On the Cellular Level

July 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Comics, Humor

By Rhonda Rhea –

My kids are all in their teens and twenties so it was really funny the other day when they saw one of the earliest cell phones. I’m talking vintage here—just this side of fossilized. And huge. A dinosaur in every way. I dubbed it “Cell-a-saurus Rex.” My kids thought it must be some sort of coffee grinder. I think one of them was trying to get it to churn butter.

If you want to know what it was really like with those first mobile phones, try holding your microwave oven upside your head. All the mobile phone bells and whistles? I’m pretty sure on those first phones, they were actual bells and whistles. I told my kids that I thought people probably had a tough time back then knowing if a guy was listening to his boom box or talking on his cell phone. Of course, then I had to explain what a boom box was. I told them it was a giant mp3 player.

I’m thankful technology is always evolving, coming up with something bigger and better. Or sometimes something smaller and better.

Sometimes size is pretty relative. I want a big faith. I really do. I want super-sized faith with all the bells and whistles. But when the disciples asked Jesus to give them bigger faith, Jesus answered in a rather surprising way. In Luke 17:5 the disciples said to Jesus, “Increase our faith.” Jesus’ answer? “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you’” (HCSB).

Matthew tells us that Jesus said, “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you,’” (Matthew 17:20, HCSB).

According to Jesus Himself, with even the tiniest faith, we can do huge things. Impossible things. It’s not so much the size of the faith as it is who the faith is in. A faith planted firmly in Christ and an obedient response to his lordship makes a huge impact on life. Mountainous!

It’s good to remember that faith grows at the deepest part of who we are. At the “cellular” level, if you will. Paul tells us in Romans 10:17 that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. His Word teaches us about His character, His history, His power and His incomparable trustworthiness. Studying the character of God changes our faith—all the way down to our deepest, heart-of-heart parts. The more we study Him through His Word, and the more we know Him, the more we respond in obedience, and the more our faith grows.

We can put our faith in Christ. It’s safe there. I’m so thankful my all-powerful Savior graciously confirms that in new ways each day. He takes us to deeper places in our faith at every new point of surrender.

And in the not-so-deep places, I’m also thankful the phones are getting smaller. Phonezilla is appropriately extinct. A seed-sized phone? Could be the next big thing.

Half and Half and Half

June 4, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

Glass half full. Glass half empty. Doesn’t really matter so much to me. As long as mine is the full half. And also the glass should be a mug. Large. And also it should have coffee in it. And also both halves should be full. And it should all be mine.

I think I like my coffee with half and half. And at least another half. I might also need another side of math.

I saw a bumper sticker recently that said, “I want my coffee and I want it now.” I thought, “I want your coffee, too. And then after that, I’ll want my own coffee.” Judging from this alone, it’s obvious I can be pretty selfish when it comes to coffee.

When it comes to judgment, most of the time, we really don’t know the half of it. Or the other half. God’s love for us is perfect, complete. It’s a greater love than we can even comprehend. At the same time, God judges sin and evil. And just as His love is perfect, His judgment is also perfect. Glass half-full of judgment? No, God doesn’t do things halfway. He hates sin with as much passion as He loves people.

We need to understand that God’s judgment is also a part of who our God is. Merciful? Yes. But also holy and just. Without His judgment of sin, would He really be holy? Would He really be just?

If God didn’t judge sin and evil, just imagine what this world would be like. Evil would be the status quo and heaven would eventually be full of the sin that’s gotten our world into the ugly mess it’s in. We need a God who judges sin.

Since we’re not sinless, God’s holiness is a difficult concept for us. It’s the shining, brilliant, without-a-speck-of-sin kind of holiness. Our God also knows everything. He knows sin destroys us. Balanced with His hatred of sin is His great compassion and mercy in sending Christ. “The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love,” (Psalm 145:8).

I wonder if we could even truly appreciate His mercy without taking into account His judgment. Paul said in Ephesians 2:4-5 that “because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” God’s was anything but a half-baked plan. It was a judgment plan and a mercy plan all rolled into one. That One being Jesus Christ.

As believers, our response should be to respect God the judge in every way. And then to appreciate the God of mercy all the more. Contemplating His hatred of sin should remind us to stay on our toes, not letting worldly ideas and philosophies sneak into our thinking and our behavior. God wants our wholehearted devotion. Wholehearted.

For those of us who aren’t that great at math, that probably means all three halves.

Truth Decay

April 19, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

We had some especially good pizza the other night for dinner. But just about every time we have especially good pizza for dinner, I wake up in the middle of the night thinking my teeth are wearing little sweaters. It seems I almost always have to pay for good pizza with that fuzzy-toothed feeling sometime after midnight. Has it happened to you? You sort of picture your teeth molding.

You can’t smack a few times and get rid of it. You can’t even de-fuzz with a drink of water. No, if you want to get rid of it, the only way to unbutton the little tooth-sweaters is to brush. There have been times I’ve felt compelled to fight off pizza-sweater cavities by brushing at two o’clock in the morning. I head back to bed a little tired, but at least feeling I’ve done my part to fight tooth decay.

“Truth decay” is pretty similar, though it’s not actually the truth that decays. The truth is ever sure, never fuzzy, always unchanging. It’s our personal honesty that can lose its sheen.

We can prevent personal truth decay by brushing up on God’s Word and sinking our teeth into His eternal truths. Time spent in God’s Word results in understanding more about His character, more about how we are to walk in Him, more about the life of righteousness lived in truth. He tells us in His Word in no uncertain terms that our honesty is important to Him. There are no “little white lies” in God’s book. Anything untrue is big and dark and ugly. The truth is completely non-elastic, so when we stretch the truth, it’s not the truth anymore.

God hates lies. He hates them because they’re opposed to His nature (He is truth) and because He knows lies hurt us and they hurt others. Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another” (ESV).

In Zechariah 8:16, the Lord spells out our truth instructions. “These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace” (ESV). Sometimes truth is work. It’s easier to make up an excuse about why we’re late or exaggerate a success—leave out a fact here and embellish one there. The truth might even get about as tiring as midnight brushing, but His Word tells us it’s our part. And God wants our truthfulness to be part of who we are—right down to our souls. Psalm 51:6 says, “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place” (NIV).

When we’re respecting the truth in every way we delight Him. Proverbs 12:22 tells us that, “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful” (NIV).

If you’ve been a little careless with the truth, maybe it’s time to delight your Father by polishing up your commitment to integrity and complete honesty. You’ll be refreshed in the truth and armed for right living. Armed to the teeth, even.

This Just Makes Good Scents

February 28, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

My favorite places to write are coffee shops. There’s something about the aroma of so many good coffees that seems to cause more of my neurons to start firing. Somebody should make a scratch-n-sniff version I can take home. But since I haven’t found one, when there’s a deadline looming, I head to my fave café spot until I’m finished. I think I almost won the employee of the month award there once.

Last time I walked into “my” café just for a fun lunch, I took a long sniff and said, “Mmm, smells like a book deadline in here.” Another writer friend fired right back, “Hmm, smells like procrastination to me.” Potato/Po-tah-to.

They do have a great potato/po-tah-to soup on the lunch menu at my coffee café. It’s not often I have any left over, but I did a few months ago. I packaged it up to take home and got it as far as my car, but then I forgot it. My son borrowed my car for a week or so and the soup ended up shoved way under the seat in the back.

By the time I got back in my car, it made my eyes water. It didn’t help that on top of the potato soup stench, Daniel had left several socks in a kind of compost pile. The whole car smelled like the monkey cages at the zoo. This was scratching and sniffing of a whole different order. Some smells are hard to ignore. Even with the windows down. Even with the windows down for several weeks in a row. It’s clear that sometimes a to-go order loses something in translation. Or in transportation.

In Hebrews 11, the “Hall of Faith,” we read that God gave Abraham a to-go order of a different kind. What did Abraham do? He took off! Nevermind the where. He packed up his faith and hit the road. “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going,” (Hebrews 11:8). What a great example of faith and obedience—going!

We’ve been given a to-go order too. In John 20:21, the resurrected Jesus said to His followers, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And He made no bones about it in Matthew 28:19-20. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” His “therefore go” is our charge. What a privilege to be sent on such a thrilling mission by the Savior Himself.

As we go, we’re His billboards. And we’re spreading the sweet perfume of Christ at the same time. This is so much better than anything scratch-n-sniff. “But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place,” (2 Corinthians 2:14, HCSB). The aroma of Christ! Others are influenced—changed, even, by Christ—when we wear His perfume. We’re sent. And we’re His scent.

It’s a glorious aroma. No matter how long you drive it around in your car.

Grand Opening

January 6, 2021 by  
Filed under Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

I read somewhere that when a man can’t open a jar, he has to throw it away and never speak of it again. Another guy told me that if he can’t open a jar, he comes back with a blunt instrument. What is it with guys looking for any excuse to crank up the chain saw? Okay, so I do understand a chain saw is not a blunt instrument. Unless, of course, you use it to try to pry open a pickle jar.

I admit I personally have an extremely underdeveloped jar-opening-muscle. It’s withered away from lack of use. That’s because I’ve been married all these years to a really great jar-opener. When Richie is out of town for any length of time, I’m in a real pickle, jar-wise. Not a pickle jar. A pickle. Jar-wise.

On the spiritual side of the story, however, I’m all about opening up. I never want to neglect exercising my faith by failing to keep a prayer connection with the Father open and active. We need to build spiritual muscle or we become withered, wimpy semi-believers who shrivel at the slightest pressure. It’s true, if we want to keep our spiritual muscle operating at full capacity, we have to consistently pray, thanking and praising Him, loving Him with our thoughts and words, trusting Him with every need, struggle and hurt, staying ever open and transparent before Him.

Allowing “prayer” to become merely a “churchy word” can happen all too readily. It’s easy to let it become more about what we want, or what we want others to think we’re doing, or what we say we’ll do, or even what we intend to do, than it is about communing with the Heavenly Father. It can become a ritualistic, empty religious duty in our hearts and minds rather than the enormously high privilege and sweet exchange that it truly is meant to be.

Any time we find ourselves stuck in a prayer funk, we need to give ourselves a little tap on the shoulder—a reminder of our vital need to open up those lines of communication and to see our intimacy restored. Paul said in Colossians 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer.”

We need to get extreme in that devotion, and to stay extreme in our desperate desire to faithfully connect with the Father, heart to heart. Romans 12:11-12 says, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Dictionaries further describe that zeal as enthusiastic devotion and diligence, tirelessly passionate about a cause, idea, person or goal. That’s the kind of passion we want to take with us every time we enter our prayer closet.

A sluggish or apathetic spirit may squeeze out that passion now and again, but if we want to please the Lord and fruitfully live in His joy, we need to be all about getting right back on track in opening that prayer closet door.

That’s one thing we can always open on our own. With a grateful and expectant heart. And it’s the sure way out of any spiritual pickle.

Of course, now I’ve gotten myself all hungry for pickles. Guess I’d better call my husband. Somebody’s got to open this jar.

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