Do They Know?

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By Tom Chase

This past month a man whom I have done engineering work for over the years passed away. After the initial shock of his passing (he was a man about my age, a young man right?), the first questions that came to my mind were, “Did he know Christ?” and, “What is his eternal destination?” I asked around our office to others who worked with him, others who had opportunity to know the answer to these questions, perhaps who had been bolder than me. No one seemed to know for sure. Yes, he had been a “nice” guy … very friendly … but what about Christ in his life? I went to his memorial service hoping to find out that yes he knew Christ, but sadly, no … no indication of that. There was simply the speaking of a life well lived and hopeful wishing about the future. I went home rather sad.

“Do They Know” by Steven Curtis Chapman

I’m one of the chosen few
God chose to carry to
A hopeless and dying world
Good News
I’m a disciple of
A caring Father’s love
A light to the world
To show them the way.

Do they know
Can they see
Jesus lives in me
Do they know
Can they see
Jesus lives in me

A vacant house comes alive
When somebody moves inside
A light in the window means somebody’s home
I say Jesus lives in me
But can everybody see
The light of His love that shines in my heart

Do they know
Can they see
Jesus lives in me
Do they know
Can they see
Jesus lives in me

A cloud of witnesses surrounds us
Who long to share what we’ve received
Tell me where will they see Jesus
If not in you and me.

So we must let them know
Let them see Jesus lives in you and me
Let them know, let them see
He is all they need
Jesus is all we need.

I am challenged by all this. Peter’s call to the church, found in 1 Peter 3:15-16, resonates with me:

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

There is so much, here but one thing that stands out to me is that people will ask. They will ask about the hope we have as believers. If they are not asking, I have to ask, “Why?” Perhaps the answer lies in the context. The context of this call to be ready (and being asked) is a life lived in a different way (see below):

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’

“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.'”

(1 Peter 3:8-14)

My prayer for me is that the Gospel will continue; that in a fresh, new way it would change who I am so I can live in such a way that people will ask; and that in the days, weeks, months, and even years ahead I will invest the time necessary to better answer the questions people will have about the nature and character of the God whom I serve.

May it be so!

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How Am I to Be Thankful?

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By Brian Waple

As we’re preparing for Thanksgiving, I’ve been thinking about the events of the past week and asking “God, how am I to be thankful?” I’m flying back to Virginia this week because of a serious concern within my own family. There are serious concerns within the Elim family, the nation, and the world that cause us to pause and ask, “How can I be thankful when all of these things are happening?”

I read a post from Katie Kierum the other day, part of which read: “I’m beginning to realize that the purest kind of worship we can experience is through brokenness.” Our brokenness. The brokenness of those we love and care about. It’s through brokenness that we really become aware of just how fragile we are, and how utterly dependent we are on God. And He remains faithful towards us, in spite of us. This alone is cause enough for us to be thankful.

So why does He remain faithful towards us? We certainly don’t deserve it. And it’s certainly not because of anything we’ve done. I think the best answer lies in Scripture. In Romans 5:8 — “but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In Ephesians 2:4-6 — “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” And finally, in John 3:16 — “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

God enfolds us in His arms, broken and pitiful as we are, because He loves us. His kindness and blessings abound. Regardless of what is happening, God loves us and His love for us is everlasting.

So, in spite of everything that is happening to us and around us, in spite of our failings and brokenness, even if we fail to be faithful, God still loves us. And that is how we are to be thankful.

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Take It for Granite

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By Dan Amos

So on Sunday, we as a body extended a call to Nate to come and be an associate pastor at Elim. It would be nice to pause and take a deep breath and relax, but there’s too much to do. Maybe one of the most important things for me is to put my time into relationships.

Nate is going to help us out in some time-intensive and skill-required areas, namely children’s ministry and worship. But people don’t stay connected by either one of those things. They may leave if those things are absent, but what draws people in and keeps them connected is that “renewal with God and one another.”

Honestly, I haven’t done really well at the “one anothers” lately. I’ve been busy. I needed to do such and such. Blah, blah, blah. What I really need to do is connect. No one can connect with everyone, but everyone has to connect with someone. It’s a lonely world out there and we were not created to be alone.

And connection — relationship — doesn’t happen by accident. It’s an intentional act that says you are important to me and I care. We often take our relationships for granted. I need to take them for granite: like granite in a foundation, relationships need to be foundational in my life. It starts with God and flows out through other people.

I’m looking forward to the Champneys family moving here, potentially before the first of the year. When they get here I want to welcome them in to a healthy body full of vibrant, caring relationships.

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Nate Champneys Answers Important Questions!

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By Senior Pastor Martin Schlomer and Nate Champneys

This Sunday is a very important day in the life of Elim EFC. By now, everyone has heard that we are candidating Nate Champneys for the position of Associate Pastor. This full-time position will specialize in leading the Worship Arts and Children’s Ministries. While we have been discussing this position for more than three months, people continue to ask great questions. On Tuesday, a member asked some general questions regarding Nate’s background and training. In an effort to do our best at getting information out to the congregation, this edition of the Last Word is dedicated to allowing Nate to answer these specific questions. In addition, Nate’s resume will be posted on the Elim’s website.

1) Are you in complete agreement with Elim’s doctrinal statement? If not, are there any areas of reservation? I am in complete agreement. I started attending Elim when I was 16 years old. I learned a lot of my basic doctrine from Elim’s youth ministry program. I then attended New Tribes Bible Institute (NTBI), and their doctrinal statement is very similar to the Evangelical Free Church doctrinal statement.

2) How did you come to faith in Christ and why do you want to serve in full-time ministry? God captured my heart at a very young age. I was just 6 when I understood my need for Him and made the decision to trust Jesus to forgive my sin. My dad prayed with me every night when I was young and on a particular night he and I had a very important conversation. He explained to me the problem of sin, who Jesus was, and how He died to pay for my sin. The Gospel is simple, and at 6, I fully understood it. Since that moment I always wanted to be in ministry.

If you look at my drawings as a child, it was of airplanes, but on the side of every airplane was the name “Mission Aviation Fellowship.” I always dreamed about being a missionary pilot. As I grew into a teen I thought I might pursue youth ministry. Since I wasn’t sure, Brian Sharpe recommended I go to NTBI.

I graduated NTBI in 2006, returned home to Washington and started serving at Elim. At NTBI I was surrounded by people who were passionate about the Gospel, yet this was in stark contrast to much of the American church. Because of this, I graduated NTBI with a very negative view of the Church. However, over the next five years at Elim, God moved in my heart and gave me a desire to serve His Church. He developed my gifts with worship and youth ministry and my heart for His Church, but as a family we were not yet ready to be in full-time ministry. God used circumstances with my career in insurance to work in the hearts of both my wife and I to bring us into full-time ministry.  It has been a long road, but both Beck and I can see how God prepared us for ministry. We both have a desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the Church and the un-churched.

3) In your walk with God, what do you do to maintain spiritual vitality and health? As far as an official “quiet time,” I probably average four to five times a week of focused time with God. In addition there are other times during the week when, as I plan my sets, I have some of my most meaningful times with God. Worship is a safe and rejuvenating place for me.

During my quiet times I usually go to the park or just park my car somewhere. Because of my ADD, I have a hard time staying focused if I am anywhere near distractions. I have found my car to be the best place to focus. I also spend time with God after everyone is in bed so the distractions are minimal. Lastly, I listen to a lot of sermons. I have never been a big reader and learn a lot more from the spoken word. I listen to Mark Driscoll, Francis Chan, and Greg Kockl, to name a few.

4) Where did you receive your formal ministry training? Did your education provide specific training in the ministry areas of worship and children?  Do you have any additional experience that would qualify you for the potential ministry responsibilities at Elim? I have an Associate of Arts degree from Pierce College and an Associate of Arts degree in Biblical Studies from New Tribes Bible Institute. These degrees are not specific to worship and children. However, my biblical training gave me a good foundation in theology and hermeneutical study of the Scripture.

Regarding preparations for leading children’s ministry, most of my “education and training” has been hands-on. I was in AWANA from kindergarten to sixth grade. AWANA taught me the discipline of memorizing Scripture. Starting when I was 11, every summer my dad took me on a mission trip to Utah to do street evangelism to Mormons. This pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped establish an understanding of my own faith. When I was in junior high I attended Child Evangelism Fellowship’s “Christian Youth in Action” camp and learned how to teach 5-Day Clubs, which I continued to do throughout high school.

While serving in Munster I was the primary creator/ instigator of our new children’s church ministry that is just about to kick off. I saw the need for children’s ministry during the sermon and started meeting with other churches’ children’s leaders to come up with the foundation for this ministry. I then handed off my “brainchild” to the ministry leaders who are now running with it.

Regarding preparations for leading worship ministry, I started leading worship in high school with the youth band at Elim. Brian Sharpe fostered that gift throughout high school and had me lead worship for youth group. As I grew into an adult I continued to grow this gift. I started leading more often for church services and started leading the junior high program. When “The Gathering” service started at Elim, I was a primary leader.

My point in all of this is not to brag about myself but to help you understand that although I have only held a position in full-time ministry for one and a half years, I have been in ministry my whole life. Proverbs 16:9 says, “a man plans his course but Lord establishes his steps.” I look back at my life and I see that as I have sought Him, he has been preparing me to lead His Church.

5) Can you organize and lead choirs, bands, and small music groups? My primary experience is in developing and leading worship teams and developing musicians.

6) What experience do you have in training worship ministry staff and children’s ministry staff? As a worship leader, there are a lot of opportunities to train volunteers in music and worship. My first such experience was at Elim. I started working with some junior high students and teaching them how to play worship music. Those students are still leading today.

In the children’s area of ministry, my experience has focused on recruiting and training junior high leadership.

7) After you returned from New Tribes Bible Institute, in what ministry areas did you serve at Elim? I served as a worship leader and as a junior high youth leader. When the planning team was put together for “The Gathering” service, I served on this team and was also in charge of planning and leading worship. I have also preached and been involved with community group and men’s ministry.

8) In your current ministry position, what are your responsibilities? When I was hired at Munster Church, they had never had a full-time worship leader before. They had no idea what my position would turn into. My primary job is to plan and lead services, but because I am gifted technologically I have also been in charge of all video projection, sound, and technology. I replaced the entire sound system, the phone system, and church network.

My secondary role is to lead the junior high program and raise up and train junior high leaders. When I got to Munster, we had about five students total and usually three would show up. After seven months, I started making some strategic changes. We went from five total students to 25 total students.

9) Why are you interested in leaving after one year? I wouldn’t say that I am “interested in leaving” as that implies that I sought out leaving. When Becky and I left Washington three years ago, we imagined that we would come back after three years or so. We never planned on staying in Chicago. However, when God called us to leave American Income Life Insurance Company and pursue ministry we realized that our original timetable might not be realistic, and I came to the realization that we might never return to Washington.

When Elim decided to create this position, I never imagined being considered. I don’t think that my wife and I would consider leaving Munster Church under any other circumstance than this. We have always considered Elim to be our “home church.” Even in conversations with people in Indiana, we referred to Elim as our “home church.” I am absolutely blessed to have served at Munster and harbor no ill will against them. They too are happy to have served with me and wish me the best in my ministry.

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Red or Blue?

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By Jeff Foerster

Is the decision crystal clear? As easy as pie? Written in black-and-white? Some have stated that the differences between our two major presidential candidates are vibrant and would result in very different consequences, requiring sober judgment on Election Day. Others have said that the two major players on the electoral stage are strikingly similar; that they are merely the latest cosmetic face on the two parties which have brought us to the precipice at which we now stand.

My purpose here is not to provide an endorsement in this debate. You may believe that this election is the most significant one in modern times. Or, you may see it as indistinguishable from any other. Like you, I have opinions. Like you, I want to make an informed decision. Like you (I hope), I will be voting.

As the curtain is drawn on this election cycle, I look to my hope. I love this country and the ideals of freedom, opportunity, and justice upon which it was founded. I’d like to see these lived out by our citizens and by our leaders. I desire to see prosperity of all kinds blanket our nation. But this is not my hope.

I will not give my hope to man who cannot return it fulfilled.

My mother has often told me, “Remember, God is in control.” On many occasions has she repeated these words, a balm to my mind and heart in these uncertain times. Truly, no matter the outcome of this election our Hope is still secure. Join me in approaching this Election Day with neither anxiety nor anticipation, but with understanding and faith.

In this environment of shifting political sands, I need a Rock on which to stand.

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