Tuesday, October 16, 2012

NE NEWS - October 16, 2012

Dear Friends and Family,

What a wonderful day we had in the Lord, Sunday! Five ladies had returned the day before from ‘Come to the Fire’ at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL, and three of them shared what God had done Sunday morning! One testified she was completely healed of her many deep and painful memories of abuse and another set free of other hurts during the healing service! Praise the Lord!

Last Sunday was also Rev. Christian Christopher’s 90th birthday and the time for our bi-monthly potluck! Perhaps as many as 12 family members visited us this week during worship and perhaps 6 more came to the potluck. It amounted to another ‘Fuller Ave. Reunion’ as many in his family once attended our church! It was fun for everyone and the food and cake was delicious! God is good!

God’s message this week came from Nehemiah 12:27-47 and titled “Preparation, Purification, and Participation (or Praise).’ As we near the end of Nehemiah, it is important to remember the full story.

First, there was a time of preparation. We often like to skip to the ‘good parts’ of a story, but it’s important to remember all that led up to this day of dedication, celebration, and praise! The happy ending we find in Nehemiah required tears and turning to God, overcoming repeated plots of the enemy, lots of hard work, and a need to confess faults, consecrate lives, in order to be set free! Remember, as you grow in grace and become all Jesus has for you, you need to be prepared to cry, turn to God, overcome, work hard, and confess and consecrate, too!

Second, there was a time of purification, too. An indispensible part of the praise and celebration was to purify the walls and the people, first (v. 12:30). Those who were regarded as ritually unclean were unfit to participate in the ceremony without bathing, fasting, and sprinkling holy water, and blood from the sacrifice. While Jesus rejected ritual outward cleansing as burdensome, he still challenged His followers to have pure hearts! How? Through the blood of the lamb! Have you asked Jesus to purify you through the Holy Spirit? Oh that all of us would seek the cleansing that the Spirit of Christ can accomplish through the blood!

Finally, there was a time of participation (or praise). It began with a procession of thanksgiving along the walls (12:31-38) and ended with praise so loud, ‘The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away’ (v. 12:43).

How loud is your praise? How far away from our church could they hear us praise God? The early church got a little undignified! They weren’t afraid or too self-conscious; they got downright blessed and loud! Those early Nazarenes, full of the Holy Spirit, clapped, sang, shouted, and danced little ‘hallelujah dances’ with ‘hankies waving’ in the sanctuary overwhelmed with praise for God! May God ‘do it again’ as we too learn to prepare, purify, and praise God! Amen!

This week’s adult Wednesday night study is called ‘Learning to Trust God.’ Who we trust determines what we do and how we do it! Join us this week at 6:30pm as we discuss loving God and loving others!
Blessings! Pastor Dan

Hello From Pastor Amy/Your Part-Time Church Secretary
My office hours will be on Tuesdays from 8am-5pm, but if you need to see me, you may want to call first. My responsibilities also include preparing our weekly program, so if you have an event that you would like to put in the program or newsletter, please feel free to contact me!

On Prayer Requests: If you have a specific praise or prayer request which you would like to appear in the program and/or newsletter, please make sure to fill out the tear-off sheet in the weekly program, or contact me at any time.

Please Update Me! We have a long, ongoing list of prayer requests. Please keep me updated. Requests will be pulled from the newsletter & program after three weeks. Thank you!
Church Office: 616-459-2773
My Contact Info: 616-514-9521 or amyorban@hotmail.com


A Night of Christ-Centered Testimony – OCT 20th at 6:00PM
Have you ever longed to hear what God’s grace can do in the life of someone broken by alcohol, drugs, and other sinful passions left out of control? Have you ever wished ‘regular people’ could just get up front and share their testimonies and preach about what God has done without spending years getting educated? Do you ever wonder what church might look like if it was a bit more real?

If you answered YES to any of these questions then you NEED TO COME to our FIRST ‘Night of Christ Centered Testimony’ on October 20th at 6:00PM!

For weeks Pastor Amy has planned an alternative service where we can come hear what God is doing in the lives of his people! This is a night where you can hear great stories from all kinds of people about how awesome Christ really is. This is a great time to invite friends, family, neighbors, or anyone else who could use some good news. Who will you invite?

Invitations will be available THIS Wednesday! Grab some and hand them out!
Also please note that this will be a casual night, and you do not need to be polished or profound at public speaking or wear a suit to share your heart for Christ with others! Won’t you pray you about it?

Food Drive Thank You!
We want to say THANK YOU to everyone for the donations to our food drive. All donations received went directly to the North End Community Mission. For such a small little church, we have been able to give very generously! Thank you to everyone who participated!
Total Food Donated: Cans = 224 Boxes = 48

Blanket Drive for Missions Through October
We are holding our third annual blanket drive throughout the month of October. Bring your clean, new or used blankets which will go directly to Mel Trotter Mission.  Our goal this year is 75 blankets! Blanket Total: 14 

Birthdays and Anniversaries, Please!
Do we have your birthday and anniversaries? Please email them to Pastor Amy, or write them down and stick them in her mailbox located on the wall outside of the nursery, thank you!

Advent is Coming – Volunteers Needed!
Advent, our preparation period leading up to Christmas, begins on December 2nd. One of the special things we like to do during Advent is to have volunteers do special readings at the beginning of each Sunday service. The readings correlate with the lighting of the candles on our Advent Wreath. Would you be willing to read? Talk to Pastor Amy or Pastor Dan!

Children’s Church Changes
This month we have started allowing the children to remain in the service until after our family prayer time. Our children’s leaders think we may have children who would like to be at the altar praying, and there are probably some families who could benefit from a shared prayer time. The children will be dismissed to regular children’s church following our prayer time. Let’s encourage our children to come to the Lord and pray!
Girl Scouts Meeting in our Building! Next Meeting October 29th at 6:00pm
We are thrilled to announce that beginning in October, the Girl Scouts program will be meeting in our building every other week on Monday nights @ 6pm. If you have a girl who is interested in joining, there is a $12 registration fee, and the group will tentatively be meeting every other Mondays of the month. Also, if parents of girls are interested in volunteering, they are also more than welcome to register to be a part of the program! Talk to Pastor Dan for registration forms!

Craft and Scrapbooking Weekend at Indian Lake: Nov 2-4
Chris Freed, Activity Director at Indian Lake Nazarene Camp (who is also Irene Pratt’s niece) announced a time for LADIES ONLY to bring their scrapbooking, quilting, sewing, and stamping, etc. to Indian Lake to enjoy a time of fun and relaxation for just $25 (and this includes meals). If you’re interested there are brochures on the table outside the sanctuary!

Northeast Community Walking/Jogging Club
Our walking club has begun to dwindle in size! Perhaps most of you don’t like to walk or lose a few pounds or make a few friends with some in your church family! Alas, I imagine it is probably more likely you are all busy doing other good things! But, if you would like to get a few laughs while getting a little exercise we will be walking 3.1 miles (5k) every Tuesday night at 6:00pm through November 20. If you are interested just show up! See Pastor Dan if you have any questions!

New Website! New Facebook Page!
Please send any input or ideas to Shannen Parsaca at slparsaca@gmail.com  
Check us out on Facebook under “Northeast Community Church of the Nazarene” 

Want to help, but not sure how?
If you are wondering where to plug in, but are not sure how, we have opportunities. Current opportunities include a soundboard worker, nursery helpers, childrens workers, potluck coordinators, visiting our shut-ins, greeters and ushers, visitor follow-ups, Sunday School teachers, music leaders, people willing to shovel snow in the winter, and much more. It doesn’t matter how long you have been attending our church, serving is a great way to honor God and get to know the people around you! If you sense a call to a specific area or need some ideas to pray about, please contact Amy Orban or Cherry Pakiela or Irene Pratt.

Upcoming Events
Oct. 20                 Testimony Service @ 6pm
Nov. 2-4    Indian Lake Craft/Scrapbooking Weekend
Nov. 11     International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
Nov. 18     Preaching Ambassador Reed Sapp from ONU is coming
Nov. 22     Thanksgiving Day
December 2         Advent Begins

Reflections from Pastor Amy 
Weekly thoughts, life-lessons, and reflections from a redeemed child of God, 
a mother, a wife, a student, a sinner under the Cross of Jesus Christ, and a Pastor-in-training.                                    
October 16, 2012
Scatter the Darkness
In 2007 my sister gave me a CD called “Scatter the Darkness,” along with a small book she printed which had the lyrics to every hymn on the CD. Inside she wrote a small message to me about finding quiet moments with Jesus in the busy life of a big family, and how the songs inside reminded her of me, and of grace and grandparents and childhood memories and gifts from God.  

This was one of those gifts that I put away on a shelf and did not look at again for a long time. The meaning and thoughtfulness behind the gift was lost on me, mainly because I was too wrapped up in myself to even think about it. Also because I was resentful at my perfect sister with her great life and beautiful kids and church family. I wouldn’t be caught dead listening to hymns.  Quiet time with God?  I was usually too hung over (or drunk or high) to even know what time it was, let alone find time that didn’t revolve around me doing whatever I wanted to try and make myself feel good.

 This dark time for me went on for a few years. And it got progressively worse, quickly. More alcohol, more drugs, more criminal friends, more terrible men, better drugs, self-pity and misery and overall spiritual bankruptcy abounded.  Many of you have your own horror stories or know about other people’s, so I won’t burden you with mine. We’ll just say it was ugly.

 I moved several times, figuring a new and better place to live would be the solution to my horrible choices. But there I was, and wherever I went, more bad choices came with me. Each time I moved, I took the Scatter the Darkness CD and book off of my bookshelf, packed it away, and then shoved it back in the corner of the bookshelf when I unpacked it later.

 It began to haunt me. Why not just throw it away? This reminder of….of what? I didn’t even know, but it made me uncomfortable every time it crossed my mind.

 On several different dark days when I found myself wishing things could change, I would pull out the book and CD. Sometimes I would listen to the songs, other times I would just read some lyrics. Sometimes this gave me great comfort, sometimes I hated it. Then back on the shelf it would go, hiding. Scatter the Darkness

 Five years later and my darkness has been scattered. I am no longer trying to escape God. It didn’t happen all at once. It took a treatment center for drugs and alcohol, more failed relationships, a lot of accountability to a lot of people, and a whole ton of spiritual reconstruction. Not to mention a lot of the seeds of God’s love planted by a lot of faithful people who loved me and love Him.

 Yesterday I sat down in the quiet of the afternoon (during baby naptime) and listened to this CD.  It is the perfect set of hymns for the Lenten season. Today it no longer haunts me or makes my stomach turn with the guilt which comes with living the wrong way. Today I am free, and not only do I get to sit and listen to music which comforts me and brings me closer to Jesus, but I also get to feel close to my dear sister who lives in another state and who I miss dearly. I get to reflect on my relationship with her and with many that I wreaked so much havoc on in my darker days.  It is much better today, by God’s grace.

 Yes, she was always there, that quiet voice reminding me of better things. And her gift of the Scatter the Darkness CD was always there, another quiet symbol of God’s drawing grace. Who would have known the important role this gift would play in my walk? These things were always there, pointing me to the Savior who was always there. I wonder where I would be without people in my life who were constantly telling me the truth, even when I wanted nothing to do with it?

 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? (Psalm 139:7) The truth is, I can’t, and I don’t want to.  Pastor said on Sunday that God uses ordinary things for extraordinary purposes, and isn’t it true? God pursues us through all kinds of people and things. In my life, seeds were planted and now they grow.

 I hope you take time to quiet yourself and seek God’s face. As you reflect, I wonder, who is it you should be thanking Jesus for in your own life? Who has been your steady reminder of His goodness, who has been His servant planting seeds in your heart with words and gifts, wanted and unwanted?  Who has pointed you to the Cross?  

 Dear Jesus, thank you for my sister, for the Scatter the Darkness CD, and for the people you have put in my life to plant seeds of your love in my heart. Thank you for everyone who prayed for me when I was living in the darkness, thank you for pursuing me and drawing me into your light. May I also be a faithful seed-planter to those who desperately need their darkness scattered.  

With Love, Pastor Amy

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