Danger and Delusions by Jo Russell

While George was visiting the metro area, a stray bullet from a passing car whizzed by his head as he was walking down the block!

Must be one of those drive-by shootins’ I’ve heard about! I almost got hit! I could have died!

It shook him up.

But later on his home turf in the country, George jumped out of the way in a parking lot when the driver of a beefy pick-up truck was focused on texting. George had been crossing the parking area in a crosswalk on his way to Sportsmen’s Paradise.

“Hey, pay attention! STOP!” George hollered. His summed up his brush with a vehicle that outweighed him more than ten to one with this thought: What a danged fool!

But whether from a bullet or a car bumper, the danger is the same. George’s perspective was different, that’s all.

The death-defying danger is a parallel to the consequences of bad choices. Both are dangerous. Both end with consequences.

It’s easy to think, I’m not guilty. I’m not a sinner. I’m a good person! Look at all the good things I do!

Others might have affirmed your goodness with remarks like, “Thanks for doing that! You are an angel!”

Yet all of us fall short of perfection – and always doing the right thing. We simply are not superhuman, part-god, nor divine at all. The old fashioned and out-of-date word that summarizes bad choices and actions is sin.

But Christ showed us that the consequences can be different, the case dismissed. It’s not too late to turn to him.

For while dying on the cross, one convicted criminal told the other, “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

And Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”  [Luke 23:40-43]

The blessing of forgiveness. It is offered to us all.

What difference have you noticed that forgiveness makes in personal relationships? It transforms barriers to bridges.

That’s the same perc we get from God’s forgiveness, but it’s better. The Creator promises that if we confess our sins to him and accept his son Jesus as Son of God, he will forgive us. In forgiving us, he opens the doors to heaven and to a life with him beyond our physical life’s end.

God’s heart, love, and compassion are great.

The psalmist writes, “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared….O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” [Psalm 130:3-4, 7-8]

Turning to him for a change of life, attitude, and actions is better than jumping out of the way of danger from wayward cars or bullets.

[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.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the Love of Life and the Great Outdoors! By Jo Russell

In their small family, the go-to slogan to bring life back to her teen sons was, “Pack the truck! Let’s go to the great outdoors!”

With the destination the river canyon, Rob and Len shouldered the inflatable raft, oars, pump, and gear and were sitting in the truck before Joanna finished the egg sandwiches.

“Lord, let us have a safe trip and a fun time!” Joanna began.

Then to her 13-year-old sons, “After lunch, you’ll paddle down the river and I’ll meet you at the take out-point.”

“Sounds like a plan,” 13-year-old Rob affirmed.

Arriving at the river in a private recreation area, the family set up lunch under a picnic cabana. Rob and Len worked at pumping up the pontoons of the raft and were soon circling the calm water leading to river rapids.  But something was wrong. One pontoon was flat as a failed soufflé.

“What’s with the raft?” Joanna wanted to know.

“Dunno, Mom!” the two responded together.

“Try putting air in it again,” Joanna advised them. “There was nothing wrong with the raft the last time we used it.”

“Yep. We know. ”

But pump as they did, the pontoon would not hold air.

About that time, the park host appeared with a smile.  “Do you plan to use the water today? I’m collecting fees. You’ll need to pay each for to use the picnic cabana, the parking space, the beach, and the water, too. It’s $ for each use area and totally worth it!”

“But I only have $,” she responded.

“Then I guess you’ll need to take the raft out of the water and pack it up. Enjoy your time at the River Canyon Park! ”

As Joanna helped her sons pull the raft to the beach, she saw a two-foot long split in the flat pontoon hissing out the rest of the air.  Her sons avoided her eyes.

But God’s hand was an answer to Joanna’s simple prayer that morning.  He kept them safe.

“’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’” declares the Lord.” [Isaiah 55:8 NIV]  Think on this when prayers are not answered the way we wish. For it is our job to pray for God’s will, not for God to fill our wish list.

In the case of Joanna’s 13-year olds, God saved their lives. Though both would become white water raft guides as adults, the teens knew nothing about navigating real white water. Plus a few dollars more – or lack of – and the flat raft kept them all out of the rapids.

Once home, the boys fessed up.  Len volunteered, “While you were still at work, we took the raft out with Nick and John and hit a bridge pontoon. It tore the hole in it. Sorry, Mom. We couldn’t fix it. We didn’t tell you.”

“It’s okay this time,” she pulled them close in a hug. “Because of that, I still have you.”

God’s ways are not our ways. His ways can keep us safe in or out of the white water.

[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.]

Rescue from the Bear Boxes of Life by Jo Russell

Excitement spread as the family headed to Yosemite, a long way from Bob and Glenda’s desert home. Their sons, John, 5, and Jeff, 6, caught sight of the shady wooded campsite and cried together, “Wow! This is a ‘10’!”

Near the picnic table was something none but Bob had ever seen before: a heavy metal box with a hasp. “A bear box,” Bob told Glenda. The boys were fascinated.

While Bob was busy stringing tent poles together and Glenda made lunch, they hardly noticed when Jeff announced triumphantly, “John, you get in the bear box so the bears can’t get you.”

The campground strong box had been designed for food and other items with a strong smell that could attract bears, such as toothpaste and shampoo. To John and Jeff, the metal box captivated them as a new campsite amenity. From then until nightfall, the boys practiced for hours playing in the bear box.

First one boy went inside, then the other. But neither closed the heavy door and twisted the hasp.

The next morning, Bob and Glenda were busy packing up the car before 7:00 and they didn’t notice their boys practicing with the empty bear box for the last time.

This time, though, Jeff crawled inside and his younger brother, John, closed the lid and twisted the hasp. Then John wondered aloud in a quiet voice, “Now how do I get this unlocked?”

Jeff, inside the metal compartment, panicked, “AAAH! AAAAH! Help!” His screaming rang through the forest and bounced off the trees.

Though Glenda rushed over to turn the hasp and free Jeff so he could escape, the boy walked with shaky knees to the car.

After a quick conference with his dad, John yelled, “Hey, Jeff! I know how to use a bear box now!” But Jeff didn’t move from the back seat.

God is with us, as he promises, even in coping with the unknown. The psalmist Davis wrote, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”  [ Psalm 20:7 NIV] No matter how fearful any circumstance is, whether physical, mental or emotional, or one involving someone we care about, we can trust that

God is with us forever and always. What has worried you or someone you care about?

Will you give it to God today?  Partnering with Him is better than fighting bear boxes—or any other circumstance–all on our own.

[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.]

The Perks and Perils of Prime Numbers by Jo Russell

Two and a half rescued critters live at my house. Two are happy to be here. Why, the perks alone put them right up there with the benefits of a luxury getaway:

-prime seating and views throughout the resort

-soothing for the psyche indoor and outdoor fountains

– 24-hour spa benefits including on-site massage therapist

– steak and salmon (kibble) No need to bring your lunch!

– tasty appetizers offered several times daily

– health care

– group and individual recreation and activities

AAAH! The Good Life! Well, two would give it a five-star rating.

 

Recently, the half-time critter traded his status as Alpha Cat to be Prime Numbers Feline, with 1, 3, 5 and 7 taking top billing. Though his early life had been entirely inside to protect him from predators like the hawk who killed his mother, he yawned with boredom. Every day the same old thing. Declawed and defenseless as fighting a grizzly with a barbeque brush, he sprinted around my leg out the door two or three times each day to flee his oppressive home and the rules—a teenager in cat years.

That’s where the prime numbers came in. Prime Numbers Feline took to being gone one day, a quick trip home, gone three days, made a quick pit stop to fill up on kibble, and then roamed seven adventurous days filled with fights for survival, death-defying escapes, and danger. It was anything but boring! One wilderness excursion left him with a piece out of his ear and a bloody patch of hair pulled out to the very roots. It has never grown back. When he came back that time, he found one less food bowl out. It had been the first time the battle-wounded cat ever fought his way back inside.

For cats, dogs, critters, as well as people, walking the middle of the road is dangerous! Anyone doing so risks getting run over by a car. Sitting on the fence of indecision is also unwise. It took his own blood to finally convince Mr. Prime Numbers of his true home.

It takes Christ’s blood to convict us of our true home. Are you still sitting on the fence?

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing 2011. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog on www.button-to-god.com.]