Spices and Herbs and Salt, Oh, My! By Jo Russell

As Danielle entered Ellie and John’s house with a hot meal, she asked John, “How is Ellie doing today?”

After she learned the senior lady continued to be bedridden and about the same, she told John, “I’ll just put this fresh pudding in the refrigerator”

When she did, Danielle noticed thawed chicken on the shelf. Ellie wouldn’t be able to fix it and she remembered John’s culinary skills consisted of turning on the stovetop after opening cans, jars and bottles.

“What if I fix this chicken for the two of you? That way, you’ll have something for tomorrow, too.”

“Sure, I’d be happy if you’d do that.”

“John, show me how to work this oven.”

“No idea. I’ve never used it.”

So Danielle found the spices in cans and bottles, picking out her favorites for seasoning chicken.  In one can, the spices seemed glued together in clumps.  Then she tried the “poultry seasoning.” It poured out of the container like fine dust. Danielle rubbed the spice between her fingers, but it smelled like dirt. Then she checked the expiration date. “Hmmm. This dates back to the invention of computers.”

Last she tried the dried rosemary, which is normally a fragrant herb that adds much to chicken. The slender spines were as stiff as sewing pins. “I guess maybe cooking them with the chicken will soften them up.” So she drizzled the chicken with olive oil, seasoned it with salt and pepper and then sprinkled the rosemary on top.

After the chicken was browned and fragrant, Danielle set it out to cool. She lifted off a spear of rosemary. That’s just what it was—a spear as hard as any iron javelin.

Spices have a short shelf life. Vendors would have cooks believe they need to replace their spices every few months, and maybe that is so, but certainly not years after buying them.

Just as spices go stale, so does one’s spiritual life if it is not refreshed by time with God, his word, and doing service for him. We are to grow and remain strong in our Christian lifestyle. This makes the difference, just as fresh salt and seasonings make the difference between a “ho-hum” and an “oh, wow!” baked chicken.

Jesus stated, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden….In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” [Mark 5:13 + 5:16].

Salt. Light. Love. Share them and you’ll know and enjoy a life full of the best of God’s seasonings.

[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.]

Out with the Spiritual Cataracts! By Jo Russell

When Paul came home in the mid-afternoons during the week, he announced to his wife, Carol, “I’m getting out of these clothes and kicking back.”

Some might have expected that the man’s mid-afternoon outfit would include tailored shorts and a sports shirt – maybe flip flops for the warmer weather.  But not Paul. The senior’s idea of comfort at home any time away from the office was a fuzzy robe wrapped neck to calf, white athletic socks, and well-worn leather slippers.

As he lowered himself into his recliner, he sighed and slid up his “cheater” magnifying glasses on top of his regular specs.

“Don’t tell me!” he explained to his wife. “I know I look like I’m four-eyed, but I can see!”

Which was fine until the doorbell rang at three in the afternoon. Paul shuffled to the entry door with both pairs of glasses outlining his eyes like infrared night goggles. The fluffy bathrobe made him look like a plaid-clad bear.

As he opened the door, the wee Girl Scout selling cookies gasped and nearly collapsed in a dead faint on the doormat.

“Wwwwwould you l-l-ike to bbbb-uy some Girl Ssscout cookies?” she stammered in fear.

Paul’s sight problems could be blamed on cataracts. But after surgery, Paul could see again!

After that, the entire neighborhood, including the Girl Scouts, appreciated Paul’s improved first impression – without glasses– when answering the door. But the bathrobe, socks, and slippers were a keeper.

Even better than doctors who are able to heal eye problems with simple surgery today, such as Paul’s cataracts, Jesus healed many of physical blindness. It was common in his time because of the birth defects and infections, disease, and the extreme sun without eye protection.

But spiritual blindness was even more common.  Jesus said, “But blessed are your eyes because they can see, and your ears because they hear. [Matthew 13;16.]

Some who heard his words couldn’t hear the message because they focused instead on Jesus’ effect and teachings about a new life, which could affect their schedule, business practices, social and church standing, and comfort zone.  They were spiritually blind with cataracts worse than Paul’s because they were on the mind.

Jesus knew who saw the practiced the truth of his words in their lives. Disciples then and now changed their hearts and lives because of his words.

What does it take for us to prevent spiritual blindness? Study the Bible and his words. Listen– even if an insight in his words makes you red-faced. Learn. Forgive yourself, for he forgives you. Move forward.

Those teachings are the treasure that shows with clear vision the way to Heaven.  The Bible’s words work better than any “cheater” magnifiers—and never scares the neighbors.

[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.]

 

 

Finishing the Spiritual Race in Your Best Form by Jo Russell

You’d think Marvel Comics come to life at the gym while it is crowded with the before-work crowd and high school athletes. As they work their way into being buff, they exhale noisy sounds that would make Captain America proud.

“OOOooff!”

“Bam!” “Bap!”

“Smack!” “Skid!”

Puffing out every breath with effort, “Poof!” Ten!”

“Poof! Eleven!”

“Poof! Twelve!”

“Poof! Thirteen!

“Poof!”   “Whew!”

When they leave, the gym grows quiet again. That’s when Will strolls in. A retiree and a senior, the stocky man stretches with light weights as he warms up to see if he’s up to a vigorous workout. Then Will resumes his routine.

Will is the king of the “Beast Board,” pressing more weights than any of the younger crowd and never with an “OOOooff!” He smiles as he lay on his back lifting a bar with a hundred pounds on each end.

Will believes the sign of progress doesn’t have to sound like Marvel Comics with sound effects. “That would be embarrassing.”

Over a period of time, those who work out in the gym, train for sporting events or games get stronger, have more endurance, and increase in intensity and power.

It’s just like our spiritual run. No noise needed. Nor it is necessary to compare ourselves to others’ performance and speed.

For in the still quiet place where God talks with us, we receive our instructions for the obstacle course ahead. We compete only with our own time and actions. We can be encouraged by Christians ahead of us who have finished their race.

We are valued by our obedience and identified by steady progress toward the goal.

Paul writes, “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.” [Hebrews 12:1]

For all who persist in perfecting their faith and Christ-like lifestyle brings a different reward. That race–ending in Heaven with Jesus greeting us at the finish line—will be with words more meaningful than a trophy, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”

[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.]