Michael Cook

Wounded and Hurting

By Karen Polich

Our lives are not always filled with blue skies and constant sunshine. Life comes with hurts and wounds. We often get knocked down when we least expect it. We suffer scratches, cuts and even punctures. The degree of hurt determines the extent of healing that needs to take place. There is no do-over or reset button to erase the scars from the wounds we suffer. However, with God’s help we can overcome our hurts and our wounds and be all God created us to be.

Pastor Michael M. Cook’s current sermon series, Work in Progress, allows us to explore our hearts, evaluating where we haven’t let God in. (Listen to the podcast here.) Wounded and Hurting is based on the story of the woman at the well. (John 4:1-26)

Our lives can be framed by the biblical principles from a God who loves us beyond our comprehension.

Living on the fringe of her community, the woman at the well did not join the other women at the well. She had a past that was surely talked about. She had made poor choices, failed repeatedly and lived a life of isolation. Perhaps she felt trapped in the circumstances of her life. Love had broken her heart, not once but five times. Her life was filled with wounds. However, her encounter with Jesus took her life, full of hurts, to a place of joy.

Pastor Cook shared two truths about God and our hurts:

  1. God always sees behind the mask to the reality within. We must remember, without conviction of sin there can be no conversion.
  2. God often exposes our lifelong pursuit of happiness. The deep longing within us can only be filled by Him.

Jesus knew everything about this woman and still offered her the ultimate gift, living water, in the form of salvation that came from His love and acceptance. She was so overjoyed that she hurried to share the encounter with the very people who shunned her at every corner. She celebrated His knowledge of her baggage and painful life. This encounter with Jesus would lead many more to come to know Christ.

Could it be that Jesus wasn’t exposing her sin, but was naming her wound? – Michael M. Cook

Our wounds shouldn’t disable us from living a full life. Pretending it didn’t happen doesn’t move us forward. What are we to do? Feel stuck? Staying there doesn’t work.

God doesn’t ask us to leave our pain behind, ignoring it while we keep going. He uses our hurts. God can diminish our most excruciating pain and begin the healing process, if we only let Him.

Scars should be worn proudly, as part of who we are. But to wear the scar, we must first deal with the wounds and seek God for healing.

The wounds in our lives, whether a scratch, cut or deep puncture, can make us stronger and equip us for more. When we seek a relationship with God, we begin the reconciliation process. This will bring the return of a real hope and optimism for the future.

Do you have wounds you need to give to God today?


By Karen Polich

In the span of eternity, our lives are but an instant.

We make hundreds of decisions every day. How do we decide what needs to come first? Can we see God’s light shining into us by the decisions we make? Our lives are defined by priorities.  If we are open and vulnerable to God, we can move towards setting our priorities according to His Word.

Pastor Michael M. Cook began his Work in Progress sermon series (listen here), walking us down the path of Godly priorities. He focused on five things for us to process in spiritual prioritizing:

  1. God first.
  2. Build a scriptural list of priorities.
  3. Make time for your priorities.
  4. Minimize and eliminate the expendable activities of life.
  5. Live in the light of eternity.

Sounds simple, right? I crave a life anchored in Biblical priorities. A life where I seek God first in all things and serve Him according to His plan instead of my own. But, it’s easy to become distracted and out of balance (John 10:10). Prioritizing according to His will allows me to return my focus to Christ and things begin to fall into place (John 10:10). What about you? Are you a work in progress like me?

We all need the light. Pray this week for God to shine His Son-light into us, allowing for growth that brings the life we were meant to live.

Scripture references related spiritual priorities: Revelation 2:1-5, Deuteronomy 6:5, Mark 12:30, Psalm 119:37, John 3:19-25.


By Karen Polich

Shock rippled through many groups when Jesus’ tomb was found empty. Pastor Michael M. Cook shared an Easter message related to the shock of the resurrection. (Listen to the podcast here.) We can learn much from what happened when the tomb was empty.

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Matthew 28:1-8

What do you do when nothing will ever be the same? How do you explain the unexplainable?

The lesson is in the responses. Each group handled the situation differently. Beyond fear, the women remembered the words of Jesus. This remembrance brought them to joy. The guards fled, shared their story with the priests, then caved-in to the pressure, choosing dishonesty. The disciples were in a state of unbelief which led to examination before they moved to worship. When things don’t go according to our plans, we can find ourselves gripped by fear.

Our God has given us promises! Circumstances will not go away, but the joy of remembering brings us to a place of peace. This leads us to worship. – Michael M. Cook

Where do you find yourself today when it comes to the shock of the resurrection? Most of us would probably line up with the disciples. We may need to examine the truth again and again to erase our unbelief. Ultimately, we will worship what is most important to us. If it isn’t Jesus, we’ve got work to do.

What Child is This?

By Karen Polich

Everything hinges on the SAVIOR who has been given to us. – Michael M. Cook

 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:11-14

Why do we need a savior? What do we need to be saved from? Is it a life that hasn’t gone according to plan? Is it despair? Is a life that is “fine”, immune from the need? No. Christmas has one purpose and the Savior matters for one reason.

Jesus Christ, our Savior, was born for reconciliation to a Holy God. Christ reconciles our sin, returning us to God in full measure.

Christ, Messiah, Lord, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Anointed One

Pastor Michael Cook completed his Song and Savior sermon series by outlining three important parts of Christ’s identity. Listen to the podcast here.

  1. He is God’s King. He is the anointed one. Christ isn’t King of this world today, but He will be. Revelation 20
  2. He is the Great High Priest. Only one mediator can bridge the gap to God once and for all. Jesus. The only answer. He gives us final and glorious access to God. Jesus “ripped the veil” upon His ascension.
  3. He is the Great Prophet. All of God’s messengers were anointed by God. Jesus is the Lord (not the lord). Christ is divine and has the complete authority of Yahweh, the Great I Am.

There is no Christianity without trusting Jesus as Lord of your life. Believe in Him and find peace. Spiritual peace that surpasses understanding and the troubles of this world.

Our primary purpose as believers is to give glory to God. – Michael M. Cook

Christmas is about a child and you’ll know Him when you meet Him. The day you know Him is a glorious day!

What Child is this? Have you met Him? Do you know Him?

Song and Savior – Announcement

By Karen Polich

Pastor Michael Cook’s Song and Savior sermon message focused on the ultimate announcement. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:11 Listen to the podcast here.

Luke 2:11 sums up the concept of Christmas. It is the high point of all redemptive history.

Christ is born. Everything else is secondary in the story.

Major stories are shared. People of influence are usually the first to know. Yet, who did God choose to share the story? Shepherds were God’s messengers of choice. Though not a shameful position, it was a lowly position in society. These were not the men of importance in the area.

Isn’t it just like God to go to the outcasts and make them central in the message of Christ’s birth?

Just as Jesus is the way to reconciliation with God, shepherds were the gate keeping sheep in or out of the corral at night. The symbolism of the shepherd’s role in protecting and tending the sheep shouldn’t be missed. Jesus’ proclaimed that He is the Good Shepherd.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:8-11

“An angel of the Lord appeared to them”… God had been silent for almost five hundred years.

What is significant about this appearance is the Glory of God shone around them. It had been hundreds of years since anyone experienced this.

God’s plan was not only in place, but was there for everyone to see. Can you see it this Christmas?



Bethlehem Birth

By Karen Polich

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. Luke 2:4-7

Pastor Michael Cook’s deeper look at the birth of Jesus in his Song and Savior sermon series gives us much to think about. Read Luke 2:1-7 and listen to the podcast here.

Bethlehem was the birthplace of King David. Joseph was descended from the line of David. This is what brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. It was time for the first census. Rome wanted to know who could serve in the army and what taxes could be collected.

Did Mary really have to go on this journey? Married, Joseph and Mary were committed to one another and to God. Would others have understood this? Two teens in this situation may have endured their share of scandal concerning this pregnancy.

Bethlehem wasn’t a big place. Most likely it didn’t have a formal inn. Any nice place to stay would have already been taken by the Romans and affluent Jewish families. Travel was by animal, so an adjacent shelter for animals would have been common.

Wrapping baby Jesus in cloth was not extraordinary, but laying Him in a feed trough in the midst of the animals wasn’t what we would expect. Isn’t God like that in our lives? He comes to us in the stench and smell of this broken world and makes Himself known. No need for a grand entrance or loud announcement, He is there, loving us. His simple birth demonstrates this.

In the fullness of time, God sent forth His son.

The God of eternity, the God of immensity pushed His way into this world as the firstborn son of Mary. Mary would have other children, but Jesus was firstborn and the primary inheritor. (Matthew 13: 55-56) Through Joseph’s lineage Jesus would be next in line to be the king, lining up with prophecy.

Our God is mighty beyond our imagination, yet He came to us in humility, a King born without a royal procession. This Savior would walk this earth until giving Himself as the ultimate sacrifice.



Song and Savior

By Karen Polich

God is intimately interested in you and every detail of your life.

Luke 2:1-10

Pastor Michael Cook took us into the Christmas story with a look at details. Listen to the podcast here.

There was so much going on in the lives of Mary and Joseph. Nothing was within the ordinary. Mary was expecting a baby and Joseph had made the choice to listen to God and not abandon her. They were on a 90-mile journey to Bethlehem.

Imagine the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus. What was so urgent about having to make this journey? It was time for the new Roman census. Joseph had to return to the place of his lineage. Mary traveled on the back of a burro for the long journey. Bethlehem was bustling with people. What a place and time to find yourself having a baby!

Where was God in all of this? He was there, in every detail, fulfilling the prophecy of the birth of the Savior. The lineage, the location and the manner of circumstances. Mary and Joseph were taken from everything they knew and God was in the midst of each moment.

God would continue to orchestrate things in His infinitely creative way even after Jesus was born, from taking Him to Egypt out of Herrod’s reach and then all the way to the cross.

How does the Christmas story relate to you and me? Besides the obvious of sending us a Savior, there is the understanding of the involvement of God in our lives. Despite anything we face, God is there. He is working in ways we cannot imagine.

He orchestrated events through Caesar Augustus related to the prophecy of Jesus’ birth. A Roman who was not focused on anything related to Jesus played a part in fulfilling God’s plan. God was there, making things happen. He does that for you and me. God isn’t just watching us live our lives; He is working in our lives.

God watches and works in the midst of your personal circumstances. – Michael Cook

As we enter into another Christmas season, stop and look around. God desires to be intimately involved in your circumstances. How is God working in your life right now?






Compassionate Community – Time for Compassion

By Karen Polich

Who are you looking out for?

Pastor Michael Cook completed his sermon series, Compassionate Community, with five reminders. (Listen here.) Galatians 6:1-10

For most of us, we can’t easily take on much more. Margin? We just don’t have it in our busy lives. Compassion compels us to make room. When we lift the burdens of someone else’s life, we take that weight onto our shoulders. Are we willing to take on a little more and “carry each other’s burdens”?

Everybody should be looking out for somebody.

Five Compassion Reminders

  1. Centrality True compassion comes from a way of life. It is foundational to the Christian faith and can’t just happen on the fringe. Mark 10:45
  2. Priority Compassion can’t come from leftovers in life. We have to make it a priority as we meet the challenges of our day. We should set our standard of living after we set our standard of giving. 1 Timothy 6:18
  3. Family We give special people in our lives special priority. A compassionate community lets the world know how important it is to care for others, no matter who they are. Galatians 6:10
  4. Opportunity Our abilities intersect with the needs of others. We see it and step in to help. We should pray that God would make us specialists in identifying the burdens of others. Galatians 6:10
  5. Longevity We rarely reap the harvest in the season of sowing. We need to be in it for the long haul, adopting a lifestyle of compassion. Sometimes it can get hard, but consistency matters. What if the benefit comes more to us than the person we are helping? Galatians 6:9

Along the road of compassion will come heartache. Those we help may bring pain. It isn’t about us. It’s about extending ourselves for others. There will also be those who bring joy as we watch them heal. God calls us to a life of compassion.

It’s time for compassion! Who are you looking out for?

Compassionate Community – The Compassion Formula

By Karen Polich

Want to live out true biblical compassion?

Listen here to Pastor Michael Cook’s sermon series Compassionate Community. Sunday he shared the compassion formula for becoming a true compassionate community. John 13:33-35 

Experiencing + Extending = Exhibiting

The formula seems simple, but is more than a linear equation. “Experiencing” is the key. Without truly experiencing God’s love and mercy, it becomes difficult to extend or exhibit compassion.

God’s love for us is not contingent upon our obedience to Him.

Pastor Michael Cook described four components of “experiencing”.

  1. God accepts us. For many believers, God’s love is a concept, not something they experience. God loves us in this very moment. He loved us six months ago, ten years ago, at birth and even before we were a thought to anyone on this earth. Romans 5:8, Romans 8:1
  2. God serves our needs. He takes care of our needs. Big, small, messy, simple needs are all covered by God. He cares for our spiritual and physical needs. Hebrews 7:26, Philippians 4:19
  3. God comforts our hearts. In those dark moments of heartbreak, God comforts us. Psalm 119:76
  4. God commits His presence. He will not leave us. God is there in all things. Romans 8:35-39

Once we have experienced God’s love and forgiveness, extending that to others happens naturally. Compassion will flow from our lives and be exhibited clearly for all to see. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Living out this formula is magnetic. True biblical compassion creates a life of impact.


Compassionate Community – The Tabitha Touch

By Karen Polich

We often arrive at greatness in life through a long corridor of good, common and ordinary acts being done over and over again. – Michael M. Cook

Pastor Michael Cook continued his sermon series, Compassionate Community speaking to the legacy of Tabitha and her exceptional compassion. Listen here.

Who are you looking out for? Tabitha was looking out for the widows. Her focus was on the needs of those less fortunate. Read the scriptures here, Acts 9:36-42.

Tabitha                                                                You and me?
Focus: Others                                                                                                Focus: Self


Where are we on the spectrum? What is our focus?

Pastor Cook described three potential models for compassion.

  1. Somebody looks out for everybody. A group of any real size makes this difficult. Someone is bound to be left out of the “everybody”.
  2. Everybody looks out for everybody. While this sounds practical, it too has challenges of leaving some behind.
  3. Everybody looks out for somebody. This is the Tabitha Touch.

We can learn a lot from Tabitha. She was unexceptional in the fact that what she did to help the widows was not unique or rare. Sewing garments was a common thing, yet she lived an extraordinary life. Tabitha was consistent and humble.

True humility comes from having strength and power and using it for others.

Are we looking for something great to do in order to show compassion? These opportunities are rare. Most of us won’t be running into a burning building to save someone. While we wait, a parade of opportunities passes us by each day. In the small and ordinary, there are needs and brokenness.

The ability to show compassion and get involved in someone’s life over and over again goes beyond an act of helping and becomes a lifestyle. We can choose to be great.

“The signature of mediocrity is not the unwillingness to change. The true signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.” – John Collins, Great By Choice

Tabitha teaches us what it means to find ways to use what we have to help others. If we look around us, we will see the needs. There is opportunity in the everyday to come alongside someone and pour compassion into their life. Our willingness to bring compassion speaks to the state of our hearts and the life we choose to live.

We will all leave a legacy. Will it be one of compassion?