THE FRIENDLY WHITE CHURCH ON THE HILL



CHURCH MISSION STATEMENT

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.




SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

Progressive dinner- if you re interested in hosting a course or cooking..appetizer/dinner/dessert-contact Lynn B.

A sleigh ride and dinner at Thunder Bay is being considered for March 12, 19, 26. Contact Lynn B. if you are interested and give your date preference.





WEEKLY BIBLE READINGS

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





ELIZABETH BENSON

Elizabeth has been a rock in the  foundation of this Church for many years. She has served as Church Treasurer for many, many years.  She also served the Topinabee Community for several years as the township librarian and township clerk.
Elizabeth was recognized at the Church service and afterword's with a cake and a gift.  Thanks for all your service, Elizabeth. She will continue handing out programs at Church.












HANGING OF THE GREENS


Andrew setting up the Nativity


Paul decorates the tree
THANKSGIVING FEAST
THE FOOD IS READY
THE DESSERT IS REALLY READY!

40 PEOPLE ENJOYED THE FEAST

SERMONS

(WAIT FOR IT TO LOAD-CHECK THE SERMONS TAB FOR MORE SERMONS)
More sermons on the sermon tab









MUSIC

CHECK THE MUSIC TAB FOR CHOIR PERFORMANCES









THIS WEEKS DEVOTIONS
by Pastor Mike


The Polar Whip
 
“I know your works; you have a name of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up.” Revelation 3.1,2a NRSV
 
January 16th, 2017
 
In Energy, Illinois resides one of my favorite “greasy spoons” and I say that with great affection.  It’s called The Polar Whip.  The last time I was there, prices were great and I enjoyed the food.  Some folks swear by White Castle, I prefer the Whip. And let me give a big shout out to Danny Ward for taking me there the first time.
“Polar” conjures up images of cold and white, so with a name like “Polar Whip” you would expect ice cream.  But despite their name, ice cream was not on their menu. I was told it once went by the name Whimpy’s. At that time it served no burgers but did have ice cream. I don’t understand it either. Of course, if you never followed the Popeye cartoons, none of this makes sense.
Our churches have all kinds of names.  Some are named Friendship, Fellowship, Harmony, and I’ve seen churches called Love Church, Temple of Joy and on and on. I respected pastor once told me that if the church has one of those  names, they rarely have the attribute. My limited experience confirms his thinking.
All churches have the same implied name – the house where Jesus is.  Do we live our lives anywhere close to that name? Just wondering.  It’s kind of important.
By the way, I prefer the Whip’s BBQs and onion rings.  They’re tasty and very, very reasonable.
 
Prayer: Lord, Help us live up to our names.


The Missing Jet Pack
“And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.” Romans 5.2-5b NRSV
January 12, 2017
       The Jet Pack is the device Kathy and I use that connects us to the Internet. Its advantage is that it’s smaller than a cell phone and can be taken anywhere. The disadvantage is that it can be taken anywhere and lost.
       I misplaced our Jet Pack sometime last weekend and didn’t find it until yesterday. We were able to narrow our search to our home because we were still on line for a day after it was lost and its range isn’t very far.
There were only a few places I ever put it. The official designated spot was on the bookshelf. All books were moved and I checked between and behind them. No.
Often I tuck it into one of my pocket for convenience. Nope. I even checked coats I have not worn this winter just to be sure and don’t tell me you haven’t been that anxious to find a missing cell phone or your car keys.
There was also the shoulder bag that I carry to the office or travel. Zero success.
The other places I looked were under the cushions on chairs as I often work in a more comfortable position. I found a penny, a dog treat and a dark chocolate still safely in its wrapper…yum! No Jet Pack.
So Tuesday I was planning on calling our Internet company and buying a new one. One last time I surveyed the living room. It simply had to be there.
I walked over to the recliner, nicknamed “The Lost Afternoon” and decided to check it again. This has the kind of cushion that doesn’t come out but is sturdily attached to the chair. I felt some discomfort as the cushion was not designed to move that much and my hand is not the size for delicate work, but after failing for so long, I was in no mood to be gentle. As I applied more force, my hand popped around the metal frame and went deeper and deeper and… well, you can guess.
The moral of my tiny tale is obvious. Sometimes the answer only comes when we push harder than we are comfortable pushing and only when we refuse to quit.
I think I broke a nail.
Prayer: Lord, help me never tire of trying to do what needs to be done.

After 2016
“But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’" Luke 10.41,42  NRSV
January 11, 2017
Well, 2016 came and went. Good times and hard times. But it still left me without my personal jetpack that was supposed to free me from traffic jams!
I still don’t know who let the dogs out.
I still do not know if Pluto is a moon, a planet or a dwarf planet.
And we’re still not a paperless society. Even electronic book sales are down while paper book sales are up. (OK, I was cheering for that one!)
So much left undone.
Got me to thinking about all the things I had hoped to do, but never quite finished.
Now this is the place in the devotion I had planned to tell you and myself that if we haven’t done it yet, maybe we should let it go and look for something new. But I changed my mind. I like what I’d planned. However, I let the urgent things of the moment crowd out the important dreams I have.
So, time to suck it up and prioritize my days' time to fit my dreams. This is the year! Dream on!
Prayer: Lord give us the wisdom to discern what is urgent, but not serious and what is important for our lives.
After the Ball Drops

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”  2 Corinthians 5.17 NRSV

January 5, 2017

We often celebrate the passing of the old year and the coming of the new with parties and friends. And that party often ends watching the dropping of the giant ball in Times Square.
For some of us this year, it was less a celebration and more of a relief. We were just glad that 2016 was over and looked to the future with a cautious hope for something better. 
I rarely stay up to watch the ball fall, usually being ready for bed a good hour or more before that moment. But I remember a year I made sure to watch that brightly lit ball fall.  Why the change? It had been the hardest year of my life to that point. 
Two of my close pastor friends passed away that year. One was a semester away from seminary graduation and passed away on Christmas. My other friend left behind three young sons. Too soon for them both, too soon! Add to that a church divided against itself and a half dozen other things I will not weary you with and I was ready to see that year gone.
I watched the ball fall and heard the shouts and the cheering. I walked onto the porch and looked to see if I could see the remains of that pitiful excuse for a year fading.  Then I said out loud, so I could hear the truth of what I was thinking, “You’re gone, but I’m still standing.”
I don’t know how 2016 went for you my friends, but I this is a new year. You and I have not yet made our mark upon it. Will we mark it with love, kindness and working to make things better? The ball has dropped and now, to use a sports metaphor, it’s in our court.
We’re still standing so let’s score big!


The Possibility of Failure

“The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.” Psalm 145.14
January 4, 2017

There is a quote that goes something like this: “What would you attempt if you knew that you could not fail?” I’ve been considering this quote as I prayerfully look into the possibilities of 2017 and how to accomplish my goals.
As the referees now say in football after a play has been challenged, “After further review,” I believe we often need the possibility of failure to do anything worthwhile.
Overconfidence has ruined many a plan and sometimes only the possibility of failure keeps us playing our “A” game, or at least our “B” game. Where is the thrill in playing a game, proposing a new way to do a thing or starting a business or a church from scratch if we know that we’ve already succeeded?
Life is best lived as an adventure and there is no adventure if we know what lies ahead all the time.
So look out 2017, we’re coming, but we’re just not sure how it will all come out! (Insert goose bumps here.)
God Find Us
“…Of making many books there is no end.” Ecclesiastes 12.12 NRSV
January 3, 2017
     Reading is crucial to what I do as a pastor and as a writer. Several years ago, I decided to read some of the books that others raved about, but that I hadn't read yet.  Among those books was Miracles by C.S. Lewis. It was written before I was born, and yet the following sounds as if he were talking to me and my friends just yesterday:
     “...An ‘impersonal God’ - well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads - better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power we can tap - best of all.
But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, hunter, king, husband - that is quite another matter... Supposing we really found Him? We never meant to come to that! Worse still, supposing He has found us?”
Prayer: Whether we seek You or not, there comes a moment, or perhaps several moments in our life that You find us.

After Christmas


So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6.9



December 22, 2016



After the celebration of Christmas, I will do what I’ve done in the past. I will consider the past year, what went well and what failed to live up to expectations.



After a season of prayer, conversations with my wife and others I trust and respect, I will set a course for the coming year.



If I’m smart, I will do so without hesitancy, denying myself the comfort of, “Well if I don’t like how it is going, I’ll just quit.”

Committed to this, I have experienced something many of you have. Once we began, a stream of events, opportunities and people wanting to help flowed our way. People we didn’t know and resources we never knew existed availed themselves to us. It was and is an amazing truth of motion and vision.

There are many who will tell us that we cannot do a thing, but let us hold only to the one or two who might say, “Of course! Why not? How hard can it be!”

Pray for me and I will pray for you. 

Prayer: Lord, speak to us, lead us and we shall rejoice as we soar!




Lesson Learned




Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth.” 1 Samuel 2.3 NRSV




December 21, 2016


       It should have been a humorous picture. An over six foot, two-hundred-pounds-plus (Hush!) man face to face with a little three foot tall, forty pounds of five-year-old girl.
       We stood looking at each other in the line, her glare making her pretty face look ugly. Her arms were folded in front of her, as if daring me to get past her.
When I entered the bank and got into line, the child was with her mother several yards away at one of the tables doing some paperwork. Upon seeing me enter, the mother grabbed the little girl and hissed something into her ear. In a flash, the little girl stepped in front of me in the line. Several minutes later, the mother finished what she was doing and took her daughter's place  in front of me.
       Minutes later, as this family was leaving, the mother was snapped at the daughter, “You better start minding your manners, young lady!”
       She did not need to worry. Her daughter had already absorbed yet another lesson in manners. Again and again, our actions are so loud that they drown out our words.
Prayer: Lord, sometimes what I’m doing makes it hard for people to hear what I’m saying.


Lesson Learned
Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth.” 1 Samuel 2.3 NRSV
December 21, 2016
       It should have been a humorous picture. An over six foot, two-hundred-pounds-plus (Hush!) man face to face with a little three foot tall, forty pounds of five-year-old girl.
       We stood looking at each other in the line, her glare making her pretty face look ugly. Her arms were folded in front of her, as if daring me to get past her.
When I entered the bank and got into line, the child was with her mother several yards away at one of the tables doing some paperwork. Upon seeing me enter, the mother grabbed the little girl and hissed something into her ear. In a flash, the little girl stepped in front of me in the line. Several minutes later, the mother finished what she was doing and took her daughter's place  in front of me.
       Minutes later, as this family was leaving, the mother was snapped at the daughter, “You better start minding your manners, young lady!”
       She did not need to worry. Her daughter had already absorbed yet another lesson in manners. Again and again, our actions are so loud that they drown out our words.
Prayer: Lord, sometimes what I’m doing makes it hard for people to hear what I’m saying.

What I Really Need

 “And the LORD saw that the wickedness of the people was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.” Genesis 6.5 MPV




 December 20, 2016





 The book reviewer wrote of a particular novel in which “… the author graphically described the sordid underbelly of life…” and then applauded the writer’s courage.   





       Courage? In this day and age, what courage does it really take to write about filth? Do I really need yet another book that chronicles the vileness of some people? Do I need someone to “courageously” tell me of the baseness of our lives?

No, I get all of that watching the evening news or listening to people as they come into my office and open up about the darkness in their lives.  

       What I need is someone who will lift me up. I need someone to show me a better way. I need someone who will, because I am a sinner, show me the way out.  

No, I don’t need another writer or movie maker to tell me how corrupt we can be. I need a Savior to set me free.  

Thank God He came at Christmas time.

 Prayer: Lord, thank You for being the One Who sets us free.




I Heard the Bells
 “Draw near, O nations, to hear… let the earth hear.” Isaiah 34.1a NRSV  




 “I heard the bells on Christmas Day, their old familiar carols play…”





 December 19, 2016            





       I remember the sound of the bells echoing through the town. As I left my office for lunch, the bells of the Baptist church were ringing. After walking a block, the bells of the Catholic church began, toned slightly higher, and then the bells merged into a single beautiful sound.

I’ve always loved the sound of church bells, as much for the statement they make as the music.  They declare there are churches in the neighborhood. In a day when all symbols of the faith that built this nation are banned or being banned from the public arena, church bells say we’re still here and will remain.

          Church bells are not found in the Bible. That’s OK, neither is electricity, pianos or soft, comfortable pews and I’m not letting go of them either. Bells are simply a tradition.

          Bells are a statement to the people within the sound of their ringing that, “Here is a church. We are not a social agency even though we are here to help. We are not a business. We are the church. Come, for we are not like anything else in your life.”

 Prayer: Lord, help Your church live up to the promise of the bells.



Only You, Only Me

“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20.23 NRSV





December 15, 2016





 Forgiveness is an odd thing, isn’t it? Those of us who claim the name of Christ understand it is to be part of the life we live. At the same time, we know how hard it can be. And for many of us, it doesn’t really get that much easier over time, not for the big hurts.



Forgiveness is a singular act; something only you or I can do in our lives. No one can forgive someone for you or me.

         Someone else can take our place at a food pantry, feeding those in need. Others can give blood.

         But only we can forgive the one who has offended us and make things right between us again. 

 Prayer: Lord, help me forgive as You forgive.




The Value of Our Toys


For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?” Matthew 16.26 NRSV


December 14, 2016


       I was having lunch that Christmas season in a small restaurant with tables too close together. It was so tight I could hear the two ladies next to me whisper. But they were not whispering, but carrying on as if they thought the whole restaurant wanted to know what they were having to eat and what their lives were turning into.

They began by comparing their latest snowmobiles.  Then they turned to their new cars with the lady nearest me noting she 

overpaid for the new car, but didn’t care as long is she got the one she wanted. Then her eating companion regaled us with the square footage of her new house.  

In the middle of this cataloguing, she stopped talking about her new house and blurted out, “I saw my son yesterday.  He drove past me at a stop light.”

       “Did he see you?” her friend asked.

       “No.  But if he ever looks my way, I’ll wave.  I guess it won’t help.”

       I heard the hurt in her voice.  She had talked as if she had everything, but it was clear she had clearly lost that which was truly important to her.  The conversation after that was softer, sadder, no more mention of their toys.


Prayer: Lord, teach me to measure my life in the good I do and the love I share.
One of Those Days
So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6.9 NRSV
December 7, 2016

 I’m having one of those days. So far, it has been three of those days right in a row. You know, the days when you are too under the weather (where did that phrase come from?) to enjoy much of anything, but not sick enough to excuse yourself from your responsibilities.




       Yesterday my thinking was so fuzzy, yes more than usual, that the creative part of my mind refused to get past first gear enough to create a new devotion. So I rewrote one of my favorites and sent it your way.





       Today is no better, but in the past half an hour I have fortified myself with chocolate and coffee and can now see out of both eyes and remember how to spell every other word. God bless spell check and Sean, my editor.





       There are three choices on a day like today: Give up, give in or give it the best you can. I chose number three.  Come to think of it, those are the three choices we have on most everything.
Prayer: Lord, stick with me today. I have to climb up thirteen steps when I finish typing.

The Miracle of Grace
 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2.8 NRSV

 December 6, 2016

 When asked to define a miracle, a Junior High student said, “A miracle is when something really good happens to you with no strings attached.” Works for me.

This is also an excellent definition of the miracle we call grace.  No strings. But you and I have met those who want to be sure that the recipient is suitable to receive grace.  For some it’s hairstyles or dress codes.  For others it is adherence to special doctrines or abstaining from certain social behaviors and lifestyles.

A friend and colleague of mine once wrote me about this very subject, and sadly noted that too many in church “…believe they can measure out grace like cups of sugar.”

We cannot measure out grace in safe and careful portions.  Grace pours over the edges of anything that tries to halt or even slow its progress. It floods and soaks all who come into contact with it. Grace stains all those it touches with the love and forgiveness of God.

Works for me.

 Prayer: Pour out grace upon us, O Lord, especially those of us trying to live by the law.  It never really worked anyway.




Peace, Candles and Reality
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 NRSV
December 5, 2016 
My friend Wendell Garrison wrote: “I have a confession: I need to rediscover the peace of God because after sixty-two years as a pastor, I am now a pastor turned out to pasture, probably a good thing. But I’m apt to be a cranky old plow horse. In fact, recently I planned a ‘poor little ol' me pity party,’ and sent out invitations. But God’s RSVP said, ‘Don’t look for me at your party.’” From A Joyful Journey Through the Book of Philippians.
Sunday we lit the candle of peace, as did thousands of churches. Didn’t seem to help much. Or did it?
The peace He offers is in our hearts, not in the circumstances we will encounter today. It allows us to live with the knowledge that God loves us and isn’t out to get us. It tells us we are at peace with God. And this starts the process of finding peace with others and, just as importantly, with ourselves. 
Prayer: Lord: May Jesus guide us into the path of peace today.
Straight Ahead

 I will turn aside neither to the right nor to the left.” Deuteronomy 2.27 NRSV


 December 1, 2016





 The person, who has chosen a course and, having chosen that course, will let nothing stand in his or her way is rarely denied that goal. It may take time and much may be required in the way of sacrifice, but the goal is achieved.





Heroes and heroines who stayed the course despite the obstacles populate history. Sometimes they were down to their last penny, down to their last ounce of strength, or down to their last hope. Sometimes health began to fail and the confidence of those around them dimmed, but they simply refused to turn away from their course. Sometimes those obstacles and trials helped that person refine the goal even better. And that is why we remember them.





         One of the great truths of life is that faithfulness has more power to convince and win through than academic brilliance, brute strength or riches.
          Some of us are thinking of quitting a job, giving up on a relationship or that special project which has been in our heart for so long, but now may to have come to a barrier that we can’t navigate. If the course was right when we started, it is still right. 





It’s OK to be weary and dry and uninspired at times. And it is perfectly fine to step back, take a rest and get our bearings. Then we gather ourselves and press forward to the prize that is still waiting. 




Prayer: Lord, if it’s time to walk away, I’m ready.  If not, give me a push today
.