Day 142: The Choice

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Friday, May 22nd, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
2 Samuel 1:1-2:11
John 12:20-50
Psalm 118:19-29
Proverbs 15:27-28
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1jXw91i

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. – Jn 12:48

You have a choice to make. If you accept Jesus, you will be judged as He was judged. When God judges you at the end of your life, you will be hidden in Jesus (Col 3:3). God will not see one spec of sin in you when you trust in the finished work of the Cross. You will receive the same reward as Jesus Christ Himself!

If you reject Jesus, you will be judged according to the Law. The Law requires absolute perfection; and the unfortunate truth is that no man but One has ever been perfect (Rom 3:23). So many of us just try our best to live a “good life” apart from Jesus, and hope that God will understand our faults. But that is a flawed perspective. If we are not hidden in Jesus, we are consumed by sin. Sin is not allowed in God’s presence (Rev 21:27).

To receive Jesus is to receive everlasting life. When we confess our belief in Him (Rom 10:9), we will be saved. Will you accept Jesus today?

Prayer:

Father, I give my life to You. I repent of all my sins, and I put my faith in Your Son Jesus Christ. I accept His death on my behalf. I know I can never be perfect; but I know He is perfect so that I don’t have to be! I am Your child, and I love You!

Day 141: Running to God

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Thursday, May 21st, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
1 Samuel 29:1-31:13
John 11:55-12:19
Psalm 118:1-18
Proverbs 15:24-26
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/SgKzE0

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. – 1 Sam 30:6

On the surface, everything had gone wrong. David led his men into battle to fight for a foreign king. When they returned, their entire city had been burned to the ground. The women and children from Ziklag, including David’s family, had all been taken captive. The people blamed David for everything that had gone wrong, and wanted to kill him for leading them into battle!

But David strengthened himself in the Lord. He encouraged himself in God’s word. He became strong, and hardened his spiritual resolve through worship and prayer. Instead of losing his trust in God, he became all the more firm and confident in the identity God had called him to embrace.

When something bad happens, what is your response? Do you run from God, or do you allow trial and conflict to bring you closer to Him? David strengthened himself in the Lord; in response, God not only recovered his losses, but added even more than he had before!

Prayer:

Father, encourage me! Speak to me through Your word. Whisper to me in times of prayer and quiet contemplation. Instead of running from You, I am going to run to You!

Day 140: For His Glory

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Wednesday, May 20th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
1 Samuel 26:1-28:25
John 11:1-54
Psalm 117:1-2
Proverbs 15:22-23
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1j3PSwd

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” – Jn 11:4

Sickness had arrived to claim Lazarus. Sickness is one of the enemy’s tools; Satan wreaks havoc with sin, sickness and death, which John G. Lake called the devil’s triumvirate. But Satan does not win when God desires victory.

God can win the victory through any trial: all we have to do is invite Him into our lives and get out of His way. Jesus promised Mary and Martha that He would use their brother’s sickness to glorify God. Jesus knew that Lazarus was not dead; only sleeping. Even though the report looked grim, Jesus promised to raise him back to life!

God does not cause sickness and suffering. He does not pour His contempt on us to teach us a lesson. All His wrath was poured out, once and for all, on Jesus Christ on the Cross. That means there is no wrath left for us. He will, however, use our misfortune to work on our behalf:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. – Rom 8:28

Whatever you are going through: love God. Trust Him, and ask Him to use you for His glory. Wait in patient expectation as He delivers you!

Prayer:

Father, I know you don’t cause suffering. We live in a fallen world, and war with an enemy who would seek to take us out. But You can use any situation for Your glory. Use me! Use what I’m going through! I know I will see Your goodness: NOW!

Day 139: Taking Vengeance

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Tuesday, May 19th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
1 Samuel 24:1-25:44
John 10:22-42
Psalm 116:1-19
Proverbs 15:20-21
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1kiKGcv

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

“I will not stretch out my hand against [Saul], for he is the Lord’s anointed…” - 1 Sam 24:10

David had the chance to kill Saul. The wicked king had wandered into David’s cave, and had stopped to relieve himself. What were the chances?! David’s friends assured him that this was the moment God had been preparing him for: if he killed Saul, he would become king!

But David refused. David understood that taking vengeance was not his responsibility. Paul explained it this way to the Romans:

“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  - Rom 12:19-21

It is our responsibility to love our enemies. It is God’s responsibility – not ours – to repay them for their wicked deeds. Saul was before David, not so that David could execute judgment, but rather so that he could demonstrate mercy. Killing Saul would have proved he was unfit to be king; letting him live proved he was the man for the job.

Let it go. The wicked will inherit their reward. Demonstrate mercy, and work to perfect your love walk with Jesus.

Prayer:

Father, help me to heap mercy on the people in my life who deserve it the least! I don’t want to go through life angry and mad. I know You will punish the wicked, so I’m not going to worry about it!

Day 138: David Inquired of the Lord

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Monday, May 18th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
1 Samuel 22:1-23:29
John 10:1-21
Psalm 115:1-18
Proverbs 15:18-19
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1jV6P0R

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Therefore David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” And the Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines, and save Keilah.” – 1 Sam 23:2

Before making any major decisions, David inquired of the Lord.

First, David’s men came to him and encouraged him to save the city of Keilah from the Philistine invasion. The Philistines had been oppressing Israel for generations: recall that Gideon had threshed his wheat in the winepress so the Philistines would not steal it from his threshing floor (Judges 6:11).

Yet David was too patient to rise up and attack out of anger. He took his time and sought God before launching into battle. He even inquired of the Lord again (i.e. a second time; 1 Sam 23:4). God wasn’t angry with David for taking his time and listening for His voice. He wasn’t angry when David asked for confirmation once he had heard God’s heart. God is willing to give us confirmation so we can transition from concern to confidence.

After saving the city of Keilah, David heard that Saul was approaching with his army. Before deciding what to do, he inquired of the Lord again (vv 9-12). God does nothing without revealing His secrets to His servants (Amos 3:7). David knew that if he stayed in the city, the men of that city would turn him over to Saul. He used the information he received from God to make a good decision.

Are you facing a tough choice? Inquire of the Lord. When you ask, He will answer.

Prayer:

Father, I know that You are faithful to communicate Your will to Your servants. Give me the patience to listen for Your voice, and the wisdom to act on what You say!

Day 137: Faith in Action

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Sunday, May 17th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
1 Samuel 20:1-21:15
John 9:1-41
Psalm 113:1-114:8
Proverbs 15:15-17
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/TekKp2

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing. – Jn 9:6-7

Jesus encountered a man who had been blind from birth. He anointed his eyes, and gave him specific instructions: go and wash in the pool of Siloam. The man was healed instantaneously; but he did not see again until he went and washed.

Faith requires action. We can receive God’s promises in an instant; but sometimes the manifestation of His promises in our lives requires partnership. When you gave your life to Jesus Christ, you said a prayer: you paired your belief with action (see Rom 10:9). Jesus promised this man that his healing was his for the taking. He was anointed and healed, but faith was required for him to see. When he went and washed, he saw again.

God will promise us blessing and redemption in many shapes and sizes. Most often, there is a step out of faith required, on our part, before we experience everything He has promised us. God wants to co-labor with us. He requires active demonstrations of faith through participation with His promises.

What has God promised you? How have you demonstrated your faith in His promises with action?

Prayer:

Father, I know that faith is an action verb. Help me to step out in faith when You call me to actively participate in believing Your promises. When You send me, I will go!

Day 136: Harboring Bitterness

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Saturday, May 16th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
1 Samuel 18:5-19:24
John 8:31-59
Psalm 112:1-10
Proverbs 15:12-14
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1lHVy3j

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

So Saul eyed David from that day forward. And it happened on the next day that the distressing spirit from God came upon Saul… – 1 Sam 18:9-10

Saul and David led Israel’s armies into victory over the Philistines. Goliath was dead, and there was much to celebrate! Yet Saul was focusing on other things. As the armies of Israel returned home, the women of Israel sang:

“Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.” – 1 Sam 18:7

Saul despised David from that day forward. Saul let bitterness get the best of him. He was the King over Israel; he had it all! David was the servant and man of war he had been praying for: an excellent administrator, and a fearless leader on the battlefield.

Instead of celebrating David’s victory with him, Saul became jealous. We do this all the time: even if we have thousands of Instagram followers, we become bitter when someone else has more! Even if we’ve experienced spiritual victories left and right, we become bitter when someone else experiences victory and we’re left out!

The distressing spirit had access to Saul (v 10) because Saul opened the door by harboring bitterness. Because Saul could not celebrate with David, Satan was granted access to him. When we let bitterness creep into our lives, the door is opened; but when we cast our cares upon the Lord and celebrate in the victories of our brothers and sisters, the door to Satan is slammed shut!

Prayer:

Father, expose any part of my heart that is harboring bitterness. In Jesus’ mighty name, I cast all my cares upon You! I don’t want to hang on to anything that isn’t mine to bear. I give it all to You, and I take Your supernatural ease in exchange!

Day 135: His Name

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Friday, May 15th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
1 Samuel 17:1-18:4
John 8:21-30
Psalm 111:1-10
Proverbs 15:11
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1vatLxH

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. – 1 Sam 17:45

Goliath came with a sword, a spear and a javelin; but David came in the name of the Lord. We must realize that God does not fight battles with earthly means. The enemies we engage in battle are not flesh and blood; but rather spiritual foes (Eph 6:12). So while our enemies can flex their muscles and wield their swords all they want, we have a much more powerful weapon: the name of Jesus.

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Phil 2:9-11

The name Jesus is the most powerful word we can ever utter. When we use Jesus’ name, all of heaven is called to attention to make resources ready, and all of hell is warned of the power we have at our disposal.

Pray to the Father, in the name of Jesus, and watch His Kingdom come.

And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong… – Acts 3:16

Prayer:

Father, I know the power in the name of Your Son Jesus Christ. Help me never to forget the strength in His name! By His name, men are healed and made whole; and by His name, I am set free.

Day 134: Don’t Judge A Book…

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Thursday, May 14th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
1 Samuel 15:1-16:23
John 8:1-20
Psalm 110:1-7
Proverbs 15:8-10
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1lbUCm7

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Sam 16:7

How many times have you heard somebody doubt you? You’re not big enough! You’re not smart enough! You’re not strong enough! You can never do that!

God does not see as man sees. Your resume does not matter to God. Your past does not determine your future. He is willing to move heaven and earth to establish His purpose in you!

Let the haters hate, and the doubters doubt. Let the talkers talk, and the balkers balk. No matter the odds, you are qualified in the name of Jesus. God calls you fit to establish His kingdom when you call on His Son, and allow His Holy Spirit to work through you!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for always working through me. If You say it, it will be done. Your word matters more than anyone else’s. Increase my faith in Your promises!

The Strength to Bear

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘The Strength to Bear’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 5/10/2015, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1PH3hLz

Thank You, Mom

Let’s start with a simple fact: none of us would be here without our mothers. Mothers bring us into this world, and they care for us from day one. Moms have an exceptionally tough job, and they do it well. Moms love us unconditionally, especially when we don’t deserve it.

Today is Mother’s Day, and we’re going to celebrate by honoring the mothers in our church. I want to recognize and acknowledge what a tough job mothers have in front of them. To do that, we’re going to take a look at the life of Timothy.

Timothy was a great, strong man of God. On Paul’s initial visit to Lystra, God healed a man who had been crippled from birth as Paul prayed. Paul returned several years later to find that Lystra had been profoundly impacted by the Gospel message. Timothy, though a young man, had already become a respected member of the Christian community there.

Timothy was a close friend & companion of Paul. Scripture details how Paul trusted Timothy like no one else:

But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. – Phil 2:19-23

Timothy was a man of incredible faith, and proven character. Paul wrote 13 out of 27 books in the New Testament; Paul was listed as the co-author on almost half of Paul’s writings.[1]

Like many founders of the early church, Timothy literally gave his life for the Gospel. According to church tradition, in the year 97 AD, the people in Ephesus were hosting a pagan festival. Timothy was 80 years old, and he wasn’t going to let an opportunity to preach the Gospel pass him by. As the people of Ephesus were parading around the city to honor their goddess Diana, Timothy stopped the procession. Though an old man, he halted everything to preach the message of Jesus Christ.

He was seized by the crowd, beaten, and dragged through the city. He left this world to be with Jesus, just as he had started out: full of faith and conviction, and unwilling to back down from representing Jesus well.

But how did Timothy become Timothy? Sure, God gave Timothy revelation to allow him to accomplish his mission. However, Scripture tells us that someone had taught Timothy to be filled with faith from a very young age. He was well-versed in Scripture because of his childhood:

“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” – 2 Tim 3:14-15

Timothy had known about salvation since childhood. Someone had encouraged him as he walked out his faith, and demonstrated the Gospel with his actions. So who was it who had helped and encouraged Timothy along the way?

Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. – Acts 16:1

It wasn’t his dad! Timothy’s household was like so many homes all over the world: his father didn’t go to church, and his mother was left to bear the burden of raising her children according to Scripture. Finally, Paul fully reveals who was at work behind the scenes in Timothy’s life:

“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” – 2 Tim 1:5

Paul thanked God for the women of faith in Timothy’s family: first his grandmother Lois, and then his mother Eunice. This morning, we are here to thank the great women of faith in your family.

The mothers in Timothy’s life were responsible for his faith-filled upbringing. They had shouldered the responsibility of preparing Timothy for his call to preach the Gospel. Without his mother and grandmother, Timothy wouldn’t be Timothy; and without your mother, you wouldn’t be you!

A Mother’s Faith

Moms do so many things. One of the many things we see women do faithfully in Scripture is pray. Hannah was a woman of prayer: though barren, she “…prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish” (1 Sam 1:10). God heard her prayers, and Samuel was born. Because Hannah was faithful in her promise to lend Samuel to the Lord, he judged Israel for many years. Eli, his mentor, was an imperfect teacher; but Samuel had learned to be faithful nonetheless. Without Hannah, there would have been so Samuel; without Samuel, no Saul anointed king; and without Saul, no David!

Lydia was also a woman of prayer (see Acts 16). She was a successful businesswoman, but still found time to meet with other women to worship God. When Paul arrived at Philippi, her heart was ready to receive the Gospel. Her entire household was baptized because of her prayers.

The list goes on and on. Mothers have a knack for persistent prayer. In fact, I would be willing to bet that most of us are churchgoers because, somewhere along the line, a mother in our family was praying for us. It might have been your own mother, or it might have been your grandmother. But, odds are you have a relationship with Jesus Christ because a woman of faith has been praying for you.

I remember how hard my own mother used to pray for me. When I was going through a rebellious stage – hanging out with friends who were up to no good, and partying a little too much – my mother was at home praying for me. She wouldn’t go to sleep until I got home, no matter what time that was. I would come home, and she would be awake: waiting, and praying. I am forever grateful for her persistence.

Mothers are natural teachers. They have patience and learning acumen that not many men have. If it weren’t for your mother, you wouldn’t know the things you know today. You wouldn’t be the person you are, here and now. I’m not saying that your father didn’t do diddly when it comes to raising you right: but I am saying that your mother probably had the biggest role in teaching you the ropes for this journey called life.

Mothers have taken on the responsibility of educating our future generations. In the U.S., more than three quarters of teachers are women. That percentage is increasing over time, not decreasing.[2] Women have borne the burden of making sure Proverbs 22:6 plays out in the lives of our children:

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. – Prov 22:6

Mothers are the ones who do most of the child-rearing and education: both in our families, and in our communities. It’s time we honor them for it.

We have a lot of young mothers in our church. As often as I can, I try to find ways to make mom’s feel welcome and at ease at CityLight. As I was reflecting on Mother’s Day, I found this excerpt from an open letter to parents that sums up how I feel about moms in church particularly well:

“You are doing something really, really important. I know it’s not easy. I see you with your arms overflowing, and I know you came to church already tired. Parenting is tiring. Really tiring.

“I watch you bounce and sway trying to keep the baby quiet, juggling the infant carseat and the diaper bag as you find a seat. I see you wince as your child cries. I see you anxiously pull things out of your bag of tricks to try to quiet them.

“And I see you with your toddler and your preschooler. I watch you cringe when your little girl asks an innocent question in a voice that might not be an inside voice let alone a church whisper.  I hear the exasperation in your voice as you beg your child to just sit, to be quiet as you feel everyone’s eyes on you. Not everyone is looking, but I know it feels that way.

“I know you’re wondering, is this worth it? Why do I bother? I know you often leave church more exhausted than fulfilled. But what you are doing is so important.

“When you are here, the church is filled with a joyful noise. When you are here, the Body of Christ is more fully present. When you are here, we are reminded that this worship thing we do isn’t about Bible Study or personal, quiet contemplation but coming together to worship as a community where all are welcome, where we share in the Word and Sacrament together.When you are here, I have hope that these pews won’t be empty in ten years when your kids are old enough to sit quietly and behave in worship. I know that they are learning how and why we worship now, before it’s too late. They are learning that worship is important.”[3]

Being a mom is the toughest job you’ll ever have. But it’s worth it. We need women like you. Thank you for everything you do.

The Strength to Bear

Mothers do what men cannot. Women have strength to bear burdens that would crush men if we tried to take them on. In my opinion, this is where the feminist movement comes up short. Women aren’t meant to be copies of men. They are not designed to be the same as men. Women and men are designed to be different.

The difference between women and men is something that should be celebrated, not avoided. Difference does not imply superiority. Men are not better than women; and women are not better than men. Both sexes are unique.

As a church, our goal is always to respect the fact that everyone brings something to the table. Paul harped on this need to celebrate differences, rather than ignore them, to the Galatian church:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Gal 3:28

There are certain things women can do that I would never dream of attempting. Let’s celebrate some of those strengths!

Did you know that women are tougher than men? The obvious proof is childbirth. I watched a video recently from a church that sent two men to a doctor’s office.[4] They were hooked up to machines that simulated mild contractions associated with childbirth. In other words, these poor men didn’t experience anything close to the actual pain of childbirth. But they both wilted. Women are tough!

MythBusters ran a special recently to test whether women tolerate pain better than men. They asked men and women to hold their hands in a bucket of one degree ice water for as long as they could before the pain became so overwhelming they had to pull it out. The men in the study held their hands in the water for an average of eighty-four seconds. The women? One hundred seconds.[5] Women are tough!

Did you know that women are smarter than men? My wife is always right, and I am  frequently wrong. If you’re married, you know I don’t need statistics to seal that point; but here they are anyway. Hedge funds run by women make three times as much money as hedge funds run by men. Companies with female CEO’s outperform companies with male CEO’s by nearly fifty percent. [6] Women are smart!

Did you know that women live longer than men? The average life expectancy for a man born in 2012 is seventy-six years. A woman born in the same year can expect to live to eighty-one: five years longer.[7]

Throughout Scripture, we see men and women called to different tasks. Again, no Scriptural assignment is better than another; only different. Men are not better than women, and women are not better than men. Each sex is unique.

Many times, we see women called to bear a burden a man could never understand. Did you ever stop and wonder why God didn’t deliver His Son to a man? He planted Jesus in a family, with a mother who was a rock-solid woman of faith. Mary was chosen because she was able to bear a pain and suffering nobody else could bear. She would see her Son hang and die on the Cross for the sins of all mankind. Then, she would be called to support the disciples as they built the early church (see Jn 25-27).

Remember what Simeon promised Mary from the start:

Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” – Lk 2:34-35

Mary would experience a pain none of us can imagine. This mother had the strength to bear a suffering that no one else could ever know.

Mothers, we are here to honor you today. Thank you for everything you do. None of us would be here without you, and each of us is grateful for all the amazing things you do!

- by Pastor Mike White

© Michael D. White, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael D. White with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


[1] Timothy is listed as the co-author of 2 Cor, Philippians, Colossians 1, 1 Thess, 2 Thess, and Philemon.

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/sunday-review/why-dont-more-men-go-into-teaching.html?_r=0

[3] http://iamtotallythatmom.blogspot.com/2013/05/dear-parents-with-young-children-in.html

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtR_-MINR1o

[5] http://www.ew.com/article/2010/04/23/mythbusters-confirms-whether-women-tolerate-pain-better-than-men

[6] http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/08/hedge-funds-run-by-women-outperform-other-hedge-funds/375542/

[7] http://news.health.com/2014/10/13/why-do-women-live-longer-than-men/

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