Don’t Wait for An Emergency! Contact G-O-D! By Jo Russell

“You’ll need to be at the school board meeting tonight,” the principal announced. It was a reminder to teachers Barbara and Lisa of their 24-7 commitment as both single moms and teachers in their isolated rural community. The children would be home alone, but the meeting was only 40 yards from their homes.

Barbara rounded up her two sons and Lisa’s daughter to review the rules. “Your mom and I will be at the board meeting. It’s just over at the cafeteria. All of you can watch cartoons and play with your toys. DON’T come to the cafeteria unless there is an emergency. Remember what an emergency is?” Barbara quizzed her sons, who were 8 and 9, and Lisa’s daughter, Marie, also 8.

“Somebody gets sick or hurt,” Rick told his mom.

“A pipe breaks,” her older son, Sam, added.

“Fire,” Marie quipped.

“Great!” she assured them, leaving the three children to play together.
An hour later, pajama-clad Rick tiptoed up to his mother, Barbara.

Barbara’s neck hair pricked in panic! She was terrified of what crisis would bring him here!

Her frantic thoughts dissolved when Rick whispered,

“Mom, where is the popcorn cooker?”
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It was, however, a testimony to their close relationship as a family that even small child “emergencies” warranted two-way communication. As in all close relationships, the family knew that communicating continuously–talking as well as listening–are necessary.

How would you evaluate your two-way communication with God? Is it only in the case of an emergency? Is it only one way? Do you read His word to hear His voice? An essential element in the relationship with God is to honor him with communication, including listening.

In the time of Haggai, the people called to rebuild God’s Temple grew tired of the effort after a time. Too much overtime? No benefits? They wore out all their sandals walking in the rubble? We don’t know. But they made a decision to put themselves first and ignore God. That included shutting down communication with Him. The volunteers went home to their own honey-do lists. Working on their own houses, they put God on the back burner. He wasn’t pleased. The result was little to eat, few warm clothes and not enough money.

God offered to change the order of things if they would honor him first. “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, [The Temple] so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD [Haggai 1:7 NIV]. He explained they expected much and got little because they did not honor Him. God assured them blessings would come if they would listen and do what He asked.

What does that message mean to us 2500 years later? That God’s promises are  unchanged. Keep close communication with Him. Don’t just wait for an emergency. Pray and listen. Do what he asks you to do.

What’s in it for you? A close, loving relationship that spans forever and is full of many blessings.

What could be better than that!

[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, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]

Faster than a Speeding Smartphone by Jo Russell

Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Superman! Though that intro said it all for the comic book character created in the mid-1930, its archived history today.

Now, amazing feats are packed into Smartphones.

“My cocktail mixing program just wished me a Happy New Year!” quipped one excited customer at the crowded phone store on New Year’s Eve.

“And mine just fed the dogs!”

A young family with four children in tow stepped up to the window for help with three phones stacked together like an order of pancakes. Mom told the associate, “I’m so excited! We’ve watched our little Chelsea get her baby teeth, learn to crawl and walk, and now she is old enough to text! We are so proud of her! She’s growing up fast! We need to upgrade these and add another phone.”

With the worldwide statistics showing that if Facebook were a country, it would be India. All but four percent of the 30-something population access Twitter, Facebook, and social networking. Much of the communication is accessed from computer-like phones, thus they have taken an important place on wish lists and in suggested survival gear.

“This is truly a dinosaur,” Barb told her newly-retired friend as they stepped up to order a custom-designed computer phone. The younger woman commented, “I don’t know how you got by all these years on call with just an old phone like this!” Perhaps it was amazing. The doctor had cared for patients for thirty years, had been on call most of the time, with only an ordinary wireless phone. The cover was broken, so the battery was held into place with cellophane tape.

After Barb and her friend left with the new model, the retiree cried, “Hey! I can text! How about that!” She had risen to the same new-skill level as preschooler Chelsea. They’d both become part of the world of worldwide communication at its fastest.

But without any need for wireless connections, towers, Wi-Fi, or a hi-tech device, God listens and answers our communication with Him. His power is never down nor ever out of range. God has been communicating without ceasing for thousands of years. But it begins with you turning on the power button with your mind and heart. “Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” [Psalm 105:4 NIV] Think, pray, praise, and study the Bible. You’ll attain a new-skill level that surpasses any computer phone user.

[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, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]

Punishment or Physical Therapy? By Jo Russell

Anyone sentenced to physical therapy following surgery or an injury has a great example that God isn’t finished with us yet! Like physical therapy, God gives us exercises that stretch our muscles, skills and abilities. The final objectives from God and physical therapists are the same: mobility and new possibilities.

Recent surgery reacquainted me with P.T. This has given me hours of going nowhere and feeling guilty for neither doing anything nor burning a significant number of calories. The machines mimic skiing, bicycling, mountain climbing and marathon running. But all of them and I stay in one place.

So last time, I multitasked by memorizing some of the Laws of Physical Therapy posted on the wall:

“Never say, “I just want to go home – because you’ll just stay longer.”

Never say it’s easy – because we’ll make it harder.”

“Never lose count – because you start at one again.”

“Never complain – because we never listen.”

“Never scream or cry – because it just encourages us.”

“Never look like you are enjoying yourself – because we’ll put a stop to it.”

“Never hold your breath because if you pass out, we’ll have to do the paperwork.”

As if physical therapy and surgery wasn’t enough to qualify me as a glutton for punishment, in the fall, I took over teaching a Sunday group of tweens. After that, I was gone for a month because of saws-all surgery. When I returned, some of the experiences with the students illustrated the P.T. laws so well that I laughed aloud.

P.T. Law: “Never argue – because you don’t win.” One student always seemed to think he deserved another turn because his was “no fair.” He didn’t get another chance. He learned to do his best the first time.

P.T. Law: “Never say you can’t – because you’ll do it anyway.” Working in teams, each student learned to find passages in the Old and New Testaments in spite of the fact that the Bible is as thick as two of their school textbooks.

P.T. Law: “Never lie or cheat because we know the truth and you’ll live to regret it.”
When I returned, the students claimed they hadn’t gotten their fair share from the prize box. I learned the truth from the sub.

While having lunch with some of my friends, one asked if my new class lived up to the reputation of middle school behavior. That’s the kind that keeps the pharmaceutical business thriving and gives parents nightmares. My friends were expecting horror stories.

I smiled sweetly, remembering the famous passage: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose.” [Romans 8:28 NIV]. I thought of the children’s progress, participation, and enthusiasm. The passage fits and encourages. I also remembered in P.T. when the therapist high-fived me and said, “Great going!” I know how good that felt.

And then I answered with the most encouraging words of truth about God’s relationship with everyone, “Like us, they are all works in progress.”

God has great plans in who you are becoming. Give yourself a high five! God isn’t finished with you, yet!

[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, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]

Truth or Consequences? By Jo Russell

Preschooler Vicki was approached by her older sister, Sherry, who was carrying an egg. “Want to hatch an egg?” her big sis asked. Second grader Sherry was learning all about eggs and science. While most of the time, big sis considered Vicki a pest, she wanted to share secrets with her.

Vicki felt overwhelmed. “What do I have to do?”

“Take this in the living room. Make a nest for it on the carpet. Then sit on it to keep it warm. It’s easy!”

Vicki carried the egg carefully to the living room, found a good place for a nest, and lowered herself onto the egg. But immediately, she felt her pants wet with goo. The yellow yolk also oozed onto the carpet. She screamed with surprise. Her mother came running.

“But, Mom,” the preschooler explained between tears, “I did everything Sherry said and the egg didn’t hatch. I shouldn’t get in trouble for messing up the rug!”

So much for science between siblings. Whether an event is passed off as a joke, a trick or a little lie, it tears away the foundation of trust in relationships.

Wouldn’t it be great to invest in a relationship one can always count on?

There is one based on consistency and truth and promises which are always kept. We serve a God of truth who never lies–not in the past, present, or future. A God of His Word, he is a great example for living.

“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” [Deuteronomy 32:4. NIV]

When comes to hatching, God created the chicken and the egg – no carpet or little girls needed. He has just the right answers.  

[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, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]