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.]

 

Some Assembly Required by Jo Russell

“There’s some assembly you have to do on this bedframe,” Ron told his customer as he loaded the slim box in the back of her pick-up truck. “But it’s not bad. A Merry Christmas to you! You got the last one.”

“Thanks!” Shirley told him, “I’m good at this and my company isn’t coming until tonight late.”  Once home, she wrestled the heavy box into the house and opened it, looking for instructions.

Hmmm. It fits a queen or a king bed. That’s nice.     

At last, she found instructions printed in ant-sized letters on a plastic bag of parts.

At least I didn’t have to go online for an internet 67-page instruction book. Shirley got out a magnifying glass. Great! She noticed, The instructions are in Chinese! It’s a good thing they have pictures, too.

She set up the frame north and south. It was too long. Then Shirley tried east and west. That seemed to work. But she wrestled with the new idea that this design slotted together like Legos. Plastic plugs, along with only two bolts and plastic nuts.

Two hours later after moving most of the furniture in the room, she got the slot-together frame together and secured it with plastic buttons to keep the adjusted size in place.  She collapsed in exhaustion for the rest of the evening.

Two miles away, Sam and Georgia were putting together a small play set for their children that warned, “Some assembly required.” The couple had been at it in the garage since they put their children to bed three hours ago.

“Looks like someone wrote these who doesn’t know English very well,” Georgia commented. “Why do we have all these leftover parts?”

“Maybe they figured we’d drop some on the floor and lose them!” Sam explained.

“Not that many spare parts!” So they put it together yet again—and yet again.

By the time they finished the project with only a few extra screws and washers left, they fell into bed, realizing that the kids would be wide awake and shaking them awake in just a couple of hours.

“Christmas. Why does it have to be so complicated?” Georgia mumbled as she dropped onto the soft pillow.

On this Christmas Eve, people everywhere are experiencing the frustrating consequences of “some assembly required.”

And Christmas? Does it really have to be so complicated?

No. Because the gift and means of delivery were simple and uncomplicated—then and now. A life given for yours. A simple gift of grace that changes our lives. None are entitled. No one can earn it. No gift exchange is expected.

Jesus promised, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” No complicated guide books are required for this precious gift. “I am the good shepherd and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” [John 10:14-16]

If you are not yet one of the flock who follows Jesus as the son of God, know that the gate is open for you—giving love and life. No assembly required!

[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.]

 

 

 

Black Friday–Lost and Found! by Jo Russell

Carol was buzzing with excitement to go shopping at the big store in a nearby town. I haven’t been there for months! Black Friday and payday together—what could be better?  Christmas decorations! Live potted evergreens! Yard displays! Stocking stuffers! Oh, wow!

Carol liked to park near the garden shop entrance.  But all the spaces were taken. If she had been in a stadium that held 20,000 fans, she would be in the top row and need binoculars to spot the super store. In her haste and excitement, she forgot how big the parking area was and forgot to pay attention to the numbers on the rows or any landmarks around her parking space. None of the stores in her area had numbers, pandas, or alligator rows.

After an exciting couple of hours of checking out new merchandise and visiting with friends inside, Carol strode confidently out of the garden center to the parking lot with her purchases.

She checked near the garden entrance. No car there. Where could it possibly be? Did someone steal it? What an inconsiderate thing to do!  After a moment, she thought Or…am  I lost and forgot where I parked the car?

After an energy bar and an extra 15 minutes of exercise jogging up and down each row, Carol found her car parked just where she left it.

In church circles, the words “lost” and “found” may be used as freely as salt and pepper. It doesn’t mean that someone has misplaced their car in the church parking lot, which is considerably smaller than a super store.

“Lost” means that a person may never have heard about or accepted Jesus Christ as messiah and the son of God. His teachings, all through the New Testament and penned in his words, reflect unique and wise guidelines for living a spiritual life. For those eyewitnesses who saw him bring the dead back to life, heal those with birth defects, cure mental illness or make people whole who had missing parts, the crowd was astonished. But did they get it? Jesus wasn’t just a prophet. For scholars who then and now have realized Jesus’ birth and life fulfilled more than 300 prophesies, he was more than a man. For those who witnessed the risen Jesus who appeared to them after he had been crucified, died, and was buried, they knew no one else had ever risen from the dead. Jesus Christ was who he said he was—the Messiah, the son of God, the Savior of the world.

Jesus himself stated, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no man can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30]

At the end of his life, a discouraged, but still wealthy and powerful King Solomon wrote the chapters of Ecclesiastes, concluding that youth, vigor, wealth, civic projects, nearly everything he’d tried and could name was…”’Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Everything is meaningless!’” [Ecclesiastes 12:8].

But he concludes, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” [Ecclesiastes 14:13]

But more than being lost is the joy of finding—your car in a huge parking lot—or a new steadfast friend and Savior of the World, Jesus Christ. Say yes to Jesus today.

[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.]

 

 

 

Whiter Than Snow by Jo Russell

“Snow!” Snow! Whoa! That’s snow isn’t it?” The excitement in the two young boys’ voices said it all: The desert-born kids had never seen the white stuff except in pictures.

Now traveling to Grandma’s through mountains with tall evergreen forest, the boys spotted the white along the road long before their mother noticed. “That’s snow! Oh, Mom, can we stop! Please stop!”

“Snow?” Their mother echoed. Yuck, she thought as she studied the thin snow peppered along the edge of the pavement with road grime and ciders. Still, her sons shouted with glee as she pulled over.

Soon the two were rolling in the dirty stuff and squeezing some into icy balls to throw at each other. “This is so much fun! No wonder people like snow!”

The mucky snow along the road was a far cry from the pure dazzling white flakes falling from the sky during the winter, delighting skiers, snow tubers and little boys. For the initial gift of God’s snowflakes doesn’t come with road grime and cinders.

Yet the image of snow is one King David includes in these words of remorse in addressing God and asking for forgiveness for his sin of adultery with Bathseba. “Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” [Psalm 51:7]

Hyssop in the desert country became the symbol of a second chance: spiritual cleansing from sin; being safe from death.  It was the short, bushy plant comparable to the herb marjoram. The enslaved Israelites in Egypt brushed blood over their doorposts using hyssop as a brush. The  Angel of Death passed by. All inside had been spared. After that, hyssop was after that in ceremonies for cleansing lepers or those who had been in contact with the dead. It symbolized life, another chance, another hope.  That hope continues to be offered with Jesus Christ, who offers forgiveness and cleansing for all who believe in him.

A new life and a new destination as white and pure as snow. That’s even better than the roadside snow peppered with dirt and frolicking little boys squeezing every ounce of fun out of the experience.

[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.]

 

Mine, All Mine! A Decision for Jesus

“We like the idea of that kind of wedding cake,” Caterer Molly affirmed as she met with the bride and groom-to-be, “But a dessert that everyone gets into looks like someone put their face in it. It doesn’t take long to mess up the entire table.”

Bill suggested instead, “So what do you think if we make individual cakes? You’ll still have a cake topper for your first anniversary. But everyone else will have little cakes. It’s not hard for this small group. Take a look at these pictures of an event we did before.”

The couple leaned forward, looked at each other and broke out in a smile. “Great idea!” they said together.

When the wedding day came at the out-of-the-way resort, Molly and Bill took extra care setting up the cake table. The guests oooed and aaahed at the result.

One school-aged boy asked, “Can I have this one?”

“Sure,” Bill told him. “We made them for all of you.”

“Do I have to share it with my sister?”

“Nope. She can have one, too. There’s plenty!”

Though the boy had attended several weddings with his family, he walked away in wonder, “It’s mine. All mine!” Never had this happened before. The boy settled in the shade of an evergreen tree to enjoy his cake. It was all his!

There are things in the kingdom of God open to all: the offer and acceptance of salvation is not limited to a certain group, race, or people.

“Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”  [Colossians 3:11 NIV]

But when it comes to the door of opportunity to accept or reject Christ, it does come down to a personal decision: it’s yours, all yours! One cannot be a follower of Christ simply because family members or friends are Christians. One cannot travel on the highway to heaven by following others.

To be a Christian, one must accept Jesus as the son of God. Jesus said it many ways. Just a few follow: “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]

Just before raising Lazarus from the dead, he told Lazarus’ surviving sister, Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” [John 11:25-26]

Once a person accepts Jesus, his or her journey includes an expert trail guide. And just like the boy with the small cake, that adventure and relationship is between you and Jesus.

You can say with certainty. “It’s mine! All mine!”

[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.]

Easter Isn’t Just for Kids by Jo Russell

“Remember that I’m expecting an Easter basket from you on Sunday, Paul. I’ve already got yours together.”

“That’s kids’ stuff,” the senior retorted.

“Not anymore. Easter is for everyone.” Carol was charmed that her grown children and their spouses surprised each other with colorful baskets on Easter morning.

“Do you have a basket I can use?” the senior wanted to know.

“Yup. Here it is.” Carol answered as she slapped a woven container on the table.

“Why, that looks like a salad bowl! I’ve got to have something with a handle or it isn’t an Easter basket.”

“Guess you get to go shopping.”

“Do you have any grass?”

“Out front. But the lawn’s not very green yet.”

When Paul arrived at the discount store, he felt as if he were in a rain forest surrounded by bright layers of Easter basket stuffers. The top canopy arched over him in pastel-colored balloons. Next came the lop-eared bunnies the size of wheel barrows nearly blocked the neon lights. Paul found like cellophane “grass” in every color in a crayon box except for real fescue, and baskets with handles as long as a garden shovel.

Some were already wrapped and ready. The stair-step display of themed baskets was as high as the bleachers at the Little League field. There seemed to be something for everyone: baskets for football fans, ones for boys wanting to be fire fighters; Star Wars stuff for the sci-fi crowd, and doll-filled baskets for girls. He had to elbow his way through chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks, malted milk eggs, jelly beans, and egg-coloring kits.

But in spite of the choices, Paul returned to the house empty-handed to say, “They didn’t have anything good.”

When it came to good stuff for Carol, Paul was absolutely right. For she was a treasure to him.

She should have something special he kept thinking.

But the real significance of Easter is even more of a treasure than Carol.  No store can match the valuable gift that God offered over two thousand years ago. There is no expiration date. The offer stands today.

The true gift of Easter is free. It’s for all seasons. It’s for everyone. And it’s sweeter than anything on the Easter basket aisles.

Many already know the story and the reason: Jesus offers us the gift of forgiveness and a path to God and heaven. It’s because he laid down his life for us. His love and sacrifice covers our sins much more thoroughly than marshmallow crème and Easter goodies. But he didn’t just give up his life on earth. He came back to life and appeared to many before ascending to Heaven and his father, God.

These much-quoted verses spell out his promise in Jesus’ own words:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

What if you want that Easter gift? What does it take?

  1. Admit to God you’re a sinner. Change your ways and focus. [Acts 3:19]
  2. Believe that Jesus is God’s son. Accept God’s gift of forgiveness. [John 3:16 quoted above; John 14:6]
  3. Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. [Romans 10:9-10; Romans 10:13]

For those who know Him, God isn’t finished yet.

Let God use and guide you and you’ll always be up for new experiences—never stagnant. He wishes us to grow through all the steps of our daily journey and the work he gives us to do. “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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” [Hebrews 12:1-3].

Paul is still pondering Carol’s Easter basket. But whether he does find a basket with a handle worthy of her, malted milk Whoppers, a chocolate bunny, or Jelly Bellies, the senior couple celebrates the best Easter gift of all: Jesus.

Happy Easter!

[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.]

 

 

 

Do You Need More Living Water? By Jo Russell

At her local grocers, tiny Marianne, who felt as short as a marionette, hefted the 24-case bottle of water with the idea of putting it into her shopping cart. It wasn’t easy.

When did these carts get to be so tall? Oooof! That’s heavier than last time.  

Two tries later, the senior tossed it to the back of the cart. But she was astonished with the surprise that followed.

Breaking with the weight of the bottled water, the back end of the cart opened up like a starting gate. Like a self-propelled go-cart, the case slid down the glossy floor just as another customer jumped out of the way!

Marianne gasped and scooted her feet along! When the water came to a stop, the other woman bent over with laughter. Soon, Marianne was laughing, too, as she tried to explain.

“Never mind! That was funny! You’ve made my day!” the younger customer chuckled as she carefully put Marianne’s case of water down inside the basket.

Marianne gingerly pushed the broken cart to the register. She explained to the cashier the problem and the woman seemed to be coughing. The cashier called for another employee to bring a basket.

“Marianne, if you knew you needed help, why didn’t you ask?”

“Well, I…” but she couldn’t think of anything else to say.

“Now, Marianne, do you need any more water?”

“Not now.” But she would on the next trip to the grocers, for she would be thirsty again. With the best of luck, she wouldn’t have customers jumping out of the way of her purchases.

Thousands of years before, Jesus asked an outcast Samaritan woman, “Will you give me a drink?”

The Samaritan pointed out their cultural differences that spelled out the taboos of the day between Jews and Samaritans.

But Jesus told her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is it that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” [John 4:10]

He further explains, “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]

Jesus’ gifts of teaching and sacrifice oppose to the world’s expectations. For when he talks of thirst, which all of us feel here on earth, and he means thirst for God. Seeking Jesus will satisfy that thirst and continue to give answers and a path that lead the way to heaven and to him.

Jesus talks of an abundant life. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” [John 10:10]  The gift of his own life gives each who accept him a blank slate. It is a new beginning because of forgiveness. Can anyone put a price on  being cleared of mistakes, bad choices?  It’s free to all who want it. Economic status, net worth, income, investments, or assets have no value except as they can be used to help the poor.

Jesus talks of peace. Now and during the political situation of his time, there was no absence of conflict and oppression. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

His peace is what infuses our hearts, minds, and actions by letting the Holy Spirit help us with decisions, words, projects, and problems. Better than customers and staff helping Marianne with her water, his helping hand is with us each day.

Think outside the box. Jesus did. For living water, abundant life, and peace are the percs of a satisfying life of trusting him to guide us—even when cases of water are sliding down the grocery aisle.

[Jo’s stories, like this one are based on true events] [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.]

 

Justifying the Means by Jo Russell

“Ah, vacation!” It is all things to all people – even little ones.

School kids and siblings Adam, Richard, and Amy thought, Wow! Four days for Turkey Day and then we’re off for weeks at Christmas!

But for working parents, especially moms like Jeane, the emergencies from kids being home alone were as welcome as computer pop-ups and unwanted text messages.

While a working mom tries to maintain her composure and remote management skills, she masters phrases such as,

“Only call if it’s an emergency. What is an emergency?”

Though the kids could recite emergencies without a pause in practice sessions, in real life, it was a different story.

The business phone rang at Jeane’s desk and the first words proclaimed, “Mom, it’s an emergency.”

“Like what?”

“Richard pushed the garden hose through the kitchen screen and put water all over the kitchen floor.”

“Turn off the water.”

“But if I go outside, he’ll squirt me.”

“Why?”

“Because I locked him out.”

“Where’s your sister?”

“Amy’s eating the Christmas cookies you hid in your closet. She locked the door.”

Though these scene-stealing actions may be justified by the young set, most outgrow them and make better choices. But no one is perfect. All make mistakes.

But there is a Biblical concept of “justification” that applies then and now. That is, it is just as if it never happened. It erases a red-faced moment by making a life right again. It doesn’t mean that the action or choice wasn’t wrong. It means that before God, Jesus’ blood covered the sin and it is paid for.

Here’s the proof: “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” [Romans 5:10-11 NIV]

Justification is not giving excuses for choosing badly. It’s giving us a second chance. It’s pulling us to the light. It’s making life right again. It all begins with accepting Jesus, God’s son.

It would be as if Richard’s brother never filled the kitchen with water while his sister ate up the homemade cookies in the closet.

And isn’t erasing those red-faced moments with God worth it?

[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.]

 

 

 

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.]

 

 

Martha Stewart has Left the Building! By Jo Russell

“Oh, how I tried to have this home always tidy and a benchmark of decorating!” the newly-married Carol lamented as she pushed a canvas drop cloth out of the path through the sunroom. “But Martha Stewart has left the building!”

You might assume that her husband, Paul, had left the mess. Wrong!

While she and Paul had been dating, Carol had managed to keep her measuring tape, power saw, paints, and DIY projects under cover. He never saw anything from his fiancé’s home but the perfectly set table, polished floors, candles glowing in the living room, and a fire dancing in the woodstove.

“If only Paul knew what I’d gone through for him! Love is…Well, the romantic flames took two hours, 53 pinecones, paper, and a starter log to produce the cheery warm glow.”  Her furnace worked just fine for keeping the house cozy.

But now that Carol and Paul married and lived in utter honesty, her DIY (Do It Yourself) projects peeked forth and showed themselves in all corners of living spaces.

Carol’s impression as a perfect Martha Stewart homemaker became  fractured when Paul saw her projects and asked what she wanted for Christmas.

“Clothes? Jewelry?” he suggested.

“No, I have a better idea instead. I need a minute to put my thoughts together.”  Nearly all of Carol’s wish list could be found at the local home improvement store. “A Porter Cable Christmas would be ideal,” Carol thought to herself, “but that’s like – in my dreams!”

“Let’s see,” she gingerly suggested, hoping Paul would accept her choices, “A cordless drill with two battery packs, not one; a drill bit set with all the pieces, router and router table (unless you let me use yours), portable sawhorses, and a gift certificate for the electrical supply store.” She paused to explain, “That’s because the inside of the shed is my winter project.”

At first, his face was frozen with shock. Then he smiled.

“Just so you know I’m still all woman, I like this coat, too,” she finished as she handed him a page from a catalog.

When Christmas morning came, Carol was surprised that nearly every package rivaled the free weights at the gym. A coat couldn’t weight that much! But inside was pay dirt! It really was a Porter Cable power tool Christmas! Paul had acknowledged that she wasn’t just a woman, but a competent DIY model.

Just as Paul accepted his bride as a whole woman, along with her projects and power tools, God celebrates our differences as individuals with gifts, skills and abilities. All together, we  contribute to the His plan for us and to the body of Christ.

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all give the one Spirit to drink.” [1 Corinthians 12:12-13. ]

Jesus broke down the walls of prejudice from his time on in opening the door to Heaven to all. That happened because of his sacrifice and love for us. The Messiah came for everyone. Team Jesus includes everyone from all races and professions who accept Him as Savior.

Jesus loves each of us- –including the imperfect whose projects and drop cloths are evidence that Martha Stewart has left the building!

[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.]