I was running errands with my kids yesterday, and playing our favorite in-the-car game: Ask Mommy 100 Questions Before We Get Home. In between the usual “What’s for dinner?” and “What does that sign say?” my son Jude threw out a new one: Why is the Bible so important? To which I was very happy to explain that the Bible is the most important thing, because it is the very Word of God. I believe this with my whole heart and I dearly want my children to believe it too. But the thought struck me—do I always live like it is true? For if the Bible is the Word of God and the most important thing in my life, then the preaching of that Word should be the most important event of my week. And if the preaching event is the most important event in my week, then it should shape the priorities in my week. Right? But to my shame I often plan my week around my to-do list or my children’s activities. Or I find myself looking forward to a family gathering or coffee with a friend more than the preaching of God’s Word. Although I faithfully attend church on Sunday, I sometimes show up tired or distracted. And then I don’t draw the spiritual benefits God has ordained from the preaching of His Word. So here are a few practical habits or disciplines, that when I am faithful to apply them, help me to keep the most important event of my week most important.
I need to prepare my heart and my schedule. The Puritans taught me this years ago. They would begin to prepare their hearts on Saturday evening in anticipation of the Sunday morning service. We can prepare our hearts by reading the passage our pastor will be preaching from, spending time in prayer to quiet our hearts, confess sin, and pray for illumination. We can prepare practically (unlike I did a few weeks ago!) by getting food and clothing planned and set out to make for a peaceful morning. We can avoid scheduling multiple events late into the evening that leave us rushed and tired Sunday morning.
While the fellowship that occurs before and after a Sunday meeting is a visible sign of the health of our relationships with the people of God, preaching should be our first listening priority. This may mean we avoid the temptation to check our smartphone or let our mind wander during the service. That we ask God for grace to focus solely on what the preacher is saying. I know for moms with infants or small, clingy children it can be difficult if not impossible to listen to the Sunday sermon. Take heart—this season will soon be over and if you are caring for a fussy child you are doing what God has called you to do. But be alert to ways you too can make listening a priority. Maybe you can adjust your infant’s feeding schedule or bring toys/snacks for your child. If you are in a separate room with a video feed, make listening to the sermon (and not chatting with friends) the most important goal of the hour. And thanks to modern technology, you can benefit from listening to your pastor’s sermon some other time during the week.
Several godly “older” women I know make it a priority to review the Sunday morning sermons in their Monday morning quiet time. This is a habit I’ve been sporadic at but always benefit from when I do. One of my favorite practices is choose a good commentary to help me study the book of the Bible our pastors our preaching from in my quiet times. And finally, don’t take lightly the conviction or encouragement to change that comes to you during the preaching of God’s Word. Act on it! This is the Holy Spirit speaking to you through His Word and He is eager to help you apply. One more thought—It is sobering for me to remember that my children are watching. I want to do more than just tell Jude that the Bible is the most important thing to me. I want to live it. Now this list is by no means exhaustive, but I have stuffed a bunch of ideas in one post. I don’t mean that to be overwhelming—especially to moms with young kids. Starting with myself, I want to spur us all on to a greater love of God’s Word. Let’s start small but let’s start. Let’s make the preaching of God’s Word the most important part of our week.
Our first caution may surprise or confuse you; it may seem irrelevant or uninteresting. But it isn’t a paid political announcement. No pastors asked us to drum up support for their weekly sermons.
We put out this caution flag because we believe that the greatest need for Christian women today (and in every day and age) is to be women of the Word.
That is why, since starting girltalk, we’ve stressed the importance of faithfully reading God’s Word and applying it to our lives. The Five O’Clock Club exists for this reason—to encourage women to do whatever it takes to make time daily to read God’s Word and pray (Deut. 8:3b).
That is also why we frequently recommend content from the Sunday sermon at our church. Not because it’s Monday and we have nothing new to say, but because we want to show that our blog has a context: Everything we write is grounded in, guided by, and flows out of the preaching ministry of our local church pastors.
You see, we believe that God is a speaking God (Gen. 1, Is. 55:10-11), that He has spoken to us through His Word, the Bible (Ps. 19, 2 Tim. 3:16-17), and that God has called and gifted certain men to preach and lead the church through the proclamation of that Word (Acts 6:4, 1 Tim. 1:13).
Do we want to hear God?
“God’s standard way of securing and maintaining His person-to-person communication with us, His human creatures, is through the agency of persons whom He sends to us as His messengers…Such were the prophets and apostles, and such supremely was Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son…That is the succession in which preachers today are called to stand.” ~J.I. Packer
Preachers are messengers from God. Not infallible, but called. Called to deliver God’s Word to God’s people. So if we are to be women of the Word, we must be devoted to our pastor’s teaching (Acts 2:42, Rom 10:14-17).
Through the proclamation of God’s Word, we hear God speaking to us. We are convicted of sin and called to worship. We are instructed and encouraged. Together, we behold the cross.
Since the preaching of God’s Word is so profound, we need to ask ourselves: Are we in danger of neglecting our pastor’s preaching?
We were very blessed to have John Piper preach at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville yesterday. He said at the outset that he was really pumped about this message because of his love for God’s Word. And it truly was a powerful sermon in which he gave us six reasons to believe the Bible from 2 Timothy 3:14-17.
Reason number 1: “The kinds of persons who taught you the truth are a very significant warrant for why you believe what you believe…Part of Timothy’s reasoning for why he should stay in the truth is the character of his mother and his grandmother.” Watch below or listen online to hear all six reasons to “continue in what you have learned.”
We thought you might like to see this video that our friend Brittany Kauflin made of the first meeting of SGC of Louisville. We are so grateful to God for His kindness to us! “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” Psalm 115:1
We are very excited here at girltalk because this Sunday, September 30, is our first public meeting as Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville. God has blessed us with an amazing group of people for this church plant—many of whom are life-long friends. We can’t wait for Sunday morning when we will gather together to worship the Savior and hear Dad preach God’s Word. You can check out our lovely new church website and read an interview with Dad about the church plant. We’d love your prayers that Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville would faithfully proclaim the gospel in our community.
The messages from Next are online and I’m working my way through all of them. I love how the Internet makes it possible for a thirty-something mother of four children to benefit from a conference for teenagers and twenty-somethings that happened two weeks ago, a thousand miles away.
But I wanted to mention one session in particular, because in his message The Church and Friendship, Kevin DeYoung touches on a topic we’ll get to later in our series—that of technology and friendship:
“Friendship is wonderful when you can get it, but it is frequently hard to come by…There is a real sense in which that technology can foster friendship… And yet as good as the technology is…the danger with friends today is that we have friends everywhere and friends nowhere. We have a lot of relationships but how many friendships? We have more acquaintances than ever before, we have more people in our networks than ever before, we are known by more people and can know more people than ever before and yet have no friends.”
Do you have friends? Or, more importantly, as Kevin asks, “What kind of friend are you? A fake friend, a foul friend, or a faithful friend?”
Listen and learn how to be a biblical, better, friend.
The latest 9Marks e-journal is entitled “Pastoring Women: Understanding and Honoring Distinctiness.” If your pastor doesn’t already know about this resource, send him the link! But we hope every woman will read this issue, and two articles in particular. First up is Susan Hunt, who once again casts the Titus 2 vision for women training women in biblical womanhood. Her article, “Wanted: More Women Discipling Younger Women” opens with this compelling illustration:
“I had spoken on the topic of biblical womanhood and a college-age woman asked me a thoughtful question: How can I think biblically about my womanhood when I am constantly told that independence is power and that I should seek my own fulfillment and determine my own destiny? My answer: “Go to godly women in your church and ask them to speak the truth of biblical womanhood into your life. Ask them to show you how to live for God’s glory as a woman.” And moms with young kids, you won’t want to miss Jani Ortlund’s article “For the Young Mother: Ministry, Guilt, and Seasons of Life.” Right from the outset, Mrs. Ortlund identifies with the unique challenges facing young moms, and she goes on to offer wise counsel and biblical encouragement. We hope every young mom will take these words to heart:
“Ministry means being “all there.” It means rejoicing that you get to show your children how to peddle a tricycle, make their bed, build good memories, and share their toys with others. You serve your family, and ultimately your heavenly Father, by helping your child do that puzzle for the seventeenth time, by washing those sticky fingers, by planting a little garden, by acting out Bible stories and praying together, and by preparing for their daddy’s return as the highlight of your day!” Thanks to the folks at 9Marks for serving us with this oustanding journal!
“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!