Northeast Community News –April 16, 2013
Dear Friends and Family,
We had a great Sunday in the Lord this week! We know that Pastor Dan and Janie had a great time in Chicago, and while we always miss them, we pulled together to have a great Sunday while they were on this much-needed vacation. (See more from Pastor Dan below). We had a lively Sunday school hour followed by worship and then a potluck! And then a membership class! What a day!
Our message this week came from John 21:1-19 and was titled “It is the Lord!” The disciples have been on quite a divine roller coaster ride. They have walked with Jesus in the flesh, lived through the terror of His death, and experienced firsthand the joy of His Resurrection. In these 40 days following the Resurrection, Jesus appears unexpectedly to his disciples, coming and going without warning. The days of constant companionship with Jesus seem like a distant memory. In many ways, the disciples are unsettled, and wondering now what Lord? We have seen you die, we have seen you resurrected, now what do you want from us? What do we do?
This is where we find the disciples this week – unsettled, uncertain, and living off-mission. Led by Peter, the disciples are in a boat, fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Our text tells us in v3 that they did not catch anything, until Jesus shows up in vs. 4-6 and tells them where to cast their nets to find the fish. They do what He says, and “they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish” (v6).
Initially, they did not realize that the man on shore telling them where to fish was Jesus (v3). Then suddenly, the beloved disciple known as John realizes that it is Jesus, turns to Peter, and says “It is the Lord!” (v7).
Peter’s response is profound. He immediately jumps into the water to swim to Jesus (v7). This brings us to our first key point –Christ is risen – today and every day!
Like Peter, do we need a reminder that Christ is still risen? Easter is not just a day, it is a season, and more than that, it is actually the whole trajectory of the Christian life! Upon realizing that “It is the Lord” Peter was instantly refocused and reengaged with the reality of the Resurrected Jesus.
The good news of Christ alive was not just for the tired, unsettled, forgetful disciples on the sea that day. It is also good news for us tired, unsettled, and forgetful disciples today! Jesus is risen, and this resurrection mindset is applicable to our lives every single day. Whether it be freedom from sin and bondage, hope in times of despair, or peace in times of waiting, Jesus is alive and well, and with us in each detail of our lives!
Next, we turn to Jesus’ discussion with Peter beginning in verse 15. You will remember that just before Jesus was crucified, Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him, and Jesus was right – Peter did deny Him, three times (John 13:31-38, 18:15-27). Now, we see Jesus graciously redeem and restore Peter.
We can imagine that Peter was still carrying guilt and shame from what he did. Perhaps we can relate to this. But look how Jesus deals with Peter. Beginning in v15, Jesus initiates a conversation with Peter. He does not shame Peter, He does not demand an apology, and He doesn’t even directly bring up Peter’s darkest moment. Instead, Jesus softly asks Peter if He loves Him. By asking three times, Jesus gives Peter the chance to turn his threefold denial into a threefold confession of love (v15-17).
This is our second key point: Jesus offers forgiveness and restoration – no matter what! In this encounter with Peter, we see that Jesus wants to move quickly out of sin and into repentance, forgiveness and restoration. Sometimes we are still in love with our sin, letting it continue to define us while Jesus is waiting and ready to move forward.
We also have a tendency to think that our sin is somehow unforgiveable and worse than everyone else’s. We think we are uniquely sinful, special, and unreachable by God’s grace. In truth, this is really just another way we think that we know better than God. The truth is that Jesus died to pour forgiveness out to all. There is no sin to big or ugly for Jesus. We are not special in our sinfulness, because we all suffer from this fallen human condition. If anyone could have been special and unforgiveable, it may have been Peter, who walked with Jesus in the flesh only to crumble into a heap of denial. Yet – Jesus quickly and kindly restored Peter to a place of leadership. He wants to do the same for us – and what’s more, He wants to use our broken past to help draw others to Himself. Often our past sin-struggles equip us uniquely to help others with similar struggles. God can turn our mess into something beautiful when we let Him – this is just His way!
The last key point we see is that love for Jesus brings task and cross. When Peter confessed love for Jesus, Jesus gave Him specific tasks, and also foretold Peter’s future cross, when he would follow Jesus to die for the glory of God (v15-19).
Here we pause to recognize that grace, given freely and abundantly to us, cost God much. The sweet free grace we receive cost God himself, poured out for us in death on the Cross. Free to us, costly to God.
Like Peter, when we profess that we love Jesus, it means something specific. It means more than Sunday morning, and it represents much more than a feeling of temporary relief or a balm on our sinful consciences. To say we love Jesus means we accept the call to follow Him no matter what the cost to us. The following and the cost will look different for each of us. For Peter, it looked like following Jesus to death. But the call remains the same for all of us, in that love for Jesus calls us to continue to live a life of repentance, sacrifice, and service.
I have to be honest that I did not feel settled when we ended this service on Sunday. I believe God was working on people, perhaps calling some to a deeper commitment. Was it you? It’s never too late to say yes to Jesus!
With love, Pastor Amy
Dear Friends and Family,
I’m back refreshed and renewed and already planning my next vacation! Seriously, it
was a huge blessing to travel to Chicago by train with Janie, stay in a downtown hotel,
and wander while Janie attended an insurance conference!
Would it surprise you to discover God continued to show up in unlikely places? From
the Holy Spirit guiding me to discover a free stained glass window museum filled with
sacred art, to giving me the opportunity to have ‘conversations of faith’ with powerful
Manhattan insurance executives, to hearing the confession of a man broken by years of abuse, God moved in and among us! We were blessed and He was glorified! Praise God!
But, I hear God moved here, too! From glorious worship, inspiring preaching, to good
food and conversation God’s Spirit moved in your midst, too! How cool is that? I pray
wherever you read these words you will sense His Spirit moving in your midst, too!
Thanks for letting me ‘play’ in Chicago, but I’m back! Love and blessings, Pastor Dan
WED. NIGHT ADULT BIBLE STUDY ON CHRISTIAN DISCIPLINE AT 6:30PM
Do you need discipline? No, I’m not talking about whether you deserve or need a ‘timeout’ or sharp smack or two on the hand or posterior, but whether you find yourself
lacking the self-control and discipline you need to live a life of deep, intimate faith?
Most of us want to be deep, strong, wise, and mature Christians, but we may not realize those attributes require discipline and concentrated effort! For the next several weeks we are examining the disciplines needed to help us connect with God, reach out to others, and stay on track! You can do this! I promise there won’t be a time out!
Hello From Pastor Amy/Your Part-Time Church Secretary
My office hours will vary on Tuesdays, and if you need to see me, just call! 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 AND EVENTS
Church Work Day – Saturday April 27th, 8am – 12pm
The trustees are continuing to hold church work days on the last Saturday of every month. It is April, and spring is here! This means that there will be plenty of work to do both inside and outside of the church building. Please join us to help keep our church maintained and looking great! No matter what skills you do or do not have, they will put you to work. Talk to Pat Parsaca or Theo Orban with questions.
Marriage Enrichment begins—May 05 @ 2:00pm
Our marriage enrichment small group begins May 05th from 2-3:30pm at Dick and Emily Morse’s house. If you are interested, please let us know asap so that we can order materials! We also want to extend an invitation to couples to who are not yet married, so if that’s you, consider joining us for a time of relationship enrichment! There is already a wide range of couples, with marriages ranging from 3 years to over 50 years! It’s going to be a great time! Talk to Pastor Amy if you are interested in joining us!
Indian Lake Nazarene Camp Events
If you don’t know, Indian Lake is a Nazarene campground where people from churches all over our district gather for District Assembly, children and youth camps, and various other activities. Pastor Dan and Janie own two cabins there, and usually invite everyone down to visit during family camp week in July. It is a beautiful place, and a lot of fun! Here are some upcoming events at Indian Lake as we approach Spring and Summer:
April 20 – Work Day and RV Pre-Opening Weekend. Includes breakfast, and
sandwiches for lunch, but they ask that you please bring a side dish to pass for lunch.
May 21-23 – Work and Win Weekend. More work days to spruce up the camp after winter. The camp is including free meals and lodging for workers!
May 25-28 – Memorial Day Weekend. There will be family activities on Saturday, and a concert on Sunday morning.
July 4-6 – Family Festival. Fun filled days with activities for all ages, including a 5k walk, other sports, water slides and rides, animal show, crafts, swimming, ponies, pontoon boat rides, a climbing wall and zip line, an outdoor movie and more!
CHILDREN AND YOUTH CAMPS!
· Discovery Camp (grades 1-2-3): July 1-3
· Boys & Girls Camp (Grades 3-4-5): July 29-August 2
· Middle School Camp (Grades 6-7-8): July 18-22
· High School Camp (Grades 9-12): July 14-18
This year, Indian Lake is offering a special promotion! If we get three new campers to attend camps, the fourth goes for free! Registration for camp begins April 15th, so begin planning! Please note that scholarships are available to help pay for kids who want to go to camp. You can see the bulletin boards, the tables outside of the sanctuary, or Pastor Dan or Pastor Amy if you are interested and want more information. You can also go to the website: www.ilnccamps.org, or call 269.649.2281
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.
Girl Scouts Meet in our Building! Next Meeting Monday April 22 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, 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 Pastor Amy or Irene Pratt.
April 20 Work Day at Indian Lake Nazarene Camp/RV Pre-Opening Day
April 22 Earth Day
April 24 Wednesday Night Potluck Dinner @ 5:30pm
April 27 Church work day 8am-12pm
May 03 First Friday Chinese Lunch @ 11:30am, Hibachi Alpine
May 05 Marriage Enrichment Small group begins @ 2pm, Morses’ house
May 12 Mother’s Day
May 21-23 Work and Win at Indian Lake Nazarene Camp
Pastor Amy’s Page
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…..” –Psalm 23:4
Dear Christians, it was scarcely six months ago when I sat in this office, staring at a blank page with a blinking cursor, asking God what words I could possibly use to make sense of the slaughter of innocent children which took place in the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut.
Today seems to be more of the same, and so soon. More Sandy Hook, more September 11th, more Columbine, more Oklahoma City Bombing. More.
Regardless of how we feel about the state of our media, one thing is for sure: they guarantee that we will get on-the-spot, real time graphic coverage.
Last night, we tucked our kids into their safe beds a little early, and like you, clicked on the nightly news. We saw the video of the bomb going off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, and then we saw it again, and again. We saw the blood-spattered cement, and clumps of what we can easily assume were dismembered body parts laying among the bodies of victims on the ground.
We saw the victims being wheeled away, bloody and in shock, bones sticking out of legs. We desperately grabbed at the one positive thing we saw, which was the first-responders and spectators alike running to the scene to help the victims. This, a tiny beacon of light in the dark of hell.
The chaos of evil has broken into our normal lives once again. Most of us here are not affected in the sense of losing loved ones or being there when it happened, but we are affected. We are sad and we are scared.
How does one connect the dots to make good come out of this kind of evil, to make sense out of nonsense?
It is tempting to try our hardest to cling to the hope for humanity which we see present in those emergency people and spectators who risked themselves to help their fellow man. Indeed, this is hopeful. But it is not enough, it is not enough to keep us from sinking into despair, drowning in the lurking notion that God is nowhere, or God hates us.
No, the nobility of man, no matter how moving or true, ultimately does not overshadow the blatant act of evil chaos which has taken place. It is a hopeful and soothing balm, in and of itself, but it does not solve the problem or erase the evil.
The only thing to do today is to boldly preach the gospel in the face of hell breaking loose on earth. That’s it. There is no other consolation, no other fancy spiritual-worded mumbo jumbo to cling to for satisfaction. Just the gospel, the sweet gospel, the balm for the sin-sick soul which is Jesus Christ.
So what we need to hear today is not an eloquent psychoanalyzing of the state of society, of the mental health system, gun legislation, the demise of constitutional America, terrorism, or any other such issue.
We just need the sweet truth of the gospel.
Here are some truths to trust in today, some truths that are true no matter what hell we see on earth coming into our living room through our television screens:
Through bombs and explosions, war, death, tragedy, and all suffering, the God of Israel is still our God, and is still sovereign over His Creation, completely regardless of if we understand what is going on or not.
Jesus Christ is still His only Son, and He is still “the Word who became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14).
Jesus is still our Savior, the lover of sinners, “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
Jesus still died for us, for sinners in the sin-sick world. It is still finished, and He has still taken the sin of the world on Himself that we might be free (John 19:30).
Jesus is still risen from the dead, the tomb continues to be empty (John 20).
Through Christ, we have been given “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). We are at peace with God and we can trust that He loves us.
Through the Holy Spirit Jesus continues to give us peace in the midst of chaos (John 14:27).
Jesus will return to finish the redemption of the world which He has started, to judge the living and the dead, and “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess to God” (Romans 14:9-11).
Through blood and tear-stained eyes, it still stands that “God so loved the world, that He sent His one and Only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God loves sinners, and Jesus came as the one and only light to this dark world.
This is our hope, and a blessed hope it is. The truth of our salvation, of God’s love for us, and of God’s ultimate victory over evil – this is the solid rock on which we stand. Jesus as Lord does not shift with the sands, does not get blown about in the wind, and does not change due to even the ugliest and worst circumstances.
Today and in the days to come, do not waste your time and energy looking about, looking up down and around trying to find sense and reason where there is only nonsense and unreasonableness.
Evil is chaos. Do not stare into evil or it will lead you to despair. I do not say this to say that we should not be engaged with this suffering. As Christians, we should feel it deeply, we should pray deeply and hurt deeply. Indeed we have all shed tears and feel sick and heavy today. Love for Jesus means painful love for the broken world, love which brings tears and questions and heartache. But do not look to your own reason, to politicians or media for hope. Look to Jesus, turn your face to Him constantly. He is our Rock.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. –Romans 8:37-39
Lord, we pray for your presence and light today. We pray for these victims of violence and everyone affected, including the caverns of our own hearts. Be with your people who trust you, and be with those who do not know you and do not have hope. We pray that the world would turn to You and believe. In Jesus’ name, amen.
With love, Pastor Amy