When Turkeys Drive

by Element Christian Church

Thank you for making the Turkey Drive for the Central Coast Rescue Mission a huge Success! Your Generosity brought them over thirty turkeys! These turkeys could be seen driving around town all afternoon on Sunday and will go to serve hundreds of people in need of a good Thanksgiving meal this holiday season.


Element Time [From the Illustrious Jonathan Whitaker]

by Jonathan Whitaker
I have a super power.  I know you’re skeptical, but it’s true. Ask my wife, Jennifer.  I have known for many years that I have this special ability, and it never fails… lines form behind me.  Yes, that is my secret super power.  When I arrive at a restaurant, movie theater, theme park, or anywhere people queue in lines, a line that wasn’t previously there will appear behind me.  It is a phenomenon, and I am not making it up…lines form behind me.  In fact, the longer I sit here typing this, the more likely it is that a line of people will start gathering adjacent to or directly behind me.  I am a human velvet rope.  I hope to only use this power for good. 
 
If I take an honest look at my so-called super power, there are probably personal habits which I practice that result in lines forming behind me.  For example, I arrive early to most destinations, which tends to put me ahead of the crowd.  I wake up early in the morning for work, so my lunch hour is 11 a.m. instead of the more traditional 12 p.m.  As a result, the 12 o’clock lunch crowd arrives just after I get my order in at the counter, and thus lines up behind me.  Another explanation is that once I get to my destination, I take my time and that means folks just have to wait. 
 
So, it may not be much of a super power, but my military upbringing has made me a neurotic schedule-keeper; if I am early then I am on time, if I am on time I am late, and if I am late… so help me.  This has long been my mentality for schedule-keeping.  Now imagine the first time I encountered ‘Element Time.’
You all know what I am talking about.  Element Time is the five minutes that our congregation runs behind the rest of the population of the Central Coast of California.  We are a geographical oddity.  Sunday services are scheduled for 8:15, 9:30 and 11:00, so naturally we get started promptly at 8:21:33, 9:35:17, and 11:06:03.  Yet somehow we always finish the service on time.  This means that we are able to accomplish one hour worth of worship, announcements and preaching in 55 minutes.  And, for some reason, it works.  In fact, it works well.   Sure, Aaron has to preach at the pace of a Barrett Jackson auctioneer, but the worship is powerful and the messages are Biblical, scholarly, and most of all, Christ-honoring.
 
Recently, my personal conundrum with Element time has shifted to wistful nostalgia.  I am currently on the church-home hunt at my new assignment in Maryland.  Church services in Maryland lasts for one hour and forty-five minutes, period.  No matter the denomination -- Evangelical, Baptist, Fundamentalist, you name it -- one hour and forty-five minutes.  If Aaron preached for an hour after forty-five minutes of announcements and songs, you would duct tape him to a wall.  Needless to say, I miss Element Time. 
 
Thanks to Aaron, Ryan, James and Michelle Gee, I now have the worship attention span of a gnat.  Look, of course I am kidding -- a short service is not superior to a long service for reasons of brevity, nor is a long service good because you are worshiping longer.  Element Time is just special.  On Element time you get a Biblically dense message book-ended by Christ honoring corporate worship music.  If you have gotten the chance to experience it, you are blessed.  I find that after two hours of structured church, most people have just enough energy left to go home.  I find after 55 minutes of Element Time, you are ready to fellowship with one another in the lobby or over lunch.  That is a good thing.
 
I am now going to shoe horn scripture into my blog so Aaron will publish it.  Jesus probably doesn’t sweat the length or starting time of our service nearly as much as I do.  In fact Jesus ordains situations in our lives where the timing just makes no sense at all to us.  Think about the man born blind from John 9. When the disciples of Jesus viewed his disability, they questioned whether it was the result of the man’s sin or if it was the result of his parents’ sin.  Jesus said neither.   In fact, Jesus then showed His disciples that the man was born blind for this ordained moment in history.  Jesus said the man was disabled so he could be healed.  God the Father orchestrated this time and place so God the Son could be glorified. 
 
Only God can heal the blind.  In His wisdom God chose that this man was to be born blind, so that you and I would have the opportunity to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  A series of events began many years before that day that started with a man being born without his sight and our Lord and Savior being born in a manger.  And at the correct time, by no coincidence, Jesus healed that man, giving us the opportunity to believe that the Son of Man has the power to heal, and therefore the power to forgive sins. 
 
So, lines might not form behind me because of my super powers. Maybe it is just the timeline on which I live my life that results in people queuing in my wake.  The real question is, what am I going to do with that line of people waiting there behind me?  God knew from the foundation of the world that we would all just be waiting there together.  Perhaps He sent me to start a line so that they might know that the Son of Man has the power to forgive their sins. 
 
That is my kind of Element Time. 
 

When We Struggle

by Mike & Deb Harman
Sometimes the circumstances or realities of my life push me to flounder until I remember who God is… 
 
It reminds me of Hagar in the book of Genesis. In chapter 16, she named an area "The God Who Sees" when God met her in great distress. Later, in Genesis 21:8-21, God revealed Himself once more to her in her dire need, this time as "The God Who Hears" (when Ishmael was crying in the desert, God provided a well for water). In the same way, in our lives, God has certainly has both seen and heard us.
 
In addition to seeing and hearing, God also knows us, as demonstrated in the story of the Exodus: “…and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel – and God knew” (Exodus 2:23-25, ESV). What exactly does it mean for God to “know” in this sense? In Redemption, by Mike Wilkerson, it states, "Knowing here conveys deep, personal, intimate knowledge and pity for His people. He was paying attention and grieving over their plight." William Edgar states, "To be known by God is to be loved, to be in the best place you could possibly be. This is because God now bears the burden, not the people. Knowledge here means full acknowledgement and commitment to intervene." He is “The God Who Knows.” He knows every injustice, painful experience, sickness, and dashing of hope in this life.
 
The Apostle Paul has all of this in mind when he tells us, "So take heart! Though our outer selves are wasting away, our inner selves are being renewed day by day. For this light, momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory. So we look not to the things that are transient, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are unseen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Zephaniah 3:17 also says, "The Lord your God is with you; He is mighty to save. He will delight in you. He quiets your soul with His love. He rejoices over you with singing." We are also told in Philippians 4:5-8: "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious in anything. But in everything by prayer & supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

What is even more amazing is not only does God see, hear, and know us, but in Jesus, He has also acted to rescue, redeem, and restore us; God intervenes in our lives in a most radical way. Hagar and her son were rescued because God acted on their behalf, not because of anything they had done--we are rescued for the exact same reason.
 
Our God, who sees, hears, knows, and then acts, does so because of His character and nature. God is always perfectly good, righteous, and just; nothing touches our lives but through His love. He is fully able, due to His omnipotence, and He is faithful; He is never caught off guard or late. Because of who God is, He always trumps our circumstances; we are not left to the whims of others or to our own devices. In Him, we find comfort, peace, and rest as we choose to trust Him – His character, His nature, His involvement in seeing our situations, hearing our hearts, knowing every detail of our lives, and then acting in our midst (on our behalf).
 
Remember, He is the God Who Sees, Hears, Knows, and Acts.

Thank You for Supporting Tape Day!

by Element Christian Church


Thank you to everyone who contributed to Tape Day at Element! We raised over 750 dollars to help send kids to camp! Camp will be June 29th-July 4th!




What is Tape Day?

by Element Christian Church

What is Tape Day? Good Question!



Purchase your tickets to Tape Day 2014 this Sunday!

Imputed Righteousness

by Mike Harman
If we were to read Romans chapters 1-3:20 (which you should, because Romans is amazing)  without an understanding of the gospel, without knowing of our rescue, we could and should come away feeling desperate, lost, and hopeless. It’s a good thing we don’t stop at Romans 3:20, however, because verse 21 says: “But now…..” telling us something has changed. This change is something dramatic and pivotal, as evidenced by those two amazing transitional words, “But now.”
 
Many people who call themselves Christians have thought about this, but don’t believe it. Even on our worst day, we have the righteousness of God! This righteousness reveals all my unrighteousness; it reveals my self-righteousness, leaving me totally exposed and desperately in need of help. “But now,” God’s righteousness has been imputed, credited, deposited to my “account” (Romans 4:3). Do we really believe we have God’s righteousness, even on days when we are at our worst? Yes.
 
Romans 3:21-4:25 reveals the “what” of the “But now,” and it’s changed everything.  Romans 3:21-22 says, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it (it’s been there all along, not something new, but now clearer) – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”  By believing what is true, by trusting God, through faith in Jesus Christ, He interrupts, interjects into my life the “But now.” I am now able to be reconciled and restored to God.  I am acceptable to God, pleasing to God, now, always, even on my worst day – rescued from myself, from my treason, my adultery, because I have the righteousness of God.
 
What is this righteousness of God? God’s righteousness is His being fully upright and just; it is the combined perfections of God’s character and nature (goodness, faithfulness, sovereignty, absolute power, beauty, creativity, etc.) that vindicate His judgments and actions; these reveal Him to be trustworthy and true.  Some people have said that the Gospel is simply too good to be true, but it is true!  And that is what makes it scandalous: that people like you and me can have the righteousness of God. 
 
How can it be?  To all who believe He gives this  gift!  Humanity lives in absolute selfish rebellion, self-gratifying adultery against God, living in enmity toward Him, running away from Him, bent on doing life our own way, and He comes after us to rescue, redeem and restore us to Himself. Romans 5:8: but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Colossians 1:13 also remind us that we are given this exact righteousness before God. It sounds heretical. 
 
I do not live this righteousness out every day, but one day I will, because of what Jesus has done, and is currently doing in me by the Holy Spirit. Philippians 1:6: And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Phil 2:13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

In Romans 3:21-26, Paul articulates how we’ve been made righteous, having been justified by his grace, having been redeemed by the payment of Jesus, and spared God’s wrath by it being poured out on Jesus.
 
This blog only took me two months to write, but in a future blog I’d like to further explore this righteousness of God that is now ours (for those who believe and by faith receive it). Until then, ask yourself if you really believe in God’s imputed righteousness. Are you brokenhearted about your own unrighteousness? Turn to Jesus in faith and believe; trust what is true about you now, since you believed and trusted in Jesus. Believing this will change your life; it will free you from the snares of sin and the smug, proud, alienating attitude of self-righteousness. Believe it!

Four Letter Words

by Michelle Gee
…and not the kind you’re thinking of.
 
I was hanging out with some friends recently, and the topic of personality happened to come up. This subject has always fascinated me—my husband and I even took a whole semester-long course on it in college (yes, we are psychology nerds). I am always amazed to learn about the differences in the way people think, feel, and relate to one another, whether I observe these differences in real life, or read about them in a textbook. I encouraged these particular friends to take the Myers-Briggs assessment, so we could compare and learn more about each other. After they shared their results, I was curious to see if mine had changed since I last took the test a few years ago. My result? INFJ (introverted intuitive feeling judging)—just slightly different from my previous result of INFP (you can take your own Myers-Briggs assessment here: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp).   
 
Understanding your own personality can be beneficial, as the insight can help you identify your patterns of behavior, strengths, and weaknesses, but it’s so easy to fixate on what makes you different from other people. As a result, there can be a tendency to have a feeling of superiority or skepticism toward those who are different. How often have you wished that someone would think or behave the way YOU would? Sometimes I feel like so much conflict could be avoided if this was the case, and it’s often easy to fall into the trap of wanting, or even expecting, everyone to understand me. As a Christian, however, the call to love and relate to others is of the utmost importance, as the corporate mission of the Church is to glorify God. The urgency of this calling does not allow us to stand back and wait for others to “get” or accommodate who we are. We are to partner with our brothers and sisters in Christ, who have been uniquely created to serve various roles in the Kingdom:
 
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.  For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,  so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.. [Romans 12:3-5]
 
Contrary to many personality theories I encountered in college, Christianity does not simply discount our weaknesses (sin) as part of our personality. Rather, through His grace, Jesus offers us redemption and the promise of His continued work in who we are. One of my favorite verses is Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” To me, this is just good news on top of the good news! Not only have we been saved from the consequences of our sin, but we have also received the promise of Christ’s sanctification in our lives. There is hope beyond our personality…we are being made more like Jesus!
 
With this understanding, we can view those around us as unique creations with differences to be celebrated, and we can give grace for the weaknesses we observe. Instead of being bound to a four-letter personality, we have infinite hope through our identity in Christ.

Baptism Stories - April 6, 2014

by Element Christian Church

 


Last Sunday was our Baptisms, and we had 7 people show their faith by being baptized! If you didn't make it, or missed reading the stories, this week's 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.

His Will Not Mine.

by Jonathan Whitaker
This week I got that old familiar feeling, that nervous tension in my stomach that means only one thing… it’s time to move again.  Jennifer and I have been at this a long time, both of us were Air Force Brats, Air Force Officers and Air Force Spouses, so we have said our share of goodbyes.  Some are harder than others.  This one was a Duisey.

For us, leaving our friends at Element, the people we serve along-side, people with whom we share our lives, people who have become aunts and uncles to our little chicks, was truly as hard as leaving family.  For the simple fact that you have become our family.

So, now I have a problem.  I want to serve God, but I want to do it by serving all of the people I love at Element.  It seems I have two options in this case.  First, I could sulk and tell God, “I wanna be with my friends in Santa Maria.”  Sure, why not, I had a good run there, I could just quit my job and move in with James and Hailey!  Or, I could do what I did the last time I left a group of people whom I loved… I can trust that God is sovereign and that He has a plan that is already in the works. 

How do I know this is true?  Well, because of you.  As I left San Antonio, a place I love, in Texas, which is home to 90% of our blood family, I prayed that God would give my family a home, community and a mission in Santa Maria.  I think we can agree that He did just that. 

In his greetings to the Roman Church, Paul expresses his deep desire to minister to them,  “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.  For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—  that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.” Romans 1:9-12.    Element brothers and sisters, I am Paul and you are my Rome. 

As God was faithful to give you to me the first time, He will no doubt have a fruitful ministry awaiting Jennifer and me in Washington DC.  This has to be the case, or He would not have excused me from the important work that you are doing at Element.  For this same reason, I know that he will bring us back to you.  On a side note, next time we see each other, we will all be older, fatter and grayer, so everyone just be cool, alright!

Here is my blessing over you.  Keep up the pace, forge strong bonds with one another, be kind and forgiving, don’t let the sun set on your anger with one another, become a community of the Gospel that God can use to accomplish His work in Santa Maria.

For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.”  Romans 16:19

Signing off,
Jonathan & Jennifer Whitaker

We'll Miss The Viper-Stache

by Element Christian Church


It is with deep sadness that we said goodbye to one of our Elders and his family this weekend. Jonathan & Jennifer Whitaker, you have truly been a blessing to Element over the past four years. We will miss you dearly. Thank you for your friendship, love, encouragement and devotion to this little church family. Thank you for getting involved and sharing your life with us, for showing us what it means to lead by serving and giving it all you got. We pray many blessings on your journey and that God will use you at your next assignment to bless another church like you have us. 

We love you, 
The Element Staff
 
#GoodbyeWhitakers #viperstache

Blessed Are

by Element Christian Church
Today's blog comes from the wisest person who ever lived:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
 
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
 
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
 
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
 
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
 
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
 
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

One of "thems" weeks

by Michael Reed
Well, it is one of "thems" weeks where there is a lot going on, but the crowning jewel of this week is that Sunday Daylight Savings begins. Which, we all know what that means... we set our clocks FORWARD an hour (on Saturday night) and lose what feels like five hours of sleep, but more importantly, Aaron will be grumpy on Sunday. 
 
Grumpiness is ok though, we have a lot of great things happening this week, so check them out if you are depressed like us about the state of exhaustion that will occur on Sunday...
  • This Wednesday Element University starts at 6:30pm in the Sanctuary!
  • Saturday is Cinderella's Closet from 10am-3pm, let any girls know who could be blessed by a dress for prom!
  • Sunday, right after each service, we will have our Baptism Class in the "Office" Classroom. You don't need to signups, just come check out what it means to be baptized, and what you need to do to be baptized, and ask any questions you might have. We hope it won't be more than 20 minutes long. 
Lots of stuff happening, but we hope you remember Jesus is Lord over time, stands above it, and so we thank Him for for every night of sleep and every day we get to be a part of what He is doing in and through Element.

 

Mixed Messages From A Cookie Box

by Element Christian Church
I had a strange thing happen at work the other day…

A co-worker of mine mentioned that her daughters, who attend a Christian school in town, were selling chocolate bars as part of a fundraiser. She brought up the possibility of bringing the box in, but was hesitant, since the box clearly displays the name of the school and its church affiliation. After another co-worker and I told her that wouldn’t be a problem, she mentioned that the box also has the phrase, “Saving the world from sinners.”

This was when I cringed.

This “short and sweet” phrase may seem harmless enough—just a tool for cute kids to use while spreading joy through delicious chocolate, but this is yet another example of poor theology rearing its ugly head. I couldn’t help but wonder what my non-Christian, spiritually ambiguous co-worker thought of that phrase—the world needs to be rescued from people like ME? Too often, this is the mentality of evangelical culture…it is us (the good guys, the “saved,” the churchgoers) vs. them (the bad guys, the sinners, the non-churchgoers). Maybe it’s just me, but this seems to strongly contradict Biblical passages like:
  • …For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… [Romans 3:23]
  • All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way… [Isaiah 53:6]
  • Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned [Romans 5:12]
Another thing that immediately stood out when I heard this phrase was the assumption that sinners (people) are the enemy. We know from Scripture that is not true: “ For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” [Ephesians 6:12]. Who are our enemies, then? Satan, sin, and death…and Jesus has victoriously conquered them all for us through his death and resurrection.

As fellow sinners, we should be going out into the world—loving ALL people (as Christ first loved us) and sharing the joy of our true enemies’ defeat. After all, what could be any sweeter than a message like that?

This blog is from the computer of Michelle Gee, one of our newer worship leaders.

What's Next For Element

by Element Christian Church


An update on what's happening at Element and what lies in our future. There will be much more to come, but for now we ask for your prayers. If you attend Element, you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for any questions you have.

 

How Many Pumpkins?

by Element Christian Church
This Sunday is our annual Pumpkin Killing and we thought we would play a little game to see who gets to launch the cannon first! How many pumpkins are in the pile pictured below? Either text in your vote to 805.310.4229 or go to our facebook page and guess in the comment section. And we'll see you Sunday at 2pm.

How Many Pumpkins?


UPDATE: Congratulations to Sarah McCool for closest guess of 275 pumpkins. There were a total of 279 total!

Sarah Launching the first pumpkin!