Is Everything Enough?

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by Dan Amos

I’ve been thinking a lot about life and our American standard of living over the last couple of years. With our economy tanking, people losing jobs and homes, it has made me contemplate what God has promised us. He promises to love us, to forgive us, to make us his own, to give us eternal life, to remember our sins no more. He gave us his son who lived our life, never sinned, died in our place, paid our penalty, rose again, and reigns forever more. That’s everything! Is it enough, enough to be our source of joy?

We are not promised jobs, medical care, homes, family, health, two cars and a dog. In Matthew 5 Jesus sat his disciples down and gave them a counter cultural sermon. He told them to forget what they had been taught about anger and murder, adultery and divorce, keeping their word, revenge and gave them the heart attitude they should have instead.

Continuing into chapter 6 he taught them how to pray–simply and seeking God’s will. Then he continued into living his righteousness, for his kingdom and not here, and to not worry about what life brings. If he cares for the birds of the field, how much more does he care for us? After all, he sent his son to die in our place.

We reject the “health and wealth” doctrine some churches preach. That is, a life lived in Christ results in material blessings. Pastor Mark Driscoll lampoons that false teaching as thinking of God as a cosmic piñata that we can whack and goodies fall out. But, I’ve come to realize in some way I (maybe we?) have embraced the same doctrine, just with a lower threshold. In the last few months as I’ve seen my job become precarious and then canceled, people have encouraged me with the thought I will find another, better job. Well…maybe…maybe not.

But, if I find a job, even a better job, is God good? Yes. If I don’t find a better job and we lose our house and our stuff, is God good? Yes. God never changes and if he is good in the good times, he is good in the difficult times. God is good; he always has been and always will be. And if I have God, if I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, do I have everything that matters? Yes, I do. Is it enough? Is it enough for you, too?

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MONEY: How is the economy affecting Elim’s finances?

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by Martin Schlomer

The economy is on everyone’s mind these days. It seems like everyone is running for cover and trying to hang onto what they have, because they’re not sure if they will still have it next month. Jobs and discretionary income are scarcer than a deer in hunting season!

This raises the question, “How is Elim handling this financial storm?” The short answer is: better than most churches! However, we have experienced a 6.5% decrease in giving year-to-date over last year. At the end of September 2009 Elim’s income was $213,475. For the same period this year, our income was $199,353.

Have we had to reduce our ministry spending? While we are being very cautious, we have not had to deny any person or ministry the funding that is needed. While our spending is $8,000 under budget, we have spent $12,002 more than we have received so far this year. Gratefully, we have had sufficient reserves to cover these expenses.

Where do we go from here? First, as elders and staff, we will continue to proceed with financial caution. This means we will closely monitor and restrict discretionary spending. In addition, in two weeks the elders and Stewardship Team will propose a budget for 2011 that is approximately $18,000 less than the 2010 budget. This will bring it more into line with our present income reality and projections.

Second, I want to encourage all of us to a life of faith. As followers of Jesus, we are to eagerly embrace His teaching regarding handling wealth and money and use this teaching to shape our financial priorities and stewardship, rather than fear. Scripture calls us to pursue a path of responsible simplicity, not consumerism; joyful, radical generosity, not fear.

Scripture tells us of one group of churches who lived out this joyful and radical generosity in a way that stunned the apostle Paul …

And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.  For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5)

All I can say is, Wow!” This is a joyful and radical generosity that is a result of an encounter with Jesus! They loved Jesus, trusted in His provision and pressed forward with overflowing joy even though they were enduring extreme poverty!  Nothing—including fear—was going to rob them of the joy of helping out and doing their part.  No wonder they rocked Paul’s world! This is what happens when Jesus has our hearts … and our checkbooks.

In these difficult and uncertain times, how is your joyful generosity? Is it crippled by fear and uncertainty, or is empowered by the joyful freedom that comes from confident reliance on Christ? I encourage all of us to follow the example of the Macedonians and give ourselves first to the Lord and then to living in the freedom and joy found in God’s will for us.

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Two generations

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By Larry Short

The Young Adults Ministry is launching into a study of 1 and 2 Kings, following up on our recent study of 1 and 2 Chronicles. 1 Kings starts with King David, at 70 years old, burned out on his deathbed. David, the quintessential man’s man, began his ministry as the official King of Israel at 30 years of age. His life before then was lived in the school of hard knocks. His exploits were the stuff of legend.

Sociologists talk about a variety of “generational” benchmarks in our society. You have Generation X, Baby Boomers, the Y Generation, etc. But biblically, in any given lifespan you see basically two generations, and two key functions of people living successfully within those.

Generation 1

The first generation is 0 to 30 years, and it is marked by training and preparation. Jewish men were not considered fully “adults” until age 30. That is when they were permitted to enter their fulltime ministry vocation. Even Jesus was relatively obscure for the first 90% of his life (until age 30).

In most cases the first 30 years were considered preparation and training for a life of service, leadership and ministry. Even if they were married earlier, young men were apprenticed or mentored while in their late teens and early 20s. And 30 was a significant benchmark in their life. Jesus began his public ministry at 30.

Generation 2

While Gen. 6:3 caps 120 years as the span of mortal man’s days – a number which is still pretty much considered an upper limit despite significant advances in medical technology – elsewhere Scripture assigns “three score and 10” as a normal human lifespan. Our average lifespans today are slightly longer than that, but still, most consider those few years leading up to age 70 a good time for retirement!

So if the cradle to age 30 is considered training for life, what do those of us who are somewhere between 30 and 70 supposed to consider this second generation? I think this is a question that we struggle with. We divide it up: times when we are raising children, when we become empty nest and perhaps focus on our career, and when we wind our careers down and try and enjoy retirement.

But from a biblical perspective, this “second generation” of life is much simpler. It’s about service. People who have found what God has called them to do realize the key to a happy, purposeful and fulfilled second generation is service, ministry and leadership: whether of our families, our churches, our business/career colleagues, our communities, or our Lord. And hopefully all of the above!

Too many of us live our second generation simply for ourselves, accumulating things that we think we need to keep us happy and comfortable after we retire. There is nothing wrong with preparing for the future, but in light of a God who tells us “do not worry about what you will eat or drink, or what you will wear,” we must hold such things loosely, and seek to cling instead to the true priorities of service: how we can most effectively invest and use the gifts, talents, energies, time and abilities that God has given us to serve Him, and to serve those around us.

Darlene and I tell the Young Adults that if they are not yet 30, they are still in training for service. For most if not all of them, this training involves getting a real taste of what it is like to serve others. I am thankful that Elim is investing heavily in children, in youth, and in young adults, training them for service.

And when they turn 30, they get the boot! Well, not literally, but that is the point when they are expected to turn in their training wheels for something bigger, something riskier. They need to figure out what God has created them to do – and start doing it, in service of Him and others.

How about you?

Where do you fall? If you are older than 70, perhaps you can relax a bit. We still need your wisdom and mentorship, we need to hang around you so the fragrance of your life will rub off on ours. And hopefully it will be our privilege to serve you in the midst of your retirement and to celebrate the service accomplishments of your life!

If you are 30 to 70, like me, you should be in the middle of what God has called you to do, to serve Him and others. We may change gears many times during those years (God knows I have), but hopefully those changes will be with the goal of being a more effective instrument in His hands.

If you are under 30, you are the future of service! We will invest in you, and we will expect that you will be prayerfully considering how God wants you to apply yourself to the task at hand.

Take an example from David. At 70 years of age, he was burned out and exhausted by a life full of adventure as a friend of God, as a leader, a warrior, and a servant of others. He didn’t rust out, he burned out! And you and I are the richer for it today.

Are we leaving that kind of legacy for the next generation?

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God has the LAST WORD

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by Linda McCoy

I was thinking of the title of the devotionals, that we have the privilege of reading every week in the newsletter. It’s entitled THE LAST WORD.

I am reminded that whatever happens in my life, my Sovereign God has the LAST WORD. He has the final say. He is our Advocate. No matter what, He knows our hearts and He sees all. He has the answers for every one of our struggles in life. It all comes down to the One that loves us the most. Whether we plead, argue, debate or question the whys of life, He will always speak the Truth to us. Even at the times we won’t listen. We need to know, our Loving, Faithful Father, is using whatever He can, to teach us and reach us. Daily, in the School of Life He wants to lead and guide us. Are we willing to listen? We have to learn to trust Him…..for everything….always. Letting Him have the final say allows Him to be LORD of our lives.

Take a close look at John 1:1. The One who says He is THE WORD. You are holding in your hands the powerful, living Word of God. The living WORD of GOD. (Hebrews 4:12) In a world full of lies and deception, we are holding the manual of truth. God’s love letter to us. Share Gods Word , according to Phil. 4:15-16, to our crooked world and then shine like the stars in the darkness. The daily news is flooded with doom and gloom………offer HOPE. Follow Jesus’ example as we look at Luke 4:14-20.

Picture yourself there when THE WORD read the WORD. Imagine when He unrolled the old scroll of Isaiah and spoke the fresh message of good news. Can you imagine what it will be like when we hear Him speak? When He says our name? Speak His name to others. Share His words. Take Him at His Word and let Him have the final say.

Read His final inspired, written Words in the last chapter of Revelation. He wants us to know………“I’m coming back…..I AM the Alpha and Omega…….until then….

Be full of My Grace.”

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