where love is alive 


It happens occasionally.  In some roundabout way I discover the news that someone has given up on the church.  To be honest, these are not the exact words that are used to articulate the situation.  The typical news is that someone is no longer participating in the worship or any other ministries in a local church.  “Giving up on the church” is not the vernacular, but it is, in essence, what has occurred.  For any variety of reasons, (more about that later), the ministry of an individual congregation is no longer valued enough to be part of a believer’s regular activities.  The decision may come in the form of an abrupt closure or it may transpire through a gradual decrease in church activities until they stop entirely.  Either way, actions (or lack of actions) indicate someone has “given up” on the place the local church carries in the work of the Lord.

I am certain that you too have at some time or another received word that someone you know has chosen to no longer participate in church activities.  (By the way, the key word in that previous sentence is “chosen.”  I am not referring to people who are providentially hindered from church attendance because of health or other unavoidable reasons.)

I assure you, the discovery that someone is now inactive in his or her church status does not make me angry.  I am not upset with any former church attendees.  But I confess that their decision does make me sad.  And if these folks were formerly part of our ministries here at North Cleveland Baptist, I grieve that we somehow might have failed to be the church they needed.

The sentiments through which I compose these articles originate in a very genuine place in my heart.  I have a rich, natural affinity for the local church.  During their formative years, my parent’s families were committed to their local congregations.  My dad was part of East Chattanooga Baptist Church and my mother attended Oakwood Baptist Church in Knoxville.  I am grateful for the immeasurable impact these two churches had in shaping the heart and character of my mom and dad.  I was born into a pastor’s family.  Therefore, church attendance was simply part of the McCluskey family routine.  I never knew differently.  The people of my home church, Wallace Memorial Baptist in Knoxville,  readily became an extended family to me.  Devoted staff members engaged me into meaningful ministries.  Rank and file church members voluntarily invested in my life.  In doing so, they modeled Christian servanthood before me.  It was at church that I found and experienced my best friendships (many of which still exist today.)  Simply stated, that congregation loved me and my family.  Therefore, at the age of 19, when I felt the Lord leading me into vocational ministry, working for a local church was an attractive prospect.  And, in much the same way, North Cleveland Baptist is a precious, extended family to me and my home.

In the coming weeks, I will share more in this space to affirm and celebrate the role of the church in the sovereign plans of the Lord.  I invite you to prayerfully go with me with an open mind and heart regarding what it means for God’s people to function in community.                                                                                                                                              -Jay



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    1. Dear Pastor,
      My wife and I are moving to the Cleveland area sometime in May or first part of June.
      We have been praying fervently for God’s direction in locating us to His place of worship, fellowship, and service there. We will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary this August 5th. We met at Dallas Bible College and Connie joined me, along with other students, in an itenerate ministry to three rural churches in SW Arkansas. Therefore we are celebrating fifty-two (52) years of ministry together. She was the pianist.

      Our son, Mike Harrison, Jr, has a 36 acre spread about 15 minutes from North Cleveland Baptist, where our apartment is being constructed beginning this week. We are retirees: Connie in 2016, as a Director of a four physician (pediatric) Cook Children’s facility in Flower Mound, TX; and myself in 1996, as Dean of Students at the International Institute of ACE located in Lewisville, TX (after four heart attacks and two major strokes).

      God renewed my strength and I was able to speak again, preaching and teaching for over ten years in my wheelchair. But God had another change for us as He laid on my heart two new ministries (but they required me to walk – No problem for the Lord!) I called my dear pastor and we had he and his wife pray with us along with five other “faithful prayers”. Six months later, God delivered the answer – on the night of the worst pain I had ever experienced in my 47 years of back pain… there in our bedroom, in my hospital bed, at 3:00 AM, I finally fell off to sleep in total exhaustion. At 7:00 AM, I was awakened by the soft peck on the cheek of Connie’s “goodbye, I’m off to work” kiss. After a few seconds I realized something was different.

      “No back pain”, I gasped. Then, “Glory, I can walk”!
      I put my feet on the floor immediately. Stood straight up and walked without a wobble;
      Bent right over and touched the floor, “Glory, Hallelujah; let Your Name be praised”!
      When Connie came home for lunch – she was overcome with joy and thanksgiving!
      Our three married children and their families were rejoicing. They had been praying.
      But what happened on Sunday was so glorious. Pastor Osborne and I decided I would make a special announcement. The congregation had, for the most part, never seen me walk. I made my way to the auditorium early and transferred to a from row pew.
      When he said I had an announcement, instead of sending down a mike, I leaped up and ran up nine steps to the podium. There was silence throughout. Not a sound from either level. The following clapping, “amans”, “glories”, and “hallelujahs” are a testament to the faithfulness of God and His people honoring Him in worship and praise. Humbly and passionately I explained to our family in the faith the privilege God was affording us and that we had taken on two new assignments six months earlier with the full assurance this day would be a blessing for us all, but the glory all His. That was August 2006. I became active in our special missions group and became a Salvation Army shortly thereafter.

      Connie and I practice personal evangelism and are faithful in praying and Bible reading and study. We are interested in a church that is committed to disciple making and worship. We are interested in a church that’s doors are open to all. We are highly interested to an assembly where “reaching our” and “reaching in” are in balance with the Word. We are interested in a church where we can serve. Connie plays the keyboard, sings, teaches, and just loves folks. I first taught junior boys at age sixteen and have been teaching for 54 years. I first preached (Opelousas, LA) at age 18; therefore for almost 53 years. I came to know Christ as Savior at age, 11, at a VBS at First Baptist Church Moss Bluff (Near Lake Charles, LA). I Graduated, Dallas Bible College, 1971,(Biblical Studies). Connie came to know the Lord as Savior as a younger child at home. Both of us were baptized before the age of 12.

      Most of my “work”career was spent in management.
      I worked for over 10 years for Sherwin Williams Co. in Garland, TX (night shifts) in order: to finish Bible College; supplement income as pastor; free time during days to volunteer for Christian ministries at various churches.
      I worked 17 years for Accelerated Christian Education; IT Director and Dean of Students.
      Christian Ministry: Pastor, Youth Pastor, Music Leader, Men’s Ministry, Deacon, Project Leader, Sunday School Teacher, Evangelist, Church Planting, Church Recovery,
      Salvation Army Chaplin, Missions Team Leader… Church Janitors (together), Create and print Bulletin…

      We would love to hear from you. We need you to provide some things that you, as pastor of North Cleveland, consider dear to you in your own ministry, and from what I have shared, would you be willing to join Connie and me in asking God to direct our hearts to the people and field where He has for us join Him in His work?

      Matt. 28:19-20
      John 13:31-35

      Posted by Michael C Harrison Sr / Mike | March 5, 2017, 2:38 pm
    2. Thanks for writing. I hope you will come see us when you get to the Cleveland Area. I have a deep love for local church ministry and appreciate when Christians join together in ministry.
      Have a blessed Easter Season

      Jay McCluskey, Pastor

      Posted by jaym | April 6, 2017, 11:44 am
    3. Thanks Dr. Jay. I always need the reinforcement of knowing He will come in His time.

      Posted by Viviene Serridge | May 20, 2018, 6:50 am
    4. Received your website with ease this morning and sermon on Hypocrisy. Thanks so much.

      Posted by Viviene Serridge | June 10, 2018, 9:07 am

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