A Smart Heart


by Patty Schell


In a life-changing moment, God appears to a very young King Solomon and says, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you” (1 Kings 3:5 NIV*).


Boy, is this ever a loaded proposition. Our minds start to run wild with all the possibilities. I wonder if Solomon’s did too before he came upon the correct answer, or maybe God had prepared his heart for this very moment. No matter what the case may be, when it came down to it, he knew what he was going to need to fill King David’s shoes effectively.


“Now, LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties . . . So, give your servant a discerning heart. ” ~ Solomon, found in 1 Kings 3:6-9


A Discerning Heart Equals Wisdom.


Out of all the things that can be asked of God, a discerning heart perhaps is the most useful. Solomon knew he needed God’s wisdom to lead the people entrusted to his care. A heart lead by God was an excellent choice, considering he could not successfully rule over God’s people without God’s ways.

wisdom, prayer, dependence on God, spiritual battles, victory, A Smart Heart, Sustaining Life’s Victories, Patty Schell, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies

Sustaining the Victory over Negative Thoughts


by Katy Kauffman


It just wouldn’t die. I’ve always admired the ivy that creates a velvety green blanket on English cottages. Then we had some ivy of our own. Virginia creeper. But it wasn’t quaint; it kept creeping. Up the house and around the foundation. We cut it back again and again. Time passed, and there it was again, climbing up our house. We had to take it out at the roots.


That was tricky. The creeper apparently likes plants as well as we do. Its root system was so close to the roots of our favorite bushes, we had to be careful when we attempted to extricate the ivy from the ground.


When I was a teenager, an ivy branch of fear kept creeping its way into my mind and heart. It tried to squeeze the joy and peace out of my soul. It was a dreadful fear of not being able to control the thoughts that came to my mind. The fear first began when I remembered swear words from movies but tried to block them out. But then the negative thoughts grew, and I cried out to God to help me refuse them. God’s work in my heart taught me how to overcome negative thoughts, which is one of the lessons that is captured in Breaking the Chains: Strategies for Overcoming Spiritual Bondage and a blog post titled 7 Ways to Disarm Negative Thoughts (on DiAnn Mills’ website). God gave victory, but it was a hard-won victory.

thoughts, fear, victory, Sustaining the Victory over Negative Thoughts, Sustaining Life’s Victories, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies

Keep that Pot from Boiling Over


Sustaining the Victory of Setting Realistic Expectations
by Katherine Pasour


I’ve always been an over-achiever—probably a remnant of childhood insecurities. This creates an issue of setting my own expectations too high. But, a far greater danger to relationships with friends and loved ones is when I set unrealistic and unachievable expectations for others. To inflict further harm—if my hurt and anger at their lack of achievement leads to verbal outbursts, undeserved criticism, or the “silent treatment” punishment, I cause long term brokenness in our relationship.


Early in our marriage, my husband and I experienced a crisis. Many factors led to this fracture, one of which was my unrealistic expectations of how a husband should meet the needs of his wife. A pattern of unfulfilled expectations created conflict and pain. With each broken promise, the simmering pot of my frustration got hotter. Steam began to rise as anger fueled the fire. My pot boiled over into confrontation and accusations.


We expect people to keep their commitments. But, what is our role in whether goals we expect of others are completed? What is our responsibility in setting realistic expectations?

victory, arguments, marriage, Keep that Pot from Boiling Over, Sustaining Life’s Victories, Katherine Pasour, Lighthouse Bible Studies

LIFE as a Strategy for Victory


by Katy Kauffman


It attacked my baby tree. It wasn’t enough that this woodpecker had attacked the new metal vent caps on the roof. Now he was going for my precious baby tree. I call it a baby, because this fifteen-foot tree is special to me. For thirteen years, he didn’t grow much, and then last year, poof! His branches went a bit wild, finally growing, and I didn’t have the heart to trim them.


I watched as the woodpecker attempted to drill a hole in this tree. But then, he looked at the tree and flew away. I realized it was the life of the tree that made the woodpecker retreat. Instead of finding rotten wood to carve a home out of, he found life.


Our spiritual enemy Satan tries incessantly to find a weak spot in our lives. In our thinking, our desires, our relationships, our fortitude. He wants to drill a hole in our joy and peace. While he can never inhabit a believer’s heart, he and his forces will do everything they can to harass a child of God. The beautiful but pesky woodpecker taught me something about spiritual victory—it’s the life in a soul that makes the enemy retreat. It’s Jesus’ life within us that enables us to be overcomers. Mark Chapter 9 illustrates this in another way.

victory, life, spiritual warfare, temptation, closeness to God, LIFE as a Strategy for Victory, Sustaining Life’s Victories, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies

Loving Brownies a Little Less


by Katy Kauffman


I was doing fine until Valentine’s Day weekend. After committing to eat fewer sweets and more apples, I bombed. Valentine’s Day ruined my plan, even though apples sat in the refrigerator drawer. Two sets of brownies that were made for Bible study night, defeated good sense. As a treat for my friends, we cut out brownie shapes with cookie cutters and decorated them with white icing and red and white sprinkles. Of course, I had to eat the negative space—the brownie pieces left over from using the cookie cutters. All good chefs eat their own food, right?


Have you ever intended to cut back on something, but then your plans were derailed by a surprise? A sale at Macy’s. Beautiful desserts at a party. Netflix releasing a favorite TV show. “Resistance is futile,” to quote Star Trek.


More serious things pull against our self-control and wisdom. An unkind word spoken by someone else. Unfairness at work. Someone being mean to a person we love. We try to be self-disciplined and walk according to God’s will (not our own), but walking in victory is sabotaged by either something we want or a knee-jerk reaction to a surprise situation. How do we resist the urge to respond in an ungodly way?

victory, desires, values, selfishness, anger, food, Loving Brownies a Little Less, Sustaining Life’s Victories, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies

Desire’s Ambush


by Katy Kauffman


Dat, dat, dat, dat, dat, dat, dat.


Terrified and half-asleep, I lifted my head from the pillow and looked around the room. Who was in my room, and how were they making that noise?


Dat, dat, dat, dat, dat, dat, dat.


The metallic pounding seemed to come from above.


Dat, dat, dat, dat, dat, dat, dat.


A woodpecker.

victory, selfishness, desires, Desire’s Ambush, Sustaining Life’s Victories, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies

Victory’s Default Setting


by Katy Kauffman


My excitement morphed into frustration. After opening the box and pulling out a new but reasonably priced phone, I couldn’t wait to download some apps. They were calling to me from Google Play. I tapped “Install” and waited. Nothing happened. I tapped again. No downloading commenced. So I googled.


The problem was that Google Play’s default setting was to wait for WiFi in order to download the apps. I had to adjust to a new set of defaults. Sometimes we think we know how something works, but like my small battle with technology, we don’t understand everything that’s in play. Like default settings.


Do you know what victory’s default setting is? I thought I did, but after winning a certain spiritual battle, I relapsed. I fell into the same wrong pattern of thinking, and I was frustrated with myself. Hadn’t I learned better? Wasn’t I tired of the same old struggle?

victory, God’s word, closeness to God, spiritual battles, struggles, Victory’s Default Setting, Sustaining Life’s Victories, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies

Say Something


by Katy Kauffman


I wanted to say something. On Christmas Eve one year, I played an angel with some of my friends in our church’s live nativity. The three of us angels greeted Mary and Joseph when they arrived in Bethlehem, circled around them as with God’s love and protection, and stood in reverent joy celebrating Jesus’ birth.


We saw the shepherds come to worship the tiny King. Then the wise men came and knelt before the manger, placing their crowns on the ground before Him. All the while songs about Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection played in the background. While we stood on stage, the pastor talked about the significance of the birth of Christ, His life, and His death for each of us. He closed our Christmas Eve communion service with this declaration—“Jesus is alive!”


No wonder the angels praised God the night Jesus was born. I bet they couldn’t help it. As I stood on stage, I wanted to sing or to proclaim—“Here He is!!” The angels had been anticipating the moment of Jesus’ birth for centuries.

Christmas, Jesus, Overcoming the Obstacles of the Christian Life, Mark, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies

He Calls Himself the Son of Man


by Becky Hitchcock


“Good morning, Pastor,” I once wrote in an email before dawn.


My pastor had encouraged the church to read the Gospel of Mark. The action-packed narrative reads like a novel. It led me to other places in the Scriptures, too. Many of which I hadn’t considered in a long time.   


“I’m impressed with Jesus calling Himself the Son of Man.” I further wrote, “He seems to like this title, and I like how the Savior identifies with my humanness. He garbed Himself with flesh. He became like me to save me from sin. He now sits at the right hand of God, the Father, and intercedes for me. Anyway, my rambling comes from listening to my pastor who said to read the Gospel of Mark. See – I was listening – just wanted you to know.”


Daylight came all too soon that morning. I closed my Bible and laptop to meet the demands of the day. Yet the notion of the Savior calling Himself the Son of Man stayed with me.

Jesus, Overcoming the Obstacles of the Christian Life, Pride, Humility, Mark, He Calls Himself the Son of Man, Becky Hitchcock, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies

What Would You Ask Jesus For?


by Katy Kauffman


“What do you want me to do for you?”


The question is an inviting one, when it comes from God the Son. It’s a question that Jesus asked two of His disciples—What do you want Me to do for you? (Mark 10:36 NKJV*). They had no trouble answering—Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory (Mark 10:37).


There’s bold, and then there’s out of line. Can you imagine someone asking that of Jesus, especially a disciple? But Jesus didn’t scold them. He asked them if they would be willing to suffer as He would have to suffer. He knew they would be persecuted for His sake, but to grant their request was something only the Father could do (Matthew 20:23).


If Jesus came to you with that question—“What do you want Me to do for you?”—what would you tell Him? What secret dreams do you have? What desperate need? What “Christmas present” (special gift) would you ask Him for?

prayer, delighting in God, overcoming selfishness, What Would You Ask Jesus For?, Mark, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies

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