We are called to bring people into a personal relationship with God through his son, Jesus Christ.
We accomplish this by bringing others into the community of the church through genuine friendship and fellowship. In this loving fellowship we grow in faith through the Word, community, prayer and worship.




You will find the daily Bible readings under the Bible Reading tab.

The annual Thanksgiving  Dinner will be held Nov. 20 right after Church!


The annual hanging of the greens will be held on Nov. 27 after services.


Mary Did You Know


A large turn-out attended the chili tasting party at Barb Bergin's home.  Six chili's were available for tasting and then eating.  Along with a bowl of your favorite chili, salad, rolls, corn bread and desert was also available.  Lynn Balasovic won the grand prize for best chili.
More photos in the photo gallery


"The Way We Walk" an informal bible study that meets in homes over a cup of coffee.    Contact Karen Vance with questions (989-245-6080).





by Pastor Mike

Mercy or Judgment

“So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2.12, 13 NRSV
October 20, 2016
A man visiting a church for the first time approached the pastor after the service. The visitor was not dressed as one going to visit a church might be dressed. His ideas on church and the faith were decidedly non-traditional, even confrontational. And he was not the least bit inhibited about sharing them with the pastor that morning.

     “So,” he said folding his arms. “What do you think about my soul's chances in your heaven?”

     “Do I look like your judge?” the pastor responded.

     Surprised and satisfied with the answer, the man became a regular fixture at church events. Over time he became a believing member of that parish.

     There is one line from James that should say it all to us, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Works for me!
Prayer: Lord, help me tend to my own shortcomings and let You deal with other folks.
Today May Be Hard
“I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I will do, and I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42.16 NRSV

 October 19, 2016
Today will be a “grind” day for many of us. We have a job to do, a goal to meet and it is time to finish strong.

       Mine is a usually fun project and there may be a smile or two along the way. But the work simply has to be done and I am the one tasked with it.
My back will ache, my eyes will grow tired and various little hurts will surface and tempt me with putting it off. The flaw with that is that the time has come. Period.  

Compared with the illustrations I’m about to share, any complaining on my part would be an embarrassment. Sigh, so I will grumble with only Trooper to hear. And, of course, to him it will sound like blah, blah food? Blah, blah, outside?

God could have spared Joseph from his brothers and their jealousy, but did not. God could have spared Paul and Silas the pain of prison, but did not.

God never promised to keep us from the hard places.  God simply promised to walk through the hard places with us to the other side. 
Prayer: Today will be hard for some of us, Lord.  Thanks for coming with us.  
Sometimes Conflicted
Do not love the world or the things in the world.” 1 John 2.15a NRSV
October 18, 2016

 Many of us in the church seem to live conflicted. We want Christ, but don’t want Him too close... He might see us as we really are.

We pray “Thy will be done” but are not always comfortable when His will conflicts with our plans.

We want to be good and righteous, but not so much that the process makes us unpopular. We want to be loved and respected by the church and the world.

Remember, straddling the fence makes us popular with neither side, and suffer from an acute case of spiritual hemorrhoids. Hey, I’m just the messenger.  
Prayer: Lord, OK, we need some guidance here.

When “Yes” Is Not Enough

 “But if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you are able! All things can be done for the one who believes.”   Mark 9.22, 23 NRSV

 October 17, 2016

 The story I am about to share with you will sound odd, if not downright weird. It happened some years ago.

         A friend asked if he could borrow a rather pricey piece of equipment for a day. Without hesitation, I said, “Yes”.

          “I would take good care it,” he continued.

          “No problem.” I said.

          “It really is asking you a lot.”

          “Really, not a problem,” I said.

          “You know what? Just forget about it. Sorry I asked,” and he walked away, leaving behind the very thing he needed to finish his task.

How many times has God had something wonderful in mind for us, perhaps even spectacular, and we simply talked ourselves out of receiving His blessing? Just wondering.  

         Prayer: Lord, help us receive all the good You have for us, especially that which you have already prepared.

You Mean the Poor Are Still With Us?

Then shall they also answer, saying, ‘Lord, when saw we you hungry, or with thirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?’ Then shall he answer them, saying, truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of these least, you did it not to me.’” Matthew 25.44, 45

October 13, 2016
       About two weeks ago, the clergy and the churches in our community continued a missional tradition. We hosted a meal called Eat-4-Heat. It’s purpose was to raise funds to help those in need pay the rising heating bills in the coming cold of another northern Michigan winter.
       Merchants, churches and individuals came together, gave and worked hard and made it a success. 
       This meal began as the brainchild of our late comrade, Pastor Bob Moody, and the ministers of the area many years ago.
After the first such meal, the pastors and a group of lay people met to determine when to have another similar event and how to best continue helping folks in need.
       One person, and sorry to note it was a pastor, was surprised we wanted to do more.
“What?” he said. “You mean this one time didn’t solve the problem?”  No, he wasn’t kidding. It soon became apparent he would have nothing more to do with our efforts. 
I thought of this shortsighted and uncharitable statement when I ran across this poem by Ogden Nash. Apparently my errant brother was in good company.  

“They take the paper and they read the headlines,
So they’ve heard of unemployment and they’ve heard of breadlines,
And they philanthropically cure them all,
By getting up a costume charity ball.”

No, we won’t cure poverty or end hunger. It’s our place to do what we can. And, somewhere along the way, we will meet my Lord. 
Prayer: Lord, just wondering if You were at the supper. I thought so!

The Blank Page
The way of the sluggard is as an hedge of thorns: but the path of the upright is made an highway.” Proverbs 15.19 RSV
October 12, 2016
Many writers, some far better than I, comment that sometimes what they fear the most is a blank page or, today, an empty screen.
Personally, I embrace starting from scratch. The blank page, the new parish and the possibilities of a new week are not to be feared because they are full of promise.
Why should this week be like another? It doesn’t have to be if I have the courage to step in a new direction. Perhaps this was planted in me in fourth grade by one of my favorite poets. I can still hear my teacher reading the last part of that famous poem by Robert Frost:  
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Whatever path we are traveling comes regularly with a divergence, a chance to change direction and start again. If you want something more and you do not see any divergence coming your way, consider the words of an old missionary doctor. He was asked by someone considering coming to work with him if there were good roads where he was working, and he said, “I only want those willing to make their own roads.”
Now that’s a road less traveled!
Prayer: Lord, give us courage for change, for it is often the most difficult thing we do. 

But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things.’” Luke 10.41 NRSV
October 11, 2016
Years ago, when people still used them, Megan Hunsaker opened her new phone book in Anchorage, Alaska to check out the emergency numbers page. In order, the categories were: 1. Pizza, 2. Take-Out Restaurants, 3. Taxi Service and then 4. Poison Control and 5. Doctors.
How much of our energy is caught up in the minor irritations of life, lived out as if they were genuine emergencies? I chose this from my personal file:
“I had to drive around the block half a dozen times to find a parking place and then this jerk pulled in front of me!"
“I had to sit in the waiting room for an hour!”
“The copier keeps jamming and always when I'am running late!”
Do you think these seem so monumental because, for most of us, the average day is just plain fine?  Just asking.
Prayer: Lord, I think I need to work on the “thank you” page of my life more than the “emergencypage.

Why Birch Beer?

 “And they were filled with fear, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.’” Luke 5.26

 October 10, 2016

 I think it was six or so years ago I happened upon a beverage called “Birch Beer.” It was a soft drink made with natural birch oils. Sounded weird, but what the heck. I’m always up for a new soft drink. OK, I used to be, not so much anymore as middle age (hush!) requires rethinking anything with sugar or hot spices.  

I found it a tasty first cousin to root beer.     

       Who was that first person who thought to distill the “pure birch oils” and then considered adding the other ingredients and why? And then, through trial and error (error meaning some nasty concoctions), how did this person come up with a delicious beverage? And did this first person ultimately survive this experiment, or did this person, along the way, discover birch poison first and someone else had to carry on?  Just wondering.

       There are some pretty weird ideas out there. And maybe you have one we can use.

Prayer: Lord, let me never be afraid to try something that no one else has tried before.

Joy Comes in Difficulties

 “Friends, when you face trials of any kind, consider those trials as an opportunity for joy…” James 1.2 NRSV  
October 6, 2016
“…Sometimes, knee-deep in debris of the process, rising costs or misunderstandings, we look around and wonder, “Why did I start this?”
       In the moment, seeing only what is immediate, we are discouraged. But when we look ahead and remember the prize we were seeking, we will take heart. We will see the end product and press on.
       You and I are projects that God has had in the works for many years. God’s tools are not bricks or paintbrushes or nails. God’s tools are testing and trials.
       God has taken specific aim at our character and our very soul. He is changing us. He is making us better. One trial, one difficult day and person at a time.”
       Have faith. It all comes right.

Prayer: Lord, I really do know that what You are doing is for my ultimate good, so please ignore my complaints today…and those last week, too. Amen.

Not Lost to Me

But may your friends be like the sun as it rises in its might.” NRSV Judges 5.31b

October 5, 2016

In moments that are bleak and hard, the laughter and conversation with a friend heals me a little and lifts the weight off my shoulders, if only for a moment.  And in that moment of rest, I became strong enough for the day.  

I’ve had many friends in my life. How grand would it be to have them close! To be bounded on either side by those I call “friend”.  To take in the sight of their homes framed on the green hills across the lake or on my road

         The reality of time and geography precludes this.  But I’ve learned something about genuine friends:  It is not required they live on my block and they needn’t e-mail each day to prove their love for me or my love for them. 

And if they have gone before me, they have so marked me I no longer think they are lost to me. I still hear their laughter, see their smile and remember their love for me and my love for them.                     

Prayer:  Lord, may all who read this have friends and cherish them. 
The Best Teachers
“If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.” James 1.5 NRSV  

October 4, 2017

     Recently, I was considering the many schoolteachers I had over the years. The most disturbing realization was that those teachers, who seemed so old to me at the time, were younger than I am now. Yikes!

The best teachers I had steadily gave me fewer and fewer answers and worked at teaching me how to think and how to find the answers for myself. The best teachers desired that I would have the wonder of discovery.

     Now consider what happens when we ask God very specific questions. Most of the time, at least for me, I don’t get detailed answers. I puzzled over this on and off for some time until I discovered the answer. In the book of scriptures we call the Book of James, the author tells me if I ask, God gives wisdom, not necessarily specific answers.

God is working with us and facilitating our growth into maturity. In point-of-fact, I still wish I would get the answer as soon as I ask the question, but God has another goal in mind for you and me.

 Prayer: Lord, grant me wisdom today, for I have decisions to make. 
A Different Peace
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” John 14.27
October 3, 2010
       We do what we can to have peace of mind. We buy insurance for our home, car and our health. We put stout locks on our doors. We put away money for retirement and we install motion lights and smoke detectors. We do the common sense things of living in a busted-up world.
       At committee meetings, at worship and when people come and break bread with us, I often pray “And let Your peace rest in each home represented here.”
I wonder if those listening understand that God’s peace, that which I am praying they receive, does not always mean the absence of conflict. Often God’s peace is best experienced in the midst of turmoil and struggle.
Sometimes God will deny us the peace we think we want to lead us to achievement and even glory.
Prayer: Lord, the only real peace in this world is a life lived for You. 

Looking Up
 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2.2.24 NRSV

September 29, 2016
As you might remember, I recently commented on hearing the unexpected words that my TV satellite is falling from the sky. Now last week I read that the crew of China’s space station left it unattended and came home.  That was because it’s falling from the sky and due to crash next year.
It’s not enough that we have to deal with texting drivers, burning smart phones and constant car and food recalls, but now we have to keep one eye toward the sky for falling debris? As Charlie Brown would say, good grief!
There is a natural law for our pretty blue marble circling our yellow sun, and that is gravity wins. Always. It may take a time long, long time, but gravity wins.
There are some things that are certain. If we borrow money, no matter how good the product is, no matter how great a rate we get, there will be a moment when the bill comes due.
For my sins and yours, that moment came two thousand year ago. And Someone else stepped in and made the full and final payment. And so, when we look up, it is not out of the fear of things falling, but in expectation of His coming.
Prayer: Lord, may my gratitude for Your love and mercy never end.

You Want Me to Do What?

“He saw that a resting place was good, and that the land was pleasant; so he bowed his shoulder to the burden, and became a slave at forced labor.” Genesis 49.15 NRSV
 September 28, 2016
 Long ago, I served a good church in the semi-mythical land of Southern Illinois (Yes, the locals capitalize the word Southern). The church was growing in numbers and the generosity of the congregation was rising. There was excitement among the people as new ministries were springing up without my having to even suggest them, much less “push” them upon the people.
The best ministries effervesce up from the congregation and are not pressed down on them from “above”.
I note all this in preparation for what came next.
At a social function one evening, a fellow took me aside to share his good pleasure with the direction the church was headed. He added that the congregation seemed pleased with my leadership.
Are you waiting for the other shoe to drop? Smart. Then he said, “Now, pastor, there are some more things we would like you to do.” And so he began to share a list some of new ideas. Sigh.
The ideas were good ones and I could see their merit.
There is always more to do, ministries to start and projects to begin.  And, if we let them, people will fill our days and lives with good ideas until we crash and burn.
Note: I once had a dear lady tell me of an idea she had for ministry and then she said, “I’ve done my part, I’ve told you. It’s up to you now.” And she turned to walk away seemingly satisfied that she had done her Christian duty. I gave her the same answer I gave him. I said no.
“No” is often the right answer, no matter how unspiritual it seems.
Prayer: Lord, good to know You have the right answer for me.

Not Where I Want to Go
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.” Psalm 71.20a NRSV
September 27, 2016
       One of the great questions we must deal with in our relationship with an untamed God is whether God is there to catch us as we fall or push us. Is it not both?
       This is the One Who, after ninety-nine percent of His sheep are safe, leaves them to find the one. And this is also the One Who said, “Do you think I am bringing peace as you understand it into your life? Think again! I bring strife and civil war!”
Sometimes, God leads us into trouble. Why? I cannot answer that question for everyone. I have come to know that I learn some things only by going through difficult circumstances and testing. Testing is the forge that tempers me and strengthens me. I often wish it were otherwise, but it is not. 
Take a good look through the rearview mirror of your life. Where have you truly learned and grown strong? Is it not the same with you?
Have faith. It all comes right.
Prayer: Lord, when I have to go through these times, thank You for going through them with me.

I Found It Easier
Wait on the LORD. Be strong, and let your  heart take courage. Yes, wait on the Lord.  Psalms 27.14
September 26th, 2016
For many years, I found it easier to rely on a non-productive pattern of doing things.
I found it easier to do a thing poorly than ask for help. Asking meant I would have to learn a new way and that required change.
         I found it easier to move rather than be still. Motion feels right. Motion says at least I’m doing something. But oft times, it was a mirage, and all I did was burn energy and waste time.
         I found it easier to talk rather than listen. That way, I could show others what I knew instead of learning something.
         I found it easier to remain self-reliant rather than God-dependent. God might have had a whole different plan and I was content with mine.
         But when I became a man, I put aside childish things. Well, mostly.
Prayer: Lord, waiting on You is worth the time.

This Morning
 In the morning sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hands be idle; for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.”  Ecclesiastes 11.6 NRSV
 September 22 th, 2016
We rose this morning just as we have countless mornings in the past.
       We washed the sleep from our eyes, looked out the window and maybe we checked the weather on TV to determine our wardrobe.
       It seemed like other mornings we have known, but it wasn’t.
       We have never journeyed through September 22, 2016 before. It is new and full of possibilities for wonder and kindness.
       Let us ask for eyes to see and ears to hear and the capacity to rejoice in all the possibilities of today.
Prayer: Lord, looking forward to what You have today!

Myth Three
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18.3 NRSV
 September 21th, 2016
Years ago, a magazine asked me to write an article they called, “The Five Myths of the Modern Church”.  Sounded fun! Well, that and the nice check, so I took the assignment.
Here is a selection from Myth Three:
       “Churches sincerely believe they want to grow and will say they are open to new directions…the truth is that many churches want to achieve growth with little pain, little effort and no substantial change. And by growth, they mean, ‘Let there be more people just like us.’” And any new person will need to come with the good sense to find his or her own pew and parking spot.
       This is not so much new growth, but cloning.  Genuine grow requires change and that means change for all of us. Yikes! Perhaps that is why there is so little of it out there.
Prayer: Lord, if you are leading us into a new way, help us get over the shock.
The Wonder of a Nickel

A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny.” Mark 12.42 NRSV

September 20th, 2016
       As a ten-year-old, I began a lifelong hobby of collecting old coins. I am not a committed numismatist. I don’t buy rare coins and I do not sell or trade them. I am not concerned that I have the ones in the best condition; I just like to find old coins.
       Recently, I realized that I hadn’t found a truly old coin in a very long time. The minor treasure hunts with which I had indulged myself over the decades had come to an end. And yes, there is something enjoyable about finding a nickel in the change that is really worth a dollar!
       As I was getting out of my truck last week, I saw a nickel left in the coin tray. It looked a little worn. A closer examination revealed that it was seventy years old. The old sensation of finding a hidden treasure, no matter how small, made me smile.
As I thought about it, I was reminded that not only are there coins to be found, but there are new friends to be made, delicious recipes to be tasted for the first time and a whole lot of world to explore.
The wonder awaits, good hunting!
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the adventure that is our life.

In the Stars?

“Prepare your work outside, get everything ready for you in the field; and after that build your house.” Proverbs 24.27 NRSV

September 14, 2016

In the cartoon Frank and Ernest, Frank says to Ernest, “Do you believe in fate?”

“Sure. I would hate to think I turned out this way because of something I had some control over!”

A very fine Christian college in California invited me to come and lead a workshop on how to be published in the Christian market. They wrote me that they would publicize the event, “…through our usual channels.”

Still, I followed my usual pattern of doing my own publicity campaign. I contacted the area radio station with a press release. I sent that press release to the newspapers in the surrounding communities. Then I did a computer search of the area churches and sent the information their way.

The room was almost full the day of the workshop. At the end, I handed out a very short questionnaire asking where the participants had heard about the workshop. Slightly over half said they received the information from my efforts and not the honest efforts of the college.

It is not fate, the stars, or someone else who is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of what we do. If I had assumed someone else would do the work, without doing everything I knew to do, I would have reduced the number of those who come to my workshop. And probably complained about the whole thing for months!

Prayer: Lord, help me do the best I can for myself and for the others I meet along the way.

The Selfish Do Not Inherit the World
 “Let whoever is of a generous heart bring the Lord's offering.” Exodus 35.5 NRSV

September 13th, 2016

I’ve known some stingy people in the church, people who submit to an apprehension of the future rather than trusting the One Who holds the future in His hands. But mostly, I’ve found generous folks in the church.

       So if our “General Fund” consistently runs behind our budget needs, I assume that those in leadership and myself have failed to cast a great enough vision to inspire the imagination and generosity of the people.  We have thought pettily and asked for pennies when it is a community and a world we wish to turn right side up.

       When the need is openly and boldly laid before them, people will respond. Not all of them, of course. There will always be those who are so fearful of making a mistake that they make the greatest of mistakes by doing nothing.

Know that when the vision calls for a great people, they’re already here.  And if we meet giants, look around! For standing near us is a youngster with a sling, putting five smooth stones in a pocket, who stands ready to rock our world!

Prayer: Lord, help us to dream Your great adventure.

After Baking

 “For we know that all things work together for good to those who love God…”Romans 8.28a NRSV

 September 12, 2016

I am fond of cake. Really, really fond of cake.  Interestingly enough, the taste of baking soda does nothing for me and yet baking soda is an essential ingredient in that wonderful dessert. Once mixed with the other ingredients and then placed into the fire of the oven, baking soda becomes part of a delicious whole.

       As a writer, I’ve experienced many rejections of my manuscripts.

Each rejection steeled my determination to win through.

Each rejection sent me back to my manuscript to mend the flaws.

Each rejection was distasteful, but the whole process, of which rejection was a part, made me a better writer.

       For all of us, there are unpleasant and difficult things in life. By themselves, these difficulties seem to have no virtue or redeeming qualities. But mix them all together and turn up the heat, we discover that the outcome is that our life is more meaningful and our character is richer than it would be if those experiences were denied us.

Prayer: Lord, remind me that I cannot know the value of an experience until I have lived it and come through to the other side.

The Color of My New Car
 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?" Matthew 7.16NRSV

 September 7, 2016
After nine years and a quarter of a million miles, it was time to let go of my car.  So began a long search based on several criteria. Among the criteria, I wanted a car with some color.  There is a brown, slightly tinged with gold that I thought was great. But if I could not get that color, blue, green or red, I just wanted a car with color.

       I bought a black car.  I don’t dislike black cars, I just wanted some color. So why did I buy a black car?  It was a good deal on a great vehicle.  That trumped my taste in color. 

       The color of a car doesn’t help the mileage, keep the engine running for years or make the interior comfortable in all weather. The color is how the car looks, not how the car performs.

       And yet we vote for people who look like us, we hire folks because they look the part and judge a book by its cover.  Still working on it, aren’t we?

 rayer: Lord, help me see past the outward and learn the heart of a person.

The Universe Demands It
“In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth.”  Genesis 1.1 NRSV
September 6, 2016
“The universe demands it!” said the character Richard Castle in one of our favorite TV shows. Why yes, they did cancel it as they often do to our favorites, but I guess it was time.  Bad story arc the last year.
More and more, I hear people talking about the universe as if it were a living being, somehow directing our lives.  Perhaps they use that word as a replacement for the now archaic term Providence, itself a reference toward fate and the like.
Is this a way of not offending any particular religion? Possibly. I think that the universe is a cool place, full of wonder and the unknown. I’m a huge fan of space exploration and speculative fiction has always been a favorite.
But the universe is an uncaring and unloving mechanism, with neither a plan nor a thought toward us. In this regard, the universe is a cold, dark place.  At the risk of being narrow-minded and not politically correct, I will stick with referencing God, the loving Father, as the architect of all that is and the One Who has a plan for me.
Prayer: Lord, early I will call unto thee.

Not Feeling It

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want, like an armed warrior.” Proverbs 24.33,34 NRSV
September 1, 2016

On more than one occasion, I really had to push myself to go to the church on workdays or in the evening for a meeting. I've gone feeling less than a hundred percent or in pain from a transient injury. But I went. I went for two important reasons:

One: My people were going to be there working. People need to see their pastor or boss or supervisor working with them from time to time. It reminds the people that they are doing something important, important enough that the one in leadership thinks it worth her or his time and energy.  

Two: One of the great principles of life I’ve learned along the way is that people who really don't feel like it and would rather be someplace else will achieve much of what is accomplished on any given day.

Once I was there, the fellowship and working side by side with the people was a blessing. That blessing came from faithfulness, not strength or ability. There is faithfulness or something less.

 Prayer: Lord, I’m going to be faithful and “show up” today. I’ll trust You to take care of the rest.