Oct 29

Womanly Dominion in the Church

2009 at 4:43 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Church Life | Book and Music Reviews

womanly dominion“May the Lord enable you, dear ladies, to tune out the sour notes and shrill shouts of God-defying feminists who groan and complain about what God has not directed or designed them to do in the church…Instead, may you “play your position” with a “win it” mindset as you gratefully and enthusiastically perform your God-given ministries. Be a Christlike woman of dominion in the church.” p. 207 I love the vision Mark Chanski casts for the beautiful, noble, essential work women are called to in the church. He echoes John Piper and Wayne Grudem who more than twenty years ago urged women: “not [to] measure your potential by the few roles withheld, but by the countless roles offered.” They go on to list about 100 strategic areas of service for women in the church. These areas of service aren’t superfluous. God has fashioned us for particular, vital tasks, and if we fail to use our gifts, the church suffers and Christ is dishonored. So the question comes to each of us: are we gratefully and enthusiastically performing our God-given ministries in the church? Or are we sitting on the sidelines, complaining that there is no place for us to serve, or disgruntled about what we consider to be our less-than-glamorous role? To put it simply, do we love the church more than we love ourselves? If we follow the Savior who “made himself nothing” and if we love the Church for which He died, we won’t be so preoccupied with the “importance” our role. We’ll be too busy playing our God-directed and God-designed position for His honor. My friends, we’ve got a lot of work to do!

Oct 28

ESV Study Bible Birthday Giveaway

2009 at 3:11 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Devotional Life

esv study bibleThe ESV Study Bible is a staple of my morning devotions. (Never mind that it weighs 100lbs; it’s packed full of amazing content.) My favorite feature is the study notes, which provide wisdom and explanation throughout the entire Bible.

Take James 1:6 for example. I have both the verse and study note underlined in my Bible (yes, I’m one of those people). The verse says: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” The study note defines the word “faith” as it’s used in the verse: “A settled trust and confidence in God, based on his character and promises as revealed in Scripture.”

Wow! So much to meditate on in this one verse and definition: Am I approaching the Lord in faith as defined here? Is there a “settled confidence” in my heart that is based on my Savior’s character and promises? Do I ask in faith with no doubting?

Do you see why I love my ESV Study Bible? Well, this week, the ESV Study Bible is having a birthday. It’s turning one! Happy Birthday, ESV Study Bible!

In honor of the occasion, the publisher, Crossway Books, would like to give two girltalk readers their very own ESV Study Bible. But instead, we’d like to give you the chance to give. As my parents used to tell me at Christmas: “it’s more blessed to give than to receive.”

Who do you know who would be super-blessed by an ESV Study Bible? Maybe a friend of yours wants one, but can’t afford it right now. Or maybe a new Christian in your church is hungry to dig deeper into God’s Word. Or maybe you know a teenager who would really benefit from this Bible, or a grandmother who would treasure it. Maybe you’d like to thank someone who has mentored you in biblical womanhood. It’s probably whoever you are thinking of right now.

To enter your (female) friend or family member in this contest, send us a short explanation of why you would like her to receive the Bible. The deadline is Friday at midnight (EST) and we’ll announce the winners on Monday.

Isn’t this exciting? My parents were right—it is more blessed to give than to receive. I just didn’t believe them until I grew up.

Oct 27

Mary Jones’ Bible

2009 at 2:31 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Devotional Life

Last week I was reading A Place of Quiet Rest, edited by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and came across this inspiring story:

“I must have a Bible of my own! I must have one, if I have to save up for it for ten years!”

The year was 1794. For as long as she could remember, little Mary Jones had yearned to hold a Bible in her hands so that she might read it for herself. For years, she had sat at night on her weaver father’s lap and listened to him tell stories of Abraham, Joseph, David, and Daniel. But her family was far to poor to afford a Bible, even if one had been available, for Bibles could scarcely be found in all of Wales during those days.

mary jonesTwo years earlier, Mrs. Evans, the wife of a nearby farmer, having learned of Mary’s longing to read the Bible, had promised the child that when she learned to read, she could come to their house and read their Bible. As soon as the first school opened in a neighborhood village, Mary had eagerly set about learning to read.

Now, the ten year old girl had just walked two miles from the North Wales village of Llanfihangel to the Evanses’ farm. The distance was no object to the eager child: “I’d walk farther than that for such a pleasure, ma’am!” she said to Mrs. Evans.

When once Mary finally was left alone in the room with the Bible, she reverently lifted off the white napkin that covered and protected the cherished Book. Then, with trembling hands, she opened the Bible to the fifth chapter of John where her eyes lit on the words, “Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39, KJV). Confident that God had spoken to her directly, she earnestly vowed to search His Word with all her heart.

Every Saturday from that point on she made the journey to the Evanses’ farm where she read, studied, and memorized entire chapters from the borrowed Bible. All that time, however, her heart ached, so great was her yearning to have a Bible of her own. She purposed that she must have a Bible, at any cost.

For the next six years, in addition to her studies at school and the many chores to be tended to at home, Mary used every available moment to do odd jobs for friends and neighbors. Every penny she earned was carefully laid aside, until at long last she had saved enough to buy a Bible of her own.

When she learned that the closest place a Bible could be purchased was the town of Bala, some twenty-five miles away, there was no question in her mind about what she must do. With hope in her heart, she started out early one morning, walking barefoot so as not to ruin her one pair of shoes Before she reached her destination, her feet were blistered and cut from the stones in the road.

Physically weary, but barely able to contain her excitement that her lifelong goal should be so nearly realized, Mary finally arrived in Bala where she poured out her story to the minister, Mr. Charles. When she had finished, Mr. Charles reluctantly informed her that the last of the Bibles available for purchase had already been sold and that the remaining Bibles had been promised to others. Furthermore, the Society that had printed the small quantity of Welsh Bibles did not intend to print any more.

So great was Mary’s disappointment, that she began to sob uncontrollably. Touched by the intensity of her passion to have a Bible of her own, Mr. Charles decided that she must have one of the few Bibles left in his possession. Words cannot describe the ecstasy Mary felt as Mr. Charles placed into her hands the precious treasure for which she had prayed, wept, and hoarded all these years. Her heart sang as she walked the twenty-five miles back home, carrying her very own Bible, the Book that would remain her dearest friend and companion throughout her life.

The footnote to this story goes on to tell how: “Mr. Charles Thomas’ encounter with Mary Jones deeply impressed him and led to the establishment in 1804 of the British and Foreign Bible Society, a society dedicated to publishing and distributing the Word of God throughout the world.”

Mary’s passion for God’s Word forces us to consider: “Do I have the same infectious passion for God’s Word?”

Thankfully, most of us don’t have to save for ten years or walk twenty-five miles for a Bible anymore. All you may need to do is come back to girltalk tomorrow.

Oct 26

“Hospitality Keeps Me Happiest”

2009 at 11:53 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Joy | Homemaking | Hospitality

Jane’s been having a tough time at work:

I am a third grade teacher at a Christian school, and the past month has been difficult for me in my workplace. There have been a lot of decisions made and changes implemented, many of which we do not agree with. In light of all the pressure and extra work, I’ve become very self-focused and had my fair share of pity parties. By the grace of God, I’ve become aware of my sinful attitude and have decided to view my job as a job and to be faithful with this lot by submitting to my employer because it pleases the Lord (but once I have kids, I’m out!). smiley mugWhat’s the remedy for Jane’s self-focus and self-pity?

Fellowship has become so sweet, knowing that so many have struggles and heartache far more challenging than my own - cancer, deaths of babies, unemployment… Hearing our dear pastor preach on evangelism and reading about hospitality has reminded me of how I’ve been lacking in this area. And so my husband and I had some of our church friends over to create an opportunity of gathering. We played cards, talked, and I cooked a homemade meal for these wonderful brothers and sisters. God sure knew that sitting at home thinking about me, myself, and I would only be a devil’s playground! Just as He knew that thinking of ways to practically love the brethren and make my husband and home a priority would keep me the happiest. Isn’t our sweet, loving Lord so good? Hospitality brought happiness. “The joy of receiving God’s hospitality decays and dies if it doesn’t flourish in our own hospitality to others,” warns John Piper. But when we practice hospitality:

“…we experience the refreshing joy of becoming conduits of God’s hospitality rather than being self-decaying cul-de-sacs….” [W]e experience the thrill of feeling God’s power conquer our fears and our stinginess and all the psychological gravity of our self-centeredness. And there are few joys, if any, greater than the joy of experiencing the liberating power of God’s hospitality making us a new and radically different kind of people, who love to reflect the glory of his grace as we extend it to others in all kinds of hospitality.” Are you in need of some refreshing joy today? Then follow Jane’s example and experience the thrill of hospitality.

Oct 22

Facing Financial Fears

2009 at 10:54 am   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Fear & Anxiety

“Facing our fears” is the topic of this week’s Womanly Dominion book club. In this recession, perhaps some of you are tempted to fear and anxiety about money; like Kathy, you are up against major life changes or an uncertain financial future.

Maybe you don’t know where to turn. As one reader commented “It’s strange how finances are such a taboo topic. When someone struggles with an illness or physical difficulty, we are open and are able to talk as a community about what the Lord is doing through it, but finances are different.”

Our Lord doesn’t hesitate to address our fears about money: “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.” (Matt. 6:25). Instead of worrying about money we should trust our Heavenly Father.

“Do you trust the King who is also your Father?” Scripture puts this question to us, says author Ed Welch:

“Our Answer? ‘Sort of….a little….usually.’ We sort of want…to trust the King—until life gets precarious. When everything is going well and the storehouses are full, we trust him. But when there is nothing for tomorrow, we panic and track down the address of another god who can give us enough for tomorrow and the next day too….Our trust is divided. We don’t put all our eggs in one basket—even God’s—because that’s too risky.”

No matter our fears about finances—or anything else—let’s turn away from false gods and “put all our eggs in God’s basket.” As Mark Chanski reminds us, He is worthy of our trust.

“Should I need to endure my worst nightmare, He’ll be there, to uphold me so I don’t collapse or breakdown in despair. As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego found a sustaining and supporting Helper in their fiery ordeal (Daniel 3:25), so will I not be left to walk alone either. Therefore, we will not fear”! This enables me to eye yonder furnace with a holy calm, to say as I draw potentially near to it, “It is well with my soul.”

Oct 21

Grace in a Recession, Pt. 2

2009 at 10:29 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood

jar of penniesHere’s the conclusion of Kathy’s story…..

I began a study of the Israelites exodus from Egypt. When I read of their grumbling and complaining I saw myself. I began to see them in a different light; they weren’t whining and complaining about trivialities, a single sentence of hardship would often represent months and years of real trial. At each of these trials they were forgetting that God had always been faithful to provide for their needs. I was like them. In the midst of trial I found myself forgetting God’s faithfulness and focused instead on my circumstances. I was in constant need of being pointed back to God.

The 40 year journey in the wilderness wasn’t just the long way to the Promised Land; it was the best way for them. The same is true for me. Each obstacle, challenge, disappointment, victory is only the “wilderness” to me. My loving Father is making it a bountiful garden.

It became critical that Steve find a job. He prepared a resume and sent it out everywhere, but we received only one response. That led to an eventual job offer in Washington D.C.. Steve felt sure this was God’s plan, and I felt sure that I needed to trust my husband…we prepared to move.

We had decided to settle in Gaithersburg but finding a place to live proved immensely challenging. Our credit was in very bad shape at this point and nobody would rent to us. But God – those are our favorite two words – had a plan. We closed the door on the beautiful house we’d sold and loaded the last few things into our car. We were literally leaving for Gaithersburg in 30 minutes with no place to live when the phone rang. A landlady had agreed to take a chance on us.

The next day we met the landlady to sign the lease and see the house for the first time. It was a townhouse, much, much smaller than the single-family house we had been forced to sell, but I was freshly aware of God’s kindness to me. I had secretly desired an open, light-filled kitchen but felt it would be presumptuous to pray for it, after all God had already done for us. However, when we walked to the back of the house, there she was waiting in a sunlit, spacious kitchen/dining space. My eyes filled with tears as I considered the very personal message of God’s intricate concern for me.

Psalm 119:37 has become my prayer through this long season, “Turn my life from worthless gain, and give me life in your ways.” God is faithful to answer it.

Our Father has been kind and faithful each step of this journey. We still need to be frugal with our spending, I have taken a job supervising newspaper delivery (which enables me to continue to care for our daughter), and some days I still want to go “home” to Roanoke, but we can wholeheartedly say that the boundary lines have fallen for us in pleasant places. We are very blessed! Our worldly loss has been great gain.

Oct 20

Grace in a Recession

2009 at 12:04 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood

We know many people who are struggling financially these days: couples who had a hard time making ends meet before the recession, now in financial crisis; people out of work with no job in sight; families forced to sell their home; families who can’t sell their home.

Maybe you are experiencing economic hardship, or fear you might be next. If so, we think you’ll be encouraged by this testimony from Kathy (not her real name). She tells how God used a financial crisis to transform her heart, her marriage and her family.

Three events brought life-altering change to our family and our finances and taught us lessons about God’s faithfulness, love and commitment to us.

We were living in Roanoke, Virginia with our two teenaged sons and toddler daughter, part of a gospel-centered church with many deep and godly friendships. My husband’s business was established and very successful. We were very comfortable and our lives were good in every way.

Those three events – the recession at the beginning of 2001, the 9/11 tragedy, and an auto accident in October 2002 that left my husband with permanent injuries – each contributed to the gradual dismantling of our business and necessitated the move that would bring us to Covenant Life Church.

God used the pressures of these events to reveal misplaced affections, deeply rooted patterns of sin, and to teach us to trust Him as our true provider in spite of what our circumstances tell us. I’m sharing the details below with the blessing of my husband; we are both grateful for the new fruit in our lives and pray that, in some small way, our experiences can serve to encourage others.

As we entered the fall of 2003 our financial reserves were exhausted and the consulting income Steve was able to generate was barely enough to cover our very basic needs, much less maintain the life we had built over the previous eleven years.

That September, Steve attended a men’s retreat and had an amazing encounter with God. His heart was laid bare as the Holy Spirit revealed the depth of his pride, self-sufficiency, dishonesty, and a plethora of other sins that had taken root and ruled him. In His kindness God granted Steve the gift of repentance.

It didn’t take long for my own heart to be revealed. I was sure I was not as big a sinner as Steve. I was angry that his sin was costing our family the comfortable life we deserved. In His kindness God did not allow me to remain in this state.

I studied idolatry to help me see how materialism was affecting my life and in the process a deep root of self-pity was revealed. I saw how I had “clung to worthless idols and forfeited the grace that could be mine.” Jonah 2:8.

I began to see that Steve and I were both at the foot of the cross rather than at different levels in our relationship with God. This revelation gave me the vision and desire to really walk through this with him. I began to understand what a helper is.

Over the next ten months we learned to trust God moment by moment. We were continually making adjustments based on our ever-decreasing income. Things we always felt we needed became luxuries that we could no longer afford. We cut back in every area we could think of. We traded our two expensive cars for a modest, paid for model and sold some of our more valuable possessions. As we look back we marvel at how God sustained us. We received gracious gifts from many sources, known and unknown – money, groceries, clothing and even toys for our daughter – it was humbling and such a witness to us and to our sons of the church at work. We fell into a net of loving arms.

Kathy’s story continues tomorrow….

Oct 19

The Unexpected Blessings of Hospitality

2009 at 4:27 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Hospitality

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2

This verse has always puzzled me: should I really suspect my dinner guests of being angels in disguise? And do I have to entertain them unawares?

If a heavenly being who spends eternal days worshiping in the presence of the Holy God is coming to dinner, I’d like to know. I don’t want them tripping over the toy helicopter the hallway or eating undercooked Chicken Kiev.

I used to play my own little version of “Who’s the Angel?”, studying the strangers who come to my house. (It’s easy to rule out the people you know—they couldn’t possibly be angels!) But is it the missionary or maybe the visitor from another country? Or do angels come disguised as the hyper toddler who bangs the piano and tracks crumbs on my carpet?

But the author of Hebrews “was not promoting hospitality on the chance that one might ‘luck out’ and get an angel” explains Kent Hughes. Our prospects are no less exciting, though: “He is assuring [us] that some of [our] visitors will prove to be true messengers of God to [us], bringing a greater blessing than they receive” (F.F. Bruce).

So often we focus on the work it takes to invite, prepare, and serve others through hospitality, and we forget to look for God at work! But our gracious Savior delights to send an extravagant “hostess gift”: His messengers!

Think about it: how many times have you been encouraged in your faith or inspired to grow in godliness by one of your guests? How often have you experienced sweet fellowship or hearty laughter or comfort and care in trial? Have you ever see the power of God at work in someone’s life or experienced His provision for you as the result of hospitality? I know I have, many times.

“Hospitality often results in unexpected blessing and reward,” Alexander Strauch reminds us. So let us not neglect hospitality, my friends, but be eager to extend God’s love to others. We never know what blessing God has in store for us!