O Magnify—And Liquefy

February 26, 2014 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

January 29, 2014 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

December 18, 2013 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

November 27, 2013 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.

The Details Are a Little Etch-a-Sketchy

October 30, 2013 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Rhonda Rhea –

I was working on a book in a wild fury. My fingers had been flying across the keyboard for the better part of an afternoon. I was in “the zone,” man. The zone is a very happy place for a writer to be—especially when a deadline is inching nearer. And by “inching” I actually mean barreling down like a locomotive.

Procrastination, however, just seems to be my way. I think it’s because I work so much better with that good, panic-driven rush of adrenaline. I’m pretty sure I do my best writing when I’m just this side of hyperventilation.

My computer had been misbehaving for days, and as the deadline loomed and I was rounding the corner of Chapter 21, my computer did something very evil. It swallowed an entire afternoon’s work. No recovery options. Gone. All that adrenaline down the drain! I felt like I’d been run over by The Little Engine That Couldn’t. I’m still considering typing my next manuscript on an Etch-a-Sketch.

There was no way to replace what I’d written. It’s not even that the details I’d put in there were sketchy. They were completely gone from my head. With any creative thought that might crop up in my little brain, the words slowly ooze out of the brain cells, track down the arms and through the fingers, then roll into the computer. But it’s a one-way track. Just trying to remember little tidbits of the book parts I’d lost, I was working myself into a good cry and a whole new level of hyperventilation.

Those times of tears and hyperventilation have a distinctive way of snapping me around to the most basic reality: God is in control. He wasn’t freaking out about those couple of chapters I’d lost. He didn’t have a hand on each of His cheeks with an “Oh no! Never saw that coming. How can I make any ministry happen here now?”

He is in control—and He’s the one I should run to and rest in. When I’m in the midst of a train wreck, and just as enthusiastically when life is clicking along on the smoothest tracks. Even when I’m in “the zone.”

He tells us in Isaiah 46:10, “I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will,” (HCSB). Beginning, end and everything in between. He’s already written the story. Every chapter.

The psalmist speaks of “the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples,” (Psalm 65:6-7, ESV). A paraphrase of His name here is “Earth-Tamer, Ocean-Pourer, Mountain-Maker, Hill-Dresser, Muzzler of sea storm and wave crash” (MSG).

The God who can muzzle the wave crash is certainly not undone by a computer crash. He is the sovereign all-powerful One. The Most High. He is the Redeemer. To say He’s more powerful than a locomotive is the ultimate in understatement. He’s just…MORE.

As you might guess, He was more than powerful enough to redeem the chapters I lost. I even liked the new ones better. Makes me wonder why I ever hyperventilate. Trusting in His power is so much better than breathing into a brown paper bag. And it’s for sure, He’s the only one who can put my loco in any kind of motion.

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