Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hey everyone!! Hope you guys had a wonderful Christmas!!! We most certainly did ourselves! Don't have much time to post this coming week...we're busy here getting ready to go to Passion!!!! 3 days away and we couldn't be more excited!!!! We want to ask you all to pray for us as we spend Jan 1-4 with 60,000 other young people worshiping God, receiving teaching and fellowshipping together. Pray for safe travels for us and for us to have open ears and hearts as we try to soak up all God has for us! We love you all! Can't wait to be back with you and share everything we learned at Passion!!! Happy New Year!! Chelsey and Emily

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Eve!!

Merry Christmas everyone!! 
We hope that you have a wonderful time with family through the next few days. 
We would also like to invite you to the Christmas Eve Service at our church. 
Monday, December 24, 2012, 7pm
CrossWay Community Church
6400 Prosperity Church Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28213
Come celebrate the season, sing and snack with us tomorrow night. 
Bring your friends and your family. 
We hope you can all join us! 
Merry Christmas!
Chelsey and Emily

Friday, December 21, 2012

Our favorite Christmas songs

(emily)
(chelsey)
(both)
(emily)
(chelsey)
(chelsey)
(both)
(chelsey)
(emily)
(both)
(chelsey)
(emily)
(emily)
(both)
(both)
(both)
(chelsey)

And just for fun...


We hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas! We love you guys so much and are so grateful for your continued love and support! Merry Christmas! 
Chelsey and Emily

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Biblical Womanhood

I guess the title says it all right? I don't know if it's just me...but when I hear those two words, I immediately get a picture in my head of what I think biblical womanhood looks like. Let me tell you...the picture I get is the exact opposite of who I am. It can be really discouraging at times to have this picture of what I think it should look like...and then look at myself in the mirror.

The picture I get in my mind...a biblical woman is soft spoken, submissive(with no questions asked...think "yes dear, of course dear, whatever you say dear"), warm smiles, good hugs, always cooking something, cleaning something, staying home and raising children, calm, quiet, put together, reserved...etc. I picture women like my pastors wives...who are all wonderful women that I look up to very much. They aren't all like this...but you get the picture...I'm sure this describes people in your life as well. If you're not following...the best I can come up with for a comparison would be women from the 1920's-1950's I guess. The role of the woman...her ultimate goal in life is to grow up to get married, have babies, cook, and clean. I know...it's ridiculous, but for whatever reason...this is just always what comes to mind when I think of a biblical woman.

Then when I look in the mirror...I see...a mess, I see someone who is loud, someone who argues all the time, someone who hates cleaning and will try to get out of cooking if she can help it, I see someone who is lazy, I see someone who would rather serve outside the home rather than in it...I see a lot of things about myself that don't describe a biblical woman at all.

So I guess you can see where the struggle is. I know my picture of biblical womanhood is pretty ridiculous...and you're probably sitting there thinking "she's hating on herself"...no, I'm just being honest...and most of the people who know me well will agree. So anyway, I've just been unpacking lately what it means to be a biblical woman. There is a lot out there about what biblical womanhood is...I'm not claiming to be an expert, I'm just sharing my journey of finding out what biblical womanhood looks like in my own life.
Titus 2:3-5 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Okay well, lets start here...since this is typically where I find myself resorting back to that really skewed picture. It's easy to read this and think...yeah that's exactly what it's saying, that you have to be quiet, married, and stay at home. Hang on, not so much. Lets walk through it...
  • This is basically saying that older women...that's anyone who is old enough to mentor someone younger...(I'd say college girls on up...). No matter your stage of life, you should be discipled by someone who is older and wiser than you...and in turn, you should be taking in what they teach you and teach it to someone else. That goes back to the great commission...to go and make disciples...and in Proverbs where it says to train up a child in the way he should go(if you haven't noticed...especially in the south...a child is pretty much anyone who is younger than you)
  • Then...the things older women are supposed to teach the younger women:
    • act like a lady...not in the 'wear a dress and cross your ankles and bake 24/7' kind of way...I'm not sure the best way to explain what it's saying...but don't act like a dude...don't scratch your butt...don't power-trip...don't swear...stuff like that...be a girl...
    • don't gossip...kind of obvious
    • don't get drunk...this is for both guys and girls...but making sure that girls know it is specifically directed at them too
  • The older women are to teach good things and not false things or bad things (they are supposed to teach things with the way they live as well as what they speak)
  • Older women are to show younger women how to be wives and mothers...it's a lot to take on to go from being single to being married. Saying your vows doesn't somehow give you all the information you need on cooking and cleaning and taking care of your husband or how to raise children or what to do at 3am when your baby will not stop crying(and no, throwing the baby out the window is not the answer).
  • Verse 5 is usually what trips me up...
    • self-controlled...that's good...people in general should be self-controlled
    • pure...that's good too...not just sexual purity but mental and spiritual purity as well.
    • here's where I always got tripped up...working at home...in my mind I always thought that it ruled out getting a job...like I have to stay at home. This is simply not the case. Taking care of a home is work. There's a lot to do to keep a home from falling apart. It's not saying that you can't ever work outside of the home...it's telling you to be diligent in your work at home.
    • kind...that's good...people should be kind to one another...the world would be an awesome place if we would just stick to what God tells us to do...love one another and be kind
    • here's another one that always got me...submissive to their own husbands...two things with this one:
      • I always thought it meant that whatever he said goes and I couldn't say anything in disagreement. Also not the case...being submissive doesn't mean that you can't discuss things with your husband. Your husband is held doubly accountable before God. He has to answer not only for himself but for the way he led you and your family. Together you must come to a place of agreement in the direction your life takes...how you raise your children, the way in which you set up house. It's about trusting his leadership and encouraging him in his role.
      • I also always wondered about the single women...they don't have a husband...so who do they submit to? God puts men and women in your life...parents...grandparents...small group leaders...pastors...to help you and hold you accountable. If you aren't married, these are the people that will help direct you and care for you.
    • that the word of God may not be reviled...also good...keeping the word of God holy in your life.
So that's what Titus 2 describes. I don't know if you can see where I get tripped up or not...again, I may be the only one who struggles this way...but it's always good to study scripture. This is usually the scripture that discourages me the most...I feel completely unworthy after I read this...I'm not married, I don't even plan on being married anytime in the near future...my end goal in life at the moment is not to work at home and have kids. I feel like I'm not a biblical woman because that stuff isn't on my radar. I'm a single woman, done with school, working a job and hanging out with college kids. I can handle power tools better than I can anything in a kitchen. My daily routine includes getting dressed, reading my Bible, make it through work, eat something, go to M28, don't be anti-social, and get at least 4 hours of sleep. I read this scripture and I feel horrible...I'm not investing in younger women as much as I should...I'm not training to be a homemaker...so does that mean that I'm not a biblical woman?

This is the part where I usually get so discouraged I walk off in a bad mood...but lets not stop there...
Proverbs 31:10-31 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
Okay, so yeah it starts off with an excellent wife...but stay with me here...remember, you're not going to automatically gain these qualities once you get married...you gotta start now. Lets do the same thing we did with the verses in Titus 2...
  • V11. Her husband trusts her...okay that means you're trustworthy...that people around you trust you. He will have no lack of gain...she makes him a better person...or if you're not married...you invest in people, care for them, encourage them.
  • V12. She does him good not harm all the days of her life...so she takes care of him...it's a life-long commitment. It means to be consistent in investing/caring for others...not hurting them by gossip or slander or doing anything that would directly hurt someone else.
  • V13. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. - She seeks valuable resources and is willing and eager to find work and work hard at it...she doesn't just sit around the house all day long...she goes to work whether at home or at a job, she is always finding something that needs to be done and working at it until completion. (Or as my old manager used to say: "If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.")
  • V14. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar...This woman makes sure she gets the best food for her household...she searches for the best prices, even going out of her way to get something that she needs...she doesn't just go to the nearest grocery, she weighs the options, checks the sales, cuts coupons...she is wise with her money.
  • V15. She rises while it is yet night...She wakes up EARLY, she doesn't sleep til noon and stay up all night...she rises early so that she can get things done before anyone else is awake. And provides food for her household and portions for her maidens...she cooks...she makes sure that the people around her are served and cared for.
  • V16. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard...she works in real estate!!! This woman considers things before she does them or buys them...she careful plans things out and chooses something based on what is best for her family...she doesn't do things on a whim. After she buys her property, she works it herself...she puts the seeds in the ground herself...for us this is taking care of our homes, our land...making sure that the apartment/room isn't trashed, paying the rent on time...
  • V17. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong....She goes to the gym...haha probably not...but this woman works hard enough that she has muscles...we aren't called to be dainty or needy...we are called to be strong and work hard. Not to say that we should be so independent that we don't need men in our lives but we need to be strong enough to support ourselves if we aren't called to be married...and strong enough to support ourselves and our family when/if the husband travels or is away for long periods of time. It is a good thing to be able.
  • V18. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night....She makes things, she is a business owner. She makes enough money to keep the lamp (heat, air conditioning, electricity...the utilities) going all day and all night.
  • V19. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle...so many different ways this woman is strong and talented...she knows a lot of things, how to fix things, how to work a power saw and a kitchen mixer...she is well rounded in her areas of ability.
  • V20. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. - She is charitable...she not only takes care of herself and her household but she invests time and energy and money towards those who are less fortunate than her. She donates money, she probably cooks meals for people or opens up her home to someone who needs a place to say. She sees the need and fills it, she crosses the street as Christine Caine would say...she doesn't just walk by on the other side, she's a good Samaritan
  • V21. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet...she isn't afraid of inclement weather because she and her family will be safe and warm...she makes sure that everyone has the clothing and protection they need for every circumstance.
  • V22. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Again, just like above...she takes care of her family by making/buying/providing nice things for her family...things that are good quality.
  • V23. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. This is important to me because this means that he is confident that things at home are taken care of...he doesn't have to worry about things at home because she's got it covered...she works hard enough so that he has the time to go sit with other pastors and teachers. She makes his ministry possible.
  • V24. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. As we saw earlier, she is a business woman...not only is she taking care of things at home but she has enough time and resources to have a side business! This lady is crazy talented and a superb multitasker!
  • V25. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. - She's strong...people look up to her because of how she carries herself. She has poise and elegance. Also...the future doesn't make her want to curl into a ball and cry. I don't know about you but the future is pretty scary to me...but not to this lady. She isn't afraid of the things that could happen because she trusts in God for her future and she spends her days making sure things are taken care of instead of procrastinating.
  • V26. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. - She is kind and wise...when she opens her mouth it isn't foolish talk or gossip, it's something to pay close attention to. We all know those people who don't say much but when they do it's always something really deep or something that really speaks perfectly into the situation.
  • V27. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. - This lady is NOT lazy (if you haven't figured that out already). She makes sure her household is being run in a way that pleases the Lord and makes sure they have everything they need...food, bills are paid, laundry is done etc.
  • V28. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. - This lady's family sees how hard she works and they respect her and love her for it. There is probably not a mom out there who wouldn't agree that this is the best kind of gift. 
  • V29. "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all." - These are the praises of her husband. I can totally see where he is coming from...there are many awesome ladies out there, but how many do you know that completely embody everything that was written in this passage? I know that I am nowhere near living up to this lady. 
  • V30. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. - I think that so often we forget this. Especially in the society in which we live, beauty is the number one thing to everyone. I bet you can't watch TV for 10 minutes before seeing an ad for clothing or makeup or perfume or a TV show about models or fashion. Our society has been programmed to value beauty and vanity over hard work and a relationship with God. I know far too many women that cannot leave the house without makeup...I also know many who won't even leave their bedroom without makeup on. Makeup is not what makes you beautiful, it is not what will last...when you are completely invested in the life that God has called you to, that is beauty, that is charm. There is nothing more beautiful than a woman who loves the Lord with everything she has.
  • V31. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. - This basically says that she is known throughout the land because of her hard work. Not only does she make her husband's ministry possible as we discovered earlier, her ministry is praised at the gates as well...even if she isn't there herself. When she is working, people see it and it is a ministry to them. She doesn't go around boasting of what she has done....her heart of service and her love of God speak for her and everyone in town knows who she is because of her example. 
Well, we have reached the end. I'm really not sure how I planned to wrap this all up...I'm not even sure why I wrote all of this. Maybe it was just for my own benefit...to help me understand what God is calling me to be as I grow older. If you're still with me after this epistle of sorts, thank you! I hope it was as helpful to you as it was to me. I think this is one of the most misunderstood topics in the Bible and so many teachings do nothing to dispel the confusion.
Biblical womanhood according to the Bible does not describe a meek little housewife who has never experienced anything...in fact, it describes the exact opposite. I am so glad to see that this woman was educated and independent and godly. It helps me to see that Biblical womanhood isn't cookie-cutter...that even if you are loud and crazy, you can still be a woman after God's heart. Maybe once I get married, I will settle down into a meek housewife...I kind of doubt it but you never know what God is going to do. 

I think my favorite stories of modern women who best represent this biblical standard would be Ruth Graham and John Piper's mother. There's not a specific story about Ruth Graham, but I've heard so many times how she made it possible for Billy Graham to conduct his ministry away from home by making sure that home-life was taken care of. He didn't have to worry about home because he knew she had it taken care of. I have never seen a more reverent and strong woman than Ruth Graham. 

I read of John Piper's mother in a book he wrote entitled "What's the Difference? - Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible." (Which is an AWESOME and very helpful book...I would highly recommend it to all of you no matter your season of life.) 
"When I was a boy growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, my father was away from home about two-thirds of every year. And while he preached across the country, we prayed - my mother and my older sister and I. What I learned in those days was that my mother was omni-competent.
She handled the finances, paying all the bills and dealing with the bank and creditors. She once ran a little laundry business on the side. She was active on the park board, served as the superintendent of the Intermediate Department of our Southern Baptist church, and managed some real estate holdings. 
She taught me how to cut the grass and splice electric cord and pull Bermuda grass by the roots and paint the eaves and shine the dining-room table with a shammy and drive a car and keep French fries from getting soggy in the cooking oil. She helped me with the maps in geography and showed me how to do a bibliography and work up a science project on static electricity and believe that Algebra II was possible. She dealt with the contractors when we added a basement and, more than once, put her hand to the shovel. It never occurred to me that there was anything she couldn't do.
I heard one time that women don't sweat, they glow. Not true. My mother sweated. It would drip off the end of her long, sharp nose. Sometimes she would blow it off when her hands were pushing the wheelbarrow full of peat moss. Or she would wipe it with her sleeve between the strokes of a swingblade. Mother was strong. I can remember her arms even today thirty years later. They were big, and in the summertime they were bronze.
But it never occurred to me to think of my mother and my father in the same category. Both were strong. Both were bright. Both were kind. Both would kiss me and both would spank me. Both were good with words. Both prayed with fervor and loved the Bible. But unmistakably my father was a man and my mother was a woman. They knew it and I knew it. And it was not mainly a biological fact. It was mainly a matter of personhood and relational dynamics.
 When my father came home he was clearly the head of the house. He led in prayer at the table. He called the family together for devotions. He got us to Sunday School and worship. He drove the car. He guided the family to where we would sit. He made the decision to go to Howard Johnson's for lunch. He led us to the table. He called for the waitress. He paid the check. He was the one we knew we would reckon with if we broke a family rule or were disrespectful to Mother. These were the happiest times for Mother. Oh how she rejoiced to have Daddy home! She loved his leadership. Later I learned that the Bible calls this "submission."
 But since my father was gone most of the time, Mother used to do most of those leadership things too. So it never occurred to me that leadership and submission had anything to do with superiority and inferiority. And it didn't have to do with muscles and skills either. It was not a matter of capabilities and competencies. It had to do with something I could never have explained as a child. And I have been a long time in coming to understand it as part of God's great goodness in creating us male and female. It had to do with something very deep. I know that the specific rhythm of life that was in our home is not the only good one. But there were dimensions of reality and goodness in it that ought to be there in every home. Indeed they ought to be there in varying ways in all mature relationships between men and women.
 I say "ought to be there" because I now see that they were rooted in God. Over the years I have come to see from Scripture and from life that manhood and womanhood are the beautiful handiwork of a good and loving God. He designed our differences and they are profound."
I probably read those first couple of pages a million times before I was able to move on. I had read the Bible passages so many times but it never occurred to me what they were actually saying. John Piper's book opened my eyes to the fact that I can have a colorful personality and still be a biblical woman. I don't have to stop being independent or quit my job when I get married...I don't even have to get married if God has called me to single life...I don't have to do anything except follow God, be attentive to his will and work hard at whatever I do in order to be an example of biblical womanhood. It is with such joy that I finally realized that. I hope that you ladies understand that too. You don't have to be a cookie-cutter housewife...you are you with all of your personality and your strengths and that is who God made you to be. Lose yourself in him and his word, work hard and you will be more precious than jewels. (And for you guys who have read this...I hope this helps you know what you are looking for in a woman.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hope

 Rejoice in hope,
be patient in tribulation,  
be constant in prayer. 
Romans 12:12   

This has been my theme verse lately. In fact, HOPE has been my theme word lately. I love when a certain word keeps popping up everywhere...it's a sweet reminder that God still speaks to us. I don't really have anything else to say...just thought I'd share this. I know when life gets crazy and things get stressful...especially around the holidays...remember where your hope is. Our hope is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ...his strength...his mercy...his sacrifice..his love.

Blood Speaks

This morning Mickey Connolly gave a message about the progression and effects of sin using the biblical stories of Cain and Abel and the lesser mentioned Lamech in Genesis 4. I've learned that they parallel today's world more than I ever thought.
Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.  When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain made love to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch. To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech. Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah. Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes. Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain’s sister was Naamah. Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.” Adam made love to his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.” Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.
The entire human story after the fall of Adam and Eve begins with something called total depravity, which was something I had always heard the concept of, but never really knew there was a name for it. I looked it up and some of its synonyms include: absolute inability, radical corruption, and total corruption. It's the Augustinian theological doctrine that says we all inherit and are polluted by a sinful nature that we got from Adam as a result of the fall of man.

Because of this total depravity, the call to love God and love each other is regularly violated, as we first witness in Genesis 4.

See, originally Adam and Eve thought (because of Genesis 3:15) that when Cain came, he would bring some sort of deliverance. There was this great hope in him. In fact, the name Cain literally means "he has come". But that's definitely not how the story turns out.

If you went to Sunday school as a kid, or if you just read Genesis 4 at the beginning of this post, you know that it all started when Cain and Abel bring sacrifices to God and Cain is upset when his offering was not accepted while his brother's was.

What we need to look at first, and what tends to get overlooked, is the reasons why Abel's offering was accepted and Cain was not. There are two reasons.

One, Abel brought God his best and Cain just brought something.

Two (the deeper reason and the reason for the first reason for those of you who just like reasons), Abel was a righteous man, and Cain was not. Their offerings were a reflection of their heart natures.

This leads to another question of if we are all born with a sinful, worldly nature, like Cain, how does anyone become godly, like Abel?

That is done only through God's electing grace.

But through God's common grace, in verses 6 and 7, God appealed to Cain to attempt to restrain his sinful nature. He did this through a promise and a warning, a lot like a parent to a child.

"If you do well, you will be accepted" was God's invitation to Cain to repent. God was giving him a choice.

There is always a moment we have with our conscience before we do something where we are given the same choice that Cain had here.

Verse 8 gives us the very first picture of active enmity between the godly and the worldly.
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Then in verse 9, the story becomes reminiscent of God's response to Adam's sin, but there's a big difference in the fact that Cain's heart toward God was hardened by his sin and Cain rejects God's invitation to repentance.

Cain gets pretty snippy with God.

Then we see in verses 10 through 12 that as sin spreads, so does its curse.
The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.
And yet God extends common grace to Cain in spite of his sin and his reaction to his punishment in verses 15 and 16 when God promises to protect him.

We then see how very quickly the progression of sin after Cain goes away from God into Nod.

When I first read about Cain going to Nod, I just assumed it was only a place on a map, but Nod is the root of the Hebrew verb "to wander". It references a nomadic lifestyle and is described as a place of no home and no rest, a life lived outside of the presence of God. It's another curse of sin.

In the traditional fashion of the progression of sin, look at what Cain does next in verse 17.
Cain made love to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch.
He builds a city!

Even though Cain is cursed to be a wanderer, he builds a city to live in, and even though God promises to protect him, he fortifies his city. This is a huge example of humans trying to render God unnecessary and trying out self-sufficiency.

Now let's just fast forward 7 generations to Cain's descendant, Lamech.

Lamech realizes that children equal power, so in order to have more children, he becomes a polygamist. And even though Lamech's children seem to be forefathers of technology and arts (another evidence of common grace), God is not in any of their progress because of their sinful natures toward Him. They made technical progress, but moral failure.

In fact, it was Lamech who wrote the world's first poem, but it was all boasting in Abel's murder and a murder that he had committed himself. In verse 26, he even says that he will protect himself rather than rely on God's protection.

Ironically, Lamech is never heard from again.

Sadly, we as human beings have more in common with Cain and Lamech than we do with Abel. And at one point, like it did with Cain, Abel's blood cried out against us from the ground. But the blood from the ground at the foot of the cross cries out for us as well, speaking a different word. Jesus' blood speaks forgiveness and grace instead of crying for justice.

Hebrews 12:24 says:
To Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Scripture vs. Society: Politics


This is definitely a difficult post for me, especially in light of this monumental presidential election tomorrow. To be quite honest, I've been staring at my laptop screen for the past half hour completely at a loss for words, not only because I'm not remotely into politics, but because this is a hot button issue that I'd like to be able to address clearly and in a way as to not cause unnecessary hostility.

I think a good place to start, that is often overlooked is Psalm 33:12
"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."
I really don't think it gets anymore simple than that. God blesses nations who look to Him, honor Him, and acknowledge Him as the Lord. And I believe at one point, that was the United States, but lately we have really been straying from God as a nation. Do we claim God as our Lord anymore as a nation?

Thomas Jefferson believed that the Bible was "the cornerstone for American liberty"and put it into our schools because of it. Now there are no traces of Christianity left in our public schools out of respect of "political correctness".

Abraham Lincoln said "the philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next". When I heard this, I got instantly nervous for this country. And I don't want to come off as some religious nut with an agenda, but really think about that last paragraph for a minute.

So what should we do as a Christian community on election day? Does the Bible really have much to say about politics?
Romans 13:1 "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God."
But wait, I thought the people picked the president in this country?  We do...but we also have to remember that God picked the president long before our world even existed. 

All I'm trying to say is, I just believe that that's how God is trying to work through us to institute our authorities. He is giving us the rulers we ask for. It's our responsibility to make sure we choose leaders that support biblical values, not just go for the lesser of two evils (even if it feels like we don't have a choice). 

I know that statement has caused some tension due to Billy Graham's very public plea for citizens to do this, but I think he was 100% right in this opinion.

But what are these values that we are looking to our political authorities to hold? How should we vote?
  • I will vote for the most pro-life candidate, because God hates the shedding of innocent blood. 
    • Proverbs 6:15-19 - There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
  • I will vote for the most pro-Israel candidate, because God blesses those who bless Israel and curses those who don't.
    • Genesis 12:3 - I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
  • I will vote for the most pro-debt reduction candidate, because the borrower is a servant to the lender.
    • Proverbs 22:7 - The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender
  • I will vote for the most pro-work candidate because God says if a man (able-bodied) does not work, let him not eat.
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:10 - For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
  • I will vote for the most pro-marriage candidate, because God is for marriage as defined in:
    • Genesis 2:24 - Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
  • I will vote for the candidate who most closely believes government's purpose is to reward the good and punish the evil.
    • Romans 13:1-7 - Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
  • I will vote based on God's word.
    • 2 Timothy 3:16 - All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness.
  • I will vote knowing that whoever gets elected, God is the one who puts all men in authority.
    • Daniel 2:21 - He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.

All this to say. We (Chelsey and I) are not telling you who to vote for. We are not endorsing any specific candidate. We will both vote according to what I shared earlier and implore you to do the same with careful prayer and consideration. No matter who is elected...we need to remember that he is a sinner and cannot lead our country in a perfect manner. We can be confident that God has placed him in authority and we can trust that God's plan is the best one. Therefore, we can as always, continue to pray for our leaders...and obey the laws of the land as God has instructed us to do. We will never have a perfect president...but we have a perfect God. As long as we put our faith and trust in the one who reigns over us all...it won't really matter who is elected because we are already taken care of by the God whose plan cannot be thwarted.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

NOVO

A few weeks ago...we had a worship night at our church...it was amazing and I honestly wish it had lasted a week...I just love the opportunity to get together and just worship without distraction. Thought I'd share the evening with you.
Colossians 1: 3-23 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created,in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Psalm 100 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God!   It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.  
1 Chronicles 29:11-13 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. 
Psalm 130:1-3  Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
Psalm 51:1-5 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Psalm 51:6-12 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Romans 5:8-11 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore,we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
 Titus 3:4-7 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Romans 8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh andfor sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 
Psalm 63:1-8 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. 
Psalm 98:1-6 Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord! 
Psalm 148 Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LordFor he commanded and they were created. And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the Lordfor his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven. He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him. Praise the Lord
Isaiah 40 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lordmake straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has measured the Spirit of the Lordor what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust. Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? An idol! A craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and casts for it silver chains. He who is too impoverished for an offering chooses wood that will not rot; he seeks out a skillful craftsman to set up an idol that will not move. Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lordand my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. 


 "Filled with wonder, awestruck wonder, 
at the mention of your name."

Isaiah 55 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you. “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LordFor as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lordan everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
 Matthew 27:51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.
It is FINISHED!
Jesus cleared the way...
He tore open the separation!
Come
Enter
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
We are a chosen race.
We have been called out of darkness.
We must be a people of repentance.
Remember that when we repent, our sin is falling off of us...
Our sins are gone, removed, no more.  


You are holy, merciful one
and we fall down at your feet!
Isaiah 64:4 From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.