Mt. Pisgah

Lutheran Church

9379 Hwy 127 North

Hickory, NC  28601

(Bethlehem Community)

Phone:  828-495-8251

Fax:  828-495-8252

Worship:  8:00 and 10:30 am

(Nursery provided)

Sunday School:  9:15 am

(For all ages)

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 Sunday, March 25th

Palm Sunday

Easter Egg Hunt  9:15 am

Choir Easter Cantata

First Communion

 both services


Thursday, March 29th

Maundy Thursday

6:30 pm Soup & Service

Celebration Hall


Friday, March 30th

Good Friday Service

 6:30 pm


 Sunday, April 1st


Sunrise Service 8:00 am

Breakfast 9:00 am

Easter Service 10:30 am


Saturday, April 14th

Bethlehem Farmers Market

at Mt. Pisgah

Every 2nd and 4th Saturday

8:00 am to 12:00 pm


Saturday, April 14th

Confirmation Banquet

6:00 pm

Sunday, April 15th

Confirmation Sunday

both services

Sunday, April 29th

Raffle for Fun Fundraiser


following 10:30 am service


Sunday, May 13th

Mother's Day Celebration

8:00 am & 10:30 am


Saturday, May 19th

Book Club

8:00 am to 11:00 am


Sunday, May 20th

Congregational Meeting

Preschool Sings

9:00 AM

Sunday, May 20th

God & Country Service

8:00 am & 10:30 am

Tuesday, May 22nd

Men's & Women's Bible

Study Banquet

6:00 pm


Friday - Sunday

May 25th - May 27th

3rd - 6th grade Retreat

Blowing Rock Conference Ctr.


Sunday, June 17th

Father's Day Celebration

8:00 am & 10:30 am


Sunday - Thursday Evening

June 24th–28th

Vacation Bible School

Shipwrecked Rescued by








Searched and Known, and Still Loved.

Psalm 139 is a favorite scripture of so many. Its appeal may be the refreshing realization that we were a twinkle in our Heavenly Father’s eyes — even before we were born. As the Psalm shares, He keeps meticulous track of our every move, knowing before we sit down or rise  up; who even discerns our every thought and is acquainted with our ways. He even knows what is coming from our lips before we speak.

This is not some Facebook stalker, who wants all the dirt on us, but an endeared Father, who is intimately involved in every detail of His kids. It is humbling and affirming to think that He knows more about me then I know about myself.

Even my limited knowledge about me, can sometimes leave me less than a fan of me, but His intimate interest persists. The One who knows all about us, and insists on loving us with a reckless abandon, is such a contrast to our world, where so many who comparatively know so little about others and themselves, still persist to use harmful labels and prejudices.

God, alone, has the knowledge and right to use such labels and boundaries, but, instead treats us as the dynamic, individually nuanced, children He created us to be. With a word though, we can label each other, and with a phrase, can minimize and marginalize the precious children God has so lovingly and uniquely made. As Danish philosopher and theologian, Soren Kierkegaard wrote, "Once you label me, you negate me." Thank God, He refuses to play by our rules.

We can so easily let a negative experience define a whole culture or race. The short-sightedness of such an action was recently confirmed for me. I am a dog lover but recently had a traumatic incident, when a dog bit my nose. Prejudice would inform me to now consider all dogs a dangerous threat. Such a narrow approach would rob me of the many future joys that only dogs can give.

Aren't we so grateful that God does not let one bad action of ours define how He might treat us? Easter would not have happened after the cross, if He did. God models for us and to us, the grace we should share with one another. Years ago, I was Pastor to a family and husband who had lost a mother and wife. There were 5 children from ages 8-16. The children had a question of dad. "Will we recognize Mom and will she us, when we get to heaven?" I was in an adjacent room, but was soon tapped on the shoulder when the father informed me that the kids had a question for me.

When he shared with me what it was, after a quick prayer, I asked the dad a question. "Rich, I know your 5 children very well. They are each very different and unique. Now, if you could make them all identical, would life be predictable and probably easier for you?" He responded with a smile, "Yes, I suppose life would be much less complicated." I replied, "No doubt It would be, but how long before you would miss the uniqueness of little Anna and the energy of your Adam?" He agreed that it he would quickly miss who they really were. Then, with the kids we began by reading Psalm 139 which guarantees our Heavenly Father's passionate interest in each of his special children.

I shared with them the Greek word ‘somos’ as the word used for the body we will have in heaven. Assumed in this new heavenly body, is the reality that our Heavenly Father will retain our individual personalities; idiosyncrasies and all those things which make us uniquely us. A young budding theologian in the room quipped, "Wow! I don't even like everything about me!" Exactly. The One who created you totally and completely as just you, will retain this you into eternity. Even on the other side, you will be easily recognized because there has never been, nor ever will be, anyone just like you.

We cannot give a gift we have not first opened. Psalm 139, when opened, reveals what Abba says about us and all of His children. John so often reminded us that we are all children of God. In 1John 3:1 the last four words are an exclamation mark of how God insists on seeing us. It is a gift, not because we deserve it, or have earned it, or even want it. We are His because He has said so, and so we are.

"See what love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God, and so we are."

And all is changed...for everyone


This “Glorious Season” of Lent 

John goes out of his way to let us know that Jesus was not a victim caught up in the strong will of Rome or the debauchery of the Jewish religious hierarchy. Jesus was, from his betrayal, denial, flogging and crucifixion, always in control. He was the Good Shepherd whose life was never taken, but was laid down of His own accord. The way of the cross is the Groom willfully and lovingly coming down the aisle to His Bride, the Church. As a seminary professor was fond of saying, “This was not a shotgun wedding!” 

In John’s Gospel, we miss some of the physical agony of this walk to the cross. There is no mention of the sweating of blood in Gethsemane and other gruesome physical details are left out. John, whose heart was particularly close to His Lord, wants us to know that as awful as the physical pain of those days was for our Lord, it was nothing in comparison to the spiritual pain of the separation of the Son from His Father. The Word, which had been in perfect harmony and unity with the Father before time began, is now to be separated by our sin which He never knew. It is this pain of loss and separation from the Holy Father, as the Son takes on the sins of the world-ours-past, present and future-that deserves our real attention and gratitude. 

Then there is that recurring word of glory, which particularly surfaces in these latter chapters of our Lord’s passion; so what is glorious about this time? John, who, compared to the other Gospel writers, seems to have a monopoly on the understanding of love, wants us to know that behind every step to the Cross is a heartbeat of our Savior's love. When Jesus “sets His face” to Jerusalem it is you and me He is really focused on. It is perhaps those who have lost loved ones and have been at their bedside in those difficult hours that know His love best. The love and compassion given by them is not done begrudgingly or with hesitation. But rather, it is done in a love that has its own special glory that appears in those last tender moments. So it is with our Lord; it is not His obligation or duty to go to the cross, as much as His loving joy and glory. No one else could do it and He would not want anyone else to.

It is the Groom gloriously making His way down the aisle to literally rescue and save His Bride (us), The Church. John wants to make sure that in the blood and sweat of the cross we do not hear so much a heavy sigh with the thought that, “...some one has to do this for these sinners” as much as a smile and an unrelenting drive forward, as Hebrews 12:12 says, because of “...the joy that was set before Him.” Whenever and however we begin to realize that you and I are that very joy that was set before Him, is when the cross makes life changing sense.

His love for us would never let us go, and it is that great love that captures our hearts and will never let us let go of Him. It is that love that makes us say with the hymnist, Bernard Clairvaux:

“What language shall I borrow to thank thee dearest friend, for this Thy dying sorrow, 

Thy pity without end?

O make me thine Forever and should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never, outlive my love for Thee.” 

It is on the cross where the Groom, Jesus, 

Lets His Bride, the Church, know that 

He would rather die than live without us." 


Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent. In this season, we intentionally take time to reflect on the greatest love ever known through the greatest sacrifice ever given. God’s great love for us evidenced in the death of His only Son—for us. This is a time when we often speak of giving up something, as a way of acknowledging God giving Himself up for us in Christ. From a spiritual standpoint, what God invites and encourages us to give up, more than anything else is ourselves, to relinquish control of our lives so He truly can be Lord. 
The following devotion is one I have found quite meaningful: 
When I met Christ it seemed as though life were rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal.
I don’t know just when it was that He suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since. When I had control, I knew the way, it was rather boring, but predictable... IT was the shortest distance between two points. 

But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places at breakneck speeds; it was all I could do to hang on! Even though it looked like madness, He said, “Pedal!” 

I worried and was anxious and asked, “Where are you taking me?” He laughed and didn’t answer, and I started to learn to trust. 

I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure. And when I’d say, “I’m scared, ” He’d lean back and touch my hand.
He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance, and joy. He said, “Give the gifts away. ” So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving, I received, and still our burden was light. I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life. I thought He’d wreck it; but He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, knows how to jump to clear high rocks, knows how to fly to shorten scary passages. 

And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strongest places, and I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ. 

And when I’m sure I just can’t do anymore, He just smiles and says... ”Pedal.”
Welcome to a journey of surrender...
— Author Unknown




“Giving Up Talking So Much And Being Quiet -- Since I have so much to learn”


I have tried to give up my need to share my opinion regardless of how right or well informed I may be.  This is in contrast to the many opinions we hear from so many, inspired by countless news pundits and talk radio folks, on all sides. They seem to have switched from reporting news to sharing their, often emotive, opinions.  I have tried to refrain, with God’s help.  It is NOT easy for preachers.

I have taken Swiss Theologian Karl Barth’s admonition, that, as a Christian I should be well informed.  As he wrote, “We should have a newspaper in in one  hand and a Bible in the other,” so I read a lot. Recently, two articles I have read confirmed my assertion of the humble reality, that the more we know, the less we know. So quiet, is often best.

Dr, Jonathan Feng, Professor of Physics, at U.C. Irvine, California, titled his article, “Wonder and the Gift of Not Knowing Things.”  He shared the reality, as a scientist, that the more we learn, the more, we realize, there is to know. He shared some humbling cosmological truths about the Universe.  For example, 5 % of the Universe consists of known particles.  The remaining 95% is made up of dark matter, at 27%, and the remaining 68% is dark energy. This means, as he shares, that 95% of the universe is a mystery we do NOT understand.  That statement is enough to quiet the most intellectual among us.

This article was quickly followed in my readings, by a contribution in Foreign Affairs magazine in which the title, “How America lost faith in expertise,” explains it all. The author, Dr. Tom Nichols, Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College, shares that, recently, listening to experts or even sharing in intellectual conversations or disccussions has denigrated  into “shouting matches.” In other words, we have lost the art of polite and eloquent conversation, in the tone of a past voice like a William Buckley. Instead, we seem to have a vociferous lack of tolerance and respect for anyone with different views than ourselves. 

So perhaps, as we defer to the true Expert of all, a humble quiet wins over the proud and loud.  I have never regretted something I have NOT said, especially in the throes of emotion. It is the kind of humble awe we hear from Psalm 8:4, “What is man that you are mindful of him.” All of our knowledge is nothing in comparison to the One who knows All. This is the only way to make and sense out of what seems to be the audacious claim of Moses, to be the most humble man on earth (Numbers 12:3). What else could he mean, but that the more he got to know the largesse of God’s, “I Am,” the smaller, “He was”  So, quiet is fitting, in light of my puny lack of what I know, in comparision to the Creator who knows all. 

Also, a  hushed silence comes over us, in the shared presence of His Holiness and our sin.  Martin Luther, who followed in a long history of writing catechetical study, was the first to put the 10 commandents first. He did this, realizing, that of first priority in our learning, is to be cognizant of our sin.  To Luther particularly, the first commandment, “You shall have no other god's before me,” was tantamount in ensuring that we focus on the only One that matters. God is the great Iconoclast, who, through our personal experiences and history itself, demostrates, time and time again, the vacuous emptiness of our idolatrous pursuits.  So we are left holding nothing... but Him. When the Word takes on flesh, there are truly no words...silence prevails. 

There is another fear I have, of too much “talk,” as Atheist, Bertrand Russell once claimed, ”The advent of intolerance that spread over the world with the advent of Christianity is one of its most curious features.”

The millennial generation has an unprecedented absence from the life of the Church. They make up a  huge portion of the ‘nones,' who claim no religious affiliation whatsoever.  For them, the church too often mirrors the insensitive and divisive world, rather than reflecting a Jesus, who ushered in the radical inbreaking of a new Kingdom and new order, that challenges the values of the secular culture. This generation has a deep understanding of, and has witnessed, world values which seem to leave one empty and void.  They realize how futile such pursuits are, and long for people generating light in their lives, rather than fire in their words.  So I am quiet.  Living more, talking less. 

Scripture also has a way of quieting my spirit. As a two edged sword, it tends to cut me down to size, rather than provide a proud bully pulpit to wave around. If I have eyes to see and ears to hear, it is a sword that slices and dices.  In an objective, undeniable way, it shows how someone as amazing as the Apostle Paul can write to his young understudy, Timothy, that the great Apostle was the best sinner he knew (1 Timothy 1:15 ).  I haven't shared that personal truth with my confirmands lately.

So quietly, I meditate on what that means, and I realize, that the Word speaks to our recent political climate as a two-edged sword. With two-edged dialetic, it reminds me what James writes, that what we say, really does matter. And, on the other edge, in Romans from Paul, I hear the admonition to pray for all leaders, which would include the likes of Nero, who, very well, was responsible for Paul's death, as well as an  Emperor  Hadrian, known as the wall builder.

So I am undone. Cut to my knees.  Probably where I need to be. I cannot get emotive about any thing except for  the only One worthy of such feelings.  In the scripture, I meet a Jesus, whose truthful encounter with a  Rich young ruler  in the middle of the day, or Pharisee Nicodemus at night, sends them off in silence...pondering.  They, like me, realize that they have been gently, but purposefully, kicked in the butt by a Lord who loves us too much not to redirect us back to Him.

I have a lot of learning to do. So I am listening. Perhaps it is only as the tax collector quietly on my knees, rather than the Pharisee proudly beating his chest, that I can truly learn from the only One worth knowing anyway.

I guess to be still, and know that He is God, is the only way I can hear the still, small voice of the only One worthy of my loyalty and my listening anyway. 


Pastor Mike


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Epiphany - January 2018

“To wonder as we wander” is at the heart of our Epiphany Journey.

We too, ponder in wonder with Mary, as to how such Good News of her giving birth to the Savior, can be both the greatest joy and the greatest heartbreak and sorrow known to Woman.

We too, journey in our wanderings with the Magi, as we know that life is now different. Nothing will be the same. We are wise as they were, to take heed, knowing that after seeing him we too must leave a different way.

This new kingdom ushered in by the Holy child of life: love and light, is even this day being hunted down by the old world of Kingly pride: darkness and death.

So flee as they, but do so quietly, so you too can ponder this Wonder and go slowly, so as not to miss a thing. For your journey is now a Holy Wonderful Wondering.