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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Women and children

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by Stan Peterson

Whenever I think of women and children (especially girls), I tend to go towards a frilly, dainty, petite, foofy characterization of them. God has blessed me by giving me five beautiful yet powerful women in my life. First is my wife Jackie, the strongest and most courageous woman I have ever met. She is resourceful and creative (cooks on a budget), she is wise and witty, she is a great encouragement to me and our girls and others in our community. She gives me great comfort and security in her love and affections for me. I could write volumes about my beloved bride, not to mention my beautiful girls; I thank God for them every day and take not the gifts He has given me for granted.

“God has chosen the weak things of this world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (1 Cor. 1.27).

I believe that women and children will play vital roles in reaching the unreached people groups that are left in the world. I look to the Bible and see numerous accounts of God using women and children. I see Mary the mother of Jesus, probably the most famous woman in all the world. Betrothed to a carpenter, becoming pregnant before her wedding, living on the run with no real place of her own in the early years. Mary nurses, swaddles, nourishes the very Son of God in order that she may see Him lay down His life for the sake of many. Mary was an unlikely candidate, but God chose her and used her to usher in Immanuel, God with us.

Children too have a special place in the heart of Jesus. He does not refuse them in coming to Himself and uses them mightily to teach us great lessons in and throughout all of Scripture. Abel, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Samuel — the list goes on — God took these children and used them for His glory and our good.

As the Gospel penetrates deep into the unreached areas of the world, it will be done in and through crucial relationships being formed by women and children. Women and children often fall into the category of left out, overlooked, downtrodden, and poor. I believe that the next revivals will be fueled by those we never expected. Women and children, the very despised, reaching out to their enemies through love. The reason I say this is because of the position that women and children have in Muslim-majority countries: they are the epitome of weakness, frailness, and degradation. These are precisely the ones that our God came to save and whom He loves to use in spreading His good news. Please pray for the women and children that are in Muslim-majority countries. Pray God would give extraordinary boldness to proclaim His Word.

Pray for their peace in the midst of a land filled with persecution and that their actions would soften the hearts of their oppressors. Pray that God would be glorified greatly in and through the salvation of the men of this region by way of the women and children.

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Sex and evangelism

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by Stan Peterson

What do sex and evangelism have in common? When Christians bring these topics up in conversation, both tend to produce feelings of guilt, anxiety, and shame. I will save the talk on sex for a later date, but for now let’s talk evangelism. The guilt that comes from not being obedient to Jesus’ command (Matthew 28:18-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”) can be overwhelming. All I have to do is look at my life and see that I have fallen short of the glory of God in this area.

The anxiety and fear that comes with sharing our faith will lead us in one of two directions. The first direction is paralysis — our guilt paralyzes us into a passionless state in which we lose all enthusiasm to obey, for we are regarding man above God. We prostitute ourselves to comfort and grow indifferent towards God and His heart. The second way fear will manifest is through our pride when we become defensive and arrogant. We become controlling and take on an “I am right you are wrong attitude.” Statements such as, “I was persecuted for the sake of Christ” spew forth, when in all reality we should be saying, “I was a controlling jerk.”

When we allow guilt and fear to shape our lives as opposed to the Gospel, we stay in a state of distortion. Our minds are no longer being renewed by truth but are being swayed by our sinful flesh, the lies of the enemy, and the world. This often leads us into shame. Shame will destroy us by fueling the distortion of ourselves leading us into a place of bondage.

How do I break this crazy cycle of guilt, shame, and bondage brought about by my disobedience and a pattern of unhealthy thoughts? We need a miracle. We need God to reveal our rebellious hearts and kiss us with His mercy at the same time. God’s goodness leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). As we embrace the truth of the gospel and receive our identity in Christ, the chains of guilt, fear, and shame are broken. By the Truth, Jesus Christ releases us into freedom, a freedom to love God in a greater capacity, a freedom to love others in a greater capacity. God’s love fills us, and as we are filled with God He spills over, touching all around us. We find ourselves loving our enemies instead of avoiding them, blessing our neighbors who curse us, doing good to those who hate us, and praying for those who spitefully use and persecute us.

Our evangelism must be based on God’s love and freedom, not on guilt. This is the only way we can fulfill the Great Commission. Evangelism is not a method to be used, or a program that can be taught, or an argument to be won. True evangelism will flow from a heart that is connected to God. This is not a duty to be performed but a privilege to be delighted in. Will you join with me on this journey? Let us together break the chains of shame! “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

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On the Gospel

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by Brian Sharpe

New Years always brings about great time for reflection. Stan preached on a passage last Sunday where we could reflect on the message that Paul brought to the Corinthians. This message was described as a message “of first importance.” Paul brought the people of Corinth back to the Gospel, helping them remember the message of the Gospel. What I would ask you to reflect on is: who brought the Gospel to you?

We can read biographies or autobiographies of great missionaries like Hudson Taylor or Jim Elliot, but what we fail to remember is that we had missionaries bringing Jesus to us. Missionaries are people who are sent with a message to share. God has made us all missionaries. We need to be on mission sharing the message we were given. This message may have been brought to by your parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles. It may have been friends or a pastor. It doesn’t matter who it was, it just matters that the message of the Gospel was brought to you. It was given as a gift from God to you.

Is the message that was brought by Paul to Corinth … the message that was brought to you by the missionary who taught it to you … as important to you as it should be? Is it a message that you live by and share or just a message that has helped and changed you? It is important to recognize that God built his church by word of mouth. He did not build it through large programs. He built it by his people loving him so much that all they could do is share him with everyone they knew. This is what we want to be about at Elim. We want to be a body that is so in love with Jesus that all we can do is by word and deed share Jesus with everyone in our sphere of influence.

This leads me to a couple of closing questions:

  1. Who shared Jesus with you … and what would your life look like if they had kept their mouth shut?
  2. How did they share Jesus with you?
  3. When was the last time you shared the Gospel with someone with your words?
  4. Who is in your sphere of influence that you can share Jesus with?
  5. What is stopping you?

Answer these questions and share your answers with someone. Elim is here to help people know God, grow together in Christ and go and serve South Hill and beyond. Join us on this Gospel journey and share Jesus with everyone you know!

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Black Friday and the budget

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by Dan Amos

On Thanksgiving night the attention for many turned to the Black Friday sales. I looked through the ads and saw lots of bright, shiny things I would like to have, but prudence reminded me I can’t spend what I don’t have.

Prudence also guided development of Elim’s 2012 budget which we will vote on this Sunday. We serve the infinite God who has every resource at his command. He has the entirety of creation under his personal attention and care. That is, He sees both the forest and the trees; he sees the big picture yet is active in the tiniest detail. But in this life, He has chosen for us to serve him in more focused and resource-limited ways.

The Elder Board, Staff, Ministry Directors and Stewardship Team each year go through an exercise balancing faith and wise stewardship of the resources we expect to have available to further the ministry of the Church through the local body at Elim. A lot of people have spent a lot of time in preparation, prayer, and discernment of the strategic direction of Elim and this is reflected in the budget. This is most evident in the Holistic Outreach part of the budget. The entirety of projected spending to spread the Gospel of Christ in word and deed won’t be found in just one designated section. Our commitment to discipleship is found in every section, such as AWANA in Children’s Ministries, MOPS in Adult Ministries, and significantly in personnel with the addition of an internship for Holistic Outreach.

Previously we had contracted out leadership of local compassion ministries (through support to Bill Bowers) but our involvement has grown beyond that level. We need someone who can devote regular, concentrated time to directing and leading Elim’s people in spreading the Good News to South Hill and beyond. We expect to propose for 2013 for the internship to be expanded to a full-time staff position. This will continue the expansion of our efforts to involve everyone in the Great Commission.

These are bold plans, but the message is life to those who don’t have it.

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From missions to holistic outreach

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by Dan Amos

For many years Elim’s ministries outside the walls of our building have been growing and changing. It began with enabling missionaries to go to foreign lands and spread the gospel, but is rapidly becoming a ministry of personal involvement for our people. This is partly because the face of missionaries is changing; countries once served by Western missionaries are now sending out their own, some even to the United States and also partly because the need in our own community is so great.

As the missions team and the Elder Board have been seeking to adapt and serve in the new environment, we have been placing a greater emphasis on our personal action and growth in sharing the good news and serving others. Several years ago the Elder Board directed the missions team to begin the process of evaluating supported missionaries for effectiveness in reaching unreached people groups and ways in which we can partner with them and emphasizing short term missions as a means of growing our people in the process.

We can see this in the Democratic Republic of Congo where we have already sent two teams in life-changing experiences for our people and real support to the ministry in the Congo which is on the frontline of reaching unreached peoples. Rich and Marla Henderson and Ernest Dyck both have recently shared how we can partner with them in the future, potentially tying in with the Congo, too.

Last year, two missions we had previously supported discontinued their ministries such that we discontinued financial support. This has been part of the process of refocusing our limited financial resources towards partnership ministries and unreached peoples. With this has come a name change to Holistic Outreach and efforts to organize and connect locally. Last year we supported a local ministry in Bill Bowers who helped connect Elim with local compassion and outreach opportunities.

This coming year we are proposing to take a giant leap. We are in the process of finalizing the 2012 budget and you will see a number of changes. The first change is to rename “Missions” to “Holistic Outreach” and to move it to the ministries section of the budget. In the past it had been a separate part of the budget and symbolically it was not part of Elim’s ministries.

Support for the Herrs, whose ministry is supporting AWANA, is being moved from the Holistic Outreach section to the Children’s Ministries section under the AWANA line item. This better reflects our partnership with the Herrs. The Holistic Outreach team began the process of thinking through these changes in discussions with Linda Sauke who helped the team shape actions including redirecting support for her, Bill Bowers, and the Glenhaven Youth Ranch in Arkansas to local outreach efforts.

This is being achieved by partially funding an internship for a Holistic Outreach Director. Stan Peterson is completing ministry training and is seeking ordination through the Evangelical Free Church. This is a fairly rigorous process and requires candidates to be in full-time ministry of at least 32 hours a week. We are proposing in the 2012 budget to support this position with $7,500. Additional support, just like the other missionaries we support, is being raised independently.

In this position, Stan will lead and equip Elim’s people in the Holistic Outreach ministry. We will be saying much more about this in coming weeks and are planning an informational meeting on Holistic Outreach for October 23 after the Sunday morning worship service.

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