No Trespassing or Come on In? by Jo Russell

As the sprinklers dribbled out like the last of a canned soda, Betsy stepped into the yard to investigate.

Why aren’t they working now? I just fixed them. Then she noticed water bubbling from a hole in the ground. Another sprinkler gone. That’s a dozen times that somebody took parts off. She knew who it was. My new neighbors certainly have room for improvement. She sighed.

Betsy had welcomed them with cookies and fresh bread when they moved in. So did the other neighbors. With the latest missing parts, she’d gone to their door to talk to the family. A doll was tossed aside in their front yard. They had no girls. The dog was chewing on fresh corn cobs. They had no garden.

As she had reached down to retrieve the parts on their porch, a family member snatched the parts from the elderly lady’s hand and snapped, “We bought these! The receipt is around here somewhere.”  Only Betsy had a receipt because she bought them.

Now Betsy knew she had to do something different.

The dark-uniformed police officer advised, “Put up ‘No Trespassing’ signs. Then we can pick up the one who is doing this next time he comes in your yard.”

So she put up signs on every side of her fence.  A few went missing.

A week later, Charley from across the street asked, “What is going on down our street? Have you driven south on our road lately?”

“No.”

“Check it out. You have to see it to believe it.”

Betsy drove the length of her street. Every house had “No Trespassing” signs on the fences. The new neighbor’s house with her sprinkler parts not only had three signs across the front of the fence, but bright yellow and black tape across the length of the yard, blocking the driveway, and making yellow stripes between the trees.

Guess the new neighbor doesn’t want anyone stealing back their stuff, Betsy concluded.

Though none of the neighbors left things out in the yard for the taking anymore and had already judged the new family on the block, God is the righteous judge. He believes in the value of everyone and gives them a chance to turn their lives around if they choose to. He also gives them just consequences if they don’t.

Remember the convicted criminal on the cross next to Jesus, with just hours to live, confronted the other criminal who had been mocking Christ. “’Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘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.’”

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

Some wonder just how fair is that?  But Jesus’ gift of sacrifice and forgiveness touched this man at the last of his life. The criminal was truly sorry for his life and knew Jesus as Messiah, Savior and the Son of God. Such an act is an example of God’s compassion and love.

It is an offer for everyone—even those whose dog is chewing on fresh corn and they don’t have a garden. But they must make a change in direction, thoughts and actions. No trespassing? No, God’s offer is more like “Come on in!”

[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.]

 

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.]

 

 

 

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.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness – The Epoxy of Christ and Character by Jo Russell

As Jolene came to the long table set up at a café for the women’s luncheon, she juggled a vase brimming with a fresh bouquet of flowers and ferns from her garden and sunroom. “Whoever needs it the most today!” she mentioned to the leader, Carla, as Jolene set the vase on the table.

“I think I know who that may be,” Carla responded and pushed a note toward her. “Read this from Rhonda. She’s not here yet.”

The plea came from the widow Rhonda, who had been sharing a house with the homeowner, recently widowed. Because of a bank foreclosure on the property after the homeowner’s husband died, both women were now without a place to live.

Great, Jolene remembered. It would have to be her. I’m still ticked off at the woman for breaking her promise and letting me down when I counted on her. So much for trying to help someone who needed help and extra money.  

“I’m sorry I can’t serve for your party,” she had told Jolene just days before the event with one hundred guests and not enough workers. It was too late to get a replacement, “I really wanted to go. But a family event came up and my daughter is taking me.”

It looked like Rhonda was the one needing the help now. As Rhonda sat at the table just as the waitress was totaling checks, distress showed on her face.

But the ladies pooled their experiences and directed Rhonda to just the right people and organizations to help her solve her housing need. The tears ran down Rhonda’s face as Jolene placed the vase of flowers in front of her. “Enjoy them. They should last you almost two weeks.”

Forgiveness is a frequent opportunity in a small town. God must be smiling as he gives residents lots of practice in seeing and working together. Country people continually run into each other everywhere – the grocery store, the post office, the vet’s, the gym or even the local eateries.

But Jesus took forgiveness to another level—and it’s not just for country people. He told Peter that he had to forgive “I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” [Matthew 18:21] He also taught that “And when you standing praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” [Mark 11:25]

When the author of this blog shared a story at a prayer group from the new release from April, 2015 Chicken Soup for the Soul – The Power of Forgiveness, tears ran down Laura’s face. Was it Jo’s own story of an unfair action that turned into a blessing?  No. It was “The Greatest Gift” by Immaculee Ilibagiza. During a political coup in Rwanda, this woman ran and hid for her life while her family was brutally slaughtered. Later when the jailer brought her before the murderer and said, “I brought him here so you could spit on him. But you forgave him! How could you do that?”

She replied, “Because hatred has taken everything I ever loved from me. Forgiveness is all I have left to offer.”

Jesus himself in his last moments before dying on the cross said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” [Luke 23:34]. In doing this, he allowed all who accepted him and his gift of forgiveness to live with him in heaven.

That he would forgive those who humiliated, tortured, and murdered him is unthinkable in human terms – but not in God’s.

For forgiveness is the epoxy of Christ’s character, and can be in ours.

Share your flowers and forgiveness often. If you live in a small town, God will give you many extra opportunities to practice.

[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 Fresh Herb Surprise by Jo Russell

Volunteers Sherry and Ellen rushed into the community kitchen where they fed scores of needy people every weekday. Flushed with excitement, they each clasped a long sprig of a green leafy branch, and breathlessly offered them to the Master Chef Jean.

“Look, Jean! My friend gave me this herb for the spaghetti sauce today. She said it’s basil. I’m so excited! I’ve never cooked with fresh herbs before! Just those dry sprinkles of Italian seasoning. You can teach us!”

Jean took a leaf, studied it and told them, “To know what an herb is, you can rub its leaf in your fingers. The smell is very strong. That will help you to know what it is.”

The chef took a sprig, rubbed its leaves between her fingers and smelled deeply.

Ellen asked, “It is basil, isn’t it?”

Jean replied, “No, definitely not. It doesn’t have a strong smell. The leaves aren’t smooth and shiny.”

“But this has wide leaves just like basil!”

“It does have wide leaves, Ellen.” Jean smelled, “But no, it’s not basil nor oregano, either. I don’t think we can use this in the sauce today.”

“Why not? What is it?” asked the chef’s assistant.

She smelled the leaves a third time. “A weed!” pronounced Master Chef Jean.

They all laughed hard and hugged. “It’s okay, ladies. We’re all learning!”

How often do our riffs with others, unlike this one, end with hard feelings and wanting to get even? Do we rerun cruel words or actions, and keep getting mad all over again?

From Man Bites Dog, mystery author Ellery Queen wrote “…the two women exchanged the kind of glance women use when there is no knife handy.”

Getting along isn’t easy. It takes work.  Paul writes, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity.” [Colossians 3:12-14]

The apostle Paul, who wrote this and about half of the New Testament, had plenty to be angry about. Once he became a believer in Jesus as Messiah, Paul had many trying to kill him. He was in three shipwrecks on the Mediterranean Sea, was stoned and beaten, was a prisoner dependent on his friends to feed him, and spent much time in a dark cell until he was killed as an enemy of the state.

Yet Paul followed Jesus’ example modeled for us, forgiveness bound up with love. He forgave daily and thanked God for the opportunity to tell his guards about Jesus.

If you had or didn’t have a loving home with parents who valued you, you now have a model of forgiveness and love. We are God’s family. He never stops loving us, or forgiving us. Neither should we stop forgiving and loving.

Can you hand over one hurt to Jesus today? He sent us Jesus, who taught us to forgive – even when our mistakes and cooking skills make others grin.

[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.]

 

 

 

 

 

In the Name of Love By Jo Russell

“Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a clean car,” read a prominent marquis in front of a business.

“Somehow, a trip through the automatic car wash is not what I had in mind for love,” Connie  lamented. She was thinking that flowers and candy were more to her liking for Valentine’s Day. But to the busy professional, her thoughts followed, “Who would give them to me?” For it was another dateless weekend.

“Not me, either,” remarked her long-time friend, Carol, also dateless. “Besides, a trip to the car wash would mess up the appointment reminders I stick all across the dashboard.

Both professional women thought about the red, white, and pink aisles of flowers and greeting cards at nearly every store in the area—and they felt a twinge–missing out on love.

But one afternoon much time later, Dr. Connie was surprised at her busy medical practice with the presence of a process server, “You’re being sued,” he smiled. Her life was just as insanely busy, but also included a persistent male admirer.

“Oh, great,” Connie groaned. “That figures. It has been that kind of day.”

And she dropped it on her desk with other papers that needed attention before closing time.

But later on that day, she opened the subpoena. It turned out to be from her District Attorney boyfriend.  Written in the legalese with each line numbered, the three-page document detailed a proposition for marriage. Because the DA had met the approval of her dog, mother, family, best friend, as well as having fallen in love with Connie [and her feelings had seemed to be mutual], Rick proposed that he would get down on his knee [the good one] and request the honor of Connie’s presence in his life as helpmate and marriage partner forever after. That was more than 25 years ago.

Long after, Carol joined Paul for lunch at his house when in the presence of the canine witnesses Star and Maggie–one from each family.

He began, “Carol, sit down. I have something important to say.” The dogs thought that was their signal to plant themselves on each side of him for snacks.

“You’re sexy and beautiful,” he began.

“Yowrr. Rrrr,” Star responded, cocking her head and showing off her dark eyes, which means, “You bet!”

Paul persisted with several canine interruptions then earnestly gazed into Carol’s eyes, “I need you in my life and want you to be my wife!”

But Star interjected, “Bark! Yip! Bark!” which means, “Sure, but only if you give me more sausage.”

And with a “Yes,” the match was made: a new family of four, man woman, and two dogs. As far as the canines were concerned, as long as the sausage supply held, the covenant was unbreakable.

Though the two true stories described above bring a sigh and a smile, they both require a partner and the “Eros” kind of love—which leaves a lot of people out.

But there is a greater love offered to everyone: God’s unconditional love and light of forgiveness.

This comes in the gift of Jesus Christ.

Here it is in God’s valentine:

For God so loVed the world,
    That he gAve
       His onLy
       BegottEn
           SoN
             That whosoever
    Believes In Him
      Should Not perish,
    But have Everlasting life.

[John 3:16]

 

What a gift! It’s even better than a car wash, roses and candy!

*Much thanks to Kay Alderton of the Pinetop Prissies Red Hats for the unique acrostic!

[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.]

 

 

Saved by the Clorox Team by Jo Russell

Paul collapsed in his easy chair at home with a sigh. Christmas was over and so was his part-time job as a first-time Santa at the nearby mall. 

“Well, Honey, was it worth it playing St. Nick?”

“Lots of fun! At least most of the time. But the most memorable kid to visit Santa’s village caused an all-out quarantine. It was the end-of-the-season grand finale.”

“Oh?” his wife inquired.

“This boy came up to me around lunchtime. He sat on my knee, looked into my eyes and proclaimed, ‘I’m Peter and I want Legos for Christmas.’”

I was curious. But why was he there in the middle of the day when schools were still in session for a few more days? Paul wondered.  

“Are you home-schooled?”

“Nope,” the dark-haired boy stated.

“Are you skipping school?”

“Nope.”

“Then why are you here on a school day when all the other kids in your grade are in class?”

“The nurse sent me home today. She didn’t want the rest of the kids to get infected,” he explained.

“Infected?”

“Yeah. I have pinkeye!”

So while Peter and everyone else were sent home, the Clorox team led hand-to-hand combat in germ warfare at Santa’s village.  Paul was called back to work the next day.

And Peter happily skipped home, thoroughly contagious. But while Peter was still infected, Christ loved him. Christ gave Peter a new life and forgiveness as he does for all of us, too. 

Often, we may think that the supreme Creator doesn’t have time for us, that he can’t be bothered with us, or that our life is infected. But the birth of a Savior thousands of years ago caught the attention of kings, prophets, shepherds, and a dictator Herod. Through the period of his short ministry, Jesus demonstrated his deity with miracles like curing the mentally and physically ill, feeding thousands the bread of the earth and of the spirit. Most important of all was his being murdered, then coming back to life.

Here is the promise: “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  [Romans 5:7-8 NIV]       

Feeling infected today? To God, it doesn’t matter. Come as you are. He’ll leave you clean, fresh, and forgiven.   

[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.]   

 

 

 

Old and Junky or New and Shiny? The Gifts of Christmas By Jo Russell

“Surprise! We get to come for Christmas!” Shirley dropped the phone when she learned less than a week from the holiday that her grown son and his wife would celebrate with her. Because Shirley had been planning a quiet Christmas at home, she had projects in progress in nearly every room. Chaos reigned. Instead of a warm home ready for Christmas in four days, her place resembled a remodel in progress. For it really was.   

Still, Shirley could rise to the occasion of Jesus’ special day, even squeezing in decorating around working full-time. She scrambled around as she considered the type of tree her son and daughter-in-law might appreciate: something infused with memories and meaning.  

But when Rob and Janet settled in, Rob whispered to his wife, “When I see this old, junky stuff on the tree, it makes me feel funny. Why doesn’t Mom get something new?”

Shirley had plenty of Christmas glitz that was new.

But she wanted to include those hand-made ornaments that reminded them of shared times.  What was so junky about this tree? Folded and slightly bent snowflakes, dough-cut reindeer with childish color accents, and picture ornaments of her children smiling through missing teeth. Her daughter-in-laws’ family tree looked the same with her hand-made ornaments from Christmases past.

Other decorations on Shirley’s tree were collected from family trips. From them, she could hear the bells of Christmas. The Queen of Crafts could have chosen from one or more of her color-coordinated trees decorated to a theme that put Martha Stewart to shame. But she decided on a memory tree instead. And her son tagged it “junky.”

In Jesus’ time, many waiting for the Messiah looked for the new and the shiny, not the junky and the ordinary. For this King of Kings was born in a place so small, the town had no impressive homes in gated communities, no traffic jams or rush hours. The newborn son of God was born in a stable for animals and wrapped in cloths. He wasn’t laid in a crib with a thick mattress, soft sheets within a color-coordinated nursery. The Messiah’s first human visitors at the manger were not people of position and power. The shepherds smelled like animals and were considered the lowest of life in that culture.  

Yet the herdsmen knew this truth from the angels, “Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” [Luke 2:11-12 NIV]

Generations had waited to see him! The Messiah! He was most wanted.

Jesus was a wanted child, all right. Herod wanted to kill him. So just in time, the Holy Family  fled for their lives to Egypt.

Everything about Jesus’ birth, life and death seemed unfit for a king. Jesus didn’t deserve a junky birthplace, ordinary lifestyle, and the opposition to his ministry as an adult.

But he came for all of us, from all levels of life and lifestyle.

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due in his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness,” wrote David in Psalm 29:2. That applies today as well, about 3500 years later.

Can we see anything junky in Jesus’ crown of love and scepter of peace?  Those actions model character that is timeless for all generations. So is the forgiveness we are gifted from Jesus’ life. His modeling of love and gives meaning and memory to relationships.  What better way to infuse memories than to include Jesus?    

[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.]   

  

  

Whatever You Do, Don’t Throw Up in the Backseat! By Jo Russell

Returning from a Christian camp weekend with her two sons and another Backyard Bible Club member, Roberta noted how fun it was to ride the mountain curves in the new SUV. What a great change from the desert highway!

“Flatlander” is the usual tag attached to people raised on deserts and plains as flat as pancakes. Roberta reflected that she had three of them in the under-10 set in the backseat. The new car was  winding through a mountain range higher than any of the children had ever seen in their lives.

Her two boys were making sounds like “Whee!”

But the queasy girl, Sherri, announced, “I don’t feel good.”

Roberta remembered this child, a neighbor and member of the Backyard Bible Club, fussed at anything from a small cut on her finger to having no one who would play with her.

Still, giving Sherri the benefit of the doubt, Roberta stopped and let the three children play on the mountainside. Riding cardboard down the slopes brought cries of joy and excitement from all three children.

But soon after they were back in the car, Roberta heard the pint-sized girl announce, “I think I’m going to throw up.”

“Whatever you do, don’t throw up in the backseat!” Roberta chimed with rhythm and finger snapping. “I like it! Let’s say it again, ‘What. ever .you.do. don’t .throw. up in the backseat!”

A few more curves.

“My stomach feels funny.”

‘What. ever .you.do. don’t .throw. up in the backseat!”

They stopped again for more recreation and time to regroup.

Sherri seemed fine. “How do you feel?” Roberta asked the girl.

“Okay.”

But ‘okay’ didn’t last long. A few more curves and Sherri whined, “I feel like I’m going to throw up!”

“We’re almost down the mountain,” Roberta assured her. Once the SUV made the last gentle curve, Roberta again added, “What. ever .you.do. don’t .throw. up in the backseat!”

Just then small Sherri committed the unpardonable sin in the back seat of the new vehicle. She got sick all over the upholstery, the carpet, and the two boys in the back seat.

After that, she sang out, “I feel better!” Roberta knew that the boys and upholstery were all washable, so all was forgiven. Sherri hadn’t been used to mountain roads or adventure.

The unpardonable sin of throwing up in a new vehicle may be nothing like the ones we feel are too great for God to forgive. Check the Ten Commandments in Exodus twenty and you may find yourself thinking, “Ooops! Broke that one, that one! What does God think of me?”

God loves you, that’s what. He loves you as you are and forgives you as you are if you have a humble and repentant attitude.

Proof is here: “You see, just at the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, thought for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:6-8 NIV]

So don’t sweat the small stuff, because God doesn’t. He’s ready with open arms to bring you into the family of God. And it never matters if you threw up in the back seat or had done something worse. God loves you. With his love and forgiveness, He proves you’re totally washable and will come out like new.

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.]

 

 

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