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

Sunday School:  9:15 am


Church email

mtpisgah@charter.net

Webmaster email

mtpisgahelca@gmail.com

 


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Events

 

 

Friday, October 13th

Youth Overnight

Details to be Announced

 

 

Saturday, October 21st

Youthquake!

10:00 am - 3:00 pm

Click here for more info

 

Saturday, October 28th

Fall Festival

1:00 - 4:00

 

 

Sunday, October 29th

Reformation Sunday

 

 

January 13th -15th

Strength to Stand Conference

Sign Up Coming Soon

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New Sermons!

Click Here to listen.

Enjoy!

 

Preschool

Regular Classes

 T/TH for 3-yr olds

M/W/F for 4-yr olds

 

 Girl Scouts

5-6 year olds

Meeting Mondays

6 - 7:15 pm in

Old choir room

 

 

Boy Scout

Troop 275

Meeting Thursdays

6 - 8 pm

 

Food Pantry Hours

Mondays 3:00 - 5:00 pm

Fridays   1:00 - 3:00 pm

 

 

Food Pantry 

On-going Needs

Miscellaneous Vegetables

 

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Thursday
Jun152017

Daddy...

One of the greatest gifts that can ever be given to a Father is to be honored and loved by his children. The relationship between Jesus and the Father is one of tender closeness that cannot be mistaken. In Jesus‘ day, the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh, was never to be spoken or written. Jesus tells us not only to call God, Father, but even invites us to speak or write, His new title as “Daddy.” 

The Lord's Prayer should properly be started as “Our Daddy.” Try it. It might make you blush, but is guaranteed to make Him smile. I think a huge part of Jesus’ mission on earth, was to correct a wrong understanding of His Father. He wanted to show everyone, particularly the religious leaders, that His Daddy created laws not to be checked off, as much as to provide loving parameters for His children. Thus the Sabbath and all the laws, are not a hoop to jump through, as a gift to be opened. 

We see Jesus using the most vitriolic language, not against the tax collectors, prostitutes, and the “unclean” around Him, but rather those who so boldly misrepresented His Father. He must defend, with the greatest of emotion, to reveal not only the Father's true heart but also the heart of those who were presenting the Father as an ill tempered judge, who needed to be appeased and placated. 

As a Dad, I would be most appreciative of my boys defending my character, especially if it were misrepresented in a bad way. On the other hand, I would be devastated, if, at the end of the day, our relationship were nothing more than a routine to be dutifully observed. Or, if my sons wanted to “do lunch.” or go on vacation together, just out of some obligation, or even worse yet, fear. 

Jesus meant it when He said that He did not come to abolish, but fulfill the Law. He came to let us know that we have a Daddy who loves us, who hangs on our every word in prayer, and who would rather die than live without us. The difference between religion and relationship is absolutely huge, thus, Jesus’ reaction to His Father being so misrepresented had to be dealt with in such a dramatic and emotive way. (See Matthew 23). To know God as such a loving “Daddy” changes everything and may be the most important truth we will ever know. 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Apr262017

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


Sunday
Apr162017

Easter

The message of Easter is the exclamation mark of love, which God made for us on the cross. Both Scriptures and Christian tradition are clear in reiterating that Jesus “shared with us” His victory over sin and death. I believe the reason for such an emphasis, is in large part due to the fact that quite frankly, He did not have to share at all.
 

Our natural inclination towards revenge, retribution and justice were denied by Him on the cross. We, who put Him on the cross, should not take this act of generous, forgiving love for granted, anymore than we should take His setting His face towards Jerusalem lightly. 

Both were premeditated acts of love against all human compulsion to do the opposite. Can you imagine having all the power in the world at your fingertips and not using it before or during the ordeal of the cross? Or can you imagine death on a cross, then descending to the dead, then rising again to pleasantly share the peace with those who left you in the dust to save their own skin? Easter, like Good Friday, exemplifies a love this world has never known. After being betrayed, denied, left in the Garden, and left at the cross utterly abandoned by those closest to Him, is it any wonder that the Risen Lord’s triune question to Peter stung to the heart when Jesus justifiably asked, “Peter, do you love me?” 

At the end of this season of Lent that question, I suppose, is our Lord’s question to each of us. If we truly have been touched by His amazing love, we too responsively break out in sharing. Perhaps Isaac Watts in the hymn, “WhenI Survey the Wondrous Cross,” says it best. “Were the whole realm of glory mine, that were a present far too small, Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” 

Amen
 

“God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing. . .the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake, hitched up. If I may dare the biological image, God is a “host” who deliberately creates His own parasites, causes us to be that we may exploit and “take advantage of” Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves.” 

 

--from C. S. Lewis “The Four Loves”
 
Music - Stuart Townsend “How Deep The Fathers Love For Us” 

 

Friday
Apr142017

A Good Friday...

On this Good Friday we sing, "Were you there" and we honestly admit we were. The Tenebrae service has us even share the angry voice of the crowd.
The cross portrays the greatest love story the world will ever know by One who will never force His love on us.
There is no doubt that if we truly see "the Son of Man lifted up" we can't help but be drawn to His great love.

 

A Good Friday 

 

Paastor Mike

 

 

Wednesday
Mar222017

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

This Lent, 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 this Lent.  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.

This Lent, 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. 

Lenten Shalom,

Pastor Mike