In like a Lion or will we experience the Lamb? Last week’s GRAD lesson was “The Lion and the Lamb” from Revelation so I have been weighing this in my mind for the last several days. February has been brutal with the low temperatures and the calling off of school for so many days. The brisk winter not only effects the schools but takes its toll on church participation as people don’t want to get out, we debate whether it’s safe for us to have youth or is it just too cold. Attendance in February has been down and we know one of the variables is the cold weather, but… I worry when Youth don’t attend two, three weeks and possibly even four weeks and don’t even see their families in church. And I know, once you get out of the habit of participating in church, it’s harder to come back. God’s word is still roaring like a lion and as gentle as a lamb – spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to one and everyone. Hopefully, our hard winter is gradually declining and we can come into March like a lamb and renew our commitment to God and His Kingdom.

And speaking of church, our Sunday nights are jumping into the topic “What Is The Church.” After many weeks of exploring who God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were in our lives, we are now looking how Jesus ordained the church as a way to worship him. Luke 4:18 says: The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me (Christ) to preach good news to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” This was the fulfilling of prophesy and the preparation for the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit paying an extraordinary visit to a small group of Christians, empowering and galvanizing them into a dynamic, world-changing force. Acts very clearly paints a picture of the church as God ordained it. So, with using the scripture in Acts 2:42-47 He created a fellowship of believers which we now call the church:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 NIV)

With our study of the church, we celebrate the birthday of the church, we learn how to “Stand Strong,” we take the “Church On The Road” and we understand “The Mission” of our lives and the church. Bible Study on Sunday mornings continues to look at “Purpose, Purity, Power and People” and will throughout the year. The GRADS @ Graham group on Sunday nights is studying “Why Revelation” and will be through March. We are half way through our study and our remaining lessons are: “By the Blood of the Lamb,” “Alas, Babylon,” “The Millennium,” and “We Shall See His Face.” Again, I would emphasize that Youth begins at 6:00 PM SHARP on Sunday nights, not at 6:15, 6:25, 6:40 or whenever and GRADS start at 8:15 PM. Your help in starting on time is appreciated!

Unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons the Lock-IN was postponed. People were out of town, had conflicts and we called it off when we only had 6 people coming on Wednesday before the Friday. The Lock-IN is a huge activity, needs extra adult supervision and has a higher cost than most local activities. Signing up for events is important to us in planning – so help us out! We are hoping to reschedule in April.

The time is coming for registration for the annual Michigan Church of God State Youth Convention held in Kalamazoo on the weekend of May 15-17, 2015. This year’s speaker is Reverend Doctor Todd Faulkner, campus minister of Anderson University, and the worship leaders are Alanna Story, a new and upcoming Christian band. If you register by March 29th, it’s $120 with a $40 deposit. After that, the costs go to $130 in April & $155 in May. We have a special deal for you this year. If you pay the $40 registration in March, the Mt. Haley Youth Ministry will match your $40 for a total of $80. THEN we will provide fundraisers to work on in April & May to complete the $40 balance. To have the match, you must register in March. Our fundraisers work best in April & May because the weather breaks and we can rake, collect pop cans, sell hanging baskets, our annual garage sale, gift cards etc. SO, plan ahead, save yourself $40 with the match and then earn the rest of the way to a great SYC!

On March 7, if you are a regularly attending High School student, we invite you to our annual MSLI (Michigan Servant Leadership Institute) Tune-UP. This is a one-day event in Battle Creek to challenge you in your walk with God. This year’s theme is “A Reason for God.” We will depart from the church around 8:00 AM to travel to Battle Creek, then the day begins at 11:00 AM with Worship, then a session called “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” After a pizza lunch and some recreation, we go into the second session “The Bible is Not a Myth” followed by a snack, then the session “Why Do I Have to Follow the Rules.” It costs $5 (which Mt. Haley will pay) and wraps up around 4:00 PM. The only money you would need would be for dinner on the way home. It’s a great day, plus lots of fun.

Guatemala was AWESOME! Ask anyone on the mission and they will smile & give you lots of details. Although I spent most of the week sick, God was ever present in our adventures. Everyone had a blessed experience and we were able to truly feel community with the people of the TRACKS. A wall has now been completed preparing for the building of a house, art classes taught, hair cut, lots of clothes, etc. given away and the list goes on with the experiences we had. We were able to visit with my Mom & brother and they are doing well in Guatemala. Exciting experience in worship as several people accepted Christ as their personal Savior. PRAISE GOD! We are already beginning plans for next year which will probably be the first week in February and many other churches and people are interested in being involved. Registration will be in September and the fundraising for next year’s projects begins NOW. Awesome experience for all involved and a wonderful outreach for the church.

As soon as we returned from Guatemala, we immediately went into volunteering with the Housing for the Homeless Coalition up at the Community of Christ Camp in Sanford. What an easy way to spread God’s Kingdom by helping families in need – especially in the cold weather we have had – just by simply helping meet the needs of families who are down on their luck. We encourage others to join us next year in helping out. Also, on Thursday, March 5, from 5:30 -7:30 PM we will be helping to pack diapers for distribution at the Midland County Diaper Alliance. Come join in the fun and make a difference in our community.

The 360 Conference is in April and we hope to have people in attendance. Pastor Jerry will be speaking on “Becoming a Leader” at one of the sessions.

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

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