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LAKE DAY

Summer Day At The Lake. Wooden dock overlooking a gorgeous lake in the wilderness. Ludington State Park. Ludington, Michigan.

 

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Why a Lake Day?

The staff at DEC wanted to provide a place where everyone could be together and do something together that looks a little different than our typical Sunday morning. Providing two separate services at DEC is a necessity to fit everyone in the building, but those who attend first service may never meet someone who attends second service and vice versa. One of our missions as a church is to provide opportunities to build our community. We believe this is a unique event that will allow for our entire church body to build that community as we worship together, swim together, grill together, and do life together!

 

What should I bring?

A friend! Everyone is welcome to attend!

Bring your ticket. The park fee will be waived if you show them your Lake Day ticket. We will provide those the two weeks leading up to Lake Day at Sunday services.

This is a “picnic style” event. We will only be providing seating for a small amount of people, so bring your lawn chairs, blankets, or whatever you plan to sit on for the service.

We will provide grills, but you will provide your own food and drinks for yourself and whoever comes with you.

Bring your bathing suits, towels, sunscreen, etc. and enjoy the lake!

 

What if it rains?

This is a rain or shine event. Even if it rains we’ll be there.

 

What else should I know?

We will be having a service at 11:00AM at Pawtuckaway State Park, but the rest of the day is up to you!

This is a family friendly event. Please do not bring alcoholic beverages.

Pawtuckaway State Park does not allow pets.

 

Want to camp?

Patwuckaway offers campsites! If you are interested in camping that weekend you are more than welcome to do so through Patwuckaway State Park by finding more information here

May 17th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

PASTORAL PONDERINGS: MAY

 

Sounds odd to say a church should be like a bar, but maybe, just maybe we should. Remember the show “Cheers”? It was set in a bar in Boston, and the opening song that introduced the show had those great lines, “where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came”. Every time I think of those words, I wonder: how many folks go to a church service, and hardly anyone knows their name? And if they do…..are they really glad you came?

Our leadership has been pondering something for a while now. How do you grow a strong sense of community/fellowship in a church with multiple services and hundreds of folks who may or may not know each other? There is something truly beautiful about the body of Christ when it functions like a family that loves one another. The apostle Paul described it well in 1 Corinthians 12 as a body in which every member is important, and every member is needed. That is one of our great pursuits here at DEC—we want to be that place where every person feels valued, and they value each other. It is not an easy thing to accomplish, but it sure is worth the effort.

One the negative side, when we don’t operate like a family, we can lack graciousness one to another; we can focus on the tasks instead of people; and we can be religious, but totally lacking in love (1 Corinthians 12:1-3). On the positive side, when we do operate like a family, we can give much grace to those around us; we can see that people are as important as any task we are doing; and we can be a fellowship defined by love.

How do we get there? Well it isn’t easy, but here a couple things that can really help:

  1. Break out of the relational ghetto. Some folks sit in the same seats every Sunday, and talk only to the same people around them every Sunday. If you are the new person, how in the world is that going communicate to you, “we are glad you came”? Do something simple—sit in a different place every week, and get to the folks from “the other side of the room”. Who knows… you may actually make some new friends.
  2. Do something really scary (not really). Get involved in a ministry that is populated with people you don’t know. It could be a one day thing like an Operation Blessing work day, or it could be an ongoing thing like being part of our hospitality team. There is nothing that gives people a sense of oneness as much as laboring side by side for the kingdom of God.

It gives great glory to God when people can observe a fellowship and come to the conclusion—these people really love one another. Jesus actually said this would be the standard by which His disciples would be recognizable (John 13:34-35). I pray this is a pursuit that will always be a part of who we are as the body of Christ.

May 10th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

PASTORAL PONDERINGS: APRIL

Hungry people. That is who Jesus calls blessed. In the beatitudes, which begin the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5), Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”. Yes, Jesus is saying there is a great blessing for those who are hungry. Of course, you have to be hungry for the right thing.

We just started into the book of Amos, and one of the things we are finding is that the people of Israel were a very hungry people……but not in a good way. They hungered for luxury/prosperity even if it meant trampling people to get it. They hungered to be politically and militarily powerful. They hungered to show everyone how “religious” they were with their showy sacrifices and worship. But that isn’t the kind of hunger God blesses; in fact it is the kind of hunger He judges.

When we speak of good hunger, we are talking about folks that have a yearning inside to live in a right relationship with God. They know it only comes as a gift of grace to those who seek it (Heb. 11:6), and they desperately want that gift. They want to be covered in the righteousness of Jesus, which is offered to all who put aside their own fleshly works, and receive God’s gracious gift through faith (Rom. 3). Hungry people are people who realize that everything they have is a gift from God, and they seek those gifts with a humble dependency.

So the question for all of us is simple—are you hungry? Is there a hunger in you to join the saints in worship, and to pour out your praise to God because He alone deserves our worship, and He alone is the one who fills the hungry? Is there a hunger in you to spend time alone with God in prayer and meditation; meeting with Him in what Jesus calls your “prayer closet”? Is there a hunger in you to gather with a smaller community and spend time in God’s Word? Is there a hunger in you to use the gifts God has given you to serve His kingdom, and to see it grow? Is there a hunger in you that so much wants to see justice come to this earth?

Yes indeed, God blesses hungry people. And if you are in that place where you just don’t feel all that hungry….go to Him and ask Him for the gift of hunger. As a pastor, I would love to know that one of the marks of our fellowship is that it is made up of hungry people….hungry in the right way.

April 19th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

PASTORAL PONDERINGS: MARCH

 

Psalm 30:11 says, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness”. Well, we are almost at the end of a somber season called Lent. It was a time to step back, slow down, meditate, pray, and practice the discipline of self-denial. All of this is designed to help us come face to face with the depth and seriousness of our sin; and then to truly start to understand why we so desperately need a Savior. Until one comprehends in the depth of their soul how truly awful sin is, one will never really appreciate the wonder of grace that comes in the saving work of Jesus Christ. But that is only part of the story—our sin and Jesus’ remedy will bring us to Good Friday (yet Sunday is where hope really blooms).

 

The truth is that our hope isn’t just in Friday….it is in the power of God’s resurrection of His Son that early Sunday morning. Have you ever wondered—if Jesus paid for our sins on a cross, why is it important that He then rose from the dead”? There are many answers to that question, but the two I want to focus on are these:

 

  1. Jesus’ resurrection is the stamp of God’s approval on His sacrifice. It shows us that just as Jesus had promised, the Father would raise Him from the dead on the third day. If Jesus was still in the grave, we would still be stuck in our sins. It would mean that what happened on the cross wasn’t accepted by the Father as a sufficient payment for the debt of sin (Acts 2:22-24, Matthew 16:21, and 1 Corinthians 15).
  2. Jesus’ resurrection is called the “firstfruits” of the resurrection of the dead. What that means is that He is the first of many to come. No matter what we face in this life, we know that in the end, we shall rise again just as Jesus did. This is the hope of the Christian life—victory over death. And this is why Easter is a day of joy (1 Corinthians 15:20)

 

So as we look to this Sunday—that great day of hope and joy—come prepared to worship the God whose promises in Christ are always “yes”. Truly our mourning has been turned to dancing. That is what Easter is all about. And don’t forget—invite someone to come with you so that they too may hear the great story of hope in Jesus. That is what the “Good News” is all about. I pray to see you all on the morn when we can cry out, “He Is Risen”.

March 22nd, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

HIS STORY: BARRY & CLAIRE

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Barry began attending Durham Evangelical Church while he was a student at UNH. During that time DEC was located at McConnell hall at UNH, a small church with many needs. Almost as soon as he began attending, he began serving. “My first service at the church was, actually, in the nursery. Which I was reintroduced to the concept of babies. It had been a while. It was probably the first time I had to actually change a diaper.”

 

After his 4th year at UNH, Barry married his high school sweetheart, Claire. She also began attending DEC and soon after they were married they began serving on the worship team. “That was funny, because we were really bad.” Claire said with laughter. “There may be a heart there, but there may have not been the appropriate gifts…” Barry added. The church was small at the time and there were not many people available to help out in the different areas of needs throughout the church. So, Barry and Claire decided they would help where they saw needs.

 

Serving at a church means being a part of a community. Barry and Claire said this had a big impact on their serving over the years. They could recall several times where being a part of that community helped them through the difficult times. “If you have a community that is willing to serve, you are much more likely to stay with it. The Christian life is a marathon. It’s a walk that you need to have partners in. You need to have people that are walking with you.”

 

During their service to DEC, Barry says that the hardest part of serving is the relationships. “The most difficult thing I think people have to face in ministry is not the task they have to do, but the relationships in there. We are a community that needs to live together when we serve. So, I think the most difficult things in service are always when you are having those struggles to serve together. DEC has really got leadership that are very sensitive to that. If you think about serving, you know, I think one of the key things is your hearts position. There also has to be this ability to be flexible. Don’t take yourself so seriously. You may have this real passion for how God is going to do things and how you see stuff, but the reality is so do other people. “ He believes that there is joy in serving when you can prioritize what matters. “When you can take the focus off of yourself and see what God is doing, that’s when you can really enjoy things.”

 

Over their 30 years of service to DEC, Barry and Claire have served in the nursery, worship team, college ministry, children’s ministry, youth group, men’s & women’s ministry, marriage mentoring, and MOPS. They have also led community groups, and Barry has been a member of the elder board. During these years of service Barry says that there have been joys and heartaches, but they still serve to see people grow in their faith. “At the real end of it, it’s when you see people grow and you see them make steps of obedience. You see a disciple grow. You see somebody who now makes choices and follows Christ on their own volition. You know that God is doing something in their lives. When you see people growing in the faith, in ways that are not just words, but in ways that are really making decisions for Christ, I think that’s what really makes it worth it.”

 

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Barry and Claire Reinhold

March 1st, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Pastoral Ponderings: February

 

So a new season is upon us—Lent. Hard to believe how early it comes this year. In fact, it all begins tomorrow. I think it is a legitimate question to ask whether or not it is beneficial for the church to celebrate “seasons”. There is no biblical mandate to set aside special times during a year for things like Advent, Lent, etc. ; but they do seem to serve a great purpose in bringing glory to God and in growing His children as disciples.

 

Think about it for a moment. In an overly commercialized world where Christmas and Easter have been taken over by gadgets and chocolate, isn’t it nice to have special things (like Advent calendars and candles) that keep pulling us back to the real reason for the season. Every year here at DEC we find the Advent season a particularly generous time in which the giving kind of goes through the roof. I know some of it is tax driven, but much of it is just a response by the saints to the generosity of the grace God has given. May God bless you for that.

 

Now we enter a very different season. What is Lent really about?  The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayerpenancerepentance of sins, almsgivingatonement and self-denial (thus says Wikipedia). It is a time to prepare our souls for the season that changed the history or this world—Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. It is a time of sober joy, and the birth of hope. My prayer is that we all find these next six weeks a special season in which we draw closer to God and rediscover the inner life God desires for us. It all begins with a special communion service tomorrow night (Ash Wednesday) at 7pm. Come join us around the table as we seek the face of God.

February 9th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

HIS STORY: CHAD

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On November 29th Chad Prusia was baptized, along with 11 others that day.

After being with his high school sweetheart for 16 years, and having two children, Chad came home one night to find that his marriage had become completely disillusioned and his wife was leaving. Chad felt completely blindsided by the news. Not long after they were divorced, Chad had to find his identity apart from his wife. “Unfortunately, I could barely make ends meet. I lived in different apartments, and about a year after my divorce things were so tight that I moved back home for a little while.”

After a short time living with his parents, Chad was able to get back on his feet and began his own carpentry business. “I started my own business mainly for my kids. At the time when we first got divorced, which was like the death of me as it was. It was like my whole world had got turned upside down. I went from seeing my kids every day to only seeing them twice a week.” Even after starting his own business and having shared custody with his kids, he still struggled to be the man he thought he was before.

About 4 years after Chad’s divorce, a friend who attended DEC was also going through a divorce. So, Chad and his friend decided to move in together to make it financially easier on both of them. “We were kind of joking about moving in together, but then we started talking about it more seriously.” During that time there were many conversations between the two guys about faith and having a relationship with Jesus. “My mom always said, ‘God didn’t make the churches and you can pray from anywhere.’”

After several months Chad’s friend began challenging Chad about his faith. “I remember having a conversation with him and he said, ‘Well, I know you believe in God. I don’t know how much of a relationship you have with Jesus. You don’t really read the Bible or talk with Jesus unless something bad happens. You don’t pray unless you need something. What if you had a really good friend, but you never talked with them a whole lot? But, whenever you needed something, let’s say, money, you would call that particular person. You would only call them when you really needed something.’ Then I said, ‘Well, that would be kind of rude.’ And he said, ‘That’s exactly what you’re doing with Jesus. You need to talk with him. You need to have a relationship with him.’”

Shortly after having that conversation, Chad began attending DEC. The first time Chad came to church he felt like he belonged. “Every time I came in it was like Terry was always talking about a problem I had in my life. It was really coincidental and really exciting all at the same time. You know, I hate singing, but I found myself belting out all the songs! I didn’t care! It was really different for me.”

A few weeks ago a sermon was preached about baptism and it challenged those who have not been baptized to consider the reasons they may be avoiding baptism. It challenged all of us to be obedient to Christ’s call on believers to be baptized, and to live lives that exemplified Christ’s work in us. That morning the Holy Spirit was moving among the people of DEC and 12 people were baptized. People from the congregation were bringing up shirts they were wearing and clothes from their car so people who wanted to be baptized could do so. It was during that service that Chad was baptized.

Chad had attended baptism classes at DEC and had talked with a pastor and his mentor about baptism. He kept waiting for “a sign” that he should be baptized. One day during Community Group, his mentor told him that there would be a chance for him to be baptized at church and said that he should be baptized. So, Chad agreed and when the call was given for people to be baptized he was the first one in the water. “Looking back at how I’ve handled everything in life, I’ve screwed a lot of things up. That same week at Bible study we were talking about it and everyone was crying again and they were all saying, ‘It was such an emotional day’. I had been out back getting dried off and stuff so I kind of missed that emotional part that everybody was in, but then hearing that and looking back, nothing else matters. I was a part of that. That changed my whole realm of thinking.”

“It’s definitely changed my life and how I look at things. There are all these things I handle differently now than I would have even three years ago.” Since becoming a Christian, before being baptized, Chad told his wife that he forgave her for what happened in their marriage. “I blamed it all on her, when in all actuality, I wasn’t the greatest guy in the world either. We were verbally abusive to each other. I asked for her forgiveness in that and I said that I forgave her for what she did. There’s no way I could have done that without God’s help. No way.”

“I think back where my life was headed. We get so caught up on money and things, and we don’t look at the important things. Now I see things that make me happy. He found me and brought the right people in my life that brought me to him.”

 

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Chad with his son and daughter

December 23rd, 2015|Uncategorized|2 Comments

A Christmas Prayer

 

This past Sunday the Senior High, Real Life, students were asked to reflect on the Christmas Story. They were given Mary’s side (Luke 1:26-38), Joseph’s side (Matthew 1:18-25), and the Shepherd’s  side (Luke 2:8-20) of the account. The students were then asked, “How would you have reacted? What can we learn from Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds?” Once they had spent time in reflection they were then asked to write a poem or Christmas Carol with their thoughts. This poem was written by one of those students.

 

I am not Mary. I do not react well to changes in my plans.

I am not Joseph. I do not lead a life of faith and trust.

I am not the Shepherds. I do not tend towards their willingness to please You.

But make me like them.

Guide me towards serving You in the way that they did.

Give me Mary’s grace.

Give me Joseph’s faith.

Give me the Shepherd’s willingness.

Through Your son You have made it possible for me to be more like them.

Let me seek You the way that they did so that I may glorify You.

Amen.

December 22nd, 2015|Uncategorized|3 Comments

Pastoral Ponderings: December

Stirring the Waters….in the Gospel of John there is the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man who was laying by the pool of Siloam. The reason he was laying by the pool is that, in those days,  they believed an angel came down every now and then and stirred up the water. First one in after the stirring got healed. Well, the myth of the angel probably wasn’t real, but a couple Sundays ago, I think something greater than an angel stirred the waters of baptism at DEC. It was one of those truly blessed mornings when the Holy Spirit manifested His power in an awesome way. The invitation was given for those who had put their faith in Christ to come forward and follow the Lord in the waters of baptism. Well, they came and came and came and came…about a dozen (and it needs to be stressed that none of these were planned). Looking out at the congregation, the tears were flowing. Why? Because folks were seeing with their eyes the power of God as He moved men and women to step forward in faith. It was amazing. Even more amazing is the realization that God used regular old people like you and me to bring the message of Jesus to these folks that were headed to the water. Remember always, we are the ones entrusted with the Gospel of Jesus—good news that needs to be shared far and wide. Also, remember to thank God for pouring grace upon grace into this needy world.

 

Room in the Inn…..So it is December, the month of the incarnation—when God took on flesh and became man. The elders have been studying a book called “Creature of the Word: The Jesus Centered Church”, and this last study focused on how we are part of this incredibly big story that God is writing. Jesus’ birth is smack dab in the middle of the story. The blooming of the church is another chapter (the one we live in). As we discussed this great idea of God’s story, it really hit me how each of us play such a unique part in it. Every one of us has special gifts that God has given, special relationships that God has given, and unique opportunities that God has given. It seems like this time of year, our prayer should be that God would give us the courage to step out, open up our hearts and homes, and invite folks to share life with us. Let them know that this can be their story too—a story that is working towards the glorious end that Jesus would be truly Lord of all. During this Christmas season, make sure there is room in your inn (and also, make sure to invite someone to the Christmas program and Christmas eve this year).

December 9th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

HIS STORY: JOAN

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Over 2 years ago Joan Valliere went to have her annual mammogram before she left for vacation with her family. A few days later she would get a call from her doctor that changed the course of her life.

Joan grew up in Newmarket, NH with her mom, stepdad and 4 siblings. Her stepdad, an immigrant from Poland during World War II, was a loving but stern father and mom was the type of mother that would do anything for her kids. “Mom was a very strong Christian and dad was a very strong catholic. Mom made sure that we would go to church. I grew up knowing who God was, but was I following him? I thought I was.”

When Joan entered her teenage years she started a rebellious time of partying in her life. “In my mind I kept on saying, ‘I’ll have time for Jesus later’. Thankfully God said, ‘I’ll give you time.’ There were times that I probably shouldn’t be here, ya know, drinking, being with people that were drinking and driving.” In her later teen years she grew out of that rebellious stage and soon began dating her future husband, Mark.

After 7 years of dating, Joan and Mark were married and had two children. “He was a catholic. Not a strong catholic, but a catholic.” Joan’s mom continually professed her faith to both Joan and Mark in a gentle and loving way, but was persistent because she wanted them to know the truth. “She would always be praying for us. She would talk to Mark about God and who Jesus Christ is.”

Two years after their eldest was born, Mark’s mom was in a car accident that left her in a vegetative state. A week after the accident his mom passed. “That was a difficult time. When you lose somebody you start to think about your own destiny. It left Mark wondering about his faith and where he may end up someday.” This began a faith journey for both Mark and Joan that would lead them to attend Durham Evangelical Church some years later.

About two years after Mark’s mom passed, Joan’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. “That was so devastating to me and my family because she had always been the rock in our family. She was the kind of person that had such a strong faith I thought I would be saved too! I thought ‘I had such a great mother. God wouldn’t turn me away!’” Joan’s mom fought breast cancer for two years before she passed, but a year after her passing Mark became a Christian. “Both of us really started to grow closer to God during the time she was sick. I would be sitting by her bedside and read her Scripture. I truly wasn’t following Jesus like I should have. He wasn’t my life. I was reading Scripture verses to her, thinking that I’m comforting her, but it was speaking to me.” God gave Joan an incredible peace, when her mom passed, knowing that her mom was in Heaven. This time in Joan’s life made her realize her need for a Savior and she soon became a Christian.

Over 20 years later, Joan was diagnosed with breast cancer. Joan received a phone call from her doctor while on vacation with her husband and two children telling her that she had a malignant, invasive form of breast cancer. “I got off the phone and I dropped to my bed and I just started sobbing. It was like that sobbing when you lose somebody.” Joan was reminded of her mom, whom she had lost to breast cancer, and wondered if she would have the same fate.

As she laid on her bed, her two children came into her room. “They came in and hugged me and said, ‘Mom, it’s going to be okay. You’re going to be okay. Don’t worry.’ I think what was happening was that the Spirit was within me. The Spirit was saying, ‘Remember; God is with you.’ I had claimed all these years that Jesus Christ was my Lord and Savior and that I will not fear. I just remember God saying, ‘I am with you always. I will never leave you or forsake you.’ I just held onto that promise.” She assured her kids that it was going to be okay and realized she had to show her kids she believed what she said she believed.

After vacation, Joan found out she had two cancerous lumps. This led to Joan needing surgery to remove the cancer. She went on to have a successful surgery, but once the surgery was over she had to decide what the treatment would be to prevent the cancer from returning. She did not want to do chemotherapy, but she realized that going through the treatments would save her life. Joan went through four treatments every six weeks. “That was a real test of my faith, just knowing what I would have to go through because of what I saw my mom go through.” Through the chemo Joan did not have severe side effects, but there were many dark days where Joan had to rely on God’s strength. “Through it all God sent so many people into my life, and this is what I’m really thankful for. I knew that I was not alone in this. I had my family, my church family, all my friends and most of all I had Jesus Christ in my life. I got through this through their encouragement and through their prayers. It was so humbling that people were doing this for me. I’m not used to that. To have to sit and be still, because I couldn’t do a lot, I remember thinking I wish everyone could feel this love.”

While Joan is thankful for her faith and the support of her church family, her biggest supporter was her husband, Mark. “He truly showed me what love meant and what love was. He was the best nurse! He walked beside me the entire way just loving me. He told me I was beautiful when I was going bald from chemo, and that was the LAST thing I felt. We’ve grown a lot. Our marriage has gone through the fire and it’s survived. Because of that I feel like we can do anything and because God’s with us.”

Joan is now two years recovered from her breast cancer and has retired along with her husband, Mark. Since her retirement she has been able to use her gifts to help those in need in the church and in the community. “I’m thankful that I got through it the way that I did. I’m thankful that my faith grew so strongly. I’m thankful for a lot of things, but mostly I’m just thankful for God being in my life, because without that I’d have nothing to be thankful for.”

November 24th, 2015|Uncategorized|7 Comments