Author Archives: What's A Girl To Do?

About What's A Girl To Do?

My husband and I are students at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. Our goals include encouraging the brethren, teaching the truth, reaching the lost, and serving the church. Our God has provided many great tools for carrying these out... like blogs!

Of Wheat and Tares

In Matthew 13, Jesus makes an interesting comparison between the world in which the church exists, and the frustration of a field full of weeds.  He gives the parable in verses 24-30, then explains it in verses 36-43.  Now, I’m not much of a gardener.  My first attempts at helping my aunt with the chore of weeding her garden were not the most successfully executed.  She has several strawberry plants that, for some strange reason, were being crowded by out-of-place, deeply rooted bits of grass.  These grassy weeds were so close to the strawberry plants that the blades were often intertwined with the strawberry plant’s leaves.  Why couldn’t the weeds be an inch away from the strawberry plants?  Why did they have to be right there?  Frustrated, I did my best to separate them and pull only the roots of the grass plant out, but occasionally I ended up damaging the strawberry plant as well.

Jesus told His disciples that God specifically sowed only good seed in the world, but that someone – an enemy – came and sowed tares in the world to cause problems for the sons of the kingdom (13:38-39).  In His parable, He gave them an image much like the one I described above: God doesn’t separate the good from the bad while they’re growing, because the possibility is that some of the good may be pulled along with the bad.  Think about it; the unrighteous have opportunity to repent and turn to God so long as they are alive.  2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God is patient, “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”  So we know why they’re not pulled up right away.  But, what about the strawberry plants?  Do they just have to deal with the discomfort of being crowded by the weeds that threaten to choke the life out of them?

Girls, I don’t know about you, but there have been times when I have wondered how long God expects for me to fight for my spiritual life by keeping myself as far away from bad influences as I can.  It isn’t easy!  The ones in this world who want to bring you down – the promoters of immodesty, sexual immorality and unrighteousness – would love nothing better than for you to give up and become one of them.  But pay close attention to the rest of the story.   Jesus describes to His disciples in verse 40 a vivid image of what will happen to those sons of the evil one: they will be gathered up and burned with fire.  Ouch!  In verse 41-42, He keeps the heat coming for posers who pretend to belong in the strawberry patch: they will be separated out just the same and be thrown into the fire as well. But for those who are sons of the kingdom – legitimate, real disciples that let the good seed take root in their hearts – they will shine forth in the kingdom of their Father (verse 43).  They alone are left to be gathered up by the Father into His kingdom forever.

If we want the benefit of being a child of God, we cannot allow ourselves to be influenced by the world.  The wicked in the world are there on purpose: Satan knew exactly what he was doing when he sowed the bad seed that produced wickedness in the world.  Christians can be fooled into thinking that their involvement in unrighteousness won’t take away their salvation.  But Jesus says the angels have a special job to do at the end of the age – they are to gather out of His kingdom (a.k.a – the church, in this context) that is in the field “all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Don’t be a poser, and don’t let yourself be caught off your guard by the suffocating influence of the world.  Keep your eye on the goal: you WANT to be in the kingdom of the Father, and you want to shine like the sun at the end of time.  You want to be rescued from the weeds that make your life difficult and you don’t want to end up in the same place they do!  She who has ears, let her hear – Are you in the kingdom?

By Keeley Rollert
Keeley Rollert and her husband, David, are currently students at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver.  They were married December 2008, and they look forward to working in whatever ministry God has planned for them when they finish school in May, 2011.

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Paul’s Relationship Quiz– How Unified are You?

(art by Meganne Forbes)

The book of Philippians speaks so strongly on one of the top 5 things that I struggle with in my efforts to be God’s woman. Unity. As a teenager I used to think that whomever I married when I grew up was in for a life of misery.  We would never get along. My siblings and I certainly never seemed to.  If I couldn’t get along with my brothers and sister, how was I ever going to have the proper relationship with the guy who would become my roommate and closest companion? Even best friends have issues when they’ve spent one too many nights sleeping over at each others’ houses.

Thankfully, my relationships with my siblings have vastly improved as we’ve grown older, and my fears for my marriage… they’ve proved useful. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I have knock-down, drag-outs with my husband or anything. But the fear of the possibility of any disunity motivated me to get a few things straight before I entered that covenant relationship. I encourage every girl to pass up the heartache of learning these things the hard way. If you want your relationship with your mate, your siblings, with friends, and even with strangers to be uplifting, spiritual healthy and not full of worldly discord, know that it’s up to you to make it happen!  The apostle Paul wrote a letter to two women in the church who were having some serious issues acting like the sisters-in-Christ that they were. Compare these with your own attitude toward others: how unified are you?

#1 – Imitate Me (Paul). Consider others as more important than yourselves. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain…yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” (1:21, 24) Paul wanted to go to heaven, but for their sake, he lived the life that he did. For whom do you live, and why?

#2 – Imitate Christ. Remember that “although He existed in the form of God,” (2:6) He didn’t selfishly treat that glory like something to clutch to His chest, grasping, never letting go of it. He emptied Himself, becoming a man and dying the most undignified, horrible death for us. What do you have a hard time letting go of because of pride – and does it compare with Christ’s sacrifice of heaven when He came to Earth?

#3 – Imitate Timothy. Be genuinely concerned for the welfare of others.

#4 – Imitate Epaphroditus. “He came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me” (2:30). Do you serve others to such a degree? Is it important enough to you to minister to another’s need at any cost?

The two women in Philippi needed a reality check: What was more important? Their egos, or the cause of Christ? If you are concerned about your relationships, take Paul’s Reality Check quiz, and find out how you can more closely align your attitude with these four unequaled examples. Fear is a good motivator, and knowledge with determination is the key to successfully overcoming those fears. Let’s go girls.

May God bless your relationships. Amen.

By Keeley Rollert
Keeley Rollert and her husband, David, are recent graduates the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver.  They were married December 2008, and are expecting their first child. They look forward to working in whatever ministry God has planned for them now that they have graduated.

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The Origin of David’s Sin: His Birth or His Life?

When babies are born, are they inherently evil, or are they innocent? A baby certainly seems to have a “selfish” nature, and on particularly difficult days we may be tempted to say the little thing has a demon! To some, the Psalms are a source of confusion concerning people and the condition in which they are born. Did David teach the doctrine of “original sin” – or could he even make up his mind about the matter? It is easy to get confused at first glance when reading his writings.  Take the following, for example:

“The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth.” (Psalm 58:3)

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5)

From other areas of the same book, we get the opposite message.  Notice the interesting comparison:

“Yet you are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother’s breasts. Upon You I have been cast from birth; You have been my God from my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 22:9-10)

“For you are my hope; O Lord God; You are my confidence from my youth. By You I have been sustained from my birth; You are He who took me from my mother’s womb; My praise is continually of You.” (Psalm 71:5-6)

If we only looked at these verses, it would seem like the relationship was rather “on/off” between infants and the Lord God. What is the truth of the matter? Are we estranged from God due to wickedness straight from the womb, or are we held close by God from the beginning?

The answer has to come from taking a closer look at the context in which these statements are made: the Psalms. When we look at this book exegetically, we notice many things. One is this book is chalk full of exaggerations. In 69:14, David talks about his troubles being “deep waters,” a “flood,” and a“pit” shutting its “mouth” over him. Wow. This is a dramatic, but accurate accounting for how this man was feeling at the moment. Even in 71:20 he expresses anticipation of God bringing him up “from the depths of the earth.” These things are obviously not literal – the inspired writer is expressing man’s heart using recognizable figurative language.

We have to understand that the Holy Spirit inspired men to write in legitimate, existing literary forms. Poetry is one such form. This is a poetic writing, and it needs to be interpreted as such. Look again at Psalm 51. Verses 1 through 4 give us an immediate context in which to interpret verse 5:

“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, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight.”

Look at all of the possessive pronouns here – David was expressing one thought: I blew it. This was all my fault. When he says he was brought forth in iniquity, he expressed what each of us has felt at one time or another: I can’t do anything right – I’ve been a failure from the beginning! But verses 1-4 help us understand the source of this deep, personal dissatisfaction.  As a man, David had great victories – he also made serious mistakes with serious consequences.  His conscience worked and he was intellectually capable of claiming responsibility for the mess he was in, which is a difficult thing to come to terms with emotionally.

Now that we understand the impact that literary form has on interpreting these Scriptures, let’s broaden our perspective to include a different, more directly insightful kind of literature. Ecclesiastes is classified as “wisdom literature.” In this book, the Preacher has a pessimistic tone, but this is not due to a pricked conscience – it springs from his very accurate observations of life and the doings of men. After analyzing these particular verses from the Psalms, I want us to compare them with the statement found in Ecclesiastes 7:29:

“Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.”

Wow. Way to clear things up for us, Preacher. There is no misunderstanding his point: in this book, we learn God’s definitions of wisdom, accomplishment, folly, and vanity. This particular verse would be the definition of a waste. God creates men in an upright condition. They are born with all the potential in the world to be useful to Him and pleasing. But as we grow, we allow ourselves to be distracted by useless or harmful forms of self-gratification, and we choose to indulge in them instead of living up to our potential.

This is the condition in which we find the Psalmist as he writes his woeful dirge, mourning his innocence.

We need not become confused by this man’s seemingly up-and-down relationship with God. On the contrary – this is a source of personal comfort! When I have “blown it” so severely that it seems like I have been doomed to failure from the start… I can read the Psalms to remind myself that God rescues me, even from myself. There will be good days again – I will acknowledge my sin to Him and rest confidently in the arms of my God once more.

Remember these things as you read David’s words, and turn to the Psalms for comfort when you hit a “road bump” in your walk with God.  The Holy Spirit has proved that He knows what you’re feeling, and He has preserved these words to help you get through.  Hang in there, ladies!

By Keeley Rollert
Keeley Rollert and her husband, David, are currently students at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver.  They were married December 2008, and they look forward to working in whatever ministry God has planned for them when they finish school in May, 2011.

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Have You Understood All These Things?

In Matthew’s gospel, we learn that parables served a specific purpose in Jesus’ ministry.  Many times these parables are accurately described as earthly stories with a heavenly meaning.  While this describes what a parable is, it doesn’t tell us what a parable does.

In Matthew 13, Jesus tells several parables, beginning with the parable of the sower.  In this parable we read a cute story about a sower who scattered his seed which fell on four different types of soil, bringing about different results for the seed that fell on each kind.

Quaint.  Short.  But what was the point?  The disciples wondered the same thing, and it is here we get our first example of a proper approach to the teachings of Jesus.  In 13:10, the disciples ask a very important question:  “Why do you speak to them in parables?”  This curiosity is a very healthy part of our study of God’s Word today.  The Holy Spirit was very particular about the words with which He chose to communicate – go ahead and try to find out why.  Many different literary forms and structures are used in the Scriptures, and each one was chosen for a specific purpose.  Jesus’ answer to the disciples gives us a clearer idea of what we are meant to do with these parables.  He explains to the disciples that some have chosen to “close their eyes” and “hear without hearing” – meaning some folks joined the crowd simply to hear a good story.  They aren’t really concerned with the spiritual truth being conveyed.  How do we know this?  These were the ones who didn’t come back asking questions.

Jesus continues this conversation by telling the disciples point by point what the parable actually meant.  This is the second example of a proper approach to the teachings of Jesus: He explains what He means, and that is the meaning. As Jesus explains the parable of the sower in 13:18-23, we come to learn that there is one way of interpreting that parable. He confirms this by telling more parables, as if He were inviting them to ask more questions.  Matthew points out that this is a fulfillment of Scripture (13:35), proving Jesus to be the Messiah.  God does not offer truth on a silver platter – He presents it nibble by nibble, and the truth-seekers are those who come back, hungry to know what lies beneath the surface.

In 13:36, the disciples give us the next example of a proper approach to the teachings of Jesus.  Jesus had told more parables and left the crowds.  The disciples followed him so they could take Him up on the invitation with a question concerning one they had not understood.  “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”  For the second time, Jesus holds nothing back as He guides them point by point through the parable He had told, making clear connections between each metaphor and that which it represented.  This is an important exegetical principle: allow the text to define itself.  We cause great confusion and error when we try to pull an interpretation out of thin air that is not supported by the text.

We can tell that the disciples are starting to get how this whole parable-business works, because they listen to three more parables, each of which describes a different aspect of the kingdom of heaven.  This time, Jesus asks them in 13:51, “Have you understood all these things?” Their response was a firm “Yes.”

Now read that again.

This is the most important lesson we can learn about how we should approach the teachings of Jesus.  He asked them, “Have you understood all these things?”  The new hermeneutic asks the reader, “Now, what did all this mean to you?”  That’s a dangerous method of interpretation, because it subjectively takes into consideration what “I think” the meaning may have been.  Jesus had no interest in what his listeners guessed to be the spiritual truth being conveyed.  If they were not willing to come ask Him for clarification, His appraisal in 13:15 was that they heard without hearing, having a dull heart and closed eyes.  Yikes!

When we read Scripture, we are listening to the conversations between Jesus and His disciples, between the prophets and God’s people, between the apostles and congregations of Christ’s church.  If there are things we don’t understand as the listener, it is vital that we investigate, going to the source for clarification, and nowhere else.  Those who lived during the first century had the privilege of asking their questions in person.  People are asking the same questions today.  We need to be willing to search for the answers given within God’s Word and understand them so we can answer rightly.  We need to ask questions of the text: Why did the Holy Spirit instruct the writer phrase it that way?  Does the context explain the section I’m reading, and how so?  Do I have a clear understanding that is completely supported by the text?  Let the Word itself expose any misunderstandings and walk away with an accurate interpretation.  Truth is there – waiting to be heard, investigated, understood, and shared.

Have you understood all these things?

By Keeley Rollert
Keeley Rollert and her husband, David, are currently students at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver.  They were married December 2008, and they look forward to working in whatever ministry God has planned for them when they finish school in May, 2011

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Whatever I Do

One thing I have determined: as a Christian wife, nothing I do is meaningless. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men;” and a very acceptable reason for this is given. You see, from a worldly standpoint a woman could go crazy with the day-in, day-out monotony of endless cooking, cleaning, repairing and planning required for running a home. It helps a little to think that it’s never “just” another sink full of dishes or “just” another load of laundry – it’s an opportunity to show my husband appreciation for his provision of our material things. It’s never “just” another meal to fix; it’s an act of love, providing a good meal for his enjoyment in gratitude for the work he does. Every sock laundered and every shirt ironed is an expression of love and honor.

God provided my husband with a wife, and I will play my God-given role with dignity – because in serving my husband, I serve Christ. The same will be true in my service to my children should the day come for me to have them. Colossians 3:24 says to work in this way, “knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” Every part of my life is subject to this command – that whatever I do in word or deed, all is to be done in the name of the Lord Jesus while giving thanks through Him to the Father (3:17).

Interestingly, it is difficult to complain while one is giving thanks – the Holy Spirit knows our nature so well. And it’s hard to feel like my work is meaningless when Jesus says He receives glory from it. For our benefit, Paul shows a very clear progression in how this plays out in a Christian’s life and the eternal consequences of our hard work in Colossians 3:18-25.

As a wife, I am subject to my husband, as is fitting in the Lord (3:18). I strive to be lovable, that my husband’s role may be an easier calling (3:19).

As a mother, I will seek to model obedience for my children and to teach them that their obedience is likewise pleasing to the Lord (3:20). I will help my husband nurture our children, parenting them with the end in mind and not just the moment (3:21).

I obey those in authority on earth, not with external service, as one who merely pleases men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord (3:22).

Whatever I do, I do my work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that I will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom I serve (3:23-24). Just as he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done – without partiality (3:25) – so can we expect the consequences of the good which we do.

So, sisters – let’s get busy… plug in that Crock-Pot with your head held high, and thank the Lord for that daunting laundry hamper. Kiss those boo-boos and hold your husband close. We have an irreplaceable position of honor in our homes. The families we serve receive honor from us with each act of service and love – but so does the Lord Jesus. We utter words of comfort to our children so they may have confidence in our love for them – but we strengthen their confidence in the Lord when they see Mommy search His Word for that same comfort. EVERYTHING we do as Christian women is not in service to ourselves alone, or even exclusively for the benefit of our loved ones. It is the Lord Christ whom we serve – Amen!

By Keeley Rollert
Keeley Rollert and her husband, David, are currently students at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver.  They were married December 2008, and they look forward to working in whatever ministry God has planned for them when they finish school in May, 2011.

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Where is My Faith?

It was a fisherman’s worst nightmare. The Sea of Galilee was notorious for being calm and serene one minute, and a deathtrap the next for unfortunate souls who happened to be out working the nets. It is hard to say which was worse, being caught by a gale while dragging the nets at night, or being fully able to see the force of the waves during a mid-day boat-ride across the enormous lake. It took so little time for the waves to become white-capped and dangerous, that at the first sign of fierce winds descending on the lake, the men became afraid for their lives. And this teacher… this man of miracles whom they had been following so faithfully… was sleeping. Of course, their first instinct was to make Him aware of what was going on. “We’re dying! Master! Master WAKE UP!”

They had heard His teaching concerning the kingdom of God. They had listened to His parables about hearing His words and letting them take root. All of that was fine and good, but none of it mattered right now – they were about to sink to the bottom of the Sea of Galilee.
As I read this account in Luke 8:22-25, the scene is so vivid. I can picture the fear on their faces – these men knew the danger they were in. It was the occupational hazard of a fisherman, and they wouldn’t be the first to be overtaken by the elements in this unpredictable body of water. As I imagine their futile efforts to keep water out of the boat while being what was described as “swamped,” I can identify with their panic.

Too many times in my life I have had the same hopelessness settle into my gut as the waves of unexpected trials bash into my boat, one after another… after another… In what seems like broad daylight I can see them tower higher and higher over me, and I’m helpless to prevent it from washing over me. Maybe it’s a financial issue that seems to get bigger and not smaller. Perhaps a relationship seems to be spiral down into the dirt, or family problems are shaking my stability and my faith. But that’s the real question, isn’t it?
Jesus looks at His disciples, after standing up and rebuking that which threatened them, and asks them a question…

“Where is your faith?”

What I realize, is that – through the pen of Luke – He is looking beyond His disciples, right into my own eyes and heart, and asking the same question. I’ve already read about the physical ailments He cured with a touch. I remember the ease with which He answered very difficult life-related questions and spiritual issues. He demands that I take what I have learned from Him and allow it to take root in my heart by acting on His instructions. Now, He demonstrates His authority to give such commands by taking my deepest fears and speaking them out of existence. His eyes pierce my soul after such a powerful demonstration, asking if I believe He can do such things – or if I’m worried for “my life” because the trials seem bigger and stronger than His words.

So where is your faith? Sometimes it feels like God isn’t aware of what we’re going through – like our boat is nearly capsized and He’s just sleeping! But His Word is enough to calm the storm and He’s waiting to come to your aid. Which storm are you sailing through? Whatever it is, instead of frantically trying to bail out the boat, approach the Master to ask for His help. You may be helpless to save yourself, but believe me… He can handle it!

By Keeley Rollert
Keeley and her husband David are current students at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. They are planning to graduate later this year and then go on a mission trip to Malawi, Africa. Find other great posts on her blog.

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The Wise Man… What?

Most reading this are probably familiar with Jesus’ analogy about “the two builders.”  In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus creates a word picture for the people.  He describes a wise man who “built his house on the rock.”  The rain fell, the floods came, the winds were fierce and threatened to blow it over, but the house stood firm because it had been “founded on the rock.”  He describes a foolish man who “built his house on the sand,” and the great fall that occurred when that house was similarly subjected to the wind and the rains.

This was a reality check for me as a Sunday school teacher: the children’s Sunday school song about the “wise man” conveys this word picture – but not the point of the story!  What was Jesus actually talking about?  Building houses?  Hardly!  I want us to look closer at this “principle” we are teaching toddlers that will most certainly carry into their adult years…

We know that in verse 24, Jesus begins by saying, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man…”   Wait a minute – what application do we give in our song?  These kids aren’t actually learning the principle that Jesus taught us.  Instead they get to pretend they are building a house (which, granted, is fun) but they are also learning to make a vague statement about “building your life on the Lord Jesus Christ,” saying that when prayers go up, blessings come down.  What part of Christ’s lesson included that?  I’m afraid we have allowed a fallacious hermeneutical principle to reflect in some of our Bible class material – give them the idea, but leave room for interpretation when examined more closely.

For anyone who teaches a children’s Bible class, here is my charge: be sure to ALWAYS include the proper application for these songs and Biblical accounts.  Jesus intended to convey with His word picture that a person who hears and acts on His words will be saved.  For a deeper understanding of the application, go back and read what comes before this section of text.  Remember, whenever you read a “therefore,” go back to see what it is “there for.”  Right before this architectural analogy is made, Jesus warns that not everyone who says to Him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but “he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter” (Matthew 7:21).  By teaching children the analogy but forgetting to include that which is being compared, here is the result:

  1. We teach children to take things out of context before they are even able to read. 
  2. They will think that wise people “build their life on the Lord Jesus Christ,” unaware of what that actually means.
  3. They will associate prayers and blessings with “building your life on Jesus,” and not the process of hearing His words and obeying them.

So here is my recommendation:  we change the song to match the Bible lesson.

The wise man built his house upon the rock (3x)
And the rains came tumb-a-ling down… Ohhh…
The rains came down as the floods came up (3x)
And the wise man’s house stood firm.

The foolish man built his house upon the sand (3x)
And the rains came tumb-a-ling down… Ohhh…
The rains came down as the floods came up (3x)
And the foolish man’s house went SMASH!  So….

The one who is wise will hear and obey (3x)
So listen and obey the words of Christ.

Wow – does that change the whole message of the song, or what?  What if we asked the children to explain what Jesus said about the “two builders” every time we sang that song with them?  For older kids, what if we had them memorize the three verses from which it is taken?  We would suddenly have a generation of more Bible-literate children, who – whenever they heard the more common version at VBS – would be able to say, “What? That’s not what Jesus said.  He said we need to listen and do what He says…”  Hopefully, we can teach them to carry this attentiveness to God’s word well into their adult years, making them wise men and women who actually know how to “build their house on the rock.”

By Keeley Rollert
Keeley and her husband David are current students at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. They are planning to graduate next year. Find other great posts on her blog at http://wifeofapreacher.wordpress.com.

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A Lesson from Cain

How does God handle our attempts to honor Him when we’re not quite sure of what He’s expecting from us? Will we be acceptable as long as we’re sincere? Let’s take a lesson from a very early example:

In Genesis 4, we are introduced to a man who sought to bring to God something he personally valued. Cain was a tiller of the ground, in contrast to his brother Abel, who was a keeper of flocks (Genesis 4:3). The crops brought forth by the sweat of Cain’s brow were the first thing he thought to offer to God. It makes sense, doesn’t it? There is debate about whether God had already communicated to them about what He desired in the form of sacrifice. But one way or the other, this first attempt to please God with what each brother desired to bring Him sheds a lot of light on how God deals with worship attempts that are “right on target” and those that aren’t.

Notice that Cain was the first to bring an offering to the Lord. He wasn’t trying to “one-up” or compete with his brother – he was sincerely seeking to please the Lord. It says that the Lord “had regard for Abel and his offering.” The Hebrew word for “regard” literally means “look toward.” The offering that Abel gave got God’s attention, as it were. But it says that “for Cain and for his offering He had no regard.” Try to picture it in your mind. God is a parent who is aware that His two children have each come to Him, saying eagerly, “Father, I brought you something!” Cain arrives first… and God doesn’t look in his direction. Abel arrives next and God smiles, showing appreciation for the gift.

Wait a minute, though… how is that fair? If Cain is a tiller of the ground, what does God expect? Here is the key. God gives Cain a chance to understand in verses 6 and 7:

“The LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.'”

The reason God did not show appreciation for Cain’s offering is that He desired something else: an offering from the flock. The neat part about this is that God did not condemn Cain’s offering… He just didn’t accept it. This becomes very applicable to every generation that would follow Cain: we do not show love for God when we only offer to Him what WE would desire or expect. We demonstrate true love for God when we take the time to find out what it is HE desires and expects! What would have happened if Cain had said, “Ooooh, I get it. Okay, Father!” and came back with an offering of sheep? This is profound, ladies! This is why I get frustrated when people say that worshiping with a band up front is simply a matter of our preference, or that we can assemble to worship on Saturday if it’s more convenient for us than on the first day of the week as we find in Scripture. If we do not “do well” (a.k.a. learn from our error instead of continuing in error), sin is sneaking up on us because we are seeking to meet our own expectations and not God’s. Not a big deal? What about Cain? Let’s take a look at Cain’s response and see if we can learn why this is such a big deal:

“Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.” (4:8).

Why did this happen? It was the proof: Cain’s first error provided a moment of decision for him. He could either humble himself and correct his error, choosing to make the necessary changes to honor God, or he could become defensive and not change. “But why isn’t my offering as good as Abel’s? That isn’t fair!” It’s very clear how quickly we become the “victims” when we are not accepted “just as we are.” When we are expected to make a change, the positive aspect of improvement is forgotten when we choose to look at it with Cain’s attitude. Notice that God did not reject Cain – His words in verse 6 make this evident: “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” This is future tense! God rejected his worship, but was not denying him the opportunity to do the right thing. Rather, He was showing how willing He was to accept him if he learned from his mistake.

We know the rest of the historical event. Cain killed his brother Abel. It was the proof of God’s statement – if we are unwilling to learn from an honest mistake, sin is the next step in the natural progression. Consider it a practical psychology lesson from God.

This is the lesson: be teachable. Do not view correction, rebuke, or even gentle reproof as a rejection of who you are. If we play the victim and choose to remain as we are, we display Cain’s attitude – the attitude that says “This is just the way I am! I shouldn’t have to change anything about myself!” Blatantly refusing to change who we are to conform to our Creator’s expectations is the launch pad for all kinds of sinful behavior. Attitudes like this are the reason we have so much pain to deal with in the world. Cain bore a punishment that was painful to him; God pulled everything he cherished out of his life and made him a fugitive. Eve lost a son, and her words in verse 25 show that Cain’s actions hurt more than just himself: “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.”

We should not be surprised when we learn we are not perfect. God doesn’t condemn us for not being perfect – the purpose of the Scriptures is to help us identify imperfections so we can correct them. God helps us in our walk with Him, testifying about when we do the right thing and pointing it out to us when we do not. Here’s the application: when you read God’s Word and you discover an attitude, action or behavior in your life that is contrary to what you read about God’s expectations, don’t play the victim and get defensive or argumentative! Choose to make a change. Be proactive. Listen to His favorable statements about those who did well. Choose to imitate them and enjoy the blessing of acceptance.

“By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.” – Hebrews 11:4

By Keeley Rollert
Keeley and her husband David are current students at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. They are planning to graduate next year. Find this and other great posts on her blog at http://wifeofapreacher.wordpress.com.

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Missionary of the Month: The Rollerts

Hi everyone! My name is Keeley Rollert. My husband, David, and I have been students at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver since September, 2009. After our graduation in May of 2011, we will have the awesome opportunity to go with one of our instructors, Wayne Burger, on a mission trip to Malawi, Africa. In the meantime, David is working hard in his studies and we are both learning a lot. My education has been both in the classroom and outside of it; I have been enjoying the women’s classes offered by the school as well as the general experience I’m gaining of being a preacher’s wife-in-training. I have taken on many responsibilities so my husband can devote himself to his training, including fund-raising efforts, communication with our supporters, aiding him in his preparation for “preaching out” and in the Bible studies he conducts, and doing as much as I can to prepare for our trip to Malawi next June.

The school offers much in its course of studies for men who desire to be preachers, but I have discovered that it has just as much to offer for women who desire to have more than just fluff to give when presented with women and children who desire to know God’s Word. It has been a privilege to sit at the feet of men who have spent their entire life being students of the Word and women who have made it their profession to teach younger women how to serve the kingdom and nurture the home. We are being taught how to give a defense for the hope that lies within us, and to do it while meeting the physical needs of those we encounter on a daily basis. And while we are about our Father’s business, we are to be teaching other women how to do the same. I have started a blog called “What’s A Girl To Do?” that gives Biblical advice on subjects such as how to approach God, what to do concerning worldly influences, and how to treat Scripture when we study – the goal is to teach girls how to properly apply the teachings in the Bible to their lives. The practice of Biblical Exegesis is something on which preachers here are given detailed instruction – and it’s a subject of great interest to me. The articles that I post on my blog each month are evidence of my passion to share it with the world – I desire to teach women and young girls how to properly handle Scripture, how to understand it as originally intended by the inspired writers, while giving them specific instruction on how to put what they’ve learned from it into practice in their lives. It has been said that one does not have to teach what a hundred counterfeits looks like; rather, teach them how to identify the real thing, and they will know a counterfeit when they see it. False teaching is very easy to identify if one is familiar with Scriptures and their proper contexts and interpretations.

My husband and I are about to begin a long-term work in New Hampshire with a team currently consisting of three couples, in which we hope to use these principles and skills for the expansion of the church in that area. My heart goes out to New England; it has been hit hard with false teaching and, as a result, many church splits in the last few decades, and they are in desperate need of sound teachers and evangelistic families, I am very excited to be moving and beginning our work there toward the end of next year.

While we have begun preparations for New Hampshire, my focus has recently been more on preparing for our trip to Malawi in June. I have begun doing research on customs and ways we can be as effective as possible while we are over there. We will be working with translators, giving gospel meetings, youth rallies, and teaching local children while Wayne Burger is giving classes to the Christians in some of the villages. I have been told that anywhere from 20 to 200 intrigued kids will simply show up because there are foreigners in their village, and that it will be up to me to make the most of the opportunity to share God’s Word with them when they do.

We will need a total of $6,000 for this mission to Malawi. We are fortunate to be staying with Ed and Lina Crookshanks, the full-time missionaries in that area, so that amount will cover the cost of both our flights with a little left over to help pay for our food while we are with them. We have raised $1,420 so far, and our goal is to raise $4,000 by the end of the December. If you are able to contribute toward this goal and desire to send it by check, you may make it out to the Columbine church of Christ (making it a tax-deductible donation), put “Malawi” in the memo line, and send it to the following address:
David and Keeley Rollert
c/o Columbine church of Christ
7453 S. Zephyr Court
Littleton, CO 80128

Thank you for your interest in our work – it is truly a blessing to be a woman in the Lord’s service, and it is your support that makes this possible. God bless your own efforts to serve in His kingdom!

-Keeley Rollert

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Of Wheat and Tares

In Matthew 13, Jesus makes an interesting comparison between the world in which the church exists, and the frustration of a field full of weeds.  He gives the parable in verses 24-30, then explains it in verses 36-43.  Now, I’m not much of a gardener.  My first attempts at helping my aunt with the chore of weeding her garden were not the most successfully executed.  She has several strawberry plants that, for some strange reason, were being crowded by out-of-place, deeply rooted bits of grass.  These grassy weeds were so close to the strawberry plants that the blades were often intertwined with the strawberry plant’s leaves.  Why couldn’t the weeds be an inch away from the strawberry plants?  Why did they have to be right there?  Frustrated, I did my best to separate them and pull only the roots of the grass plant out, but occasionally I ended up damaging the strawberry plant as well.

Jesus told His disciples that God specifically sowed only good seed in the world, but that someone – an enemy – came and sowed tares in the world to cause problems for the sons of the kingdom (13:38-39).  In His parable, He gave them an image much like the one I described above: God doesn’t separate the good from the bad while they’re growing, because the possibility is that some of the good may be pulled along with the bad.  Think about it; the unrighteous have opportunity to repent and turn to God so long as they are alive.  2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God is patient, “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”  So we know why they’re not pulled up right away.  But, what about the strawberry plants?  Do they just have to deal with the discomfort of being crowded by the weeds that threaten to choke the life out of them?

Girls, I don’t know about you, but there have been times when I have wondered how long God expects for me to fight for my spiritual life by keeping myself as far away from bad influences as I can.  It isn’t easy!  The ones in this world who want to bring you down – the promoters of immodesty, sexual immorality and unrighteousness – would love nothing better than for you to give up and become one of them.  But pay close attention to the rest of the story.   Jesus describes to His disciples in verse 40 a vivid image of what will happen to those sons of the evil one: they will be gathered up and burned with fire.  Ouch!  In verse 41-42, He keeps the heat coming for posers who pretend to belong in the strawberry patch: they will be separated out just the same and be thrown into the fire as well. But for those who are sons of the kingdom – legitimate, real disciples that let the good seed take root in their hearts – they will shine forth in the kingdom of their Father (verse 43).  They alone are left to be gathered up by the Father into His kingdom forever.

If we want the benefit of being a child of God, we cannot allow ourselves to be influenced by the world.  The wicked in the world are there on purpose: Satan knew exactly what he was doing when he sowed the bad seed that produced wickedness in the world.  Christians can be fooled into thinking that their involvement in unrighteousness won’t take away their salvation.  But Jesus says the angels have a special job to do at the end of the age – they are to gather out of His kingdom (a.k.a – the church, in this context) that is in the field “all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Don’t be a poser, and don’t let yourself be caught off your guard by the suffocating influence of the world.  Keep your eye on the goal: you WANT to be in the kingdom of the Father, and you want to shine like the sun at the end of time.  You want to be rescued from the weeds that make your life difficult and you don’t want to end up in the same place they do!  She who has ears, let her hear – Are you in the kingdom?

By Keeley Rollert
Keeley and her husband David are current students at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. They are planning to graduate next year. Check out her blog at http://wifeofapreacher.wordpress.com.

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