Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NE NEWS - November 20, 2012

Northeast Community News – November 20, 2012
Dear Friends and Family,

Are you feeling thankful yet? While Thanksgiving plans and family gatherings can be a source of tremendous blessing and joy, preparing for Thanksgiving can also be a time of great activity, stress, and expense! This week we were reminded of the ‘Christian Perspective on Thanksgiving’ from God through Pastor Reed Sapp, a sophomore from Olivet Nazarene University’s Preaching Ambassador Program.

Pastor Sapp reminded us first of the origins of Thanksgiving. A small group of men and women committed themselves to God’s hand and in obedience headed to a ‘promised land’ where they could worship God freely. Pastor Reed said the journal recorded they were ‘not just a little joyful’ when they reached land!

Using Ephesians 5:19-20 and I Thessalonians 5:18, Pastor Sapp declared every day ought to be filled for the Christian by encouraging others and making music in their hearts towards the Lord and ‘always giving thanks to God the Father for everything.’ A proper perspective helps us to give thanks in all circumstances!

While my notes were a bit sketchy, I believe Pastor Reed said there were 3 ways or perspectives that keep us from thanking God in all things. First, we need to be careful we do not have a prideful perspective. Instead of giving thanks to God as Creator, Provider and Sustainer, a prideful perspective thanks self.

Second, we need to be careful we do not have a critical perspective. A critical perspective sees or finds the negative in every situation. It is difficult to give thanks when we are always looking for the worst in things.

Finally, we need to be careful we do not have a careless perspective. Like the Israelites wandering 40 years in the desert, if we’re not careful we can take the manna God has provided for granted. Let Christians be the people who are constantly awed by the miracles of sunshine, oxygen, and life to mention a few!

Instead of having a prideful, critical, or careless perspective, thanksgiving should be expressed, counted, and seen as an opportunity to advance the Gospel! Only one leper returned to thank Christ for his healing (Luke 17:11-19).
Christians need to be the people who express their thanksgiving by spending time with God; reaching out to the hurting; or at least seeing a sink full of dishes and thanking God verbally for the blessing of a good meal!

Second, Christians ought to count their blessings. Unlike those who are careless, we are the people who maintain gratitude lists! We are so blessed! Thanksgiving comes to the man, woman, and child who focuses on all they have!

Third, a Christian perspective on Thanksgiving begins to see even burdens and sufferings as opportunities to advance the Gospel. It is in weakness He is strong. No, we do not delight in the suffering! We aren’t masochists! But we see how God can use our struggle and we give thanks!

Finally, a Christian perspective on Thanksgiving understands as we grow we give to others. When we finally get to the point that we realize God has given us all that we have, tithing our time, talent, and resources becomes a natural response! As we mature we begin to give thanks to God for what we can give, too!

Are you feeling thankful yet? Thanksgiving comes to our hearts when we thank God not self, look for the positive not the negative, and delight in every miracle! This year remember to express your thanksgiving, count your blessings, put your burdens into perspective and give yourself away! Amen! Thank you Pastor Sapp!

Over the last three weeks we examined three Nazarene Core Values. What does it mean to be a Nazarene? We now understand Nazarenes are a Christian people, a holiness people, and a missional people; this week we will discover Nazarenes are also Optimistic about Grace! Join us this week at 6:30pm as we see that all things are possible with God!
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


World Evangelism Fund Thanksgiving Offering One More Week!
You will have one more week to make your Thanksgiving Offering to the World Evangelism Fund (WEF) this Sunday, November 25. Last week we received $204.83 in our special offering used to finance our global efforts to evangelize the world for Jesus. Thank you!

While some give regularly through Faith Promise Gifts year round, others give during Thanksgiving and Easter. Regardless of how you give, all of us are asked to give to help the Church fulfill the Great Commission. Jesus commanded his disciples “to go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19a). What better time to give than during the Thanksgiving season?  Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to express our gratitude to God for His many blessings. God is a missionary! Let's join Him on His mission to redeem the world through Christ.

 Reflecting God- Devotions for Holy Living
Did you know that each quarter (fall, winter, spring, summer), our Nazarene Publishing House prints a small book of daily devotions called, “Reflecting God?” This book is a simple way to organize a time of daily bible study, prayer, and meditation around a key thought or insight in the Christian journey. Reading them each day is a simple way to draw closer to God. There is no cost, and they are located on the table outside of the sanctuary, please help yourself to one!

Postcard Greetings Now Available
Is there someone you’ve missed? Someone you used to look forward to seeing each week but they are missing? Maybe there is someone you would like to invite to church or to a potluck or to Sunday school, but you’re not sure how to go about it. Well, one possibility is to send them a postcard! We recently had postcards made and they are available to anyone who would like to send them to invite, encourage, miss, or welcome someone to the church! Interested? See a Sunday school teacher or Pastor Amy or Dan.

New Membership Class Begins in December!
We are holding a class for anyone who is interested in becoming a member of our church, and for anyone who is simply interested in knowing more about what we believe as Nazarenes. The five-week class will meet on Sundays from 2-3:30pm beginning on December 2nd. You will receive a book titled Welcome to the Church of the Nazarene just for showing up, and you can ask as many questions as you want! Talk to Pastor Dan if you are interested.

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!

Last Wednesday Night Dinner –November 28th- Thanksgiving Leftover Contest!
On the last Wednesday of the month we gather before our Wednesday Night bible study to enjoy dinner together. This month we will once again be holding a contest for the most creative use of Thanksgiving leftovers. Last year was delicious! The winner will take home a prize, just show up at 5:30pm with a dish to pass. Regular Family Night begins at 6:30pm. Talk to Julie Orban to help set-up or clean-up.

First Friday Chinese Lunch – Dec 07 @ 11:30am
We continue to meet on the first Fridays of every month to enjoy lunch and fellowship at the Hibachi Grill on Alpine. The food is cheap and delicious, and no reservations are required. Everyone is invited, and everyone is invited to bring friends! Questions? Talk to Tracy Tamm.

 Church Work Day—Saturday December 08th
The trustees will be holding another church work day on Saturday, December 08th from 8am-12pm. Anyone who wants to help can simply show up, and they will put you to work. There is always lots to be done, from painting to cleaning and raking leaves and more. Many hands make the work lighter, so come help take care of our building and grounds! Talk to Theo Orban if you have any questions.

Northeast Community Christmas Potluck – Sunday December 09th
Our next potluck will be Christmas themed, and will take place downstairs in the fellowship hall immediately following morning worship on Sunday December 09th. All children who attend will receive a special Christmas gift. Please bring a dish to pass if you are able, but there is always a ton of delicious food to go around, and everyone is invited to stay and eat! Talk to Cherry Pakiela if you can help set-up or tear-down. 

Girl Scouts Meeting in our Building! Next Meeting Monday November 26th 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!

Northeast Community Walking/Jogging Club – One More Week!
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  
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
Nov. 28           Last Wednesday Dinner @ 5:30pm, Regular Family Night follows
Dec. 02            Advent Begins
Dec. 07            First Friday Chinese Lunch, 11:30am @ Hibachi Alpine
Dec. 08            Church Work Day 8am-12pm
Dec. 09            NE Community Potluck following morning worship service

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.                                   
 November 20, 2012

Gratefulness: Another millstone?
Definition: Millstone:
1. The circular stones used for grinding grain
2. A heavy and inescapable responsibility or burden.

God Himself took on the form of flesh in Jesus Christ. He stepped into human life in this event of the incarnation, God becoming man. In this event God Himself came down to our level, He made Himself one of us in order to reach and redeem us, to seek out what was lost (which was us), to fill the great and unbearable holes in our hearts from sin and lack of love and alienation from God.

By His death the price was paid, by His resurrection we have hope, today and always. Jesus came and continues to come to us again and again, freeing us from the “law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).  Jesus deals with our hearts, so we don’t have to be slaves to sin and death and anymore. There is life more abundant, life to the full to have, and it begins the moment we receive that which we lack from Jesus who provides us with healing and wholeness so we can live and love and walk with Christ. We are free!!!!!
What a beautiful God, this God who is revealed in Jesus Christ! On the cross we see our God, who will go to any length to reach and redeem us, His children, His lost and wandering and wounded sheep. We see our God, who empties Himself, pouring out His love to us. We have hope today and always and forever.

Perhaps in light of this, we should be living each day as if there were no more war nor struggle nor death nor sickness nor crime nor darkness of any sort. We know all things are being made right, that all tears will be wiped away, all sorrow will be turned into laughter. We should dance, we should sing, we should live with hearts wide open, so much so that our joy pours out onto those around us.

We should.

Are you one who hears the pressure of THANKSGIVING with dread?

Sometimes, does it feel like we can take the incredible blessing of being a child of God, and turn it on its head, so it becomes a new millstone, reminding us yet again how we aren’t good enough?

Jesus says – child I have made you mine! Stop fighting the battle, I’ve already won it! Just rest.

Then around us we hear – aren’t you so GRATEFUL? A grateful heart is the best medicine. God loves a grateful heart full of grateful thankful praiseful gratefulness!!

Then competing voices in our head tell us – see, you aren’t even grateful for what you have. If you really appreciated the fact that Jesus died for you, you would act more grateful. You would bend over backwards to make everyone happy. You would make sure the turkey is perfect this year. You would travel halfway across the state to four different houses just to make sure all your family members got to see you. You wouldn’t be depressed nor would you be grieving. You wouldn’t be distracted and tired and sad, you wouldn’t struggle, you would do so much better at life if you were more grateful.

And the thing is – this is all true. Gratitude is incredibly powerful. It adjusts our perspective, it aligns us with humility before God, it reminds us what it is important. Much praise and thanks is due to God.

But I do something strange to myself when it comes to gratitude, and I know I am not alone. You see, rather than gratitude happening as an outpouring of God’s love for me, I turn it into something to wrestle with. Am I grateful enough? Do people know I’m grateful? Does God know I’m grateful? Do my actions reflect that I’m grateful? Is my balance good enough in this bizarre balancing act?

So now the gift of a grateful heart turns into another LAW, another RULE which I try to follow (and fail). It becomes another worthless WORK, another way in which I try to be good enough only to find out (again and again) that I’m NOT good enough. Another thing which points to my careless sinfulness and pride and ego. Another one of those shoulds which fill me full of guilt and shame. Another Millstone.

And that’s not all bad, after all, it drives me right back to my need for Jesus. There is only one solution to this kind of nonsense, and it’s Jesus.

You know where gratitude comes from? It comes from simply basking in the truth that I am a child of God. It is hard to be critical or act out on my dysfunctional personality if my mind is occupied with the truth that GOD LOVES ME. Gratitude starts there. Everything starts there. Seek ye first the kingdom.

Perhaps instead of seeking out my gratitude in turkey and stuffing and warm fuzzy socks and naps in front of the Lions Game, I should start with Jesus Christ and His incredible love for me. Because it is only, ONLY when I start there that I can even have eyes for the blessings around me, the blessings which are so, so abundant. Seeking to follow a standard, even a good one like gratitude, without first going to Christ who deals with the issue of my heart, is simply empty religion. I am a Pharisee sometimes.

So to you, dear child of God: 

To you who are exhausted. To you who are grieving the loss of your son. To you who are grieving the loss of a friend. To you who has a sick family member. To you who went through a painful divorce this year. To you who always gets depressed around the holidays, no matter how hard you try to just be normal and happy. To you who would rather hide than make the rounds to see the family. To you who is missing a soldier overseas. To you whose loved one is in prison or in a mental institution. To you who can’t afford to give your children a thanksgiving meal. To you who misses your daughter and grandkids because they live several states away. To you who still misses your parents even though they went to be with Jesus over a decade ago. To you whose loved one is drinking or smoking crack today. To you who has been hurt and wounded in unimaginable ways. To you who struggles with mental health. To you who feels trapped like a rat in a cage. To you who are exhausted…

Give yourself a break. Life is hard, and this world is broken. There is no better proof of this than Jesus’ death. It hurts to be here sometimes; even as He is with us, giving us new mercies always, it still hurts.

 Jesus knows all about our ungrateful hearts, he took them into account when He died for us, and He died for us anyway. Do not add another millstone around your neck by bludgeoning yourself with guilt for not feeling grateful enough! This is not what Jesus wants, he came so we could stop doing that already. Instead, bask in the fact that He is enough. Spend time with Him, fill your mind with His word and His goodness. Seek Him first. Receive from Him the grateful heart which you cannot grant yourself.

O Soul are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see…
There’s light for a look at the savior…And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face…
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace. (Sing to the Lord 327)

With Love, Pastor Amy                                                            616.514.9521/

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