girltalk Blog

Jan 5

A One Size Fits All New Year’s Resolution

2015 at 7:44 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Prayer | Spiritual Growth | Suffering

Whether 2015 holds suffering or celebration, we don’t yet know. It probably has some of both in store. But this New Year’s resolution from James 5:13 is of the greatest importance no matter what awaits us in the New Year. Listen to yesterday’s sermon from Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville to learn about a resolution every Christian should make this year.

Mar 7

Where Do You Wish You Could Live?

2013 at 10:28 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Prayer

chair bible

In a bigger house? Closer to your family? Away from your neighbor? In the country? In the city? In a home of your own?

David had one prayer to express his home desires:

“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” ~Psalm 27:4

Dec 17

Pastoral Words and Prayer on the Newtown Tragedy

2012 at 11:05 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Prayer | Suffering

As mothers we are full of grief and mourning for the families who have lost loved ones and precious children in the Newtown tragedy. We have no words. We look and are appalled and lay our hands over our mouths (Job 21:5).

Yesterday, one of our pastors, Jeff Purswell, offered the following thoughts from Scripture. Listen to the audio or read the transcript below.

Two days ago, although it seems like a lot longer, our nation experienced an unspeakable tragedy, perhaps one of our greatest tragedies, certainly in my lifetime, in the shootings that took place at the elementary school in Newtown, CT. Over the past few days I’ve experienced what I’m sure we all have: a barrage of news and updates and images and interviews and condolences and speculations about what can only be described as a horrific tragedy. I’m sure we have all experienced, to different degrees, a range of emotions from grief and sadness and revulsion and mourning. And as we come in this morning as the church, as the people of God, beyond our own personal experiences, beyond what we would say here, this is also a national tragedy. As a nation we are mourning, as a nation we are grieving, as a nation we are grappling with these events. And it’s right, it is good for us to do that. It is right for us to share in national grief as people that God has placed in this country. That’s good, that’s right. But as Christians we are even more fundamentally, as Paul has reminded us in the letter we have been studying, we are citizens of heaven. We are those who have been transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. And so as we absorb and process these events it is important that that citizenship inform the way that we process, inform the way that we interpret, inform the way that we respond. And so we as pastors want to take just a moment to think with you about that. How do we respond? How do we process? What perspective does Scripture give us in a moment like this? And it is critical to ask those questions, because we are and will continue to be immersed in a national conversation. We are and will continue to be barraged with an array of interpretations from media to mental health experts to politicians and to those that we interact with daily, neighbors and friends and coworkers.

Scripture first informs our response. Our first response, in a moment like this, is appropriately grief. We grieve. We grieve with those who grieve. That is not just a Christian response, that’s a human response. As we see a nation grieving, we are beholding the image of God in people. When we see people who wouldn’t be Christians showing compassion, that’s the image of God in them, marks of God’s image, and we share that. As Christians we don’t only share that, we have even more reason to grieve with others and to sympathize with others, as we demonstrate God’s heart to others. Being Christians doesn’t immunize us from grief, being Christians empowers us to grieve authentically, and to grieve truly with those who grieve, to grieve at the presence of evil and sin, to reflect true compassion to others, to reflect God’s own heart to others. So Scripture informs our response. We grieve.

Scripture also informs our interpretation. Everywhere, every news channel: “Why?” How do we interpret what just happened in our nation? It was evil. Pure and simple. It was evil. Christians don’t have to flinch from that. Christians don’t have to fudge on that. Christians don’t have to spiritualize that. This was unspeakably evil. It was horrifically sinful. This was a profound violation of God’s law and completely contrary to his heart. We know that. We say that. And Scripture helps us further. Although this was evil, and although it was shocking, it’s not surprising. The unregenerate human heart, in rebellion against God, is as Jeremiah reminds us in chapter 17, desperately sick. “Who can understand it?” the prophet says. It’s beyond comprehension. And it is marvelous mercy that God in his common grace—through conscience, through law, through providence—restrains our sin so that this kind of thing is not common. But the fallen human heart is capable of much evil. So we are not surprised. Over the next days and weeks experts on TV will speculate about causes and offer explanations, none of which are going to be fully satisfying, none of which will provide authentic answers. This was an evil act and people get that. Evil cries out for an answer. People everywhere are grappling for an answer. But the only true answer will not be found in analysis. The only true answer is found in the cross of Jesus Christ. That’s not a cliché. On that cross, in an act of unspeakable evil, the murder of the sinless Son of God—in that act, God defeated evil by taking sins of rebellion, our sins, upon himself, by absorbing God’s just wrath against heinous sins, against all that would defile God’s good creation. So scripture helps us interpret.

Finally, Scripture opens our eyes to the opportunity that this is. National crisis like this provide Christians an opportunity to do what we are called to do—to bear witness to the truth. Not in a glib way, not in a dispassionate way that is unaffected by grief, and certainly not in a self-righteous way. But as we grieve, as we mourn the loss of life, we don’t do so without hope. There is an answer to evil. And it is the cross of Christ, Christ who came to put away evil and to set all things right. To bring as the prophets say, the righteousness of God. To set all things right. A righteous God, only a righteous God, can render judgment for acts like we beheld this week. Only he can ensure justice. And not only can God bring justice, he can restore. He only can heal, he only can set right. And so because of the cross of Christ, all of us, who if we are honest, we know we fall short of righteousness, we have an offer of forgiveness from a righteous God who came to remove our unrighteousness. And we have a Savior who came not just to judge, not just to forgive, but to redeem, to set right. There is mercy and grace and healing for all who believe in Jesus. And as tragic as these killings were, Christ’s power is even greater than the tragedy, even greater than the evil, even greater than the anguish. Ultimately, that’s where our hope as Christians lies. We long for answers that will satisfy, but we long in vain. Because God doesn’t give us precise answers. But what he does do, just as he did to Job, he offers himself. He has revealed to us in Scripture, and preeminently in his Son, he has revealed to us his character. And so we don’t know why this happened, but we do know that he is here and that he is good and that he is wise and that the is powerful and he is at work in the most horrific circumstances. He’s at work to bring about his redeeming, restoring, saving purposes. So we are going to take a moment now to pray that God’s hand would be at work in these circumstances and those affected by them. So pray with me.

“Heavenly father, in our weakness, and in our helplessness, we come to you in your all-sufficiency and your grace. Lord, in the wake of this tragedy, our hearts are deeply grieved, even from a distance. Our sensibilities are overwhelmed, Lord our nation is mourning. And so Lord, we pray, we pray for your mercy. We pray for abundant mercy to be poured out, Lord, especially on the parents and the families of those children and those adults. Lord we can’t imagine. But you can. Lord we have no words and we have no power, but Lord you have the words of life and you have all power. Lord, your word says you are near to the brokenhearted, and so Lord draw near we pray to those whose hearts have been broken and whose lives have been shattered. For those who know you, draw near as their Shepherd who comforts and restores. Lord, for those who don’t know you, draw near to reveal your mercy and your grace. Lord, for pastors and Christians who are there, in CT and connected to this tragedy, give them great compassion and great wisdom and great power to minister your love and represent your heart to this community. Lord, it is like a great wound has been opened in the soul of our country. Lord, bind up that wound in the way that only you can. In the midst of the national conversation and the speculation and all the recrimination, bring into all of this your grace, open our hearts to your perspective, open our lives to your gospel. Have mercy on us as a country. Lord, we don’t know, I don’t know all the ways to pray, but we do pray that you would be at work and active in every circumstance, in every conversation, personal and national. Be at work Lord. Father we can only pray that your gospel would be on the move. That hearts would be opened to your reality, eyes would be opened to your holiness, lives will be opened to your grace, to your gospel. Cause people to turn to you as the only answer to our questions, Lord, the only remedy to a tragedy like this. Let your gospel of grace rule and reign in circumstances, in hearts, in that community, and in our nation. Lord, you are the sovereign God, great and mighty and wise to use the greatest evil for your own sovereign and good and redeeming purposes. That’s who you are, Lord. So do that in these circumstances, for the good of all of those so deeply affected, for the good of our nation, for the spread of your gospel, and ultimately for the glory of your name. We pray all of this in Jesus name, Amen.”

Nov 29

How to Help the Hurting

2012 at 7:54 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Emotions | Prayer | Suffering

Do you ever feel like you don’t know what to say to someone who is suffering? Are you ever tempted to avoid the person who is going through a trial? Do you worry about saying or doing the wrong thing?

In her second breakout session at the Sovereign Grace Pastors Conference, Nancy Guthrie offered some practical advice for how to serve the hurting. This is one of the most helpful talks I have ever heard on this topic and I hope every woman will listen, take notes, and seek to grow in love toward those who are suffering. Nancy offers six ways to walk with people through loss:

1. Overcome the awkwardness to engage

“Sometimes we see people struggling and we want them to come so quickly to resolution, to figure everything out. The truth is, as we minister to other women, we do want them to come to resolution, we do want them to come to some peace, figuring things out. But sometimes I think we are in a much bigger hurry than God is Himself. What a gift it is to other women to be willing to sit—not forever, but at least for a while. To just go, “Wow, this is hard isn’t it?”“

2. Make room for tears and sadness

“Don’t think tears are the problem. Tears are a gift that God gives us to help wash away the deep pain that we feel and experience from living life in the brokenness of this world. There are some things worth crying about. There are some people worth crying about.”

3. Go deeper than deliverance in prayer

10 purposes in the Bible for which God wants to use suffering:

4. Gently challenge sentimentalism and spiritualism with Scriptural truth

“If that is the fruit of the suffering in the people’s lives you minister to, that’s really good fruit: to know God as he is, not what we’ve tried to make him into.”

5. Anticipate the family pressure points.

“Grief puts a lot of pressure on a family.”

6. Help them turn the misery into ministry

“So often we think: when I get this figured out, when I feel better, I can turn toward ministering to other people. I want to say: The way we begin to feel better is to begin to minister to other people uniquely out of our loss.”

You can listen to Nancy’s message, “Learning to Walk with Each Other Through Loss” here.

Nov 28

How Do We Pray Through Pain?

2012 at 7:30 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Prayer | Spiritual Growth | Suffering

So if the pain can’t be prayed away, how do we pray? If the answer from God seems to be “no,” should we keep repeating the same requests? Or should we just stop praying?

A friend and I were talking about this recently. We’d both reached this point in our lives. We had prayed those “righteous, rigorous, repeated” prayers Nancy Guthrie talked about, but the answer from God still seemed to be “no.” Uncertain of how to pray, we each returned to God’s Word, and in particular, to the Psalms.

When we feel like don’t know how to pray (and even when we think we do!) we must rely on the prayers given to us by God. Throughout the Bible, but especially in the Psalms, God has provided relevant, profound, infallible prayers.

Here we cannot go wrong. Here we can pray each and every word with confidence—certain that God is pleased to hear the prayers of His eternal Word, prayed in faith, in the name of Jesus Christ.

And these prayers are not lifeless or detached from the struggles and stresses of real life. They are waiting for us in the depths of human grief, confusion, and uncertainty; they pull us up to the heights of praise.

So when you can’t pray away the pain, pray through the pain. Pray through God’s Word. Pray through the Psalms.

“The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer.” Psalm 6:9

Nov 6

Praying on Election Day

2012 at 5:36 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Prayer

​Dr. Albert Mohler’s guide to praying for America on Election Day:

There is so much at stake. We hear every election cycle that the stakes have never been higher. In one sense, this is usually also true. There is always the sense that there is more at stake this year than last, and, given the way issues unfold, that perception often seems validated by the times. Christians face the responsibility to vote, not only as citizens, but as Christians who seek to honor and follow Christ in all things. But, beyond the vote, we also bear responsibility to pray for our nation. [Read More]

Aug 17

Please Pray With Us

2012 at 4:54 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Prayer

We just received word this afternoon that our friend Diane Schreiner, wife of Tom Schreiner, author and professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was in a serious bike accident today. She is currently in surgery.

Only last week we were blessed to be in Diane’s home and on the receiving end of her gracious, joyful hospitality. She is a wonderful, godly, woman and we want to ask all of you to pray for God’s healing, wisdom for the doctors, and peace for the entire Schreiner family.

UPDATE, Friday Evening:
From John Kimball, pastor with Tom Schreiner at Clifton Baptist Church:
A brief, but good update on Diane. She’s out of surgery, and it went well. Post-op CT scan will be soon. Vitals are good. The next 24-72 hours are crucial to determine long-term effects. Thank you for your continued prayers!

UPDATE, Saturday Afternoon:
We covet your continued prayers for the Schreiner’s. Here is the lastest update from their family:

Diane is doing pretty well physically for which we are very thankful. The main concern is bruising in the brain which affects speech and comprehension. It is possible that it will be quite severe. They just don’t know yet, and hence your prayers would be appreciated. We believe our God reigns and are very appreciative of the outpouring of love we have received.

UPDATE, Saturday Night:
RT @pj_schreiner: Mom just woke up for the first time and seemed to recognize us. Praise the Lord! We were all weeping with joy!

Jul 5

Praying Work

2012 at 5:58 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Prayer

Recently I was reminded me of what my long-time friend Nancy Loftness calls “praying work.”

Nancy’s a woman who loves God’s Word, loves to pray, and deeply cares for people. When she found that she didn’t have time to pray for everyone she wanted to pray for during her morning quiet time, she came up with a plan.

She thought about her regular chores that didn’t require any thinking or talking—such as ironing, cleaning the bathroom, or driving by herself—and she turned those into times for prayer on behalf of friends, family, members of her church and the unsaved. Praying work.

Just imagine how many requests Nancy has brought before the throne of grace while in her car or working around her house!

Consider your daily routine: what tasks can you turn into “praying work”?

“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers…” Ephesians 5:16

“No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me.” Charles Spurgeon

~from the archives

Oct 27

Prayer Works

2010 at 3:32 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Fear & Anxiety | Prayer | Motherhood

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4:6-7 ESV)

For the anxious mother, God has provided a solution in His Word.

It is simple: Pray. Give Thanks. Repeat.

It covers all of life: Don’t be anxious about ANYTHING. Pray about EVERYTHING.

And it comes with a promise: God’s peace will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Yet I sometimes treat prayer as if it doesn’t work. I do this by not praying or thanking but by worrying instead.

“I’ve tried praying before,” I excuse myself, “and God’s answer was different than what I asked for. So what’s the use?” Or, “I tried praying and didn’t feel more peaceful. I must not be doing it right.”

But the peace of God is more than a flimsy feeling of peace. It is a knowing, a settled confidence in the sovereign goodness of God that will guard against all anxious feelings.

As we pray and give thanks IN EVERYTHING, our trust in God deepens and His peace pervades our lives. Anxious thoughts don’t have the same sticking power, and eventually, they go away.

So lately I’ve been trying to simply obey God’s Word in Philippians 4. I still have a lot to learn about prayer, but I can tell you this: my faith, peace and gratefulness to God have grown, and my temptation to anxiety has decreased.

Scripture is true, and as anxious mothers, we would do well to believe and obey.

May 3

Prayers of an Excellent Wife

2010 at 3:25 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Prayer | Marriage

prayers of an excellent wifeAs wives we want to pray for our husbands, we try to pray for our husbands—but so often we come up short. Our prayers can be shallow and repetitive, and we feel guilty and discouraged.

But Andrew Case has come to our rescue with his new book: Prayers of an Excellent Wife

As Justin Taylor explains, “Unlike some other similar books, this one is saturated with Bible and sound biblical theology, along with lots of good sidebar quotes about the power and purpose of prayer.”

Here’s Mom’s endorsement.

“Charles Spurgeon said we can do our husband ‘no truer kindness in the world’ than to pray for him. Yet as wives, we often struggle to pray consistently for our husbands. We forget in the busyness of life; or when we do remember, our prayers may lack clarity and direction. That’s what makes this book such a valuable tool for any wife who wants to grow in praying for her husband-and isn’t that all of us? Prayers of an Excellent Wife will inspire you to pray faithfully and fervently, and instruct you how to pray according to Scripture. I hope many wives will use these prayers to lavish their husbands with kindness.”

We hope many of you will benefit from this helpful tool for wives. (And hey, great gift idea for a friend!)