Heart-Thumping Terror in Everyday Life by Jo Russell

Her head was buzzing with fatigue and she was seeing stars by the time Sandra arrived home from a Women’s Prayer Conference. It had been a long and sleepy four-hour drive. Now it was 2:30 a.m. The night was dark and moonless. Her husband was sleeping soundly.

As she entered the house quietly through the side door, Sandra tiptoed down the hall into the bedroom so she wouldn’t wake Jim, her husband.

She set her suitcase down gently in the dark. Then Sandra felt around for something she needed desperately—toothpaste! She closed her hand around the tube. Now she would be able to end this long day and go to bed with clean teeth. She went to the bathroom without turning on the light, squeezed the contents onto her toothbrush, and started brushing.

Immediately, Sandra knew it wasn’t toothpaste! It was greasy. No fresh mint taste, either. It tasted like medicine. Yuck! Sandra snapped on the light, and then realized

with a shock what the tube was: cream for clearing a yeast infection. She spit it out and

kept spitting. Sandra hoped and prayed that it wasn’t too late! Jim slept on. He had no clue his wife’s life might be in danger, and she wasn’t going to wake him.

Even though it was just hours before sunup, Sandra picked up the phone to call her close friend, wife of the local pharmacist. She told her about the greasy paste and what she had done.

“Ask Mel if I’m going to be okay!”

Sally nudged her husband until he groaned. Mel’s sleepy reply was,

“Tell her she won’t have to worry about yeast infections in her MOUTH for a long time!”

God is there for us in all hours of our need. It can be everyday challenges or life-threatening needs. Fear is not God’s answer, but can be as common in our everyday life as a hiccup. His is assurance that no matter what you give to him, he will handle it. We can think of no solutions, but he can.

Here’s the promise: When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? [Psalm 56:3-4]

       

When you are afraid, can you turn the challenge over to God?

[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.]

 

 

 

 

Never a Quarantine Area in Christ’s Kingdom by Jo Russell

A rancher was turning his pick-up and horse trailer around in the middle of the rural highway. There was no other way back to the ranch. The rig became a road block for a time over three lanes. He waved his wide-brimmed hat out the window at the oncoming traffic lined up to go north. Then he pointed to a just-installed sign.

As he traveled south, he paused to pass the news to others with horses. All those with livestock had to turn back.

Among the stopped in the traffic was Jolene with a load three teen backseat drivers. They were bored and vocal.

“Hey! Look at this!” one boy read. “Quarantine Area; Horses and Cattle Restricted.”

“That’s why the rodeo was cancelled!”

“I like it,” Rick repeated, “Quarantine Area: Horses and Cattle Restricted!

Because the only thing the teens had in common with the four-legged, hoofed animals was their appetite, their mother, Jolene, kept creeping along the highway thirty miles to town.

Joe chimed in, “It has rhythm! Like this, Quarantine Area: Horses and Cattle Restricted! And he leaned to the right. Quarantine Area: Horses and Cattle Restricted! He leaned to the left. Quarantine Area: Horses and Cattle Restricted! Another lean to the right.

Robbie loved it, too, and joined in. Quarantine Area: Horses and Cattle Restricted!

Jolene kept driving with the thought. Parents have no reason to complain with kids in the backseat who chant, “When do we get there, when do we get there, when do we get there.” 

Soon it was obvious the aging four-wheel drive needed shocks as the truck dipped side to side. The three in the back seat rocked to the rhythm and their own husky voices in unison, Quarantine Area: Horses and Cattle Restricted! Quarantine Area: Horses and Cattle Restricted! Quarantine Area: Horses and Cattle Restricted!

By the time they got home, Jolene had heard every tone and version of Quarantine Area: Horses and Cattle Restricted!

A sequel followed when the teens walked in the door. “I’m hungry as a horse. When do we eat?”

“Ah,” sighed Jolene. “The joys and responsibilities of motherhood.”

To any horses and cows, Quarantine Area: Horses and Cattle Restricted! implies that those inside the area are an exclusive breed, a closed clique, virus free – maybe even goodie two-hoofed.

It may seem that Christians can be like that, too. Too good to be true. In many past blogs, the author has shown with scripture that Christ, the son of God, offers his gift of forgiveness and a new life to all. One comes when the angels announce his birth to the shepherds with these words: “I bring you good news of great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord.”  [Luke 2:10-11]

But with the gift of accepting Christ comes the commitment of following him and his teachings. It ain’t easy. He wants us to begin as humble and broken. He asks if we love him to follow his commands. Day by day, each needs to soul-search and evaluate decisions and actions. What would Christ do? He expects us to be as persistent as a junk yard dog – to the end.

Jesus himself says, “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 7:13-14]

Walking behind Christ’s divine footsteps may seem impossible. But he gives us the how-to guidelines, the strength, and the ability to go beyond our own skills and experience.

In the end, those persisting on the road to the kingdom of God will never be turned away. Step forward with Christ. Follow, choose, persist. All is possible within power of God and his will.

[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.]

 

 

Finishing the Spiritual Race in Your Best Form by Jo Russell

You’d think Marvel Comics come to life at the gym while it is crowded with the before-work crowd and high school athletes. As they work their way into being buff, they exhale noisy sounds that would make Captain America proud.

“OOOooff!”

“Bam!” “Bap!”

“Smack!” “Skid!”

Puffing out every breath with effort, “Poof!” Ten!”

“Poof! Eleven!”

“Poof! Twelve!”

“Poof! Thirteen!

“Poof!”   “Whew!”

When they leave, the gym grows quiet again. That’s when Will strolls in. A retiree and a senior, the stocky man stretches with light weights as he warms up to see if he’s up to a vigorous workout. Then Will resumes his routine.

Will is the king of the “Beast Board,” pressing more weights than any of the younger crowd and never with an “OOOooff!” He smiles as he lay on his back lifting a bar with a hundred pounds on each end.

Will believes the sign of progress doesn’t have to sound like Marvel Comics with sound effects. “That would be embarrassing.”

Over a period of time, those who work out in the gym, train for sporting events or games get stronger, have more endurance, and increase in intensity and power.

It’s just like our spiritual run. No noise needed. Nor it is necessary to compare ourselves to others’ performance and speed.

For in the still quiet place where God talks with us, we receive our instructions for the obstacle course ahead. We compete only with our own time and actions. We can be encouraged by Christians ahead of us who have finished their race.

We are valued by our obedience and identified by steady progress toward the goal.

Paul writes, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” [Hebrews 12:1]

For all who persist in perfecting their faith and Christ-like lifestyle brings a different reward. That race–ending in Heaven with Jesus greeting us at the finish line—will be with words more meaningful than a trophy, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”

[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.]

Out with the Oil-Stained; In With A New Beginning by Jo Russell

Out with the Oil-Stained; In With the New

Carol knew long before they married that Paul tended to drive cars way past their expiration date. Not that he couldn’t afford to replace one, he just wanted to milk every moment of use out of his cars before he parted with them.

As friends hinted  that he buy a newer one, Paul countered each objection with, “It’s still a good car!”

“All you need,” Carol teased, “is foam dice hanging from the rear view mirror, leopard-spotted seat covers, and fur on the dash! What a show stopper it would be!”

But Paul answered her with a resounding “NO!”

Still, Paul came into marriage with Carol with love, optimism, a smile, and the still-good car he dearly cherished.

While Paul was driving to the trout-rich pond with Carol on their first fishing date, Paul and Carol had to shout because of a knocking in the front end as throaty as a Harley’s mufflers. With front-end vibration that spelled pure tractor power, Carol found her coffee had sloshed over her jeans.

“That’s the all-weather tires,” Paul explained. “But it’s still a good car!”

On the way home, the engine light went on. “Maybe you should check that,” Carol suggested.

“Naw. It’s just a sensor that costs $$$.  Doesn’t mean a thing. It’s still a good car.”

The adventures continued after they married. Carol flipped the visor mirror down, but it wouldn’t open.

“Spring’s broken.”

Paul was a real gentleman when it came to opening the passenger door for Carol. But that continued into their marriage because he didn’t have a choice. “Locks broken on the inside.”

A dark spot decorated the driveway. “Needs oil. It uses a little –  but it’s still a good car.”

As the spring weather grew warmer, Carol fanned herself and pushed a button when Paul mentioned, “The air conditioner doesn’t work – but it’s still a good car.”

At what point should Paul consider a newer car?

Or at what point should we consider a new kind of life? Often, isn’t it easy to think, “I live a good life. I am good to other people. Look at the help and time I’ve given others.”

But often our old life, which may be plagued by breakdowns, needs to be retired.

But a new life is available in its place—one that comes in Jesus Christ. All it takes is to ask for forgiveness for wrongdoings and accept Jesus Christ as the son of God. Let him live in you!

You are new! You are a child of God! You are adopted into God’s family.

Proof of that is in this verse: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” [2 Corinthians 5:17]

Today is Easter – a celebration of a new life because of God’s forgiveness. Because of the gift of Jesus, we are given a the opportunity to accept new life without cost.

And God’s gift – a new life without cost or breakdowns– beats any four-wheeler out there that is still a good car!

[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.]