To See or Not to See By Jo Russell

The octogenarian excitedly tore open the envelope from the Department of Transportation.

After Grandma saw what was inside, she cried, “Laura Jean! My favorite granddaughter! My driver’s license just came! This is just like a birthday present! I’m taking us for a drive!”

Grandma had once remarked to her sister, “Thank goodness we don’t have to get an eye test for renewing a license. I have cataracts, but I don’t think they’re that bad.”

Riding in the same car with Grandma proved to be exciting at every turn for her granddaughter.

As the teen gripped the dash with white knuckles, Grandma asked,

“Laura Jean, tell me – is that a tree or a person up in front of us?”

When it comes to eyesight, Jesus healed many. Jesus healed the blind physically.

He also healed many spiritually.  One example is tax collector Zacchaeus, a wealthy man in the town of Jericho. That day, the wealthy businessman whose practices took him to the top, promised to help the poor and make things right with those he had cheated. (Luke 19:1-9.)  The change in Zacchaeus was from the inside out.

Jesus’ influence and teaching went straight through to the heart of Zaccheaeus. He listened. He learned. He changed.

Jesus contrasted good spiritual eyesight and bad in these verses: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” [Matthew 22-23]

To have good eyesight with God, focus on Him. Cataracts from focusing on the world cloud spiritual vision. Believe. Have faith in God. Ask forgiveness. Listen to Him with your heart and mind. Read the Bible.

Your vision will better than 20/20 again.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

 

 

Sharing Your Cheerios with God by Jo Russell

When Gramps and Gran drove their pre-school granddaughter, Rachel, to the diner for a breakfast out, the girl clapped with delight! She grasped her container of Cheerios and worn blanket as she followed them inside.

After Gramps ordered his food, he smiled and turned to Rachel. In her pudgy fingers, the girl sampled the cereal.  Clutching the bowl close to her chest, she grinned at him, her mouth circled with crumbs.

“Gramps is so hungry,” he told her. “So hungry! I ordered my food, but it won’t come for a long while. So hungry!” he repeated.  “Could you let Grandpa have some of your Cheerios?”

Without dropping her gaze, Rachel snapped the lid on the Cheerios and pulled the bowl down into her lap.

She didn’t have to say, “Mine.” Without words, Gramps knew the answer.  The cereal was off-limits — period.

Gramps being separated from his granddaughter’s Cheerios is like our being separated from God. But this isn’t about what He considers His and what He will not share.

We are his creations. He loves us. He wants a relationship with us. He wants us to share our Cheerios with Him. But God cannot look on sin.

Many ordinary things that we do are offensive to God. Thinking and telling little white lies. Envying others. Bad-mouthing others.  Taking office supplies from work. None of us are free from wrongdoing.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a chance for a new start?

We do!

Christ Jesus gave his life to make us clean and bridge the gap between us and God. He forgives and pardons us. “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” [Romans 6:22-23 NIV]

Once forgiven and clean, we begin a day as a new person eligible for a place as one of God’s children. “The old life is gone; a new life has begun.” [2 Corinthians 5:17]

And accepting Jesus as the son of God, asking forgiveness, and walking a new path is the key to eternal life. And who knows. Maybe Heaven’s streets of gold lead to even more Cheerios!

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In God We Trust – or is it The Easter Bunny? By Jo Russell

“What do you think the Easter bunny will bring you this year?” Mrs. Walker asked her kindergarten students in story circle. She had just read them a fanciful rabbit tale. “What kinds of things do you find at your house when he comes?”

“Marshmallow bunnies! My favorite!” cried one six-year-old.

“Chocolate eggs! Lots of ‘em!” added another.

“A big basket full of candy and toys!”

“And jellybeans!

“A hat! And new shoes!”

“And  a new sister!”

But Georgie, who had a comment about everything from his pencil to those sharing his work table, didn’t say anything.

Alarmed, Mrs. Walker was anxious he might be sick. She cornered him at recess,

“Georgie! Is everything okay at home? You aren’t excited about the Easter? The Easter Bunny?”

He rolled his eyes. “Nope. I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny, but my mom and dad do. So I just pretend.”

As Mrs. Walker’s kindergarten children grew and would learn that the Easter Bunny is a made-up furry character, they might wonder who they can trust.

Compare these two schools of thought from which all can choose: trust in man or trust in God?

Which provides strength, vision, hope, and everything we need in times of crisis? Who can we trust?  Which–-leaning on God or man–will soar through times of trouble?

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” [Jeremiah 17:7-8] NIV

And with God, there is no fictional character in fur. Through each day, we can see his gifts. They are better and longer lasting than goodies in an Easter basket.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Navigating the Narrow Window: Getting a Marriage License Ain’t for Sissies By Jo Russell

“Would you prefer a guaranteed check or a debit payment for a marriage license?” the groom-to-be asked the curly-headed clerk at the town hall fee window.

She pointed to a sign above the glass to save the time and effort of repeating the answer dozens of times.

“Fines and Fees may be paid in cash, cashier’s check, money order, bank voucher, Visa, Mastercharge, Discover, lottery winnings, Starbucks gift cards. No American Express.”

Paul squeezed Carole’s hand. Both seniors smiled in anticipation and excitement of being one step closer to their wedding day.

“Today’s a special day! It’s like a dream come true!” she commented to Paul.

“Be right back,” Paul promised and they left for the bank. After getting cash, he and Carole returned, their faces still lit with smiles. But when he pushed the bills through the pay drawer, the clerk recoiled. Were they were sprinkled with germs, grime, disease, and Chipotle seasoning? Absolutely not. But the town employee shook her head and pushed back the money. “No cash.”

“But the sign says you accept cash.”

“Except for marriage licenses.”

“So I take it that for marriage licenses, you can’t accept Starbucks gift cards.”

“No.”

“Visa, Mastercharge, or Discover,”

“Nope. Only for court fees.”

“Then what can we use for the marriage license fee?”

“A cashier’s check from the bank or a money order. Cashier’s check, two and a half bucks at the bank. Money order, 69 cents at Circle K. Have a nice drive.”

By the time the couple returned to the pay window and clerk for the third time, knowing that persistence pays off, they perceived the town hall staff was doing its part to keep couples together. Doing battle through the narrow window a man and woman had to win with determination and the right kind of payment, or they’d never make it past the town clerk to the altar.

Instead of the narrow window manned by the town clerk, Jesus tells of the narrow gate that leads to life. :

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” [Matthew 7:13.]

Jesus uses the word picture of a narrow gate for multiple reasons. A highway is wide with fast-moving traffic. A wide road heavily traveled fits right there in with “Everyone is doing it.” But leaving behind bad choices, destructive habits and thoughts to focus on God takes a deliberate effort to accept Jesus as God’s son. It is a less traveled way to let Him guide us. But the scenic route with Jesus will be full of sights worth stopping to enjoy. For living God’s way is true and right, and the narrow way is the path to Him.

A narrow gate also paints the picture of a small entrance to a protected place. A good shepherd stands guard. Anyone who wants to fight or go after the sheep picks a fight with the whole family of God. The words from Jesus state, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” [John 10:9].

Paul and Carole agree that the narrow gate to Jesus is worth the effort, and it is easier than getting a marriage license from the town clerk.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and  website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

 

 

 

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