The Bible or Poor Richard’s Almanac? by Jo Russell

“Whoa, Jo! That isn’t even in the Bible. It’s from Poor Richard’s Almanac written by Benjamin Franklin!” Franklin was famous as a businessman, author, statesman, ambassador, popular ladies’ man and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin had an answer for nearly every difficulty – except when it came to God.

“We can’t find this in the Bible?” I asked, thinking that I knew the Bible very well by reading it, applying it and knowing it by pure association. For example, when I cook, my prayer basket with Bible and study guides is right next to the flour and oil.

“No, just try,” she challenged me.

My friend pricked my curiosity, so I ordered *The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin combined with excerpts from Poor Richards’s Almanac .

Ben Franklin wrote the almanac over a period of twenty-five years. In book publishing circles, he enjoyed success and many trips to the bank with fat deposits. Just as every family today has a phone book, so in the mid-seventeen-hundreds, every family had a Poor Richard’s Almanac. So how about a quiz? Can you tell which of these comes from the Bible and which from Poor Richard’s Almanac? The answers will be posted Wednesday, August 3.

Passages: Poor Richard’s Almanac or The Bible?
1.Wise men learn by others’ harms. Fools scarcely learn by their own.
2.Therefore ask [a] blessing humbly and be not uncharitable to those at present seem to want it, but comfort and help them.
3. Do not speak to a fool, for he will scorn the wisdom of your words.
4. They that won’t be counseled can’t be helped.
5. But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his counsel.
6. I, even I, am he who comforts you.
7. But dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.
8. So in everything do to others what you would have them do to you.
9. A friend loveth at all times.

* Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Including Poor Richard’s Almanac and Familiar Letters, Cosimo Classics, New York: 2005. Originally published by the Spencer Press, 1791.


So what’s the point? Do you know whose guidelines you are following in your life? Are you attributing the world’s advice to God? Make sure you know who speaks before you follow. Read your Bible.

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing, 2011. For more chuckles, keep checking her weekly blog on]

Planning – Too Much of a Good Thing By Jo Russell

My world-traveling friend laughed when I told her I had already packed six months before my first overseas trip. For months, I also had been knitting scarves and hats for the perfect color-coordinated spring tulip tour.

“When do you pack?” I asked the world traveler.

“The night before.”

“And you don’t forget anything?”


I pictured my friend knitting in noisy airports when the airlines lost her luggage, moved or cancelled her flights. She had been as calm as a water lily when hotel shuttles had stopped running and taxis had been scarce. My friend can live out of her knitting bag for a season without running out of anything — except yarn. To counter the threat of that catastrophe, she always carries a list of yarn shops in each of her stops and destinations.

When it had come time for my trip, I had checked everything one more time and packed a carry-on knitting bag with necessities. It had been so compacted the bag’s contents could fill a banquet table with enough merchandise to start a small boutique.

“Did I forget anything?” I thought and then decided, “Never!” At the overnight stop before the Atlantic crossing, my cousin, Vera, joined me and got out her toothbrush. That was when I looked for mine. No toothbrush. I went to the desk of the hotel.

“Sorry. There has been a run on toothbrushes,” the clerk told me.

I brushed my teeth with a Q-tip. On the cross-Atlantic flight, no luck, either. I rinsed and spit. The upscale hotel next to the cruise port? Fabulous gym, breakfast buffet, and even a slide on the television: “Welcome, Josephine and Vera!” But no toothbrushes. I dredged out a plastic fork and a tissue to pick granola out of my teeth. The cruise ship? Plumb out. Fortunately, a fellow passenger had an extra.

Planning ahead is wise, but it can be too much of a good thing.

A widely publicized return of Jesus posted on billboards all over the U.S. predicted May 21 was the end. Some people took the date so seriously they took their own lives.

But 6 a.m. on May 21 came and went. Had those who believed the publicity read a Bible, they would have known from Jesus’ own words, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard!….Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back – whether in the evening or at midnight or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.” Check it out for yourself in Mark 13:32-37 and Matthew 24:36-44.

So prepare – with your spiritual portfolio ready for review at all times.
And for your travels? Be sure to pack a toothbrush!

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing, 2011. For more chuckles, keep checking her weekly blog on]

Ladies of Assumption By Jo Russell

“Our Lady of Assumption” the church van read. When I saw it, the first thing I thought was, “What are they assuming? When I looked up “assumption,” I just blew off the first couple of common religious definitions, to see if assumption meant I was taking something for granted. Sure enough.

We women and mothers are all ladies of assumption. We are like optimists who are born with the “best case scenario” carved into our hearts.
We assume when we have sweated over a color-coordinated nursery that would “wow” even the HGTV staff, our newborn(s) won’t make a mess on the walls, floor, crib or curtains.

We assume when we give our toddlers their first allowances, they will deposit the coins in the piggy bank like we showed them instead of cascading coins into the mattresses, coats, and pillowcases, leaving us to find them a few at a time for years afterward. Eventually, kids understand the bank idea. Sometimes they spell it M-O-M and D-A-D or M-O-T-H-E-R.

When our kids are older, we assume that they will learn to like whatever they can’t stand. When four, one of my sons quipped, “When I am five, I will learn to like onions. When I am fifteen, I will learn to like girls.” (Well, one out of two isn’t bad.)

We assume that when we buy two weeks worth of groceries for the family, the food will last fourteen days without being locked up in an armored car.

We also assume that when we fill the lawn mower with gas, change the spark plug, show our offspring how to prime it, and pull the start cord, then park it in the middle of a six-inch lawn waving like America’s wheat, we will return hours later to the smell and look of fresh-cut grass.

We assume that road trips will go flawlessly without getting lost, with no one getting carsick or losing one shoe, without even one flat tire.

Along the same line, we optimists believe that all prayers will be answered “Yes,” and we will never run out of toilet paper before payday. With God’s steady hand in our lives, we can continue to believe in the “best case scenario.” God’s answers are not always “yes,” but also “no” and “wait.”

Have you claimed him as your guide today?

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing, 2011. For more chuckles, keep checking  her weekly blog on]