By Rhonda Rhea -
Whenever someone is working really hard to make a solid argument on an issue they’re passionate about, it’s easy to get frustrated. I always advise against trying to turn the argument around with “I’m rubber and you’re glue.”
“Says you” doesn’t really do much for a person’s believability either. And anytime I’m trying to defuse a heated discussion, I try to remember that “I know you are but what am I” is not the best way to go either. I might opt for “takes one to know one” except that I would be insulting myself at the same time and that seems counterproductive.
Using words as weapons is always counterproductive. It also doesn’t take long to figure out that words don’t really bounce either. They can wound. And when we’re bent on wounding, we miss a big opportunity to grow in character and wisdom. Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only wants to show off his opinions,” (HCSB). Trading wisdom just to show off? Bad trade.
Not only do we miss the opportunity for growing in understanding, but we miss the blessing of blessing. Every time you use your words to bless someone else, it becomes a rubber blessing of grace that bounces right back around to stick to you.
Paul teaches in Ephesians 4:29 to “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear,” (ESV). The word “corrupting” is from a Greek word that was originally used for rotten, putrefied food. I’m at this very moment recovering from merely looking at a bag of spinach in my college daughter’s fridge yesterday. We were digging around for salad fixings and our conversation went something like this:
Me: “Kaley, your spinach has brown juice sloshing around in the bottom of the bag.”
Kaley: “Yeah, don’t eat that. Also, don’t eat that bacon.”
Me: “No prob. I never eat bacon that’s…blue.”
The smell made my eyes water a little. Major reek-age. Do I even need to say that I wasn’t the least bit tempted to put any of that in my mouth? How sad it is when we pay more attention to the salad we put in our mouth than the words we let out of it.
We’re told in that Ephesians passage that we’re to choose a word that “fits the occasion”—words that are just right. That brings us back to the blessing of blessing. Paul doesn’t only tell us to stay away from the words that reek, but he gives us specific instructions for how our words should smell instead. When people get a whiff of our words, they should be taking in the sweet scent of grace.
It’s not about what “says you.” It’s not about what says me, either. It all comes back around to “says Him.” Jesus Himself said, “For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart,” (Matthew 12:34, HCSB). I don’t want to overflow liquefied spinach or bacon that might move. I want to allow Jesus to so fill my heart that my heart overflows grace words to all around.
Not “Yo mama.” Not “Talk to the hand.”
The scent of grace. Not “so’s your face.”
By Liz Cowen Furman -
Two weeks before my first writer’s conference I was in a car accident. Rear ended at a stop sign, I contracted a closed head injury.
One of the biggest challenges for closed head injury patients is that any information or sensory overload makes the patient very tired. A writing conference? What was I thinking?
I planned to travel back to Denver nightly to save money. The first evening, I was so exhausted I didn’t think I could drive across the street, let alone the dark, windy road down the mountain.
$42 is the sum total of the money I had for the week, but I knew it was not possible for me to drive home. I decided to ask if there might be an old room or even a closet, where I could just lay down.
With a big bruised forehead, and both eyes rather blackened,. I practically crawled up to the desk at the YMCA. A cheerful middle-aged woman listened as I shared my situation. She smiled, “Let me see what I can find. Well, look here, I could put you in the outdoor lab building. You’ll have your own bed and bath, but will share the building with many children, would that work?”
“I’m a teacher, with three small boys, that would be perfect.” I was afraid to ask the price.
She winked “Would $40 for three nights be possible?”
“For all three nights?” I croaked.
Very matter-of-factly, “You need to stay for the whole conference don’t you?”
Walking to the bunkhouse, I decided I could just eat the snacks put out for the conferees and lose a few pounds as I had just gladly given my food money for a bed. Weary as I was, I didn’t care if I ever ate again.
Opening the room door I was stunned, a queen and two sets of bunk beds in a lovely room. I sank onto the bed and opened the envelope. When I opened the folded receipt a meal ticket for the whole week fell into my lap. With tears flowing down my cheeks, I slid off the bed onto my knees to thank God for His provision.
Next evening, I decided to thank the woman for her kindness, so I went back to the office. I asked the clerk if Linda was working. She looked puzzled, “We don’t have a Linda working here.”
I said, “Oh maybe I have the name wrong. She is blond, about 50, very pretty and VERY nice, she was here last night.”
She shook her head again, “I’m sorry but we don’t currently even have any blonds working here.”
I walked away in disbelief.
Had I just been touched by an angel?
Every year but one since 1997, I have made my way to Estes Park in May to enjoy one of my favorite weeks of the year at the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference. Now, by God’s amazing grace, I get to teach there too, but few years have rivaled the blessings I enjoyed at that very first one.
This, and many other instances in my life, have brought the words in Hebrews 13:2 to life.
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (KJV).
By Kim Stokely -
I have a confession. I am directionally challenged. If there’s only one way to get to a location, I’ll still manage to take a wrong turn. I’ve accidently gone to another state. Even with that handicap, I’m one of the only people I know who doesn’t have a GPS device in the car. I don’t think I ever will either.
The one time I tried using one was in a friend’s car. We were on our way to a retreat and plugged in our destination. I’d been told it would take us an hour to get to the center. An hour later, my friend and I were lost in some rural town with no name out in the middle of nowhere. Her Garmin kept telling us to turn right which would have sent us into a cornfield. The disembodied voice seemed quite put out that we wouldn’t obey her command. Every time we tried to find our way back to the main road I could hear Garmin sigh as she told us she was, “recalculating.” If she’d been a real woman, I know she would have crossed her arms and tapped her foot with impatience. We finally turned off the GPS and called someone we knew was already at the retreat center to help us find our way. I have no idea where the GPS wanted to send us, but it certainly wasn’t the place we wanted to go.
Others have had similar trials. One friend told me their GPS led them to the edge of a lake before ordering, “Find a way to the other side.” Sounds pretty much like Garmin was telling her to go “jump in the lake” to me! Another friend was trying to find an ice skating rink and instead ended up in a cemetery. Fortunately, he’s not paranoid. Me? I would have been convinced Garmin was trying to tell me something.
Give me a plain old map. I love to unfold the colorful accordion of paper and locate my destination. My fingers enjoy tracing the route. My brain likes to read the different towns along the way. And, I admit with a small amount of pride, I can usually re-fold the map into its original slim rectangle without a problem.
I feel the same way about my Bible. It is God’s map for us. It’s the same today as it was thousands of years ago. Although it never changes, it is new every time we read it. I know there are fancier ways to read scripture (apps on Smart phones and I pads) but I like to crack open the pages of my leather bound Bible. My fingers like to follow along certain passages and I love to mark out new “routes” that I discover along the way. Whether you choose an old-fashioned Bible or an electronic app, make sure to be in God’s word daily. As Psalm 119:105 says, it truly is “a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (ESV) and will keep you from getting lost in the rural cornfields of life.
By Dawn Wilson –
The scenery surrounding Temecula, California, is gorgeous. My friend Judy told her daughter, Jennifer, about the time she took a drive through the wine country. Jennifer’s son, Connor, seven-years-old at the time, was sitting nearby, listening to their conversation.
Suddenly he piped up, “Wine country … is that where people go to complain?”
Although everyone laughed at his innocent question, complaining is not all that funny. Complaining – also known as grumbling, whining, murmuring, griping or belly-aching – only makes circumstances worse.
Christians tend to place complaining in a “lesser category” of sin, but God dealt with Israel’s complaints severely: “And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp” (Numbers 11:1 ESV).
The Israelites’ attitudes displeased the Lord, not just because they were ungrateful for His provisions, but, at the root, they refused to trust His care, playing into the enemy’s hands. Complaining always opens the door to Satan’s destructive influence (1 Corinthians 10:10).
Complaining is simply one proof of an unbelieving heart. If we truly believe that God is in charge, our complaints about others or our circumstances are actually an accusation against Him (Exodus 16:8; Psalm 106:24-26). A godly perspective believes that God works for our good and can redeem any circumstance (Romans 8:28).
One of Jesus’ disciples, Jude, equated grumbling and complaining with ungodly deeds (1:15-16). Because complaining should never be part of believer’s conversations, the Apostle Paul instructed Christians to do “all things without complaining” (Philippians 2:14 NKJV).
Complaining arises not only from a heart of unbelief, but also from a heart of discontent. The Christian is called to find contentment in Christ (Philippians 4:11; Hebrews 13:5; 1 Timothy 6:8).
I was a mega-complainer as a young college student. I grumbled about the food, teachers, the weather – you name it! But a godly suite-mate cornered me one day while I complained about one of my classes.
“Dawn,” Janie said with love, “I’m concerned for you, because all of your complaints are idle words, and the Bible says you’re going to have to give an account for each one.” She pointed to Matthew 12:36-37. Under great conviction, I joined her in prayer, repenting of this sin God so clearly hates.
Janie then suggested I turn my complaints into trust and my murmuring into praises. It was a lesson I took to heart. I realized I had a choice. I might not be able to choose my circumstances, but I could always watch my tongue and express faith and joy.
By Rhonda Rhea -
Somebody asked me what super power I would want if I could have any of them. I thought about it, and then I decided on Batman’s. Because as far as I can tell, Batman’s super power is this: having a fat boatload of money. That one just seemed the most reasonable.
After thinking about it a little more, I decided it was entirely conceivable that I’ve already been bitten by a radioactive spider. It would have to have been a spider that had the spider super power of being a regular human. So now that’s my super power. You know. Being a regular human. But again, this worked out okay for Batman.
So I’m not going to get all bent out of shape about not being a super hero. For one thing, getting bent out of shape would make me Mr. Fantastic or Elastic Man or somebody stretchy like that. But mostly because all of that is silly pretend power. I know where the real stuff comes from. We have power available to accomplish everything worthy of accomplishing—all through the power of the Spirit of God.
Through His power and according to His plan, every believer has the amazing opportunity to work for the Kingdom of God. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (ESV). I love thinking about the way every task has been long ago hand chosen for each of us individually by a loving Father.
If He hand picks each mission, why would we even for a second wonder where the power would come from to carry out each of those missions? In that same chapter in Ephesians, we’re told, “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit,” (verse 22, ESV). We never lack the power to carry out whatever job He’s given us to do. That power—His power—dwells in us. First Corinthians 12:6 says that “there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone” (ESV).
We’re not talking about a person’s “abilities” here. Not our strength. Not our intelligence. Not our possessions or our money—even if we have a fat boatload of it. This power is infinitely bigger. We’re empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. Super powers of the highest order.
If you ever find yourself feeling inadequate for a task you believe God has called you to, let me encourage you to remember that you don’t need to hesitate for a second. He will accomplish through you by His indwelling power every job He’s calling you to do. No need to shy away from any task—even those that seem overwhelming in your own non-super-heroic powers.
The power to share His Gospel, for instance, comes directly from the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 says that “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses” (NASB). You will receive “power.”
The power to change the world is right there. And it stretches from here to eternity. Without the slightest assistance from Mr. Fantastic.