2013 at 10:24 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Fun Stuff Friday Funnies Series Resource Recommendations
Today we have a giveaway for moms (or grandmas, aunts, teachers or friends) of young boys and girls. Thanks to our friends at Moody Publishers, I have two copies of a wonderful looking new children’s book by Susan Hunt and her son Richie Hunt called “Cassie & Caleb: Discover God’s Wonderful Design.”
This is a unique book that uses colorful pictures and interesting stories to teach children about the gospel, and about how they are called to bring glory to their Creator. As the authors state in the preface, “We must intentionally teach the magnificence of God’s gender design or by default our children will absorb the lie of the enemy of our—and their—souls.” Susan and Richie Hunt have set the entire book in the context of the gospel, and they have made it attractive and appealing for young children.
I have only had a chance to skim this book but I was excited by what I read and eager to go through this with my children. This book fills a much needed gap, using relatable stories to help children both delight in God’s design, to love the gospel, and to encourage them to obey.
So, here’s what we’re thinking. We haven’t done Friday Funnies in a while. So SEND US a funny story about your son or daughter (or a kid you know!) and we’ll choose two winners to receive a free copy of this new book. Deadline to enter is tomorrow (Friday night) at midnight.
2013 at 10:56 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Series Current Series
Thanks to so many of you who sent in thoughts about their mom for our Mother’s Day contest. We look forward to sharing our favorites with you real soon.
And thanks also for your strong response to our recent series reminding all of us not to neglect our pastors teaching. Writing and thinking about the grace we receive through preaching has made me more grateful than ever for my pastors and each sermon I have the privilege to sit under. We hope your pastor felt your encouragement as well.
We have at least two more “timely cautions” that we can’t wait to talk about, but we are going to push them off for a few weeks because we are finishing up a big project that we’re excited to tell you about soon. These particular “cautions” are so important to us that we want to give them careful thought as we share them with you. So we’ll still be blogging regularly but our content will be on the fun and lighter side for the next few weeks. We hope you’ll enjoy your Spring with us!
2013 at 10:36 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Series Resource Recommendations
With warmer weather on the way I start anticipating one of my favorite outdoor activities—reading. On summer evenings, Steve and I love to sit in our old and uncomfortable deck chairs on our little back porch and read together for an hour or so while the sun sets. I can hardly wait for those days to come and I’m already thinking about what books I want to read this summer. Here are two new books that I highly recommend you put on your summer reading list, from two great friends and outstanding authors:
I have already read most of this book and love it! Easy to read, insightful, and just plain helpful. Not only does Jamieson help us think rightly about doctrine but shows us how it works out in the life of our local church.
“Scripture is for sound doctrine, sound doctrine is for real life, and real life is for real church growth. So says Jamieson, and he hits the nail on the head brilliantly every time.”
—J. I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College
“Think doctrine is at least impractical—at worst, loveless? Give this author a few minutes to help you reconsider this. Well-written, precise, provocative, and practical—Jamieson has produced a jewel.”
—Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington DC; President, 9Marks
No one I’ve ever read brings biblical stories to life with such beauty and accuracy. I love to read what Jon Bloom writes each Friday at Desiring God and I save and reread his articles often. Eager to slowly make my way through this book.
“Forgetfulness and familiarity. Faith is often plagued by these twin faults. We easily forget what we know about who God is and what he’s done for us in Jesus Christ. When we turn to Scripture for help, our familiarity dulls the wonder in the splendid story of God’s mercy to mere men. We need to be reminded of the old stories of Scripture, that they might irrigate our parched souls and ignite our faith. In Not By Sight, my friend Jon Bloom shatters our familiarity with the Bible by helping us see afresh how the drama of Scripture unfolds in the gritty reality of human experience and how those stores are infused with grace as they fit into the greatest story: God’s plan to save sinners by his Son. Do you need to be reminded of what you already know? Do you need to be shaken from your familiarity? Jon’s fresh tellings of the old tales will help you recover surprise and delight in the stories of Scripture.”
—C.J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville
2013 at 7:05 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Series Current Series
“Preaching should make such a difference to a man who is listening that he is never the same again. Preaching in other words, is a transaction between the preacher and the listener. It does something for the soul of man, for the whole of the person, the entire man; it deals with him in vital and radical manner.” ~Martyn Lloyd-Jones
2013 at 2:46 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Series Current Series
Before we move on in our little “Timely Cautions” series, we want to encourage you to encourage your pastor.
We presented this as our first topic because we believe nothing—no program or institution or book or blog—is more important for the recovery and effectiveness of the gospel in our generation than the local church, and that effectiveness is directly linked to the faithful preaching of God’s Word by local church pastors.
These days, we are blessed to have so many opportunities to receive sound teaching. But if our biblical priorities are in order, then our local church pastor’s gospel-centered preaching should uniquely shape our growth and understanding of God’s Word.
That’s why we want to encourage you to drop your pastor a note. Tell him specifically how a sermon has transformed your thinking, created fresh affection for the Savior, helped you to grow in godliness. Encourage your pastor and you will serve your entire church. And you will be refreshed as you recall the gracious work of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of God’s Word.
So don’t wait. Send him a message right now!
Our prayer and hope is that this generation of women will be known as women who were devoted to the preaching of God’s Word—to listening and applying the Bible. And that by the grace of God we would pass that legacy on to the next generation. May it be said of us that we did not neglect our pastor’s teaching.
“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in teaching and preaching.” 1 Timothy 5:17
2013 at 1:39 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Series Current Series
So how did you benefit from your pastor’s sermon yesterday? One girltalk reader wrote in to tell us how:
I’m a 20 year old student at the University of Arkansas. I attend and serve in faithfully a wonderful, Christ-centered church, so when you began the latest series on preaching, I must confess that I paid little attention. I thought, “Oh, I don’t really need this. This is for those other people that look for excuses not to go to church or are always critical of their pastors’ sermons. That’s not me.” So I lightly skimmed the articles, closed the webpages, and went on with my life.
Then, this morning, it all came flooding in. When I sat down [for the sermon], my pastor continued our series on Zephaniah. I almost immediately tuned out. All my homework, life questions, and even convictions of my own sin swarmed and clung to me like so many wasps of hell, with only one purpose—distract me from the sermon.
Praise be to God, it only took Him a matter of moments to bring that realization home, and I thought of the little I had gathered from your blog on the importance of preaching. I flung the thoughts and worries off as best I could and trained all my focus on what my pastor was saying. It was not easy, but I forced myself, at the exclusion of all else, to take in his message from The Word.
Not surprisingly, I came away joyful and refreshed. I was renewed in my fervor to find my satisfaction in Christ alone and to live with a bright, eternal mindset rather than my grimy, earthbound one. Our Lord was faithful, and the sermon was precisely what I needed to hear (what I REALLY needed, not what I thought I needed).
So thank you for writing about preaching. I intend to go back and read those posts all the more carefully, and come to the house of God with prayerful humility in the future.
2013 at 9:10 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Series Current Series
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 Mom’s 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.
2013 at 8:12 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Series Current Series
It was raining buckets Sunday morning, and I woke up late because one of my children had kept me up during the night.
As I reheated my coffee—which had already brewed, stayed warm, and shut off before I woke up—I stared at my kitchen counters which were covered with grocery bags full of non-perishables I had yet to put away from last night’s grocery run.
After a swig or two of Sumatra, I managed to find a pair of not-too wrinkled pants for my oldest son that he had prematurely thrown in the laundry hamper, and miraculously dug up four hair bands from the bottom of the pretties box because my girls wanted matching pig-tails (they are sisters, after all).
Of course, I couldn’t find anything for me to wear. And did I mention it was raining buckets?
I raced around, getting everyone ready for church, and the mess seemed to grow around me: cereal bowls unwashed, clothes on the floor, barrettes spilled everywhere. I knew it would take all afternoon to straighten up.
The thought passed through my head that what I really need, more than anything right now, is a quiet morning at home.
But on its heels came another, truer thought: No, what I really need, more than anything right now, is to hear preaching from God’s Word.
“Yes, I hear the sermon; but who is speaking? The minister? No indeed! You do not hear the minister. True, the voice is his; but my God is speaking the Word which he preaches or speaks. Therefore, I should honor the Word of God that I may become a good pupil of the Word.” ~Martin Luther
This, this is what I really need, more than anything.
I need to hear God speak to me.
And this conviction changes everything. For when I believe that God is speaking to me, each and every Sunday, through His Word, delivered by my pastor, then there is no moment of the week I look forward to more.
My pastor’s sermon is no longer an inconvenient interruption to my self-focused and hectic life; it is not one of a smorgasbord of equally good options whereby I can receive God’s Word; it is not boring or irrelevant or, at best mildly entertaining.
No, for one hour or so each week we gather to hear God speak to us through his Word. There is nothing we need more, nothing we should anticipate more.
God is speaking!
How quickly I lose sight of the wonder of this truth.
But my eagerness to hear God’s Word preached on Sunday is a measure of my hunger for God’s Word. If I am passionate about the Bible, I will be passionate about hearing God’s Word preached. If I am a “good pupil” of the Word then I will want to sit under gospel-centered, biblically faithful preaching more than I want to get some rest, clean my house, go shopping.
In other words, I can’t be passionate about the Word of God and indifferent to the preaching of God’s Word at the same time.
To love God’s Word is to love to hear God’s Word preached.
And this is what I need, more than anything.
2013 at 8:32 am | by Janelle Bradshaw
Series Resource Recommendations
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” Philippians 4:4
“Before you existed, God decided to set His affection upon you. Jesus lived a life of moral perfection before a holy God that is credited to us as a gift.
Jesus took upon Himself on the cross every ounce of real, honest-to-goodness judgment you deserve. Every wrong you have done God punished in Jesus. God caused us to be born again, gave us new eyes to see, granted us the gift of repentance of faith.
He’s given us the Holy Spirit as a down payment of the ultimate inheritance we will certainly receive when Jesus returns, when we are actually transformed to be like Him.
If all of that occupies your mind and informs your perspective on life, what can you do but rejoice? This is why joy can be commanded of the Christian.”
~Jeff Purswell (listen to yesterday’s outstanding sermon at SGCL on Phil. 4:4-7)
(HT: Brittany Kauflin)
2013 at 12:46 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Homemaking Holidays and Seasons Series Resource Recommendations
Speaking of pastors, the men who serve our church, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, have provided us with some wonderful encouragement and resources to prepare our hearts for Easter. We hope these resources serve you as well:
If you take a survey among Christians and Non-Christians on what is the most important holiday for the Christian, the majority will affirm that it is Easter. But have you ever had the feeling that you just didn’t properly celebrate Easter because you let it sneak up on you? In more liturgical traditions, this hasn’t always been the case. For the last 1700 years many parts of the church have given attention to what’s called “Holy Week”. This is the week dedicated to remembering the last week of Jesus’ life, from Palm Sunday to Maunday Thursday to Good Friday to Resurrection Sunday.
We want to encourage you to not let Easter sneak up on you this year. To that end, here are some suggestions for Holy Week, along with a few resources to assist you:
Read the events of Holy Week in the gospels.
The most important way to prepare ourselves for Easter is through reading and meditating on Scripture. lists the events of Jesus’ final week along with the gospel texts that record them. This is ideal for helping one read through the relevant gospel passages during Holy Week.
Read the entire post…
2013 at 8:53 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
Series Current Series
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?
2013 at 9:31 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Series Current Series
The beautifully illustrated children’s version of Pilgrim’s Progress is aptly named “Dangerous Journey.” And so is the Christian life. “Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come” wrote John Newton, looking back on his life. Sometimes these dangers come in the form of active threats, persecution, and trial. But dangers also come disguised as easier, more effective, or more exciting paths; in the end, though, they are anything but.
In John Bunyan’s original Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian and Hopeful are brought by the shepherds to the mountain called “Caution” where they are shown men wandering aimlessly in a meadow. When Christian asked the shepherds the meaning of this sight he was told, “Because the right way was rough in that place, they chose to go out of it into that meadow, and there were taken by Giant Despair.”
That is often how it goes, isn’t it? “Because the right way was rough in that place” and the meadow seemed so close and lush, we wander. So as Christian women today, what dangers should we be on the lookout for? Where are we tempted to wander from the straight and narrow way of God’s Word?
Up next here at girl talk, we want to do a short series addressing some potential “dangers”—not those of persecution or trial, but of the more subtle kind. Specifically ways in which we may be tempted, through the “rough places” of cultural pressures and our wayward hearts to neglect the clear teaching of Scripture.
We present these cautions to our own souls first, and only then offer them to you as fellow travelers. Even as we have discussed them amongst ourselves I have found myself convicted afresh, sobered by how easily I drift.
Now I know, “Timely Cautions” may not seem like a very cheery subject, but avoiding danger is about finding the path of life, a path that shines brighter and brighter until full day (Pr. 4:18).
2013 at 9:26 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Series Resource Recommendations
Back in December, at a gathering of moms from our church, I was talking with another mom about our love for reading and swapping book recommendations (one of my favorite things to do!). She told me about this book she had recently read in one sitting—The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield.
Of course I had to read it and sure enough it was as unique and beautifully written as she had promised. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever read such a compelling account of God drawing someone to himself or such a personal, beautiful description of how the gospel changes and transforms every corner of a person’s life.
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield was a liberal, lesbian professor who was drawn by the grace of God through the friendship and hospitality of a pastor and his wife. Today she is a pastor’s wife, and an adoptive and homeschool mom.
There are two things in particular that I love about this book. First of all, her description of the work of God’s grace in her life is the most powerful I have ever read. Not primarily because her conversion was “dramatic” or “unlikely” but because she captures (as much as anyone can!) the sweet and irresistible grace of God that draws a person to himself and reveals the truth of the cross. To read this book is to be freshly amazed and grateful at the mercy and grace of God in Rosaria’s life and in your own.
Secondly, Rosaria is a godly example for women. She has rigorously studied the Scriptures in order to understand what God requires, and then she has sought to live by God’s commands. This woman has a firm grasp on the ethical implications of the gospel—how it works out in every day trust, service, and sacrifice, what it means for marriage, motherhood, church life, and evangelism. Rosaria’s thoughtful and intensive study of Scripture is not mere “head knowledge” but infuses every moment of her days as she cleans carpet stains, converses with neighbors, helps her pastor- husband, and teaches her children at the kitchen table. The gospel has turned her life upside down and it continues to do so, every single day.
So read this book, marvel at the gospel, and be mentored by Rosaria.
2013 at 9:20 am | by Kristin Chesemore
Homemaking Family Time Series Resource Recommendations
All the boys in our family have recently spent hours listening to the action-packed Jonathan Park radio drama adventures. From the website: The adventures follow Jonathan Park, son of paleontologist, Dr. Kendall Park. While running from a storm, Jonathan and his father collide with the Brenan family as they seek shelter in a hidden cave. After discovering a massive dinosaur graveyard that shows evidence for a worldwide flood, these two families have combined forces to build a new museum, open the fossil discovery, and the hidden cave to spread the message of the Creator!
Updated from the Picture Bible my sisters and I grew up with, the Action Bible now includes dramatized audio. A wonderful way to introduce kids to the drama of Scripture and it has already sparked many a spiritual discussion amongst the cousins.
As soon as the boys get out of school on Monday afternoon, they ask: “Is the podcast ready, yet?” They can’t wait to listen to Pop-Pop and Uncle Chad talk sports and as a mom I love that they are learning about sports from a biblical perspective.
2013 at 10:30 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Biblical Womanhood The Gospel Motherhood Series Current Series
“I feel like such a failure. I’m a horrible mom and a terrible wife. I’m exhausted, depressed, and overwhelmed.”
Sound like a mom you know? How would you counsel this woman? What gospel-centered words would you give her? Maybe you are that mom. As your soul’s counselor, how do you apply the gospel?
So often, in our sincere desire to be gospel-centered, we skip over a biblical diagnosis and assume we know what the problem is.
“You’re caught in the performance trap,” we tell the discouraged mom. “You just need to remember that God’s approval isn’t based on your performance. He loves you, in spite of all your failures. He doesn’t expect you to do it all or be a perfect wife or mom. You just need to rest in God’s grace.”
True, to a point.
But Scripture trains us to be more careful counselors, to apply the varied grace of God appropriately to various mothering discouragements:
“[A]dmonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thes. 5:14).
In other words, gospel-centered counsel looks different for different counselees.
“Discouraged Mom” may, in fact, be experiencing genuine conviction for anger or impatience or some other area of sin in her mothering. She may need an exhortation to repent and encouragement in the grace of God available to help her to grow (1 John 1:9).
Or a mom may be discouraged because she is comparing herself to other moms or cultural expectations of motherhood. She may need to hear our Savior’s words, “What is that to you, you follow me?” (John. 21:22)
Maybe a mom is looking to her children’s performance as the measurement of her mothering success. She may need to be reminded of her call is just to be faithful, and to trust God with the fruit. Her children’s sin isn’t the final measurement of her motherhood (Gal. 6:9).
Often a discouraged mom is an exhausted mom. She needs a good night sleep and an hour in God’s Word.
I could go on, but point is, gospel-centered counseling doesn’t make a blank check out to grace and hand it over to a discouraged mom. We must be diligent to discern the specific gospel-truth that applies to a particular discouraged mom in her unique situation.
So whether we’re counseling a friend or our own soul, let’s be wise, gospel-centered counselors.