Calling Sin Like it is: Feeding the Dogs from the Table by Jo Russell

When Georgia answered the phone and her grown son wanted to know, “Are you still feeding the puppy and the family dog from the table?” His dogs were well trained. Hers were spoiled.

 

“No! I am not feeding the dogs from my plate bite by bite. That would create a whole bunch of problems!”

 

“But aren’t you giving the dogs food from the table at breakfast?”

 

“That’s not the same thing! They have their little dishes I put down for them and they get a bite of sausage and a half an egg as their breakfast snack.”

 

“You call that a breakfast snack? Right!”

 

“Now, Bill,” George explained, “is one who definitely feeds his dogs from the table and needs to stop. It’s downright disgusting!”

 

“Just how is it different?” dog whisperer Sam wanted to know.

 

“He tears pieces off his sandwich and feeds it to the dogs. He gives them pieces of his sausage right from the plate. Then he sets what’s left on the floor for the dogs to lick. He even lets them slobber all over his ice cream bowl. That’s what I call feeding the dogs food from the table. I don’t do that.”

Call it whatever you want from the menu, a snack or a routine that the dogs love. Feeding the dogs from the table out of their own small dishes or their owners’ hands: it is the same.

 

Sin can hide under soft words or explanations in the same way these dog owners justify table scraps for the canines.

It doesn’t matter what others see. God sees your thoughts and actions when no one else does. He nudges you to adjust and correct your steps.

The key is knowing the difference.

Solomon puts it this way: “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will  bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” [Proverbs 3:7-8]

Call it like it is: sin. The remedy: an about face. The percs: piece of mind, health, and an even closer relationship with God.  No table scraps, just the best.

[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.]

 

 

Where is the Locksmith When you Need Him? By Jo Russell

Jenny drove carefully over the icy roads to her second job on the weekend.  Though It had snowed most of the night, the roads had melted to a soft slush in the winter sun.

Safe! I’m here and it’s a beautiful day that looks like a Currier and Ives Christmas card! What could be more of a blessing! This is going to be a great day!

During a short break, Jenny purchased items for her home and family and then locked them in her vehicle. Shortly after, Jenny remembering needed something from her car.

That’s when she noticed that there were no keys in her locker. Instead, two sets of car keys sparkled in the sun on the front seat along with her bagged purchase. A third set were tucked under the seat with emergency supplies. Locks and keys everywhere, but apart from each other, they’d never open anyone’s car doors.

“Can anyone recommend a locksmith?” she asked her coworkers.

“Nah. Good luck with that on a weekend! Around here, many shops close up at noon and service businesses aren’t open on Saturdays. They’d rather be having fun with their families.”

That turned out to be true. Jenny left messages with all five locksmiths in her rural area. Hour after hour went by. No one to unlock the door.  No one returned her calls

At last, she called her close friend, Dolly, who lived miles away in the country. “What happened to the other three sets this time?”

Jenny explained.

“Know what?”  Dolly responded, “I think Ned and I will just bring the kids along and we’ll go sledding while we’re out with your extra keys. Funny thing is, we might run into a few of the locksmiths and their families in the sledding area! But by then, we’ll have the door unlocked and you won’t need them!”

Locks and keys. They are made to secure places, people and things.

Where are they in the Bible?  Several places, all pointing to the same answers, lock and key.

“Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’ They [his disciples] replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’

‘But what about you?’ he asked, ‘Who do you say I am?’

Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ.’” [Mark 8:27-29]

 

More locks, keys and answers from the book of Revelation: “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’” [Revelation 1:8.]

In Revelation, the Alpha and the Omega, begin and the end of the Greek alphabet. It represents the whole and complete answer. The Lord God is complete. He is both the lock and the key to all wisdom, answers, and power. All in the Father, the Son, Jesus Christ; the Holy Spirit.

Where else are keys?

“Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’” [John 14:6-7]

To Apostle Philip, who had further questions, Jesus asked, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” [John 14:10-l1]

No need to wonder which locksmith takes calls and emergencies on a Saturday. For the Divine Locksmith in the Lord God is available to all of us. Keep looking to him with your questions and needs.  He’ll answer them and unlock the mysteries. Alpha through the Omega: the whole of God and his blessings. He’ll open the door wide for you—even on weekends.

[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.]

 

 

 

 

 

Looks Ain’t Necessarily So by Jo Russell

Someone was pounding on the door. It was hard to hear with rain pelting on the roof spilling over the rain gutters to the yard that now looked like a lake. A week of hard rain.

“Answer that, Sweetie!” Maria called out to her daughter, “Grandma and I are emptying buckets right now.”

When young Julie answered the door, she gasped at the stranger. The woman at the door dripped with rain from her droopy, pointed hat to the black rubber boots that encased her wet socks and feet. Red muddy water sloshed into the room, staining the carpet like blood.

But the girl had only noticed the pointed nose and the wart on it. She couldn’t speak. She stared at the specter. I’ve never seen a real one before. Yikes!  

“Child, close your flood gates! Tell your family to close the flood gates!”

Can I take the word of a witch? Julie backed slowly, unable to speak or close the door.

“Julie, what is it?” her mom called, replacing the bucket and wiping her hands on a

dry towel.

“Floodgates!” The woman hollered, “Close your floodgates! The canyon is flooded! Help is on the way!”

Julie whispered, “Mom, can you really believe what a witch tells you?”

It only took a glimpse for Mom to see the danger. Mom and neighbors wrestled the gates shut, pushing away broken tree branches and floating trash cans.

When Mom came inside again, she was shivering and wet “Julie, that lady isn’t a witch. She owns the motel! It was good she warned all of us.”

No long after, more familiar rescuers pounded on the door: the United States Marines.

“We need to take you and your family out of the canyon!”

Julie and her siblings were lifted into a high vehicle with big wet tires. They did the same for others. Water to the bottom of the doors didn’t stop them. The soldiers lifted Julie, her grandma, mom, the other children and neighbors into the vehicle. The uniformed soldier guided it, parting the deep water into a “v.”

After a long drive in the dark and hard rain, the vehicles stopped and taken out of the canyon to a safe, dry place. Soon the families from far from the flood, wrapped in blankets and settled into a motel for the night.

God hears prayers always. He answers without fail. We can count on him as our rock and fortress even today. David wrote, “Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortess to save me.” [Psalm 31:2]

One can count on God to rescue, remembering the Lord’s declaration in Isaiah, “for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” [Isaiah 55:8]

And his ways to warn and rescue may include a dripping wet woman in a pointy hat with a wart on her nose. A witch? It ain’t necessarily so!

 

[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.]

 

Love Shining Through Rush Hour By Jo Russell

Though Paul and Carol had just settled into their hotel and took a breath, shaking the rain out of their hair and clothes. It had been a long drive to the city through rain, sleet, and snow. Paul felt like a modern-day Pony Express rider. He was ready to kick-back and see what was on TV.

But Carol waved a computer print-out in front of Paul, “We can make it to the shoe store and go out for dinner at the same time! They have a pair like none of the others I have.”

He looked at Carol with love in his eyes. Anyone who already has seventy-five pairs of shoes doesn’t need another. But he wasn’t going to say it. “Okay,” he smiled, “because I love you.”

As a country resident of wide open spaces, senior Paul was not used to driving in the city. One right turn later, he realized they were in rush hour traffic on a one-way street! The GPS told him to turn left. Impossible. Right. Sure death. U-Turn. Not allowed. After twenty-six  “recalculating” warnings,  a tour of the city and residential neighborhoods sparkling with Christmas lights as well as an overview of the street layout, Paul reminded himself he was doing this for Carol. The after-work traffic had thinned out and the GPS directed him to a building so high it blocked the moon and stars. “Arriving at address…” the robotic voice volunteered.

“Huh?” Paul gaped at the skyscraper.

Fifteen floors up, Carol and Paul made it to the shoe store before it closed and Carol found her new pair of shoes.  Carol smiled at her husband, “Thank you, Paul. You’ve shown me again what love looks like!”

The lasting look of love is not in passionate kisses or words. It is actions involving the heart, mind, and body. Paul had demonstrated this taking on traffic in an unfamiliar city for the love of his life. Action says it all.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” [1 John 3:18]

John continues within this New Testament book, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us; He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for ou sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” [1 John 4:7-12]

Though frustration, traffic, and daily life, let your love shine on others. For God’s love fills you to overflowing. Sometimes that may include another pair of shoes! His love in action continues each day of your life! God loves you!

 

[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.]

 

 

 

 

 

Treasures on the Playground and in Heaven by Jo Russell

“Mrs. Brown, see what I found just for you!”  the second grade student exclaimed as she handed over a colored rock. “I found it on the playground!” Marilee had spent her last recess in time out for acting up in class.

“That’s a thoughtful thing for you to do! Thank you!”

Derek approached her next. “I found this hair tie for your long hair. See how sparkly it is? You can have it!” Derek added, “I’m sorry about goofing off in the hall.”

Then Matthew approached his teacher with a handful of colorful pebbles. “I picked these for you! Won’t they be great in the science center?”

“Yes, they will. Thanks for thinking of me.” Mrs. Brown smiled. She knew that the gift, too, was an offering of penance.

When the recess bell rang and the class lined up, the teacher knew that her students would do their best but less than perfect, just as she herself was.

But an even more perfect gift had been offered to her and the world. A new start! A clean white board! Forgiveness so complete and wrapped up in love than it changed the path of her future! That is, Christ’s gift of himself to open the path to heaven and God the father.

This is proof of the promise:

“Therefore if anyone is ion Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.” [2 Corinthians 5:17-19]

As you begin this new year, smile and accept the most treasure on earth and in heaven: the gift of forgiveness from Christ, the son of God.

That beats a colorful rock any day!

[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.]