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Entries in Upgrade wth Dawn (10)

Tuesday
Jan082019

Burning Bush?

Rhonda Rhea’s life seems to be one fiasco after another. But they are faith-building fiascos, so that’s pretty cool, actually. In this UPLIFT story to make you "laugh in" the New Year, Rhonda tells us a personal experience that certainly made me smile … and learn.

“You’re going to think I’m making this up,” Rhonda says, “but it really did happen.”

Now if that isn’t a set-up for a story, I (Dawn) would be so surprised. And given the title of this post, I figure it has something to do with God getting our attention.

Rhonda continues . . .

It was a lovely holiday party. My friend Lynn had decorated her home from top to bottom, right down to the pretty candles in the dining table advent centerpiece one of her kids made.

We left our finger foods and desserts on the table while 30 or so of us gathered in the next room to pray.

While we were praying, I noticed one of Lynn’s children came and got her. I could hear her in the dining room whispering an inordinate number of “oh no’s,” so I went to see if I could help. 

I found Lynn smacking at the centerpiece that had combusted into a little campfire in the middle of the table. I snatched up the nearest towel and started batting at it with her, but I think we were literally fanning the flames. 

Then I did what seemed most logical at the time.

I hollered.

In less than two seconds the room was filled with smoke and screaming women. 

That’s when the smoke alarm went off and Lynn’s husband came bounding down from upstairs. Our hero.

He grabbed the four corners of the tablecloth and picked up flames, food and all and took off running for the front door. 

Lynn and I put out the leftover flames on her table. Her husband made it to the door and hurled the blazing bundle outside with everything he had.

Wouldn’t you know it? It landed right on top of one of their shrubs.

It was winter so, while I call it a shrub, it could probably more accurately be described as “kindling.” It shot up in a bigger inferno than ever.

I wondered if the whole house might be taken down by one contrary centerpiece.

That’s when one of the ladies scooted out the door carrying our huge bowl of punch and flung it on the shrub. No kidding, she extinguished the burning bush with fruit juice, sherbet and a lovely ice ring.

You’re going to think I made that up just so I would have a good “punch” line, but again, it’s the honest truth.

We all stood there blinking in silence for a second, looking at the charred bush with all our smoking hors d’oeuvres lying around it. There were scattered dessert carcasses everywhere. Gruesome.

I announced, “Dinner is served.” 

Who doesn’t love dinner en flambé?

In the Bible’s original burning bush story, God used the bush en flambé to get Moses’ attention. Evidently a tap on the shoulder wouldn’t have been nearly as effective.

We’re told in Exodus 3:2 how God “appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.”

It got his attention, alright. 

Thankfully, we can talk to God with or without flaming vegetation.

In fact, I hope I never make him work that hard to get my attention.

When the Lord spoke to Moses through the bush, Moses answered in verse four, “Here I am.” He wants our prayerful attention just that way.

It’s a good thing to keep a burning passion to pray and a ready heart to respond.

A very good thing.

Incidentally, if you ever encounter any kind of home brush fire, Lynn mentioned that being well-insured is another good thing.

What has the Lord used recently to get your attention? How did you respond?

Rhonda Rhea is the author of 12 books, including the nonfiction titles, Espresso Your Faith, Join the Insanity and a new project co-authored with Beth Duewel, Fix-Her-Upper. Rhonda’s new inspirational Christian fiction, Turtles in the Road, is co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea, and is a hilariously fun romantic comedy. Rhonda is a humor columnist for HomeLife magazine, Leading Hearts magazine, The Pathway, MTL and more. She is a TV personality for The Christian Television Network’s KNLJ in mid-Missouri and speaks at conferences and events coast to coast. Rhonda lives in the St. Louis area with her pastor-hubs, Richie Rhea. They have five grown children and two grandbabies. Visit her blog.

Graphic Adapted, courtesy of Jeff Jacobs at Pixabay.

Thursday
May172018

Practicing the "One Anothers"—Dos and Don'ts

In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, Dawn Wilson encourages readers to not only study the many "one anothers" of scripture, but also to incorporate them into daily living.

One of the first teachings of biblical truth that changed my life after becoming a true, biblical Christian was the study of the "one anothers" of scripture.

At first, they were a nice list of Christian-sounding scriptures.

But as I began to mature in my daily walk with God, I realized the "one anothers" of scripture are a gift. They teach us how to interact in the body of Christ.

I want to share what is by no means an extensive list of the "one anothers" in scripture, and in some cases, to share some insights. Then I want to share a second list that I only recently began to put into practices.

1. Things we SHOULD DO to, or for, "one another"

I don't know about you, but that list is overwhelming!

But imagine how your family and church—and as a result, possibly your community—might change if you lived according to that list of "one anothers."

Imagine how the Lord might work in and through you if the "one anothers" were more than a list!

But that positive, powerful list is not the only one to consider.

The scripture also is clear about some things we should be careful NEVER to practice!

2. Things We SHOULD NOT do to "one another"

  • Don’t JUDGE one another. (Romans 14:13)
  • Don't bite and DEVOUR one another; don't "annihilate" each other. (Galatians 5:15)
  • Don't PROVOKE or challenge one another—this is related to envy and being conceited or boastful. (Galatians 5:26)
  • Don't bring LAWSUITS against one another. (1 Corinthians 6:7)
  • Don't DEPRIVE one another sexually in marriage. (1 Corinthians 7:5)
  • Do not LIE to one another. (Leviticus 19:11; Colossians 3:9)  
  • Do not speak against (BAD MOUTH) one another. (James 4:11)
  • Do not COMPLAIN or grumble about one another. (James 5:9)
  • Do not INJURE or wound one another with infighting. (Watch your words; be a peacemaker.) (Acts 7:26)
  • Don't QUARREL, separating from one another in sharp disagreement: destroying unity. (Acts 15:39)
  • Don't be HATEFUL to one another. It's part of your "foolish" past before you knew Christ. (Titus 3:3)

We can either choose to be intimidated by those lists, or we can realize there is no earthly way we can live according to these biblical standards except through the amazing and transforming grace of God.

Ask the Lord to help you depend on Him, and walk in the Spirit daily.

The Lord can help you practice these one anothers more and more as you trust Him and obey.

Which of these "one anothers" is hardest for you to practice? Why? What is the truth of scripture that can encourage you to change?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of coffeebeanworks at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Jan092018

Purify Your Heart: It's Good for You!

Kathy Collard Miller is a "heart sister." She cares deeply about our hearts—the choices we make. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she asks us to examine our hearts so we can live for God's glory.

"God placed within you a desire for pure motives," Kathy says. "He knows purity is good for you and gives glory to Him. Purity may seem impossible but God will provide the way."

I (Dawn) like that two-pronged approach to purity: "good for you and gives glory to (God)." Pursuing purity is a win-win proposition!

Kathy continues . . .

Have you ever had a sense of being motivated by true love? By wanting the best for someone? Those desires are pure motives and God wants to purify your heart because it’s best for you.

When we have muddy motives, we are like James 1:6 describes: “driven and tossed by the wind.”

But the more we release wrong motives, the happier we will be: loving, content and joyful.

God loves you so much He wants to set you free from selfishness and neediness.

Unfortunately, we are so used to acting a certain way, we don’t even realize there could be underlying selfish reasons.

Here are three questions to examine your motives, asking God to reveal your heart.

1. What do I hope to gain?

Lily grew up in a family with three sisters, and the competition to be heard was fierce. She rarely felt like her opinion was heard or important.

While in college, one teacher exclaimed, “You have a way with words.” That statement seemed to affirm her value and birthed a selfish strength to control situations and relationships with talking.

Unfortunately, her many words only drove friends away because she talked about herself almost non-stop. Plus, she really thought she was bringing glory to God by sharing all the wonderful things he was doing in her life.

Lily began asking herself, "What do I hope to gain?"

The Holy Spirit revealed her demand to be heard and affirmed. Although difficult, she began recognizing more and more God’s value for her thoughts and opinions, even if people couldn’t receive them. It made a difference.

2. What do I hope to avoid?

Mae told me, “When I was in middle school, my parents were always sleeping in on weekends because of their partying. If my brothers and I made too much noise, our parents came out and cursed at us.

"The most hurtful was when my mom yelled, ‘You’ll never amount to anything unless you learn to shut up.’ I learned to control my every move—and my brothers’. Even now, too much noise makes me uncomfortable, because I vowed to be quiet as a mouse so I wouldn’t get yelled at.

“Now, when my two sons start rough-housing, I get panicky. I yell at them to be quiet. Isn’t that ironic? I yell so they will "be quiet.”

In time, Mae allowed the Holy Spirit to help her relax more and more by seeing she didn’t need to fear someone would yell at her. And even if they did, it didn’t mean she would “never amount to anything.”

3. How do I feel threatened?

When Charlotte was a little girl, she rode with her grandmother late one evening. She has a vague memory of being in the back seat of a big Plymouth where she could barely see over the front seat’s high back.

“It must have been around the 1950s when I was seven or eight," Charlotte said. "The car was stopped at the intersection, and my grandmother suddenly asked me, ‘Is there a divided highway here?’

I had no idea what a divided highway was, but I’d learned I always had to answer a question. That was respecting my elders. So, I guessed and said, ‘No.’

Wrong answer. My grandmother drove forward and drove right into the curb of a divided highway. I still don’t know why she asked me or why she couldn’t see it, but I immediately thought, ‘I’m so stupid. I should have known the right answer.’

“Even today I have a hard time saying, ‘I don’t know.’ My intelligence always feels threatened. As a result, I jump to conclusions to give any answer and I don’t ask God first.”

After Charlotte recognized the self-imposed wound of declaring herself stupid, she repented of her motive to protect herself. Now she can say, “I don’t know.” She’s also more willing to seek God and give an answer based on what He says rather than what she thinks another person wants or needs to hear.

Try this challenge: For one or two days, ask God to reveal the motives of your heart: WHY you want to choose something.

You can be honest knowing God loves you, regardless, and is passionate about purifying your heart for your good.

Kathy Collard Miller is the author of over 50 books, her most recent Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory (Elk Lake Publishing). She loves to speak at events and has spoken in over 30 US states and 8 foreign countries. Visit her: www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of suju at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Aug022016

Keep Your Marriage Full When Your Nest Is Empty

Elaine Miller encourages married women to consider the things they can do to improve their relationship with their spouse. This is especially important when the nest is empty, as we see in this Marriage UPGRADE.

"Marriage seems to take a backseat during the child-rearing years," Elaine says.

I (Dawn) know this is true, even when we were cautioned in the early years of marriage to keep our spouse priority number one after our relationship with the Lord. Sometimes, we don't wake up until after the children have left home.

Elaine continues . . .

I remember taking my oldest to college. Sobbing, in the fetal position, I was sure our sweet sunshine had left our home forever.  

Our 12-year-old, trying to soothe his distraught mother, announced, "That's it! I'm never going to college! I will live with you forever!"

Well, he did go to college, and this time I wept in the bathtub wondering where the time had gone.

Never did I wonder how my husband felt watching his wife's world fall apart, because now all I had was him.

With the arrival of the empty nest—it's time to upgrade your marriage. 

No doubt the empty nest is a time of transition in marriage. Here are some tips (and some winks from God) to help you transition well.

1. Rejoice!

Honeymoon! The day your littlest walks out the door, grab your honey's hand and you walk out too. Don't stay home and grieve.

Go away with your spouse and celebrate your new life as a twosome. Pick a romantic spot. Perhaps revisit your honeymoon destination. Or choose a place on your bucket list. Just go away and enjoy each other and your new life together.  

It won't be long before your empty-nest heartache is healed and you are thinking Well, this isn't so bad, after all!

"Come, my lover, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages" (Song of Songs 7:11).

2. Recreate!

Find a common activity to enjoy with your spouse.

My Dan was over-the-top thrilled with his 50th birthday present to me. "Wait until you see it! Oh, you'll be so excited!" He couldn't miss my not-so-thrilled surprise when I opened the huge wrapped package and found, not diamonds, not a cruise, but golf clubs.

Dan loved to golf and wished to share this activity with me. Oh, the hours of fun we've enjoyed together in the quietness and beauty of the golf course.

"May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth" (Proverbs 5:18).

3. Romance!

Reconnect as a couple again. Plan romantic dinners. Laugh! Make love!

"Kiss me and kiss me again..." (Song of Songs 1:2).

4. Redecorate!

Prepare your bedroom as your love sanctuary. The children are gone. The house belongs to you. Wow! You can even leave the door open.

Turn the music up! Go wild with candles! Decorate your bed with Christmas lights! Use your imagination and redecorate your bedroom.

Forget the bedroom! You have the whole house to yourself!

Enjoy your newfound freedom for uninterrupted intimacy.

". . . may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love" (Proverbs 5:19).

My prayer as a wife has always been:

"...Thus I have become in his eyes like one bringing contentment" (Song of Solomon 8:10 NIV).

Ha! Well, with the nest empty, we have time to actually make that happen.

What steps can you take to keep your marriage full when your nest is empty?

Elaine W. Miller is an international author and speaker known for sharing biblical insights with warmth, enthusiasm, and humor. She is the author of three books including her latest We All Married Idiots: Three Things You Will Never Change About Your Marriage and Ten Things You Can (available in English, Spanish, and Bosnian). Residing in upstate  New York with her husband of 45 years, she enjoys having three married children and 11 grandchildren close by. Check out Elaine's website and blog.

Thursday
Oct012015

The Marriage Marathon: Finishing Well

In this Marriage UPGRADE, Dianne Barker shares some practical ways to face the things that bother us in our marriages.

“Here’s the big irritation in marriage,” Dianne says. “I don’t like you and I can’t change you.”

That would make me laugh, but I (Dawn) remember a few painful days in my own marriage when I thought that same thing. Haven’t you?

Dianne continues:

Why would anyone marry a person they don’t like?

During our two-year courtship, love, youth and ignorance hid the “red flags.” Both of us projected our best to impress and please each other. We managed to conceal major flaws all the way to the altar.

Marriage—living together 24/7—exposed our major personality differences, and I noticed James had a few characteristics I didn’t like. I got the impression he didn’t like me so much either.

We grabbed our tools and started to work, thinking we could actually change each other.

I can smile now, sorting through the attic of fifty years of spouse-improvement projects covered with dust. None of my attempts to change my husband worked, nor did his attempts to change me—although both of us had good intentions and determination.

Change came in my life, my marriage and my husband when I set my own heart to seek the Lord and obey Him.

Concentrating on my responsibility—to accept my husband, love and pray for him, and leave the results to God—brought astonishing change … in me. It began with one verse. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

My seeking the Lord has nothing to do with any other person or circumstance. As I learned to apply His Word to my daily walk, I discovered my obedience took care of many issues. My anger is my issue with the Lord. My critical spirit is my issue with the Lord. My stinkin’ attitude is my issue with the Lord.

If my husband has an anger problem, a critical spirit, a stinkin’ attitude, his issues are with the Lord, not me. I can do nothing about that except pray and respond to him in a Christ-like way.

When I became concerned with my individual, personal walk of obedience, I discovered doing what God says not only made me happy but also blessed my marriage. My sole responsibility is pleasing my Father’s heart.

Is your spouse all you desire? You cannot make your husband be kind, ambitious, or skinny. If you’re waiting for him to become all you desire before obeying the Lord, I have bad news. That won’t happen. God calls us to follow him with our whole heart…then He will work.

But you can do something! Pray your spouse into “better.” The Prayer of Jabez is a good place to start: “Bless him a lot today, enlarge his territory, keep your hand on his life, and keep him from evil” (see 1 Chronicles 4:10).

If you really want to change your husband, try these tools. 

Marriage is a marathon. Finish well!

Which tool will you begin using today to change your marriage?

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, and Christian Women in Media. (Post adapted from Help! I’m Stuck and I Can’t Get Out! The Maximum Marriage Maintenance and Repair Kit, available soon at www.diannebarker.com)

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.