Dear Friends, We had a wonderful service this past Sunday at Albion Nazarene with Pastor Phil and Deb being back with us after his double kidney removal surgery and her fall that resulted in an injured knee. Baby Jackson Ransom was able to be with us for the very first time. We have prayed for all three of these and will continue to do so. Baby Jackson has an appointment at Shriner’s Hospital in Erie later in March to decide how best to handle his one leg that has a bone missing and a short bone. Pray for wisdom for the right treatment. Deanna Ransom sang a beautiful song for us and then I preached on the question, are you a Fan or Follower of Jesus. One gentleman was praying at the altar during the response time and God is doing fantastic things in his and his wife’s lives! It is so exciting to see people catching the message of the transforming power of God in their lives. Many were praying at the altar during our family prayer time for various needs. It is always exciting to see children and teens come to prayer of their own accord. Praise God for all He has done, is doing, and is going to do at Albion Nazarene and through Albion Nazarene! If you missed that service or any service, just go online to the church Facebook page or search on Youtube and you can be a part of the service online.
Pastor Connie is ministering to the Meadville Nazarene church as their pastor, Rod Johnson, moved to a new church. She is preaching every Sunday morning and making needed pastoral visits. Pray for her and Dana as she helps lead this congregation through this time of transition.
Pastor Connie continues to be our Associate Pastor of Discipleship and is with our church the rest of the week. In my January/February letter I was telling you about some of our discipleship initiatives. Things are moving right along. The church board discipleship group has completed the basic study and most of the board are now ready to lead groups of their own. Dana Young has already started and others are putting their groups together. Please let Pastor Connie or I know if you want included in a group so that we can get you into a group that fits your schedule. The groups will be meeting at various times and locations. I will be leading a men’s group on Sunday evenings from 5:30 to 7PM at the church, during the same time as the Daniel Plan group. I still have several open slots (the groups take a limited number of people to keep the group small enough to allow for all to participate and they are closed to new members once they begin to allow for continuity and mutual support). Men, please contact me right away so I can get you in. Others that don’t get into a group this time can get in on one next time they are started. Small group at 6PM will no longer be meeting, in lieu of the multiple groups that we are starting. I look forward to fantastic spiritual growth among our people as we study and apply the Bible to our daily lives. Don’t just be a fan of Jesus. Be a follower (disciple).
Not everyone who is a fan of Jesus and calls themselves “Christian” are Christians. From last Sunday’s message, “It’s not about “doing” but is about “being”! You can act like a Christian on the outside, but not be one on the inside. You can use the right language on Facebook and elsewhere, but not be a “friend” of Christ in your heart!” (See Mark 10: 13-31, especially about the ruler who was asking Jesus what he must DO to be His follower.)
We will be having a transition in the church office at the end of April as Denise Hites, who has been Administrative Assistant for 30 years, retires. In next month’s letter I should be able to introduce our new Administrative Assistant to you. We can’t express enough appreciation to Denise for her many years of faithful service to God and our church. Thank you Denise! Have a great month!
Well, it is the beginning of a new year, Christmas is in the rear view mirror, and we have survived the blizzard of 2017, one that will go down in the record books (for Erie, Conneaut, and lakeshore, especially). I am writing this on January 9th, so we have already had time to break at least some of our New Year’s resolutions. Hopefully, yours are going better than that and some of you are doing very well with them. I hope that you are using this calendar change to get a fresh start in life. Please, let God be in control of your plans for 2018 and beyond. I was going to say, “Let God be a part of your plans,” but that doesn’t cut it. He wants to be in control of our plans. His guidance is perfect and His ways are best. What changes does He want to bring about in your life this year? In what areas of life does He want you to grow (or shrink)?
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)
Above, I asked a question related to in what areas of life does God want us to grow (OR SHRINK). My initial thought was related to shedding the holiday pounds, but even more important is what we read in John 3:30. “He must become greater, I must become less.” When it comes to who is in control of our lives, we must shrink so that He can increase. There just isn’t room on the throne of our lives for both God and us. We need to do more than just shrink, we need to come to the point where we believe and live the belief that God is fully in control and not us. He will let us struggle along trying to figure out our own life, all the while waiting for us to come to our senses by turning over the controls to Him. It’s not about us! It is about Him!
Never start a new chapter in your life with the words, “I decided to _________________.” Start that new chapter, that New Year, with, “I gave God control and He decided to _____________.”
May God direct your life because you have given Him permission to do just that!
You will be hearing a lot about discipleship this year in our church. Pastor Connie, whose ministry focus is on discipleship, is completing a series of discipleship lessons with the Church Board. She and I will then be sharing several messages related to us being disciples of Jesus Christ and us then discipling others. Pray for our church as we renew our emphasis on what the Great Commission from Christ tells us to do, “GO, make disciples!” Matthew 28:19. Our local church mission statement is based on that verse and is “to be and develop disciples of Christ.” God isn’t looking for people to just talk about Him or read about Him or sing about Him. He is looking for people who will follow Him! He is looking for people who will dedicate their lives to living like Jesus, His Son, taught us to live. Don’t pattern your life after your friend or after the latest Hollywood or media idol. Don’t pattern your life after some messed up image of what society seems to propose we should be. Pattern your life after Jesus Christ! Be His disciple!
Join with us on this journey of spiritual development. Support one another and pray for one another. Share the Good News with those around you who desperately need to see Jesus. They may only see Him in you!
Greetings at the beginning of what can be the most wonderful time of the year. I was just reading in the study guide for “Because of Bethlehem” by Max Lucado, “If we want to arrive at Christmas with a heart wide open for the Christ child, we need to be intentional about making room for him now. The question Advent invites us to consider is this: How ready am I for the arrival of the King?”[i] The purposes of the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas (Advent) are to both prepare ourselves spiritually for the celebration of Christ’s birth AND to look at how prepared we are for His second advent, that is His second coming.
In order to help you to prepare for Christmas this year I will be preaching four messages from Max Lucado’s book, “Because of Bethlehem”. The schedule is as follows:
December 3rd “God Has a Face”
December 10th “Worship Works Wonders”
December 17th Children’s Christmas Musical “In a Galilee Far, Far Away” (See details elsewhere in newsletter)
December 24th 11AM “Every Heart a Manger”
December 24th 6PM “The Magnificent Manger”
December 31st 11AM Bonus Message—“God Guides the Wise”
On December 3rd and 10th there will be Small Group meeting at 6PM to study further the topics of those mornings, including a video of Max Lucado. Small Group will not meet on Dec. 17th or 31st. Sunday PM on the 24th of December will be our traditional Christmas Eve service at 6PM.
Throughout the Advent worship times we will be building a Nativity scene, focusing on a different person or a
spect of the Nativity in our Scripture reading each week. On Christmas Eve we will add the Christ Child. I encourage families to be a part of these services. Children’s Church will be using parallel material called, “Itsy Bitsy Christmas,” also from Max Lucado.
If you would like to purchase the book, study guide, children’s book, or even an adult coloring book, you will find them at www.christianbook.com. The book and study guide are also available from Amazon for Kindle.
Carol and I want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas! This year will be quite different for our fami
ly in that we lost my mother and Carol’s step-mother both this year. This holiday may be difficult for you as you grieve the loss of a loved one and the traditions we were used to that involved that person. Yes, Christmas will be different and we will grieve, BUT God is still in our Christmas and because He loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son so that we could be delivered from our sin and be prepared for eternity with Him, we can and will celebrate with JOY! We encourage you to do the same! MERRY CHRISTMAS!
In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Wayne and Carol Hennen
[i] Lucado, Max. Because of Bethlehem Study Guide: Love is Born Hope is Here (Kindle Locations 220-221). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.