Dec 17

Advent Joy

2008 at 2:00 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Joy | Resource Recommendations | Homemaking | Holidays | Series

Opening the door of our Advent calendar each day is one of Jack’s greatest delights of the Christmas season. His enthusiasm—“Mom, it’s only nine more days until Christmas!”—epitomizes children’s radiant anticipation for the holiday. Sure, the Baby Ruth or Starburst behind the little door might have something to do with his eagerness (you think?). But he is also excited to read the next installment of the Christmas story and the verse that goes along with it (as he chews on his candy). Comejesus I have my own Advent pleasure this year, which I look forward to each morning as much as Jack does. It’s Nancy Guthrie’s compilation of Advent readings: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas (HT: Justin Taylor) My apologies—I know it’s a little late to be recommending an advent book. But buy it as an early Christmas 2009 Christmas present for yourself (oh yes, and friends and family too). This is one of those books I’ve been waiting for all my life. It’s a collection of readings from almost all of my favorite authors (long dead and now living) on various passages related to the incarnation and birth of Jesus. John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, JI Packer, John Piper…need I go on? Despite the busyness of the Christmas season (and it seems to get crazier every year) I have been able to meditate on the deep and glorious truths of what it all means. The wonder of the incarnation, the humility of Christ, the glorious plan of the gospel, it’s application for me today. My joy is deeper this Christmas as my thoughts are drawn past the presents and parties to Jesus, the “joy of every longing heart.” “Open the cover,” it urges on the back of the book, “and rediscover what Christmas was meant to be.”

Dec 16

That’s Christmas.

2008 at 4:39 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Holidays

Amy, a girltalk reader from central London, sent us the following video produced by her church, St. Helens Bishopsgate. “This short film” she writes, “explores the real meaning of Christmas and why its wonderful news that Jesus came to earth.”

Engaging, and thoroughly biblical, the creators hope this video will help create evangelistic opportunities among non-Christian family, friends, and coworkers. It is also joyous reminder to us as Christians of the good news of the gospel. That’s Christmas.

Dec 15

Complementarian Hip-Hop

2008 at 9:33 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Resource Recommendations

775020878624 In one of the more unlikely honors of her life, Mom has been featured on a new album by reformed rapper Shai Linne. A talented hip-hop artist of a most unusual sort, Shai Linne’s life and music are infused with a passion for God’s Word, reformed theology, and complementarian convictions. Track nine of his new album Storiez entitled “Work It Out” celebrates femininity and mentions Mom. Here’s a snippet.

Still looking for the perfect gift for that young (or not so young) person on your list? Check out all of Shai Linne’s cd’s: Storiez, The Atonement, or The Solus Christus Project.

Dec 12

Friday Funnies

2008 at 11:38 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Fun & Encouragement | Friday Funnies

A personal thanks to Christie for sending us a “smart blonde joke.”

Enjoy your weekend!
Janelle for Mom, Nic, and Kess

A cop pulls over a blonde, and says, “Ma’am, you were speeding. May I please see your driver’s license?”

“Oh, well, you see officer, I don’t have a drivers license,” the blonde replies. “I never really had the time to go to the DMV and stand for hours in line…and anyway, all you get are terrible pictures.” The slightly taken aback cop says, “Well, then, may I see your proof of registration?”

“Well, officer,” the blonde says, “this isn’t my car. I wanted to borrow it from my neighbor, because it’s so much faster than mine and I was late for a wedding – that’s why I was speeding – but he said no really rudely, so I hit him over the head with a tire iron and stuffed him in the trunk.”

The horrified police officer backs away and calls for backup, and the police chief himself comes out, along with a squad, to see about this.

“Ma’am,” says the chief, “may I see your driver’s license?” The blonde hands it to him and it hasn’t expired or anything, everything’s okay. “May I see your proof of registration?” The blonde hands that to him, and it’s her car, and everything’s okay. “I hate to bother you,” the chief says, “but may I look in your trunk?”

So she pops the trunk and there’s nothing in there. The chief comes back to her window. “We’re sorry, ma’am. The officer over there said that you didn’t have a driver’s license, this wasn’t your car, and that you’d killed a man.”

“You know what,” says the blonde, “I bet he told you I was speeding, too.”

Dec 12

5 Keys to Christmas Joy

2008 at 3:52 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Joy | Homemaking | Holidays

The First Key

by Nicole Whitacre

What would make you happy this Christmas?

What if I told you that you won a contest and someone was going to do all your holiday cooking, cleaning, decorating, shopping and wrapping? What if I promised you would get the present of your dreams (like that car with the bow on top in the commercial)? Or what if I predicted that family rifts would be mended, or that this year’s Christmas memories would be the best ever?

The fact is, all these things (if they actually happened) might bring us a measure of temporary happiness. But they wouldn’t sustain us through a year’s worth of hardship and trouble. We know this. Yet every year, we place a losing bet on the world to supply a truly joyful holiday season.

But what if I told you that you could have a joyful Christmas, guaranteed? And what’s more, that you could experience that joy year-round? And what if I wasn’t kidding this time?

This week we’re going to offer five keys to joy this holiday season. No, we aren’t going to do your Christmas shopping for you. But we hope these thoughts will serve you more than that.

The first key to a joyful Christmas? Contemplate the incarnation.

Consider the staggeringly glorious news that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). Ponder this truth every day for the next twenty-two days, and you won’t be disappointed the day after Christmas.

Here are two simple ways to contemplate the wonder of God become man this season:

083081650xm Read Chapter Five, “God Incarnate” from JI Packer’s classic Knowing God. I’ve taken to reading this chapter every Christmas, and it never fails to help redirect my gaze from worldly pleasures to eternal truth. As Dr. Packer writes:

“The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity—hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory—because at the Father’s will Jesus Christ became poor and was born in a stable so that thirty years later he might hang on a cross. It is the most wonderful message that the world has ever heard, or will hear.”

M41850021_m Purchase and listen to the Sovereign Grace Christmas album, Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man. While not traditional Christmas tunes, these beautiful songs are full of the wonderful truths of the incarnation:

God has sent His greatest treasure
Shown His love in greatest measure
Sending Christ to bleed and suffer
Purchasing our joy forever
Let the earth rejoice!

Instead of looking to the world to give us joy this Christmas, let’s focus on the one who came to earth and bore our sins, purchasing our joy forever!

That 2nd Key to Joy

by Janelle Bradshaw

Stockxpertcom_id7110051_size1 I’m chiming in today to talk about another key for maintaining our Christmas joy, and keeping it all year ‘round.

The second key is to consistently practice the spiritual disciplines.

Christmas time is busy and there is always lots to do. It can be a temptation to let a few things slide. You know the thoughts: “Things will settle down after the holidays. I’ll get back to it then.” Often times, the spiritual disciplines can be the first to go.

We usually don’t feel the immediate effect of skipping a few devotional times here and there. But, what happens if we don’t get our presents wrapped in time or the cookies made before the big meal? That would be a disaster!

Ah, but the neglect of the spiritual disciplines will have greater consequences. Over time, our heart will begin to grow cold to the things of the Lord. And no amount of Christmas cheer will provide the fix.

But if we give priority to our time in God’s Word and to prayer, we will find renewed joy each morning. Joy that sticks in the midst of Christmas craziness. For as the Psalmist says:

“The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart...they are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.” Psalm 19:8,10

So as things get busy, let’s make sure to keep the spiritual disciplines at the top of our Christmas to do list, and experience true holiday cheer.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Key Number Three for Christmas Joy

by Kristin Chesemore

Stockxpertcom_id1614_size1_2 It’s that “most wonderful time of the year!” I try to start enjoying the festivities of Christmas as early as I possibly can. Christmas music began playing in our home even before Thanksgiving (My mom is a firm believer in waiting until the day after Thanksgiving, but I personally like to enjoy the Christmas holiday as long as possible!). It’s only the 5th of December, but we’ve already purchased and decorated our tree, hung the stockings, and bought presents for the kiddos. This week we’ll make cookies, attend Christmas parties, and take a drive to see the neighborhood Christmas lights.

These are all blessings from the Lord to enjoy.

Funny though, how quickly these Christmas traditions become all about me. And selfishness (seeking to satisfy myself with the things of this world) is a one-way ticket to a lack of joy.

That’s why the third key to Christmas joy (and fighting worldliness) is to serve and give to others.

After all, isn’t this season ultimately about the Savior who came to seek and save the lost? Isn’t it supposed to—in addition to reminding me to be grateful for the gospel—also remind me to follow my Lord’s example and sacrifice for and serve others?

JI Packer, in his chapter on the incarnation Nicole mentioned the other day, exhorts me to put aside my selfish tendencies:

“The Christmas spirit does not shine out in the Christian snob. For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor—spending and being spent—to enrich their fellow humans, giving time, trouble, care and concern, to do good to others—-and not just their own friends—in whatever way there seems need.”

I would like this Christmas season to be characterized by a renewed desire to be outwardly focused instead of selfish. JI Packer continues:

“If God in mercy revives us, one of the things he will do will be to work more of this spirit in our hearts and lives. If we desire spiritual quickening for ourselves individually, one step we should take is to seek to cultivate this spirit. ‘You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty became rich’ (2 Cor. 8:9).”

So will you join me in praying that God would work more of His spirit in our hearts? Then let’s take time to look around. Who can we serve? Who in our family can we bless? Who in our church can we sacrifice for? How can we care and give to those in need this holiday season?

Let’s enjoy the festivities, but not stop there—let’s chase after the pure joy of serving others this Christmas!

Key Four For More Joy

by Carolyn Mahaney

Serving with communion is the fourth key to joy. All too often, I spend time with the Lord, reading His Word and praying, but then I rush into my day, trying to serve others, but neglect to continue to commune with God.

And soon my joy dissipates.

Stockxpertcom_id7368341_size1_2 You know what it is like. We can be busy doing all the shopping, wrapping, decorating and baking that make for a happy Christmas, but we can be anxious, overwhelmed and irritated in the process. We’re still focused on worldliness instead of godliness.

As Kristin exhorted us yesterday, serving is a vital to fighting selfishness and holding on to joy this holiday season. But if we try to serve without relying on God’s strength, without meditating on His Word, without offering up prayers to Him, we’ll still be lacking joy.

Think of Martha in the Bible. I don’t need to tell you her story again (Luke 10:38-42). But needless to say we can all turn into Marthas around Christmastime. All service and no joy. Our Lord did not rebuke Martha for serving. He rebuked her for failing to choose the best thing (as her sister Mary had done) and sit as His feet and listen to Him.

As JI Packer (we’re using him a lot this week!) has observed: “Meditation is a lost art today, and Christian people suffer grievously from their ignorance of the practice.”

Martha certainly experienced the consequences of not communing with the Savior. But we don’t have to “suffer grievously” this holiday season. We don’t even have to be anxious or overwhelmed. By meditating on God’s Word throughout the day, joy can be ours, even amidst the chaos.

One practice that has helped me to meditate and pray is to write one verse or quote from my devotions on a 3x5 card and carry it around with me throughout the day. This way, God’s grace and truth is with me right at the moments when I need it most.

You may have a method that works better for you. But whatever your practice: by meditating on God’s Word throughout the day, we can experience joy that will last from morning coffee till we lay our heads on the pillow at night.

The Fifth and Final Key to Joy

by Janelle Bradshaw

Stockxpertcom_id7045751_size1_2 As we’ve been saying all week long, Christmas is full of wonderful gifts. And not just the ones residing underneath the tree. We experience gifts of family and friends. Gifts of food and fellowship. As my dad would say, “We are rich!”

And yet, I can sometimes fly through this season, taking for granted all that I have been given. This worldly mentality can rob me of joy if I fail to recognize and appreciate every good gift as coming straight from my heavenly Father (James 1:17). This leads me to our fifth and final key to joy this Christmas: “turn every gift into an opportunity to glorify and adore God.”

Each year at the outset of vacation, my dad is faithful to remind us to transfer glory to God for His many gifts. He reads us the following quote from C.S. Lewis:

“Pleasures are shafts of glory as it strikes our sensibility….I have tried…to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration. I don’t mean simply by giving thanks for it. One must of course give thanks, but I meant something different…Gratitude exclaims, very properly, ‘How good of God to give me this.’ Adoration says, ‘What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!’ One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun….If this is Hedonism, it is also a somewhat arduous discipline. But it is worth some labour.” (as quoted in, When I Don’t Desire God, by John Piper)

This discipline is worth some labor. If, when we receive a gift, we stop and allow our minds to “run back up the sunbeam to the sun,” if we adore the One from whom all gifts come, we will find our joy multiplied a hundred fold.

Dec 11

Comfort for the Downcast

2008 at 1:59 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Suffering | Homemaking | Holidays

I know many people who are suffering this Christmas. Their trials weigh upon my heart as I cut fresh holly for the mantle and bake cookies with the kids. All the Christmas gaiety—“Have a happy jolly Christmas, the best time of the year…”—feels as out of place as a circus act at a funeral home.

For Christians though, Christmas is never out of place. Sure, the trappings of the holiday may be more painful than pleasant some years. But Christmas for the Christian can be a welcome reminder of our certain hope, a celebration of promises kept by God.

In Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas, compiled by Nancy Guthrie, Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains:

“What God did when he sent his Son into the world is an absolute guarantee that he will do everything he has ever promised to do. Look at it in a personal sense: “All things work together for good to them that love God”—that is a promise—“to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28, KJV). “But how can I know that is true for me?” asks someone. The answer is the incarnation. God has given the final proof that all his promises are sure, that he is faithful to everything he has ever said. So that promise is sure for you. Whatever your state or condition may be, whatever may happen to you, he has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5, KJV)—and he will not. He has said so, and we have absolute proof that he fulfills his promises. He does not always do it immediately in the way that we think. No, no! But he does it! And he will never fail to do it.”

Whatever your state or condition this Christmas, whatever your future may hold, God’s promises are certain. He kept His promise to send His Son and He will keep His promises to you—to be with you in trial and to deliver you. When Christmas reminds us that God keeps His promises it truly can be “the best time of the year.”

“Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted” (Isaiah 49:15).

Dec 10

The Distracted Woman

2008 at 2:55 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Holidays

Are you distracted this holiday season?

Martha—sister of Mary, friend of Jesus—is famous for being frantic about all she had to do. It says in Luke 10:38 that “Martha was distracted with much serving” (emphasis mine).

You remember what our Lord said to Martha, don’t you? His gentle rebuke is directed at you and me today.

“Martha, Martha,” (Sometimes you have to say a distracted woman’s name twice to get her attention.) “You are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).

What is the “good portion” Mary chose, and that we must choose this Christmas season? She “sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to his teaching” (Luke 10:39).

I know, I know, you have a lot to do and no one to help you. But so did Martha. You may have a crowd for Christmas, but she had the incarnate God in her home. And Jesus told her not to worry about all that. Only one thing is necessary, He said: sit and listen to me.

This doesn’t mean we are to leave the Christmas shopping unfinished and forget about cooking the big meal. We are still called to serve. But, as Charles Spurgeon suggests, “We ought to be Martha and Mary in one: we should do much service, and have much communion at the same time. For this we need great grace. It is easier to serve than to commune.”

Let’s ask God for great grace this holiday season. Let’s take time to sit and listen to Him.

Dec 9

Distracted or Downcast?

2008 at 4:26 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Homemaking | Holidays

Can you put yourself in one of these two categories? For many of us, the Christmas season heightens our distractions or highlights our despondency. We may be consumed with our holiday responsibilities, and the Incarnationfeature_3 truth of who Jesus is and what he’s done is lost in the clutter of our minds. Or, we may be suffering and all the tinsel and lights are a vivid contrast to our trouble and despair.

If you find yourself distracted or downcast today, I want to encourage you to listen to this message on The Glory of the Incarnation by Jeff Purswell and set your mind on truth this Christmas season.

Dec 8

CJ Mahaney’s Christmas Book List 2008

2008 at 3:20 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Holidays

It’s a Christmas tradition here at girltalk: Dad’s book recommendations for your friends and family. Even though he has his own blog now, he graciously let us post his list here once again. Happy Shopping! Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief by James McPherson 28741437_2 Across the Line: Profiles in Basketball Courage: Tales of the First Black Players in the ACC and SEC by Barry Jacobs 23661300 Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World by David Maraniss F_1416534075_2 Heroes: From Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to Churchill and de Gaulle by Paul Johnson C7165_full

The Civil War as a Theological Crisis by Mark A. Noll 26728892 The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House by Nancy Gibbs 759 All those mornings . . . at the Post: The 20th Century in Sports from Famed Washington Post Columnist Shirley Povich Introductions by Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon Shpovich Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer (P.S.) by James L. Swanson 9780060518509 Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath Imagedb The Catcher Was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg by Nicholas Dawidoff 9780679762898