Episode 2 of 'Talking Element' - Acts wk 35: Except For These Chains with Aaron , Nic and Michael

by Element Christian Church

This week Michael sits down with Aaron and Nicholas Slocum to discuss Acts week 35: Except For These Chains, where Paul reveals he wants everyone to have faith as he does - except for the chains he finds himself in that have helped to build his faith.

Questions Discussed:
- Aaron's hope and prayer for series of Acts.
- In our world today, what are the things that people find most hard to accept about the call of Christianity?
- What personal chains have you experienced in life that helped grow your faith that you wish other's didn't have to endure?
- If someone is feeling weighed down by chains of life, what can they do to experience the freedom Paul talks about?

Watch Acts Week 35's Livestream Here.

Episode 1 of 'Talking Element' - Acts wk 34: Do You Believe with Aaron and Joseph

by Element Christian Church

This week Michael sits down with Aaron and Joseph Borjas to discuss Acts week 34: Do You Believe, where Paul shares his story and asks Agrippa: Do you believe?

Questions Discussed:
- Do you believe?
- How would those who don’t know Jesus, but know you, describe faith in Jesus, based on your life?
- In the areas where they misunderstand, how can you help them to understand?
- How would you encourage someone who hasn't seen Gospel Change in their life recently?

Watch Acts Week 34's Livestream Here.

Mirage or Oasis

by Jonathan Whitaker

I can confidently say that Bugs Bunny cartoons did not adequately prepare me for my deployment to the Middle East.  According to Looney Toons, the most reliable feature of any desert is the presence of a mirage followed closely by an abundance of magic lamps.  The cartoon bit was always the same.  Dying of thirst, dressed as Lawrence of Arabia, Bugs Bunny or Yosemite Sam would spot a palm-lined oasis in the distance, only to find their hopes dashed by a pesky mirage.  I have been here since May, in the heat of the summer, and I have yet to see a single mirage (or lamp for that matter).  It is worth noting that the defining characteristic of a mirage is that it promises something that it can’t deliver.  

The expectations I set for ministry prior to my deployment and the things I would accomplish for God’s Kingdom were in many ways like a mirage.  When I arrived at what I thought was a palm-lined oasis, I quickly realized it was something completely different.  Maybe you have had this experience.  You resolve to do something for God.  Before you can realize this great vision, reality smacks you in the face.

I prepared and prayed for my deployment, but had no idea of what God would do through me in this place. I had no expectation of what ministry might be in this place.  I’m not gonna lie though, I imagined I would be preaching and leading Bible studies, and if I could get my hands on a guitar… well you get it.  So far, that vision of a ‘Middle East Billy Graham’ has been more mirage than reality.  Often we imagine how God may answer our prayers before we pray them.  Usually while we wait on God’s answer to prayer, our hope is that God will give us exactly what we asked for.  Our sin nature causes us to want to lead God to the outcomes we most desire, even in prayer, but is that how it ought to be? 

Psalm 25 teaches that God leads and we are to follow: Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.  Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” (Psalm 25:4-5) The problem I have experienced is, instead of marching toward a goal, I end up wandering in a desert (quite literally) toward a mirage of my own creation.  Meanwhile, I miss the gentle leading of the Lord, which is the very answer to prayer that I am seeking.  The solution to this problem starts when we stop looking for an oasis that meets all the desires of our prayer and start looking at Jesus.  Jesus was very clear about one thing in His ministry, we only harvest where He has sown the seed. 

John chapter 4 tells the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well.  Because of the first century prejudice that existed between Jews and Samaritans, this interaction nearly scandalized Jesus’ disciples.  Jesus promised this woman (and us) living water.  This unexpected encounter (to the disciples), was actually a divine appointment that resulted in a multitude coming to salvation.  Jesus taught his disciples a very important lesson, For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’  I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” (John 4:37-38).  Meaning, when we have success for God’s Kingdom, it is only because God prepared the way before we arrived.   

The Apostle Paul put this another way, “Paul planted, Apollos watered, God gave the increase.” (1 Cor 3:6).  God always reaps a harvest where he has sown.  Should we pray for God to lead us? Absolutely.  Should you have an idea or expectation of how God might answer that prayer?  You would not be a human if you did not.  The wisdom comes from discerning God’s answers to your prayer.  

So what am I to do?  The mirage has faded and there is only sand as far as I can see.  Satan has whispered in my ear more than once that I have failed.  I think it is time to look around and see the ministry that God has led me to.  It does not include a podium, a microphone, or a guitar.  I have already annoyed everyone at the Base Chaplain’s Bible study with my long theological rants.  So where does that leave me?  The answer is with the fruitful harvest that God has led me to.  I can’t wait to report to you what that is, once I have figured it out.  I remain willing as ever to obey God’s leading, but more than ever, I am also ready to get out of His way.

One last thought.  Between 1947 and 2005, Billy Graham led 417 Crusades, in 185 countries, on every continent except Antarctica. You and I may never evangelize to the untold millions to whom Billy Graham gave the Gospel, but as great an evangelist as Billy Graham was, somebody first shared the gospel with him.  Whether you are Billy Graham, preaching to millions, or the person who witnessed to Billy Graham, in both cases God sowed the seed, and God reaped the harvest. 

God probably won’t send you or me into the mission field we expect, but the mission field He sends us to is always the right one.  Learn from me; don’t keep wandering toward the mirage.  Look around you at the oasis God as already led you to and share the living water with anyone who will drink.

 

Church Plant: Tom & Jing in Beuang Kan, Thailand

by Element Christian Church
 
 

Element's Mission is: To Glorify God by teaching and living out the Scriptures, transforming community into Gospel Community, and planting churches. And we are excited to talk about partnering with Tom and Jing in Beuang Kan, Thailand as they begin planting a church in the North-East part of Thailand.

Element, Covid, and Future Plans - August Update

by Aaron

As you are well aware there are vastly different opinions about Covid, state regulations, and what individuals and churches should do in the midst of the pandemic. With openings, closings, talk of vaccines, rising infection rate - yet lowing death counts, what are we to do…and what is Element doing. I thought we would write this up, so you have an idea of our direction. 

It is very easy to be blown back and forth by the differing opinions that all sound like fact, which is why it is important for us to come up with our position and plan at Element based on God’s leading and not the cacophony of voices that surround us. As you read (or listen as we will video this as well), keep in mind what Element’s vision has always been…to lift up Jesus. This is why we not only teach but intend to LIVE OUT the scriptures because the Scriptures aren’t about one day when we get out of the trailer park called earth, they are about God rescuing us here and now in this life. To do that, our normal friendships need to become Gospel centered so that we have a perspective that sees further than our circumstances.

There are two big decisions we have made that impact the near future of Element in terms of Covid-19. The first one being that we will not resume normal services until state/county ordinances change enough to allow us to have children’s ministries. What that means for you is that we will continue to livestream Sunday mornings (which will be viewable all week, “on-demand,” on YouTube). We will put out children’s lessons geared to your family weekly with take home bags/boxes so your kids can participate. We will be available for prayer via zoom call, and in person prayer if you are willing. Our Gospel Communities will decide on their own how and when they will continue to disciple gospel centered community during this time.

The second decision we have made is while we are not having ‘normal’ Sunday services, we will gather on campus for the message, live, beginning September 6. Even though we will be livestreaming the full service, if you want to come in person, at 9am every Sunday, Aaron will give the sermon live. There will be no band, but he will give the message, let you ask questions, and lead a discussion surrounding the message; it will be more like a bible study – or more like a GC’s “notes night.” If the county says we cannot meet indoors, he will give the sermon outdoors until we can move inside. Once we are inside, we will continue with “sermon only” live until we can have the children meet with us again.

So, no full live service, but there will be a live gathering which you are more than welcome to come to weekly and participate.

Here is a question we have received often during this unprecedented time, why are we letting the government tell us what we can/can’t do? At Element we do not believe that the government mandate is directly leveled at churches, we do not believe that there is a vast conspiracy to bring worship of Jesus to a halt (because nothing could ever stop our true worship of Jesus), but we are careful in how we respond for a couple reasons. One of which is that our ministry to Delta High School is very closely related to the county. We want the county to see us as being respectful of what they are asking and see us as a partner in order to help us more readily be Jesus’ ambassadors to our community.

While it is true that as followers of Jesus, with constitutional freedom of religion, we do not need the state’s permission to worship, but we do want them to see that we love them enough to care about those most vulnerable around us and curtail how we meet for a time. This has stretched on longer than anyone wanted, or anticipated, and we now find ourselves at a crossroads that has brought much division to the body of Christ. We ask that in grace you understand where we are as a church, our commitment to you as attenders and members of Element, and most important our commitment to Jesus and the Gospel. 

When ‘normal’ church services resume you will see a lot work that we have been doing in preparing for adults, youth, and children on the property. While this time is very trying for all of us, we can, and do, still worship Jesus together as a body whether we are together or a part…but we pray for the time when it is together.

 

Q&A 64,000 Missing Words

by Aaron

Question:
There was a recent Facebook post I was sent regarding the removal of (45) biblical texts from the NIV (New International Version) and the ESV (English Standard Version) translations of the Bible (and also 64,000 changed or missing words). I am not usually one who reacts to postings, however if there is any truth to this one, I would be grateful to know.  

Answer:
This is mostly false and one hundred percent misleading. What is interesting is that I had thought this was a dead issue (as it has been answered so many times in the last few years), but then Facebook never seems to lose people who share a penchant for false or misleading information.

The Facebook post that was sent in (not linked here for space/time issues) was written on May 13, 2020, and makes it sound like the original poster did the research, however, they didn’t. The EXACT same post has been going around for years and traces originally to a poster, not even originally from Facebook, that is part of what is known as the King James Only Movement. The KJV (King James Version) movement wants everyone to go back the KJV of the Bible and not use any modern translations. They say it is the “authorized” translation, and sometimes the KJV is called that, but it is called that because it was authorized by….you guessed it…King James.

It is true that there are numerous word changes from the KJV to modern translations, but these could be as simple as ‘thee(s)’ and ‘thou(s)’ to ‘you’ and ‘them.’ Some change the words ‘Holy Ghost’ to ‘Holy Spirit.’ 64,000 is not a real number, and is a little over the top anyway as it is close to 10% of the 783,137 words IN the KJV. That is the only remotely true statement in the Facebook post.

It is important to understand that modern Bible translators are always going back to the earliest manuscripts so that we can have the most accurate translation possible. The Bibles we have today are not translations of translations; they are translated from the original to our language. The KJV, on the other hand, is a translation of a translation (it is a translation of what is known as the Latin Vulgate which came from a Church Father named Jerome).

When KJV-only people say that there are 45 texts missing form modern translation, that also is not true, because those verses are not IN the earliest manuscripts (as examples: John 5:4, Acts 8:37, and Acts 24:7 which we will talk about in next weeks Acts Part 2 message). These texts are present in some of the later manuscripts, so modern translations include them for reference, but as footnotes. In this way, we (as modern readers) can have access to these texts, but not recognize them as part of the canon of scripture due to the inconsistency.

The Facebook post also says that Harper Collins owns the NIV and is changing it to reflect their worldview. While it is true that the parent company of Zondervan is Harper Collins and they DO own the rights to the NIV, NIV editors emphatically state that they are a self-governing body of religious scholars and “no publisher or commercial entity can tell them how to translate Scripture.” Harper Collins publishes only--it doesn’t get any say on what the NIV contains. The ESV, which is the translation we use at Element, is put out by Crossway, which is a very diligent and Christian organization as well.

Biblica Ministry is the group that translated the NIV Bible from the original manuscripts (the textus receptus). It was founded in New York in the 1800s to translate Scriptures so that U.S. immigrants could study them. This is their statement: “The text of the NIV is entrusted to the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT), a self-governing body of 15 evangelical Bible scholars. No outside group — no publisher or commercial entity — can decide how the NIV is translated. In keeping with the original NIV charter, the CBT meets every year to monitor developments in biblical scholarship, as well as changes in English usage. Every year, they solicit (and receive) input from scholars, pastors, missionaries, and laypeople.” 

When you see these Facebook posts, or internet memes, you can disregard them as far as removing verses from the Bible. It’s far more likely that the KJV’s translators were working off of manuscripts that added verses to the Bible. All of this said, it does not mean that the KJV is unreliable; it was a great translation for its time, but some of its additions might not have been penned by the New Testament authors. Jack Wilke writes, “Most of the verses are true statements, and some of them are even quotes from other parts of the New Testament. They just don’t fit where they have been placed in the text.” What this does mean, however, is that all of us should (before re-posting or believing everything we see on Facebook), do a little bit of digging as we may even enjoy the process of learning something new.

 

Pandemic Grocery Shopping

by Aaron

You are probably thinking that this blog, based on the title, has got to be a couple of months too late to connect to our current circumstances. I would disagree, because the last time I went to Costco, there still wasn’t any veggie lasagna (for my wife), diced tomatoes (for me to make salsa), or bananas. If you haven’t noticed, shopping is hard in the apocalypse.

Lately, whenever I go to the store, my wife will give me a list and say, “Don’t forget to look for toilet paper.” Honestly, I feel like I have PLENTY of toilet paper (except for when Phill and Jenna Heuchert come over and their daughter Annie decides to put a whole roll down the toilet). We have rolls and rolls, but my wife just says, “It’s the apocalypse and it’s ‘just in case.’”

Right now I have a humongous bag of rice, a 50-pound bag of sugar, three of those Costco-sized bags of frozen chicken, sixteen pounds of butter, and 12 packs of bacon (yes, the only one that is understandable is the bacon). You would think I was packing for the Oregon Trail. The cold items sit in the freezer in the garage. That’s not an invitation to help yourself…don’t even think about stealing my bacon. 

Maybe I am the guy who would end up starving in the apocalypse because I don’t hoard, worry, or buy twenty times what I actually need in a crisis. My wife would be the one eating food for years while I wondered why I couldn’t charge my newest electronic device that I thought was more important than food. I guess what I am saying is, we need each other to stay sane and not go too far overboard. I buy the food stuffs my wife wants because I love her, and she curbs some of her more pessimistic tendencies because I don’t freak out a lot (unless we run out of bacon…which again, won’t happen).

Right now our city, county, state, nation, and world are at a bizarre type of crossroads between people who are worried about the pandemic and those who don’t care or think it is a hoax. Much of the discourse has become political, especially in churches that have been ordered to shut down indoor, in-person gatherings again. One side sees it as a public health issue and the other sees it as a personal rights issue…and I feel like I am caught in the middle of it all because, for some bizarre reason, I can see both sides. 

I am frustrated about the inconsistency of government orders about masks, distancing, what they allow to open, and what they don’t. I wonder how we are supposed to eventually gain immunity to the virus if we refuse to engage in real life. I actually worry about the state of the economy, small businesses, and how people are meant to survive as our national debt climbs past 26 trillion dollars (a truly unfathomable number). But then I also look at the numbers of infections, the speed at which the virus spreads, the experts who speak about it (some of which are strong believers in Jesus), and my own lack of real understanding of the science of virology. I know that I must come to at least try to understand all sides of this if I ever hope to engage in a way that brings wisdom or peace to this situation.

All too often we focus on the problem, whether it is government overreach or the virus itself. As humans we tend absorb ourselves in what is right in front of us instead of what is eternal…and that is where part of my job comes in. Element, our focus should be first and foremost, Jesus. Only by the Gospel being central to what we do and say, will we ever be able to meaningfully engage in the world. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”

We don’t become all things to all people so that they would be angry at the government or fear the virus; we do it so that we can help them to share in the Gospel’s blessings. The scriptures are clear that we need each other—God made us that way. We will never share blessings with one another until we are able to understand one another. This is important to remember during a time when it’s common to throw memes and clichés at each other. Some people worry about the virus and stay home, some people think it’s a hoax—but why do each feel the way they do? Can we respect one another enough to listen? Maybe, as a result, we would be filled with compassion and have a broader perspective.

In the end, we must realize that our lives will not be saved by what we believe about the virus. The virus is not eternal—we as God’s people are. We are saved by God’s eternal work accomplished in the person of Christ. When our focus becomes God’s redeeming work in us, we can overlook how we differ from one another and still have meaningful fellowship and conversation…even while we disagree about how much toilet paper or bacon we need to buy.

 

Q&A Interview with Element's eFamily Support Team

by Element Christian Church
 
Interview with Cory, Jenna & Stephanie. Get to know them a little better and find out what they are working on right now in our eFamily ministry.
 
Links:

 

Ministry Spotlight: Freedom Calling with Ainsley

by Element Christian Church

Baptism Stories - July 5, 2020

by Element Christian Church

Last Sunday was a private Baptism! We wish we could have invited everybody, however with everything going on, we know you understand. Watch Ashley Slocum get baptized and read her story! We can still celebrate this wonderful event. If you wish to also be baptized, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Download Baptism Story

Word of Encouragement and Prayer from Mike Harman June 9, 2020

by Mike Harman

What is God doing in my life? Is there something He is delivering me from? Am I complaining and calling His deliverance a crisis? Am I trusting His love, goodness and sovereignty in this? Am I choosing to believe He is with me and will walk with me in what I'm going through for His Glory and my good? How is He bringing me to a place of being a blessing to our family, neighbors, coworkers and community? Is this only a crisis or God's hand of deliverance also?

Prayer Points

by Element Christian Church

When the world seems to be melting down, it is often hard to focus our thoughts in prayer. Knowing that to be the case, we would like to offer the following points to consider in your time of prayer. 2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

  • For repentance: We pray for the understanding that we would return to who God calls us to be, His image bearers in the world.
  • For conviction: We pray for conviction of the ways we have been complicit in seeing anyone as less than us and how we have marred the image of God. We ask our gracious God for forgiveness and trust. His grace is sufficient as we are cleansed from sin and unrighteousness.
  • For empathy: We pray for broken, contrite hearts that grieve alongside all of God’s oppressed children. We seek to better understand the struggles that are foreign to us and let those who are oppressed and fearful know they are not alone.
  • For fruitful conversation: We pray for soft hearts, gentle spirits, and self-control as we engage in discourse with our neighbors over the issues of self-centeredness and racism. We pray for the strength to listen where we might be tempted to speak and the ability to give grace because we have first received it from God.
  • For people of color everywhere: We pray they would know they are seen, valued, and loved by a good God. We pray they would run to the open arms of Christ for peace, wisdom, endurance, and comfort and that they cry out to Him in their distress.
  • For law enforcement: We pray for encouragement for the hearts of law enforcement, that they would know their work is not in vain. We pray for their protection and discernment as they continue to protect and serve our communities. We pray that the the subject of police brutality would be thoughtfully and wisely examined.
  • For our political leaders: We pray our political leaders would be moved to offer responses that are empathetic, discerning, gracious, and unifying. We pray they would set aside partisan attacks and be granted the wisdom that comes from God in responding to violence and chaos erupting from places of grief and anger.
  • For unity: We pray that we would find places of connection and unity; seeking to understand the underlying intentions and motives of those that think differently from us. We pray for a godly love that allows us to move toward each other despite our differences, recognizing we are all touched by these issues as children of God.
  • For discernment: We know that God is at work in this world and will make all things right in the end. We pray for discernment as we consider how to engage in His Kingdom work today, and that the Gospel would be our primary motivation and guidance for how we respond.
  • For salvation: We pray for the salvation of those who cannot see past their hurt and anger in these moments, whose souls are not at rest. We pray that hearts would be opened, and lives would be cleansed and restored to the grace of God.
  • For reconciliation: We pray for reconciliation between those divided and estranged over issues of bias and prejudice; where fear, anger, hatred and misunderstanding has brought alienation and separation because of our sin.  We pray that our ultimate reconciliation to God by Jesus would allow us to step towards those we are alienated, bringing peace where there is no peace.
  • For God’s glory: We pray that ultimately God would be magnified and His people would dwell in His promised joy.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Tselem

by Aaron

You know how the kids these days say TL;DR (too long; didn’t read)? This one is SL;KR (super long; keep reading) as I want to address recent events in our nation and give us some biblical context for our own personal call to image Jesus. 

The Bible was not written in a vacuum. What I mean is that while the content of the Bible is timeless and God-breathed, it is informed by the time and place in which it was written. When Genesis, the very first book of the Old Testament, was penned, Israel was surrounded by other cultures. While each culture had its own religion and gods, they all had a hierarchal way of looking at life. At the top were the gods, followed by the king, the official court (including the priests), various tradesmen/academics, and then the peasants and slaves at the very bottom.

Because the king was the one closest to the gods, he was seen as divine or semi-divine. The king alone was understood to be made “in the image” of the god who created the king. This was/is a dividing line between the king and the rest of the human race--peasants and slaves were not made in the image of the gods (they were actually believed to have been created by inferior gods). The king was the mediator through whom the blessings of the gods flowed to everybody else. This was simply the way the world worked…and then God challenged this very structure when He spoke in Genesis of how creation actually happened. 

Genesis starts with God creating and ordering the world. At the pinnacle of His creation He makes humankind, and this is what it says in Gen 1:26-27: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion…."So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." The word man would encompass all humankind. The word for image, as most scholars believe, is a word borrowed from these other cultures: Tselem

When every other culture used the word Tselem, it only referred to the king, the one and only person made in the image of the gods who created him. In Genesis, when God speaks, He is deliberately shown to be a King reigning by royal decree (i.e.,  “let there be light” and there was light), and Genesis has an entirely subversive (yet true) creation account. In Genesis, God is sovereign and generous to His creation. When it comes to human beings, He makes ALL people in His image, not just the king. In the image (Tselem) of God, God created all human beings.

This statement in Genesis should be the single most world-changing statement about human dignity, worth, and equality ever recorded. We should live and bet all of our lives, all of society, whether somebody thinks of themselves as a believer or not, on the truth that Genesis just spoke. Imagine what it would do to the hearts of peasants and slaves to be told that they too were created in the tselem, in the image, of the one great God.

Male and female.
Slaves and peasants.
All races.
Made in God's very image. 

This is why the Scriptures are so important for Christians to know and live out. In the wake of this pandemic, with all of us feeling on edge, acts of violence have again been perpetrated against those deemed “less than.” I struggle, as a middle-class, white, California male, to find any words that could help the situation our country finds itself in (again). A friend of mine reminded me today, though, that I don’t have to say anything, and when I do, I can speak for Element as a body of believers. God has allowed me to be a shepherd, under His leadership, of a body of people. As that Shepherd I will speak and remind us of the Gospel—the unchanging truths that are just as relevant to our confused world as when they were originally written. 

We are all made in the image of God. The word Tselem is also a word that is sometimes translated as images or idols. In every ancient religion, they would have images of their gods carved into stone, clay, bronze, and gold. The God of the Bible clearly says that His people were never to make images of Him because humankind was to be His image bearers. Whenever we see any person on this planet being abused, torn down, or humiliated, it should make us sick because the image of God is being desecrated. Think of how we feel when we see someone vandalize or loot a building during a riot, do we feel an infinitely deeper anguish when the image of God in others is destroyed before our very eyes?

I was listening to a couple people talk about what happened to George Floyd last weekend, and one of them said, “What makes it even more sad is that he was a Christian.” Why should George Floyd believing in Jesus make it more tragic? Is it because we start to think he deserved it less because he had qualities that we would define as redeeming? Until we realize it is tragic simply because an image bearer of God was treated this way, apart from color, lifestyle, or beliefs, these types of things will continue to happen because of color, lifestyle, or beliefs.

Most people who are racists don’t think they are racists. Most people who are intolerant of others don’t realize they are intolerant. I know people who think they are the epitome of peace and love and want our president to die (horribly). I know people who think they are levelheaded, compassionate, and able to fairly look at any issue, and yet they find those who disagree with them as shallow, shortsighted, and stupid. We all do it; we must be willing to see our own biases, and we also must be willing to stand up for the image of God in others or we are not acting as image bearers of God.

May we begin to live as a community of people who understand that our hope of salvation is not based upon how good, smart, or put together we are. Our only hope is in Jesus’ death to remove our sin-soaked, callous hearts and His resurrection that restores us to life. A people saved by His grace, not our own. A community that treats everyone else as image bearers of God. Nobody on top, nobody on the bottom. Where the richest person treats the poorest person with honor and respect simply because we see one another as God sees us. As Billy Graham said, “The ground is level at the foot of the Cross.” 

May we be a community where the powerful see those with no power and treat them like a child of a King. Where young and old, black and white, male and female, and everything in between come together in love. It must be more than Facebook posts, or Instagram memes, or blog posts on websites (like this one). We must be a people who truly understand who other people are because of creation. Frederick Buechner is now 93 and has loved Jesus most of his life. He writes many things that stick with me throughout the years that speak of compassion and understanding. He says, “Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It's the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.” Too often we can look at the news as a spectacle but don’t allow it to touch us…and it must touch us if we are to understand the image of God in others.

We must at least try to understand why there is so much fear and anger that have lodged side-by-side in a community who feels they have not been given a voice. Buechner writes, “If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.” When Jesus speaks of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, He intended for us to identify with and to understand the racially outcast (it was how Israel viewed the Samaritans). Luke 10:36-37 Jesus asked “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

I really don’t know what it looks like for all of you, but Element must be a place where we honor the image of God in others, show mercy, identify with the outcast and marginalized, and stand for righteousness in the face of injustice. Again, Buechner writes, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” May our gladness be found in the Gospel and may that gladness feed the world’s hunger to comprehend that we are made by God, for His glory, and ultimately, we belong to Him. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. May we glorify God by processing these events deeply and seeking what He longs to teach us in moments like these. Let those moments then lead us to action on behalf of all image bearers.

 

Announcement: Element Re-Opening Plan as of May 27, 2020

by Element Christian Church

We had a meeting last night with certain key leaders from Element to discuss our next couple of weeks and what they look like. We talked about how to logistically honor Jesus, our county/state regulations, and you (as those who attend Element). What we have decided to do is continue livestreaming services with a few modifications:

  • This Sunday, May 31, will remain only Livestreamed as we have the past several weeks – nothing in person (and nothing personal – haha).
  • Next Sunday, June 7, we will Livestream all three services AND:
    • Open the building at the 11am service if you want to come and watch the pre-recorded service together in the sanctuary at Element (again, we can only have 75 people inside with social distancing).
    • At that 11am service we will have an outside viewing area where you can bring your own lawn chairs and socially distance in the fresh air (but again, there will be no children’s programs per county/state requirements so you will need to ‘police’ your own children).
    • We will release our guidelines for attending in person by next Wednesday.
  • The third Sunday, June 14, we will reassess the week before (after the state/county reassess) but most likely work on how to get more people to be able to meet together, and hopefully have more direction on children’s classes.

We are hoping you understand our position as we work towards opening in a way that honors who we are as community that loves Jesus and people. Unfortunately, our facility doesn’t have large enough extra rooms to accommodate taking all of us (and our kids) with 6 feet of space to make ‘normal’ services possible.

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Ministry Spotlight: Royal Family Kids Interview

by Element Christian Church

Learn more about our local chapter of Royal Family Kid from the co-directors who run it: Jan, Diane and Eric. Interview by Justine.

For more information, check out their website: https://santamaria.royalfamilykids.org
Or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.