Created on Monday, 19 June 2017 20:48
Written by Aaron
In case you have missed it over the last few years, Element is on a mission to glorify Jesus, and you are invited to participate in that mission. Part of that has included, over the past few years, trying to find a permanent home where we can gather. Our current lease expires at the end of 2017 and if you have noticed, we still haven’t started moving dirt in the field we bought. I’d like to explain the reasons behind that.
After getting all the bids back, it turns out our building (as currently designed) is too expensive for us to build. Don’t get me wrong…it’s nice, but we would probably have to take out a hefty mortgage to make it work. We then have to ask, “would a mortgage that became an extreme burden be glorifying to God even if it ended up with us having an amazing building?” Probably not. There are new state regulations that apply to our current design that make it cost prohibitive. This leaves us with a few options:
One. Someone gives us 5 million dollars to build a building. I am not entirely sure of the stewardship of that, but hey, we’d take it. (Have you seen our Giving page?)
Two. We try to find more time to go back and redesign our project. Bringing the building size down into more manageable chunks would work wonders to our cost; unfortunately, that will take another couple of years to do.
Three. We have found another property in Orcutt that sits on 5.2 acres and is currently for sale. The property currently has a smaller church on it, but we believe we could make it work for what we need. We could sell our current parcel and move into this property nearly debt-free (in the end saving us close to $17,000 a month in our current rent and mortgage of the land).
Four: A mortgage on the property listed in Option Three would end up being about $4,000 a month less than our current rent. We could feasibly live on this property while redesigning our current building and eventually move back to the current site we are in now.
It’s good to have options, but we also need Planting Roots to continue in order to make any of these options a reality. Planting Roots has never been about a building. It is about Element finding a permanent home in the Santa Maria Valley in order to lift up Jesus in all things.
At this point we are officially in escrow on that property in Orcutt. It will take a lot of effort and energy to get it into shape to move into by the end of the year, but with your prayers and support, we will continue on to our Plan Z (whatever that is) and seek comfort in the fact that is always God’s Plan A.
Created on Tuesday, 06 June 2017 10:47
Written by Element Christian Church
Last Sunday was our Baptisms! If you didn't make it, or missed reading the stories, this weeks blog is simply a link to them. Please read them, be excited for them, and always stand amazed at the goodness of our great God.
Created on Sunday, 04 June 2017 11:27
Written by Aaron
At Element we are currently doing a series called What in the World Part 2,
which seeks to answer questions you asked us last year. This past Sunday was a little tougher, because the question that was asked was: “What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality
?” If you missed it you can listen/watch it here.
As you can imagine, this is a volatile subject in our culture today, and any answer that takes a stand will offend someone
We didn’t spend a lot time talking about homosexuality; rather, we spent a lot of time talking about the story of the Scriptures and redemption. I did take you back to the book of Genesis and the creation account to show the normative way Scripture speaks about intimate sexual unions between one man and one woman. I do not believe that the Bible is in any way ambiguous in its stance on same sex unions.
I also believe that the Bible is not ambiguous on who Jesus died for and loves: all of us. Anything short of God’s best for us in our lives is sin. Many times, we live in open rebellion because what we want or feel trumps God’s call in our life. So when Jesus says things like,“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Matt 9:12, Mark 2:17, Luke 5:31),
those words are spoken to everyone—whether gay or straight. As divisive as our society is today (including the Church, sadly), we can easily forget how broad the scope of sin truly is and start to categorize certain sins, such as homosexuality, as worse or more taboo than others. When the Apostle Paul states, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
,” it refers to all
of us…and when Paul continues and says, “…and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
,” this also refers to all of us.
Yes, at Element we believe that homosexuality is a sin, but we must make a distinction between the things people do, the things they struggle with, and who they are. In a culture that tells us we are defined by our actions or how we self-identify, we need to remember the truth of the Gospel—we are named and known by our Creator, and those who believe in His saving grace are forever redeemed. This truth should enable us to love anyone, regardless of what they struggle with, because love isn’t condoning what people do…it is recognizing their true identity and worth found in God. Too often, the Church has elevated this one thing above all other issues and said, “This is the worst thing a human can do!” But the worst thing any of us could do is reject the love and grace of God. God doesn’t hate people who are struggling with sin in their lives. If that was true, He would hate all of us. The reality is that our struggle with sin is not the end of us, nor does it define us; it is this universal brokenness that can drive us to the healing hands of the Great Physician.
In order to help you start the dialogue, I would like to point you to a couple of blogs. (I know, you are already reading a blog and now I am referring you to another one…it’s like the Twilight Zone). Read these articles with an open heart and pray that God would reveal to you what He is trying to say. The first one is written by a young man who struggles with SSA (same sex attraction); the second is a study by Mark Yarhouse, Professor of Psychology and the Rosemarie Scotti Hughes Endowed Chair of Christian Thought in Mental Health Practice at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
As followers of Jesus, we must be willing to enter into discussion with others, but we need to remember what this actually entails from a Gospel perspective. It is not telling people God hates them, and it’s not telling them the Bible condones whatever they want to do. Rather, we must enter with grace and point to the redemptive love and hope of God in all things—that it is not our works that save us, but the work of Jesus that saves and restores us.
Lastly, let’s work to create a culture within Element and beyond where we can feel the freedom to express our struggles with sin without shame. As shared in the first blog below, church climates are often tragically perceived as oppressive. If our lives are truly centered around the Gospel, we should be encouraged to move toward one another in our brokenness, as we recognize the great need each of us has for Jesus.
Created on Tuesday, 30 May 2017 13:11
Written by Aaron
At Element we are currently doing a series called What in the World Part 2
which seeks to answer questions you asked us last year. Last Sunday we answered this question: “In Genesis 15:17 it says that a smoking fire pot and flaming torch passed between the halves of the animals Abraham cut in half at God's direction. What is the significance of the fire pot and torch moving between the halves?”
If you missed it you can listen/watch it here
. After the message I had five more questions that people asked, none of them had to do with the central premise of the sermon, they were simply inquisitive questions (because inquiring minds want to know). So, don’t let these questions distract you from the central message that Jesus promised Himself to rescue us from our brokenness and then He fulfilled that promise.
The five questions are as follows, if you listened to the message this will make sense. Why was Abraham the only one who brought something to the covenant ceremony, why 3 years old, which way did they cut the animals, why didn’t the birds get cut, and why a young pigeon? Here are the verses in question: Genesis 15:9-10 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half.
All of these are pretty easy to answer:
Why was Abraham the only one who brought something to the covenant ceremony
– When Abraham left the land of His father(s) at God’s call he was doing alright financially, but he wasn’t extravagantly rich. By the time Genesis 15 comes around God has so blessed Abraham with animals and goods that he has to separate from his nephew Lot because the land couldn’t sustain them both. Abraham sees all that He has as being given to him by God’s hand, so essentially Abraham is simply bringing what God has already provided.
Why 3 years old
– At three years old the animals would all be at full growth and strength. They would have many years of child bearing ahead of them, so to give these animals would have truly been a sacrifice. On a side note, a heifer had not born any offspring yet (much like Abraham), a goat was used as a sin offering later in temple worship (one was sacrificed and one set free as a scapegoat) that represented Israel’s sin had been removed from them, and a ram is what God will provide in the place of Abraham’s son on Mount Moriah as a sacrifice.
Which way did they cut them
– I find this question very funny because it never occurred to me that there would be more than one logical way to cut animals in half. They were not
cut long ways (head to tail), they were cut side to side (usually behind the rib cage).
Why not cut the birds
– The most common consensus among bible scholars is that the birds were simply too small, it is why there are 2 birds listed and not one. Two birds can be laid over against the other on either side of the isle. If you cut a bird in half behind the rib cage, like the larger animals, there isn’t much left. One side would have what is essentially a whole bird and the other side a pair of skinny, tiny, bird legs.
Why a “young pigeon”
– This is a great question and my answer is only speculation because I am not 100% on it. The word In Genesis 15:9 for “young pigeon” is the Hebrew word gowzal.
The word doesn’t actually mean a pigeon, it meant a young nesting bird, and maybe so young its feathers haven’t even come in. By putting the “gowzal
” opposite the turtledove could represent where Abraham is in regards to his faith (it is newborn but also counted to him as righteousness) and what Israel, his descendants, will become. In Psalm 74 God will call the nation of Israel His turtledove as term of endearment and love. God could be saying to Abraham that you are starting off like this new born bird, but you and your descendants when full grown will be my beloved ones.
Remember that Moses is the one chronicling these events, which means he is viewing everything in light of the law that has been given to Israel at Sinai. Moses probably sees much greater and far reaching significance to these events than Abraham does. After Jesus’death and resurrection we also get to see much greater and far reaching significance than Moses saw. As we talked about Sunday, Jesus shows up and walks through the pieces and makes a covenant to save His people no matter what. Jesus passes through the pieces, not Abraham, which means Jesus will uphold and provide a way for both sides of the covenant to be fulfilled in Himself.
1Peter 3:18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
Created on Tuesday, 23 May 2017 18:20
Written by Aaron
Here is another blog post that is answering another what in the world question you guys asked us last year. Currently, on Sunday mornings, we are doing our What in the World Part 2 series to answer your questions in sermon form, but some of these questions were too short for a whole sermon so we answer the shorter ones in our blog.
Today’s question is as follows, “In Mark 7, what is Corban?” This is an interesting question because the word “corban” in Greek is literally “korban” and only used in Mark 7:11 and nowhere else in the entire New Testament (in Matthew 15:5 he uses the word “doron” meaning “devoted to God” but not the word corban). I think the answer is short, so let me answer the question and then paste the entire section in context so you can understand what you are reading.
When you hear the word “corban,” if you live on the central coast of California, you probably think it sounds like a mediocre winery up by San Luis Obispo, but it’s not. The only reason we know what it means is that Mark defines the term for us as “given to God” in Mark 7:11. Because it is an obscure word Mark did us a favor by defining it.
There is some interesting aspects to the verses where it comes about in Mark 7. Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees about their rituals that have been elevated to the place where they take precedence over the realty of living life with God. It comes in the context of the disciples not washing their hands before a meal (I know you think, “Gross, everyone should wash their hands,”) but this type of hand washing had nothing to do with clean hands and had everything to do with ritual focused on false piety. The Pharisees ask Jesus why His disciples eat with “defiled” hands, not dirty or muddy hands.
Throughout the Old Testament God is trying to get His people away from ritual and toward an open heart to what God was doing in the world, in Hosea 6:6 God says, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Jesus answers the handwashing question of the Pharisees by going after them and pointing out their own corruption by showing how they have elevated ritual over true relationship with God. He does this by pointing out what they have done with money they claim has been “devoted (or given) to God.” When parents became older and frailer, Israelites were meant to care for them, but the Scribes and Pharisees let children off the hook if they gave a certain amount of money to the temple instead of helping their parents.
Simply saying, “it is corban” would gain them an exemption from helping their parents.
God never intended something good, like generosity to a temple (or a church), to be the impetus for getting anyone out of responsibility for caring for others in need. It reminds us today that God desires relationship and not a ritualistic obedience that has nothing to do with our hearts. We should not be looking for ways to get out of our responsibilities toward others, but living with focused Gospel intentionality because our lives are found in Jesus.
Mark 7:1-13 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“‘This people honors me with their lips,but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
Now you should go on to read the next verses in Mark 7 where Jesus talks about what DOES defile a person.
Created on Wednesday, 10 May 2017 09:31
Written by Aaron
We have been doing our What in the World Part 2
series on Sunday mornings, where we are answering your questions about certain things in the Bible. There were some questions you asked that were not long enough to make a whole sermon out of, so we are answering them, calling them “shorts,” and posting them to our blog. This is the next “What in the World?” question we received: John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” What in the World?
First off, it is always a good rule to read the Bible in context, so let’s take a step back and see what comes right before John 14:12. Before the verse in question, Jesus talks about us having trouble in the world, going to be with Him, and Jesus Himself being the only way to salvation. Jesus then says the following, starting in John 14:10-11: “Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves
Jesus says there are 3 things we must see if you want to realize who He is: What are His words (
What did Jesus teach and instruct…What are Jesus’ works
(How did He live)…and What are His miracles
(What evidence is there of God’s works and miracles in Christ).
So, His words, work, and His miracles…that’s how we investigate Jesus.
Then Jesus gets to the verse in question:… “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do.”
These verses are ones that have been widely abused in our day, but what does Jesus actually
say His followers will do? Words, works, and miracles.
So, what did Jesus do? Taught, loved, fed, and helped others. The word “Christian” was once a way for people to make fun of followers of Jesus (like “Jesus freak”); they would say, “Oh, you think you are a little Christ.”
Christians took the saying and said, “Well, yes, I am trying to show Jesus’ work, words, and miracles to the world,” and decided to take upon themselves the moniker “Christian.” When Jesus says, “Greater works than these will he do,”
He was not saying that people will be greater than Him. He was saying that we, as a body of redeemed people, will do more, in terms of scope, than He did.
It means that Jesus, in his incarnation, humbled Himself and could only be at one place at one time, but after the resurrection, the Spirit
of God was poured out on the children
of God. This means the multitude
of what we collectively do can be greater (not the magnitude). We have more hands, feet, lives, and tongues, and can do the things He was doing but with greater multitude. We have the great honor of being invited into His continuing work in the world, which brings about the miracle of new life and redemption.
Some people have wrongly taught we are to be greater than Jesus, like Jesus was JV and we are varsity. We are not greater than Jesus. No one
is greater than Jesus. We will not meet Jesus face to face and say, “You lived, died, rose from the grave, atoned for sin, and reconciled the world to God the Father, but you’re not better than me.” It is why Jesus continues from there (to more verses that are widely misunderstood) and says, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
Jesus is not saying that God is a piñata and we get to whack Him with this thing called “faith” to get all the things we want. He is teaching that God will answer prayers, but in context of what He has been speaking about—mission. So, what types of prayers does Jesus answer in context of the verses? Those that glorify the Father. Prayers that glorify the Father are a far cry from the types of prayers we normally pray. Most of our prayers are about self-glorification (make me wealthy, make me tall, make me thin, make me smart, make me good-looking, etc.). Jesus says, “If you want to pray, pray for things that honor God. Make it about His glory, honor, and hope in the world.”
In all, the answer to the question is that we will do greater works in terms of multitude…but WHY will we do greater works? Jesus said, “…because I am going to the Father.” Because Jesus ascended to the Father, we have hope. We get to speak Jesus’ words, do Jesus’ works, and in the end, see the great miracle of restoration and redemption. This is what we should be praying for, that God would use us for His glory and the world’s joy.