Where were you on the morning of September 11, 2001?
No doubt each of us remembers with perfect clarity. CJ and I were eating breakfast at a restaurant in Chatham, Massachusetts, when we noticed that people were gathering round the television in the lobby area. My husband went to check out what was capturing everyone’s interest. His face was grim when he came back to our table. “You’re not going to believe what has just happened,” he told me. “A plane has crashed into one of the buildings of the World Trade Center.” Of course we now know that was only the beginning of the horrific events that unfolded that day—a day that has forever changed our country.
Evil and suffering of this magnitude raises another, far more weighty question:
Where was God on the morning of September 11, 2001?
How do we understand 9/11, or any tragedy for that matter, in light of the sovereignty and goodness of God?
Pastor John Piper offers the biblical answer in three recent radio broadcasts. These programs entitled: “In a Terrorized and Troubled World, Where is God? Part 1”, “Part 2” and “9-11 Q & A” help us to “reconcile the existence of God with the existence of suffering and evil.”
May the truth of God’s Word bring clarity and comfort to your heart this remembrance day.
Not exactly our target audience. But hey, if it helps them find a good wife someday, why not?
Thanks to Mrs. T. for sending us this incriminating photo!
Happy weekend from the Girltalkers.
for Carolyn, Nicole, and Kristin
I want to be like Hannah. My prayers are often filled with my own ideas of what is best for me and this chapter provoked me to pray as Hannah did. Dr. MacArthur tells us that “Hannah truly laid her troubles in the lap of the Lord, totally confident that He would answer her in accord for what was best for her.”
This story of faith-filled prayer from Amy is a wonderful reminder of God’s sovereign power seen through the prayers of His saints.
When I married my husband, he was not a believer. I knew this was wrong, but decided to follow my own desires instead of trusting God. After awhile, my broken relationship with Christ began to take a toll on me. I wasn’t happy even though I had everything I thought I wanted. My unsaved husband knew that I needed to get right with God in order to have contentment in my life. He encouraged me to find a church.
As my heart turned back to God, I had a great desire to see my husband come to Christ, but nothing I was doing seemed to work. He was neck deep in sin, and I was becoming more and more hopeless. One night, through my tears, I finally committed to stop trying and start praying.
I would rise early to pray for specific areas of my husband’s life. I prayed throughout each day. Before I spoke or acted, I prayed. God began to work. On Sunday mornings, instead of asking him to go to church, I would PRAY. Many times, I would unexpectedly hear the shower start, and my husband would say, “I wasn’t planning on going, but if you have time to wait I’ll go with you to church today.” He began joking about me “working my mojo” on him. Even he knew I was praying!
My husband began listening to the Bible on his way to work. After listening to the entire Bible a couple of times, God penetrated his heart. He gave up on his pride and humbled himself before his savior.
Like Hannah, I was praying for new life. It wasn’t the new life of a baby, but rather the “new life” of a husband who now loves and serves God. A miracle of the most amazing kind!
Thanks, Amy! We rejoice with you in the good news of your husband’s conversion.
This week we will be reading about the most “blessed among women,” Mary. John MacArthur writes that when the angel told Mary she was to become the mother of Christ, “She instantly, humbly, and joyfully submitted to God’s will without further doubt or question.” (Page 114)
What is one area of your life you need to submit to God’s will praying as Mary did, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38 NKJV)?
We are gonna do things a little different this week. Instead of sending us your answers, please consider this question prayerfully and share your answer with your spouse, your mom or a good friend. May God give you “great joy” over the Lord’s plan” for your life.
Three weeks ago, in my eighth week of pregnancy, I began spotting. I had an ultra sound the same day and the baby was fine. The doctor said not to worry if the spotting continued for another week or so. It tapered off and I thought everything was fine.
Then, over a week later, while my husband was away leading a youth retreat (and out of cell-phone range!) the bleeding got unexpectedly worse. I had to spend the weekend in bed waiting for a Tuesday ultra-sound. At first, I thought I might be losing the baby. Fear, anxiety and pre-mature grief rushed in to take control. I knew I had to fight back. I read my Bible, listened to a wonderful sermon by Mark Dever on the kindness of God, and, when Steve got home he read Spurgeon’s Beside Still Waters to me: “Some have only learned to trust the smile of His face, but they must also learn to trust the blows of His fist” (pg. 15).
The unshakeable truth of God’s goodness was the solid ground for me to stand on in the midst of the unknown. I didn’t know if my baby was going to live or not. But I knew that God was the upholder of my baby’s life (Psalm 54:4) and what ever happened—even if it hurt—was because His love allowed it. Here I found peace, and even joy.
As you probably guessed, the Tuesday ultrasound revealed a little heart still beating. I’m at eleven weeks now and the bleeding has stopped. This weekend of uncertainty could hardly be called a trial. The two women we’ve heard from this week are enduring suffering I can’t even imagine, and yet with true grace and faith. I want to be like them someday.
Right now, I’m grateful for another lesson in trusting God—both the smiles of His face and the blows of His fist. Both are for my good.
Today we want you to hear—and learn—from Debbie Demi, a member of our sister church, Covenant Fellowship in Philadelphia. “Afer regeneration, one of the greatest miracles of grace, is the Christian who rejoices in the midst of suffering” my dad has said. This family is truly a miracle of grace. Here is Debbie’s answer to our question, “tell us about a circumstance in your life where you now see God was working ‘behind the scenes’ for your good?”
Recently my family has been going through the toughest trial of our lives. Twenty-two weeks into my pregnancy with our eighth child, an ultrasound revealed that our unborn baby girl had a condition called holoprosencephly. At 6–7 weeks, her brain did not divide and therefore, it was determined that she was missing the front part of her brain. The doctor gave us the grave news that her condition was fatal (lethal as she called it). She expressed her condolences and said that they would not stop labor if it began early and that they would not do a c-section to save her life.
To most onlookers, it appeared that there could not possibly be any good to come from such a diagnosis. In a doctor’s report, he called it “an unfortunate pregnancy.” However, with eyes of faith and an eternal perspective, God by His grace has allowed us to see that, “He works all things together for our good.”
Three weeks ago, Destiny was born alive. The joy we experienced at her birth was unlike any other. Death was looming in our minds and every indicator prior to birth seemed to confirm that Destiny would not survive the birth. Therefore, to us, her birth was miraculous. She was born with the condition that she was diagnosed with. She has a cleft lip, a cleft palate, suffers from seizures and multiple other conditions that we have yet to experience. However, we are so grateful for the opportunity to have Destiny in our family and to care for her – even if her time on earth is short.
Even though the trial is not over, we can by faith believe that God is working for our good and look for ways God is working even in the midst of the most trying times knowing that nothing happens by chance. We don’t know the extent of how God is going to use Destiny for our good and His glory, but here are just a couple ways that we’ve seen him work so far.
1) We believe that He’s teaching our children compassion as they care for a handicapped child; growing their faith by allowing them to see us glorifying God in a trial and seeing God answer our prayers; teaching them to care for others as they see the body of Christ caring for us. By faith, knowing the character of God, we know that He is doing an eternal work in their hearts through this trial.
2) As my husband and I have walked through this together, I’ve grown in love and admiration for my him. I’ve seen strengths in him that I would never have seen otherwise as I’ve experienced his care and marveled at the way he has shepherded our family.
3) We’ve experienced the care from the body of Christ in a way that we never imagined, teaching us how to serve others and bearing testimony of the Gospel to our unsaved family members and neighbors. They will know we are Christians by our love.
4) It’s been an opportunity for us not to waste our suffering, but to use every opportunity to glorify God in what He, by His loving hand, has allowed into our lives. God has allowed us to experience Him in a deeper way, to experience His faithfulness in a difficult situation, to ponder what He has done for us on the cross, to draw closer to Him. How much greater good could we receive than to know Christ our Savior more?
“Let this text produce patience, ‘All things work together for good to them that love God’ (Rom. 8:28). Shall we be discontented at that which works for our good? If one friend should throw a bag of money at another, and in throwing it, should graze his head, he would not be troubled much, seeing by this means he had got a bag of money. So the Lord may bruise us by afflictions, but it is to enrich us. These afflictions work for us a weight of glory, and shall we be discontented?” All Things for Good by Thomas Watson pp. 61 – 62
Last week we received two powerful answers to our book club question on the life of Ruth. We saved these answers to share with you this week. These two women are both enduring unimaginably difficult circumstances. We hope their faith and hope in God will encourage you to see the goodness of God in whatever trial you might be facing.
First, we will hear from Kriscinda Davis, who, along with her husband Luke and their three children are much-loved members of Covenant Life Church. Brian and I have observed this couple prosper spiritually in the midst of the most significant of trials. They are actively trusting in God’s wisdom and goodness. May we all emulate Kriscinda’s example of faith in our Savior.
“Nothing happens by ‘chance,’ but God is always behind the scenes, working all things together for the good of His people (Rom. 8:28). There is no such thing as ‘luck’ or ‘fate’ for believers.”
Given this truth, tell us about a circumstance in your life where you now see God was working “behind the scenes” for your good?
I read Ruth with much anticipation. I love the book of Ruth and couldn’t wait for the question, as it would provoke my heart. Provoke it did. Our family is in the midst of a difficult situation. Heart ache and suffering have been present for the past 8 months as my youngest son, Micah was diagnosed with a very rare brain tumor, ATRT. Our little man has undergone 2 major brain surgeries, 6 rounds of high dose chemos and been in and out of the hospital at least a dozen times. So when I read Ruth and then the question that followed… tell us about a circumstance in your life where you now see God was working “behind the scenes” for your good? I was dumb founded. I couldn’t think of how God was at work behind the scenes and this bothered me for I knew he was and is at work. I talked with my husband and some ladies in my care group and as we talked my eyes were opened. I had been so focused on the current trial that I had taken my eyes off the cross and forgotten all his goodness. I was able to thank the Lord and by his grace remember and see glimpses of how he is at work for good in this present trial. Let me share them with you…
-He is at work in our hearts for good, teaching us to trust Him, showing us that grace and mercy are truly new each morning. He is molding and shaping us.
-He is showing us great love through himself and others—giving strength that is not ours.
-He is at work in our kiddos for good. Micah is becoming a tender little man (I think because of all he has gone through). Braeton is learning to care for others in difficult times.
-By his grace the gospel is going forth and seeds are being planted.
In years to follow I am sure we will look back and see more of the Lord’s goodness and sovereignty in this situation, but until—we will seek to remember and remind ourselves of all his wonderful benefits. He truly does work all things for good even when it is seems hidden from our eyes. And thanks be to God for the many faithful examples we have to look to… one of which is the wonderful example of the Bowers family. To God be the glory in each and every path for therein lies abundant grace and goodness.
If you find yourself with a little extra time on your hands this Labor Day, why not pick up Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood? Too big, you say? Well, the sheer size of this book can be a little intimidating. So we want to recommend four of our favorite chapters. Even if you only read these selections, it will be worth the price of the book.
1. The Foreword by John Piper is, as its title suggests, “For Single Men and Women (and the Rest of Us). Want to understand singleness from a biblical perspective? Look no further.
2. Chapter One: “A Vision of Biblical Complementarity” is also by Dr. Piper. He offers definitions for masculinity and femininity that are biblical, practical, and inspiring. Frequent review of this chapter is suggested.
3. Chapter Twenty-Two: “The High Calling of Wife and Mother in Biblical Perspective” is my personal favorite. Follow the journey of one woman as she seeks to understand her role as a woman—not defined by cultural standards but measured by Scripture. Dorothy Patterson writes:
“I determined in my daily quiet time to read through the Bible systematically with a new purpose: to determine God’s message for me personally as a woman, a wife, and a mother….My life and goals and perspective were forever changed.”
4. Chapter Twenty-Five: “The Essence of Femininity: A Personal Perspective” is by none other than Elisabeth Elliot:
“A Christian woman’s true freedom lies on the other side of a very small gate—humble obedience—but that gate leads out into a largeness of life undreamed of by the liberators of the world…”
Four chapters…now that’s not too hard, is it? Have a relaxing Labor Day!
Hopefully this mommy can laugh now, but I doubt that’s what she did when she first discovered what her little darlings were up to!
Thanks to Christina for sending us this picture.
Enjoy your weekend!
for Nicole, Kristin, and Janelle
There were so many exciting and moving answers to last week’s question—tell us about a circumstance in your life where you now see God was working “behind the scenes” for your good?—that it was a tough decision. However, we thought that Christina Gillham’s story most closely parallel’s that of Ruth’s. Here it is:
Just like Ruth, the story of how God brought my husband into my life started out with difficult circumstances. I was starting my fourth year of college, helping to organize Bible Studies for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. During an event designed to reach out to students, a young man handed me a love letter saying that “God had told him that I was the one he was to marry”. It turned out that this man was not a student, but a homeless schizophrenic man who now knew my address, since one of the Bible Studies was at my apartment. Over the next few weeks he dropped off letters at my doorstep, in the middle of the night, that became increasingly obscene and threatening. I decided to call the police.
I was advised to get a restraining order and not walk alone. God met my needs abundantly. My roommate’s father was a lawyer and filed the paperwork for me free of charge. Twelve other believers lived next door, underneath or across from me in our apartment complex. They took turns walking with me to class and going to the police station with me to drop off more letters as they came. At one point three young men slept on my living room floor with baseball bats “just in case”. During finals’ week when my friends were busier and my life was more stressful, my dad took a week off of work and came to be with me.
During this time I met three police officers who were handling my case. I would find out later that all three were godly Christian men. Two were my father’s age and viewed me as a daughter in Christ. One was a good-looking single guy. He ended up being the one who came and arrested the man who was stalking me.
Over the summer break, the stalker was released from jail. I ended up having several conversations with the young police officer about it all. Each conversation would start out “Hello Officer” and end with “Good-Bye Sean.” By the time I returned to school, at a different address, the homeless man had written me one last letter saying that, “God had told him to move on.” The return address was in another state. The case was closed. Sean helped me move into my new apartment and took me out to dinner, our first date. We were married 10 months later.
Last year when I was talking to my son about Romans 8:28 he looked at me and said, “Mommy, that’s just like how you and Daddy met! God used it for good!” Amen to that. He sure did!
We all have stories of God’s faithfulness to pass along to the next generation. Let’s be faithful to tell them of the goodness of the Lord.
Moving on to Chapter Five, Dr. MacArthur notes that, “The value of persistent and passionate prayer is one of the central lessons from Hannah’s life.” So your question is: “Tell us about a time when you witnessed the value of persistent and passionate prayer—in your own life or someone else’s life?”
May you be inspired and provoked as you read about Hannah’s extraordinary life!
Why do we make such a big deal about promoting biblical womanhood here at girltalk? Because…
“Today the primary areas in which Christianity is pressured by the culture to conform are on issues of gender and sexuality. Post-moderns and ethical relativists care little about doctrinal truth claims. These seem to them innocuous, archaic, and irrelevant to life. What they do care about, and care about it with a vengeance, is whether their feminist agenda and sexual perversions are tolerated, endorsed, and expanded in an increasingly neo-pagan landscape. Because that is what they care most about, it is precisely here that Christianity is most vulnerable. To lose the battle here is to subject the church to increasing layers of departure and surely it will not be long until ethical departures (the church yielding to the pressures, for instance, of women’s ordination to the pastoral ministry) will yield even more central doctrinal departures, like questioning whether Scripture’s inherent teaching about manhood and womanhood renders it fundamentally untrustworthy for the Christian life.”
(Bruce Ware, professor of theology at Southern Baptist Seminary – quoted in “Preface (2006)” by J. Ligon Duncan and Randy Stinson, Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem.)
“The church has been called to counter and bless the culture, not to copy and baptize it. All too often our churches reflect, rather than constructively engage, worldly culture. Perhaps worst of all, many evangelical leaders claim that if we want to reach the lost, we must become like them. This is a recipe for disaster. Dorothy Sayers refuted this notion: ‘It is not the business of the church to conform Christ to men, but men to Christ.’ That is precisely the challenge we face in this area of biblical manhood and womanhood.”
(J. Ligon Duncan and Randy Stinson – “Preface (2006),” Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem.)
“Someone is teaching women principles of womanhood. Is it the church, or the world?”
(J. Ligon Duncan & Susan Hunt, Women’s Ministry in the Local Church)
We yearn for the answer to be “the church.” That’s why.