Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What's The Plan?

I am a planner. If you read my last blog, then you also know I like structure, routine, and order in my home and in my personal life. As I often heard a wise woman say, "A place for everything and everything in it's place." Sometimes that works, but much of the time it doesn't, right?

Being a a structure oriented, type A personality, goes a long way in making me a planner. When we have a holiday or family get together coming up, I start making plans weeks in advance. Most of the time, planning in advance is a good thing and it sure helps things to run more smoothly, but.......sometimes even the best made plans can get unmade in a hurry.

This month we are celebrating our youngest grandson, Isaac's birthday. He will be a year old and we are so blessed and thankful for his life. Since April had a C-section with our grandson Alex, she scheduled a C-section with Isaac. And since the hospital was about 40 miles from their home, and she would have to stay for 3 days, David and I planned to stay in a motel with the 3 older children so they would be close to the hospital and it would make for much less driving back and forth.

As is true to my character, I had our bag packed several days before the planned event. Two days before the scheduled C-section, I receive a call from Kyle about 6 a.m. saying April was in labor, they were headed to the hospital and he needed me to get there as quickly as possible. Do you know what an unexpected 6 a.m. call like that does for a seasoned planner? First of all, I had "planned" to wash my hair that day and do all the things we women "do" when we know we are going to be gone a few days. I had "planned" to get everything in order here at home, and I was looking forward to spending a few days with the older children and being a help to Kyle and April and their family. But my plans didn't even enter the picture when I received that call. David had already left to get an early start at work, so I called him and told him what was going on, then I threw on some clothes, combed my needed to be washed hair, jumped in the car and headed to the hospital. I was excited, nervous, and deep in prayer as I turned on my flashers and as David says, "Probably at least drove the speed limit."

As I am driving down the parkway, I receive another call from Kyle. An ambulance had met them about half-way there and she would be arriving at the hospital ahead of them and I needed to be there. That sure wasn't in the plan, and I began to pray, in earnest, for God's mercy, His grace, and His blessing. God was faithful to our family that day and we have precious Isaac as evidence of His goodness.

Later that evening after things had calmed down a bit, I jokingly told a friend, "Well as usual, I made my plans, then God showed me His."

Do you ever make plans? It is scriptural to make plans; remember the ant in Proverbs 6? And what about the woman in Proverbs 31? She made all kinds of plans for herself and her family, and they were good plans, plans that God blessed. Making plans, setting goals for your family, your personal spiritual growth, financially and for your health are all good things and things that God will bless. The problem occurs when I focus on the plan and not the God Who reigns over the plan.

Proverbs 19:21; "There are many devices (plans) in a person's heart; nevertheless the counsel (decree) of the Lord, that will stand (prevail)."  I love that KJV word nevertheless; for me it's right up there with "wherefore and therefore". It says to me, "Penny, go ahead and plan your day, nevertheless, don't be caught off guard if I change things around a bit for your good and My glory." Only someone in authority can issue a decree and only God Jehovah has the authority to make a decree in my life.

So how do you respond when your best made plans are suddenly changed and you or someone you love must move in a different direction?

True of false:
1. I get angry.
2. I blame someone else.
3. I try to make my plan work anyway. (can be dangerous)
4. I cry and have a "poor me" party for one.
5. I adjust my plan to God's plan and keep on moving.
6. I learn from the experience and choose to ask God to help me make my plan the next time.
7. I look at God's plan and say, "Hey, this worked out much better than I had planned."

Well, needless to say, God's plan was much better than mine. April had a speedy recovery, no issues with surgery, she was back home in less time, and there was less stress on their family. And for me...I'm learning some planning adjustments. I find myself asking God more often, "Lord, what do You want me to do today?
How can I be a blessing to someone? I "plan" to do so-and-so today, but if You need me somewhere else, I'll change the plan."

I had such a good time that day with my grandchildren.  There was no plan, we just hung out, ate lots of junk food, made a movie of the day, and I inner-acted with people I may not have had the opportunity to be with had we stuck to "my plan."

Ladies, it is amazing what God will do when we let Him "run the show". Would there be less stress in our marriage, with our kids, in our health, at the workplace, even in our church family, if we didn't have to always be in control, and if we got up each morning and said, "This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad." And Lord, what's Your plan for me today? And then move in the direction that the Holy Spirit sends us.

People watch how we respond to the un-planned, and they are influenced, one way or the other by how we react. It's amazing, yes, even life altering what un-explainable, supernatural things can take place when I take my hands off of my life and surrender control to the One Who has the authority to issue the decree and say
nevertheless.

Penny


Monday, August 4, 2014

Boundaries, Structure, and Responsibility

Hey Everyone! Has this been the busiest summer you have ever had or what?? I know it sure has been at the Noffsinger household. We've hardly had time to sit on the patio and enjoy a cold glass of tea and watch the hummingbirds! (one of my favorite summertime things to do. If you haven't gotten there yet, trust me, one day you will be old enough to enjoy it, too!)

I can't believe school is already starting! My Mom used to say that she was always ready for school to be out, but she sure was ready for it to start again. And as a Mom of 3 boys I soon understood what she meant. School means routine and I like a routine.

Recently a Mom was sharing with me about her daughter's obsession with her new phone. We talked about all the advantages of kids having cell phones and she feels that her daughter is mature enough to handle the responsibility, but she had some concerns. She said to me, "All she wants to do is face time her friends, take selfies, (selfies, really? what's next?) text and play games." I shared with her that my boys often express relief that kids didn't have cell phones when they were in school because I would never give them a minute's peace; I'd be calling to check on them all the time! So true. We talked for a while about some things she could do to lessen her daughter's phone time, and with school starting this week, I thought I'd share 3 of those things on the blog.

(to my friend in Uganda we will do a marriage post soon, I promise.)

With kids it's all about boundaries. Boundaries say to a child, "You are loved. I care too much about you to allow you to do whatever you please, whenever you please." I asked her, "Who bought the phone?" And she said, "Well I did." And I said, "I thought so. Children usually don't have the money to buy their own phone, ipad, notebook, or ipod. And since you are the one who bought it, doesn't it just make good sense that you should be the one to decide when it is used, where it is used, and how it is used?"

It's amazing how secure kids feel when parents establish authority in their home by setting boundaries. Ipads are great tools for school and work, plus they're fun. But children need balance and too much Iphone or Ipad time will get the best of kids off balance, quickly. You bought it, you set the boundaries.

Children don't just need boundaries for Iphones; parents need to set boundaries for how their children speak to them, for how they speak about them, for how they speak to other adults and their peers. Children also need boundaries in what they wear, (who buys their clothes?) who their friends are, where they go, and what time they are to be home.

So Mom, talk to Dad and together you set the boundaries for your family.When you do, you will be amazed at the level of respect that will be present in your home. Respect for you, but also, you will treat your children with more respect. Remember, you are the Mom; you bought it, you set the boundaries. You are the Mom; you decide how you are treated by your children, tell them what you expect, then tell them what the consequences will be when they step outside the boundaries, and follow through. Here's a great Bible verse to teach your children about the importance of living within the boundaries that you set for them;
Psalm 101:2; I will behave myself wisely in a mature way.

Children need structure. Parents create structure in their children's lives by developing a routine that works for your family. A set time for homework, family devotions, mealtime, bathtime, getting their backpack ready for the next day, laying out their clothes and a set bedtime all work together to make your kids feel secure, and gives them the structure they need to be successful in school. Structure and routine will give your kids the edge they need to be prepared physically, mentally, socially, and scholastically. A sleep deprived kid, without his homework complete, and all fueled up with sugar and junk food does not make for a pleasant student. And there is no way they can have a good day when it gets off to that kind of a start. Mom, you are the key; work out a routine that works with your family's schedule and stick to it as much as possible. You will be amazed at the difference almost instantly in your kids when they adjust themselves to the routine you put in place.
A great verse for teaching structure; Eccles.3:1; To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.

Children need responsibility. When you create boundaries in your child's life, then build structure into their day, giving them age appropriate chores will build confidence and self esteem. Work is an important part of our lives. And next to our identity as believers in Christ, our work identifies us. Our work is a display of our talents and spiritual gifts and training. Work is a good thing and most children like to work. When children are given age appropriate tasks, then as they grow bigger, given more advanced chores, character and integrity begin to blossom and grow. They love to hear Mom and Dad praise them for a job well done. Even when they let you know very matter-of-factly that they are not pleased with what you have assigned them to do, but they finish the job and you praise them for their work, you can just see that little face soften and grow tender at your praise and gentle touch. Giving your kids age appropriate work will be a blessing in their lives, even if they don't think so at the time. Here's a great verse to teach your kids about the importance of work; 1 Cor.4:12; Work with your own hands.

Mom and Dad, you are the key players in your children's lives. Our kids are too valuable and too important to us to allow them to live outside the boundaries. We care too much about them to allow them to live without good habits that are formed by family structure and routine. And work establishes their place in the family and society. And as I shared with my young friend, when Mom and Dad set boundaries for their family, set up structure and a routine for their home, and give age appropriate work for their kids to do, iphone, ipad, ipod, video games and a whole lot of other "obsessions" have an amazing way of taking care of themselves.

Here's a suggestion; try these 3 things in your home for 2 weeks and watch the level of respect within your family go through the roof. See if they don't make a difference in how much more smoothly their school day goes and how much work will actually get done. But it gets better; kids who live within the boundaries that are lovingly set by their parents, learn good habits through structure and routine, and who learn at an early age the value and importance of a job well done, will be "stand out" kids from most of their peers. They will have a level of character and integrity that we don't see in every child. Sounds simple, I know, but from experience I can tell you it works. Try it, you will be amazed!

I'd love to hear from you. Contact me through the blog or by email and let me know how it's working for you. God loves your family and He desires that you succeed as a Mom. And I do, too.

Have a great day and a great new school year!!

Penny

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Do You Need a Miracle?

When something extra-ordinary, or something un-explainable by human reasoning takes place, we often hear someone say, "It's a miracle!"

Then we hear a theologian explain that "we live in a time when there is no need for miracles, because we have the Word of God, and miracles in the Bible were simply a means for God to reveal Himself to mankind".

The definition of a miracle is this: "An event that appears un-explainable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural." And ladies, I believe in miracles; yes, the old fashioned kind that cannot be explained by any other means but........God.

No matter how old we are, no matter how long we have been a Christian, we never outgrow our need for the basics. We will never grow in our faith, we will never be the women God created us to be, unless the basic truths of God's Word, of His character, His love for us, His plans for us, are firmly established in our hearts and in our minds and in our very being. And one of those basics is this: Our God still works miracles in the lives of His beloved children every single day! And you and I need to believe it.

Do you need a miracle? I'm talking about a good ole fashioned miracle like we read about in the Old Testament. A miracle like the parting of the Red Sea, water springing forth from a rock, a young boy with a sling killing a 9 foot giant who was welding a sword bigger than he was, or a pagan king's heart melting at the sight of a beautiful Jewish woman named Esther.

Or maybe you need a miracle like we read about in the New Testament; a deathly illness that is healed, bread and fish multiplied to feed thousands of hungry people, blinded eyes that see, legs that run and jump, or money to pay the bills that just keep mounding higher and higher.

What looks like a miracle to me, may not look like a miracle to you, but when I am desperate for something that can only come from the supernatural hand of God, it's a miracle. And if you don't need one today, just hang on; this life is full of hills and valleys and one day, maybe sooner than you think, you will need a miracle and you will be desperate for the touch of God upon your life.

One of my most favorite women in all of the Bible is Ruth. I love her name. It is simple. It is strong. It is a no-nonsense name that speaks of stability, faithfulness, truth. Her name means "friendly", and that is how I picture her in my mind.

Let me briefly tell you her story:
Elimelech and Naomi left Bethlehem for Moab during a severe drought. The old saying, "the grass always looks greener" certainly applied to them. They were Hebrews, from the mighty tribe of Judah, living in Bethlehem which means "house of bread". They left their family, their friends, and forsook their land and went to a place that was evil, practiced idolatry and child sacrifice, and a place God had cursed and commanded His people to avoid.

Their 2 sons married Moabite women; Chilion married Orpah and Mahlon married Ruth. For 10 years both women were exposed to a new way of living. They were introduced to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But Elimelech died. Chilion died and Mahlon died and 3 wives were now 3 widows.

In her defeat and depression, Naomi makes the decision to return to Bethlehem. She has heard that the drought is over and her hopes are that some near kinsman will be so kind as to invite her to stay in his home as a servant or maybe a care-giver for his children. She has nothing; her land was forfeited when Elimelech made the decision to move them to Moab. Her husband and her sons are gone and there is no one to redeem the land. Orpha and Ruth both decide to go with her, but after a while, Naomi realizes how absurd this is; she knows they will not be accepted, they will be treated as outcasts and she commands them to return to their families. She reminds them they are still young and can marry again and have a family. Orpah turns back, Ruth is determined to stay.

After a series of events that you can read about in the book of Ruth, Ruth receives a marriage proposal from one of the wealthiest, most influential men in all of Israel. His name is Boaz and he is a near kinsman of Elimelech. His father was Salmon and he had married Rahab the harlot after the invasion of Jericho. Boaz and Ruth had a son, Obed, and as an heir of Mahlon, he receives all of the land that once belonged to Elimelech and his family. Obed becomes the father of Jesse, Jesse became the father of David and our spiritual lineage becomes one miracle after another, and another, and another.......

Oh dear lady, please don't listen to the lies of the enemy when he tells you that God cannot love you, or save you, or use you for His kingdom work because of sin from your past. You see, He used Rahab who had a sordid past, and He used Ruth who was directly descended from Lot and his daughter. (Gen. 19)
You can never do anything to make God love you less and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you more. His love is unconditional and you are important to Him.

When you and I believe in faith (Matt.:21,22) that we serve the One Who can do what human logic says is impossible, we'll see the miraculous. Do you need a miracle in your marriage? God can do it. Do you need a miracle with your son? God can defy human logic. Do you need your daughter to come to her senses and return to her faith? God is waiting. Aren't you thankful that God defies human reasoning and logic??

What miraculous thing do you need God to do for you today? Don't be afraid to ask; He delights in doing what human logic deems impossible. Luke 1:37; "For with God nothing shall be impossible." I encourage you to boldly enter into His throne room of grace (Hebrews 4:16) and ask Him to step into your situation, whatever it may be, and do the supernatural.

What if Ruth had settled for a life in Moab? Look what she would have missed: a miracle. A poor little girl from Moab became the one God used to bring His Son, the King of Kings into this world. Now that's a miracle. Step out in faith today. He will not fail you. (Psalm 89:33)

Penny

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mom, It's Up to You.

As Beth Moore often reminds us, "It's tough being a woman", right? We play so many different roles, wear so many different hats, and feel pressure from all sides to be all and do all. So why would I, a woman, bring up one more thing for you to add to your list? Because I feel it is important, and something that is missing in many marriages and families.

I was going through some of my notes this morning and ran across something I had written down ages ago, and I tweeted it, then decided it needed more than a tweet; it needed to be "blogged". It is something my Mom modeled for us kids when we were young, and something I tried to do with our kids, although I know I failed many times. And it is this;
"Moms are responsible for how their kids view their Dad."

The way you speak to and about your husband in front of your kids will be the influencing factor for how your children will speak to their Dad, and one day speak about him to their friends. Mom, you do your children a great injustice each time you belittle, criticize or manipulate your husband. Little ears hear a lot, and each time you show dis-respect for your children's Dad, you are teaching them, by example, that it is acceptable for a wife to verbally tear down her husband. And each time your daughter hears you disrespect her Dad, you are setting her up for trouble in her own marriage some day. And each time your son hears you disrespect his Dad, you are tearing down his hero and role model, and making it more difficult for him to be the spiritual leader in his own family.

No man, no Dad is perfect. David and I have been married 44 years and raised 3 sons; need I say more? I know men are imperfect, and we are, too. Ladies, some things just need to be overlooked. Sometimes we need to just walk out of the room, (even the house) take a deep breath and ask ourselves, "Is the aftershock really worth the blow-up?" It's easy to tear down what we've worked so hard to build up, and we can do it with only a few words.

Begin today looking (intentionally) for the good qualities in your husband and point those out to your kids. Don't you enjoy being appreciated for what you do for your family? Don't you feel good when your husband or kids compliment you on how you look, the meal you cooked, how clean the house is, etc? When a man feels respected and appreciated it changes the whole dynamics of the family relationships. It strengthens your marriage and bonds a Dad to his kids like nothing else will. Teaching your children to look at your husband's strengths rather than his weaknesses will build security into their lives. Girls who see their Dads as a strong father, (spiritually, physically, and emotionally) will look for those qualities in a husband. And boys who see their Dad's strengths will be strong leaders in their family, their church, and yes, even in our nation.

So Mom, it's up to you. The most important thing you can give your kids is to love their Dad and accept him just as he is. Our job is to love him and be submissive to his leadership in our home. It's God's job, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to do any changing that needs to be done. I learned a long time ago that the only person I can change is me. I can pray for change in those I love, but ultimately, the only person I can do anything about is me.

If Moms and Dads want their kids to be spiritually and emotionally strong, they have to stay on the same page. There is power in a united front, and ladies, building that united front with your husband begins with how your kids view their Dad. When they hear you praise his good qualities and point out the many ways he sacrifices for your family, you are well on your way to laying a foundation of respect for their Dad that you will be so thankful for in years to come. Oh what Mom and Dad can accomplish when they work together and not against each other!

Sunday is Father's Day. Make it a special day for your kid's Dad. It is tough being a woman, but God has created you and placed you in this man's life for a reason. Respect is one of those things that the more you give the more you receive.

I was blessed to have a wonderful father and my Mom made sure we knew his good qualities and I never heard her belittle or criticize him in our presence. Thank you Mama for your example.

Happy Father's Day to my wonderful husband. He is the best husband in the world and my boys could not have a better Dad or role model. And I think our sons are great Dads too!!

l-r; Bryan, David, me, Jeff, and Kyle.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Don't Get Caught in the Undertow!

I can't swim. I can dog-paddle like crazy, with my head bobbing around in the water and my hands and feet kicking along, but if my head goes under water I panic...and I do mean panic. My Dad used to tell my sisters and me that we could go swimming as soon as we learned how to swim! Now Daddy was an excellent swimmer. He swam in Green River, in lakes and ponds, but he was also afraid of water. Not for himself...but for us. You see, in his generation, the only place boys could go swimming was in the lake or pond on the farm, or in the river. And more than once he had been present when someone had drowned in the swift flowing waters of Green River, and he knew the fear of seeing that lifeless body pulled from a muddy river with a current so fast it could pull down the biggest, strongest, fastest of swimmers before anyone could even know he was gone.

I did not let my boys go swimming in lakes or ponds. When Jeff was about 6 and Bryan about 3, David and I took them to Kentucky Lake for a few days and we swam at the beach area. Bryan and I stayed mostly on the shore, (after all I didn't want to embarrass myself or anyone else with my dog-paddling technique) but Jeff and David had a "big time" playing in the water, that is, until David and I got to talking, then looked around and couldn't find Jeff!! To this day I can feel the sickness of fear that started in the pit of my stomach, surged through my heart and got stuck right in my throat. As my eyes scanned the top of that water, looking intently at each little 6 year old boy, praying that he was there and just hiding or caught up in the mix of faces, arms, and legs that were splashing around in the water, it was at that moment that I knew for the first time as a Mom what it felt like to not be able to find your child.

Well, for those of you who know us, then you know that David is very calm, level headed, a take charge kind of guy. And that is exactly what he did. I stood there helplessly on the shore, in a near state of panic, ready to scream at the top of my lungs, while David jumped in the water and went to the place they had been playing, just a short distance from shore. At 6, Jeff was already a good swimmer, but there's just something about water, a 6 year old boy, and a Mom who can't see her son, that is not a pretty picture! David spotted him with a group of kids messing around with a tire inner tube, but needless to say, my day was ruined. I felt so sick I thought I would die, and I was ready to go home. And that was just at Kentucky Lake. Now why would someone with my water phobia take her family to the ocean?? But we did. A few times when the boys were small we did the Florida thing, but they were young, not too adventurous and were content to play in the sand or in the edges of the water. But then they grew up.

When Jeff and Dana were engaged to be married our family planned a week's vacation in Destin, Fl. We had rented a beach house, invited Dana to go with us, and our son Bryan invited his best friend Shawn to join us. We rented jet skis, played golf, did all the fun stuff, and the kids messed around in the water occasionally the first few days we were there, but we stayed so busy, they didn't have time to do much "ocean stuff."

Toward the end of the week, David and I were burned to a crisp, (literally) but we all walked down to the beach, David and I sat in the shade of a beach umbrella, (no joke) and slept! The "kids" even our 11 year old, Kyle, were in the water and after a while, David looked up and said, "They are too far out. They really need to get back to shore." And what did I do? I panicked. I jumped up and began yelling and motioning for them to come back, then David said, "I don't think they can." Oh my word! Didn't he know by now that you don't tell me something like that, in quite that way? But I knew he was scared, too. He ran into the water and they were waving, calling for help, all hanging onto a raft, and David began swimming along the beach. After a while, they were able to pull together and start for shore, and as they lay in the sand, exhausted, they began to tell about their experience and all I could do was sit there and thank God that they were there, right beside me, right where I could see them. And still, all these years later, I think about that afternoon. And each time that memory comes to my mind, I pause in what I am doing and breathe a prayer of thanks to God that He brought them out of that undertow and brought them safely to shore. I know beyond a doubt that He protected my children that day.

Ladies, just as an undertow can pull a swimmer away from shore and out into deep water, unbelief is an undertow that pulls us away from God and out into the deep water of sin. A swimmer can't look at the water and automatically tell what's going on underneath. But suddenly there is a scary pulling on your body and before you know it, the shore is barely in sight. And unbelief is a stronghold that keeps pulling and pulling and pulling until we are so far from God that we don't know if we can ever get back. It is so subtle, so sneaky that God is here and you are there and you don't know how it got that way so fast.

I heard recently on a news show that if you are ever caught in an undertow, the most important thing you can do is to "stay focused." If you panic and loose your focus, you'll be pulled down and away from shore.
If you and I are going to have a strong belief in the promises of God that will build a strong marriage, raise godly children in a world that has a negative agenda toward the family, and have an influence with people, we must stay focused and not get caught in the undertow of unbelief.

The Bible calls unbelief a sin; Hebrews 3:12; "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, departing from the Living God."

And our enemy uses the same ole line on us that he did with Eve; "Did God really say that?"
God told Eve, "Don't eat from the tree of good and evil or you will die."
Satan said, "Did God really say that?"
Jesus said, "With God nothing is impossible." Luke 1:37.
Unbelief says, "But what about........?"
Jesus said, "I will work everything for your good." Acts 8:28.
Unbelief says, "But that surely doesn't mean.........
Jesus said, "And ALL things, whatever you shall ask in prayer, believing (no unbelief), you shall receive."
Matthew 21:22.
Unbelief says, "But surely He didn't mean........."
Jesus said, "Whosoever calls on My name will be saved." Romans 10:13.
Unbelief says, "Yeah, but does that mean you?" Yesssssssss dear sister that means you.

Here is a checklist for the next time you find yourself in an undertow of unbelief;
1. "Where is my focus?"
Am I thinking about how hard that is, or, am I focused on the God Who does impossible things?
2. Don't live by sight, feelings, or emotional responses; live by the truths of God's Word. Choose to think about what He says about Himself.
3. Be careful who you listen to. Not everyone has a biblical worldview, so their "advice" or take on your situation, may drive you deeper into the undertow. Choose wise, godly counsel.
4. Stay in the Word and read, read, read, read. And refuse to stop reading and praying until you are free from the pull of the undertow of unbelief and safely on shore.

And yes, we've been back to the ocean many times since that July afternoon over 20 years ago, but we've learned our lesson about undertows. I wish I could say I've always had faith and never experienced the doubt of unbelief, and I wish I could say I'm always focused. But I sure am trying!!

Thanks for reading!
Penny

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What is Valuable to God?

The more we have, materially speaking, the less value we put on things. If you have 10 pairs of black shoes, (after 44 years of marriage, David still doesn't understand why women need so many pairs of black shoes; he has 2) then buying another pair of black shoes means very little to you, right? And of course women can never have too many pairs of black shoes. After all, they go with everything! But what if you only had one pair of black shoes? Wouldn't you take better care of them, not throw them to the back of your closet, or walk through all that water and mud? My point is, many times the less we have, the more value we place on what we possess. And when there are an abundance of things in our lives, they tend to be less valuable.

Now, imagine all that God has? Stop reading and make a list, (mental or on paper) of all the things that we know God possesses; impossible?? It would be a long list, right? And impressive.

When God Created the World, (title of my children's book!!) He placed value on all of His creation when He spoke the words, "It is good." (Genesis 1 and 2). And from that moment, time began, and God saw His creation as having value and worth. But after creation, after the moon and stars were placed in the heavens and each planet set on it's rotation, the sun placed firmly in the far end of the galaxy and living things began to grow and multiply on our earth, God doesn't speak much about what He considers to be of value. That is until He makes a discreet and poignant statement in 1 Peter 3. Beginning in v1, God shares His heart with us about women. It is very important to Him how we look, what we wear, and how we conduct ourselves.

Some of you have shared with me your desire for your husband to become a believer, and some have shared how you pray that your husband will "step up" and be the spiritual leader in your home. In v1, God makes you this promise; it is possible for your husband to become a believer by your "behavior". (KJV, conversation.) God promises in v1 that women who are married to an un-believing husband can "win her husband as he observes the behavior of his wife." And I believe a woman can help develop her husband's leadership skills by her "behavior".

So ladies, what kind of "behavior" inspires a man to seek God's leadership for his family?
What kind of "behavior" brings conviction to a man's heart and moves him to accept Christ as Savior?

The answer begins in v2: "chaste conduct". (virtuous, morally pure) A wife with "chaste conduct" isn't looking for the approval of other men. A wife with "chaste conduct" is busy feeding her spirit (last post) and as her husband "observes" (beholds) how she lives her life, day in and day out, the Holy Spirit begins to bring conviction to his heart and he accepts Christ. "Chaste conduct" creates less stress in your marriage and in your home, and clears things out of the way, so to speak, so the Holy Spirit has the freedom to work in that home and in the lives of all who live there.

Respect. (fear,v2) Your husband wants and needs respect, especially yours, and when you show him your respect, and see to it that your children do, too, he will be much more open to your witness of the Savior's love and His desire that your husband become a Christian. I shared with you in an earlier post of 2 ladies in my church when I was growing up who modeled these verses for me, and I saw God faithfully keep His promise. Their chaste conduct and their respect did more to win their husbands than any sermon could ever do.

And now the hard part.......what we wear determines how we are treated. If I want to be taken seriously and treated with respect, then I need to take how I dress seriously and show respect to myself and my family by dressing appropriately. And as Christian women, no one needs to tell you or me what is appropriate or what is in-appropriate for us to wear. All we have to do is ask God and He will tell us!! The girls in our lives are watching us and they will take their cue from us. (Titus 2)

Now the good part:
Look at the last part of v4; when God sees a woman with "chaste conduct", showing "respect" to her husband, "dressing appropriately", and then she adds to that a "meek (gentle) and quiet spirit" "in God's sight it is of great price." (great price means valuable) A woman with a meek and quiet spirit is attractive to God, but she is also attractive to others. Isn't that amazing??? The One Who created every single thing, The One Who owns it all, considers "chaste conduct", "respect", "modest dress", and a "meek and quiet spirit" as VALUABLE!! He doesn't say that about a man, He doesn't say that about gold, silver or precious gems, He doesn't say that about anything else in creation; He saved that honor for you and me dear sister in Christ.

I encourage you today to meditate on those 4 things; chaste conduct, respect, what we wear, and meek and quiet spirit, and ask God to reveal areas of your personal life that need His special attention. If these 4 things are so valuable to God, shouldn't they be valuable to us? And shouldn't they be things that Christian women strive for in our lives? And after you've meditated on them for a while, ask your husband what HE thinks about these 4 things. It just might be a real conversation starter about spiritual things and lead to some changes in your home and marriage.And that's a good thing.

Have a great day and thanks so much for the many great responses from the last blog. New followers from Belarus, Sweden, and New Zealand!! Thanks for reading.

I think David needs another pair of black shoes, don't y'all???

Love You!!
Penny

And 1 more thing; my book, When God Created the World can now be ordered through our Lifeway stores or at lifeway.com. I hope you'll get a copy for the little ones in your life. Thanks!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spirit or Flesh; Which One Are You Feeding the Most??

Have you ever watched an entire show on tv, then when it was over you said, "Why in the world did I waste an hour of my life watching THAT!! David and I wasted not only one hour, but 2 hours Saturday night and when he turned off the tv he said, "Wasn't that just plain stupid?"

Sunday morning as were getting ready for church, he brought it up again and made the point that we should have changed channels or turned it off altogether. And of course he was right, but something else began to nag at me; on Saturday night, before we prepared for church on Sunday, before I taught a Sunday School class of women who were looking to me to "rightly divide the Word of truth", I had sat  mindlessly, half asleep and watched not 1, but 2, shows that I would not have let my grandchildren see. And it occurred to me, I had spent more time feeding my flesh than I had spent feeding my spirit.

I have often said that the word "holy" is a word that scares me. But a word that is equally scary to me is
"virtue". And maybe it is such a scary word for me because we associate the word virtue with the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31, and oh my ladies...isn't she intimidating? We go from trying to be like her to hating her, but one thing I learned about virtue this week is this; virtue is the total package. It is who we are on the inside after beginning a relationship with Jesus Christ that spills over into every area of our lives. And the more we feed our spirit and starve our flesh the more virtuous we become. Being virtuous is attainable to every woman who has put her faith and trust in what Jesus did for us at Calvary, and it becomes attainable by feeding our spirit the good food of spiritual truth and starving the flesh by removing any and everything from our lives that does not line up with God's absolutes.

I've done this with my class a few times over the years and those silly tv shows reminded me that I needed a refresher course; I need to take the test again. So here it is, you fill in the blanks with the word flesh or spirit.

Does this feed my flesh or does it feed my spirit?
1. Reading my Bible every day. _______________.
2. Being faithful to church services._____________.
3. Watching reruns of Desperate Housewives?._______________.
4. Spending quiet time in prayer.____________.
5. Taking notes during the sermon on Sunday, then meditating on what my pastor said.____________.
6. "Discussing" with my best friend my husband's faults and "how he makes me soooooo mad."________.
7. Telling the latest news on the woman down the street and all her marital problems._______________.
8. Participating in the Lord's Supper with my church family.____________.
9. Reading the latest trashy romance novel. (I won't give titles or authors!!)_________
10. Listening to music that glorifies sexual relationships outside of marriage, drinking, crude language._____.
11. Looking over things in our children's behavior that we really need to address.__________.
(yes we can actually feed our flesh and starve out the spirit in not only our lives, but theirs, when we fail to parent in even the "little things".)
12. Letting our mind linger on the compliment from a man who is not our husband, brother, son.________

(and I won't mention Facebook...that would be a whole other test!!)

I think you get the idea. Take stock of the things that you accept as your "normal" way of life and ask yourself; when I participate in this am I feeding my spirit or is this feeding and weakening my flesh?

It is a constant battle and sometimes it is just easier to give in and go with the flow. After all, everyone else is doing it, right? It's hard to turn off the tv when your kids are asking, "Why do we have to be different from everybody else?" And what woman wants to get together with her girl friends and just sit there while they discuss the latest episode of Devious Maids, or do a little hubby bashing, after all, your husband isn't perfect, right? And what woman doesn't enjoy the compliment of a man and feeling appreciated for who she is?

And the flesh gets fatter and fatter and fatter and before long the spirit is as skinny as a rail!

So today I challenge you, look for ways to feed your spirit and starve that sinful flesh! And the heavier the spirit gets, the more virtue others will see in our lives.

And David says........"Next Saturday night we ARE NOT watching anything stupid!"

Let me hear from you and have a very spirit-filled day!

Penny