Throwing a Christmas party to reach out to neighbors

By Kevin Wolfe,

Last year our family did something very simple - yet it was very effective.  We threw a neighborhood Christmas party to reach out to those who live close by.  We did not know exactly what to expect.  We have been trying to be more purposeful to get to know our neighbors by hanging out in our front lawn, going for walks, etc.  When Christmas came around, we decided to invite several families over to just enjoy some time together.  We deliverd the invitations just a few days before the party.   (Due to my procrastination).   We did not know how many would feel comfortable in coming over but were shocked that almost everyone we invited came....and really enjoyed the time!  The invitations we made were very simple.  We put together some simple refeshments, put on some Christmas music and simply tried to love on our neighbors. Several people commented that night on how much they enjoyed spending time together and wanted to continue to get to know each other.  We had some great conversations and even had one neighbor join us for Christmas Eve services.

Again, we were shocked by how simple this was yet how effective.  I have heard of others when do something similar that open it up to have each person share a favorite Christmas story or share why they enjoy Christmas.  This can open up conversations to spritiual things.  It seems like when we do little things to reach out and create community that God opens up doors to be able to shine His light.  

Please consider how you might use this Christmas season as an opportunity to shine Christ!  Simple steps to engage with people in your life opens up pathways for the Gospel to travel across!!!  INTENTIONALLY ON MISSION ....PURPOSEFULLY MAKING DISCIPLES!

Further Thoughts on Why God Disciplines Us as His Children (Hebrews 12:3-13)

By Jason McConahy,

This weekend we covered Hebrews 12:3-13 in our worship gathering, and we tackled the difficult concept of the "discipline" that God brings into our lives as our loving, Heavenly Father.  While the word "discipline" refers to the entire training of a child, we tend to reduce its meaning to "punishment" based upon our earthly experiences - a conclusion that hinders us from seeing the beauty of this passage.  I suggested that while God may bring discipline (or training) into our lives as a result of sin, it is never to punish us for our sin, but rather as His loving and purposeful way of rooting sin out of us.  This is the emphasis of the text - "that we may share His holiness" (vs. 10).  How does this emphasis impact our understanding of this passage?  More importantly, how does this emphasis impact our view of God?  To stir some thinking, consider the difference between the following two options...

God brings discipline into our lives as punishment for sin

vs.

God brings discipline into our lives as training for holiness

What is the difference between these two emphases?

How do these two statements impact the way you view God (your Heavenly Father)?

Hurricane Sandy's Impact on The Remedy Church in New Jersey

By Aaron LeDuc,

This weekend we prayed for those impacted by the devestation caused by Hurricane Sandy, and in particular the impact to The Remedy, a Crossway Chapel church plant, located in New Jersey.  Below is an email the pastors received from Eric Loyer, pastor of the Remedy.  We encourage you to read it, and pray for The Remedy.  If you feel led to help them financially, you can do so through the link to The Remedy's web site below,  or the address given in the post.  Thanks for standing together as a family with The Remedy in this challenging time.

Give to The Remedy Hurricane Relief

Dear Family, 

Thank you so much for all of the calls, the texts, emails, checks, online giving, prayers, and overall generosity.  It has certainly been felt, and your love for me and for our church is so evident in the way that each of you reach out and care.  Several of you asked if I could give some little snapshots of what life has been like in the body and area over the last few days so that you have some specifics to share with your bodies, so I will give some bullet points, but feel free to reach out as well.  

The Devastation 

We are now 6 days out from the start of the storm, and things have not gotten better, and in many areas they have gotten worse.  I know that several of you have come and we have gone to the Mantaloking Bridge that connects our town of Brick to the barrier island and the ocean.  For the most part, Mantaloking is not there anymore.  As you go over the bridge, the houses that used to be on the ocean side, are completely gone and there is a new inlet, where the bay has connected to the Ocean.  Many of the houses were just washed to sea, and gas fires have destroyed about 40 more.  Most of the town of Mantaloking on the ocean side is just gone.  I've attached a picture of the neighboring town of Bay Head so that you get what I mean when I say gone.  

To make matters worse, we are still without power and cell phone coverage through much of the area.  That is why I have been spotty to get in touch with.  We have the National Guard, Army Police, Coast Guard and police from around the country serving tirelessly.  There are armed guards at the entrance to almost all beach neighborhoods because the looting has gotten so bad.  Gas is now being rationed based on your licence plate number, and there are 2 hour lines at the few gas stations that have gas.  There are no traffic lights, so it is just chaos. The death toll in our area is up to 44 last I heard.  At one of the houses we were at, they pulled 4 bodies out of the house next door, from people that drowned in their own house.  

Our body/needs

Right now, most of the body still does not have power.  Up through Thursday, it was only 2 families in the body with power, but now it is probably more like 10.  Some of them might go without power for up to a month.  FEMA is doing all they can, and are really doing a great job.  They took two of our families who's homes and cars are destroyed and got them rental cars, and are going to pay for a rental while their home is repaired.  We have at least 7 families that we know of that are without a home, and have been staying with other people.  

About a quarter of our body lost their cars, and many lost their ability to work because of lack of power, inability to get anywhere, jobs shutting down.  

The Church reflecting Jesus and God put on display

Guys- I am so proud of our church.  They are amazing.  People have been working around the clock to help people in need.  Neighbors have been helping neighbors.  People with power are taking in up to 5 families a piece, and just creating communities for people, and feeding them, doing laundry for them, and keeping them warm.  Its amazing.  I must say, this is the most missional thing I have ever seen.  

We need help 

Guys, your help has been amazing.  Our Crossway family, through churches and individuals, have given about 7500, and our Acts 29 family have given 5000.  We have several that have shared that they intend to let the need be known on Sunday or even take a special collection.  Please help.  Just the needs in the body alone, for the uninsured, underinsured, or people that have issues that you wouldn't even think of, like lost wages, lost food from spoilage, etc., is overwhelming.  And that does not even include helping the community.  

One of the biggest areas that we want to help is a widow named Kim.  She has 3 children, and she is out of her house, and most of the damage is not going to be covered.  She needs a new floor, new walls, new furniture, new electrical, new kitchen.  The water was shoulder high at places of her house.  FEMA is helping her get a temporary rental, but she has to cover most of the house expenses.  There are several other stories like Kim's, and I have shared them with some of you on the phone.  Your help is greatly appreciated.  

We have a giving link at our website at www.remedynj.com, or you can send help to:

Remedy Church
308 Dogwood Dr
Brick, NJ 08723  -designate Sandy Fundy

The pictures

The first picture, with the pilings- that was a house even larger than the one behind it in the picture.  Those pilings are what remain.  The whole house went out to sea.  The second picture, I put because several of you have stayed at the Schumm's house, one of our Community Group leaders.  That is his living room.  Just a snap shot of what is going on. 

Thank you

Again, thank you thank you thank you for your love and support.  You guys have been amazing and have kept me sane (if I was ever sane to begin with:).  I love you all, and I am grateful for your friendship, and how you have responded with such kindness.

Love,
Eric Loyer - Pastor, Remedy Church
Remedy Church - http://remedynj.com/