2008 at 2:08 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Series The FAM Club
"In biblical times, fasting was a normal means of expressing contrition for sin and dependence upon God in the face of difficulty….Fasting continues to be an appropriate response for overwhelming difficulties in our lives…it is appropriate for us to fast and seek the Lord’s face…reminding ourselves that our normal state of life in this world is not fullness but hunger, and appealing for God to grant us what we so desperately need. We should not just appeal to God implicitly, however, through abstaining from food, as if fasting were simply another technique to accomplish our desires. Rather, we should appeal to the Great King explicitly through humble and persistent prayer, seeking his favor more fervently than a merely human solution to life’s problems.” Iain Duguid
When it comes to “overwhelming difficulties” or “desperate needs” unsaved family members usually top our list. We might be the parent of a rebellious child (or a recalcitrant toddler!). Or maybe we have a hardened parent or an angry sibling or a wayward nephew or cousin or uncle or unrepentant grandparent whose unregenerate state weighs heavily on our heart.
Before long we realize that while we are responsible to love and evangelize (and in a parent’s case, correct and restrain) our unsaved family members, we can’t regenerate them. We can’t set up shop as soul-changers. We can’t exchange their heart of stone for one of flesh (Ez. 11:19).
Often we respond to this realization one of two ways. We either give up and retreat to despair; or we try harder, badger and nag, live in perpetual anxiety.
But instead of fatalism or fear, fasting is one a way to seek God’s “favor more fervently than a merely human solution to life’s problems.”
We need more than a human solution, don’t we?! And by “humble and persistent prayer” and fasting, we appeal to God to do what only He can do. We express our faith that He is not only able but also willing and eager to hear and to answer. We acknowledge our dependence on His grace and our hope in His goodness. We appeal to the Great Changer of Hearts to do what only He can do.
2008 at 9:34 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Fun Stuff Friday Funnies
Melissa sent this real-life Friday Funny along with an adorable picture of her two boys—a picture whose relevance you will understand after you’ve read her very funny story!
Have a good laugh and a great weekend,
Nicole for the rest of the girltalkers
My hubby and I and our two boys had to return some gifts at the local
mall. My husband, Jason and our youngest son, Spencer headed for Radio
Shack. My other son, Jeffrey, and I headed for Fossil. Here’s a little background
to keep in mind. My mom had purchased some shirts for me and they weren’t
the right size. I put them back in the bag with the receipt. I put
them beside the laundry basket which was full of clean clothes. Spencer
and Jeffrey love to jump in the laundry basket even when there are clothes in
it. Apparently, this time their little adventure made an article of
clothing fall in the bag of shirts I was returning to Fossil. Needless to
say I was in for a big surprise.
Jeffrey and I approached the counter to return the items. I decided
to look around first. So the sales clerk just put the bag behind the
counter. When I went back to the sales clerk at the counter he proceeded
to take the items out of the bag. First was the purple shirt, second was
the grey shirt and next was my green striped panties!!!!!
I could have hid under a rock at that moment. The sales clerk calmly
said, "These do not belong at this store." He put them in the bag and
handed them to me.
When I met up with my husband and told him what had occurred he laughed so
hard! His first response was, "At least it was clean underwear you tried
to return!" I don’t know if I will ever be able to go back into that particular store
Here is a pic of our boys in our laundry basket…
2008 at 4:08 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Series The FAM Club
Without a purpose, fasting can be a miserable experience. Therefore, whenever we fast, we should do so for a spiritual purpose. Now there are many reasons for fasting given in Scripture. In chapter nine of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney actually comes up with no fewer than ten benefits of fasting! One reason is found in Ezra 8:21—”Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.”
Fasting is humbling oneself before God to earnestly seek something from God. Or as Donald Whitney puts it, “Fasting strengthens our prayer life.” It causes us to realize afresh our need for God; it increases our desperation for God’s grace and intervention; it helps us to remember the true source of our help and sustenance; it seasons our requests with earnestness.
Now, as Dr. Whitney qualifies, “The Bible does not teach that fasting is a kind of spiritual hunger strike that compels God to do our bidding. If we ask for something outside of God’s will, fasting does not cause him to reconsider. Fasting does not change God’s hearing so much as it changes our praying.”
How does it change our praying? “Fasting is calculated to bring a note of urgency and importunity into our praying…The man who prays with fasting is giving heaven notice that he is truly in earnest” (Arthur Wallis in Whitney).
What family member or friend’s spiritual condition is of the greatest concern to you today? When you fast and pray for them you bring an appropriate “note of urgency” to your prayers. While we are only qualified to come before the throne of grace because of the death of Jesus Christ for our sins, fasting is a God-appointed means of expressing our desperate need for God’s help.
And consider what happened when the Israelites humbled themselves, and earnestly sought the Lord: “So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer” (Ezra 8:23, NIV).
Scripture does indeed spread out a feast of grace for “fasters”! Through fasting He brings us to the end of ourselves and to the banquet table of His boundless grace and help in time of need. When we fast and petition our Savior, He hears and He answers our prayers.
2008 at 4:33 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Series The FAM Club
I like a wide variety of foods. My husband on the other hand likes only a few foods – lobster and chocolate top his short list of favorites. I really like to eat. CJ doesn’t care that much about eating, unless of course, lobster or chocolate are being served. It’s difficult for me to miss a meal. Not for CJ. He actually forgets to eat meals at times!
Now I’m guessing more people can identify with me than with my husband. If so, maybe some of you can also relate to me when it comes to my practice of fasting. Sadly, it’s been the one spiritual discipline I’ve ignored the most in Scripture and applied the least in my life.
In God’s Word, though, it is clear that fasting is expected. This discipline is to be a part of every Christian’s life. For example, Jesus instructs those listening to His Sermon on the Mount with the words: “When you fast….” (Matt. 6:16-17). He did not say, “If you fast.” Jesus assumes that we will fast.
Why then, do we neglect to fast? Perhaps we don’t fully grasp the purpose of fasting and the blessings that result from fasting.
Yet to do anything Jesus calls us to do—in this case, fasting—is to find true satisfaction and delight. As the prophet Jeremiah discovered: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jer. 15:16).
Scripture spreads out a feast of grace for "fasters." And that’s one feast I don’t want to miss out on!
More on the grace of fasting tomorrow…
2008 at 4:26 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Series The FAM Club
Several years ago we created a Mahaney-family club, which we call The 5 AM Club. It involves rising early for the purpose of consistently meeting with God over his Word and in prayer. In January of 2006, we decided to brave it and invite you, our readers, to join our little club. Because we thought some might find the “early” aspect of club membership too dreadful, we didn’t expect many to join.
Boy, were we wrong! After our January post, scores of women (and even some men!) signed up” to join The 5 AM Club. Small groups around the country began to form 5:30 clubs or 6:15 clubs. To this day, we receive encouraging emails and letters from members who share with us the benefits of participating in this club. I can’t tell you how meaningful it is to hear those reports!
Well, we girls have started another club. This past year, we began fasting weekly and using the mealtime to pray for members of our family. We have dubbed it The FAM Club (acronym for Fast-A-Meal, also short for “Family” of course). During our planning time together this past Monday, we agreed that it would be fun to invite our readers to join our new club.
I know what some of you may be thinking: “Why are these crazy women’s clubs always centered around grueling goals such as getting up at the crack of dawn or skipping an entire meal every week? Why can’t they stick with fun clubs like book or cooking clubs?”
We understand. Our clubs might not seem so appealing at first. But given a chance, we think the rewards outweigh the sacrifice. And, like we did with the 5 AM Club, we want to examine what God’s Word has to say about the spiritual benefits of fasting and praying for our family.
So, will you join us for our discussion on prayer and fasting? It is our hope that by the time we’re through, you will want to join our FAM Club.
2008 at 6:02 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Our friend Diane wrote regarding “Robin the Waitress” just to make sure: “I hope she got her tip before she left!”
Thanks for looking out for that kind lady who served us, Diane. And yes, I’m happy to report that Mom did tip Robin—not once, but twice—for breakfast and for lunch (plus a little extra for putting up with us all day!)
After Janelle’s post, “Help Keeping Resolutions,” our friend Valori sent us some excellent quotes she’d compiled on the topic of dependence on God. Here are two of our favorites. We’d all do well to keep these thoughts beside us as we plan our year—or do anything at all. Thanks Valori!
“What men do by themselves they do for themselves. They eat their own fruit, devouring the praise of what they do. Only the Christian who does everything by Christ does it all for Him. He takes his nourishment from Him into whom he has been grafted; and this is what makes him fruitful.” –William Gurnall (The Christian in Complete Armour, Volume 2, p. 49)
“If he can do any duty, he acknowledges it is Christ’s strength more than his own. As the ship gets to the haven more by the benefit of the wind than the sail, so when a Christian makes swift progress, it is more by wind of God’s Spirit than the sail of his own endeavour.” –Thomas Watson
2008 at 5:39 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Today being the first Monday of the New Year, the four of us girls had a planning session. We spent several hours talking about how to grow in our relationship with the Lord, and how to be better wives, mothers and homemakers. We stayed at the diner so long that our friendly waitress Robin served us breakfast and lunch, and finished her shift before we packed it up!
Here’s a snippet from chapter four of our book, Shopping for Time that we used today (and that we use on our own) as a guide for our planning:
“Begin by listing your priorities. Here’s Mom’s list:
• Grow in godliness.
• Love my family.
• Serve in the church.
• Fellowship with Christians.
• Evangelize non-Christians.
• Attend to my work.
• Care for my physical health.
Although your list may look slightly different, it’s important that your priorities come from God’s Word and not culture or personal preferences. We should all have similar priorities stemming from our identity as Christian women, even though we may use other words or categories to describe them.
Once you’ve listed your priorities…evaluate yourself, prayerfully going through the priorities one at a time. Under each category, assess how you are doing—what is going well and what needs to change. Then consider how you can grow in that key area in your life.”
Thanks to Mom, each of us girls came away with a few key ways we can grow in biblical womanhood over the next year. We’d encourage you—on your own, or together with your husband or a godly woman to have your own planning time.
More thoughts for the New Year tomorrow….
2008 at 9:48 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Fun Stuff Friday Funnies
A few weeks ago Kristina sent us this funny story from the school where she works…
Our Principal is one man in a school full of women.
The librarian of our school is due with her first child on
New Year’s Eve. The social committee has been trying to find a time
during this busy season to have a baby shower. As the day has come closer,
they have had to work with our principal for find an available time. His
idea was that we could have a one hour faculty meeting followed by a half hour
shower, because in his words “A half hour is plenty of time.” After we
corrected him on the fact that half hour baby showers do not exist. He
sent all of us an email thanking the social committee for putting their time
and effort into planning a party in such a short time. It all looked
great. Then at the bottom, this was his last sentence:
"I personally can’t wait for the ‘Hat with the Bows’ part!"
I have since informed him of the difference between a baby
and a bridal shower. His response was “I’m a man, what do you expect?”
(Just as a follow up: the ladies of the faculty did make a hat just for our principal!)
Thanks Kristina, and we hope your librarian is enjoying her new little baby!
Nicole for my mom and sisters
2008 at 2:17 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
“Is it possible to make a resolution this year and truly keep it?
Yep, it sure is. As Nicole and Mom reminded us, we start by “righting wrong resolutions” and “picking one resolution.” But we still need help to keep our resolutions.
I remember a field trip that I took to the Baltimore Science Museum when I was in junior high. There were a variety of experiments that you could watch and participate in—some, like the electrical experiments, were more hazardous than others. An oft-repeated phrase to the children watching was: “kids don’t try this at home.” Why? Because kids can’t safely perform complex science experiments on their own. They need help.
A similar warning should be issued to all of us when it comes to keeping our resolutions: “Don’t try this on your own!” Any resolution, big or small, is impossible to keep without the help of the Lord. If we try, it will simply blow up in our faces—like a science experiment gone awry. We are dependent creatures. We cannot take our next breath without the Lord granting it. What makes us think we can keep resolutions on our own?
But the Lord is gracious and eager to help us. I love the words of Charles Bridges on this subject, “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.”
Did you hear that? “He loves to be consulted.” Start right now. Take that one, God-glorifying resolution and consult your gracious Father. Ask Him to help you carry out this task. Ask Him for the strength to be diligent and faithful. Depend upon him for the grace to accomplish all that He has set before you. And watch Him work!
2008 at 4:16 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Is it possible to make a resolution this year and truly keep it?
Absolutely! And now that we have righted our wrong resolutions, we should eliminate most of them. That’s right. Let’s reduce our resolution list down to one. Let’s choose that single area where we most desire to grow in godliness.
But there are twenty ways I should be growing right now, you might protest.
That’s true for all of us. But what’s also true is that we can’t change in every area all at once.
Author and speaker David Powlison makes this insightful observation:
“We are simple people. You can’t remember ten things at once. Invariably, if you could remember just ONE true thing…you’d be different. Connect one bit of Scripture to one bit of life…. Apply one relevant thing from our Redeemer to one significant scene in your story. Bring one bit of the Bible to one bit of your life….You can’t deal with it all at once. Scripture never does…. Life goes one step at a time.”
So we see that the mark of true spirituality doesn’t require ten giant steps forward. One step at a time is sufficient. In fact, you could argue that choosing one area for growth in godliness is an expression of humility. It’s a humble acknowledgement of our serious limitations as “simple people”.
And what’s more, growth in one area almost always affects every other area of our lives. So rather than lament about the twenty ways we need to grow in godliness, let’s be encouraged that as we isolate just one and devote ourselves to change in that area, by the grace of God it will affect the other nineteen.
Oh, and one more thing. We need to make sure our resolution is specific. “Overcome anger” is too vague. However, if we choose to take the next 30 days to memorize and meditate on Eph. 4:29 – 5:2, list the circumstances that tempt us to anger and pray about and plan how to respond humbly at those times – now that would be a detailed resolution!
2008 at 3:06 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Is it possible to make a
resolution this year and truly keep it?
The answer to this question is
"YES"! That’s a bold assertion, I know. But there are some simple
and specific ways to make a resolution that we can actually stick to.
And we will take the next three days here at girltalk to talk about them.
First, we must consider why, so often, our resolutions don’t have
the shelf life of a gallon of milk. Maybe, it is because they are the wrong resolutions—by that I mean self-exalting instead of God-glorifying.
In his book, A Godward Life, Part 2 (p. 62), John Piper
cites a newspaper article based on a book entitled The Body Project.
The author examined young girls’ diaries from the 1800’s to the 1900’s
and found that “In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, girls’
diaries focused on ‘good works’ and perfecting the character. In the
1900’s, the diaries are fixated on ‘good looks,’ on perfecting the
Now of course, it’s not wrong to resolve to lose a few pounds or to
take better care of our bodies, which are, indeed, temples of the Holy
Spirit. But if “good looks” or any other goal is driven by selfishness,
or a desperate grasp for glory and attention, we are merely resolving
to sin against God.
If James 4:6, “God opposes the proud” means what it says (and
Scripture always does), than God is actually opposing our efforts
instead of blessing them. No wonder we fall flat on our vain little
“But…” as James 4:6 goes on to say, “[He] gives grace to the
humble.” If we depend upon God to do good works and perfect our
character in order to reflect His glory, we can anticipate His grace to
blow life into our feeble efforts. By His power, we can sustain our
resolutions beyond the “best if used by” date.
2008 at 7:40 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw