Hello Chi Alpha! Pastor Heather here :)
I want to take you behind the scenes of the educational component of our #GemCityJourney for a moment. Think of it as a tribute to you as you are finishing up fall push ;) Did you know I'm enrolled in classes as well? 2 to be exact! Did you also know I took an exam today? No? Well, let's just say you should bring cookies over ASAP....
In all seriousness, I just finished a fascinating study on the Poetic books of the Bible (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon). I was surprisingly encouraged by all the affirmations of women I came across - specifically in Proverbs and Song of Solomon! So this quick post is a shot in the arm for your Chi Alpha ladies out there as you face another year of Kingdom advancement. I believe in you and more importantly, our Father in Heaven believes in you. And He affirms that ALL THROUGHOUT scripture. Don't overlook your role in the Kingdom and the specific words the Holy Spirit inspired in scripture just for you :)
Proverbs is Pro-Women
During my study, I was amazing at the many time women were mentioned in the book of Proverbs. And not only in the last chapter (more goodness on that one in a moment)!! Women actually play a more important role in Proverbs that in other Old Testament books. So I found myself asking:
Why do women play a notable role in Proverbs?
At the end of the Hebrew monarchy, emphasis turned to home, family and community - environments in which women had and still have a major part. The collections in Proverbs may have been gathered around this time. Proverbial wisdom originally arose and finds its most enduring expression in the home and community.
Here are the notable female roles in the book:
The God-given insight and ability of women seems to shine through these characters. The opportunity to choose wisdom and live a prosperous life contrasted with the sorrowful, devastating life of poor choices is the constant tension of Proverbs. And the interesting thing, is that isn't not a book limited to the life of men - who would have been more in society and work force compared to women of the time. It's a book for all of God's people. Women are just as able - and ENCOURAGED - to live a wise, influential lives. Of course, the third character, the adulterous and foolish woman, demonstrates the results of an unwise life. Oops.
Here's a helpful tie in of Proverbs 31:
Although much of the wisdom training offered in Proverbs is directed toward young men, in chapter 31 we see the outcome of a woman who pursues wisdom in her own life. In that time and culture, her own journey was far more likely to take place in the home than in public life. She trained from an early age to take on the many tasks necessary to running a household. The wife of noble character is the one who has taken up her position with its responsibilities. The Hebrew word translated noble or virtuous, when applied to a warrior, is translated strong or valiant.
In many ways, the godly household is the center of society. The valiant wife is essential to her husband's success. She provides for the needs of the family, adds to their economic success and gains honor for them in the eyes of the community. In short, the woman of valor performs for the family many of the same things Lady Wisdom offers to the community at large.
Ladies, scripture tells us we can be VALIANT. Let's assume our positions as each of us receives it from the Lord (be it daughter, student, friend, circuit leader, wife...), not slacking in it or putting it off, and take all of the responsibilities that come with it. The Lord thinks we are able. And really, He is the one that makes us able. He has given us His Holy Spirit to counsel and guide us into all righteousness (John 16:13).
Song of Solomon is Pro Women's Sexuality
Here's just a little added bonus from my reading...
"Song of Solomon questions placing women in a secondary role in sexual relations and the notion that it is somehow unseemly for wives to derive the same pleasure and fulfillment that their husbands do from God’s gift of sexuality. The woman in the Song of Solomon does not fit this traditional interpretation of women’s role in marriage...The book celebrates sexual desire and enjoyment for its own sake without suggesting that procreation is the primary purpose for sexuality. The woman seeks permission from neither her father nor her brothers and actively seeks her lover. She takes pleasure both in his beauty and in his appreciation of her own beauty (Melanchthon 2004, 182). In short, Song of Solomon celebrates the woman’s enjoyment and full participation in sexuality, on equal terms with her lover. This challenges us to think carefully about the ways our cultures affect our ideas and values about sexuality."
Because some think that men feel sexual desire more strongly, they tend to assume that women, the object of men's passion, are somehow at fault for arousing such feelings. Some cultures even put harsher sexual restrictions on women and portray them in a negative sexual light. But Song of Solomon (a book in OUR BIBLE) elevates the woman's status in the marital and sexual relationship to God's original design. She derives the same pleasure and fulfillment as her husband from God's gift of sexuality. She enjoys her husband and is enjoyed in return. In short, Song of Solomon celebrates the woman's enjoyment and full participation in sexuality, on equal terms with her man.
Hey, we all remember the garden fiasco and are well aware of the subordinate role women deal with because of the curse. But here it is, plain as day, that God's design was for women to be equal - even in sexuality.
So girls, the Bible is 100% pro-us. I don't include this portion on S. of S. to tell you to hurry up and find you a man. But rather to illustrate your value, your worth, and your position in society. In the same way that Proverb 31 isn't anything to live in fear of, but rather a sweet picture of the potential of women. Song of Solomon is a book in our Bible that disses the sexual discrimination of women and celebrates their God given design.
Don't ever give into foolish, self defeating thoughts. God thinks highly of His girls and He trumps culture.
Be confident and go do something awesome to advance the Kingdom today!
I love summer. I really do. I think some of the best community has happened in the summers of our life. I know a lot of my best memories stem from my childhood summers out at the lake, the public pool, or running around the small neighborhoods of my dinky little hometown. Whether or not we like the heat or the humidity, we all have a certain optimism that summer will breathe a little life back into us after the icy grip of winter has finally thawed.
Summer during college though has a little different feel than our fond childhood memories. Really, it can have the opposite effect. We've spent all year diving into an amazing community that God has brought us into. This could be brand new community that we've never had or deepening the community we already had from previous semesters. And all of the sudden, BOOM! Finals are over (Praise Jesus!), and it's the middle of June before we realize it. Our summer work is in full swing, and it's been three weeks since we've had a meaningful conversation or hangout with anyone.
Community is vital to our health as a follower of Jesus. Summer can be terribly isolating if we aren't prepared for it. We have to be purposeful in seeking out community.
Jesus chose to be in community to accomplish His purpose:
Jesus was purposeful in seeking out the Twelve. He couldn't afford to wait on community to just spontaneously form all on its own. He went and found Peter and Andrew while they were fishing. He went and found James and John in a boat with their father mending their nets. He went and found Matthew working at the tax office. He went and found Philip, Nathanael, Thomas, Simon, Thaddeus, James, and Judas all in the middle of life and called them into deeper community. He didn't call them into just any community, He called them into discipleship with Himself. Jesus chose to be in community to accomplish His purpose: to save the world.
I think we often allow community to slip because we forget all that community was meant to be. Community was meant to not only keep us from getting bored and lonely but to draw into deeper relationship with God. God, shortly after creating the earth and everything in it, said in Genesis 2:18, "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper." It was God's plan from the very beginning for us to be in community and to become better than we ever could have alone. For this reason, we can't afford to under-value, under-think, or under-appreciate real community in the Body of Christ.
Why do something alone that you were create to do together?
So this final question remains: Why do something alone that you were create to do together? Discipleship is found in community even unintentionally and when we don't realize it. Being a disciple of Jesus requires close, authentic community with other believers in order to accomplish His purpose well. When you're in the trenches of life this summer, don't forget that you have a community of brothers and sisters to fight alongside of you. Choose to continue to allow the Holy Spirit to form you and transform you through real community.
Mission Dei: Incarnation
Missio Dei is the Mission of God. Missio Dei predates the Church, the first coming of Jesus, the New Testament, all the prophets, and really anything you can find in the entire Bible. We have to understand that mission is the very nature of God and therefore isn’t something invented by Paul or the early Church or something rediscovered by 20th century Christians. Mission was brought about by God acting out His love toward people since the very beginning.
We as the people of God acting on behalf of Missio Dei need to see what it means to authentically be on mission: mission as an extension of who we are and not just an act we perform. I just want to scratch the surface a little bit, ruffle some feathers, and give you a practice outlet for what it looks like to be on mission on your campus.
Our goal as members of this Body is to continue formulating real missional community, not a cheap imitation, not pseudo community where mission sometimes happens but not really, but a people where real community is on mission to bring people closer to Jesus. Be careful! A cheap imitation never functions quite the same and even may eventually hijack the original intention. It may initially fool your eyes, but it’s not hard to spot once to see what the real thing looks like.
John 1:1-5,9-14 ERV (Easy-to-Read Version)
1 Before the world began, the Word was there. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was there with God in the beginning. 3 Everything was made through him, and nothing was made without him. 4 In him there was life, and that life was a light for the people of the world. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not defeated it.
9 The true light was coming into the world. This is the true light that gives light to all people. 10 The Word was already in the world. The world was made through him, but the world did not know him. 11 He came to the world that was his own. And his own people did not accept him. 12 But some people did accept him. They believed in him, and he gave them the right to become children of God. 13 They became God’s children, but not in the way babies are usually born. It was not because of any human desire or plan. They were born from God himself. 14 The Word became a man and lived among us. We saw his divine greatness—the greatness that belongs to the only Son of the Father. The Word was full of grace and truth.
This passage is referring to what is theologically called “The Incarnation”. Incarnation is just means “in flesh” – “in“ meaning “in” and “carn” meaning “flesh” (just like carnivore, “flesh-eater”).
Jesus, God the Son who is completely separate, completely other, completely supernatural, and completely God become completely man, put on skin and bones and dirt and sweat and prepared himself to do what no other god had ever been recorded doing. The One True God was coming to work next to and sweat with and serve underneath and ultimately die for all mankind. Gods don’t work, gods don’t sweat, gods don’t serve, and definitely gods don’t die for anyone, but that’s exactly what the mission was.
Mission is not primarily an activity of the church but an attribute of God. God is a missionary God.
God sent Himself, not an ambassador, not a duplicate, not a close copy; He sent Himself. Our God, the missional God, was sent to us to live with us. LIVE, not visit. Isaiah prophesied and the angel who visited Mary at the announcement of Jesus’ birth confirmed that he would be Emmanuel, “God with Us”.
Jesus can’t become “God not with Us”. He dwells with man now forever, and that continues through us, His Body. Since the founding of the Church, many have tried to make Emmanuel more and more exclusive, as if God is with us and not everyone else. No! God’s mission since the beginning of time is to avail and unveil Himself to all mankind. At times, the Church has been His greatest obstacle.
The XA staff are here because God has brought them here, but they are not students. No matter how hard they try, we cannot have the same impact and the same opportunities that you, the students, will have every day on campus. This is the incarnation part of reaching the campus that pastors will never have the upper hand on. The staff team is amazing and we were all students here at some point, but that time is long gone. Our influence on this campus will never quite be the same as it once was.
Universities have made it so easy for college students to build relationships and influence. There's low-hanging fruit EVERYWHERE you look! You are set up with roommates, suitemates, lab partners, group projects, activities on your floor in your dorm, running for student body leadership positions, student orgs, and those are just the few that we can all quickly think up. There are so many more!
John 20:21 ERV
21 Then Jesus said again, “Peace be with you. It was the Father who sent me, and I am now sending you in the same way.”
Jesus was sent and He sent us. It’s who Jesus commanded us to be. It’s how the Body was designed to live. There is church because there is mission, not vice versa. To participate in mission is to participate in the movement of God’s love toward people, since God is a fountain of sending love.
It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfill in the world, it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father that includes the church.
Acts 2:42-47 ERV
42 The believers spent their time listening to the teaching of the apostles. They shared everything with each other. They ate together and prayed together. 43 Many wonders and miraculous signs were happening through the apostles, and everyone felt great respect for God. 44 All the believers stayed together and shared everything. 45 They sold their land and the things they owned. Then they divided the money and gave it to those who needed it. 46 The believers shared a common purpose, and every day they spent much of their time together in the Temple area. They also ate together in their homes. They were happy to share their food and ate with joyful hearts. 47 The believers praised God and were respected by all the people. More and more people were being saved every day, and the Lord was adding them to their group.
What a community! Jesus didn’t take days off or vacations from His disciples (and neither did the disciples take a vacation from what we can see was happening in the early church.) Jesus didn’t have another secret group of friends on the weekends or after class. He lived with and among them. He fished with them. Was Jesus a fisherman? NO. He did what they did. If you smelled their laundry, they would’ve all smelled like fish.
Being missional is all about living with intention and purpose. It should just be something we do; it should become who we are. We’ve have to resequence our DNA to match His. This is about doing more or even working harder; this about lifestyle, heartstyle, and unleashing a direct assault on “self”, “me time”, familiarity. This is about aligning ourselves to Missio Dei so well that it’s second nature, or better yet, it becomes first nature.
What’s the difference between second and first nature? Second nature are the things we learn and do now without thinking like speaking a language or tying your shoes. First nature are instinctual functions of the body like breathing, emotion, and self-preservation. The instinct of self-preservation is the reason baby turtles scurry into a raging ocean and eagles build their nests at the edge of a cliff. It doesn’t make any sense for those animals to behave in that manner. Why would a tiny turtle hurl itself into crashing waves or an eagle put the life of its fledglings at risk by making them dive off a cliff when they learn how to fly?
In the same manner, being missional is the self-preservation instinct of the Body of Christ that’s been overridden by easier methods and human recalculation. We’ve turned more to isolation than to inclusion. (By the way, self-preservation is a universal hallmark of life.) It’s time to breathe life into the Body of Christ and let it function like Christ, the Head, has intended it to function from the beginning. Check out some easy way to be missional.
8 Easy Ways to Be Missional (Without Even Trying)
1. Eat with non-Christians.
2. Walk without headphones in.
3. Be a regular.
4. Hobby with non-Christians.
5. Talk to your co-workers.
6. Be a part of other student orgs.
7. Participate in campus events.
8. Serve your neighbors.
Let’s discuss this for a second. What are the benefits of adding these to our everyday life?
Adding a missional aspect to our community will completely change everything we know about community. A year from now, you won’t even recognize this group. The DNA of the church is 50% relational and 50% missional. If you were missing 50% of your DNA, you wouldn't even exist as a human being. You would be a blob! Why do we think the church can survive without half of it's DNA?
1. When was the last time you ate a meal with a non-Christian?
2. Out of your top ten friends here on campus, how many are not in XA?
3. Do you pray regularly for your classmates/roommates/etc?
4. How much time do you spend with classmates outside of class time?
5. Do your co-workers and roommates know when your circuit is?
Missio Dei is the same mission God is including us in. It’s up to us to accept the invitation. It’s up to us to carrying out the Body’s intended first nature. We have to stop denying that Jesus came as Emmanuel to the entire world and come to the realization that we, as the Body of Christ, are now that incarnate Emmanuel to those around us. We work so hard to get our life on track and have God move through and in us, but no one out there ever sees it. People have to be able to see the active testimony of Jesus working in your life in order to be affected by it.
When Jesus was on earth, there was only one compelling interest in His heart: to fulfill His Father’s pleasure by reclaiming a lost human race. If we want to reach the world, we have to go where the world is. Jesus smelled like fish probably for most of his ministry, and we need to take that example seriously.
Let's put our foot on the gas and finish this semester and school year strong!
At nine o'clock last night I stopped what I was doing to search the web for an update on the Ferguson Trial because I knew that the grand jury was expected to release it's decision at that time. I don't know how many of you knew what was happening or stopped to check on the proceedings, but this situation has effected so many areas of my heart that I didn't want to miss any details.
To our Dayton Chi Alpha crew: Our open hearts are what lead to open minds. Our rally cry in Connexion these last few weeks has been "Kingdom Come" and "He Ain't Done Yet". I hope you can see how these statements are resoundingly true when we address the issues of reconciliation and diversity. Our primary campus is only 10% African American. That might make it easier for us to feel unaffected or unconnected to things like Ferguson. But our brothers and sisters in more diverse communities (UCXA for example) are leading the way in the journey towards diversity. As a result, it's no longer okay for us to remain quiet and hope that someone else with speak up. Our brothers and sisters matter. The whole Kingdom matters. I invite you to use this space as a safe place to process through your thoughts and feelings. There won't be any "dumb" questions or ignorant statements. I just ask, that as you comment, you do so out of love and a desire to learn. Please refrain from politically charged or hate based comments. Here we go...
It has only been in the last few years that God has been opening my heart to the reality that racism is happening all around me. The truth is, it's not happening to me, so I don't always see it. Not even that - I rarely see it. In the past I might have gone days...weeks... or months without thinking about it once. And honestly, that's the result of being white.
It's hard for me to type that.
Let me say it again for good measure. I tend to be ignorant to racism because I am white.
What has changed in my life? I started listening. Instead of hiding behind my own race, I have made friends with people who are seeing the world from a different perspective. I opened my heart and my mind to them. (Remember SALT last year??) My desire to love people developed into a desire to understand the things that are EXTREMELY hard for me to relate to. This is the starting point for all of us. We must listen.
"The issue of race remains contentious in our nation and in our neighborhoods, and many white evangelicals remain confused as to how they should respond." (Christianity Today)
Are you aware of the issue of race in our nation? Did you know that racial profiling is still happening?
"If the shooting of Michael Brown were an isolated incident, then the protests would make no sense. But it is not. It points to a much larger, national issue...So, even if white Americans can point to the epidemic of black-on-black crime as well as to white youths being killed by blacks or to white police being killed by blacks, those statistics will not remove the deep convictions of many African-Americans who know by experience that they are more likely to be racially profiled and suspected by police than white Americans.
A white reader might say, "But that's because of all the crime in black neighborhoods. What do you expect police to do?
A black reader would respond, "We're all for justice, but you don't have the slightest clue of what we have had to put up with just because we are black."
But it does mean that, rather than focusing on Ferguson, we must look at the larger national issues." (Charisma News)
I bring this up because of my starting point. I understand that you might not know that race is still a national issue. You might have a biased view of our culture like I did.
But you don't have to stay there. If we truly want to see what will happen when "The Kingdom Comes to a City", let me tell you, it involves every tribe, language, people and nation (Rev. 5:9). And this can't start with foreign missions. It has to start in our Jerusalem. Jesus laid out the order for us...and it starts right here at home.
"A lot of white people aren’t speaking out publicly against the killing of Michael Brown because they don’t see a space for themselves to engage meaningfully in the conversation so that they can move to action against racism. It’s not so much that they have nothing to say but rather they don’t see an opportunity being opened up for them to say something or to do something that matters. Or they might not be sure what to say or how to do it.
They might have a hard time seeing a role for themselves in the fight against racism because they aren’t racist, they don’t feel that racism affects them or their loved ones personally, they worry that talking about race and differences between cultures might make things worse, or they think they rarely see overt racism at play in their everyday lives." (Quartz)
My white friends, can you relate to these statements? If you can, this is the boat I have sat in for a long time. We must be proactive and break the silence. My African American friends, can you help us find our voice?
George O. Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, U.S.A., said, “As I have watched the unfolding events in Ferguson, Missouri, my mind has continually turned to two scriptures. The first is 2 Corinthians 5:19: ‘God has committed to us the message of reconciliation.’ (CHI ALPHA!! What is our flagship verse?! The very next one - 2 Cor 5:20 "Be reconciled!!") Ferguson is divided, and so is our nation. Though we have made great strides in race relations since the Civil Rights Era, there is still work to be done, and churches need to take the lead in doing it, because that is what Christ has commissioned us to do.
The second scripture is James 1:19-20: 'Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.’ If 2 Corinthians 5 tells us the what, James 1 tells us the how. Reconciliation is slow work. It requires listening to others more than self-expression. And it means exchanging unrighteous anger for righteous action. My hope for the Assemblies of God is that we, mindful of our own checkered history when it comes to race, will humbly and persistently work to build communities where,’ as Frank Bartleman said of the Azusa Street Revival, the color line was washed away in the blood [of Jesus Christ].’" (Vital Magazine)
Another person put it this way:
"With all respect to secular government and politics and media and society, I believe that followers of Jesus must lead the way in bringing reconciliation and redemption. This is the very essence of the gospel.
We must be the peacemakers.
We must be the bridge builders.
We must be the one who transcend ethnicity and color, building instead on our unity in the Lord, where there is neither male nor female and neither black nor white.
It is an arduous task, but it must be done.
And so rather than inflaming and inciting, we must honor, respect, listen, learn, speak, and act—working together for justice for all." (Charisma News)
Students, I don't claim to have all the answers. But I know truth when I hear it. Scripture is truth and it is relevant to issues like Ferguson, like Cleveland, like Beavercreek. Racism is untouched by so many influential voices. YOU are the future - of both the church and our nation. What will you do? Will you be a bridge builder or...for lack of flowery language...keep your head turned?
What do I think about the verdict of the Grand Jury? I don't know. I wasn't there and don't know what the jury went through these last few months. But my brother in law is on the ground over there with the National Guard. I know I struggle with being fearful for the safety of him and his friends. Not one of them asked to be there during this Thanksgiving week when they could be with their families. Could the rioting get close to the his home, wife and one-year-old daughter? That question makes the rioting hit home for me.
I also understand that power is really hard to handle. There might be a lot of well intentioned law enforcement officers out there that struggle to handle power appropriately. You might too if put in the same situations. That's why I am intrigued by efforts to require more accountibility (like body cams) for police officers. I wonder what will happen with that.
But more than anything, we are Christ Ambassadors (XA). We must strive to authentically represent the savior of the WORLD in ever situation, context and crisis. Start listening! Acknowledge that injustice exists in the USA, Ohio and even Dayton. From there, I believe that beautiful conversations between brothers and sisters will be birthed that will help us all understand our fears and emotions on a deeper level.
In closing, I'd like to share the thoughts of Tj Watson, one of our UCXA brothers.
"I’m tired of seeing Christians...from all colors attacking one another on this issue. Yes, there are a lot of feelings that are high on both sides, and there are points on both sides, that are right and logical; but THE problem behind this issue is the fact that, Satan is using this to his advantage.
God is grieved, because as a father, he hates division among his sons and daughters on any issue, but particularly on issues that involve different ethnicities.
Now more than ever, as fellow believers, we need to lay down our fleshly weaponry to tear down our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and instead, grieve for the one life lost, learn from one another and most importantly, rely on God to use his Godly justice to rectify this situation.
As Herman Boone from “Remember the Titans” once said “If we don’t come together right now, on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed”. If we want to bring people to Christ, then instead of tearing each other, we must build each other up, we must learn from one another, and most importantly, realize the true importance of family. Because God created us to live life together, and if we decide to allow this discussion to tear us apart, then Satan’s goal will be accomplished, and I for one am not willing to let my family be torn apart.
Will you have the same mindset?"
If you made it to the end, I love you ;)
*Any of the articles I sited above are a great additional read. Please click on the links and continue your research!
It's been so great to see students get excited about praying. They've been making time in their life to knock on the door of heaven, seek Him, and ask God to do powerful things.
The book of Daniel is an example of a man doing something very similar. He knew he was in hostile territory and under a pagan King. He sought God regularly, publically, privately, openly and vulnerably. He prayed so much that wisemen of other religions looked up to him.
Daniel, no doubt, prayed for miracles, just like many students are now. When we pray for miracles, we should expect attention. Daniel got all sorts of attention - attention from God, attention from kings, attention from peers and even the normal man. We should expect attention as well.
I'm an NOT saying we should seek attention, but if we seek miracles, we should expect attention.
What type of attention? I can't say exactly. But it will probably be stretching, eye-opening, surprising or downright crazy.
What type of attention will God allow you to have? What type of kings will you speak in front of? What type of wisemen will seek your advice? What position or platform will God give you? God knows, even if you don't.
Let's continue to seek miracles.
Let's continue to expect attention.
Let's continue to ask God to teach us to respond to that future attention in a wonderful way. A way that lifts Him high, and makes Him proud.
Let's be ready, in season and out.
A growing list about why the Gem City is the city we love.
Not in order.
Or there is so much more...
What would you add?