Stinkin’ Sin by Jo Russell

“Howl! Bark! Howl! Howl!” crooned the hound dog with glee at three in the morning after an extra lap around the yard and returning to the sunroom where he and his companion canine slept.

“Yip! Bark! Yip!”  Maggie agreed. They’d done good.

Soon the barking woke up the people of the house and one staggered in her pajamas to the glass door.

“What?!” Sherry rubbed her eyes and checked on the dogs in the sunroom. “What was worth waking us all up at this hour?”

She opened the door and both dogs charged into the house with joy. The smell of skunk perfumed up the house faster than a bug bomb. As was their usual routine, they jumped their dance of joy, frisked about, wrestled and then sat expectantly in front of Sherry for a treat and a bowl of food. It was with their usual message, “Here we are, you lucky people! Breakfast time!”

Instead, Sherry dragged them one at a time into the shower for a good sudsy cleansing.

Fortunately, she had written down the formula from the vet: ¼ cup of Dawn dishwashing soap, ¼ cup of peroxide, ¼ cup of baking soda—all mixed together in a gallon jar of water. It worked.

Both dogs had been unaware that in putting down their black and white intruder, they smelled, stunk up the house and woke their owners extra early. Unlike other times, even the people who loved them were not enthusiastic about seeing—or smelling them just now.

It’s like the aroma of sin in God’s eyes. King David asked for forgiveness in Psalm 51. He finally realized with prompting from Prophet Nathan that his serious choices were no secret from God with just consequences to come. He was guilty of both adultery and murder. He asked for forgiveness, was genuinely sorry and took responsibility for his actions. He humbled himself and begged for forgiveness. David pleaded with God,“…blot out my rebellion. Wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge….Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” [Psalm 51:1-4; 7-10]

Cleansing—a priceless gift offered from our creator and God. As we review, reflect and are renewed each day in time with God, let us also be humble and ask for a cleansing. Stinkin’ sin: it crops us more often than a skunk. Deliberate choices, not doing something God prompts us to do, failing to forgive, worrying, acting on our own without listening to God’s guidance.

Asking for forgiveness, being genuinely sorry, and accepting the consequences is a continuous process on the road from here to eternity. Such actions last longer than a soapy skunk bath and strengthen our bond with God himself.

[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 for pre-sales July, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweets, Glitter and Glitz and God’s Answers by Jo Russell

“Let’s get you some good snacks to take to school this next week when it starts,” Mom told her first grade daughter as she headed down the snack aisle at the grocery store. The wee girl drew herself up sniffing like a hound on a scent.

“I can smell all the goodies!” she cried. They were surrounded by packaged snacks so bouncy and bulky that a pile of them in the middle of the floor would have topped the highest mountain in the state.

“That’s easy, Mom. I like the white ones with powdered sugar. They’re good!”

But her mom vetoed the idea and instead picked out a sensible and tasty energy bar with fruit and nuts.

“But, Mom! The ones with powdered sugar….” the child protested.

Another small girl headed to the shopping cart with her choice of school clothes: a shiny silver pair of leggings and a sequined leotard that was perfect for a Las Vegas midnight lounge show.  She could picture herself strutting her stuff in front of the school crowd.

“I like these, Mom. Every girl needs glitz!”

“Not at seven years old, Honey. Let’s find something like the other girls wear to school.” And they did.

A young woman had finally gotten saved, searched and found her wardrobe wish: a bright red dress. But in the fitting room when she tried it on, she studied her image in the mirror with horror. All this time, I’ve wanted a red dress. But I look like a blood clot!

The Lord gives us what we need and not always what we want. But that’s okay because he really sees the big picture and gives just the right thing at just the right time.  It’s a matter of trusting in him.

David, while fleeing from the danger of King Saul’s anger and armies, wrote, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” [Psalm 34:8-10]

Those blessings and answers to needs may not be covered in powdered sugar or glitter, but are outrageously good for each day and experience of our lives! Celebrate God’s goodness!

[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 for pre-sales July, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

Standing Out with Hello and Howdy by Jo Russell

Excited but exhausted from an intensive 10-day retail sales workshop, the two tall ladies in their 60’s  stepped inside the elevator at their metro-area hotel. Susie and Marnie had still been rehearsing in their minds how to get better at greeting customers to increase business at their store. Susie was outgoing; Marnie found it more difficult. The training tips were still spinning in their heads when the two boarded the elevator headed to their room.

Seeing they were not alone, but sharing the elevator with a tall man dressed in boots and jeans, Susie smiled and blurted out training tip #3 automatically, “Well, hello and good evening!”

The startled stranger was used to silence in the elevator, even with other passengers inside. He looked her up and down, then responded, “Well howdy to you, too.  Want to join me for a drink after you get off work?”

Susie’s face turned redder than ripe summer tomatoes. Marnie bent over with laughter. After Susie’s talking and training all day, she was speechless!

But Susie’s heartfelt greetings to all in her work, church and community world was well known in her home town. She sparkled with love and caring  as she reached out to others. The reason was evident: she was an ambassador for Christ.

As Jesus said in his own words, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” [Matthew 5:14-16]

All of us can do the same.

And so can Susie who will just keep smiling and greeting with more hellos and howdys!

[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 for pre-sales July, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

God and a Parent’s Love from Base Camp by Jo Russell

“Are we going camping this weekend?” tall, sinewy teens Rick and Ron wanted to know. Anything would be more fun than cleaning their rooms.

“Why, do you want to?”  their working mother, Jolene, asked as she vacuumed.

“Always. Our favorite spot should be just right or close to there,” Ron responded while his brother nodded with approval.

So as the small family packed the gear and food, she noticed the teens’ backpacks bulged with all their gear and an extra tent.

“What’s this?” Jolene wanted to know, “Are you running away from home when we get there?”  She had just opened the car door for the family dog, Fletcher, to join the outing.

“Nope.” Rick explained, “But we thought we’d hike off on our own. You can stay in base camp with Fletcher.”

“Yeah,” Ron agreed. “We’re practically grown up. We don’t need our parents to decide everything for us.”

Teens. They get to the point that parents are just old fogies. I guess we’ve reached that point, Jolene decided before she answered, “Base camp, huh? Will I see you at all during the weekend?”

“Yup. You have to drive us there and take us home. It’s too far to walk.”

“Besides that?”

“Probably sometime.”

Later that day after Mom set up base camp on a flat area under the evergreens, Ron and Rick had set up their camp a mile away. Not long after, both cast a shadow over Jolene in her folding camp chair. “Yes?” She looked up from her book with so much excitement she dropped it in the dirt. Did her offspring come to visit?

“We came to fill our water bottles. It was hotter out there than we thought.”

“Oh.”

They hiked back with full bottles the way they came, leaving nothing behind but the rustling of a breeze in the pines above base camp.

Early the next morning while Mom was fixing breakfast, the tall teens tramped into camp again.

“Want some breakfast while you’re here? Fletcher thinks it’s good.”

“Nope. Just a dirty laundry dump. We’ll be back tomorrow morning.”

So the rest of the day, she and Fletcher were alone in the woods. It was so quiet, she couldn’t relax. That night, Fletcher led in the snoring division while Sue stared at the gear loft in the ceiling of the tent. Is this what an empty nest will be like? Raising children is like giving them wings, she reminded herself.  Mine are trying theirs out. But will they come back?  

Of course.

Teens, like us, are precious though we may be gone from parenting for a time. No matter where we are, we continue to be a precious child and creation to God. “He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name.”  Psalm 147: 4

God does the same with us. He gives us wings. He lets us try them. During some times of our life, we may emotionally and spiritually leave God in base camp while we try out things on our own.  But our lifeline is base camp—a place to seek wisdom, answers and needs.

In Jesus’ own words as he talked about needs, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33.

Just as he calls us by name, we know his and are wise to seek him again. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

God’s is a base camp to count on for all time. Stay close and continue seeing him each 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 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 for pre-sales this month wherever e-books are sold, with print copies to follow. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

Hunting My Own Way or Following Directions? by Jo Russell

“First born! A leader! Why, he’ll catch on and show the rest of the pack how to retrieve birds on a hunt!” Carrie rubbed his soft head and smiled into his brown puppy eyes.  She earmarked the puppy and four of his siblings for “Hunting School.”

But several weeks into the hunting program, she had second thoughts.  On a trip to the lake to practice retrieving birds, Carrie watched Suede and expected him to show the others how it was done. He was fine with birds landing on solid ground.

But in the water? Sure he could swim, but he didn’t want to get his feet wet unless it was necessary.  He demonstrated his own way.

“Suede, retrieve!” But instead of swimming out to the bird, he watched to see where the critter would float to shore in the current. He ran to that destination and planted himself and waited.  Sure enough, the bird would come to him. Easy breezy!

Carrie shook her head. Suede was setting a bad example for the other lab pups.  Carrie decided to sell him as a pet instead of grooming him for hunting. He thought he was too smart to follow instructions.

On the job, Suede’s behavior  would be insubordination. Not listening, not following directions. Dozens of times, the Lord calls his chosen ones “stiff-necked people.” That means, like Suede, they are and were doing their own thing.

But submitting to authority has its place. “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves. …Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment, but also because of conscience.” [Romans 13: 1-2; 5.]

That puts a whole different spin on following directions. For which employee, volunteer or leader asserts more of a solid Christian walk to others? One who  thumbs a nose at authority or one who does his or her best each day and submits to authority?  What more will God do with you as one who obeys?

Though Suede will make a fine pet, what more could he do as a hunting dog?

[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 for pre-sales July, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

Drenched in Streams of Living Water By Jo Russell

It was only because retirees Jim and Marney were next to the Grandstand at the end of the parade route that they got a peak at the map and the route confirming they were setting up their chairs in the “Splash Zone!”

Already, volunteers were adding sawhorses to the sides of the street labeled “Splash Zone!” right in front of them.

“Sounds like a good idea, Jim, to get wet in this hot weather. Or do you think we should move?”

“We’ll just wait and see.” He planted his folding chair in a good spot to see the parade, unconcerned about the possibility of being soaked to the underwear.

When a few hours later, the parade wound down to the fire pumper truck followed by the chief of police and clowns scooping horse apples.

For the hundreds of children in attendance, the splash zone meant a great gift from the firemen putting down a hot and humid summer day. Jim and Marney couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. The couple leaned forward in their seats.

The pumper truck roared its diesel engine and raised the nozzle to the tree level. Children sprinted to the street their hands raised in praise and excitement. They waved, shouted with glee, danced in the shower and jumped on the pavement as it cooled down in the spray.

Jim and Marney were so transfixed they didn’t move and felt the cool sprinklings of a man-made shower. It felt great!  Their first experience with “the Splash Zone.”

In hot summer temperatures, an impromptu shower, dip in the pool, trip to the water park, or careening down a “Slip and Slide” in the front yard all serve to give a refreshing restart to the day.

But all are just temporary. We get hot again. We get thirsty again.

The Bible has a number of word pictures of water that are easy to remember:

“He leads me beside still waters, he refreshes my soul” [Psalm 23: 2-3]

Through all the rough waters, he leads us, smoothing the way. We become new and refreshed. We can go on!

As Jesus talked with the Samaritan woman, he said, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  [John 4:13-14]

The living water he describes is what refreshes, teaches and satisfies. That is, God’s living word, the Bible, and Jesus’ teachings and words penned in those pages, satisfy the soul more than  food and water meet our needs.

Another reference to water comes from the sons of Korah, “As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” [Psalm 42:1-2]

No matter what you do for God at this time in your life, have you asked him, “What do you want from me?” The answer may be “More!”

With his guidance and plan for your growth dive deeper! Get wetter! Experience his splash zone! Learn more! Rise to the challenge that he asks of you! For the living water Jesus offers doesn’t just cool you off in hot temperatures, it lasts, refreshing your mind, body and soul from here to Heaven. It’s better than the Splash Zone 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 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 for pre-sales soon in July, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

Life’s Freedoms and the Bonszai Water Slide by Jo Russell

Celebrating the hot weather and Independence Day, Carol  stepped up to the ticket to the water park.

“One senior, please!”

Right after that, the older woman sprinted to the gala water features with enthusiasm. As her children had long been grown and gone, she was enjoying the water park without family along this time.

This will still be lots of fun! she decided.

Subject to sunburn, she worn a tank top with a shirt tied over it and cut-off jeans that covered her bony knees. After slathering on sunscreen, Carol had the frosted carrot cake look. But each of the features were more fun for her without being left crisp and burned like overdone barbequed ribs.

It was all so enticing: the float route, the wave pool, the bobbing lily pads to balance on across in a shallow pool,  and  the inner tube slide down twisted tubes of wet fun.

But her eyes strayed back to the longest line in the park: at the Bonsai. The same kids stood again and again in line waiting to be propelled across a pool at supersonic speed.  Each swimmer shot down the watery tube like a space shuttle. Each bounced feet first into the cushioned end of the pool.

The more Carol noticed the ride and the more times she passed it to do something more tame, the more appealing the Bonsai became.

After fortifying herself with lunch, Carol got be in the long line to wait.

“I’ve gone on this six times,” one school-aged girl wrapped in pink spandex and a tan giggled. “How many times have you done this, Sherry?” And the other girl with her wet pony tail dripping on the towel over her shouldered topped it with “Ten! This will make eleven!”

Carol noticed that she wasn’t just the tallest one in line, but the only one wearing something more than a spandex bathing suit.  When she stepped up to the water slide, she smiled and she began to climb in to the tube.

An attendant shot out his arm to stop her, “You can’t go on this ride!”

“What? Don’t tell me—It’s my age! That’s prejudice! ”

“No, I remember another old—I  mean senior—person doing the Bonsai.  It’s the jeans. They take the wax off the slide. You’ll have to a spandex suit to go on this ride.”

So Carol sadly dragged herself away from the giggles and squeals of those enjoying the Bonsai. She hadn’t even brought a suit today. But next time! Watch out! And the next time, she would get the shot-from cannons experience without jeans that takes the wax off the slide.

Just as the water park employees can’t allow a swimmer to ride the Bonsai in jeans, God sets up some boundaries for the journey and ride to heaven.

The Creator cannot look on sin and allow wrongs and bad choices from breaking his commandments. In days of old, the practice was for the priests to offer sacrifices to make up for wrongs so that a relationship with God might be possible.

As Hebrews writers explain, every priest had performed his religious duties and offered the same sacrifices, which could never take away the wrongs. “But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time, he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy…

Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.” [Hebrews 10:12-14 and 10: 17-18]

A mediator making a way where there was no way is Jesus.  Accepting his gift of sacrifice and forgiveness makes a new way for all who accept him down all the paths including the Bonsai.

That is the ultimate freedom—to have a clean start from wrongs and to have another chance.  It’s even better than the Fourth of July because it is offered each day, not just once.

When Carol came to the water park again, she remembered a spandex suit. The Bonsai was the ride of her life. So is a life with Jesus.

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 for pre-sales June, 2017. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

 

 

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.]