Love on Autopilot

by Rhonda Rhea

… an even better way. 1 Corinthians 12:31 CSB

Confession time. Sometimes when I’m driving and realize I’m lost, I automatically turn down the radio. It’s not so I can hear the GPS. I turn down the radio even when there’s no GPS. Why do I do it? Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe it’s so I can more clearly hear what “lost” sounds like. Of course, if I had to guess what lost sounds like, I’d guess it makes an I-should-pull-in-here-for-coffee sound. If I listen hard enough, I can hear extra whip.

Want to know what else I do without thinking? I’ll be looking in the fridge for something to eat, finding nothing. So, I close the fridge and move to the pantry. Nothing there either. Then—and I can’t explain why, but—I go back to the fridge. I open it up and study every shelf again. Like I think something new will have materialized while I was in the pantry. And if that’s not ridiculous enough, I then repeat the process. Why? Fridge, pantry. Fridge, pantry. I guess my subconscious thinks that if nothing magically appeared the first couple of times, surely somewhere between the fifth or sixth round, I’ll swing open the door and: TACO.

Oh, the things I do without thinking. I’m also a notorious knee-bouncer. And a pen-clicker. These basic fidgets are part of my no-thought default setting. It makes me wonder how many other things I do on autopilot.

I’m praying the Lord will grow me to a place where those things I do without thinking will have substance, meaning, blessing—lovein exactly the right volume. In 1 Corinthians, after Paul teaches about spiritual gifts, he ends chapter 12 with the teaser, “And I will show you an even better way” (v. 31 CSB).

GPS or no, I want to head that better way. The Amplified Bible expounds on that verse: “a still more excellent way [one of the choicest graces and the highest of them all: unselfish love].”

Paul launches next into a beautiful description of that unselfish love—the kind of love that, in and through Christ only, can happen as naturally as a bouncing knee or an unconscious pen-click.

Look at God’s “better way:”

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (CSB).

The ever-satisfying love we hunger for is not in the fridge. Not in the pantry. Not anywhere else. Only in Christ.

The very first verse in chapter 13 tells us that sacrificial love is vital. “If I speak human or angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (CSB). Loveless language? That’s exactly what lost sounds like. And I want to turn down that volume. Consciously.

Meanwhile, as I’m learning to love through Jesus—a little extra conscious of the think-y part—another confession: I’ll probably still pull in for that coffee. A little too conscious of the whippy part.

Lord, teach me to listen, search for—even hunger for—opportunities to purposefully love unselfishly, simply because I love You—all and only in You. May Your love be my default as I learn to sound more like You.

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

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. 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.

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Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation:

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Serve the List, or Enlist to Serve?

by Rhonda Rhea

Set your hearts on the Lord, and worship only Him. 1 Samuel 7:3 CSB

List-maker, list-maker, make me a list. But wait, make it for someone else, not me. Because I already have 8000 lists of my own, thanks. A family member told me the other day that my stacks upon stacks of lists make me look like an organized person. Then we laughed and laughed. Because we both know me.

I don’t make all these lists because I’m organized. I make them because I’m not. Those who know me know I make lists and lists, and lists of lists. In list form. (When it comes to this kind of devotion, I’m hoping to become a speciaLIST.)

How do I love my lists? Let me list the ways. Well, it’s all of them. All the ways of list loving. So anytime I misplace the list of the hour, I confess that my tendency is to go a little ballistic. Ba-LIST-ic? See what I did there?

Even aside from mine, there are so many types of lists. Wish lists and waiting lists. Short lists and shopping lists. Hit lists and honey-do lists. Backlists, blacklists, and bucket lists. And while you don’t want to make the injured list, you might be disappointed if you didn’t make the Christmas list. I could try to make a complete laundry list of all the different kinds of lists, but I think that’s probably unrea-LIST-ic.

Not only am I a list maniac, but I also tend to be a mania maniac. As in, my lists often have more to-do’s than any one person could ever possibly get to done.

Could I get real here? I have to force myself to examine my list regularly—daily, really—and to ask myself hard questions. Am I serving the list? Or am I serving the King? Have I put items on that list that are outside of His calling on my life? Have I said any yeses where I should’ve said no? Have I added manic and panic, and, by doing so, hindered service to my King?

Instead of serving a list, instead of bowing down to the expectations of others, and instead of bending to my own sometimes unreasonable expectations of myself, I want to take a knee before my King. I want to enlist in His service. It’s not so much about the listing. It’s so much more about the EN-listing.

In 1 Samuel 7:3, Samuel tells the people of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, get rid of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths that are among you, set your hearts on the Lord, and worship only Him” (CSB). He’s telling the people that if they’re genuinely and completely giving themselves to their God, what follows is getting rid of idols and anything else they might love more than the Lord.

The people followed Samuel’s leading, and God rewarded them with favor and His presence. When the Philistines attacked, God gave Israel victory: “So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israel’s territory again. The Lord’s hand was against the Philistines all of Samuel’s life” (1 Samuel 7:13 CSB).

PhiLISTines? Delisted. While there are blacklists and hit lists and various other naughty lists, how wonderful it is that we never have to find ourselves on God’s “subdued” list.

Father, help us remember—maybe even write down and remember—that we don’t serve a list. We serve You, our mighty God. That we don’t need to fret about meeting anyone’s expectations but Yours. May we daily bow before You, our King, and enlist in Your service, with whole hearts of dedication and worship.

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

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. 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.

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Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: How do you keep focused on Jesus to avoid problems with your lists?

A Message to Remember

by Rhonda Rhea

I’ve discovered something rather disturbing about myself:  I’m a salad dressing whiny-baby. It’s not like I’m even all that into salad. I think we all know I’d rather have chocolate. Or coffee. Or chocolate mixed with coffee. But the other day I found myself with a salad that needed something that neither coffee nor chocolate could fix (though it took me several minutes to come to grips with that). So there I sat trying all the salad dressings. All of them. I even mixed a few—like some sort of mad scientist. The first dressing was too tart. The next one, too sweet. Then the next one was just too…orange.

That’s when I figured out that I was not so much a mad scientist. No. I was Goldilocks.

When did I become so dressing-spoiled? It doesn’t even comfort me all that much that I’m not the only one. God’s chosen people had wandered in the desert for 40 years because they had chosen not to trust the Lord. When they finally stood poised to enter the land of promise, instead of the “now you can all relax” message they might’ve expected, they got more of a “don’t get too spoiled” warning.

“Be careful that you don’t forget the Lord your God by failing to keep His command…When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God…” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14, HCSB).

In the verses just prior to these, the people are reminded to be diligent in their obedience to God because “the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land…a land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey,” (Deuteronomy 8:7-8). Olive oil and honey? They were headed into the best salads with all the best dressings.

The entire chapter is full of “remembers” and “don’t forgets.” And it’s not just the Israelites. It’s so often in our times of greatest blessing even now that we forget our Lord God is the source of that blessing and that “every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,” (James 1:17, HCSB). Anytime we forget, the blessing loses its sweetness. Pride replaces recognition of His provision and our satisfaction in life sours.

When we catch ourselves going all Goldilocks-y, it should trigger our reminder to…well…“remember.” “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord you God gives you the power to gain wealth,” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18, HCSB).

Remembering that every good blessing is from Him helps keep our obnoxious pride in check and reminds us to lean on Him for everything. It reminds us to love, follow, trust and obey. And that adds blessing upon blessing—whatever we do, wherever we go—whatever is on the menu.

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll excuse me. Salad is on the menu again here and I’ve decided to make my own dressing. So now it appears I have to travel to a thousand islands.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits.  Psalm 103:1-2, ESV.

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

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. 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.

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Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: What blessing have you received from the Lord lately?

Turn Over the Work Attitude

by Rhonda Rhea

Hear me out. A blanket fort. Only instead of blankets, puff pastry. Slumber party—and in the morning? Turnovers!

I’d work on that fort. I came up with this idea while pondering whether there is anything in the world that would not be better with puff pastry on top of it. Or under it. Or wrapped all around it.

Turnovers have to be the best puff pastry application ever. A turnover is like a pie…that you don’t have to share. All wrapped up in flakey layers. How brilliant. Incidentally, I can eat an impressive number of turnovers. That’s not what’s meant by a high turnover rate, is it? I guess that’s one more pastry point to ponder.

Sometimes I probably do a little too much pondering. But I also do a lot of doing. Sometimes I also dough a lot of doughing.

On a less flakey note, whatever I do, I genuinely want to do it well. Paul said, “Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people” (Colossians 3:23 CSB).

Of course, Paul was only talking about responsibilities and assignments that are easy as pie. Oh no, wait. He wasn’t. He was referring to the fun tasks, the mundane tasks, the tough tasks, the cinchy tasks, the awful tasks, the thankless tasks, and probably even the flakey tasks. All the tasks. In Ephesians 6:7, he says again, “Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to people” (CSB).

How do we do that? How can we blanket the work we do with a good attitude?

The secret is in the “for” in Colossians 3:23. It’s in not working enthusiastically and with positivity only because the Lord is watching—though He certainly is. Or because people are watching. But positivity and enthusiasm happen organically, as we remember, understand, and really internalize the fact that we’re doing the work for Him. That “for” radically changes the way we view every undertaking. It changes the way we do the work, giving it more energy, more heart. Giving it more party than slumber. Because there’s a whole new joy in heart-working.

As we work for Him “from the heart,” our work can become sort of like a prayer, a praise—even like worship. Every big job and every little job—the glorious and the inglorious—is made sweeter by this kind of doing. Sweet as pie and sweeter still. Working for the Lord out of love for Him can dignify even an undignified assignment.

There’s a related assignment regarding related assignments in Philippians 2:14-16. “Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, by holding firm to the word of life” (CSB).

Our assignment is to work shiny—not so much flakey. It’s a truly brilliant thought. Doing our doing without the grumbling causes us to shine like stars. By working from a heart full of love for Jesus, as a bonus, we can win the opportunity to shine for Him, to hold onto and hold out “the word of life” and share the message of Christ with those who desperately need Him.

Let’s do it. Let’s work shiny for Him. Brighter than stars. Bigger than the sky. Better than pie. Brighter, bigger, better than any pie in the sky.

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

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. 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.

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Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: How do you make your work an act of worship?

Reading Between the Lines

by Rhonda Rhea

Someone once told me that all crazy women have super-thin eyebrows. I don’t see how I could even begin to argue with that logic. So I pencil. And I pencil strong. I feel I have a lot to prove.

That’s one reason doing makeup in the car is such risky business. One hard stop and a gal could end up with a seriously high eyebrow. No one could ever be as astonished as that kind of brow implies. And please excuse me if the humor here is a bit…ah…highbrow.

The other day, even full-well knowing the risk, I was doing my makeup in the car. My daughter was driving and hit a bad bump at a very crucial eyebrow moment. I immediately shot her a half-angry look. Not because I was really angry. Hey, bumps happen. I gave her the look because suddenly I had one fiercely anger-shaped brow. That’s hard to get rid of. To find some sort of symmetry I had to line and over-line both eyebrows. We’re talking, eyebrows full on. Like, high-beam on. I just combed my bangs extra low and hoped people would read between the lines, as it were. Goofy road-bump.

If anyone knew about bumps in the road, it was Paul. Talk about some hardships. It was enough to furrow any brow. But in Romans 8:18 he tells us that those difficulties were not such a big deal. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us,” (HCSB).

Difficulties? Temporary. But the glory? It’s forever! Our future is so much brighter than anything dark we could ever encounter here. What hope! A few verses later we read, “Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience,” (vv. 24-25, HCSB).

It reminds us that we live between the times. We can’t see the big picture full-beam. We’re living in that space between the bumps in the road and the glory that awaits. But this we know: we can walk in faith and confidence in the here and now because our Father has a great plan for our future. He is a trustworthy God who keeps His promises. That means we can wait with assurance—eager, yet patient.

That assurance changes our perspective on life and its challenges. We’re able to focus less on the things that won’t matter in eternity and more on the things of God. Jonathan Edwards, great revival preacher of the 1700’s, prayed, “O Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.”

Stamping eternity on our eyeballs is not about pencils or brows. It’s about keeping our eyes God-ward and staying ever-mindful of our future with Him, keeping His holy agenda at the heart of all we do. It keeps us mindful of those around us who need Jesus. It helps us sort out our thinking regarding bumps in the road and everything seen and unseen. We’re in this world, yes, but it’s good to know where to draw the line.

Knowing where to draw the line—yeah, that’s also good for eyebrows.

“…be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone.] After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be]. To Him be dominion (power, authority, sovereignty) forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:9-11 AMP

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

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. 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.

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Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: How does knowing God’s promises for our future affect your life today?

When Crickets Chirp and God Still Shows Up

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

For everything you can name, I’m pretty sure there’s an official phobia listed for it. If you’re afraid of phobias, would you be considered a phob-a-phobe? I’m not sure how true it is, but it’s noted in several places that there are surveys showing the fear of public speaking (glossophobia) and the fear of dying (necrophobia) at the top of people’s lists of most dreaded fears. In that order even.

As a public speaker—and one who is often billed as a humorist—I think tops on my list would be “necro-glosso-phobia.” Fear of death while speaking. Okay yes, I made that one up. But I’ve experienced it on a figurative level once or twice. Frightening.

One of those events particularly sticks in my mind. I was delivering what I considered some of my most rip-roaring material when…it happened:  nothing. A whole big lot of nothing. Hardly a snicker. I think I heard crickets chirping. Kind of a slow death, speaker-wise. The Bible says that laughter is like medicine. I’m telling you, this had to be the control group. Placebos for everyone!

After I spoke, a lady came up to me with a completely lifeless face. Truly lifeless. Without an ounce of expression, she monotoned, “I have never laughed so hard in all my life.” She didn’t crack a smile even then. It was so hilariously strange.

Here’s hoping we always look “alive” to the world. Know what “alive” looks like? It looks like love. 1 John 3:14 (NIV) says, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.”

We have passed from death into life—heavy on the life! We need to pass it on. Others can’t see our redemption unless we live it out. And love it out.

It’s not a new message, but it’s one we need to hear often. We read in the same passage, “This is the message you heard from the beginning:  We should love one another,” (1 John 3:11 NIV). So how do we know exactly what that kind of love looks like? The same chapter gives us that, too:  “This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (verse 16).

Real love sacrifices. The Jesus kind of love is a love that surrenders in humility. It’s a love that endures beyond the very worst offenses. When Jesus was asked which commandment in the law was greatest, He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV). A right-to-the-heart-and-soul kind of love. Being a follower of Christ means we love Him with everything we’ve got, and we love others in His name with the same enthusiasm. It’s our focus. Because it’s God’s focus.

Here’s hoping that if I’m asked to lay aside my rights, my fears, my possessions, my pride, even my very life for another, I’ll give the right response. No silence. No crickets chirping. Just love. Giving sacrificial love to a heartsick world that doesn’t know the love and joy of Jesus is the best medicine we can offer. And that, my friends, is no placebo.

… walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.  Ephesians 5:2 NASB

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

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. 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41NYe0+mkOL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: How do you love enthusiastically?

All That Glitters…Is Never Going Away

by Rhonda Rhea

Has it happened to you? You get that one greeting card with glitter on it—that one card—and next thing you know, your entire living room is a sparkle-palooza.

 Granted, I’m the kind of person who enjoys a good sparkle. Shiny makes me happy. But when I got one of those sparkly cards the other day, there was a sudden, panicked realization that there was more glitter in my living room than was ever on that card. I tried to brush it off, but it refused to be brushed. I vacuumed it. Then vacuumed some more. Still…glitter.

There’s a fear when dealing with glitter—the fear that you will never escape it. Ever. If it’s on your face? Accept that it’s a part of you now. Learn to live this way. Oh, and pass out sunshades to all your friends. They must learn to live with it too.

You’ll also need those shades as protective eyewear. A friend of mine went to her ophthalmologist when her eye felt persistently scratchy for a week. What’s that gleam in your eye? You guessed it. Greeting card glitter. She had to have a little glitterectomy. I asked her if instead of seeing her eye doctor, she should’ve gone to a cardiologist. Get it? Card-iologist?

Really though, how is it that what starts as one sparkly greeting card seems to produce enough glitter to cover that card and eleventy-dozen others? It’s just about more than I can handle.

Then again, what can I really handle? The popular Christian maxim, “God won’t give us more than we can handle” is one we tend to mail out like the trustiest proverb in the prettiest greeting card. But let’s think that one through. Because really, friends, everything is more than we can handle. In our own strength, we have nothing to shine.

First Corinthians 10:13 is often the backup text for thinking we won’t face more than we can bear. “But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it” (CSB). The passage’s context, however, is not adversity. It’s temptation. It’s not about the Father delivering us from tough challenges. It’s about the Father giving us strength to say no to sin.

There is strength for resisting temptation as we depend on Him. And Paul tells us as well that there is grace for every difficulty. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my 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, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 CSB).

Embracing His all-sufficient strength and grace when we’re struggling is a way for us to shine. Shining when shining doesn’t seem possible.

Our God is able to take the weakest sparkle and illuminate it with the glory-brilliance of Christ—all across our home, our neighborhood, and our city. Sometimes our world. We’re talking about a shine that never fades. Never goes away. Sparkle-palooza, indeed.

Oh, that we may ever learn to live this way.

Still though, a little side note to new first grade Sunday School teachers: there is glitter in your future. All over your Sunday School future. All over your Sunday School classroom. All over you. And it will never leave. I say, lean into it and shine!

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

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. 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.

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Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: What are some of the little things that distract you from obedience?

Inking It In

by Rhonda Rhea

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked…His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season… Psalm 1:1-3 NASB

What do you do when you have a pen that won’t write? You sling it a few times in that stabbing motion, right? Hoping gravity will somehow jar the ink loose? Seriously, has that ever worked for anybody? After that, of course, you scribble. Then you scribble bigger and faster. You scribble hard and long. Then you scribble harder and longer. You scribble until you’ve scribbled a hole right through the paper. Then you stab the paper a few more times. That’s when you throw the pen.

You then look around to see if anyone saw you throw the pen. Then while you’re feeling silly for throwing the pen, you pick it up and put it in your pocket—as you pretend it slipped out of your hand. And flew across the room. Later when you get home, you find your pocketed pen leaked and left a giant splotch of blue on the front of your favorite shirt.

Argh, already. Pen! Why can’t you simply do your job? Consistently! Without making a mess!

I have to wonder if God ever asks that question about me. Is there such a thing as pen-hypocrisy? I’ll judge that pen all day for not consistently delivering. I’ll judge it for making messes. But if I get honest, I’ll admit there are entirely too many times when I’m not consistent in little steps of obedience the Lord has called me to walk out every day. And even though I’m not where I know I should be, or I’m not doing what He’s already shown me to do, I’m still fussing and scribbling because life isn’t unfolding the way I planned. What a mess. It’s a mess I’ve made with my own hands, mind you. I know that. The ink ends up everywhere except where it was intended. Not a pretty picture.

Life is much less messy when we stay consistent in His Word and consistent in what He’s called us to. I know, duh. No big revelation here. But sometimes it’s the simplest things that give us the most trouble. It’s neglecting those simple disciplines that can leave us frustrated at the end of the day—big ink stain and no eternal fruit. Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work,” NLT.

So here are today’s lessons to live by. Lesson number one: Obey God. Number two is related: Stay consistent in doing what He’s told us to do in His Word. Then just watch. That mess you made? The hole in the paper? Confess and start again. He can redeem the mess. Even make it…art.  

Oh, and lesson number three: A cheap pen is—what? A buck? For crying out loud, just get a new one.

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

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. 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41NYe0+mkOL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: What are some of the little things that distract you from obedience?

Hospitality—with Sugar on Top

by Rhonda Rhea

Let brotherly love continue. Don’t neglect to show hospitality… Hebrews 13:1-2 CSB

I’ve probably mentioned before that I don’t usually cook for the people I love. Because I love them. And while there’s much that could be said here about being hospitable, there are also a couple of sentences I could add about being “hospital-able”—which, I’m telling you, could also be a thing.

Sometimes I imagine chefs narrating while I’m in the kitchen. Mostly I hear them saying things like, “Oh honey. Just…no.”

You’re probably tempted to tell me I can still set out a nice table of prepped and packaged store-bought goodies. Been there, bought that. And thank you, snack-packagers, for having my snack-back. The last time I did that, though, I realized I’d accidentally purchased an entire table of sugar. In addition to the cookies and candies and chocolate-covered this and that, I bought two beautiful, humongous cakes. This is great, I thought. We have one to eat now, and another one to also eat now.

Seriously. How can I be so bad at snacks that I can’t even buy them well?

We have a Bible study in my home. We hadn’t met too many times before one of the ladies volunteered to bring the food. She brings snacks for every meeting. Every. Meeting. I confess, I pray for this woman now more than I ever did before. Everyone in our Bible study does. She can never, ever miss Bible study. Ever. We need her.

Just a reminder here, that when it comes right down to it, we’re all needed. Even those of us who might be considered hospitality-challenged (hospi-snack-ety challenged?) are included here.

In Ephesians 2:12, Paul recaps life before Christ, when we were “foreigners to the covenants of promise.” But then in the next verse, he reminds us as well that we are now included. Needed. On the “in.” “But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Just a few verses later, he says, “So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household…” (Ephesians 2:19, CSB).

Hospitality is not so much about our house. Or its snacks. It’s about that household—and expanding it to include others. As a matter of fact, hospitality is not merely welcoming people into our homes, it’s welcoming people into all our spaces. Into our lives. Into our hearts.

Hebrews 13:1-2 CSB puts it together this way: “Let brotherly love continue. Don’t neglect to show hospitality.” Without the heart, it’s not the genuine, Jesus kind of hospitality.

I love the part of this passage that gives us the how-to when it comes to loving and showing that hospitality. It’s in verse 20. “Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep—through the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip you with everything good to do his will, working in us what is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (CSB) Who equips? Not narrating chefs. Not snack-packers or cake-bakers. Only our God equips us to do His will, through Jesus.

What sweet relief. Everything He wants to accomplish, He will do. All glory to Him.

It’s also a relief to remember that hospitality is about the people, not the party spread. I don’t even have to sugarcoat that. Though let’s be real, I could totally sugarcoat that if I wanted to.

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

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. 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41NYe0+mkOL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: What do you do to welcome people into your heart and home?

Delusions, Illusions, and Better Conclusions

by Rhonda Rhea

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.   2 Corinthians 10:4-5 CSB

Opinions. I have them. Oh, how I have them. Loud ones and high ones. Colorful and wry ones. I try to make sure I come up with three or four good opinions to have on standby—just in case somebody asks for one.

I’m not at all talking about “informed” opinions. Those are in an entirely different category. Informed opinions require research and contemplation. Reason and thinky stuff. Probably charts and graphs. That sounds like work. Plus, if you get too informed on a topic, seems to me you no longer have an opinion. What you have there is a conclusion. Wouldn’t that cancel out the need for an opinion?

A friend asked my opinion about Instagram several months ago. I told her I figure I’m only about one extra-large floppy hat away from becoming an Insta spokesmodel. She said that was a delusion, not an opinion.

Still, I recently heard someone offer an opinion that was even worse than any of mine. We all hear this one a lot. “Go with your gut.”

What? My gut? Like I’m not getting rotten enough ideas from my brain, now we’re going to check in with my colon? How is that better?

How about this for something better. Instead of forming baseless opinions and going with our innards, what if we prepared our minds the Jesus way, set our hope firmly on His grace, and made decisions based on the rightness and holiness of God?

Like this: “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:13-15 CSB).

To prepare your minds for action in the original context was to gather up the constraining robes so that a person could move forward unhindered. Hindrances begin in our minds as we let thoughts and opinions run rambly-like from brain to gut and back, unfettered.

Our actions are birthed in our minds. We’re called to be diligent—actively self-controlled—about what goes on in our headspace. Not necessarily ready with some wild opinion. But ever ready to replace self-thinking and worldly philosophies with the truth of God. And to let that thinking birth obedience and right living.

Conforming to the passions of our former ignorance, that unregenerate way of forming opinions, produces a continuous and frustrating inner battle. The ready mind Peter encourages is not one that excuses or rationalizes sinful thoughts. The ready mind reins them in—essentially rolling up the sleeves of our thoughts and putting them to work for the Kingdom, all in the power of Christ.

It’s fruitless to try to fight the mind battle on our own. Paul reminds us, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 CSB).

So much for every “lofty opinion.” There is blessing, fruit, and a mind at peace as our thoughts are Jesus-captivated. This, I’m not afraid to say, is an informed opinion. Informed by the truth of who our Savior is—and how powerfully He works in us.

I’m sticking with that opinion. Not even once checking to see what my intestines might think.

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

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. 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41NYe0+mkOL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: How do you keep your thoughts and opinions centered on Christ?