The Purpose of God’s Design of Men and Women

—by Rick Hawkes, Ruling Elder

EDITOR’S NOTE: On October 7, Rick began a 7-week Adult Sunday School series on “God’s Design for Male and Female.” In our cultural moment there may be no more important topic on which to be biblically clear and informed. Plan on attending and participating in this important discussion each Sunday, 9:25-10:25 a.m. (Rick earned a Master of Divinity and a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Westminster Theological Seminary).

A modern eye regards the Bible as a fatally flawed book because it is mostly about males. But the modern eye is jaundiced. In the eye of autonomous man, God is very distant and small, even vanishingly so, while everything about me is of the utmost importance. In Scriptural terms, the Bible is largely concerned with God’s covenant representatives and his covenant people. God’s design of creation, including his design of mankind as male and female, is the context within which God’s covenant drama is played out.

While my modern sensibilities may grate at finding that all God’s covenant representatives are male, these representatives share a much more important characteristic which I am almost wholly unable to grasp: they are not me. That God should make my relationship to him dependent on the someone who is not me leaves me sputtering with indignation. Who died and made him…whatever? Part of me believes that law, politics, economics, even sexuality, is all about me. Fortunately, this belief is an illusion that is continually torn apart by the diamond-edged buzzsaw of God’s creation design.

It befuddles me that something so riveting to me as sexuality should be of secondary importance in the biblical story which claims to be the central story of my life. If God had issued a survey before writing the Bible, I would have requested chapters on how to be financially successful, how to be admired by all, how to get people to do what I want, and what’s up with men and women. Instead, issues like the differences between men and women are secondary to a bigger story.

Yet in that bigger story, the secondary questions, including that of male and female, keep popping up at crucial turning points. Eve, as a female, somehow plays into the fall of all mankind. Sarah and her struggles with infertility, with her husband, and with her servant are a link in the birth of a nation. The beauty of Bathsheba seems to undermine, then establish the line of salvation. The disobedience of one Persian queen threatens an empire while the obedience of another Persian queen saves God’s people. On the word of a simple Galilean girl hang all the angels of heaven.

God’s design of male and female is glorious in itself. But it has far greater glory and significance as part of the story of redemption. We will go hopelessly wrong in living out our sexuality if we look at it only in reference to “me”. However, if we can pry our eyes off of ourselves and look at the bigger story in which we live and move, then we will begin to see the full glory of what it can mean to participate, as a man of God or as woman of God, in his divine comedy.

"Christian Zeal"

by Kevin Almond, CCC Member

“’Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”
-- God’s admonition to the church of the Laodiceans, Revelation 3:19

Zealous. The word and its derivations, zeal and zealously, are lacking in today’s Christian lexicon. The above verse in Revelation is the 26th and last time it’s used in the scriptures. Its first biblical use occurs in Numbers, when God commends Phinehas for taking immediate action to end gross acts of sin by the Israelites and stopping God’s plague at 24,000 deaths, noting, “he was zealous for my sake” and “he was zealous for his God” (Numbers 25:11, 13).

Where is zeal today, individually and in the church? Is our heart a furnace that constantly burns hot for God? Is zeal a feeling… an action… both? How do we get it? How do we keep it? How would I need to live for God to say, “he was zealous for my sake… for his God?” The Puritans, who wrote much about zeal, had answers.

Jonathan Edwards said, “Christian zeal [is] indeed a flame, but a sweet one; or rather it is the heat and fervor of a sweet flame.” William Fenner wrote, “Zeal is the fire of the soul”; John Reynolds, “an earnest desire and concern for all things pertaining to the glory of God” (i.e., the chief end of man); Samuel Ward, “zeal is nothing but heat…spiritual heat wrought in the heart of man…for the best service and furtherance of God’s glory.” And finally, Oliver Bowles: “a holy ardor kindled by the Holy Spirit of God in the affections, improving a man to the utmost for God’s glory.”

We ask for zeal in prayer. As with all graces and spiritual gifts, we need simply to ask. “You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2). God desires to give us good things. He wants us to serve Him and glorify Him in His power and not our own. He wants us to be zealous for the good things of God and jealous for the things that diminish the greatness and holiness of God, so we must pray fervently.

We kindle zeal through God’s word, which feeds the Holy Spirit within us. Listening to sermons (Luke 11:28), reading scripture (Psalm 119:11-16), singing psalms (Ephesian 5:19), and meditating (Psalm 119:15) all keep the fire burning and all point us to fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ—in worship and in being accountable and edifying one another. Such fellowship lends itself to keeping us in constant confession and repentance before the Lord and turning away from those things that defy him and harm sweet communion with Him.

Psalm 1 is a general outline for a believer who is zealous for Christ. Don’t spend inordinate amounts of time with unbelievers (v. 1), bathe in God’s word (v. 2), and bear fruit where God leads (v. 3).

How do we live out our faith zealously? 1) work as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23); 2) walk circumspectly, because the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8); and 3) keep our hearts with all vigilance, for from them flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23).

Next to Ground Zero

—by Josh Smith, Ruling Elder

Modern thinkers have called the university “ground-zero” for the ideas and cultural norms our society embraces. Higher Education has so much good to offer our culture through its endeavor to understand the world. For better or worse, its dominant influence will continue to shape much of what our culture becomes.

This “ground zero” brings with it significant pressures for university students. During these years they will grapple with life’s biggest questions. Who am I? Where am I going? What is the point of it all?

Christ Community meets just 2 miles from UNC, one of the most influential universities in the country. What a gift that we can be Christian brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers, to whom college and graduate students can bring those questions.

So, we ask:

• How can we connect the riches of Christ to the realities of student life?
• What would it look like for a community of students to be shaped by generational discipleship and gain a biblical vision for work and their calling?
• How can CCC be a refuge where students can come and flesh out the implications of their worldview and learn how to faithfully walk with Christ?

Christ Community wants to be a voice of influence among all the other voices students will hear on the university campus. We’d love for you to join us and help shape the lives of others in this season of life. The wide range of gifts our church is needed to help make this more true.

Here are just a few things happening this semester you can help with:

• Offering students rides to church.
• Hosting a college/grad student lunch.
• Being willing to share with students how your faith intersects with your specific calling.
• Veritas Forum at UNC Nov. 29 will offer a platform how faith and science can provide answers to the issues of stress and anxiety.

We’d love to see God grow our church in this way. Pray with us that God would change lives of university students and bring many to worship and grow alongside us all at CCC!

Breakfast with Hummingbirds

—by Marshele Carter, CCC Member

Hummingbirds aren’t sweet; they’re vicious.

I watched them at my feeder as I ate my breakfast. Their fluttering wings and racing hearts were blurs that crisscrossed the lawn. The dogfights continued, but the red feeder remained sadly full.

Didn’t they see there were three flower-dispensers on the feeder? Why were they fussing to the death as if there were only one?

The heaven-sent illustration dive-bombed me between the eyes and I stopped mid-bite. I get it now, Lord. This is what it looks like to have everything I need and yet live my days from the fearful, territorial perspective of “not enough.”

Rewind to 10 Days Ago

EKG cords dangled from a dozen places on my body as I lay on the gurney in the emergency room. I was weary from explaining my racing heart and chest-pain symptoms to everyone on duty. I got bored counting ceiling tiles as tests concluded I was not having a heart attack. The next shift sent me home with no-skid socks and unanswered questions.

I drove home, embarrassed for having collapsed under the weight of my calendar. I felt my blood pressure rise again as I pictured my post office box stuffed with blue and white hospital bills—the price I’ll have to pay them for telling me what I already know: I’m stressed out, stretched thin and seriously in need of a better perspective.

The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not be in want. Psalm 23:1

To be in want is to be in a state of “not enough”—not enough time, not enough strength, not enough skills, not enough money, not enough courage, not enough faith. As I read again the 23rd Psalm, the LORD showed me that this “not-enough” perspective is the root of my anxiety. He showed me that my 24/7 state of hyper vigilance is wasted time and energy; because, with Him as my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.

I can choose not to fear coming up short handed or substandard. By choosing His perspective, I won’t focus on not being enough. I won’t end the day scolding myself for not doing enough.

It’s my Shepherd’s job to make sure that I have enough, am enough, and do enough. My one responsibility everyday is to trust the LORD enough to follow Him. When I put my head on my pillow tonight, I can choose to believe that I was enough and did enough simply because I followed Him.

Done with Dogfights

It’s a bird-versus-bird world. Most of us operate from the hummingbird’s “not-enough” perspective. As a result, many of us end up in the ER and go home with unanswered questions.

I want to be finished with the “not-enough” mindset. It causes me to distrust others and dislike myself. I want to live my days, not in a desperate dogfight for the next thing, but following close to my Shepherd. He has promised that I will lack nothing I need.

The North Carolina Study Center

—by Jeremy Purvis, ruling elder

Christ Community Church partners alongside many wonderful ministries on campus. Most of us are familiar with Cru and RUF, and love their emphasis upon evangelism and discipleship.

But recently I’ve also become excited about an organization on UNC campus called the North Carolina Study Center. The mission of the Study Center is to cultivate Christian life and thought at UNC. Situated on a beautiful historic estate in the middle of campus (“The Battle House”), the Study Center provides a way for UNC to know Christ’s love and truth thanks to the hospitality, thoughtfulness, and joy of the extended Christian community.

One reason I like the Study Center is because it is sort of like a spiritual oasis in a desert terrain. Universities can often feel like places where your faith needs to be checked at the door so that you can think objectively and rationally. This is not only flawed thinking but at odds with history. An innumerable number of great thinkers, from Pascal to Euler to Reimann, have all held the God of the Bible as central not only to their spiritual lives but also to their calling as academics. In the same way, I think the Study Center offers a place where students can be single-minded about their calling as students and their identity as Christians.

The study center also nurtures Christian thinking. For example, they often host conferences or guest speakers to stimulate the believing mind. A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of gathering with Christian faculty from UNC, Duke, Elon, N.C. State, and Wake Forest to consider the doctrine of how we are made in the image of God. We prayed together, meditated on scripture, and brainstormed about ways to live out this doctrine within our vocations. These types of sponsored events provide a great encouragement to the faculty and students of the University.

Finally, the Study Center carries out the biblical principle of showing hospitality. Just last month, they served lunch to incoming students during move-in weekend. Over 1500 students were served! A team from CCC was involved in preparing the food, setting up tables, visiting with new students, and cleaning up afterward. As a church called to Chapel Hill, I hope that Christ Community Church can continue to partner with the NC Study Center. Our church has so many gifts for equipping and training, serving and stewardship. You don’t have to be faculty, student, or alumnus to get involved! As one of our volunteers said, “I just love working with students. They have so much life, and college is such a critical time in their lives.”

Alongside the local church and the wonderful campus ministries at UNC, the UNC Study Center layers another important dimension of Christian growth opportunity for students and faculty at UNC. You can learn more about the Study Center by speaking with me and by visiting their website: http://www.ncstudycenter.org/

“Jack and Jill Thrived up the Hill—because they were in a Community Group”

—by Greg Norfleet, Associate Pastor

Jack and Jill went up to Chapel Hill—and with good reason. The vibrancy of a college town; the opportunity for thought, work, and play; and all of the benefits of waking up in one corner of the Research Triangle. No wonder this area gets repeatedly ranked as one of the “best places to live.”

Even so, for both Jack and Jill, life up the hill is dangerous. Situational troubles swirl around and press against them: the unreasonable boss; the pigheaded neighbor; the beguiling media; the ailing parent who lives far away; the broken transmission that needs fixing now. Moral struggles churn and spill over from inside them: frustrated desires for respect and comfort; fictitious answers to questions of personal identity and purpose; spoken words that cut like a knife; foolish choices that reap hellish consequences. For Jack and Jill, troubles and struggles like these make for the perfect storm—even in this town affectionately called “the southern part of heaven.”

Sound familiar? Good news! Jack and Jill are more than “sufferers” and “sinners”; they are, in the biblical sense of the word, “saints” in Christ Jesus—that is, Christians who are “set apart” by God to live for his honor and to thrive by his power. And Jack and Jill are not alone in this endeavor, because God has given Christ Community Church to be for them a Holy Spirit filled community through which they can love and be loved.

You and I are Jack and Jill who live up the hill, and each of us needs exactly the goods that God delivers through his church. The mission of Christ Community Church is to glorify God by connecting the riches of Christ to the realities life. This mission is felt nowhere more keenly than in our small groups. It is here, within the context of mutual giving and receiving that we seek to make connections between Christ’s riches and life’s realities, and to experience the goal of being transformed into the image of the risen Lord Jesus.

So, as we begin this new academic year of life together, let me remind you of three basic principles that govern our small groups:

•  Every Christian needs gospel community—people who know us well enough to speak the gospel into our lives, and who are committed to helping bear our burdens when they get too heavy (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).

•  Every Christian needs to involve him or herself in ministry to others as God has called and gifted (Matthew 20:28).

•  Every Christian has a limited “time budget” which needs to be invested wisely and purposefully.


Holding these three principles together, we want to help you find a small group that suits your particular needs, gifts, and season in life. Contact Erin Smith at cg4ccc@cccpca.org if you’d like more information.

How will Jack and Jill and you and I thrive up the hill? By connecting to a body that receives its life from Christ, and that builds up the body through wise and loving words and deeds, as each member does its part (Ephesians 4:15-16).

An Announcement

—by Byron Peters

Announcing (drum roll, please)....

So let me set this up first.

As most of you know, our church is bursting with children. It’s such a wonderful thing to walk through EV and always be dodging, feeding, holding, teaching, or listening to them.

In fact, our Sunday morning setup crew consists of 4–5 regular kids, some as young as 3 years old, who can hook up a monitor or connect a drum mic with the best of them! But I digress…

A couple years ago Kathryn Eriksen wondered, “Would kids be interested in a bi-weekly Kids’ Club on Sunday evenings?” The answer was a resounding “YES!” and thus it was born.

Those “Kids’ Club” kids are now aging up (they do that, don’t they?). So Kathryn again put on her thinking cap, prayed, gathered a few of us together, and God has now raised up a middle school youth program (name TBD). It will meet at the same time as the Kids’ Club, but with a more mature focus.

And think about it. These middle schoolers are beginning to own their faith. They can work. They can go on retreats. They can serve. They can eat.

But what we needed was someone to help lead the charge.

Now, to my announcement:
I’m absolutely thrilled to announce the hire of CCC member Kathryn Cavin as our first ever Youth Discipleship Coordinator. Officially, she will be responsible for initiating and facilitating regular discipleship opportunities for middle-school students outside of Sunday School. Think, “A combination of service and fellowship opportunities, lesson-centered meetings, engaging outreach to friends, meals, etc.” NOTE: The objective is not so much additional teaching, but additional Christian experience in community.

Kathryn Cavin, a UNC senior majoring in English, hails from Denver, NC, and has been at CCC since her freshman year. She’s helped teach these kids in Sunday School the last two years, so she already has a history with them. Kathryn brings a lot of experience working with kids from her home church and her work as a camp counselor. She’s godly, articulate, and mature.

So pray for Kathryn and our middle schoolers as they start this new adventure! Perhaps employ Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” And invite your friends with middle schoolers to CCC, where they now have a friend who can help them grow in the context of our church by connecting the riches of Christ to the realities of middle school life. And as you have opportunity, welcome Kathryn Cavin!

Lessons from the Front Row

—by Dave Stepp, ruling elder

One of my favorite television commercial “lines” is from an ad that ran in the 1980’s with Bob Uecker. The ad showed him preparing to watch a major league baseball game (in a particularly good section of the stadium), and an usher would interrupt him to tell him he was in the wrong seat. At that point, Uecker would pompously remark, “I must be in the front row,” with an emphasis (and bravado) that made the ad an instant hit, especially when the closing scene showed him reseated in the “nosebleed” section of the stadium.

Almost eight years ago I agreed to co-teach the Kid’s Connection Seniors class (3rd-5th grade at the time) as a way to provide a “shared” teaching experience with a particularly gifted elder candidate. I agreed to do this because I knew it would be helpful to that candidate, as well as to the children’s ministries at the church. I was there to serve, but to my amazement, the Lord also gave me a priceless “front row” seat in the lives of dozens of young believers in CCC’s children’s and youth ministries since that time (and into the Middle School and High School classes). Don’t get me wrong, youth ministry is anything but a spectator sport. These elite athletes climb right into the stands and challenge the authenticity and the commitment of those seated in the front row; but He is “the God who works wonders” (Psalm 77:14), and I have witnessed and personally experienced them in abundance.

Like what, you may ask? We immersed ourselves in “day-to-day” life with the tabernacle, with sacrifices and a sheep named “Bob-ita,” and with a curtain torn from top to bottom to expose the Holy of Holies. We leaned into the gospels and sat together in awe at the convergence of Jesus’ words and actions (especially when “I am” is involved). We wrote slogans and rap lyrics, and we memorized. They learned that I have a non-insignificant obsession with donuts. We learned to chant the books of the bible.  We served in the nursery together. They asked questions, they spoke the truth in love to one another, they discovered gospel truths not revealed by flesh and blood, but by our Father who is in heaven (Matthew 16:17), and they grew “in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

And at my side during these years have been more than a dozen extraordinary and exceptionally gifted teachers who have relentlessly sought to develop youth of faith and to come alongside parents. I’ve also had the immeasurable privilege of being refined together with these teachers, “shifting weight” from teaching out of our fear and uncertainty to teaching with the boldness and transparency that the Holy Spirit provides. This, of course, spurs both teachers and students on to love and good deeds and a community-inspired dependence on the Holy Spirit.

In a word, it is awesome. I could never afford a “seat” like this at a major event; a “seat” like this doesn’t even exist at those events. And guess what? There is room in the front row right now! Check your bulletins and contact Kathryn Eriksen about opportunities to serve in Children’s Worship and Sunday School. “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).