in PRAYER.

Love God, Love People, Live It!

Blessings,

Pastor Jerry