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By Dan Amos

About the time we started the series on James at Elim, Fran and I visited Washington, DC. One evening we visited the Jefferson Memorial and I was struck by the inscription chosen for the southeast portico wall. I could not help comparing those words to those Pastor Martin led us through from the first chapter of James.

The memorial’s quote was from a letter Jefferson wrote extolling man’s growing wisdom, but instead, I see it as an illustration of our arrogance.

It is this thinking that leads to calling good things evil and evil things good. It leads to questioning who God is and what role He plays in our lives. It leads to changing the teachings of Scripture and replacing the words of life with pretty but empty words that suit our modern sensibilities. Ultimately, it leads away from salvation and instead to death.

While Jefferson advocated that the things our ancestors believed become outdated and practices need to change with the times, James tells us the very opposite about God in 1:16-18.

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of all he created.

James is using words that inflame contemporary wisdom, such as “Father” and “does not change” and “truth.” In his own life, Jefferson did not want to accept the deity of Christ and the teachings of the Apostles. We reject the wisdom of man and proclaim the following in our statement of faith:

We believe that God has spoken in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. As the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged. Therefore, it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises.

That the Word of God is under attack is nothing new. It has been happening since the serpent spoke to Eve (and Adam passively listened). Great councils used to be called together to debate heretical teachings. Now the attacks are less dramatic, but they are everywhere, coming from every media, impossible to avoid. But the truth remains, and our access to it is as unprecedented as the lie is prevalent. All we have to do is open it.

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Emotional Quotient

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By Brian Sharpe

Growing up, I remember watching the Bills in the Super Bowl. I know “Bills” stands for “Boy, I Love Losing Super Bowls.” I remember during one of the Super Bowls that I left the party I was at and just walked outside. At that point in my life, I wasn’t sure why I was leaving the party to go outside. I felt something. In my head, I wanted to see if anyone would notice that I left. I wanted to be noticed. Looking back, it was rooted in selfishness. I am sure I had a real low emotional quotient.

An emotional quotient has to do with emotional intelligence. “Emotional intelligence” is defined as “intelligence regarding the emotions, especially in the ability to monitor one’s own or others’ emotions.” I was not aware of my emotions or the emotions of others around me. I feel like I am getting better at this, but dealing with emotions is still tough.

I was introduced to the idea of the emotional quotient (EQ) in a book called The Emotionally Healthy Church, by Peter Scazzero. In that book, we had to take a test to see how we scored in EQ. I was in my late twenties at the time, but the test revealed I had the EQ of a teenager. We took this test as a staff, so it was fun to see how unaware we all were when it came to EQ.

Fast-forward to the present. I see a huge need for all of us to understand our EQ. If we can understand our EQ, it will help us with the teams that we are on at Elim as well as at work. It will help us as we submit to the leaders we are under. It will help us understand how to deal with our kids. EQ is in every part of life, yet it is something that I went most of my life not knowing about.

As I have grown older, I have seen just how I have changed. One of the main ways I have changed is understanding my emotions. I understand that my first emotion for some reason is frustration. I understand that I often say no, without even considering yes. Again, I am not sure why, but I believe it is tied to my EQ.

How well are you at understanding what is going on emotionally inside of you? Do you understand those internal motivations? I think it is important as we move forward as a community of faith that we consider what is going on in the backstage of our life, where the emotions live. As we seek to gain health in our understanding of ourselves, it will lead to health in our relationships and in our church. You may see more coming in the future about EQ. Embrace and lean into it, because it is all about understanding the backstage.  After all, don’t we all want to be known and noticed? I know I do.

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The Story of the Dress

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By Tom Chase

My daughter was getting married! It was then, about a year ago, that God gave us a window to what He has done for us. I want to share that story with you—the story of the dress.

I had never given a daughter away. I didn’t have a sister who was given away. I was inexperienced, but she was getting married. We needed to figure this out. I am sure there are lots of ways to do this, right or wrong, but here is what we did. We, as her parents, decided to give the couple an amount of money to use for the wedding, but as we talked about it, my wife suggested that we should buy the dress apart from that amount.

As we began to process this, we loved the idea and loved the symbolism. Scripture talks about how we are clothed in God’s righteousness. The Father provides the dress (His righteousness) to prepare the bride for Jesus.

. . . he [God] has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness …

Isaiah 61:10 (NIV)

As we moved ahead, we found this article by Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic who has been bothered by the reality that she cannot dress herself. She shared, in part, that being clothed in His righteousness is always what He, the Father, does for us, doing what we cannot do for ourselves.

I love that about the gospel message. I am pure and clean and righteous because God has made me so—not because of anything I have done, but all because of Him.

We planned to go dress shopping. I know there are other traditions, but we (mom and dad and daughter) alone went to find the dress. I later found out that the gal helping her with the gowns commented that it was very unusual to have a dad there. She tried on very few dresses until the one was found. If I remember right, there were only one or two more dresses tried on after the one. She put it on again. There she was, standing in this beautiful dress, looking amazing and radiant. She stood there admiring the dress as we too looked on. Wow!

I asked, “Will this one work for you?” Her response was something to the effect of, “It’s too much . . . more than necessary, way too costly, outrageous.” I said, “That’s not what I asked. I asked, ‘Will this one work for you?’” She reluctantly said, “Yes.” That was it. She would be clothed in a dress provided by her father for the wedding.

Over the next couple of days, I continued to think about this intimate time, about how wonderful it had been and my daughter’s response. It made me think about the incredible reality, that we have been clothed in the Father’s righteousness. He has clothed us to look amazing and radiant in what He alone can provide at a cost beyond belief—outrageous! When the Father asks us, “Will this work for you?” all we have to say is, “Yes.”

If you are reading this and in response to the Father’s question, “Will this work for you?” you find yourself having said, “No, it’s too good for me,” “No, it’s not for me,” or “No, it’s unbelievable!” my hope is you will understand afresh and anew that the Father loves you! He really does, or He would not have offered. He wants what is best for you and to give you what you cannot provide for yourself! His provision of righteousness comes at a great cost! All of this demonstrates just how He feels about you! He has provided everything and exactly what you need. Please accept His gift and say, “Yes!” to Him.

If, on the other hand, you are reading this and you have already told the Father, “Yes,” my hope is that this, too, will be a reminder of the incredible and precious gift the Father has given to you—His righteousness! It’s amazing, beyond belief, and yes, even outrageous! Revel in your new garments! He loves you very much!

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A Place of Quiet

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By Brian Waple

“One day soon afterward (following the healing of a man on the Sabbath) Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night” (Luke 6:12, NLT). One of the things that strikes me about Jesus is how critical it was for Him to spend time alone with His Father. I think He did this for a couple of reasons. One, with all the time spent giving to others, He needed space to withdraw and be refreshed. And two, He needed that one-on-one time with His source of renewal and inspiration. “So Jesus explained, ‘I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does’” (John 5:19, NLT).

As we learn to grow in more intimate relationship with God, we find that we long for those times of solitude when we can be inspired and renewed by what the Father is doing. Like Jesus, we must take time to withdraw from the demands of our busy lives and focus our attention on being attentive to God’s presence. It is only when we can remove ourselves from the distractions of life that we are able to present ourselves fully to God. And as we make ourselves more and more available to Him, we bring Him glory.

So if you can, set aside some regular, consistent, and daily time to spend alone with the Father. Maybe it means taking a short walk during lunch or turning off the car radio on your way home. If you’re home during the day, perhaps you have a special place where you can sit quietly for a few minutes. Whatever rhythm you practice, offer that precious time up to the Father. And cherish it as your own time of renewal and inspiration.

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