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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mtpisgahelca

 

Events

 

 

Sunday, December 17th

Children's Christmas Program

8:00, 10:30 am

 

Sunday, December 24th

8:00 and 10:30 am Worship

Christmas Eve Services

5:00 pm Family Service

7:00 pm Traditional Service


January 13th -15th

Strength to Stand Conference

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New Sermons!

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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

Click here Thanksgiving needs

 

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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

 

 

 

Wednesday
Mar012017

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

 

 

Wednesday
Mar012017

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." 


 

Tuesday
Jan312017

Leaning and Learning

Each day provides an opportunity to lean on and learn from God. Everyday God asks each of us, “How will you trust Me today?” Some days we have more opportunity than others to answer that question. Recently, I visited a parishioner who had adopted a stray dog. Like most dogs, he took a real liking to me. I love dogs and this little guy came over and laid his head and paws on my lap, tail wagging and licking my face. Then something unforgettable happened when we all began to laugh loudly; this little dog all of a sudden snapped. l mean literally, with a snarl and a growl, he bit my nose!
 
This dog’s action left me in total shock and also gave me an opportunity to learn some things I never really thought of before. As a stray dog no one knows what he experienced in his first 3 1/2 years of life. Perhaps he had been abused with similar associations of laughter and loud noises, which only seemed to ignite his out of control unpredictable response. 
 
He went from licking to biting within seconds. It was such a radical change of heart and actions. But, have we not seen that before in others and in ourselves? Some of us have been hurt, maybe even abused in the past and certain memories, thoughts or actions can trigger an almost uncontrollable reflexive response. 
 
It seems that a negative past history can elicit present unpredictable behavior. 
 
In truth, physical hurts can cause scars, but emotional hurts can take a lifetime to heal. This nose of mine will heal but it may be years before that little doggie gets over whatever precipitates such a wild response. 
 
All of us have some baggage which we need help unloading, some of us have heavy baggage which we drag around every day; others of us have hurtful baggage which seems to leak out at the most inappropriate times. All of these hurts, whether they are brought on by others or are self inflicted, may be hard to forget but must be forgivable. They will be always be with us but the question is whether they will have mastery over us or not. 
 
To stray means to wander from home. Like that stray dog, scripture tells us that we all have strayed. 
 
Isaiah 53:6   All we like sheep have gone astray; 
we have turned every one to his own way; 
and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: 
He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her
shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
 
Perhaps the biggest part of us (strays) coming home, is realizing that we have a Wounded Healer. One who has taken on hurt and pain, even to death. All of which has been completely imposed on Him by others, namely us. So He too can understand the hurts imposed on us by others. He has also experienced the fickleness of us all. Like the crowds shouting Hosannas (licking) and then, within less there a week, feeling the vitriolic hatred of the crowds shouting, “Crucify Him!”(biting) 
 
He does all this without a word or act of retribution. The only One who can save us from our pain, self imposed or imposed upon us, is the One who, by his choice, takes on all pain and brokenness by us on a cross. We can give Him our pain.. .knowing that He can understand in order that we might truly be healed. He will let us know when we come Home to Him that His ever present scars in His hands; His feet and His side are not forgettable but are truly forgiven. 
 
There is something else, between the licking, wagging tails of Hosanna and the biting nails of the cross we realize how fickle we are. I cannot trust myself until the full revelation of Easter comes, on the other side, to see everything completely. Now it will be only as in a “mirror dimly," but only then “face to face." Such an honest look at myself and others keeps me from planting roots as if I have arrived. The fickleness of our hurts and joys; our emotions and actions, should be enough for us to know that we are still in process and as such cannot make any moment or movement an absolute truth that it does not deserve to be. 
 
Lately there has been so much biting among people who disagree. Is it possible that such differing opinions are not worth the emotive responses we often witness; especially if the seemingly absolute stances of today might quickly change tomorrow? 
 
There is a humble Holy hush that comes over us when we truly understand that the accolade Hosanna shouts of blessing today may soon be the accusing Good Friday‘s curses of tomorrow. The reality of Easter that came over the disciples and comes over us is the peaceful wonder and awe of knowing an unchanging God, who is in total control. 
 
I have decided to give up my right to be right to the only One who is Right. 
 
If Christ is amongst us, then it is 
necessary that we sometimes yield 
up our own opinion for the sake for peace. 
Who is so wise as to have perfect knowledge of all things? 
Therefore trust not too much to thine own opinion, 
but be ready also to hear the opinion of others. 
Thomas A Kempis 
 
And of course - His opinion is all that matters.
 
And of course - Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God.” 
 
If I am not “still” I may not hear what the still small voice of God has to say. He has said clearly that in the midst of all our broken fickleness He gives us the healing of His constant love. 
 
We can lean on and learn from One like this forever. Amen