Friday, June 29, 2012

Scripture vs. Society: Media


Media- the main means of mass communication such as newspapers, magazines, radio, and television
I know we’ve done posts about the media before, but I kind of want to get a deeper understanding of its importance of it with this one. I think media has the biggest impact on our generation as opposed to any other means of expression, information, and influence, so it warrants a ton of discernment.
Everybody has heard the saying “A picture’s worth a thousand words”. What would we think if we attach that saying to the 40,000+ advertisements that we see every year? Would we consider the possibility that the media is telling us a lot more than we realize on a daily basis? Mass media has become such an everyday staple that we fail to realize its immense impact.
Newspapers, magazines, blogs, television screens, and radios are constantly hitting us with images, aspirations, and opinions. That’s the point, right? Well, the problem is that there are half truths and no consistency in their messages. Any fourteen year old girl can pick up a magazine off the rack at a grocery store and read the headlines “Be Beautiful in your own Skin” and “Lose 15 Pounds in Two weeks” on the same cover! And do I really need to provide a list of how many products are the absolute best in the same business?
In a country where news reporters play to public opinions, radios and advertisers point us to “easy street”, and sex and violence are the things that sell, what kinds of worldviews and values are we pouring into our generation’s hearts and minds? Mass media is the easiest and biggest venue that Satan could possibly use to promote or entice us with sin.
Now, I promise this isn’t a post about bashing the media. I think televisions, blogs, and radios can be fantastic things if their utilized properly and positively. However, I do believe that there could be much better messages that can be broadcasted worldwide than destructive or excessive lifestyles and Nicki Minaj lyrics. What I’m saying is that there are bigger things to live for, more satisfying truths, and important nationwide and worldwide needs that could (and should) be addressed through the use of mass media.
As Christians, I think the best thing to do is keep the “in the world, but not of the world” mentality when discerning what is or isn’t good for us to watch, read, or listen to. It basically boils down to taking in information that is going to glorify God and edify (improve or encourage) our souls and doing our best to consciously avoid material that doesn’t. I’m not say blindfold yourself when you walk past the magazine rack in the grocery store. I’m saying invest more purposeful time in what will strengthen and encourage you, spiritually and intellectually.
Luke 12:34 says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
We should value God above all else and that should translate into every aspect of our life, including the media choices we allow into or lives. That’s easy to say, but hard to put into practice, right? I don’t disagree. It’s going to take some level of sacrifice. It might mean that you delete some music of your itunes, or be a little out of the loop on the latest celebrity gossip or TV show. But I think those are smaller matters compared to your spiritual growth and purity.
It might not mean that you completely cut everything out of your life that doesn’t specifically revolve around God. Just use discernment, a lot of it. And if you need help with it, ask for input. Family members, pastors, and older church members are all resources that God put in your life to help you with these kinds of decisions. (A conscience is also a good thing to listen to.)
The main thing is to not stress too much and think legalistically and if in doubt, go with what the Bible says, go with what edifies your soul and brings God glory.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Scripture vs. Society: Action (charity, serving, missions, activism)

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when someone uses the phrase “taking action”, “making a difference”, or even "changing the world”? Picket fences coming to mind, Peace Corps, maybe even an after-school special? Sometimes being challenged to take action on a hot button issue can seem corny or pointless, maybe even impossible, but I assure you that doing something about the problems in the world are none of those things.
Nations have had activists since the beginning of time and it looks a bit different for everybody. Sometimes activism is a loud protest or putting pressure on the government. Other times it forms more quietly in the background with fundraisers or awareness.
From the late 1780’s to the time of his death in 1833, William Wilberforce tirelessly strived for the abolition of the slave trade (and slavery in general) in the British Empire by continually campaigning in parliament. His efforts paid off when he saw the slave trade abolished in 1807. Although he died shortly before slavery itself was abolished, Wilberforce and his successors activism left a lasting legacy that everyone can change something they feel is wrong.
During America’s Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, there were “sit-ins”. Black and white people alike would join each other in quiet (at least on their end) protests where they would sit in whites only restaurants and refused to move until they were either arrested or granted their protest. Whichever way they ended, the sit-ins accomplished something for the cause.
 You can do anything for any cause that’s important to you. Getting involved doesn’t always have to be some huge, elaborate production. And you don’t have to be involved in the biggest cause you can find. Do what’s important to you.
For example, I’m planning on doing a larger scale fundraiser at the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival next October to raise money and awareness for the abolition of modern-day slavery and human trafficking by means of the A21 Campaign. But that’s quite a way off for now, so I’m setting my sights on smaller fundraisers until then.
The important thing is just to get involved in any kind of way and see where God leads you from there. It’s a lie that we can’t make a change in the world or that we have to wait for someone to tell us when it’s okay to start. Start now!
So what if you don’t have a cause?
Go get one! Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “A man who hasn’t found something he’s willing to die for, he isn’t fit to live”. Now that’s a pretty extreme statement, but the idea that one of the most important things about our lives is to find something important enough to us to die for (or change first).
Some causes you could fight for/against are:
·         Human trafficking/ modern-day slavery
·         HIV/AIDS
·         Help in food banks
·         World hunger/Clean water
·         Providing supplies to orphanages
·         Helping the homeless
·         Recycling
·         Environment Conservation
·         War on poverty/ drugs
·         Suicide prevention
So what does taking action mean for the Christian?
For the Christian, activism is motivated by mission, a God-given call to improve the world and make disciples while we’re doing it. My pastor always says that we are first Christians and then students (or in this case, activists). The differences between activists and Christian activists are out mindsets and the way we go about it.
God has called us to do good works in the world so that we show others the love of Christ in order to bring them to God. No matter which cause we still may be looking for to choose to dedicate ourselves to, we should keep in mind that “we do have a great cause: the glory of Christ and His gospel. If we are to risk our well-being, our bodies, our lives, let it be for that cause” (Alex Harris).
Whenever I think about mission work and activism, two things tend to run through my head, both of them are prayers. The first I found on the Rebelution blog:
“…I wondered what might happen if each of us prayed that invincible determination would come to define our lives; that faithful perseverance would characterize each one of us as we serve over a lifetime in our families, churches, schools, and world. What might God do through a generation like that? What victories might he grant us? It seems worth thinking about. And praying for.”
The second is a prayer that Louie Giglio spoke about at the Passion2012 Conference. It was Paul’s prayer request for himself. “Whenever I open my mouth, let me speak boldly to proclaim the message as I ought.”
I think these prayers go hand in hand so well. They’re worth thinking and praying about. So I pray that these things would always be in my head and heart and I also pray them over my generation.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Scripture vs. Society: Modesty (just a side note)

Emily did an awesome job and covered all the basics but I remembered a couple of things from when I was growing up that I thought I would share with you as well.

The Modesty Heart Check by Carolyn Mahaney and her daughters has some very helpful and simple points if you find that the Modesty Survey is a bit overwhelming! Check it out here:

http://girltalk.blogs.com/girltalk/files/modesty_heart_check3.pdf
(the pages are reversed for some reason so read page 2 first)

Also...God is our ultimate standard of everything good and right. Even when it comes to Modesty we are called to his standard. BUT...since you can't exactly walk up to God and have him approve your new shirt...go to the godly authorities in your life. For me, it was my mom and dad. My mom usually approved it based on "that's cute" and didn't have too much to say about it unless it was SUPER inappropriate...or ugly. My dad on the other hand had the final say so in whether I got to keep what I bought. God placed my dad at the head of our family and therefore my dad is responsible before God for everything that we (my mom and I) do. So every time I bought a new shirt or something, I had to model it for my dad. This might seem a little odd or old fashioned...but think about it...your dad was a teenage boy once...he knows how they think and what will run through their minds when they see you ladies dressed that way. I don't still do it but I did until I understood what types of clothing I could wear. Might be a helpful resource. If your parents aren't really into it or don't know or care what is modest...you can always ask one of your pastors wives or small group leaders or someone like that to help you out or go shopping with you.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Scripture vs. Society: Modesty



Modesty (n.)
  1. The quality of being modest; freedom from vanity and boastfulness.
  2. Regard for decency of behavior, speech, and dress
  3. Simplicity; moderation
This would probably the world’s easiest post if modesty was a black and white issue. I could give everyone a list of what’s acceptable and unacceptable and be done with it. But if I did, all I would be doing is inviting an argument. Modesty (of dress) is one of those topics that everyone has different views on, but I shall do my best.


Modesty isn’t usually a term that people use outside of church, unless they’re referring to a school uniform. In fact, unless there are extreme cases of immodest dress, the issue is overlooked almost entirely. To be blunt, as long as a girl isn’t dressed like a prostitute, she’s free to wear almost anything.


On the flip side of the coin, religious groups (Christianity in particular) tend to swing toward the more conservative end of the issue; some churches even encouraging against shorts or two piece bathing suits, and embrace ties and floor length skirts.


So is there a happy medium?


I think there is definitely a happy medium between prostitutes and the Amish. But just like anything else, it’s open to interpretation. In an attempt to get some perspective on majority opinions, Alex and Brett Harris did a survey study of people’s opinions on what is and isn’t a modesty stumbling block for girls to wear. They didn’t do this to set up dress codes, more as guidelines. And even though I personally feel like it is fairly conservative, you guys can judge for yourselves and/or just get somewhat of an understanding where some guys stand on this issue.  You can find the results here:


http://www.therebelution.com/modestysurvey/browse


I did find it a bit interesting that the survey was not only about articles of clothing, but also addressed makeup, jewelry, and behavior. It shows us that attitude and intentions along with what we wear and how we carry ourselves are all important factors.
So what’s with all the fuss about modesty? Why should it matter?
Well first of all, it matters because God says that it matters. Saw that one coming a mile away didn’t you? Secondly, it matters because according to Romans 14:21, we are not to do anything that causes our brothers to stumble. Immodest clothing can easily cause others to lust (to stumble), so modesty is just a good way to help out the guys (and girls) in guarding against lusts and impure thoughts.
Now, I feel like it’s important to make it clear that there should be no double standard for modesty based on gender. It’s just as important for guys to be modest because girls can stumble and lust just as easily.

I think someone put it very well in his response to the question on the modesty survey when he said:
“The ultimate responsibility is absolutely my own. No matter how a woman is dressed, it is my responsibility to treat both her and myself with respect and to honor God with all my actions. If I ever feel that I may not be able to control myself or my thoughts, it is my responsibility to leave the situation. Guys who blame women for their own bad behavior are a major problem. Furthermore, it is my responsibility to dress and act modestly as well; women have their own God-given sexuality as well, and if I ask them to help control my libido, I am honor-bound to do the same to help my sisters in Christ.”
So this really isn’t a call to invest in loose fitting turtle necks, floor length skirts, and parkas, so you don’t need any spur of the moment trips to your nearest Target. Modesty has a lot to do with the intentions of your heart and mind. It’s about helping to guard others’ hearts and minds against lust. Modesty should be a personal conviction and if you have any questions about what is or isn’t appropriate, you can always talk with your parents, friends, or pastors about it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Lense of Two Trees: Biblical Theology

The lense of two trees?
How do trees relate to Biblical Theology?
More important....what is Biblical Theology?!
One of our last messages at [M28] was taught by our up-and-coming fall intern, JJ Pyche. JJ and his wife Bethany have been such a great addition to [M28] and they both have such a heart for God and a desire to see college kids know, follow, and proclaim God on campus and with our lives. JJ did a great job with his message and his heart for us to come to an understanding of the Bible is so present in what he shared with us.

Biblical Theology is the study of the entire Bible...it's the whole story...the big picture. There are a lot of different ways to study the Bible...one way of reading the Bible isn't better or worse...you can read the details (verse by verse) or you can read the big picture (huge chunks). You need detail to get the big picture and you need the big picture to understand the details. The point is...just read your Bible.

There are 3 main ways to study the Bible....Biblical Theology, Systematic Theology and Exegesis. Biblical Theology is unfolding...it's the whole story of the Bible traced through scripture. Systematic Theology is an ordered study of the important elements of theology...basically you find every passage that talks about that subject and study them all together...and you do that with every subject/element. Exegesis is studying the details...telling the whole story of the Bible with each verse basically...seeing how the verse plays a part in the big picture.
“On the basis of the presupposition that the entire canon is the inspired database of God’s revelation, the two bookends of Gen 1-3 and Rev 21-22 interpret everything between them. This means that the biblical material between these two poles is to be read not only in light of its origins in Gen 1-3 but also in view of its goal in Revelation. Consequently, the foregoing evidence broadly supports the notion that everything in the biblical canon should be seen to have its roots in Gen 1-3 and to move toward its final goal in Rev 21-22.” by G.K. Beale
 Origins and goal....now let me take a minute here to caution you.
  1. This is dangerous...to make broad assumptions of the Bible is not easy...the more you know, the better. You don't want to say too little and not get the whole story.
  2. The metaphor of trees...and any other metaphor in relation to scripture, can be dangerous. You don't want to make too much out of the metaphor. I'm going to point to several passages about trees that fit into this metaphor, but not every single tree that is mentioned in the Bible will relate.
Now that we've got that out of the way....
Luke 24:25-27, 44-45 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
This is the reason that we study the scripture and study it in these ways. We want to understand the Scriptures in order to know our Savior.

Lets start with the bookends:
Genesis 2:8-10, 16-17 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Notice 4 things here...
  1. Tree of life (eternal life)
  2. Tree of the knowledge of good and evil (don't eat this) (could also be called the tree of discernment, or the tree of wisdom, or the tree of judgement)
  3. Water (river, flowing, calm)
  4. God's presence (God dwells, lives in the garden...presence can be him or a tabernacle or temple)
Remember those 4 things, we're going to revisit them a lot.
Revelation 22:1-5 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Notice this time that it's different...it's better than in the garden. It was good in Eden but perfect in Revelation. Remember this...we're going somewhere...our roots are in the garden but our destination is revelation.

Notice in Revelation that we still have the water and God's presence...the tree of life is still there, but we're in heaven so why do we need the tree? Also, there's no more tree of discernment/good and evil...they don't even mention it...the writer assumes we know the story. Lets see why the tree of life is still there and what happened to the other tree.
Psalm 1:1-6 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lordand on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
Jesus says that the Psalms point to him...so read these verses in light of who he is and what he has done. This is a story about him. This passage is just the intro, the header, the thesis...you can understand all of Psalms in light of chapter 1. The purpose for this is a recapitulation of the passage in Genesis 2. Now, lets find the 4 elements.
  1. Water...streams of water
  2. Tree of life...the tree that yields fruit
  3. The tree of good and evil: verses 4-6. Adam and Eve didn't listen...the tree of the knowledge of good and evil became a tree of judgement on them for their disobedience. It was a tree of discernment between right and wrong but now it has turned on them as a curse. The 2nd tree is now a curse.
  4. God's presence: verses 1-2. God's presence is his law. Where the word of the Lord is, so also is his presence. He creates by his word...his words are active and powerful. When we delight and dwell in his word, we are delighting and dwelling in him...when we don't, we come under the curse.
Cool right? I thought so too, I'd never even thought about the connection before. Just remember to be careful...not every tree mentioned in the Bible has anything to do with this metaphor. Can't caution you enough on that one. Make sure you aren't giving a scripture meaning that it was never meant to have. Moving on...

Jeremiah 17:7-9, 12-13 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lordwhose trust is the LordHe is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes,for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? A glorious throne set on high from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth,
for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water.
Alright...you know what to do:
  1. Tree of life....wait a second, didn't we just read that in Psalms? Yup...sure did! He's actually quoting Psalm 1...how cool is that?! When someone in the Bible quotes something in the Bible, that usually means it's important...so take notice of what it's saying!
  2. Water...we have a new theme of water here....God is the fountain of living water!
  3. The tree of good and evil....now it's definitely a tree of judgement...to judge and curse the wicked.
  4. God's presence...it's his sanctuary.
Lets move on to the new testament...
John 4:10-14 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?   Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Let's paint a picture here...this is Samaria...'good' Jews didn't like Samaria, but Jesus goes through Samaria and meets a woman at this well (a woman of a sketchy nature no less). This woman is faced with a choice...next to water. She is faced with right and wrong by a stranger. Samaria is the opposite of Eden...it's the middle of the desert and it's full of sin. God's presence is literally Jesus himself! He offers her life! He is resetting the story and giving us the choice of good/evil, life/death(representing the trees). One encounter with Jesus changes everything! Not to mention that they are next to a well....water...it seems as if eternal life revolves around water.
John 15:1-2 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Jesus offered life:
  • in me you have life
  • eat from the tree and you will have life
  • I am the tree of life, take and eat
  • you can have him now
  • he becomes life for us
This is why you go to church....to take and eat, most obviously displayed through communion. Go to church, eat from the tree of life. It's his life he offered to you...take and eat.
God created a wonderful world full of beauty and majesty; He created man to be a part of that world and the pinnacle of all creation. Man could have lived in God’s presence all of his days, with the waters and tree of life and the tree of judgment. These elements were all good for man. Man needed water and fruit to be sustained, but they were more than just simple sustenance; they gave eternal life. And man also needed the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He needed this tree to be reminded that he was still part of creation; he was not God; and in order to have life and life to its fullest, he needed to remain in the presence of God through his obedience to God’s commands. This obedience to God would have given man access to eat of that Tree of Life someday and would have taken man into the life to come. However, we all know that didn’t happen. Man rejected and continues to reject God. This is the story of the Bible; it starts in Gen 2 where we started and continues through all of Scripture. God loves man; God offers eternal life to man; man rejects God because he is wicked. But there is one element of the story we have left out….what happened to the second tree in the story of Revelation? Where is its story in Scripture? - JJ Pyche
So that's where we will finish up...what happened to the second tree? We have to figure out why it's not there. Well...the simple answer is sin.
Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”
The 2nd tree...the tree of judgement that became a curse when we sinned...the curse of the tree was placed on the one man who could stand in our place. He didn't just offer life...he took our death.

Yeah...take a second and re-read that. Take a moment to let that sink in....I know that you've heard it a thousand times that he died on a cross for you...but just think about it for a moment. The world doesn't understand the cross...they see it as foolishness. Jesus took the curse...it wasn't cheap, fun or easy...it's hard - we rejected him and we wanted to be our own god...but he didn't kill us when he should have...when it would have been totally just and right for him to do so. He humbled himself and took our penalty to give us the taste of life. How amazing is that?!

I hope you've enjoyed this journey through the Bible as much as I did as JJ taught that night. Just a few practical applications before you click over to Facebook or go to work...
  • Pray to know Jesus when you read the Bible...all of scripture testifies to him, it tells you who Jesus is every time you read the Bible!
  • Meet with God in his word to get a taste of eternal life.
  • God wants you to know him - he wrote himself down for that entire purpose...the challenge is...do you want to know him? Do you want to taste or are you satisfied?
That's it for the tale of two trees...I pray that you are freshly aware of God's mercy and grace in your life and find a renewed hunger for his word.

Scripture vs. Society: Humility

Hey everyone! Welcome to our first summer series! We hope you enjoy this, we've thought long and hard about what kind of series to do this summer and we believe this is just the thing! Emily has been hard at work putting together about 22 posts for this series called Scripture vs. Society. This summer we'll be walking through a ton of different topics, what the popular world-view is and then what scripture says about it. I'm working on a shorter series that I hope to begin posting soon. Thanks for your love and support!  - Chelsey and Emily


Humble (adj.)

1.      marked by meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit; not arrogant or prideful
2.      showing deferential or submissive respect
3.      Low in rank, quality, or station; unpretentious or lowly
If I am to speak bluntly, our western world is a culture of competition; we worship success to the detriment of our health, families, and values. It’s instilled in us since elementary school (I know we all remember picking teams in gym class...except for you homeschoolers lol), it follows us through college and adulthood (especially in the corporate and political worlds), and it stays with us even until we compete with our colleagues to see who can achieve the earliest retirement.  I couldn’t tell you how many kids that I’ve seen burn themselves out chasing success in sports or academics. We are a “generation dedicated more than the last to the fear of poverty and the worship of success” (Yes that was an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote). Our culture is becoming intoxicated with individual recognition and glory (emphasis on the toxic).

Humility isn’t really an attribute that we embrace or even respect. According to the thesaurus, humility is the opposite of pride, arrogance, assertiveness, egoism, pretentiousness, and self-importance(and I know as you read that, the faces of people you know...maybe even yourself if you're honest...were popping through your mind).

But wait, how am I supposed to get on top if I’m unassertive? How do I impress college admissions unless I’m just a little bit pretentious on my application? How can I get this prestigious job if I don’t promote my self-importance?

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t promote yourself in a positive light and have a little gumption. Just stay truthful and don’t get carried away. Contrary to popular belief, humility isn’t weakness. It is meekness (says so in the first definition). It is patient and submissive. It doesn’t demand the raise or the spotlight.

This is the biblical, God glorifying way to pursue your life. Life needs to be more about contentment and less about constant striving for temporal things like money and social status.
Psalm 25:9- “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way.”
Being humble isn’t just required on an individual level, it’s most necessary in our personal relationship with the people in our daily lives, the ones we’re closest to. It’s the general consensus that people tend to avoid the arrogant and egocentric when choosing their close friends. And those are definitely not helpful qualities in any reconciliation that will, without a doubt, eventually be required. People don’t like to be wrong, but it happens, we’re not going to be right all the time. And we have to have a level of humility to accept that and admit to it.
1 Peter 5:5- “for God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
So if we humble ourselves, whether it is in the midst of conflict or just in day to day life when we are more tempted to be proud and show off, God promises to give us grace. And who couldn’t use a little grace? Grace makes everyone’s lives run more smoothly.

Just look at God’s response humility in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Being humble might not sound like a preferred pursuit in this dog-eat-dog, success driven, praise seeking, glory loving world. I’m not always a fan of it myself, but if we’re really living like what God says is true, then humility is a noble virtue, it’s God glorifying, and there are so many positives that come out of it(i.e. grace, forgiveness, healing, and the revelation of God’s will).

So pray to God that He would give you a humble spirit in every situation this week and then just see what happens. People will most likely take some notice and good fruit will come out of it.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Just another Casting Crowns endorsement (no, I'm not getting paid to say this)

The new casting crowns CD is next to the only music I’ve been listening to lately. It incredible and convicting and honest and… you get the point. I’m constantly amazed at Mark Hall’s lyrical ability. I really don’t think there’s been a song that he’s written that I haven’t liked.  Their music has gotten me through a lot in my life.

I’d list the songs that have really impacted me, but it would be shorter to list the more “okay” songs.  Casting Crowns’ newest CD, “Come to the Well” has three songs in particular that really stand out to me: City on a Hill, Jesus Friend of Sinners, and My Own Worst Enemy.

“City on a Hill” actually made me cry the first couple of times I listened to it. It’s kind of a warning to the church in general to work together, in whatever gifting individuals have, as the body of Christ, instead of breaking apart over differences and/or superiority complexes.  This song is in reference to:
Matthew 5:14- “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
The light that we are supposed to be showing the world fades when churches break apart, because they are no longer showing Christ, they are projecting sinful, divided hearts.  If we, as a church body, don’t shine God’s light so the world can see the way to salvation and hope, all they’re going to see is darkness and will have no hope.

“Jesus, Friend of Sinners”; this song brings to mind the kinds of “Christians” that protest funerals and make hateful picket signs.  We know what they’re against, but not so much what they’re for. These lyrics reference:
Luke 6:42- “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank that is in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the plank out of your eye and then you will be able to see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
“Jesus, Friend of Sinners”  is an extremely convicting song about the dangers of legalism and judgmental hearts and the appeal to God to help us love people like Christ and open our eyes to our attitudes toward others in order to fix the damage that’s been done.  I’m sure everyone has known someone that has been hurt by the church, which is why I think this song is able to resonate so deeply with any audience. I know it really affects me and makes me stop and think “Is this what my life looks like, or am I living faithfully like Christ?”

“My Own Worst Enemy” is basically prayer to God to help him break free from his old self and his past that he’s having difficulty escaping. I think every one of us can relate to that on one level or another.  In this song, Mark Hall talks about how he thought he’d buried his past, but it had found its way back out. I don’t know about you, but that sounds familiar. I think it’s a great song in that it alludes to:
2 Corinthians 5:17- “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.”
I always love that Mark Hall's lyrics so obviously point to scriptures that aren't hazy or difficult to pinpoint and look up. I also love that there's no sugar coating; I think that's why they can be so believable and relatable. This new CD seems to have a song for every occasion or mood that you happen to be in and they are all filled with amazing, humbling, encouraging truths. I definitely put it at the top of the recommendation list.