How God Clothes His Own in Rich Garments by Jo Russell

Gene dropped into a chair in the employee lounge with a grunt. “I never thought I’d earn combat pay on this job. Go figure!”

“What do you mean? It’s not that busy,” another retail coworker commented.

“It was the red light special. Apparel has tank tops on sale for $1.00,” Gene panted, “If the flying tops had been bullets, I’d be dead! They were everywhere: women and flying tank tops! Two hit me in the chest, three at my feet; one at my head! It was hand to tank combat! I’ve never seen anything like it!”

Clothes. In the Bible, clothes are mentioned continually as booty after a conquest as well as valuable gifts. Isaac wooed Rebekah with gold, silver jewelry, articles of clothing as well as expensive gifts for the girl’s brother and mother. [Genesis 24:53]

When Joseph was prime minister in Egypt and his brothers came for grain during a famine, Joseph identified himself as their brother, gave each a new set of clothes, but to his younger brother Benjamin, he gave five sets of clothes. [Genesis 45:22].

Even Samson offered a sweet prize to any who could answer his riddle: “Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet.” He promised thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes to any who could answer within seven days. [Judges 14:13-14].

Without machines to weave and sew the fabric, it was time and labor intensive to come up with even a loincloth. Today, clothes fill closets, laundry hampers, garage sales and thrift stores. Oh, the garments started off as the perfect outfit for a date, work or business meeting, vacation togs, or even a costume. Some even sport designer labels. But all wear out and end up in places where they are not regarded with any more value than paint rags.

With outlet stores carrying overstock and clearance garments for less than the cost of fabric, it is easy for anyone today to respond, “Clothes. Big deal.”

But the Bible also talks of another kind of clothing that is priceless, permanent and free.

How can that be?

“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” [Isaiah 61:10] Written more than 2500 years ago, those words ring true today.

Do clothes make the man or woman? In the case of garments of salvation, it does. That’s how God clothes each in rich garments who love, obey and accept him. Nice to know those priceless clothes never wear out and have more value than any designer label.

[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 and e-books are sold.  Look for Give Us This Day Our Daily Grin – A Fun-Lovers Guide to Spiritual Living and Growing now released for pre-sales on Amazon Kindle and other e-formats Smashwords as well as print coming soon. Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, www.button-to-god.com.]

 

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.]

 

 

Navigating the Narrow Window: Getting a Marriage License Ain’t for Sissies By Jo Russell

“Would you prefer a guaranteed check or a debit payment for a marriage license?” the groom-to-be asked the curly-headed clerk at the town hall fee window.

She pointed to a sign above the glass to save the time and effort of repeating the answer dozens of times.

“Fines and Fees may be paid in cash, cashier’s check, money order, bank voucher, Visa, Mastercharge, Discover, lottery winnings, Starbucks gift cards. No American Express.”

Paul squeezed Carole’s hand. Both seniors smiled in anticipation and excitement of being one step closer to their wedding day.

“Today’s a special day! It’s like a dream come true!” she commented to Paul.

“Be right back,” Paul promised and they left for the bank. After getting cash, he and Carole returned, their faces still lit with smiles. But when he pushed the bills through the pay drawer, the clerk recoiled. Were they were sprinkled with germs, grime, disease, and Chipotle seasoning? Absolutely not. But the town employee shook her head and pushed back the money. “No cash.”

“But the sign says you accept cash.”

“Except for marriage licenses.”

“So I take it that for marriage licenses, you can’t accept Starbucks gift cards.”

“No.”

“Visa, Mastercharge, or Discover,”

“Nope. Only for court fees.”

“Then what can we use for the marriage license fee?”

“A cashier’s check from the bank or a money order. Cashier’s check, two and a half bucks at the bank. Money order, 69 cents at Circle K. Have a nice drive.”

By the time the couple returned to the pay window and clerk for the third time, knowing that persistence pays off, they perceived the town hall staff was doing its part to keep couples together. Doing battle through the narrow window a man and woman had to win with determination and the right kind of payment, or they’d never make it past the town clerk to the altar.

Instead of the narrow window manned by the town clerk, Jesus tells of the narrow gate that leads to life. :

“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.]

Jesus uses the word picture of a narrow gate for multiple reasons. A highway is wide with fast-moving traffic. A wide road heavily traveled fits right there in with “Everyone is doing it.” But leaving behind bad choices, destructive habits and thoughts to focus on God takes a deliberate effort to accept Jesus as God’s son. It is a less traveled way to let Him guide us. But the scenic route with Jesus will be full of sights worth stopping to enjoy. For living God’s way is true and right, and the narrow way is the path to Him.

A narrow gate also paints the picture of a small entrance to a protected place. A good shepherd stands guard. Anyone who wants to fight or go after the sheep picks a fight with the whole family of God. The words from Jesus state, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” [John 10:9].

Paul and Carole agree that the narrow gate to Jesus is worth the effort, and it is easier than getting a marriage license from the town clerk.

[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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The Oooos and Ahhhs of Independence Day by Jo Russell

More exciting than her first Christmas was three-year-old Denise’s first Fourth of July with fireworks.  Plastic lawn chairs of every size and color at her grandparents’ house were already crowded with guests and family when she and her mom arrived. Others were grilling, laughing, and playing games on a thick green lawn that nosed up to the golf course. Tonight, the rockets’ red glare during the fireworks show would be rock-throwing distance of her grandparents’ home.

By the time the sun set, Denise was so sticky with watermelon she could be hired out as contact paper and  so wet from a squirt-gun fight with cousins, she knew that her grandparents wouldn’t need to sprinkle the grass for a week. From her hot dog dinner, Denise was still wearing a little catsup around her smile. She plopped nosily into a small chair while holding her Popsicle. Mimicking her experienced fireworks-watching cousins, Denise scanned the sky. She was ready to OOoo and Ahhh with the best of them.  She knew how.

“BANG! POW! POP!” From the first explosion, Denise ran for a place to hide. Not finding any ramparts for cover, she hid her head in her mother’s lap.

“Sweetie, don’t you want to see the fireworks?”

The girl shook her head. The show went on with many colors worth Oooos and Ahhhs. Even her mother joined in. But Denise kept her face pressed into her mother’s thigh for the whole show. 

After the last rapid-fire finale lit up the sky and ended the show, her mother commented, “Denise, I’m so sorry you didn’t get to see the fireworks. ”

The wee girl declared, “I’ll learn to look next year when I’m older.” 

Some things we see and understand better when we’re older. The Fourth of July –American Independence Day—celebrates America becoming an independent nation in 1776. Freedom followed–paid in advance and maintained at a dear price in lives.

There is another freedom that has been purchased for a price and with blood. Unlike Independence Day for Americans, this freedom is available to everyone worldwide. It is worth celebrating each day, instead of just one red, white and blue gala event.

That freedom is the gift we receive from Jesus’ as our advocate. He stepped in willingly and sacrificed his life for ours. It was a gesture of love in action. Though it happened several thousand years ago, Jesus offered us a chance to be pardoned for all wrongdoing, to be forgiven, to be given hope and a promise of a wondrous live after our time on earth is up.  All it takes is believing Jesus is the son of God, asking for forgiveness, and confessing that Jesus is Lord.

Such a decision is powered with more “Oooos and Ahhhs”: than any fireworks show–for all of heaven along with Jesus himself celebrate your joining the family of God. You are free at last!

 [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.]