We're pleased to have Noël Piper back with us for the third and final portion of our interview.
As I mentioned yesterday, Noël, you have a writing gift, which you have sought to use for the benefit of the church. You have written the children’s book, Most of All, Jesus Loves You!, as well as Treasuring God in Our Traditions, and most recently Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God.
First of all, I want to ask you about Treasuring God in Our Traditions. Why do you think this topic is so important?
Of course, reading the book is the best way to find out the answer to that question. The short answer is that if God is the center and treasure of our lives, that should (will?) reflect that reality in the way we choose to celebrate special occasions and to shape our everyday habits. With the book, I wanted to remind Christians of that and help them think about how it plays out.
Now that your children are grown, how have you seen the benefits of God-exalting traditions in your family life?
I believe that everything we do right in our family is, in some way pointing our children toward God. So the best thing I can see is that my children are following God and raising their children to treasure God.
If you had to pick, what would you say is your favorite Piper family tradition?
The one family tradition that I canNOT imagine abandoning is almost-daily family prayer/devotions. There are several related pieces to that tradition:
Family devotions with whole family togethr
Prayer time of just my husband and me together
Personal devotional times for each person alone, including for the children
Your most recent book is Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God which is filled with fascinating stories of women of faith. How can we as women in the twenty-first century benefit from studying biographies of godly women from the past?
Hebrews 13:1-6 admonishes us to live godly lives and reminds us that God is our helper. Then verse 7 tells us one way that God helps us: Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. The writer of Hebrews tells us to look toward those who have gone before us in the faith, to listen to what they say about God and to look at the way they lived and to imitate their faith.
No one’s life is exactly like mine. And some lives seem too different to be of interest or use. But, when you consider a life, you discover similar emotions, fears, needs. For instance, I’m not afraid of imprisonment, but when I read about Esther Ahn Kim’s fear, I’m reminded how to deal with the things I AM afraid of.
I think that’s the point of the very next verse, Hebrews 13:8 -- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.
My life is not exactly the same as any other person’s, but when I look at someone else’s life in a biography, it’s not ultimately her life I want to see. I want to see her Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Are you currently planning or working on another book you can tell us about?
I’m just starting to research the life of Betsey Stockton. As far as I know, no book has been written about her. She was an American-born black slave in the early 1800s, living in Princeton, NJ. She was freed soon after her conversion, and in 1823, became the 1st single woman to be sent out as a missionary in the American missionary movement, which had begun just a few years previous with the sending of Adoniram Judson. She went to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), expecting to spend her life there, but had to return to America after just a couple of years. Afterward, she became a matriarch in the black community of Princeton.
I would be very thankful for any sources or information that anyone can send me that might relate to her life and places.
Finally, and I saved the hardest one for last, what do you think is the most urgent need among Evangelical Christian women today?
One urgent need for men and women—but perhaps it’s more a problem for women—is to love and trust and seek God’s truth more than we depend on our own emotions. When I don’t understand or I hate the ways things are happening, I may want to think (even subconsciously), “I surely wouldn’t do things like that if I were God.” And then it would be easy for my emotions to tempt me to say, “Therefore, God is not good.”
We need to know that God is God, and we aren’t. We need to acknowledge that we don’t always understand why he acts as he does, but to trust that he sees everything and knows everything and has all power—AND that everything he does is good. That’s what he tells us in his Word, and his word is truth.
What is one question you wished I had asked and what is your answer?
Noël, what ministries are you involved with outside the church walls?
And my answer would be:
I get really excited about 2 kinds of ministry, and just recently the 2 have overlapped in an exhausting and exciting way.
1. For a long time, I have loved doing all sorts of missions travel. Usually I will be visiting missionary families or groups that include people sent from our church. Different trips have different emphases: prayer walks and personal prayer ministry perhaps or maybe speaking at a conference. Whatever the official form of a mission, I’m praying that a key impact will be that missionaries are encouraged and strengthened to continue the work and life God has given them. Always I learn lots about how God is working in other places and come back home knowing a little bit better how to pray for particular people and places.
2. In various ways over a lot of years, God has brought me more deeply into ministry to and with people with disabilities. For the last few years I’ve been on the Minnesota Board of Joni and Friends, which has been the primary channel for this sort of ministry.
These 2 kinds of ministry overlapped recently when I was part of a team distributing wheelchairs in Cameroon, West Africa. It’s a humbling thing to see people coming to you however they can get there—crawling on hands and knees, dragging themselves, being carried by someone not much larger than themselves—and to see that for these people mobility is more important than dignity . . . And then to see the faces when they were in their new chairs and could meet the world face to face. It made me stop and realize that almost everyone I know who uses a wheelchair would be moving like that—if they could move at all—without the blessing of a chair.
(I’m having to wipe my eyes looking again at this woman who couldn’t stop rejoicing.)
Noël, thank you so much for agreeing to be our first girl-to-girl talk interviewee. It's been such a joy to get to know you a little better. We pray that God will continue to pour out His blessing on you and your family.
For our readers, we would encourage you to check out more resources by Noël Piper at www.desiringgod.org.