Wednesday, January 10, 2007

“The Power of Words”

Marybeth Whalen, Proverbs 31 Ministries Speaker
source: helpmeet Elizabeth

Thanks helpmeet!

Key Verse:

Jeremiah 15:16, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty.” (NIV)


Whenever I park my car, I immediately depress the emergency brake. I have done this ever since I was in college and bought a new car from a dealership. As I took that car for a test drive, the salesman told me something I have never forgotten: “Never let the transmission hold the car. Use your emergency brake.” As a result of that one statement, I have used the emergency brake ever since. Not only that, but I’ve encouraged my husband to do it too. I imagine when our kids start driving, we will even teach them to do it.

The truth is, I never even checked to see if what that salesman told me is correct. I never asked someone else or did research to see if he knew what he was talking about. I took the word of this person I spent a few hours with when I was twenty-years-old. For the rest of my life, his words have stuck with me. The other day, I wondered how many other offhanded comments like this I have taken to heart and adopted as truth in my life? How often do I do this with other people’s words?

Words are powerful. We take the things people say to us to heart whether we intend to do so or not. Words have ways of sneaking past our defense mechanisms and penetrating deeply into our soul. We might try to disregard or shrug off the things others say to us, yet we find ourselves recalling the hurt, the sting, or the doubt those words stirred up. The words of a friend, neighbor or mere acquaintance can affect us for better or worse.

In hindsight, perhaps I should have checked on the words of the car salesman by asking others for advice or checking a guide. This is true of anyone’s words. Instead of accepting and indoctrinating someone’s offhanded comment, we need to take those words before God. We need to ask Him if the words are true. What is His opinion of the issue?

Particularly when someone’s words rub us the wrong way us, we need to hold these words up to the light of His Word. By doing this, we will feel His peace. We will experience the freedom of being released from the hold these words have had on us.

Don’t let the words of others inflict unnecessary harm on you. We say things we shouldn’t every day—never realizing the mark we leave. And yet, the very thing someone said without thinking can so easily penetrate our hearts forever. God loves you. He wants to free you from the falsehoods you have mistakenly adopted as truth in your life. Take time today to seek His truth in your life. Spend time reading His Word to hear what He has to say about you. Don’t just take someone else’s word for it!

My Prayer for Today:

Dear Lord, Please help me to let go of the hurt I have held onto because of what others have said to me. I want to know what You have to say to me instead of believing the wrong things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues

Becoming a Woman Who Listens To God by Sharon Jaynes

Out of the Mouths of Babes by Wendy Pope

Application Steps:

Live your life aware of the power of others’ words and make a habit of immediately stopping hurtful words in their tracks through prayer—before they take root in your heart.

Reflection Points:

What hurtful words have you taken to heart that you need to release through prayer and time in God’s word? What does God have to say to you about those words?

Power Verses:

Psalm 12:6, “And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.” (NIV)

II Samuel 22:31, “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.” (NIV)

Proverbs 30:6, “Do not add to God’s words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” (NIV)


author unknown
source: helpmeet Linda

Thanks helpmeet!

You say: "It's impossible" God says: All things are possible
(Luke 18:27)

You say: "I'm too tired" God says: I will give you rest
(Matthew 11:28-30)

You say: "Nobody really loves me" God says: I love you
(John 3:16 & John 3:34 )

You say: "I can't go on" God says: My grace is sufficient
(II Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)

You say: "I can't figure things out" God says: I will direct your steps
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

You say: "I can't do it" God says: You can do all things
(Philippians 4:13)

You say: "I'm not able" God says: I am able
(II Corinthians 9:8)

You say: "It's not worth it" God says: It will be worth it
(Roman 8:28 )

You say: "I can't forgive myself" God says: I Forgive you
(I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)

You say: "I can't manage" God says: I will supply all your needs
(Philippians 4:19)

You say: "I'm afraid" God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear
(II Timothy 1:7)

You say: "I'm always worried and frustrated" God says: Cast all your cares on ME
(I Peter 5:7)

You say: "I'm not smart enough" God says: I give you wisdom
(I Corinthians 1:30)

You say: "I feel all alone" God says: I will never leave you or forsake you
(Hebrews 13:5)

Believe God is there just for you...

Old Virtues Can Make Your Life New

personal or ministry resource....

here's a lesson u can share for this new year, from Crosswalk

Old Virtues Can Make Your Life New
Whitney Hopler Contributing Writer

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications
of Mark Buchanan's new book, Hidden in Plain Sight: Seven Old Things
that Can Make Your Life New, (W Publishing Group, 2006).

What's holding you back in life? If it seems like you're stuck nursing
past wounds or trying to overcome persistent bad habits, there's hope.
As a Christian, you actually already have everything you need to make
real progress – old virtues that can make your life new if you embrace
them in a fresh way.

Here's how you can experience a renewed life by embracing old virtues:

* Grow in faith. Ask God to give you more faith so you can more deeply
notice and appreciate what He's doing in your life now and trust Him
to continue to accomplish good purposes through your life. Recognize
that attempting to be virtuous apart from God is futile, since no one
can be truly good without God. Realize that you don't need more skill,
more cunning, or more resources to make progress in life – you just
need more faith. Understand that, if you rely on the Holy Spirit's
power, He will magnify even your smallest efforts into more than you
can ask or imagine. Pray for God to give you a vision of the future He
has in mind for you. Decide to trust Him to lead you toward that
future. Embrace the gift of faith and treasure it, realizing that it
is the foundation for all other virtues. Understand that faith is the
seed that enables all other virtues to grow and bear fruit. Spend time
in the company of other people who value their faith, and let them
inspire you. Know that what matters most are things unseen (the
greater spiritual world beyond the material world we can see right
now). Remember that God exists, and everything else that exists
depends on Him. Be assured that God rewards those who earnestly seek
Him, and decide to pursue God (which will bring you eternal benefits)
rather than worldly things that won't last. Develop an intimate
relationship with Jesus through spiritual disciplines like prayer and
reading and meditating on the Bible. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you,
empower you, and guide you. Pay attention to the Spirit's nudges and
act on your faith. Serve God out of joy instead of guilt or fear.
Anchor all your other virtues to your faith so you won't be swept away
from what matters most.

* Pursue goodness. Realize that you can't do good without being good.
So set out to be good by getting to know the One who is good – Jesus.
Rather than focusing on being a better philanthropist, activist, or
therapist, focus on becoming a better worshipper. Know that if you
learn to love God, you can then love other people. Pay attention the
Holy Spirit's prompting and act on it. Follow the examples of role
models who exhibit true goodness at work in their lives. Learn from

* Pursue knowledge. Pray for the knowledge you need to be wise, and
the humility to always remember that knowledge is a gift from God and
therefore shouldn't be used as a trophy to exalt yourself or a weapon
to make others feel inferior. Read, study, and ponder the Bible often
to learn the truth about God's nature and work. Get to know God better
as you encounter Him through worship and prayer. Learn about God
through experiencing and studying His creation. Come to know God more
deeply by inviting His love to flow through you to others in your
community through relationships.

* Pursue self-control. Pay close attention to what God has done and is
now doing. Be aware of how evil is trying to trip you up as you run
the race of faith. Ask God to help you see what's really going on
(without illusion or distortion) and act wisely in light of it. Train
yourself to think clearly about what matters most. Instead of just
reacting to stressful situations, pray first to help you decide how to
respond wisely. Work the habit of prayer into your daily routine, so
when crises hit, you'll have learned how to rely on prayer to get you
through. Stand firm in your faith. Be self-controlled because you're
grateful for the salvation you've received and want to thank God by
pursuing holiness, because your prayers matter now and for eternity,
and because you need to resist evil that is seeking to destroy you.

* Pursue perseverance. Don't quit in tough situations. Don't let
setbacks defeat you. Remember the value in suffering: it refines your
faith, it perfects your hope, it deepens your intimacy with Jesus, it
trains you in holiness, and it weans you from sin. If you believe you
are on the right path, stay the course, no matter what obstacles you
face along the way. Remember that God will never abandon you and that
He isn't out to get you, but He is out to perfect you. Ask Him what He
wants you to learn from your current challenges and how you should
redefine your expectations. Pray for the encouragement you need.

* Pursue godliness. Know that God loves you completely, just as you
are, but that He loves you too much to just leave you there.
Understand that He wants you to become all you're meant to be. Do so
by developing Christ-like character. Make your relationship with Jesus
your top priority in life, and give His guidance precedent above
everything else (your opinions, your emotions, your background, etc.).
Don't allow anything to stand in the way of Jesus' work in your life.
When you sense Him leading you to do something, follow through. Hold
onto hope, even in the worst situations. Remember that God can take
the most challenging circumstances and transform them to accomplish
good purposes. Always be willing and prepared to tell people who ask
you about the reason for your hope, but do so with gentleness and
respect. Remember that you represent Jesus when you interact with
those who don't yet know Him; try to make His presence tangible to
them by letting His love flow through you. Don't seek revenge whenever
you're mistreated; instead, trust God to vindicate you at the right
time. Remember that your life makes a real difference in the spiritual
realm that you can't see right now, but that exists in another
dimension where angels and demons are watching you. Understand that
your influence extends beyond the confines of your church and local
community and impacts the whole planet by touching the lives of other
people who, in turn, touch others' lives. Live in light of eternity,
realizing that you will be rewarded in heaven for your faithfulness.
Pray for the strength to avoid worldliness – whatever makes sin look
more attractive than God. Constantly remind yourself of how dependent
you are on God. Remember that Jesus faced many trials and temptations
that you also face, and look to the example of how He handled them
when you need strength to overcome them yourself. Practice the daily
discipline of dying to yourself in small ways (such as avoiding
yelling at someone with whom you're angry) so you can gradually let go
of selfishness in larger ways as well.

* Pursue brotherly kindness. Remember that God loves all people –
they're all His children, made in His image. Ask Him to view other
people as your brothers and sisters, and to give you love for them to
help you bear with them in all their flaws and annoying
eccentricities. Decide to care for other people no matter what,
recognizing that you can't truly love God unless you also love the
people He has made. Rely on God to overcome your feelings and act in
love anyway when dealing with difficult people. Treat everyone you
meet as an equal. Live in unity with other Christians, recognizing
that whatever makes you different can't possibly be greater than what
makes you alike – Jesus living inside you. Develop close relationships
with other people in which God's love flows freely between you. Serve
others in practical ways for their good and for God's glory.

* Pursue love. Ask God to help you love unconditionally. Instead of
waiting to feel love for someone, decide to act in love toward that
person no matter what. Love the "least of these" (people you'd be
tempted to trample or sidestep without love, such as prisoners,
homeless people, or refugees). Love the "most of these" (people whom
you're most likely to resent because they cause you to feel jealous
and insecure, such as someone who got the promotion you wanted or
someone who looks more attractive than you). Love the "worst of these"
(people who have hurt you in some way through mistreatment). Remember
how deeply and unconditionally God loves you, and let that love cast
out fear from your life and give you the confidence you need to love


Adapted from Hidden in Plain Sight: Seven Old Things that Can Make
Your Life New, copyright 2006 by Mark Buchanan. Published by W
Publishing Group (a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers), Nashville,
Mark Buchanan lives on Vancouver Island, Canada, with his wife,
Cheryl, and their three children, Adam, Sarah, and Nicola. He is a
pastor and the author of several other books, including Your God is
Too Safe, Things Unseen, The Holy Wild, and The Rest of God. Some days
he is restful or playful without shame

Motherhood: Softly and Tenderly

Jenny Veleke
"But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and
abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." Psalm 86:15

On a recent afternoon running errands, my children and I were
listening to a kid's praise tape in the car as we traveled from one
place to the next. The tape featured familiar hymns sung by children
with a modern flair. As I drove, I listened to the children on the
tape singing, "Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you
and for me."

My mind discarded the running to do list in my head and pondered the
words of the song. "How often do I call my children softly and
tenderly, the way Jesus calls me?" I thought. "Earnestly, tenderly,
Jesus is calling," the children continued singing. "Do I call
earnestly and tenderly when my children do not listen the first time?
Am I quick to be impatient with them?"

David tells us in Psalm 86:15 that God is "merciful and gracious, slow
to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness". While I
was still a sinner, God lovingly and patiently sought me out. He
called to me softly and tenderly, despite my rebellion, hard
headedness and continual disobedience to Him. He earnestly called to
me again and again, patiently seeking me out until I answered His
call. God did not draw me to Him with fear and wrath or the threat of
fire and brimstone. He drew me to His cross with mercy and tenderness.
Years after accepting Him as Lord of my life, I still struggle with
sin on a daily basis. When I disobey, He does not strike me with a
bolt of lightning or punish me fiercely. Instead, He softly, tenderly,
earnestly calls me back to Him, gently reminding me that I am His
child. Psalm 86:5 says, "For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you."

As I think about my Heavenly Father's steadfast love for me, I am
convicted of my lack of patience and mercy to my children. Too often I
am quick to raise my voice to my children, to become impatient when
they are not immediately compliant to my wishes or my schedule. I
become frustrated when Ross writes his "A" incorrectly for the
fourteenth time. I get impatient when Gracie pulls the pots and pans
out of the cabinet while I'm cooking dinner. I raise my voice and yell
when my children disagree again about whose turn it is to play with a

During this new year, when my children test my patience and my
frustration reaches its limits, I pray that God will remind me of the
patience He shows to me in my imperfection. Let me yearn to be more
and more like my Savior. Let me call on my children softly, tenderly,
and earnestly as the Father calls me to Himself. Let me correct my
children with love and mercy. For my children, after all, are
ultimately His children entrusted to me for a short time to care for
as He cares for me.

Jenny Veleke is homeschooling mom to Ross, age 5 and Gracie, age 18
months. She and her husband, Michael live in the Charlotte, NC area
where they attend CrossWay Community Church.

Achieve Unity in Marriage without Losing Your Uniqueness

Whitney Hopler

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical application
of Jack and Judith Balswick's book, A Model for Marriage: Covenant,
Grace, Empowerment, and Intimacy, (IVP Academics, 2006).

If you want a fulfilling marriage, but fear that the relationship's
demands will swallow up your own personal fulfillment, take heart.
Experiencing the joy of unity with your spouse doesn't have to cost
you your uniqueness. By learning to become interdependent, you and
your spouse can become one without compromising your individual
distinctiveness. Here's how:

Look to the Trinity as your marriage model.
Realize that just as God exists in three distinct forms (the Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit) yet is also completely unified, your human
marriage can mirror that divine relationship. Know that God wants to
use your marriage to help both you and your spouse grow more and more
into the people He wants you to become. Understand that, through this
process, you each can be transformed into a unity that transcends what
either of you can be alone. Invite God to use each of your individual
strengths and weaknesses to create a thriving marriage.

Don't expect marriage to complete you.
Instead of viewing yourself as an incomplete person who needs your
spouse to make you whole, recognize that, in Christ, you are complete
alone. Remember that your true identity is as God's beloved child,
free because of all Christ has done for you. Rely on His unlimited
power rather than your own limited resources. Don't depend on your
spouse for what only God can give you. Ask God to show you which of
expectations you have of your spouse are unrealistic. Then let those
go. Focus on pleasing God rather than just pleasing your spouse. Don't
simply go along with whatever decisions your spouse makes because
you're not sure what your own opinions are; get to know your thoughts
and feelings, and learn to be comfortable expressing them clearly.
Approach marriage as a union of two complete people, secure in who
they are, working together toward a common purpose – to love God and
others more and more.

Don't live separate lives.
Rather than seeing yourself as independent of your spouse, recognize
that your lives are intertwined and that you each have a
responsibility to consider the other whenever you make decisions that
affect your life together. Be in close communication with your spouse
regularly and make choices that will enhance your emotional
connection. Listen to your spouse even more than you speak, so you can
come to understand what's important to him or her, and why. Know that
building a life together rather than separately will help you each
discover more personal fulfillment than you could experience on your

Keep the covenant.
Decide to remain committed to your spouse, no matter what, and ask God
to help you love him or her unconditionally. Choose to make sacrifices
for the sake of your marriage, recognizing that both your own needs
and your spouse's needs are valid. Meet your spouse's basic needs for
belonging and bonding. Show your spouse that he or she can trust you.
If either of you has betrayed the other in the past, pursue healing
through the process of confession, forgiveness, and restoration. In
your sexual relationship, get to know what your spouse desires and
think of those desires as well as your own while trying to give your
best to each other.

Regularly serve your spouse through acts of kindness (such as making
meals and helping with chores and errands) to give him or her the
security of seeing your love in action.
Humbly recognize how much you continuously need God's grace; pray
about all your concerns and rely on the strength He will provide. Make
your marriage a collaborative venture in which you each do all you can
to create the best marriage possible.

Give each other grace.
Remember how much grace God gives you every day, and let your
gratefulness motivate you to offer grace to your spouse. Understand
that living in an atmosphere of grace will get rid of destructive
emotions like guilt, shame, and bitterness and inspire you and your
spouse each to work on changing for the better. Instead of blaming
your spouse for problems, accept the person he or she is – flaws and
all – and accept responsibility for your own contribution to the
problems in your marriage. Realize that trying to change your spouse
is futile; instead, pray for him or her persistently, trusting that
God will work through His Spirit to bring about real and lasting
change whenever your spouse seeks Him. Rely on God's help to forgive
your spouse whenever he or she makes mistakes.

Show appreciation whenever your spouse does something that blesses you.
Pray for the confidence to be who you are, rather than pretending to
be the person you think your spouse wants you to be. Give your spouse
the freedom to be authentic without fear of being criticized for it.
Respect and embrace each other's unique personality and gender
differences, and learn how to use those differences to complement each
other and build a stronger marriage. Don't let rigid, traditional
marriage roles frustrate you; recognize that there are many ways of
doing what needs to be done in your shared household. Think and pray
about creative solutions for assigning collaborative roles that take
advantage of each other's interests and talents and don't place too
much of a burden on one spouse over the other. Be flexible enough to
change role assignments for a season when each other's circumstances
or needs change.

Empower each other.
Remember that marriage is a relationship of equals who mutually submit
to each other out of reverence for Christ. Follow Christ's example of
self-giving by considering each other's needs rather than just your
own and serving your spouse out of love. Treat your spouse the way you
would like to be treated. Do all you can to help your spouse reach his
or her full potential, and welcome help that your spouse gives you.
Rather than just yielding to your spouse's wishes or trying to force
your own way, join forces to use each of your personal resources for
the good of your marriage and God's glory.

Ask God to give you and your spouse a vision for what He wants your
marriage to be like, and choose to mutually invest in your future
Working together, seek to become all that God intends you to become,
both individually and as a couple. Express your views honestly and
directly, and encourage your spouse to do the same. Do your best to
understand each other's perspective and remember that two perspectives
are better than one when it comes to solving problems. Make yourselves
accountable to each other and make every effort to fulfill your
responsibilities to each other – not just to fulfill a duty, but
because you share genuine love.

Pursue intimacy.
Pray for the courage to be truly open and honest with your spouse
about your deepest thoughts and feelings. Take the risks necessary to
share your fears and dreams. Create a safe atmosphere for your spouse
to feel comfortable to do the same with you. Understand that your need
to be known is a valid one, and do your best to get to know your
spouse. Spend significant amounts of time talking and listening
together. Focus on listening attentively, putting your own agenda
aside to pay full attention to what your spouse is saying. Don't
interrupt or interpret your spouse's message while he or she is
talking. After your spouse is finished, repeat back the basic message
you heard in your own words to check whether or not you heard it
accurately. Pay attention to your spouse's body language and tone of
voice, as well, for cues to how he or she is feeling. Try to see the
issue from your spouse's point of view.

If either you or your spouse has been betrayed in the past, work
through the healing process together so you can regain trust.
Think and pray about how each of your families of origin have
influenced the way you relate to your spouse and others today. Then
work on changing unhealthy patterns to healthy ones. Remember that
sexual intimacy will strengthen your emotional intimacy as a couple.
Pray with and for each other regularly, and discuss your spiritual
journeys often. Whenever you encounter a crisis, reach out to God for
wisdom and comfort and turn to each other for courage and
understanding. Work to develop a marriage that can withstand any
difficulties you all might face.

Seek God's will together.
Whenever you're facing key decisions, seek God's will about them
through prayer, Bible reading and reflection, counseling, and feedback
from family, friends, and fellow church members.

Deal with conflict wisely.
Acknowledge and face the conflicts that come up in the normal course
of your marriage. Identify the core issue and focus just on that
without getting distracted. Agree to discuss the issue at a neutral
place and time. Come with a desire to use the conflict to help
strengthen your relationship. Refuse to bring up past mistakes. Avoid
emotional hot buttons when talking with each other. Don't dismiss your
spouse's concerns; take them seriously. Avoid "why" questions that
often lead to blame. Keep the conflict between the two of you, without
involving a third party. Don't ridicule your spouse. Respect each
other's right to veto the discussion if one of you breaks the rules
for fighting fairly. Take breaks at the end of each discussion round.
Work together to find creative solutions.

Keep your bond strong through different seasons.
As you and your spouse pass through the various seasons of marriage,
work together to revise your dreams and goals. For example, when you
have your first child, discuss how you'll incorporate your parenting
roles into your relationship, and when you retire, figure out how to
find fresh meaning in how you spend your time.

Balance work and family.
Be fair and flexible when assigning childcare, household chores, and
other duties to each other. Keep in mind each of your current work
schedules and other commitments, and do all you can to support your
spouse so neither of you becomes overwhelmed with your individual
responsibilities. Rather than just reacting to life's pressures, agree
with your spouse on priorities and develop a proactive plan for how to
handle every aspect of work and family life. Be willing to let
non-essential tasks go during particularly busy seasons, and welcome
help from family and friends.

Enjoy a healthy sexual relationship.
Remain faithfully committed to each other. Clearly and directly
express your personal sexual preferences and get to know your spouse's
as well. Respect each other's preferences, seek to please each other,
and don't coerce your spouse outside of his or her comfort zone. Know
each other's sexual history and work compassionately to help your
spouse find healing if he or she has experienced any past trauma such
as rape or abuse. Never use sex to control your spouse. Work out
conflicts regularly so you don't bring them into the marriage bed.
Keep your romance alive through creativity and fun. If either you or
your spouse desires sex more often than the other, work together to
find middle ground. The spouse with less desire can find some new ways
to be receptive, and the spouse with more desire can divert some
sexual energy into other activities that enhance your marriage. If
your marriage has been damaged by an affair, get counseling and do all
you can to reconcile.

Grow spiritually together.
Remember that God is using your marriage to help both you and your
spouse mature into the kind of people He wants you to become. If your
spouse is at a different level of spiritual maturity than you are
right now, seek to inspire and support each other. Listen to each
other's concerns with compassion. Pray together often. Read, study,
and meditate on the Bible together. Participate actively in church,
worshipping together. Take advantage of marriage enrichment events and
programs at your church. Find a couple you admire to mentor you. Work
in your community to serve others together. Go on retreats together.
Thank God regularly for the gift of your marriage. Rely on strength
from the Holy Spirit to incorporate your beliefs into your actions in
every part of your lives.

Adapted from A Model for Marriage: Covenant, Grace, Empowerment, and
Intimacy, copyright 2006 by Jack O. Balswick and Judith K. Balswick.
Published by IVP Academic (a division of InterVarsity Press), Downers
Grove, Ill.,

Jack O. Balswick (Ph.D., University of Iowa) is professor of sociology
and family development, and director of marriage and family research
at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He has twice
received an American Senior Fulbright Scholar Fellowship. He has been
associate editor of the Journal of Marriage and Family, Family
Relations, Journal for Scientific Study of Religion and Religious
Research Review. He has authored or co-authored articles in over 70
professional publications and has presented papers at conferences
around the world. He is author or coauthor of 17 books, including Men
at the Crossroads, The Family: A Christian Perspective on the
Contemporary Home, The Gift of Gender, Social Problems: A Christian
Understanding and Response, Relationship Empowerment Parenting,
Authentic Human Sexuality and The Reciprocating Self: Human
Development in Theological Perspective.

Judith K. Balswick (Ed.D., University of Georgia) is a licensed and
practicing marriage and family therapist in practice for over thirty
years and taught for over twenty years in the marriage and family
therapy program at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California.
She has served on the editorial board of Marriage and Family: A
Christian Journal since 1997 and she has contributed articles to that
journal and to several others, including Family Ministry Journal,
American Journal of Pastoral Counseling, Journal of Psychology and
Christianity and Marriage Partnership. She is author or coauthor of
The Family: A Christian Perspective on the Contemporary Home, The Gift
of Gender, Mothers and Daughters Making Peace, Raging Hormones, Life
Ties, Then They Leave Home, Family Pain, Relationship-Empowerment
Parenting, The Two Paycheck Marriage and Authentic Human Sexuality.

Go from Good to Great this Year

Whitney Hopler
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications
of Zig Ziglar's recent book, Better than Good: Creating a Life You
Can't Wait to Live, (Integrity Publishers, 2006).

You may think that achieving a good life is the most you can manage in
this stressful, challenging world. But you don't have to settle for a
life that's merely good. God wants to give you a life that's great!

Here's how you can live life to the fullest:

* Discover your passion. Think and pray about what matters most to
you, and why. Ask God to reveal His dreams for you. Consider what
noble contributions you can make to the world to make life better not
just for yourself, but for other people as well. Once you've found
your passion, keep it alive. Regularly invest your time, talent, and
money into pursuing it. Find someone who is already successful at what
you're passionate about doing, and ask that person to mentor you.
Envision what you'd like to achieve, and let your imagination inspire
you as you develop your passion.

* Manage stress well. Don't let stress rob you of your passion. Wait
to worry about situations until you have all the facts about them;
then use that information to develop an action plan so you won't need
to worry. Learn from your failures, but leave them in the past so you
can move confidently into the future. Live with integrity so you won't
have to deal with any stress arising from guilt or shame. Stay out of
debt to avoid financial stress. Don't fear the future; remember that a
loving and powerful God is in control of it, and decide to trust Him.
Reduce your stress with laughter as often as you can, and share the
joy with others.

* Watch your thoughts. Realize that what you think powerfully impacts
who you are and will become. Decide to be an optimist. Meditate on
thoughts that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good
repute, excellent, and worthy of praise. Spend time regularly reading
the Bible and other inspirational books. Avoid negative material from
the media and in conversations with others. Feed your mind positive
thoughts, knowing that they will lead to positive actions. Embrace
healthy attitudes, such as knowing that you're never a victim of your
circumstances, trusting that God will cause everything that happens to
you to work together for a good purpose, and thanking God for all the
gifts He has given you.

* Plan wisely. Submit all your dreams to God and ask Him to direct
your steps. Ask Him to help you develop a plan to accomplish the goals
He wants you to, yet still remain flexible enough to adjust the plan
whenever necessary. Don't picture the negative – what you don't want
to do. Instead, envision the positive – what you would like to achieve
and what your life would like if you do. Realize that life is a
journey rather than a destination. As you go through life, have faith
to take action as you can, learning along the way, persevering with
hope, and steadily moving forward toward the future God has for you.
Trust that fulfillment will through the process rather than the
results. Regularly review your progress on your way to your goals, and
stay focused on God and His guidance. Use the resources He has given
you wisely to accomplish your goals. Remember that He wants you

* Don't let failure stop you. Accept the fact that failure is an
inevitable part of life. But realize that it is also a valuable
learning tool. Understand that experiencing failure doesn't mean that
you're a failure as a person; it simply means you tried something that
didn't work at a particular moment in time. Study what went wrong to
see what you can learn from the experience. Remember that failure can
teach you: to depend on God, to be humble, that you can't always get
what you want, to correct your course of action, to have strong
character, to persevere, and to realize that you can survive. After
failing, try again, and keep trying as long as God urges you to do so.
Remember that you may be just one more effort away from success.

* Cultivate healthy habits. Build these habits into your life: staying
motivated, listening, learning, reading, redeeming downtime by using
it to be productive, doing your best in every situation, exercising,
getting enough sleep, eating a nutritious diet, drinking lots of
water, praying often, reading the Bible regularly, holding yourself
accountable to others you trust, setting goals, rewarding yourself for
a job well done, going the extra mile on tasks, and thinking pure
thoughts. Seek healing to break free of negative habits, and trust
that starting positive habits will replace negative habits in your
life over time.

* Recognize the power of grit. Ask God to give you the grit –
determination and persistence – you'll need to accomplish your goals.
When you encounter criticism, consider the source. If it's coming from
a wise, credible person who means well, learn from it. If not, don't
let the criticism squelch your determination. Be patient over the long
haul as your dreams finally become reality. Ask God to give you His
eternal perspective on your life.

* Redefine success. Understand that God's definition of success
differs from the world's view of it. Know that true success is losing
yourself in a life's work that is bigger than you and that brings
glory to God. Realize that success shouldn't ever come at the price of
damaging your relationships with God, your family, or friends. Ask God
to help you balance your life so you can place relationships first
while pursuing your goals. Don't let obstacles limit you; rely on
God's unlimited power to help you through. Strive to develop strong
character based on biblical virtues, which will lead to true success.
Be discerning; don't tolerate unethical behavior as you pursue
success. Do your best to be a positive role model to others.

* Discover your purpose. Know that God has created you to accomplish
something wonderful. Ask Him to reveal your calling to you. Every day,
consider what activities fulfill you the most, and bless others as
well. Be sensitive to what God wants to show you about your calling.
Recognize that, just because opportunities present themselves, that
doesn't mean you're called to pursue them. Measure opportunities
against your purpose by considering whether or not God is truly
compelling you to embrace them. Take whatever steps you can to have
your calling and career overlap, so you're paid to do what you've been
made to do. Be trustworthy and loyal so you can build winning
relationships to help fulfill your purpose. Seek to constantly learn
something new, your whole life long.

* Change the world. Realize that you can change the world for the
better, one act of kindness at a time. Every day, do your best to love
others, set a good example, smile, speak encouraging words, show a
biblical worldview, and help others through service. Ask God to
constantly guide you toward people whom He wants to touch with His
love, expressed through you. Be alert to opportunities to show His
love to others.


Adapted from Better than Good: Creating a Life You Can't Wait to Live,
copyright 2006 by Zig Ziglar. Published by Integrity Publishers,
Nashville, Tn.,

Zig Ziglar is an internationally known author and speaker whose client
list includes thousands of businesses, Fortune 500 companies, U.S.
government agencies, churches, schools and nonprofit associations.
Many of his 25 books have been bestsellers, including See You at the
Top, Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World and Secrets of Closing
the Sale.Ziglar is also chairman of Ziglar, Inc., which helps people
more fully utilize their physical, mental and spiritual resources. He
and his wife live in Texas.

7 keys to getting healthy this year

by Dr. Don Colbert

Most people, however, do not realize that the medications they are
taking amount to taking the fuse out of their body's warning light,
instead of addressing their body's seven fundamental needs for health
and well-being.

Dr. Don Colbert, author of The Seven Pillars of Health

Like most physicians, I see people all the time who suffer from
headaches, back pain, arthritis, skin problems, digestion problems,
and other ailments. Often, they have gone to another doctor, who might
have given them medications that merely turned off the symptoms,
instead of addressing the underlying problem.

If you had a red warning light blinking on your car's dashboard,
informing you to check your engine, would you simply remove the fuse
to turn off the warning light? No! You would take your car in for
service, knowing that if you don't you will eventually ruin your car's

Most people already know that the No. 1 killer of Americans is heart
disease, and the No. 2 killer is cancer. Most people know that nearly
two-thirds of cancer deaths in the United States can be linked to
tobacco use, diet, obesity, and lack of exercise. Most people know
that most diseases are caused by unhealthy lifestyles, poor diet, lack
of exercise, stress, and inadequate sleep.

Most people, however, do not realize that the medications they are
taking amount to taking the fuse out of their body's warning light,
instead of addressing their body's seven fundamental needs for health
and well-being.

In my practice, I talk to patients about seven pillars of good health:
water, sleep and rest, living food, exercise, detoxification,
supplements, and freedom from stress. What you don't know about these
seven pillars of good health may be derailing God's plans for your

For example, most people's bodies are starved for clean, natural
water. Many people never drink any water. Some don't like the taste of
it, or they were never taught the importance of drinking it. Maybe
their parents gave them juice, soft drinks, milk – anything but water.
As a result, many people spend their day going from one caffeinated or
sugar-based drink to another. They jump-start their mornings with
coffee. By midmorning they have a soda for another boost, and then
drink sweetened caffeinated iced tea for lunch. Late afternoon it's
another coffee-based or "10 percent juice" drink. Little do they know
that all that caffeine and sugar are actually stealing water from
their bodies, doing them more harm than good.

Even many people who drink water fail to realize how many harmful
substances that water contains. Tap water, even if it comes from wells
200 feet deep, often is contaminated with chemicals used in industry,
agriculture, and consumer products. People who turn to bottled water
often don't realize that those manufacturers are less strictly
regulated and their products less carefully tested than municipal
water companies. About one-fourth of bottled water actually is tap

Water is the most basic pillar of health, and many people are paying a
terrible price for ignoring it. A body that is slightly dehydrated
goes into a sort of rationing mode, diverting needed water to vital
organs. Inadequate hydration can be a significant factor in back and
joint pain, arthritis, high blood pressure, digestion problems, and
asthma, among other things.

Paying attention to the other six pillars of health is just as
important for your health and well-being:

Sleep and rest – During the precious hours you are shut down for
sleep, your body recharges your immune system and restores your
organs. Many Americans live on the brink of mental and physical
collapse simply for lack of sleep.

Living food – Much of our diet consists of "dead food" that leaves us
tired and vulnerable to degenerative diseases like diabetes and
cardiovascular disease. "Living food," on the other hand, will protect
your body from cancer and other diseases and will sharpen your mind,
energize you, and enliven you.

Exercise – More than 75 percent of the people who start exercise
programs quit; health clubs bank on that. Your body is two-thirds
water – what happens to water that sits stagnant? When water moves,
life thrives.

Detoxification – Most of my patients who suffer from chronic disease
are actually affected by toxins, heavy metals, chemicals, and
microbes. Fortunately, there are things you can start doing today – as
simple as drinking healthy, taking in fiber, and sweating – to rid
your body of toxins and help your waste management systems keep them

Supplements – Many doctors refuse to recommend multivitamins and
nutritional supplements even though a study published in the Journal
of the American Medical Association in 2002 recommended that all
adults take a multivitamin supplement to help prevent chronic
diseases. Few people, if any, get the nutrients they need from food
alone, even if they eat a completely healthy diet.

Stress – Good stress is healthy. It's our bodies natural reaction to a
real or perceived threat. But when stress goes on too long, it can
leave you feeling depressed and angry, lower your sex drive, and
predispose you to all kinds of illness. A prescription as simple as
"10 good belly laughs a day" will go a long way toward protecting you
from those dangers.

The good news is that you do not have to be a statistic. Wouldn't it
be great to meet your great-grandchildren – and keep up with them?
Surely you would like someone to tell you that you look 20 years
younger than your age. Can you imagine what it would feel like not to
experience the stiff joints and headaches that have disrupted your
life for several years?

Paying attention to these seven pillars will help you restore your
health and reclaim your life. It could set you on the path to being
healthy, happy, and whole – just as God intended.

Mentoring That Makes a Difference

Encouragement can help people discern God's will for their lives.
by Earl Palmer

In our prophetic role, pastors need to challenge people to keep the
faith, fight the good fight. And often that means giving a forceful
word to the congregation.

The other side of being prophetic, the side that the mentor
highlights, is being an encourager. The goal is the same—living
faithfully a Christian lifestyle—but the means are different:
encouragement, affirmation, praise.

As a mentor I don't want to tell people what God's will is for them; I
want them to discover it for themselves. And that happens best, I've
noticed, when I affirm what's going right with a person.

Express encouragement regularly.
A young lawyer in a class I taught recently wrote a paper on 1
Corinthians 15. He didn't just parrot back my lectures, however. He
went beyond what I had taught, doing his own study and making his own
breakthroughs. He grappled with issues we hadn't discussed in class;
he dared to draw his own conclusions. It occurred to me as I read his
work that I was learning from this student. So on his paper, along
with his grade, I wrote a note saying his ideas had inspired me.

Sometime later he told me that little note had bolstered his
confidence to work through his own thoughts and draw his own
inclusions. I had confirmed that his thinking was sound, that his
ideas were exciting and helpful to me. He began to have the confidence
that he could teach.

I didn't plan for that one note to have that impact, but when I
regularly encourage, some of my notes and words will.

Build trust.
People are vulnerable about things most precious to them. So poets
don't want to share their poems with somebody bored by poetry;
musicians don't enjoy playing their compositions for someone who
doesn't care for their style of music.

So I can encourage another in the things that matter only if the
person will share what's important to him with me. That means I have
to attend to the slow business of building trust. And that involves
listening with interest to what the person shares with me and
affirming the good in what they say and do.

Gradually, the person I'm mentoring will share deeper thoughts and
talk about their more exciting dreams. And that's when my
encouragement will really count.

Don't qualify the affirmation.
I meet many people who are discouraged because what personal
encouragement they have revived has been qualified: "Yes, that's true
enough. But you forgot about this." Some have been in a Christian
atmosphere where leaders always corrected them or added, "You did that
well, but you also need to improve in this area."

Instead, I look for ways to give simple, direct affirmations without
the "buts," without having to add anything. "You know," I'll say,
"you're doing some very good thinking about this." Period. Simply
affirm the people for what they're doing right. Since the people I
mentor are serious about their walk with Christ, I know in most cases
they'll eventually figure out where they fall short. In the meantime,
I'm giving them confidence that, when they do see a shortfall, they'll
be able to do something about it.

I call this kind of prophetic mentoring the ministry of agreement. The
Greek word for agree is homologea, "to say the same word." When I
agree with someone, I don't feel the need to add a single word—I say
"the same word." I affirm what they've done well. This doesn't mean I
never correct or take issue. It means I honor the discovery the person
has made, acknowledging new footing that's been established.

Confront only when you've earned the right.
Naturally, as in any meaningful relationship, there comes a time when
the mentor must confront the person being mentored.

For instance, I've been working with a young man for whom I have a
great deal of respect. He has tremendous potential. But there is one
area of his life in which he has been unrealistic: he has not been
responsible in the financial support of his marriage. He's had trouble
finding and keeping a job because he has set his sights way too high.
His wife was supporting him and the family, but the bills kept piling
up. One month recently their phone was cut off.

I had been encouraging him for months, trying to discern the direction
God is calling. But at that point, if I said nothing about this
problem, I would have become co-dependent to him, enabling his
destructive patterns. So I had to help him see he needed to get a job:
pump gas or wait on tables in a restaurant or sweep floors—anything.
He needed to do something now for the sake of his wife and family, but
also for himself.

I couldn't have done that at the beginning of our relationship. And I
can't do that in every mentoring relationship I have—sufficient trust
has not been established. But since I've been this man's friend for
some time now, and since I've done nothing but encourage him up to
this point, I've earned the right to tell him what I think he ought to

A mentor, then, offers encouragement, and sometimes direction, so that
the person mentored can move ahead on his own with confidence. The
goal of a mentor in medicine, for example, is to help another acquire
the courage and independence of thought to do surgery alone, without
needing the mentor looking over his or her shoulder. The goal in
Christian mentoring is to help people discern and follow the will of
God on their own.

Citation: Mastering Teaching; Earl Palmer, Roberta Hestenes, Howard
Hendricks; Mentoring, pp 142-144.

Has the Spark Faded from Your Marriage?

Has the Spark Faded from Your Marriage?
Dr. David B. Hawkins

Winter's bite is in the air and it's playoff time in the National
Football League. Everyone knows that, even if you've decided to tune
out the frenzy that accompanies the season.

Here in Seattle the tension and excitement is palpable. For the first
time in years, maybe forever, we can taste success. We feel it, dream
about it, and yes, talk about it ad nauseum.

A recent visit to Qwest Field — Seahawk Stadium — was an incredible
experience. Imagine 65,000 rabid, frothing fans with a singular
purpose — to see their beloved Seahawks win. Sportscasters talk about
our "home field advantage," because the stadium is known to be a
raucous and boisterous venue. There is no one in the trenches here,
whiling away their time with mundane activities; only radical and
fanatical fans in the grandstands, cheering excitedly.

I am ecstatic for the success of the Seahawks; I am equally
discouraged about the time most couples spend in the trenches in their
marriage. Imagine: we put time into painting our faces, tattooing our
arms, buying megaphones and T shirts supporting our sports team, yet
we fail to champion our mate.

Consider our plight — being caught up in what has been called "the
tyranny of the urgent," we expend our energies on everyday things like
work, getting kids to soccer practice and dentist appointments, or
perhaps sprucing up our homes so they are the nicest on the block.
None of these activities, of course, are bad. But, when they become
our sole focus to the exclusion of championing our mates, our
marriages suffer.

Perhaps your marriage is not in the middle of a huge crisis like
pornography addiction or an adulterous affair. Yet, allowing the spark
to fade – slowing losing passion for each other as the daily grind
chips away at your relationship – can also be damaging to a Christian

I clearly remember a phone call from Debbie. She inquired about an
appointment for herself and her husband, Kerry. During our brief
conversation, she said they needed something to bring back the spark
in their marriage. Several days later they came in for their

Kerry was a tall, well-built man with a long, flowing beard. My
initial impression was that he would be loud and forceful, so I was
surprised by his soft voice and passive manner.

Debbie was a large woman with long, blond hair. She wore jeans, tennis
shoes and a sweater. She appeared tense and tenuous.

After the usual exchange of pleasantries, I got things rolling.

"Debbie, when we talked on the phone the other day, you mentioned that
you and Kerry need something to bring a spark back to your marriage.
Why don't you tell me a bit about your relationship?"

"Well, I don't think anything is really wrong with us. At least
nothing major. But, we don't talk much. I think we are the classic
couple that has grown so comfortable together that we don't really
know each other really well anymore. I've noticed we've been doing
more criticizing lately. I can't speak for Kerry, but I think both of
us may be getting discouraged about how things are going."

"How about it, Kerry?" I asked.

Kerry stroked his beard. "Well," he said slowly, "it can't be all that
bad. We've been married fourteen years and have two great kids. I work
hard and enjoy the chance to play golf. Debbie works and likes to
attend quilting parties with her friends. I guess I didn't know things
were so bad."

"So, things are okay as far as you're concerned?" I asked.

"From my perspective…yes. But, Debbie says she's not happy, and I'm
having trouble understanding what she has to complain about. I'm
definitely not like the guys I work with who spend every night at the
cocktail lounge."

Debbie became noticeably more upset.

"See what I mean," she said, looking at me. "This isn't new news. I
have been asking him to go to counseling for months. Our marriage is
dying a slow death. Kerry doesn't tell me or show me that he cares
about me. He doesn't ask me about my day. And to tell the truth, I've
quit asking about his day. He does his thing, and I do mine. We
haven't spent a weekend away alone in years. I don't want our marriage
to end up like my friends. Things have to improve."

Over the next several weeks we explored Debbie and Kerry's marriage.
Together we outlined some of their patterns of living in the trenches
instead of the grandstands. We discovered these "trench-like" habits:

• They talk sharply to each other;

• They take one another for granted;

• They make demands instead of requests;

• They put each other down rather than offering praise and encouragement;

• They fail to get excited about each other's ideas and dreams;

• They spend little time simply conversing;

• They forget to champion one another.

Fortunately, Debbie and Kerry caught their problem early enough and
were willing to change. They made a deliberate decision to clear out
some of the everyday "urgents" that came between them and replaced
them with positive activities and encouragement. Specifically, I gave
them the following instruction:

• Notice and encourage the good things about your mate. Make it a
point to see the small things they do every day that is worthy of

• Listen carefully and encourage your mate to talk about the hidden
hurts and fears in their life;

• Refuse to carry grudges. Insist on small issues remaining small, not
allowing them to contaminate your daily relationship;

• Check in with one another every day. Spend ten minutes sharing what
you feel, think and want with one another;

• Create adventure in your marriage. Travel, dream, read out loud,
delight in life together;

• Experiment with different activities you have never done before.
Take some chances. Be surprised.

How are you doing in your marriage? Are you spending too much time in
the trenches? There is no excuse for a marriage turning stale. God has
created a wonderful universe for our exploration — a universe of ideas
and possibilities inside our creative minds, and outside in His
wonderful creation. Share it and explore it with each other.

Finally, I encouraged Debbie and Kerry to memorize and apply Psalm
139: 14-15. Let this passage come to mind when you interact with your

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works
are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place."

Yes, both you and your mate are "fearfully and wonderfully made" by a
God who works wonders. Grab your mate's hand and get out of the
trenches and into the cheering grandstands. You'll love the
difference. (Go Seahawks!)

This article is fifth in a series on nine mistakes most couples make.
Read part 4: Are You Playing God in Your Marriage?

This article was adapted from Nine Critical Mistakes Most Couples
Make (Harvest House Publishers, 2005).

Dr. David B. Hawkins is a Visiting Professor at International
Christian University and specializes in interpersonal relationship
counseling as well as domestic violence and emotional abuse in
relationships. He has been a frequent guest on Moody Radio Mid-day
Connection, Focus on the Family, and At Home Live. You can visit his
website at

Do you need sound, Biblically-based advice about an issue in your
marriage or family? Submit a question to Dr. David's new advice column
by contacting him at

Trading Spaces - The Renovation

Trading Spaces - The Renovation
by Ed Young

Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is
God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Philippians 2:12-13

We work out what by God's grace and mercy has been worked in at the
time of our salvation. We develop what's been delivered to us through
the person and work of Christ. We build on what has been bought by
His blood. Look at that phrase, "work out." In the original language
it means "work to full completion" develop what one already finish a project. So, what does life change look like? What
does the renovation of a heart look like? In short, it looks like
work. But it is a different type of work.

This whole process of spiritual renovation starts when we resign and
God designs. What if you gave two sets of plans to a builder? That
would be chaotic. Yet, a lot of us have a vice grip on our plans and
we say, "I know how to design my life. I know how to run my life. I
know how to do my marriage, my job, and this or that. Yes, God, I see
your plans on the table but I'm going to do what I want to do." God
simply says, "Let go of the vice grip that you have on your plans.
Let go. Resign as the designer and let me design your life, because I
am The Master Designer. Resign. Fire yourself. You are incapable of
knowing your plans. You're incapable of designing your life by

Once we resign and let him design, he brings swatches of fabric into
your life and mine. He says, "Here's a swatch for your relationships.
Here's a swatch for your future. Here's a swatch for your
occupation." When he shows it to us, oftentimes we think, "I can't
take that. That's not my color. I don't understand that. I don't
see that." But we have got to realize that God sees the whole context
of the room, the whole context of our lives. He sees the final result
and we have got to trust him. When we let the Designer design our
lives "according to his good purpose," we will stand amazed at the end
result of our sanctification, the complete and perfect renovation of
our hearts by the power of God's Spirit.

How You Can Live a Life of Thanksgiving all Year Long

How You Can Live a Life of Thanksgiving all Year Long
Dr. Jack Graham

There's a poignant story in Scripture about a group of lepers who were
healed by Jesus. And as Luke 17 tells us, only one of the men who was
healed of their horrible, incurable disease came back to thank Jesus
for doing what He did!

Now, I don't think those other lepers weren't thankful. In fact, I'm
sure they were overjoyed. But they were in such a hurry they didn't
pause long enough to say two simple words: Thank you.

During this time of year when we pause to give thanks to God for all
His blessings, we as Christians have more reason than anyone else on
earth to be thankful.

But how many of us are really truly thankful people? How often do we
stop long enough all year long to remember and thank Jesus for all
He's done for us?

There are three main reasons why followers of Christ aren't thankful
today... three "thanks-busters" that each of us — if we're not careful
— can fall victim to. Not only will these three thanks-busters keep us
from being thankful, they'll stop us from truly enjoying life and
becoming all that Christ wants us to become as His children!

Thanks-buster #1: Conceit
Conceit - or the attitude of pride - is one of the biggest thieves of
thankfulness. Why? Because a conceited spirit says, "I deserve what
I've got," and, "I deserve all the credit for what I did and for what
I accomplished."

It's like the woodpecker who was hammering away at a telephone pole.
At about the time he was making some headway, a huge bolt of lightning
struck the pole and split it right down the middle. When the
woodpecker came to his senses, he flew out and came back with ten of
his woodpecker friends and said, "See! See what I did! See what I

The Scripture says that pride comes before a fall... and I might add,
a great deal of disappointment, too.

Thanks-buster #2: A Critical Spirit
Another thief of thankfulness is a critical spirit.

You know, those who have a critical spirit are petty. They're never
satisfied. And they're all wrapped up in themselves. They're
constantly finding fault... constantly blaming... constantly being
negative. I doubt you know anyone like this!

People like this grumble because they don't have what they want,
instead of being thankful for not getting what they deserve. This kind
of attitude destroys thanksgiving…and it could potentially wreck your

Thanks-buster #3: Carelessness
Having an attitude of carelessness means getting accustomed to your
blessings... getting used to what God has given you. Much like the
children of Israel when they were out in the wilderness.

God satisfied the needs of the nation of Israel as they wandered
through the wilderness by feeding them with manna, an incredibly light
bread that appeared on the ground every day. It was a miracle every
morning, and, of course, they celebrated it at first. But as they
wandered in the wilderness due to their own disobedience, they
eventually grew to hate that light bread! They got used to the
blessing. They became accustomed to what God had given them. And that
will destroy thanksgiving in our hearts every time!

So what about you? Are you a thanks-buster?

Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to "give thanks in all
circumstances." Why does Paul tell us this? Because he knows that when
we limit our gratitude... when we don't say thanks... we build a very
small fence around our lives.

Instead of living and enjoying the full expanse of what God has given
us, we build a little hut around ourselves — and our world becomes
very small, narrow, and selfish.

So today, I want to encourage you to ask God to help you root out any
thanks-busters in your life. Because when you live a life of thanks,
you'll realize that beyond your circumstances... beyond what you're
going through... there is a sovereign God who loves you and has a
wonderful plan for your life!


PowerPoint(r) Ministries started as a vision of Dr. Jack Graham and
his wife Deb. They believed that the power of God was evident in their
growing church and that His Gospel message should be spread beyond the
walls of that church to the world at large. They put their faith into
action and purchased airtime on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.
PowerPoint(r) Ministries was then officially launched in April 1994.
PowerPoint(r) Ministries now reaches 31 cities and 18 states in the
United States through their radio and television stations. In
addition, they broadcast in over 70 countries including the U.S.,
Great Britain, South Africa, Iraq, Israel, and more.

Organize to Thrive as a Mom at Home

Organize to Thrive as a Mom at Home
Whitney Hopler

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications
of Cindy Sigler Dagnan's book, Who Got Peanut Butter on My Daily
Planner?: Organizing and Loving Your Days as a Mom, (Harvest House,

As a mom, you want to give your best to your kids – but you don't want
to lose yourself in the process. Staying home with your kids doesn't
have to be an ordeal to endure; it can be an adventure to love if you
organize your life wisely.

Here's how you can organize your life so you can best enjoy motherhood at home:

Recognize the importance of your job.
Know that your efforts as a mom are vitally important to your kids and
will shape their lives in crucial ways. Understand that no other type
of work you can do is more significant than parenting. Realize that no
one else can raise your kids as well as you and their dad can. Take
heart that all the sacrifices you need to make to stay home with your
kids are worthwhile.

Aim to be productive.
Realize that, as demanding as your parenting duties are, you can
actually accomplish a lot beyond parenting while you're home with your
kids. Make time regularly to work toward other goals, such as learning
a new skill, exercising, reading, and doing volunteer service

Get out of the house regularly.
Give yourself the gift of a change of scenery as often as you can.
Take the kids to a library, park, museum or other place to give both
them and yourself relief from cabin fever.

Establish and maintain friendships.
Get together with other women frequently to support and encourage each other.

Cultivate a sense of humor.
Look for creative ways to have fun with your kids and truly enjoy your
time with them. Try to laugh frequently. Whenever you confront
stressful situations, look for the humor in them to help you relax.

Pray often.
Talk with God regularly about your thoughts and feelings. Intercede
for others who need prayer. Make a prayer a habit to model faith in
action to your kids.

Put situations in perspective.
Make a list of everything that's currently causing you stress. Then
consider each situation on your list, asking yourself whether or not
it will matter to you tomorrow, next week, in one year, or in five
years. Turn your worries into prayers and ask God to take control of
each situation that's troubling you. Ask Him to give you His
perspective on all you're facing so you're not stressed unnecessarily.

Plan well.
Understand that if you don't plan your days, circumstances will end up
planning them for you. Every night, draw up an action plan for the
next day. Build your plan around your priorities so you'll spend your
time and energy doing what most helps you fulfill God's purposes for
your life. As you write your list of things to do, build in extra time
in between tasks to account for interruptions and other unexpected
demands that will inevitably come your way. Consider what you might
eliminate from your to-do list every time you add something new.

Use time well.
Turn downtime (such as time spent waiting in lines or in traffic) into
productive time by keeping supplies like and a pen and paper and a
magazine with you at all times so you can write notes or read whenever
pockets of time open up for you. Exercise regularly and get eight
hours of sleep each night to boost your energy. Do your shopping at
odd hours to avoid crowds. Group your errands together to get several
tasks accomplished in just one trip. If possible, delegate some of
your chores and errands to others. Don't hesitate to say "no" to
people who ask you to do something you can't do your best on right
now. Accept your limitations. Just do your best to focus on your
priorities and trust that everything else will fall into place. Be
flexible. Recognize that people are more important than things,
schedules, or deadlines. Remind yourself of your blessings often,
thank God for them, and continue to rely on God's strength to help you
with whatever you need.

Make space for sanity.
Clear out mental clutter by asking the Holy Spirit to renew your mind
daily, help you focus on what's most important, and have the right
attitudes to live well. Clear out clutter in your home by simplifying
your lifestyle and making do with less stuff, handling each piece of
paper (such as bills or schoolwork) only once before dealing with it
or filing it, and storing every object in your house in a designated

Give up perfectionism and control.
Realize that it's futile to try to be perfect and that perfectionism
can actually cause you to miss out on God's best for your life. Rather
than striving to fulfill unrealistically high expectations of
yourself, relax your standards. Think about the worst that could
possibly happen if you can't do what you hope to do in a given
situation, and realize that the outcome would probably something you
could live with just fine. Don't despair when your best-laid plans go
awry. Expect the unexpected and be flexible. Pray regularly,
relinquishing control of your life to God. Trust God to work out even
the worst situations to accomplish good purposes in your life.

Plan enjoyable meals.
Recognize the power that family meals have to draw you all closer to
each other. Do your best to eat at least one meal a day together and
have dinner together at least four nights a week when your husband
isn't on a business trip. View meals as more than just nourishment for
your bodies; see them as nourishment for your souls, as well. Create
an enjoyable experience at each mealtime. Try some new recipes, play
music, discuss a topic of interest to everyone, or hold a simple
devotional time while you eat.

Make time for yourself.
Don't let your responsibilities caring for others overwhelm you and
cause you to neglect yourself. Understand that you can ultimately care
for others better if you've had your own needs met first. Make time
regularly in your schedule to do anything you enjoy that doesn't
involve your kids' immediate needs.

Develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Ask God to help you feel content with your life, no matter what your
current circumstances. Drink at least eight glasses of water each day.
Try to get eight hours of sleep each night. Set an exercise routine
doing types of exercise you enjoy. Eat a healthy diet, including whole
grains and plenty of calcium and fruits and vegetables. Ask God to
help you like and respect your body. Work on keeping a healthy sexual
relationship with your husband. Nurture your friendships with other
women. Write down dreams and goals for yourself in different areas,
such as: personal, marriage, family, spiritual, career, and financial.
Then work each day to get closer to your goals.

Strengthen your connection to God.
Make prayer a frequent habit. Read, study, and meditate on the Bible
often. Get involved in a Mothers of Preschoolers group, a Moms in
Touch prayer group, or a Bible study group. Join a church and
contribute through service there. Teach your children how to grow
closer to God themselves, such as by giving each of them a Bible of
their own, pointing out how God is at work in their lives,
participating in devotions together, worshiping to praise music
together, practicing hospitality and working on service projects in
your community together.

Strengthen your marriage.
Don't let your parenting responsibilities cause you to neglect your
relationship with your husband. Keep investing significant amounts of
time and energy into your marriage. Go out on dates regularly. Make a
list of your husband's dreams and help make some of them come true.
Initiate sex with your husband sometimes. Set up boundaries to help
you both stay faithful to each other. Pray for God to protect your
marriage, or, if either of you has been unfaithful, that He would heal
your relationship and restore trust between you.

Pursue joy.
Decide to act in joyful ways, even when you don't feel that way, since
feelings often follow actions. Savor the simple pleasures around you,
such as the natural beauty of your backyard or the smell of cookies
you bake with your kids. Play with your kids and make memories
together for them to cherish after you're gone. Every day, ask God to
help you live purposefully.

Adapted from Who Got Peanut Butter on My Daily Planner?: Organizing
and Loving Your Days as a Mom, copyright 2006 by Cindy Sigler Dagnan.
Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Or.,

Cindy Dagnan is a writer and a popular speaker at national
conferences, retreats, and marriage seminars. She is the author of
five books – including Who Got Peanut Butter on My Daily Planner?; The
Chocolate Side of Life; and Scribbles: Sketches for Stressed-Out Moms
– and has also written numerous articles in such publications as P31
Woman, Christian Standard, and Hearts at Home. Cindy and her husband
are the proud parents of four children.


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