Things I think

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by Dan Amos

If you choose to read this, you will get a glimpse in to the odd ways my mind works. I doubt you’ll find anything profound, but when things happen in my life, I tend to relate them to something else. Often I find myself learning a lesson of application of the things I’ve learned over the years about what God has revealed to us. The little vignettes of my life become object lessons that I ought to apply.

I recently returned to getting up and getting ready to leave for the day before everyone else in the house gets up. After I get dressed, I stop all movement, control my breathing and whisper “bye.” This is so I can be sure I don’t drown out my whisper with rustling, but even more to hear the faint reply if there is one. I was told on Monday to not bother with the whisper, just kiss her and she’ll go back to sleep. But, doesn’t that sound like what we have to do to hear God talking to us? All the noise and busyness of life makes it difficult to distinguish His voice when he is trying to communicate His love for us.

My new job was advertised needing knowledge of a database that I was sure I was one of the best in the company with. When I started, I found out there were parts of it I didn’t know existed. I am learning to use that part of it, but I had no idea it was even there. It reminded me of Paul’s lament that the more mature he became in his faith, the more he considered himself the greatest of sinners. That thought has never made more sense to me than now.

Last Saturday, Mark McCullough and I were winning at Hand and Foot over Fran and Barb.  (There you go Mark, it’s on the Internet now, so it must be true!) I was laughing and joking and Barb commented that she could see the stress of the last year was not evident that night to which I quipped I didn’t realize I internalized so much! But, this was an eye-opening statement for me and it really hit home the next morning listening to Keith Ferrin speaking on Philippians. If I was filled with so much stress over our predicament, was I really conducting myself in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ?

Lastly, there were a number of young and young-ish (!) men walking around the icy parking lot Sunday morning. We were trying to meet people as they got out of their cars and show them the paths we knew from our experience would get them into the church safely. In some instances we would say, “Follow me, walk in my footsteps because it is safe.” Again, we heard the same message from Paul in Philippians who told them he knew the way to Christ and he was leading them surely to His safety. Just like in response to the Gospel, some in the parking lot listened, some did not, and some insisted on following their own path, dangerously skirting risky areas.

So those are a few snapshots in to my thought processes. Maybe God teaches you in similar ways. If you have kids and ever disciplined them and heard the words coming out of your mouth sounding exactly like what God would be telling you, then you know what I’m talking about.

Oh, and about the kiss … when you know the right thing to do because you’ve already been told, quit asking if you should do it. Just do it.

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Searching for heroes

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by Jeff Foerster

What are you searching for these days? Some seek the meaning of life, while others hunt for a lost set of keys. Internet searches, job searches, searching for a missing person, a mate, or lost hikers. Others search for fulfillment, happiness, peace, even a quiet place. Many search for the perfect gift, Waldo, Bigfoot, or proof of UFOs.

I recently finished a reading of the book of Genesis. While my eyes danced over the words, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, I searched for a noteworthy character, one I could maybe even call a hero. I read through creation and the fall of man in Adam and Eve and decided to move on. They had kids, and murder was invented. No lingering there.

Fast forward to Noah. Now there’s a cat with some guts, building a dry-docked wooden super-tanker by faith that God would send “rain,” whatever that was, to flood the earth. But even Noah, a great man of faith, is recorded as getting so drunk he passed out naked (Genesis 9). Man, why did that have to be in there?

Then came the tower of Babel and Sodom and Gomorrah.

Moving on I found Abraham. I know that Abraham is lauded a man of faith, yet I’ve had some trouble with the fact he made a concubine of his wife’s maid Hagar. How about Isaac and Rebekah, or Jacob, or Joseph. I searched but could not find someone with the clean record I sought.

Now, you may be shouting “Jesus!” at your screen right now, and I agree. He is the only one unblemished by sin and bad decisions. This leads me to where I find encouragement: in the perpetual sin of man. Well, almost. You see, I am in good company with these folks; I sin. If the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth works in, amongst and through these then maybe He has something stored up for me, another sinner, even yet. That is a very encouraging thought, indeed, and something well worth finding.

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On the Gospel

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by Brian Sharpe

New Years always brings about great time for reflection. Stan preached on a passage last Sunday where we could reflect on the message that Paul brought to the Corinthians. This message was described as a message “of first importance.” Paul brought the people of Corinth back to the Gospel, helping them remember the message of the Gospel. What I would ask you to reflect on is: who brought the Gospel to you?

We can read biographies or autobiographies of great missionaries like Hudson Taylor or Jim Elliot, but what we fail to remember is that we had missionaries bringing Jesus to us. Missionaries are people who are sent with a message to share. God has made us all missionaries. We need to be on mission sharing the message we were given. This message may have been brought to by your parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles. It may have been friends or a pastor. It doesn’t matter who it was, it just matters that the message of the Gospel was brought to you. It was given as a gift from God to you.

Is the message that was brought by Paul to Corinth … the message that was brought to you by the missionary who taught it to you … as important to you as it should be? Is it a message that you live by and share or just a message that has helped and changed you? It is important to recognize that God built his church by word of mouth. He did not build it through large programs. He built it by his people loving him so much that all they could do is share him with everyone they knew. This is what we want to be about at Elim. We want to be a body that is so in love with Jesus that all we can do is by word and deed share Jesus with everyone in our sphere of influence.

This leads me to a couple of closing questions:

  1. Who shared Jesus with you … and what would your life look like if they had kept their mouth shut?
  2. How did they share Jesus with you?
  3. When was the last time you shared the Gospel with someone with your words?
  4. Who is in your sphere of influence that you can share Jesus with?
  5. What is stopping you?

Answer these questions and share your answers with someone. Elim is here to help people know God, grow together in Christ and go and serve South Hill and beyond. Join us on this Gospel journey and share Jesus with everyone you know!

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Resolved

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by Stan Peterson

Along with the New Year comes a long line of resolutions that sound sooooo good and look so good on paper but often times these resolutions fall flat as we enter into the second month of the year. Why? because we are lazy, and we want results NOW! When we fail to see the desired outcome immediately we can often grow weary and impatient in doing that which is good for us and others (Gal. 6:9).

We run around and spend countless hours and money, both precious resources, upon that which is for a physical profit (1 Tim. 4:8) forsaking that which is eternal and of first importance (the Gospel:1 Cor. 15.3). The end result is having our landfills (the Earth) filled with Suzanne Sommer’s contraptions and Richard Simmon’s sweating to the oldies. The extra pound we gain never gets burned off and we carry it around until next year and the next pound. The crazy cycle repeats itself.

As the Church we want to share the Gospel, we even talk a good talk, but bottom line when the budget is looked at, and the church calendar is looked at, what comes to be our first importance? Let’s GET OFF this crazy cycle! But how do we become a people that are resolved to see God glorified in the gospel? This is a work of God, we must first receive the Gospel, live the Gospel and preach the Gospel. The Gospel is not something to be grasped but it grasps us, shapes us, and inspires us on to good works (sharing the gospel). I ask this year that we would be a body that is resolved to see God glorified in the Gospel. Please pray that we would be a people continually receiving, living and preaching the Gospel.

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