Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NE NEWS - November 6, 2012

Northeast Community News – November 06, 2012
Dear Friends and Family,

What a wonderful day we had in the Lord, yesterday! As I removed the signage from the bulletin board Sunday afternoon, I realized God continues to move in our midst! From the 271 cans and 53 boxes of food and 60 blankets received to the recently completed ‘40 Days in the Word’ last Saturday, to those who recently placed their trust in Christ for their salvation and to be Lord of their life, we find the movement of God all around us and through us! While the food and blanket drives and 40 days have ended, God hasn’t stopped moving, Amen? Amen!

This week Pastor Amy delivered God’s message to us! Aren’t we blessed God called Pastor Amy to ministry? Aren’t we blessed God gave her such a wonderful husband and two beautiful children? God could have called them anywhere, but He called them here! God is good! How often? All the time! Amen! I look forward to seeing you this week!

Dr. Frank Moore prepared three Bible study lessons to explain the three central values in the Church of the Nazarene: We are Christian, Holiness, and Missional. Join us this week at 6:30pm to take a deeper look at being a Holy People. Next week we will examine what it means to be a missional people, too!
Love and blessings, Pastor Dan

Hello from Pastor Amy!

Our message this week came from John 4:1-26, and was titled “Grace and Truth.” How does a Christian balance the call to speak both grace and truth to the world?

We began by talking about the ugly, heated political climate which surrounds us as we near a very important election. The mass media and social networks no longer play fair, and truth seems to be optional. What was once intelligent, passionate, good-spirited debate about the state of our nation has now turned into a nasty, mean-spirited, fear-driven argument in which many no longer even want to participate.

The real question, however, is whether or not we as Christians are any different. Have we lost the art of having reasonable, Spirit-led discussion with each other? It seems that as Christians, we either tend to get angry and belligerent, or on the other extreme, we stay quiet to avoid rocking the boat. But the inescapable fact is that in living a Christian life, we are going to find our faith colliding with all kinds of issues and things that are uncomfortable. Are we providing a safe place for people to work out difficult issues that relate to their faith? As believers, we are called to be different, to have a higher standard of Spirit-led discussion in order that our faith may grow and blossom in the light of things which challenge us!

So how do we do this? How do we attain a position where we can love our enemies? How do we come to a place where we love the sinner but hate the sin? How do we disagree in love? How do we speak truth and grace to a world that desperately needs to hear it?

We start with Jesus, the fullness of Grace and Truth.  In John 4:1-26, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman and has a heavy, truth-filled conversation with her. What can we take from this?

First, Jesus treats people like people, and we should treat people like people too. In Jesus’ day, the Jews and the Samaritans did not mix. They had a long-standing conflict, and the Jews believed that the Samaritans were religiously and racially unclean. Not only that, but Jesus was talking to a woman, which was also shocking in that day. Jesus crossed extreme religious, cultural, and gender boundaries to speak truth to one common woman.

The differences were not an excuse to not talk to the woman, nor were they an excuse not to speak the truth to her. Jesus told her the truth – the truth about herself and her five husbands, the truth about the flaws in the Samaritan religious practices, and the truth about His own identity. He could have called her a sinner and a whore and worse, but this is not his approach. He treats her like part of the human race, and speaks difficult truth to her.

Do we treat people like people? Or do we use labels and divide them from us? The gay people…the liberals…the environmental wackos….those judgmental Christians…It’s hard to love people like Jesus did when you are labeling them and making them the enemy.

Second, we must be anchored in the truth. Jesus knew the truth about the woman, about the Samaritans, and most importantly about himself. Because he was deeply grounded in His Father above, Jesus was not shaken by speaking the truth throughout his life.

It takes hard work on our part to be anchored. We have to take the time to dig and wrestle and think and learn and struggle with our faith. But this hard work has to be done. If we do not know who we are and who we belong to, we are bound to be tossed about by all the complex issues the world will throw at us. If we do not put our roots down deeply in Christ first, then we will have nothing to ground us, and we will resort to angry belligerence or silence when we are confronted with uncomfortable complex issues.

Third, we must quit the outcome business. What does this mean? Jesus spoke some very difficult truth to the Samaritan woman. In v22 he says “You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.” The Samaritans religious practice was based on a twisted interpretation of history which left out part of the Old Testament which was sacred to the Jews. In this passage, Jesus is calling the Samaritan religion ignorant of the truth. Ouch! He also calls out her five husbands and implied life of sin, and makes the claim to being the Messiah. This is all difficult truth.

So did Jesus speak and then force her to agree? No! On the contrary, we see Him speak, and then he lets his words settle. He leaves unanswered questions. He leaves her responsible for her response. And she goes, and testifies to what he had told her (v28).

We see throughout our entire Bible that God does not force our compliance. We are free to reject. Jesus carried this truth all the way to the Cross where He died and continues to freely invite us to receive his gift of salvation. He leaves our response up to us.

We are called to speak grace and truth into the world, to testify to Christ crucified and resurrected to redeem us. And that’s it! We are not responsible for the results. We are not in control of the outcome or response from others, we are not responsible when the truth is rejected.

Lastly, you were challenged to pray, vote, and live a Christian life. The change we want to see in the world will not come from political power. Our government is not trying to align itself with the Kingdom of God. It is important that we elect leaders which most closely line up with our Christian values, but the real change we want to see in the world will come from our hearts being on fire for God. It will come from our churches being transformed by the Holy Spirit. It will come when we with hearts on fire are in relationship with others.

In the meantime, we are called to be a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14). Christians are no longer the cultural majority in our country. There are many who would love nothing more than for us to be quiet, to stay locked up in our churches and let evil grow without resistance. This is all the more reason that we need not only to vote, but to live lives of authentic faith. We are called to be the city on the hill, the place that while the world goes on in all of its chaos and disharmony, some will look to us as different, and be attracted to the light of God. Do we live up to that?

With love, Pastor Amy

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


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.

Blankets for Mel-Trotter Thank You!
After our month-long blanket drive, we are happy to announce that as a church we collected a total of 63 blankets! Each blanket will go to Mel Trotter Mission, where they will be put to immediate use by women, men, and children who come to the mission. Thank you all for giving, and for being the hands and feet of Jesus in our community!

Love Offering Thank You!
To everyone who gave to the love offering for Theo and I (Pastor Amy), we want to sincerely thank you. It is an incredible blessing to be in a church that loves us so much. It is also an incredible blessing to me to be surrounded by people who are encouraging and affirming my call into ministry. In addition to the love offering, I can’t help but be reminded of the ones who bring us dinners and the cards and love and hugs received from so many. And how could I forget the many, many women and girls who help care for our boys in the nursery every week? Thank you all for giving, not just of your money but of yourselves! Love Pastor Amy and Theo

Vote Vote Vote! November 6th Presidential Elections TODAY
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. Veterans Day in the United States also coincides with Remembrance Day and Armistice Day in other parts of the world which specifically remember the World War I and World War II Veterans. While Memorial Day honors those who have died in service, Veterans Day honors all those who have served in the US Military. This week we want to take the time to remember all of our active duty soldiers and veterans. Pastor Dan will be taking a moment to recognize any who are present in our worship service on Sunday. He will also be asking for the names of friends and family who are currently overseas so that we can pray for them.

We are a church who loves and prays for our men and women in uniform. In our fellowship hall, we have a bulletin board recognizing these people. If you would like to add someone, we would love to pray for them and acknowledge them! Just give a picture and biography to Pastor Dan!

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.

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!

Girl Scouts Meeting in our Building! Next Meeting Monday November 12th 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

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
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
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. 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 11, 2012

Putting Yourself in Gethsemane: Luke 22:39-46
I stumble into the garden of Gethsemane with the rest of the disciples, following Jesus to a quiet place. Here the air is cold and wet; I inhale the deep, earthy smell and try to rub away the goosebumps covering my arms. He tells us to pray so that we will not fall into temptation. We are all weak and beyond exhausted, unable to even think clearly.

I watch him take several steps away from us. He is only a couple of yards away and he hits his knees and begins to pray. In the dark I can see the outline of his body, and I hear him whisper…not my will, but yours be done. An angel appears as a soft glow, and appears to be wiping his tears.

His voice gets louder as he prays to the father, and in the light of the moon sweat pours down his face, sweat which now looks like blood; and if it isn’t, I know that it will be soon. I am gripped by fear and anguish to see my Lord like this, and I lean my back against a large tree, looking up at the sky, closing my eyes…Father have mercy…

I am startled awake when Jesus sharply asks why we are sleeping, and tells us to pray so that we do not fall into temptation. I don’t entirely know what he means, but I do know for certain that evil is near. I rub my eyes, shake off my exhaustion, and begin praying to the Father to have mercy on all of us.

This passage is so…human. Today it serves as a reminder that Jesus trusted the Father, he deferred to the Father’s will, obedience even unto death. Am I willing to pray that God be glorified, no matter what the personal cost to me?

Jesus had to make the choice to obey and glorify God, even while his very closest disciples fell asleep only feet away from Him. Will I be obedient even when those closest to me are falling asleep instead of praying? Though it’s too much for others, will I persevere? Oh I am far from Christlike….

This week my husband will go to the doctor to receive the results of his yearly CT Scan to check for signs of cancer. He has been in remission for several years from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He used to have to be checked every six months, but has now reached the happy milestone where the check-ups are only yearly. Someday, they will be every two years, every five years…

There have been more stressful years, years where I did not handle the fear well. One year I suffered from the emotional neurosis of pregnancy, and lost sleep in the fear of delivering our first baby to a sick or dead husband. A real fear, but one magnified dramatically by pregnancy.

 In subsequent years I find myself asking what we would do if the cancer came back. It is an underlying fear which mercifully is almost always far away, one which only comes out on rainy days. It rears its ugly head whenever someone close is sick or dies. It floats to the forefront as a reminder whenever I am witness to senseless suffering or sickness or anything that reminds me of our mortality. It is with us, but it is only magnified on rare occasion.

He does not say much about it, but we always exhale together and celebrate the good results. My own self-centered fear makes it hard to imagine what his own fears must be like. He always gives me the good advice, the wise words not to dwell or worry uselessly until we actually know the results, good or bad. He is right, and I have gotten better at taking this wise advice.

These fear times are both good and bad for the taking of the spiritual temperature. My greedy heart is ever-present. I incorrectly consider my husband to be mine. I am checked and reminded that he is God’s before he is mine. And so are my children. I am stripped and learn again that my life is not my own. There is a God and I am not He.

But in the stripping down comes the blessing of having to face reality in all of its realness. There is something freeing in the realness. My life is not my own. I continue on a daily basis to defer my wants and cravings to God’s perfect will. Time and time again comes the reminder that I am tiny, needy, scared. Hopeless, helpless, and insane with sin apart from Divine aid.

We pray along the lines of Oh Lord, take my life and may it glorify you! But do we ever stop and realize the potential implications of such a prayer? Do we consider the personal costs that may come, and whether or love is great enough? Do we mean it and trust Him with the results?

As I muck around in the fear a bit, the greatest blessing has come in the form of realizing that I actually trust God. We can say it all day – well, no matter what happens, I trust God. Even if it’s terrible.God has a plan! Even if my husband dies next month.God knows what’s best for us. Even if my kid gets hit by a car. Even if…

It’s harder to mean it than it is to say it. We say lots of things that make little or no actual connection to our heart. But today I can say I trust God, even if my husband has cancer again. I trust God, even with all my even-ifs!

It is not an absence of fear. It is not a super-human, super-spiritual courage. It is not feeling in control. It is not clinging to a false notion that “everything is going to work out.”

Rather, it is knowing that my God can manage my fear, that He has taken into account my worst and most out-of-control emotions, and will care for me. It is simply knowing that God the great redeemer will redeem all things, that when I am too exhausted to care for myself, He will make sure I get fed and wrapped up in a warm blanket. It is trusting that He will be present and be enough if all of my worst fears in life come true, and He won’t take away His enough-ness just because I don’t handle everything gracefully or courageously. I will be me and He will be Him.

It is looking to Jesus, to His perfect obedience and trust which was clearly not absent of struggle.  

Lord, you know my heart, you know my desires and my every thought, nothing is hidden from you. My prayer today is that You be glorified in my life, no matter what the personal cost to me may be. We know you are with us come what may. Give me the heart of Jesus who said “not my will, but thy will be done…”
With Love, Pastor Amy                                              amyorban@hotmail.com /616.514.9521

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