Welcome to week one of our Planting Roots Re-mix. Our goal for the next four weeks is to revisit the Planting Roots Journey on Sundays, in our communities and personally as we seek God in our finances, giving and our future at Element. Click here to download our Re-mix brochure with update letter, next steps and the Re-Mix Commitment card, where we will ask everybody to confirm, renew, modify or make a brand new commitment to our journey.
Within our Gospel Communities, or as a family or group of friends, we encourage you to watch this recap video together and answer the following questions.
Everybody has a desire to be “rich.” We all think we would handle finances better than other people who are rich, because we secretly see ourselves as being better than them. In reality, if we were rich, we would handle our finances in the same way we do now, just on a larger scale. This is why the Scriptures invite us into a redeemed life that shows us the reality of who we are, and one of the ways that is done is through how we steward our finances.
Who would you say is rich? Why?
What things do you lack that prevent you from feeling “rich?”
What is something you hold on to that would be hard to give up if God asked you to?
Application – Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Do you typically view your possessions as God’s or yours?
Have you ever had the thought that if you just had “more money” you would then become “more generous?”
Why do we tend to think we need to reach or attain the “next level” to do so? How can you find a way to be generous now?
What does generosity mean to you?
How have others shown you generosity?
How do we model and teach generosity?
How often do you use what God has given you to bless others?
Financial Resources: Fulfilled and exceeded commitments, the loan, the sustaining giving to manage the mortgage and maintaining the building while growing in our ability to love and minister to our city and to one another.
The following is a prayer written by Mike Harmon, one of Element’s elders, for reflection during the Planting Roots Re-mix journey. As you pray during the Re-mix we wanted to offer it to you as way to seek God refocus on Jesus.
Father, we ask for your good blessing as we continue on this journey of building a facility as a place for Element to gather and to grow, a place to mature and become a community who would love and influence our city with the gospel. We ask that your gospel would redeem and transform our city as you have redeemed and transformed us.
We continue on this journey knowing that any facility we would undertake to build is no substitute for Jesus’ rule and reign. A building is not meant to honor us, cause us to feel good about ourselves, or even to somehow contain Your glory as no building built by human hands could ever do so. We don’t do this for You because we think You need a facility, we do it as a mean for You to continue to reveal Yourself and bring redemption to our community. We recognize that it is Jesus who is building a place for You to dwell, purchased by His blood, and we are that house, that dwelling! Teach us to understand that we, as your people, are being built up into a dwelling place for Your presence and power, that we might become ambassadors and representatives of You in our city!
Father increase our faith and our trusting You more deeply through this process of building and moving into our permanent “home.” May we grow in Your likeness through it all. Keep our focus centered on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith, worshiping and rejoicing with thanksgiving at the gift we’ve been given. Teach us live knowing that a facility is nothing more than a tool to facilitate what You are doing in us individually, collectively, and in our city by transforming it by the gospel lived out in and by us.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22 (ESV)
You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5 (ESV)
It’s been almost two years since we started our Planting Roots Journey. Since that time families have moved away, other families have moved to town and started attending Element. No matter where you find yourself today we think we could all use a refresher of the practical wisdom of stewardship and sacrificial giving that we walked through during Planting Roots two years ago. That is why we are about to set out on a shorter journey through our Planting Roots Re-Mix.
Our goal through the Re-mix is the same as when we originally went through Panting Roots: to understand God’s call in our lives, to understand the vision God gave Element, and to all find ourselves on the same page in regard to giving and honoring Jesus. We will revisit the teachings, videos, and ideas from two years ago. At the end our Re-mix four-week journey you will have the opportunity to recommit, or make a first time commitment, towards our future home.
We have a realistic time frame where we believe we will be able to break ground during the Re-Mix! I know this sounds like a late-night infomercial, but that’s not all, during the Re-mix we will also have Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, prayer gatherings, and family/GC discussion evenings.
If you’ve made a commitment in the past to Planting Roots, you will receive a letter in the mail starting next week with your giving records for corrections. You will also receive a Re-Mix brochure that will have an update on our Planting Roots Journey Progress, ways to respond, and a new (re)commitment card.
Please keep Element in your prayers as we continue to walk toward building our future home and listening to what it is God would have us do, individually and corporately, in these coming days.
Our Re-Mix Journey will start August 28th, 2016 and culminate September 18th, 2016 where we will all turn in our (re)commitment cards!
This is a review that I did on my Goodreads page for the book Zealot by Reza Aslan, I thought it would be helpful for you as well.
A friend of mind read this review and said I sounded angry, I don’t think I am angry as much as frustrated. Let me start by addressing something that repeatedly comes up throughout the entirety of Zealot…We all have a bias. Each of us has a worldview that shapes how we process and analyze information. Research shows we are more likely to accept and gravitate toward people, things, and ideas that reinforce our beliefs. This is why critical thinking is so important...we must be willing to have our worldview challenged, but also be able to point to true evidence that reinforces it. Make no mistake when reading Zealot, Aslan has a bias, even though he claims not to. His bias is markedly strong on every page. When I read the book I had to put it down multiple times in order to avoid a metaphorical aneurism.
To be upfront about my own bias, I believe the Bible is a truthful, historically valid collection of writings, and that Jesus is the Son of God. I believe these claims have withstood time and the opposing arguments (like Reza Aslan’s) along the way. I wrote this review only after a former youth group kid shared his review of the book and stated, “Zealot is an attempt to look at the historical Jesus of Nazareth. Rather than looking at the founder and reason for Christianity, Aslan looks at Jesus the political revolutionary.” As I said, I had previously tried to read through the entire book, but put it down because it brings up the same arguments that have been disproved for the last 150 years, after the review of this young man, who I love dearly, I finally finished it. I assumed where the book would be going, and it turns out, I was right.
Most of my comments throughout this review are made at the times when I put the book down out of frustration with Aslan’s bias, it is why many of the things I say have a frustrated tone. If I could sum up this review in a few words, they would be this: “Aslan claims the New Testament writers were biased in their testimonies about Jesus, but he (Aslan) claims to be unbiased…he is full of BS.” That’s it. Throughout the book, Aslan shows his bias in how he masterfully twists biblical book order, phrases, verses, and history to fit his particular worldview, and yet consistently acts like he is not doing that. You lose credibility as an author if you can’t even cop to your own bias. Many people, if they are not aware of what he is doing, can easily be swayed by his less than true arguments.
As an example, Aslan, at the very beginning of the book, completely dismisses ALL of the apostle Paul’s writing in one paragraph—simply because Paul believed and taught the virgin birth, Jesus’ atoning death on the cross, and the resurrection. Seriously, just ONE paragraph to dismiss one of the greatest scholars in the ancient world. However, Aslan has to do this because the rest of his claims wouldn’t stand up to Paul’s theology. If that doesn’t scream “bias,” I don’t know what does. How about Aslan’s central premise (common among liberal scholars) that the synoptic Gospels took their information from an outside document known as “Q”? The “Q” hypothesis argues that Matthew, Mark, and Luke may not have even known each other, and that the Gospels were written after the fall of Jerusalem (70AD – or CE, depending on how you like to refer to the current age); they were a collusion of the church to deify Jesus and fit its theological structure. The biggest issue with this theory is that we have thousands of documents, fragments, and pieces of the synoptic gospels, but not one shred of evidence for the “Q” document/source material other than a bunch of liberal scholars saying “it must exist” because they cannot believe the New Testament could have been written any other way…can you say “bias?”**
A few weeks ago Eric Djafroodi gave a message about Stephen’s sermon in front of the religious leaders of his day. Stephen was the first deacon in the Church that was martyred for his faith. As I sat in service listening to the message, various things struck me and I wrote a short blog about it (you can find it here). As more time has passed, I keep thinking how brilliant Stephen was because he used his culture’s metaphors to explain the Gospel in a tangible way.
I originally wrote about how we (not metaphorically) need to understand what God is doing in real world sense of living on mission by being a blessing. After I wrote the blog I had a couple people ask what our current cultural metaphors are today.
The word “metaphor” itself comes from a root that means “to transfer,” where we transfer the idea of one thing onto another to give it more meaning. Like if you are into NASCAR and someone jumps out into the lead, sometimes people will say, “He took off like a rocket.” The imagery gives more detail to what you are talking about.
Our culture has metaphors that explain how people see the world today; it is important to identify those metaphors in order to communicate effectively. After all, we want people to be able to connect with what we have to say, especially in terms of the Gospel. Currently (and this will date this blog years from now), the term LEMONADE is making a comeback because Beyoncé just released a critically acclaimed album with that title. This title is a reference to the adage: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Her album has resonated with a whole culture that is struggling, in their own way, to be heard.
Martin Gannon, from the University of Maryland, writes, “A cultural metaphor is any activity, phenomenon, or institution with which members of a given culture emotionally and/or cognitively identify.” It is important to realize that metaphors will come to represent the underlying values of a culture. Sometimes when we feel out of touch with the “language today,” it is simply a misunderstanding of metaphor. Everyone is looking for a way to connect…and as Christians, we must remember that part of speaking the Gospel into culture is knowing the right words to use for connection and meaning.
The Apostle Paul used the metaphor of a BODY to describe what the church is meant to function like in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. I’ll just quote verses 12-13: For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. With Paul’s words in mind, listen to much of what our society is saying today. Recently, the Huffington Post shared an article titled “Are We All One?”—obviously with a whole different connotation than the Bible, but this speaks to humanity’s ingrained desire to connect.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians about the diversity in who we all are and how we can still connect and function together when centered on Jesus. One body with many parts can speak directly to the racial divide our country is experiencing today. How do we do this? We understand the metaphors of how people are looking to connect (tolerance, mother earth, all one) and speak plainly about how the only way everyone will ever work together will be by centering on Jesus and not on ourselves. The 2000-year-old metaphor that Paul used, a diverse body made up of many different parts living for the Gospel, is still just as fresh and relevant as an image today.
Acts 17:22-23 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.Paul, in Athens, notices how the culture was worshipping; he doesn’t demean or talk down to them, but simply takes their language and moves it to Jesus and the truth. Instead of telling those around us what they need to hear in words they do not understand, we must speak truth by noticing the words that are used.
I would challenge you to be more aware of the common images and themes that are so prevalent in our culture today. As believers, we should constantly be thinking about how the Gospel speaks and applies to those themes. Ask yourself, or better yet ask God in prayer, how can you “translate” the Gospel to our culture so that it is clear and relatable without compromising the truth?