Discipleship - The Secret of the Easy Yoke

by Eric Djafroodi

Have you ever taken test when you knew that you hadn’t done your homework? Were you stressed about the result? Or have you played a competitive sport without putting in the practice time? How well did you do? Many times we look at people who are “successful” (whether it is in school, sports, career, talent, etc.) and it often seems like it comes easy for them. But we typically only see them when they perform—when they’re put to the test. What we fail to realize is that for most of them, their abilities are the result of a regular regimen of mental and physical preparation that no one sees. Their training has transformed them into people who can perform at that level with relative ease.

This is a general principle of human life that applies to anything of significance that we want to achieve. If you want to become a musician, speak a new language, or become a brain surgeon, you will need to regularly train mentally and physically before you actually become a person with those skills.

The same principle applies to our relationship with Jesus and characterizes the life of his disciples. Jesus calls to us in Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (29)  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (30)  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Unfortunately, so many of us don’t enjoy and enter in to the ease and lightness that Jesus promises. We find following Jesus hard and the burden heavy because we haven’t trained and have not been transformed into people who naturally and easily obey his commands.

To be sure, without God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, we can do nothing in his kingdom. But what is also true is that if we do nothing, it will be without Him.

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in 1Timothy 4:7-8  "Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.  (8)  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." The Christian who expects to act like Jesus when put to the test, even though they have not trained in godliness, is just as ridiculous as an athlete expecting to excel in the game without the proper training. Instead of the easy yoke, all we will experience is failure and frustration.

The Son of God became flesh, which means that he had a body like you and me. Because of this, he too trained in order to walk in full submission to his Father’s will. And this he did this perfectly. We read in Hebrews 5:8-9  "Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered  (9)  and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him."

The secret of the easy yoke to our generation (which was not a secret to the early church) is that we are to follow Jesus in His "overall" style of life, which includes his disciplines and practices when he was not in the public eye. By these disciplines and the grace of God, we are transformed into people that easily and naturally act as Jesus would if he were living my life, in my place, under my circumstances.

God is more interested in the person we are becoming, than in what we do. Jesus calls us to a life where behavior like loving one’s enemies is the natural thing to do. True Christ-likeness comes at the point when it is hard for us not to respond as Jesus would. Then we won’t have to ask ourselves "What would Jesus do?" We would just do it!

Dis - Mantle

by Aaron

I am still riding the wave of Eric's blog posts in regard to discipleship; it is actually one of the reasons I love Eric so much...the fact that He loves the ideal of discipleship as much as he does. So, today, can we just go on a little journey about discipleship?

When you hear the word DISCIPLE you probably think of the standard definition: a great Rock Band from Knoxville Tennessee...but alas this is not the only definition.

For the longest time the word meant a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; follower. Now this is a better definition that hits closer to home. In being disciples of Jesus that means we adhere to His teaching and follow in His footsteps. This takes time and study to see how He saw the world, how He treated people, and most importantly, how He grew in relationship to His Father. We could literally spend all of eternity unpacking what this means.

In John 17:3 Jesus is praying to the Father and even tells us that THIS is what eternal life actually means, "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." How different is that from most people's understanding of eternal life? KNOWING GOD.

The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:14-19 said For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, V19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. In verse 19 Paul says that we are to KNOW this love. It is more than an emotion, the love of God is something we as believers are called to "know".

The earliest variant of the English word "disciple" came from two words, dis "apart" AND capere "take"...TAKE APART. Why do we pursue discipleship? Because God will take us apart, rebuild and renew us, and make us into the Children, disciples, and people he wants us to be. Knowing Him, knowing His love, and walking in His truth.

Discipleship - Not just for Super-Christians

by Eric Djafroodi

Why has the modern church done so poorly living this eternal life that Jesus made possible? We know that so many Christians are among those caught up in the sad epidemics we see today. Christianity has become viewed by many in the world as powerless, archaic and irrelevant. Either the Gospel is not true and doesn’t work, or we just don’t understand how God works in and through us!

Every believer in Christ is called to become a disciple of Jesus. Our mission as the Church is to make disciples from every ethnic group on the planet and to teach them how to really live the way Jesus taught and lived. Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

The sad truth is that the church is filled with undicipled disciples. An estimated 25% of Americans profess an evangelical conversion experience. William Iverson observes that “A pound of meat would surely be affected by a quarter pound of salt. If this is real Christianity, the ‘salt of the earth,’ where is the effect of which Jesus spoke?” In many churches today it is believed that one can become and remain a Christian without any signs of progress in following Jesus in his example, spirit, and teachings. Too often discipleship is presented as an “option” for those with a special calling.

A big part of the problem is that we have not been faithful to our own message—we have failed to take discipleship and transformation into Christ likeness seriously as a practical issue to be dealt with in realistic terms.

Jesus introduced a revolution of character and life to his first disciples. He said “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” This is where God’s rule and God’s will are done. It’s about what God is doing in the world, and everyone is invited to now become a part of His activity. This is the blessed life. This is the safest place to be. This is where we can be anxious for nothing, because we are seeking first the Kingdom of God. It is here that our deepest needs are met. It is in the realm of God’s Kingdom that our transformation takes place as we allow God to rule in our hearts, minds, bodies, and relationships. The heart of the Gospel is this: Because of God’s mercy and grace, we can become like Jesus in character and in power, and we can realize our highest ideals of well-being and well-doing.

Discipleship is not just for Super-Christians! It is a prerequisite for every believer. The disciple is not the deluxe or heavy-duty model of Christian, but the first level of basic transportation in the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ promises are for his disciples! The New Testament is a book about disciples, written by disciples, and meant for disciples of Jesus Christ. ALL of the assurances and benefits offered to humanity in the Gospel by Jesus are in the context of a life of discipleship - apart from that, they don’t even make sense!

Check back as we explore what the life of a disciple should look like and how we are to follow Jesus in our day.

The Piggy Back

by Aaron

I was inspired I tell you, INSPIRED. I, like so many of you, read Element's blog and had the privilege to read what Eric wrote (I also got to read his next one as well that you won't get to see for another week). His post relates to something that we at Element have been pouring our hearts over for awhile: Discipleship. So I thought I would piggy back on that thought.

Now, I know that we at Element can have fun (and I do believe that this is a very godly thing) but our lives cannot all be about recess on the playground. If they were we would never know how to do real life; math to balance bank accounts, reading and writing to communicate, history to know where we came from, and science to understand how it all works. This is the idea behind discipleship; it is how it all works, the meat for our bones, the food for our souls.

It's not that discipleship cannot be fun and enjoyable (though honestly, sometimes it is not because it is when Christ deals directly with all the junk in our souls), but it is where we truly grow deeper in becoming more like Christ.

The word disciple is used 258 times in the New testament alone, it must be important. Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." We see a few things here:

  • Making disciples is a process,
  • those disciples should be baptized,
  • and true disciples learn humble obedience to Jesus' words.

In Jesus' day it was a great honor to be able to be a disciple of a rabbi, in the next few months (and hopefully for as long as Element is in existence) you will hopefully get a better idea of the great privilege it is that Jesus called you to be His.

Discipleship Living an Eternal Life

by Eric Djafroodi

When you hear the promises of Jesus spoken about at church or read them in the bible, do you ever feel like your looking into another world? It’s because the scriptures describe a reality so different than what many of us normally experience. They describe a divine world with a divine life!

Our world is filled with stress and distress from political revolutions, wars, famines, epidemics and economic disasters. All of which are usually always the result of human choices—the expressions of the human spirit. Individual disasters abound all around us and everyone is impacted directly or indirectly by depression, suicide, loneliness, drug and alcohol abuse, out of control sexual perversion and violence. These aren’t new problems. Humanity has struggled with them for ages. But they are spiritual problems that can only be addressed by a spiritual solution.

Think about these words: John 4:14 “but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." Jesus promised his followers “living water,” the Spirit of God Himself that would keep them from ever being thirsty again - from being driven and ruled by unsatisfied desires. How about these words: John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” This is not just merely getting by with a bare existence. Jesus is talking about receiving everything needed for a fully blessed and satisfied life—this is an eternal quality of life.

At Christmas we sing “Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let Earth receive her King! Let every heart, prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing!” We are reminded of the angels words in Luk 2:10-14 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. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

The news of Jesus entering our world is that God had come to make a way for things on Earth to really be different. The powers of evil and sin could now be broken so that people can be freed from their bondage and become transformed in righteousness and goodness - to really live an eternal kind of life - to become like Jesus. This is what the “Good News” is all about!

This Is It

by Aaron

We start our trek home today, but before we did we stopped at another orphanage and had the best time playing with some kids. It was one of those moments that made me a little sad to leave...because the people of Haiti have a spirit that will not quit.

We met a girl who came down to work with Gcom from Louisiana. She was in college when Hurricane Katrina hit. She went home and proceeded to spend the next 6 months just trying to find her parents. She made a comment about the Haitian people that they are so resilient. Six months after Katrina she said “New Orleans was sitting in rubble and people were devastated and didn’t know what to do; six months after the Earthquake in Haiti the people are looking at the their homes, salvaging what they can, and getting on with life as best they can.”

We will be letting you guys see the videos we are making for Gcomintl.com soon. Keep checking back on the blog and keep praying for the Haitian people.

As an update, Doctors Without Borders is trying to fly that little boy (I told you about yesterday) to the US for treatment (but it is 400.00 just to get him seen). His mother had 8 children and he is the only one who is still alive. Haiti’s infant mortality rate is 97.1 per 1000 births; in the US it is 6.5. His mom is in high spirits though and is thankful for all the team is doing for her son here. Keep him in your prayers.

Talk to you soon,
Aaron


Qu'est Ce Que C'est

by Aaron

Today was a tough day. It was really hot and really long. We left the place we are staying at @ 8am and didn’t get back until 6:30pm...and I am still thinking about the day. We did a whole lot of medical stuff in one of the tent cities. I am amazed at the lack of health care available to the people of Haiti.

One man showed up who had blood pressure of 250 over 170...and he was complaining of chest pain (well, of course). Julie, one of the nurses asked if he had medication of any sort, he said, “no, I cannot afford it.” Essentially it is a death sentence.

We have another little boy who showed up who has a growth on his neck. It has been there for the last 6 months and it is so big he can barely swallow. If we didn’t show up today who knows if he would have gotten help. We have picked his mom and him up and brought them back to our “house” and are contacting the local Doctors Without Borders to see if they can help him.

There is so much need here, but the interesting thing is that I don’t question God over it (as most Haitians don’t either). Jesus does things in a way that many times we do not understand...and I could totally see Him doing something greatly unexpected here. I got to pray for over 50 people today, most didn’t understand a word of what I said but I think they appreciated the idea that some white guy would come to their country with a group of people whose sole purpose was to glorify God by caring for those who need it most. "Qu'est Ce Que C'est" means' "what is that?" - well, it's the gospel (good news). The gospel goes forward by tangible acts of love...this good news is good news because those who love Christ BRING that good news.
Aaron


Getting The Job On

by Aaron

In case you didn’t know, the reason we went to Haiti was for the purpose of helping our friends at GCOMintl.com film a few video spots to showcase what they are doing in Haiti. When Garry was 18, God laid it upon his heart to start a ministry that could help all of those in Haiti that had lost hope. Today his organization leads trips to bring relief to Haiti. He eventually wants to start a school offering better education than the children of Haiti now receive. We are making a video and production packet for GCOM to send out to garner support for their mission in Haiti.

As we were filming the video it rained...and rained...and it is still raining. It has rained for the last 3 days. So, I played futbol (soccer) with my new friend Spryder.

And I chased chickens around the yard. Not much else to say as I have to start editing more video now...hope your Sunday was great and James did a good job. See you soon.
Aaron


TIH (This is Haiti)

by Aaron

It’s Aaron's birthday so he has been pretty much slacking the whole day, he wont even update the blog, pffsh. Actually, he has been working hard editing a video for the first group that was here.

A large group of 17 people arrived last night from all over the States. The group ranged from high school kids to nursing students, and all played their part serving today. The main project today was helping out a large tent city close to the airport. Being in a tent city is like being in a different world all together. It’s times like these that I wish I wasn’t white, I mean we just look so silly and disorganized, especially in groups.

We had food and medicine that we were giving to the people, little ones first. I fell in love with this kid named Sebastian, who was four. I never thought about adoption before now. My heart breaks seeing the needs of everyone. I want to give everybody all the things they ask for, but only Jesus can give them what Haiti truly needs.

TIH, stands for, “This is Haiti”. Which is the answer for a lot of crucial questions. For example, “Why are some people living behind the gated parks and others not?” Or, “When you order food, why is it a 20 minute ordeal where you have to talk to a minimum of 4 different people for a fried piece of goat?”...This is Haiti...

God is Sovereign and is in control of everything, I can’t pinpoint what exactly He is doing here, but He is moving. I can tell you this though, I will never complain about a phone call or when something arrives late again (I hope).

Bon Dyea Bon God is Good
Luke


Tap Tap Out

by Aaron

I know, it’s Haiti and you want to know what is going on...but...I almost died today and thought I would tell you a funny story.

These are the cars we ride around in while in Haiti; they are called Tap Taps because when you want a ride you make a tapping motion and they stop, pick you up, take you for a ride...and when you want to get out you tap tap on the window to get out.

The GCOMINTL.com (the people we are here with) simply rent a tap tap for the day...and you never know how good the tap tap will actually be. We were out today in our tap tap (I was sitting up front because I nearly puked yesterday in the back) when a freak storm unleashed rain so thick you couldn’t see.

At the same time I realize that our tap taps windshield wipers do not work the Tap Taps air brake fuse blows AND his regular brakes get so wet they don’t work. We are careening down a hill, unable to stop when our drivers cell phone rings...AND HE ANSWERS IT. I look over and say (in English, which no one understands), “This is so awesome, we could die any moment.”

This was the response I got.

BTW, here is Luke after we stopped and the driver put in a new fuse for his brakes.


Aaron


Tent and Cities

by Aaron

Today we went to one of the tent cities and passed out many of the gifts that you at Element gave to pass out. Some of the kids were orphans and some were with their families, living in the tent city.

Tent cities sprung up after the earthquake because not only were many homes destroyed but many more are unsafe to return to.

Over one million people in Haiti live in tent cities today (probably more like 1.5 million).

Tomorrow we will return to the orphanage and continue working Garry's support video...so he can eventually plant a school/orphanage to help all these kids.
Aaron

Safe and Almost Sound

by Aaron

Well, we made it. The weather hits you pretty hard as it is not only hot (113 in the day) but humid...that's a bad combination. I would think the people here would be in a worse mood because of the weather...but so far they are all pretty pleasant. Garry, the guy who runs the mission here, has friend who is cop and he got us through customs with out any charges (maybe that is why everyone is so nice).

Luke has gone over to orphanage while I am giving you the first update. We hope to start filming tomorrow and getting you some more pictures.

Thank you for praying for us.
Aaron

Getting Ready To Leave

by Aaron

We leave for our trip to Haiti next Tuesday and here is the place you can be kept up to date. Don't get angry if I have a gazillion typos because my wife won't be there to edit my posts. I leave you this picture of sandals and toothpaste because if you want to send something with us to Haiti, they are asking for shoes/sandals and toothbrushes and toothpaste for kids 4-14 years of age.

Sunday there will be a big box marked Haiti and you can put whatever you want to in there.

So, here is to Haiti...be posting soon.
Aaron

Esther: "Missing" sections? Explanation.

by Element Christian Church
in FAQ

In the Catholic Bible, the Old Testament contains extra books called the Apocrypha (some have called them "LOST BOOKS"). A lady from Element is in a Bible study with some Catholic ladies, she sent in a question and asked why our scriptures do not include the additions to Esther that the Catholic scriptures do. So, here is my not so short answer for all of you.The verses in question are Esther 10:4-16:24...This is a whole can of worms so bear with me.


I'll give you a short answer and then a long one - the short one is this: The  Additions to Esther is most likely the work of an Egyptian Jew, writing around 170 BC, who sought to give the book a more religious tone, and to suggest that the Jews were saved from destruction because of their piety. The additions completely change the tone of the book from what was originally intended from the Hebrew Manuscripts...and the additions were NEVER in the Hebrew scriptures.

Now for the long answer:

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Communion Policy

by Element Christian Church
in FAQ

I'd like to know the church policy on taking communion at the service. Can anyone take communion? Any restrictions etc?

[blockquote]I'll answer and then give some explanation...

The only restriction to communion is that someone must be a believer to take communion (if someone doesn't believe it would be pointless to them anyway, right?)

We do communion after the message because it is an act of worship and should be a response to what God has done in us first. Scripture tells us that we are to take communion whenever we gather AND in remembrance of Christ. (1 Cor 11).

Scripture talks about taking communion in an "unworthy manner." An "unworthy manner" would be in a way that doesn't honor Jesus. Some in the early church, when they gathered, would eat and get drunk at communion (or the Agape - or love feast). It was originally a meal shared with an entire church body...people became selfish and made it about getting their own needs met rather than meeting others needs and lifting up Christ (hence an "unworthy manner).

We do communion weekly because it is when we gather...and, as I said, should be in worship and remembrance of all Jesus has done. It resets our hearts and minds to remember that true life is one lived with Christ, and that our lives are a gift graciously given to us by our great God. We lay our burdens down at His feet in remembrance of what He has done for us. [/blockquote]

Changed By Jesus II

by Element Christian Church

My name is Jean Morse and this ‘story writing’ is nerve-racking.
My story………well, I have been a Christian for some time now……. but just have never been baptized. I believe I have always loved God – but I just didn’t know Him. In my childhood we really never went to church except for holidays here or there. The first church service I can actually remember was spoken in Latin (Guess I just dated myself)! I did all the catechism and confirmation classes, but that was all formalized and repetitive prayer with lots of fear thrown in (the only thing I remember about it was being scared). I always longed for the God I loved.

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Changed By Jesus I

by Element Christian Church

My name is Shannon Harris.

My journey of how I got to the place where I wanted a relationship with the Jesus is a pretty long story, and I will have to shorten or you could still be reading this booklet long after the baptisms are done.

I was not brought up in a house that went to church. My mom would tell us about GOD and how he was “out there somewhere” and could hear all your prayers and see all your sins (He kind of sounded like Santa Claus). But in my head, I thought “Whatever, how could He see all and know all?” When I was 18 years old I was engaged to my first husband whose family were strict Catholics. His family wanted us to get married in a Catholic Church...for that to happen I had to attend “night School” to get all of the Catholic Church “requirements” done.

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Busy

by Aaron

 

Have you ever found yourself so overwhelmed with meaningless things that you couldn’t finish all the things you had to do in a given day? Have you ever found your mind so cluttered with things to do that you essentially “overload” and don’t do anything at all? Have you ever found yourself spending massive amounts of time reading internet blogs and not actually doing your work while at WORK?

 

It is interesting that we call all these things being “busy.” I personally feel like I am “busy” all the time but can usually find a few moments to do something I want to do, such as writing a new blog, researching said blog, and then publishing said blog to the world wide web.

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Celtic Evangelism Part 1

by Aaron

This may be a blog and it may not...either way it is up and you get to read it.
A little over a month ago I (Aaron) gave the guys on the board a copy of “The Celtic Way of Evangelism” by George Hunter. I then ask them a couple of questions which I thought would be helpful for you to see our thought processes. Hope you enjoy it...

Aaron

In chapter one we read that the Roman churches saw its job in missions as "Chritianizing and Civlizing." They essentially made the goal of Christianity barbarian propriety rather than Jesus. How can we keep from doing this at Element ourselves?

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Bad Mood Days

by Aaron

I Woke up today on “the wrong side of the bed,” not literally as that means I would have rolled over my wife like an out of control steamroller driven by an angry cal-trans worker – BUT metaphorically. Days, like today, leave me a lot of time for introspection, but I realize I don’t like a lot of introspection because I don’t really enjoy much of what I see on the inside of myself so I don’t spend a lot of time doing it (if that makes sense).
As people our emotions are fickle like a junior high girl trying to figure who she thinks is cute or who her new best friend should be. Our emotions are triggered by what we read, what we dreamed about while we slept, what we watched on TV, and even by what we ate the night before and yet I find it interesting that so often people stay stupid stuff like, “follow your heart.” If your “heart” could simply be the regurgitated ramblings of the pizza you ate last night then it probably is not a very good guide.

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