Wednesday, November 25, 2015


We have seen many changes take place in our nation over the years, but the growth in popularity of the "Tailgate Party," has amazed me. Whenever there is a sporting event someone will throw a Tailgate Party. For those who might not know, it is a gathering of  like minded friends who gather and share a meal, talk about the coming event and then watch the event together cheering on their favorite team (usually with much enthusiasm).

In the past couple of weeks I have listened as my co-workers have discussed their planned Thanksgiving celebration. It occurred to me for many it was less about Thanksgiving and more of a tailgate party. They were more interested in watching the "Big Game" (sporting event) than being with family. Some were actively planning the big day of shopping beginning late that night and the next day and Thanksgiving was just something to get through before that happened. For some Thanksgiving is just a tailgate party, for some it is an obligation, something to be endured until they can get to the game or shopping.

I'm not saying that these folks will not enjoy being with family, but not once did I hear the idea express of anyone actually being thankful for anything. Again, for many, yet I understand not all, being thankful has become of secondary importance. We as a nation seem to have forgotten why the holiday came into existence. We forget to Thank God for all he has provided and to be thankful for family and the opportunity to spend time with loved ones.

Again, I realize this is not how everyone feels, but I have been surprised to listen to those I work with discuss Thanksgiving.

My prayer is that you will remember what it is about and enjoy friends and family, but do it with a spirit of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for them, Thanksgiving to our God and Thanksgiving for our free country. As the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 1:2-3, "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you."

May the Spirit of Thanksgiving live in each of our hearts this year and always. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


(Paris Mourns)

The events of last week in Paris are still fresh in all of our minds. The questions I have heard several times are, "Can it happen here," or "what would you do in that situation"? Interestingly I just happen to listen to a commentary by Mike Adams whose title was: "How to survive a mass shooting." Now understand that the risk of a mass shooting event in your life is very rare. You may have a better chance of getting hit by lighting. You may not want to hear it or think about it, but there is a chance… Notice a few of the points from the commentary.

Mike suggested that you can:
  1. Call 911, realizing that the police will be 10 to 20 minutes away.
  2. Flee, run for you life.
  3. Hide, try to get somewhere they can't see you.
  4. Play Dead, not effective, in at least one of the mass shootings the shooters shot those who were playing dead anyway.
  5. Attack physically, get inside the range of the rifle and it can not be used against you. Scratch, bite, kick, hit, and poke eyes, whatever you can. Of course to do this you must be willing to sacrifice yourself to save the lives of others, maybe your family. But in doing so, you may inspire others to help you overcome the attackers.
  6. And lastly you can shoot back. In other words, be prepared before hand for when bad things might happen. Arm yourself properly

Now you may wonder, "Why in the world is Russ talking about this?" Well, first I guess, because I am concerned about all of you. I wouldn't want any of you to loose your lives in such a way. But second, because it parallels our fight against the army of Satan.

1 Peter 5:8 tells us that Satan is as a Roaring lion, looking for opportunities to devour each of us.

We get that, we understand that concept I think.

Yet, if you think you can stand up to a roaring, charging lion, you are a better person than I.

Most of us might think, "Well I was Chuck Norris might be able to do it," but we're not; are we? Well, what about being a 12 or 13 year old boy, could you do it then? Most of us would think that idea is pretty stupid, yet that is exactly what David said he did (1 Samuel 17:34-36).

What does this have to do with surviving a mass shooting?

Simply, Satan is trying to kill us physically and Spiritually. We can understand the idea of Spiritual Warfare, but now it has progressed to both Physical Warfare also. The recent shooting at the collage out west, the shooter asked people if they were Christians before killing the ones that said yes.

Whose idea do you think that was? Satan has been working hard at it even before the beginning of the church, 2000 years, starting with Jesus the Messiah. And when the leaders of ISIS and other extremist saying they are coming to kill us, they are not going to target other Muslims, they are going to target Christians.

The best thing we can do is to organize and put on the Spiritual Armour of God and attack Satan. You may have some hesitation on agreeing with this, but notice what Jesus had to say in Matthew 16:13-18.

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

That passage indicates that we need to be the aggressors, not in a physical war against Muslims as such, but against Satan and his armies. Against everything that is trying to destroy our Christian lives and Nation.

Our fight today is against ungodliness, the addictions, the moral decay, and the breakdown of godly family units, the distinction between the sexes, transgender, pornography and homosexuality. All of the things which our nation has been tricked by Satan into accepting as being OK, while God says it is not.

How does this follow Mike Adam's list of survival techniques?

  1. Do we call someone else to deal with the problem?

  1. Do we run away from it?

  1. Do we hide our belief so it can't be seen by others?

  1. Do we play dead and pretend we are not Christians?

  1. Or do we join the fight and attach Satan and his army?

We might say, "But it's going to cost us something in our lives! Isn't that what Christ, Peter, Paul and all of the other apostles were willing to pay!

Satan is attacking our nation, our society, our churches and our families daily. Just turn on your television and you will see and hear him trying to take over people's lives… and succeeding.

What other decision can we make than to join the Lord's Army?

If we don’t, what is our excuse? Will you die spiritually or allow your friends and family to die, because you are not willing to sacrifice something of yourself?

James writes in James 4:17, "Therefore to him who knows to do good, and does not do it, to him it is sin."

Do you know how to do good and fight Satan?

Are you doing it?

Friday, November 6, 2015


Young miss Sarah, our great niece, has lovely hair that flows down over her shoulders. Her grand mother, my sister had a new hair brush, one of the round ones with fine teeth on it, about which she specifically told her grand daughters "do no use my hair brush". Of course as you can probably already guess, Sarah used her grandmother's hair brush. How do we know? Because while we were finishing a family supper, Sarah came down from upstairs with the hairbrush terribly tangled in her lovely long hair. Not just tangled, but knotted into a large mass on the side of her head.

Being a man I guess I could not imagine how you could ever get the hairbrush out of her hair without cutting her hair. But, three of our family's women worked on her hair for about an hour and got it out. Of course they had to get wire cutters and cut the bristles off of the brush one by one to do so.

When she saw her grand daughter's hair; what do you think was the first thing my sister said? How about, "Didn't I tell you not to touch my hairbrush?" Isn't it amazing that since the creation that type of question is probably the most repeated in history? In the very beginning God asked almost the same question of his very first children. In Genesis 3:3 after Satan whispered in her ear that she could get away with disobeying, the first woman, Eve, admitted: "God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it…" But of course you know how that that went… she touched it anyway. Later God asked, "What is this you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." Her life had become a tangled mess because she didn't obey a simple rule which was given by her father, God.

How many times are we like Sarah, or Eve? It's a simple thing, no one will know, it will just take a minute, one puff, one joint, one drink, one word; one time in a compromising situation, and after all, no one will know… How many lives have become tangled messes because of "just one time"?

My sister's response to her grand daughters predicament was and destroying her new hairbrush was: "Hairbrushes can be replaced, kids can't". The world if full of people who are suffering the consequences of "just one time". Thankfully we have a loving God who always accepts us back when our lives become tangled messes.

My favorite verses in the bible come from 1 John 1:7-10 that talks about our struggle in life and our far too often failures. John writes: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." Now there is a little more to getting into contact with the Blood of Christ to begin with (Romans 6), but in understanding that there is always forgiveness when we get tangled up we find hope to overcome and go on with life.

May you life be without tangles, but if it's not, God can fix it.

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.