I Want Results!

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By Jeff Foerster

Pursuing relational peace isn’t primarily about the results … or is it?

As Martin spoke on Sunday of peace-makers and their less desirable cousins, the “-breakers” and “-fakers,” I began to contemplate the idea of pursuing “results.” This concept is one I have been familiar with over recent years. I have attempted to hang constructed, idealistic expectations on the walls of my life like pictures and even built a few frames for the ones I was sure would stay.

The problem with working for results, is that results are uncertain. Goals are necessary. Goals are great. They make happy planners and provide a target to aim toward. They are much like puppies, however, providing initial happiness until the realization of their not yet being house-broken seeps in. They might not ruin the Oriental rug in the hallway on the first day, but it’s unrealistic to think every furnishing will remain intact.

The same thing takes place if we pursue “peace-making” with a required, predetermined outcome. The idealistic expectation is constructed and effort is put forth, yet with a selfish attitude that will almost surely dismantle any realistic chance of success. This attitude demands one result be achieved, leaving little room for God to work in the midst of flawed people.

It’s common to want difficult circumstances to evaporate and pleasantness to saturate our lives. This is not God’s greatest desire for you; it is that you and your spouse, children, family, friends, and even enemies, be transformed in greater and greater depth into the image of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and through this that God receive glory.

Should you pursue results? Well, yes, pursue peace because our God is a God of peace. In this pursuit, understand the results are nothing less than your own (and others’) transformation. And the power of this transformation does not rest in your effort alone, but is subject to the timing and the will of Almighty God.

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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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Looking Ahead

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by Stan Peterson

Looking ahead to 2013, many of us have already started to plan and set goals and look forward to what we want to see accomplished in our personal lives, the lives of our families, and in the life of our Church. We envision what we will be doing and where we will be going, and this creates an expectation within our hearts — a yearning for those things to come to pass. We slowly but surely transfer our passion (time, energy and money) towards those goal(s).

As God sovereignly directs our lives and the path that we walk down (Proverbs 16:9), we are faced with choices. Will we choose to surrender our rights and our plans to follow God’s sovereign plan as it unfolds before us … or to continue in our ways? The greater the difference between our thoughts and plans, and God’s, the greater the disappointment we face.

In the book of Isaiah we see Israel and Judah (the split kingdom) being chastised for their thinking (Isaiah 55). The walls of Jerusalem had been remade and the Temple reconstructed, yet we see a nation that is still divided and held in captivity. The Jew thought that the Messiah would come and be set up as king in the Holy City, reigning with all authority and power, and the people of Israel would prosper physically. But this was not happening. Why? Thus Israel had a choice to either become hardened and indifferent to the ways of God, or to repent and believe in God’s goodness and plans (Isaiah 55:7).

How do we as a people chosen by God know the thoughts of God, the will of God? Just as God called to Israel through the Prophet Isaiah to remember His promises, that He is a God who is near, and His word will accomplish what He has sent it to do (Isaiah 55.11), so too we have the Word of God given to us in a book, the Bible. Let this sink into our minds … it is profound: We have the very words of life given to us! This should shake us to the core and give us great hope and confidence.

With the Spirit, meditating on God’s Word, we may through prayer commune with God and know His thoughts and speak them back to God (1 Cor. 2:16).

My hope and prayer for us at Elim is that we would grab hold of God’s Word and prayer in ever greater measure throughout the course of 2013; that our hearts would be lined up with His, and that we would be a reflection of Jesus to all we come into contact with, no matter the circumstances or situation that God has sovereignly placed us into!

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Communication

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By Larry Short

Have you ever wondered why John 1 refers to Jesus Christ as “The Word?” That’s a very unusual way to describe Someone, when you think about it.

I suspect that in calling Christ “The Word,” John is giving us an important clue as to the nature of God. He is telling us that it is in God’s nature to reveal, to express Himself to His creation, to communicate. Christ is the “image of the invisible God.” As we gaze upon Jesus, we come to understand what God is like. He is God’s expression or communication of His nature to us.

Communication is extremely important to our lives, to our survival, to our health and happiness. Through communication we experience the world around us and come to understand our purpose.

As the Strategy Team was considering how to move our church toward the vision God has for us, we recognized the important role that accurate, timely, and compelling communication would play in achieving our goals. Hence effective communication became the first of five key objectives we decided would require focus in our five-year plan.

In order to identify and achieve key SMART goals within the first year, we have formed a team comprised of our webmaster, Dan Amos, our associate pastor, Brian Sharpe, our church secretary, Julie Pace, and myself. This team has begun meeting and working on a number of SMART goals, including:

  • Devising and conducting a survey of our membership to better understand how effective our current communications efforts are, and how we could develop more effective communications efforts.
  • Evaluate and enhance our church’s web presence (including homepage and Facebook) to communicate more effectively.
  • Evaluate other forms of communication, such as our email newsletter, pulpit and audiovisual communications, printed brochures, and signage.
  • Explore new avenues of communication made possible by recent technologies (such as text messaging and social networking platforms).

What is a SMART goal? It is one that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Ministry leaders will be setting SMART goals for each of the five objective areas: Communication, Assimilation, Community, Spiritual Transformation, and Holistic Outreach.

In upcoming Last Words, we will dig into each of the remaining four objectives separately. So, if you are interested in how “assimilation” will make a lasting impact on the life of our church, tune in next week!

In the meantime, I want to leave you with two thoughts about effective communication:

  1. It is redundant. Different types of communication affects different people differently. In our church the pulpit is a key tool of effective communication. But we employ other forms of communication as well to support the message we are seeking to communicate. We encourage you to avail yourself of all the tools we are seeking to create in order to communicate effectively.
  2. It is two-way. Accurate communication depends on willingness to both give and receive feedback. Without feedback, we might assume we’ve communicated something well; but the person to whom we have “communicated” has no idea what we’ve been trying to convey. Please bless those who lead the various ministries at our church by providing them with constructive and timely feedback.

We’d love to hear your feedback about the direction that our church is going, about our vision and strategy. What questions do you have? How is God working the “KNOW, GROW, GO” vision into your life? Please share your thoughts on email or talk with any elder.

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