Pastor Mike Chandler has been faithfully shepherding the Victor Valley Bible Church since December, 1996. The members of the congregation will tell you that he cultivates a lively interest in them individually, and encourages them corporately with carefully crafted and delivered sermons. Pastor Mike has two master’s degrees from The Master’s Seminary, where he acquired his love for expository preaching. Pastor Mike is married to his beautiful wife, Lisa, and they have three sons; the entire family is musically talented and they frequently bless the congregation with their musical abilities. When he is not studying God’s word or investing in the lives of his congregation, Pastor Mike can be found educating music students, substitute teaching, or walking his dog while memorizing scripture.
From the Scout Trail to the Narrow Road
I was raised in one of the finest families in Highland and privileged to be the third son out of three to Paul and Paula Chandler. My brothers David, Robert and I go back to the earliest years of Pack 11 under the direction of Bob Kelly. At three years old I was made a mascot of Den One, over which mom was a Den Mother. Dad assisted Mr. Kelly as the award’s chairman and sometimes led meetings in his occasional absence. I remember being eight years old, spruced up in my uniform and serving tables at the Highland Congregational Church’s Chuck Wagon Breakfast. For this good work I earned the right to have my Bobcat pin turned uprightly (NOTE: all Cubs begin their lives with a pin turned upside down until they do some meritorious deed for which it can be worn right side up). About six months following my eleventh birthday I crossed over the Arrow of Light Bridge and shook hands with my dad, who, by 1969, had become Scoutmaster of Boy Scouts of America “Palms to Pines” Troop 211. My trek had thus begun as a three year old Cub Scout, but now, as a rank “Tenderfoot” I was on the Scout Trail.
I recall smelling my dad and brothers upon their return from monthly hikes and outings. Frankly, their aroma of outdoor experience was enough for me to seriously question my future involvement in the Scouting program. Nevertheless, with no pressure from parents or peers, I joined up and to this present day, fondly cherish the memories of hundreds of miles of hiking, camping and canoeing experiences I traced along the Scout Trail. I was awarded Eagle Rank in 1976, a goal of which I was very proud to achieve.
In addition to the many adventures I treasure from Scout days is the emphasis that was placed on character development and citizenship. I can still faithfully recite the Scouts’ Motto, Slogan, Oath and Twelve Points of the Scout Law. These principles of preparedness, and honor and respect for God, country and others were personally very important to me. My family regularly attended church; I stood straight and proud when pledging allegiance to the Red, White and Blue; and I sought to treat others in the same way I wished to be treated as well. I was cheerful and generally clean in my speech and behavior; obtained good grades in school and graduated with honors from San Gorgonio High School in 1979. As a trombone player from the age of nine, my hearts’ desire was to perform professionally so I entered Cal. State San Bernardino, majoring in music. It was in the fall of that year when the Scout Trail crossed the road to heaven and I was challenged to examine everything for which I had lived up to that point.
To explain this transaction, I recall being about sixteen years old or so and longing for something more spiritually. Although I was a good person, by many standards, I still felt in need of a personal relationship with God. I knew about God and was given a Bible to read, but frankly I couldn’t confidently speak to a person about the things of the Lord if my life depended upon it! Attempting to remedy the confusion in my spirit I often prayed in the privacy of my bedroom something like this, “Dear God, reveal yourself to me – I want to know you.” It was later when God actually answered that simple prayer and I was transformed into a new person.
One day Robert came to visit me at Cal. State. He asked me, “Has anyone ever shared with you how you can have a personal relationship with God and be assured of heaven?” I said, “No.” He then explained to me some things that he himself had been learning: He said that God loved me, but my sin and selfishness had separated me from Him; God was just, he stressed, and must punish sin; however, Jesus Christ, God’s perfect Son, suffered in my place by dying on a cross; Jesus was then raised from the dead and promises eternal life as a free gift to all who trust in Him alone for their salvation; Jesus, in fact, is the only way to a personal relationship with God and the only person who could solve my confusion, save me from my sins and give me a new life. Robert then asked me if I would like to ask Jesus Himself to be my own Lord and Savior, take charge of my life and make me what He wants me to be. I replied, “Yes, I will pray to Him right now.”
That day, as I prayed to God, I knew that He heard me and had in fact revealed Himself to me. Although I had been a good person and done many nice things for others, I was still a sinner. I realized that my goodness was self-motivated – what I could get out it, so others would like me. I had lived for my own importance and myself, but God deserved all the glory. I have also learned that the moral principles taught me in Scouting worked like God’s law – convicting me of wrongdoing. I was deceived into believing that I was good enough for heaven by abiding in the morals of the Scout Law. In fact, I can see how far short I actually fell of always being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous and kind to others, obedient to my parents, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean in words, thoughts and actions, and reverent to God. The god to whom I was reverent was plainly one of my own making, not the one that loved me and sent His Son. The realization that Jesus Christ is God and Michael Chandler’s personal Lord and Savior has revolutionized my thinking about so many things. From the Scout Trail to the Narrow Road, God has brought me – now I live for the One who forgave me and still loves me.
Being a Christian has changed everything for me, as a many examples can testify. First, I have confidence that my spiritual priorities are right and I am assured of heaven.
Second, Lisa and I married in 1990 and the Lord has given us three boys. Knowing how to live in marriage and raise our sons according to the Bible is a terrific advantage in our world today.
Third, for most of my young life I was not a reader, but now I enjoy an office full of books - many volumes aimed at one goal: to help me understand God’s book, the Holy Bible.
Fourth, with my parent’s love and support I completed a bachelor’s degree in music (Cal State University Northridge, 1984) and two master’s degrees in divinity and theology (The Master’s Seminary, 1989 and 2001). With this background and training I have been fortunate to pastor two churches in Southern California, currently serving Victor Valley Bible Church in Victorville. I have also been privileged to teach music locally in public schools as well as offer private music lessons to students learning brass instruments, piano and voice.
Fifth, but not last, whenever I teach Bible or play my instrument and sing, I wish for my heavenly Father to judge my words and music and be pleased. I now work for His applause.
Jesus once spoke of the way to heaven, saying, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it (Matt 7:13-14). I praise Him for the way by which He used the Scouting program to keep my life on a good moral plain through my youth, but most of all I thank the Lord that He showed me that the narrow road – the one first walked by Jesus – is the road to heaven. I am on that road now and hope others will join me!