News & Views August 26

"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him."
Nahum 1:7

Adult "Welcome" Class - 8:45 A.M. - Rooms 114-115
Connecting Point - 9:30 A.M. - Dining Room
Worship  - 10:00 A.M. -  Family Center Gym and Online

Pastor Mark preaching on "An Acts Attitude: Service & Sacrifice"
Read ahead: Acts 6-7

NLC Kids  - 10:00 A.M. - Rooms 101,103
Adults "ACE Overcomers" Class - 11:00 - Youth Room (in Gym)
 Just the Bible - 11:15 a.m. - Rooms 114-115
GRAB & GO MEALS - Serving from 11:00 - noon

The Week Ahead

Tuesday (31st):
End of NLC Fiscal Year
6-7 a.m. Men's Bible Study group - Tony Dungy's "Uncommon Character" - Dining Room
Wednesday (Sept. 1st)
6:30 p.m. NLC Kids' "Wacky Wednesdays" - Rooms 101, 103
6:30 p.m. NLC Prayer Gathering - all are welcome - Dining Room
6:30 p.m. GriefShare -all are welcome - Youth Room in Gym
7:00 p.m. Faith & Finances - Rooms 114-115
Thursday (Sept. 2nd):
7:00 p.m. Stewardship Team meeting

A Heart for Buster

Parkside MB Church in Tulsa called me to be their pastor in 1993. They told me it was their desire to grow as a church, again. Almost every generation born to the founders of the church had moved to the suburbs and attended elsewhere. The church had not more than about 80 people attending on a Sunday morning. Some young families who had moved to Tulsa for work and who had a heart for the city of Tulsa and its children, had chosen to be part of the church. And so it was a church with two main groups who were not otherwise connected to each other: the older founders of the church and these younger working families.
When asked, the church was clear that it didn't want to move from its original location in what had become a depressed part of town. They wanted to stay--the older ones because they had built the church there and the younger ones because it was a church located where people had needs. Staying meant looking for ways to reach the people of that part of town with the caring ministries and grace-filled truth of the Gospel. It would mean knowing and loving their neighbors and receiving them into their family of faith. Growth would happen through the transformation of lives both inside and outside the church. It wasn't so easily accomplished.
One story to illustrate the challenge: Buster, a boy of about 11 who lived in an apartment across the street from the church, used to hang around the facility, bouncing a tennis ball against the church walls. It was hard for me to concentrate, and so I ended up taking a basketball outside and shooting hoops with him in the goal in the empty church parking lot. Soon more boys from the apartments and neighborhood came to shoot hoops. So Eddie, a young architect from our church, agreed to join me and the boys shooting hoops after work. He eventually started doing it on Saturdays, too, bringing donuts and milk. Eddie taught the middle school Sunday School class and so it made sense that he invited them all to church. Buster came.
Buster was rough around the edges not because he was mean, but because he grew up in a rough environment with little supervision or discipline. The only examples he had were also rough around the edges, to put it mildly. Whether shooting hoops or teaching Sunday School, Eddie began to help Buster learn what it meant to know Jesus and become His follower.
The parents of one of the other boys who had grown up in the church expressed their concern for Buster and invited me to their home. Wealthy as they were, I assumed they wanted to provide for Buster in some way. His needs were obvious. No, they told me. I misunderstood their concern. It was either Buster or them, they said. They didn't want their son to be around a kid like Buster with his occasional use of bad words in Sunday School, regardless of Eddie's well-intentioned efforts to help Buster. Buster smelled of smoke. Either Buster would be told not to come, or they as a family would have to leave the church.
You know me well enough to know what happened next. Buster kept coming to Jesus, and the family found another church in the beautiful part of town where they lived. It was an awful and sad choice, which one of the parents who demanded it later apologized for. 
Ministering the Gospel in Dinuba is not much different today. Truth is, it has always required followers of Jesus to be transformed by his love so that we might grow his heart for those in need of the Gospel. We cannot expect to have things as we wish them to be and to also reach those God has sent us to. Jonah could not. Jesus did not. He gave up the glories of heaven to reach you and me--and Buster. Thank you, Jesus! Please grow our hearts for "Buster" today.
  • Pray for Joyce and Duane Penner and Saphira and Blake at the loss of her son and the children's father, Frederick. 
  • Continue to lift people with ongoing health issues before the Lord: JR Southard, Mike Naylor, Marilyn Chappell, Bob Heinrichs, Glen Zimmerman, Brian Smith, and Galen Wiest and Travis Jost with Multiply. Galen was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer.
  • Johnny & Denise Esposito are on their way to Thailand on the 31st. Pray all goes smoothly, that they remain healthy, and that visas and COVID-related travel documents will be in place. You can pick up a prayer card this Sunday or in the office. VIDEO UPDATE
  • Pray for peace in the name of Christ Jesus for people in places of conflict and disaster: Haiti--earthquakes and flooding; Afghanistan--evacuation and troop pull-out by 31st; Nigeria, China, Myanmar, Syria, South Sudan, and so many other places where people of faith are either killing or dying. Pray for Christians to faithfully love their neighbors and enemies alike.
  • Pray for God's provision for Good News Clubs as they begin soon. The Jefferson club is in need of a music leader.
  • Pray for Henry Serrato as he leaves on a sabbatical from his YFC role, that he will be refreshed and also newly-empowered by God for the ministries he leads. 
  • Ask for God's wisdom for the Trustees, Stewardship, Elders, and church staff as they prepare a new budget for NLC. Pray for God's provision for the ministries to which He has called us and for wisdom in hiring staff for areas of needed ministry.
Congratulations to Eugene & Phyllis Enns on their 60th wedding anniversary!

Our Giving at Fiscal Year End

Received Last Week (8/22): .............................$5,105
Received this year to date: .........................$429,935
Expenses to Fiscal Year End (Aug. 31): …..$459,312
   (includes anticipated expenses for August)
Offerings Needed to Cover Expenses by Aug. 31: ….…$29,377

COVID-19 Status

Spread the Gospel, not the virus. There are currently no health mandates in effect for NLC related to COVID-19. However, as cases are rising in the United States and in Fresno and Tulare counties it may be prudent to wear a mask when indoors in public settings, to wash hands frequently, and to consult your physician about receiving a vaccination if you haven't already received one.
If you are sick, please avoid church gatherings for the health and safety of others. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, please avoid church gatherings until you have received a negative COVID-19 test or are free of symptoms.

COVID-19 incident. A child who attended Wacky Wednesday on August 18th became sick two days later (within 48 hours) and tested positive for COVID-19. Symptoms are mild with runny nose and fever. Please pray for the child and family. Parents of children and those volunteering that evening were notified, and NLC Kids' programs were cancelled on Sunday, August 22nd and Wednesday, August 25th. Praise the Lord that COVID-19 tests for the other children and adults are negative so far and so far as we have been informed.

Requests for religious exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine.  Workplaces and universities have begun to require a COVID-19 vaccination to be eligible for work or for living in the dorms. There may be more such mandates coming from the military or other schools, companies, and organizations now that at least one vaccine has received full FDA approval. These mandates generally allow for exemptions from the vaccine for disability, medical, or religious reasons.
The US Mennonite Brethren issued a statement regarding religious exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine. In summary, "our Confession of Faith and our current and historical practice do not provide the necessary rationale for granting a religious exemption based on the theological convictions of the denomination". You can read the USMB statement here.
The statement considers that individuals may have a personal objection to receiving the  COVID-19 vaccine(s), and that they should consider several options when pursuing a request for a religious exemption based on those objections:
  1. Carefully and with personal integrity, consider whether that objection is rooted in your own personal religious convictions or if it is rooted in other concerns and/or fears about the vaccine and the unknowns surrounding it. You may want to seek the counsel of your pastor and/or church leadership to help you differentiate and sort through those issues.
  2. Carefully read and understand the personal religious exemption being offered at your workplace or school. It may be that a denominational exemption is not required and that an individual exemption may be allowed. It may still require a pastor’s affirmation of your personal convictions based on conversations he/she has had with you to help you sort through the concerns you have.
  3. You may want to seek the advice of an attorney to determine whether your community or state, business or school allows for a personal religious exemption to any specific vaccine mandates.
  4. Above all, have integrity with your faith and your convictions.

If you are facing such a requirement and wish to seek a religious exemption from the vaccine, please contact Pastor Mark to make an appointment to discuss this.

Mark Isaac

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