By Rhonda Rhea -
Somebody asked me what super power I would want if I could have any of them. I thought about it, and then I decided on Batman’s. Because as far as I can tell, Batman’s super power is this: having a fat boatload of money. That one just seemed the most reasonable.
After thinking about it a little more, I decided it was entirely conceivable that I’ve already been bitten by a radioactive spider. It would have to have been a spider that had the spider super power of being a regular human. So now that’s my super power. You know. Being a regular human. But again, this worked out okay for Batman.
So I’m not going to get all bent out of shape about not being a super hero. For one thing, getting bent out of shape would make me Mr. Fantastic or Elastic Man or somebody stretchy like that. But mostly because all of that is silly pretend power. I know where the real stuff comes from. We have power available to accomplish everything worthy of accomplishing—all through the power of the Spirit of God.
Through His power and according to His plan, every believer has the amazing opportunity to work for the Kingdom of God. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (ESV). I love thinking about the way every task has been long ago hand chosen for each of us individually by a loving Father.
If He hand picks each mission, why would we even for a second wonder where the power would come from to carry out each of those missions? In that same chapter in Ephesians, we’re told, “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit,” (verse 22, ESV). We never lack the power to carry out whatever job He’s given us to do. That power—His power—dwells in us. First Corinthians 12:6 says that “there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone” (ESV).
We’re not talking about a person’s “abilities” here. Not our strength. Not our intelligence. Not our possessions or our money—even if we have a fat boatload of it. This power is infinitely bigger. We’re empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. Super powers of the highest order.
If you ever find yourself feeling inadequate for a task you believe God has called you to, let me encourage you to remember that you don’t need to hesitate for a second. He will accomplish through you by His indwelling power every job He’s calling you to do. No need to shy away from any task—even those that seem overwhelming in your own non-super-heroic powers.
The power to share His Gospel, for instance, comes directly from the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 says that “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses” (NASB). You will receive “power.”
The power to change the world is right there. And it stretches from here to eternity. Without the slightest assistance from Mr. Fantastic.
By Rhonda Rhea -
Glass half full person. Glass half empty person. I tend to be more of a dribble-whatever’s- in- the- glass- down- my- shirt person. It’s always best if I try to coordinate whatever I’m wearing with the meal of the moment. That’s one big reason I so want a chocolate suit.
My husband? We should always buy him shirts made of ink. Spots under the pocket wouldn’t be spots. They would just be, well, more shirt. They say the clothes make the man. If that’s true, Richie’s clothes make him…INK MAN. Yet you should know (and I’m not saying this with even a hint of sarcasm), “Ink Man” will always be my hero. He has a special “spot” in my heart.
In a spiritual battle, I choose to team up with those who are well-armed. The villains waging war against us in this life are heavier on the evil than any you’ll find in your average super hero movie. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:1-12, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (ESV).
“Cosmic powers over this present darkness”? Nothing in the comics compares. Then again, nothing—imaginary or real—compares with the strength we find in the armor of God. We’re able to stand against evil as we put on that armor. If Tony Stark came strutting up to some giant super villain without his suit, not only would he look ridiculous, but he would also be toast. I can just imagine him trying to shoot power beams out of his hands. Nothing. Or maybe jumping up to fly off, getting nowhere. As a super hero, Tony is nakedly nothing without the suit.
Even worse, he’s defenseless. It would be the ultimate in foolishness for him to even think of going into a battle with an evil nemesis without his shields up.
For us spiritually, we are armed and battle-ready when we take off anything fleshly—all traces of self-sufficiency and those prideful thoughts that seek to deceive us into thinking we have any kind of power of our own we can carry into the fray. Verse 10 in that Ephesians 6 passage makes it clear where our battle-readiness should come from: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” His strength. His might. Because it’s His battle. And the next verse tells us we should put on the whole armor “of God.” Not of self. Not of man. Not of any of our own ideas of how super-hero strength should operate. His armor.
No power on this planet or any other can prevail against us when we’re armored up. His truth enables us, His righteousness empowers us, His Gospel of peace emboldens us and the faith He gives us fortifies us. No need for any glass half-full kind of thinking here. We can’t lose.
Battles fought in His strength? I’m happy to tell you in the most positive way that we’re “well-suited” for each and every one.
By Rhonda Rhea –
I read somewhere that the reason shopping malls have benches is so that men can have somewhere to sit while they give up the will to live. I wonder how often guys have said the words, “I will give you five hundred bucks right here on the spot if you’ll just pick a pair of shoes right now. Any pair.”
Of course, any man who says that doesn’t understand that as the words are coming out of his mouth, the savvy woman shopper is already calculating how many more pairs of shoes that will buy. The poor guy doesn’t understand that he’s actually buying himself at least four more shoe-shopping trips. Most guys just don’t get shoe math.
We all have places in life we don’t particularly like to go. There are things that happen we’d simply rather not experience. That comes along with living in a world that groans under the curse of sin. But it makes all the difference in the world when we remember that He will be our joy along the way. No matter where we are in life, no matter what the challenge or heartache, there is always a reason to praise our God. He puts the song of praise right into our mouths. David said in Psalm 40:1-3, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” (NIV)
For the record, “slimy pit” might equal “mall” in guy math. But whatever the pit, David waited patiently. That leads me to ask myself regularly: Am I? Are you? Are we waiting patiently for what the Lord wants to do through our difficulties? Even at the mall? Or more seriously, even in the midst of piercing pain or deep sorrow?
Want a better math formula? Patience equals trust. Trust means we keep right on following, leaning all the more on Him. “My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You,” (Psalm 63:8, AMP).
There’s victory in the following. There’s comfort in the leaning. There’s joy in the clinging. Psalm 30:5 reminds us, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning,” (ESV).
Everything He’s doing on the inside of us keeps us joyfully going, praising as we go—never giving up. “Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory,” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17, HCSB).
The joy of the Lord is greater than any trial. Times infinity. Now there’s some good math. We do well when we embrace the truth that we can lean into Him, that He will be our joy and that our glorious future is sure.
Incidentally, I think the guys would do well to just go sit on the bench. And instead of giving up the will to live, maybe form a support group with all the other guys sitting on benches.
By Rhonda Rhea -
I don’t know why we’re always making things a lot more complicated than we need to, but repairs shouldn’t be rocket science. Unless you’re repairing rockets. But for everything else it’s a lot simpler than we tend to make it. According to my grandfather, if it’s mechanical, you fix it with duct tape or WD-40. In extreme cases, both. According to my grandmother, if it’s biological, sometimes you fix it with Vicks. Sometimes Camphophenique. In extreme cases, both. According to me, everything else that doesn’t require rocket science can most likely be fixed with chocolate. Also, for all the categories and for every fix-it need, you should actually always try the chocolate first.
I could be wrong but it seems to me most civil upheaval happens in the countries with the least amount of chocolate. Come on, just stop and think about it. I think I could demonstrate my reasoning with a pie chart. Of course, mine would be a chocolate pie chart. Then I could make my point slice by slice.
Ah, there’s the sweet life. Not to mention, I would be helping protect the civility of our culture one whipped-cream-covered bite at a time.
Where is it that we really find the sweet life? If you’re talking about the taste buds, sure, try the chocolate. But if you’re talking about the heart, that heart is going to have to be filled with something entirely different. Not a something. A SomeOne. Come on, just stop and think about it.
This is not about some sort of make-over of your cardiac muscle. Experiencing the real sweet life means giving Jesus the real heart of you—every single part of you. It’s more than just a little life-fix. It’s a make over, under, around and through as we allow Him to fill our every thought, check our every motive, influence our every move. It’s allowing Him to fill our everything. And to be our everything.
Paul said “For in Him we live and move and exist,” (Acts 17:28, HCSB). We live because of Him and He is the one who sustains this life. Every move is made in Him. There’s not even a remote possibility for the slightest motion without His strength. And we exist in Him. The original language gives us the sweet picture of our continual and complete dependence on Him for every little thing in this moment, and also for our continued existence in the next.
Life is sweeter at that place where we recognize it’s not really ours to fix. It’s not ours at all. It’s sweeter at that place where we recognize it’s all about Him and surrender every part fully to His control. There’s an amazingly sweet fellowship with Him there. Real worship. David said, “As for me, I will continue beholding Your face in righteousness (rightness, justice, and right standing with You); I shall be fully satisfied, when I awake to find myself beholding Your form and having sweet communion with You,” (Psalm 17:15, AMP).
“Sweet communion.” I love it. With or without whipped cream on top.
By Rhonda Rhea -
When I was a kid, I always wondered why anyone would ever choose Frankenberry over Count Chocula. Because…chocolate. That was my entire reason. Of course, even though I was only a kid, I still instinctively knew that cereal chocolate didn’t really count as true chocolate. It was actually the first bite of Cocoa Krispies that tipped me off. It was more like: snap, crackle, I don’t think so.
I’m sorry, but I’ve just never been all that cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. I think it might be simulated. Simulated what, I don’t know. It doesn’t even smell right. It’s like a cross between old baby oil and sweetened aluminum. Spoiled, oiled or foiled—I don’t know that either.
Calling cereal chocolate real chocolate would be like calling cereal marshmallows real marshmallows. I know it’s supposed to be to a breakfast cereal’s credit when it stays crunchy even in milk, but I don’t think that’s supposed to go for the mallows. Whenever you bite down on a marshmallow, you shouldn’t be able to hear it. That’s just not right, people. They’re not marshmallows. It’s not chocolate.
Crumble Ho Ho’s in a bowl. Add milk. There’s your chocolate cereal.
There’s always disappointment in encountering the fake. So much more so when you’re talking about what is meant to distinguish us as Christ-followers. Jesus said in 1 John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (ESV).
We’re called to love each other without anything counterfeit or artificial. Without hypocrisy. Without self-centeredness, secret agendas or ulterior motives. Self-seeking fake-love? It’s just not right, people. Because we’ve received the forgiveness of Christ, our love is to be sincere, deep, heart-felt—just as His is. “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22, NIV).
There’s no place for counterfeit love among those who know Christ. Only the genuine article will do. Paul said in Romans 12:9, “Let love be genuine” (ESV).
So how do we do that? We love the Lord first and foremost. We obey His commands and allow His Spirit to work out His love through us. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-39, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” (HCSB). And He will never command us to do something He won’t enable us to do.
Love is more than just an emotion. It’s the ability to sacrifice for another. Jesus lived and died showing us how to walk it out. “And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God” (Ephesians 5:2, HCSB).
No weird aluminum smell. A fragrant offering. When we’re walking in His love, there’s simply nothing artificial about it.
Because…Jesus. That’s my entire reason.