Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Presbyterian Church (USA) Gives Final Approval Affirming Same-Sex Marriage

Like Us According to a recent press release, it appears that a majority of the 171 presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (USA) have approved a change to the current description of marriage in their Constitution to affirm same-sex unions.
At its meeting on Tuesday, March 17, 2015, Palisades Presbytery became the 86th presbytery to approve an amendment to the PC(USA)’s Book of Order, part of its constitution. The new language reads:

Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the wellbeing of the entire human family. Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives. The sacrificial love that unites the couple sustains them as faithful and responsible members of the church and the wider community.

In civil law, marriage is a contract that recognizes the rights and obligations of the married couple in society. In the Reformed tradition, marriage is also a covenant in which God has an active part, and which the community of faith publicly witnesses and acknowledges.

The 221st General Assembly (2014) of the PC(USA) approved Amendment 14-F last summer, but required a majority of presbyteries to ratify the provision for it to become part of the church’s Constitution. The change will take effect on June 21.

As reported by The New York Times, the nation’s largest denominations—including the Roman Catholic Church and most evangelical churches—recognize marriage only as between a man and a woman. Other religious denominations that have officially decided to permit their clergy to perform same-sex marriages include the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Quakers, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Churches and, in Judaism, the Reform and Conservative movements. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America left it open for individual ministers to decide. The United Methodist Church, with about 5.5 million members, has been debating same-sex marriage for years, but it includes a growing membership in Africa, where there is little acceptance of gay relationships.

“I don’t see any further large mainline denominations making the same move,” said Alan Wisdom, a Presbyterian and the interim editor of Theology Matters, a journal for conservative Protestants.

It’s important to note that the PC (USA) is a separate body from The Presbyterian Church of America (PCA), which has not changed their traditional stance on same-sex marriage. For important information on the differences between the PC (USA) and PCA, click to this blog post by The Gospel Coalition.

 Reference:   Staff at http://www.ChurchLeaders.com
Copyright © 2014 ChurchLeaders.com

Monday, March 30, 2015

Praying during Holy Week

It is significant that Jesus prayed from the cross. While experiencing the worst torture a human being could endure  – he prayed.
 Most of us, in such moments of anguish, would succumb to the suffering. Our prayers would be diminished to one word: “Help!”  Reflecting on the worst moments of my life, I must admit “Help!” is the most sincere prayer I’ve ever uttered.

 Yet, Jesus went beyond a prayer for help at Golgotha. His prayers from the cross reveal the intensity of his pain – yet, a deep love pouring from his heart. Instead of being consumed with himself, he turned his focus to God and others.

The old adage states, “We all have our cross to bear.” In our moments of anguish, we can look to Jesus, and see how he responded in his darkest valley. A review of Good Friday events shows that Jesus did three things:

1) He pressed into prayer.
2) He poured out love.
3) He surrendered all to God.

 What an example for us! In deep sorrow and suffering, we, too, can press into prayer, pour out love, and surrender all to God.

 The prayers of Christ from the cross serve as an excellent model for our praying during this holy week:

 1) Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)

 Are you holding bitterness and resentment in your heart? Who has wronged you? Are you struggling to forgive? If you can’t bring yourself to forgive them, ask God to do the forgiving for you. Forgiveness is for our own benefit. Carrying resentment is like swallowing poison and hoping the other person will die.

 2) Today you will be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43)

Who is lost, broken and hurting? Pray for those who are suffering from their own decisions. Rather than judge them, love them. Remember we all need grace, and our past mistakes do not necessariy dictate our future. Focus on the life beyond this life, and how God’s love draws us to where we need to be. Trust those who are wandering to God’s care.

3) Behold your mother. (John 19:26-27)
Are you so consumed with your own pain that you are neglecting those closest you? What do your dearest loved ones need from you? Do you know how they’re doing? Pray for them. Love them deeply. Show them your concern.

4) My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mat. 27:46, Mark 15:34)
Admit your deep despair and loneliness. Where and when do you feel rejected and forsaken? This prayer comes from Psalm 22. Remind yourself that Psalm 23 follows immediately. We are never alone. In the darkest valley, God is with us.

5) I thirst. (John 19:28)
What is your deep seated thirst? What do you think you need to survive? Thirst for praise? Thirst for acceptance? Thirst for significance? Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

6) It is finished. (John 19:30)
What needs finishing in your life? What have you begun, but not completed? What is God’s calling for you – his unique mission? Are you following it? If not, what stands in the way? What parts of you are still “under construction?” Be patient with others, they are still under construction too. “Be patient with me. God is not finished with me yet.”

7) Into your hands I commit my spirit. (Luke 23:46)

What do you need to release into God’s hands? Have you been trying to control outcomes and other people? Let them go. Release them into the hands of your loving father. Are you concerned about your future? Your past? Are you confused about your present situation? Are you struggling emotionally? Spiritually? Relationally? Physically? Surrender all to God.
Plan to join us this coming Friday for the 7:00pm Good Friday Worship and then serve on Saturday morning beginning at 9:00am to prepare for our annual Easter Egg Hunt.  This year invitations have gone to families in the YMCA, STEM and Girl Scouts.  The Easter Egg Hunt and activities begin at 10:00am
Sunday is Resurrection Sunday as we celebrate Easter 2015.  Join us for a free breakfast on Sunday morning beginning at 9:00am and our time of corporate worship at 10:30! 

Holy Week 2015 - Experience it as never before

Sunday: Triumphal Entry
Popularity is fickle. As Jesus entered Jerusalem during Passover Week, the adulation and expectation of the people was intense. What happened nextsatisfaction or disappointmentand why?            Matthew 21:1-11

Monday: Clearing the Temple
The trouble with righteous anger is that it is much easier to be angry than to be righteous. How does Jesus' anger compare with your own "righteous" anger or that of others?                                                     Mark 11:12-19


Tuesday: Teaching at the Mount of Olives
What are the hallmarks of Jesus' prophecy? How did his audience receive his prophecy? How can his example help you to discern true or false prophets today?                                                        Matthew 24:1-31


Wednesday:  A day of quiet preparation for the weekend that changed the world. How will you plan to honor the Lord today and clear your calendar for the weekend to live your life to the praise of God’s glory!  Today is the day to send that email – make that phone call – message through Facebook a personal invitation to join us this weekend!


Thursday: The Last Supper
How do you respond to crisis? What does Jesus' response to crisis teach you about him and about God?                             Matthew 26:17-30


Thursday: Betrayal & Arrest
Those closest to us have the power to hurt us in deep, personal ways that others do not. What does being a loyal friend mean to you? What pressures in your life test your loyalty to Jesus?             Mark 14:43-72


Friday: Trial
In what ways is Christianity distorted to fit other agendas and ideologies? What tempts you to compromise your faith? Jesus' conduct during his trial can equip and inspire you to hold fast to the truth.           John 18:28–19:16


Friday: Crucifixion
Because of Jesus' teaching and his confrontation of suffering, Christians know that honestly facing and feeling our grief is the best way through it. How have you been helped or hindered by others in times of personal hurt or loss?                                      Matthew 27


Sunday: Resurrection
Easter Sunday is the biggest celebration on the Christian calendar. But many sneer at the impossibility of the Resurrection. How do you know it happened? What does it mean for you, for others and for the world?

Luke 24:1-43


Plan to join us for the free breakfast provided at the church beginning at 9:00am until 10:00am. Then continue the fellowship with coffee and juice and prepare your hearts for corporate worship beginning at 10:30am

Who will you invite to join you this Sunday?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A View of the Cross – the Heart of the Artist The message today at NRN

A View of the Cross – the Heart of the Artist

Palm Sunday 2015

INTRO: Remember when you were in college or graduate studies and you were required to take an elective humanities class? You may have taken Art Appreciation. A certain A until you were in the class and you had to do more than simply look at pictures and paintings – you had to gain appreciation or understand the mood, method and message of the artist. Here are some examples:

·        Van Gogh – Starry Night

Michael Angelo – on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome during       the Reissuance period – part of the creation of Adam painting.

         Contemporary -   I always got this wrong – thinking it was from the Kindergarten or first grade years - My grandchildren could paint this.

    This is a picture I created.  I call it:  Coaching in the ACC.

 What are they saying – what message is being communicated?  I have no idea. 
  I am wonder on that morning when Jesus entered into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey what people saw – what did they think about it? Did Judas appreciate it?  Did the Disciples truly understand what they were observing? The religious leaders did they grasp the meaning? The multitudes who cried “Hosanna” within the week cried “Crucify Him!” They missed it.  They were all part of the picture God was painting. They could not see it – comprehend it – understand it until later.


My question to you this morning is: Do you really understand, do you fully comprehend and appreciate what God was communicating to you through the Cross?   What we are going to do this morning is to go to a short Art Appreciation Class – but I am not the instructor – The Apostle Paul will be teaching us today through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:  Romans 5 – Paul unpacks for us a View of the Cross - the Heart of the Artist:                                                              

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely will one die for a righteous man, yet perhaps for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commended His love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we shall also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.                                Romans 5:6-11 (KJ21)

 God demonstrated His LOVE   for us!

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely will one die for a righteous man, yet perhaps for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commended His love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.   Romans 5:6-8

Examples: 1. Pastor of first church I ever attended.   The church family surprised the pastor: box with string attached – followed throughout the church – to parking lot – end of the string a set of keys to his new car.

2. Pastor in Michigan who served on staff of a growing church – Pastor became ill with a kidney disease. The staff pastor was tested and matched – donated one of his kidneys to save this man’s life.

3. Many of you can look at your left hand a view a ring that you have worn for many years.  That wedding ring is a symbol – it means that you have made a convent to love your spouse. To care for one another – put up with your differences and have a committed love for one another. (Some people break that promise – but God never breaks His promises)

But God commended (demonstrates) His love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Do you ever think “Does God love me?”  He loved us when we were: Helpless (without strength) [total depravity]; you were ungodly - still sinning (yet sinners) God is paining a portrait of his love for us! Don’t miss it! The Cross is a picture of how bad – sinful – lost we were and of the extreme heights and depths of God’s love for you and me.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.                                                        1 John 4:10

 All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins. God sent Christ to be our sacrifice. Christ offered his life’s blood, so that by faith in him we could come to God. And God did this to show that in the past he was right to be patient and forgive sinners. This also shows that God is right when he accepts people who have faith in Jesus.          Romans 3:23-25 (CEV)

You are SAVED   and   BEING  SAVED

Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.                                                                         Romans 5:9 (KJ21)

Justified – a legal term – justice is required. God punished sin. The wages of sin is death……And “saved” forgave us.  The Devil is an accuser and often tells us we are not good enough for God.  We are still guilty. 

Example: When I am up late at night and going through the stations on TV I often fall on a movie called Double Jeopardy.  Once a crime has been paid for by time served – a person cannot be re-tried for the same crime.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.                                                         1 Corinthians 1:18

Brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the good news I preached to you. You received it and have put your faith in it.  Because you believed the good news, you are saved. But you must hold firmly to the message I preached to you. If you don’t, you have believed it for nothing. What I received I passed on to you. And it is the most important of all. Here is what it is. Christ died for our sins, just as Scripture said he would. He was buried.  He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as Scripture said he would be.        1 Corinthians 15:1-4

This is the reason we do not give up. Our human body is wearing out. But our spirits are getting stronger every day.                                                     1 Corinthians 4:16 (NLV)

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 1 Corinthians 1:30 (NKJV)

God desires RELATIONSHIP with us!

 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we shall also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.                                                                                       Romans 5:10-11 (KJ21)

Those who claim to belong to him must live just as Jesus did.      1 John 2:6

Closing: God loves you and demonstrates his love for you by paying the price for your sins – Christ died once – for all! 
You are to walk in that forgiveness in relationship with God.

I ask today that you gasp the heart of the Artist and understand that God has reconciled us and we can rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom we have now received atonement. Do you appreciate what God has done for us though our Lord Jesus Christ? 

Give your life to God – accept his love and forgiveness.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Let us prepare our hearts for worship tomorrow at NRN and for a unique Palm Sunday message.

We are in the midst of an awesome  24 hour Prayer Vigil. 

Last evening was great as I felt the touch of god upon my heart.  I am receiving news of answers to prayer and God at work! 

Let us prepare our hearts for worship tomorrow at NRN and for a unique Palm Sunday message.

We begin with a welcome to all in attendance - then we stand to sing our praise to God:

We continue in our worship by greeting one another.  It is always good to dwell in unity with one another.  Our church demonstrates the love of God as we greet people into our family. Are you thankful for those gathered around you? let's continue to sing big to our God:

We’ve all been there, felt the regret. We missed it. Whether “it” was an opportunity to advance our career, to get extra credit at school, to go to a great concert or to finally ask that special person out on a date. We let our fears, past hurts, doubts and pride get the better of us. The same thing happened as Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday, some people missed it. But this time “it” was one of the biggest moments in history. It was our redemption moment, the ultimate display of unconditional love, grace and mercy.

Come to the Lord's Table,
all you who love him.

 Come to the Lord's Table,
all you who do earnestly repent of your sin,

 Come to the Lord's Table,
be at peace.

We close our time together by bringing our sacrifice of praise to the Lord through our financial offerings.  Let us not only be found faithful but extravagant to God and His work!

Friday, March 27, 2015

24 hours of prayer begin this evening at 6:00pm

This evening at 6:00pm we begin a period of 24 hours of prayer. A core value of our church in that Prayer is a priority in the Christian life.
 Jesus said "My house shall be called a house of prayer."
As people come to the church each hour over the next 24 hours we believe God will hear our prayers and that lives will be changed. God answers prayers!

Just what is a prayer vigil? The idea is many centuries old. "Vigil" indicates a time of "vigilance", wakefulness, a watch, originally "kept on the night before a religious feast with prayer or other devotions." We observe a 24 hour prayer vigil each year the week-end of Palm Sunday in preparation for the following week of ministry leading to Resurrection Sunday! Hundreds of prayers have been answered and miracles taken place since our prayer vigil in 2008. Join us  for our 8th year of seeing our church become a House of Prayer for a 24 hour period.

We invite you to join us in this prayer vigil. If you cannot come to the church - please select a time to devote one hour in prayer and simply comment to let me know when you prayed and how your time with God went. If you are concerned that you do not know how to pray for one hour – no worries – a prayer guide is provided to take you through the hour of prayer.  If you are in the area - you are invited to come any hour from 6:oo pm on Friday until the closing hour beginning at 5:00 pm on Saturday.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Preparing for our 24 hour Prayer Vigil at North Raleigh Church of the Nazarene


My House shall be called a house of prayer....

 "The next day, as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. From some distance away he saw a fig tree covered with leaves, and hoped to find some fruit on it; but when he came up to it he found nothing but leaves. (It wasn't yet the season for figs.)He addressed the tree directly. 'May no one ever eat fruit from you again,' he said. And his disciples heard.They came into Jerusalem. Jesus went into the Temple and began to drive out the traders, those who bought and sold in the Temple, and overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of the dove-sellers. He permitted no one to carry any vessel through the Temple. He began to teach: 'Isn't this what's written,' he said,'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the world to share?

But you've made it a brigands' den!' The chief priests and the legal experts heard, and looked for a way to get rid of him. But they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was astonished at his teaching. When evening came, they went back out of the city. As they were returning, early in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from its roots. 'Look, Teacher!' said Peter to Jesus, remembering what had happened before. 'The fig tree you cursed has withered.''Have faith in God,' replied Jesus. 'I'm telling you the truth: if anyone says to this mountain, "Be off with you – get yourself thrown into the sea," if they have no doubt in their heart, but believe that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. That's why I'm telling you, everything that 1 you request in prayer, everything you ask God for, believe that you receive it, and it will happen for you.

'And when you are standing there praying, if you have something against someone else, forgive them – so that your father in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.'
Mark 11: 12-25

Imagine you are standing on a high hill, overlooking a long valley. In the valley are villages, a river, fields and woods, with a network of small roads winding their way between them all. Now imagine that you can see a car, driving much too fast, along one of those winding roads. The driver is obviously hell-bent on getting somewhere quicker than he should. At the same time, you see another car, coming the other way, going about its ordinary business. With horror, you see what's going to happen. Round one of the corners, any minute now...Welcome to Mark 11. Jesus has been warning his fellow Jews, up and down the country, that God's kingdom is coming. But they, for the most part, have preferred their own aspirations, their own agendas. They have been speeding on their way, eager for national liberation of the usual revolutionary sort. Within the society, the rich have been getting richer, and the poor poorer. The self-appointed religious watchdogs have been concentrating on the outward rules and purity regulations rather than on the human heart. The Temple itself, the place where heaven and earth were supposed to meet, where God's forgiveness was supposed to happen, has been used as a symbol of national pride. They have ignored the warning sign and are heading straight for a sharp bend...where, coming the other way, is Jesus...

...Mark, as we've seen elsewhere, writes the story almost like a novelist. He frames Jesus' action in the Temple (verses 15–18) within the double story of the fig tree. Jesus comes hoping for fruit, but finds none; so he puts a curse on the fig tree (verses 13–14). Then, the day after the Temple incident, there is the tree: withered from its roots (verses 20–21). The point could hardly be clearer. Jesus has come to Jerusalem, has come to the Temple, the holiest point in the Jewish world, looking for the fruit of repentance, of the wisdom, justice, holiness and peace that should be the marks of God's people. He has found none. His action in the Temple must be seen – certainly this is how Mark and the other gospel writers see it – as an acted parable of God's judgment. No one will eat fruit from this tree again...

...At the heart of Jesus' charge against the Temple is the little verse from Isaiah 56.7. God's house was supposed, in the long run, to be a place of prayer for all the world. All the nation were supposed to look to Jerusalem and see it as a beacon of hope, of the presence of the creator God. Instead, anyone looking would see only a market-place, and worse: a den of brigands (an allusion to Jeremiah 7.11). 'Brigands' are more than 'robbers' (one of the traditional translations). 'Brigands' were, in Jesus' day, the holy revolutionaries, the terrorists, eager to overthrow pagan rule by violence. The Temple itself has come to symbolize that deep distortion of God's kingdom. The only word that can now be spoken to it is a word of judgment.

The disciples, watching in amazement, learn another lesson as well. They will be faced with 'this mountain' – the mountain where the Temple sits, ruled over by the hardhearted chief priests – in the days to come. They will need to have faith that God will overthrow the system and all that it represents.

The lesson goes wider, in line with Jesus' repeated teaching about prayer and faith. Ask; believe; and it will happen. But remember: while asking, forgive (verse 25). The door that opens to let forgiveness out of your heart towards someone else is the door through which God's forgiveness will enter.

As you look at today's world, where are the cars that are speeding much too fast towards the dangerous bends? Where are Jesus' warnings most badly needed in our world?

Prayer: Almighty Father, God of judgment and mercy, overthrow the systems that abuse their calling and oppress your people, and set up your rule of grace and peace.

Excerpted from: Lent for Everyone, Mark, Year B: A Daily Devotional by N.T. Wright

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Preparing for worship in prayer this evening

Preparing for worship in prayer this evening:

A new song from Elevation Worship-

As we gather for prayer at 6:30 this evening - let us turn our hearts towards God and pray this prayer:

Spirit of God - open our hearts.  We need your presence.  Your Kingdom come - your will be done on earth - as in Heaven!

Here is Israel Houghton singing "Your Presence is Heaven" during a live August 19, 2012 11:15am Sunday morning worship service at Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Patience is understanding

Waiting for something you want can sometimes feel like an eternity. But God is not bound by time, and what feels like an eternity to us, is simply space that allows us to grow.
How will you use your time?

Patience is one of the most difficult virtues to have. Life forces us to wait and be patient for many things, and it often proves difficult. So what does the Bible say about patience?

These verses on patience can help you understand why we must wait through trials and tribulations to fulfill God's plan for us. Read them below and click the verse for more information.

Psalms 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Romans 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience;

Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

James 1:19 Why, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

James 5:7 Be patient therefore, brothers, to the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, and has long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

James 5:8 Be you also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draws near.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Don't just hope you'll go to Heaven

Don’t Just Hope You’ll Go to Heaven
By Rick Warren
“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12 NIV)

If you were to head out to a mall today and ask people if they are going to Heaven or Hell, you’ll likely hear them say, “I hope I’ll go to Heaven.”
But hope just isn’t good enough. I pray that’s not your answer. Your eternal destiny is too important not to know for sure.
Only a fool would be unprepared for what we all know is inevitable: death. The most recent statistics show that mortality rates in the world are 100 percent!
You’re not guaranteed another minute on this planet, much less another hour. Don’t put off the most important choice you’ll ever make.
The Bible says in 1 John 5:11-12, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (NIV).
That’s about as clear as you can get. If you have Jesus, you have life. If you don’t have Jesus, you do not have life. You have a choice.
You won’t go to Heaven because of someone else’s faith. You’ll never go to Hell because of someone else’s choice.
It’s your choice! You’ll decide where you’ll spend eternity.
This is why Christmas and Easter are so important. If Jesus hadn’t come at Christmas and if he hadn’t died and come back to life on Easter, we’d be hopeless. Nothing we do would matter. You wouldn’t have this choice.
The cross is the answer to our deepest problem — our separation from God.
The Bible says, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14).
God nailed everything that separated you from himself to the cross. But God won’t force you to make the most important decision of your life.
It’s in your hands.
It’s time to choose