Friday, February 27, 2009

Who We Dress For

Found a poll over at (not a site I tend to visit btw, just found it when researching) that asked ,"Do you dress for men or women?"
Here are the results with nearly 800 people voting:

I love catching the eye of a dashing man...
7% (56)
Definitely women - they care more what I'm wearing anyway.
19% (152)
Both: I'll take all the attention I can get!
39% (305)
Neither...I dress for me, myself and I.
34% (264)
Other - do tell!
1% (6)
Total votes: 783

So 65% (I think it's safe to assume these are women voting given the source) said they dress mainly to impress or make an impact on others. And the majority said their fashion choices are influenced by how other women will percieve them.

Meanwhile, 34% said they dress just to please themselves. Do you think there is anything wrong with either of these approaches? Is there a "correct answer" here?
(I really wonder who the other 1% are dressing for?! Maybe babies or the military?)

My image consultant friend Shari will be doing a Q&A with me here in the next day or so, and we'll address some of your comments and questions from the last post. So stay tuned for some advice from an expert!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

We interrupt this series on prayer to discuss CLOTHES

My sister-in-law went to see the movie "Confessions of a Shopaholic" the other night, but said she couldn’t hear half the movie because the high school girls seated next to her were too busy whispering: “I want those shoes!” “Yeah, me too, and that purse to go with them.” “Oooh, I looove her scarf.” “Me too, let’s be on the look out for one.” “Eww, her outfit is sooo ugly.” “Yeah, totally unflattering.”

I don't think they quite caught the whole message of the movie.

My sister-in-law, a gorgeous gal in her late 20s who works standing on her feet all day and therefore wears high-quality comfy clogs, had come straight from work to this movie. She said she noticed the girls looking judgmentally at her clogs. It bothered her. She wanted to say 1) that she does own and wear cute shoes, but had just been at work and so… and 2) I don’t really have to explain or defend my shoe choices to you!

Isn’t it interesting how we can feel both those responses simultaneously when feeling judged for how we're dressed? OK, my next request may just make you feel that way.

If you’ve been reading here lately, you know I’m working with my pastor (and my husband and a team of other guys that work at my church) on an upcoming series at our church on lust called The Grass is Greener (recognize that, Angie?). Now my pastor wants me to join him on stage for one of the weeks’ messages to offer a woman’s perspective. (Note: I'm feeling this would be a really good time to pray for me!) Today in a meeting we were discussing what topics to cover that week and the subject of women and clothing came up.

The guys were curious why women – including Christian women and including happily married women – dress somewhat evocatively (this was their opinion of how many women often look) ... even to go to work, or church, or bowling. By evocatively they seemed to mean with very fitted clothing, or shorter skirts and heels, or v-neck tops that show cleavage, or anything that says (or even whispers), I'm sexy.

So gals, let me hear from you on this topic. Why do you dress the way that you do? What governs your fashion choices?

Do you feel pressure from anyone to look a certain way? Do you think we should cover up to avoid tempting men to lust? Share your thoughts!

Oh, and as I said before, feel free to post anonymously because I could use some real life stories and honest input here. Don't worry if you found this post weeks after it was written - I still want to hear your feelings on how women dress. Thanks!

Teach Me to Pray - part 4

I'm so glad so many of you felt the sense of release that I did when I read Jesus' instructions in Matthew 6 to His disciples on how to pray, and I realized it didn't require a weekly all-night prayer vigil.

While I really wanted you to get that point, I feared giving you a mistaken impression that all we ever have to do is "throw up 3 sentence prayers" here and there and call ourselves intercessors with a vibrant prayer life.

A common problem I see and have experienced myself, is we’re so busy each day that we don't pause to pray - for ourselves or others. We don't stay plugged in to God ... until a crisis happens. Even then, as Judy commented, sometimes a crisis hits and we're so used to dealing with things without praying that it can take awhile for us to remember to turn this thing over to God in prayer. So developing a pray-as-I-go-through-my-day mindset is important.

Equally as important as taking God along with me through my day and my to-do list, is to set aside and spend time with Him. To commune with Him. To read scripture. To pray, and to listen for His response. To be still in His presence and worship Him. This kind of thing can't be done on the run.

And some issues we face in life, for whatever reason in the spiritual realm, cannot be solved with one or two quick prayers. We have to persist praying with faith. We may need to gather others to join us in praying, and to intercede on our behalf. Its always necessary too, to keep in mind that God may not answer in the way we expect or desire.

EM Bounds writes, "We would not have anyone think that the value of prayer is to be measured by the clock." He also asserts, however, "The short prevailing prayer cannot be prayed by one who has not prevailed with God in a mightier struggle of long continuance." I believe what the good pastor is saying is that when we find God faithful in the issues of life that have required much prayer and faith, it provides a foundation of trust, experience and relationship on which our short daily prayers can rest.

When I look at the life of Jesus and His prayer practices, I see lots of brief prayers He prayed. But I also see instances when He spent extended time praying and communing with God. For instance, in Mark 1:35 we find Jesus alone in a solitary place, very early in the morning, praying. And in Mark 6:46, after miraculously feeding 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus leaves His disciples and goes up on a mountainside to pray. Matthew adds to Mark's account that Jesus remained there alone until evening (Matthew 14:23).

So examine your prayer life for a moment. Could you benefit from learning to pray quickly during your day as needs arise? Is a set-apart time of leaning deeper into God with focus and prayer what your soul is craving? Decide to make it happen - and start with a quick prayer for God to guide you in this.

As I promised, I'll be posting some scriptures that show Jesus in prayer in my next post so you can learn from the Master.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Teach Me to Pray - part 3

If you tried that exercise in my last post, you discovered that the "model-prayer" takes a mere minute or less to pray. That realization was a turning point for me - it freed me from my false belief that I had to pray for hours over something in order to pray "seriously" about it.

Jesus said, When you pray, don’t talk on and on as people do who don’t know God. They think God likes to hear long prayers. Don’t be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask (Matthew 6:7-8, CEV). Then Jesus followed this comment up by teaching "The Lord's Prayer."

It's been my experience that most people feel less-than-expert when it comes to praying. The disciples did, that's why they were asking Jesus in Matthew chapter six to "teach us how to pray."

There is no shortage of help in the how-to-pray department. offers me nearly 400,000 books on "prayer" and another 24,000 on "how to pray." A few of these I've read. The latest one was E.M. Bounds on Prayer, while the very first one I read as a brand new Christian was Becky Tirabassi's Let Prayer Change Your Life. And who could forget the best-selling Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson? Hey, that was another power-packed short prayer.

If you've read a book that really revved up your prayer life, I would like to hear about it. Tell us the title, the author if you can remember, and most importantly, share what about it you found helpful.

KAREN, I'm so glad you gals enjoyed Jennifer Kennedy Dean's Live a Praying Life that I recommend. I hope you'll share with us some more of what you got out of that study!

So you know by now that I'm not one to make you feel like you have to spend hours in prayer every day to call yourself a Christian. In fact, what I see in the Bible is that God is more interested in frequency of prayer than in duration. Well, frequency coupled with faith. He wants us turning to Him through out the day, for all our needs. But not because He needs us to talk for hours convincing Him of our needs with many words - He already knows our needs before we ask, and He sees our hearts.

I believe He wants us to state our needs, and hand them over to Him with faith that He hears and will answer according to His perfect will. And then to rest and be grateful in that. And should we not see His answer right away, to not give up hope but be willing to persist praying for that with faith.

Let's look some more tomorrow at Jesus' prayer life - stay tuned.

PS. I love hearing yall's personal tips like praying while brushing your teeth, keeping a list at work, and writing on the bathroom mirror with erasable marker. :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Teach Me How to Pray - part 2

One of the biggest misconceptions I had about prayer was that I always needed to spend a lot of time at it to do it “right.”

I didn't consciously believe this was true - had you asked me if that was biblical truth I would've said "no." Yet I operated with this perception that I needed to pray for a long period of time, in some deep state, for it to have real power or impact.

Does that stem from some over-achieving tendency? Or maybe a warped perfectionist mind-set? Or maybe it was really just an excuse? I dunno. But clearly I'm not the only one duped by this line of thinking.

So do this, pause right now, and look at the nearest clock.
Note the exact time it is, and then recite the Lord’s Prayer:

'Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil ... for Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

Look back at the clock now - how long did that take you?

It takes me less than one minute to pray the VERY PRAYER that Jesus suggested we pray in Matthew chapter 6.

Jesus did not say, Well first you’ve got to clear your schedule for a couple of hours. Then you have to meditate on scripture until your heart and mind are totally focused above. Then begin praying and pray for an hour, or until you see angels – whichever comes first.

Nope, He simply said do it like this, and then with a handful of paragraphs He praised God, affirmed that God’s will is best, and asked God for provision, forgiveness and protection.

Would we dare assume that because that was quick and easy-to-say prayer that it isn't effective or pleasing-to-God? It was Jesus' illustration of how to pray! So what does that tell you about needing to pray long prayers?

I'll post some more on this train of thought in my next post, but for now I want to echo 5SKIS and Cyndi and others and tell you how I'm now freed to handle those little needs or requests for prayer that I encounter from people through out the day. You know, the ones that I used to wind up feeling guilty about for not getting to.

If a friend sends me an email with a troubled story or prayer request, I do not respond by saying "I'll pray for you." I pause, pray for her right then (it usually takes seconds), and then I hit reply and write, "I have prayed for you." At that point I may or may not pray again for her later, depending on if the Spirit brings it back to my memory.

If someone calls me on the phone, or tells me in person about their prayer needs, I offer to pray with them right then and there. This is all the better anyway because two people are gathered and praying together in Jesus' Name. Jesus promised, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matt. 18:20).

If I hear a prayer need expressed while I'm sitting in church, or I encounter one while reading the newspaper, or just whatever may trigger an impulse in me to pray over something, I do it quickly right then. My aim is not to be lengthy and elaborate with these prayers but rather, like Nike, to "just do it."

So my goal now is to be able to tell people I have prayed for them, rather than I will pray for them. I guess you could say I've made a pact with myself to be honest with and about prayer. Rather than promising to pray, and then possibly not doing it, I now do it in the moment and then I am able to move on clear-minded and guilt-free.

I just don't have a lot of mental space to carry around all those requests for a later prayer session. I might forget important details, or I likely won't feel as passionate about it as I do right then after hearing the need. Besides, I'm sure they'd rather have a short, immediate prayer than a vague promise for lots of prayers that may or may not be remembered later. I know I would!

Honestly, which makes you feel better, having someone tell you they will pray for you, or actually having someone stop and pray for you right then? My guess is you ususally take your biggest prayer requests to those you are certain will actually remember to pray for you.

If I do feel the need to verbally commit to praying for someone repeatedly or over time - which I'm less inclined to do now unless the Spirit prompts me to - I truly follow through with my carefully considered promise because I've gotten more intentional about this prayer thing.

Girls, there is more to prayer but I started here because I think committing to praying short, in the moment prayers is a great place to begin. It is very doable. It helps relieve a lot of feelings of failure, pressure or guilt. It makes you instantly successful, so to speak, in your endeavors to pray for people, and sometimes a little success is what we need to compel us on. Most importantly, it ensures that people's prayer needs are in fact getting prayed for - which is the ultimate goal, right?

Plus, it gets you praying through out your day ... keeping you connected to God rather than procrastinating until a later time when you have a big plans to connect with Him in a big prayer session (which doesn't always materialize).

I'm convinced the Enemy keeps us from praying at all by getting us to put it off until later ... making us think we need more time to do this thing right. Yes, at times I pray for people at length or over a long period of time but that's a topic for another post. I don't let that possibility stop me from pausing and praying the moment I encounter a request or a Spirit-led impulse to pray.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones once advised, "Always respond to every impulse to pray. The impulse to pray may come when you are reading or when you are battling with a text. I would make an absolute law of this – always obey such an impulse."

So friends, if ever you see me post a prayer request here - like the one I wrote the other day for my book "Can You Keep a Secret?" and for an upcoming message I have to give on lust - what I'm hoping you'll do is pause and pray just a few seconds on my behalf about those things. And you can rest assured that when you post a prayer request in the comments here, I will do the same. Deal? Together we can move the hand of God through prayer! Stay tuned ...

Teach Me How to Pray - part 1

UPDATE NOTE: welcome if you're stopping by from my devotion. I've been talking about prayer, lust and clothes here lately ... no, they're not related, though I guess they could be! You can follow the links or hit the "home" tab at top-left and scroll down to read more if you want. Feel free to leave a comment anywhere, and/or a prayer request on this post and I will gladly pray for you today.

Hey Gals. One of my anonymous bloggy friends recently asked this question in her comment: "How do you organize your prayers? I find praying overwhelming because I have so many needs to pray about and I struggle with praying the right things for others. Do you have any prayers you generally use? Any tips would be greatly appreciated! Thanks."

I'm so glad she asked.

Hum ... reading between the lines of this question, I get the impression she views prayer - at least truly spiritual, effective, worthwhile prayer - as a lengthy, elaborate process that others seem to naturally understand and do, but for some reason she can't pinpoint or achieve.

Maybe I'm just assuming that because I used to have those kind of thoughts about prayer. I saw it as some mystical-like process that I never felt I was doing quite right. I felt inadequate as a pray-er, and therefore, inadequate as a Christan.

Can anyone else out there relate?

I also felt guilty because people would frequently ask me to pray for them, or I would volunteer to do so when I heard they were going through something difficult. With a heart of compassion, I'd reply, "Oh, I'll pray for you!" And I fully intended to. But then I'd forget ... get busy ... say that to five other people in the meantime ... and often never get around to doing it despite my good intentions.

Can anyone else out there relate?

For awhile, the only prayers I managed on a consistent basis was "saying grace" before dinner and saying bedtime prayers with my kids. Beyond that, I would typically only pray when in crisis mode.

Surely, someone else out there can relate.

I wanted to pray more.

I thought about praying more.

But it didn't happen.

Ed Cole once said, "Wishing will never be a substitute for prayer."

I believed in the power of prayer and knew it was important for a Christian to pray. I would make plans to pray... tomorrow morning... or tonight after the kids are in bed... or once I get a good block of time to focus on that... but in the words of the singer Norah Jones, "I don't know why I didn't come."

Catherine Marshall once said, "One can believe intellectually in the efficacy of prayer and never do any praying."

And Corrie Ten Boom posed the question, "Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?" For a long while, it was my spare tire. What about you?

Say tuned and we'll talk more about prayer. We'll even look at some of Jesus' prayers. Feel free to post any confessions, requests, or questions you have about prayer and I'll try to address them as I post.

Casey and Hazel, I've prayed for your requests left on my previous post. And I've prayed that each of you reading this have a great day today!

Monday, February 16, 2009

At least I didn't talk about food

Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves." ~ Matthew 7:15

Last night I came across an ABC news interview with Eckhart Tolle - the "spiritual leader" that Oprah almost single-handedly made famous in the US. I was in a Books-A-Million store on Saturday and saw his books all over the store. So I read this rare interview with interest. Give it a look yourself, and be sure to read it all the way through.

"But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them." ~2 Peter 2:1

On a similar note, check out the comment Riverview (Karyl) posted on my post "Questions, Answers and Numbers."

Well ... at least I'm finally talking about something here besides lust and food, right? Was anyone else noticing that trend? :0)

I have 2 prayer requests if you're willing to pause and pray for me: 1) that I hear God's voice, follow His lead, and make significant progress on my book this month, and 2) that I get a handle on what to talk about in an upcoming teaching on lust.

(yep, circled back around, didn't I?)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Say it isn't so ...

Friends, there's been a lot of disturbing news this week. From the ailing economy with increasing job-losses, to the crass attitude of the American Peanut Corporation; to the tragic plane crash in New York - join me in praying for those families. It's been a rough week.

But today I read some news that has me shaking in my pretty pink socks: "Some scientists say that it's possible that chocolate could one day be in short supply ... even extinct!"

Please have mercy, Jesus, and save our chocolate supply! Afterall, shortbread can't help us through a massive recession. Cobbler can't help us forget our troubles. And how else will we deal with PMS or menopause?

First unsafe peanuts, and now perhaps no chocolate either?? That means no more Reese Cups. This is bad.

Without chocolate, what will Forrest Gump compare life to?

Without chocolate, what dessert will be the feature of restaurant menus everywhere? "Death by Key Lime" just doesn't have the same appeal.

Here is a link to the article that explains why we could lose our worldwide chocolate supply. I can't even believe I had to type that sentence.

Maybe those Left Behind authors are right ... maybe this is another indication that the end times could be right about the corner! If that's the case, I can breathe a little easier - because once we're living with Christ (and not just in Christ on this side of eternity), there will be no more tears, no more financial crisis, no more PMS, and no more plane crashes or death. Life there will be sweeter than any piece of cocoa, cream and sugar could ever be.

Meanwhile, if you are lucky enough to receive some chocolate today - or buy it on sale at massive discount tomorrow - SAVOR IT, girls. Because nothing material lasts forever.

I'm enjoying some chocolate today and thanking my eternal God for life's little temporary pleasures. Happy Valentine's and have a sweet day! ~ R

Friday, February 13, 2009

When God says, "Be Mine."

God's love is passionate and strong.

Not lukewarm.
Not indifferent.
Not even tame - it's tender, yet fierce.

It burns strong and bright ... fervently ... intimately ... unwaveringly.

It will follow you to the ends of the earth, and your time upon it. In fact, God's love is ETERNAL. Forever unfailing.

This is the love your God has for you. It is with this purpose, this motivation, this conviction, this passion, this essence that He draws you to Himself, choosing to make His dwelling place with you.

"I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.

With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself."

~ Jeremiah 31:3

How does that make you feel?

How will you respond?

Where will you draw the line at either receiving or returning that kind of love from Him? Is there any reasonable place to draw such a line?

Or, will you plunge head-over-heels into this Love today and declare:

“My lover is mine, and I am his.”

~ Song of Solomon 2:16

What say you, sweet friend?
Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pepper Jack is a gateway drug

OK girls, unless you've been under a rock lately you probably know that Peanut Corp. of America has been producing and shipping salmonella-infested peanut products. Sadly, people have died because of this.

Meanwhile, the plant owners have been sending their mangers emails telling them to figure out how to turn the peanuts on the factory floor into profits. You cannot serve God and money. Evidently, you cannot serve peanuts at your Valentine's party this weekend either.

And that is a problem because as of 4:00 pm yesterday I've developed a major addiction to these:

HOT HONEYS are honey-roasted chipolte-coated peanuts. And have mercy are they good!! Y'all please pray I don't get salmonella poisoning. Seriously.

A year ago this never would've happened. Not because the peanut factories were any cleaner - I'm pretty sure they weren't - but because I wouldn't have let anything with the word "chipolte" near my mouth.

Then I led a church retreat for Back Creek Presbyterian Church last fall. And during a late-night game-night they broke out the pepper jack cheese and crackers. I was just hungry enough to try it. BAM, I was hooked. You women who are responsible for this know who you are! Upon returning home I started eating nearly a block of pepper jack a week. My husband looked at me with disbelief, wondering where his former sweets-lovin wife went.

Turns out, Pepper Jack cheese is a gateway drug, y'all. Now I'm moving on to the hard stuff: Chipolte peanuts. I still have to cut the chipolte with the honey roast, but I fear I'm headed for the bottom. I just might turn into one of those people who slosh Pete's Tobasco Sauce all over their scrambled eggs at 7:00 am. That is, unless the salmonella kills me first.

So, please pray for this dear sister. And if you happen to have my phone number, call me around 4:00 pm today and tell me to "just say no" to the nuts. (I tend to get cravings around sundown.)

Have a great (peanut-free) day!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lust and an OT wife

Hi All. Sorry to be missing in action the better part of a week. But I had two sicks kids, and then a speaking engagement trip to Virgina last weekend that I took the whole family on this time. It was good to get away together for a few days. Family must always come first, y'all know that I hope. Nonetheless, I've been missing you, and my blog, and remembering your great comments and verses about lust.

The topic for last weekend's retreat was Breathe Deep, which is a whole different topic but it had us in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 at one point. In the beginning of that chapter it reads:

"Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more. For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor— not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways. Never harm or cheat a Christian brother in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before. God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives." (vs.1-7)

Ever wondered what God's will for you is? It says right there "to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin." As some of the earlier commenters said, FLEE from it! Don't mess around on the slippery slope of lust.

Daydreaming, staring, flirting, turning another man's head can all feel good to a woman, but it is playing with fire. As Proverbs 6:27-28 asks, "Can someone scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch on fire? Can someone walk on hot coals and not blister his feet?" So it is when we allow ourselves to lust after someone we shouldn't.

There is an Old Testament case of a woman who didn't exercise self-control over her lust. It was the wife of Potiphar and she had a thing for the handsome Joseph. Ever read her story? You can follow this link to read it online in Genesis 39-41.

Mrs. Potipher didn't just have an oh-wow-he's really-hot moment and then move on. She didn't just have a wonder-what-it's-like-to-be-his-girl thought, that she then took captive and refocused on her husband. No, she looked lustfully upon Joseph day after day, and obsessed about him in her mind. She tried to attract him and seduce him. In fact, she propositioned him, and more than once. He resisted.

She did not flee from sexual immorality ... she sent it a hand-written, personal invitation to move into her heart and set up shop. And once it did, things went very downhill from there. Follow this link if you want to read my earlier discussion of her during last year's online Bible study.

She may have thought she was in love with Joseph, I don't know, but none of her actions towards him demonstrated love. Love is patient, kind, and does not envy what it does not have. Love is not rude or pushy, not self-seeking. Nor is it easily angered, or punishing. (see 1 Cor. 13:4-5) She may have wanted some "lovin" from Joseph but her actions toward him were the exact opposite of loving - every single one of them. The. Exact. Opposite.

BTW, a few commenters had said that sometimes looking at another man doesn't make them want him so much as it makes them wish their husbands were like him. I get that - and technically that may not be the same thing as lusting, or maybe it is. What do you think? Either way its still something we have to be careful of because of the love does not envy what it does not have thing. I think it is still like heaping hot coals into your lap because it grows our discontentment with our own spouse.

I'm curious if anyone can think of another example of female lust in the Bible?

Monday, February 2, 2009

questions, answers, and numbers

One commenter said she'd like to know if she's the only "good Christian woman" for whom lust can creep in and distract. Well, my anonymous friend, I can confidently tell you you're not the only one - not by a long shot.

I did some research and found a study that included 12,775 Christians. One of the questions they were asked to respond to was: "I look at things I should not look at." This could encompass an actual person, a TV show, a website, a romance novel, etc. (It could also possibly encompass your daughter's diary, but I doubt that's what came to most participants' minds.) It shows that 87% of Christian women admit to looking at things they shouldn't. Check out this chart ... surprised?

The crux of the issue here is undisciplined eyes, maybe we'll talk more about that in a later post.

AmyT wanted to know if the sermon series will be posted on the web. Yes, it will be, but not until later in March. Email me around then Amy and I can send you a link.
Another commenter writes, "I noticed that we can no longer request that we be notified anytime there is a comment posted on a particular subject. Also noticed that we no longer can remove a post in the event we accidentally post twice. What happened?" I don't know what happened. I'm rather blog illiterate, actually.
Can anyone else out there help us out with this??