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.

CHURCH CLEAN-UP

The Church clean-up was held Wednesday. A hearty crew of 13 souls cleaned the Church inside and outside and then did the biblical thing-they ate!
Karen and Jim shovel bark and Pastor Mike and Roger spread it!
Pat, Lynn and Debbie cleaned the kitchen and prepared a feast.

Larry supervises the barking, Barbara has the tools to work two jobs while Steve checks his phone
And the workers ate and all is good


THE POWER OF WORDS




MEMORIAL DAY PRESENTATION
PREPARED BY HEATHER DUNCAN




WATCH A BEAUTIFUL VIDEO
VIDEO

ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL VIDEO

WHISPERS





CHURCH SERMONS

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MUSIC



by Pastor Mike



Small Steps to Big Results



 “Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things…” Matthew 25.21b

March 19th, 2016
 I’ve been reading the old poets of late. I’ve turned to those writers whose words still resonate many years later and are not the stuff of fads and gimmicks. In reading Longfellow, I found this curious sentence in his small collection called Table-Talk:
       “Most people would succeed in small things, if they were not troubled by great ambitions.”
       I do not think he is telling us to have less ambition. Instead, I hear in his words an echo of the verse with which I began. I believe that most great accomplishments came not from a single moment of effort or brilliance, but from the mundane effort of putting one foot in front of another.
       For me as a writer, this means that I bring up an empty screen each day and type the first word and then the second. For the athlete, it doesn’t begin with medals or contracts, but with going to the first practice and the next and the next. For the entrepreneur, it is the day-by-day effort to sell her idea, meeting roadblocks and talking with those who lack her imagination or drive.  And, having been turned down, she goes to the next meeting more polished and better able to answer the questions than she was before.
       Do we want to do great things? Then let us do the small things each day and do them well and never lose hope. 
 Prayer: Lord, give me the strength to do today what I can and do it well.


Ignore the Noise

 “So I sent messengers to them, saying, ‘I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it to come down to you?’” Nehemiah 6.3 NRSV
 May 18,2016
 Friends, God willing and barring the Zombie apocalypse, I’m in the home stretch of finishing my first novel. Those of you who have written a book know it’s hard work and yet much fun. The hardest part is letting go of a paragraph, a scene or even an entire chapter that I like, but no longer fits the story line. Below is part of such a scene.
 Saintwinter concluded his remarks to the graduating class by saying, “When you have grabbed the lightning, you never need fear the thunder.”
       As he was shaking hands with the graduates, one asked him, “Reverend, what did you mean by that proverb or was it a metaphor about lightning and thunder?”
       “Young man, once you have settled your mind and your soul on the direction you believe is right, truly settled it, never worry about the critics, the obstructionists or the nay-sayers. They are just noise.”
 Prayer: Lord, let me block out the noise and hear only You.

I Need Reminding

 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 NRSV
 May 17th, 2016
 As I reach the bottom of our basement steps, there is a small sign I must read every time I descend. I put it there myself as a reminder of what I have already determined as important in my working life. The arrow pointing to the left reads “Warehouse” and the arrow pointing to the right reads “Office”.
         The warehouse, a very, very modest warehouse, contains the books and CDs still waiting to be sold. In the office reside my computer, desks, books and other tools that aid my ministry and my writing. Whereas I write and preach for the joy and to serve my Savior, my bills come every month.
         I require myself to face the reality of work unfinished each time I go down. Hard work, and writing is hard work, can too easily be forgotten or ignored when more pleasurable pursuits sing their siren songs to siphon time and energy.
         So I remind myself of the right decisions I made long ago that now require the effort to realize them to the fullest. 
                        Prayer: Lord, I need to be reminded some days that the harvest of my labor comes after the sowing and hoeing is done.


Snow in Mid-May

 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 NRSV
 May 16th, 2016
 It snowed yesterday in the straits area of northern Michigan. Even here that was a rare occurrence. In the afternoon, it really started to come down with what I call snow pellets. I’m sure there is a Weather Channel name for it, but you know what I mean.
And it kept coming. Soon the deck was covered and still it snowed. Then the snow stopped and within moments, it all melted away.  The season of snow is behind us, despite that stubborn display on Sunday.
         It is spring. Winter is past and the ground is too warm to welcome the snow again. Snow’s time is past.
         Each thing in our life has a season. I had many good buddies in high school. The night of graduation was an exciting time for us. That was the last night I saw some of them. The season of high school was over. We scattered to the military, to colleges and work in other states.
So each season has an end. The good news is there is another season waiting for us. Enjoy!
              Prayer: Lord, with You, there is no end, just beginnings!




Gunsmoke



 “For now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.” Song of Solomon 2.11NRSV



 May 10, 2016



 I was saddened when the cancelling of  Gunsmoke was announced in 1975.  It was a enjoyable part of my youth, premiering in 1955 as a half-hour program that soon went to a full sixty minutes.



         How could they abandon such an iconic program?

         There was an irony in my sadness that I noticed. By that time I had not watched Gunsmoke for at least ten years. My attention and tastes in programing had gone in other directions.

         So why did the cancellation of the longest running television show in American history matter to me?

         Gunsmoke reminded me of a different time in my life. The family would gather in the living room where, more often than not, Dad would prepare a big bowl of popcorn and we would lose ourselves in the current episode. I only had a few responsibilities, and all my needs were taken care of by loving parents. I would come it after playing hard, have dinner and then crash on the couch to watch Matt Dillon face off against evil.

         But I had ceased watching Gunsmoke; it was pleasant nostalgia to me and nothing more. There’s nothing wrong with great memories and visiting them. However, it was time for the network to move on. Same with us. Remember, smile and take a moment. Then move on.

 Prayer: Lord, I’ve had a great life so far with so many memories. Looking forward to making more today!


The Humble Pencil

 “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8.12 NRSV

 May 9, 2016

 This last year, I resumed my love of pencils. Make no mistake, a great fountain pen is my one true love for writing, but pencils are a marvel. Five distinct parts and two colors of paint are used to create the standard pencil.

         During our space race with the now defunct Soviet Union, our scientists and technicians spent much time and money to create a pen that could work in zero gravity. The Russians just took pencils with them into space and did remarkably well. Sometimes the old ways are still good.

         One of the advantages of a pencil over a pen is that it never unexpectedly runs out of writing power. When I pick it up, a quick look at the end and I know to sharpen it or reach for a new one.

         But, of course, there is that one advantage you’ve been waiting for me to note, and that is the eraser. Mistakes vanish with a quick stroke and on we go. Splendid!

         Life isn’t quite like that, is it? Some of our mistakes stay with us in some form or another. The scars on my hands are proof of that. However, there is One with the power to erase our sins from our debt ledger and make us clean again.

 Prayer: Lord, no matter how hard we try, we cannot make right everything we did wrong, but You can. Thanks!



The Faith of a Writer

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.  Psalm 119.105 NRSV

May 5, 2016



 Writing is an act of faith. It’s faith in the writer’s ability, in his mentors and in her vision.



         But, just as importantly, it is faith in the power of words.  As a child I was taught the little ditty, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”  I understood what it meant, but over the years I recognized that it was false. Words have the power to inspire and the power to dash to the ground a dream.



         Words refuse to be the mere arrangement of letters. Instead they become a story that can inspire, entertain or start a revolution in our thinking. Take the simple word “then”. Write it down and look at it. Then…what? What happens after that insignificant word appears on the computer screen or on paper? “Then she began to cry, or was it laugh?” “Then he leaped from the balcony, fearing the fall less than what was behind him.”



         One word starts all novels, biographies and poetry. One word sets it all in motion.


         What words will start our day?  Coffee, please or I need help or thank you?  So we begin our day with a word that becomes a sentence that becomes a page in the story of our life. Imagine the possibilities!
 Prayer: Lord, thanks!




Living on Memories






But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, ‘The old is good.’”



Luke 5.38,39 NRSV






April 28, 2016






Kathy and I found our way to the original Starbucks in Seattle. It was small. Smaller than almost any of the other Starbucks I had frequented.



 To grow and change with the coffee drinking world, the leaders of this company bought, built and remodeled larger and more comfortable facilities.



The store was crowded and as I took my place in line, I noticed that folks were buying souvenirs more than the coffee. They were taking selfies and posing outside for pictures. Come to think of it, so did we! That afternoon, it was less a coffee shop and more a trinket shop selling a memory. There was a reason the leaders of that company moved on.


Not long ago, I sat with the leaders of a church. They said they wanted to reach the young families and the youth of their community. They recognized time was ticking away and they were not going to survive. But when the talk turned to remodeling and adding to the ancient church structure a wing that would provide a nursery and an area to work with the youth, many of them balked. Their reason? “It won’t look like our quaint little church anymore.” And they did nothing.

Will the church we attend come to that or has it already?


Prayer: Lord, help us remember why Your Son came and why we are here.


On Every Corner


 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.” Luke 5.37 NRSV


 April 27, 2016


 Some years ago, I heard that Starbucks once put coffee shops across the street from each other. The rationale for this unusual business decision was that the traffic flow in that busy part of Seattle was such that those folks coming from one direction found it very difficult to cross over and get their coffee. So Starbucks made the unprecedented move of putting a coffee shop on the other side of the street to better serve those customers.


Turns out not to be an urban myth. On our vacation, we traveled through that part of Seattle. We stopped at a traffic light and I saw on my left a Starbucks and on my right another. Apparently they both have prospered for years.


Just because an idea doesn’t sound logical to some or even goes against all common sense doesn’t mean it won’t work. By the way, we pulled into another Starbucks only half a dozen blocks from these two. And it was prosperous also. Apparently it is hard to overestimate our desire for our caffeine fix in the morning, noon and night.


The next best way of doing business, writing or publishing a book or doing church may look wrong, but work wonderfully well.


 Prayer: Lord, remind us that the next great thing is waiting for us to give it a try.





A Taste of Lilacs

“Take it, and eat; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.” Revelation 10.9b  NRSV



 April 26, 2016

 After eating a small lunch at the Cheese Cake Café (still no cheese cake there), we boarded the ferry and crossed over to San Juan Island. It’s located in the northwestern waterway in the state of Washington.

Once on the island, we found a lilac farm in the midst of the rolling hills.  Once in, we found all sorts of lilac delights. Perfumes, soaps, oils paintings and gift cards. It was the eatable lilac treats that caught me by surprise.

The very nice lady there said that I should try the lilac ice cream. I demurred. It didn’t sound right to me. Kathy did buy some lilac shortbread as a small gift for her parents. On our way home, we stopped at their home to refresh, say hi and get some breakfast. Once the good breakfast ended, the lilac shortbread was passed around.

         I took a bite. It tasted like…lilacs. I was expecting, or maybe hoping, that there would be much sugar to moderate the lilac flavor into something wonderful. Or at least edible. Nope. Tasted like lilacs. It was some minutes before I rid myself of that taste. Fortunately, there was much coffee.

         Apparently some people like this lilac edible. Well, good for them! We don’t all have to like the same food, flowers, books or songs. It’s all a matter of taste. Eh, sorry about that.

 Prayer: Lord, it always seems a challenge for us to allow others to like what we don’t. Might need some help with this one. 

The Cheesecake Café


“And also their neighbors, from as far away as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, came bringing… abundant provisions of meal and cakes of figs...” 1 Chronicles 12.40 NRSV

 April 25, 2016


During our vacation, we stopped at a small restaurant with a big sign proclaiming itself to be The Cheesecake Café.


But we found no cheesecakes, no cupcakes, no cakes at all!
I wonder how many times tourists and visitors stopped and, thinking their sweet tooth would be satisfied, discovered a place of soup, sandwiches and potato chips?
         “You're Richard’s boy, aren’t you?” Growing up, I hear that from time to time. My father was well known in our community. And each time I heard that, I became just a little more circumspect in my behavior. I bore his name and he expected me to live up to it.
         When people meet us, work with us and travel with us, is the Name we proclaim reflected in our actions and attitudes?
Prayer: Lord, let my words and actions be sweet to those who meet me this week.