Faith Like a Taco

January 23, 2023 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea

Okay, so here’s an idea. A taco, but with a folded hamburger patty for the shell. Because nobody lives forever anyway.

It makes me want to imagine there’s actually a quote that goes, “Ask not for whom the Taco Bell tolls. It probably tolls for thee.”

I’m not sure how to stop my brain from coming up with new ideas that add fat content to my diet by the thigh-load. You’d think my cholesterol numbers would scare me straight. Of course, this is precisely why I don’t regularly have my cholesterol checked. Knowing might actually be a strain on my heart.

Some people don’t know that cholesterol can produce extra adrenaline that way. I do wonder if at some point my heart and thighs will together rise up and tell me enough is enough.

When it comes to faith, though, is there ever a point we feel we have enough? And how much would that be? Even the disciples asked Jesus to grow their faith (Luke 17:5) and they were eye-witnesses to the miracles of Christ. They heard His words firsthand.

This life is full of challenges. We need a faith that’s not merely “enough.” We need faith that’s meaty. Double-meaty, even.

We beef up our faith every time we remember exactly where that faith is placed. It’s not faith in faith. That’s just a lot of extra fat. Hebrews 12:2 refers to Jesus as “the author and perfecter of faith,” (NASB). Our “Author” creates our faith in the first place. The Greek word used there can also mean “captain.” The word for “perfecter” means “completer” or “finisher.” He originates, creates, generates our faith. He captains, steers, controls our faith. We can fully trust Him to perfect, complete, sustain our faith.

Take a look at the paraphrase: “No extra spiritual fat…Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in… When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:1-3, MSG).

Each time we think of the One who originated and sustains our faith, and each time we remember the cross of Christ and all that’s been done to complete our faith, it revs our faith up all the more. We’re talking good adrenaline here. Not a strain on the heart. As a matter of fact, nothing is heart-healthier.

All the Lord has done for our faith is oh so enough. Our faith can rest in His “enough-ness.” The hymn says it so well:

My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device or creed;
I trust the ever living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.
I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

(“My Faith Has Found a Resting Place” by Eliza E. Hewitt in Songs of Joy and Gladness, 1891)
Let’s fix our eyes on Him and His “enough-ness” and let our faith pleasantly rest there. And let it flourish there.

Faith in Him. Faith in what He accomplished on the cross. It’s faith folded into faith. And that’s beefy—in only the very best ways.

O Magnify—And Liquefy

December 31, 2022 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

People say that to survive a volatile stock market you should have plenty of liquidity. That’s why I’m thinking about investing in water.

When you’re investing in water stocks, I wonder if you get to decide whether to buy the hydrogen and oxygen together or separately. I don’t know, chemistry was never my thing. Knowing me I’d mix up my formulas. A couple of extra dashes of oxygen and instead of H2O I could end up with something like H2O2. That might be a better investment stock-wise, but it falls way short when you’re thirsty…what with it being hydrogen peroxide and all. Although, bonus. Instead of investing or drinking I could just forget the whole thing and go color my hair.

Sometimes I can almost convince myself this is my real hair color. Then again, it’s probably just a pigment of my imagination.

I had to laugh one time when I was whining about having to get my hair colored so often and my husband suggested I take some time off from coloring. Husbands. They’re so cute. I told him I wasn’t ready for that kind of time off. A total gray-cation? No thanks. I’d dye first.

Hair color is one thing, but it’s a pretty sure bet nobody wants me messing with chemical elements or any of their atomic structures. There’s a rather frightening thought.

I do, however, love thinking of Jesus as our “Living H2O.” Makes me thirsty just thinking about it.

An ardent thirst for the Lord leads us to a place of worship. Worship is our right response every time we contemplate our glorious God and every time we seek Him. When God told Moses to tell Pharaoh, “This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so they can worship me,” (Exodus 8:1 NIV). God set in place the plan to free His people. But He didn’t simply free them from slavery. He freed them so they could worship Him.

Our salvation came at great cost. God freed us from the slavery of sin so we could worship Him. Not merely freedom from something. But freedom to do something. Worship. He wants an intimate relationship with each of us—one in which we recognize Him as the great God of the universe.

As we thirst for Him, He does satisfy. Jesus said to the woman at the well, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would ask Him, and He would give you living water,’” (John 4:10 HCSB).

The more we thirst for Him and seek Him in worship, the more we see the Lord tweak all the other thirsts. Frustrations and challenges, fears and angers, heartaches and failures—they fall into perspective at our altar of worship. It’s like we drink in His glory. And that will quench.

So even if the stock market totally dries up, I think I’ll forget about all that and simply shoot for staying thirsty for everything Jesus. And I’m not even going to worry about the H’s or the O’s.

Things Unseen

December 7, 2022 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

We’ve been talking about getting an invisible fence for the dog. Then I got to thinking, wouldn’t it be cheaper to just get an invisible dog? Immediate reduction in food costs. And the yard clean-up? No comparison. If your invisible dog decides to use your sofa as a giant face towel, you’re not any worse off. Not to mention, taking your invisible dog to the imaginary vet could save a boatload of bucks.

On the other hand, invisible dogs are not very effective when you try to blame them for your missing homework. If they bark at intruders, I doubt you’ll ever hear it. And how about having a little beast so excited to see you that it can’t stop wiggling? I think we’d miss seeing that.

Faith is not exactly something you can see either. But even still, it solidifies in our minds and hearts everything that is most real. “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. For our ancestors won God’s approval by it. By faith we understand that the universe was created by God’s command, so that what is seen has been made from things that are not visible” (Hebrews 11:1-3 HCSB).

Everything we can see with our eyes has been created by the God we’ve not seen. The evidence brings faith. And the faith is more evidence.

Do you know what happens as we allow the Lord to grow our faith and use it in serving Him? He gives us eyes to see people in a way we’ve never seen them before and to love them in a way we can’t in our own flesh. He gives us glimpses of what He sees.

Paul expressed great gratitude to God for the people in Thessalonica. Why? “because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing,” (2 Thessalonians 1:3 ESV).

Singer, songwriter and—my favorite role of his—son, Andy Rhea, wrote about putting feet to our faith in the song “Drop Your Nets.” In it, he writes,

Lay me down, I will stay right where you want me to
Pick me up, and I will go. Oh Lord, you know I’ll go
Break me to the ground so I’ll be face to face with all the ones that I’ve
Stepped on, passed by
Missed their mute cries
Come on people, we have eyes to dry

Sometimes our call to faith beckons us to hear some cries and dry some eyes. It calls us to drop what might be most comfortable and to sacrifice. The song continues:

This is the call for disciples’ nets to fall down
This is the broken up soil, it’s time to seed it
This is the call for disciples’ nets to fall down
This is a vein full of love, it’s time to bleed it

A “dogged” faith, if you will, is one that shows up in how we see people. And how we love them. A key line in Andy’s song is “Let’s lay down our nets and scream, ‘We were made to see things unseen.’” Invisible. Yet seen.

As far as the invisible dog goes, though, I’m still looking. But they’re just so hard to find.

Giving All—Mind, Body and Brownies

November 6, 2022 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

My workout routine for today: stirred brownie batter. It was really thick brownie batter too. So thick I’m probably going to need a nap. Right after I eat this brownie.

I was contemplating being out of shape the other day as I pulled out my new gym membership card. I should explain here that my new gym membership card isn’t nearly so much about my workout routine as it is my imagination. But I figure even if I don’t have an active lifestyle, at least I do have an active imagination. So there’s that. Now if I can only teach myself to eat imaginary brownies. Yeah, not very likely, that.

Still, pretty sure I’ll eventually need to do something about all these layers insulating my abs. Disturbing as it is, each layer is about the consistency of brownie batter. Like parfait gone terribly wrong. Ew.

Didn’t I read somewhere I could “think” myself thin? In that vein, I think I’ll plan some imaginary cardio for later this afternoon. Then again, for all of us who plan to “think” our exercise, abs of batter will probably always be our buns of steel.

While we’re thinking about it, how about a reminder to put more than just thought into our faith life? An intellectual exercise alone will do about as much for our spiritual well-being as imaginary exercise will do for us physically.

Maybe you’ve read Romans 12: 1-2 even more times than I’ve dodged my workouts. I read it routinely. And though I read it routinely, it’s always a heart-charger. Like spiritual cardio, this passage so often becomes a faith workout routine for my heart and mind: “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).

That’s the kind of spiritual cardio that is truly heart-changing. I’m reminded here to present my body, brownies and all. And I’m reminded to let my mind be renewed too. Both are exercises of obedience. Both are exercises of faith. The Lord wants our bodies. He wants our minds. He wants us heart, soul—absolutely all. He wants us in the most complete, scrape-every-part-of-the-bowl way.

Following Him is not merely an intellectual exercise. It’s verified in our sacrifice. It’s at the point of total surrender that we’re free to understand, to “discern,” the “perfect will of God.”

O Lord, may we be ever-ready to give body, mind, heart and soul to you in loving obedience.

As far as the physical workout goes, I’m thinking one of the things I should exercise is better judgment. Yesterday I stood up, yawned, then totally counted that as my yoga. I don’t even do yoga. Not to mention, after that I figured I’d earned a brownie.

The Gravity of the Situation

October 21, 2022 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

There are several reasons I’ll never skydive. I’ll give you my top two. First, I’ve seen videos of people skydiving. Their faces…well…they “flutter.” Wildly. Honestly, I don’t need to see my face flapping violently over my ears, thank you very much. That kind of wind velocity is just not meant for faces over 40. It ends up looking like a basset hound pup with its head out a car window—multiplied by how ever many years you are over 40.

I’m not daring enough to sass the math. Gravity plus wind velocity times X the number of years over 40. That’s an equation that simply can’t equal anything pretty.

But in addition to the math of it all, the second reason you won’t find me skydiving—and the biggest reason—is this simple: gravity. Seems to me skydiving could all too easily become sky-dying. It’s not even the jumping out of a plane part that scares me so much as it is the inevitability of the hitting the ground part. No it’s not the jumping, or even the falling. It’s the landing. And the possibility of it ending in a splat. Sometimes I wonder if people who skydive don’t really understand the “gravity” of the situation.

That reminds me, though, how glad I am that I know where I’m headed, eternally speaking. I don’t fear death. I will confess here, I do fear pain. Actually it’s not quite fear of pain. It’s more of a very vigorously enthusiastic hatred of pain.

But pain or no pain, it’s essential we know that our future is secure and that death, however it comes, is not the end. There’s amazing comfort there. And that always tends to put fear in its place. It even puts math in its place.

Second Corinthians 4:16-18 says, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal,” (ESV).

The Amplified version of verse 17 refers to our existence on the other side of this flappy-faced life as “an everlasting weight of glory, beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!” Now that, my friends, is a weight that defies gravity. This is some math I can love. It’s a beyond-all-measure, never-ceasing glory. Its calculations are beyond comparison in this life. No need to bother with any old equation. This is the greatest of the “greater thans.”

I want to follow Paul’s instructions in this passage to “not lose heart.” As a matter of fact, instead of losing my heart, I want to keep it. And I know it’s some strange math, but I think keeping my heart means giving it away. A heart fully surrendered to Christ is one that is able to look past the pains of this life and to look past a wildly flapping, wasting-away face, experiencing renewal day by day. I want to live in that renewal. I want to live this life well in the power of the One who created me. And then, I want to finish well. I want to “stick the landing,” so to speak. Even if it ends with a splat.

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