2013 at 11:57 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Series The 5 O'Clock Club
It’s the “Out with the Old, In with the New” holiday, my favorite time of year. Before the Christmas cookies had cooled, I was already dreaming about all the purging and planning I was going to do this week. I could hardly wait to make a new schedule, find new recipes, and buy new packs of multi-colored gel pens. Last night, I downloaded a free app to learn a new language. Portugese anyone?
But I’ve come to believe that the best New Year’s resolutions are to keep the old ones. The most important resolve is to maintain the most important habit. “One thing is necessary” Jesus told the frenetic, distracted, Martha: “Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). Mary had resolved to sit at Jesus’ feet.
For most of us, sitting at Jesus’ feet only happens if we wake up early enough to make time to sit. Which is why, every New Year, I come back to this same, old, resolution: rise early so I might sit at Jesus’ feet.
Rising early is an ancient habit, indeed, explains Charles Spurgeon:
Early rising has the example of Old Testament saints to recommend it, and many modern saints having conscientiously practiced it, have been loud in its praise. It is an economy of time, and an assistance to health, and thus it doubly lengthens life. Late rising is too often the token of indolence, and the cause of disorder throughout the whole day.
Too many “disorderly days” in 2013 have driven me back to this old resolution for the New Year. Last January, some of you may remember, I set an alarm clock outside of my children’s bedroom—a drastic measure by a tired mom. But when my cunning, lazy, self figured out a way to beat that system, I had to ask Mom to call me each morning and stay on the phone until I had coffee in hand. This new plan is working, I’m happy to report.
We started The 5 O’Clock Club for this reason: because we all need accountability and encouragement to keep this most important habit. What new, dramatic measures do you need to take in order to faithfully seek the Savior through his Word and prayer this year?
If it would help to join our 5 O’Clock Club on Facebook, or our brand new Twitter feed (re-tweet when you wake up), we’d love to have you. I suggest roping in a friend for more personal accountability. If necessary, ask them to call.
“The old proverb declares that they who would be rich must rise early” Spurgeon also said, “surely those who would be rich towards God must do so.” Let’s bring in the New Year with a prayer for new mercies to keep this old habit. May we all grow rich toward God in 2014!
2013 at 11:17 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
Biblical Womanhood Good Works Series Current Series
In our frenetic society we are already so busy with homework, jobs, and families, that the five good works in 1 Timothy 5:9-10 may feel overwhelming.
But we must remember that Paul was talking about what these widows had accomplished throughout their lifetime, not all at once. Giving themselves wholeheartedly to good works no doubt looked different at various times in their lives.
For moms of small children, you are applying this verse every day, all day. As my husband often says “no one has a harder job than a mom with young kids.” This statement felt true to me when I had little ones, and now that I am watching my daughters mother their children, it rings more true than ever.
You may not be the first to show up in a crisis or do the most hospitality, but you are washing little feet all day as you humbly serve your family. I pray you know God’s pleasure in your faithful service. It is pleasing to him, and even though no one else may see, “your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:4).
I also know women who are eager to do good works, but despair because of limitations such as sickness, aging, a disability or a crisis. If you feel, “put on the shelf” as Charles Spurgeon vividly described it, then take his advice and pray for others. For there is “no greater kindness” you can do for someone. You may not be able to serve others in physically demanding ways, but you can still bring honor to the Savior through good works.
We all have different capacities and gifts, and so we must resist the temptation to compare. This is not a competition. Every woman who sincerely serves the Savior gives glory to God. It all comes down to one question: Do I strive for a reputation of good works in order to reflect the Savior’s Good Work?
And remember this: When all is said and done, after we have spent and been spent doing good works, we must, as one wise man once said, make a heap of all our good works and all our bad works and flee them both to Christ.
2013 at 10:36 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
Biblical Womanhood Beauty Series Current Series
(We’re back! Project finished today. Thanks to all of you who wrote in to say you missed the posts. And thank you for your prayers! Here’s our first post for the summer from Carolyn)
We see them when we walk into a room or stroll through a crowd: the women who are prettier than we are. They are everywhere, aren’t they?
Women have special powers of observation that enable us to instantly spot a woman with a prettier face, a skinnier figure, cuter clothes, or more of a flair for style than we do. We tend to rank everyone we meet on our own private beauty scale—placing them somewhere above or below ourselves.
Comparison is a common trap for women, and it can quickly turn into complaining. I wish I had a gorgeous head of hair like she does. I wish I were as skinny as her. She always wears such attractive clothes. I wish I could afford to dress like that. If only I were tall like her. If only I had her pretty face. Obsessive comparing and complaining leads to envy, and envy, as we know, makes us bitterly unhappy.
Why are we so unhappy that we don’t have so-and-so’s figure or that other girl’s face? It is most likely because we want the attention she receives for ourselves.
Instead, we must repent and choose to trust God. We must recall that it is God has decided what we look like and what every other woman looks like too. When we remember that He has ordained our beauty “lot” we can receive it as truly pleasant (Ps. 16:5–6). We can cease stressing, striving, and comparing.
In 1 Peter 3, God teaches us to trust him by giving us a different group of women to look at. Instead of picking out the prettiest girls in the room and marking them for resentment, we are to look to the godliest women:
For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening (1 Peter 3:5–6).
These are the heroines, the company of holy women of the past who trusted in God. Instead of comparing our physical appearance to other women, we should be measuring our hidden beauty next to these women, and striving to be like them.
Here’s the good news: while most of us will never be the prettiest girl in the room, we can, by the grace of God, become like these holy women. When we cast off comparison and clothe ourselves with a gentle and quiet spirit, we can become beautiful children of Sarah.
2013 at 11:24 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 11:56 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 11:36 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 8:05 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 3:46 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 2:39 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 10:10 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 9:12 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 9:32 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 1:46 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 9:53 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 10:31 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).