Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Northeast Community News – December 15, 2014

Hello Dear Ones!
What a wonderful day we had in the Lord, Sunday! What a blessing to watch and listen to Fran S. and Sherry J. as they lit our Advent Wreath for the third week and told us about the joy we find in Christ! (even if the lighter didn’t want to cooperate!) To be honest, it was one of those reunion weeks in the church when we see faces we haven’t seen in a while! What a blessing to hug old friends! Maybe we’ll see you this week? I hope so! After singing, prayer, and preaching of the Word, we potlucked together downstairs and then left the church will full tummies, hearts, and souls! God is good! Yup, all the time! Amen!
God’s message this week came from Matthew 11:2-11 and titled, “Are You the One?” Life can be frustrating and disappointing when it doesn’t turn out the way we planned.  When our relationships, health, kids, jobs, classes, and finances crumble around us, it can result in confusion, hurt, and doubting. Pain can even lead to a crisis of faith and doubt in God. But in Advent we discover God is near us even in those difficult days when we want to run!
First, we need to define success. In v. 2 we discover John in prison, but in c. 14 we learn he is there because he called Herod of Antipas to repentance over his sinful choice to have an affair with his brother’s wife, lure her away, divorce his own wife, and marry her. Later, we discover John is beheaded as a result of Herod’s folly over a young girl. Was his ministry a failure or a success? As Christians we need to make sure success is defined on God’s terms!
Second, we discover in vv. 2-3 John has begun to doubt. John the Baptist had an amazing mountain top ministry, but now in a dungeon he begins to doubt. Without question, John had expected life with Jesus to turn out differently and is asking, ‘why is this happening to me?’ Ever been there? Look, we all face difficult times when life doesn’t turn out as we had thought it would. We learn from John when we struggle and doubt to take it to Jesus!
Finally, Jesus responds to John in vv. 4-5 by telling John to examine the evidence! Jesus tells John to look around (in the midst of his doubt) and see what He has done! The blind receive sight, the lame walk, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor (v. 5)! John, Jesus seems to say, examine the evidence, stop doubting, and believe! How about you? Are you struggling with doubt because life hasn’t turned out like you planned? Examine the evidence! Jesus still raises the dead; heals the sick; and speaks through His Word and Spirit!
Advent is a great time to redefine success, acknowledge doubts, examine the evidence and believe! I pray this Advent you will experience the hope, peace, love, and deep abiding joy Jesus came to bring regardless of your present circumstances!  Blessings, Pastor Dan
Jean and the family have met and below are the arrangements for Tom Christoffersen. Both the memorial and the luncheon will take place at our church. To be honest, I still can’t believe he’s gone! But, as Tom’s daughter Janice said, “Dad is spending Christmas this year with Jesus.” Bless you for your continued prayers!
MEMORIAL – Dec. 27 at 11:00AM in the Sanctuary (upstairs)
LUNCHEON – Dec. 27 at 12:30PM in the Fellowship Hall (downstairs)
I have heard that the family plans to bring not only photographs, but several pieces of artwork that Tom fabricated, drew, or painted. In case you didn’t know, Tom was an amazing artist and spent his career in the graphic arts business. Tom also had a great sense of humor and this comes through his art, too! Come, be a part of this wonderful man’s memorial and celebration of life and love the family, too!
We had a huge turnout for our potluck last Sunday! Thank you to everyone who helped set up, made and brought food, came to eat, and helped clean up! It really does take a lot of help to make a potluck a success and we are blessed that so many helped! If you want to be part of this every other month ministry, see Cherry P. or call her (616) 916.7595!
By this Thu. you will either have all of your Christmas shopping done or are about to get started! Either way, come eat with us at Hibachi on Alpine (behind Target) at 11:30am and tell us which camp you’re in! Remember, to look for the coupon! See you there!
Make plans to invite a friend and come to church for a traditional time of ‘carols and communion.’ While we have had a variety of productions in the past, this year we are simplifying our Christmas Eve plans. Yes, we will still have an area where we can light a candle to acknowledge our pain and loss, and we will certainly sing ‘Silent Night’ as we close to candle light, but this year we’re planning to sing carols, read and reflect on the Christmas Story and receive communion as we focus on Christ this Christmas Eve.
It’s that wonderful season when we learn how to use hand sanitizer and practice our best ‘fist bumps’ instead of giving hugs! Not sure what a fist bump is? It’s easy! Simply make a loose fist and gently reach out towards someone. In return, they will reach their fist out and gently ‘bump’ yours! It’ fun and easy way to say hi without catching the flu!
We’re having a great time using “Faith Connections” during our Wed. night Bible Study. “Faith Connections” is a Bible based study centered on Wesleyan holiness and it comes with a study guide! Why not come to the Wed. night study this week, slow down a bit, let your soul drink deeply, and stay for ice cream! You’ll be glad you did!
Janie has declared Winter Jam 2015 at the Van Andel Arena is a must go to concert for all teens and young adults. Groups include Skillet, Jeremy Camp, Francesca Battistelli, Building 429, For King & Country, Newsong, and Family Force 5. The cost is just $10 each, but the first 3 teens and 2 young adults that RSVP Janie at will go free! This is going to a great way to start your New Year! Are you in? Hope so!
Our missionary gatherings will resume after the first of the year, but in the meantime, pray for our missionaries! Holidays can be a real hard time for missionaries and their families ‘back home.’ Technology brings us all closer, but it’s just not the same!
Last week Pat and Shannen Parsaca asked to meet. While I had no idea what it was, I just knew it would be something wonderful because Pat and Shannen are some of the most ‘Authentic, Spirit-led Christians’ I’ve ever met! Perhaps that is why I was surprised and then not so surprised to learn they were leaving our church. After listening, I felt certain they were following God’s will and so, as hard and sad as this is going to be, I hope you will join me in wishing and praying for nothing but the best for them!
Please pray for your church board as we grapple with their leaving. Pat and Shannen have agreed to serve through Dec. 31 (perhaps a bit longer). Bless you for your prayers!
Below, you will find a letter I asked them to write that I might share with you:
Hi Pastor Dan,
"I remember dropping our daughter off at work at Arena's Pizza and noticing Northeast for the first time.  Each time we dropped Linden off across the street, God would draw our attention to the church.  We decided to visit the church and stayed knowing God had a purpose for us at Northeast.  Now, we are once again feeling God calling us to follow Him into unknown territory. To be clear we are not leaving because we are angry with anyone or about anything, nor are we leaving hurt or offended.   We have been honored to serve God with all of you in many positions.  We love you all and will miss worshiping together.  We know that God has an awesome plan and because He will go before us to pave the way we do not need to be afraid of the future but simply trust in Him.  Please pray for us as we seek Gods direction and wisdom. "
Love and Blessings, Pat and Shannen"
With all of the problems in the Middle East, it’s easy to overlook the many needs of the children living there. While we can’t stop the bloodshed and violence, we can help these children receive a quality education. How? By supporting our Nazarene schools there!
To do this our District NMI has teamed up with Nazarene Compassionate Ministries (NCM) to raise $20, 000 to support our 4 Nazarene Evangelical Schools operating in the Middle East. These schools are shining stars in the midst of turmoil stress and conflict.
How can you help? Our church is NOW ACCEPTING donations of quality new and used items that will be sold in a future spring ‘garage sale.’ We hope to raise $250 at this sale.
So, starting today, bring your clean, gently used items (priced if possible) to church and place them on the table outside the classroom at the far end of the fellowship hall. If you would like a ‘tax receipt’ for your donation, see Shannen Parsaca. Let’s all participate by bringing something to sell! If you have any questions, see Pastor Dan!
Dec. 18     Third Thursday Lunch at Hibachi Grill on Alpine (11:30am)
Dec. 24     Christmas Eve Service – 6:00pm (pick up your poinsettia’s)
Dec. 27     Tom Christoffersen’s Celebration of Life (11am) and Luncheon (12:30pm)
Jan. 04      Teen / Young Adult Winter Jam at Van Andel 6:00pm
Jan. 18      Missionary Gathering 4pm (at the parsonage)
Jan. 23-24         District Celebrate Life at Kuyper College (Reg deadline Dec. 04)
Feb. 08     Northeast Community Potluck (after the worship service)
Mar. 07    Tri-District Team Day in Perry, MI

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