Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NE NEWS - October 29, 2013

Northeast Community News – October 29, 2013
Dear friends and family,
What a wonderful day we had in the Lord, Sunday! While the air is cooler and the leaves are changing and falling outside, the warmth of God’s love is calling and transforming us on the inside, too! Chains continue to fall and lives radically change through Christ!
God’s message this week came from Matthew 18:21-35 and was titled: “Fruit of the Spirit: Patience.” Are you a patient person? What or who tries your patience and what encourages you to even try to be patient? For most, patience does not come easy! The idea of long-suffering is not something we look forward to or embrace! Perhaps it is because we are seemingly born impatient! From the cradle we discover the ‘squeaky wheel’ really does get grease! And oh do some of us squeak!
The word translated ‘patience’ in this passage comes from the transliterated Greek word makrothuméō and comes from two contracted words makros (long) and thumos (wrath or anger). When it takes you a long time to get angry or find yourselves able to extend understanding to the foolish over a period of time, or put up with wrong for a long time with someone who deserves punishment, you are makrothuméō  or patient.
While it might be hard to believe in a culture that glorifies impatience and pleasing self, God created us to be patient with others! In Matthew 18, Jesus is teaching the disciples how to live in Christian Community when Peter asks Jesus if forgiving 7 times would satisfy the kind of patience He desired (v. 21). While the Jewish Law required forgiving 3 times, Jesus responds, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (v. 22). The number isn’t as important as the principle: God wants us to have unlimited patience!
Perhaps baffled, Jesus begins to tell Peter and the other disciples of a parable about two servants who owed a debt they could not repay. Both initially faced justice, but after begging for patience the first servant not only received the patience from the king, but grace! Though owing a trillion dollars his debt was cancelled and he was set free. (This is the kind of grace God shows us through Jesus – Amen!).
But instead of being grateful, the servant who’d been forgiven a trillion went after someone who owed him a few dollars and even though the man who owed the small amount begged for patience, too, he refused and threw him into prison (v. 33). Jesus ends the parable warning that God will treat us in the same way we treat others (vv. 32-35).
Last week we had an amazing worship service with perhaps 45 coming forward to the altar with debts they couldn’t pay! One after another people brought their chains and instead of receiving the impatient justice they deserved, they received amazing grace. It was an incredible service! The Holy Spirit moved and God’s people were made whole!
But as you left the service and descended off the mountain and went back into your every day world filled with fools and people needing justice, how did you respond? Did you respond with the same patience and grace you received, or demand justice? Jesus teaches us to extend the same patience, grace, and freedom to those in debt to us as we received from Him. Easy? NO WAY! But with the sanctifying presence of the Holy Spirit flowing within a life fully yielded to Him you can do it! Let Him lead – you follow! Amen!
Last week I reflected on the Come to the Fire women’s conference and how the Holy Spirit led 10 women and an obedient pastor in an awesome – life changing – worship service! God led! God moved! People were obedient and God transformed! Hallelujah!
But God didn’t just move in the service, He led us into the parking lot for a wonderful time of loving 100+ others in our community, too! Hmm, perhaps I have gotten too far ahead and need to back up a little bit first. About 3 months ago Irene Pratt challenged our church board to live our church name and become a community-focused church.
Irene often serves as a prophetic voice in our midst. In our spiritual gifts inventory it describes someone with the gift of a prophet as someone with:
“…the ability to interpret and apply God’s revelation in a given situation. To exercise this gift, one must have a sense of call, a sense of timing, knowledge of the Scripture and the workings of the Church, and respect for the dignity of all people.”
Specifically, Irene wanted us to have a Free Fall Festival and invite the community to experience the love of Christ through food, fellowship, gifts, and a variety of crafts and other games and activities for adults and children. Speaking for myself, I was both excited at the prospect of a large outdoor fall festival and overwhelmed at the amount of planning it would require. After a small amount of discussion I am pleased to tell you your church board enthusiastically endorsed her idea voted unanimously to set aside $500 along with a lot of offers among board members to help make it happen!
While the idea was sound and God was clearly leading, the Evil One tried to stop it by attempting to confuse, question, and discourage us. Would there be enough money? Would there be enough volunteers? Will anyone in the community come? What about a weather forecast calling for 8 days of rain? These were just some of the questions the Evil One tossed at the planners of this event! Each potential roadblock and question was answered with the same quiet determined faith! We can trust God to provide!
Did God provide? ABSOLUTELY!
To the question ‘Would there be enough money?’ we came in UNDER budget! Praise God! To the question, ‘Would there be enough volunteers?’ we had more than enough! In fact, God sent a perfect stranger from the community to help us set up! Praise God! To the question, ‘Will anyone in the community come?’ we had a 180 come and of those OVER 100 were NEW to our church! Praise God! And last, to the question ‘What about a weather forecast calling for 8 days of rain?’ well, it did rain for 4 days before and 3 days after, but on the day of the Fall Festival it was SUNNY and WARM! Praise God!!!!
Thank you to everyone who made this event a success! From Irene who created 30 posters and 800 flyers and delivered them to businesses and houses throughout the community and led all of us to everyone who donated supplies, to those who helped with food preparation and clean up, to those who set up tables and chairs or helped kids bob for apples, search for pennies in sawdust, toss a beanbag, decorate a pumpkin or a face, or helped kids make a woodcraft it was an amazing day! To God be the Glory! For those who like statistics this is what I have:
·       180 in attendance (approx.)
·       100+ had no affiliation to the church (so far)
·       140 people made 176 entries to win prizes
·       65 people won something (46.4% were a winner!)
·       56 pumpkins were painted (and we could have used more!)
·       6,435 bubbles were blown (approximate)
·       1.25 bushels of apples were bobbed for!
·       It takes 2 bags of sawdust to cover 25% of the parking lot! J
·       100+ faces were painted including both of your pastors! (meow!)
·       100+ woodcrafts were created and taken home!
·    Lots of spines were analyzed, massages given, and appointments made with our neighborhood chiropractor Dr. Jake from Simple Truth Chiropractic!
But statistics alone don’t tell the whole picture. While we will be telling stories for a long time, I want to share one I will treasure in my heart forever. You may not have recognized our musician, Patrick Gillis. But Patrick is a regular at our church. In fact, Janie and I find him at church about 5 times a week sleeping on the front porch. While Patrick graduated with a music degree from college, he is currently homeless. While everyone enjoyed his music, Patrick actually thanked me for the opportunity to play.
Apparently homeless people don’t get a lot of invitations or opportunities to play, but when our church graciously provided both and we were all blessed! In that moment I was certain we had seen Jesus in our midst! (Matt. 25:40). I wasn’t alone! At least one other person was dumfounded and teary when they fully realized what was happening! She asked, “What kind of church invites a homeless man to come and provide music at a church event?” With a healthy sort of pride and with a lump in my throat I said, “His name is Patrick and Northeast Community is the kind of church that welcomes hurting, sick, and broken people into the presence of Jesus and His healing presence to share their gifts.” After all, His grace IS STILL AMAZING, right? Amen and Amen!
Bless everyone who helped – who prayed then and continues to pray – for being the hands and feet of Jesus – for supporting ideas that could easily seem to hard, too big, and too costly! While only God knows what the result of all of our efforts will be, this event has already changed me! God is so good, how often? Yup, all the time!

We changed the format of the adult Bible study! While we still examine God’s Word, we are now singing and praying first to give us enough time to pray! Sometimes this means we need two weeks to finish a lesson and that is ok! This week we continue our study on the fruit of the Spirit by continuing to exam Matthew 18:21-35 and patience!
Blessings! Pastor Dan

Hello from Pastor Amy, your Associate Pastor/Administrative Secretary
My office hours vary on Tuesdays, so 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, or a prayer request to publish, please contact me! Also, we have a long, ongoing list of prayer requests. Please keep me updated. Requests will be pulled from the newsletter & program after three weeks.
My Contact Info: 616-514-9521 or aorban@nnu.edu


Potlucks on Last Wednesday Night of the Month!
On the last Wednesday night of every month, we gather for dinner and fellowship at 5:30pm. Bring a dish to pass and invite friends or family to join us for good food and conversation. Regular Bible study follows at it’s regular time of 6:30pm. Please note we do have Youth Group and Nursery Coverage on Wednesday nights. Talk to Julie Orban to help setup or cleanup the potluck.Next dinner: This Weds Oct 30th @ 5:30pm 

November Blanket Drive for Mel Trotter!
During the month of November, we will be holding our third annual Blanket Drive for Mel Trotter mission. Three years ago we learned that the mission is often in need of blankets, and many of their people end up sleeping on beds without blankets during these cold months. Each year, Mel Trotter has been extremely grateful for the blankets we are able to give! So bring your new or gently used blankets in and add them to the pile in the back of the sanctuary. Talk to Janie Hathway with questions. Our goal is 65 blankets!

First Friday Chinese Lunch November 01st
On the first Friday of every month, everyone is invited to the Alpine Hibachi located behind the Target for lunch. The group meets at 11:30am and everyone is welcome to bring friends or family. The food is cheap and delicious, and the conversation is even better. Talk to Tracy Tamm with questions, see you there!

DST Ends this Saturday November 2 – Fall Back!
Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend, so don’t forget to set your clock backs one hour when you go to bed on Saturday night. If you forget, it will be okay, because you will be to church one hour early and can have coffee with the other early birds!

Family Church/Communion Sunday November 3rd
Each first Sunday of the month, we celebrate the sacrament of Communion during our worship service. On this special day, we keep our children in service, and there is no children’s church. This gives our children and our workers the opportunity to participate in the Lord’s Supper. Have a child who wants to help hand out programs, usher, or be involved in our service in some other way? Talk to Pastor Amy! 

Come pray with us on Tuesday mornings! Everyone is invited to join us for an hour of prayer. We all know many who need  Jesus, and many who have other needs. We believe that prayer really does change things, and God really does love the world – especially those who don’t know Jesus yet! Who could you be praying for? It is a midweek blessing and encouragement to join with other believers in prayer! See you Tuesday!

Craft and Scrapbooking Weekend at Indian Lake!
This weekend is just for ladies and takes place from November 1-3. The cost is $25 per day which includes a table, meals, games, prizes, snacks, and devotion time. Lodging costs vary. More details at www.nazcamp.org

Indian Lake Nazarene Camp 2014 Summer Dates!
Here are confirmed dates for family festival, camp meeting, and camps for kids and teens in 2014. We will publish these dates again, but thought you might like to plan ahead.

2014 JUNE   Confirmed Dates
16 - 20           Middle School Camp
23 - 27           High School Camp
30 - July 2     Discovery Camp

2014 JULY    Confirmed Dates
4 - 6                Family Festival
7 - 11             Boys/Girls Camps
12 – 20          District Centennial Celebration Events
13                   Homecoming Worship Service
13 - 14           District Assembly
19                   Conventions (SDMI|NMI|NYI)
14 - 20           Family Camp

Pastor Amy’s Page

Halloween is a Gospel holiday, too!
            Greetings from the land of slobbery little boys who throw tantrums over which socks to wear in the morning, the land of too much studying and cold microwaved coffee late at night, the land where grace flows as abundantly as chocolate milk for my toddlers and Jesus is in all the lovely details, including the crumbs all over the floors and the balled up piles of clothes shoved in the corner of the bedroom which I will go through someday…over the rainbow.
            All is well here, though I have certainly missed you. And by you I mean not only the inner quiet which allows me to slow down and reallysee life, but also the blinking cursor on this blank page and the massive river of words that seem to flow like a dam giving way whenever I stop to live in that quiet place.
But most of all, by you, I mean I miss you, my readers, and the fabulous way in which Jesus and grace invade my thoughts, and my thoughts turn into words which mix with your thoughts and words and somehow, hopefully, it draws us all just a little deeper into this lovely dance with Jesus and Scripture and grace and life.
            I was thinking this week about Halloween and the various Christian perspectives surrounding this holiday. Some will moralize and say we shouldn’t take part in a holiday which is so obviously pagan and even glorifies the dark side of life. I am sure there is some truth in this. I will be the first momma bear to go ultra-conservative parental advisory sticker password lock crazy if I think my boys are exposed to anything that might be scary or violent or damaging to their little minds.
            Then there are some who come half way, hosting church Halloween parties with arbitrary Christian costume standards. Here, it is morally acceptable to allow your child to dress up as a fairy princess or a mermaid, but not as a devil or a Frankenstein. What about Batman? Spiderman? Friendly pirates? I think Mermaids can be quite promiscuous – have you seen Peter Pan? Does Hulk have a claim to higher moral ground than Superman? I will admit it is just not clear to me.
            All joking aside, since we are Christians living in a post-Christian nation and in a culture which thinks we are prudish lunatics by our lack of love for violence, blood, gore, and darkness in general, Halloween can feel like a weird balancing act between fun, candy, and creepy evil influences which we would rather avoid.
            There is good news. Halloween is a gospel holiday, too! Here’s how:
            First, October 31st is documented by historians as the technical beginning of the Protestant Reformation when Martin Luther nailed his “Ninety-five Theses” to the door of a Roman Catholic Church, protesting church corruption and setting into the motion the splitting of the church into the huge variety of denominations which we see today. Blah blah blah church history theology boring pastor stuff who cares give me candy…
            The point is that we (Nazarenes) are protestant Christians, and thus we are at least in part, a product of the Protestant Reformation. More importantly though, is that an enormous part of the Reformation was Luther’s doctrine of justification by faith. Blah blah theology big words blah blah where are the Snickers….
            Here is the part you might relate to. Luther spent much of his life being utterly tormented by an awareness of the depth and enormity of his own sin. At this period of time, the church taught that one must work hard to make sure that they had confessed and done penance for sins. Luther’s sense of inadequacy before God was so profound that it left him in despair. It was obvious that sin ruled, and that there was no way he could adequately confess or be rid of that sin, let alone work up the faith to love God.
            Luther was assigned to teach Scripture in Germany, and it was through Scripture that he learned how God is both just and forgiving, full of truth and grace. Most importantly he learned that salvation is a gift from God, given to us by faith, and even that faith is a gift.
            Ephesians 2:8-9 says For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works so that none can boast.
            What Luther realized was that the work of salvation is the work of God, through and through. Not our work, but God’s work. Not only has Jesus paid the full debt of our sin, not only are we saved and made righteous through faith, but even that very faith which saves us is a gift from God!
            Faith then, is not something that God is demanding of us, telling us we somehow have to eek more faith out of ourselves and then we will be forgiven and loved. Rather, God initiates our faith, enables us to believe in Christ, and thus saves us. It is a gift from God, through and through!
            This means that as Christian people, we are free from constantly having to look into the dreaded mirror of our own sin. Sin is serious, it is ugly and God hates it. On our will we have no remedy for it whatsoever. We are in a pitiful condition, but God sees fit to save us through faith, and to give us the faith we need to be saved. He provides it all and does it all, from start to finish.
            So instead of obsessing over the depth of our debt and our inadequacy before God, we are free to leave that at the foot of the Cross and look to Jesus Christ who will lead us into grace, into truth, into growth and into the abundant joy of walking with Him. We can make effort to seek Him and grow closer to Him – surely this is a good and right use of our will. But we never, ever have to feel like we must work for His love or salvation.
            So wherever you are in vast array of Christian perspectives on Halloween, one thing we can all do as Christians is use Halloween to celebrate GRACE. The Reformation was a time where the church was forced to examine the nature of salvation, and as Protestants we celebrate the freeness of God’s grace, God’s gift to us in Jesus Christ, the sweet sweet gospel message which has been preserved throughout history so we can hear it and share it today. We do not need to work, nor to strive, nor to demand more faith of ourselves – we need simply to receive these gifts from God who is willing to give them.
            This Halloween, I hope you can rest, dear Christians. Rest in the grace of God, rest in the free salvation of Jesus Christ, rest in the certainty that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion (Phillippians 1:6), rest in the fact that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1) and our role is to be happy recipients of His work in us.
            As for us, my little Theo is dressing up as an elephant. Remington will be stomping around, dressed as a purple dragon. There will likely be questions about evil monster costumes and ghosts which I would rather not have to explain to a three year old. Such is life. Yet, I feel that Trick-or-Treating is a great time to teach these little ones, in a very simple and concrete way, that yes sometimes in life, you can get free stuff for nothing. You can get free sweet candy by dressing up in silly costumes just like you can get free grace from Jesus Christ by simply calling on sweet His name.       With love, Pastor Amy

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