Rachamim. That’s an ancient Hebrew word pronounced “rah-hah-MEEM.” In the Old Testament, it is often translated to mean love, mercy, or compassion. Rachamim comes from the root word rechem (“reh-HEM”), which refers to a mother’s womb. So this kind of love and mercy is a motherly kind of love, the kind that loves you before you realize it, the kind that loves you even before you are held or seen or named. And this is one of the ways that the Bible describes God’s love for us. Continue reading

Expect to meet with God. Anticipate an audience with the Almighty. Prepare yourself for an encounter with the one who loves you … and who emptied himself so that you might live abundantly.

This Sunday’s theme is “belonging to God’s family.” In Christ, our deepest needs and desires for belonging and acceptance are met!

  • Welcome/Announcements: We review our upcoming schedule and important events.
  • Prayer: We welcome God’s presence in our midst as we begin our worship.
  • “Blessed Be Your Name”: We lift our voices in praise to God – no matter what our present circumstances are.
  • Responsive Reading – Psalm 27: We recite together the ancient words: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”
  • “Whom Shall I Fear?”: We sing, in response to scripture, this affirmation of God’s provision for us – because he loves us as his children.
  • Offering: Out of thankfulness and praise, we give our very selves to the Lord, symbolized by the tithes and offerings we place in the offering plate.
  • “The Family of God”: We continue in a mode of thanksgiving by celebrating the truth that we have been brought into God’s family, through Jesus.
  • Missions Moment: We take a moment to review our involvement in missions activities around the world. God’s family is quite large indeed!
  • “Facing a Task Unfinished”: We unite with thousands of churches around the world who will sing this song this Sunday as well. It’s a song of commitment to the unfinished work of sharing the love of Jesus with everyone around us.
  • Prayer: We lift our praises and concerns to God, who cares for our every need.
  • “Be Still and Know”: We remember, in song, that God’s desire for us is simply to rest, to know that he is God.
  • Special Music: We contemplate the goodness of being in God’s presence while we listen to a special selection presented by one of our members.
  • Scripture Reading – Philippians 3:17-4:1: This passage teaches us to eagerly await our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the eternal life which he promises us.
  • Scripture Reading – Luke 13:31-35: In this sermon text, Jesus compares himself to a mothering hen who only desires to draw her chicks to herself for protection, love, and life. Yet those chicks are unwilling…
  • Message – “Poured Out: Empty Nest”: This second week of Lent has us thinking about how Jesus poured himself out for all people, even though the people around him did not respond favorably to him at the time.
  • “Just As I Am, Without One Plea”: We respond to God by presenting ourselves to him, without apology or modification, so that he might draw us under his sheltering wing and give us life.

Come and worship with us!

Last month, I had the privilege of gathering with about 60 other pastors from Michigan at our annual Pastors’ Institute. At this retreat for ministers in the Church of God, we learn from a guest speaker, we relax and play games together, and we share in times of worship as a community of faith. It is refreshing, in many ways, for pastors like me simply to be part of a worship service in which we have no responsibilities – other than to worship Jesus, which is always the responsibility of all of us. Continue reading

This Sunday is Valentine’s Day. Will our service be all about love? Nope. This is the first Sunday in the season of Lent. We will begin to follow Jesus on his journey to the cross.

The theme this Sunday is “finding our home in God’s presence.” Being rooted in our relationship with God is what helps us make sense of our lives and the world around us. “Home” is a powerful concept, a metaphor for all that is (or should be) right, safe, true, and lasting in our lives. It is in the presence of God that we can find our best and most perfect home. Continue reading

Guatemala! Mt. Haley’s mission to the TRACKS and a week with missionary David Beam has preoccupied my thoughts this month as we have prepared for our March 5th–13th, 2016, mission trip. God blessed us with great prices for our plane tickets; however, we will fly not out of our usual departure cities of Flint or Detroit but from Chicago. God saved us almost $6000 by flying out of O’Hare, but our next challenge is getting to Chicago: 6-7 hours travel time with 16 people and probably 32 pieces of luggage. Now I am patiently awaiting a phone call for a confirmation of travel arrangements that might get us there in a convenient fashion. Praying big time right now. We have five of our team coming from other churches and the rest are somehow related to Mt. Haley. A cool stat this year is that we have 8 team members under 25; Jeremy Hassen is just a little older than that; and the rest of us, well, we won’t go into their ages. Plus Pastor David and myself represent the clergy with plans for David to speak at the Church of the Tracks. We have plans to build two bedrooms and a bathroom for Sonia, the English teacher at the school and a long time friend of the Mt. Haley team. It will be exciting for her and her family, plus the satisfaction we receive in ministering to this community of Guatemala. May All the Glory Be to God!! Continue reading