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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 Worship  8 & 10:30 AM

Nursery provided

Light breakfast 9:00 AM

The Story Program 9:15 AM

for all ages



 Prayer Group  7:00-7:30 AM

Bible Study  8:30-9:30 AM

 Dinner  5:30-6:20 PM

Bible Study  6:15-7:30 PM

Confirmation & KIC  6:20-7:30 PM

Adult Choir  7:00-8:00 PM 





Graduates Recognition, Jun 2

8:00 & 10:30 AM


Father's Day, Jun 16

8:00 & 10:30 AM


Evening VBS, Jun 23-27
































« Keeping Track | Main | Searched and Known, and Still Loved. »

He's here in Plain View

What were they thinking? As a recent seminary graduate who had just turned twenty-eight, I was asked to be the interim Pastor at my home congregation. It was a daunting task to serve the nearly 3,000 member church, along with the twelve older and more experienced staff. Nevertheless, this unique opportunity constantly reminded me that God does not call the equipped, but equips those whom He calls. Our Lord reminds us that we should, "have eyes to see and ears to hear," because it is easy, if we are not looking and listening, to miss what God is up to. With His help and a gracious staff and church family, it was an amazing learning experience.

Within the first nine weeks, along with other ministry responsibilities, I had eight funerals and was utterly exhausted. Late one night my sleep was interrupted by a phone call from the church, "Vicar Mike, we need you here right now!" The caller's voice sounded desperate and I became immediately aware of the hauntingly hushed voices in the background, especially since there were over one hundred teenagers gathered that evening. The distraught person revealed that Scott, the church's twenty-nine year old youth director, was in serious trouble. The youth group had just finished their recreation time and Scott, who had a heart condition, suffered a massive heart attack during the activities. 

Arriving at the church that night, the darkness of the parking lot was illuminated by the intermittent bright flashing red and white lights of the emergency vehicles. Painstakingly working my way through the church's crowded youth room, it became evident that the EMT's were working to revive Scott. His pregnant wife, Julia's, form silhouetted a doorway she leaned against, to support her in her weakened state of disbelief and shock. By the time I reached Scott, the paramedics were lifting his limp body onto the gurney to transport him to the hospital.There was nothing more to do, but to stay with the teenagers—waiting and praying. Fervent prayers were sent heavenward asking God to please take care of this young youth leader. We found ourselves praying with heartfelt pleas such as, "God, you know how Scott gave himself, despite health concerns, to do the youth work you called him to. Remember his faithfulness, his wife and their child on the way!"

Waiting for what seemed to be an eternity, we finally got the word. Scott had died shortly after arriving at the hospital, "Lord, you can't be serious! How can this happen?" Never had I spoken to God with such frankness and honesty. For the first time, David's Psalms before seemed irreverent and often sacrilegious, now seemed so appropriate. This is how you speak to your closest friend when you really need help. I wrestled with God much of the night over this senseless tragedy. If I could not make sense of this, what word would I have for those teenagers?

The next day something happened that will be forever etched in my memory. Early in the morning, I went back to church and walked into that same room, which just hours before, had been the scene of such disappointment and grief. This time I was angrily muttering under my breath, but loud enough for God to hear. "Lord, how could this happen? Someone who was following you, doing your will. If this is how you treat those whom you call—I am out of here! This whole ministry stuff is already too much, so if you can't even take care of your own—I quit!"

When I reached the back of the room, I fell to my knees and my eyes welled over with tears. The previous feelings of anger had dissipated into utter loneliness. Remaining on my knees I looked up at the wall right above where the paramedics had so frantically tried to resuscitate Scott.Then it happened. On the wall was a huge orange banner with the figure of Jesus, with arms outstretched and the words, "Peace be with you." It had always been there, but I was too blinded by pain and doubt to see what was right in front of me.  Sometimes we need numerous signs or reminders from God before we get it, but this was in plain view, and as I looked up the tears began to roll. Suddenly, it all made sense. Even in the midst of our struggles and fears, the  Risen Lord is always present, with outstretched arms saying, "Peace be with you."

It was so amazingly clear that His love is even bigger than death. He was and is always there, even in the worst chaos and loss. This is a gift that I continue to unpack, even thirty plus years into  ministry—that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God.

As the youth met to make preparations for Scott's service, they insisted that we call it a celebration of the Resurrection. After sharing my experience with them, they wanted the entire youth group to stand in front of the congregation and sing the song, "Have you seen Jesus my Lord, He's here in plain view." It was a healing reminder of how much we can and often miss in this life.

Who wouldn't want to have eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to know that each moment is saturated with God's loving presence?

Pastor Mike


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