Strangely Dim

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By Tom Chase

Have you ever felt overwhelmed, burdened, defeated, or just plain stressed out by all life has to throw your way? Hard times, difficulties, and troubles hit us, and I guess we shouldn’t be surprised since God tells us “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33), but somehow I still get blindsided. All these difficulties, hard times, and troubles in life can show up on our doorsteps for a host of reasons. Sometimes it is us succumbing to our sinful nature, sometimes it’s making poor choices, sometimes it’s just life, and still other times I guess we simply have no idea why. We can get a small glimpse of God’s purpose from James: “…because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:3). Somehow, I simply don’t achieve “pure joy” at the arrival of hard times. Lord, help me in that!

It’s funny. I can get stressed on both sides of the same issue. Here’s what I mean: it was not that long ago I was earnestly praying, hoping to get enough work to pay my employees and pay the salary for my partner and myself. While I felt mostly at peace about the situation, I found it real easy to get stressed out about the whole thing. Now a relatively short time later, God has answered those prayers in a big way, we have so much work that I can get stressed out just trying to figure out how to get it all done—working long hours, hoping to make all the deadlines. How is that possible?

As I write this article, my heart goes out to all of you who are experiencing hard times, who are hurting, who feel that life has hit really hard, whether by broken dreams, health issues, struggling relationships, the wrong amount of work, financial difficulties, housing needs, or the loss of someone. So what are we to do? I understand that what I am about to suggest is somewhat simplistic in that there is much for us to consider, but there is hope! The weight of what we carry can at times be helped by changing our perspective to an eternal one.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

If this is all there is, then life would be pretty hopeless. But this is not all there is. Those in Christ Jesus have an infinite amount of time, an eternity in His presence, where there is joy evermore (yeah!).

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)

This time on earth, though extremely limited in the light of eternity, is our time to live life as a response to God. We (especially I) need to be reminded of the truth of who He is and all He has done. I guess this is how Paul can speak of our troubles as “light and momentary.” Now that is a change of perspective.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

I know that this change in perspective does not make all our troubles disappear. But our focus on eternal things and the eternal One diminishes the havoc that all these concerns create in our life. The song “Strangely Dim” by Francesca Battistelli has been encouraging me to adjust my perspective to the eternal:

I’m gonna fix my eyes on all that You are
‘Til every doubt I feel
Deep in my heart
Grows strangely dim
Let all my worries fade
And fall to the ground
I’m gonna seek Your face
And not look around
‘Til the place I’m in
Grows strangely, strangely, strangely dim.

(for more …)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjmZ2v0niCI

Keep looking up!

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Limits

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By Jeff Foerster

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise God for your limitations. What?! Yes, I said that. Sunny days and puppies, candy and rainbows, vacations and honeymoons; all are easy to praise God for.

When the livin’ is easy, the praises are plentiful. But limitations? Isn’t it enough to simply endure them without swearing? What limitations are you facing today? Are you limited by a lack of money, making you unable to retire, purchase a house, or meet monthly expenses? Do you have physical limitations that keep you from being or doing what you greatly desire? Is your limitation time, frustrating you because you’re unable to accomplish the goals your eyes can see but your hands can’t quite reach? Do the limits before you involve relationships with others?

My limitations create in me a need. No matter how much I am able, it is not enough. Neither can my needs be satisfied by others. Two choices emerge: hopelessness or dependence. Hopelessness is the reward of self-determination. Dependence is the route to peace.

Wherever and whenever you find limits, opportunity has arisen. Choice lies before you. The most difficult and unnatural of these choices for me is also the most beneficial: praising God. I would often rather complain or sulk. I would rather seethe or look for someone to blame, or at least displace my anger toward someone else. Yet none of these things will help, save praising God.

How do we praise Him in such times? We must acknowledge that our circumstances do not control our mindset. We have the choice; we can train our thoughts upon that which ails us or we can place them upon Him who heals us. Doing so will not make difficulties disappear, but it will put them in perspective. Scripture tells us to, “… set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2) When I cast my gaze upward, I begin to loosen my grip on this life. My limitations begin to fade from view.

A fellow once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” I agree. For in knowing my own limitations I can truly appreciate the God who has none.

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Father’s Day

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By Brian Waple

This coming Sunday is Father’s Day. It is a day on which we honor our fathers and show them how much they mean to us. How should we celebrate our fathers on this special day? In my family, we get together and share a meal, or we’ll go do something we haven’t done before (one year, Cindy pirated me away to Seattle, where we met our sons and went on an Argosy cruise). In whatever we do, it’s the time together that makes it special and memorable for me, time spent in familial fellowship.

We are told that Jesus often spent time in familial fellowship with his Father. In Luke 6:12, we read, “In these days He went out to the mountain to pray, and all night He continued in prayer to God.” Because He gave so much to those around Him, Jesus needed these times alone with His Father to recharge Himself, to draw strength for the road that lay ahead. In John 17 (the High Priestly Prayer), we read,

“I do not ask for these only [referring to His disciples] but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent me. The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved me.”

In this prayer we see the intimate relationship Jesus shared with His Father, and how He was passing on that very same relationship to His believers, both then and now.

So this Father’s Day remember to celebrate our Heavenly Father, for it is through Him that we draw strength for our own unique journeys. And it is through Him that we enter into the loving relationship we were always meant for—being one with the Father.

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Unprecedented

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By Dan Amos

Last year we embarked on a strategic adventure. As a body, we brought on a
third full-time staff member. We stepped out in faith that the budget would
be met and through your faithful giving and the Lord’s blessing we are
seeing a small abundance that has many praising God on a regular basis. In
nineteen years, I can’t recall a time such as this. We are working on a
strategic response.

Budget line items for grounds and facilities have been routinely underfunded,
and now we have a bit of money in the bank beyond our operating reserve.
Even though some really good deals have presented themselves recently, we
chose not to go after them because they weren’t strategic. This implies a
firmer set of strategic goals than what we had at the time, but we are
working on it.

We’ve begun collecting requirements from leaders and are putting together a
plan. We’re forming a strategic goals team for this reason. We are also
recruiting a grounds team and a facilities team.

The grounds team will look at what needs to be done for lawns and plants,
sprinklers and tools. The facilities team will look at the maintenance
needs of our buildings and property. With lists of what needs to be done we
can prioritize, budget and schedule. These teams will coordinate with the
strategic goals team to make sure we maximize our efforts.

The people we need for the grounds and facilities team need to love Elim and
want to see it thrive for God’s glory. Team members won’t be expected to be
doing the work any more than now, but we need people with an eye for what
needs to be done as well as some people with expertise in various areas.
Elim’s people are great at responding to the call when work needs to be done.
Now we need to identify the work to be done.

If you were here on Sunday and heard the message on our Shepherd and His sheep,
you can see that we need some lead sheep to make the first move. If that’s you,
please contact me and we’ll get to work. Thank you!

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