Tuesday, October 23, 2012

NE NEWS - October 23, 2012

Dear Friends and Family,

What wonderful weekend services we had in the Lord this week! Our first service Saturday night was led by Pastor Amy and was titled, ‘A Night of Christ-Centered Testimony.’ After opening remarks, a few hymns, and prayer, Pastor Amy gave us the Biblical and theological foundation for testimonies! Are you prepared to give your testimony? Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:15b:

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Paul added the idea of having a testimony in Colossians 4:5-6: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

So, with hungry and thirsty hearts and the lights turned down low three ladies took turns sharing their testimonies. Each spoke of extremely painful moments of unbelievable struggle and hurt, but each gave the ‘reason for the hope that they had’ and the answer was Christ. It was a night that could never be repeated! The honesty – tender vulnerability – and powerful testimonies were something each of us needed to hear! Thank you Jeni, Tracy, and Irene for not only sharing your pain, but for glorifying Christ Jesus! God is good! (all the time!) Amen!

Our Sunday morning service was also wonderful! God’s message this week came from Nehemiah 13:4-27 and was titled, ‘Keeping Our Promises.’ The people of God had seen so much! They had witnessed the hand of God work in their midst, but over time had become complacent and forgotten their heritage, tradition, and passion. They were drifting from their anchor and needed a wake up call!

After governing Jerusalem for 12 years, Nehemiah returned to Babylon to serve king Artaxerxes. He told the king he would return and he kept his word!

But several years later Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem and could scarcely believe his eyes. On his return he found a storage room in the Temple being used by a Gentile (and a big enemy of God’s at that) while the Levites and Singers had to return home because the people weren’t tithing, and the house of God was being neglected. How did Nehemiah respond to obvious sin and drift?

First, he sees and calls sin what it is! There isn’t any ‘turning a blind eye’ or prideful rationalization with Nehemiah! In v7 he sees the Gentile in the Temple, in v11 he sees the house of God neglected, in vv. 15-16 he sees people working on the Sabbath, and in vv. 23-24 he sees Judean men marrying foreign wives. And this is in the church! How about you? When you see sin do you ‘turn a blind eye,’ write it off as ‘personal choice,’ or do you call it what it is – sin?

Second, he takes a stand! Throughout this passage Nehemiah not only sees sin, he takes a righteous stand against it! For example, in vv10-11 he rebukes and calls out the officials and tells them what they ought to be doing. Where does God want you to take a stand for righteousness? Are you willing to do the unpopular and hard thing because it is the right thing to do?

Finally, Nehemiah kept his guard up and refused to compromise or back down like Eliashib the priest did with Tobiah in vv. 4b-5. After all, since the tithes were way down and the storage room was empty why not set aside the law requiring the Temple to be free from Gentiles and rent a room to a man with money to pay? Not only was Tobiah a Gentile, he was the chief enemy of God! What had begun with a little spiritual drift resulted in inviting the enemy to live with them!

But this is how spiritual drift works! We innocently think we can loosen some of our ‘discipleship essentials’ like missing a week of worship, a few days of prayer or bible study and convince ourselves we’re just fine when one day we discover the enemy has moved back into our lives and is living with us!

If we want to live righteous and holy lives for God like Nehemiah did in the midst of a sinful and tolerant culture, we need to call sin what it is, take a stand, and refuse to compromise or allow our spiritual lives to drift! If you have drifted, it’s time to get back! Read your Bible today, pray right now and attend worship this week!

This week’s adult Wednesday night study is called ‘Developing a Vision for God’s Work.’ Do you know God’s vision? Are you aligned with 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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~NEWS & EVENTS~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

First Friday Chinese Lunch – November 2 @ 11:30am
On the first Friday of every month, everyone is invited to a Chinese lunch at the Hibachi Grill on Alpine Ave. The food is cheap and delicious, and no reservations are required. Just show up at 11:30am for good food and fellowship. Feel free to bring friends or family members! Talk to Tracy Tamm with questions.

The Church of the Nazarene has many wonderful regional colleges and universities we are asked to support. In our region, we support Olivet Nazarene University (ONU) in Bourbonnais IL., Nazarene Theological Seminary (NTS) in Kansas City, MO., and Nazarene Bible College (NBC) in Colorado Springs, CO.

NBC is uniquely designed to equip ministers who come into ministry later in life. NBC offers courses on campus and on the Internet. Your faithful giving has allowed your church to give $50 to support NBC this year! When our gift is combined with the rest of the churches across the United States it really adds up! On behalf of your church board, ‘Thank you for your faithful giving!’

Fall Back! Daylight Savings Ends November 4th
Don’t forget that daylight savings ends on November 4th. Don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour so that you aren’t late for church on Sunday!

Vote Vote Vote! November 6th Presidential Elections
Our Nation’s Presidential Elections are being held on Tuesday, November 6. You have a responsibility to vote! Please consider being in prayer for our nation this day.

Veteran’s Day – November 11th
Most of us have friends and family members who have served our country. The sacrifice of these men and women is far beyond what most of us can imagine. This Veteran’s Day, make sure to thank our service men and women!

Olivet Nazarene Preaching Ambassador – November 18th
We are happy to welcome our third student from ONU’s Preaching Ambassador Program. On Sunday November 18th, Reed Sapp will be bringing the message during our morning worship service. Reed is a Youth Ministry major at ONU. We will be blessed to hear the heart of the next generation of church leaders! Please be in prayer for Reed as his visit draws near.

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 – Eight More Days!
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 for the homeless people who stay there in the cold of winter. There are eight more days left to give! Our goal this year is 75 blankets!Blanket Total: 24  

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 29that 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!

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, children's 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
Nov. 2                 First Friday Chinese Lunch @ 11:30am
Nov. 2-4              Indian Lake Craft/Scrapbooking Weekend
Nov. 6                 Election Day - VOTE
Nov. 11               International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
Nov. 11               Veteran’s Day
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 23, 2012

If you were not able to attend our Saturday Night Testimony Service, you really missed out.

To start out, we talked about why we share our testimonies with one another. Here are a few of the biblical reasons I shared Saturday night:

·         We share our testimony because God commands us to do so. From Moses to Deborah to King David and throughout the New Testament, we hear God telling us to go and tell the world what He has done.

·         We share our testimony to remember what God has done for us. The prophets of the Old Testament were constantly, repeatedly pleading with the people  - REMEMBER what God has done for you! Remember His mercy and His kindness and all He has done. The people were quick to forget, and as a result, they were quick to run back into sin and idolatry. When we take the time to remember what God has done for us, it gives us fresh perspective and encourages our faith. Taking the time to remember what God has done can also be a weapon against the devil, who is always trying to lead us astray.
As the psalmist said, “Bless the Lord O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2)

·         It encourages others to believe in Jesus Christ. Sharing with others is simply a vital part of our faith as Christians.

·         To share your story can also help your fellow believers. I believe that one of the devil’s best weapons is to try and make us believe that we are the only onesstruggling with sin, the only ones who have been through this or that, the only ones carrying scars and pain. When we share our testimony, we realize that we are not alone. More importantly, we get to celebrate the fact that we share the common hope which is Jesus Christ.
·         Sharing our testimony is a form of worship. Take the story in Luke 17:11-19, where 10 lepers were healed, but only one returns to give thanks and praise to Jesus. Scripture says that this man “came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no on returned to give praise to God except this foreigner? And he said to him, rise and go, your faith has made you well.”  We can say we are grateful, but true gratitude comes with more than just words, it comes with actions to follow.

·         Lastly, giving our testimony helps us to “hold fast to our profession of faith” as the writer of Hebrews 10:23 said. To openly and publicly discuss our faith in Christ helps solidify our faith. We gain confidence to proclaim the name of Jesus and Him crucified for us, we do not keep it to ourselves.

One of my favorite verses about this is from Paul in the book of Romans:  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes; first to the Jew and then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (Romans 1:16)

Saturday night, we heard the powerful testimonies of three women who were willing to open their hearts and memories to us, as well as their hope in Christ.  For nearly two and a half hours we listened to stories of trial, of bondage to evil, and of the incredible drawing and saving grace which is in Jesus Christ who sets us free, heals us, and keeps us as His own.

One of my favorite statements came from Tracy. She was talking about when she turned her life over to Christ. She said something like, “as I reflect on all of my struggles, I realize the end isn’t really the end, but the beginning.” What a testament to the way everything changes when we meet Christ.

At the end of her story, Irene described the goodness of the Lord as something like eating a hot fudge sundae. Can you imagine only tasting one little bite of a delicious hot fudge sundae? Me either. And so it is with God – He is so good, and once we taste of His goodness, we just want more and more of Him.

Jeni’s testimony hit home for me in a very personal way. Did you know that several people in our church (including our Weds Night Bible study group) have been praying for Jeni and Josh for about 3 years? Her story clearly showed a God who continued to love and pursue her while she was out wandering in the wilderness. Her presence among us and her willingness to share her story is an incredible testament to God’s goodness and answered prayer!

There is a song out right now, and the lyrics say – Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me. Hallelujah and all my stains are washed away… Throughout the stories of these three women, I could clearly see grace weaving in and out of their lives, pouring down like rain from start to finish. Sometimes we feel lost, like stumbling down the hall when the power is out, looking for a light switch, banging our knees on the end table. Time brings perspective to the valleys we walk through, and as we know that this too shall pass, we trust that God’s hand is carrying us along. I was so blessed to hear these testimonies about how these three have made sense out of life, how they have found healing and peace and understanding, and how they look back and see God’s gracious hand in it all.

Thank you again to Tracy, Irene, and Jeni for opening yourselves up for God’s glory!

With Love, Pastor Amy                                                                                                                                                                                             

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