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.

Cut and Dry

November 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

I confess, I’ve done a bad thing. Logic warned me not to do it, but I did it anyway. I cut my own bangs. Every time I take the scissors into my own hands, I promise myself I’ll never do it again. That’s because I never fail to end up looking at little like Star Trek’s Spok, minus the ears. And yet this is definitely no way to live long and prosper.

When am I going to get it? I’m just not a skilled bang-cutter. When I try, I’m operating miles outside my area of expertise.

The gal who cuts my hair, on the other hand, knows what she’s doing around a pair of hair-cutting scissors. She can trim, gel, clip and mousse with the best of them. And she’s pretty adamant about me staying away from hair self-service. She knows whatever mess I make—and I will make a mess—she’ll have to straighten out.

Isn’t it strange that I would take the scissors into my own hands, knowing my past haircutting record? I’ve thought about it, and I don’t care how badly I needed an operation, I’m quite sure I would never snatch the scalpel from the surgeon’s hand with a, “Oh, let me do that! I saw an appendectomy on the Health Channel one time. I can so do this!”

In an eternal perspective, I guess my hair—even my appendix—is not as important as it may seem. As a matter of fact, hair and body parts are simple compared to running a life. Yet how many times have I snatched the controls on that too?

When I take control of my own life, I make a mess every time. I’m operating miles outside my area of expertise. I end up whining to the Father, “Lor-or-ord, can you fix this, plea-ea-ease?” Wouldn’t it be easier to simply be obedient in the first place?

We please God and show our love for Him by “surrendering the scissors,” so to speak, in complete obedience. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.”

Then in John 15:9-11, Jesus tells us that we find real joy as we’re pleasing God, keeping his commands: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

Joy. And not just any joy. It’s a joy that’s complete. It’s real life. Even a longer life. Proverbs 10:27 says, “The fear of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short.”

It’s a sobering truth.

Still, did it have to say “cut short”? Just another reminder I’m spending the next couple of weeks suffering severe bang humiliation.

Green Flowered Bag in a Black Suitcase World

September 24, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

I was waiting for my luggage at the airport recently and I made an interesting observation: I think about 90% of travelers have black luggage. If you have a black suitcase on wheels, forget about just reaching out, grabbing it off the belt and rolling on your way. Just try it and you could very possibly get mugged by a dozen or so other black-luggage-lugging passengers. I had to take my husband’s black luggage on a trip one time, and I lost two nails in a bad black suitcase scene. I think I still have a couple of emotional scars from that one. Talk about emotional baggage.

It was actually pretty funny when I watched it this week. Tons of luggage was sliding down to the carousel and every time the crowd spotted a black, wheeled bag coming down the pike, the entire mob leaned in as one. It was a little freaky. As the bag got closer, they would all circle around it like over-sized vultures.

Three or four would reach for it to try to check the tags. Then there were several awkward smiles. And then for that one person (who had probably already reached for the wrong bag a good dozen times), it would be sort of like when you guess the right price from contestant’s row and get to go up on stage. Ding, ding, ding! “I won! It’s mine!”

This time I got to simply stand back and observe. Why? Because my luggage is green. Not just green, but green with flowers. And if that’s not distinctive enough, I’ve tied a white scarf in a giant bow around the handle. I can identify my luggage before it’s even all the way down the chute. Never a doubt. I always know when mine is coming.

Jesus knows us that way. He can see us coming. How it fills our lives with hope when we’re assured that we are identified as His.

The Bible tells us that everyone who is born of God wins. 1 John 5:4 says, “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”

There’s even more dark stuff in this world than there is dark luggage. But for those of us who’ve by faith given our lives to Christ, there’s a bright and shining hope that is our ultimate victory. It’s brighter than the brightest green luggage and more distinctive than any white bow. You can say, “I won! Victory is mine!” Hope is instant once we understand what it is to become that green-flowered bag in a black suitcase world.

So go ahead. Check the name tag. If you’re His, your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. It’s settled. Never a doubt. The suitcase is yours. It’s a bag that comes packed full of all the hope you’ll ever need to carry you joyfully through this life journey.

And this is actually one of those times when it’s good to be left holding the bag.

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