Life unexpected

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by Bill Parsons

“I have more tests tomorrow, and I sure hope we find out something. I haven’t slept much, and neither has my wife, since the doctor first mentioned the word cancer.”

I hung up the phone after calling my uncle. The last time we talked, they were excited about some of the homes in eastern Washington they had contemplated buying so they could retire in a few years in a quiet, small town. Now, they are “weighing their options.” Their future is in the results of the next round of tests. This was not what they had planned.

The day after that phone call, I went to work to find out that a superintendent on a neighboring jobsite had collapsed and died at the feet of his crew. Nothing had alerted anyone that he was even sick. That was not what his family had planned.

With parents at the 80-year mark, we dread answering a ringing phone past 10 p.m., but our last midnight phone call was our overjoyed daughter: ”I’m engaged!” Although we were very happy, we had to change our plan to gradually remodel on our household budget. “We think we might be pregnant.” Our son and his wife didn’t plan on having a child for several years. Those phone calls suddenly changed the plan we had for our lives.

Most of us like to set goals, make plans, dream dreams. This is all good, but we know life can change unexpectedly in a moment. Some changes come as a shock, others are more gradual; some bring happiness, some bring sadness. So how do we prepare ourselves for these changes? Or should we?

The questions I wrestle with as a Christian involves placing the future in God’s hands.  How do I plan for the future, but not worry about it? It’s easy to say “Take it to the Lord in prayer,” “Spend time in the Word” “Let go, let God,” but I know when the money train came to a halt in my household, and it was impossible to pay the bills, it was an awful feeling to look  my family in the eye and admit I was not able to provide for them.

The way I grew out of financial troubles was obedience. I continually prayed to become clay in His hands. However He wanted to solve our problems, I agreed to abide by it. I climbed up in His lap and said, “Take care of me, Daddy, I completely trust You.” Some of the things we had to go through were difficult, some were painful, most were humbling.   But the more I put the future in His control, the more I understood what Paul meant: that our circumstances do not affect our relationship with Him.  (Phil. 4:11)

Jesus promised us trouble in this world (John 16:33), but we will be joint heirs with Him in the next (Rom. 8:17). We have learned the sooner we grow closer to Him, the sooner He can bless us with His total and loving care. I pray you will learn the lesson more quickly than I did and place your complete trust in Him today and every day.

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Mandated Airplane Material

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By Dan Amos

For the framers of our church constitution, the Sunday church bulletin had always been the primary means of written communication. The bulletin has also provided the working material for many an airplane folded during the worship service. Sometimes test flights even waited until after the church service was over.

Today, thanks to email and the website, we’ve scaled back the paper we print. I rarely take the printed material and almost never fold an airplane. For many, the printed material is no longer the primary means of communication. Some of the changes proposed to the constitution open our options for official communication. We will continue to use a variety of media as appropriate, but we intend to continue some printed materials, such as the letter sent out a week ago on our upcoming congregational meeting.

Constitutions are often referred to as living documents, meaning that they can be adjusted as new needs arise. However, changes to constitutions should not be taken lightly. Our church’s constitution is no different, and we have the added consideration of the biblical direction to be orderly in the church. This is firmly in mind as we propose changes to our church document. The changes are intended to honor the spirit and intention of the original document but also to update it to allow for present circumstances.

Below are the changes we are asking the membership to approve at the meeting on October 7. Each proposal is in a separate table and includes the section of the constitution to be updated, the current wording, and the proposed change. This is followed by the rationale or reason why we think the change is needed.

If you have questions, ask me, Brian Sharpe, or Brian Waple. We were the committee on the Elder Board that put together this proposal.

Article III, Section 3: Update voting rights for absentee ballots and establishment of quorum.
Current Proposed
All members, eighteen years of age or older   shall have equal voting rights. A: All members, eighteen years of age or older shall have equal voting rights. B: Members in good standing but unable to attend a duly called business meeting may vote by absentee ballot and be counted for purposes of establishing quorum. C: Members in good standing and absent due to prolonged geographical separation for reasons of work, school, or of a similar nature shall not be counted among the voting membership for the purpose of establishing quorum.
Rationale: Item A is currently the entire wording of section 3. We propose adding items B and C to acknowledge the nature of travel, work, and school makes it difficult to attend every business meeting and for those away for extended periods, absentee voting may not be practical because they have not been able to participate in the life of the body and are not familiar with the issues presented to the membership. If such persons can not or choose not to vote by absentee ballot then they would retain their full membership, but for the purposes of establishing quorum for the specific business meeting in question they would not be counted among the membership solely for that purpose.
Article III, Section 4B2): Broaden venue for required action
Current Proposed
If the accused refuses to appear, the Elder Board shall remove their name from the Church   Membership Roll. The Elder Board shall inform the Church of its decision at a duly called business meeting following the decision. If the accused refuses to appear, the Elder   Board shall remove their name from the Church Membership Roll. The Elder board shall inform the church of its decision at a duly called business meeting or devotional meeting following the decision.
Rationale: Adding “or devotional meeting” expands and clarifies the options for informing the membership and congregation.

 

Article IV, Section 6A2): Eliminate redundant paragraphs in the document
Current Proposed
They shall be elected for a two year term. By   special request of the Elder Board and with approval of the Nominating Committee, any officer may be nominated for election for two additional terms. The officer must then sit out one full year before being re elected. Delete subsection 2) and remove subsection 1)   as a subsection.
Rationale: Subsection 2) repeats the already stated term of office of all church officers in Article IV, Section 5C. With the removal of subsection 2), there is no longer a need to make the statement in subsection 1) as a subsection. It will now be the sole statement of Article IV, Section 6A.
Article V, Section 3B: Divide paragraph for   clarity and change medium for communication
Current Proposed
This Committee shall prepare and present at   the Annual Budget and Election Meeting a slate of candidates for the offices   to be filled. They shall also fill vacancies that occur during the year. The   names of the candidates shall be published in the Church bulletin and posted for two (2) consecutive Sundays. Preceding the Election Meeting, the candidates shall study the responsibilities and functions of their office. The Senior Pastor or appointed Elder shall oversee their education. 3B: This Committee shall prepare and present   at the Annual Budget and Election Meeting a slate of candidates for the offices to be filled. They shall also fill vacancies that occur during the year. 3C: The names of the candidates shall be   published and posted for two (2) consecutive Sundays. 3D: Preceding the Election Meeting, the candidates shall study the responsibilities and functions of their office. The Senior Pastor or appointed Elder shall oversee their education. 3E: Regular members of this Church may make   nominations only by filing with the Nominating Committee a written and signed nomination. The Nominating Committee shall consider persons so nominated by their qualifications.
Rationale: The proposed change breaks up a large paragraph with disparate provisions into separate paragraphs addressing single issues. In the proposed paragraph 3C, the words “in the Church bulletin” are removed. This simply allows for prevailing media and means of communication to be used to accomplish the same purpose. At the time the constitution was written, the weekly church bulletin was the primary means of communication. This has been replaced by an electronic weekly newsletter and other means.
Article VI, Section 3A: Broaden timing of annual budget and election meeting
Current Proposed
ANNUAL BUDGET AND ELECTION MEETING – This   meeting of the membership shall be held on the first Sunday of December to elect new officers and approve a budget for the coming year. ANNUAL BUDGET AND ELECTION MEETING – This meeting of the membership shall be held no later than the second Sunday of December to elect new officers and approve a budget for the coming year.
Rationale: The current designation of the first Sunday of December is not always a good date to have this meeting. The proposed wording honors the intent to complete and pass the budget prior to the start of the new year but allows   for flexibility in the timing of the meeting.
Article VI, Section 4A: Change medium for communication
Current Proposed
Announcement of all business meetings shall be made from the pulpit and printed in the Sunday bulletins two (2) Sundays prior to the meeting. Announcement of all business meetings shall be made from the pulpit and published for two (2) Sundays prior to the meeting.
Rationale: Removes “in the Sunday bulletins”
Article VI, Section 4G: Change documentation of absentee ballots
Current Proposed
Voting by proxy shall not be permitted. In the event members are not able to attend a business meeting, they may apply to the Elder Board for an absentee ballot. Upon submitting such ballot, voting members must sign an updated membership roster. It shall be the responsibility of the Elder Board Chairman to assure the confidentiality of absentee ballots. The   availability of absentee ballots shall be announced in accordance with rules for announcement of all business meetings as stated in Article VI. Section 4:A Voting by proxy shall not be permitted. In the event members are not able to attend a business meeting, they may apply to the Elder Board for an absentee ballot. Upon submitting an absentee ballot, the membership roster for the business   meeting shall indicate an absentee ballot has been received from that member. It shall be the responsibility of the Elder Board Chairman to assure the confidentiality of absentee ballots. The availability of absentee ballots shall be announced in accordance with rules for announcement of all business meetings as stated in Article VI. Section 4:A.
Rationale: Replaces the phrase “Upon submitting such ballot, voting members must sign an updated membership roster.” This allows for other forms of absentee ballot submission but maintains a record to prevent submission of duplicate ballots.
Article VII, Section 2: Change “properly” to “duly”.
Current Proposed
A three fourths (3/4) vote by secret ballot at a properly called business meeting shall be required for the purchase or sale of real estate. A quorum (50%) of the voting membership must be present. A three fourths (3/4) vote by secret ballot at a duly called business meeting shall be required for the purchase or sale of real estate. A quorum (50%) of the voting membership must be present.
Rationale: Maintains agreement in vocabulary throughout the document.
Article VIII, Section 3: Add “designated”
Current Proposed
Monies from the Benevolence Fund shall come   from contributions made at the communion services, and from any other monies which the Church may designate for the fund. The Elder Board shall not be required to make public disclosure of the specific disbursements from this fund, but an accounting will be kept by the Church Treasurer. Monies from the Benevolence Fund shall come   from designated contributions made at the communion services, and from any other monies which the Church may designate for the fund. The Elder Board shall not be required to make public disclosure of the specific disbursements from this fund, but an accounting will be kept by the Church Treasurer.
Rationale: Adds the word “designated” to distinguish from undesignated giving for the general fund.
Article IX, Section 3A:
Current Proposed
Each year the Board of Elders shall appoint   from the membership a Congregational Secretary. At the beginning of each year the Board of   Elders shall appoint from the membership a Congregational Secretary.
Rationale: Designates the timing of the appointment.
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Hiding in Plain Sight

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By Dan Amos

“I’m fine. How are you?” How often do I hide behind that response? Sometimes I give it because the truth is too complicated, it would take too long to give. Other times I just don’t feel like talking or the truth is something I don’t want to share with that person or at that time. I suppose I’m comfortable with that. The danger comes when I tell everyone “fine” and don’t let anyone know who I am.

Perpetual hiding flies in the face of our mission, vision, and purpose as a church body. Our church family is to be an oasis, a place outside of the facelessness of the world, a place where we can be safe to share who we are. It’s to be an oasis for renewal with God and one another. God has structured his Church in the context of community, interdependent on each other for growth and support. And we certainly can’t be about the one-anothers of Scripture if we hide who we are.

Our vision is to build disciples. Discipleship is a personal experience shared in community. There are teachers and leaders and there are disciples. Everyone in Elim should be learning from someone. Even our senior pastor has relationships where he lets people in to the grittiness of his life. Actually Pastor Martin is a tremendous example for me of a humble servant leader who battles well by being honest and open with trusted and appropriate people on the details and with all of us on the big picture of his life.

Lastly, our purpose is to Know God, Grow Together, and Go and Serve. We can’t grow together if we’re a bunch of superficial strangers and our service is hindered if we stay hidden to each other.

It is scary to let people in. And we have to learn to share in appropriate ways and appropriate settings. There are people I can and do let in and amazingly enough they don’t run screaming from the room or laugh at me or think less of me. I have a long ways to go, but an authentic relationship is worth so much more than a fake one. And that is one of the reasons why I love Elim so much. You are a gift from God to me.

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Change

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By Brian Waple

A number of years ago, I read a small book called “Who Moved My Cheese?” It dealt with how we handle and adjust to change. By its very nature, change can be scary, especially if we’re comfortable with how things have been. But, change allows us to see what can be and in some cases, what needs to be.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus preached change. Change in how we view and worship  God; change in our relationships with those around us; and change in how we see ourselves. His birth, life, death and resurrection and what that meant was a complete change from what the Jews had been taught to believe for years.

In one of his earliest and probably most extensive teachings to the Jewish followers, Jesus introduced ideas that completely changed how people thought. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:3); “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5); “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…” (Matt. 5:11-12); “You have heard that it was said ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matt. 5:43-44). Later, when faced with questions about the legality of healing on the Sabbath, Jesus changed the rules again: “Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath; will you not lay hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” (Matt. 12:11-12)

Just prior to his final days, Jesus introduced a change to the understanding of the Jewish law when asked about the greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40).

Finally, as he was breathing his last, Jesus changed how we deal with persecution. In spite of being falsely accused, unjustly tried, publicly humiliated, beaten, flogged, and forced to suffer the most inhuman horror imaginable on the cross, Jesus had this to say about his persecutors: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Jesus changed the landscape forever … we had been living under a covenant of law; now we are living within a covenant of grace.

Change can be scary. Often, it can be uncomfortable. But it has also been a part of what’s defined the church from the beginning. During the next few months, our church will be undergoing some changes. Your leadership is confident that the changes are for the good of the body. This is an exciting time for Elim and if you have any questions about the changes that are happening, please talk with Martin, Brian or one of the Elders.

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My Big Rock

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By Dan Amos

In the movie Pale Rider, the mysterious stranger on the pale horse interacts with a small community of miners being harassed by a wealthy land owner who wants to strip mine the area they are working. The miners are struggling but one of the leaders is convinced gold is under an enormous rock in the stream by their camp. When he has free time he swings his sledgehammer against that rock in an effort to eventually wear it down and get to that
gold.

I don’t remember much else about the movie, but it came to mind when thinking about a stump. That stump in the middle of Elim’s north parcel of land is my gigantic rock. Underneath it lies the gold of a useable piece of land–maybe even a place to park more cars for those who want to join Elim’s community.

We haven’t done anything with that piece of land up until now partly because we didn’t have a use for it and partly because making it useable is going to take a lot of work.  Some will say we need to bring in heavy equipment to do the work but because we don’t have the money to bring in heavy equipment, we haven’t done anything other than the clean up we did in May. But I am convinced there’s another alternative. We can chip away at that stump and make it go away with nothing more than some serious sweat and a few blisters.  I’ve already said what the metaphorical gold is but there’s something more.

I do remember that when the rock was split by a giant of the bad men, the community rallied to the pieces of the rock and everyone began working on it. They were energized and committed to the project.

My dream is the people who call Elim their church will see Elim as their home, that we all will own the oasis at Elim as our own, that each one of us will long to cultivate the gathering place for our family and for others who need a place to come and worship God, and that we will turn that passion into action. Not only can we clear that lot, we can bring on an associate pastor to oversee worship and other ministries.

Meanwhile, there’s a hole growing around the base of that stump.

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