Hope that Bubbles

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.                          Romans 15:13 CSB

I would’ve appreciated the comment. Except…Alka-Seltzer.

Every now and then, an extra-grace-filled person tells me I have a “bubbly personality.” Isn’t that sweet? It makes me think of happiness and fun and sparkling party punch in a splashy hot tub—and I take it as a compliment.

Unless I overanalyze it. That’s what I did not too long ago. As a matter of fact, I overanalyzed a lot of the happy-fun right out of it. Because I would think of bubbles and my mind would take me straight to…Alka-Seltzer.

I’ve tried. I really have. Just can’t drink it. I know that stuff can help a sick stomach. But I’ve always had trouble getting past the fact that it’s…churning. If I’m holding a glass of it, it has to mean my stomach is already churning, right? So this “glass of churn” is supposed to fix my stomach churn? I find that hard to swallow. In every way. Every. Way.

Especially since when I let my mind dwell on the churn too long, I start thinking about butter. Churning butter. It’s not a happy-fun thought for a person who really should swallow that Alka-Seltzer.

Analyzing from another direction, if I’m going to be bubbly, I want to bubble in the right way. Paul talks about how God fills us to the point of bubbling over in Romans 15:13. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” (CSB). Know what’s better than happy-fun bubbles? Being so filled with joy and peace that we overflow with hope. It’s hope that effervesces!

Some days, life here on this earth seems like anything but a sparkly party. Our tendency—even our habit—can be to focus on the negatives. Every little bellyache looks bigger from that place of hopelessness. Getting stuck in a pattern of negative thinking will breed more negative thinking—and we can find ourselves drowning in gloom instead of overflowing with hope.

So where do we find hope that overflows? According to that verse in Romans 15, we find it from the God of hope—the one who does the hope-filling and who packages it with joy and peace—“by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The “as you believe” of the passage is from the Greek word pisteuein. It refers to a belief that’s wrapped in faith, trust and confidence. As we find our pisteuein in our God of hope, we see Him build even the smallest hope into the kind that radically revolutionizes a life.

There’s a bonus. Others love to be near a hope that overflows. They love it when some of that hope bubbles over and splashes onto them. You won’t find many who go out of their way to hang around a hopelessly negative person. But those joy, peace and hope bubbles? They attract people.

If you’re not overflowing in hope, maybe stuck in some of those negatives without much joy or peace, could I give you a little encouragement? Because there is hope available to you. The God of Hope wants you to have it. His Holy Spirit lives inside you, ready to power up that hope. Have faith in the God of Hope. Trust Him. Joy and peace is swimming in it, and there’s hope enough to splash around in.

And that makes better bubbles. Not butter bubbles. Nope, eternally better bubbles.

TWEETABLE
Hope that Bubbles – insight from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What is it about God that floods you with hope?

You’ve Been Served

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

If it hadn’t required law school and…you know…brains and whatnot, I would be a lawyer right now. Except I’d want to do it exclusively so I could someday say to a colleague, “See ya later, litigator!”

It’s all about the line! It’s probably just as well that I didn’t. For many reasons, yes, but also, some people might’ve considered it the wrong motivation for a career choice. But come on, the line! Plus, somewhere in the course of that long-term legal education I could’ve also used the line, “After while, legal file.” So—totally worth it.

The secret to motivating people. What is it? How many times do we offer forever-heaven-points, for instance, to get nursery workers? Or offer to wash people’s cars to get them to keep Sunday School records? Or pay for their kids’ to go to college, so they’ll help with the 7th grade boys’ sleep-over?

Guilting, bribing, manipulating, even brilliantly arguing that case…those don’t usually work for very long when we’re seeking to provoke people to serve. They don’t even work for me on myself.

Do you ever try to reason with your own motivation? “YEAHHHHH! I’m going to do that project right now! And clean my house! Do every piece of laundry! Paint the kids’ bedrooms! Paint the entire church fellowship hall!!”

Then, before you get to even the first project, your motivation sasses back to you, “Nah, just kidding, bro. What I meant was that I’m just gonna get on Facebook for an hour, and then take a little siesta.”

R.I.P., Motivation.

In Samuel’s final public speech—his “closing arguments,” as it were—he encourages his people: “Above all, fear the LORD and worship him faithfully with all your heart; consider the great things he has done for you” (2 Samuel 12:24, CSB).

Anytime we’re interested in seeing motivation resurrected—our own or others’—considering our great God and all He’s done, is the perfect start. Real motivation to work/serve begins with an “all your heart” love for Him.

When people serve out of obligation, or feel used or manipulated, not only is the service half-hearted, but it’s not likely to continue very long. It’s exhausting, draining, often fruitless and can end in burnout.

Whole-hearted-service produces joy in jobs big and small. Our God notices that. “For God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you demonstrated for his name by serving the saints—and by continuing to serve them” (Hebrews 6:10, CSB). The service described there grows out of love for the Lord—for His name. And it’s a service, implied by the last part of the verse, that keeps on giving.

As we focus on the amazingness of our infinite, all-knowing, all-loving God, who is worthy of our love and praise and service, that love and praise and service happens organically. He is our motivation, and it’s our joy. “Serve the Lord with gladness, come before him with joyful songs” (Psalm 100:2, CSB).

So, we can weigh ourselves and others down with guilt and pressure. Or we can get free so that service is merely an overflow of joy-filled worship. You can’t even stop a worshipper from loving on those babies in the nursery or hanging out with 7th grade boys. They do it with dedication.

Not litigation.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.                                                                                                               Ephesians 3:17-19 NASB

TWEETABLE
You’ve Been Served – insight from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: When have you found long-lasting motivation? What was it?

Connecting the Dots—Or Maybe Chasing Them

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I was watching the cat wildly chase a laser dot the other day, and I thought, Wow, if that red dot was a Butterfinger, that could totally be me.

Those wild moments are the times I think Sammy could be the poster animal for the cat version of ADHD. It’s weird, because that poster cat is the same cat who can also be extremely focused. Any and every new item we bring into the house has to endure a thorough and focused Sammy-sniffing. Personally, I think that’s when he’s trying to determine whether or not his entire body will fit inside whatever it is. And if it’s even close—even if it’s not close—he ignores the fact that he has a BMI that’s got to be pushing 50, and he’s in. Maybe not all in, but in.

While my body mass numbers aren’t as bad as Sammy’s, they’re not so good that I can mock him as much as I’d like. And although I’ll go after most chocolate with laser-dot enthusiasm, any time I start climbing into a bag that looks like it’ll hold about 20% of me, somebody may need to take me to a see a professional. I’m wondering if the toughest part would be trying to decide if it should be a physician, a psychiatrist, or a veterinarian.

I have to say, though, that sometimes Sammy might have the right idea. Distractions can be time-stealing brutes, and they’ve earned their bad rep. But as contradictory as it may sound, I really don’t think distractions always have to result in negative productivity. They don’t always have to be bad. Only sinful distractions are bad.

Have you ever been working so diligently on a project that you thought your head might explode? Following a little distraction for a few minutes can sometimes sort of “reboot” our creative mojo.

I confess, every once in a while, a “mental Butterfinger” can help me get back to a task with renewed enthusiasm. Nothing sinful, mind you. Some music, a walk, a few minutes of reading, maybe. The Lord can even spark new ideas in some of those laser-dot moments. And that gives one pause. (“Pause.” Not “paws.”) The trick is to figure out if we’re procrastinating to avoid something we need to stay focused on, or if we’re instead taking a little respite from it so we can re-energize.

We do need to be careful, though, that we don’t climb into a distraction that’s smaller than we are. Sammy still doesn’t get this. We have big things to accomplish for the Kingdom, through the One who empowers us. Spending time getting refreshed is one thing. Killing time on tiny things is another. Paul tells us to be careful about spending, not killing, our time. “Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise, sensible, intelligent people, making the very most of the time…firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17, AMP).

We spend our time well when we spend it wisely and with His purposes ever in mind—even when we’re chasing a dot.

Endeavoring to live purposefully in His will? I’m in. All in. Me and my entire body mass index.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 NASB

TWEETABLE
Connecting the Dots—Or Maybe Chasing Them – thoughts from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: How do you prioritize use of your time? Do you have any tips to share?

The Tool of Drool—And Thirsting Well

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

No kidding, I had this very conversation with my daughter the other day:

Kaley:  Know what I found just now on Pinterest? Peanut butter cup gooey butter cake.

Me:  I just gained three pounds hearing you speak those words.

Kaley:  I just lost three pounds in drool.

After I thought about it—well, after I laughed, and then after I thought about it—I decided she might actually have something there. The next diet craze? How about “Slobber Yourself Thin!”

I don’t know why that shouldn’t work for me. Show me an even half-decent fudge cake and suddenly I’m a St. Bernard.

On the new diet plan, it wouldn’t even matter that I’m not the greatest cook in town. Nothing would depend on my baking. Just other people’s pictures of theirs. Seems to me as long as there is social media, food snapshots won’t be a problem. Log on any medium and there’s a virtual slobber-azzi.

I’m intrigued by the exercise implications here too. Instead of the tying on the tennies for running, I could just tie on the drool bib. Ready, set, salivate!

Who knew drool could be a strategic tool in the arsenal of weight loss weapons? I think I’ll start a board on Pintrest for all my spittle-inducing photos. Kaley said I should call it “Pavlov’s Pics.” … That does ring a bell.

But you know what rings truer? The reality of our spiritual appetites. I have to ask myself regularly what my soul might be drooling after. In this fallen world, the temptation is always there: hunger for possessions or pleasure, thirst for enjoyment or ease. Our enemy whispers in our ear, enticing our focus away from things eternal to everything temporary and ultimately unsatisfying.

Our souls are created to be thirsty. The problem is that we so often go after all the wrong things to quench that thirst. We head for the temporary substitutes that leave us more spiritually dehydrated than ever.

It’s funny how as we stay hungry and thirsty for the Lord, we’re satisfied. Hungry and thirsty. Yet at the same time, completely satisfied.  Our thirst—our longing for Him—can be a tool in the hand of God, shaping us into the image of Christ by His Holy Spirit. As we’re reminded of our desperate need for Him and as we ask Him to fill us, any other thing we ever craved make so much less sense. He is absolutely all we need.

David “prayed thirsty” in Psalm 63:l: “God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You. I thirst for You; my body faints for You in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water” (HCSB).

Just a few verses later, we’re given a delicious description of what happens after a hungry/thirsty prayer: “You satisfy me as with rich food; my mouth will praise You with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:5 HCSB).

That leaves me feeling wonderfully full, in the most real, to-the-soul way. Jesus said in John 7:37-38, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him,” (HCSB).

Father, Son and Holy Spirit—we are complete in our triune God who meets our every need.

No fooling. And no drooling.

TWEETABLE
The Tool of Drool—And Thirsting Well – @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: How do you differentiate between good and bad things to drool over?

For Want of a Better Word—And a Word on a Better Want

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Some people seem to have a way with words. Words, sentences, paragraphs—they all just flow out of them, all polished and pretty. The fact that I don’t despise those people is a testament to how truly spiritual I am. (If you’re not rolling your eyes right here, then you’re obviously even more spiritual than I am. Impressive.)

Most of the time my words have to be coaxed, wheedled and prodded. My muse cops an attitude and is all like, “Not today, suckah.” Then when I finally do get some words down, I still have to edit them up one side and down the other.

Writers of my caliber? We’re the ones who want the words—written or spoken—all perfectly packaged. And we’re constantly stepping back to look at the package, thinking things like, “That package really could’ve used a bigger bow. Maybe a red one. Perhaps an entirely different paper. Also…a different package altogether.” Incidentally, we’re the same people who spend a good minute and a half practicing to get the wording just right in our heads before ordering into the drive-through speaker.

Word-discontent. I have it often. As a matter of fact, I just edited those last few sentences, like, six times. Then still left “word-discontent” in there, pretending it’s grammatically sound. And pretending it’s actually a word.

Discontentment is a tricky rascal. All kinds of discontentment originate in thinking we need something different than we have. Something better. Something in a different package. Something with a red bow. Something more. And at every level of discontentment is that next little niggling thought that we will never be truly happy until we have that something more.

That kind of dissatisfaction always breeds conflict—within ourselves and with other people as well. “What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you?” (James 4:1, HCSB).

Are you warring with dissatisfaction—maybe even warring with others because of it? Want to change that? There’s only one way to stop wanting more. And that is to want a different kind of more. More Jesus.

Wanting more of Jesus than anything else in life—that changes everything. Focusing on Him shines a light on any selfish wants and they’re seen for the empty, unfulfilling distractions they really are.

Wanting more Jesus is a life pursuit. Maybe not so much coaxing, wheedling and prodding, but it is learned, day by day, and it requires our attention. As we give that attention to times of seeking the Lord’s face in prayer, making His Word part of our everyday life and our everyday thinking, letting those connections with Him make us quick to get rid of sin, we find the temporary things of this world less appealing. And we find His love, His truth, His “Him-ness,” so much more desirous than anything else we’ve ever known. (Yes, I just wrote the word, “Him-ness” in there—with nary an eye-roll.)

At that place of praise-filled closeness to Him we’re drawn into worship. It’s impossible to worship in His fullness and still want what we’re not supposed to want. In worship we’re reminded we truly do have everything we need. In Ephesians 1:3, Paul praises the Father who “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing.”

Discontentment? Bye-bye. Because…not today, suckah!

Wait, did I word that wrong?

…I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…  Philippians 3:8 NIV

TWEETABLE
For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure – insight from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: In what ways has the Lord filled you with contentment?

You Made Your Bed, Now Fry in It

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Never scrimp on an electric blanket. Think about it. Electrical currents on top of your body. While you’re sleeping.  Also, if the lights flicker when you plug it in, and you smell bacon, you should probably forget the whole thing and just get a Snuggie. Also if you wake up in a morning and find it melted into a puddle of liquid wool and smoking wires. Snuggie. If you hear sizzling at any time. Snuggie.

My grandmother once had an electric blanket that had to be from the pit of the hottest parts of the darkest abyss. But she paid good money for it, so we were going to use that thing or die. I figured probably both. We didn’t need a nightlight at Grandma’s. The little sparks from that blanket did the trick. Never mind the flames. Just pat those puppies out, turn over and go back to sleep.

Every once in a while, life can feel a little like my grandma’s blanket. Just at the moment you think things are going to get comfy and warm, you feel flames instead. Sometimes you may even start to wonder if God sees your discomfort or if He really and truly cares.

Could I encourage you in those moments to hold on to a confident knowledge that not only does He see your pain, not only does He truly care about you and your hurt, but He’s right there with you. He’s with you in every distress.

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you,” (Psalm 139: 7-12, ESV). Even when you feel blanketed in everything heavy, dark and uncomfortable, you can know that He sees right out to the other side of that darkness. And through it all, He is with you. He lives right inside you.

The Holy Spirit of God has been with you every moment of every day since the instant you surrendered your life to Christ. Jesus said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth in you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17, KJV).

His forever presence! Now there’s a Comforter we can snuggle up in for the coziest sense of well-being, even when the heat is on. Recognize His presence and you will find sweet rest every time.

I probably shouldn’t admit it, but as I was reading the passage in Psalm 139 and I got to the “make my bed in Sheol” part, I remembered Grandma’s blanket again. And now I’m pretty sure I smell bacon.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 NIV

TWEETABLE
You Made Your Bed, Now Fry in It – insight from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: Have you had flames flare just when you were getting warm and comfy?

Password: Truth

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Password anxiety. I’m pretty sure that’s a thing. You’re compelled to choose seven un-guessable characters, throw in some capital letters, add the name of a dead pet, sprinkle in a few lower-case letters, include some numerals, and, on the whole, the password should eventually grow and evolve into an even better password. Essentially, it should ultimately be able to beat up all the other passwords—make them run crying from the yard.

Anytime I have to choose a new password, my fingers hover over the keys for a solid five minutes. My sweaty fingers. Though I do try to hide any fear. Because I’ve heard the most evolved passwords can sense it.

It’s not that I’m a fearful person. Okay, as a child I might’ve been the only kid whose blanket fort had a panic room. But as an adult, fear isn’t such an issue.

Maybe that’s because as a follower of Christ, I know the password for conquering fear. Truth. That’s it. It doesn’t matter what you capitalize or how many numbers you add. Anytime we’re afraid, we find strength as we remember what is true, and by faith we hold onto that truth.

Isaiah 41:10 holds the no-fear message: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand” (HCSB). The truth is, God gives us the strength for no-fear living as we remember and believe that He holds onto us. Combine the password of truth with faith and trust, and then fear? It runs crying from the yard.

David wrote, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4, HCSB).

Fear, worry, anxiety. They’re emotional responses. Our emotions can be sneaky. It often feels impossible to reason with the rascals. And they’re insistent. It’s not like we invite fear to take us over. It just does. But our emotions must be taught the truth. By faith, we must believe that despite what our emotions are telling us, the indisputable truth is that we don’t need to fear.

Think of the things that cause you anxiety. Is there anything you’ve thought of that’s too big for God? Anything that’s too hard for Him?

Financial stresses? He owns everything. Health issues? He knit your body together. Too much to do? He holds time in His hands. Whatever the source of your stress, the Father loves you and it’s His loving desire to shoulder your burden and squelch your fear. “Casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]” (1 Peter 5:7, AMP).

Our mighty God, the One who lovingly cares for you, is bigger than anything you could ever fear. He is the firewall of all firewalls, as it were, protecting your soul. Wrapping our minds around that truth in faith will delete fear every time. By faith, remember, understand, believe the password:  Truth.

As for your other passwords? You might as well also understand that when you finally choose one that’s remote enough to be secure, the chances of you remembering it are even more remote than that.

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.                                            Philippians 4:8 HCSB

TWEETABLE
Password: Truth – insight on #followingGod from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: With what fears do you struggle? What truth can help you overcome that fear?

Wondering about Heart-Writing? I Have an Inkling…

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I’m just not really a tattoo kind of gal. Sorry. But if ever I did get one, I’d want a ballerina skirt. One around each upper arm. I would want them entirely for the satisfaction of going in and asking for “two tutu tattoos.”

That kind of wordplay has always cracked me up. What’s better than a weird tongue-tickler? I thought of that tattoo thing shortly after my sister offered my brother some of her burger and he answered, “No thanks. But I’ll take a tater tot or two.”

If only dinner that night had been fresh fried fish with French fries. We could serve it with those pickled peppers that Peter Piper picked. Maybe fried up in some of Betty Botta’s batter. But only if she resolved that bitter butter bother.

Words are funny little rascals. Entertaining. Incredibly useful. Even though they can get a little tricky. Paul gave us an interesting take on them in 2 Corinthians 3:1-4. “Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, recognized and read by everyone. It is clear that you are Christ’s letter, produced by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God—not on stone tablets but on tablets that are hearts of flesh” (HCSB).

Some people in Corinth had been spreading all the wrong kinds of words about Paul. False teachers spreading lies. Talk about twisted. It was like a lie-twister threatening to destroy his ministry. Word-nado. But Paul knew his ministry was verified in the lives of the people. Lives that had been changed by Jesus—they were his credentials. Living, moving credentials. We’re not talking about wearing just any old ink here. It was a message written on hearts by the very Spirit of the living God.

We do bear His words, allowing the world to read the message He’s written on our hearts. May we be ever legible!

O Lord, may the world read the message you’ve engraved on my heart. Clear. Untwisted. Unmistakable. May it show up in how I walk, talk, live, love. Make my life the easy-to-read version. By Your power, I pray you’ll keep my own words from creeping into that message. Lord, let people read YOU in me.

The second we stop relying on the Spirit of the Living God to be our message, our flesh is ready, waiting, and all too willing to take over. We can cloud the true message with our own ink, as it were. And it’s not a pretty picture.

Let’s let the living message…live.

God calls us to leave a mark everywhere we go. Home, work, in the neighborhood—around the globe. Living life empowered by the Spirit of God, depending on Christ to use us to minister to people in a way that changes them—that really will leave a mark. A permanent one.

So maybe I’m a little more tattoo-minded than I thought. And if you’re considering the ballerina skirt idea, I think I could teach it. In pairs. I can tutor two in two tutu tattooing. Too.

Let the spoken word of Christ have its home within you, dwelling in your heart and mind—permeating every aspect of your being.                                           Colossians 3:16 AMP

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Wondering about Heart-Writing? I Have an Inkling… – thoughts from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What makes the Spirit of God living in someone easiest for you to discern?

Manna Mania

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Have you ever wondered if the Israelites ever tried to get clever with their manna? God provided them with all that miraculous food each day to keep them alive. But I do remember reading that they got a little whiny about eating the same thing day in and day out. I can picture them moaning, “Oh, the hu-manna-ty”—even though the manna must’ve been pretty sweet and tasty. Exodus 16:31 says “it tasted like honey wafers” (NLT). Add a drizzle of chocolate and it sounds perfect to me.

I wonder if they ever tried to get creative. Maybe they tried new recipes. Mannawiches, maybe?

What if they got even more clever and made it into a loaf, then added berries? Wouldn’t that make “Berry Manna-loaf”?

Would eating too much of it cause them to sing mellow songs and consider music and passion always the fashion? Perhaps they could’ve kept the showman theme, added different fruits to make other tasty treats. You know, like “Copacabana-banana-manna.” Could’ve happened, couldn’t it?

Or maybe they were just too busy whining to get creative. I would make fun of them for it, but I’m afraid there are too many times I ask God to provide and then take it for granted when he does. Or worse, I complain about the way he does it. How embarrassing to still be so quick to be full of myself instead of being full of him.

I’m so thankful our God is a God of mercy. He demonstrated it again and again with the whining Israelites. Psalm 78: tells us, “They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God, saying, ‘Can God spread a table in the desert?’ Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven. Men ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat. They ate till they had more than enough, for he had given them what they craved. In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe. Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities.” (verses 18-19, 23-25, 30, 32, 38a, NIV).

His mercy still shows up in our every whiny inadequacy today. Even after I’ve been too shallow and full of self to recognize him and thank him, he graciously shows me mercy. And he’s faithful to continue to remind me to recognize him and to thank him and to crave his presence more than anything else. What a mighty, merciful, loving God we serve!

I think my lunchtime prayer might be a little different today. It’s very likely to be fuller than usual of thanks and praise to the merciful God who provides. And I want to crave him more than I crave lunch.

Speaking of lunch cravings, does banana bread sound especially good to you right now too?

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

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Manna Mania: Remembering to Be Thankful – @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: For what are you most grateful to the Lord today?

Qualities vs. Symptoms

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think I have some very unique and useful character qualities. Granted, most better psychoanalysts might not refer to them as “character qualities” as much as they refer to them as “symptoms,” but still.

I think writers acquire an exclusive symptom or two…make that a “quality” or two…that others don’t necessarily encounter. Maybe it’s the inordinate amount of rejection we’re called to deal with, but insecurity is so often the order of the day. Not to mention that when fiction writers hear new little voices in their heads, they never medicate. No, they actually encourage the little voices. And then publish them.

This week, though, I experienced a “quality” beyond voices. It’s a weird thing that happens to me now and again. I look over the writing du jour and I keep thinking I’ve misspelled words—even when I haven’t.

I think I might be a typo-chondriac.

Interestingly enough, if the psycho-professionals come up with a 12-step program for typo-chondriacs, I’m pretty sure step one will be admitting you don’t have a problem.

When it comes to successfully walking out this life for Christ, though, we have to recognize right from the get-go our complete lack of ability to make it happen ourselves. We do have a problem. And without surrendering to the leadership of God’s Holy Spirit, there’s no hope for resolving that problem. No 12-step program. No self-help book. Personally speaking, I don’t even have a horn to toot. Not a leg to stand on. Not a keyboard to type on. It’s got to be all Him and zero me.

You’d think that would cause a more intense insecurity than even a writer has to bear. But it doesn’t. As a matter of fact, it’s the exact opposite. There is great security in knowing that I don’t have to depend on my own abilities. There is even greater security in knowing that I can so completely depend on the One who is all-powerful. Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:3 that, “We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort” (NLT).

The Amplified version of Philippians 3:3 puts it this way: “Put no confidence or dependence on what we are in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical advantages and external appearances.” That pretty much settles it. Nothing we’ve done. Nothing we’ve said. Nothing we are. Nothing inside us. Nothing outside us. Victory in the walk of faith will only happen as we rely totally and completely in the all-powerful one. And in Him our security is sure.

So it’s not such a terrible thing to recognize that even though I’m a writer, with all the built-in insecurities and various “qualities” that come with it, I don’t have to live in insecurity. There’s freedom in recognizing I have nothing to offer in and of myself, but that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).

That’s especially refreshing to dwell on when I realize that on top of my typo-chondria, I think I might be coming down with a touch of kleptomania. Gee, I hope there’s something I can take for that.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 NIV

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Qualities vs. Symptoms – @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What does relying on the Lord look like in practical terms for you?