General Assembly
of the Church of God
in Michigan

"equipping local congregations
to extend the Kingdom of God"

February 24, 2020

Rev. David Perry, Pastor, Edgewood Church of God in Ithaca, Michigan

The Power of Your Calling -

"The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." - 1 Thessalonians 5:24

It is an honor to serve on the Board of Directors for Helping Hands in Motion (HHIM https://helpinghandsinmotion.org/). HHIM is a support ministry to national leaders, providing support and funding for key ministries in Haiti and India. In Haiti we support the House of Blessing Orphanage in Calabasse. The Executive Director of HHIM is Pastor Richard Fields and our Board Chair is Pastor Denny Huebner, of the First Church of God of Elkhart, Kansas.

Denny shared this devotional at our board meeting on Feb. 7, 2020:

Look at the power of a calling of God on your life! Look at Joseph in Genesis. His calling came as a teenager. A calling bigger than he could really understand or manage. None of his family really understood it.

Then look at Joseph's life: his brothers thought about killing him but instead sold him into slavery. That didn't stop his calling. His master recognized his strengths, promoted him but when Joseph choose not to give into sin, he was falsely accused and imprisoned. Still his calling was there.

In prison he helped the imprisoned cup bearer of Pharaoh and because of Joseph's help he was set free. "I won't forget you, I will help you!," but he forgot Joseph. For two years, he forgot Joseph.

Still, the calling of God on Joseph's life was there.

Two years later, the cupbearer remembered Joseph and recommended him to Pharaoh as one whom God gave the ability to interpret dreams. Joseph spoke the truth of God to Pharaoh. Pharaoh responded by promoting Joseph to second in command of the land of Egypt. Thanks to Joseph's leadership, the country was spared from starvation.

Then Joseph's family came begging for help. The ones who rejected his calling. Still Joseph followed his calling. He choose mercy over vengeance. The family was saved, they were reunited and the Messianic line restored.

Joseph the grown man was able to see the culmination of a calling that came long before as a teen. That calling sustained him through all kinds of trials. The twists and turns of life cannot stop the calling of God.

We all stand today with a calling of God. It will guide us and strengthen us for today. It may not answer all our questions about tomorrow or the future. But the calling of God is enough for what we need right now.

Trust God's calling today and tomorrow and let us follow Him faithfully into the future that lies before us.

Thanks Pastor Denny!

February 17, 2020

Planning--part two

Rev. David Perry, Pastor, Edgewood Church of God in Ithaca, Michigan

Divine Interruptions

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
    and he will establish your plans." ~ Proverbs 16:3

I have a modified a popular Christian saying in this way:

~Jesus loves me and everybody else has a wonderful plan for my life.~

I admit that is a little "tongue in cheek" but I will confess to you that one of my bigger frustrations are interruptions of my plans.

I dare say most Pastors and church leaders will say, "Amen!"

In those frustrating moments, I have slowly learned that "my plans are not always His plans" - riffing off Isaiah 55: 8-9. If I am willing to commit my plans to the Lord, ala Proverbs 16: 3, then the Good Lord may alter or change or, in the words of my good friend Pastor Ken Wiedrick, "tweak them" as He see fit.

A few years ago, Trevin Wax had an article on this at the Gospel Coalition Blog, entitled, "Life's interruptions are Divine opportunities." Quoting Trevin:

"C.S. Lewis recommended that Christians stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's "own," or "real" life. He wrote:
'Interruptions are not obstacles to our plan; they are opportunities for us to embrace God's plan'."

As I look back at my ministry, I see where this has played out many times. I have prayed with folks for salvation at odd times and helped them overcome issues that I was unaware of before they came to me.

People don't know or even care about our life plans but they open up to us when they have a need or when the Spirit has worked in their heart. Often that isn't planned on my calendar. I can complain or I can cooperate.

So now when an unscheduled interruption occurs, I am now asking God to show me where the Divine plan is in this and to help me work with it rather than whine against it.

An old word from the ancient Persians is "Serendipity" - it comes from their folklore about some adventurers who stumbled upon a treasure by accident!

We as Christians don't believe in chance or accidents but that God guides and leads us through life. Friends, plan well and be willing to adjust as God leads you in these "serendipity moments."

February 10, 2020

Planning--part one

Rev. David Perry, Pastor, Edgewood Church of God in Ithaca, Michigan

Fail to plan is to plan to fail

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
    and he will establish your plans. ~ Proverbs 16: 3

Years ago, my wife and I were sitting in a Christian psychologist office. He was explaining that our son had Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and that was why he wasn't doing well in school and was disorganized in life. The good doctor explained that this was hereditary... that was when both the doctor and my wife looked at me.

"What?!", I said, "I wasnt listening."

The good doctor went on to say ADD isnt bad  we tend to be creative, energetic and entertaining. But when it comes to organizing and especially follow through  we need real help. Planning, structure and good habits can harness an ADD person and help them succeed in life.



"If you don't know where you are going, you might end up somewhere else." ~ Yogi Berra

King Solomon writes to commit to the Lord whatever you do,..." the presumption here is that we ought to plan our lives as best we can.

Pastor, Christian leader, what are your plans? For this day, the week, the month, quarter, this year ?

Take time to regularly plan and organize your time and energy to do what God is calling you to do. Establish good habits and routines to help you in the process. Prioritize your tasks, break up your projects into workable sections.

Don't let the urgent take the place of the important in your life. -Charles Hummel

Block out the time to plan. It is worth the time and effort, it will pay off big time in your life.

Take the time to retreat and get away, to look at big projects and to develop preaching series. Planning ahead now will make your ministry more effective than last minute "hurry up" or the spiritual cop out, "I'll just let the Lord lead..."

It is amazing to me as I plan and then lay it out before the Lord, how insights and adjustments come to me that are better than before. I feel peace in knowing that I have done my best in planning my time and now I will trust God to guide me through the time ahead.

"Hey,! What about all the interruptions that come up in ministry?"

We will look at that next time. Trust God that there is a reason and purpose in everything planned and un-planned and that together we can fulfill all that God has called us to do.!

February 3, 2020

Don't lose it, your love for Jesus

Rev. David Perry, Pastor, Edgewood Church of God in Ithaca, Michigan

4 But I have this [charge] against you, that you have left your first love [you have lost the depth of love that you first had for Me].
~ Revelation 2:4 – Amplified Bible (AMP)

"In America you can be a success as a pastor and a failure as an apprentice of Jesus; you can gain a church and lose your soul." This quote from @johnmarkcomer has haunted me for a few weeks. Trying to make sure apprentice (or disciple) comes first.
~ from Pastor Aaron Perry- South Creek Church, Kokomo, Indiana - @APbeard

This recent Twitter from a great young pastor (no pride on my part, uh?) - Has had me look again at an issue that all pastors and church leaders face - allowing others things to crowd out their love for Jesus.

I went into ministry because I loved Jesus. I was excited, optimistic and ready to conquer the world for Him. ! I remember the 1985 GA here in Michigan because an older pastor I had known and respected since I was a child, spoke privately to me about ministry and the Church in negative defeatist terms. Blew my mind…but sadly I now am in my 60’s and after 39 years of pastoral ministry, I understand his burned-out pessimistic attitude.

But I am not going to surrender to that negative mindset and neither should you!

Regardless where our place of service is - rural, urban, large or small, solo or on staff - we all need to maintain a lifelong love of Jesus. If we don't, our ministry will be stunted and will eventually fail.

Okay, how? Here are a couple of ideas that work for me. I would be interested in yours, too.

Take time every day - to worship the Lord. I sing to Jesus, I praise Him, I express by words, my love for Him. Not just on Sunday, not just when others are around.

Count my blessings -literally write down what God has done for you. It is always far more than what you can think of off the top of your head. Better than I deserve ! Blessed beyond all measure.

Get away with Him - retreat, un-plug and detach from the rest of the world for a while and rest, listen and see what the Lord has for you.

Repent and turn around - when you see something, can be good or bad, that is separating you from God, change. Turn around. Re focus and work on what will keep you with Jesus.

Never forget what Jesus has done for you! He saved me, called me, placed me, and helps me every day. Best of all, He loves me! And I love Him. Always and forever.

January 27, 2020

Barking dogs, focus and your ministry

Rev. David Perry, Pastor, Edgewood Church of God in Ithaca, Michigan

7 Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives' tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly.
~ 1 Timothy 4:7 - New Living Translation (NLT)

We live in a day and age where fighting and arguing are everywhere. TV shows like Maury, Jerry Springer, Judge Judy, and a host of reality shows attract viewers who love watching other people fight.

Social media is a place where people go to vent, argue, and to try to "one up" others. Being rude to others online is considered acceptable, even sadly among followers of Christ. It pains me to see the way fellow Christians use un Christ like language towards somebody because they are a __________ : - fill in the blank = "liberal" or "conservative" or "Democrat" or "Republican" or "Progressive" or "Fundamentalist"...etc., etc....

Are you sure Jesus is okay with that kind of cruel, snarky, caustic language?

The combative nature of people is nothing new. Paul writes to Timothy about how to live as a Pastor and Church leader in 1 Timothy and more than three times in this letter Paul talks to Timothy about the temptation to fight and argue:

"...not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money."
~ 1 Tim. 3:3 NIV

4"They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between people of corrupt mind,..."
~ 1 Tim. 6: 4-5 NIV

"You will never reach your destination if you stop
and throw stones at every dog who barks."
~ Sir Winston Churchill

Paul calls Pastors and Church leaders to be gentle, literally power under control, and to stay focused on teaching and proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord. It comes down to this - My desire to win or to be "right" is not as important as it is to proclaim Jesus as Lord. Will I let go of my pugnacious nature in order to win others to Christ? Focus on our true mission!

2020 is an Election year for the USA. The temptation will be to stop and to argue with those we disagree with. Think before you engage. We are called to preach the Gospel, not push a political party or agenda. To Proclaim a Savior, not a candidate. Our attitudes and the tone of our messages are as important as are the positions.

Let us be known as the people who love Jesus and who lovingly help others to connect to Him.

January 21, 2020

Disappoint, Envy, and the Toledo Mud Hens

Rev. David Perry, Pastor, Edgewood Church of God in Ithaca, Michigan

5 "What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe - as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor." ~ I Cor. 3: 5-8 - NIV

Recently several younger pastors have vented their frustrations to me of folks that have been a part of their congregation and are now leaving for another church group.

"I led them to the Lord!" ... "I walked with them through this (numerous issues - marital issues, child issues, health issues, etc.)...." "they left for me/us for something more new, shiny, or bigger..."

Wow, pastor, this hurts! I feel you on this, been there and have a T-shirt, too.

We pastors are human and we are prone to emotional stress in these matters. How to handle it? May I give a few ideas I pray that will help as I have struggled with this:

The main thing is people believing in Jesus: both in 1 Cor. 1:17 and now again in 1 Cor. 3, Paul picks up the idea that we (all pastors, in all sizes of congregations ) are not as important as Jesus. We are servants together to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord.

Please keep this in mind: I am a servant of Jesus, helping to connect people to Him. I am part of a team, a group effort in the winning the world for Jesus. Are my ego needs more important than helping others connect to the Lord Jesus Christ?

I have a role in disciple making: The Toledo Mud hens are a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Detroit Tigers. They develop young players who are often called up to play for the Tigers. They also rehabilitate players that need some extra help.

In several of the congregations I have served, I have felt like the Mud Hens: I help a person come to Christ, to grow in faith and then watch them go on to a larger group.

My choice now; whine and complain or say "thank you" that they still serve my Lord and theirs?

I have several prospects that are serving in other places, and I am grateful to see them serve. I have a role in their walk with the Lord and I keep lines of communication open to help in that. People move all the time and open doors allow for continued disciple making.

Seek the Lord's reward: back in 1985 I was serving a small rural church. My friend Jim Cook was the pastor of St. Joe First Church – much, much bigger outfit. Jim regularly invited me to lunch and at one lunch said to me with much appreciation and encouragement, "Dave, I could never serve as well as you do there in Cassopolis." God used Jim and that conversation to encourage me. My place of service is not small in God’s eyes. My role is important to God.

The Lord Jesus Christ saved me and called me into the ministry. It is a privilege that I get to help others find salvation in Jesus, too. Hang in there, Pastor!

January 13, 2020

The daily work we preachers' do!

Rev. David Perry, Pastor, Edgewood Church of God in Ithaca, Michigan

"Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth." ~ 2 Timothy 2:15 Amplified Bible (AMP)

This January is the 39th year of pastoral ministry for me. Glory be to the Lord for this. The calling into ministry is both from God and a work of effort for me. It is like much of the Christian walk = a gift that we receive and a gift that we must also grow and develop.

A former friend of mine (I won't mention Glenn's name so I won't embarrass him) has said several times real loud in public, "I wish I had a preachers job – one hour a week!". It does beg the question; what do preachers do during the week?

Many, many things but perhaps the one of the most essential thing we ministers and church leaders ought to do is study the Bible daily.

The idea Paul has in mind in 2 Tim. 2: 15 is that studying the Bible is an ongoing intentional effort on our part. There is danger in saying, "Well, I have a college degree or I have memorized this or I preached/ taught this passage so many, many times, that I got this completely down pat!" None of us can afford that attitude. That smugness will choke our spirit and will weaken our ministry.

Study and keep studying the Bible. Preacher, church leader that is our job. Don't coast or rely on past work only. Study the Bible daily and study it freshly - with an open mind ready for new insights.

I am at a point in years of ministry where I am sometimes teaching/preaching on passages that I have used before. The danger is to just rely on my old notes and become pretty formulaic.

For many years I had a glass diamond globe that hung from my rearview mirror in my car. The cool thing about it is as the Sun shone through it, the different faucets of this diamond globe would reflect the sunlight into a variety of dazzling hues of color. Same light, different angle, variety of beauty.

The beauty of the Bible is if I am willing to come to it fresh and open, it has new nuances for me to discover each day!

The Word of God is timeless and speaks God's truth to all people in all cultures in all generations. Studying it over time has revealed an unending stream of wonder!

Study and keep studying the Word of God. Enjoy the journey of discovery God has for you in your daily study.

January 6, 2020

Recalibrating

Rev. Mark K. Richardson, State Pastor, Church of God in Michigan

"Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past." "Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:18-19 (NASB)

Most new cars, and certainly all smart phones today have Global Positioning Systems (GPS) capability. This has become a near necessity in our time. This great tool allows us to travel nearly anywhere in the United States and beyond with turn-by-turn instructions based upon satellite positioning of our location. It been my experience that this usually works very well, except for those times when I decide I know better than the GPS and start off on a “shortcut.” My most egregious mistake with this was once turning an eight hour trip to Nags Head from Pittsburgh into a grueling 13 hour trip by taking a “shortcut” through the mountains of West Virginia. If you are familiar with how a GPS works, you know that when you go off course it will say something like “Recalculating” or “Recalibrating.” It will then give you a new route with adjustments made to fix your “shortcuts.”

Happy New Year to you all, by the way! Each New Year represents a great opportunity for us to go through a time of “recalibrating.” If you are like me, you like to take time at the beginning of a New Year to evaluate the previous year and, based upon that, go through a time of “recalibrating” for the New Year. I want to share with you some things that have helped me over the years as I work through my process.

Review With Thanksgiving (Look back over 2019 and thankfully assess several things)
Who you are now versus who you were in January 2019; What you’ve accomplished over the year; What you didn’t do that you wanted to do; What lessons you’ve learned good and bad; What people impacted you during the year; How have you grown in every way in your life; What precious cargo have you discovered that you can take with you in 2020; What from 2019 do you need to put into the dumpster that won’t help you going forward. Thank God profusely for it all, good and bad, because each of them will teach you something that will make you better and move you forward. In fact, I would encourage you to offer to God a daily litany of thanksgiving for what He has done, what He is doing, and what He is going to do.

Remember With Praise
Remind yourself just Who your God is: His Presence; His Power; His Providence; His Plan; His Provisions; His Promises. Remind yourself of what He has called you to do, and rededicate yourself to doing it with all you have. Draw near to Him in daily devotion, remembering the zeal you had when you first answered the call to serve Him. Remember that you can trust Him to honor every good and perfect gift He has laid aside for you and put in you. Make it a daily habit, just like with thanksgiving, to praise Him for Who He is and what He is capable of doing. As you stoke your remembrance of His greatness and glory, allow your perspective of God to grow. Try making praise (and thanksgiving) the biggest part of your prayers, with the desire to know Him more, hear Him more clearly, and have more of Him.

Recalibrate With Determination
Set your entire being on going forward and claiming that which God has prepared for you. This is the challenge for us to recalibrate some key things that make the journey of the call richer. The things we need insure are on the right course are things like: Our attitudes, our consecration; our commitment; our focus; our determination; our health (physical, mental, spiritual, financial, relational); our passion for Christ. Be determined that in your ministry and your home life apart from ministry that you will give excellent, determined effort to be pleasing to God. There will always be a score of tasks to do, goals and objectives to meet, and the whirlwind of ministry, but never allow them to keep you from staying on course with the Lord. If you find yourself there in any way, “recalibrate!”

May the Lord bless us all with an awesome 2020 in this great ministry and in every aspect of our lives.