Everything to Lose/Everything to Gain

by Rhonda Rhea

Anyone who finds his life will lose it, and anyone who loses his life because of me will find it. Matthew 10:39 CSB

I’m always so sincere when I say I’m only going to eat one of your fries. Like, I really do believe it. I think I believe it right up until I grab that next fry.

Most of the time, I don’t blame myself. Is it okay if I blame the fries? French fries are almost obnoxiously good. Cupcakes? Same thing. So it’s not my fault.

Saying no to fries and cupcakes is not my best thing. But yesterday I stepped on the scale and the scale hurt my feelings really badly. So I’m pondering the need to get better at it. At least a little more balanced. Or perhaps I should just cut off any dealings with the scales. Those mean, mean scales.

It’s probably not helping that my favorite diet routine is the one where I pin a couple of salads on Pinterest and then eat half a chocolate ice cream pie.

I don’t blame the chocolate ice cream pie either. I can’t think of any time it’s ever been anything but sweet.

As followers of Christ, we have the sweet life available to us. Sweet, sweeter, sweetest. Real life. We can grab it all. Life abundant, full, and satisfying. Ironically, we get in on that life as we willingly give up…everything. It’s the strangest balance. Or is it the absence of balance? I’m not sure. Because in giving up that…everything, we gain more than everything. We gain joy, purpose, hope, direction, peace, satisfaction, and love. More! There’s freedom. Freedom from emptiness, guilt, unrest, and discontentment.

As He was commissioning His disciples to proclaim the message of this abundant life, Jesus said to them, “Anyone who finds his life will lose it, and anyone who loses his life because of me will find it” (Matthew 10:39 CSB).

Six chapters later, Jesus told His disciples again, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25 CSB).

Want to find life? Lose it. Want to have it? Give it away.

Real life is not found in possessions or fame or feelings or the most obnoxiously good earthly treat you can think of. We find spiritual life that transcends all that as we give all to Christ.

Give Him everything—when circumstances are great and you’re on top of the world, and give Him everything when it’s a mess and life is hard.

Those messy circumstances will not be able to touch the joy and satisfaction you’ll find in that place of surrender. And frankly, the glory you might experience when you’re on top of the world is not glory at all—not without The Glorious One.

So give it. All. You can do it as He empowers it. Sometimes surrender is about saying no to self. I don’t just mean the fries. I’m talking about saying no to anything in this life I might be tempted to hold onto tighter than I hold onto Jesus. Belongings, esteem, relationships, habits—He gives grace to let go of those things that hold us back and that keep us from experiencing the sweet, abundant life He has for each of us.

By the way, I’m still working on balancing the sweets on the physical side. Well, sort of working on it. I recently set a goal to lose 10 pounds in 60 days, and guess what! I only have 12 more pounds to go.


This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic.

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What does the word surrender mean to you?

Talking Circles Around Knowledge

by Rhonda Rhea

“…that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God”. Colossians 1:9-10 HCSB

I’ve tried some of those idiot-proof tech products, and you know what I’ve found? I’ve found that sometimes they grossly underestimate the power of a true tech-idiot. You have to be near genius level to even read the instructions on your average electronic device these days. And I’m talking about the instructions for the on/off switch. For a calculator. I’m pretty sure I heard somewhere that genius in all areas is 99% perspiration and 62% wishing you had listened in math class. And I would add a pithy phrase about a circumference here—if I had a little more math knowledge.

Still, while I may not have listened all that well in math class, anytime I’m talking about the maths and sciences that I know nothing about, I’ve started using lots more “air quotes.” That way even if I’m saying something “stupid,” I still look incredibly “clever.”

Clever is as clever does (she said with flourishing finger quotes).

Doesn’t it seem that our culture presents new, bizarre ideas every day about what it means to be clever and what it is to be knowledgeable? People say “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” But I was watching TV the other day and it seems to me that a whole lot of foolishness is yet more dangerous. A knowledgeable person, one who is knowledgeable in the things that really count, is a rare and wonderful find. Proverbs 20:15 backs me up there: “There is gold and a multitude of jewels, but knowledgeable lips are a rare treasure,” (HCSB).

So how do we find that rare treasure? Proverbs 2:1-6 (HCSB) says, “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding; furthermore, if you call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Wisdom, knowledge, understanding—they’re all from the Lord.

It’s not, however, a passive pursuit. Our instructions in that Proverbs passage are especially verb-heavy. We’re told to accept words, store commands, listen and direct our hearts. Then we’re instructed to call out to insight and understanding, to seek and search for that kind of knowledge as we would passionately hunt for treasure. There’s a hefty percentage of perspiration there. Accepting, storing, listening, directing, calling, seeking and searching leads to knowing Him more.

Paul told the Christians in Colossae that he prayed this for them: “…that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10, HCSB).

The knowledge of His will results in walking worthy, pleasing Him, and doing good works. More verbs! And these actions lead us to be—are you ready for this?—“growing in the knowledge of God.” Full circle! It’s like the most blessed circumference of knowledge. And it begins and ends with our powerful God.

Knowledge IS power! But only His knowledge. And all by His power. This I know in the most idiot-proof way. So this part is completely free of finger quotes.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic.

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: How do you go about seeking knowledge? What has the Lord taught you lately?

Go to Your Happy Place

by Rhonda Rhea

Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. Colossians 3:2, HCSB

I hate it when I’ve been cleaning the house all day long, and then realize it’s only been fifteen minutes.

I’ll admit, cleaning is not my happy place. Of course, I had five kids in seven years and “clean” has always been a bit…well…relative. Mostly because it would somewhat depend on which relative was doing the cleaning. Not that we allowed food in the kids’ rooms or anything [clearing throat], but I do remember having to say to a teen at least once, “Son. You have to clean your room. We’re out of spoons.”

When my three boys were teenagers, they shared a bathroom that they “cleaned” themselves. Three. Teenage. Boys. Every once in a while, I would go in to check on it. I would stare for a few minutes, fighting back hyperventilation. Then I’d think: Yeah, maybe a controlled burn. Then I would quickly exit and head to the kitchen for sanctuary with a really strong pot of coffee.

Ah, the coffee pot. Anytime someone tells me to go to my happy place, I still instinctively head there. And who doesn’t want a happy place?

Happy places might actually be rather relative too. When Jesus began His Sermon on the Mount, the first thing He taught was the list of Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12). Twelve beautiful “blesseds.”

The Greek word translated “blessed” is makarios, which means contented, blissful…happy. But when we look at the list, we see the very first two are poor in spirit and mournful. His list takes us all the way to “persecuted.” Sounds like anywhere but a happy place.

What Jesus was speaking was revolutionary. It changed the way people saw and understood happiness. People who don’t follow Christ think happiness means doing whatever they want, whenever they want to do it. They think it means having money and fame and power. Maybe even a clean house and a full pot of coffee. But Jesus taught that we won’t find happiness there. If we want “blessedness”—happiness—we need to think differently than the world does. We need to think like Jesus does. It means engaging an entirely different mindset.

Paul said, “So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth,” (Colossians 3:1-2, HCSB).

Our happy place? It’s where Jesus is. Not where circumstances are perfect and clean and caffeinated. That Greek word “makarios” speaks of being happy in a way that doesn’t depend on our situation. That makes sense, since our ability to be truly satisfied comes as we understand that our soul is impoverished apart from the righteousness we have in Christ, and we mourn our sin—the first two Beatitudes. Knowing Jesus makes us look at every one of those Beatitudes in a different light.

Lord, help us set our minds on you and think differently than the world does. Show us every place pride and worldliness has crept into our thinking and behavior. Make us look more like You. May we experience happiness exactly the way You’ve designed it, all for Your glory.

Living His way. I’ve learned that’s the only truly happy place.

And on a side note, I also learned when my kids were teens that before I took on their bathroom, I should make sure I had plenty of coffee. Also all my immunizations.

This article has been brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic.

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: Where is your happy place?

Season’s Meatings

by Rhonda Rhea

You know how I can tell we’re approaching the Christmas season? I find myself thumbing through a catalog. A catalog. Of. Meat.

Potted meat. Pickled meat. Fried and dried and—maybe even poached meat. That just takes us to about page five. Then there’s meat by the log. Meat in a bar. Meat on a stick. Meat in a jar. And okay, that might sound a little Dr. Seuess-y-cutesy, but I get halfway through the catalog and I have to tell you, I’m pretty much meated out.

So here we are, heading into the season in which we really can end up meeting ourselves coming and going. And clearly we can also end up meating ourselves coming and going. More and more calories. More and more busyness. More.

There’s wisdom in keeping an eye out for the “more.” Sneaky clutter can fill our stomachs, our schedules—our lives. It’s the kind of “more” that can steal our focus from what’s important. It does it by rushing us to the busyness of what’s immediate instead of waiting for the blessedness of what’s vital.

We tend to think of ourselves as mature followers of Christ as long as we’re not throwing big-baby fits. But maturity includes so much more than that. It includes making wise choices—with our resources, with our time, with our focus. Let’s face it, some of us make more big-baby-choices during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season than any other time of the year.

How can we be grown up about our “more”? Jesus. Eyes off our own schedules and wants and everything fleshly. Eyes on Christ. It was because of selfish fleshliness that Paul said the Christians in Corinth couldn’t have solid spiritual food. “I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ…because you are still fleshly” (1 Corinthians 3:1, 3, HCSB). He said in verse 2, “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food.” Put away the catalogs. No meat for these people.

Paul warns later in that same passage that, “No one should deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this age, he must become foolish so that he can become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 3:18-19, HCSB).

It’s sad to get caught up in the busyness, thinking we’re accomplishing works of value, then discover we’ve been foolishly lying to ourselves about what’s important the whole time.

The wisdom we need is only found in Jesus. Time to put away that self-deceived baby stuff and sink our teeth into some meat. As we seek the Lord, He will give us the wisdom and direction we need to sort out our to-do’s. It’s only in Him that our choices can count. It’s only in Him that we’re able to identify the foolish temporary and then trade it for the will of God. We don’t need that other kind of “more.” We only need more Jesus.

That’s exactly what will make our season…well…more. But more in every good way—in ways we can see and ways we can’t. It’s more than meets the eye, as it were. You might even say, it’s more than “meats” the eye.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic.

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: Are you settling for milk?

Pride/Humility—Swinging Back and Forth

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 HCSB

I don’t think I’m all that vain, but I do think this song is probably about me. I mean really, what if the song actually is about me?

A lot of people think I’m completely self-absorbed, but I have to tell you, I’m pretty sure I can absorb even more of me. So, not completely absorbed. Not yet.

Whenever I’m struggling with some sort of pride issue, though, I figure a good way to turn things around is to get into a hammock. Just try to hang on to any shred of smugness as you’re writhing yourself in or out of a hammock. Nope. Bye-bye, dignity.

It takes some complicated physics to get in that hammock, stay in it, and then get out again. I’ve never understood physics. That’s why my hammock stories so often end with an inelegant face-plant. Yep, bye-bye, dignity and hello, dirt.

The challenge for me seems to lie in not totally losing my mind, living somewhere between singing a song I’m sure is about me and eating dirt. Things can so easily get twisted. Yes, the hammock. But also that struggle to wrap our minds around balancing humility and self-abasement, confidence and pride.

In Romans 12:2, just after Paul has urged us to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God (vs. 1), he says, “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (HCSB).

So hey, we’re not meant to lose our minds. We’re meant to renew them. In the very next verse, Paul says, “I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly” (vs. 3 HCSB).

“Think sensibly” is from the Greek, sophroneo, which means “to save,” and phren, which means “mind.” So what we have here is, literally, a “saved mind.”

Every time we get a bit hung up on thinking too often of ourselves, thinking too highly of ourselves, and singing too loudly about ourselves, we can swing it right back around to a sensible place of nonconformity to everything our culture tells us we deserve. We can instead have a saved, transformed, renewed mind—one that understands His will. So this is sensible.

We’re always the most satisfied in life as we’re thinking and operating outside ourselves, less focused on successes vs. face-plants. Life swings in blissful balance as we’re instead engaged in the kingdom of Christ and in focusing our every thought on the God who is all.

Andrew Murray said, “Humility is nothing, but the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all.”

I love that. I want to climb into that thought and rest peacefully there.

The balance between humility and pride isn’t about thinking badly of ourselves or eating dirt. It’s certainly not in thinking every song is about me, either. We’re taught all through Scripture to focus in humility on the grace of God, to love Him more than anything, to present ourselves wholly to Him, and in all of it, to rely on and fully trust in Him for the strength we need.

There’s a beautiful visual of that trust in Isaiah 40:31 (HCSB): “But those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles.”

We can trust Him to sort out our pride/humility issues, too. It’s one more little trust-flight on eagle’s wings. Or sometimes a flight on hammock swings. Whichever. He’s got this.

This article has been brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

TWEETABLE
Pride/Humility—Swinging Back and Forth – encouragement from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic.

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: In what attitudes do you have trouble balancing?

At the End of Your Rope? Grace!

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Backwards.

I do remember sighing in the days of raising my five kids as I realized I put the baby’s shirt on backwards. Then I’d look at the toddler to discover I’d also put his shirt on backwards. What are the odds? Really. Because somewhere in there it would also dawn on me that I had also put my shirt on backwards. Most of the time when I had all those babies, I never knew if we were coming or going.

My dad and his four siblings tell stories of their comings and goings that make me feel better. Or maybe worse. I’m not sure which. Because they tell stories of what happened when their mom was out with her five exceptionally active kids. If she lost track of two or three of them too many times in one trip, she would take a length of extra-long twine and harness them all together. I know what you’re thinking. It occurs to me, too, this was an extreme response. (Also, I wanted to say here that she was fit to be tied, but it just didn’t fit). Anyway, to hear the siblings tell it, they felt like a little family of mountain climbers. Still: Oh my word.

Do you ever feel you’re at the end of your rope, so to speak? Life feels inexplicably backwards and you’re fit to be tied? I have good news. You can find blessing, even in the most overwhelming circumstances. As a matter of fact, there’s a special blessing that’s reserved exclusively for those who are at the end of their rope.

A.W. Tozer said, “The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us.” Coming to the end of our rope? If it’s tied to coming to the end of ourselves, it’s not only good, but it’s needed.

Coming to the end of ourselves—realizing that on our own, our spiritual shirts are never really anything but backwards—can strip away pride and get our ego out of the way of what God desires to accomplish in and through us. It really is a place of blessing. Jesus Himself said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs,” (Matthew 5:3 CSB).

His grace meets us at the end of that rope. I had to chuckle when I read a paraphrase of that verse: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule” (MSG). It’s a different kind of coming and going. Selfishness goes. Spirit-led living comes. God rules.

Anytime we’re bent on tightening our grasp on that rope, guess what we end up with. More rope. But as we get to the end of self-sufficiency and reach instead for kingdom living through the power of the Holy Spirit, all glory to Him, we find sweet, sweet blessedness.

Incidentally, if you’re curious about how my dad and his siblings turned out, no social workers were called and the children grew into happy people—though probably with an inexplicable attraction to mountain climbing. They’re still a close family. Blessed be the tie that binds? Wait no. Just, still no.

As for my own story, you might be happy to hear that I did eventually get better at recognizing the backwards shirts. Inside-out, however? Yeah, not so much. I still do that.

He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me…for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NASB

TWEETABLE
At the End of Your Rope? Grace! – encouragement from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have just released a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic.

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: Have you recently found yourself at the end of your rope? What happened?

I’ve Got a Mansion, Just Over the Grill-Top

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV

I don’t believe it’s true, but someone once told me that a house perpetually and perfectly well-kept is a sign of an “uninteresting” life. Again, not true. But for people who believe it, I might be one of the most fascinating people they’ll ever meet.

Sometimes, to get inspired to get my house in order, I look up cleaning and organizing tips on Pinterest. Next thing I know, I’m thinking about D-I-Y-ing something amazing. It has nothing whatsoever to do with cleaning my house, but still. It’s not like I can’t use one more idea for building a grill gazebo—that will never, ever happen.

At some point I do realize I have to get real and tidy up. I was gathering shoes from the family room one time and chuckle-whined to my daughter, “Your dad has three pairs of shoes in here.” Then, “Mercy! Two pairs of your brother’s shoes over there. Ten man-shoes in one room!”

My daughter, who is always at home with the clever comebacks, answered, “In my father’s house are many man-shoes.”

Even at its tidiest, my house? Never uninteresting.

It’s even more interesting that, spiritually-speaking, we live in an ever-messy world. Not just a bit of disorder now and then. Not simply a little dusty here or there. Fallen. A place where immorality and depravity are a lot closer to the norm than right living and love for God. In all its messiness, our world doesn’t merely avoid loving God. There are those who are passionate in their attempts to remove His influence. It’s not exactly “mansion, sweet mansion” here.

Jesus really said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3, KJV). It’s a passage that thrills our souls. Not the man-shoes—or even the mansions. It thrills because in the midst of dealing with the mess of this world, we’re reminded of the treasure of living in the presence of God.

I do love the thought of a place “prepared.” A clutterless place far removed from everything messy. Better yet, there’s a reception. “I will receive you to myself.” What will make heaven the sweetest home? We’ll be “received”—by Jesus.

In an untidy world, dirty little distractions can threaten to sidetrack those of us who seek to faithfully follow Christ toward that reception. It’s vital that we not allow any of the world’s mess to block out the glorious eternal.

A few verses later, Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17, HCSB).

That’s how we focus and follow:  His remaining presence! The same Lord who promises to receive us indwells us by His Holy Spirit. Oh what a gift His presence is. For the hope of our glorious future. For life here and now.

For the organized—and also for those of us who are, let’s say, a little too fascinating.

TWEETABLE
I’ve Got a Mansion, Just Over the Grill-Top – encouragement & humor from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have just released a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic.

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What are you looking forward to the most when you get to heaven?

More or Less—And Better Mores and Lesses

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Oh that moment. That moment of extreme delight when the waiter brings out a spectacular tray covered with every dream dessert. Be still, my heart. Of course, for me, right after that moment of delight comes the next moment of complete despair when I realize the guy expects me to only take one.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons I love cake pops. They’re tiny. So that means you can eat a whole tray of them.

I also love cake pops because:  Cake. On a stick. … And apparently, I now think even forks and plates are too much trouble.

I’ve wondered if dessert trays should come with instructions. Like, “Choose only one.” Or better: 1) Reconsider eating any of this. And then, 2) Never eat any of this.

I’m obviously still working on forming better habits. I’d really like to eat less of this kind of stuff. Also I’d really like to eat more of this kind of stuff. So that’s where I am. More or less.

It’s a little similar in my faith life. Sometimes I long to see God do more. A new thing. Around me and in me and through me. When I pray and then stop and think what that might require, it pretty much always boils down to this:  Less me. More Him.

There’s no doubt I need to become much less satisfied with everything chocolate-covered and comfy-cozy and much more resolute in the Kingdom work that will bring Him glory. More Spirit-directed intention. Less off-the-cuff, on-the-fly and on-my-own.

I wonder how many miraculous happenings occur inside comfort zones. I’m thinking not many. Sometimes God brings us to a place outside our comfort, outside our own strength, outside the box—sometimes maybe even outside of the possible. It’s often in that place of squirming that He shows up biggest.

No, I’ve not seen a lot of amazing things born of comfort zones. But thorny places? That’s a different story.

“A thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 HCSB).

Want to see God do more? A new thing? In you, around you and through you? Sometimes it happens in the thorniest places. It’s accomplished in His strength and by His oh-so-sufficient grace. And here’s the kicker. Whatever you can dream? He can deliver more. By His strength and grace, it’s bigger. Better. More glorious.

As Paul is telling the people in Ephesus about his desire that they be filled with “all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19), he reminds them of the God who is “able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us,” (vs. 20). The Amplified expands on verse 20 like this: “Now to Him who is able to carry out His purpose and do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think, infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams.” More. And even more. And then superabundantly more!

Recognizing His “mores” will always result in the right kinds of “lesses.” Less of my self-focused distractions. More of His glory. Less fretting about my comfort zone. More of the kind of service that will bring Him glory.

Out of my comfort zone. Into His service. Though I’m a little embarrassed to tell you that I’m still hoping there’s dessert there.

TWEETABLE
More or Less—And Better Mores and Lesses – encouragement from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have just released a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic.

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: In what kinds of situations has God done His best work in you?

YOLO? Well, Yes and No

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Romans 12: 2 HCSB

There may have been a few other things I squeezed onto the day’s itinerary that didn’t exactly start out there. But those make-up tips on Pinterest are not going to pin themselves. And also, that word game on my phone keeps my brain sharp. Probably. Who needs a mind-sharpener more than I do? I’ve finger-swiped a lot of words in that game. Miles. I’m sure that’s why my mind is a steel trap. I can’t explain how the otter got in the trap. But still, I do think every now and then I hear him hollering, “YOLO!” It’s about as cute as a puppy. But not cuter than a puppy and a baby.

Not that I’m big on throwing my time away, because I had plans for accomplishing something great today. But you have to understand, that video said I wouldn’t BELIEVE what happened next. “BELIEVE”—it was in all caps just like that. It’s not like I had a choice anyway, but I could see that this video had a baby in it. And a puppy. Only a monster could just scroll down like it wasn’t a baby and a puppy.

Of course, that “You Only Live Once” philosophy is not all that biblically sound. Frittering my time away isn’t any too biblical—even if my brain-otter says it’s okay. At the end of this life, I wonder how many of us will say, “Sure wish I’d played more dragon games on my computer.” Or maybe, “If only I’d spent more time looking at my phone.”

It’s not that recreation is a bad thing. There’s often restful, rejuvenating purpose in a couple of “kick back and relax” items on the itinerary. But we do only live once here. We need to spend our fleeting time wisely. I think if someone translated “YOLO” into Latin, it would be, “carpe diem.” Every day is one that’s begging to be seized.

Despite its familiarity, I still read Romans 12:1-2 regularly. “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (HCSB). Though I read it routinely, it never fails to inspire me to seize the day. It does so much more for my heart than any word game could ever do for my brain. It’s like a heart-soul-and-mind-sharpener.

At every point I allow His word to be my mind-sharpener, change happens. It’s a renewing of mind that doesn’t simply result in a nice word score, but one that can reveal “the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.” There’s simply nothing I want out of this one and only physical life more than I want to know and do His will.

Live once in the physical—sure, YOLO. But for those of us who’ve been born again, life here is followed by an eternity spent in the glorious presence of Christ. Every time we think of that glory, we’re inspired all the more to live each day like it’s our last, loving Him with every minute we’re given.

Incidentally, no matter how many minutes you’re given—no matter how many make-up tips you pin—don’t even try to be as cute as a puppy sleeping on a baby. Now that’s a waste of time.

TWEETABLE
YOLO? Well, Yes and No – insight & humor about Following God from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rhea


About the author:
 Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have just released a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic.

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: How does knowing our life here will be followed by eternity impact your here and now?

The Science of the Servant-Leader

By Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who…by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity… Philippians 2:5-7 CSB

Did you ever get a note from your child’s school and secretly hope it was about anything but a project?

Minor behavior infraction. Please let it be a minor behavioral infraction.

Oh, that four-word note that casts dread deep into the heart of a parent: SCIENCE NOTEBOOK DUE MONDAY. Because bye-bye, weekend.

It’s funny how we try to convince ourselves that it’s NOT going to require more from parent than from child. Denial is interesting that way. I would eventually work through the stages and make it to acceptance. Acceptance that it’s a weekend of glue—and lots of it. And some researching, some clipping, some labeling and some Extra Strength Tylenol. Maybe also some crying. Not sure whose.

Those assignments do require much of us. But there’s a lovely science involved when we experiment, observe and conclude that in even the smallest life minutiae, as we lead responsibly, we’re teaching how to become responsible leaders. At the same time, as we serve well, we’re demonstrating how to be selfless servants.

How do we lead responsibly? The truth is, I can only lead well as I’m God-led.

How can we model servanthood? It’s an undeniable fact that I can only serve well as I’m God-empowered by my Servant-King.

Paul’s “schooling” in Philippians 2 has inspired and convicted me regularly since I was a teen (and working on my own science notebooks). “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others,” (vv. 3-4, CSB).

Everyone should look out not only for his own science notebooks…

I do think one of the best tests of how “servant-y” my heart is at any given moment is my willingness to lead in not expecting to be treated as a leader. By not insisting on status or recognition or payback or anything at all in return. By not asking for even a free weekend or an A+. The real question: Am I willing to serve when it’s probably going to cost me—even when it’s going to cost me deeply and dearly?

The next verses in that Philippians 2 passage reveal my assignment—my motivation and my empowerment. It’s all in Christ Jesus.

“Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity” (Philippians 2:5-7 CSB). It was a servanthood that took a King all the way to a humiliating cross. And when I “adopt the same attitude,” and allow this glorious Servant-King to work in and out and through me, I can bypass the denial and the crying and any other misdirected response. Bye-bye, pride.

No hypothesis about it, in raising our kids, those times pride was in check, weekends were grand—project or no project. You should also know that I’m mostly kidding about the projects I did with my children. Because in the middle of a lot of tears, toil and Tylenol, we had concentrated time together on a project weekend we might not have had. In essence: Hello, weekend. We explored a sweet handful of topics together. I had five kids, so that does mean my fingers were a little bit glued together on a lot of Mondays. That’s okay. Especially since on that last science notebook, I got an A. I mean my son. My son got an A.

TWEETABLE
The Science of the Servant-Leader – encouragement from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novel, Turtles in the Road, co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley have just released a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic. Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What lessons have you learned about leadership?