where love is alive 


            Two weeks a year I serve as the chaplain for Tennova Hospital.  On those days I spend between one and two hours meeting newly admitted patients, introducing myself, and letting them know that I am available if they need a minister for prayer or any other reason. One of the blessings of that work comes from meeting folks that I would not otherwise get to know.

About a month ago I was serving one of my Chaplain weeks when I stepped into a room and began introducing myself to the gentleman there.  As soon a I said I was a pastor he quickly verbalized both his church status and the reason for it:  “I have no church home.  I got mad at my old church.”

As I close this series of articles, I remind you of something I stated in my initial writing on church participation:  As a pastor I have a rich, natural affinity for the local church, especially North Cleveland Baptist Church.  Simply stated, the joy of serving, studying, and worshipping the Lord among a family of local believers is exceptionally rewarding and fulfilling.  Therefore, when folks no longer attend our congregations, we pastors naturally feel a sense of personal sorrow.  I know we should not, but we do tend to take it a bit personally.

Still, these losses feel less discouraging to me when an individual or family transitions into a new church home.  I recognize that congregations have different styles, methods, systems, organizations, and callings.  The kingdom work of the Lord needs all these churches.  Through prayer and the moving of the Holy Spirit, Christians are led to seek out and sometimes change congregations.  And, as I like to say, “We ain’t competing with anyone but the devil.”

My sense, however, is that churches do not primarily lose members to other churches.  Rather, churches tend to lose members to NO Church.  Like my friend in the hospital, a disappointment with one church leads them to “give up” on ALL congregations of like faith.  In Bradley County alone we are blessed with over 200 churches.  Surely there was a “good fit” out there somewhere for him.

Of course, this is not a new phenomenon.  The Holy Spirit led the author of the book of Acts to share this counsel:

Some people have given up the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other…. Hebrews 10:25a CEV

Even in its earliest days, Christians were choosing to “give up on the church. The writer mentions one of the casualties of that decision:  the loss of mutual encouragement.  Did you know that cows give more milk when you milk them together?  Farmers know to never milk them separate.  They want to be with the rest of the herd.  Line them up and give them a little hay and they will encourage one another just by being there.

That is how it is with Christians.  We can encourage one another just by being there. I know your presence and participation in our church is a great encouragement to me.

So, don’t give up on the church.  More than you know, the church needs you…and you need the church.                                                                                     -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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