September 2017

Recently while considering the future of the Cresco Community Chapel I’ve tried to discern what our philosophy of ministry is,
and while many are aware that our firm “mission statement’s theme verse” can be found in the book of Colossians chapter 1
verse 28 where Paul would admonish us to…“present every man, complete in Christ” but what somewhat concerns me though
is whether or not we are merely “maintenance minded” or true “visionaries”.

Well from the Scriptures I’ve concluded what is needed is a wise blend of the two, where if something ain’t broke,
it don’t need fixin, but on the other hand as Proverbs 29:18 reminds us “without a vision people perish”. Therefore I believe
we must find ways so as to “delicately” and “prayerfully” remain relevant to today’s culture without compromising
our biblical convictions regarding the fundamentals of our faith! See Romans 3:4; I Corinthians 15:58; and Ephesians 4:14.
In conclusion I would add that good old proper maintenance is a valuable asset to any church body,
‘but’ if we remain “stagnant”, insensitive to God’s leading, and blind to the genuine needs of others we sell ourselves short
for God would have us seek His face in all things!

Sensing some lack in all of us!
Pastor Mike

August 2017

Whatever Happened to…?
Now for those who haven’t been attending our recent morning worship services, on Sunday, July 16th I began
a somewhat provocative teaching series on the hot button topic of “shame” and its connection to a vivid contrast between
what has been commonly viewed as a “traditional” marriage with the “nonbiblical” concept of a same sex union.
And while the subject matter can be “volatile”…“let God be true and every man found a liar” (Romans 3:4) which brings me to
how far we’ve drifted as a nation where sadly, the church is not immune. And therefore I’m taking the liberty to share
a wonderful story of a retired college baseball coach told through the impressionable memory of a current coach,
who learned a tremendously valuable life lesson from him!

“Don’t Widen the Plate”
In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon
the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA’s convention. While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff,
I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend.
One name in particular kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here?
Oh, man, worth every penny of my airfare. “Who is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter; I was just happy to be there.
In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948.
He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt,
and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate. Seriously, I wondered,
who is this guy? After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck,
Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos
had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.
Then, finally …“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck,” he said,
his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “I may be old, but I’m not crazy.
The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned
about home plate in my 78 years.” Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches
were in the room.

“Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League? After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?”,
more of a question than answer. “That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth’s day? Any Babe Ruth coaches
in the house?” Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?” a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up,
as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident. “You’re right!” Scolinos barked “And you college coaches,
how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison. “Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate
in pro ball?”…………“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”
“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher
who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.
“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it
eighteen inches or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that,
let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”

Pause. “Coaches…” pause, “… what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid
facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change
the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?” The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet,
the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie,
began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn
door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids.
With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards.
We widen the plate!”

…Pause… Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag. “This is the problem in our schools today.
The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful
and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”
Silence… He replaced the flag with a Cross. “And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions
of authority have taken advantage of young children only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years.
Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it.”

“And the same is true with our government. Our so-called representatives make rules for us that don’t apply
to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them
to widen home plate and we see our country falling into a dark abyss while we watch.”
I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve balls and bunting and how to run
better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck,
I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader.
I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society
continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today.
It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses
and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet
the standard; and if our schools & churches & our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve,
there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside,
“… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches,
including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom
and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more
than a baseball coach. His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players—no matter how good they are—your own children,
your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.”

And this my friends is what our country has become and what is wrong with it today, and how to fix it.

“Don’t widen the plate.”
Pastor Mike;
Who is thankful for the two ladies who directed me to this story!
(You know who you are!)

July 2017

While contemplating the summer before us, I’m reminded of the beautiful weather, picnics, parades, and baseball
among other things. But what is also brought to my mind is the seemingly carefree nonchalant attitude that many maintain toward things spiritual during the summer months, for as I see it while taking seasonal vacations from God, His Word, and Christian Fellowship appear to be in vogue, the Lord is not pleased! You might ask how do I know this? Well from the book of Hebrews we learn that the believer in Christ is challenged to…“draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering; (for He who promised is faithful;) And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds: not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some; but encouraging one another: and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:22-25 N.A.S.B.
So sorry to step on some toes but if the shoe fits, wear it.
Have a great spiritual summer!
Isaiah 26:3
Pastor Mike

June 2017

Are You Surviving or Thriving?

As of late I’ve been thinking quite a bit about “maintenance” in all its applications, whether it’s the need to maintain one’s home or health one soon realizes that some “effort” will be necessary to “maintain” the status quo, so as to not witness deterioration. But I’d like to suggest that regarding…things “spiritual” God suggests something far superior. Oh I’m well aware of the admonition found in the book of Ephesians 4:3 to “endeavor to keep (maintain) the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” but to me that’s Christianity 101 and basic for a church to survive, but if we wish to “thrive” as a church body rather than merely “survive”, something far greater must be our quest which King Solomon addressed in the book of Ecclesiastes 5:19 where we discover that “We should make the most of what God gives us (time, talent, resources) both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given, and delighting in the work as well”, because it’s God’s gift where He deals out joy in the present. Gleaned from an article entitled “Don’t Just Survive” from the Bibleinoneyear.org Praying you’ll thrive! Pastor Mike I Corinthians 10:31-33; Colossians 3:23

May 2017

Thinking about Spring!

As one observes the Spring season I’m reminded of a popular phrase often heard around this time of year that makes the bold assumption that…“April showers bring May flowers”! And while this phenomenon does “sometimes” hold true, because of circumstances beyond our control, such as weather in particular. But if one would stop to think for a moment; an individual’s “spiritual” growth and development is ‘also’ dependent on certain variables, even though we can be assured of God’s part in the sanctification process. For I’ve discovered that though one may enjoy the very real confidence of sins forgiven through faith alone in Christ alone, it’s an entirely different matter to experience…“growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ” which we’re admonished to do in II Peter 3:18. For I am convinced that “time” and “yieldedness”, “to the Holy Spirit’s leading” as well as “a dedication to develop spiritual intimacy with God” are essential for genuine growth in the life of a Christian to occur! Praying that God’s desire for you would be yours as well! Pastor Mike

April 2017

A Word about “Wisdom’!

Well since I’ve been recently teaching a series on the subject of “wisdom”, entitled “Better Than Gold” derived from Solomon’s inspired words in Proverbs chapter 3 verses 14-15 I must confess that the concept of “godly wisdom” has been “dominating” my thinking, which I think you’d agree is ‘not’ a bad thing at all! And yet how often you and I, if we’re honest, attempt to operate under the power of our human flesh rather than; the Divine and Holy Spirit of God which is a recipe for not only “failure” but because of its very real limitations one’s “flesh” has the potential to lead one to “frustration”…as well as “discouragement”…therefore like our Lord’s sobering reminder in John 15:5 that… …“without Him we can do nothing” so too without the Holy Spirit’s intervention in our lives to teach and comfort us, we are rendered powerless! See John 14:25,26 Praying that you will seek wisdom! In His love, Pastor Mike “Blessed are those who find wisdom, and those who gain understanding;” Proverbs 3:13 “If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

March 2017

A Word about Aging!

From the point of view of someone whose had to accept the factual reality that…“I ain’t what I used to be”…physically, that is, my mindset has been forced to “shift” a bit when it comes to my ability to just say no to matters that in years past I would have had no problem with like moving pianos, freezers, and Hide-A-Beds, and then decide to play 5 or 6 softball games in a weekend tournament, and top it off with a round of golf, which I have fond memories of, in my ‘past’ life! But that was then and today is today therefore I’m trying to discipline myself to view the aging process with grace and dignity and not with a negatively bitter spirit. This is especially true when you stop and consider the longevity ascribed to many of the prominent individuals cited in the Old Testament although Psalm 90:10 records that… …“The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” The point of which is ‘not’ to set a maximum, but to present a context for the brevity of human life. For no matter ‘how’ long people live; according to a Nelson Study Bible note on Psalm 90:10 “…it is inevitable that they will fly away to death!” And if one was to take a peek at the book of Ecclesiastes you’d soon discover a rather pessimistically cynical outlook throughout, where human existence seems to be determined and the righteous and unrighteous end up alike. Why Solomon even equates the fate of men…with beasts, with no advantage to men (3:19) where the best one can salvage is some enjoyment of what life one has. But “thankfully”, a more positive note appears in the concluding verses (12:9-14) where “Fearing God and keeping His commandments”…becomes…“the whole duty of man for God will bring every dead into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil”. Therefore these lines must be given ‘utmost’ prominence in one’s thinking because life in light of eternity is very brief. See Psalm 90:12 And so, I don’t know about you, but I’ve resolved to take God’s advice and make Him and not ‘me’ the reckoner of my days, in order that I may present to Him a wise heart. How about you? Attempting to grow older with grace and dignity, Pastor Mike

January 2017

Looking Ahead

As we approach a new year and look back on all the good things God has done for us, my prayer is that you and I will not be dwelling in the past and on all the “could’a, should’a, would’as” of life, but rather, be looking to the future with an excited anticipation for what the Lord has in store for each of us. The first thing would be a closer walk with Jesus where we might develop a deeper intimacy with Him resulting in a deeper desire to have a fruitful spiritual impact on those individuals that He has placed in our specific sphere of influence. While looking ahead for me personally, beginning in January I’ll be teaching a topical series during the Morning Worship hour. It is entitled, “Better than Gold” and is taken from the book of Proverbs. During the Sunday evening services I will be leading you through a verse-by-verse study in the book of Jude. In closing, on behalf of Colleen and I we’d like to once again express our appreciation to those who have in any way given sacrificially to help meet our needs during the past year. May you have a spiritually Happy New Year! Your Pastor Mike

December 2016

‘Tis the Season

While recently taking stock of what I’ll need to get our home prepared for the winter season, I discovered that whether I’m prepared or not winter is coming irregardless! Well, I’d like to suggest that a “spiritual” parallel can easily be drawn when one stops to realize that the physical return of the Lord Jesus Christ is just as certain! Therefore, with this truth in mind, may I ask if as a Christian you are prepared to meet Him and give account of yourself? For even though you may have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life there may be areas of your life that need some “tweaking,” and just like leaky windows that enable drafts to come in, so too are matters of integrity that we have compromised our convictions over. There also may be “roots of bitterness” that we’ve allowed to run deep so as to rob us of the joy that God has for us. Well, if such is the case, brethren, it’s time to “fess up” and make it right with God. And besides, the Christmas season is soon upon us, and who wants to be miserable for “‘tis the season to be jolly”! Wishing you’ll have a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year, and with much thanks on behalf of Colleen and I for all you’ve done for us, but more importantly for who you are. Pastor Mike (Some verses to consider: I Corinthians 3:1–3; 11–16; II Corinthians 5:9, 10; Ephesians 4:31, 32; Colossians 3:1, 2, 8–17.)

November 2016

No wonder they call us “patients.”

The preceding phrase can be viewed as a play on words for me, considering my ongoing medical issues which I’ve been dealing with for the past several years. But the reality is, “the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:3b) which I have learned to develop through the process of time. And while the results of aging aren’t necessarily fun (see Ecclesiastes 12:1–7) the one thing that I’ve also discovered while learning the art of divine patience as a patient is how to better relate to my fellow man, which has opened up a wonderful avenue of ministry for me! (See II Corinthians 1:3–5) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.” Praying that you too will relate! Pastor Mike