Worshipping in the Rain

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by Martin Schlomer

We are all ready for summer! I have had opportunities to taste and see and now I want everything summer has to offer: motorcycle rides, BBQs, hiking, working on my “zebo”. However, we’re not there yet! There will be rain in our future for the next 3 months! This is not bad news! I recently read a devotional by John Piper that I will share with you today. It is called The Great Work of God: Rain. It is from his devotional Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life. As we go through the next 3 months, make time to get wet, ponder and worship our gracious God who blesses us with the rain.
The Great Work of God: Rain

A Thanksgiving Meditation on Job 5:8-10

Job 5:8-10 8 “As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, 9 who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number: 10 he gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields;

If you said to someone: “My God does great and unsearchable things; he does wonders without number,” and they responded, “Really? Like what?” would you say, “Like rain”? When I read these verses from Job recently, I felt, at first, the way I did on hearing some bad poetry that went something like this: “Let me suffer, let me die, just to win your hand; let me even climb a hill, or walk across the land.” Even? I would suffer and die to have your hand, and even walk across the land? As if walking across the land were more sacrificial than dying? This sounded to me like a joke.

But Job is not joking. “God does great and unsearchable things, wonders without number. He gives rain on the earth.” In Job’s mind rain really is one of the great, unsearchable wonders that God does. So when I read this a few weeks ago, I resolved not to treat it as meaningless pop musical lyrics. I decided to have a conversation with myself (which is what I mean by meditation).

Is rain a great and unsearchable wonder wrought by God? Picture yourself as a farmer in the Near East, far from any lake or stream. A few wells keep the family and animals supplied with water. But if the crops are to grow and the family is to be fed from month to month, water has to come from another source on the fields. From where?

Well, the sky. The sky? Water will come out of the clear blue sky? Well, not exactly. Water will have to be carried in the sky from the Mediterranean Sea over several hundred miles, and then be poured out on the fields from the sky. Carried? How much does it weigh? Well, if one inch of rain falls on one square mile of farmland during the night, that would be 2,323,200 cubic feet of water, which is 17,377,536 gallons, which is 144,735,360 pounds of water.

That’s heavy. So how does it get up in the sky and stay up there if it’s so heavy? Well, it gets up there by evaporation. Really? That’s a nice word. What’s it mean? It means that the water stops being water for a while so it can go up and not down. I see. Then how does it get down? Well, condensation happens. What’s that? The water starts becoming water again by gathering around little dust particles between .00001 and.0001 centimeters wide. That’s small.

What about the salt? Salt? Yes, the Mediterranean Sea is saltwater. That would kill the crops. What about the salt? Well, the salt has to be taken out. Oh. So the sky picks up millions of pound of water from the sea, takes out the salt, carries the water (or whatever it is, when it is not water) for three hundred miles, and then dumps it (now turned into water again on the farm?

Well, it doesn’t dump it. If it dumped millions of pounds of water on the farm, the wheat would be crushed. So the sky dribbles the millions of pounds of water down in little drops. And they have to be big enough to fall for one mile or so without evaporating, and small enough to keep from crushing the wheat stalks.

How do all these microscopic specks of water that weigh millions of pounds get heavy enough to fall (if that’s the way to ask the question)? Well, it’s called coalescence. What’s that? It means the specks of water start bumping into each other and join up and get bigger, and when they are big enough, they fall. Just like that? Well, not exactly, because they would just bounce off each other instead of joining up in there were no electric field present. What? Never mind. Take my word for it.

I think, instead, I will just take Job’s word for it. I still don’t see why drops ever get to the ground, because if they start falling as soon as they are heavier than air, they would be too small not to evaporate on the way down. But if they wait to come down, what holds them up till they are big enough not to evaporate? Yes, I am sure there’s a name for that too. But I am satisfied for now that, by any name, this is a great and unsearchable thing that God has done. I think I should be thankful –

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Pray For Others

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by Steve Kearns

1 Timothy 2:1 says “I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving thanks, be made for all men.”

Let no one ever say that he has nothing to pray about, or that he doesn’t know how to pray in God’s will, for it is always in the will of God to pray for other people! This is a gift that any Christian can give, even if he is penniless or bedridden. There are none so poor as to be unable to afford such a gift, nor can even the wealthiest give a finer gift.

Note just a few of the relevant commandments to believers: First we are to pray for all fellow Christians: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18.) We should also pray for the lost. Jesus commanded: “the harvest is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2).

As leaders at Elim we have a need for prayer in leading God’s flock! We are the first in the line of defense against attacks by satan. We need prayer for God’s wisdom and discernment. We are admonished to pray “for kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1 Timothy 2:2). And for the ministries of those who proclaim the Gospel, i.e. our pastors (Colossians 4:2-4).

As an Elder I have the great privilege of praying for the shepherding group that I am overseeing. All of those who call Elim home have Elders praying for them on a regular basis, if you have not been contacted by an Elder please contact Larry Short or myself so we can make sure everyone has an Elder Shepherd. At the start of each new Elder board year we select those we desire to have in our shepherding groups, we do not want to skip anyone so please contact us if you don’t know who your Elder Shepherd is.

I thank you all for your faith in us as leaders and again ask for your unceasing prayers in our ministries at Elim.

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Still friends

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I cannot tell you how many times I have stepped on a close friend’s toes and let the situation get way out of control. How great it is that we have an understanding friend like Jesus. He sets the perfect example. Let’s re-familiarize ourselves with John 15:9-17.

(vs 9)As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.( 10) If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Fathers commands and remain in His love.( 11) I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (12) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. ( 13) Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his FRIENDS. (14) You are my FRIENDS if you do what I command. (15) I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his masters business. Instead, I have called you FRIENDS, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (16) You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear-fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. (17) This is my command: Love each other.

This was pretty cool to me the first time I read this. Jesus is hanging out with all the disciples and things are going great. Jesus is teaching, His disciples are hanging on every word and loving every minute they get to spend with Jesus. If you’ll notice, Jesus refers to His disciples as FRIENDS 3 times. Yeah, they’re all friends. They support each other, they care for each other, they love each other.They’ve got each others’ backs.

Now, let’s fast forward. Jesus has been betrayed by one of His own, Judas. His friend Peter, has denied Him three times, Thomas now doubts Him and the others ran away when things got tough. Jesus is sentenced to death on a cross and none of His so called friends does a thing about it. Jesus is crucified on the cross and He dies. Now days later the disciples are all upset and confused. They have nothing to do, no teacher to learn from and follow. So, they go back to doing what they know best….Fish. Lets pickup the story in John 21. (1)Afterward Jesus appeared again to His disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: (2) Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. (3) “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. (4) Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. (5) He called to them, “FRIENDS, haven’t you any fish?” John 21:1-5

Um, did you catch that? The men that supposedly knew Jesus so well and supported Him didn’t even recognize Him. They have now come face to face with the risen Savior. Awkward! Remember what happened … Peter denied Him, Thomas doubted Him, and all the rest faded into the background when things got tough. If I was one of those disciples, I would have hung my head in shame for not defending Jesus or sticking close by Him. But, after all they did, Jesus calls out to them and addresses them as FRIENDS. He still calls them His FRIENDS because He loves them so much. . Wow! How powerful is that? No matter what we have ever done to Jesus, His love for us will never change. He is always there to forgive and to be by our side. He is our forever FRIEND. I want to be that kind of FRIEND. What a FRIEND we truly have in Jesus.

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We need to hear from you!

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By Larry Short

A group of Elim ministry leaders has been meeting, facilitated by Cindy Waple, with the goal of creating strategic ministry plans for Elim for the next 1, 3, and 5 years. In order to create these plans, we need to conduct a “SWOT” (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of Elim and its programs. In order to conduct this SWOT Analysis, starting tomorrow (February 6) we will begin a two-phase survey of our friends and members, designed to help us gauge Elim’s current health and ministry effectiveness.

The first phase is a survey instrument called “Reveal,” which has been used recently by thousands of churches to help evaluate their spiritual health and ministry functions. Phase 2, which will launch a few weeks after phase 1 is completed, will be a customized survey instrument (“SurveyMonkey”) which we are designing to fill gaps for specific information not covered in the Reveal survey, helping us to understand needs and opportunities more relevant to our specific programs.

Believe me when I say we understand that everyone is very busy, and I know how challenging it is to take time out of the day to complete an online survey! But your participation in this process will be incredibly valuable to this planning team as we seek to prayerfully prioritize our ministry efforts and resources. We need a minimum of 60% of our friends and members to complete both instruments in order for them to be statistically valid and provide useful information … but we would like everyone to help us by completing both phases. Therefore we ask you to please set aside the time required to complete both surveys, the first one (Reveal), within the next two weeks; and the second (SurveyMonkey) a few weeks later.

If we have your email address, you will receive a link by email to each survey. (If we do not have your e-mail address, it is very important that you email it to our church office at office@elimefc.org.)

Note that we are asking all members of your household who attend Elim and are 18 years of age, or older, to each take this survey on their own.

If you do not have email or internet access, we still encourage you to complete the survey. We will have computers set up at church on February 7, 14, and 21, during both services, for you to take the survey. You can either take the survey during first service and attend second, or you can take the survey during second service and attend first. Our desire is to have all people who call Elim their church home take this survey. If these times don’t work for you please call the church office and we will set up a time that does work. (Phase 1 of this survey will take roughly 25-35 minutes to complete.)

Let me close with a word about why we are doing this. In last week’s The Last Word, Pastor Martin wrote describing the job responsibilities of elders. One of those key responsibilities is “guarding the vision,” which requires us as leaders to discern what God’s vision is for the Body of believers here at Elim, and to assess accurately where we are at in achieving that vision. As elders we take this responsibility very seriously, and eagerly look forward to receiving the information that will be provided by this two-phase survey, which will help us as we seek to be responsive to your needs and to the Lord’s calling on this Body.

Also, please be praying for us (the staff and elders, and the strategic planning team) and for our Body as we go through this process, that God would use it to help us discern accurately what He is doing and desires to do in our midst.

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