PREPARING TO GIVE PRAISE

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By Martin Schlomer

Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done. Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts. Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He pronounced. Psalm 105:1-5

This week we enter the holiday season! On Sunday, we will celebrate Thanksgiving as a community. The Miles family will begin by sharing how God has grown them through Jacoby’s accident. Following this, you will be given the same opportunity.

As you celebrate this Thursday and as we prepare to come together this Sunday, consider the following questions:

  • How are you thankful for how God has grown you as a disciple this past year?
  • Whom has God used to encourage and/or challenge you this past year, and for whom you are thankful?

“Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.” A.W. Tozer

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Doers of the Word

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By Beau Leaman

When I think of being doers of the Word I am reminded of Ephesians 2:8-9. “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works lest anyone should boast.” I am reminded of a hero in the faith when pondering this. His name was George Mueller, and you can read about his amazing life below:

“George Mueller was a native German who lived to see most of the 19th century. He was a father, husband, and a preacher. He was a man revered by many. At his funeral tens of thousands of people left their work places, left their houses, and left their orphanages to pay their respects. George Mueller opened 5 large orphan houses and cared for 10,204 orphans in his lifetime. One of the great effects of Mueller’s ministry was to inspire others so that fifty years after Mr. Mueller began his work, at least one hundred thousand orphans were cared for in England alone. He did all this while he was preaching three times a week from 1830 to 1898, at least 10,000 times. And when he turned 70 he fulfilled a life-long dream of missionary work for the next 17 years until he was 87. He traveled to 42 countries, preaching on average of once a day, and addressing some three million people. He had read his Bible from end to end almost 200 times. He had prayed in millions of dollars (in today’s currency) for the orphans and never asked anyone directly for money. He never took a salary in the last 68 years of his ministry, but trusted God to put in people’s hearts to send him what he needed. He never took out a loan or went into debt.” George Mueller, A Narrative of Some of the Lord’s Dealings with George Muller

George Mueller was a humble man who did not take the back seat when living out the Gospel. He not only trusted God to supply all things, but he was also a meek man while doing it. 1 Corinthians 12:9 says, “to another faith by the same Spirit.” George Mueller thought of himself not as someone who had a gift of faith, but rather as one having the grace of faith. I believe there is a stark difference between the two, and the main point is intriguing. God gave George Mueller the ability to wait on him. God gave him the ability to depend on Him. George Mueller praised God for the mercy he had been given to trust God for everything in his life. George Mueller never asked for donations, but rather prayed that people would be led in their hearts to give and be transformed through that giving.

George Mueller lived a life not only as a hearer of the word, but as a doer of the word as well. I have been challenged this week to ask God to supply all my needs. I often times find myself just hearing the gospel, but never having heart transformation. God desires a relationship with us, and he desires our heart. May God give us the strength as a body of believers to be likeminded, acknowledging that the ability to trust Him is a gift, something we have neither achieved nor earned.

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Molar or Pinkie Toe?

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By Nate Champneys

I was driving down the street the other day following another car, and I watched the driver roll down their window and throw a bag of fast food trash out in the street. It really bothered me. But I had to ask the question, “Why does this bother me the way it does?” The reality is that this person’s littering doesn’t really affect me when it comes to my day-to-day life. Technically, it’s probably none of my business. But the thought that ran through my head was, “Why would you want to deface your own street?” To me, the problem goes much deeper than some litter on the ground. When I see graffiti along the side of the road, I view it as a much deeper problem than an ugly (or sometimes beautiful) mark on a fence or building. Somewhere along the way, many of us stopped thinking of America as our country and started thinking of it as “someone else’s” country, and it has created many problems. Where there is no ownership in something, there is no reason for a person to take pride in that thing, and therefore there is no reason to care for that thing. It is a sad reality.

The problem is that this very same attitude has also crept into the church. As a pastor, I have a front-row seat to observe this phenomenon. I see it when something is broken or run-down and someone asks, “When is somebody going to fix that ______?” Or somebody says, “We need to buy a new ______. This one is really run-down.” Or, “The chairs in the sanctuary are so dirty, someone really ought to clean them.” But many times we get sucked into this way of thinking. If your bedroom is a mess, you never make the comment, “Somebody needs to clean this up.” You understand that it’s your bedroom and so it’s your problem. Now don’t get me wrong, there are so many people who step up without being asked and take ownership. But somewhere along the way, many people have started to view the church as, “The church I attend,” instead of viewing it as, “My church home.”

The reality is that no one person owns our building. No one person is in charge. We are a “congregation-run church.” If you are a member, you are a part owner. The grounds outside: it’s your lawn. The kitchen sink inside: it’s your sink. But it goes further. The Wednesday night Awana program: it’s your program. The women’s Bible study: it’s your study. The community group you attend: it’s not the community group you attend, it’s your community group. Elim is your church. If it’s not yours, whose is it? Is it Pastor Martin’s? Mine? Brian’s? Ultimately, it is Jesus’ church, but He has created us in Him to “be the church.” We all may have different roles in the body, but we are still created to function within the body.

Really, our job as pastors is to empower people to serve Christ and His body, however God designed them to do it. A few weeks back, Bryan Anderson came to me and said, “Nate, would you mind if I took a look at the drinking fountain?” It had been broken all summer because of a leak. I said, “Would I mind?! Are you kidding me!? Absolutely!” It brings me so much joy to see people take ownership of this family that we call Elim and serve her. Obviously not everyone can fix a drinking fountain, but Bryan was offering himself to Christ in the way Jesus designed him to function.

My question to you is, what is your function? Every body part has a reason for existing, a purpose that only it can fulfill. Trust me, Jesus did not make any of us to be useless. I may be a left molar, and you may be a right pinkie. But in any case, we all have a function and exist as part of a whole. Paul tells us in Romans 12, “so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” What a beautiful picture.

My hope in writing this is for it to be not a guilt trip for you, but permission to function as Jesus created you to be. For you to unashamedly, passionately serve Elim (and the global Church beyond) in the way Jesus created you to serve. To be the best lung, or kidney, or pinkie toe (or whatever role he created you for) in the body of Christ that you can be!

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship … For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. Romans 12:1, 4-6

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Intentionally Overwhelmed

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By Jeff Foerster

I’m setting a course. I’m pursuing a goal. I have determined to adopt a lifestyle of an overwhelming nature. Now, I am not alone; many are the overwhelmed. Long has it been an affront to me, but now I am running after it.

Thanksgiving will arrive inside four weeks, and some of you know exactly how many shopping days are left until Christmas. I have a to-do list which inexplicably balloons when I sit down to cross off finished items. I have a yard littered with branches, leaves, cones, and needles, and grass that seems to grow while I am cutting it. I work full time and sometimes a little more. My car is overdue for an oil change and tire rotation, needs a windshield replacement, brake check, and suspension check, while my home needs furnace filter replacements, hose bib, sprinkler system and air-leak check winterizations. My computer has been upgraded with a new modem/router, but the system has recently crashed, leaving continuous program access less than acceptable. I tried to print out instructions for a fix I found online, but as I did so I realized I just ran out of ink. I have books and projects I am currently engaged in or thinking about starting, and others that have been sitting on the back burner for a year or more. I’m thinking about where to move money and who wants some of it next. Oh yeah, and I’m currently battling a virus.

As you get a peek at my partial list, is your anxiety level rising? Does it remind you of obligations, desires, achievements, and strivings—in sight, but out of reach? Do you have goals that you just haven’t been able to accomplish for the daily grind that keeps wearing against you? In other words, are you feeling overwhelmed?

Ah! Here’s where I misuse Scripture and tell you that, “I can do all things through Christ,” meaning, “Keep going! You can do it! Run, rabbit, run! Live your best life now!” And when you find the end of all your efforts, harness some more resources and leverage what you can grasp, to fight through one more time! Redouble your resolve! Hunker down and dig in! Repeat statements of success. Don’t let any negativity enter your mind—only the thoughts of a winner, because that’s what you were born to be!

So what on earth am I proposing? I tell you that we will all be overwhelmed in this life. We do, however get to choose the nature of the flood. You can pursue the end of a task list or a promotion, or financial goal or human relationship, or even “survival,” but if that is where you place your eyes and your hope, it will falter.

Consider your place in this life in light of your place in eternity. I invite you to be overwhelmed by the astounding story being told by God and lived by you and others both now and forevermore. How is it that God would choose me to live forever in His presence? Think about entering Heaven for the first time. Will God have planned a reunion? A celebration? Time spent with just you … so that He can tell you face to face how much He loves you—enough to die? What is He accomplishing even now through me, though I can see it not with mine own eyes? Be overwhelmed by this God we serve and who loves us beyond imagining!

Sing with me and never stop:

I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene

And wonder how He could love me, a sinner condemned unclean.

Oh how marvelous, oh how wonderful, is my Savior’s love for me …

(“I Stand Amazed/How Marvelous”)

 

His oath, His covenant, and blood

Support me in the whelming flood;

When every earthly prop gives way,

He then is all my Hope and Stay.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand…

(“My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”)

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