Defending Changed Lives and Four-Wheel Drives by Jo Russell

Rain! Mud! What a great day to try out my amazing four-wheel drive! Jolene decided. I’ll just go out to the Jones’ and buy some fresh eggs!

With the brand-new vehicle that had been tagged, “four-wheel drive of the year,” she felt confident she could handle country road challenges rivaling the ruts and roads ridden by Pony Express riders over a hundred years before.

As she drove to the Jones’ farmhouse flanked by cotton fields, she turned off the pavement onto the two-track trail to their house. She made sure she had the wheels locked in four-wheel drive.

This will be fun! An adventure! My first four-wheel drive!

The mud was gluey, thick as chocolate frosting, and as deep as a seven-layer cake.

Jolene eased into it, which was a big mistake. Soon she was up to the hubs in adventure with  thick mud all around. Jolene had read about rocking it back and forth to get it free. But it didn’t work.

So much for four-wheel drive of the year!

She walked a mile to the Jones.’ Riley and Mary smiled when they heard of her adventure. Mary handed Jolene a couple of dozen eggs and sent her out to Riley’s truck.

“Let’s go!” Riley as he swung open the door of his pick-up truck. Unlike the shiny new four-wheel drive stuck on their entry road, his truck was rusty, dented and look like it had been painted flat black with a brush. “Doesn’t look like much, but it’s a good truck.”

Jolene watched Riley fasten the passenger door shut with an elastic bungee cord.

When he got to the muddy road, Riley stopped short of the mud. He quickly hooked a tow rope to the front of the new SUV.  Backing slowly, he pulled the new vehicle out of the bog in less than five minutes.

“Thanks a bunch!” Jolene gushed.

Riley shook his head. Then he looked her dead in the eyes and commented, “Nice vehicle. But you need to learn how to drive it!”

With that he waved and drove off in his flat-black dented truck.

Just as Riley was confident of the truck which had much value on his farm and dirt roads, in the same way we can be confident of God’s word and promises in our everyday life. Living his lifestyle brings joy and hope.

How often has anyone asked, “Why are you so happy and calm almost all the time?”

Peter urges believers to be ready to explain, perhaps even to compare, how life was going before and after Christ changed a heart and life.

Just as outdoor enthusiasts can defend the advantages of having a four-wheel drive, rusty or new, a believer can explain where and when the inner joy, hope, trust, and confidence in God came to them.

Living Christ’s way and trusting him to rescue results in a better life and path ahead than any four-wheel drive.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen 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 and her speaking engagements. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

Seeking the Truth over a Big Boy Deer

“My grown son thinks I’m looney!” Trudy complained as she slammed a card on the game table at the senior center. It was enough to ruin her Friday.

“Why is that?” her card partner, Ellen, asked as she drew another card.

“Just this Wednesday, he drove me up to his place. Along the way, there was a big boy deer in a meadow. John stopped so we could look at it.”

“A big boy deer? How did you know?”

“It had, you know, the big horn things on its head about like this” Trudy explained as she spread her hands as wide as a bedspread.

“Oh. It sounds like you saw a ‘buck’ with big antlers and all.”

“No! It was a big boy deer, not a buck!”

“We don’t have big boy deer in this area. But we do have elk. Could that be what it was?”

“Absolutely not! You think I’m looney, too! No, it wasn’t an elk. It was a big boy deer. I do know the difference. I’ve seen them before lots. I lived way out in the country in Missouri before I moved here.” Trudy slammed down her cards and glared.

“I always thought you were a city girl. Like on a farm?” Ellen asked.

“No! I lived in an apartment!”

Just as Trudy believed she was totally right about the “big boy deer” and left no one room for  even an experienced hunter to argue, so over the centuries, some have incorrectly applied their own interpretations to God’s divine concepts and teachings.

As Jesus walked, taught, healed and lead, some in the audience put their own spin on the scriptures. In this case, Jesus himself confronted them. “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”  [Matthew 22:29]  They had asked about resurrection and wanted to know who a man would be married to in heaven if he had multiple marriages due to deaths in the family. But they had been thinking of heaven in terms of customs and practices on earth. Jesus told them there would be no marriage in heaven, but that beings there would be more like angels. [Matthew 22:30-32].

Then and now, the answer was not to figure out what heaven is like or a lot of other divine mysteries, but to continue to learn about God, his ways, his power, through studying the Bible, and day by day building a relationship with him.

Some who heard Jesus’ words understood. Paul summarizes by writing, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I have fully known.” [1 Corinthians 13:12].

So the secrets of heaven remain. Who knows? Maybe besides elk, the countryside in heaven will have meadows full of big boy deer.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen 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 and her speaking engagements. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

Not My Fault! by Jo Russell

Bob came rushing into the Sunday class meeting a few minutes late and every pair of eyes turned to look. The senior was breathless!  His wife followed Bob in. Jill calmly surveyed the room to find a pair of chairs for them side by side.

“Couldn’t find a parking place! Had to park across the street!”  Bob explained. “Traffic was terrible!”

What traffic? On Sundays, even the main street is usually safe for turtles to cross, Richard remembered. Wonder if anyone else thinks so.  He looked around and saw a couple of puzzled expressions.

“We were lucky to get here alive!” Bob added.

With that comment, his wife, Jill, nodded with a knowing expression.

“Bob, what happened?” a friend asked him.

“Someone cut me off at the pass! Whew! That was a close one! I’ve been in 38 car wrecks, but only seven were my fault!”

 

God always tells the truth. His insight sorts out all sides of a story: prologue, story and epilogue. He is the righteous judge. God knows the ending before any of us do.

In Bob’s eyes, he himself was telling the truth. But a highway patrolman writing up an accident report would have had a different take on the event. Was Bob to blame only for the accidents that resulted in damage and a ticket?  What could Bob do to avoid another accident and possibly injuring his wife?  Letting Jill drive more often? New glasses? Traffic school?

 

 

David wrote these verses to highlight the importance of seeking God’s truth and guidance.

“Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior.” [Psalm 25:4-5].

 

David continues by asking for God’s love: “Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O Lord.” [Psalm 25:7]

 

Seeking God and his truth first. How does that affect our words and our truth?

It may just stop accident number thirty-nine from ever happening.

 

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen 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. She lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular weekly humorous blog.]

Loving God and Others

While Jolene was getting ready for her next week in the classroom, she left her seven-year-old sons Trevor and Rick at home close by. They stayed busy for hours with their newest project in the living room—a camouflage tent or a giant spider web—as long as the yarn held out.

“Look at this! We’ve got a whole basket to use!” they decided.

In the rural area far from town, the boys and the other teacher’s family were the only ones on the school ground on weekends when the families didn’t travel into town.

When Jolene came home from the classroom, she faced a labyrinth of her yarn from the ceiling to the walls woven and tied like a spider web stretching from one end of the room to another. Any knitter would have been able to make three long-sleeved sweaters from their raw materials.

“What is this?” Jolene wanted to know.

“It’s to keep Mattie out. She’s a pest and comes over about six times a day. No girls allowed! We don’t like them!”

Jolene choked down her laughter. That will change. “Now, boys. Mattie is your neighbor and the only other kid to play with for miles around. Besides, doesn’t Jesus tell us we are to love others?”

“Yeah,” the twins answered together.

“Scaring her away on a Saturday when the three of you have the whole weekend to play doesn’t sound like love to me. She gets lonely, too. You have each other. She’s the only child in her family.”

Just then, the doorbell rang.

Trevor answered the door without enthusiasm. He wasn’t excited to see his neighbor. “Oh, hi, Mattie.”

The smiling blonde batted her blue eyes at her playmate. “What a cool thing you’ve built here! What is it?” She leaned in to admire their work.

Each of the boys stood a little taller. “It’s a camouflage tent. But no girls…”

From the kitchen, with a loud cough, Jolene reminded them of their discussion of love.

Trevor finished, “…have ever been in it before.”

“I have an idea!” Mattie suggested. “What if we have a tea party inside? I can bring my tea set.”

“That sounds sissy to me,” grumbled Rick in a low voice.

“But we can have a camping party instead,” Trevor suggested. “You know, hot cocoa…and ah… cinnamon toast! Yum! Mattie, my brother can show you how to make the toast, can’t you, Rick?”

“I guess.”

But the boys’ love and hospitality bloomed during the project and all three had fun together.

God is about love. His love is the beginning and it’s for always.

“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” [1 John 4:19-20]

All need love to survive physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Even scientists agree. Showing and telling someone you genuinely love them is as important to nurturing relationships as food, shelter, water and air.

Babies thrive with love and cuddling. Men and wives need to show in actions and tell each other often how much they love each other. Love and positive appreciation for growing children makes the difference between their soaring and just scuttling along.

God’s love is more than just the average dose. It’s huge, boundless and beyond the limits of anyone’s imagination. “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”  [Ephesians 3:17-18]

Have we thanked God for this gift of love? Have we thanked him for Christ? Have we told him how much we love him?

Along with praise and thanks in our prayers, can we tell God and Jesus how much we love them?

Loving God and others can begin with the words “I love you.” Add a camouflage tent made of enough yarn for three sweaters, showing love to a neighbor and you’ve got it all!

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen 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. She lives in northeast Arizona with her husband, Ed. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]