Unity is easier said than done, especially within a local congregation. Pastor David explains in his sermon on Matthew 18:15-20 that our concern for each other’s spiritual well-being is crucial to our unity as a church.
“You know, it’s like I always said… the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
These were the final words spoken in my favorite television series of all time, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. After seven years of stories, conflicts, battles, and drama, the space station called “Deep Space Nine” comes to a place of peace and stability. The local bartender (a Ferengi named Quark) finds himself tending to his shop there once again as he had done for many years. And as the final episode draws to a close, Quark speaks the above words, which has become a favorite quote of mine over the years.
Life is full of transitions and adjustments. We leave one place or situation in life, and we move on to other challenges. One relationship ends, and another begins. Sometimes, when we’re experiencing many changes, we can feel a little out of sorts – as if the world is somehow unstable or unpredictable. For some people, this kind of unpredictability can be invigorating and exciting. For others (like me), big changes are a bit stressful. Continue reading
Worship means much more than “songs that we sing on Sunday morning.” To me, worship means “giving worth to God as the people of God,” or “showing God how much we love him,” or “celebrating God for his own sake.” And that can take lots of different forms, not just through music.
For a few years now, I have had the privilege and responsibility of planning our Sunday morning worship services at Mt. Haley. Today I would like to draw back the curtain a little bit, so that you can see what goes into these preparations and what I hope we can accomplish as we worship Jesus together. Continue reading
Earlier this month, several of us from Mt. Haley attended the Michigan General Assembly of the Church of God. This annual meeting gives us the opportunity to learn about what is happening in ministries around the state and even around the nation. The main speaker this year was Jim Lyon, the General Director of the Church of God in the US and Canada.
He shared some amazing news with us, and I’d like to share those updates with you, too. Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago, on November 1, I preached on Romans 12:1-2. The sermon, part of our series on evangelism, was a call for us to experience deep transformation in Jesus Christ and then to live into the perfect will of God. The sermon led directly into sharing the Lord’s Supper together, an experience of deep transformation in which we encounter the crucified and living Christ in a mysterious, powerful way.
In the sermon’s conclusion, I spoke these two sentences:
The world’s way of living is to ignore the mercy of God and to live for our own comfort and preservation. When we separate ourselves from those who are not like us, we are simply accommodating to the pattern of the world.
I would like to expand on those thoughts with you now. Especially now, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris. Continue reading
This week, Pastor Jerry shared a message about the Jesus he loves – and the tough questions that we ask about our faith. Listen to his sermon and give God thanks for hearing our prayers!
P.S. Did you know that if everyone who called Mt. Haley their home came on a Sunday morning, we would have 105 people in attendance?
The World Cup is an amazing event, in which representatives from dozens of countries compete in soccer, the world’s most popular sport, in order to earn the title “best in the world.” That recognition will go down in sports history, and the winning team will be on top of the world until the next World Cup is held in four years.
What lessons can we learn from this event? Consider these ideas:
People can unite around common interests. Of course, national pride is tremendously strong at World Cup time. We all hope our home country wins its next match, if not its group and the entire tournament as well. However, I am amazed how so many millions (and billions!) of people around the world can be “tuned in” to this event, either literally or metaphorically. For all their differences, many of the world’s people have something in common: love of football.
- For Christians to consider: Can you imagine what church would be like if we focused on what we have in common, rather than on what divides us? I am thinking about groups of denominations, individual congregations, and even friends and neighbors. What if we were to “tune in” to our common faith in Jesus Christ and work together for the peaceful expansion of the kingdom of God in this world?
People can become excited about meaningful things. A soccer game is ninety minutes long, and some people find that to be far too long to be interesting. But did you see that goal from thirty meters? that beautiful corner kick? that perfect header? that successful penalty kick? When something takes place that impacts the course of the game, people watch closely and become involved.
- For Christians to consider: We believe that Jesus is the most interesting thing in the universe. But somehow our church gatherings tend to become mundane, routine, and just plain boring – for guests, for young people, and sometimes for well-seasoned adults! What makes our gatherings meaningful for you? How can we best communicate that meaning to others? How are we transformed and energized by our regular encounter with God through corporate worship?
Major problems can be swept under the rug. Surely you have heard about the financial cost incurred by Brazil as they prepared to host this year’s World Cup. You probably have heard complaints from Brazilians that so much money is being spent on a one-time event, but so much need exists and persists in local communities near the new stadium venues. Maybe you know about the working conditions of construction, food-service, and hospitality workers in Brazil. But when the game comes on your TV, do you remember the many issues going on behind the scenes?
- For Christians to consider: Churches are notorious for hiding their problems from everyone – visitors and members alike. We smile at each other on Sunday morning, ask “How are you?” expecting a pleasant response, and mask past conflicts and divisions. We talk behind each other’s backs. We question others’ motives. We find fault and spread it privately. But we shake the hands of visitors and invite them to come back; we pretend to be a united congregation; we hope the pastor (or time) will fix the problems. What if we did not hide our faults but accepted our responsibility for their existence? What if we ran toward Christ together instead of away from conflict separately? What if our gatherings were marked by stark honesty before the Lord, true unity through faith in Jesus, and holiness of conversation by the power of the Holy Spirit?
What do you think?
In 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, Paul addresses the first major problem in the Corinthian church: favoritism. Could it be that modern-day churches face the same basic issues as our ancient predecessors? What relevance does this passage have for our church life today? And what does this all have to do with a basketball net? Listen in to Pastor David’s message on this topic: