Northeast Community Church of the Nazarene
861 Fuller Ave NE - Grand Rapids, MI 49503 - PH # 616.459.2773
Northeast Community News – February 19, 2013
Dear Friends and Family,
We had a beautiful day in the Lord this Sunday! Pastor Dan had a vacation week, so we pulled together as a church to lead service without him. From those who shoveled the walks, to the leadership of the praise team and everything in between, thank you to everyone who helped us have a great day. We were also blessed to have Reverend Chris Christopher bring us our message from God. Reverend Christopher pastored our church and many other churches for many years, and is now retired, but is still a preacher used of God! We were thankful to have him.
God’s message this week was titled, “God’s Amazing Love.” Reverend Christopher began by reminding us that we live in a perfect time to take the gospel to the sin-sick world. Christians are able to spread the message like never before through email, blogs, facebook, and other social media outlets. Sometimes we can focus on the way technology can lead us away from God or be misused, but Reverend Christopher reminded us that we are called to make use of what is available to give God glory and reach people for Him! So how about you? Is your facebook page a reflection of Jesus?
We then began to examine “God’s Amazing Love” through Phillipians 2:6-10. Verses 6 and 7 read that Jesus, “Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” The God of the universe took on the form of man, and came to us as a servant, to redeem us. He didn’t have to do it, but in love, He chose to come to us this way.
This is God’s love! It is the freely self-giving love which we see in Jesus Christ, the self-emptying love which pours itself out for sinners. This is love, God’s amazing love!
John 3:16 has been called “the gospel in a verse,” and it says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Some of us have heard this verse so many times, that we brush over it without really taking it in. We say “God is love” and we know it is true, but what does this verse really mean to us?
Reverend Christopher taught us that inn John 3:16, the translation of the word “world” means “called-out ones.” It means simply that GOD LOVES SINNERS! He came here for sinners, to bear their burdens, to take their disease and sickness, to set them free from the power of sin and give them eternal life.
Jesus came and sacrificed himself, enduring the miserable and humiliating Cross, for sinners. Sinners like you, and sinners like me. Reverend Christopher described salvation as invitation, as Jesus reaches out his bloody, nail-pierced hand to us and whispers to our sin-broken hearts, “please, I know this world is a mess…I know it is broken and full of darkness…I know you don’t know the way…but I know the way!Won’t you take my hand and let me lead you? I know the way!”
Jesus is indeed, the way, the truth, and the life who leads us to our Father in heaven (John 14:6). I trust that you have taken His hand and are letting Him lead you through this world and on to the next.
Reverend Christopher’s other challenge to us was this: prayer! As believers, we are entrusted with spreading God’s Amazing Love to sinners. We cannot do it in our own strength. We cannot do it if we are not equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit. Reverend Christopher prayed to be an “arsonist for Jesus, an arsonist for the gospel” igniting a spreading and burning fire in the hearts of sinners who fall in love with Christ.
Are you praying to a Christian who helps to set hearts on fire for God?
Thank you again Reverend Christopher for sharing God’s message with us! We love you and we are blessed to get to be a small part of your lifelong journey with God.
With love, Pastor Amy
WEDS NIGHT ADULT GRIEF STUDY (RETURNS THIS WEEK at 6:30PM)
Are you grieving? While we often think of grief associated with the death of a loved one, we also grieve lost marriages and
careers, too. Grief is a normal part of life, but it can leave us feeling lost and helpless, wondering how we can go on. If you’re grieving you’re not alone! Join us as Pastor Dan helps us learn what the Psalms can teach us about a loving God who weeps with you, walks with you, and offers hope in the midst of pain. This week we will examine how Psalm 31 helps us address our sadness. In the weeks to come we will examine acceptance, and hope, too! See you there!
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, because my schedule varies. 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.
NEWS & EVENTS
Parsonage Land Line Disconnected!
Most of you contact Pastor Dan via email or cell phone, but we wanted to let you know that the church board decided to have the land line to the parsonage disconnected, because it is almost never used. Pastor Dan can be reached via his cell phone 616.204.1153, the church phone616.459.0402, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Church Work Day – THIS Saturday February 23rd 8:00am – 12:00pm
The trustees are continuing to hold monthly work days on the last Saturday of every month, and they need your help. There is always work to be done, from cleaning and organizing, to painting and maintenance and everything in between. More hands make the work light, so come help our trustees with the important role of maintaining and caring for our building and grounds. Talk to Pat Parsaca or Theo Orban with questions.
Baptism Service – Sunday Feb. 24 @ 3:00pm
Everyone is invited to come to our next baptism service which will be held on Sunday February 3rd at 3:00pm at Life Stream Free Methodist Church (800 Maryland Ave NE). You aren’t just invited, you are encouraged to come, and you should be there! Baptism is a significant and precious moment, and we hope you will come to support those who are being baptized. There will be a light meal afterwards. If you want to be baptized, please see Pastor Dan as soon as possible
Alabaster Offering – This Sunday, February 24th
Twice a year we take up a special Alabaster Offering. Every penny of this offering goes to the global mission field for the purchase of land and buildings which are used for ministry around the world. Alabaster funds help provide land for many Work & Witness projects, and the entire Alabaster Offering goes toward the purchase of land and construction of churches, schools, medical facilities, and homes for missionaries and national workers. You can take an alabaster box off of the sound booth to fill with your loose change, or just bring whatever you wish to give!
We are holding our 3rd annual diaper drive to “keep em' covered” this year, but there is a wonderful twist! This year we are partnering with our own Morgan Barber (Pat and Shannen Parsaca's daughter) and her Students for Life Club to collect diapers to help make choosing life a little bit easier for those who might otherwise terminate their pregnancies due to the heavy cost of having a baby. Morgan is a passionate pro-life student leader who wants to do whatever she can to help women choose life. Will you join the Students for Life by donating a box or two of diapers? You may recall diapers are not provided by government assistance programs and are a huge expense for anyone, but especially those with limited income. Our goal is to collect 1,500 diapers through the end of March. There will be a play-pen set up in the back of the sanctuary for you to place your packs of diapers through March 31st.
TEAM Day Reminder
Anyone wishing to attend TEAM day on March 9 needs to turn in late registration no later than February 25th! There is a small group who plans on going and riding together.TEAM day is a day of workshops and leadership training for anyone and everyone. Fliers with more information can be found on the table outside of the sanctuary. Talk to Pastor Dan if you have any questions.
Last Wednesday Night Dinner – February 27 @ 5:30pm
Our last Wednesday night of the month soup, salad, and bread dinners continue. Join on the 27th before our Bible study for a delicious meal and fellowship. Bring a dish to pass, a dessert or a drink, and invite a friend or family member! Regular Bible study and Children’s program follow at 6:30pm. Talk to Julie Orban to help set-up or clean-up.
Nazarene Missions Int’l – Crisis Care Kits in February! Last Day – February 24
Every year we participate in building Crisis Care Kits (CCK). A CCK is a collection of basic toiletry items every human needs in a crises. Kits were provided during super storm Sandy recently, and were also given in Joplin, MO after the tornado, Japan after the Tsunami, and Haiti after the earthquake. As Christians, we do our small part to help meet the need of thousands around the world who are suffering.
Below you will find the list of materials needed. Tracy Tamm wrote, “You can either buy carefully or donate money or let me do the shopping! There are very specific sizes for every item in the kits. If the items are the wrong size, we will not be able to put them in a kit, but will donate them to North End Community Ministry (the local compassionate ministry center here in Grand Rapids.)” Here is the list:
1 shampoo (12-18 oz.)
2 bars of soap (bath sized or larger)
1 tube of toothpaste (4.0-6.4 oz.)
3 toothbrushes (in their original packaging)
1 box of bandaids (30 or more per box)
1 fingernail clipper
1 sturdy hair comb
2 hand towels
4 pocket-sized packages of Kleenex
1 beanie baby sized stuffed toy
All of these items will be put in a 2 gallon sized ziplock bag. Items can be found at any dollar store. Need more info? See Tracy Tamm!
Nazarene World Week of Prayer (Feb. 24 – Mar. 02)
Each year the Church of the Nazarene gather at the throne of God to pray for specific requests received from each Region. The gathering is called the Nazarene World Week of Prayer (NWWP) and is planned to coincide with the annual World Week of Prayer.This year, NWWP will be observed Sun., Feb. 24 – Sat., March 2. Prayer requests will be posted by February19 on the NMI Web site –www.nazarenemissions.organd daily on the PML Facebook page - Facebook.com/NMIPrayer.
Want More? Climb Higher! Tri-District Holiness Summit in Flint! Mar. 10-11
Dr. Anthony, District Superintendent from the Eastern Michigan District writes:
We spend so much energy, time and resources in the local church ministry and life in general. The climb gets steep, oxygen runs low, our climbing gear wears thin, and we need a bold, fresh boost of spiritual energy to climb higher. Your spiritual summit is not out of reach! Mainstream keynotes and musicians are not always available to the average congregation. That’s why we’re bringing them to you—for free! Whether you are a lead pastor, associate, staff member or leader in your local church, you will want to be a part of yet another Holiness Summit for all Michigan Nazarenes.
March 10-11, 2013 will be a time of renewal and a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the three Michigan Districts of the Church of the Nazarene. Pastor Dan adds, Consider yourself invited! I am planning on traveling to Flint Sunday evening to hear Dr. Diehl and Monday morning to hear Susie Shellenberger and Chad Bohi so you can ride with me if you're interested! While I won't stop Sunday night for dinner, we will stop for a fast food lunch before coming home Monday afternoon! This is an event that will challenge, lift, and encourage you! Let me know if you are interested!
Are you married or about to get married? Then you need serious help!
Seriously, the married life is regularly filled with challenges! From internal communication to unrealistic expectations to learning to disagree (fight) fairly within a Christian worldview, to the external pressures of family and a culture that has normalized temptation and divorce your church understands you often need some support, insight, and encouragement. This Spring, Pastor Dan and Pastor Amy and their spouses will be leading a 6-week class based on the book ‘The Five Love Languages.’ The class will most likely meet in our homes Sunday evenings but we will see who is interested and their availability. Let Pastor Dan or Pastor Amy know if you are interested!
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.
Membership Class is Coming in April!
Do you want to know more about the Church of the Nazarene, our local church, or are interested in becoming a member? Pastor Dan and Pastor Amy are leading a class on Sunday afternoons in April! Attendees will receive a copy of ‘Welcome to the Church of the Nazarene’ that will explain Nazarene history, polity, and what we believe! Let Pastor Dan or Pastor Amy know if you are interested! It will be a lot of fun!
Girl Scouts Meet in our Building! Next Meeting Mon. February 25 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!
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 Pastor Amy or Irene Pratt.
February 23 Church Work Day 8am-12pm
February 24 Alabaster Offering
February 24 Last Sunday for Crisis Care Kit items
February 24 Baptism Service at Lifestream Free Methodist Church at 3:00pm
February 27 Soup, Salad & Bread Dinner @ 5:30pm
March 3 Diaper Drive begins
March 9 Tri-District TEAM Day in Perry
March 10-11 Tri-District Holiness Summit in Flint – Climb Higher!
April 07 New Membership Class begins
April 22 Earth Day
May Marriage Enrichment Small group, dates and times tba
Reflections from Pastor Amy
Weekly thoughts 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.
February 19, 2013
Ash Wednesday and Lenten Thoughts
On Wednesday night of last week, we held a small Ashing service to recognize Ash Wednesday. We sang a few songs, went over a study discussing the meaning of Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Season, and then invited everyone to the altar to receive ashes on the forehead.
You might be thinking, Ash Wednesday? Lent? I’m not a Catholic! But the truth is that many Protestants recognize the value in observing Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Season. If you didn’t make it to our Wednesday night study, here are some thoughts to chew on:
Ash Wednesday is the Wednesday of the seventh week before Easter. It marks the first day of Lent. It is named after the tradition of imposing ashes, a longstanding practice of many churches. Ashes are a sign of repentance frequently mentioned in the Bible. (See Jonah 3:5-9, Job 42:6, Jeremiah 6:26, Matthew 11:21)
Ashes remind us that God condemns sin. In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve sin, God says to Adam “You are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19). Ashes remind us of the shortness of human life. Often at funerals we hear ministers saying “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust” Ashes remind us we need to repent and turn to God. They also remind us of our baptism.
When we receive ashes on our forehead, it is a sign of our faithful and ongoing repentance, our human mortality, and our great need to be redeemed by God’s mercy. The focus, thankfully, is not only on our sin and need for repentance, but on God’s faithfulness to us, and the hope we have in Christ who is resurrected! The ashes on our forehead, while symbolizing our sinfulness, are also in the sign of the Cross and therefore hint at the good news to come.
Ash Wednesday marked our start of a season filled with prayerful reflection on our continual need for God’s grace and our repentance. During this time, we are preparing for the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. Traditionally, the Lenten season is also marked by self-denial. Many people choose to give up a luxury (television, chocolate, etc), as well as add some extra good works to their schedule (more time in prayer, the Word, service to others, etc).
So why do we care, and why do we participate in Lent? We live in a culture which denies death. We are squeamish about our own mortality. We prefer to use cleaner euphemisms like “Uncle John passed away” rather than saying someone died. As a culture, we send dying people away to suffer behind closed doors where we cannot see them. We dye our grey hair, we use make up to cover up age spots, we get plastic surgery, and we constantly try to be younger. We are utterly shocked when death hits close to home. We would rather not face our own mortality. Ashes and our time of re-focusing on God during the Lenten season, then, serve as a reminder that yes, you are indeed going to die, in case you have forgotten.
As Christians, there is freedom in openly recognizing death, because we know the One who has defeated death! In Christ we can rest assured that our physical life here is just the beginning of eternal life with the God who holds us in His hands.
In addition, we live in a culture which is squeamish about confessing sin. Sin is denied, relabeled, redefined, and embraced as a normal lifestyle. The very word “sin” can cause heated reactions from those who would wish to deny its existence.
In the church, some of us need the reminder that no matter how long we have been walking with Christ, we are still sinners in desperate need of the Savior. Others might need to be reminded that we all sin and suffer from the human condition, and there is no point at which the love of Christ will not forgive and redeem us. We are never perfect, and we are never too far gone. God’s grace through Christ is always sufficient for our need, no matter where we are in our walk with Him.
So during this 40 day season of Lent, we are re-focusing on God. For most of us, this means we are slowing down, quieting ourselves, spending more time drawing near to Him. We might take some extra time in silence to really seek out the Holy Spirit, asking Him to reveal areas in our life which need to change, actions or attitudes from which we need to repent. We are stepping back from the temporary busy rush of our lives, to refocus on our eternal life in Christ.
Some of us feel led to fast for a time from certain luxuries or activities. None of us have to fast; we are already forgiven, loved, and redeemed by Jesus. We are no more or less Christian by our fasts or lack thereof. Yet we know that the sinful world and the sin still within us can drag us down. We can get distracted by the here and now. Fasting, then, is a way to re-focus and fix our eyes upon Jesus. One friend has said that instead of a fast, we should call it a slow. It is a challenge for us to live slow.
We don’t fast to earn brownie points with God, or to try to get Him to do what we want. We don’t fast to impress others, nor do we fast because someone else expects us to. We don’t fast to prove to ourselves that we are good Christians, and we don’t fast in order to see how great we really are if we just put our mind to it. These among others, are not good motives for fasting. You can see some of Jesus’ thoughts about fasting in Matthew 6:16-18.
We do, however, fast to teach ourselves to how to say no, and to learn discipline. We do fast to live more simply and focus on God. We do fast to be reminded that only Jesus satisfies and nothing else. We do fast to remember that sin is serious, and that we are desperately in need of God’s saving grace in Jesus. We do fast to switch our attention from the temporal to the eternal, and to free up time to spend with God and in the Word.
No matter what you are or are not doing for Lent, there is never a wrong time to draw closer to God and seek His light in your heart. Ashes are not required, and you can start seeking more of God at any moment, on any day. He is calling us, inviting us to more abundant fellowship with Him always. Happy, blessed, re-focused Lent to you!
With Love, Pastor Amy