Devotional: Searching for Community

by Jeff Pruett

Scripture:

Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Big Idea: Community is Built, Not Found.

Not long ago, I was talking with a couple from church who were frustrated that they had not been able to find a good community to belong to. They saw the depth of relationship that we had in our Small Group (we call it our Gospel Community) and wanted to join. Of course, I invited them and welcomed them in, but I already knew they would not find what they were looking for.

Why? Because community is built, not found.

Every time I encounter someone on a quest to find community, either in a church body or in a small group, I know they will be disappointed. Community, that sense of belonging and being known and loved, requires time and investment to develop. It requires inviting people into your life, accepting invitations into the lives of others, and being intentional and consistent in showing up again and again.

Just like a retirement account grows with regular deposits and compounding interest, a community only grows with regular deposits of time, trust, and transparency. This is why the writer of Hebrews tells Christians to keep meeting together - to not give up! It is easy to give up when our schedules get busy instead of adjusting our priorities. It is easy to give up when we’re asked to trust others with our true story instead of presenting our carefully crafted image. It is easy to give safe, nondescript answers when we’re asked deeper questions about our heart than we are comfortable answering. But as long as we hold back our time, hide behind an image of ourselves, and only give safe answers we’ll never be truly known or truly loved. The “imposter” that we’ve created, the image we’re trying to maintain, is the only thing that actually receives any love. And we’ll continue to feel alone... because our true self isn’t being allowed to belong to the community.

The God of the universe knows everything (Hebrews 4:13 “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”) That means God is not fooled by the “imposter” we’ve crafted as our image. He knows us fully, completely, and knows the truth about our hearts. And He loves us right there. Not as we “should” be - He loves us as we are. But He doesn’t leave us there. He sent Jesus to redeem our brokenness and pay the ransom to buy us back from sin. And He sent His Spirit to live in us and the Spirit teaches us to live authentic lives that grow to match His design for us. The transformation doesn’t happen immediately, but it does happen more and more as we live moment-by-moment trusting Him to lead us (Titus 2:11-14).

All of this has me thinking, if the God of the universe can handle knowing the whole truth about you and still love you deeply enough that He sacrificed His son, is it possible that you could allow others in His family to get to know you too? Are you willing to do the work - to invest the time, trust, and transparency it will take - to build a community with other people in the family of God? It will take regular deposits, and grow slower than you’d like at first. But as those deposits compound you will suddenly look up and realize the community you were searching for has been built through those faithful deposits and you’ll find yourself enjoying the wealth of the meaningful relationships which have been built.

Discussion: Who is one of the most authentic people you know? What makes them seem so authentic? Who is someone in your life who seems trapped behind the image of an “imposter” (maybe even you)? What can you do to invite them to trust God and trust others with who they really are?

Prayer Focus: Pray that God would help you to see yourself the way He sees you; that you would better understand and accept the gift of the new identity He has decided belongs to you. Pray that God would give you the courage to invest regular deposits to build a community that is fully known and fully loved.

Watch/Listen to this Sunday's message on Community, from the series: The Greatest Story Ever Re-Told.

 

Episode 18 of 'Talking Element' 3rd Wheel Week 8: Walk in the Spirit Part 2 With Jeff and Steve Pruett

by Element Christian Church

This week Michael sits down with Jeff and Steve to 3rd Wheel Week 8: Walk in the Spirit, Part 2

Questions Discussed: 

- How have you come to understand Walking in the Spirit?
- Do you have a specific time you rested in God’s work instead of your own, and how did that look practically?
- Discussion “yielding to God’s will.”

Watch 3rd Wheel Week 8's Livestream Here

Episode 19 of 'Talking Element' TGSErT 01: Community; with Donald Weiting

by Element Christian Church

This week Michael and Aaron sit down with Donald to discuss The Greatest Story Ever Retold, week 1: Community:

Questions Discussed: 

- Aaron’s goal for this new series.
- What deeper understanding of community can we learn?
- Family and Gospel Community. Irrational commitments.
- We need to be known in order to belong – why don’t we want to be known?
- How can Element be better at being a place for the lonely?

Watch This Week's Livestream Here

Celebrity (A Christmas Eve/Day Reading)

by Aaron

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been watching a lot more TV and movies this year. After all, what else is there to do during a global pandemic when you are stuck at home and have exhausted all other options (have you reached the end of Netflix yet)? Most of us, when out in the real world, would love the chance to meet someone from our favorite TV show or movie (or band). Maybe we’d even be fortunate enough to get a photo with them and raise our “wow” factor among our peers.

Today we have a word in our vocabulary we use called “celebrity.” Celebrity is of middle English origin and meant to celebrate something. Think of the word “celebration” in regard to some achievement (like...we made it through 2020 and get to gather together for Christmas Eve or when someone has a milestone birthday or anniversary). In earlier times, celebrity would refer to someone who was celebrated because of an accomplishment or achievement.

In our culture today celebrity simply means that someone is famous. We have people today who are famous for only being famous and yet we still call them celebrities. Many of these people have no accomplishments that stand out as noteworthy. Who can be a celebrity today? Piano-playing cats, surfboard-riding dogs, people who eat food on YouTube, kids who make up new dances, and little girls who cry about the environment. If you went back just a few centuries, however, before the internet or TV, there were very few celebrities: only monarchs, kings, and certain playwrights and artists. Celebrity tended to be rare, because it was not broadcast with photos or media; it was only broadcast with words.

Amidst the myriad of temptations our culture faces, there is a cult of celebrity. People seek fame by trying to do something that will get them noticed—whether it’s by millions of Instagram likes, Tik-Tok followers, or YouTube views. But, think about this...on Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus—a child born out of wedlock, who became a penniless preacher, who lived a simple life and died a criminal’s death in a backwater Roman colony.

Jesus didn’t seek fame. As a matter of fact, when He performed miracles, He told people not to go about proclaiming it (see Mark 5:43, for example). Now, 2000 years later, Christmas (for all of its faults of consumerism) is the most celebrated holiday in many parts of the world—a celebration of Jesus coming into the world. We sing songs of celebration that almost everyone knows by heart!

Why?

Because Jesus wasn’t just a penniless preacher. He wasn’t just the bastard child of a woman named Mary. He was God’s own son, God in the flesh. For millennia, God’s prophets promised a day they couldn’t even fully comprehend, when the savior of the world would be born. This savior eventually lived the life we should have lived and eventually died the death we deserved to die. By doing so, He exchanges His innocent life for our deserved death—all to bring a rebellious humanity back into relationship with God.

What we celebrate at Christmas is not only the birth of Jesus, but also the work He did to rescue us and restore us to relationship with God and one another. We call this the Good News, and one of the reasons Element loves celebrating Christmas is that we are reminded how the magic and mystery of God’s grace extends beyond this night. As wonderful as Christmas is, it’s not the holiday itself that needs to be celebrated around the globe, but the salvation and life given to us by God. Joy to the world, peace on earth, the reconciliation of humankind; what child is this? He is the only hope we have ever had...Christmas has come for us.

If we are going to give something celebrity status in our lives, something we get giddy and excited for, let it be the Good News of what Christmas represents. Let us make great the name of Jesus.

 

Episode 16 of 'Talking Element' 3rd Wheel Week 6: Jesus and the Spirit With Guest: Mike Harman

by Element Christian Church

This week Michael and Aaron sits down with Mike Harman to discuss 3rd Wheel Week 6: Jesus and the Spirit

Questions Discussed: 

- Mike’s journey of growing and understanding the Spirit
- Abiding presence and expecting the Holy Spirit to work
- What would help us to be more expectant?
- What personal areas could we be more expectant with?
- What types of sources of power do we as people rely on, other than the Holy Spirit?
- What does a life dependent on the Holy Spirit’s power look like?

Watch 3rd Wheel Week 6's Livestream Here

Episode 17 of 'Talking Element' 3rd Wheel Week 7: Walk in the Spirit With Jeff and Steve Pruett

by Element Christian Church

This week Michael sits down with Jeff and Steve to 3rd Wheel Week 7: Walk in the Spirit, Part 1

Questions Discussed: 

- Have you ever found yourself begging or bargaining with God for some spiritual change in your life?
- Have you ever worked hard in order to please God so that He’d give in to your request?
- Discussion on “my best doesn’t work.”
- Discussion on freedom of slavery.
- Are conflicts a good indication of we are walking in the Spirit.

Watch 3rd Wheel Week 7's Livestream Here

Christmas Eve Invite 2020

by Element Christian Church

You are invited to our outdoor Christmas Eve Service from 6-8pm at Element Property. We will be gathering on campus for socially distanced Traditional Christmas Carol Sing-a-long, a light display walk around the property, photo station with gift, and Crave Food Truck (subject to change). We are planning a safe environment. Kids are welcome. Please dress warm and bring your own lawn chairs/blankets as needed.

Join us Christmas Eve, 6pm

Even with all of the shut down orders for Southern California in place now, Churches are still allowed to gather outside for services with all appropriate social distancing and preparations.

We hope to see you there!
- Element

Episode 14 of 'Talking Element' 3rd Wheel Week 4: Filled with the Spirit Pt. 2 With guest: Sarah McCool

by Element Christian Church

This week Michael and Aaron sits down with Sarah McCool to discuss 3rd Wheel Week 4: Filled with the Spirit Part 2

Questions Discussed: 

- Sarah shares her experience with a more charismatic church growing up.
- Describe in more detail the “means” of the Spirit.
- How have you seen others search for that “spiritual connection’ knowing that they were made for ‘more?’
- How do we discern between valid and invalid spiritual experiences?
- What advice do you give to someone who wants to read the Scriptures but doesn’t know where to begin and or is overwhelmed by it?

Watch 3rd Wheel Week 4's Livestream Here

Episode 15 of 'Talking Element' 3rd Wheel Week 5: Mission of the Spirit With Special Guest

by Element Christian Church

This week Michael and Aaron sits down with Hillary to discuss 3rd Wheel Week 5: Mission of the Spirit

Questions Discussed: 

- Introduction to Hillary
- How has the Spirit of God dealt with you in conviction?
- Conviction of sin, Christ’s Provision and Judgment
- Reshaping of our Identity: how can we trust Jesus’ in our new identity?
- Does the thought of Jesus dying on the cross so thrill you…?
- How has the Holy Spirit invited you join His mission?

Watch 3rd Wheel Week 5's Livestream Here

Episode 12 of 'Talking Element' 3rd Wheel Week 2: Who is the Spirit? With guest: Kelly Borjas

by Element Christian Church

This week Michael and Aaron sits down with Kelly Borjas to discuss 3rd Wheel Week 2: Who is the Spirit?

Questions Discussed: 

- Why is a series on The Spirit so important?
- Do you see the Holy Spirit present and active in the middle of your life?
- What has changed in your life knowing He is present all the time?
- Was there a time your heart fought the Holy Spirit’s conviction?
- How do discern if it the Spirit prompting/speaking or yourself?
- Clarification of the Holy Spirit being an advocate here on earth for us.
- Advice for those who don’t hear/feel the Holy Spirit’s prompting.

Watch 3rd Wheel Week 2's Livestream Here

Episode 13 of 'Talking Element' 3rd Wheel Week 3: Week Three: Filled with the Spirit Pt. 1 With guests: Mike & Carrie Foster

by Element Christian Church

This week Michael and Aaron sits down with Mike and Carrie Foster to discuss 3rd Wheel Week 3: Filled with the Spirit Part 1

Questions Discussed: 

- What has your understanding of the Spirit been, and how has it changed over the years?
- What comes to mind when you hear, “Being filled with the Holy Spirit?”
- Thoughts on the 3 points: Life of Excess, Life of Stimulation, Life filled with Joy.

Watch 3rd Wheel Week 3's Livestream Here

Help us put together 100 Delta Christmas Baskets

by Element Christian Church

Delta Basket Drive

Last year we did the holiday Christmas store for the students of Delta High School. With Covid that is something we cannot do this year...BUT…we have an alternative! We are working to provide gift baskets filled with the most popular items from the store last year. The students loved the basics like blankets, towels, and toiletries. We are asking Element to jump in and help us provide 100 gift baskets!  You can put a gift basket together (or more than one…I know one family who made 20!) and drop it off at Element by Sunday, December 6th. 

Please provide a bin of some kind and put these items inside:  a blanket, a towel, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, a toothbrush, and toothpaste.  Please also include an encouraging Christmas note.  You are also welcome to donate money for us to put more baskets together. Please let us know if you are able to help so we can get a count.  Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Close up on baskets

Episode 10 of 'Talking Element' - Acts wk 43: Where Did Paul Go From Here with guest: Sandy Stewart

by Element Christian Church

This week Michael and Aaron sits down with Sandy Stewart to discuss Acts week 43.

Questions Discussed: 

- How does Sandy view raising a family align with living sent-ly?
- Ending Acts2, did it go where you thought it would?
- What things in our life are we heralds of (other than Christ?)
- Why is it easier to share our excitement about these things than the Gospel?
- How do you explain the Gospel vs the implications of the Gospel?
- What do you hope for your ‘Acts 29’ life to look like?

Watch Acts Week 43's Livestream Here.

Episode 11 of 'Talking Element' 3rd Wheel Week 1: Spirit. With guest: Jon Gee

by Element Christian Church

This week Michael and Aaron sits down with Jon Gee to discuss 3rd Wheel Week 1: Spirit .

Questions Discussed: 

- Aaron’s hopes for this new series for Element
- How do you explain spirit and Holy Spirit?
- What are some teachings that the conservative side focus on or don’t focus on when discussing the Holy Spirit?
- What if we don’t see evidence of the indwelling Holy Spirit?
- How can we grow in worship of/to the Holy Spirit?
- Homework in growing in understanding and worship of the Holy Spirit

Watch 3rd Wheel Week 1's Livestream Here

Episode 8 of 'Talking Element' - Acts wk 41: Encouraging One Another with guest: Michelle Gee

by Element Christian Church

This week Michael and Aaron sits down with Jeff to discuss Acts week 41.

Questions Discussed: 

- What practices do you do individual, daily lives to have proper knowledge of God?
- What were the words that were spoken to you when you first believed in Jesus? What was explained to you?
- How, and in what ways do we reframe things?
- How do we re-narrate things in our lives?

Watch Acts Week 41's Livestream Here.

Episode 9 of 'Talking Element' - Acts wk 42: Where Ever We Are with guests: Jennifer & Jonathan W.

by Element Christian Church

This week Michael and Aaron sits down with Jennifer and Jonathan Whitaker to discuss Acts week 42.

Questions Discussed: 

- When was the last time someone asked you what was different in your life? Has anyone?
- How can we be bolder in careers that prohibit sharing faith.
- Life on display doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but how do we respond.
- How do we live “with all boldness and without hindrance?” - Thoughts on being live sent on mission.

Watch Acts Week 42's Livestream Here.

Modified Pumpkin Killing 2020

by Element Christian Church

You're invited to Element's Pumpkin Killing October 25th from 12-3pm at Element, 4890 Bethany Lane. 

There will be Free pumpkins and activities, while supplies last. There will also be food trucks available for you to purchase and enjoy lunch or shaved ice. Take your pumpkins and food to go or enjoy one of our socially distanced family stations with all the supplies needed to paint and carve on site. Kids in costumes will also receive a free treat*. Hand sanitizing stations available, however no public restroom access.  

You're invited to Element's Pumpkin Killing October 25th from 12-3pm at Element, 4890 Bethany Lane.

Episode 7 of 'Talking Element' - Acts wk 40: Encouraging One Another with guest: Michelle Gee

by Element Christian Church

This week Michael and Aaron sits down with Michelle to discuss Acts week 40.

Questions Discussed: 

- Michelle’s song selection for services
- Where are we headed after Acts2 is over in a few weeks
- When was the last time you came alongside someone else and encouraged them by walking with them through troubled times, and vice versa? How did that make you feel?
- Michelle, Aaron and Michael spend a few minutes encouraging/building each other up.

Watch Acts Week 40's Livestream Here.

Episode 6 of 'Talking Element' - Acts wk 39: Snake Charmer Gospel with guest: Steve Pruett

by Element Christian Church

This week Michael and Aaron sits down with Steve to discuss Acts week 39.

Questions Discussed: 

- Steve’s adventures overseas as missionaries
- When was the last time you misjudged someone, or they misjudged you?
- How can we better understand God’s true redemptive grace?
- As Pastors, how do you respond to someone struggling with the silence of God?

Watch Acts Week 39's Livestream Here.