Behtlehem Herald Sheriff”s Report for Dec. 25 by Jo Russell

The Bethlehem Herald Sheriff’s Report: The following incidents were reported by the Bethlehem Sheriff’s Department hotline:

December 24: Fifty-five residents continue to complain that for months now, an unusually bright blazing star is still keeping them awake at night. “We’re afraid the sky is falling in,” Citizen Isaac stated. After the first reports, BSD contacted scientists at the University of Jerusalem and Babylon College, who continue to investigate further. Scientists have no explanation to date.

December 25: Owners of the Circle S Ranch complained that in the early morning hours, their employees all fled from watching the flocks in the hills, leaving hundreds of sheep unattended.

At 2:00 a.m., Shepherd Caleb was apprehended by a Bethlehem Sheriff’s Deputy after numerous townspeople reported him for disturbing the peace: singing, jumping, and weaving in and out of the alleys shouting, “The King of Heaven is born today!” Regarding abandoning the sheep, Caleb told the deputy, “We left the hills after angels filled the sky and told us that Christ the Lord is born and he is in a manger.” Behind the All Seasons Inn in the stable, the shepherds located a baby in a manger, with Mary and Joseph, visitors from Nazareth. The deputy rendered an alcohol sobriety test, which Caleb passed.

The 23-year old was cited and released to his employer. As Caleb left the police station at 3:00 a.m., he yelled again, “The King of Heaven is born today!”

Although this account is fictionalized, it is time to share the good news with your family this Christmas day. Read Luke 1 and 2 in the Bible. Then throughout the year, remember Jesus, King of Heaven and earth. A Savior has been born to all of us!

[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 Button-to-God.com.]

Shabby Chic ~ Celebrating Diversity! By Jo Russell

A new movement is widely welcomed into décor magazines, homes and some businesses. After years of struggling to rise above “Early American Auction House,” “Creative Cast Offs” and “Fruit Crate Furnishings,” I realize that I needn’t have tried so hard to make everything go together.

Shabby Chic and eclectic collections are not just in the home anymore. At a restaurant, I savored the beautiful grilled fish, and noticed that my round white patterned plate didn’t match my friend’s square brown plate. On closer inspection, the silverware did not match, either. Nor did the chairs around the tables!“What is this?” I asked my friend. “Nothing matches.”

“Eclectic decorating! Shabby Chic! Isn’t it charming?”

“Her thinking is warped by the country cottage décor magazine she gets,” I thought. On second thought, maybe not warped, but improved. It’s interesting and diverse.

For engaged and newlyweds and guests searching for gifts, the pressure is off. No need for matched sets of china and flatware. Now a few of this and a few of that will do. Families can rejoice that the original set for service for eight is nowhere near thirty-two pieces any longer. Wear-worn dishes have survived children, craft projects, tea parties, sandboxes, dogs, cats, earthquakes, numerous moves, reunions, and family dinners. Mismatching is in! What a relief!

Thinking beyond home décor, I see the human race is as varied as eclectic decorating and sometimes as worn as Shabby Chic. But it’s God’s design and plan. We are cast individually, and then He throws away the mold. But in spite of differences, we can all pull together into one with a common ingredient: love.

Here are the instructions: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3: 12-14 [NIV].

Shabby Chic celebrates diversity in decor. Love celebrates diversity in people.

What a great idea! I’m beginning to like it!

[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 Button-to-God.com.]

Sieze A Sizzling Slogan! By Jo Russell

After riding nearly every roller coaster in an amusement park that stretched to the horizon, my grown son wanted to board one last car. “Come on, Mom! This will be fun!”

All I could imagine was another shake-up, bone-jarring thrill of the afternoon. “No, sorry.” No wonder he kept expecting me to share a car. Starting with the first ride, I had pulled us into a fast, scary trip zigzagging through dark tunnels at speeds tested on the Salt Flats.

My son searched for the right words. He wondered what could be as motivating as “God Bless America!” and Sam Houston’s “Remember the Alamo!” Finally, the intelligent young man appealed to history and science, “But this is one of the old wooden models modeled after the Cyclone roller coaster on Coney Island in New York! You just have to ride this one for the experience!”

“Nope. I think I’ll sit out the ‘Judge Roy Scream.’ You can ride this one yourself. Have a great time!” I noticed the seats looked just right for a skinny eight-year-old. But I am as far from size eight as the east is to the west.

Having been raised with a mom who resembled a modern-day Sacagawea, my son stared at me in disbelief. I had packed the family in the car for thousands of miles and experiences in camping and road trips. At last, my young man parroted the words he had heard growing up, “Where is your sense of adventure?”

That did it! I straightened up. My joints clattered like dry bones in Ezekiel, and I squeezed myself into that small seat. Afterwards, still riding on an adventure high, I made it to the parking lot on my own two legs. My son didn’t even have to carry me.

Like the words that got me on the last roller coaster ride, this season, let us remember the angel’s words that spur us to focus on the core of Christmas: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” [Luke 2:11 NIV.] Now those are words worth keeping in our hearts all year.

Celebrate Christ the Lord!

[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 Button-to-God.com.]

Putting on Your Whole Armor By Jo Russell

It had been one of those mornings so frigid I expected to pry open the front door to see penguins tobogganing down my icy street. But I didn’t see any.

Was this truly the kind of morning you could throw up a glass of water and have it come down as ice crystals? I didn’t want to know. Determined to walk for exercise and fun, I turned the thermometer around without looking at it and wrapped myself in a quilted coat, layered garments, scarf and hat, thick wool socks and insulated boots. But once outside, I gasped! Why was I still freezing?

“Exercise is the answer! Once I get moving, I’ll be warmer!” I thought. But as I kept walking, my legs got colder.

I studied my socks. The tops had hunkered down while my leggings had compressed until they could have doubled as elastic bandages. Skin exposed to double-digit below zero temperatures takes better preparation than I had done.

Getting properly outfitted for the cold is much like being completely outfitted with God’s armor in Ephesians 6:11. In a Christian warrior’s outfit, each piece also makes a difference between life and death.
The perfect Christian warrior’s ensemble includes:
o the belt of truth
o the breastplate of righteousness
o the shield of faith

o the helmet of salvation
o the sword of the Spirit,
o and feet fitted with the gospel of peace.
With this outfit, there isn’t any skin showing.

Paul concludes in Ephesians 6:13, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” [NIV]

Do you have any skin showing in your Christian ensemble?

[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 Button-to-God.com.]