Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Personal Invitation

Pancake Breakfast begins at 8:30am in the Fireside Room.
This is a great time to connect with new friends and enjoy and delicious breakfast to begin a day of celebration.

Our Worship Experience begins
at 10:30am on Sunday April 4th.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Palm Sunday at NRN

Palm Sunday at NRN was awesome! The Seasonal Choir and reader's theatre was fantastic. The applause following each song resonated the praise from God's people. The time of communion was especially meaningful.

Here are some glimpses of the worship experience:

It was especially nice to have our grand daughter Alyse there to wave the palm branches and walk with the children at the beginning of the worship experience.

The activities of Holy Week are underway. On Friday we will observe a Good Friday service at 7:00pm and of course our Celebration Service on Resurrection Sunday at 10:30am. We are also hosting a free pancake breakfast beginning at 8:30am on Sunday. Join us for a time of connection in the morning and remain for a moving worship experience featuring the Seasonal Choir and Drama ministries.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Power of Prayer

As I sat in the worship center following a concentrated time of prayer a person came into the room. They sat down to paused for a few moments and then made their way to altar and took some of the prayer request cards. They returned to their seat and began to pray for the request before them. Within a few moments another person - from our daughter church - a French African Church - prepared several cards with request and made their way to the altar. A few moments passed and a couple from NRN came in to repeat the process. The 24 hour prayer vigil is underway at NRN.

Beginning before 6:00pm on Friday and concluding with an hour of pray starting at 5:00pm today NRN has become a house of prayer. People have demonstrated their faith in God by placing their request on cards. Then, they have brought their cards to the altars. It is a privilege and a moving experience to hold those cards in my hands and begin to pray for each request. The presence of the Lord is very real.

Here is a moving clip about the Power of Prayer:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Five Finger Prayer

On Friday March 26th at 6:00pm we begin our 24 hour prayer vigil. Last Sunday cards with prayer request were placed on the altar. Each day this week they have been prayed over. These request have brought tears to my eyes and I am sure touch the heart of God. If you have a prayer request that you would like for us to pray for during the 24 hour prayer vigil - please do not hesitate to contact us. You can read more about this - including registering for a time to spend an hour in prayer by going to our church website by clicking HERE

In preparation for the weekend - here is a simple reading that has been passed along for years:


1. Your thumb is nearest you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember. To pray for our loved ones is, as C. S. Lewis once said, a 'sweet duty.'

2. The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.

3. The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God's guidance.

4. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger, as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain. They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.

5. And finally comes our little finger - the smallest finger of all which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, 'The least shall be the greatest among you.' Your “pinkie” should remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.

Monday, March 22, 2010

On the way to the Cross

Last Sunday I concluded the Lenten Season teaching series:

This week I begin a personal journey to study and prepare for this coming Sunday to present a message on the importance of the Cross. Here is a primer for my thoughts:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St.Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day.
What is the background of this holiday?

Here's some insight:

Need a little more insight?

Lenten Devotional for Wednesday March 17

The Power of the Cross Reveals
the Glory of God’s Love in Christ

Jesus’ Love for Sinners

Jesus answered him,”I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43

Three crosses stood there on Calvary the day Jesus died. Three condemned men hung on those crosses. Each endured the same death sentence; yet each viewed life and death so differently as they hung there, dying.

One man hung on a cross of rejection. This man mocked Jesus. We don’t know what he knew about the Lord. We only know he repeated what he heard others say as he hung, embittered by his own powerlessness and the apparent weakness of the Savior who hung beside him. What is one to make of a messiah who cannot even save himself?

One man hung on a cross of repentance. This man mocked at first, but then admitted his own guilt. He saw in Jesus a power the first criminal missed. Seeing that power, the second criminal begged for mercy. He could do nothing to amend his past. He could promise nothing in a bargain for the future. Instead, he simply asked, “Jesus, remember me.”

“Remember me!” Not my sin, but me. Bible scholars tell us this man is the only person in the New Testament to call Jesus by his first name. He attaches no title, but says simply, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He seems to be the first to understand the true nature of Jesus’ kingdom. Imagine! A thief! And he is the first of so many down through the ages who will cry out, “Jesus, remember me.”

Third, in between the two thieves, hangs one on a cross of redemption. Jesus suffers there, arms stretched out, reaching wide in love to all who will receive him. That cross cancels out any need for despair. No matter what your past is all about! No matter how bleak and hopeless your future looks! From the cross of Christ flows endless power to forgive and help.

Yet, in that first cross, we read a warning. We dare not presume on God’s mercy or mistake it for weakness. The power of the cross can save, but it can also repel. Both thieves saw and heard the same message. One rejected. One repented.

Where in you life is the apparent powerlessness of God a sign of his love for you?

Prayer Starter

Jesus, help me realize your
great mercy, especially…

This week of devotionals for taken from The Power of the Cross by Rev. Barry Keurulainen Copyright 2010 CTA, Inc.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lenten Devotional for Tuesday March 16th

The Power of the Cross Reveals
the Glory of God’s Love in Christ

Jesus’ Love for Family

When Jesus saw his mother there, and disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:26-27

The conversation seems so ordinary, we almost overlook it. Locked in a vicious, cosmic battle, Jesus looks down from the cross at his mom and says, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he says to John, “Here is your mother!” Jesus wants to make sure someone will care for Mary after he is gone.

Just before this conversation, the soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross had cast lots for his tunic. It was woven in one piece and likely the Lord’s most valuable material possession. The soldiers saw its value and decided against tearing it into pieces to share among themselves. (See John 19: 23-24.)

In Jewish culture, mothers often gave their sons such a tunic when they left home. Could Mary herself have woven this tunic for Jesus? As he hung there, dying, did he and Mary both think back to that moment just three years earlier when she had presented it to him? Now here it was, being raffled off!

And here, too, in the midst of pain, blood, and torture, we see Jesus’ tender love for Mary. We see his concern that she be cared for in her later years. Here, too, we see the glory of God in our Savior’s emphasis on family.

It would have been easy for Jesus to bypass Mary’s needs as he engaged in cosmic battle over sin and death. It’s easy for us, too, to lose this emphasis in our everyday lives. We get so busy, so entangled in our daily tasks. We can at times focus so tightly on doing “holy work for the Lord,” that we ignore the needs of those closest to us.

The glory of Christ’s love is revealed in our lives when, in the midst of great struggles and pain, we reflect our Lord’s concern for the family God has given us. Who in you family is in need of your concern and care this day?

Prayer Starter

Jesus, in the midst of great pain,
you showed such compassion
and care for your mother. In the
power of your cross, forgive my
forgetfulness and neglect of my
family. Right now, I ask you
on their behalf …

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lenten Devotional for March 15 2010

As we prepare for Resurrection Sunday on April 4, 2010 we distributed a six week devotional guide entitled THE POWER OF THE CROSS. Many of the family members of NRN are reading through this devotional. I have found this week's reading especially meaningful and planning to post them each day. I hope this will be an encouragement to you.

The Power of the Cross Reveals
the Glory of God’s Love in Christ

Jesus’ Love for His Enemies

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

Some have counted Jesus’ seven “last words,” spoken from his cross, among his greatest miracles. In many ways, the last things our Lord said reveal his glory in an even deeper way than do all his miracles combined. What makes these profound statements all the more remarkable is that he spoke them while dying such a tortured death. When you or I get a headache or a toothache, we tend to become absorbed in our own pain. Yet Jesus remained preoccupied with those around him.

First of all, Jesus prayed for those who had pounded the nails into his flesh. What love! Our Lord offered it unconditionally, without strings attached. They did not ask for his forgiveness. They did not apologize first. He simply offered his pardon as a gift. Here we see and hear the power of the cross.

That same power flows through us when we forgive those who hurt us, when we release them to God’s care. We do not base our pardon on their owning up to what they have done or on their apologies. We do not base it even on their knowing how they have hurt us. Rather, forgiveness is a gift freely offered.

Forgiving someone does not require that we immediately trust them again. It does not mean excusing what they have done or minimizing it. It does not even mean that we forget. It does mean that we stop rolling the hurt over and over in our minds. It does mean asking Jesus to govern the words we speak to that person and about that person. It does mean acting in helpful, self-forgiving ways toward our former enemy.

Forgiving is not easy. How can we do it? We cannot. Forgiveness is not ours to own or give. Only God can forgive. By the power of his cross Jesus makes it possible for us to say, “I forgive you,” even when it flies in the face of all reason and every emotion.

I forgive you. It’s hard to say these words, but when we do, they set us free. Free from past hurt. Free to allow Christ’s love to flow through us. Free to be channels of his grace.

Jesus gives us the power to do what we could never do on our own. How will you use this power today?

Prayer Starter

Lord, it is so hard.
It feels impossible! On my own,
I cannot forgive, but I offer
myself to you and ask that
your forgiveness will flow
through me right now to ….

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Following Jesus to the mountain

Today we continued in our Lenten teaching series preparing for Resurrection Sunday on April 4, 2010.

We are explored the truths found in Luke Chapter 9. In today’s passage we saw how Jesus took his inner circle of disciples to a mountain top experience. In many bibles this account is referred to as the transfiguration. This same scene is also recorded in Matthew 17:2 and Mark 9:2. In today’s account Luke does not use the word “transfiguration” but a word that means “a change in appearance that comes from within,” and gives us the word metamorphosis. This is the only occasion during Christ’s earthly ministry when He revealed the glory of His person.

There is a practical spiritual lesson here, for we can have a spiritual “transfiguration” experience each day as we walk with the Lord.

In read in Romans 12:2: " We are not to be conformed to this world – but - Transformed (same word as noted above) by the renewing of our minds." (As we become more and more like Jesus)

Our friends are to see us as were really are – from the inside out.

How do we demonstrate the glory of God in our life?

An insight about comes from another passage:

God decided to let his people know this rich and glorious secret which he has for all people. This secret is Christ himself, who is in you. He is our only hope for glory.” Colossians 1:27

Here is an insight about that passage:

I tried to explain the passage about Jesus and his "inner circle" on the Mountain Top. There are a number of important lessons to draw from this event. An important lesson is to remember that we cannot stay on the Mountain Top. We face the realities of life every day. However, our time on the mountain top should make a difference in our life. A mountain top experience can be a moment - or a day. It is a time when we experience the presence of God in our life. It can be as simple as an answered prayer or has significant as an intervention of God in a miracle or unusual work of God in our life. It is important to take the experience of a mountain top experience with God with us to give us a new perspective of daily life.
My closing illustration was the following:

One of my “heroes” from the past is Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. A Baptist pastor who become involved in the struggles in his local community. He is remembered for his I Have A Dream speech presented in 1963. In 1964 he became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2000, the second most admired person of the 20th century. On April 3, 1968 he spoke at a rally in Memphis, TN.

Listen to these closing words from that night:

The next day – April 4, 1968 he asked the pianist for the rally that evening to play the song: Take my hand precious Lord. These were his last words. He stepped out on the balcony of his hotel room and was assassinated by a single gun shot.

• What do you see from the mountain that sustains you in the valley?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Before you go to bed tonight

How do you plan to spend time on Sunday morning? I know people who love to sleep in. I know people who try to catch up on the "to do list" as a home owner. I know people who attend sporting events.

Then I know people who commit themselves to be with God's people in God's house (known as the church.) Each week the members of the worship team work hard to prepare for the Sunday morning worship experience at church. As a pastor - I begin days in advance of not only working on the message to be presented each Sunday - but praying - seeking - pleading with God about what I am to preach each Sunday.

As you think about "saving time" I think of the scripture in our study from last week which tells us What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself or waste your life? (Luke 9:25) When you are not at church - you are missed - and you miss out. How important is the habit of going to church? It makes all the difference in your spiritual walk. I encourage you to seek intimacy with God - and begin by being consistent in your time with believers at church.

I am looking forward to church tomorrow! How about you?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Preparing my heart for the 4th Sunday of Lent 2010

I am very excited about preaching this coming Sunday. We will continue in the Lenten Series from Luke Chapter 9.

Here are some of the songs we will sing during worship. Why not sing along and begin now to prepare your heart for a dynamic worship experience!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dangerous Jesus

In his famous book Mere Christianity, Dr. C. S. Lewis, lay theologian and Christian apologist, makes this statement, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg - or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us."

Who is Jesus of Nazareth to you? Your life on this earth and for all of eternity is affected by your answer to this question.

All other religions [such as
Hinduism; Buddhism; Confucianism and Islam] were founded by human beings and are based on man-made philosophies, rules and norms for behavior. Take the founders of these religions out of both their disciplines and practices of worship and little would change.

But take Jesus Christ out of Christianity, and there would be nothing left. Biblical Christianity is not just a philosophy of life, nor an ethical standard, nor obedience to religious ritual. True Christianity is based on a vital, personal relationship with a Risen Founder who is our living Savior and Lord.

Last Sunday I continued in this Lenten Season teaching series looking at Luke 9:18-26. In this passage Jesus asks a probing question, which each of us must answer. Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” The answer will have us follow a safe Jesus or a dangerous Jesus.
What is a Simple Jesus? That means He is simply a great teacher (rabbi) or a prophet. He is considered my friend or my good buddy. A DANGEROUS JESUS is the Jesus of the Bible who is the MESSIAH - He is GOD. If Jesus is truly who he said he was - is would be considered a liar, lunatic of Lord. If indeed he is truly who he said he was - then He is the dangerous Jesus. He is dangerous because this response demands a decision. I demands a change in my life to follow Him.

If you would like to hear the podcast of the message - simply click HERE
Here is the COMFORT clip I showed - with words. ENJOY:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Walking the dog

Here is a story that brought a smile to my face....

A woman was flying from Seattle to San Francisco ...
Unexpectedly, the plane was diverted to Sacramento
along the way. The flight attendant explained that
there would be a delay, and if the passengers wanted
to get off the aircraft the plane would re-board in 50 minutes.

Everybody got off the plane except one lady who was blind.
The man had noticed her as he walked by and could tell the
lady was blind because her Seeing Eye dog lay quietly
underneath the seats in front of her throughout the entire flight.

He could also tell she had flown this very flight before
because the pilot approached her, and calling her by
name, said, 'Kathy, we are in Sacramento for almost
an hour. Would you like to get off and stretch your legs?'
The blind lady replied, 'No thanks, but maybe Buddy would like to stretch his legs.'

Picture this:

All the people in the gate area came to a complete stand still
when they looked up and saw the pilot walk off the plane
with a Seeing Eye dog!

The pilot was even wearing sunglasses.
People scattered. They not only tried to change planes,
but they were trying to change airlines!



Monday, March 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Alyse


Today we celebrate Alyse's third birthday. Last Friday Sharron and I traveled to Charlotte to meet with family and friends to celebrate Alyse's third birthday.
It was a blast!

To see more about this great time -

check out the posting on Stephanie's blog

by simply clicking HERE