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?

The Kingdom…in a Nutshell

 by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field.   Matthew 13:44 CSB

I love eating a big handful of money. Er…pecans. I meant pecans.

Seriously though, sometimes a gal just wants to snack on some of those delish pecans, right? And evidently also wants to cease having that extra $14.50.

Not to get all squirrely about it or anything, but I had a craving for them the other day and the only bag I could find at the convenience store was tiny—and eight bucks. I bought them anyway. Even though I knew that was just nuts.

I wonder if squirrels even know what they’re stashing away these days. If they figured it out and learned to trade them on the gem market, maybe they could leave those old trees behind and move on up to a de-luxe apartment in the sky.

Our faith walk is often affected by what we squirrel away, spiritually speaking. Sometimes without even realizing it, we find we’re spending all our work energies angling for hanging onto comfort and ease and contentment in our circumstances. Sometimes our focus is stolen away by an intense desire to stash away money and things. Sometimes we can find ourselves desperately scrambling for great power, influence or fame—scrambling like we’re readying for the hardest winter.

As we’re following Christ, the “hardest winters” are the ones we experience when all those earthly aspirations leave us feeling disappointed, dissatisfied, disillusioned—empty. Joyless. Brrr. Even worthy aspirations are empty when we seek them selfishly, or we leave Jesus out.

Paul said in Romans 14:7 (CSB) that “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” It’s not about that handful of snacks. We find joy as we focus on the kingdom of God, and as we let the Holy Spirit rule our hearts.

Two of the parables of Jesus teach us the overwhelmingly precious value of His kingdom. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:44-46 CSB).

Jesus teaches that the kingdom is so valuable, a person will freely give up everything else in life to lay hold of it. The kingdom of heaven—that place where God, our King, rules.

For believers, the King rules in our hearts by His joy-giving Holy Spirit. To follow whole-heartedly is our calling. Jesus said to His disciples, “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).

Lord, by the working of Your Holy Spirit in me, help me focus right there, finding life, stashing away the eternally valuable, letting go of anything temporary I might selfishly crave. Giving all. As Your kingdom dwells in me, may I dwell in Your kingdom.

I want to pray that regularly, allowing Him to renew my focus every place it gets off.

That’s probably also why I’m giving up on my jewelry idea. The one where I make myself a necklace. From 24 karat pecan halves.

TWEETABLE
The Kingdom…in a Nutshell – encouragement from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout 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 you are a part of the Kingdom of Heaven impact your life in the here and now?

Teach a Mom to List

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Teach a man to fish, it’s all good. But teach a kid a card trick and be prepared to watch it nonstop for like 12 years.

Like, “Is this your card?”…until college.

Understand, you have to make time for that. It’s one of the reasons schedule-juggling is trickier with kids. I’m not a structured person by nature, so in those years of raising mine, to-do lists became my friends. And enemies.

On any given day, I made a gargantuan list, then had to quick-plan for a dozen things that weren’t on it. Weren’t on any list. Ever. Who can plan, for instance, for an away-from-home potty-training disaster you’re forced to clean up with three Wal-Mart receipts, last week’s church bulletin and a Kit Kat wrapper (give me a break).

Our time raising children is short. I can get philosophical about it, for sure. I’ve long said, when one door opens, another door opens. And then also a side door. All the doors. And they never close. Because you have kids.

I wonder how many months of my life I spent closing doors behind this or that kid running in or out. I had five babies in seven years. That means in a 12-year span I probably slept four hours. Total. Essentially, I traded sleep for door-closing. It’s a thought that makes me smile. And it makes me want a nap.

Ever feel like your soul needs a nap? Jesus knew you would. He said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” (Matthew 11:28-30, CSB).

Rest for our bodies? We do have to make time for that. But soul rest is at least as vital. Anytime we find ourselves feeling burned out, weary, burdened—heavy—it’s time to step back and listen to Jesus’ call to “Come to me.” It’s an open door. And to our delight, it stays open.

When you’re frantically sorting one to-do list from another (is this your card?), and when your mind feels cluttered and weighted down with challenges and stresses, remember your Savior’s reminder that He waits for you. He will be your respite, your comfort, your encouragement. All you have to do is come.

Come to Him in prayer. Come to Him in worship. Come to Him through His Word. Give Him the first-fruits of your time and you’ll find the perspective you’re looking for. So often all the urgent to-dos sort themselves out as we remember His call to come, to lay down a heavy, burdensome yoke we’ve placed on ourselves, and exchange our plan for the just-fits comfort of His will. Would you believe, even when an unexpected disaster thrusts itself upon your list, you can still smile. His easy yoke comes with grace, joy, peace—everything you need for a genuine “successful existence.”

Responding to His “come to me” should top my every list. Relief from my own exhausting yoke. Strength and renewal under His.

As for my other lists, however, I’m still fishing through those. Guess I’m a work in progress. The other day I went to the store without my list and was proud of myself when I only took twelve thousand laps around the grocery section looking for something that wasn’t even on it.

“I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest,” declares the Lord.   Ezekiel 34:17 NASB

TWEETABLE
Teach a Mom to List – encouragement with a touch of humor from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout 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.

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 is weighing you down today?

Make a Choice, Make a Difference

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.                                                                                  Hebrews 5:14 NASB

We’ve lived in the same house almost 15 years. That means I’m on about the 5,375th consecutive day of turning on the garbage disposal instead of the light. Oy, habits.

I was working on forming better habits though. Breakfast, for instance. Surely I could at least pull together a bowl of cold cereal, right? Not as easy as you’d think. That first cardboard flap of a new cereal box? Major box-opening stress there. One wrong rip and the tab will never fit in the slot. You could hardly convince me I was not cutting diamonds.

Fast-forward to my discovery that I should never cut diamonds. The box looked like it had been opened by ferrets. Who probably don’t even eat bran flakes. I wanted to quit—and that was before I got to the titanium-reinforced bag inside.

Seriously, what are those bags made of? While I’m asking questions, is bag-rage a thing? Because I may have had that. When you finally find the one weak spot in the forcefield that IS that bag, how many times does the cereal just explode all over the kitchen?

People. If I was really meant to make this breakfast choice, wouldn’t a box of cereal be easier to open than a bag of Oreos?

We make choices every day. Often, we can make a mess, make an excuse, make a scene, make a get-away—or make a difference. Sometimes we only get to pick one.

The fact is, good habits don’t necessarily come with a switch to flick. We don’t make good choices according to how easy they are. They’re built with perseverance—and I need to be reminded often. Peter obliges in 2 Peter 1:12-13 (CSB): “Therefore I will always remind you about these things, even though you know them and are established in the truth you now have. I think it’s right, as long as I am in this bodily tent, to wake you up with a reminder.” This? It’s a worthy wake-up. Breakfast of champions, really.

I love looking at the verses right before in the Amplified version: “Therefore, believers, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you [be sure that your behavior reflects and confirms your relationship with God]; for by doing these things [actively developing these virtues], you will never stumble [in your spiritual growth and will live a life that leads others away from sin]” (vv. 10-11, AMP).

The word “diligent” here is from the Greek spoudasate, which means to labor over an endeavor—quickly and with earnestness. My natural selfishness encourages me to choose garbage habits—the easy way. Flicking all the wrong switches.

Yet my God will give me the want-to to choose well, and then He will give me the ability to persevere in it. Paul said in Philippians 2:13 (CSB), “For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.”

Paul offers a great testimony in 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (CSB): “So I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” It’s an entirely different kind of “boxing,” I know. But I want to take on the challenge implied here with everything I’ve got. I want to make a difference.

Father, empower me to choose well. Work in me to accomplish Your good purpose, I ask. Grant me the discipline to stay at it with perseverance—all for the glory of Your kingdom.

That’s my prayer. And I’m going to make a habit of praying it.

TWEETABLE
Make a Choice, Make a Difference – encouragement and wisdom from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout 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 do you train yourself to make better choices?

That Settles It

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11 ESV

I like to call them mild sugar cravings. And yet, there I go. Shooting out of the car, across the kitchen, and diving for the pantry. I need chocolate, ya’ll. I’m like a treat-seeking missile. That bag of chocolate chips in there? Target acquired. Locked on. Give me a minute and those things are gone.

Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but my mild sugar cravings have been known to choose my Sunday School class for me. Anyone else ranking classes according to donuts?

“She’s a good teacher and all, but she only serves glazed. And one Sunday she ran out.”

“Linda’s class? Somebody brings those chocolate-covered, custard-filled Long Johns.”

It’s not really my fault. It’s very hard to make a prudent decision when there’s a Long John involved. Did I mention the custard filling? Custard!

Okay, it might be a little bit my fault. Mild sugar craving meets kids’ Christmas stockings. That’s when I start to question myself. Because my kids have been out of the house for several years. But I found a chocolate snowman. He’s got to be from at least four Christmases ago, but that little guy is mine.

That should be a reminder to me that my “mild cravings” are out of control and it’s time to corral the sugar intake. If the snowman has lost his wrapper, and I just pick the fuzz down off him and eat him anyway, that pretty much settles it: I have a problem.

I’m so glad that on an eternal scale, Jesus settled the biggest issues. We never have to wonder about His love for us. It’s big and beautiful and intense. Eternally more intense than anything I can choco-crave. He proved his immense, unconditional, unshakable love when He died on the cross to make it possible for us to have a right and tight relationship with Him. But then He went all out to prove His power to save. The same power that saves us from sin raised Him from the dead. That? Oh my.

That really settles everything.

How glorious—a risen, living Savior! One who gives us life! “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11 ESV).

I love the way the question is posed in this paraphrase: “It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, He’ll do the same thing in you that He did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself?” (MSG).

Because Jesus is alive, we’ve been made spiritually alive in Him. It’s one of so many reasons I love celebrating His resurrection. The Easter season reminds us that Jesus settled it. All. In one Earth-rocking event. I will celebrate Resurrection Sunday with intensity—with absolutely everything I’ve got—until Jesus comes again and beyond.

Back on the sugar craving side of things, I would like to point out here at the end, that my enthusiasm to celebrate the season has nothing to do with chocolate bunnies. But still, you will NOT want to put those little guys in my pantry.

TWEETABLE
That Settles It – Thoughts on Easter from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout 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 thought thrills you the most this Easter Sunday?