Stolen Lost Refound

by Aaron

Do you remember the Chipmonks? Yes, I mean THOSE chipmunks. They sang that horrible song in keyboard falsetto, “Christmas Christmas Time Is Here.” I don’t know if that was the title, but it is really all I can remember (well that and someone wanting a hool-a-hoop).
 
It’s that time of year and that song won’t leave my head, so I figure I better make the best of it and write a blog. So, yes, it is Christmas time and I am going to regurgitate something from a couple years ago because someone asked me if we should be celebrating Christmas (with it’s pagan roots) today.
 
Christmas (Christ's Mass) was originally (in the most simple terms) a way to give many of the people embracing Christianity something that felt familiar. New believers would be leaving all they knew behind (their pagan festivals) so the church decided to celebrate the birth of Christ in a way that helped many worship God through a tradition that connected better with them.
 
Trees, ornaments, presents, snow men...all these were later additions tacked on to the holiday, but originally it was simply a way to help people connect with Christ BETTER. It was not an attempt to paganize Christianity (as many opponents today would say); it was a way to get the message to better connect and resonate with those they were trying to reach.
 
The birth and the death of Christ were always linked in the early church. The Greeks and the Romans had different approaches to “sacrament” and “mystery” though.

  • Greeks, who tended to be more ‘theological’ in the early church leaned toward what was called the ANASTASIS (the day of resurrection) to be the supreme Christian feast.
  • The Romans agreed in principle, but in practice they came to prefer Christmas (the feast of His BIRTH) as the supreme celebration. Roman’s actually invented Christmas.

For the Greeks, the first celebration wasn’t the birth of Jesus, it was Christ’s INFANCY. They celebrated this on (what we would call) January 6th...it was called the Epiphania (the showing forth) and the feast celebrated how the Persian magi RECOGNIZED Jesus (this actually took place at the age of about 2 years old for Jesus.)
 
The Christmas holiday of Rome eventually rolled all of this into one event. Christmas came to represent the “showing forth” and the birth in one event (hence the wise men in most nativities, when the actual fact was Jesus was almost 2 when they showed up).
 
If Christmas is done rightly today, it can be a powerful holiday. The question, for us, comes down to "what is the focus?" Do we focus on Christ, is He better lifted up and proclaimed because of Christmas? Or are we like everyone else and lose the true meaning of the holiday? Romans 8:28 reminds us, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ALL THINGS, even a holiday that was stolen, lost, re-found, and lost again. I get to tell people more about Jesus at Christmas then another time during the year.
 
I think that’s a pretty good deal.

Priorities

by Aaron

Sometimes we don't even notice so many things about our lives until they are staring us right in the face. Take the following picture for example:

I was looking at our house all decorated for Christmas. I saw the tree, the lights, the presents (never enough), the cookies baking, the smells, and the stockings. The stockings are what caught my eye. Here in this picture you see mine on the left, my wife's next to it, and the gigantic one on the right is the dog's.
 
How in the world does the dog's stocking dwarf, on an unimaginable scale, human peoples stockings? See, it's priorities. When we are not thinking, something as benign as this can really make us do a double-take.
 
Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Too often we allow our lives to be like the stockings in this picture. God's kingdom in our lives begins to look like the miniscule stockings that are hung with care, but end up easily overlooked in light of the overwhelmingly large stocking that we call our lives.
 
Some priority perspective would be good because our lives will make much more sense when God's Kingdom is the overly large stocking and our lives are the things that sit in its shadow.
 
So, this Christmas, get your priorities straight. Seek first HIS Kingdom, then everything else falls in the proper place.

One Blessing

by Aaron

In Genesis 27 Isaac gives “the blessing” to Jacob (his second son) by being tricked.  Later when Esau comes in and wants “the blessing,” why does Isaac act like there was only one blessing? Can’t there be more than one blessing?

What a great question…the answer is: yes and no.
 
The specific blessing that God had said was going to go to Jacob, the one through whom the nation of Israel would be birthed and would ultimately lead the Messiah, there was only one of those.  I even think that if Isaac did in fact try to give that promised blessing to Esau it would not have come out like he intended (much like Balaam when he attempts to curse Israel in Numbers 22).
 
When Esau begs to get the blessing too, I believe Isaac understands the truth of the situation, that God had decided to work through Jacob. Many commentators believe that when Esau cried (Genesis 27:38) for the lost blessing, it was not the spiritual portion, but the monetary portion, that he didn’t want to lose. Esau was a man of the field who cared more for a bowl of stew than he did his birthright.
 
The blessing Isaac intended to give to Esau, the one that Jacob stole, was one of monetary blessing, not spiritual blessing. The spiritual blessing, that God said would be Jacob’s, is given to him by his father in chapter 28. Many believe that Isaac always intended to give Jacob the promised blessing and that the blessing he was going to give to Esau was always strictly going to be a monetary one as evidenced by the words, “May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine” (Genesis 27:28). Whether this is true or not is open for debate.
 
It could also be that Isaac didn’t want to have to choose between his two sons, the way his father had. Isaac seems to intend to bless both of his sons because Isaac does give Esau a blessing. Genesis 27:39-40 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: “Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be, and away from the dew of heaven on high. By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck.”
 
These blessings were sort of a prophecy of what would come to pass in Jacob and Esau’s lives. Eventually Esau settles in the mountains below the Dead Sea (known as Idumea; Genesis 33:16; 36:8-9; Deuteronomy 2:4-5). This nation became known as Edom.
 
During the Exodus the Edomites opposed the Israelites when they attempted to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:14-21; Judges 11:17). In the Torah, God told the Israelites to be kind to the Edomites (Deuteronomy 23:7-8), but after the Israelites entered Palestine, warfare occurred with the Edomites and they were subdued (1 Samuel 14:47-48; 2 Samuel 8:13-14).

  • In 2 Samuel 8:13-14 King David had a victory that achieved dominant control over Edom during his reign.
  • During King Solomon's reign, the Edomites rebelled (1 Kings 11:14-22), but were subjected again.
  • The Edomites were under the control of King Jehosphat according to 1 Kings 22:47-50.
  • The Edomites were defeated again by King Amaziah (2 Chronicles 25:11-12).
  • The book of Obadiah eventually pronounces judgment on Edom for all of their treacheries. Malachi 1:2-5 clearly indicates the same message that some day they would be defeated and cease to exist as a nation.

Esau’s descendants went through periods of submission and freedom. When the Babylonians defeated the nation of Israel, the Edomites had allied themselves with the Babylonians and celebrated the victory. Essentially, Edom finally “broke the yoke” from their neck.
 
History tells us that the capital of the Edomites was Petra. It was supposedly a magnificent city, but today it is nothing but ruins.
 
Sorry to end on a downer, but all life, apart from Christ, is a downer.

ITTTTSSSS TIIIMMMEEE

by Aaron

Christmas is right around the corner and I have been busy putting up some Christmas lights. I wanted to turn them on but my wife says it is too soon, that I have to wait until after Thanksgiving.  My friend David, who is like a Christmas light black belt, told me he just put his up…which makes me think I should be able to turn mine on.
 
I know, if you are like me, you wonder who sets the correct times and days on who gets to put up decorations. I also know that there are people who keep their decorations up too long, I mean, there is no way I should have to see Christmas lights in July. It is a terrible conundrum for me to be in, though…to light or not to light, that is the question.
 
So tomorrow I will get James to go out with me to help finish putting up lights. You are probably asking, “Why James?” Well, James helps because I am getting old and wouldn’t survive a fall off the roof, but I am reasonably sure he has like a 50% chance of making a full recovery if something catastrophic happens (my roof is very steep).
 
You are probably also, at this point, wondering what the point of this blog even is…seriously? It’s Christmas! The most wonderful time of the year! Chestnuts roast on open fires, reindeer fly, snowmen (I call them the White Walkers) roam the earth, and we celebrate God coming in human flesh to save the world.
 
Put up some lights, celebrate with joy, because no matter the circumstances in our lives, our God loves us more than we could ever imagine. Luke 2:10-11 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
 
I bring you good news of great joy as well, it’s Christmas time…we at Element hope and trust you will have a Merry Little One.

Two Sons

by Aaron

In Genesis 22 you kept referencing how the scriptures say that God told Abraham to take his “only son,” didn’t Abraham have more than one son? 

First, yes, Abraham did have more than one son. We have spent many weeks talking about Isaac and Ishmael, but in Geneses 22:2 God says Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love…” and when God substitutes a ram for Isaac in the sacrifice (Genesis 22:12) God says, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
 
I believe your question is why does God say, “your only son,” when He knows Abraham has more than one. The answer is, don’t worry, God didn’t forget about Abraham’s other son. There are two simple explanations for this.
 
First, with the departure of Ishmael from Abraham’s household, Isaac had become, in that cultural mindset, Abraham’s only son.
 
Secondly, and more importantly, we get to look at the events of Genesis 22 through the lens of Christ. Almost every line in Genesis 22 can relate to God and His son Jesus. When God says “take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love…” it can be related directly to Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:17 when God says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
 
The idea of Abraham taking his only son relates to God sending his only son to die as a substitutionary atonement for people. The point is NOT that Abraham didn’t have any other son, it is Abraham taking his only son of the promise, “the son he loved,” and offering Him to God before everything else.
 
There are also connotations of what “love” and “hate” mean in the cultural context of the Hebrews at this time, but no one has asked me about it…so I will wait until someone does (haha).

Angel of the Lord

by Aaron

In your sermon this past Sunday you said when the Bible talks of "the angel of the Lord" that it refers to that angel being Jesus. However, John 1:1 states that Jesus was God. If He is God then how could Jesus be an angel or the angel? If Jesus is God, then how can He be, or ever was, an “angel?”
Sincerely, Confused follower
 

Please don’t be confused. First there is a big difference in the scriptures between AN “angel of the Lord” and THE “angel of the Lord.” AN angel is just an angel, THE angel, I pointed out, usually refers to Jesus.
 
Let me begin my long explanation.
 
Sometimes we take a word and change it’s meaning. Like Kleenex, it’s a brand, but now any tissue (whether generic or actual) is called Kleenex. The term Xerox was used a few years ago the same way; a lot of people say would say, “Xerox that” meaning “make a copy” not actually use a Xerox machine.
 
The term “angel” today has fallen victim to the same mindset. We have the word “angel” and made it an entity and not a description. When I say “angel” from the front, everyone sees wings, harps, and halos. The term angel, in its roots, simply means “messenger” or “one who is sent;” as a matter of fact even human beings are called “angels.” In the book of Revelation, the leaders of the 7 churches (pastors) are referred to as “angels” because they are to bring God’s message.
 
But, when we read “The Angel of the Lord,” there is no reason why it cannot be Jesus.
 
THE Angel of the Lord first appears in Genesis 16:7 and then intermittently throughout the early Old Testament books. We must be able to differentiate from the context whether the word refers to the office of the sent one or to the nature of a created and finite being.
 
In some contexts the term "angel of the LORD" refers to nothing more than any other angel (as in Judges 6:11). But as the narrative of Genesis progresses, sometimes the term “angel” transcends the angelic category and is described in terms suited only to a member of the Trinity.

  • After being told that Hagar had been speaking with the angel of the Lord (four times in Gen 16:7, 9-11), Genesis 16:13 informs us that Hagar "gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: `You are the God who sees me.'"
  • Jacob's testimony in Genesis 48:15-16 identifies the God in whose presence his fathers Abraham and Isaac had lived as "the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm."
  • This angel spoke to Jacob earlier in a dream and identified himself by saying, "I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me" (Gen 31:11, 13).
  • Exodus 3:2-6 the phrase "the angel of the LORD" is used interchangeably with "the LORD." In fact the angel claims, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob" (Ex 3:6).
  • In Genesis 22 THE angel swears by “himself” because there is nothing higher or greater (22:16) and tells Abraham He hasn’t withheld his son from Him (22:12) when God was the one who called him to the act.

The ANGEL, in the above verses, has divine qualities, prerogatives and authority. He has the power to give life (Gen 16:10) and to see and know all (Gen 16:13; Ex 3:7). We know that only God can forgive sin, yet this angel did the same in Exodus 23:21. THE angel performed miracles such as keeping a burning bush from being consumed (Ex 3:2), smiting Egypt with plagues (Ex 3:20), calling forth fire on the rock to consume the meal set for him (Judges 6:21) and ascending the flame of the altar (Judges 13:20).
 
AN angel was not to receive worship, but THE angel commanded and received worship from Moses (Ex 3:5) and Joshua (Joshua 5:14). 
 
Again, in a Hebraic context “angel” doesn’t have to mean simply be a created being (like Michael or Gabriel), though it can mean that); But it can also mean the one delivering God’s message, which can actually, at times, be God Himself. 

A Recap of Waiting

by Aaron
I thought I might reiterate what we talked about a couple weeks ago in regard to waiting on God as seen in Abraham’s life. Sometimes we get so preoccupied with ourselves that we neglect what is most important, our relationship with Jesus and others. God made promises to us as His people.

God promises to be not just our future, but also our hope. In the scriptures HOPE is also a form of waiting on God. Romans 8:24-25 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

God’s promises to Abraham were:
  1. A son.This promise lead to Abraham learning patient trust because he had to wait for this son for 25 years, but God was always true to His promise.
  2. A blessing. The blessing to Abraham should have led him to BE a blessing.  For a very long time Abraham lived a self-centered life until God taught him confidence and humility. Confidence that God is true to his words and humility (this is the opposite of arrogance and boasting), because it is God who is true to His word.
  3. A Land. Abraham never even sees all of the land become his, he gets a well and eventually a cave. But it is trusting God’s promises that give him an inextinguishable hope, because God always come through.
By looking through the scriptures we constantly see that God always seems slow, and yet He is right on time. Trying to rush God doesn’t get humanity anywhere except more and more frantic and lost.
 
Our admonition to you this week is to slow down, enjoy what God has placed before you, and simply trust that He is able to work out all things with His promised words.

The Same Old Way

by Aaron
in FAQ

In your THIS IS ELEMENT video you state, "we have a huge influx and convergence of social groups that has not been met by the local church just doing the same old thing in the same old way." What is the same old thing and the same old way?

Glad you asked, and I would recommend at some point you listen through our Gospel Class as the weeks on Missional Church cover this very idea. I reiterate, listen to the WHOLE Gospel Class as it all fits together, bits and pieces won't help.
 
Most people are indoctrinated into church culture before they understand the truth of the freedom of the gospel (we are taught the correct jokes, dress, views on alcohol, and political affiliation before we truly understand the gospel). This causes such a rift in people's views of God as they grow because they find it hard to differentiate between the legalism they have been taught, and the grace that comes from the gospel.
 
For the last couple hundred years people have been taught that you bring someone to church, a revival, a bible study…then they hear the "gospel"…then you ask "do you believe in Jesus, do you know where you will go when you die," as if the point of Jesus is about our death and not our life (Luke 20:38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.) Don't get me wrong, I love Billy Graham and plenty of churches are still working with this model, but it is becoming less effective.
 
If people believe and confess they are then welcomed into the community, if not we keep "working" on them until they do believe. This is what is called "Roman Evangelism" and it looks like this: Believe, Behave, Belong. That is how most churches do it, and it worked for a really long time, but I think that will be less and less effective as time moves on because our society is becoming increasingly pagan in its cultural values (it is why we hear statements like: "there is no absolute truth, everything is relative," and, "it just 'works' for me.")
 
What Element believes a church in America must do is follow a Celtic type of model that looks like this: Belong, Believe, Behave. George Hunter in The Celtic Way of Evangelism lays this out really well. Today we should invite people to belong to our community, love them, take care of their needs and invite them to participate in the life of the church as we give and serve each other and the community. If we are truly living missionally, most people will see a difference in how we worship and begin to understand Jesus by not just our words, but by what we do, and they in turn would believe as well. Once they believe they continue on with what they already are doing, living the life of gospel, but now with the strength of God's Spirit living in and through them. Their lives and attitudes change because it is Christ who is changing them.
 
There are all kinds of ways to better understand the individual sub-cultures we live in as well (I would also recommend Center Church by Tim Keller, but also the Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler about keeping the gospel as it is while living on Mission). You can click here: http://audio.ourelement.org/gospelclass/pdf/000.Gospel_Class.pdf and get our gospel class booklet, on page 39 is a chart of how Belong, Believe, Behave is lived out.  

Confession - Justification - Sanctification

by Aaron
in FAQ

There are many people out there called "grace teachers." There are also many things they teach which bother me like ‘as believers we do not need to confess our sins,’ and sanctification being a one time process at salvation (putting justification and sanctification all into one basket). Another weird teaching would be that we do not need to repent.  Could I have your thoughts?

I don’t know if this will make sense…but much of this can be found in our Gospel Class Lesson 3 about salvation.

I believe that all of our sins have already been forgiven at the moment of the cross, so in one sense asking for forgiveness doesn't make sense, but confession does. 2 Cor 7:10 tells us that godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. Many of these teachers see repentance too closely resembling guilt (I believe) and misrepresent it...repentance is stepping away from what drug us into sin in the first place. We are to confess our sins to each other, as it will keep us accountable and help us to grow. Repentance is what we then do in our remorse for our sin...walk away from it. Because we have been forgiven doesn't give us the right to live as antinomians (those who believe everything is OK to do because we have been forgiven).

Element holds the position that sanctification could be defined as "salvation in present time." We are saved positionally, but are being made daily more into the likeness of Christ. Hebrews 10:14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Through the blood of Christ we ARE holy, but are being remade and renewed, so to speak, everyday to be conformed to the likeness of the Son. God initiates, marks out, and secures our salvation, and it cannot be broken. What He begins, He is sure to end (bring to completion). 

We also hold that sanctification fuses man’s responsibility, God’s work, and the church’s equipping in the process of a believer’s growth in Christ.

  • Ephesians 4:11-16 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
     
  • Philippians 2:12-13Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
     
  • Romans 8:28-30 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God,to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son,so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”


The chain of salvation works like this:

  • Foreknowledge is God’s intimate knowledge of events and His people –before the foundation of the world He predestined, He knew us. This causes much controversy.
  • Called has to do with conversion or bringing of one to faith.
  • Justified means to be legally acquitted from wrongdoing (this is past tense for those in New Covenant relationship with Jesus).
  • Sanctification (salvation in present time) is the process of maturity as God conforms us to His Son’s image. As I said, sanctification fuses man’s responsibility, God’s work, and the church’s equipping in the process of a believer’s growth in Christ.
  • Glorification is the final completion of God’s purpose in salvation, which includes our death and resurrection.

Sacrifice Today

by Aaron
I had a friend recently send me a question that one of their friends asked them, here it is:
You look over your fence, only to see that your neighbor has his son tied down on a table, and is standing over him with a knife. You ask the neighbor what he is doing, to which he replies, "God told me to sacrifice my child."

1.     What would you think, say, and/or do?
2.     Would the neighbor's religion change your answer to #1? How would you respond if you knew he was Jewish/Christian/Muslim etc...?"


My friend answered the question and it went further into details about today's world verses the world of Abraham. The person they were talking to asked "if God never changes, why wouldn't He ask someone to do this today." In the end she asked me what I thought and this is what I said, I hope it helps if anyone ever asks you this question:
 
God doesn't change, but people do. He grows us each and every day.

The scriptures are all about Jesus, the story of Abraham sacrificing his son is all about Jesus. Did God ever have any intent to let Abraham kill his boy? No. Did Abraham think for a moment he would not come back down from mount Moriah with his boy? No. He wasn't lying to his men when he says (Gen 22:5) “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” And Abraham wasn't lying to his son when he said (Gen 22:8) "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”

And, on the mountain, God did provide a sacrifice.

 
Would Abraham have sacrificed his son? Yes...but I think he believed no matter what, God would have raised his son from the dead because God had been true to His promises of THIS promised boy all along. AND IT WAS ON THAT MOUNTAIN THAT THE TEMPLE WAS EVENTUALLY BUILT! All of it was pointing to God's son who would actually die, and be resurrected, for His people.

It is not a random event, all of it has purpose, because all of it is about Jesus.

The problem comes when we think of ourselves as sophisticated moderns and the scriptures, and the people in them, as idiots who blindly followed a voice in their head they called "god." We think we are so much smarter and yet there is no outcry that 1/3 of all conceptions in America today are aborted...no one is jumping over a fence to hold back the knife from those kids. Today we worship at the altar of comfort, security, and our own (over-inflated) opinion of our intellect. If only we were as trusting as Abraham, things could be much different.

And, as far as God asking someone to do this today...it's not a valid question. OF COURSE God would not have someone do this today, the point was Jesus, and Jesus came just as God foreshadowed and promised throughout the scriptures. It is why there is no sacrificial system today (or a temple), Jesus was the sacrifice, He was the temple.

It's all about Jesu
s (I think it is appropriate to add a "WOOT WOOT" right here).

Sanctity of Women

by Aaron
Please elaborate on what you mean by this phrase (context: Genesis 19, Week 31, Like Salt in the Water): "Men, if you don't get your head straight about the sanctity of women it will corrupt your relating to the opposite sex?"
 
Usually when I make a comment like the one listed above I have a million other things swirling in my head about it as well. Let me try to give a whittled down version of all that was in my head.
 
Our society today has completely missed the ideal that God intended when He made us male and female. Feminism and chauvinism are simply two sides of the same coin that seeks to pit men and women against each other, rather than understand the biblical truth that we are equal because we were created equal. Today, equality has become a fight, when it was never intended to be.
 
Feminism, as much as it claims to be about empowering women, also pushes women to be as much like men as possible. Women shouldn't have to be men, they should not have to be just as nasty, vulgar, or rude, they need to instead be distinctly women. Many men buy into feminism and support it because it is an easier way to get what they want, sex without commitment; all it serves to do is actually further chauvinism.
 
So men must get their head straight about the sanctity of women, those women who desire it and those who don't. Men must become the cultivators (of our jobs and families), the warriors (protecting those who need it and fighting against God's enemies), and the sages (those who live and breathe God grace) that God intends.
 
How do we BEGIN to do this? I think it will start with making covenantal promises where we struggle most. Job 31:1 Job saysI have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin? The word virgin means "young woman." Job recalls a personal commitment he had made regarding what he would and would not gaze at in seeking purity. He professes purity in avoiding sexual lust, Jesus even reinforced this idea for His people in Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
 
Pornography is like the enemy’s nuclear bomb that takes out almost every guy today. I think our commitment to sexual purity must be the place we begin in order to get our "head straight about the sanctity of women." For many guys this would include accountability with other men, the ability to speak openly about it to those we trust, and the freedom to call (or text) the moment temptation rears its ugly head.
 
There are many more steps in getting to the place where men and women value the sanctity of each other, but this, for men, is the best place to start. If we could get men to live this way I believe the tone and tenor of the debate about equality, sanctity, and value would completely change.

Baptism Stories - September 2, 2012

by Element Christian Church

 Baptism 2012 wide shot

Last Sunday was our Labor Day BBQ and 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.

Who Stinketh? We Stinketh!

by Aaron

Last night my dog was sprayed in the face by a skunk. I didn't know it, as she didn't freak out, she just became MORE excited about chasing her new friend in the back yard. I didn't know what the commotion was, so I told her to get in the house and go lay down. As soon as she came inside the entire house stunk, or stank, or (if you are King James) Stinketh.
 
It still even stinketh today after I left the windows open all night. The dog got 3 baths, not a pleasant experience for either of us, and all of her bedding, collar, and toys have been thrown away.
 
As I was lamenting the smell in my house, I started to realize that I had another great experience for a blog…skunks and sin. My dog does what we all do in regard to sin, play with it. When she got sprayed in the face by the odorous concoction of death she didn't stop, she kept thinking it was part of the game. Eventually everything she came into contact with began to stinketh, and she had the very unpleasant experience of 2 full body washes and three face washes.
 
Sometimes we think sin is so interesting and go headlong right into it. Look at how scripture speaks of sin:

  • Genesis 4:7 sin is crouching at the door…Its desire is for you…
  • Proverbs 13:6 sin overthrows the wicked
  • Luke 17:1 Temptations to sin are sure to come
  • Hebrews 3:13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin

And then in Psalms it reminds us:

  • Psalm 51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

Sin is spoken about as an entity that almost seems to have a will of its own, but truthfully, its will is ours. We are the ones who run after it, embrace it, and stink everything up in our lives because of it. Ephesians 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us…The beauty is the "BUT GOD."
 
God has saved us from sin, washed us clean, and (as the book of revelation says) given us new and fine clothes to wear. Yes, we chased the skunk, got sprayed, and stunketh…but God, who is ever rich in mercy, saved and washed us.

Beautiful.