Friday, December 19, 2014

Three Women Who Knew: The Word Became Flesh.

The Bible tells us of only three women that knew Who He really was; only three women knew His Divine identity. One was His mother, one a distant cousin, and one a poor widow who lived in the Temple. When a prince is born to a royal family today, it is on all the tv channels, in all the newspapers, his arrival talked about for months, and gifts are sent from around the world. But no one knew of His arrival. His identity was known by only a few.

After Gabriel made his announcement to Mary, did she tell her mother? What did she tell her mother? How do you explain Emanuel to your mother? Miraculous conception isn't something you explain, it is something one must......know.

Mary knew; with one cell of her body she knew when the Prince of Peace began to grow in her womb. But who could she tell? Who would believe that the Kings of Kings could be Mary's child; she was a peasant, He would be a peasant, too.

When I was expecting each of our sons, I loved talking with my mom and other women about the soon arrival. There is such a sweet bond between mother and daughter during that time and I am so thankful that I experienced that with my mom. With my first, I listened wide eyed to the tales of older women and their experiences with labor and delivery. And more than once I caught my mother's eye as she cautioned them not to say "too much" in my presence. I enjoyed being with my friends who were expecting. During two of my pregnancies, two of my sisters were also expecting babies about the same time and it was a sweet time of "baby talk" and hopes and dreams. Did Mary have sisters? What did the older women say about her and her baby? They didn't know Who He was; but Mary knew.

Elizabeth knew. The moment Mary walked through the door of her cousin's home and her own son, John, leaped in her womb, Elizabeth knew. She knew she was in the presence of holiness, of perfection. And for a brief time Mary could enjoy the joys of expecting her first born Son, unafraid, unashamed, completely accepted and loved. It was a secret the two women could share with no one else; Mary's Son was God.

Anna knew. She had lived in the Temple quarters for women for over eighty years. She had seen lots of babies come and go. She knew when parents brought their eight day old baby boys to be circumcised, she knew when they were brought to the Temple to be blessed and with each new baby boy she hoped and wondered if this was the One; could this be the Messiah? And then she saw Him, and she knew.....the One she had waited her whole life to see was there, in the flesh, for her to hold and bless and to praise God for His promise kept, fulfilled.

Could there have been more? Maybe, but I doubt it. God shares His secrets with but a few. Psalm 25:14;
"The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant."

I know who to share my secrets with, don't you? I share them with those I trust, with those who respect me. Mary, Elizabeth, Anna; women who could be trusted with the secret. Women God knew who respected Him, believed His Word, trusted His promises. Soon the secret would be revealed to all, but for now, only three women knew that a young Jewish woman had given birth to the Savior of the World.

Dear friend, I hope you know Him. It isn't a secret anymore; the angels announced His birth on that night, months later wise men came from afar to worship Him and bring Him gifts.Others soon learned that God had come to earth in the flesh. John 1: 14:
"And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory; the glory as the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

If you do not know Him, you can. And this is how you can know Him as Emanuel, as the Divine Son of God, as the Word that became flesh and dwells among us;
1. Admit you are a sinner. Romans 3:23; All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
Romans 5:8; "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."
2. Believe. Romans 10: 9,10; "If you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and will BELIEVE in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED."
3. Believe and Receive. Romans 10:13; "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord will be saved."

Friend, you can know the joy of salvation this Christmas season; you can have the greatest gift of all. If you have never asked Jesus into your heart, please pray this prayer:
"Lord Jesus, I am lost, I am a sinner. I want to be saved from my sins. Please come into my heart, forgive me of my sins, and today I give my life to you and accept You as my Lord and Savior."

He will not turn anyone away. He loves you. He longs to give you His gift.

I'd love to hear from you. Have a Merry, Merry, Blessed Christmas.

With love and blessings to you and your family from:
David, Penny and the whole Noffsinger family.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Feel Like You Are Living in a Pressure Cooker??

Pressure. Ever feel like you are under so much pressure you could......explode?

My Mom would sometimes use a "pressure cooker" when she wanted to get the potatoes done in a hurry or get meat tender quickly, especially on Sunday after church. No, we never went out to eat, ate sandwiches, or waited till supper time for our "big meal" on Sunday. My Mom, every single Sunday of my growing up years, cooked a full meal and had it ready within an hour after we arrived home from church. The family sat down AT the table together and that Sunday dinner tradition impressed me so much that as a young Mom, I was determined that my boys have that same experience. And we did. For years after they married and had homes of their own, when they could, they came here after church on Sunday and we enjoyed Sunday dinner together. And yes, from time to time, I used a "pressure cooker."

Every woman of my Mom's generation, that I know of, had a pressure cooker and she used it every Sunday. A pressure cooker works by tightly sealing the lid onto the pot, the lid has a small hole in the top, and a little regulator fits over that hole. The idea of the pressure cooker is that as the food inside it cooks, steam builds, then escapes through the hole and it is let off at regular intervals by the regulator. The food, under intense pressure, gets cooked very quickly. After the food is cooked, the pot is removed from the heat and the pressure is released a little at a time until there is no pressure left inside. Great idea right? And this is my Mom's pressure cooker. I use it occasionally, but actually, I am a little intimidated by it.

Not a great pic and you can sure tell it was used a lot, but girls, this is an old fashioned pressure cooker!!
It was the last one she used, but certainly not the first one. It really would be an antique!









 I don't remember any "explosions" with that pressure cooker, but David also remembers his Mom's pressure cooker............

David's Mom was a great cook and she used her pressure cooker a lot. One day, in a hurry to feed her hungry family, she decided to quickly cook some "greens" (spinach, kale, for you who are too young to remember "greens".) The  "jiggler" as we called it, was happily singing on that pressure cooker, the family was in the living room laughing and talking and suddenly there was an explosion in the kitchen. They all ran in and David said "greens" were hanging from the light fixture, curtains, and everything else in that kitchen. (I could make a joke here about the "hanging of the greens", but I won't) Greens cook very quickly and his Mom forgot to turn down the burner under the pressure cooker, pressure built to such intensity that the pot could not handle the pressure and the only thing it could do was to "blow up". And that is where we get the phrase, letting off steam.

Pressure affects every woman I know. Whether it is the girl in Middle School, the bride engaged to be married, the new wife, the Mom who is trying to keep it all together, the women in our 50's and 60's who are feeling the pressure to adjust to changes in our lives, or the woman of any age who feels pressure to fit in, look good, feel good......do good, women today are pressured. And when there is too much pressure, and not enough "steam" is let off, we're going to explode and when we do, there will be pieces of us laying everywhere.

At this time of year, most of us feel like we are living in a "pressure cooker." There are only 31 days in this month, but I can tell you of more than 31 events that David and I would like to attend, together. With 3 sons, 8 grandchildren, our extended families and church families, this month is packed; and in a good way. We love the holidays and we especially love being with our family, and I sure don't want to have those special times marred by memories of the "pressure cooker", (me) blowing up and leaving a mess!
So how do I handle the pressure?

1. Say this with me: "Everything in my house does not have to be perfect and look perfect!" Now remember that when family and friends stop by unexpectedly.

2. Say this with me: "I do not have to be all things to all people."  With all you have to do, I am going to add one more thing to your list; sorry. Each morning, this month, before your feet hit the floor, pray this prayer:
"Lord, help me stay focused today on pleasing You." It is amazing how that simple prayer keeps things in perspective for us, even if we have to pray it several times during the day. I tend to be a "people pleaser" and I often say yes, when I should say an emphatic "no!" When I'm focused on pleasing God, it does unexpected things to my attitude toward all the demands on my busy life. I don't want to over-use that word "amazing" here, but it is amazing how that simple prayer keeps me focused, and keeps life in perspective.

3.  It's ok to have a private meltdown, in the bathroom, with the door closed, with guests seated around the table, tree, fireplace, etc. When you feel the pressure build, take a break. They can handle it for a few minutes if you aren't in the room, they'll adjust, they may not even miss you. Please don't tell my kids this, but on more than one holiday, (several actually), I have gone into my bathroom, closed the door, sat down on the floor, took several deep breaths, hummed a few bars of  "How Great Thou Art", went back to the group and had a great time!! It's amazing, (that word again) how much steam escapes when I focus on God, praise His Holy name, and remember that Jesus truly is the reason for the season.

The old saying, "hindsight is 20/20" is so true and as I get older, I am finding out more and more just how true. And this is what I am learning; most of the pressure I felt I was under when my marriage was new and my kids were little was pressure that I put on myself. It did not come from David's expectations, my boy's expectations, my parents, my siblings, my friends, my church family, it came from the steam to be all things to all people that built up in me, and instead of letting it off a little at time, I exploded.

So, ladies, in this pressure cooker month we live in, take some pressure off. Be sure to have a few minutes each day of quiet, close your eyes and breathe slowly and say His precious name. It is amazing how that name above all names, (Eph.1:21) breathed in prayer and thanksgiving slowly eases the pressure. Take time to just sit still; Psalm 46: 10; "Be still and know that I Am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Put your focus on that baby in the manger, God's greatest gift to us, and enjoy the angel's exaltation: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will to all people." It only takes a few quiet minutes, focused on God, to release a ton of pressure.

January 1 will be here before we know it. There will be new pressures in 2015. Sorry, but that is the way life is. Maybe if we learn how to take some pressure off, we can avoid those nasty explosions! (remember the greens???)

Love you all,
Penny

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Thing I Long For

"Oh that I might have my request and that God would grant me the thing that I long for!" (Job 6:8)

Ever felt like that? I have. And we're in very good company because in the oldest book in the Bible, the book of Job, Mr. Job knew what desperation felt like. What request had he made of God and prayed that God would grant him the very thing in life he longed for the most? He had lost everything; his children. He had lost other things, too, but in comparison to the loss of sons and daughters, everything else paled. But Mrs. Job had lost the very same things that Mr. Job had lost. Was she desperate to hear from God, too? Did she long for Him to grant her the thing she longed for? I believe she did.

I know desperate people. They put on a smile, act as if everything is ok in their lives, but inside they are longing for something that only God can do. And time goes on and still God does not grant their request. I, too, have been one of those desperate people. I, too, have approached the throne of grace with the same request: "Oh that I might have my request and that God would grant me the thing that I long for!"

You've heard it said, I'm sure, that desperate people do desperate things. Job was desperate, but all he could do was sit in his "ash heap" covered from head to toe with boils and listen as those around him told him what they thought he should do. I've been there, too.

Ladies, let me share with you something I learned many years ago and it has sustained me many, many times through desperation; giving thanks for the very thing that I am so desperate for. I know it is not logical, it makes no sense, even sounds contradictory, but it is a spiritual discipline that will transform your prayer life and your intimacy with Christ. Here is how it works and it is based on the command in 1 Thessalonians 5:18; "In everything give thanks for this is the will of God concerning you."
God intends a command to be obeyed and we can give thanks with our mouth, even though we do not feel "thank-ful" in our heart. You may think you can't, but yes Ma'am you can!

You are desperate for God to heal your marriage. You give thanks for the very thing that is hurting your marriage, and you acknowledge (Prov.3:6) that God will do all things for His glory and your good. (Romans 8:28)

You are desperate for physical healing. Give thanks for your illness. (Proverbs 3:6, Romans 8:28)

You are desperate for God to bring your grown child to his/her senses. Give thanks for your child and what is happening in their lives. (Proverbs 3:6, Romans 8:28)

You are desperate for God to give you/your husband a job. Give thanks that you need a job. (Proverbs 3:6, Romans 8:28)

You are desperate for God to heal your relationship with a loved one. Give thanks for the problem with the relationship, acknowledge God's activity in your life, and trust Him to do all things for His glory and your good. (Proverbs 3:6, Romans 8:28)

True story; our son Kyle had an "old" work car that was not very dependable. Many nights on his way to work it broke down. One day he shared his frustration with me about that "old car" and he was just about at the end of his rope. (Kentucky slang for "had it") I shared 1 Thess. 5:18 and encouraged him to start right then and there giving thanks for that car. And each time it broke down or delayed him in some way, he gave thanks, and then he mentally listed every reason he could think of to give thanks for that old work car.  (very short list)
Long story short, it didn't happen overnight, but over the course of the next few weeks, God began to move in his circumstances and he was able to get a better work car. But more important than a better work car was a much needed lesson learned in obedience and the faithfulness of God to bless our obedience and enlarge our faith. Does your faith need to be enlarged today? It can be as simple as to "give thanks."

Ladies, it can hurt to say those words: "Lord, I give You thanks for............ I acknowledge your faithful work in my life, and I trust You to work even this seemingly hopeless situation for my good and your glory." But,
when you and I are obedient, even when it is painful, God releases His supernatural power upon our desperation and even though our situations may not change immediately, (although I have experienced it)
something changes in us and we have the peace of God that He is working in the heavenly realm to bring about our good and His glory here on earth.

Dear friend, if the mysteries of God made sense they would not be the mysteries of God. And I am glad they don't make sense because if they did, it would take the faith factor out of our desperation.

While we focus next week on Thanksgiving Day and all we have to truly be thankful for, allow your desperation and your longing to lead you to obedience and "In everything give thanks for this is the will of God concerning you."

Will you give this a try? And will you let me know either in a comment or an email how your obedience turned around your desperation?

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Giving Thanks!1

Penny

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Give Away Jesus

I know it's only been a week since my last post, but I read a scripture a few days ago that I felt impressed
to share with you: Acts 3:6;
Then Peter said, "Silver and gold have I none, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."

I love my Charles Stanley Life Principles Bible. Dr. Stanley has such incredible insight into the Word and I learn so much from his interpretation of the scripture. This is what he said about that verse:

"We may not have riches or political influence or many other things that the world craves, but we do have the Spirit of the Lord living within us--and we can always give away Jesus while still keeping Him."

Those of you who know me know that I believe in the inerrancy of the scripture and I believe that no matter how many times we read a verse or portion of text, we can learn something new. And I have learned something new---Jesus wants me to give Him away....everyday. And no matter how much of Him I give away, I still have all of Him. That revelation is so incredible to me.

When I give away His kindness to someone who is unkind to me, I am still full of His kindness.
When I give away His love, I am still full of His love.
When I give away His compassion and understanding, I am still full of His compassion and understanding.
When I give away His forgiveness, I am still full of His forgiveness.
When I give away His peace, I am still full of His peace.
When I give away His joy, I am still full of His joy.
When I give away His gentleness, I am still full of His gentleness.
When I give away His wisdom, I am still full of His wisdom.

What part of Jesus does someone need you to give them? Whatever it is, it is still ours to keep. Give it away and experience Him replacing it with more of Him. Oh dear lady He is so good and so worthy of our praise.
Give away Jesus today; no matter how much you give away, you'll still keep all of Him.

Penny

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

10 Things Kids Need to Catch Mom Doing

You've heard it said that children are a reflection of their parents; as if we didn't have enough to worry about, right? And even though I cringed each time I heard that when my boys were small, the older I get the more I have come to appreciate the truth of those words. Years ago there was a cute commercial depicting a child in a precarious situation with an adult saying, "It's tough being a kid." Yes it is tough being a kid, but in today's world it is really tough being a Mom. We worry about everything, don't we? I so wanted to be a good Mom that I put too much pressure on myself, my husband and my kids and it is only by God's grace we made through those early years. But one thing I learned through those years of trying to be the perfect Mom is something so simple, that it was transforming, and it is this: it is my day to day living that will profoundly influence those precious ones that God has placed in my care more than anything else I could do.

Here are 10 things my Mom lived in front of me every day of my life that has had more influence on me than any parenting book, (except the Bible of course) any preacher, any teacher, any friend or family member, or anyone or anything else for that matter. Ladies, it is not the hard stuff, it is not the big stuff, it is the integrity and character that our kids see in us everyday that the stuff of parenting is made of. I hope in these 10 things you will find encouragement and motivation to live Christ out before your kids everyday they are in your home and in your care. So what do your kids need to "catch" you doing today??

1.Reading your Bible and praying.
My Mom raised 10 children and I do not have enough space and you don't have enough time for me to share with you the stories my Mom told us about the prayers she had prayed for us kids and the prayers God answered. I heard her pray out loud, on her knees beside my bed that I would be saved. The last thing she said to me before I went into the delivery room with my first child was, "I'm praying for you." Seeing you in your favorite chair, open Bible on your lap and a prayer on your lips will be a picture that stays in your child's mind.....forever. Pray together today and let your child hear you say his name in prayer. When kids know Mom is praying for them it brings security into their lives like nothing else.

2. Treating your husband with respect.
The way you speak to and about your husband will be the influencing factor in how your daughter speaks to her husband, and how your son will cultivate respect in his marriage. You do your children a great injustice each time you criticize, belittle, or nag your husband. Little ears hear a lot, and each time you dis-respect your children's father, you are teaching them, by example that is is ok for a wife to verbally tear down her husband. Instead, take time each day to say something positive about their Dad. Kids need a hero, and when we teach our kids to look for his good qualities and not focus on the negative, we are building security into their lives. Young women who have strong fathers, (physically, spiritually, and emotionally) will look for those same qualities in a husband. And when young men see those qualities in their Dad, you will see God do "exceedingly, abundantly above anything we could ask or think" for them. (Eph.3:20)

3. Dressing and behaving modestly.
Ezekiel 16:44 says this: "Like mother, like daughter." Set the example by dressing modestly and teach her, by your example, how important it is to be modest in what she wears. But being modest doesn't stop with what you choose to wear. You also send signals by the way you conduct yourself around other men. Let's dig out the word lady, dust it off, and start living up to its definition. In Jesus, the One and Only, (B&H Publishing) Beth Moore dedicates the book to Marge Caldwell, her mentor, who "taught her to be a lady in the ministry." Can you imagine what an impact for Christ Christian Moms could make if our kids could catch us being a lady in how we dress and conduct ourselves??

4. Looking well to the ways of her household.
The woman in Proverbs 31 knew what was going on in her home and with her kids. She wasn't one of those Moms who didn't have a clue what her kids were up to. Studies show and life proves that kids are more secure when Mom is available and watching over the affairs of her home. Let your kids catch you doing things that keep your home running smoothly. (check out an earlier blog, Boundaries, Structure, and Responsibility)

5. Speaking kindly to unkind people.
What would life be without those people in our lives who do such a good job of critiquing us? How you respond to criticism and negative remarks will set the stage for how your kids respond to criticism, bullying, and peer pressure. Self control is a fruit of the Spirit that makes it possible for Mom to respond in kindness to hurtful words and critical people.

6. Reaching out to the poor and needy.
Each time your kids hear you express concern for those who are in need and then follow through by meeting that need, you are developing character in your kids that will make them a giver and not a taker. Involve your kids in your efforts to reach out to others, and watch as that tender heart of compassion develops right before your eyes.

7.Keeping a positive attitude, even in difficult circumstances.
Those who live with us day in and day out see our best, and they see us at our worst. Your kids will see you sick; they will see you or your husband unemployed at some time; your kids will know what makes you angry, hurts your feelings, and what gets on your last nerve! When we stay optimistic when life brings nothing but one challenge after another, we will build optimism into their lives. Let your kids catch you with a positive attitude, even on your worst day.

8. Giving honor to your parents and your in-laws.
Honor is one of those spiritual principles that the more we give it the more it comes back to us. And God promises to honor us when we honor Him. (1 Samuel 2:30). Your kids need to see you demonstrate respect to your aging parents and in-laws. Someday, sooner than you think, you will be the mother-in-law. Your kids will learn from you how to give and how to receive honor. (and how to treat you in your aging years.)

9. Turning off the TV.
When our kids and grandkids catch us changing the channel or turning off the TV when inappropriate programming is aired, it will influence what they consider appropriate to watch more than even the influence of their friends.

10. Telling the truth.
Little white lies, shading the truth, fibbing when you don't want to take a phone call, all add up to one thing; "Mom says it is ok to lie." Sometimes the truth hurts. But the truth, spoken in love, and with compassion is a good thing. And it is an act of obedience that sends a strong message to our kids.

What we as Moms say and what we do each and every day matters. We are important in the lives of our kids and they will learn more from us than anyone else.It's important that you read your Bible and pray and it is important that they know it. It's important how you treat your husband with respect and it is important that they catch you treating him with respect. It's important how you dress and conduct yourself around other men and it's important that they see it. It's important that you look well to the ways of your household, speak kindly, reach out to the poor, keep a positive attitude, give honor to your aging parents and your husband's parents; it is important in our day and time to monitor the tv, computer, ipads, and their friends, and important that they catch you at it. And Mom, it is so important that your kids catch you being truthful, in all things. Will catching you doing these 10 things influence their lives? It sure will. Will it influence their character and integrity and shape the adults they become? You better believe it.

I was raised by a woman who read her Bible and prayed and got answers from God. I watched how she treated my Dad with respect. I never saw my Mom dressed immodestly and I never saw her act inappropriately around other men. She always took good care of us and looked well to the ways of her household. She never raised her voice and she was one of the kindest women I ever knew. We didn't have a lot, but she was always ready to help anyone who needed her help. She tried to keep a positive attitude and I saw her do an amazing job of honoring her parents and in-laws as they grew older. Many times she got up from her seat and turned off the TV and we didn't even have cable and it was the 60's for goodness sake!!! And the thought of my Mom not telling the truth is not even feasible for me.

Ladies, I know it is tough being a Mom; It's tough knowing our kids are a reflection of our parenting. But I also know we can accomplish great things in their lives as they see us live out our love for Christ, our love for our husband, our love for them, and our love for others, every single day in just the normal routine of life. I believe it is these 10 things that will set your family apart and pave the way for God to do amazing things in your kid's lives. Influence, influence, influence; we all have it, how will we use it?

This is my Mom and I am so thankful for her influence and integrity.


Oh dear friend, God loves you and He loves your family and He will bless your obedience and determination to make your family the best it can be for His glory.

I'd love to hear from you and I'd love to hear what has influenced you most in your parenting. Have a great day!
Penny

(Note: some of this post was an article I wrote for HomeLife a few years ago. The original title was 10 Things Daughters Need to Catch Their Mom Doing. I wrote it to honor my Mom and it was accepted for publication 2 weeks after her death.)





Thursday, October 9, 2014

Think on These Things

David and I are in Michigan. Yes, Michigan. Before you ask why, just let me say that where else would a Ford man be during the 50th anniversary of the Mustang? We visited the Henry Ford Museum , spent a day in Ontario, did lots of other Ford stuff and enjoyed a prelude to winter. (yes it is down right nippy) While he is checking out the cars, I thought I would post a quick blog about something that affects every woman I know, especially me:
how we think.

In a recent article in the Western Recorder, "People are Looking for Mercy", Rick Warrren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California said this: "A lot of people think mental illness means people are out of touch with reality. Ninety nine percent of us-and I include all of us-- struggle with mental health issues, and we're not out of touch with reality. Depression is a mental health issue. Worry is a mental health issue. Compulsion is a mental health issue......Fear is a mental health issue."

Rick and Kay Warren have experienced something that no parent should experience; the suicide of their son, Matthew. They have been very open about the mental health issues he suffered since childhood. And while I am no where near qualified to discuss the issues of mental health from a professional perspective, like most women, I have experienced depression, worry, compulsion, and fear. And before I go any further, let me encourage you to seek professional help for depression or mood swings that consume you or hang on for long periods of time. Tell a trusted friend or family member, please don't suffer in silence, find someone who will listen and get the professional help needed to get well and whole. This post is not meant to address those issues in any way. This post is for those times in our lives when we are fearful and worry, when we feel mildly depressed and just a little compulsive. Sound like your life? It sure sounds like parts of mine.

Phil. 4:8.
"Whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." 

Most of the things that bring us down emotionally are things that are simply untrue. And lies of our enemy bring on feelings of fear and worry. Who told you that you aren't as good as...........? And who said you aren't as smart as.......? And who is this "they" that we often think are talking about us or putting us down? Stick with the truth of what God says about you in Ephesians 1: you are "blessed, chosen, holy, without blemish, (sounds pretty good to me) adopted, accepted, redeemed, forgiven," and that's the truth! More truth: Phil. 4:13 and 19; "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me." V19; "God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

Truth; through Christ you can do all things so don't be afraid.
Truth: you will not starve, God will supply all your needs so don't worry. And since God is always right, and since He is always good and since He will only allow into our lives the things that are best for us and bring Him the most glory, that takes care of worry and fear for our future. Think about that.

The truth is, we are His chosen, beloved children and "no weapon formed against us will prosper." Isaiah 54:17. When I replace fear and worry with truth, I take the focus off of me and my way of thinking, and it changes everything.

Most women can get a little compulsive from time to time. (I am smiling as I write this) We get compulsive with how we look, what we eat, how we decorate our homes, how are children are perceived, and yes, you got it; ourselves. Many, many times I have been more consumed with what people thought of me than what God thinks of me. Read Isaiah 6:1-3. It really puts things in perspective, doesn't it? Isaiah saw the Lord, high and lifted up and sitting on His throne. Above the throne stood the seraphim and what were they calling to each other? The truth is, it is not about me and it is all about our holy, holy, holy Lord. Truth sets me straight and keeps me in my place, but more importantly truth sets me free. (John 8:32) One day, the things we are consumed with, the things we think are so important, will pass away and we will kneel at His feet and proclaim that He is holy, holy, holy.

Guilt often leads to depression. And it doesn't take but one drop of guilt for the enemy to start a fire of depression and I tend to isolate myself. He knows that if we as believers are isolated from other Christians, we develop a more inward focus and the guilt will eat away at us and kill the joy. Guilt keeps us from church attendance, from prayer, from reading our Bible, from fellowshipping with other believers and before we know it we have gone so far we think we can't get back. And that is depression's goal; to take us so far away from truth that we feel there is no way back. But when I think about truth, and honesty and being fair, again the focus is turned from me and my prideful thinking that "it is all about me" and placed where it belongs; on Him. I have learned that when I begin to feel guilty it usually means that I have unconfessed, unforgiven sin that is standing between me and my Father. Forgiveness wipes the slate clean and brings back the joy, it brings back the hope, and it puts out that fire of depression. The goal of our enemy is to keep us so consumed with ourselves that we cannot see anyone or anything else. We train our minds to think in the heavenly realm when we think on truth, honesty, fairness, pure and lovely things, reports of good news, things that are virtuous and worthy of our praise.

Now, that means we may have to change what we watch on tv. We may need to change the style of music we listen to, the books and magazines we read, who we hang out with, and where we go for entertainment, but it will be worth it. Because you see, when we replace a lie with the truth, when we replace compulsive, depressing thoughts with pure and lovely things, dwell on the good news and not the bad, and we look for things in our lives and in the lives of others that are virtuous and worthy of our praise, a whole new way of thinking and believing opens up to us. And when we control our thinking instead of our thinking controlling us, oh ladies, we begin to experience the freedom that salvation intends us to experience. So today, you choose what you think about; don't let the enemy make that choice for you.

I encourage you to read Phil 4:8, spend a few moments meditating on truth, honesty, fairness, lovely and virtuous things, the good news we hear and cultivate virtuous thoughts. Think on the these things and watch God transform your attitude toward your husband and kids, your work and other relationships, and your feelings and emotions concerning the future. God is interested in every area of our lives and it all starts with what we are thinking.

(I did not know they have black squirrels in Ontario! An amazing sight to this Kentucky girl. Oh yes, and at the border, as David talked with the border control agent, he politely smiled and said, "I can tell you are from Kentucky." Now wonder how he knew that?)

Penny

Friday, September 19, 2014

Share the Dream

I've been reading in Genesis the last several days in preparation for a series of Sunday School lessons I'll be teaching on the life of Joseph. His life intrigues me. Each time I read his story I am amazed at his wisdom, self control and self discipline, his faith, and his forgiveness. He stands as a shining example to every little boy and every little girl of what God will do with a life of integrity, character, and submission to His divine will. I have read his story many times, taught many Sunday School lessons, and heard many sermons based on his life, but didn't react to this one particular verse until the other day: Genesis 37:11;
"And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind."

If you aren't familiar with his story, Joseph was son number 11 of Jacob and his beloved wife Rachael. Jacob had run away from his angry brother Esau, traveled to the land of his mother's people, met beautiful Rachael at a well, agreed with her father Laban to work for her hand in marriage for 7 years, was tricked on his wedding night and found out the next morning that he had actually married her older sister Leah. His love for Rachael was so great that he agreed to work for another 7 years for her and he and Rachael were married the next week. Over the course of the next several years, Leah and his 2 concubines gave Jacob 10 sons, but the Bible says that Rachael could not have children.

In Genesis 30:22, "Then God remembered Rachael, and God listened to her and opened her womb."
Verse 24; "She called his name Joseph." Rachael and Jacob later had another son, Benjamin, but in giving birth to Jacob's 12th son, Rachael died. From chapter 30, on through the rest of the book of Genesis, we see Jacob's favoritism toward Joseph and the envy that it created among his other sons almost destroyed his family.

The Bible tells us that Joseph was a very handsome man. The Bible also tells us that Rachael was a beautiful, stunning woman. I believe Joseph looked exactly like his mother and each time Jacob looked at that face he saw the face of his beloved.....and the 10 older sons could not help but see the look of love on Jacob's face each time he looked at Joseph or spoke of him. (Please read the rest of the book of Genesis to see how things turned out. It's a good lesson for every parent on what not to do! Don't play favorites with your kids.)

In chapter 37, we're told that Joseph dreamed dreams of greatness. And he didn't keep those dreams to himself, but he shared them with his father and 10 older brothers. And in v11, when Jacob heard Joseph tell of his dreams, "he kept the matter in mind." I believe at that moment Jacob knew that God had placed His calling on his son's life. Of course he didn't know all the details, nor did he know the hurt and anguish they both would endure for the next several years, but....he knew.

Mom, I believe God has placed within your heart the ability to discern His voice in your child's life. I have many examples with all 3 of our sons when I knew that God had spoken to them, but I'd like to share one in particular.

When Jeff was a junior in high school, he came to me one day with a piece of paper in his hand and said, "I wrote a sermon." For a few moments I didn't know quite how to respond, then I said, "Well what are you going to do about it?" And at that moment I had a sense, deep within me, that God was going to use him in ministry in some way. I had no idea how, but I knew.

We did not talk it about anymore for years, and he became involved with teaching at our church and working with the youth and I thought maybe God would use him in some way in youth ministry. But when he shared with his Dad and me that he knew God was calling him to preach the Word, I wasn't surprised because I just knew....it had always been there because "I had kept the matter in mind."

So how can we help our children and grandchildren discern God's voice in their lives?
1. Love the Word, be a student of the Word and teach them from an early age to be lovers of the Word.

This is where they will first hear God's calling on their life and where He will establish His Word in their heart. A student of the Word is someone who is preparing to hear from God, and this above everything else will develop a sensitivity to all things holy and spiritual in your child's heart.

2. Make sure they hear good, solid, conservative gospel preaching that speaks truth into their young lives.

Have them attending a good Sunday School class with a teacher who has been called by God to teach children. And ladies there is a difference in a teacher and a God-called teacher. God calls teachers just as He calls preachers. (1 Corinth.12:28) Could God be calling you to be teacher? ASK HIM!

3. And this is so important; begin early in your child's life developing the kind of relationship with your children that they feel comfortable coming to you with "their dreams."

Jacob and Joseph lived in a time when children were considered property. Most sons didn't have an open, loving relationship with their father and Jacob certainly didn't have that kind of relationship with his other sons. But in chapter 37, Joseph eagerly shared "his dreams" with his father. Joseph saw Jacob as "approachable". Do kids not share their dreams with us because they are afraid we will not take them seriously or dismiss their intimate thoughts? I love to hear my sons share their hopes and dreams with me. Whether it is Kyle sharing with me his dreams for Africa, Bryan sharing his dreams for his family and his personal life, or Jeff sharing a dream he has for his church, I want to be approachable to my sons and interested in their dreams. And the really neat thing is, now my grandchildren are sharing their dreams; maybe not on as great a scale, but I believe little dreams turn into big dreams and I want to be a part of it all!!

So...as you tuck in those little ones tonight, or sit around the table with your teen or pre-teen, create an atmosphere in your home that invites "dream sharing." What a privilege to be a part of their lives and dreams. And when they do open their heart, (maybe just and inch or so) and share their most intimate hopes and dreams, "keep the matter in your mind" and watch over the next few years how God turns that dream into a calling on their lives. And because you have been approachable and inviting, you get to influence the dream and become a part of it.

Penny