2.4.21 TOP TEN

February 4, 2021

1.  Arbor House Reopens for In-Person Services – This Sunday Arbor House is resuming in-person worship services.  The service begins at 10am and meets at our South Campus building at 350 Bank St. in Batavia.  Arbor House offers a liturgical style worship service and all are welcome!

2.  Pastor Daniel’s New Thursday Night Opportunity – Pastor Daniel is starting a new group for Middle and High School students.  The group will meet virtually on Thursday nights at 7pm using Right Now Media.  For more information contact Pastor Daniel at daniel@northgatefmc.com.

And Also Remember – Base is meeting on Wednesday nights.  There’s open gym at 5pm and the meeting starts at 6pm.  Ember (for young adults) meets on Wednesday morning at 9:15 at Pub Coffee.  Beginning on February 15 there will be an evening meeting (7pm) at South Campus and this group will be reading 8 classic books by C.S. Lewis.  This will be open to everybody and you can sign up for it on our website: northgatefmc.com.  From the home page go to “connect” – “groups” – “learn more” and click on the green “Lewis” icon next to “Unique groups”.  For more information on any of this contact Pastor Daniel at daniel@northgatefmc.com.

3.   Fasting and Prayer For Lent – Lent is less than three weeks away. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 17th, Lent is a time of reflection and preparation to celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus, and our new life in Christ, at Easter. Like we did last fall, Northgate will again be fasting together, from Feb. 17 – April 4, to as a way of drawing closer to God and each other through this season. If you would like to participate with us in this ancient spiritual practice by abstaining from food for one day (or part of a day) each week, or from a particular food or activity for a day (or part), please email me (vern@northgatefmc.com) or Pastor Marsha (marsha@northgatefmc.com). We will provide a fasting primer, as well as weekday email meditations to encourage you along the way.

4.  Masks Optional While Seated at North – We are meeting in person at North (Saturdays at 6; Sundays at 9:30 & 11am.  Beginning this weekend wearing masks will be optional while seated, but we still ask you to keep them on when singing or moving about the building.  Thank you so much for your cooperation with this!

5.  Soul Pain Revealed – The focus of Soul Pain Revealed, a book by Christian psychologist Dr. Julie Caton, is on “bridging the mental health landscape with the faith-based landscape” with the intention of helping people improve their mental health and lessen their suffering.  This past year a lot of us have found ourselves feeling more anxiety and depression and have had to deal with significant losses.  I am interested in knowing who might like to participate in an 8-week group where we’ll seek God’s help and guidance to improve our mental health and our souls.  If you’re interested, let me know and if we get enough we’ll figure out when/how to meet.  Contact me at vern@northgatefmc.com.

6.   Prayer-Walk Opportunities Coming Up – Looking forward to warmer weather and more time together, we will be starting several Northgate Prayer-Walk Groups the week following Easter (April 4). The concept is simple: To lead a prayer-walk group, set a starting time and place near where you live; let friends and neighbors know; then go for your walk. We suggest a 30-45-minute walk, once per week, for 6-8 weeks. Gather prayer requests ahead of time and/or on-the-spot. Group members can pray aloud or silently as you walk. Also allow time for fellowship and discussion. Sound refreshing? It is! To the body, mind and spirit. If you are willing to lead a prayer-walk group where you live, Northgate would like to give you a complimentary copy of the book, God Walk: Moving at the Speed of Your Soul by Mark Buchanan. Use the book as the basis for discussion and/or inspiration with your group. Contact Pastor Marsha at marsha@northgatefmc.com to lead this simple and profound spiritual practice.

7.  A Letter From Our Missionaries in Hungary
Dear friends at Northgate FMC,
We thank God for his provision and for your partnership in ministry!  We know that 2020 posed unprecedented challenges for everyone, and we want you to know that your faithful prayer and year-end giving made it possible for us to end the year in the clear.  We are moving on in expectation and hope in 2021, as co-laborers with Christ and you, seeking to cooperate with God’s Kingdom purposes.  The need is even greater in this critical time for the truth of God’s saving love to be made known.
The following two items are from the most recent Prayer Letters.  We invite you to praise God and pray with us!

- Zsuzsa (Set Free Movement in Hungary coordinator, assistant pastor of the Budapest church fellowship) shared the exciting news that a new member has joined the Set Free Movement in Hungary!  Szandra will help organize a Set Free team in Pécs, a city in southern Hungary.  She had already been involved infighting injustice, organizing the Walk for Freedom for several years in Pécs to raise awareness of the issue of human trafficking. She is also involved in preventive work in schools and children's homes is a part of our Set Free prayer team. Please pray for Szandra as she seeks God's guidance in her ministry going forward.

- Péter (lead pastor of the Budapest church fellowship) and Zsuzsa have begun a video series on evangelism and discipleship.  Pray for the Holy Spirit to speak into the hearts and lives of those who view the weekly videos, inspiring in them the desire to grow as disciples who can lead others to faith in Jesus, and for opportunities to build connections with them.

It is our privilege to pray for you as well, that God would bless, strengthen, and encourage you as you continue to serve.  May we all keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

In His love,
Katie and Larry Winckles

8.  Financial Peace University Classes Coming – New FPU groups will be starting soon.  An online group will begin on Sunday, February 28 at 6pm and an in-person group begins on Wednesday, March 3 at 6:30.  You can get more information and sign up for either of these from our website, northgatefmc.com.  Go to “connect” – “groups” – “learn more” and click on the Financial Peace icon.  

9.  Communion at North Next Weekend – Please be aware that next weekend (Saturday 2/13 & Sunday 2/14) we will be observing communion in our services at North.  If you will be meeting with us on-line you will want to have communion elements (bread and juice) available for our time of communion.

10.  Who is Pastor Chris? – Pastor Chris recently took the role of Lead Pastor at Arbor House upon the retirement of Pastor Gloria.  He is also taking on the role of Pastor of Missional Engagement for Northgate. In that position he’ll be helping us to be more intentional about serving our community. Prior to this appointment, Chris was the Pastor of Word and Table at Arbor House. Chris and his wife, Melissa, are originally from the Gowanda area. (I, Pastor Vern, had the privilege of being one of Chris’ pastors there for 6 years.) Chris is a huge fan of Punk Rock and reading, and Melissa loves plants and doing cross-stitch.  And Chris just received his Master of Arts in Theological Studies.  Congratulations on that Chris, and God bless you in this new position!

You Can Count on This – Acts 7:55 – But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
(Read Acts 7:1-60)

I am so humbled by the courage of Stephen and by his devotion to Jesus.  After delivering a sermon, the only sermon of his that we have in scripture, and through his sermon pointing his listeners to Jesus, some of those listening become furious with him.  I wonder if Stephen knew what they were getting ready to do?  In any event, they are furious and gnashing their teeth at him and in that moment he looks to heaven and God permits the veil of heaven to be pulled back and allows Stephen to get a glimpse into heaven, where he sees Jesus standing at the right of God.  What a glorious sight that must have been!

But those listening did not take it that way.  They took his exclamation of this vision as blasphemous and dragged him away and stoned him to death.  He was the first person to be martyred for Christ, after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.  But he died with that vision imprinted on his mind, and he died seeking forgiveness for his attackers.  His witness for Jesus did not waver.  May God grant each of us that kind of steadfastness in our witness for Jesus.

When you’re not sure what you can count on in the world around you, know this: You can count on God keeping his word.  So read what God has to say in scripture!  And count on it.

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