Sneeze-quake

October 13, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

I was born in Texas. We’re mostly big sneezers there. It’s widely accepted that Texans do everything bigger. No wimpy little “achoo.” No, that’s simply not “Texas” enough. My sneeze, for instance, comes out in sort of a “Yah-hoo!” Heavy on the “yah” and extra, extra heavy on the “hoo.” It could hardly get more Texan than that—unless maybe I roped and branded something in the middle of the sneezing.

My Texas sneeze has a heaping helping of reverberation in it too. It can give ringing ears to everyone within an eighth of a mile radius for a good ten minutes. My husband says my sneeze registers 8.7 on the Richter scale. He’s exaggerating, of course. It’s probably barely a 4.

But to top it all off, my husband also tells me I always sneeze in nines. I think it’s interesting that he accounts for all of them. But then maybe it’s a little like counting down a missile launch. Except that it’s more like a missile launch…times nine. He’s asked that I start yelling “Incoming!” before the first sneeze launches. I hate to say it, but reverberation is not always a good thing.

It is a good thing, though, when we’re launching the grandest of all proclamations. Here’s hoping we can add even more decibels in proclaiming the message of Christ to a hopeless world. We have the message they need. That’s hope that’s worth yahooing about. Hope not just times nine. Hope times infinity.

Hold back my sneeze? I’m pretty sure I’d explode. We can’t hold back the message either. Peter and John got that. “For we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard,” (Acts 4:20, HCSB).

How can we not share it? Jesus Christ went to the cross and suffered that cruel, humiliating death on the cross to make it possible for us to have a right, tight relationship with our holy Heavenly Father. Astounding. The sinless Christ on a cross, hated and shamed, bearing our sin. All for our redemption.

God didn’t keep secret His plan for getting the word out about that redemption. He chose us for the job. First Peter 2:9 says, “You were chosen to tell about the wonderful acts of God, who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light,” (NCV). The Father could’ve blasted the Good News over the most reverberating heavenly tweeters and woofers. He could’ve put it on YouTube. He could’ve beamed it over every satellite—or written in the stars, for that matter. He could’ve had the rocks cry out or used some sort of earthquake-attention-grabber. And He does so often use innovative ways to get His word out to those who need it. But the bottom line in His plan is for us to tell. What an honor it is to be included in that plan! That’s nothing to sneeze at, for sure.

And speaking of sneezes, you’re going to think I’m making this part up, but I started sneezing while I was writing this. Totally true. Mid first paragraph even. I haven’t seen the cat for over an hour.

Circle the Wagons

September 7, 2021 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

Coffee and donuts. They go together like love and marriage. Someday I’d like to write a poem and I’d like to start it with the line, “Coffee and donuts, sittin’ in a tree.” I’m not sure where to go from there. I get that far and all I know is that I want to be in that tree.

I confess I’ve had a few too many donuts. Sad to say, the bough on that tree would be bending pretty low about now. That’s why I decided to go on yet another diet recently. Also sad to say, I’ve already fallen off the wagon.

I’m thinking of putting up a sign that says, “Please keep body inside the wagon at all times and please stay seated until the wagon comes to a complete and final stop.”

You know, if someone would think of bringing fudge along on the wagon ride I would be a lot more motivated to stay on it. Okay, I suppose a really good friend would probably give me a nudge to stay on the wagon. Nudge or fudge. Tough call on which is best, friendship-wise.

In our spiritual lives, we all need a little nudge now and then too. It’s good to have people in our lives we can count on to nudge us in the right direction, wherever the wagons are heading.

As pioneers were settling the west, when they were threatened by an enemy, circling the wagons was part of their defense strategy. The circle provided a protected cover they could get behind to fire at their attackers.

We need to rally with those on this life’s journey in the same way. We have a common enemy. Peter reminds us to “be alert” because our “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Circle the wagons! Our church family is part of our defensive plan against our enemy. The next verse in 1 Peter says, “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (vs. 9).

We’re in this together. Let’s not neglect circling the wagons. “Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together as believers, as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25, AMP).

I’m so thankful the Lord has placed godly church buds and godly leaders in my path all through my life via the church. People with just the right nudge at the ready. There are pastors, teachers and leaders who stay alert to our spiritual supervision, keeping watch the scripture says. And Hebrews 13:17 instructs us to be responsive to them. “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”

Less burden. More joy. It’s a good choice.

And in other choices, I’m considering choosing to keep the extra 20 pounds and just get myself a bigger wagon. One with really good shocks.

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.

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