Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year!!

I love the beginning of a new year. I love the first day of the month, the first day of the week, and I really enjoy a new morning. And what do we usually do just before a new year begins? We make lots of resolutions, we identify things in our lives we want to change or do better, we reflect on the previous year, and depending on the events of the past year, we hope for a better one.

Well I've had a few "reflections" this past week and I've identified several areas of my own life, 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 from some of you about how unforgiveness has negatively affected your marriage, your family relationships, and even in your church life. So this year I hope to re-visit the issue of strongholds in our lives from time to time and address some of the issues that we can get "hung up" on and that keep us in satan's "stronghold." And let's face it ladies, we can sure have us some issues going on, can't we! And what better way to get a new year off to a good start than taking authority over the strongholds in our lives that keep us fearful and silent and longing for things like;

a good night's sleep
a better marriage
being a better mom
eating better and feeling good about the number we see on the scale
being more knowlegable about the word of God (strongholds don't stand a chance against the knowlege of God)
our spiritual growth.

Not every post will be about the strongholds in our lives, but feel free to leave a comment or send me an email about something that has a stronghold on you and you are sick and tired of it and ready to fight back!!

In future posts I want to deal with fear and anxiety, jealousy, envy, pride, and rebellion. Would you like some homework? My Sunday School class knows all about that..........

My hope, my prayer for each of you in 2014 is this;
that you may grow more in love with our precious Savior this year than ever before,
that you will have a stronger, more Christ-like marriage this year than you could ever hope or imagine (Eph. 3:20),
and that through His power He will conform your will to His will.

Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

What's Your Family Identity?

I love this time of year! As soon as November 1 makes its debut, the Noffsinger family kicks into high gear for a very busy holiday season. With 5 granddaughters playing basketball and 3 grandsons keeping David and me on our toes, we seldom have a quiet moment until January 2. But we love it. And what makes the holiday season so special to me is.......tradition. Now I know tradition has gotten some bad press lately but humor me; for us, tradition and family go hand in hand.

All we have to do is look around us and watch the news to know that children today are suffering from a lack of what I call "family identity". Family bonds are formed very early in a child's life. We know that children learn best from repetition. (why did your teacher insist you write your spelling words 10 times each for homework on Monday night?) And what better way to give your kids a sense of family than those family traditions that we practice year after year?

Here are 6 things you as a family can do this Christmas season (some cost nothing and some cost very little) that will develop your child's family identity and start traditions they will want to carry on in their own families some day.

1. As a family, visit a live nativity.
In our area we have some really good ones that involve lots of animals, and scenes of that blessed night in Bethlehem. Most children are visual learners, especially small children, and seeing the story of the birth of Christ unfold right before their eyes, (camels, donkeys, sheep, and hay) will make a lasting impression. A big
THANK YOU to all the churches who so creatively give of their time, finances, talents and spiritual gifts to bring the nativity to life.

2. Involve your kids in your church Christmas play.
Oh my goodness, I could not begin to tell you all the sweet memories I have of my boys in their shepherds costumes, fighting with their staffs in the church basement before their play, head pieces falling off, and children tripping on their long robs, angels crying for their Mamas, and Mary and Joseph fighting over the doll that was supposed to represent baby Jesus. Church Christmas plays are a great family tradition and the memories will last a lifetime.

3. Teach your children the importance of giving to others.
This is a tradition that will shape their attitude toward those in need and develop in them a compassionate heart. I learned this quite by accident as a young Mom. My Mom and I were coming out of KMart one day when my son Bryan, who was about 3 years old, reached into his pocket, took out some loose change that he had been carrying around for a while, walked up to the Salvation Army kettle and put it in, no prompting from us. You better believe I made sure every year after that, my boys put money in that kettle, helped fix Christmas baskets at church, AND participated in delivering them. When I hear Moms speak negatively about the lack of gratitude in their children, I have to wonder where they learned it. You see, a thankful heart is a "learned thing" that is taught to children by parents who demonstrate a thankful heart in their daily lives. Ephesians 5:20 commands us to "give thanks always for all things."

4. Encourage your children to choose a gift for a family member, buy the gift (or gifts), wrap the gift, then personally give it to the person they bought it for.
This really teaches them the art of gift giving and teaches them to put some thought, effort, time, and their own resources into giving to others.

5. Teach them to remember the senior adults in your family and in your church family.
So many people, especially those who are alone or who live in nursing homes are vulnerable to depression this time of year. It is amazing what a plate of home baked cookies, candy canes, or fruit will do for the over all sense of well being of a senior adult. And the benefits to you and your children in years to come will be pricless.

6. Make Christmeas Eve or Christmas morning something unique to your family.
My sister-in-law serves spaghetti and meatballs on Christmas Eve and that has been their tradition for many, many years. My Dad, (not my Mom) always fixed the hams for our Christmas Eve dinner. We choose a different family member each year to read the Christmas story from Luke 2 BEFORE gifts are opened!! Whether it's pizza for Christmas dinner, opening half the presents on Christmas Eve and the other half on Christmas day, or singing Christmas carols before you open your gifts, start a tradition that sets your family apart from every other family and establishes your family identity in your kids. They'll love you for it when they have their own families!

And may I add one more tradition??? I call it a "husband and wife tradition."
When our boys were small, Christmas was all about them. And I think most parents focus all their attention
(and money) on getting just the right gifts for their kids, even to the extent of getting less for each other. And there certainly isn't anything wrong with that, because we get so much enjoyment from seeing the "awe" on the faces of our children on Christmas morning.

Christmas Eve night was the one night out of the year that we had no problems getting our boys to bed early. After an exciting day of eating and opening gifts at both grandparents, seeing their cousins and anticipating Christmas morning, they were exhausted and asleep almost as soon as their heads hit the pillow.
And that is when David and I would exchange gifts with each other. We knew that the next morning we would be involved with the kids, so we began early in our marriage having our own Christmas, minus the kids, on Christmas Eve night. We, (he) would put together train sets, race tracks, star wars stuff, GI Joe headquarters, bring in the go-kart, you name it, he put it together, and then we had our quiet time of opening the gifts we had for each other, and reflecting on God's goodness to our family the past year.

This is David and me with our 8 grandchildren. We took the picture AFTER our Thanksgiving dinner instead of before as we usually do. It may not be picture perfect, but after all, I never want to forget that no family is picture perfect. Sometimes we get caught up in that idea and miss the most important moments of all.
I am holding our newest addition to the family, Isaac, next to me is his sister Olivia, his brother Alex, David is holding Tate, and left to right are Sarah, (Tate's sister) Katie, Emily, (Isacc, Olivia and Alex's sister) and Kara, Katie's sister. We are so blessed and so thankful for each precious one.

So...have a very blessed and Merry Christmas, remember the Christ-Child Who came to earth as a tiny baby, born to a humble mother in a humble stable, Who grew to be a Man and gave His sinless life for us that we would never know the sting of death and the eternal separation from our Heavenly Father.
He truly is "Immanuel, God with us." Matthew 1:23.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Communication: The Key to a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime

If you could use only one word to describe your marriage, what would it be? Depending on your last conversation with your husband, right?

After 43 years of marriage, I can honestly describe our marriage as.... calm. (most of the time.)
But oh those early years! Not always so calm. You take two "kids" from very different backgrounds and family structure, add some immaturity and selfishness, throw in a war, (not ours) add a stressful job, fast forward a couple of years and add a baby, house payments, 3rd shift, and the general, everyday stresses of life and the word to describe our marriage could change daily, almost hourly.

Ladies, marriage is tough!! And it's tough because from the moment you look into the eyes of your husband and promise your life away, our enemy, Satan, is on a lifelong mission to destroy what you and your husband so lovingly long to build; a relationship that will stand the test of time and eternity, and a secure family and home for your children.

Don't you just love it when a woman says, "Oh my husband and I have never had a fight." And when I hear that I want to say, "Well lady, one of you isn't necessary, because I can't think of anyone that I agree with all the time."

When I think of our early years, the words "mad" (not angry, mad), "get you back", "you always", "you never", quickly come to mind. And then there were those times when the silent treatment worked a whole lot better than words, and the silent treatment could manipulate just about any situation. In fact, for two people with a daily word quota to fill in a fight, the silent treatment said it loud and clear.

Statistics tell us that divorce among Christian couples is the same as divorce among unbelievers; why? Not unfaithfulness or abuse, not alcohol or drug abuse, but in a recent survey of Christian couples who divorced it all came down to one thing; communication. And communication is simply the words we speak to each other and about each other. So that tells me we need to do a better job of expressing our needs and our feelings, because what we don't say will build up and build up and after a period of time, what isn't said will implode inside us and oh what a mess!!

I recently heard of yet another couple who divorced after 45 years of marriage. They had been our friends, our neighbors several years ago. They seemed like the perfect family; 2 handsome sons, 5 grandchildren, and everything that made them seem picture perfect; from the outside. They moved away when their boys were still children, but we stayed in touch occasionally, and even though I was totally caught off guard by the news, looking back, I can see there seemed to be something missing. Could it have been communication?
Maybe so. Our marriage is important and it comes 2nd only to our relationship with our Savior. And just as the right words can repair the most damaged of relationships, the wrong words can destroy the best of relationships.

The Bible has a lot to say about the words we speak. Just look up the word "word or words" in your concordance and you'll be amazed at how many times the Lord used the word, "word". This is what Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 5:2;
"Don't be RASH with your mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to say anything before God; for God is in Heaven, and you are upon earth, so let your words be few."

So how do I separate the words I speak, from the thoughts I am thinking? How do I keep from speaking them, and hurting those I love? Well the truth is, on our own, we cannot. Only the Holy Spirit can produce the fruit of self control, gentleness, humility, kindness, patience, love, goodness, joy and faith and it takes a whole lot of all 9 of those fruit to develop good communication in marriage. And only as He produces those fruit in us can we conquer our negative thoughts toward our husband and prevent those thoughts from becoming "rash" words.

Think about the conversations you've recently had with your husband; did you do all the talking? Did he?
Communication means the conversation goes both ways. Did you interrupt when he was telling you how he felt about a certain issue? Something I've noticed about myself is this; I interrupt to "defend" myself or my opinions. The next time you and your husband are arguing about (discussing) something, allow him to completely state his thoughts and opinions, and ask him to allow you to do the same. I have found this to be true with David and me; I understand him better, and he understands me better when I say less and listen more, and he says less and listens more. And many times when he has finished stating his feelings, it has diffused the situation and as my Mama used to say, "took all the wind out of my sails." All I have to do is let him finish!! Men have a tendency to get "loud" in a "discussion" and women have a tendency to get "meaner" with their words. And the reason we can get meaner is because we say what we're thinking. Not very attractive. When I stay calm, don't interrupt, and let him express himself, there's no reason for him to get loud because you see, if I'm not talking, he doesn't have to talk over me!!

Take time today to read Galatians 5: 22 and 23, and ask the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit in your life and in your marriage. It is amazing what He will do in the marriage of a man and woman who are committed to honoring Christ and honoring each other.

And may I add just one more thing? It isn't just what we say to our husband that breaks down communication in our marriage; it is also what we say about him. Other people form their opinions about our husband from what they see and hear from us. If we speak about him to our Mom, our sisters, our friends and even strangers in a negative way, it won't be long until not only "they" will have a distorted view of him, but we'll begin thinking those things ourselves, and before we know it, communication breaks down. What you say about your husband in public can influence his opportunities in his job and his service in the church and for the Lord. Keep intimate things private and keep private......private.

As you work together to build good communication skills in your marriage, rash words will be less spoken and you may actually see some "calm" going on around you. Pray for your husband and your marriage every single day, it is so worth it!!

Thank you so much to everyone who reads this blog. It is now being read in 35 countries and I appreciate every email, comment, and word of encouragement you have given me. Without you there would be no blog. Again, thank you so much. And would you please pray that the blog would be a blessing and a help to all who read it?              
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Don't Loose Heart! Pray, Praise, and Wait on God

As a Bible study teacher and speaker, the one thing I hear most from young women is this: "I am praying for my husband to become a Christian, but I feel like I'm fighting a loosing battle." Or, "I am praying that my husband will step up and be the spiritual leader in our home, but I'm still the one praying before our meal, praying with our children, or reading them a Bible story. Maybe I need to just forget it and do the best I can." And when they ask me, "What else can I do?" I can only reply, "Don't give up, God has a plan for you and your family, and in His timing, He will pull it all together for you."

One thing I learned many, many years ago is this: the only person I can change is myself. And when I learned this one, very important fact, it changed everything for me. Because you see, when I finally figured that out, I began focusing more on what God wanted to do in my life, and less on what I thought David should be doing in his life. And as I began to allow God to do His work in my life, I began to notice that He was also working in David's life and in our family.

Maybe you have something that you have been pryaing for and you are just about ready to call it quits;
PLEASE DON'T!! When you reach that piviotal place in your praying it can only mean one thing; breakthrough is so close, the answer is within reach, but.....what do I do while I wait on God?

In Luke 18, Jesus told a parable about prayer that is just as relevant to our prayer lives today as when He first told it to His disciples. So get your Bible, turn to Luke 18, because this is so good, I don't want you to just take my word for it.

In v1, Jesus said, "Believers should always pray and not loose heart." When you and I loose heart, we are discouraged. I don't know about you, but I can sure get discouraged easily. Jesus said that when we feel discouraged that means it is time to dig in our heels and pray harder and praise Him more for Who He is.

In the parable Jesus told about a widow who was being harassed by an "adversary." She asked to see the judge in her district, but he refused to meet with her. But look at v4; she kept on and on and on and finally he got so weary of her asking that he gave in because she "wore him down".

Anybody been pickin' on you lately? Making life harder for you, criticizing your best efforts, pointing out your failures? Then you have an adversary. And look at v7 at what God will do about your adversary; He will avenge us and v8 says He will be quick about it!

Now I don't believe for one minute that we have to "wear God down" in order to get our prayers answered, but the meaning of the parable is this; by refusing to give up, we reveal our faith.

So..this is what you do while you wait for God to answer your prayers for your husband, your children, your health, your finances, or to "avenge you because of your adversary":

1. Keep praying. Refuse to be moved, keep praying until God answers with a big yes, or you know that He has definitely said no. Either way, commit to keep praying.

2. Share your struggle. For me, just sharing with a close friend and sometimes even my class what I am praying about clarifies things and involves them in the process. And let me tell you, there is nothing off limits with God. I have the sweetest young Mom in my class who shared with us her potty training struggles with her toddler, then shared with us how God had answered and he was now doing "both" things in the potty!! God wants to be involved in every area of our lives and ladies that includes potty training those toddlers. Share your prayer stuggles and you just might be surprised by how sharing can speed up the process, or at least make the journey from unanswered to answered prayer just a little sweeter!

And the 3rd thing (I think the most important) is found in Acts 16. Please read this, it is sooo good.
Paul, Silas, and Luke had been preaching all over Europe and a woman by the name of Lydia was converted to Christianity. She invited them to stay in her town, they did, continuing to preach. One day during a prayer meeting, a young slave girl who was considered a medium, (you don't watch that show on TLC do you? Didn't think you did.) came to the meeting. Now she made a lot of money for her masters and when the meeting was over and Paul and Silas left, she followed them all over town, drawing attention to them by shouting, "These men are the servants of the Most High God who show us the way of salvation." She kept this up for several days and v18 says she just plain and simply got on Paul's last nerve. When he could stand it no longer he turned to her and commanded that the evil spirit leave her and it did. When her owners saw that she couldn't make them money, they had Paul and Silas arrested and brought before the judge. The judge ordered them beaten and thrown into prison. The jailer took them to the "inner" prison and placed their feeet in stocks and left them there. The prison system was made up of 3 separate spaces. The 1st was for the lesser of the offenders, the 2nd was for those who had committed worse crimes than those in the 1st cell, and the 3rd prison was horrible. No window, no ventilation, poor food and water, and little or no light.

Well just take a look at v25 of Acts 16; what in the world were Paul and Silas doing at midnight?
Who heard them?
What happened in v26?
When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors open, he naturally thought everyone had escaped. Knowing that he would be executed because of his derilection of duty, he drew his own sword, intending to take his life when Paul yelled out, "Don't hurt yourself. We are all still here."

The jailer called for a light and when he saw that every prisoner was in his place, he came to Paul and Silas' cell, fell trembling at their feet, and asked, "What must I do to be saved?" He immediately accepted Christ as his Savior, took them to his home where they witnessed to the jailer's family and they were all saved. The jailer took water and cleaned their bloody wounds, then he and his family were baptized. I heard Beth Moore say that the family was likely baptized in the same bloody water that had been used to clean the wounds of Paul and Silas.

Isn't it amazing what God can do with a woman who loves so much and loves so deep that she refuses to stop praying, no matter how hopeless it looks?
Isn't it amazing what God can do with a woman who, in humilty, shares the prayers of her heart with someone who will step into that prayer journey with her and together they claim Matthew 18:19, 20 as their very own promise?
And isn't it amazing what God can do with a woman who sings praises at midnight even though her heart is so heavy with discouragement that the words just won't come and the only sound you hear is the melody?
Whether you can carry a tune or not, whether you feel silly or embarrassed or not, get a good praise cd, (I highly recommend "3 For Thee") plug it in, turn it on, and belt it out!! Singing and praying the Word changes a lot of things, but most importantly it changes me.
Everyday, in every situation we have 2 choices; we can complain and make things worse, or we can pray and faithfully wait for God to change our situation. If I get mad at God because of my circumstances, immdediately a wall goes up between us. Many times my situation hasn't changed until my atttitude changed.

While we always have the privilege of prayer, we do not have the right to tell God how and when to answer them; that's His job. Ours is to pray and praise and let Him do in our lives what He knows will be best for us and bring the most glory and honor to His Holy name. Devils will run and demons will get out of town quick when we pray and sing praises through our circumstances, because they cannot stay in the presence of the name of "The Most High God."

Share with us your favorite praise cd. We love to hear about it.

Have a great and blessed day.


Monday, September 23, 2013

"When God Created the World"

It's finally here!!
I am so excited about my first children's book! It is the story of creation, written in rhyme for children ages 4-8. But guess what Mom and Dad and Grandma's and Grandpa's...it's for you, too.

From a very little girl I have always believed and known that our Almighty, Awesome, Creative God created the world we live in, but...I couldn't keep it straight what was created on which day. Not until I researched for this book did I understand the creative process and the order with which God designed each minute detail of planet Earth. And oh my friend, God is in the details. (from absolutely nothing to the beauty we see all around us; that's detail!!) And if we don't get creation right, we won't get anything else right, because you see, every spiritual thought, belief, insight and doctrine is built upon this one foundational truth: "In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. "Children, and adults need to not only "believe" that God created the world in 7 literal days, we need to be able to "defend" our beliefs with the truths in Genesis 1 and 2.

I just received my first copy last Friday, and it is already on Amazon.com. Later, it will be on other websites and may be ordered through LifeWay. I want to thank my good friend, Karen Casey for being the first (as far as I know) to buy a copy. In fact, she bought 2 copies. Thank you Karen!!

It has been a long process, and many times I wanted to give up because it seemed so impossible, but I am so glad I didn't. I am so thankful God proved to me again that He is faithful. No matter what your dream is today, or what you may be going through, know this; "The Lord is faithful." (2 Thess.3:3)

And I sure couldn't have gotten this far without my biggest supporter: David encouraged me every step of the way to just keep at it, just keep trying, just keep sending it out. I did, and he was right.

Thank you to my sons and their wives, my grandchildren, who I dedicated this book to, my precious sisters who gave me good advice and support, my dear friends Susan and Brenda who faithfully prayed with me and for me, and my church family for your encouragement, and prayers. And thank you Hilldale MOPS for being the first group to hear the first 2 pages and for being so supportive of me these past few years. I love this group of Moms!!

There is also an app available and it does all sorts of great things that your kids will love. You can even record your own voice reading the story to your kids or grandkids. I hope you'll get a copy for those precious children in your life who need to know the truth now, while they are still young, and now, while their minds and hearts are so tender to the things of Christ.

Page 1
Before there was a world, people time or light
Before there was a day, before there was a night
God knew all about you, and God had a plan
In the beginning, this is how it all began.

Page 2
Day 1 there was nothing, but dark and empty space
Then God said, "Let there be!" and light filled up the place.
He called the light day, He called the darkness night
As He looked around He said, "I think this looks just right!"

Got to buy the book to get the rest........

Thanks to all my readers and those who email me and comment.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What's Wrong With Leave it to Beaver?

I recently saw an advertisement for a new reality show about stay at home Dads that said, "This ain't leave it to Beaver!" And as an avid "Ward, June, Wally, and Beaver" fan, tell me, what is wrong with "Leave it to Beaver?"

As a child of the 50's and 60's I dearly loved the show. When it was in reruns, I remember racing home from the bus stop so I could catch the last 15 minutes of the show every afternoon. Every now and then it will be on TVLand for a few months and I still enjoy watching every episode. I know what all the critics are saying, and no, my Mom didn't mop the floor in heels. She didn't cook dinner in pearls, or entertaintain her bridge club with cucmber and watercress sandwiches. (she didn't know or care what a bridge club was, and I am so thankful she didn't!!) But come on............. what's wrong with:

a Dad who is an authority figure in the Home?
a Dad who teaches his children moral and spiritual values?
a Dad who takes responsibility for his family and loves and supports them? (and protects them)
a Dad who is strong, yet gentle and kind and compassionate?
a Dad who teaches right is right and wrong is wrong and there are consequences for both?

a Mom who actually enjoys being a wife and Mom?
a Mom who actually enjoys creating a pleasant home for those she loves?
a Mom who is secure in who she is and doesn't have to apologize for the fact that she is, well, happy?
a Mom who knows her children well and is sensitive to their fears, their needs, their dreams?
a Mom who takes care of herself and cares about her appearance?
a husband and wife who work together to make their marriage a good one?

And will someone please tell me what is wrong with children:

honoring and obeying their parents? (Eph.6:1)
saying "Yes Sir" and Yes Ma'am"?
doing their homework.....themselves?
telling the truth?
having chores and structure?
playing in the dirt, for heaven's sake?

I can surely attest to the fact that we live in a very different world than Ward and June. After all, they weren't really a family at all, but as an 8 or 9 year old child, I sure thought they were. And yes, I love my iPhone, computer and all that stuff, and no, I don't want to wear heels and pearls around the house. But I would like to see more of those Ward and June family values displayed in the shows that our kids are watching. And I do think we've lost something that will be hard to get back.

Seasons change, (I love fall!!) people change, our world changes every day, but praise God, He will never change! (Mal. 3:6; For I Am the Lord, I change not!") He created the family before He created the church, or the government, and His plan for the family hasn't changed because "He changes not". Family is so important to Him that He came to earth as a baby, born into a....family.

Mom, you are the key, you are the heart of your home. June may be old fashioned to some, but she was my kind of wife, Mom and woman! And will someone please tell me, what's wrong with leave it to be Beaver?

I am climbing down from my soapbox now, and please let me know how you feel, what you think about this post. I'd love to hear from you, so leave a comment or send me an email.

Thanks for listening. Have a great day and find an episode of Beaver on tv or online and enjoy.........


Friday, August 16, 2013

The Stronghold of Unforgiveness

When our boys were little, and maybe not so little, they loved to watch wrestling on tv. They knew all the wrestlers by name, and they believed it was the real thing when they threw each other out of the ring and made those threats!! (back then it was a much cleaner sport than today and not as inappropriate for children. My how things have changed!) But as much as they loved to watch wrestling, they loved to do it even more.

As they got older, they made up wrestling names for each other, their cousins and their friends. Their favorite place to wrestle was on the trampoline, and as a boy Mom, I lived in panic that they were going to get hurt or hurt another "wrestler."

I must say, they did not learn those wrestling moves from the tv; when they were small, their favorite wrestling opponent was their Daddy. If you are familiar with wrestling, then you know that the whole objective of the sport is for one wrestler to "pin" his opponent and make him "give". When it looked like the one on the bottom couldn't get out of the hold he was caught in, the other wrestler would say, "Do you give?"

One day David and Jeff (he was 3 or 4) were wrestling and David had him "pinned" (yes I know, David took it seriously, too) and he said, "Do you give?" Jeff said with much conviction in his voice, "No way, there ain't no forgivin'!" That soon became our little family joke and when one of us would say, "I'm sorry", the other would say, (jokingly of course) "Ain't no forgivin".

I know people and you do, too, who approach everything in life with the attitude, "I don't forget and I don't forgive. I don't get mad, I get even." And if you listen to kids, and sadly, some adults, I think you'll find that too many of us wear a grudge like a badge of honor.

I recently watched a documentary about the gangs that were formend in the slums of NYC in the late 1800s and the first gangs were formed as a way to retaliate against anyone who crossed them. Human nature says, "You hurt me, you hurt mine, ain't no forgivin', I'll get you back!"
But, if you are a Christian, if you are a believer, God has a different agenda for you and me.

So...how do we respond when someone hurts us deeply? What if the person who hurt us refuses to acknowledge the hurt or take responsibility for it? If I forgive them, does that mean they get away with it? And what happens when you get your feelings hurt at church; do you quit going to church, look for another church, start your own? And for heaven's sake, how many times do I have to keep forgiving the same person for the same thing over, and over, and over?

Unforgiveness, left unchecked, has the potential to become a stronghold and literally take over my life. It will consume me, because unforgiveness is probably the most exhausting spiritual struggle we face. And the reason it is so exhausting is because like all spiritual battles, it takes place in our minds and our emotions long before we act upon it.

Stronghold is a term used in the Old Testament to describe a place where God's people could escapte to when they were attacked by their enemies. These were often caves or a barricaded canyon that had been stocked with water, food and weapons. Guards were always on duty at every town and province in Israel, and had as a part of their armor the horns of a ram. At the first sign of an attack from an enemy, they would blow a certain signal from those horns, and the people would know to stop what they were doing and quickly gather their families and head to the stronghold. From that stronghold they could unite their army and defend themselves for days, weeks, even months. David had several strongholds scattered around Judah when he was running from Saul.

In the New Teatament strongholds take on a whole new meaning. The Apostle Paul wrote about strongholds from a spiritual perspective and in 2 Corinth. 10:5, Paul gives us the definition of a spiritual stronghold; a spiritual stronghold is "anything that sets itself up agaisnt the knowldege of God." God is truth, but the stronghold is a lie. The lie competes with the truth and can become a dominant factor for control. That is how it sets itself up against the knowldege of God.

Strongholds can be anything from compulsive eating, to paranoia, bitterness, jealousy, pride and unforgiveness. No matter the stronghold, they all have one thing in common; our enemy, Satan, wants to keep us so wrapped up in oursleves and tied to our strongholds, that we will not acknowledge it or identify it. He knows that once we identify it, we will fix it. He doesn't want us to fix it, because he knows that when it's fixed, we will start living up to our full potential in Christ. And that is my desire for you and for me; that we live up to our full potential in Christ.

There is only one way to pull down a spiritual stronghold; by using the mighty weapons of God . (2 Corinth. 10:4) Our imagination takes place where? In our minds. (v5) Carnal means worldly, and carnal weapons do not stand a chance agaisnt spiritual strongholds; only the mighty weapons of God will pull down a stronghold. And God's weapon of choice to demolish a stronghold is the Sword of Spirit, His Holy Word.
(Eph.  6: 17)

In 1 Corinth. 2:16, God wants you and me learn to think with the mind of Christ. And to think with the mind of Christ means we have to "pull down anything that sets itself up against the knowledge of God."

I heard it described this way; it may not be the greatest of examples, but bear with me and I think it will make sense, hopefully.
Think of your mind as the walls of a room and your thoughts are the wallpaper. You know your thoughts are wrong (your wallpaper is wrong), so you have to change your way of thinking (pull down that old, ugly wallpaper). You sure don't want to leave the wall looking like it does, you have to re-wallpaper. But this time, with the old way of thinking (the old wallpaper) torn down, you can now start putting up the truth and you start thinking with the mind of Christ.
John 8:32; "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free."

We handle our lives like we do because we think like we think. Change our way of thinking and we change our own lives, but it won't stop there; we'll change the lives of our children and the atmosphere of our home. When we "throw down" (v5) our own reasoning (imagination) and throw down everything that thinks it knows more than God, and "bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ", what stronghold can stand against the "knowledge of God"? I can't think of a single one; not even unforgiveness. Whatever stronghold has you consumed and bound up today, make it your prisoner, (take it captive) and bring it to Jesus. He will see to it that your stronghold obeys Him; what better fate for a stronghold! (Mark 1:24)

So...when my feelings are hurt and that person refuses to acknowledge she has hurt me, I forgive her so that I am free from the burden of thinking about it all the time, and so that I am not hurt all over again each time I see her; not so she will get away with it. She only gets away with hurting me when I refuse to forgive.

When my feelings get hurt at church, I obey Matt. 18:15.

When I get tired of forgiving the same person over, and over, and over, I remember Jesus' words to Simon Peter in Matt. 18:21, 22. (something like 70X7...)

And yes there is still a lot of wrestling going on in the Noffsinger household, only this time it is David and the grandkids. He's still doing the "pinning" and there still "ain't no forgivin" going on.

I'd love to hear from you. Send me an email or comment on the blog. Thanks for all your encouragement and comments.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

When All is Well

One of my favorite places to go in the fall of the year is Natural Bridge State Park in Powell County Ky. David and I have been there several times. I like to go because I enjoy climbing to the top of the mountain and walking out onto that very scary, very high natural bridge that connects one small mountain with the one next to it. And David likes to go because Kentucky Mustang is only a few miles down the road. He calls it a "man's mall." He told me once, "You know how you feel when you go to the mall and they're having a big sale, your heart races, and you can't wait to get inside? Well that's how I feel when I go to Kentucky Mustang." When we go to the mall, he sits outside the store on a bench waiting for me to "hurry up". When we go to Kentucky Mustang I sit outside the store on a bench, waiting for him to "hurry up"!

A few years ago we were staying at Natural Bridge Lodge, and instead of walking up the mountain, we decided to ride the tram up one side and walk down the other side. It was a little over 2 miles and we knew we could easily handle that, or so we thought. We figured going down would be much easier than going up, but were we ever wrong!

One of the first things I noticed as we were coming down the mountain were signs posted at strategic intervals cautioning climbers not to go near the edge because the previous year, 22 people had died from falling off the mountain. So, needless to say, I couldn't enjoy the beautiful fall colors and scenery all around me, (the things I love best about fall) because I was too busy looking down at my feet, making sure we didn't become a statistic for the next years postings.

That was my last attempt at mountain climbing, but I'm always looking for a spiritual application to whatever my situation may be. And one thing I have learned the hard way about the Christian life is this; we are either in a valley, (down where all the problems are), getting ready to climb a mountain, (things are starting to look up, but we still have a way to go) on top of the mountain, (everything that was unclear in the valley is "clear as a bell" in the wide open spaces of the mountaintop) or...we're walking down the other side of the mountain toward another valley. But on the top of that mountain things sure look good, all is well, we can rest awhile from the battles of the valley, enjoy the moment, enjoy the peace and quiet. But for many believers, me included, it is when we are in a place, spiritually, where things have plateaued for a little while, and we are enjoying the calm after the storm, that we are most vulnerable to a sneak attack from our enemy.
One of the biggest mistakes we as believers often make is when our lives are running smoothly, and we feel close to God, we loose that sense of urgency for God. We aren't as desperate for Him on the mountain where all feels good and safe like we did in the valley when our situation kept us awake at night, when we were afraid and alone. And on the mountain, we tend to be less aware of our obedience.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites would cry out to God from their valley, they would pray, seek Him, repent, make huge promises. God would answer them, deliver them from their enemies, heal their sick, give them a season of prosperity. Then the cycle would repeat itself, time after time, after time.

In 2 Samuel 11, we have the story of what happened in David's life when all was well. He was about 50 years old. He had experienced a closeness with God that few people have known. He had everything a man could possibly want; a kingdom of adoring servants, wives, children, riches, you name it, he had it.

One evening when his army was fighting his battles, David was at home, alone. He stepped out onto his "rooftop" (we would call it a terrace today) and walked around, surveying his kingdom. His palace was the tallest structure in Judah, and he could virtually look down onto all the rooftops of the surrounding homes. You know the rest of the story; adultery and murder. David wasn't defeated in his fight with Goliath. He came out the victor in his battle with Saul, and in those never-ending threats of treason, and countless other attacks by Satan. But when all was well, when there were no battles to fight in the valley, that is when temptation came at him with a vengeance.

The Bible warns us in 1 Corinth. 10:12; "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." That's because our enemy Satan, never takes a day off, he never takes a break, he never leaves us alone for very long. In the New Testament, Christians are called soldiers. Our armor is found in Ephesians 6:12-17. We are to have it with us at all times to protect us from the fiery darts of our enemy. So how do we stay ready to fight the battle in the valley, and enjoy the peace of the mountaintop?

1. Like the soldiers in the New Testament, stay dressed for battle. My helmet is my salvation. It protects my mind, my thoughts, the things I hear, see, and say. My breastplate is the righteousness of my God. My belt is the Holy Spirit of Truth.(John 16:13) My shoes are my desire to be a peacemaker. My sword is my Bible. Every spiritual battle is fought with the Word of God. And my shield is my faith. When we go through difficult times, remember Who sustained us. And when we sense all is well, remember Who led us there.

2. On the mountaintop, we feel victorious and invincible. That is when we are most vulnerable. When I have a sense that all is well, that is when I need to take up the battle of another believer and wear my armor for her. I need to pray for her as I have prayed for myself, intercede for her, be an extra set of eyes, hands, feet so she doesn't slip as she is climbing up, out of the valley.

3. Determine to be obedient. Don't ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit, be aware of His conviction of even the slightest area of disobedience. When all is well, I especially need to be more vigilant in reading my Bible, praying, being faithful to every church service, staying in close contact with other believers. This is my spirutal support and defense in the valley and on the mountaintop. This is my protection.

I hope all is well with you today. And if it is "Give Thanks". (1 Thess. 5:18) But remember, the top of the mountain is a beautiful place to be and it sure is a nice place to visit, but it's in the valley where all the living takes place. Mature, strong, successful Christians spend a lot more time in the valley than they do on the mountain. And the next time we go to Natural Bridge, we'll ride the tram up
AND down. Now if I could just figure out a way to keep David out of Kentucky Mustang...........

Monday, June 17, 2013

What It Takes To Leave a Marriage Legacy

Recently, David and I were invited to Federal Grove Bed and Breakfast in Auburn, Ky. to celebrate the 35th wedding anniversary of our dear friends, Susan and Wesley Walker. Federal Grove is a beautiful 18th century estate that got it's start from a Revolutionay War land grant of 10,000 acres to Jonathan Clark, the older brother of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. And today, it is a piece of Kentucky history that must be experienced to be enjoyed.

On our 30th wedding anniversary, our sons and their wives surprised David and me with an overnight stay at Federal Grove, and it was so good to be back in that beautiful countryside. I know I am very prejudice, but let me tell you....there is no place like Kentucky in June.

After a delicious dinner, we were served an amazing, "made from scratch" carrot cake that Brittany, Susan and Wesley's daughter-in-law had made especially for the occassion. As we enjoyed our dessert, their children, Alan and Annie, each spoke of their love and gratitude to their parents for providing a loving, secure, Christian home for them while they were growing up. After dinner, we sat outside on the patio and enjoyed the "company and conversation". As we were making our way to our cars I said to Annie, "Not everybody has this." And ladies, "not everybody has this" because we are too quick to give up on our husband, give up on our marriage, and just give up in general. When we focus on his faults, (and there will be many, but we have them, too) and we allow ourselves to become distracted from the committment we made on our wedding day, we can easily begin to think that things would be better with someone else. But statistics say that usually isn't the case.

Girls...this is from someone who knows; (not bragging, just saying it like it is) you won't know the blessings of the 40 something years, unless you get thru all the years ahead of them. You won't know the blessings of an unbroken family circle around a dinner table full of adult children and (best of all) their children, unless you dig in your heels and make that lifelong committment to just seeing it thru.

Now before I go any further, let me make it clear; DO NOT stay in an unsafe environment of abuse, and please DO NOT keep your children there. Take whatever steps you need to take, but get help and get safe.

This post today is for those of you in your first 20 years of marriage. Sounds like we ought to have it all figured out by then, but we sure didn't, and statistics say that divorce in couples who have been married 20 or more years is up dramatically, even among Christians.

So what can you do now, in the early years of marriage to ensure that your marriage doesn't become another divorce statistic?

1. Let some stuff "slide". Not every issue is worth fighting about. Close your eyes, turn the volume button down on your ears, but don't let every issue become a face off of who's right and who's wrong. Most marriages aren't destroyed, they are "eroded". Erosion is a slow process, it doesn't happen overnight, and marriages don't break up overnight either. It is usually the accumulation of the daily trials of life that build and build, and if left unattended, just like a barren land that is left unattended, it will erode to the point of needing more than an "I'm sorry."
2. Remember what you promised. Marriage is a covenant agreement between you, God, and your husband.
When you signed your name on the "dotted line" of your marriage license you promised your life away; literally. When he "tunes you out" or "turns a deaf ear", remember the part that says, "for worse"? And when money is tight, the kids need shoes, and the cupboards are getting bare, remember the "poorer" line in that covenant? And I won't even go there on the "sickness and in health" part. My definition of sick is one thing and David's is, well, something not quite as serious as mine!! (sorry honey, I did let him read this, by the way.)
3. Develop the art of just "plain ole talking it out". It will take a while, but without good communication, even the deepest love cannot survive. Make time for just the two of you to get away for a night every now and then. It's amazing what a quiet dinner at your favorite restaurant, or an overnight away from the kids will do for your communication skills. Come on, can you really have a deep conversation with a whiny 2 yr old holding onto your leg or your 6 yr old literally starving to death right before your eyes? It may be something you have to save up for, but it will be worth it. There are many, many times when communication trumps love!
4. Respect. Even on those days when everything he does "irks" us to no end, showing him the respect God says he is due simply because he is your husband (Eph. 5:33) goes a long way in keeping the issues in perspective and can even help the "irks"!

I know this isn't a complete list, but these 4 things will take any marriage a "fur piece down the road". And when you add lots and lots of love and forgiveness to letting some petty stuff slide, remembering your promises, developing great communication, and giving him respect, even when you don't want to, but you do it as a simple act of obedience to God, one day you, too, can say, "Thank You, Lord that we stuck it out."

Forgive me if I sounded too "preachy", it's just that I feel so passionate about strong marriages and strong families. And in this day when more and more couples are opting to live together, or separate over petty issues that don't amount to a "hill of beans" as my Mama used to say, Christian couples and families have the divine opportunity to raise the standard, set a good example, and leave a lasting legacy to their children and grandchildren.

I'd love to hear from you; let me know if you'd like to add anything to the list. Here are 2 scriptures that will keep you working on your marriage for better or worse, richer or poorer, or in sickeness and health;
Colossians 3:17
Colossians 3:23, 24
Have a great day, tell your husband you love him today and then spend some quiet time praying for him and thinking about what a great guy he really is!!

Here we are after all that delicious food and dessert!!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mom, Take Your Kids to Church!!!

Mother's Day and thoughts of my Mom evoke a lot of different emotions for me, and I bet they do for you, too. Our Moms are our Moms, with all their quirks, idiosyncrasies, personalities, likes and dislikes. And it wasn't until I was a Mom that I understood that all that went into making her who she was, went into making me who I am; quirks, idiosyncrasies, personality, likes and dislikes. The older I get, the more like my Mom I hope I am becoming.

On Mother's Day, David and I were privileged to worship with our son, Jeff, and his family, at Dripping Spring Baptist Church in Logan County, Ky. We heard a very timely messsage, enjoyed the special singing of our daughter-in-law Dana, and Kristi Holloway, and were blest when Mrs. Kathleen Cox, church pianist for many, many years played "Whispering Hope" for offertory. That song brought back many good memories from my growing up years in Nelson Creek Baptist Church and my Dad, who was our song leader, often lead our congregation in singing that Baptist classic, "Whispering Hope." After the service, Jeff took us to Shady Cliff restaurant on Lake Malone, and it was a very enjoyable Mother's Day for me!

Just before Jeff preached, a godly woman in his church, Mrs. Gayle Brown, asked if she could say a word to the church. This is what she said; "The reason I am in church today is because of my Mother. She brought me to church when I was a little girl." How simple, yet how profound.

If you are a Mom with small children, please hear the godly wisdom of this godly woman; "Bring your children to church with you, and when they are adults, they will be in church." Now I know what some of you may be thinking; "I know of lots of women who took their kids to church and their kids don't go to church now." And I say, "Yes, I know families who went to church when the kids were small, but their adult children have no interest in church today." But oh ladies.....there is so much more that goes into taking kids to church than just, well, taking them to church.

One of the young Moms in my Sunday School class often shares this with our class; "When we were children, we went to church, but what we heard at church wasn't "lived out" at home."

So, what can I do today to insure that what I am putting into raising my kids, will bear abundant fruit when they are adults?

Get you Bible, and turn to Proverbs 31. I know, she used to scare me, too, but don't be afraid of her, she is just a woman. She was married, she had children, she had a home, she had a job, she is you, she is me. God did not place her within the pages of holy script for us to fear her, nor is she a standard we cannot possibly hope to live up to. She is there to encourage us, to lift us up, to teach us the "how to's" of being the woman God created us to be. Because you see, the "abundant life"(John 10:10) the best life, we could possibly live is not found in a fashion magazine, the who's who of Hollywood, keeping up with the cool Mom in our Bible Study class or our best friend from High School. The abundant life is having God as the center of our life and every other thing of value flowing from the Center.

I have given her a name; Lady Virtue. She doesn't seem quite so daunting when I call her Lady Virtue and not "that Proverbs 31 woman". So...what are some practical, yet extremely important lessons you and I can learn from Lady Virtue?

Look at verses 10-31.
In these verses I found 9 things this remarkable woman did while raising her family that every Mom can do. And when you add these things to attending a good, Bible believing, Bible preaching, evangelistic church with your children every single Sunday, you can expect the same results she received. (hint: v28!!)

1. Be sure your husband can trust you with his heart. (v11)
That means he knows you will not "discuss" (criticize, belittle) him with your friends or........your Mom. It also means we keep private things private, and he can trust us to be discreet and "virtuous" in the presence of other men. Because you see, his heart needs to know that you have eyes for him and him alone. You may think you are "just being friendly" but other men get a different message. And too much "friendly" can create a lack of trust in his heart.
2. Don't be lazy. (v15)
Lady Virtue worked and she worked hard to see that her family was well fed, well clothed, and warm. And she got up early in the morning  to make sure of that. No hitting the "snooze" on the alarm clock for her!! She didn't just feed them any ole thing that was handy. Not Lady Virtue. She took the extra time and patience needed to provide the very best for her husband and children. She even found the time to create beautiful garments to sell in the marketplace to add to the family income.
3. She used good judgment in making decisions. (v16)
She wasn't impulsive, she thought things through, she "considered" every detail and looked at it from every angle.
4. She "kept the home fires burning." (v18)
She created a place that her husband and children actually wanted to come home to.
5. Her children knew she had compassion for the poor and witnessed her care for them. (v20)
6. She was organized and prepared. (v21)
7. She took the time to look attractive (wore silk and purple) and dress modestly. ("coverings")
(vss 22, 23)
In fact, she showed so much respect and honor for her husband that he was "known in the gates." To be "known in the gates" meant that he was a community leader and a man who was sought out for his wise council. Please never under-estimate the value of your influence on your husband and children. How we treat our families, speak about them, and care for them will influence how others respect them and what they think of them. Here's a little test to prove my point; listen to what other women (even strangers at the Mall) are saying about their families (husbands in particular) and see how that affects your opinion of them.
8. She was a woman known for her kind words. (v26) That's a blog post for another time, but oh ladies, we need us some virtuous women with some kind words today in our homes, in our churches, and everywhere else!! The words we speak define us more than anything else about us.
9. Her family was her top priority, and they knew it. Her kids didn't have to wonder how Mom felt about them....they knew from her actions. Her husband didn't have to wonder where his wife was, with whom, or what she was saying or doing.....he knew that his heart was safe with her.

What will children do who have a Mom like her?___________________
How many times are her hands mentioned in these verses?_______________
What is the most important gift you can give your husband and children?________________(hint: v30)

So....a Mom takes her children to church and protects the heart of her husband.
She takes her children to church and works hard at home to take care of them.
She takes her children to church and makes wise decisions.
She takes her children to church and creates a lovely home for her family.
She takes her children to church and shows compassion to the poor and needy.
She takes her children to church and takes time to take care of herself and set the example for her daughters.
She takes her children to church and speaks kindly to everyone she meets.
She takes her children to church and lives out her faith at home.

That's the total package girls, and it works. God says it will! And when you put it all together, one day, on Mother's Day, someone may stand and say about you.....
"The reason I am in church today is because of my Mother. My Mother brought me to church when I was a child."

Thank you, Mrs. Gayle for that godly counsel. I needed the reminder; "I am in church today because my Mother, also, took me to church."

Let me hear the answers to the questions. I just love Bible study, don't you????

Blessings in His name,

Monday, April 22, 2013

Don't be a Crowd Follower!!

If you were to list your top 10 worries for your kids and grandkids, I bet negative peer pressure would make your list.

Peer pressure is strong, and getting stronger with each generation. But peer pressure isn't just for kids; I find myself, and you probably do too, in situations where it is easier to just "go along to get along", right?? So... how do we set the example for our kids and not be a crowd follower, when Jesus calls us to follow Him, no matter where it might take us?


Daniel was born into royalty in the land of Judah. Coming from wealth and royalty meant he received the best possible education of that time. His life was mapped out for him from the very moment of his birth and it looked like he was destined for something really big; and he was, just not in the way his family expected. When Daniel was a teenager, everything he had ever known and loved was taken from him when Nebuchadnezzar, (Neb) king of Babylon invaded Judah and took all the royal seed back to Babylon to serve in the king's court.

The king took special interest in Daniel and his 3 close friends, and instructed his chief eunuch, Ashpenez, to look for certain qualities in their character and physical abilities. Ashpenez was instructed to speak with each young man and discern his wisdom and knowledge of science. They were to be taught the language, customs and ways of the Chaldeans. King Neb wanted these young men to be poised, confident, not slaves but always in submission. They were to be assets to the King's court, we might call them "window dressing".

After Ashpenez determined each young man's level of intelligence, and where he would serve the king, he placed them under the care of the "prince of the eunuchs". The primary way their culture brought captives into submission was to starve them, or at the least, give them sub-standard food and drink. But King Neb instructed that these young men be fed food from his own table, and wine from his private stock. And I love Daniel 1:9; God "brought Daniel into favor with the prince of the eunuchs."

Leaders are "attractive" to followers. As a follower, Ashpenez recognized a leader, and God, through his Holy Spirit prepared the way for Daniel to be a successful leader. Leaders are confident, level headed, use good judgment, show compassion, mercy, and understanding. In other words, leaders just naturally stand out!

Ashpenez changed their Hebrew name to a Babylonian name. The Babylonians were determined to strip them of their Hebrew identity. By changing their names, they believed they could change them. The Babylonians were superstitious people who worshipped many gods. They started with a name change, believing that in time, they could change everything about them. But they hadn't counted on a Daniel.

You and I are not destined to be followers. God has placed within the framework of each of His children the power, the strength, the fortitude to be leaders. Now granted, leaders are leaders on different levels, but we can all be leaders when it comes to standing up for truth, for right, for God and His principles. The key thing is, leaders are not born....they are prepared.

Here are 3 things that you can begin to do today to prepare yourself, your kids, your grandkids to be leaders.

1. Know what you believe, why you believe it, and what you are going to do about it.
Daniel and his friends had convictions that were instilled in them long before they were taken from Judah, and v8 says they were "determined". When he was told what he was to eat and drink, he already had the conviction in place and he knew without a doubt what he believed about ...food; it was a "no-brainer". The food and drink were out, even if he had to give his life.

What do you believe about drinking alcohol, sexual purity, lying, returning good for evil, etc, and do your kids know what you believe and why? Can you show them from God's word why you believe what you believe? When we know what we believe, why we believe it, and how we are going to respond when faced with the temptation, and our kids know that about us, it will be so much easier for them to say no; to not conform to the crowd's way of thinking. Mom and Dad are powerful influences. Somebody in Daniel's life knew what they believed and taught him the truth and the neat thing is, grandparents are great at instilling convictions in their grandkids. We are a whole lot wiser (hopefully) today than when we were raising our own kids. When I think of David and me as parents in our early 20's, it's a wonder any of us survived. (only by the grace of God Almighty!!) As a grandparent, be ready to share with them your convictions about the social issues they are hearing about; you'll be surprised at how well they listen. (sometimes, especially during the teen years, kids will tell their grandparents things they wouldn't think of telling their parents. Be ready!!)

2. Daniel had a plan. When your 5 year old begins kindergarten, she is going to hear some language she doesn't hear at home. What's your plan? When your teen hears theories about creation that are different from what she has learned at home and church, what's your plan? When the parents of your son's friends are allowing them to go on unsupervised campouts, or to R rated movies, what's your plan? Read Daniel 1, verses 11 and 12; Daniel had a plan: he went to the prince of the eunuchs and made a request. You know the old saying, "It never hurts to ask"? When you are asked to do something at work that you feel is wrong, speak up and say, "I feel this wrong" and use Daniel's words, (v8) "I request to be excused from this." After all, God's very own Word is the most powerful tool we have in stating our convictions. His written Word, spoken to our situation brings supernatural power that can bring change. God can do the same thing for you that He did for Daniel; He gave Daniel favor with the prince of the eunuchs and he granted Daniel's request. Daniel had a plan. Your kids may not like your plan, the girls at work may not like your plan, just make sure God does, then leave the consequences to Him.

3. The best way to not give in when the pressure is on is to see the big picture; see the purpose in not following the crowd.
In 1 Corinth. 15:33, Paul warned the Corinthians that "bad company corrupts good morals." Now, I haven't found a way in this world we live in to avoid bad company all together, but we all have a say in who our friends are. Ask God to give you good friends who will compliment your relationship with Christ. (and please, please, please, pray that prayer for your kids and grandkids.)

Daniel's purpose, his goal, was to make it through captivity without compromising his integrity and his devotion to God. And he did it! Your teenager needs reminding that high school doesn't last forever, neither will their college years, and some of the compromises we make during those years can come back to haunt us. But when we know what we believe and why we believe it, (and we get that through much time spent in the Word, in prayer, and being involved in a good, Bible believing church) having a plan for handling the peer pressure, and can see the big picture, (not just what is front of us) we got ourselves a leader!!
In v8, what did Daniel believe about the king's food and wine?
In v12, what was Daniel's plan?
In v14, how did the prince of the eunuchs feel about the plan?
In v15, did the plan work?
In v17, how did God reward Daniel and his friends for their choices? (there's a reward in the big picture.)
In verses 18-20, did the king have 4 outstanding leaders?

If you are like me, sometimes you get tired of being the only one who has to say "no". And sometimes it is so much easier and less stressful to just keep silent when those around you are saying things like "there is no absolute truth" or, "everyone is free to do what they think is right". But leaders don't do what is easy; they do the hard things. Start small; find a scripture that supports one thing you have a conviction about. Then, make a plan; decide what you are going to do when faced with the decision of following your conviction, or going along with the crowd to keep peace. And then, what's the big picture? What will be the consequences years from now if I choose to keep silent, or if I choose to give into temptation?

Leaders inspire others to be leaders.
Love to hear from you. Have a great day. Penny

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Becoming a Peacemaker: A Work in Progress

An 8 year old boy named William once wrote his pastor a letter. "Dear Pastor, I know God wants us to live in peace with  everyone, but He never met my sister!"

Could you write a letter like that? Do you know any irritating people who "get on your last nerve"? Some people will go to great lengths to prove themselves right. (ouch, could that be me?) Ever tried to be a peacemaker with someone who knows it all?

When the angels announced Jesus' birth to the shepherds, in unison they sang this praise song:
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men." The Prince of Peace (Is.9:6) came to earth to teach us how to be peacemakers.

All of us know people, have situations, and deal with things everyday that need us to be peacemakers. Homes are chaotic where there is no peace. Marriage is stressful where there is no peace between husband and wife. The workplace can be a "downright mean place to be" when there is no one to step into the situation and be the peacemaker. And oh my word, what does a church family look like when the peacemakers don't do the peacemaking?

There are times when I don't want to be the peacemaker, times when I want to be the one with the hurt feelings, and times when I just plain ole want to be mad. But I'm not given that luxury by my Prince of Peace. Because you see, He has called you and He has called me to be the peaceful one in our marriage, in our home, in our church, and in our workplace. He has called you and me to be His peace to those who know no peace. And when I refuse to be a peacemaker, I miss out on the blessing of influencing those around me and being known as "being called a child of God." (Matt. 5:9) A wise teacher told me many, many years ago that the more mature Christian in a relationship will be the one to apologize first and seek peace.

Is your relationship with your husband worth an "I'm sorry"? When you have those "confrontations" with your teenager, you find out you were wrong, and you say, "I'm sorry", that throws cold water on a very heated situation. Even a 4 year will benefit from a Mom who isn't afraid to admit she was wrong, or that she lost her cool, or she overreacted.

We live in a very volatile world where tempers threaten to explode over the least little offense. Couples divorce, children rebel, churches split, people loose their jobs because no one steps up to be the peacemaker. In order to live in peace with those we love and those we simply have to "endure", we have to recognize first and foremost that "God is the author of peace." (1 Cor.14:33) I am to be a peacemaker simply because God wrote the word, He made the plan. I am to make it my mission in life to "live in peace", and when I do, I have this promise from God: "and the God of love and peace will be with me." (2 Cor. 13:11)

All of this sounds so noble and sweet and we all agree that being a peacemaker can change any situation. But how do I do that when I've been the one wronged, when I've been the one hurt?
Here are 6 things that help me choose peace over chaos;
1. Use kind, soft words. (Prov. 15:1) Kind words plus a smile are a peaceful combination.
2. My tone of voice can easily start an argument, or settle it.
3. Listen to the other person, don't interrupt, don't become defensive.
4. Be humble. Yes, I know it is hard when you know you are right, but humility goes a long way in defusing a heated conversation. God will resist my pride (work against me in the situation), but when I humble myself before Him, He gives me "more grace"; more than enough of His endless grace to be the peacemaker. (1 Peter 5:5)
5. Don't assume the worse. Have you done this, I have; make up my own version of the situation in my head and find out I could not have been farther from the truth. Peacemakers wait until all the facts are in.
6. Be ready to forgive, or to ask for forgiveness. Impossible to be a peacemaker without a forgiving heart.
(and the humility to ask for forgiveness.)

Being a peacemaker is a continuing "work in progress." As long as we live in the flesh, we will have to work to bring peace to our own lives and to our famililes, but we can do it! Our Prince of Peace has already paved the way.

And may I add just one more, very important thing? It is the work of the Holy Spirit to produce peace in me, because you see, peace is a fruit of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22,23) And it is only as He produces that precious fruit in my life, that I can be the peace in someone else's life.

Holy Spirit, I am depending upon You to develop the fruit of peace in my life, that I might be a peacemaker.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Identified by Words

Great people talk about ideas.
Average people talk about things.
Small people talk about people.

These words are posted on my desk. I do not know the author, and if you do, please tell me so that I can give credit where credit is due. But I keep it within view because I want to be reminded that my words identify the person I am.

Words are easy for me; I enjoy talking, I love to write, I love to read. My mother often told me that I talked long before the age of 2, and I am seldom short of words. Talking is how we communicate our feelings, our thoughts, and even our opinions. And while talking is and of itself a very good thing, it becomes a not so good thing when our words tear down instead of build up. It happens in our homes, in how we speak to and about our husband, especially in front of our children, in how we speak to our children, and it can even happen in how we speak and talk about ourselves, to ourselvses. I would never allow someone else to speak to me, the way I sometimes speak to me. Nor would I stand silently by while someone talked about me in such a negative way that I can sometimes talk about me, to me.

So come on! Let's stop it! Let's refuse to allow our enemy to deceive us into thinking, and saying things about ourselves that are not true, that cause us to live in defeat, that destroy our self-esteem.

2 Corinthians 10: 3:3 tells us that we may have to live in this flesh for a while longer, but we do not have to fight in the flesh. God has given us "mighty weapons" so we can "pull down those strongholds" of wrong thinking and take those thoughts "captive to the obedience of Christ."

Your choice of words can change an argument with your husband, to an in-depth conversation that really accomplishes something good. Your choice of words with your child can turn a "shouting match" into a calm exchange of thoughts and ideas that builds trust and deepens your relationship. And the words you speak to, and about yourself can make the difference in a woman who lives in victory, or one who lives in defeat.

Got your Bible close by? Look in Ephesians 1, verses 3-7 at the 7 things God declares over you. Please hi-lite each one and when things go wrong, and you are tempted to blame yourself for everything from the broken icemaker to world peace, take those thoughts "captive" and break that "stronghold" by repeating words that God uses to describe how He sees you.


Your are:
1. Blessed.
2. Chosen. (Amen, He chose me!!)
3. Holy. (Yes, He sees me "Holy and without blame before Him, in love")
4. Adopted.
5. Accepted. I may not feel accepted by everyone, but praise God, I am accepted by Him.
6. Redeemed. "He bought me back" from sin, and I can never be "un-redeemed" (my computer is telling me that isn't a word, but for today it is) again, EVER.
7. Forgiven. Nothing more needs to be said about that!! That one word says it all.

No matter what we may say about ourselves, God only speaks healing words, loving words, positive and uplifting words over us; blessed, chosen, holy, adopted, accepted, redeemed, and forgiven. If you look closely at each word you will see that those 7 words take in every area of a woman's life. Those are the words that identify the woman I am. And if you are a believer, they identify you, too. Think good thoughts
(and words) today ladies.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

No More Safe Prayers; Asking Big, Believing Big

Alfred Lord Tennyson, a British Poet Laureate during the nineteenth century, wrote, "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of." Our lives prove how truthful this statement is.

Oh how I would love to have a record of every answered prayer, wouldn't you? So many are answered each day and I do not recognize them or sadly, do not thank the One Who provided the answer.

Our Sunday School lesson last Sunday was on Acts 12 and the church that prayed for Peter's release, then didn't believe their prayer was answered when he arrived at the door. I have to admit, I have prayed, then been surprised at the answer, too. Maybe I've been surprised because I thought I was asking for something too hard for God. Something that seemed so far out there and so beyond His ability to give, that when He answered, I either did not recognize the answer, or was so surprised I had to process it for a while, know what I mean?

I believe God wants to do so much more in our lives than we are willing to ask Him to do. I've gotten comfortable with "safe prayers", and maybe I've missed some supernatural things that He wants me to ask for. Safe prayers are those comfortable prayers that we feel confident God will do, whether we ask Him or not. Safe prayers do nothing to build my faith and expand my world view, but oh, when I ask for big things, for what we call "impossible things", for things that to an unbelieving world make no sense at all, I believe God says, "That's what I've been waiting to hear you say." God is not offended or intimidated by our "impossible things" prayers. In fact, He takes great delight in taking "impossible" to "possible". The greatest hindrance to unsafe prayers is unbelief.

I love the honesty and transparency of the father in Mark 9. This man had a son who had an affliction similar to epilepsy; a hopeless disease of that time. He had brought his son to the disciples, hoping they would heal him, but v18 simply says, "They could not." After questioning this man about his son's disease, Jesus looked him in the eye and said, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." And I believe v24 is the heart cry of most of the people I know: "Lord, I believe You. Help me with my unbelief."

I'm sure you know the rest of the story; Jesus healed this man's son and don't you know he was so thankful that he did not resort to a safe prayer? In v29 Jesus tells us that this kind of miracle can only come by prayer and fasting. (we'll tackle the fasting thing in another post. hint; fasting doesn't always include not eating!! amen, right??) This Dad knew he had a tendency toward unbelief and He needed Jesus' help. I, too, can have a spirit of unbelief. And this is the neat thing about praying big, unsafe prayers; the more unsafe the prayer, the bigger the answer and the bigger the answer, the bigger my belief. I don't think this Dad suffered much with unbelief after witnessing Jesus heal his son, do you?

So here's the challenge; choose an unsafe prayer to pray for your husband today. I am a huge fan of books by Stormie Omaritan; especially her series on the power of prayer. (she also has books about praying for our kids.) Her books have taught me to pray "big things" for the people I love. One of her first books that I read is:

The Power of a Praying Wife.
I believe every Christian wife should read this book at least once. (you'll read it more than once, trust me)
Here are 5 chapters titles; (things wives should pray for their husbands)
His Work.
His Finances.
His Choices.
His Integrity
His Fatherhood. (and lots of other great chapter titles.)

Do you want to see God do something miraculous in his life? I encourage you to get the book, read it, then begin to pray big things for him.

After you pray an "unsafe" prayer for your husband, pray an "unsafe prayer" for you.

"The Prayer that Changes Everything" is my most favorite spiritual book in my library and I have almost worn it out! Every page has something hi-lighted or under-lined, and I have written notes throughout the book. It literally transformed my prayer life and I believe it will do the same for you. Every situation, every problem, every hurt, every good thing, every question you ever had about prayer, I know you will find the answer here. 

My SS class gave me a gift card to LifeWay, (one of my favorite places to shop) and of course, I wanted to use part of it for books. I am now in the process of reading Stormie's book, "Lead Me, Holy Spirit: Longing to Hear the Voice of God." If you long to know the Person of the Holy Spirit in a more intimate way, you will enjoy this book. As you can see, it still looks pretty good; I haven't worn it out yet!!

I'd love to hear about your "unsafe prayers." Some are too personal to share, I know, but if you have one that isn't, tell me about it and I will be glad to help you pray for the impossible, for the unsafe. I want to see some things "wrought by prayer" don't you? If we want to see it, then we have to be ready to pray in belief, (Matt. 21:22) and pray unsafe.

Blessings, Blessings, Blessings to my blog members and to all who read this blog!!