Recently, the staff here at Sovereign Grace Church needed to clear out some storage space. Consequently, several long-unused office chairs were on their way to the dump. Rather than simply throw them away, our pastors decided to have some fun with them first. The result: “The Great Office Chair Race.” Click here to enjoy, courtesy of the five15 blog. Oh, and make sure to watch the second ending!
(BTW-My husband is the handsome guy sitting in the chair second from the left.)
Sarah Greenslade is this week’s book club winner. Actually, Janelle thinks Sarah deserves two copies of the book, because she’s read it—not once—but twice! The rest of us agree. So, Sarah, you’ll receive one copy for yourself and one to give away! Here’s how Sarah’s life was influenced by Twelve Extraordinary Women:
When the notice was first put up on girltalk blog about the book club group, I immediately purchased the book and proceeded to read the entire thing in three days. Granted, I am newly married, I have no children and I am a voracious reader, but still, I couldn’t put the book down. As I began to read through the chapters again, more slowly, along with the group, the impact of what I was reading began to sink in. [Keep Reading]
For our final question, please tell us—In what way did Lydia’s life inspire you?
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)
I went to one of my favorite places for lunch today: the Lancaster County Dutch Market. Every Thursday through Saturday a group of Amish from Lancaster, Pennsylvania make the trek to Germantown, Maryland where they make and sell the most delicious food. My customary hang out spot is the soft-pretzel stand where you can watch the Amish girls twist the dough for my favorite cinnamon-sugar pretzels.
This afternoon, as I was placing my usual order, the man who owns the stand engaged me in conversation (yes, he knows me). He informed me that the sister of one of the young women who works for him was one of the little girls shot in the tragic Amish school shooting two weeks ago.
“Did she survive?” I asked him. He told me her life was mercifully spared. She is hopefully leaving the hospital today! I told him we were praying, before he moved to help the next customer in line.
My heart broke for this little girl and the horror of her experience, and all those affected by this tragedy. Initially, I felt helpless, wishing there was something I could do to comfort them and ease their pain.
However, it was a fresh reminder to me of the truth of Ephesians 5:15-16. The days are indeed evil. Therefore, I am to strive to live every day with wisdom, “making the best use of my time.” And my heart can rest in the certainty of God’s sovereignty over the evil found in this world and the hope of the gospel for all mankind.
Our dear friend Carolyn McCulley over at SoloFemininity has written an exceptional article/personal testimony—“Liberated From Feminism”—which has been published online by The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I had the privilege of reading this article several months ago and have been eagerly waiting for its publication, so we could share it with you. “Liberated From Feminism” is an inspiring testimony of God’s transforming grace, an insightful critique of the failures of feminism, and a practical example of biblical womanhood for single and married women to follow. It’s a must read for every woman!
“Growing up in the rebellious ‘70s, I did not foresee these consequences [of feminisim]. Even as a child, my femininity was a source of confusion for me. The oldest of three daughters, I felt I always had to prove something to the boys - that I could be faster, smarter, and more aggressive than they were. I did not want any limits, and I looked for every opportunity to show my independence. How I gloated and swaggered when Billy Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in a well-publicized “battle of the sexes” tennis match! As a teenager, I was also headstrong and not submitted to my father. I did not respect his decisions, and I sought to wear him down through constant arguing. Though my mother faithfully took my sisters and me to mass each week, I lacked any real personal spiritual compass, and so I pursued whatever philosophies were currently popular.” [Read More]
Recently, one of our readers asked the following question:
I am really confused about how to guide our children when it comes to the “Christian music” of today. My daughter has asked to listen to the group Barlow Girl. This is one of the top female Christian groups today. My husband and I sat down to watch a video from this group on the internet and were shocked at how much it looked like a ‘Joan Jett’ video—not at all the quiet and gentle spirit we would desire for our girls.
How can we as parents make wise decisions on music that really glorifies God when we really don’t have specific guidelines? Do we simply go by what makes us comfortable and uncomfortable? How can we make our children make wise decisions when it comes to music?
I expect many of you are grappling with this same question in your home. If not yet, it is an issue you will likely face as your children get older. Thus, as parents, we must be absolutely clear about what God’s Word says regarding music so that we can wisely and skillfully lead our children in their musical choices.
In order to help us gain clarity on this topic, we thought it would be beneficial to hear from Bob Kauflin. Bob is the Director of Worship Development for Sovereign Grace Ministries and the worship leader at our church. He and his wife, Julie, are very dear friends to CJ and me. Here is his wise counsel:
This is a great question, and one that millions of Christian parents should be asking. How do I teach my children to be discerning in their music choices?
Typically Christians take one of two positions on how we should relate to music. Either we label certain kinds of music as evil and avoid them completely, or we assume that music is simply a matter of personal taste and we are free to listen to anything. Both views free us from actually thinking through the biblical issues. Here are a few thoughts to help us guide our children (and ourselves!) through the process in a way that honors God.
First, if your children are drawn to a certain kind of music or artist, make sure that you have a good relationship with them already established. If your children feel your correction more than your encouragement, if you see them as problems rather than gifts, or if you want to deal with this in a 5 minute lecture, you’re going to have difficulty helping them discern the right path to follow. Strong, godly family relationships are one of the greatest helps in resisting the deceptive pull of the world.
Second, communicate to your children that you are training them to be discerning in every area, including their musical choices. Until you know they mistrust their heart in this area and are self-disclosing, you should be aware of everything they listen to. The Internet and Ipods have made that a little more difficult than it used to be, but that’s why trust and self-disclosure are so important. Sit down and read lyrics together. Listen to music as a family. Talk about what makes songs good or bad. Parents who have no idea what their children listen to may be allowing the world to shape their children’s hearts and minds.
Third, I’d want to be very sure that my children are able to discern the difference between certain kinds of music and the ungodly culture often associated with it. I don’t believe that any musical genre is evil in itself. Rap music is one example. Typically, it’s associated with violence, cursing, rebellion, and abuse of women, among other things. However, I have a good friend at Covenant Life Church, Curt Allen (aka Voice), who has been instrumental in helping me see how rap can be used to communicate biblical truths effectively. However, if my children aren’t exhibiting discernment in other areas, I wouldn’t introduce them to a style of music or an artist whose associations could lead them to embrace worldly values and attitudes. My goal would be to help them see that listening to music without discernment and godly intent reveals a heart willing to flirt with love for the world (1 John 2:15-17). Sadly, that caution applies to music that is produced by Christians as well as non-Christians. Music videos, advertising, liner notes, web sites should all be considered when thinking about whether or not it’s good to listen to a certain artist. All these reveal whether or not an artist is seeking to honor God not only in their music, but in the way they dress, speak, and act.
Fourth, I wouldn’t let a desire to listen to a particular artist or style of music dominate their thinking, schedule, time, or desires. That often reveals the presence of idolatry. If their exposure to a certain kind of music produces godly fruit they can continue listening to it. But if I saw their countenance, actions, dress, speech, or behavior being negatively influenced by the music they were listening to, or if their spiritual zeal waned, I’d make the music off limits and talk to them about what was going on in their heart. I’d stress that this isn’t simply a matter of preference, but helping them think about their world more biblically.
I know some very godly teens and adults who like music and artists that I don’t particularly enjoy. But they listen to it occasionally, enjoy other genres, and reject the arrogant, immoral culture that often accompanies the secular versions. If I wasn’t convinced that that was my child’s attitude, I’d be foolish to allow them to feed their desire for a certain musical style, even with Christian lyrics.
In the final analysis, the question isn’t whether my children should listen to rap or country or jazz or the Barlow Girls. Rather, it’s whether or not my children distrust their hearts and desire to make choices that honor the Savior who bought them with his own blood. If I’m leading them in those areas, musical choices are going to come much easier.
For more wise, godly counsel on music, worship, and loving the Savior, we highly recommend you read Bob’s blog, WorshipMatters.com. In addition, we also encourage you to download and listen to Bob’s message series entitled “God, Music, and Me” part one and part two.
All this talk about humble, peaceful and joyful busyness isn’t just for you. It’s for us too. We really need it right now. That’s because in addition to all the normal fall activity we’ve begun work on a new book.
Due out (God-willing) in the Summer of 2007, and published by our dear friends at Crossway, this book will build upon the material from the “Highly Effective Woman” series we posted last January. We hope to encourage women to live intentionally by God’s Word in every season of their lives, and experience grace, peace and joy as a result.
So would you pray for us? Writing is good for our souls—if for no other reason than that it makes us aware of our desperate need for God’s help! Specifically, you can pray for:
-wisdom as we finalize the title
-clarity as we shape the material (and decide what to add and what to delete)
-strength and stamina for the long hours writing (in between dinner and carpool!)
-creativity and skill—so that this book will be a blessing to those who read it
Most of all, please pray that we would bring glory to our Savior—not only through the content of this book, but in the writing process as well.
Thank you, dear friends.
Nicole, for the girltalkers
“No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me.” Charles Spurgeon
Babies know when you are making dinner, and they inevitably start to fuss and whine. It takes a creative mom to keep a baby entertained while completing her task. My friend Tali found the perfect solution for her son Tyler. This will keep you laughing too.
Last week’s chapter was on the life of Mary and Martha. The take-home lesson was applicable to all of us:
“It is a danger, even for people who love Christ, that we not become so with doing things for Him that we begin to neglect hearing Him and remembering what He has done for us. We must never allow our service for Christ to crowd out our worship of Him. The moment our works become more important to us than our worship, we have turned the true spiritual priorities on their heads” (p. 167).
As promised, we want you to hear from a woman who has faithfully made rising early to sit at Jesus’ feet a priority in the busy season of motherhood. My dear friend Julie Purswell first shared this testimony at a retreat that I led for the pastors’ wives of Covenant Life Church several years ago. We were all provoked and inspired by her faithfulness to pursue the spiritual disciplines, and benefited immensely from her practical ideas. Soon after, we had her share these thoughts to a group of moms with young children (a season where it is sometimes difficult to maintain the spiritual disciplines). Today we want to share this testimony with all of you.
We hope you are encouraged to follow the example of Julie and Mary, and “never allow service for Christ to crowd out our worship of Him.”
Finally, as we near the end of the book we want to hear from you once again. “Of all the women we’ve studied, whose life has encouraged you the most and why?” Remember to send us your response by Thursday of next week. Even if you’ve fallen behind in the reading you can still feel free to participate!
Happy Thursday, everyone! I sure can relate to Mom and Kristin with this busyness thing. There’s been lots of meetings, a few time-consuming photography jobs, the cooking and cleaning, the dentist (cavities are the pits), laundry and for the icing on the cake, Caly has been up in the middle of the night teething. I peeked at my calendar through half closed eyes this morning only to see that the next two weeks seem to have even more.
Now, I would like to say that I usually run around completing my tasks with a happy smile set on my face and mirrored in my heart. Not always. If you saw me, you may see a smile, but my heart often looks a little bit different. Complaining and grumbling sometimes find a home. I move from one task and event to the next, caught up in how I feel and what I would rather be doing instead.
Today I read something from one of our favorite authors, Mr. Charles Spurgeon. He never knew me, but seemed to pen these words just for me…
“Cheerfulness is the support of our strength; in the joy of the Lord are we strong. It acts as the remover of difficulties. It is to our service what oil is to the wheels of a railway carriage. Without oil the axle soon grows hot, and accidents occur; and if there be not a holy cheerfulness to oil our wheels, our spirits will be clogged with weariness…Reader, let us put this question—do you serve the Lord with gladness? Let us show to the people of the world, who think our religion to be slavery, that it is to us a delight and a joy! Let our gladness proclaim that we serve a good Master.”
My mission? To apply these wise words. I need to oil my wheels of service with an extra dose of “holy cheerfulness” (along with humility and dependence) so that a watching world will see my relationship with the Lord as a delight and not slavery. I want those that encounter me over these next few weeks to see that I serve a “good Master.”
It’s a familiar verse. One we are often quick to quote and slow to apply. And yet, if obeyed, it can produce peace in your soul and mine during busy seasons. Charles Bridges’ provides fresh insight into this little verse. Consider his comments carefully:
"Take one step at a time, every step under Divine warrant and direction. Ever plan for yourself in simple dependence on God. It is nothing less than self-idolatry to conceive that we can carry on even the ordinary matters of the day without his counsel. He loves to be consulted…Consider no circumstances too clear to need his direction. In all thy ways, small as well as great; in all thy concerns, personal or relative, temporal or eternal, let him be supreme. Who of us has not found the unspeakable ‘peace’ of bringing to God matters too minute or individual to be entrusted to the most confidential ear?"
Proverbs 3:6 is our go-to verse when we’re faced with a big decision. We are often quick to acknowledge the Lord and seek His guidance in extraordinary situations. However, we assume we can “carry on…the ordinary matters of the day without his counsel.” God calls this self-idolatry and pride. How often I live as if I don’t need God in order to clean my bathroom, or discipline the boys, or get dinner on the table—as if I am sufficient in and of my self to handle most things! My lack of dependence upon God is pronounced in these “ordinary matters.”
And yet, as Mr. Bridges points out, “God loves to be consulted…no circumstance [is] too clear to need his direction!” He wants us to bring to him all our little decisions, our minor frustrations, our small dilemmas. He doesn’t just tolerate our questions—God LOVES to be consulted! Hasn’t he commanded us to acknowledge Him in all our ways?
A season of busyness may tempt you to anxiety, but as Christians, we are truly meant to experience peace in our souls each and every day. This precious, “unspeakable peace,” comes when we bring to God all of the ordinary matters of our day. ??So what were you going to do next? Before you get up from your computer, pause, read this verse and quote again, and acknowledge Him. Unspeakable peace can be yours for the rest of the day.
Yesterday Mom talked about the challenges of the busy fall season. As a mom with young kids, I feel like I’m always in a busy season—spring, summer, winter, or fall! However, I did start Andrew’s homeschooling year a couple of weeks ago. And Liam recently began weekly tutoring for a slight learning disability.
These new responsibilities only add to the constant feeling of “being overwhelmed” and “having no time.” And they only increase the temptation I already face to rationalize away my quiet times, to try to do it all in my own strength. That’s why I need to cultivate our second indispensable quality: dependence upon God.
Even though I might not be able to have extended times each and every day, I must not neglect my relationship with the Lord simply because I have young children. Because the truth is, I need His strength and wisdom now more than I ever have! Whether it means getting up early or taking time over the boys’ rest-time, I must make every effort to seek God’s face and receive His grace.
Recently, I’ve begun “tracking” my times with the Lord again. I write down how much time I spend with the Lord each day, or a “0” for none at all. This is not a legalistic attempt to earn God’s approval. Rather, it is to help remind me of the importance of seeking God and to help keep me from neglecting my relationship with Him. Janelle has made a cute little chart that you are welcome to download for your own personal use.
On this topic, I want to encourage you to read an article by Donald Whitney, author of Simplify Your Spiritual Life. He both empathizes with the unique challenges a young mom faces, and yet encourages us not to neglect our pursuit of the spiritual disciplines. But even if you don’t have young children, this is a timely article for all of us who are crazy busy: “Do What You Can.” And do it all in the shadow of the cross.
Whew! After devotions, exercise, grocery store run, beds made, dishes done, house straightened, laundry underway, Chad homeschooled, soccer carpool completed, editing project for my husband finished—I can finally attempt to write a post
Life is busy!
And it’s not just me. Whether you are a student, holding down a job, or caring for a family—the fall season unfailingly fills our lives with lots to do.
So what does it look like to glorify God in the midst of a busy season? My girls and I felt a need for fresh perspective, and so, we figured, maybe you do too. Drawing from thoughts we’ve posted previously, we want to consider three indispensable qualities for busy, even hectic times like these.
The first must-have to survive—and even thrive—during busy seasons: humility.
I still remember the wise and helpful counsel my husband CJ shared with me many years ago when I was having one of those “I just can’t get it all done" breakdown crying sessions. When he finally got the chance to speak, he said: “Carolyn, only God completes His to-do list. We are not God. We are finite creatures with serious limitations. Therefore we need to humble ourselves by accepting our limitations and draw upon God’s strength to simply do what we can.” CJ’s advice not only helped me then, but continues to benefit me to this day.
Here are 3 simple ways we can be mindful of our limitations as we make our to-do lists these days:
1. Separate the-really-do-matter items from the really-don’t-matter items—of course doing the really-do-matter items first. 2. Simplify the really-do-matter items where possible. (e.g. pizza for dinner or store-bought cookies for entertaining.) 3. Trust God for all the things on the list that don’t get done.
Let’s honor God by responding to our “endless” list of to-dos with humility—joyfully accepting our limitations and simply doing what we can.
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2