Saturday, September 30, 2006

Rescuing Sunday

I'm just coming to the end of reading Joshua Harris' book, Stop Dating the Church: Fall in Love with the Family of God and it has to be the most clear, easy and succinct book I have read on: what the church is; being a part of the church; the importance of joining a church; and, what things to look for in a church. But the most helpful chapter in the book was by far: Rescuing Sunday, How to Get More from the Best Day of the Week.

If you are anything like me, or your house is anything like ours on a Sunday morning, I don't always feel like it's the best day of the week for me! Sunday mornings are the one day when you ALL have to be up and dressed, fed and ready to leave by 10am and things can get pretty strained when your hubby is either preaching, leading student bible studies or even preparing to lead the service. You find yourself running around trying to feed and dress all three members of the family before finally realising that you can't go to church in your dressing gown and that you must get dressed also! Anyways, perhaps you are in a similar situation to me, you have kids, maybe 3, maybe 4 and the getting to church experience parallels that of being thrown into a whirlwind, tossed around and spat out just in time to get into the car to go to church. Maybe you don't have kids, but the late night out with friends or watching a movie leaves you feeling tired and groggy and the thought of a nice lie in seems far better than getting up to meet with God's people and listening to his Word preached.

Well, if that describes any of you then I have 3 helpful hints courtesy of Joshua Harris. If you want more then you need to read the book! They have been particularly challenging to me as I seek to rescue what I can from my Sundays.

1. We need to see Sunday as God's day. Harris writes: "when your heart begins to beat for God's glory and God's people and you begin to glimpse his longing for you, Sunday changes...it becomes something extraordinary. Something sacred. Something essential."

2. We need to prepare for God's day. Not only do we need to make practical preparations, we need to get our hearts ready. Harris writes: "A great Sunday starts Saturday night. It begins with carefully deciding what you do and don't do the night before." Does that mean you need to get to bed earlier so that you have enough rest? Does it mean that rather than watching mind numbing TV you might be better prepared by reading or listening to something more wholesome and focussed on the Lord?

3. During the meeting, Harris comments, "remember the eternal significance of what you're joining. You are gathering with the people of God. You've come to worship God, and He will be present by His Spirit...you are not here to be entertained... you stand before the Audience of One."

If you have any more helpful hints, things you do to prepare for your Sunday why not drop us a comment, we'd be glad to hear from you.


Friday, September 29, 2006

Wonderdog!

Apologies to all you dog lovers out there, but I just had to post this picture. It hasn't got much to do with biblical womanhood but it's the funniest thing I've seen all week. Maybe it's because I'm sleep-deprived!

(HT: Pyromaniacs)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Sacred Duty of Motherhood

This afternoon when I had an hour to myself (Glen was at nursery & Rebekah was napping), I listened to one of six messages given by Alistair Begg on Parental Priorities called "The Sacred Duty of Motherhood" and you can find it on the CBMW website, courtesy of Truth for Life, here. In his message Alistair sets out from Titus 2:3-5 the privilege, priorities and potential of Christian motherhood as set in the context of 'cultural confusion' and arguing that the Bible presents normative, definitive, timeless and abiding instruction of what it means to be a godly mother. I commend the sermon to you and in true Begg style you'll also enjoy the laughs!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

More Than a Name


Last night Colin and I watched, courtesy of Desiring God Ministries, John Piper's most recent sermon on Romans 16:1-7. At first glance, most of us if we were honest would skim read this passage as it seems to be just a list of names. How wrong can we be?! Piper describes this passage as "dense with theology, ecclesiology and ethics." Piper goes on to bring out 6 observations from this passage, before homing in on Phoebe, Prisca and Aquila. But, a few words about what he said of them:

Phoebe (probably single as there is no mention of her husband) is a sister, a servant and a partner in ministry. As a partner this reflects that "from the very beginning of the Christian church, women have been absolutely crucial partners in ministry with men - partners in marriage and partners as single women." Piper goes on to say, "the role of women, and the courage of women, is simply breathtaking. The fact that God calls men to lead the church as the teaching and governing elders is, in the long run...a strengthening liberating, joyful thing for Christ-exalting women." Phoebe was invaluable to Paul, a minister of mercy whose life celebrated the equal, yet complementary differences in calling and roles as men and women of God.

Prisca & Aquila were married, fellow-workers, movers and risk-takers together for the sake of Christ. Both parties, as a couple, worked together, they were ready to risk together, they were ready to die for Paul and the Gospel. For those who are married: are we ready to move, work and even together put our necks on the block as these saints were? This passage certainly is more than just a list of names. Let's pray that we would be known for more than just our names.

I commend to you this sermon: singles, those who are married and those for whom this post has perhaps struck a chord of disagreement! Listen and watch here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tunes to Treasure!

If you're looking for some new tunes to listen to I'd like to recommend this album from Lou Fellingham called "Treasure" (and not just because my sidekick Cat bought me it for my birthday!) Lou is the lead singer of Phatfish and you can buy the album here. Some of the tracks include Hard Pressed, Build This House, Treasure, Before the Throne, Holy Ground, and I Will Say. Click on a song and see what you think ;)

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Girl, Her Lord & Her Wardrobe

I've just finished reading Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood by Carolyn Mahaney & Nicole Mahaney Whitacre. It's been a real interesting read since the aim of the book is to encourage mums and daughters to really talk about what it means to be a godly woman. It's written by a mother and daughter and provides insights, tips and even study questions. One of the areas which they discuss is the issue of modesty. As one who is not the most fashionable when it comes to clothes I did find the whole discussion interesting and it did make me think. Nicole Whitacre (the daughter) writes:

"Immodest dress is more than simply wearing a short skirt or low-cut blouse. Immodesty is an expression of pride and self-importance, the opposite of humility. Revealing, seductive clothes are the costume of a woman seeking to draw attention to herself rather than bring glory to God. So modesty, then, is humility expressed in dress. It is the attire of the godly woman."

Here are a couple of questions and thoughts to ponder:

1. Modesty is of the utmost importance. It honours God and protects our Christian brothers from sin.
2. Our modest clothing can attest to the fact that the Gospel has indeed changed our lives.
3. What do godly guys look for in a girl? What don't they like to see?
4. What is the most eye-catching thing about you? Your clothing or your character?

One of the helpful things in the book is a "Modesty Heart Check" which I found here. Some of you may well grimace at some of the questions but the intent behind them reflects God's Word on this topic:

"I want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God." 1 Timothy 2:9-10

Sunday, September 24, 2006

For When I am Weak Then I am Strong

Yesterday I was reading 2 Corinthians 12 where Paul talks about his "thorn in the flesh". In verses 9 and 10 he states:

"Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

As I meditated on this, I realised how counter-cultural this is. As women in the 21st century, we are encouraged to be high achievers, ambitious in the workplace, "superwomen" who juggle family and career, excelling at both. It reminds me of a recent TV advert you may have seen where a woman is walking along juggling miniature versions of her husband, children and workplace. Suddenly she clutches her brow as she has a headache. She puts all of these things down for a moment, takes a well-known brand of painkiller and then picks everything up again and gets on with her day. In today's society, weakness is something to be avoided or got rid of at all costs.

But what is the reality, as Christian women? Often we will face difficulties or hardships which cannot be removed simply by popping a pill, and we are called to have a different attitude to these situations. In his commentary on these verses, Charles Hodge states:

"When we are really weak in ourselves, and conscious of that weakness, we are in a state suited to the manifestation of the power of God. Those who think they can change their own hearts, atone for their own sins, subdue the power of evil in their own souls or in the souls of others, who feel able to sustain themselves under affliction, God leaves to their own resources. But when they feel and acknowledge their weakness he communicates to them divine strength."

May we all glorify Christ in our lives today by relying on divine strength to help us in our weakness.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

"Young, Restless, Reformed"

My convictions and the current surge of joy in my heart couldn't stop me from posting what I'm about to link. While musing around in blogland I noticed that the T4G blog pointed out an article run by Christianity Today, "Young, Restless & Reformed: Calvinism is Making a Comeback & Shaking up the Church." It's been an encouraging read and I commend it to you - especially to some of you young folks I know who the article so reminded me of. In it, Collin Hansen (the author) attributes much of this resurgence to John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church who without a doubt has an "unrelenting intensity, demanding discipline, and singular passion—for the glory of God." Much mention is also made of the young pastor Joshua Harris the author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Of earlier years, Harris is quoted as saying "even just thinking doctrinally would have been foreign to me." Yet now Harris' take on it is different: "once you're exposed to [doctrine], you see the richness in it for your own soul, and you're ruined for anything else." Read the article here.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Singled Out for Good

I've just finished reading an article by Paige Benton Brown called "Singled Out for Good: A Biblical View of being Christian and Single." This is a really short, easy to read article and somewhat funny! One thing she said that is of note is:

"My identity is not found in my marital status but in my redemptive status. I am one of the 'haves,' not one of the 'have-nots'."

It's a reminder even to one that is married, that my identity is not bound up in the fact that I have a husband or am a mother. Yesterday I was reading in Ezekiel 24 where God tells Ezekiel that he will take from him the 'delight of his eyes', his wife. Ezekiel was to be to the people of Israel a living parable, telling them that God was about to take from them, because of their unfaithfulness, the delight of their eyes, Jerusalem. What struck me most was that Ezekiel remained faithful, carrying out the commands the Lord had given him despite the death of his wife. For Ezekiel, and for any follower of Christ, our lives must be supremely bound up in Him. First I am a Christian, then I am a wife, then a mother. I can only be a proper wife and mother if I am above all faithful to God first. Otherwise, there is no value in these roles themselves.

Singles, I wish I was reminded many a time before getting married that my life was singled out for good, then as it is now. Psalm 84:11 says: "No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless" - even when we are single. If you'd like to read this article click here.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Practical Parenting

I'm finally getting around to writing something as my 10-week-old is asleep and my 2-year-old is sticking stickers all over the sofa. Oh well...

I was recently browsing on the married life blog and came across two parenting seminars given by Kenneth Maresco, a pastor at Covenant Life Church in Maryland. They are available for download here. They are a long listen at around an hour each, but it is time very well spent as they are full of practical advice on training and disciplining our children according to Scripture.

One point he makes that I've found particularly helpful is the need to train our children to obey us. We need to create reasonable boundaries and then teach our children by modelling or example how to stay within them. It's hard work but such an important task:

"Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death." Proverbs 19:18

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Will the Next Generation Know?

Last night, Catriona and I had the privilege of hosting the first meeting of MuMS - Making Mothering Significant. This is a new discipleship intiative of the Women's Ministry of Charlotte Chapel where we meet to study together what the bible says about being a mum as God intended. For our first meeting we listened to a sermon by John Piper a pastor from Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. We listened to a talk, 'Will the Next Generation Know?' from a series entitled "Raising Children who Hope in the Triumph of God." You can purchase this series from Desiring God Ministries or listen online here.

Piper's sermon was based on Judges 2:6-11 where we find that throughout the lifetime of Joshua and those who had witnessed the great things of the Lord, the people served the Lord. However, after Joshua's death and that whole generation, another generation grew up who did not know the Lord nor what he had done for Israel and did what was evil in God's sight. As a result God's anger burned against them. Piper brought out 3 lessons:

1. Wherever the knowledge of God, his greatness, his grace and his works are preserved especially by those who have experienced it, there is faith and obedience.
2. If we, as parents allow our children to grow up without this knowledge, we not only serve their ignorance, but their destruction.
3. Therefore, it is the solemn duty of all parents to instruct their children about God. Simple, but needful.

I was reminded about this again today in my devotions. Psalm 71:18 reads, "Even when I am old and grey, do not forsake me O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come." Don Carson commented helpfully in For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Treasures of God's Word: "David's vision is more comprehensive than mere protection. He wants so to live in old age that he passes on his witness to the next generation. His aim is not to live comfortably in retirement, but to use his senior years to 'declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.' That is a prayer eminently worth praying. Should not senior saints be praying for grace to pass on what they have learned to a new generation? Perhaps this will be one on one or in small groups. Perhaps one of them will take under his or her wing some young Christian."

And so the biblical reminder to 'pass on' what he have learned is not just for the parents of children but for all Christians, young and especially older. Will we 'pass on' what we have experienced and know of God to be true? Will we sit at the feet of another whom we have much to learn from?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Have you ever had a day like this?

I hope all you parents out there never have a day like this! This was sent to me by my good friend Kim. Remember Kim, your boys aren't that bad!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Forgotten Women

Last Sunday at our home church, Charlotte Baptist Chapel we had a visiting speaker, Dr Patrick Sookhdeo from The Barnabas Fund. Again we were reminded of the suffering that our christian brothers and sisters go through because of their steadfast allegiance to Jesus Christ. Not so long ago I read a book, Hidden Sorrow, Lasting Joy: The Forgotten Women of the Persecuted Church. In it, Anneke Companjen tells of the many women whose husbands were imprisoned or killed for their faith and as a result their lives are marked by sorrow and fear. Companjen writes:

"These women have struggled with painful separation, loss and uncertainty. They have been ostracized by their culture, left alone to care for their fatherless children, and subjected to crushing poverty. Their faith has been stretched to the limit, and yet they have rarely been the subjects of prayer campaigns or human-rights projects...Hidden Sorrow, Lasting Joy is a tribute to such forgotten women."

In reading this book you can hardly but be reminded of the high calling to be a wife and mother, especially when those roles are marked by pain and suffering. Let's remember to pray for them.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Valley of Vision

A must listen to CD for me at the moment is The Valley of Vision. This CD has been produced by Sovereign Grace Ministries, a ministry led by C.J. Mahaney, husband of Carolyn Mahaney who I mentioned in my previous post. The CD is a compilation of worship songs inspired by the classical book of Puritan prayers, The Valley of Vision.

Sovereign Grace Ministries describes these puritan men and women as "giants of the faith,"who "keenly felt their own weakness. They knew their own hearts, and they knew their God." This collection of songs introduces us to men like John Bunyan, Richard Baxter, David Brainerd, and Isaac Watts and are certainly an inspiration for personal prayer, meditation, confession, and rejoicing. If you would like to hear a clip of the CD and watch a Valley of Vision trailer click here. But here's a few words of inspiration from these 350 year old prayers themselves;

The Valley of Vision

Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime starts can be seen from the deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

"Feminine Appeal"

One of the things that we would like to do on our blog is to recommend some good books on Biblical Womanhood. I've recently read a fantastic book on such a subject, Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother by Carolyn Mahaney. This book provides a biblical, practical, honest and challenging read on biblical womanhood, one that I have found invaluable in my journey as a wife and mother. "Feminine Appeal" has been described as "Titus 2 at work" providing in book form the very role of a mentor that Carolyn exhorts the older women in the church to be to the younger. But I'll let the book do the talking and I hope the following excerpts wet your appetite to read more...


Carolyn on "The Mentoring Mandate"

"The seven feminine virtues listed in Titus 2 are prefaced with a clear call to action for older women: 'Teach what is good, and so train the younger women.' I longed for this kind of help and instruction in my early years of marriage and motherhood. I earnestly desired to have a more experienced, godly woman to whom I could go for advice."

"Our Titus 2 passage exhorts older women to provide this kind of assistance for younger women. If you are an older woman, may I appeal to you to take up this challenge? Young women are in dire need of your training and instruction. To function in this role you need not have the gift of teaching or be a theological expert; it simply requires you to possess proven character . The years have brought you much knowledge and insight, and you have a significant roleinthe church. You have discovered secrets of godly wisdom in relation to husbands, children, and the home that could save younger women a lot of unnecessary trouble and concern."

Carolyn on "The Grand Purpose"

"Now there are many Christian women who agree with and adhere to the virtues listed in Titus 2, but are unaware of the ultimate purpose of these practical applications. These women are avid proponents of society's need to return to "traditional values;" yet that is not what this passage is advocating....On the other hand, there are Christian women who reject some of these virtues because they regard them as restrictive and outdated. They single out "working at home" and "submissive to their own husbands" are purely cultural requirements that are not applicable in modern society. However, that idea is erroneous. This passage remains authoritative and relevant for women today."

"The commands found in Titus 2 have been given to us for an all-important reason that transcends time and culture. That reason is the gospel of Jesus Christ. These virtues are not about our personal fulfillment or individual preference. They are required for the sake of unbelievers." (Titus 2:5, 8 &10)

Carolyn on "Feminine Appeal"

"The seven feminine virtues we will consider...point to the transforming effect of the gospel in the lives of women... Can you conceive anything that sets forth the beauty of the gospel jewel more brilliantly than the godly behaviour of those who have recieved it? Consider the loveliness of a woman who passionately adores her husband, who tenderly cherishes her children, who creates a warmand peaceful home, who exemplifies purity, self-control, and kindness in her character and who gladly submits to her husband's leadership - for all that days God grants her life."

I hope these glimpses into "Feminine Appeal" have sparked your interest and encouraged you to read more...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

What is titus2talk all about?

Hidden in these verses (and others scattered throughout the Bible, which we'll look at) we find exhortations of Biblical womanhood, where God has revealed his perfect design for women. In these verses we find some of the qualities of a godly woman - purity, self-control, kindness, love for husbands and children, homemaking and a submissive heart. We also find a command for women to mentor one another, where 'older' women are told to 'train' the younger. These are some of the things which we aspire to and seek to encourage all women to. Whether you are young or older, single or married, busy at home or in the work place (or library!) we'd be delighted if you would share with us this God-given opportunity to discover God's identity for us as women.

So join us as we enter into discussion on Biblical Womanhood. View our posts, consider the books we like, read our reviews, listen in on sermons and talks we've found helpful and enjoy!