No Bankers Hours for God by Jo Russell

Clare, visiting a tiny community in Canada long before ATM’s and debit cards, needed to get some cash. A must: she took into consideration bankers’ hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., weekdays only.

But it was 11 on a Tuesday. That should work! Clare headed for the bank, the only one in town. But the 800+ residents were entirely focused on something else: a gala annual event on the main street celebrating the town’s pioneer history.  On the front door of the bank was posted scribbled sign, “Gone to the parade! Be back soon.”  Ditto with a half dozen other main street businesses–closed until they got around to reopening.

Clare could do nothing else but go to the parade, too, returning when the bank’s employees returned and unlocked the doors.  But it was fun. When the float for the bank rolled by, she recognized the bank president in period attire from bowler hat down to a pocket watch across his vest. The VIP waved to the crowd. They all knew him.

Two hours later, Clare was able to get cash at the bank when it reopened.

Communicating and getting things done today is not often in person. Mostly transactions involve the electronic devices functioning and in working order, batteries charged up enough to operate cell phones and cameras, back-up devices working when computers threaten to crash and internet service up and running.  Today, as long as the devices and internet work, the bank is open 24-7. It works nearly always, except if it’s too stormy, out of the service area, or when someone damaged the tower and connection with a four-wheeler.

Communication and help with God doesn’t depend on whether his batteries are up and charged, whether or not a call comes to him during working hours and whether or not a parade is going on in Downtown Heaven.

He is available all hours and days—for praise and appreciation; just for you to talk and him to listen; for him to talk and you to listen; to bring to his attention your most urgent needs; or in asking for a needed insight, intervention or miracle.

Has proof of that already have happened in your life?

Even if you don’t yet have a personal history of his astonishing presence and answers, the Bible affirms many other instances of calls to him outside of bankers’ hours:  when Daniel (changed by the king to Belteshazzar), Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meschach) and Azariah (Abednego) came to Babylon and were commanded to eat rich foods forbidden to them (Daniel 1) and with God’s help got to prove that their diet made them healthier than the other youth. Another instance of God’s help came up when the king ordered Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego to be thrown into the furnace for not bowing down to worship his golden image.

They replied confidently, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” [Daniel 3:16-18]

At the time they were thrown in the fire, the advisers to the king noted that there were four men in the fire walking around, not three who had gone in. When the young Israelites walked out, they were whole and healthy. They didn’t even smell of smoke.  God had been helping and working on their behalf even outside of bankers’ hours.

Joshua, successor to Moses, was defeating the enemy and asked God to have the sun stand still above Gibeon for a whole day while Joshua and his troops defeated his adversaries led by five kings. God did.

“The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a man. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!” [Joshua 10:12b-14]

That’s above and beyond the call of prayer.

It is astonishing to realize that God is up to hearing, listening and communicating any time at all, while he has your back and your back-up plans.

So go enjoy the parade and God will take care of the rest!

[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 where print books are sold and in e-book. Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing releasing June, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

Appreciating Dad and The Word “Early” by Jo Russell

While mothers have their maxims of wisdom, fathers leave behind memorable tidbits that span the generations.

Some seem downright oppressive.

“Anyplace worth going on vacation is worth leaving at 4:00 in the morning,” Jan’s dad, Leo, announced to the family before their two-week camping trip to Yosemite. “We’ll be leaving at exactly 4:00 a.m.” He hoped his wife, Jeane, and their three children were listening closely. “Be sure you have your gear packed and you’re in the car by then.”

Twelve-year-old Jan packed right away and laid out her clothes. So did Mom. Both remembered Dad’s power word was “early.” Perhaps coming to life early was in his biorhythms. He was a morning person. Scientists theorize such tendencies begin at birth.

Did Leo ever mean that the family should rise when the rosy sky heralded the sunrise? Nope.

In the pre-dawn’s darkness of vacation day one, Bobby, the six-year-old, couldn’t find two socks that matched and had packed his duffle himself – full of toys and stuffed animals. Without Mom’s help, he quickly buttoned his green shirt in the wrong holes, pulled on purple plaid pants and sat shivering in the back seat. Next to him was his fully dressed 12-year-old sister, Jan. She had been waiting for ten minutes. Dad had the car’s engine warming up for the trip.

Jan’s older brother, Tony, didn’t wake up well or quickly even when roused by Mom. With slept-on hair sticking up like a whisk broom, he sprinted barefoot through the gravel toward the moving sedan pulling out of the driveway at exactly 4:00 a.m. He dived into the back seat in his pajamas and forgot his suitcase entirely.

Dad’s power word “EARLY” dominated the weekday in a good way.

While it was hours before dawn, and because he had to be at work early, Jan’s dad prepared sizzling sausages to go with fried eggs, stacks of pancakes, and hot cereal for the whole family.

His love glowed through his time listening and teaching. As the children became teens, Jan’s father mentored them through the important phases of moving into adulthood – including getting up before sunup to make the best of one’s day.

As we celebrate Father’s Day today, remember God’s take on parents in Exodus 20:

“Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12.

And whether the father in your life is a morning person or doesn’t come to life until evening,

honor him and his biorhythms. His life woven with yours is a great gift along with words of wisdom.

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 where print books are sold and in e-book. Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing releasing June, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

The Master Fisherman and the Catch of His Life by Jo Russell

Senior fishing enthusiast Paul was practically dancing the jig when his fiancée, Carol, agreed to try out fishing.

What great timing! Besides the bigger fish coming out after spring, Fish and Game just stocked the lakes with pan-sized trout!

Paul had carefully checked all his gear and packed it as he would be picking up Carol before the sun was up. He guided his car through the dark streets to her house.

Carol met him at the door with a kiss and a large picnic basket with wonderful snacks, a hearty lunch with fresh fruit as well as homemade cookies.

He sniffed with appreciation, “Chocolate chip! My favorite!”

When they arrived at the tranquil lake at sunrise with mist rising from the mirrored water, Carol fell in love with the setting. But she knew as much about fishing as hunting elephants. All she knew was that she didn’t use a rifle for this sport. Something about hooks.

“So how do I start?” Carol wanted to know after she set two chairs next to the water.

“I’ll show you,” Paul offered as he pulled a fat, wiggly worm from the container. “You tear it in half like this and thread it onto the hook.”

Tear the worm in half. Yuck!

He handed the pole to her, put his hands over hers and with a graceful arch, he cast the bait into the water. Then he baited and cast his own line.

Not long after, she feel teeny tugs on her line. “What do I do?”

“You have to set the hook. Pull back on it.” He grasped her arms to show her.

“I’ve got a fish!”

“Reel it in.” She did, but got excited and waved the pole in the direction of the shore. The bouncing fish jumped around on the ground in higher arches than on a trampoline.

Carol jumped out of the way in fright.

“Where do I put it after that?”

“In this bucket.”

“I can’t pick it up! Ewwww! It’s slimy and wiggles!”

So Paul grasped the fish and put it in the bucket,

“What’s next?” she wanted to know.

“You take the pliers and take the hook out of its mouth.”

“Could you do it this time?” she batted her eyes at him.

He took the hook out and dropped the fish back in the bucket.

Carol had put on rubber gloves to try to thread the next worm on.

“Why are you wearing gloves?”

“Because the worms are gooey. But they keep my fingers from working very well.”  Paul did it for her….again.

In a few hours, they had caught their limit and on the shore enjoyed Carol’s home cooking during their picnic.

“That was so much fun, Paul! Let’s do it again!” Paul nodded, but he reflected on all his hard work fishing. He was ready to go home and take a nap.

When a person does everything for another, they miss the experience, but also the know-how to do it again even better. It means that the teacher has missed the mark.

Jesus did no such thing as he taught and walked with his disciples. In personal example, words, parables, speeches to crowds and personal counseling, Jesus taught how to show others who he is and how to live.

The Bible reads, “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’” [Matthew 4:18-19]

Jesus will not do it all for us, even when things are wiggly, gooey and slimy. But he will teach us and we will truly learn his ways, his truth and his life.  He is the Master Fisherman and we are the catch of his life!

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 where print books are sold and in e-book. Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing releasing June, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

Faith in the Invisible by Jo Russell

The two kindergarten-aged cousins galloped along the walking path at the park with stick horses guiding their way.  The pink-decked girls pulled on the reins and slowed. They had to pet the curly dog coming down the path with her grown-up owner, Carol.

The chatterboxes told Carol, “This is my horse, Dusty, and my cousin’s is Brownie.  Back there is our elephant, Cubby, our lion, Leo, and donkey, Rose. They come with us everywhere we go. They are invisible. But sometimes it’s crowded. Cubby the elephant tried to climb into my bed and almost broke it, but I told him no!”

“Oh?” Carol remembered her days as a five-year-old. Cubby may not have broken the bed, but Carol and her friends wouldn’t have missed the fun of jumping on it like a trampoline. She might have blamed the elephant, too.

“Our moms are over there on the path, but they wanted to go faster than us with all our invisible animals.”

“Yeah,” the second girl added.  “Rose, the donkey sat outside my window this morning and did this.” She waved her arms and brayed, “Hee-Haw! Hee-Haw! She woke me right up!”

Carol listened intently as each girl told of her adventures with her animals and how they got along with the real family dog. Carol only had to say, “Uh-huh, uh-huh” for them to continue in detail explaining each adventure.

Another grown-up might have just seen two wee girls with stick horses walking and non-stop jabbering as they walked around the walking path.

But by the time Carol finished the lap with her dog and the girls plus their entourage, she looked back and smiled. By now, she could see the girls walking with Cubby, the elephant, Leo, the lion, Rose, the donkey, and the horses Dusty and Brownie.

Seeing the invisible. That’s like faith as a foundation of Christianity. But it’s not believing in the make believe.  Eyewitnesses passed down the word of Jesus’ miracles and teachings and fulfillment of the prophesies of a Messiah who had come. They believed. They knew Jesus as the son of God.

Jesus, son of God, himself said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” [John 20:29]

Faith is explained in Hebrews 11:1 this way: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”

We can believe in God, his son, Jesus, and the promises, which God and Jesus always keep. The greatest is this: that we can be forgiven, cleansed and headed for Heaven through Jesus.

Though he may seem as invisible to all as Cubby, Leo, Dusty, Brownie and Rose, praying, trusting and accepting him is a sure thing. He will never break down the bed like Cubby, the elephant.

[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 where print books are sold and in e-book. Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing releasing June, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]