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Welcome!

Welcome to my blog site! I am thankful you are here and hopeful you will find the content engaging. 

That word life says it all. I realize it is broad but if we place the adjective real ahead of the noun life it really can change the conversation. 

So, let’s try to do just that and let’s invite others to join in the discussion with us. 

You and me, we can make a difference, real life awaits!

MC

Fifth Sunday in November

Hey Friends,


Yesterday was an awesome time for our family as we celebrated Thanksgiving with family and friends. As the day moved on into evening I recall being grateful for how Life Community Church has stepped up during this Season where this Pandemic has created an increase in needs both locally as well as throughout the World we live in. You guys have come through with your prayers, donations, and time as LCC has filled in the gaps for individuals, families, and Christian organizations.


A couple of weeks ago we considered the question Jesus was asked; Who is my neighbor? Our neighbor can be anyone and everyone. 


LCC has discovered that statement to be true and that is because we have all suffered, in some way, through these last 9 months. In my reading this past week I ran across this simple quote:  There is Hope in the Struggle. I find in those 6 words, something to hang onto for today and tomorrow, as well as the upcoming months we face. 


Here’s what Isaiah 40:31 says to us about hope. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. This Sunday we will be closing our Conversations With God series by talking about Vital Signs. When it comes to vitality, it looks like we have 3 options available to us.

Join us as we begin @ 10:15 with worship and don’t forget that we will be opening the Season of Advent, the anticipation of Christ’s birth in this time leading up to Christmas. It all begins with the lighting of that first candle on the wreath, the candle of HOPE!


God’s peace to each of you,
Pastor Mike 

Fourth Sunday in November

Greetings Dear Friends,


Everyday we are hearing this phrase, Pandemic Fatigue. Nine or Ten months of uncertainty can result in one becoming fatigued. Words like: weary, exhausted, tired, bored, spent, depleted begin to creep into our minds.


Do you ever ask yourself:  How am I going to get through this? The cynics or detractors among us would never admit to having asked themselves such a question. Stephen Colbert once said: Cynics always say no. But saying yes begins things.Getting through this pandemic, an obvious reality you and I live in, will require a YES if we are to overcome what is ahead. To say YES is not simply about you or me, it’s about others, as Jesus often said; love your neighbor as yourself.


In the Gospel of Luke 10:25-42, one guy actually asks Jesus,And who is my neighbor? Jesus, the consummate storyteller, answered with a story because stories are about PEOPLE! If you have a Bible, take time to read the story Jesus shared and see what you think a neighbor is. The read will take you about 2 minutes.

The point here is that everyone must answer; who is my neighbor. And in so doing, I believe you and I will find an answer to overcoming the fatigue of this pandemic because reaching out to others changes your heart toward humankind. Hope is a choice, It’s a Jesus thing! Say YES and see what will happen in your life.


Every Wednesday morning I reach out to a dozen people who gather for Prayer Component.

PC is literally one of the top 5 best decisions Life Community has fallen into. Inside of this group I have been drawn back from fatigue many times. I experience newness of life being with this group each Wednesday and it has made the difference in my life between choosing Joy or Despair during these last nine months. Everyone is welcome regardless of how much time you may have on a Wednesday morning @ 9am, come try PC.


This Sunday Pastor Thomas is sharing a message in our Conversations With God series. He’s going to lead with a challenging question. Check it out:  Are your conversations with God being heard or does your call go straight to voicemail? I can’t wait to hear this talk and I’m hoping you’ll be a part of the online audience attending.


The Lord bless you and keep you, The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be graciousto you.

Pastor Mike

First Sunday in November

Good Friday Morning Everyone,


We’re moving our LCC E-Letter up from Saturdays to Fridays so that you’ll have an extra day to read and contemplate your options for the weekend. 
We know you have a lot going on and we’re hopeful that, if we can get out front with you then you may find that 10:15-11:30 on Sundays can be more than just another option. It just might become an hour+ that internally changes your perspective of life itself.

Life Community has weathered the Pandemic as well as any Micro Church East of the Cooper. Tomorrow I am sending you an update on where we are and on how we want to move FORWARD over these next several months as we transition into 2021. Check out that correspondence and let me hear from you because You and Your opinion matter to LCC!


This Sunday we begin a new series of talks entitled Conversations With God. Pastor Thomas and I will be playing “tag team” every other week so that you get a broader understanding of our perspective on connecting with who we believe to be THE GOD of the Universe as well as THE GOD of your LIFE. 
If you’ve been with us from the beginning or if this is your first look at a different approach in pursuing the life of God be assured of this baseline truth:  when it comes to living, everything begins with a 

Conversation.These next 5 Sundays can become a renewed approach to life itself. In each of our messages throughout the month of November, Thomas and I will promise you this – Conversations With God can draw you into a Connection With God.


So here’s my challenge to you and to meduring this season of Thanksgiving, commit to allowing God to show us HOW a conversation can change WHO we are.


I pray you will join us as together, in Community With God, we locate a deepening faith.


Let me close with this from Philip Yancey, “Though my needs may drive me to prayer, there I come face-to-face with my greatest need: an encounter with God’s own self.”That, dear friends, changes everything!


Blessings to you and may the peace of the Lord be always with you,


Pastor Mike

FIRST THINGS FIRST – PART 3

In our second installment I began by listing the 6 questions we all must deal with as we develop our lives.

Blogger Jonathan Cottrell in his article entitled; Who Before Why – Reconsidering which comes first, notes for us that while organizations would choose Why, the individual should always begin with Who. Sounds right for me, how bout you?

Cottrell comments that; While our personal Whats and Hows will frequently change with time (that’s cool, glad to read that), how we live our lives will invariably be built upon our identity.

What is identity? It’s about you, it’s about me, and any others we’ll let into our orbits. An individual identity is the distinguishing character or personality of that individual. Essentially it seems to be about our uniqueness. Which might end up in the arena of our uncommonness.

I love our language, how simply it can turn on a dime and challenge our sensibilities.

So, Who Are You?

Someone once said that each of us are both more than we are and less than we are. While that doesn’t fully answer the question of life it at least gives us all a common denominator. Living isn’t about building, so much as it is about becoming. And before we conclude this post I’ll attempt to explain why I believe that becoming always will always trump building.

For now I want to return to the book I mentioned in my last post; The Second Mountain (TSM) by the journalist and author David Brooks. TSM is another metaphor for the second half of life which, given the days, many among us will eventually face. In the introduction, Brooks takes a couple of pages to unpack the question; Why are we here?

Those of us who are writers work out our stuff in public, even under the guise of pretending to write about someone else. In other words, we try to teach what it is that we really need to learn. My first mountain was an insanely lucky one. I achieved far more professional success than I ever expected to. But that climb turned me into a certain sort of person…..I sidestepped the responsibilities of relationships…..When I look back on the errors and failures and sins of my life, they tend to be failures of omission, failures to truly show up for the people I should have been close to. They tend to be the sins of withdrawal, evasion, workaholism, conflict avoidance, failure to empathize, and a failure to express myself openly…..I prioritized time over people and productivity over relationships which became a recurring motif in my life.

We could say that Brooks’ unpacking of his first mountain to climb focused on building without proper depth on becoming. Perhaps all of us can see through Brooks’ confession a similar approach to the first half of our own lives? My guess is we probably do. How about you? Have you always and in every way put First Things First?

Back to Jonathan Cottrell. “Unfortunately, who we are is complicated. Self -discovery is a long process, arguably a lifelong process.” Those complications are there with purpose. They have within them the ability to challenge us. Think of them as you would think of a Coach not a Cheerleader, if you get my point. The complexity of life is a gift in many ways. We should embrace them as we scale the First Mountain of Life for they are the tests and examinations which must be proven in our lives in order for us to move with confidence on to the Base Camp at the bottom of that Second Mountain.

Even as we scale that First Mountain, what Richard Rohr in his book Falling Upward calls The First Half Of Life, we must be aware that in many ways we are not prepared for what we are about to undertake. As Rohr notes; “We are better at rushing to judgment and demanding a complete resolution to things before we have learned what they have to teach us.” This is a huge problem in the Western world today, especially for men. I’ll introduce why it is so in my next post early next week

For now, we will move to some closure with two points worth considering.

First, each and every human being is individually called upon to become who she or he is created to be. There’s only one of YOU! Imagine what this world would be missing if YOU were not here to fulfill that role?

I like this from Eugene Peterson who reminds us that – We’re here to give witness to where life comes from, how it develops, and how we enter it. Give these 18 words a serious look this weekend. Do it now if you are like me, a procrastinator.

Second: Who we are, and hopefully, who we are becoming, has taken on a new meaning for living the life we have been given.

Take time this weekend to list 3 ways in which you have found “new meaning for living life” from either your First or Second Mountain.

I’d love to hear from some of you who will take up this work of contemplating what the pieces and parts are of a life well lived.

See you early next week!

MC

4th Sunday in October

Greetings all,


Last week we spent some time sharing how to get the most out of our Holy Communion services @ Life Community with those who were online Sunday morning live and those who joined us later through our Facebook page. I received some encouraging responses to what we talked about and how helpful it was in understanding the importance of this Sacrament which we observe twice a month @ LCC. 


Many of you guys know how much Communion means to this church. Without it, we would miss the  opportunity to Receive what God longs to Provide. So I wanted to remind all of us to recall two words that can make a difference in experiencing a more power filled memory in Communion. Those words: Adapt and Accommodate. Jesus said in John’s Gospel: The Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. Jesus’ point here redounds to you and me. God has, inside of Communion, given us the possibility of a new life (even with this pandemic) which we can fully see through the Sacrament of Holy Communion. 


This Sunday we have Pastor Thomas back in the spotlight and I’m looking forward to his message as I know you guys are as well. 


And I’m going to take a few minutes to introduce our November speaking series on Conversations With God. As a part of that series, you’ll get to hear from some of the people who have been a part of our Wednesday Prayer Component gathering!


One last important item and I’ll let you go. During this Pandemic we have missed the opportunity to connect with one another in person, in real time, with real people. This coming week I will be sending out an update on where we are currently as we look at the options of reopening @ MTC. Once you receive this email I would appreciate each of you responding with your own feelings and questions. You are a part of LCC and your opinion is always welcome in this church.


Have a blessed weekend and we hope to see you online this Sunday beginning at 10:15 am.


Pastor Mike

3rd Sunday in October

Greetings all,


About seven years ago I wrote an article in which I shared this sentence:


“All that is worthy of our being and our doing begins with our Attention and moves forward through God’s Intention.”Consider those two words. First, the word 

Attention which requires consideration – which is driven by our mindfulness. Second, the word Intention reminds us of a God who is constantly scheming, designing, putting together the best plan for his creation.


Proverbs 16:9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.Think about this, How often have we been ready to Receive what God is ready to Provide? This Sunday we will once again be Celebrating Communion together even while we’re apart! Ahead of that Sacrament I’ll be sharing a message on How and Why Communion is so much more than we have yet to consider and imagine. So get your Bread and Wine ready for a dynamic experience together.


Pastor Thomas and Vanessa are celebrating her birthday and their anniversary down in Hilton Head and if they have had enough celebrating before next Sunday we’ll get to hear Thomas as we close out October! (Just kidding…Thomas is definitely speaking a week from Sunday.)
In November there will be a 5 Sunday series entitled Conversations With God. We’ll kick that off on November 1st by talking about the 14 most DANGEROUS words you’ll ever speak.

Also, right now I’m writing four blog posts entitled First Things First. The opening post is already on my blog site mikecooke.life By this evening I hope to have the second installment. I’d love for even more of you to read and comment as some of you already have. The feedback and engagement really helps and leads to great conversation!


It is, in my opinion, critical that we engage in conversations as a church which can connect us in community with others who may be looking for exactly who we are here at Life Community. These upcoming posts between now and the end of the year can make a real difference when shared with others in your concentric circle of influence. So, please share the link from above to my blog site via an email to a friend OR by sharing the it on Facebook with your circle of friends. 

I’m looking forward to this Sunday and hopeful that you choose to join us online @ 10:15


God’s peace to each of you.


Pastor Mike

FIRST THINGS FIRST – PART 2

There are 6 great questions you and I undertake as we wrestle with the development of our lives; Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why.

Last week I opened a new thread entitled; First Things First. In that post I suggested there seems to be an intentional way for you and me to live our lives. An order, if you will, to discover our deliberate design.

Now before you pushback on this working theory of mine, allow me to share several thoughts for our consideration. 

The FIRST one is a question. Is life more about WHAT you DO or more about WHO you ARE? Doing vs. Being has been a question every generation has to deal with. And in America, doing usually prevails. Because in America what we have, what we accomplish, and what we desire defines life. While that is true of many Western countries, there is little argument that Americans matriculate summa cum laud!

The SECOND thought I have is that we believe our Being (we’ll define this word shortly) will change as we grow… so in the first half of life, we gotta get all we can. There’s a great book by David Brooks of the New York Times entitled The Second Mountain. I’ll be using some out takes from Brooks in the next couple of posts so stay tuned. You will want to follow this guy’s voice on finding life.

Now, I have to admit that in my twenties I bought into the, “gotta get all you can.” In fact I may have added to that a secondary warning; “before someone else gets it all”. Material STUFF mattered to me just as it mattered to almost everyone I was hanging out with. If you had the STUFF you would make it in life. If you didn’t, you lost at life. 

Finally, the THIRD idea is a compilation taken from the FIRST question and the SECOND thought.  

WHAT IF we’ve answered the first question wrong and the STUFF we amassed never really brought us LIFE itself.

Is it possible that we can DO a lot of things in life and gather lots of stuff in life while at the same time be empty as a person? From my perspective, the answer is YES!

From the book – The Seasons of Life by Chuck Swindoll :

“DOING is usually connected with a vocation or career – how we make a living. BEING is much deeper. It relates to character – who we are and how we make a life. DOING is tied in closely with activity, accomplishments, and tangible things like salary, prestige, involvements, roles, and trophies. BEING, on the other hand, has more to do with intangibles – the kind of people we become inside, much of which we cannot measure by objective yardsticks and immersive awards. But of the two, BEING will ultimately outdistance DOING every time. It may take half a lifetime to perfect, but ends down, it’s far more valuable. And lasting. And inspiring.”

WHO ARE YOU? You’re a lot more than you probably have imagined. Finding the courage to place First Things First each day will soon begin to change WHO YOU ARE!

Check back in mid week for the third installment along with some wisdom from David Brooks.

And please share your opinion through any and all comments you might have. I look froward to reading them.

MC

FIRST THINGS FIRST

I have, for some time now, been working out in my own life what many may call; first things first or the cart before the horse.

Truth be told, we all have some type of flavor of this human desire to comport our lives so that we may become who we are created to be. I mean everyone wants that don’t they?

Over the course of these last two decades, I have been deeply interested in this dualistic life where we seem so often to be moving between “Who We Are”, which we we’ll label our BEING and “What We Do”, which we’ll label our DOING. 

This practice of moving betwixt and between we assume is helpful, and while that may at times be true, it will also keep us from our quest. Does that word quest make you think of Medieval times? It does me. Anyway, my point here is that we are in deep need of a conversation around LIFE and how a LIFE that is vibrant and flourishing can be lived. 

To that end, there are a number of differing views, and I would love to in some way be helpful in moderating the truth around these dissimilar ideas about LIFE itself. I believe it all begins with

first things first

You and I, along with all of humanity, have vacillated between the two primary options of living LIFE; Being vs Doing, Who We Are and What We Do. These two words aren’t at odds. They are simpatico. Always have been, always will be.

In my next post, we’ll look at why one must lead the other. And why the other must prove the one.

Hope you’ll keep close with this series of three to four posts. As always, your comments are needed and appreciated.

MC

WHAT ABOUT FAITH? (Part 5)

Greetings all. I’ve been a wee bit absent these past several weeks. Like the pretentious Priest, Father Guido Sarduci on Saturday Night Live used to say, “I blame-a myself.” The pen (keyboard) has been silent and difficult to approach. I attempted more than once, maybe twice, I don’t know, by now it doesn’t matter. My attempt to write the final blog in this series, numero cinco, in What About Faith, well, let me be honest here, it just wasn’t happening. 

Now having apologized, then making fun of that apology, and then adding in another excuse, I recalled the famous quote attributed to almost every writer:  “No one wants to write, everyone wants to have written.”

That was my problem these last several weeks. And I am looking forward to feeling much better once I finish this conclusion!

In the last blog which few will remember from 22 days ago, I suggested that Jesus, from what I can tell, invited people who were interested into Proximity and Participation. Proximity meaning to move in close in order to be present. Wherever you are, be all there! To be close is to be adjacent… to be near one another. This is a position that makes sense to people who are devoted.

That second word, Participation, is a fitting word for us to use in the conclusion of this series centered around a practical definition of living out a life of exceptional faith. Without participating in the faith that one admits to, one is left unwilling to pursue their faith. America is full of Christians whose participation is of little importance to them.

Religion is more an event we attend than a Faith we Follow. That has become an inconvenient truth for many who have been overcome by some kind of situational amnesia from church itself. Inside of these WAF posts, I have tried to present an anciently new way of pursuing one’s faith. It has been here all along. Ever since Jesus challenged us to have eyes to see and ears to hear. What would you call that? I call it Practical Theology.

We have people these days in the Church who love to talk about “the Word.” Seven times in Matthew 23, Jesus, who according to John’s Gospel was the Word, had this to say regarding people who believe they have the power and position to tell others what they have to believe: Woe to you…hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones…

Wow Jesus, why don’t you just tell us how you feel!  

I know a little about hypocrisy. It results in being a hypocrite, which I once was in order to elevate my importance in the eyes of others unschooled in theology. It was as they say a fool’s errand. So, back to Practical Theology if you will.

Participation, that second word I brought up is critical for those of us who are pursuing the life God has called us to. Proximity without Participation is useless to us as we seek to explore, discover and live a life of exceptional faith.

Participation, defined for this post means – embracing and engaging the life of faith. It’s a purposeful act one is compelled into because they want to center their life around their faith, trusting that once there they will find a deeper life driven by the Spirit of God residing inside us. 

What keeps most professing Christians from a deepening faith? It may be as simple as this: 

  1. They have yet to allow themselves to move into the Proximity of the God who longs to welcome them into a new and unending life.
  1. Without proximity they may be unable to define what it means to take the next step into the act of Participation with others in community. 
  1. And finally, without proximity and participation, Faith itself seems to have been mostly ignored.  As G.K. Chesterton noted in this quote: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult, and left untried.”

So, What About Faith?

In the end, when it comes to faith, no one can appeal to another as their proxy. While it is not private, it is nonetheless by definition, personal in so much as you and I have or have not come to a conclusion on faith’s significance for our own lives. 

So, What About Faith?

It’s between you and God and eventually it is between the both of you and the community of others who in spite of their frailty of faith, nonetheless do not give up hope.

So, What About Faith?

Hang on wherever you are with faith. And never forget, God is for you not against you. 

Thanks again for stopping by long enough to read this post. I pray this post has read you as well.

MC

WHAT ABOUT FAITH? (Part 4)

Hey you Blog Post people. I’m glad you’ve latched onto this 3rd post in the What About Faith series where we are pushing forward to unpack the importance of faith. We set out to write five posts which might help us consider the import and impact of faith in anyone’s life regardless of whether you are religious or not.

These posts are coming straight from talks and conversations I have been having with friends of mine @ Life Community here in Mt. Pleasant, SC as together we explore how one’s Faith can Transition us to a new step into what faith actually is about.

I have to give kudos to Brian McLaren and his writing in the book – A Search For What Makes Sense. He is an awesome writer whom I was introduced to by friends who thought I might find in McLaren a kindred spirit. And, I did! McLaren is a writer who has the credentials to help all of us work through this ever present pursuit of faith. 

So, let’s start with a point McLaren reveals; in a world where there are Good and Bad Choices, it’s quite likely that there must also be Good and Bad Faith “options” for my faith.

Jesus says in the Gospel accounts; Come and see or Come and follow. What I believe Jesus meant here is that Good Faith begins with Proximity and leads to Participation. The capital “P’s” assume significant importance which we’ll return to shortly.

Choosing a path to travel on as one explores, discovers, responds, and embraces an exceptional faith for one’s life is representative of someone who believes that faith itself is worth our time. And, in fact, isn’t it true, that time, the time we commit to a person, a project, a plan or a purpose is always a factor for a good or a bad outcome regardless of what one might be pursuing. By the way, go back to the top of this paragraph and read those four underlined words. Don’t each of those words sound inviting? They seem to me to be the scope and sequence for an individual whose intent is on giving faith its rightful place in their life.

Looking back over three decades in ministry, I recall having a sense that many people I’ve known who attend church, get baptized, pursue God, or “find religion” (whatever that means), spend little of their time exploring, discovering, responding, and embracing faith especially in these days of distraction. 

Time plays a huge part here and we have to be honest with ourselves as to the allocation of our time, because faith, as it turns out, requires a lot of one’s time. This is precisely why in the Gospels Jesus calls all of us first to the concept of Proximity. That word means to move close to in order to be present. When someone says to me; “Hey Mike, I’d like for you to come see something I have been working on. I’d love to hear what you think about it.” That’s an invitation to Proximity. And there is a bonus attached to Proximity. When one is near to others in faith, one becomes closer to exceptional faith… if that is what you are looking to find.

Immediately following the 4 Gospels in the New Testament we find The Book of Acts which is the beginning of the Church. Today, you, me, and others may see church as “our church.” It’s the church that I go to, the church I give to, the church that fits who I am, the church where I feel more at home in my faith. There are a lot of things you can identify as a reason for the church you choose and yes, the faith you are pursuing should be a major factor in where you are pursuing the Life that God has offered you.

Jesus’ church (if we can call it that) was actually a community, a fellowship of sojourners who because of their Proximity understood why Jesus was calling them to Participation. Without it (Proximity), there would be an even smaller number of people who are sharing their life with others (Participation), pursuing an exceptional faith. 

How do we Participate in the life of an exceptional faith? That’s where we’ll pick up inside of the 5th post in this series next week…

MC