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By Brian Waple

In Matthew 23:25-26, Jesus declares, “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too” (NLT).

That’s a pretty strong indictment! How often have you read Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees and thought, “Man, I’m sure glad I’m not like them.” But how often do we read this and take an honest look at what motivates us? I’m certainly not saying that we are “filthy,” or “full of greed and indulgence.” However, I’m sure there are times when it’s our own human nature (rather than prayerful consideration and discernment) that drives a decision or particular course of action. I think part of what Jesus is saying is that before we allow ourselves to take a step that may have serious consequences, we need to take a moment and discern what is driving our decision. It might be good to ask the question, “How much of my human nature am I allowing to make the decision?”

In his book The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness, Tim Keller uses Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians to illustrate what Keller calls the transformed view of self, or “simply thinking of myself less.” He shows that it’s often our pride that drives what we do and how we react, and it is our pride that makes us believe we need to perform to some standard to be validated in the eyes of men. Pride will drive greed and self-indulgence; pride will drive intolerance; pride will drive us to be critical; pride will make us selfish; pride will drive our desire to be accepted. But by putting our pride aside (that is, thinking of ourselves less), we can discover what it means to be open to where the Spirit is leading and be willing to see what God may be showing us.

Keller says, “In Christianity, the moment we believe, God imputes Christ’s perfect performance to us as if it were our own, and adopts us into His family. In other words, God can say to us just as He once said to Christ, ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’” As believers, God is already well pleased with us, and doesn’t require any pride-motivated performance to gain His approval.

It is by thinking of ourselves less that we can truly be open to the needs of others. It is by laying aside our pride that we can be open and present to God’s leading. And, in turn, it is by trusting in God’s faithfulness that we can be assured that the inside of our cup is just as clean as the outside.

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Stained Glass and Asphalt

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By Dan Amos

For the next couple of weekends we’ll be gathering to take care of our parking lot. The details will be on the website and in the newsletter. We are resealing our lot because we want to be good stewards of the property which God has given us and which those who came before us worked and sacrificed to provide. We use our budget to support people, programs, and property; as the last “p,” property is often where we make first cuts to make ends meet. We’ve been planning the resealing for years and put it off for several of those years when the funds haven’t been available. Thankfully, the time to get this done is finally here!

We’re not known for having a magnificent facility, but our community noticed when we paved the previous gravel and puddle lot. We’re making some improvements and getting some work done that we’ve put off when times have been lean. We fixed our deck and dry rot issues with in-house labor and did it all for much less than if we had contracted it out. We have a solid deck and ramps enabling access for everyone due to the ingenuity and hard work of many people.

Every year we go through a painful exercise of creating a budget. We set a target based on giving patterns and then form a budget to accomplish ministry within that budget. There’s always more we want to do within that balance of people, programs, and property. Consistently, property gets cut to the bone and many things get left undone. But we’re in an unprecedented situation this year: we’ve had unprecedented giving. We want everyone to know our budget is spent prudently, and we try to do what we can while capitalizing on the precious, limited resources of our people’s time and energy.

Don’t expect to see stained glass in the next, well, probably ever. But, if we continue to be blessed with strong giving, we will take care of our people, support our programs (ministries), and make wise improvements to our facility to make Elim an oasis for renewal with God and one another.

Saturday, August 24, 8 a.m.
We will work on sealing cracks and holes and priming oil spots.

Sunday, September 1, after church
We’ll close off the parking lot and get it ready for Monday’s sealing. We’ll leave it closed off until Wednesday to give the sealant time to cure.

Monday, September 2, 8 a.m.
We need a couple dozen people to come out. Parking will be on the youth house lawn. We’d like to have three teams starting in three corners of the lot and working toward a center. We’ll have people on each team carrying buckets of the pouring material for those who will be pulling wide squeegees and spreading a thin coat over all of the lot.

Please sign up or let me know if you can help on those days or at some other time. Thank you!

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Faith-Sustaining Words

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By Beau Leaman

Hebrews 3:12-14
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.

Before Ashley and I joined Elim, we definitely had a strong desire to be involved in a church body. We had moved from Southern California to Washington trusting that God would move and open the doors we needed Him to open right away. Yet through the refining process we ended up not making Elim our home until about one year into our marriage. Our plans never worked out the way we wanted them to, but praise God that His plans are greater than ours.

I wanted to talk a little about the benefits of community and what it’s done in my life and my marriage. There are a couple of questions I’m going to run through, and hopefully it helps.

1) How has joining a community benefited your marriage?

Our marriage has been directly impacted by our joining Elim and being involved with the Body of Christ. It has impacted our marriage because we come freely to worship our God and have fellowship with His sons and daughters. It has benefited our marriage because we realize our depravity at an even greater level, thus urging a more powerful push to love our God with everything.

2) How has joining a community strengthened your relationship with your God?

Paul wanted so desperately to be with his Savior, but one thing that always caused him joy here on earth was the fellowship of the saints. I have found this to be true in my life as well as in the lives of so many of the brethren at Elim. Life is not meant to be alone. There have been countless times where truth has been spoken into my life, and it was not easy truth. This truth, humble and meek, has pointed me and the giver toward Christ. Your best friend speaks the most truth in your life, and for me those best friends have been several people within the Body of Christ.

Being in community is a powerful thing. Whether you’re single, soon to be wed, or married, there is a Spirit-driven calling that burns within our hearts to be with others. As Hebrews 3:12-14 points out, whether it involves encouragement, accountability, truth, confession, or prayer, the Body of Christ is here to edify, exhort, and promote endurance until the day of Jesus Christ.

What does community with a body of believers look like to you? Is it inconvenient? Would you rather be nowhere else? Does it ease conscience on a Sunday morning? Does it bring you joy? Does it edify? Does it harden your heart? Do you see a Trinitarian community played out? Does it build and encourage you? Does it involve selfish gain?

I have shared a piece of what the Body of Christ has accomplished in my life and the direct impact it has had with my God. What does the Body mean for you?

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The Nations in America

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By Stan Peterson

Recently I’ve been working in the UW district of Seattle on Brooklyn Avenue at an old apartment complex named Campus Apartments. I’m a fire sprinkler fitter installing a new system in the basement. As I work from unit to unit I get a thorough vista of all around the site. From that view last Wednesday I saw a young man walking down the alley with a friend smoking a cigarette, when all of a sudden I got an impression or unction to go to this young man and share the Gospel. I hesitated and uttered a quick prayer, something like, “Do You really want me to go to him?” I dropped my tool bags, ran up the stairs and out into the alleyway, and looked hard into the direction he was traveling, but it was way too late. I asked forgiveness for my slothfulness and asked God if this young man really needs to hear the message that He would bring him back to me.

Friday came and right around my usual break I was working in a different unit, in the front not the back. I happened to be working right at the window, and I caught a movement and looked — it was the same young man! In shock, I hesitated for a second (literally), then dropped my tool bags and ran out the front after this young man. What do I say? I thought. What do I do? I was in my grungy work clothes, and I just ran, blurting out “Excuse me, I am working in this building and I saw you pass the other day in the alley, you were smoking a cigarette and talking to your friend, was that you?” I confirmed that it indeed was the young man I saw the other day. I started in with saying that God has a message and it is urgent for him to hear this. His eyes got real big and his countenance changed and he leaned closer to understand what I was saying.

I found out that this young man is from Saudi Arabia and is here studying at UW. He is a Muslim who had never heard of Jesus Christ before that day! I explained to Him God is Creator, Man is fallen and in great need, and the gospel of Jesus Christ and the sacrificial atonement in layman’s terms, making sure that he understood what I was saying. He asked me if he could get my phone number, and, shocked, I gave it to him. As he pulled out his iPhone it was all in Arabic, and I watched him type my info into his phone. He said that he wanted to hear more and would call me. His name is Anas; please pray for God to continue to move in his life and for salvation for him and his family. (I have not heard from him yet.)

The next morning as I was walking into work I contemplated a frightening thought. Matthew 25.32 says that God will one day separate the people who are saved from the people who are not saved. Will I see the numbers of people I knew but did not share the Gospel with as we are being separated?

Do I mourn for my sin? Do I mourn for the sin of my brothers and sisters in Christ? Do I mourn for the sin of the lost, for the sin of those who if not confronted with grace and truth will be led to condemnation and eternal conscious punishment? These thoughts sobered me and awakened me to all I have seen in the week prior, whom I had passed by without a thought toward their eternal destiny. The students hurrying off to class; the parking police busy writing tickets; the alcoholic who sleeps just outside the alley; a lady who has lost her bird and frantically comes up to me while I am waiting one morning to be let inside of the locked complex; the apartment manager who asks me nicely to be sure to clean up after I am done; not to mention the very people working beside me, such as the two plumbers who are from England, two electricians from Ukraine and Bulgaria, the general contractor, and two carpenters. God has laid the nations before us right here in the United States of America.

May we be a people who intercede for ourselves, our brothers and sisters, and the nations.

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First Things First

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By Jeff Foerster

I make lists. I make grocery lists and I make itinerary lists. I make lists of books and lists of movies. I make lists when I am packing for a trip. I make lists of tasks to accomplish at my job and lists of things to accomplish around and outside my home.

I might go on to explain the personality idiosyncrasies within me which compel me to do such things, but I’d rather think I am not completely alone in this. Whether you organize your ideas on paper, enter them into electronic media, or assemble them within the confines of your brain, we each have some structure or method for sorting and prioritizing the dealings of the day.

I know a colleague who expressed her enjoyment of a small spurt of enthusiasm whenever she identified one item from her to do list next to which she could put a check mark. If you are a list-maker you might have even faced the temptation to write on paper a task you’ve already completed, so that you might revel in the satisfaction of placing a triumphant check mark beside it. Ever done that?

This got me to thinking. Now, I know to do lists and the like serve important functions. They keep me from wandering completely off track, or, at the very least, they bring me back to the station when I find myself in another room wondering what purpose I may have had in traveling there. They ensure that I make all my stops along the route I chose for the day. They serve as a place to start when I consider the next day’s journey. But might they be something more?

These lists place on paper our hearts. They reveal our true priorities. In this vein we can use them as a place for reflection: “What do I view as high priority?” “Do I focus my efforts toward those items which, if questioned, I would say are of greatest value (or are they left unattended)?” And, most importantly, “Is this the same list my Lord and Master would create for me to do, given today’s circumstances?”

When you become a Christian, i.e., accept Jesus as Lord and Master over your life, you give up your life that He may live in you. I am sure this is what Paul meant in Romans 12 when he instructed each of us to be a living sacrifice.

May your daily list be born out of the Word of God. Let your head and your heart, driven by the Holy Spirit, set your agenda. Let Him free you to have the desires of your heart; to live in a way that pleases your Lord and Master. You will not accomplish each item on your to do list. Act from the heart of God each day. For who can say, “Today I will do such and such and tomorrow will be spent on other things”? You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away (James 4). Make first things first.

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