MEN MEN MEN MEN MANLY MEN MEN MEN - MEN (PART 3)

by Aaron
In this short blog series we have talked about what God called men to be originally:
  • Men were meant to be Cultivators.
  • Men were meant to be Warriors
  • Men were meant to be sages.
We also looked at how the fall has effected all of us in how we relate to our original calling. Then we looked at why God brought promises of hardship after the fall and that true restoration comes only in Jesus.
 
In our world today, the gifts of cultivator, warrior and sage are still hardwired into men, but we have miss-used them because we misunderstand them. Let me give you 3 ways men misuse these gifts:
 
Some men abuse their masculinity and become bullies looking to lord power over others like Adam who blamed God and his wife for his own sins.
  • Proverbs 16:29 A violent man entices his neighbor and leads him down a path that is not good.
  • Proverbs 19:26 He who robs his father and drives out his mother is a son who brings shame and disgrace.
  • Proverbs 24:1-2 Do not envy wicked man, do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble.
  • Proverbs 28:15 Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked man ruling over a helpless people.
  • Proverbs 29:10 Bloodthirsty men hate a man of integrity and seek to kill the upright
Men who misunderstand masculinity will hate men who live righteously. In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul reminds us that man is the glory of God, being a bully and abusing power is NOT the glory of God.
 
Some men avoid their masculinity to get along (like Adam) who sat quietly and idly by while Satan declared war on his God and wife.
  • Proverbs 3:27: Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.
  • Proverbs 23:20-21 Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.
  • Proverbs 29:21 If a man pampers his servant from youth, he will bring grief in the end.
Many men today will not stand up for what is right and true because they are too worried about what others will think, or how hard it will be to live faithfully and consistently.
 
Some men abandon their masculinity to get away (like Adam) who fled from his God and wife when he sinned. Some men will get all fired up about righteousness and then realize it is a lot of work and quit like a man who says "I love you" to his wife and a few years later cheats on her or divorces her.
  • Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
  • Proverbs 24:10 If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!
  • Proverbs 27:8 Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home.
True masculinity honors its commitments. A marriage is forever and men will take responsibility for their home because it is their responsibility.
 
Next week we will wrap this up looking at the issue of headship.
 

...And the Winner Is...

by Element Christian Church
Congratulations to David Stovesand - Champion of the Moe-Karting Race day extravaganza. Check out the highlight video below, and be on the look out for the next MOE event coming this April. 

MEN MEN MEN MEN MANLY MEN MEN MEN - MEN (PART 2)

by Aaron

I wrote last week how living true masculinity is very hard to do, especially when a man hasn't lived this way in his past. It could take a family a very long time to get used to the idea of a man beginning to lead rightly…but men must NOT give up. They must press forward because it is part of our calling. From the book of Genesis we talked about 3 simple (though albeit very difficult) things God created men to be:

  • Men were meant to be Cultivators.
  • Men were meant to be Warriors.
  • Men were meant to be sages.

Because of the fall, sin has infected all the things we were called to be.

  • Because we sinned the ground itself has been cursed – Men now have opposition to their efforts to cultivate and rule over what we were supposed to steward and care for (his dominion - Genesis 3:16b, 3:17-19).
  • Because we sinned the testosterone God gave men to stand against suffering, fight evil, defend truth and justice, and protect the weak and vulnerable (especially women and children - Proverbs 31:8-9; 2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:10-18; I Timothy 1:18) has been turned upside down. Men now use what was meant to be good to fight against what is good and do great evil in the process.
  • Because we sinned we have turned being a sage into being a shaman. Instead of teaching truth most men teach lies to get what they want, rather than the truth that is so desperately needed.

God hands out promises of toil and pain because of our rebellion, but why? The answer is simple, because God loves us. The ground fights men because it reminds us of how WE fight God. God loves us and wants us to understand hope and surrender.
 
Given the choice to do it again, we would all sin and fall. Today we still think God is inadequate and that we know better than Him how to live our lives (the lives He has graciously given to us I might add). We all think God is trying to keep us from something. Should I drink that, sleep with them, flip them off, be patient, not think everyone is an idiot. We have all placed an "it" in our lives above what God calls us to.
 
We have all sinned and our shame stands in the open just like we were naked, like Adam and Eve. But Jesus takes our sins upon Himself, reconciles us to Him, and makes living our true calling an actual possibility. How do men become real men again, Jesus. This is the promise of Jesus.

MEN MEN MEN MEN MANLY MEN MEN MEN - MEN (PART 1)

by Aaron

Many men today are not worthy of respect because they do not understand or know their own calling to masculinity. Many times this comes about because they have never been taught what a man actually is, verses what a man is not. Most television stations and movies send messages that say a man is someone who can fight off 10 ruffians, run a full marathon, make love all night long, and run a successful business all in the same day.
 
Trying to live up to an ideal that is not attainable has destroyed most men's view of masculinity, and in turn, most men's view of women. The truth is that scripture constantly teaches that a man is someone who loves Jesus and follows through on his God given commitments. A man cares for his family. A man leads, loves, and guides them even when it is hard. A man accepts his shortcomings and seeks to grow past them while leading his family in a way that reflects Jesus.
 
Living true masculinity is very hard to do, especially when a man hasn't lived this way in his past. It could take his family a very long time to get used to idea of a man beginning to lead rightly…but men must NOT give up. They must press forward because it is part of our calling. What you see, from the book of Genesis is that God created men to be 3 simple (though albeit very difficult) things.

Men were meant to be Cultivators - God created men to cultivate an untamed land into a garden after the prototype of Eden (Genesis 2:5-8,15). This tells us men are created for work, challenge, competition, and the pioneering of new frontiers. Masculinity will be cultivated as men create and cultivate things to their optimal abilities. If a man gets bored or doesn’t love God he will cultivate sin.

Men were meant to be Warriors - God created men to rule on His behalf and therefore God’s enemies are to be man’s enemies. When Satan attacks, the man is supposed to fight; but most men fail to fight and go along with the crowd (Genesis 3:1-15). If a man doesn’t realize how God made them, they become a warrior towards women and wuss to those things he is SUPPOSED to fight.
 
Men were meant to be Sages - God created men to receive knowledge and wisdom and teach that to others, especially their wives and children (Gen 2:9, 2:16-18; Proverbs 4:1-4, 1-9; I Corinthians 14:33b-15; Ephesians 6:4).  This means that men must know their bible. Proverbs says if boys don’t get wisdom from their fathers, they get it from other men…and they may be getting lies.
 
Next week (in this blog) I would like to look at how the fall has affected masculinity and what we should be doing about it (and what Jesus has done about it).

Are you smarter than an eKid!?

by Element Christian Church

Are you smarter than an eKid!? Take the memory challenge! Memorize the following verses. If you can memorize them all, you’ll get the prize! Yes, that’s right, bragging rights over your 5 year old -- Good job you! Memorize the verses this month, and recite them (from memory) to your gc leader or at the Welcome Center! Download the verses here.



Is God a Community?

by Aaron
in FAQ

Is God a community? I've really been struggling with this idea lately. I looked up the definition of community in the dictionary and it defines community as:

 1: a unified body of individuals: as
a: state, commonwealth
b: the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly: the area itself <the problems of a large community>
c: an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location
d: a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society <a community of retired persons>
e: a group linked by a common policy
f: a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests <the international community


The definition of community as defined in Merriam Webster's dictionary doesn't seem to actually apply to God. Can you help me here? Because nowhere in the Bible does it actually say that God is a Community, and just because God is a Trinity doesn't mean you equate that with "community," because when you look up the definition of community, it doesn't fit. When you say this, do you have a different meaning of community in mind then what the dictionary defines it?


Answer:
1) The dictionary is not a theology book.
2) If a dictionary doesn't define it correctly, that doesn't make our statements untrue because we explain our definition on a regular basis.
3) If we took the definition for community from the dictionary then Gospel communities wouldn't be Gospel communities because that definition doesn't fit.
4) You even said "nowhere in the Bible does it actually say that God is a Community, and just because God is a Trinity doesn't mean you equate that with "community." Well, the word TRINITY isn't in the bible so does that mean God cannot exist as one?
5) Deuteronomy 6:4, the Shema "the Lord your God is ONE" is a term of a cluster of grapes. One cluster, many grapes. It is a nourishing, life giving RELATIONSHIP of community. Just as a man and a woman become ONE (same word) Flesh, God is ONE.
 
Rest assured God, in Himself is a community. For a greater understanding of this, I would recommend Tim Chester's Book A Meal With Jesus.

Becoming Anglican?

by Aaron
in FAQ

Question: Have you ever considered becoming Anglican? Are you familiar with the books by Robert E Webber? It raises some interesting church history/theology questions for churches.

What an odd question. Will we become Anglican? The short answer is no.
 
My long answer about becoming Anglican and Robert Webber is as follows (it's kind of long):
The Anglican Church traditionally venerates tradition over scripture; this is actually seen very clearly in Webber's writings. He writes romantically (I say that because I can't think of a better metaphor) about tradition, liturgy, and philosophy while seeming to neglect the weight and authority of the scriptures.
 
Don't misunderstand me, I believe Webber has many valid points. He writes that "Seeker-oriented contemporary churches argue that worship does not need to present the whole gospel. The purpose of worship, they say, is to get people in the door. Then, after they have gained a hearing, they present the gospel in small-group settings. This argument may be good marketing but it fails to understand the biblical purpose of worship." Again, this point is valid, but I do not think it applies to Element as we present the gospel every week, and many times more than that.
 
Webber is typical of most post-modern writers today, he criticizes Christianity's emphasis on "creation--sin--redemption" and replaces it with "creation--incarnation--recreation" - He seems to think that the two are mutually exclusive (where I think they go hand in hand). He thinks Christianity also concentrates too much on the sacrificial view of the atonement…he thinks this excludes seeing Jesus as Christus Victor (Jesus as the victor triumphing over sin, death and the powers of evil). In Webber's mind this has led to an individualistic form of Christianity in which people are concerned too much about redemption from sin and not enough about the rescue of fallen creation in the new heaven and earth (the new creation).

I hope you can see my dilemma. Just as Webber accuses the church today of not understanding the fullness of the gospel, he doesn't either because he neglects part of it as well. This is why I have issues with him, because he is so right and so wrong. Webber talks about the "redemption of the whole world," and while I know what that means to me; what does he mean when he says it? In his book Ancient - Future Worship he says:
  • It "has to do with God's rescue of the entire created order and the establishment of his rule over all heaven and earth" (pp. 57-58).
  • "Deliverance is for the sake of the world" (p. 59).
  • He complains that "worship now places greater attention on the individual's condition before God. The vision of God to reclaim the whole world and redeem all flesh and matter through the victory of Christ over sin and death scarcely appears" (p. 77, cf. pp. 90, 94, 96-97, 121).
These statements sound great, I might even make them on a Sunday morning or in a blog, but the issue is Webber never clearly defines the gospel. Is he saying that all mankind, along with all matter, will be redeemed and re-created? If so, then the message of personal redemption is indeed an over-emphasis, in fact it wouldn't be the point of the cross at all. However, if it is believers in Christ that Jesus paid for at the Cross, because of the sacrificial death of Christ, then we ARE saved individually (though our salvation is not meant to be lived in isolation).
 
My largest problem with Webber is that he makes statements like this, "I affirm the Bible as the final authority in all matters of faith and practice...However I draw on the foundational interpretation of the Church Fathers and the creeds and practices of the ancient church." (p. 19, cf. p. 68). In other words, final authority in reality does not rest in Scriptures, but in the church…that is a huge issue because it's wrong.
 
Webber also calls for us to resist intellectual analysis that he believes stems from the Enlightenment and read the Bible as true but "not for truths." In communion he encourages us to free our thinking from reason and science and embrace "mystery." We are to read the Bible "holistically, relationally, and passionately" (p. 125), rather than intelligently and rationally, for, "the intellect always dissects, makes judgments, analyzes, and sifts, but the heart listens, sees, feels, loves, fears, and believes" (p. 127). This is a false dichotomy between head and heart and an overreaction to those who think too much. Even the profit Jeremiah reminds us in 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"

Webber prefers Eastern over Roman liturgy that is centered not around Scripture, but around the Lord's Table; he writes much on this subject. He rejects all the major positions on the purpose and nature of the communion  and claims that the "ancient" view is, "When bread and wine are received in faith, we are transformed. Bread and wine nourish our union with Jesus. It transforms us into his image and likeness" (p. 140). This is not what communion is, it is a remembrance of what Jesus had done. Our redemption and hope…Jesus even said (Luke 22:19) "Do this in remembrance of me."

I do agree that there are so many things we will never totally comprehend about our God and His ways (mystery), but Webber's approach abandons the clear approach of Scripture itself and leaves far too much to our own imagination and to what others call "subjective mysticism." Webber is asking us to accept a form of Christianity not emerging from Scriptures but from the practices of men years after God had spoken His final word in the New Testament. This is the same approach that led to corruption in the "ancient" church and ultimately necessitated the Reformation.
 
I hope this makes sense. I personally call myself a believer, a follower, a Christian, rather than taking a label of a particular mode of church called "Anglican." I don't want to limit what God calls me to be and follow just one portion of the gospel, I want to follow all of it.  

Yes, There is Evil In The World

by Element Christian Church
Last Month, in light of the recent shootings, Aaron addresses people's fears and concerns in his sermon It's Not How You Play The Game. Our current society believes our struggle is only against flesh and blood, but the scxriptures teach that evil in the world is much deeper than that. The only thing that makes sense is the scripture's view of the world and the problem of evil in it.


 

The Holy War

by Aaron
Don’t worry, the title of this blog is not calling you to arms to fight something; it is simply the title of a book I read over Christmas break that made me think about Christianity today verses the world of 1682. If you don’t know, James and I both have Goodreads pages where we show you what we are/have read and sometimes write reviews…the following is one such review.
 
John Bunyon (1628-1688) is probably best known for his book The Pilgrims Progress rather than his lesser-known works, one of which is The Holy War (both books are supposed to be allegories for our spiritual life). When Bunion wrote The Holy War he was actually imprisoned for preaching without a license…this imprisonment lasted 12 years. You can see much of feelings come to play as the story unfolds in this book.
 
Mansoul is the name of a city that is under the great king Shaddai. No one can enter the town of Mansoul unless the city opens the gates from the inside.  A couple of the names of the cities gates are the Ear-gate and the Eye-gate; you can see how the allegory is going to play out.
 
Diabolus shows up outside the city and takes it captive by convincing the people that their Good King's laws are unjust. That He gives freedom to do anything except, essentially, disobey Him, these laws Diabolus says are unreasonable. The city listens (at the ear-gate) and opens themselves to Diablolus. As soon a Diabolus enters the city square he says, “I have done indeed this service, as to promote thee to honour, and greaten thy liberty.”
 
This is how our entire culture lives, even those within the church. We think that we should get to decide what is right for ourselves, we twist God’s words to make them say what we want them to say, and everything in the scriptures loses power as we turn the bible into a therapy book and not a book of relationship, hope, and most importantly, truth. We turn it into a book to "honour" ourselves, rather than honor our God.
 
The city falls into grievous sin and the remainder of the book is Emmanuel’s rescue of it. There are some great allegories in the book, but some things that struck me as a throw back to a by-gone era. In the Chapter titled “Serving One Master” the city roots out all those loyal to Diabolus, but the court proceedings sound a lot like witch trials. When the city begins a slow slide back into self-centeredness the passive aggressiveness of Emmanuel is disturbing.
 
I wonder what thoughts Bunyon harbored about Jesus from the words he wrote. Maybe it was part of his mingled Puritan, Baptist, Quaker background. At one point in Bunyon’s life he was so despondent over his past life that he said he experienced mental turmoil and extreme guilt.
 
So, two points…First, would I recommend The Holy War? Of course I would. I have an illustrated edition that would be great to read with kids. The book doesn’t shy away from judgment of sin, our own proclivity to deceive ourselves and how easily we are distracted from serving our true King. It would also be great discussion starters for how the righteousness, justice, and grace of God all go hand in hand.
 
Secondly, after reading this book I think we could all understand better the goodness of God who comes to seek and save us. Whereas when Diabolus wants to enter the city of Mansoul, the city must open itself to him…but after the city is in the control of Diabolus, when Emmanuel wants to enter the barred gates, He busts through them and takes the city.
 
I don’t know if this was Bunyon’s intention of writing the book the way he did, but from a reformed perspective it makes sense to me. Our God breaks downs the walls to save His people and nothing can stand in His way.
 
If you want to have a good discussion with your family, or even looking for a fun, odd, old school book starting a family devotion with your kids; how about this classic…it’s a good place to start.
 
Although, if I was being sarcastic, it would be hard to believe that a towns people couldn’t figure out that Mayor Lust or Mr Self-Love weren’t bad guys from the start. I mean, seriously, I would just change my name.

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.