Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holiday Games

Don't you just love a food-covered holiday table that's about as big as a football field? You're juggling several buttered rolls and a plate full of tasty side dishes while you're trying to score some major turkey. It's a big play. You have to really scramble to hit the turkey before all those ravenous relatives leave you stuck with only dark meat. First down and gravy to go.

It's especially great to have lots of relatives over for a holiday dinner (all white/dark meat issues aside) because they bring with them a virtually uncontestable excuse to eat in the family room. Sidelined in the kitchen? No-sir-ee. We're going long. With some fancy footwork, you can swoop up two pieces of pumpkin pie as you bob and weave your way to the goal:  the Lazy Boy. Touchdown!

It's good to have a goal.

We need goals in how we treat each other through the holidays, too. Grace is sort of like our end zone. It's our goal. Colossians 4:6 says, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt." Around this time of year, we're all keenly aware of the importance of good seasoning. We need to be even more conscientious about the words we use to season each conversation. Our every holiday conversation should be full of the wonderful flavor of grace. Tasty!

I love the way The Message puts Colossians 4:6:  "Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out."

It can become all too comfortable to bring out the worst in others, to put them down with ungracious speech--especially when they're eating the white meat that you're sure is rightfully yours. Instead of lovingly inviting others into grace-filled dialogue, it can become easy to let them get on our last nerve, to exclude them, to cut them out. It doesn't exactly inspire a spirit of thankfulness all around, does it? Those are definitely not the kind of holiday games we should be playing.

Instead we need to consistently offer Jesus-inspired grace in all we do and in all we say.
1 Peter 3:8-11 says, "Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. Don't repay evil for evil. Don't retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say, 'If you want a happy life and good days, keep your tongue from speaking evil, and keep your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Work hard at living in peace with others'" (NLT).

Loving with tender hearts and humble minds, responding to others with blessing. That's the way to guarantee a happy, peaceful, perfectly seasoned holiday--even if Uncle Mort gets all the white meat AND shoves you out of the recliner.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Brewing


I’m so excited that I found biblical grounds that my husband should be the one to make the coffee every morning. Hebrews. You know, “He brews”? And it’s a whole book. I figure that’s pretty solid biblical grounds, right? Wait. Did I really twice mention biblical “grounds” in the middle of a bunch of coffee talk?

Okay, so no doubt I need to stay more alert in exactly how I read God’s word. The extra-shot-of-espresso, high-caff kind of alert. It’s important not to get lazy.

Isn’t it weird how we can sometimes make God’s Word say things it’s not really saying? Stringing things together that aren’t related, adding meaning where it doesn’t belong. Or sometimes we simply neglect God’s Word altogether. And that’s altogether the wrong thing to do.

The thing is, there are essential life-building truths we just can’t ignore if we want to live a vital, fruit-filled, wide-awake kind of life in Christ. The Bible is not just a collection of good stories a group of people brewed up. It’s God’s message to us. And there is plenty of meaning right there in his word—right there in black and white—without trying to squeeze out something else. Meaning to last a lifetime. And meaning to change a lifetime.

Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Now there’s some high-powered life-fuel. And 2 Timothy 3:14-17 lists some of the amazing things scripture does is in our lives. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Coffee may partially equip us for a morning. But God’s word thoroughly equips us for every good work. His word equips us for life!

I think I’ll be percolating on that truth for a long time.

Meanwhile, I finally figured out that I can program the coffee maker to make the coffee all by itself. Auto-brew. There’s no book in the Bible about it or anything like that, but is it okay if I tell you that I thought it was a pretty marvelous “revelation”? 

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Sealed With a What??



Oh, the pressures that a lip-conscious gal has to deal with! First of all, you have to have lipstick in shades to match every outfit. On top of that, for some reason no one really understands, all those colors are required to have names that make you feel really ridiculous. Like “Passion Perky Pink,” “Vixen Tart Wine,” “Mysteriously Misty Mauve”—you have to hide the label while you’re putting them on. I mean, as a pastor’s wife, I just can’t afford to get caught rubbing “Vixen Tart Wine” on my lips—even if it is the only shade that goes with my purple suit.

On top of it all, you have to be careful that you never pull out the wrong thing to put on your lips. A friend of mine reached into her pure for her Chapstick and accidentally grabbed her glue stick instead. I don’t want to embarrass her so I can’t tell much about it; my lips are sealed. But for the record, so were hers. It puts a whole new spin on SWAK, doesn’t it?

God gives us lip instruction that doesn’t involve color—or glue. These lips were made for praising him and for building up the people he loves. Psalm 34:1 says, “I will thank the Lord at all times. My mouth will always praise him” (GWT). When we’re using our lips in the right way, it’s really the very best “lip service”—whether you’re bare-lipped or covered with Passion Perky Pink.


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Friday, July 16, 2010

Cool Article from The Pathway

(So appreciative of Susie Mire’s article in the Missouri Baptist Convention’s newspaper, The Pathway.)

Peace packaged with laughter

Rhonda Rhea shares her heart – and a little fashion advice – in her latest book, Whatsoever Things Are Lovely.
Rhonda pokes fun at herself and some of her accessory catastrophes that make for girls-night-out enjoyable reading.

At first, I wondered if the book would be frivolous, but Rhonda made it clear this was not a book for fashionistas by listing the top 10 reasons why it’s best to have cheap jewelry. No. 8: “When your favorite pieces start looking a little worn, a light coat of spray paint can shine them right back up.” 
 
God’s Word isn’t used as just a pretty accent, it’s the central focus of the book. Rhonda shares practical suggestions for keeping your mind on whatever is true, pure and right with straightforward instruction to address sin. The balance of humor and scripture puts her writing in the vein of Beth Moore.

The chapters were just the right length. I found it perfect for a morning quiet time reading. Rhonda also includes a discussion guide, so the book can be read and studied by a ladies group or Sunday School class. Or you can simply sit down to read and it’s like sharing a cup of coffee with a godly girlfriend.

Rhonda is the wife of Richie Rhea, pastor of First Baptist Church, Troy, Missouri, and has a speaking and writing ministry to women. More information is at www.rhondarhea.org.

She recently answered these questions from The Pathway about her book and ministry:

Q: First off, are you really as crazy about accessories as you talk about in the book
A: Crazy like a fox. A well-decorated fox. A well-decorated fox with things to hide. For those of us at that mid-life mark, it’s not so much about “accessorizing” any more. It’s more about “camouflaging.”

Still I have to say, I’m probably not as psychotically attached to accessories as it might seem. Sometimes taking a fun topic—like everything blingy—and attaching a few points of humor to it can allow us to approach a more serious topic. The heart of the book is to let women know we can experience true peace and live a life of purpose as we surrender our brain—and our everything—to Christ. The accessory humor sort of gives us permission to go there.

Q: Being a pastor’s wife and a mother is usually a full-time job. How did you come to be a speaker and writer as well?
A: I love being a pastor’s wife and mom. Full time? You know it! Still, when my five kids were small, writing became like my therapy. Then when it occurred to me that others might need a little dose of the same therapy, I knocked on the writing and speaking door.

As a matter of fact, I asked God to swing the door open and shove me through it, or to slam it right in my face. That subtle stuff doesn’t work with me. He has done such a gracious act of door-swinging. It’s been a glorious adventure. I’m loving it.

Q: The theme of this book is “Whatsoever is Lovely” taken from Phil. 4:8. This seems like something that should hold strong appeal for women, but why is it so hard to keep our thoughts focused?
A: What a powerful passage. Philippians 4:8-9 tells us where to focus our minds so that we can experience the peace of God. But so often we let things slip into our lives and into our way of thinking that squelch it. Sin, of course, is the biggie. It matters what we let go on in our heart—and in our head. Choosing to dwell on sinful, rebellious, worrisome, fearful, bitter, dark thoughts will bring the opposite of peace. According to the Philippians passage, thinking on things that are true, pure, right, holy, friendly, proper, worthwhile and worthy of praise—that’s what will bring an “ah, peace” into our lives.

Another big reason we tend to let our thoughts scatter is that we women are so busy, busy, busy. Sometimes our lack of peace is a bit self-inflicted. The truth is, we have just enough time, energy, sanity—everything we need—to do everything God has called us to do. And if we have more than we can do without feeling like we’re going nuts, guess who’s added to the to-do list. We have!

But it’s also true that soul-peace has nothing to do with the calendar. You can be in the middle of a ridiculously stressful time and still experience the peace of God in the most profound way. It’s not about what’s on the calendar, or even about the struggles we’re facing. It’s all about where Jesus is in our lives. He is the source of peace. He is our peace.

Q: The book is described as “must have accessories for God’s perfect peace.” In your ministry, how much do you encounter women searching for peace?
A: Would you believe women from one side of this country to the other have told me that peace is so often their number one greatest need? Number one! I love it that I get to tell them that the answer is right there in the word of God.

When it comes to our thought lives, so many women consider themselves stuck in thought patterns that rob their peace. But we are not the victims of our thoughts. Sure, random thoughts may pop into our brains, but we get to choose what we dwell on. And what we dwell on is what will come out in our actions. I like issuing a little charge to surrender thoughts to Christ, then just watch as He delivers peace by the truckload.

Q: Humor is such a big part of your writing. Is this something you have to cultivate or does it just come naturally?
A: I’d say both. I come from a long line of beautifully twisted people. At the same time, writing humor can be challenging. Most of the time, I love the challenge. And I find there are few things sweeter than having people say that something I’ve written made them swallow their gum or made Pepsi come out their nose. Pepsi out the nose is probably the ultimate humor writer compliment.

Q: Your books have A LOT of God’s word in them. What sort of study and research do you do with your writing?
 A: God’s Word is the chief place of study and research—not just for books, but for life. Even in the Philippians 4:8-9 passage, we’re told to keep our minds on whatever is “true.” Truth tops the list. God’s Word? It doesn’t get truer than that! When we focus our minds on his word, we see his truth becoming part of our thinking and then becoming part of our actions and responses.

Q: How does this book fit in with other books you’ve written in the series?
 A: I fondly call it the “Dress for Excess” series. Each focuses on a particular passage of scripture and a particular topic. The shoe-themed book, High Heels in High Places: Walking Worthy in Way Cute Shoes, zooms in on Colossians 1:9-12, a passage about how to walk worthy of the Lord and what that means. The Purse-uit of Holiness: Learning to Imitate the Master Designer uses purse humor to lead us into a close look at 1 Peter 1:13-16, understanding the holiness of God and our personal (or “purse-sonal”) holiness. And in Whatsoever Things Are Lovely: Must-Have Accessories for God’s Perfect Peace, the “bling” book, we look at Philippians 4:8-9 phrase by phrase, zeroing in on the kind of thinking that will lead us into a life of peace.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share (besides “buy a copy of the book!”)? 
A: Loving the way you think! I guess I would add one point of encouragement. Society would have us looking for peace in all the wrong places. It’s not in drugs or sex—it’s not even in finding fulfillment in work or success or good deeds. Not even ministry. Peace is found in being filled with Christ.

It’s not just knowing about the peace of God. The passage in Philippians says when we dwell on those good things, “the God of peace will be with you.” With! So it’s not trying to muster up peace, good thoughts, good deeds on our own. No, it’s resting in His presence.

And, of course, it rarely hurts to decorate it all with a few tasteful accessories.

(By Susie Mires for The Pathway (the official newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention, www.mbcpathway.com), March 16, 2010 issue. Susie Mires is a freelance writer and a member of Green Valley Baptist Church in St. Joseph, Missouri, and has been a regular contributor to The Pathway since its creation in 2002.)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Midas Touch?


One look in my fridge and we all realize I do NOT have the Midas touch. Gold? Um, no. It’s pretty clear from the blue-green glow coming from inside that fridge that most things I touch turn to fuzz. Fur-covered macaroni, spotted cheese and spaghetti that seems to have grown its own meatballs. Ew. I think I have something closer to the “Mold-us” touch.

            I admit it. Cleaning the fridge is generally way too far down the line on my list of priorities. I’ve brought more than one box of baking soda to its knees.

I hope I’ll never be casual, though, about how I touch others with my words, and how those words affect and influence people. Ephesians 4:15 refers to “speaking the truth in love.” Truth. Love. We really have to have both. Truth without love is harsh. But love without truth is fruitless.

It’s easy to say what we think others want to hear. Easy, but not fruitful. I want my words to touch lives in ways that will make a difference. That doesn’t always mean saying things that are warm and fuzzy (and by the way, that’s not a reference to that moldy kind of fuzzy). Sometimes helpful words are the kind that sting a little. 

Ecclesiastes 12:11 says, “The words of the wise are like cattle prods—painful but helpful. Their collected sayings are like a nail-studded stick with which a shepherd drives the sheep” NLT. Cattle-prodding words. I really get a charge out of that visual.

It goes both ways. I appreciate my closest friends who lovingly “herd” me in the right direction with caring words of wisdom. A painful poke instead of a tickle? I’m telling you, I’ll take the jab of truth any day. I’d rather head the right direction after a stinging prod than to continue down the wrong road, all the while hearing everything’s fine and I’m doing great things.

Value truthful words from a trusted friend. They’re more precious than the insincere, say-whatever-you-want-to-hear words of a flatterer. Give your faithful friends the freedom to tell you the truth even when it smarts. Those stinging truths are often the ones God can use to polish your character and make you more like Christ. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” NIV. Another version puts it this way:  “You can trust a friend who corrects you, but kisses from an enemy are nothing but lies” CEV.

If you don’t have a friend who will speak the truth in love to you, be on the lookout for one. Ask God to provide that friend for you who can help add just the spit-shine you’re needing in your life.

Loving words of truth and wisdom. Now there’s something I don’t want to let slide down my list of priorities. Ever.

            The fridge-cleaning? Okay, a spit-shine could definitely stand to come up the priority list a notch or two. Especially after last week. Who knew a bag of lettuce could totally liquefy?


Rubber-gloved-ly yours,

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Perfectly Packaged Peace

Don’t get me wrong. I love being a woman. Really I do. There’s no doubt we get the best shoes. Better jewelry, too, and (Mr. T excluded) more of it.

We get a host of other great accessories, too. Most guys would never consider carrying an adorable purse, for instance. They have to hang their cell phones on their clothes! How can they live like that?

But I must admit that all those great accessories and cuter shoes come in a rather complicated package. They’re packaged with hormones that go wacko and hair that requires about a 98% bigger time investment (and the bigger the hair, the bigger the investment—in more ways than one). Other items that sneak their way into the package? Higher priced clothing—hands down, over and under. A guy can buy three packages of underwear for what it costs for one girlie pair.

Even worse than higher priced drawers? Cellulite. I have a couple of thighs that positively refuse to let go of the evil stuff. And packaged right along with the cellulite comes an aversion to swim suit shopping that inspires every woman to ask at some time or another in her life, “How much do I really want to swim anyway?”

There’s no doubt in my mind that wacko hormones, stubborn cellulite and all the rest of the items on the dark side of the package came into the world when sin entered the picture. When Adam and Eve sinned, everything changed. Here’s a big indicator: The pre-fall verse in Genesis 2:25 says, “They were naked and unashamed.” That pretty much says it for me. This was obviously back in the days when, if you’ll forgive me, Victoria “didn’t need no secret.” It wasn’t until after the curse of sin that Eve had to ask, “Adam, do you think this fig leaf makes me look fat?”

How do we make peace with our thighs? How can we find peace in a world of volcanic hormones and vicious spandex-laden swim suits? Peace of every kind comes from Jesus. Adam and Eve’s sin and the resulting curse on the world didn’t catch God by surprise. He already had a plan in place to bring peace, to reconcile us to himself again.

His peace has nothing to do with chubby thighs. As a matter of fact, you can experience his true and lasting peace no matter what size is written on the tag of your swim suit. If your peace can be damaged or destroyed by any earthly challenge, then you’re not getting your peace from the right source. The only source of that real and lasting peace is our Heavenly Father. And we can only know the peace-giving Father through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NIV).

Not only can we have peace with God through Christ because of the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross, but we have available to us genuine peace for every aspect of life. It’s all because of a loving Father who will guard our hearts and minds with the unexplainable peace of Jesus. Now there’s a package!

So I figure, let Victoria KEEP her secret. I’m not going to waste energy carrying a grudge about that cellulite thing. The peace of Christ is so much bigger than my thighs will ever be.


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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fry, Fry Again

A friend was telling me about going to a restaurant for...are you ready for this...chicken fried bacon. No kidding. Can you imagine looking at bacon and thinking, “Okay, just in case it’s not unhealthy enough, let’s just fry it again”? Chicken fried bacon! I think it comes with a side order of defibrillator.

Couldn’t their slogan be: “double your pleasure, double your heart disease”? Although I have to wonder if the extra fried stuff really does make it that much better or if you just end up losing the whole bacon-ness of it all--missing the best part.

It made me think of the privilege of prayer, and the double pleasure we can find there. Sometimes we do miss the best part of all. There is power in prayer and I believe our prayers can even influence God’s decisions. But doubled with that truth is the truth that prayer is not designed to force God to see things our way, to change his mind about what we want. Prayer is about helping us see things his way, to help us put on his mind.

Deuteronomy 4:29 says to “Seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul,” (NKJV).

So I’m asking the Lord to help me keep that heart-and-soul-seeking kind of prayer in mind. Every day.

And as far as that whole chicken fried bacon thing goes, maybe I should be a little more open minded. You know, maybe if before that second frying, they rolled it in LIPITOR....



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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ready for Heart Day!

I went to buy a Valentine card for my Valentine. Last minute this year. That means I had to shove ten thousand guys over. All the women? Most of them did their Valentine’s Day shopping a couple of weeks ago. It was so embarrassing to be stuck in there with all those last-minute guy-shoppers.

The card rack told the story. All the cards for hubbies and boyfriends? Picked almost clean. Then there was the wife/girlfriend section. Fully stocked with hardly a card out of place.

Yeah, the last-minute life really can get embarrassing. That’s one reason I want to do what the Bible tells me and “be ready” when Jesus comes. I don’t want to be red-faced when we hear that trumpet solo and I know my One True Love has arrived. I want to get to say something like, “Knew he was coming. Bought the card weeks ago.” Yessiree, I want to be ready.

Hey, I’m shooting for being more ready next Valentine’s Day, too. This year, I bought two cards.



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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Holy High-Calorie Breakfast!

I started a new diet around the first of the year--with about a hundred thousand other Americans. I’ve had to set a 1200-calorie goal for myself. Of course, being the goal-oriented person I am, I keep meeting my goal…before lunch.

Hey, I’m an over-achiever.

There’s one particular goal, though, that we all need to set. And achieve. Our ultimate goal should always be holiness. To look like Jesus. It’s like the banner goal that flies over every other little goal in life.

Once we understand the goal, distractions are so much easier to sort out of our day, and they lose their power to rob us of our fruitfulness. So. Time to rethink a few goals, maybe?

Incidentally, I have been rethinking some of those calorie goals. I just found out that a couple of my favorite coffee drinks have enough calories to take up my allowance through mid-afternoon. Of next Tuesday.


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Friday, January 15, 2010

Hair with SIZZLE

I’m so glad I’m past the perm days. You know, those days of chicken-fried bangs that look like Velcro?

Actually, that really only means that I’ve found NEW ways to chicken-fry my hair. Hair color, highlights, flat irons, various other sizzling chemicals and tools--I’m telling you, I usually stay just this side of some kind of hair implosion. I think I smell smoke.

Fried bangs may come and go--and I may not always love my hair--but loving others in the name of Jesus is always in vogue. Always will be. Even when people get difficult. And do they get difficult? Oh yeah. Sometimes they can sizzle our last nerve.

I do love it that God gives us everything we need to respond in grace when we’re living in HIS grace. And that really is the only way to live. It makes life sizzle in all the right ways.

No effect on the bangs, though.



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