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.

How To Train Your Dra...(self)

by Aaron

There is a verse that is often misunderstood (much like sometimes a sermon given on Sunday morning can be misinterpreted). In context the entire verses read 1 Corinthian 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. Can you guess what verse gets misinterpreted?

Yep, Verse 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. But let’s back up and give you some context. What Paul is talking about here is in reference to what was known as the Isthmian games (these were precursors to the Olympic games which we are so familiar with). Athletes today go into training with hope of not necessarily getting a medal but of getting sponsored and making a living.

At the end of the Isthmian games the athletes who competed would stand before what was called the BEMA SEAT and be handed out their medals or crowns (these crowns were normally woven vines with flowers of some sort). Athletes would devote themselves to their sport, eat differently, exercise differently, sleep differently, all in an effort to get one of these crowns.

When Paul says I beat my body and make it my slave he is referring to strict training, not actual beating of his body (called self flagellation). What he means is that he does what he needs to so that He can grow in his relationship and understanding of God's call in life. He runs (or lives) in way that does not disqualify him from the crown (the prize). Devotion to Christ was so paramount to Paul that he was willing to restructure his entire life so that being a disciple of Jesus was first for him.

At the real Isthmian games, even if you had won a coveted crown, soon after the end of the games your crown would quickly fade and die. It is why Peter says in 1 Peter 5:4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. It's not that we do things so God loves us or to win our salvation, but faithfulness in discipleship brings God joy, and that should be motivation for us as His people.

For a while the word discipleship was used as a verb that meant to TEACH or TRAIN. It would be good if we saw it that way again, don't you think?

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