Tuesday, October 6, 2015


We recently became reacquainted with a high school class mate of my wife. As we shared the happenings of our life, she shared that she had received a heart transplant. We were surprised as she told us about this happening. Her heart became diseased through no fault of her own and was slowing dying and the doctors were able to give her a "new lease on life," as they say.

I can remember hearing about the first human heart transplant taking place many years ago and the feeling of amazement that such a thing could be done. It's still an amazing thing to me. I can understand some of the basics regarding the procedure, but no way do I understand the intricacies involved in all that is done, yet I know it is done on an almost daily basis. They tell us there are about 2,000 heart transplants per year now.

There are lots of changes that take place for a person with a heart transplant. They must make lifestyle changes, change their eating habits, perhaps exercise differently and they are told, "You'll need to take immunosuppressant medications daily for life to keep your body from rejecting your donor heart".

As I thought about someone receiving a new heart I realized it is no different than becoming a child of God. The scripture that came to mind first was Psalm 51:7-10 where David writes: "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."

"Create in me a new pure heart," what an amazing idea for us, yet it happens to thousands of people every day, perhaps hundreds of thousands every year in the spiritual realm. It is possible and no less amazing than a physical heart transplant.

It's just like what God promised the Israelite nation in Ezekiel 36:26-27, "And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put My Spirit in you so that you will follow My decrees and be careful to obey My regulations." (NLT)

That is what God is about, it's what he does, and He takes out our stony, stubborn heart and gives us a tender, responsive heart. But just like a physical heart transplant it needs constant care. Perhaps changes need to be made in our life style and other physical habits and there will definitely be "sin suppressant" treatments daily for life to keep us from rejecting our new heart".

Of course this all comes from having a new relationship with our God and His Word. This in part comes from having a new relationship with His church. I have met so many people in my lifetime who say, "I don't need to go to a church to feel spiritual," but that's like someone saying, "I don't need to go to the doctor anymore after I receive my heart transplant". They both are missing a key ingredient to keeping your heart alive.

How is your stony, stubborn heart doing? Perhaps it's time to listen to God and make it tender and responsive once again.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Passwords & Pins

Passwords and PIN numbers are part of our everyday life now aren’t they? Everything we do seems to have some level of protection to it, especially if you use the internet. It might be dealing with Credit cards, accounts or even buying groceries… almost everything.

I was reminded of this the other day, by my wife, Melody. I was getting ready to leave the house and she kissed me lovingly and said, 'Be careful and come home to me". I said, 'I will!" She looked me deep in the eyes and said, 'I mean it, you stay safe and come back to me," and paused.  I was touched at her concern, then she finished her thought by saying, "After all, you're the only one who knows all of the passwords." I sometimes forget what a good sense of humor she has… at least I think she was kidding.

Passwords are important. They help keep us safe and get us into places we want to go; they are part of the "rules of our modern world," so to speak. You have to go through the proper procedure. Identification (ID), user names and passwords are required for us to operate within the system.

Understanding that, it surprises me at how many people object to God placing restrictions and requirements on their lives. They want to have a relationship with God, they want to enter his presence, his kingdom, yet they don't want to follow his rules.

God, in His Word, says, "Do this," or "Don't do this." He says, "This is acceptable behavior," and "This is unacceptable." He says, "If you want to be part of my kingdom and go to Heaven, here are the rules." Yet people insist on saying, 'God really didn't mean it, you have to change to rules to meet the times."

Isn't it funny that God ends his wonderful book with these words in Revelation 22:14-19 "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star." The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let the one who hears say, "Come!" Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll."

Funny isn't it that folks want God who offers them eternal life, but they won't listen to his requirements? Yet, they follow the rules of their bank and internet businesses strictly and don't think anything of it. How about you?

Friday, September 25, 2015


Paper clips are amazing. They can be put to use in hundreds of ways other than holding paper. BDT (Before Duct Tape) I even  used them in an emergecy to hold together a ripped pant leg. Today we used them to hang banners. Here is a short list of some of the things for which you can use paper clips.

1.      hem holder
2.      cigar filter unstopper
3.      spray bottle unclogger
4.      eye glass repair
5.      hair barrette
6.      zipper tab
7.      clean fingernails
8.      Xmas ornament holder
9.      unclog Elmer's glue bottle
10.  calendar holder
11.  belt holder
12.  emergency cotter pin
13.  emergency diaper pin (boy! do I date myself there!)
14.  strawberry huller
15.  cherry pit remover
16.  hymn marker (for organists)
You get the idea I'm sure. They are useful and versitile.

Jesus is much like a paper clip for our lives. He helps hold things together in our lives, he sticks together the rips and tears that the world leaves in our lives. He gives us purpose and life.

Paul writes to the Colossian church in Colossians 1:12-18  “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:   In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.  And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”

Christ may be our paper clip, but he is so much more! He holds our lives together when the world wants to tear them apart.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

 I have been a fan of Science Fiction most of my life. I like the ability it gives me to dream of places I will never see and imagine things that are greater than our world. It allows me to travel in space in my mind and participate in heroic adventures.

One of the concepts that has been used more in the past few years is the concept of an element called "Unobtanium". You can actually find the word in the dictionary and it is defined in this way: "Since the late 1950s, aerospace engineers have used the term "unobtainium" when referring to unusual or costly materials, or when theoretically considering a material perfect for their needs in all respects, except that it does not exist." Laughingly "Unobtainium is described as being stronger than helium and lighter than airium". The term came more to the forefront of thought by its use to describe the element they were mining in the movie "Avatar".

To many people God is like Unobtanium. The idea of someone loving them for who they are with no reservations is like Unobtanium. The idea of having all of the bad things they have done in their lives erased and starting with a clean slate is much like Unobtanium, something which just does not exist.

We are not alone when we struggle with that problem. Even the Apostle Paul struggled with this issue in his life. Notice what he says in Romans 7:24: "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?"

Isn't that the same things we want to know? Who will rescue us from this body that is subject to death?"

Paul continues in verse 25a with the answer to the problem. He tells us how to find the Unobtaniam. He writes: "Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord."

We sing a song in our churches that says: "He is able to deliver me!" But far too often we really don't believe it. God's word says that if we serve him, when we die, we are going to heaven! Do you really believe that, or are you one of those who say, "I hope I am." Heaven is not unobtainable, it is a free gift, a promise to those who love God and obey his word.

Let me share one last verse that is so very hard for some to really, really believe. John says in 1 John 5:13: "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life!" Like the old fellow said, "God said it, I believe it and that settles it!"

How would you like to get your share of Unobtainium? It's there waiting for you to Obey God and serve him.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Theologian Said...

I was reading an article yesterday about some of the current social turmoil in our country regarding same sex marriage, in which the headline said (in part) "The Theologian said". Now according to my dictionary, a "theologian" is a person who is an expert in religious faith and practices, or an expert in understanding God.

Well, I guess I am not a Theologian according to the world's standards. The reason being is that this "Theologian" who was quoted in this national publication, said that God nowhere condemns certain lifestyle choices. She even quoted out of context a few Old Testament passages, while completely ignoring clear statements to the contrary throughout God's Word in both the Old and New Testaments.

Our world likes titles! It loves people who have letters behind their names, supposedly proving they have achieved some higher level of understanding. That is the problem we see when we begin to heap respect and recognition on men and women because they have a title of some kind. The words they utter, the stances they take are accepted by many, just because they claim to be an "expert" is some area (perhaps a theologian). Many say, "Everyone has a right to their own beliefs," and that's true, as long as you are willing to accept the consequences of your decisions.

Jesus had some very clear words for people like this in Luke 11:52: "What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don't enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering."

Now I don't claim to be an expert, but I have read my bible through from front to back every year for over 25 years. I do put a fair amount of study into trying to understand God's will for us today. What that makes me is a disciple of Christ, an ongoing learner, one who walks by faith and accepts God Word as true even if it different from what is "Socially accepted," or "politically correct. It makes me a Christian who says that God is in charge telling our world what is right or what is wrong. It makes me one who believes that "God judges the living and the dead," (1 Peter 4:5), and that we are all accountable to Him for our choices here on this earth.

Yes, people in our world want to believe what they want is right and nothing else matters. That's not a new desire, the thought was planted in the mind of Eve in the Garden of Eden by Satan in the very beginning and he continues to spread the same lie. Jesus however did not agree, in fact he condemned the idea in Matthew 7:21. Notice his words (another clear proclamation of Jesus which the many "theologians" reject). "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

You may not agree with my thoughts and that's your privilege to disagree. After all I'm no Theologian, I'm just an old country preacher who keeps on reading his bible and listening to God and trying his best to do "the will of my Father who is in heaven".  

Friday, September 4, 2015

Out of the frying pan

Have you ever heard the saying: "Out of the frying pan and into the fire"?

The Italian author Laurentius Abstemius wrote a collection of 100 fables. Abstemius' fable 20, concerns some fish thrown live into a frying pan of boiling fat. One of them urges its fellows to save their lives by jumping out, but when they do so they fall into the burning coals and curse its bad advice.

The fabulist concludes: 'This fable warns us that when we are avoiding present dangers, we should not fall into even worse peril.' Is there a spiritual application to this? I believe there is!

To start with Solomon tells us in Proverbs 27:12 "A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences."

What is a phrase we might uses to explain this thought to someone: "Look before you leap" or "You wouldn’t jump off a cliff, just because your friends do, would you?"

The question we might ask is "What are spiritual cliffs that folks jump off of today?"
Sometimes they involve sin, sometimes they involve relationships, sometimes they just involve making bad decisions and sometimes our cliffs involve facing challenges…Sometimes your life challenge feels like you have gone from the frying pan into the fire……

So what has been your cliff, your challenge? Is it physically or spiritually, and how do you handle it?

Let me make a suggestion for handling difficult things in your life. One of my favorite passages is Romans 8:28: Paul writes there: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”

Let me give you the “Russ Revised Version” of is verse: "Do your best to serve God, love him and no matter how badly you mess things up,  God will be able to make something good come from it." Even if you don’t see it or understand it, God has the power to work it to the good!

So it may seem that you have gone from the frying pan into the fire, but don’t forget to trust in Him, Our God and King.

That's why Psalm 23:1-6 is so dear to so many of us. It reminds us of who is in control of our world and our life. David wrote: "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in   the house of the LORD for ever."

So face life's challenges trusting in God!

Thursday, August 27, 2015


A friend, Larry, and I were talking the other day and he shared a thought about our human condition and God. The bottom line is that no matter what happens in our world and our life, God is still on his throne. Another friend and I have often commented to one another that God still rules in this world. It really doesn't matter if the world denies that fact, it is still true.

All through the scripture it gives us insight into that concept. When Abraham left his home and faced challenges, God was still on his throne and caused good to happen. When Joseph was sold in to slavery, God was still on his throne and caused good to happen. When the Children of Israel were fleeing from the Egyptians and backed up to the sea, God was still on his throne and caused good to happen. When the Children of Israel were carried off into Babylonian Captivity, God was still on his throne. When three young men were thrown into a "Fiery Furnace," God was still on his throne. The list could go on and on, but you get the idea.

We forget far too often that God IS the most powerful being in all creation. We forget far too often that he doesn't have to consult us before he makes his plans. We forget that God doesn't have to let us know how he plans to use us in this life. We forget that God's ways (thoughts) are far beyond our understanding. And mostly we forget far too often that God is on his throne. He always has been; he always will be!

One of the most important things we forget is that when Jesus was hanging on a cross, God was still on his throne and good things happened. We would not have understood that if we had been there and many still don't, but nevertheless, it is true.

In Revelation 15:3-4 we see people in heaven who had won their fight against Satan singing the following song. (The words are important, they speak of our God.)
"Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are Your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear You, Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous deeds have been revealed."

In Revelation 19:4 we read: "Then the twenty four elders and the four living beings fell down and worshiped God, who was sitting on the throne. They cried out, 'Amen! Praise the LORD!'"

No matter what happens in our world or in your life, God is sitting on his throne! Amen! Praise the Lord!