A Matter of True Love by Jo Russell

Jolene asked her grandmother a question that the elderly woman would remember for the rest of her life.

As part of her church training, the young girl had been memorizing the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. She learned they had been rendered in stone by God’s own hand. But when she got to #7, she was confused.

Why would God use a weird word I don’t understand? Isn’t the Bible supposed to be a book for all ages?

That’s when she asked her grandmother the red-faced question.

“What is adultery?”

Grandma, mother of eight grown children, stammered and stuttered. She finally choked out, “You’d better ask your mom and dad.”

Her question to her mom and dad brought just as much blushing. She tried her church teacher.

When she did find out, Jolene was astonished to learn that men and women had intimate physical contact and that’s how they had children. And seeking out a partner for intimacy outside of the marriage is adultery, whether before or during marriage. God commanded loyalty to him and to each other. He never advised unmarried couples to give each other an apartment key as a sign of love and commitment. God endorses the marriage commitment with key exchange and pillow talk to follow.

Still Jolene wondered, Love? What does it look like? Is it a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day?

At that point in her life, Jolene had only seen an era of parents, grandparents and great grandparents who never kissed, hugged or held hands in public.

They stayed together. They were faithful. Did they love each other?

Jolene never heard them say, “I love you” to each other – or to her or other their family members.

Yet, in word, thoughts, compassion and actions, Grandma and each other family member modeled the love of Christ. Grandma had tenderly cared for Grandpa until his death. Her homemade bread gave the house a “welcome home” fragrance. She made quilts for each bed. Grandma made every birthday remembrance special. That love didn’t stop over the decades.

When Jolene was grown, married, and expecting twins, Grandma commented, “Well, I declare! I need to make another baby quilt for my grandbabies!”

Grandma was love in action.

True love comes down to showing love by what we do. It’s not just what it takes to get by, but investing that which takes time, effort, and sometimes sacrifice. “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…”  [Ephesians 5:2]

And that kind of love sprinkled with genuine “I love you”s tops any box of chocolates.

[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.]

 

 

Heaven is Never Too Congested for You By Jo Russell

Pie Town, New Mexico, population 186, boasts of great pie and views.

“Top of the world, to ya!” one might hear, as Pie Town celebrates the end of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route of over 2000 miles from Alberta, Canada, to their handful of buildings and cafes featuring homemade pies.

But you’d never know driving over miles of vacant vistas with rolling hills dotted with cedars and evergreens that Pie Town has needs to post a warning. Is it a tricky speed trap? No.

For motorists headed down Highway 60 at a good clip, the sign that warns them of a possible traffic jam comes as a surprise: a flashing yellow light and sign that warns: Caution Congested Area.

What motorist on the sparsely traveled road wouldn’t wonder, “Is this a joke?”

“Nope,” reports a local realtor. “It’s really a cattle crossing. But isn’t this more fun?”

So when the Black Angus and Herefords – steak on the hoof–have a mind to amble across the highway at their own speed, warning motorists makes sense.

Caution: Congested Area. Is that what it’s like trying to communicate with God? You might have been imagining having to wait in line for his attention, like on black Friday when grumpy shoppers elbow their way to the front.

Are you wondering, “Where is God? Where is love?” They are both in the same place – on the other side of a thought.

Do you have to wait in line to talk to God?  Is he going to think your worries and needs are unimportant?

No. God doesn’t think we are trivial. He doesn’t judge us as a second-rate family member with flaws. He loves us and as plans for our time, talent, and lives. He has patience to teach us about prayer and the kingdom of God. He just asks us to persist in seeking knowledge and him.

Jesus promises, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 [NIV]

Stop imagining a line-up for your questions, seeking, and prayers. For God always has time for you. Remember Pie Town’s “Caution, Congested Area.” Like Pie Town, in the kingdom of God, there is always room for one more.

[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.]

 

 

 

 

Where All Are Welcome At Dinner By Jo Russell

Grammo taught her children and family well. “No dining room is complete without a table that seats twelve,” she might have said. Though none of her twelve children grew families that large, their homes and drop-leaf tables still reflected  warmth, welcome, and hospitality to all who came.

Widowed and left with a partially-remodeled, unprofitable hotel when most people were ready to retire, Grammo moved her large dining table to the hotel. She adopted a “can do” attitude as entrepreneur, contractor supervisor, and businesswoman.  It was a piece of cake. After all, she had managed a budget, large family and home for years.

As the hotel became profitable, Grammo added more faces, warm bantering and conversation around the large dining table –some family, some friends, and some strays.  

Her granddaughter, a student nurse living in the same town, was a frequent guest. No different than today, college students were short on funds and food. Laura Jeane was one of them. One day, she asked Grammo if she and another student nurse could come to the hotel for her uncle’s birthday party and dinner. “Is it any trouble?” she worried.

Grammo laughed, “Why no, Laura Jeane, it means only two more plates for you to wash!”

Love infused Grammo, that table, and her guests at every meal.

God’s love is an antibiotic that all of us need. We have the chance to share it around our tables Thanksgiving and any time. Jesus had something to say about it. Consider these lifestyle orders: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another. ” [John 13:34 NIV].

When a neighbor approached Kathy and asked, “Can we spend Thanksgiving together? I would rather spend it with friends than family,” Kathy smiled, “Of course!”  Kathy’s kitchen would never fit a table for twelve, but every guest around the placemat-sized table knew the love of Christ through Kathy.  

May God’s love infuse your home, guests, and table – no matter how many it seats – this Thanksgiving.  

 [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, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]   

SAVE THE DATE! CROSSWORD OLD TESTAMENT QUIZ DEC. 9. WIN A FREE BOOK SHIPPED ANYWHERE!

IF YOU ARE THE FIRST TO ANSWER CORRECTLY.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does Money Talk? By Jo Russell

All month, the children had waited for their turn to pass along baskets for collecting the offering at church.  It only happened once every five weeks.  When the ushers waved the boys and girls into the aisle, the children were so excited they jumped up with glee and skipped, tumbling over each other to get to the baskets.   

But the voice of one pee-wee helper, Ricky, cried out his fear loud and clear, “But I don’t have any money!” Ricky need not have worried.  Gifts from God don’t cost money.

Generous gifts come to us from God like grace and forgiveness, help from the Holy Spirit, and spiritual gifts such as our talents, as well as skills we have or need.

The offering the boy was about to collect was to show honor to God by giving a part to Him from what God gives us.  But it is never a trade-off, a portfolio-building strategy, or a buy-out. 

Some still want a cash kind of deal for God’s gifts.  It isn’t anything new.

Let’s back up to  70 A.D. and meet a successful and high-powered businessman in Acts 8. His name was Simon the Sorcerer, AKA, “the Great Power. ”  He loved the nickname that his admirers gave him! Simon earned his reputation by his amazing tricks and sorcery that brought  him money and respect. But his power did not come from God.  Then Apostle Phillip arrived on the scene, having power in signs and miracles from God. Simon was astonished. Suddenly, the sorcerer’s tricks were no more remarkable than a dust storm in the desert. Big deal. Simon listened to Philip the stories of Jesus as son of God.  He lined up with others to get baptized. Simon believed.  

When Peter and John heard about the large group of new believers, they traveled to Samaria to bless the new believers, including Simon. To bring down the Holy Spirit, the apostles lay their  hands on the believers.

Simon lined up too. When it came his turn, Simon thought it was worth the investment to be able to work miracles like he had seen from God’s hand. What it might do for profit margin and cash flow! He was so excited he offered the apostles earnest money as he blurted out, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit!” [Acts 8:18 NIV].

Peter told him, “May your money perish with you because you thought you could buy the gifts of God with money!”

So money doesn’t talk to God. It doesn’t set deals in action. God is not withholding his gifts until he receives payment. God doesn’t care about portfolios and investments of the earthly kind.  God gives his love without conditions. He thinks of net worth from what He sees in our hearts and portfolio value by how we live.

More than having a heart of gold is having one of love for God and others. So to Ricky and all of you, it’s okay to come without money. God is all about love, not business.

[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, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]   

 

 

 

 

All In the Name of Love By Jo Russell

Like many young couples in love, Rick and Marian were confident of their relationship. They were beginning their life together without so much as two Smart Phones to rub together.  

 

But Rick did have a brand new pick-up truck. He was a macho man and his truck said it all. More than just for hauling hay and loads of building materials in the rural ranching area, his shiny four-by-four pick-up had testosterone written all over it. 

 

Like many before him, Rick had used his pick-up as a bargaining point in his and Marian’s relationship. Now and then, he would let Marian–first as girlfriend then as fiancé–drive the pick-up. For all who saw her behind the wheel in the four-wheel drive macho mount, they could appreciate Rick’s claim on her. Many more would notice the three-quarter ton truck over a little bitty ring on Marian’s finger.  

 

Pastor Bob noted that when he and God bound couples together, a groom was all for sharing their worldly goods. You know–the bed, the bathroom, a lint brush, toothbrush, horse, tack, or hound dog with ear mites—anything, but not the pick-up.

 

 

As the pastor led Rick and Marian through their vows during the ceremony, the groom repeated the words, “I, Rick, take you, Marion, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day on through sickness and health, and with this ring, I share my life and all my worldly goods…”

Pastor Bob added, “Except my pick-up…”

Everyone laughed.

He asked Marian to repeat the vow, “I, Marian, take you, Rick, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day on through sickness and health, and with this ring, I share my life and all my worldly goods…”

The bride responded confidently to the amended contract with, “I do.”

Pastor Bob chuckled and asked if that was her final answer.

“Yes!” she affirmed with a twinkle in her eye.  

 

The next day, Rick did what no newly married man in his right mind and with a new pick-up had ever done before in the entire county. Maybe after his wedding night, he wasn’t in his right mind! It was unthinkable! But it also was thoughtful and loving! He gave the pick-up to Marian. Too far to walk to commute from their place with her not-too-dependable car, he knew she needed it.  

 

Rick realized that the truck and their marriage really wasn’t about him, but them. He had learned to look at the needs of his wife, just as Christ guides us to do.  For in Philippians, Paul advises, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” [Phil. 2:3-5.] 

 

It’s about the other person, not us. That’s the essence of real love in relationships.

 

[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, available from this website. 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.]