Thursday, December 12, 2013

NE NEWS - December 10, 2013

Northeast Community News – December 10, 2013

Dear friends and family,
Well, last week I said it’s beginning to look like Christmas, but this week it’s beginning to look like the North Pole on a snowy day! I pray all of you are somewhere warm as the weather drops into the single digits this week. Regardless of the snow and wind outside, it has been wonderful each week as we bask in the warmth of the Savior on the inside!
God’s message this week came from Matthew 24:36-44 and was titled, “Celebrate Advent: Be Ready.” In this passage Jesus is in the middle of a longer discourse responding to the disciples’ questions about His Second Coming. Even before His death on The Cross, and His burial, resurrection, ascension, and the sending of the Holy Spirit in Pentecost, Jesus was preparing them and us for His return.
Earlier, Jesus tells them they will know it is nearing the time when they see signs that include false prophets and false Christs rising and leading people astray, anarchy and war, apathy among Christians when many will grow cold in the faith, times of affliction when believers will be hated, betrayed, and martyred, and a time to witness and preach the good news! (Matthew 24:4-14). He follows these ‘signs’ by telling them His return won’t be hidden (far from it)! He will return through clouds with trumpets, power, and great glory to bring home those who are ready to heaven! (Matthew 24:30-31)
In Matthew 24:36-44, then, we find Jesus in the middle of His conversation making several points to His disciples (then and now) about the day He returns. First, in v. 36 He tells us ‘no one knows the hour or day’ of His return except the Father. So, while Christians have speculated about when He is returning for 2000 years, nobody knows!
Second, in vv. 40-41 we discover that the time to be prepared for His return is now!  While the “Left Behind” series of books and movies presents a time that will come after Jesus’ return for people “left behind” to get ready to go to heaven, these two verses and later in c. 25 present a case that there are no second chances. Either you are trusting in Christ for your salvation when He returns for you or you’re not.
The use of fieldwork and grinding grain in these verses only suggests by Jesus that gender, occupation, and location don’t matter! What matters is whether you have prayed to receive Christ or not? (see John 3:16-18).
Finally, in vv. 42-44 we discover the day of His return will be a surprise. Jesus indicates that it will be just another regular, ordinary day. While churches were filled after 9/11, Jesus seems to indicate His return could easily be on a sunny day in June or snowy day in December, or an ordinary Sunday afternoon in March. Jesus is suggesting we will have no warning or clue it is about to happen which is all the more reason to be ready!
As we prepare to celebrate Jesus first coming, are you ready for Jesus’ second coming? Remember, your good acts of kindness don’t earn your salvation nor does attending church! The only way to ‘be ready’ for Jesus return is to be ‘born again’ by admitting you are a sinner in need of grace, accept Jesus as the only way to the Father, believe on Jesus to be your Savior through His sacrificial blood on The Cross, confess your sins and ask Him to forgive you be the Lord of your life! Are you ready? Pray to receive Christ and you will be! If you do, please contact me so I can send you a Bible study for new Christians! Start the journey to wholeness this Advent! God ahead and pray! Amen!

Remember, while we still examine God’s Word, we are now singing and praying first to give us enough time to pray! Sometimes we need two weeks to finish a lesson and that’s ok! This week we will continue to examine “faithfulness” in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 as we work through our Fruit of the Spirit study. Hope to see you there!

Last Sunday after our worship service over 50 people gathered for a special Christmas meal and potluck to celebrate a life of faithfulness. Dick and Emily became members in 1952 and Dick served as our treasurer from 1954 until 2013, a remarkable 59 years of continuous service! Irene blessed us with roasted turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy (she arrived at 6:00am to put the turkeys in!) and our church gave Dick and Emily $50 each in gift cards to Panera, Olive Garden, and Russ’, but we know these are just tokens of appreciation! We can’t give Dick and Emily what they deserve, but then again, Dick didn’t serve to win an award or anything else – he simply served God with a humble heart, and as Dr. John Seaman wrote in his tribute, “he looked a lot like Jesus.”

Thank you for showing us Jesus in the way you served, the way you gave, the way you quietly and humbly served the church, your pastors, and Jesus! We are surely blessed! May God richly bless you in the coming years as you retire, finally! Amen!                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Blessings, Pastor Dan

Hello from Pastor Amy, your Associate Pastor/Administrative Secretary
My office hours vary on Tuesdays, and you can always call! My responsibilities include preparing our weekly program, so if you have an event or 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


Ladies Cookie Exchange and Lunch – Saturday December 14 @ 12:00pm
Irene Pratt is planning a cookie exchange and lunch for any ladies who would like to join. Please bring at least one dozen cookies to exchange. Lunch will be provided, and it will all take place at Irene’s house: 2453 Michigan St. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506. Please talk to Irene with questions! 616.432.9160

ALL CHILDREN Invited to Sunday School
We are starting up a new Sunday school class beginning THIS SUNDAY the 15th for children ages 4 years old up to 5th grade. There will be lessons, crafts, snacks, songs, and lots of fun with Pastor Dan and Pastor Amy. The truth is, it will be more of a party than a class! Don’t forget, we have nursery, teens, and two adult classes as well! Class will meet downstairs in the children’s room at10am. See you there!

Poinsettia Orders due December 15th
Every year, we give you the opportunity to help decorate the sanctuary for Christmas by purchasing poinsettias. The last day to order is December 15th. The plants will be delivered and will decorate the sanctuary on Christmas Sunday, December 22nd. Then, you can take them home to enjoy! Order forms can be found in the program on Sunday, or at the very bottom of this newsletter for you to print and bring in. Please include payment with order. Talk to Gerry Dawson with any questions.

Snow Shoveling – Volunteers Wanted!
We could use some help sharing the responsibility of shoveling our walks this winter. If you live close and want to help, we usually shovel the walks at the following times: Tuesday AM and PMWednesday PM, and Sunday AM. Talk to Pastor Dan or the trustees to help, or just show up with a shovel anytime you are available!

Advent Readings and Lighting of the Wreath
Our tradition is to light candles on our Advent Wreath in the sanctuary as we anticipate Christmas and the birth of our Savior, and His future return. During Advent, we reflect on the already-but-not-yet Kingdom of God, and the God who promised Christ in the Old Testament, sent Christ in the incarnation and his Holy Spirit to dwell with us today, and tells us in His Word that Christ will come again in final victory! Our Adult Alternative Sunday school class will be studying an Advent devotional for these weeks leading up to Christmas, please join us and be enriched in your faith during this wonderful season!

Tuesday Morning Prayer Meeting – Holiday Break
During the month of December, we are breaking from our formal Tuesdaymorning prayer meeting. We encourage everyone to continue praying from home, and to join us for our other time of community prayer on Wednesday nights.

Helping College Student Revival at Calvin – The Send
In an effort to support Jonathan Gingrich and fellow Calvin College students who are gathering weekly for prayer, planning, and revival, we are asking if you would be willing to bake a treat or snack for their weekly meetings. They are meeting on Sunday nights, so we want to send them off with snacks for the meeting. Talk to Irene Pratt or bring something beginning on Sundays to send!

December Wednesday Night Potluck Dinner Date Change
Our Wednesday night potlucks usually take place on the last Wednesday of the month, but due to Christmas, we are pushing our dinner back a week for December. The dinner will be held on Weds, December 18 @ 5:30pm with regular Bible study to follow. Bring a dish to pass and join us for good food and fellowship. Talk to Julie Orban to help!

Christmas Eve Service – December 24 @ 6:00pm
We are once again beginning to plan our Christmas Eve Service. This is a very special service and is a great time to invite someone who normally does not come to church. We need plenty of workers to help decorate, light candles, do various readings, work in the nursery, clean up, and prepare cookies and coffee for the afterglow following the service. Want to help or have any other ideas? Talk to Pastor Dan.

Christmas and New Year’s Wednesday Night Cancellations
Please note that we will NOT be holding our regular Wednesday night Bible study on Wednesday December 25, nor on January 1st. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Upcoming Events
December 14          Cookie Exchange and Lunch @ Noon – Irene Pratt home
December 15          Poinsettia orders and payment due
December 15          New Children’s Sunday school begins @ 10am
December 18          Wednesday Night Potluck Dinner @ 5:30pm, Bible study follows
December 24          Christmas Eve Service @ 6pm
December 25          No Wednesday Night Bible Study – Merry Christmas!
January 01              No Wednesday Night Bible Study – Happy New Year!
January 03              First Friday Chinese lunch, 11:30am Hibachi Alpine
January 05              Family Church/Communion Sunday – No Children’s Church

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