Before I left for vacation, I cleaned out my refrigerator. Generally, I try to toss leftovers before they turn rainbow colors and sprout biological plant life. But it’s not unusual for me to find four half-used containers of sour cream coated in blue-green fuzzies.
This fridge-cleaning illustration does in fact relate to our ongoing series on speech (see yesterday’s post). For any experience with rotten food will help us to better understand Ephesians 4:29. In this verse we are commanded to, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths…” In this instance, “corrupt” is a word used to describe spoiled or rotten food. It not only stinks, but it also spreads. Not a pleasant thought.
What sorts of words are corrupt and rotten? Obviously lying, profanity, and vulgarity make the list. But Ephesians 4:31 widens the description a bit. Here we read: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
Dad said in his sermon that corrupt talk includes all words or communication that deters growth in godliness and hinders the cultivation of godly relationships. It defiles others. It has a decaying, rotting effect on a person’s soul. This end result is certainly worth further reflection.
So the question is, how many of our 25,000 words per day are like rotten, moldy sour cream—repulsive to God, and injurious to others?
The Bible says we should eradicate these corrupt words from our speech. Instead, our words sould be edifying: “only such as is good for building up” (Eph. 4:29). And we’ll examine these edifying words more closely tomorrow.
But if you are all too aware of the corrupt nature of your speech, let me remind you of the good news of the gospel again. Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, came to earth and lived a perfect life on our behalf. He never once spoke a corrupt, bitter, malicious, or angry word. Not once. And if we have repented from our corrupt speech and put our trust in His perfect righteousness, His blood covers every filthy, rotten word we’ve ever spoken.
So let’s revel in the Savior’s perfect righteousness today, and purpose to put away all corrupt words and so bring glory to Him.
From the time our children were little, we sought to pass onto them our enthusiasm for Sunday—our favorite day of the week. Sunday is the day we join with the members of our local church, worship God, hear preaching from His Word, and fellowship together. No other activity on any other day is more important than this.
One Sunday each year we spend time with some special friends of ours—Bill & Cheri Kittrell and family and Cornerstone Church of Knoxville. This church has “adopted” our family and made us feel as if we were one of their own. Their kindness is a gift from God to us. If you’re ever visiting this way or if you live near Knoxville, we recommend you check out this young, vibrant, joyful church whose members have a passion for the gospel and a heart to serve.
Here’s the Kittrell family (L2R:Cheri, Bill, Lauren, Will, Bryant, Dan is not pictured) in front of the construction site for Cornerstone’s new facility opening this December.
My husband C.J. gave the message yesterday and it forms the basis for a little series we are doing this week (among other fun things). His message was entitled “Encourage” from Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
It was about speech, communication, conversation—something at which we women are prolific! It was certainly convicting to me, and this is probably the third time I have heard this message. Some of us were talking after the meeting about how we needed to go home and apologize to our kids for unkind words that very morning!
C.J. pointed out that speech is significant. In other words, our words matter. It’s just that there are so many of them—an estimated 25,000 per day—that we don’t often take them seriously. But, as Paul Tripp wrote in his book War of Words: “When we speak, it must be with the realization that God has given our words significance. He has ordained for them to be important…God has given words value. So we must do all we can to assign words the importance Scripture gives them.”
This week we will examine our 25,000 words per day in light of Ephesians 4:29 and assign those words “the importance Scripture gives them.” We’ll also discover the kind of words that bring glory to Him: edifying, appropriate, and purposeful words. And we will look at how this verse applies to our speech as women.
If you would like to listen to C.J.’s message, you can download it by clicking here.
Nicole wrote the other day about the temptation to neglect the spiritual disciplines on vacation. But as a mom with three young children, I find myself daily prone to skip my quiet time. When you’ve been up countless times in the night with a baby who needs a bottle, a toddler who won’t sleep, and a five year old who wets the bed—all of whom wake up by 6:00 a.m.—it’s occasionally a little hard to have Bible study and prayer first thing in the morning. Then my roller-coaster ride of a day begins and the demands on my time come fast and furious. When nap time rolls around (if Liam actually stays in his bed), I’m in need of rest myself. If you’re a mom with young kids, I’m sure you can relate.
However, even though my quiet times may not always be an hour or more as is my goal, and although the times of day may vary, it is vital that I make it my highest priority to spend time meditating on the gospel, and as George Mueller once said, “make my soul happy in God.” In this unique season of my life, short books that take me straight to the cross are the most valuable. I want to share with you some of my favorites, as well as those of other mommy-friends of mine:
The Cross Centered Life and Christ Our Mediator – I know I’m a little biased, but these books by my dad have helped me tremendously.
Morning and Evening – Two verses, two simple readings, and I am more grateful for the Savior.
The Passion of Jesus Christ – Friends of mine love this John Piper book that has fifty verses and meditations on the cross.
Beside Still Waters – If you are in a trial, this comforting book of short thoughts by Charles Spurgeon will help transform your perspective of suffering.
The Valley of Vision – As we’ve said before on this blog, these prayers promote communion with God.
Finally, one last recommendation: It’s an investment, but I highly recommend purchasing the ESV Bible and The Valley of Vision on cd. Playing these throughout the day are not a substitute for a quiet time, but they refresh my soul—not to mention my kids are hearing God’s Word.
This week’s question comes to us from Tatiana in Chicago:
Q. Is biblical femininity applicable to single women, because I most often hear it spoken of in the context of marriage and motherhood?
A. This question deserves a much longer and more thorough answer than I can give in a brief post. But let me say, emphatically, “YES!” Biblical womanhood is just as important for single women as for married women. Here are some excerpts from our book, Girl Talk, to more fully explain my answer.
“The important point here is that God created us. We are the planned and foreordained determination of an all-wise, all powerful, and all-loving God. It is not mere chance that we are female; our gender is not accidental. We were intentionally and purposefully created.
When God created the first woman and every woman thereafter, He made fully feminine creatures. You and I did not become feminine because our moms gave us dolls and put pink dresses on us. We were born feminine because we were created feminine.”
“[When] God created the first woman, Eve, [He] assigned her the honorable task of helper. As a fully feminine creature, she was stamped with a helper design. She was created both complementary to and yet distinctly different from man. She was created equal in worth and yet different in function…And your helper design isn’t something you cash in come marriage. For you were born feminine…Your helper role is called for today.”
So then, you may ask, what does it look like for a single woman (or teenage girl for that matter) to display biblical femininity? Jeff Purswell, the Dean of the Sovereign Grace Pastors College provides us with a definition for all women:
“Biblical femininity suggests an inner disposition that is supportive, responsive, and nurturing in its various roles, responsibilities, and relationships.”
Supportive — (Gen. 2:18) “an inclination towards giving help and assistance.”
“As women, we have been specially equipped to provide strategic, effective, and valuable help to those around us….So consider, whom God would have you assist and support in this season of your life.”
Responsive — (Eph. 5:23) “an inclination to cooperate with and respond to appropriate leadership structures”
“God has set up authority figures in our lives for our good….Spend a moment in self-evaluation. How well do you cooperate with and respond to the authority God has placed over you?”
Nurturing — (Prov. 31:27-28, Titus 2:3-5) “an inclination to provide care and strength to others.
“God has created us with a heightened sensitivity to the needs and pain of others and a large capacity to express compassion.”
The bottom line is this: “Although femininity may look a little different for a teenage girl or a single woman than for a married woman, we are called to fully express our helper design, no matter what our age or marital status is.”
All quotes taken from Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Mahaney Whitacre, Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood (Crossway Books: Wheaton, IL, 2005) pp. 105-111.
On this note, I want to highly recommend an outstanding book on this topic by our good friend Carolyn McCulley, Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?: Trusting God with a Hope Deferred . Carolyn’s life and example backs up the message of her book which provides a pattern of biblical femininity for single women to follow.
Yesterday was my mom’s 83rd birthday. My sister and I took her out for breakfast to celebrate. She loves to go out for breakfast. And as usual, the three of us talked lots and laughed even more. Then I seized a moment in our conversation to say “thank you.” That’s when my mom became uneasy. She always does, but that’s okay. I pressed through the awkwardness and thanked her for her faithfulness.
I thanked her for providing an example of unwavering devotion to God.
I thanked her for loving my dad and being faithful to her marriage covenant of 60 years.
I thanked her for constantly and tenderly caring for her 5 children and now her 17 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.
I thanked her for modeling biblical womanhood for me.
As if in hopelessness, Solomon poses this question in Proverbs 20:6—“A faithful [woman] who can find?”
Well, I found one—my mom. And realizing how rare she truly is, I am thanking God today for the life she has lived and the legacy she has given to me. I’m also asking God to help me to be faithful and to pass on this same legacy to my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren….
To try and thank my mom, as well as encourage other women to follow her example, I wrote a tribute which I included in my book, Feminine Appeal. You can read it in it’s entirety by clicking here.
Who can you thank today for living a life of faithful biblical womanhood?
“What do I do when there is so much that needs doing?” It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately in the midst of the countless chores that come with moving.
My mom passed along some practical advice that she heard Elisabeth Elliot share many years ago—advice that really helped her in the busyness of motherhood (or anything else for that matter).
It’s simply this: Do the next thing. Rather than being overwhelmed by all there is to do, rather than sitting still in self-pity, or frantically trying to do three things at once—draw upon God’s grace to simply do the next thing.
Here is a little part of the poem from which this advice was taken:
“Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment my moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows, Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, ‘DO THE NEXT THING.’
Do it immediately; do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His Hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ’neath His wing,
Leave all resultings, ‘DO THE NEXT THING.’”
Now that I have completed this post, I’m off to do the next thing—unpack one more box!
Hey all. Just in case you were wondering, the audio message that I mentioned in my last post (“In Every Season of Life”) can be found by clicking here.
I don’t like to fly.
This wasn’t always the case. My dad’s ministry responsibilities took our family many places over the years, so I am a veteran airline passenger. And I used to love it—the excitement and adventure of it all.
But that changed in the summer of 1999 on a family trip to Orlando, FL.
We were nearing the end of an uneventful flight when Dad noticed we had been circling for some time. Shortly thereafter, the pilot announced that we had experienced “hydraulic failure” and would have to make an emergency landing. We were circling the airport to use up the maximum amount of fuel before the descent.
The oh-so-helpful man sitting beside Janelle and me told us that hydraulic failure meant the brakes had failed. The flight attendants’ anxious manner wasn’t any more comforting.
As the plane began its descent, we were instructed to place our hands on the seat in front of us and lean our head on our hands. Upon our approach the flight attendant began yelling into the intercom system, over and over again: “Brace. Brace. Head down. Stay down. Brace. Brace. Head down. Stay down.”
In the end, the landing felt no different than any other (except for the yelling flight attendant). We never found out what “hydraulic failure” meant, but the only result was that our plane had no power to taxi to the gate. We had to be towed.
So now you understand why I wasn’t exactly excited about flying to Denver earlier this week to attend the International Christian Retail Show with my parents and Steve. Unfortunately, you can’t drive from Virginia to Colorado for a two-day trip.
God was giving me an opportunity to trust Him.
My wonderful husband Steve helped prepare me with a verse to meditate on from Matthew 10:29-31:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
As we landed in Denver, and then in Baltimore again last night, I repeated to myself (in place of the “brace brace” mantra): “He sees the sparrows. He sees the sparrows. He sees the sparrows.”
This specific promise for my specific fear (see Mom’s post “Fighting Fear”) reminded me that nothing has changed, except my feelings about flying. Airlines aren’t less safe than they were before 1999. But more importantly, God hasn’t changed. He is still faithful, and sovereign, and good. And He still holds my life in His hands, whether I’m in the air, on the ground, or asleep in my bed at night.
God hasn’t promised that I won’t die in an airplane someday. But He says that I am of more value than many sparrows, and that the hairs of my head are numbered. He has told me not to fear.
So I am actually looking forward to flying again. It will be another opportunity to declare my trust in my Heavenly Father: the Unchanging One.
Yesterday, Mom encouraged us to run our race for the glory of God (Heb. 12:1-2). One key aspect of running the race is to live intentionally. And a simple, yet important way we can put this into practice is by regularly taking a personal retreat.
This is an exercise that Mom has helped me to develop, and it has served me greatly in every season of my life—from high school years, to single days, and now in my marriage. In her audio message “In Every Season” Mom speaks about living intentionally from Ephesians 5:15-17, and provides practical suggestions for taking a personal retreat.
We use this message in the discipleship course we developed for the single women in our church. In addition we provide worksheets for the women to use when taking a retreat. You can download the worksheets for your own personal use by clicking here.
I would encourage you to carve out time for a personal retreat. It may be only for a day, or you may even be able to swing an overnight. But the most important part is finding a place to have extended, uninterrupted time seeking the Lord. Ask for His grace and guidance to live intentionally for His glory.
My friend Sandra Groveman asked how she could pray for me. “You know that this is a season of transition for C.J. and me,” I began. Yes, she knew. As a member of Covenant Life Church, Sandra was present on that Sunday morning last September when my husband passed the leadership of the church—the church he had lead for twenty-seven years—to the man he had trained to replace him (our new senior pastor, Joshua Harris). It was a day full of joy and one I will never forget. It was also the beginning of another chapter in our lives.
“So in light of this new season,” I told Sandra, “please pray for wisdom to know God’s will. And most of all…grace to walk humbly before our God and finish our race well.”
“Of course I will pray for you,” Sandra replied. I’m confident she will. She always does. Then Sandra told me a story:
“When I was a little girl my father would lead me and my nine brothers and sisters in long talks over dinner—talks that left an indelible mark on my life. I still remember sitting at the table, stealing glances out the window, watching my friends play and the sun set, as my father dispensed wisdom about life-issues. These conversations could last up to three hours. It was at one of these dinners that he shared a piece of advice I’ll never forget. He was a runner. And he told us: ‘a good runner, he always saves his best stamina for the end of the race.’’”
My son-in-law Steve, who ran track in high school, explained this to me in greater detail. “As you approach the finish line, that’s when you run with everything you’ve got. The idea is to finish the race with nothing left.”
Last month I turned fifty. I am finishing many tasks. I am seeking to discern what new tasks God would have me take up. And this is my prayer…that God would help me, now, to give Him my best effort. That I wouldn’t be tempted to slow down or stop to rest, but continue to run with everything I’ve got. And that one day, when my race is over, I would truly finish with nothing left. Because of His perserving grace, I am confident God will answer my prayer.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2