ESV Propitiation

by Aaron

A discussion came up in my Gospel community a few weeks ago about why I like the ESV translation. One of my major things is that it uses the word Propitiation where it should be used. This then triggered all kinds of discussion like "what does that even mean." If you feel like reading, here is my answer.

Trying to make this understandable. I'll give you two words. Propitiation and Expiation.

  • Propitiation literally means to make favorable and specifically includes the idea of dealing with God’s wrath against sinners.
  • Expiation literally means to make pious and implies either the removal or cleansing of sin.

What we have to understand is that the idea of propitiation includes that of expiation as its means; but the word "expiation" has no reference to quenching God’s righteous anger. The difference is that the object of expiation is sin, not God. One propitiates a person, and one expiates a problem. Christ's death was therefore both an expiation and a propitiation. By expiating (removing the problem of) sin God was made propitious (favorable) to us.

I'm trying not to write a book here but where the ESV translates the Greek word 'hilasmos' as propitiation most other modern translations define it as atonement. Why does it bother me? Well, that is a theological question.

  • Propitiation is the work Jesus did on the cross to appease and satisfy God's wrath so sinners could be pardoned.
  • Atonement throughout the Old Testament meant "to cover." The Hebrew word is "kaphar" also "kippur". The same word is used for pitch, when Noah built the ark (Genesis 6:14). Israel as a distinct nation was required every year to offer the blood of an animal for the sins of the nation on the day of atonement or "yom kippur" (Exodus 30:10).

The difference is the death of Jesus Christ was a propitiation for our sins not just a covering. The old repetitive system required under the Mosaic law was done away with and a new covenant was established. The shedding of Christ's blood satisfied once and for all time the wrath of God, which no animal's blood could ever do (Hebrews 10).

Using atonement in place of propitiation renders the death of Christ a perpetual sacrifice, which it is not, it was a onetime event.

ESV

Romans 3:23-25
For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

Hebrews 2:17
Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

1 John 2:2 

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 4:10 

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

NIV

Romans 3:25
God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.

Hebrews 2:17
For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

1 John 2:2
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 4:10
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

The New Living is just terrible

Romans 3:25 
For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.

A Door, or the Lord?

by Aaron

OK, ok, I know some of you who read these blogs were raised Catholic so please do not think I am simply Catholic bashing (I mean, seriously, I bash everyone including me).

Yesterday I took a tour of the Vatican, an OFFICIAL TOUR led by an official guide from the Vatican. She was saying things like “mos impourtant” “you like” and “mmmm, yes.” After about 3 hours of her showing us the “most extraordinary, most exquisite, most unique” piece for the 100th time I started to tune her out.

We passed through the Sistine Chapel and headed into Saint Peter’s Basilica, and then she said something that stopped me in my tracks. She pointed to a door to the right of main door of the cathedral and said it was called the “Holy Door.” They open it up in the time of jubilee (the last one was in 2000, the next will be 2025). She told us that if you are a true Catholic, a true believer, you can come during the jubilee and walk through this door and your sins will be forgiven. She also stated that she waited 5 hours to get through it when it was open last.

Now, really, I walk through a door and get my sins forgiven? That’s how it works? I mean, Jesus WAS a carpenter and all, so maybe that makes a little sense. But if true, don’t you think God the Father should have sent Jesus a memo that said, “hey, you are a carpenter, just build a door, you don’t need to die on a Roman cross.”

This is one of the many dangers of religion, that we will make it about ourselves and what we do (ie: walking through a door). This line of thinking has been around forever…from Pelagius to Arminius to any number of religious systems that make your salvation about you and not Jesus.

It is ALL about Jesus, period. When we get our eyes off Him we will lose perspective of who we even are. 1 John 2:2 reminds that He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. When Jesus died he said “it is finished” (John 19:30). It is finished means “paid in full” because we can’t pay for our sins by doing anything, only he could pay our penalty.

And finally Hebrews 9:12 (one of the greatest statements in scripture) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. In Hebrews 9:28 it reminds us that Christ was offered once (ONCE) to bear our sins. Your sins have been paid for, you should LIVE in the life Jesus has provided for you.

ROME …if you want to

by Aaron

It seems that men (and when I say men I mean men and women) have a desire to try to make their own names great. We are all so self-consumed with how we look, how we act, how others treat us, if we are getting our fair share…and it’s all selfishness.

We want everyone to know how important we all think we are in our own eyes. This is nowhere more on display to me as I walk the streets of Rome with my wife and our friends Shawn and Michele. We are walking around and looking at the ruins (say that word again, RUINS) of ancient societies.

The arch of Titus, the arch of Constantine, the Roman forum and senate, the house of the vestal virgins, they are all rubble. Every monument people create to display their own greatness crumbles into sand and is then trampled upon by tourists taking pictures to send back to show their friends.

Even the Coliseum, as impressive as it still looks, is a crumbled set of stones (that I cannot believe they let people walk around inside of because it could collapse at any moment).

All we do in our own names crumble, just like coliseum, yet we still continue to think that with us it will be different…trust me, it won’t. This why Jesus told us in John 12:32 that when HE is lifted up He will draw all men to Himself. He was speaking about he type of death He was going to die, but it has greater ramifications as well. We must be those who get our eyes off ourselves and onto Him in order for anything we do to have lasting significance.

John 15:16 reminds us: You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. That is what lasts.

A Christmas Blog That is Just For Fun

by Aaron

What is the big deal about egg nog, really? I don't really like eggs (unless they are runny and scrambled) and I have no idea what a nog is or why I would want to drink it.

Eggnog actually came to America from Europe. Eggnog is related to various milk and wine punches that had been concocted long ago in the "Old World". However, as America is won't to do, we spiced it up just a bit. Wine apparently didn't have the alcohol content that we craved so we used Rum in place of wine.

Which leads to another weird question like, who in the world makes punch with wine (don't say Sangria Matt).

In Colonial America, rum was commonly called "grog", so the name eggnog is probably (and I stress the "maybe not so much" portion of probably) derived from the very descriptive term for this drink, "egg-and-grog", which corrupted to egg'n'grog and soon to eggnog.

So, grog...ya, that's doesn't sound like something I want either.

Merry Christmas

Born on Christmas Day

by Aaron

I was listening to the radio yesterday and I found an amazing thing, many radio stations are playing Christmas songs throughout the day. Most of the songs are updated renditions of old tunes with modern twists, but every once in a while a band writes a new Christmas song for the holidays.

It was of the new songs that caught my attention. Some people just think I like to nitpick about theology, and I do, but I also think that if we have wrong theology our view of God will be skewed. Not only will bad theology mean we will misunderstand Jesus, but we will also misinterpret what He is doing through His people in the world today...it could go so far that we could misunderstand what He has done in eternity past as well.

The chorus of this song kept repeating, "Hope was born on Christmas day." At first I found myself humming the tune (off key and very loudly, as I do in the car). But then I started to think how dumb the chorus was because hope was not born on Christmas day, JESUS WAS (unless Jesus changed His name and I didn't get the memo). Seriously, Jesus was born and hope was a very happy by-product. It seems that today we want to only see what we want to see about Christmas, "Jesus is nice to everyone, peace on earth," but our version of peace seems to be different than Jesus'.

Jesus, as God, knows that sin has caused separation between ourselves and God and ourselves and each other. This is why Jesus was born, to take care of the awful state that humanity had done to itself. Jesus brought our sin into the light and exposed it, Jesus called the religious elite who trusted in their own goodness hypocrites, and Jesus had to die because we are so bad.

Yes, I know what you are saying, "it's Christmas Aaron, lighten up, be happy." Well I am happy because Jesus was born...Merry Christmas.

Jesus' death and ultimate resurrection were never to be separated from His birth. It is one event in regards to our salvation. Jesus dies for our sins, rises from the dead to give us new life. It is birth, life, death, and resurrection.

Yes, Jesus offers hope...but He embodies so much more and it is the MORE we should see. It is Jesus we worship on Christmas (and every other day) not hope, love, peace or anything else...because it was Jesus who was born.

What, what...It's like this shirt one of friends just gave me (which I will never wear because I don't do Jesus junk). The shirt said, "Go Jesus, it's your birthday," at least a cheesy T-Shirt got it right.

Merry Christmas, worship Jesus.

And...before you get all uppity with me, YES, I know Jesus wasn't born on December 25th, but it is the day we celebrate His birth.  Let's get it right when we do.

Ho Ho Hummmm

by Aaron

What’s that Mazda commercial? Zoom Zoom Zoom…I thought it was about going superfast in a cheap car, but as I sing the words Zoom Zoom in my head I think it is about Christmas. Maybe instead of Deck the Halls or Joy to the World a more proper tune to sing would be the Zoom Zoom Zoom song as it reflects what we have done to Christmas.

Is it just me or has this Christmas been extremely trying, or tiring, or whatever the proper word is. I find myself not having anytime at all to do anything. Christmas, far from being a time of “Peace on Earth” feels like “Havoc in my Foxhole.”

Surely this isn’t what Christ intended by coming as a baby, living His life, and rising from the dead, was it?

Of course not.

God has always intended for His people to have a time of rest, of recharge, a gathering of focus to reset our eyes upon Him AS OUR REST. In the Old Testament this rest was mandated through law (Exodus 16:26; Exodus 20:8), in the New Testament (Hebrews 4:9-11) we are told that God’s rest is continuing to this day and we are to be those that enter into it. Entering into God’s rest is about hope and grace, neither of which we will understand when we are too hurried.

Hope has always, from the foundation of the earth, been found in our Great God.

Hope and trust in Him brings true rest because we realize we do not have to be in charge or control the world around us. Everything is His, including us, and we can slow down and take time to properly honor our God, as we should: unhurried and unworried.

This Christmas, use the brakes of grace to take a moment to slow down and rest…and in that rest, ask God to reveal Himself to you through His word and His Spirit so you can become who He made you to be: a person of hope and rest.

What Does The Bible Say About Money?

by Element Christian Church

At Element, we base everything we do off of the scriptures. The Bible contains great advice about life, from improving your marriage to getting along with your boss at work.  But does the Bible really say much about money?  Does it really give us advice that we can apply to our own life in today's world?

The Good News is Yes!  Absolutely!  We believe the Bible is as relevant and helpful today as when it was written, and God has a lot to say about money.  In fact, money is mentioned in the Bible over 800 times.

In fact, Jesus says in Luke 16:11, "So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?"  It appears from this verse that God uses money as a test of our management and stewardship skills before entrusting us with spiritual things.  See more below.

Money in the Bible

1. Proverbs 13:22 "A good man leaves an inheritance to his childrens' children" indicating that God wants us to make a difference, financially, in our family tree.

2. Proverbs 21:20 "In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has."  This gives us an idea of how God wants us to save for a rainy day, to set something back for safekeeping.

3. Proverbs 22:7 states that "The rich rule over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender."  Really?  The Bible discourages debt?  Does God really want me to pay my debts off and avoid debt?

4. Luke 14:28 "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it."  Does Jesus really want me to save up and pay for the things I buy?

5. Matt. 6:24 "You cannot serve both God and money".

We can talk about a lot of things openly, but it seems like as soon as we talk about money, people tend to close off and stop listening. There are many reasons for this, but the top reason is that most people don't realize how much of a problem managing money is for the average family.  Look at the statistics below:

Financial Statistics

1. Marital Problems - 37 percent (the highest rate) of marital problems derive from financial situations

2. Cash Flow - 70 percent of all consumers live paycheck to paycheck, meaning they run out of money before the end of the month

3. Savings - The average family would have to use a credit card to pay a $1,500 unexpected expense (ex: home or car repair).

4. Retirement - Nearly half of all Americans (46%) have less than $10,000 saved for their retirement.

It is a problem that affects everyone, inside and outside of the church.  In fact George Barna says that the fastest growing churches are teaching about marriage, child rearing, finances, and careers.  Money is a serious subject, and God is serious about money, which is why we should study closely what he has to tell us.

This is why in January, we will be offering Financial Peace University - a 13-week course on finances. In it we will all learn how to make the right money decisions to follow what God has taught us throughout the scriptures. The course includes practical lessons on eliminating debt, building wealth, giving like never before, and much more. We invite you to come and learn what it means to truly have Peace with your finances. Read more & Sign up online here.

The Tails of Ales Pt IV

by Aaron

In finishing up this blog on alcohol, let me state this emphatically: SOME OF YOU SHOULD NOT DRINK.

There are two types of sins:

  • UNIVERSAL: these are for everyone, no exceptions. These would include don’t kill, murder, steal, (I think it also includes reality TV and boy bands).
  • PERSONAL ISSUES: these are a matter of conscience. There is not a definitive right or wrong so the Spirit guides your conscience on what is right for you, this is an issue of freedom.

A Christian who is free should not cause someone who struggles, to sin which would mean, be aware when you drink, notice who is around, and always be careful about how much you are drinking. But also those who abstain should NOT look at those who do with contempt. The words “I don’t drink so I am holy and righteous” OR “I do drink and I am mature and have self-control”, thrown back and forth do nothing to move the progress of the gospel forward. The question should be, "Do we participate in the world in a way that glorifies God?".

In History, Saint Gall, the great evangelist to celts, was better known for his brewing than his preaching. Shortly after Charlemagne's reign in 814AD the church became the exclusive brewer for ales beers and ales in Europe. John Calvin, one of the greatest thinkers in the Christian church, had as part of his pastoral compensation package 250 Gallons of wine a year because he threw large parties as part of his pastoral duties.

Never forget God is the life of the party: If you can’t have fun, and not sin, you will never understand God. God threw the first party and he will throw the last one as well…and in the end the Kingdom of God will hold New and Good wine.

Element Christmas Party

by Element Christian Church

Saturday, December 11th from 5:00-8:00 pm.

Join us for our Christmas Party! This is a great time to come and relax, have fun and hang out with your friends and family!

We will be having a variety of fun activities for all age groups: movies, snow, board games, cupcake and card decorating, etc. We will be providing food and warm drinks! Dress for a good time (and to stay warm if you plan on playing in the snow)! Don't forget to invite your friends/neighbors/coworkers... it's a party!

We also need your help to make this party awesome! We are asking for the church to help us out with either your time or donations. We are looking for people to donate some time during the party and also to the cleaning up afterwards. Also, we are asking for people to help out by donating firewood, jumbo marshmallows, skewers, cupcakes, cupcake decorating items, and card-making supplies. There is a sign-up sheet in the information center or you can contact the events committee by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Tails of Ales Pt III

by Aaron

Drinking or Not Drinking

Do you drink to hide? Escape? Has it become your master?…if so it is sin.

Does freedom scare you and so you hide from your freedom because you can’t handle it…so you make summary judgments on others who can handle freedom? That is sin too.

Through the course of history there have been 3 basic positions on alcohol:

Prohibitionist – This position wrongly teaches that drinking is a sin and all alcohol is wicked and wrong. There is a far fringe of this movement that has said, “had Jesus consumed alcohol he would have ceased to be God.” This is a stupid position because it cannot be backed up biblically Ps 104:14-15 He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.

Who makes wine? God – WHY? To gladden the heart of man. Jesus drank (Matt 11:19), did he get drunk? NO. If anyone thinks alcohol itself is a sin they have a problem with God

Abstentionist – This position says alcohol consumption is not a sin, but because it is abused we should stay away from it. This position holds large appeal but in Hosea 2:8 God is speaking of Israel and says She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold—which they used for Baal. God gave them wine, food, and money but they worshipped a false god with it. Did God abstain from giving them a gift they would abuse? No.

Has God given you something you have abused? A tongue and you say things you shouldn’t, hands and yet you have touched things you shouldn’t, a mind and thought things you shouldn’t, a mouth and eaten things you shouldn’t have, money yet spent it on things you shouldn’t?

An abstenstionist says “someone can abuse it so we should get rid of it.” But there is nothing on planet earth that someone has not used to sin against God with...EVEN THE BIBLE. – Martin Luther once said,  “Do you suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused? Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women?”

Moderationist – is a position of doing it right. Scripture gives liberty to participate in alcohol consumption and is clear to never abuse it. Scripture can't get much more clear about NOT getting drunk, we are also to respect our governing authorities (if you are under 21, don’t drink and drive)…and we are to allow differing opinions on these issues (Romans 14:13-23).

At Element we do not use alcohol as a way to buck against church culture, we simply try to view it as scripture views it; a good gift from God that was meant to be enjoyed by his people.

The Tails of Ales Pt II

by Aaron

Element is a church that longs be about God's business of REDEEMING culture and looking at life through a scriptural lens and not a cultural one. The simple truth is EVERYTHING GOD HAS MADE HAS BEEN GIVEN TO US AS A GIFT.

Over the next few weeks we will be blogging about what a proper view on alcohol entails. Alcohol was created as a good thing by God for His people. My own grandfather on my mom‘s side was an alcoholic and I have heard more than a few stories about how alcohol has destroyed lives – But I submit to you that it is NOT the alcohol but the decisions people MAKE with the alcohol that destroy lives.

Like most kids I partied in High School, became a Christian, got indoctrinated into Christian culture and believed drinking was a sin...I taught messages on how it was WRONG…then I read my Bible and repented and today I drink. Not drinking in the sense that I fall over and cannot speak, but occasionally with friends, and I don’t drink alone; NEVER HAVE.

The worst thing that could ever happen from reading this blog would be for you to close your web browser and say, "Aaron says we can get drunk in Jesus name." That is the furthest thing from what I am saying.

Wine is a gift of God and is spoken of 214 times throughout the scriptures. Alcohol is used in celebration, worship, and marital intimacy in scripture. (Genesis 14:18, Ex 29:40, Deut 7:12-13, Ruth 2:14, 1 Chron 12:40, Ezra 6:9, Ps 104:14-15, Song of Songs 5:1, 7:8-9). In Ephesians 5:18 we are reminded to not get drunk with wine; simply put, "don’t loose control."

ECCLESIASTES 7:16-18 Don’t be over righteous, don’t be over wicked…The man who fears God will avoid all extremes – life is lived in this tension. Some people have said, on the subject of alcohol, "I’m free, I can drink as much as I want, whenever I want." The biblical response to this position is: "No you can’t."

Others will say, "Never touch alcohol. Ever." The biblical response is, "You cannot say that either."

Christians are to be a people of wisdom and temperance centered around the gospel of Christ. CS LEWIS once said, “Heresy is the truth taken too far.” Something that could be right taken so far it becomes wrong.

  • Is it OK to drink? YES.
  • Can we go too far? YES.
  • Is it a sin to be a drunkard? YES
  • Can we say everyone who has ever drank alcohol offended God? NO.

God gives bookends: Don’t get drunk – Don’t judge those who abstain.

The Tails of Ales

by Aaron

The young guy who oversees our youth ministry, James, was married last Friday night. As part of his wedding ceremony the men of Element did something ancient and made it modern: we made beer.

Today the issue of alcohol has become very volatile in the church. We are told that alcohol is a sin and that any consumption of it is against God's will. People quote verses such as Ephesians 5:18 which says 'don't get drunk on wine' (not realizing that the verse is more about the Spirit of God than wine). It seems anything people fear, or has been used wrongly, Christians want to do away with.

How has alcohol been abused? Here are some statistics:

  • 100,000 U.S. deaths are caused by alcohol consumption each year. Alcohol has become the #3 cause of preventable mortality.
  • 37% of rapes involve alcohol use by the offender
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome is the #1 cause of mental retardation in the western world.
  • Youth who drink alcohol are 50 times more likely to use cocaine than those who never drink alcohol.
  • Traffic crashes are the greatest single cause of death for persons aged 6–33. About 45% of these fatalities are alcohol-related
  • Alcohol kills 6½ times more youth than all other illicit drugs combined.


Do these stats make us run from God's original intent for alcohol or should we be about redeeming what God has called good? We live in a world that is sick and doesn’t know how to deal with anything GOOD that God has given. Food has become gluttony, Sexuality has become lust and pornography, money has become arrogance and pride, and alcohol has become drunkenness.

But Element is a church that longs be about God's business of REDEEMING culture and looking at life through a scriptural lens and not a cultural one. The simple truth is EVERYTHING GOD HAS MADE HAS BEEN GIVEN TO US AS A GIFT.

Over the next few weeks we will research what this means in regard to alcohol.

UNDER wear UNDER there Pt II

by Aaron

In putting the touches on part 2 of this blog about what does God sees when He looks at us, I want to focus on a bit on our heart. Remember part 1 of this blog started because our music leader, Shawn, wore shorts during a Sunday morning service and someone made a comment as to how it was disrespectful to God to wear shorts. I summerized last week by saying “Jesus said in John 7:24 “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” How much better our lives would be if we lived those words.”

But it is so hard for us to live those words when we think that WE are always right.

When God was appointing the next king of Israel Samuel, God’s prophet, overlooked David because he was not as impressive as his brothers (a feeling I know all too well). 1 Sam 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” God doesn’t see like we see; He sees further, farther, greater, and more completely than us. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

It seems scripture continues to come back to this idea of our hearts. Why?

  • The thoughts and attitudes of our hearts can judge others over stupid things.
  • The thoughts and attitudes of our hearts can live in un-forgiveness because we believe others owe us and feel completely vindicated living in our prison of anger.
  • The thoughts and attitudes of our hearts can lead us to think we are godly because we don’t wear shorts in church yet we treat others who do with contempt.

The thoughts and attitudes of our hearts is what God sees.

I guess the question really is: when He looks upon you, what does He truly see?

Happy Halloween

by Trevor Carpenter

Halloween is the one holiday we Christians can't modify into our very own Christian bookstore supported holiday.

Do you know that we celebrate Resurrection Sunday (Easter) on an old Roman, pre-Christian pagan holiday. Do you know that we celebrate the birth of the world's Savior (Christmas) in place of the ancient celebration of the winter solstice. In all truthfulness, Christians have been in the business of hijacking holidays for the glory of the King since we were still persecuted by the Romans.

So, in light of all that, Happy Halloween!

Now let me be fair. I've struggled with my own support and/or involvement in Halloween quite a bit. In the early days, as a teen, I recall dressing up and strapping on roller-blades (so I could hit more homes, faster). Much later, as a young father, I was adamantly against Halloween. I'd make sure the front porch light was off and we'd be out of the house, busy. Fast forward a few more years, and I've got 4 punks (I mean LOVELY KIDS) at home, who simply must be allowed costumes and candy.

What's a father to do?

Here's the deal. Are we celebrating paganism, idolatry, and satanism in our house? Nope. We're enjoying an opportunity to be together as a family. An opportunity for our kids to dress up, and be something or someone fun and exciting. And the best opportunity of all, we're embracing one of the few opportunities to speak with our neighbors in a way that is not awkward.

The great majority of other families celebrating Halloween aren't burning candles and offering sacrifices to any pagan gods either. Most don't even know the origins of Halloween. Romans 13:2 says, "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers..." We're encouraged to be hospitable, to ,show charity and display a giving attitude to others. On this day, we simply do it with candy. (Get those full-sized candy bars. All the neighbor kids will love you!)

Love your neighbors. Welcome them into your home. Seriously, take advantage of this great opportunity to meet your neighbors. Don't sit there, reading this, and tell me that you know all your neighbors. You don't. I don't. Make some hot chocolate and coffee, get a couple of carafes at Target, and some cups with lids, set up a little TV tray near the door, and offer all those over-walked parents something hot to drink.

What was one of the last things Jesus said? He said, "Go!" We've been sent. Sent into this world to engage our community with the Gospel. How can we engage our community, if we don't know them? Here's your chance!

Oh, and BTW, let's not forget that we know the end of the story. Jesus wins! He's kicked some major demon butt. There's no need to fear those little plastic demons on the 31st.

-Trevor Carpenter{jcomments on}

UNDER wear UNDER there Pt I

by Aaron

I have the whitest legs you have ever seen, they happen to be so white they actually look purple (under the right circumstances). I don’t often wear shorts because of my terminal whiteness, but when I do I feel so free. I have actually preached wearing shorts a couple times and the only complaint was my white legs.

Recently our music leader, Shawn, wore shorts during a Sunday morning service and someone made a comment as to how it was disrespectful to God to wear shorts. I really don’t understand why Shawn gets flak for shorts and I didn’t (I suppose it might be because you can actually SEE his legs).

This comment started me thinking, which is always a dangerous scenario, about what is disrespectful to God. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think God has a problem with shorts, sandals, or even bare feet. I look back to when God sought out Moses the first time and told him to TAKE OFF his sandals in His presence (Ex 3:5). I love that God commands bare feet in His presence.

Does a suit as opposed to T-shirt offer greater respect to our creator? Does a penny loafer offer a greater connection than a clog? Does a dress show greater harmony with the Spirit than a Tank Top?

Usually the only people who feel any different when we dress certain ways, is us. The measure of our faith, of our obedience, will not be found in our clothes but in our entire life. You could dress in a 1000$ suit or a 10$ T-shirt and be redeemed or lost…it is our faith in Christ, not in clothes, that saves us. Jesus said in John 7:24 “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” How much better our lives would be if we lived those words.

Know Your Weakness

by Aaron

Last Sunday, we talked about how God has gifted those who believe in order to further the gospel. He has given us natural talent and spiritual gifts. The problem humanity faces is, that our greatest strength, usually also leads to our greatest weakness and the largest area of temptation in our lives. Becoming the you God wants you to be means we must understand temptation.

James 1:13-14 “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.”

In Dealing with weaknesses:

  • Never do it alone - God designed us to live in community because we are stronger together.
  • Listen To God’s Spirit - When we are honest about temptation we usually have to shut the Holy Spirit up before giving in to the temptation.
  • Notice How Satisfied Your Soul Is - We become vulnerable to temptation when our souls are dissatisfied. If we do not find satisfaction in God, our hearts will look for it somewhere else.
  • Recognize what seems to block you - The most dangerous force in the world is not sickness or injury or bankruptcy... IT IS SIN. We do not get tempted by that which repulses us. Temptation starts close to home with the passions and desires that God wired into us and tries to pull them off course.


Professionals break people down into nine different types of people (I don't know why just nine, but I won't argue with that). Here is a list of those nine types of people including their strengths, weaknesses and examples of people in the bible.

PERFECTIONIST
Strengths: Lives with an internal standard of what is good, noble, and true.
Weakness: Can be arrogant when unredeemed. Has high standards that can lead to a secret, inner sense of inadequacy.
Example: The prophet Amos, who carried a plumb line to show Israel the standard God expected of society.

SERVER
Strengths: Lives out love in action. Has a natural others-centeredness that makes people feel cared for.
Weaknesses: Can use “giving” to manipulate others. Sometimes mistakes servanthood with fear or low esteem.
Example: Martha, who was busy serving while her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet.

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Salvation AFTER Death

by Aaron
in FAQ

Why can't a person believe and give their life to Christ after death?

I have been trying to put into words how to answer your question about Salvation AFTER death in a way that makes sense.

What you were talking about, by a person trusting Christ after salvation, is a form of what is known as Universalism. Universalism teaches ALL people will come saving faith…no matter what they believe or how they have lived (it is considered a heresy).  Seriously, why would Jesus hold the Gospel and its proclamation in such importance if NONE OF IT MATTERED.

First, there is a vast difference between life and death (right?)…The difference between a death bed conversion and an after death conversion is that the person on their death bed is STILL ALIVE. Sin brings death; Jesus in John 8:23-24 is talking to the religious leaders and tells them plainly, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins." Jesus wasn’t confused on what happens after death.

If someone dies in their sins they are DEAD in their sins, separated from the life of God.

In Jewish thought, which would have been prevalent for Jesus, everything was thought of in terms of life. A house wasn’t a home unless someone was living in it…if no one lived there it was just sticks and mortar. This is why EVERYTHING has to deal with life. Romans 6:22 "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life." No Jew, especially Jesus, would argue about people changing their minds after death.

From a Calvinistic perspective if someone is not redeemed in this life it is not going to happen…period; but I am trying to give you a broader perspective just in case you don’t hold to a reformed point of view (which I am guessing you don’t if you think people can change their mind after death).

One of the most amazing things about God is that NOT ALL PEOPLE go to heaven. He doesn’t force those who disbelieve to live in His presence forever. Most people want to live without God in their lives, so why not simply get your wish for all eternity? Is it that living without God for eternity is not pleasant enough so they would want a change from hell they currently participate in? That would seem to indicate that God then tortures people after death into believing…something I am sure He does not do.

This is why God gives us THIS life and THIS time... 2 Cor 6:1-2 As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says,
"In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you."


I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.

Many people have gone off the rails because they want things done differently than God does them. We think we are smarter, kinder, more loving, more gracious…but we are not. We must trust that God knows what He is doing better than any of us.

I guess I should end with the most important verse on this: Hebrews 9:27-28 "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."

Hope that helps,
Aaron

DISCIPLESHIP Anatomy 101

by Eric Djafroodi

In our current sermon series, Aaron has been talking about how each of us is uniquely made and how we must seek and pursue God according to how he has made us as individuals. We are all different. But we all are also similar in fundamental ways as well. That is why the Gospel is good news for ALL people—because we all have the same need to have our souls redeemed from sin and to be transformed into the image of Christ. If we intend to faithfully live as Jesus’ disciples, it requires that every dimension of our being becomes aligned with his will. The point of spiritual disciplines and training in godliness is to shape our whole lives, our character, to reflect God’s glory.

Our nature is basically the same for all of us, even though the particulars of our personality, gifts, and talents are very different. For example, we all have a Spirit. If you look at the scriptures, our spirit is also referred to as our heart and our will. This is where our choices originate. It’s the root of our being where our freedom and creativity reside. This is where the power to do good or to do what is evil comes from. Jesus said that this is the source of sin… Mark 7:21-23  "For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,  (22)  coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  (23)  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."

We all have a mind, and therefore we all have thoughts and feelings. Our thoughts are our perceptions, imagination and ideas. Our feelings are what incline us toward or away from the things that come to our mind in thought. When we think about food, cars, jobs, relationships or God, our feelings are intricately attached. Are our thoughts pleasant, painful, attractive, or repulsive? We have no feeling without a thought in mind and no thought without some feeling associated. Our thoughts and feelings are interdependent.

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What's Up with Your Name?

by Element Christian Church
in FAQ

Please explain the meaning of the "element" symbol. Thank you.

The symbol came out of the name. One definition for Element is "the surroundings necessary for life." We believe that everything comes down to Jesus. Redemption, hope, life...all Jesus. We believe that out of our relationship with Christ God has called us as a people glorify Him above all else. We believe we do that by living how He calls us to live...part of that is by living in community. By being a place that lifts up Christ and fosters gospel community Element will be a place that is "the surrounding necessary for life." Hence, the name...

The symbol, well...We have a couple graphic artists who attend and they all worked together to come up with the logo. I could feed you drivel about how the X in the center of the element's represent the cross how it was first shown in the Chi-Rho (the first cross used by Christianity) but really, the logo is just a logo. If one day we change it, its no big deal...because the logo is not Jesus.