Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Don't Hide Your "Talent"!!!

I love the parables of Jesus. Each one is definitely in a class all by itself. The parables make me feel good; they fill me with hope and promise and an awareness that Jesus really does care about me and everything about me is important to Him. People are healed in the parables. Health is restored, troubled minds are freed from demons, relationships restored, and grace and mercy triumph.

As a child sitting beside my mother in church, I vividly remember the first time I heard the story of the Parable of the Talents. As I listened wide eyed to the preacher, I honestly thought a talent was well....a talent, like singing or playing a musical instrument. Growing up in a family of musicians and singers, that was naturally what I thought the parable was about. And I can remember being horrified that Jesus would take the one talent (I thought it was singing)  He had given to a servant and give it to the servant He had already given five! I soon learned that the "talent" in the parable was a term for measuring in ancient times, but I still remember my childish indignation that the person with only one talent had it taken from him and the person with five, was given one more.

Beginning in Matthew 24, the disciples are seated at Jesus' feet, and verse 3 tells us they asked Him "in private" to explain to them what He had preached publicly in the Temple about the "end of the age." And for the next 2 chapters, every single word that Jesus spoke is devoted to teaching His disciples (you and me) deep, rich, life altering spiritual truth about His eternal kingdom. And in verse 14 He teaches them the Parable of the Talents.

v14: "For the kingdom of Heaven is like a man traveling into a far country."

The master of the house was preparing to take a long journey and he called 3 of his most trusted servants and gave them explicit instructions as to the overseeing of his affairs while he was gone. To one servant he gave 5 "talents", to one he gave 2, and to another he gave 1. The master knew his servants well, and he knew how much responsibility and wealth each one could handle. He promised he would return and when he did, each servant would give an accounting to the master for the talents he'd been given to invest.

We aren't told what was being measured, but if it was gold, then it was definitely a fortune, especially in their day, because 1 talent of gold would have been $29,374.50. Of course today, a talent of gold would be considerably more, but that's still a lot of money. Multiply that by 5 and the first servant had a small fortune to invest for his master. So for the sake of this post, we'll say each talent was a measure of gold.

In v16, how did the servant with 5 talents oversee his master's gold?
In v17, how did the servant with 2 talents oversee his master's gold?
But in v18, what did the guy with 1 talent do?

His gold may not have been worth as much as the the other 7 talents, but it was worth it to the master. If it wasn't as important to the master, he wouldn't have entrusted it with the servant, he would have simply given it to one of the other servants. Maybe the 3rd servant felt undervalued, not as worthy or important, and maybe he felt that gave him the right to disregard the master's trust in him and just go bury it somewhere and use the excuse that he was afraid of the master.

Do you ever feel that you aren't important? Do you look at other women who seem to have it all together and feel, well, less than......Do you ever wish you looked better, felt better, had more money, had a better marriage, better kids, yada yada yada? I bet (and I don't bet) if every woman was honest, she would admit to feelings of less than.....

Today, your "talents" are every thing the Master has entrusted into your capable hands.
On this cold, snowy, stay in the house and make snow cream kind of day, drying countless wet snowsuits, socks, gloves, hats, and refereeing countless fusses and squabbles, it's easy to dig a hole and hide the talent. But all the Master is asking us to do, is to take what He has given us, invest it wisely, give it back to Him, and watch Him multiply it for our good and His glory.

Marriage is worth our investment, raising kids who love God and serve Him, is a wise investment, serving Him by serving others is worth it. He doesn't expect you, or even ask you, to be like anyone else; He just wants you and me to be who He has created us to be.

Did the servant with one talent feel less valued than the other 2? Maybe. But he was important to the master.
Look at the "talents" the Master has given you; if you start right now investing in those "talents", how much would each of those "talents" be worth when the Master returns? And that is what this parable is saying; the Master will soon return and we will give an accounting of the "talents".

You're the one God has chosen to raise those kids. You are the one God has chosen to be a wife to your husband. You are the one God has chosen to teach that Sunday School Class, take care of sick patients in the ICU, lead a Bible Study on Wednesday night, teach those rowdy kindergartners, prepare those lunches in the school cafeteria, read to those dear elderly saints in the nursing home, and be an intercessor in prayer for those suffering around the world. And nobody can do it like you. Be proud (a God given proud) of those "talents" and invest yourself in each one, refuse to compare your "talents" to any other woman, and watch those "talents" double and multiply!

Revelation 22:12
"Behold, I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every person according as his work shall be."

I love the parables of Jesus!!

Penny

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Stronghold of Fear

A new year holds such promise and hope and if you're like me, you've promised yourself that you're going to work on "some things" this year. And as I "turned the calendar" as my Mama used to say, I knew it was time to stop talking about it and actually do it.

There will always be lots of room for improvement in my life and I've identified several areas, spiritual and physical, where I see lots of need for improvement. (there will always be those everlasting 10 lbs, right ladies? Funny how they always seem to be there every Jan. 1!)
And spiritually, I have identified several areas where my enemy has a really good "stronghold" on me.

In an earlier post I defined a stronghold as "an exalted thought in our mind." (2 Corinth. 2:10). And while Satan cannot know us intimately, as God knows each of His children intimately, he sure does know our weaknesses and he tailor makes a stronghold that attacks us at our most vulnerable point.

Back in the 60's there was an expression that became a popular way for someone to explain away their unusual behavior. If someone didn't like flying in an airplane or getting into an elevator they would simply say,
"I have a "hang-up" about that." Well, ladies, a stronghold is an exalted thought that we get mentally hung up over. It becomes an obsessive way of thinking that influences our behavior, and literally does what it says;
it gets a stronghold on us and often a very destructive hold on us.

In a previous post I dealt with the stronghold of unforgiveness and I received some really good feed-back on that very destructive stronghold, and promised we'd expose another stronghold soon. One faithful reader reminded me a few months back that I hadn't done that, (so sorry, no excuses) and what better time to do that than the beginning of a new year.

Like most women I know, I have struggled all my life with fear; the fear of "what if." Maybe you struggle with it, too. What if my child gets an incurable disease? What if my husband gets sick, looses his job, can't take care of us? What if something happens to me or my husband, who will care for our children? What if my parents become unable to care for themselves? What if a tree crashes through the ceiling in my bedroom while we're asleep? What if, what if, what if???

Although there is no scientific data to back this up, I personally believe that all women are wired with an extra chromosome that men do not have; I call it the worry chromosome and it can be vicious. It is a fear that begins to build in the pit of your stomach and moves up into your chest where a panic begins to build and your heart begins to race and your breathing becomes shallow and you think you will pass out, and it causes us to do, act, speak, and think in ways that as believers we should not. ( I doubt this sentence is grammatically correct, but it makes the point I want to make)

I recently heard of a woman who received a devastating report from her doctor. She immediately went home and started getting pictures ready for display at her funeral. (I'm not kidding) She bought a new dress, pearls, the whole outfit, and planned her funeral right down to the number of songs. Her family and friends were heartbroken, she was a mess, went back to her doctor for another test and he told her the problem was gone, she was fine. Panic and fear can cause rational people to become irrational rather quickly!!

Do you have a teenager? When they are 10 minutes late coming home, where is your mind? I've stood at my front window many, many nights watching for those headlights to come around the curve with a heart racing so fast, imagining all sorts of things, and nearly in tears by the time they pull in the driveway. And where was David? Sound asleep because he doesn't have the chromosome.

Well ladies, I know that as long as we are women, as long as there are people we love, we will have many opportunities for worry and fear. But......I do know that fear does not come from God, and within each believer He has given us the power to take authority over the very thing we can get so hung up over.

Here's a good verse to commit to memory and to pray back to Satan each time he intrudes our thoughts with his fear and panic:
2 Timothy 1:7: For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
Declare to him that you have a sound mind and you will not fear.
But as good and perfect as that verse is, I still struggled with fear of the unknown. I still worried over silly things, still obsessed, still felt seasons of panic.

I don't remember exactly when I began to do this, but I do remember it was during a recurring fear in my life. One day as I was praying, begging God to do this particular thing in my life, I said, "But Lord, whatever You do, I agree with You. You are right, and I agree with whatever and however you choose to answer my prayer."

Ladies, those words, "Lord, I agree with You", were burden lifting words. They:
1. Took the panic away.
2. Put the responsibility where it belongs, on God.
3. Changed my perspective. I'm not in control, in charge, He is.
4. Said, "He is always right, will never allow anything that is wrong for me, always has good in mind for me, and always has a good and perfect purpose for my life in any and all situations."
5. Allowed me to experience freedom and a closeness to Him that I have never known.
In other words, I truly experienced what it meant to trust. Not just say I trust Him, but to experience it.

Do I ever panic and feel afraid? Oh you better believe it. Do I ever wonder what I'll do if.........? Oh yeah.
But when those thoughts and feelings and emotions invade my heart and mind, I may wrestle with them for bit, cry awhile, but the Holy Spirit always leads me back to, "I agree with You, Father. You are right, no matter what happens."

Dear friend, fear is what is produced when there is no trust. Don't live with that fear and panic that builds and builds until you feel like you are about to "bust". Agree with God and allow His peace to fill your heart and mind and experience an intimacy with Him that is beyond all words.

I would really love to hear from you. I hope this post will be a blessing and a help as you grow in your relationship with the One we can always agree with.

Love,
Penny

Saturday, January 24, 2015

MOPS and Snow!!

This has been a very busy week in the Noffsinger household. My mother-in-law, Mayme Nell Noffsinger passed away Monday. She had battled dementia, had a stroke, and recently suffered with pneumonia. But she was a fighter and had been all her life. She raised 5 children, worked hard, and for those who knew her, she was never "still a minute." She left us with many good memories and she will be greatly missed by her family, friends, and church family.

I was blest this week to speak to the MOPS group at 1st Baptist Madisonville. They are great Moms doing a great job. We talked about patience and how to have more of it and that patience is an act of the Holy Spirit in our lives and a Fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22,23) We also talked about how we can keep from comparing ourselves to other Moms and we learned a lot from Hannah's example. Here are a few pics of the day and thank you so much Madisonville MOPS for the privilege of being with you and being a part of your day.



This is Haylee, their MOPS coordinator, and me. Thanks Haylee for inviting me to speak to your group!!





One reason I enjoy MOPS so much is all the good food!!













And for our readers in the southern hemisphere who often ask me about our Kentucky weather, we had a beautiful snowy night and are still enjoying it this morning. (hope it's the last one this winter!!)












Hope you have a blest day and a great Lord's Day tomorrow. Look for my next blog post soon.

Penny

Friday, January 9, 2015

5 Things Your Husband Needs You to Pray for Him....Right Now

I recently heard a report that marriages in the U S are on the decline. And two of the reasons cited were that women have more career and financial options, and there is less financial stress to live together, than to be married. And then when you add to the mix tv shows like a Girlfriends Guide to Divorce, and other shows that depict single women living together as a family unit, you have an all out attack on traditional moral values and on traditional marriage.

As Christian women we know that our enemy Satan issued an all out attack on the family in the Garden of Eden and He is intensifying his strategy every single day. He knows if he can destroy the family unit of Mom, Dad, and children, he will destroy the church, and if he can destroy the church, he will destroy Christianity. The good news is, in Genesis 2, God performed the first marriage ceremony and marriage is still alive and well today. And in Matthew 16, Jesus Christ established the church and He announced to Satan and the world that "the gates of hell will not prevail" against His church. So as believers, we know that marriage itself is secure until Christ returns for His bride, and that the New Testament, Bible believing church will prevail. But......there is an attack on our moral and ethical fiber and while our enemy may not be able to destroy marriage and the church completely, he can still destroy individual families and local congregations. And all we have to do is look around and see that he is enjoying a measure of success.

If you are reading this and you are married, please do not take your marriage for granted; our enemy is out to destroy your marriage, too. And he uses small stuff to create big havoc in our homes. Your marriage is important to God. As long as you and your husband are living together in the bonds of holy matrimony, all of heaven is fighting for the survival of your marriage. David and I will be married 45 years this May and all of heaven is still fighting for us, because you see, it doesn't matter how long we are married, Satan never gives up trying to destroy us. There is so much more at stake here than David and me; we have 3 grown sons, 8 grandchildren, our sisters, brothers, friends, younger couples that look up to us, and a host of others that could easily be hurt or brought down if he can destroy our marriage. I am still shocked at the destruction of Stephan and Gigi Graham Tchividian's marriage; it hurt me because I admired her so much. I am still shocked at the destruction of the marriage of our friends who were married 40 plus years, and of the destruction of a 60 year marriage we heard of recently.

But praise God He has not left us defenseless. He has armed us with the supernatural power of His Holy Word, our God-given right as His child to pray, and the "gumption" as my Mama used to say, to get in there and fight; not just for ourselves, but we need to fight for our man. And we fight for him each time we go to the throne of grace on his behalf.

Here are 5 simple things your husband needs you to ask God to do in his life; he may not ask you to pray for him and these particular matters, he may not know he needs them, but he does. This is not a complete list by any means, but it will sure get you started. Keep a prayer journal and each time you see God's hand actively working in your husband's life, write it down; it will build your faith and encourage you to keep on keeping on.

Your husband needs you to pray for his:

1. Health and safety.
Men don't like to eat healthy. Please don't tell him I said so, but probably your husband is an all meat and potatoes kind of guy. But guess who does the cooking at my house? Me, unless it's chili. Pray that God will help you and your family to make healthier eating choices, then cook it! A man's work and travel can often be dangerous. Pray each day for his safety, pray that God will keep him healthy, and ask God to grant you many years of marriage to raise your kids and influence their lives.

2. His relationship with God.
Simply pray that your husband will read his Bible and pray. If he doesn't ask the blessing at meal time, suggest he start. If he isn't comfortable, suggest you take turns, including the kids. Ask him to read the kids their Bible story before bedtime. It's amazing how much biblical knowledge is in a child's Bible Story Book. They have some great ones at Life Way. Look for ways you can work in spiritual truth and biblical discussions in your private conversations. Take notes during the pastor's sermons, then share with him some of the things you got from the message. Always be positive about God, the Bible, prayer, church; he needs to know you really believe what you say you believe and he'll know it by how you talk (yes that's #1) and how you live.. Ask him to pray for a specific thing for you or the kids, and be sure and tell him how God is answering his prayer, it will elevate his trust and faith. It's amazing what your prayers for his spirituality will do for him, for you, your marriage, and your family. Everyone will reap the benefits of your prayer.

3. His relationship with you and your kids.
Ladies let's face it; often we're to blame when we don't receive what we need from our husbands. How many times have you heard him say, "I didn't know you wanted/needed that! Why didn't you tell me?" Whether it's a certain piece of jewelry for Valentine's Day or a little time to cry on his shoulder, if he doesn't give it, assume he doesn't know how, and tell him. He needs you, today, to pray for his relationship with you and the kids. Ask God specifically to develop a deeper love and understanding between you and him, and him and your kids. That is a prayer that is God's will and a prayer He has promised to answer.
(1 John:5:14,15) And if he isn't as involved with your children as you had hoped he would be, tell God, He'll listen. He is the One Who will move your husband's heart in that direction.

4. His morality and integrity.
Oh, ladies, you do not have enough time here to read all that is involved in a man's morals and his integrity. Morality and integrity are more a way of thinking than doing, and it is something that must be taught to our little boys during their morally formative years. If you have small sons, please, please, please, instill in their young minds and hearts spiritual principles that will shape how they think. And when our thinking is right, our doing will be right, too. Pray right now that God will draw your husband toward high moral standards of integrity in his thinking, then see to it that you feed those standards by your daily walk and talk. Don't criticize him for watching something on tv that is wrong while you are reading a trashy romance novel. (sorry, I don't mean to be so blunt) Make sure we as wives have the same standards we want for our husbands.

5. His sexuality.
I heard a statistic that men hear or see literally thousands of sexually explicit material every minute. (sorry I don't remember the exact number). Wherever he is, whatever he is doing, he needs you, right now, to pray for his purity; purity in his thoughts and his actions. There are women who are sending an invitation to your husband right now to "look at them", to "fantasize about them" and they don't know him and he doesn't know them. It can be an invitation as simple as passing each other in the Mall or watching a newscast with a female anchor who really needs to be wearing a jacket!!! And as you pray for his purity, pray for yours, as well. And pray that God will bless your intimacy with each other and strengthen your marriage. (it is not easy for me to write about this, I embarrass easily, lol, but I see how simple flirtations and "looks" between a man and woman can escalate to something else.) Protect your marriage, pray for his sexuality.

It may take time to see changes in his choice of tv shows, or his reading material. It may take time to see real spiritual growth, or see him become a more devoted Dad and husband, or the spiritual leader in your home that you need him to be, but please keep praying, God is faithful, He desires your success, He will help you.

My son is a pastor and he recently shared with me that he had been preaching a series of sermons on the home and marriage, and one of the men in his church who had experienced a time of difficulty in his marriage said this: "I decided it was more important to stay with my kids than to leave my wife."

Ladies, with the exception of the abuse of your children or yourself, (and that abuse can take on many forms)
I still believe every marriage can be saved, (call me a starry eyed optimist) every home can be a good home, and every child deserves a Mom and Dad who love God, love each other, love them, and who are committed to stay married to each other for a lifetime, and that includes better or worse, richer or poorer. Old fashioned, maybe. Politically correct, no. Right....with all my heart I believe YES!

Penny


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year New Hope

Happy New Year! I hope you are excited about 2015, I know I am, and I want to take full advantage of each opportunity God gives me to enter His presence and serve Him in new ways this year.

As Beth Moore so aptly puts it in her study of Esther, "It's tough being a woman" and ladies, it doesn't get any easier, no matter our age. But one way to make it less tough in 2015 is to become more disciplined, especially in our personal habits. Because you see, when we are disciplined in our spiritual growth and physical and emotional health, every other area of our lives, especially our personal relationships, will benefit, too.

A new year brings new hope; hope to do better, look better be better. It only takes a few small changes to bring big results.

Who we are is the sum total of our daily habits. This time of year it is cold here in Kentucky (in the teens last night!!). The sky tends to stay gray, the holidays have come and gone, not much to do in January but......eat, stay in our flannel pjs all day, eat, sleep, eat, watch old movies on tv, eat, gossip, (I mean catch up with our friends) eat, sleep some more, in other words, just let ourselves go. And not in the right direction!! Let's get motivated ladies and not become another January statistic!

I'm sure you've heard the news reports pertaining to depression this time of year and one factor is less light. I am fortunate to have a big window in my living room and a wall of glass in my family room, and I enjoy sitting in these rooms on those cloudy January days to do my Bible reading and study, write in my journal, and just look out the window! Yes, it is ok to just sit and look out the window and soak up the light. No one will think you're strange in the least little bit. (lol) Light does amazing things for us and on Day 4 of creation, God created the sun, moon, and stars and they've been right there every single day and night since He placed them in the heavens. But even the bright sunshine, the full moon and starry night are not enough light for us; we need the Light of the World, Jesus Christ to truly bring us out of darkness.

So lets make it personal this year; let's get up, get dressed, PLAN what we will eat today, (because if I don't plan what I eat, food makes a plan for me) get some exercise outside if we can, read our Bible, write in our journal, spend time in prayer, drink lots of water, and I guarantee you that if you will jump start your day with a PLAN, you will be amazed at how different you feel, how different your family will see you, and how much more effective you will be for the kingdom. It is amazing ladies what personal discipline and good daily habits will do for our self-esteem, our marriage, our parenting, and even our housekeeping. (hope you'll keep reading.)




My friend, and pastor's wife, Linda, gives me a new journal each year for Christmas. I start writing in it each Jan. 1. This is one of the prettiest ones I've seen. Not a great pic, but it has some gold "bling" on the left side, which suits me just fine.





Depression and low self-esteem are real, and they plague so many of us from time to time, especially this time of year, and statistics tell us that holidays and the winter months deplete our immune system and can plummet us into bouts of depression or "the blues" as my Mama used to say. Even people who seem to have it all together suffer in silence and the public never knows their depths of despair. Robin Williams was one of the funniest guys of my generation. I did not always like the characters he portrayed or his types of humor, but he sure was funny. Who would ever have known the pain he suffered, or the dark valley he must have been in?

As children of the Most High God, we have all of His power, all of His mighty hosts of heaven (Psalm 103: 19-21), His promises (Romans 4:21) and the authority of His word for every anxious thought we may have about ourselves, our loved ones, our future. At the beginning of each new year I choose a verse of scripture as my "life verse" for the year. It is a verse or verses that I commit to memory, and try to apply it to the situations and circumstances I find myself in. Several years ago when I was going through a difficult time, I chose Phillippians 4: 6,7:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God that passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Friend, it you will dissect that verse, word for word, study it, then apply it to your life and believe it in faith,  it will change you; I know it will because I remember exactly where I was when it changed me. This year I have chosen Genesis 18:14; "Is anything too hard for God?" A short verse, but one that will stretch our faith, and build our trust. I'm looking for His activity in every situation that I feel there is no answer for, knowing the thing I feel is too hard or hopeless is not to difficult for Him.

A disciplined woman makes a better wife; just ask her husband. A disciplined woman makes a better Mom; (just ask her kids if their lives and home don't run more smoothly when Mom is disciplined and in charge)
a disciplined woman is prettier and much more pleasant to be around; and a disciplined woman makes a better "you".

Only 3 weeks left in January, 4 weeks in February, then it's March. Soon the Easter flowers will be popping through the ground, the robins will be back, and the days are already getting a little longer: MORE LIGHT!

So let's take advantage of the these next few weeks of winter and use it as our time to grow closer to our Lord, develop some new habits, both physical and spiritual, and get disciplined, all for one reason; we will bring more honor and glory to His precious name.

Thank you all so much for a great year on the blog. We've reached over 40 countries, I've heard from so many of you, and I hope you will continue to read and "endure" this Kentucky girl's way of writing. And I'd love to hear from you again.

My prayer is that God will greatly bless you in this new year, prosper you and your family, and keep you in good health. Invest yourself in His kingdom today by investing yourself in someone else. There is no better life than a life lived for Jesus Christ!!

Love you,
Penny

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