Pastor John E. Russell
Senior Pastor
Downriver Christian Community Church
Melvindale, Michigan

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I love the fact that during the Christmas season most people are much more open than usual to talk about or hear about Jesus. After all, the whole reason for Christmas has to do with the birth of Jesus. He is the reason for the season. However, with so many forces coming against Christianity on almost a daily basis, it is refreshing to hear people speaking about and even singing about our Lord and Savior.

God's Word teaches us in Ephesians 5:15-16 to live wisely and make the most of every opportunity. This week is definitely a time of opportunity to wish others a Merry Christmas, along with God bless you, have a blessed Christmas, I'll pray for you, are you coming to church? or any number of other ways to open the door to further discussion about Christ. Then we can talk about how God has blessed us through another year. We can tell them about the little girl who was so cute as she lifted up her hands to God while she sang a Christmas carol with her classmates in front of the whole church. We can tell them about the little boy who put a present under the Christmas tree for Jesus. Or maybe about how much more meaning Christmas has to you now that you have a real relationship with Christ.

We had our Christmas service today at church, and I was blessed to see so many people at peace with one another, sharing their hearts, love, and laughter and truly enjoying each others' company. While watching our children sing their carols, I was totally amazed at how well they sang. And, best of all, after the service during prayer someone gave their heart to the Lord.

I thank the Lord for our church. God has blessed us abundantly in every way. But most of all, I thank God for the large number of people who are sincerely trying their best to love and serve our Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.

God bless you during this Christmas season,
Pastor John

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Hebrews 5:7-9: "During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him."

What does it mean that Jesus had to learn obedience? Had he been disobedient and now had to learn to obey His Father? Not at all.

The truth is that Jesus always obeyed His Father. He was without sin. He was perfect. However, as our High Priest, He had to experience being obedient and learn obedience first hand in the midst of great suffering. Jesus was tested and tried in the fire and came out perfect.

Notice in verse 7, Jesus offered up "prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears" to his Father. Why? So that He could endure the pain and suffering He was destined to go through and still be obedient. No one had ever, or would ever, have to endure the agony of bearing the sins of all humanity, the punishment for those sins, and the separation from His Father because of those sins. Only Jesus could do this. His obedience was proved when He said, "It is Finished." He had perfectly obeyed the will of the Father, even unto death, and we are now the beneficiaries of His obedience.

Finally, in verse 9, we see this salvation is for all of us who obey Him. Jesus left us with a perfect example of obedience. He didn't come here to playact a role. Jesus' suffering was real, more real than ours could ever be. His flesh was the same as yours or mine and yet He showed us it can be done.

What can we learn from this? God has given us His Holy Spirit, the same source of strength that Jesus relied upon, to enable us to be obedient and to accomplish His will. Obeying God's Word is not impossible, though we may struggle and we may suffer. We have been given the ability to be more than conquerors through Christ Jesus who loves us. We may have to offer up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who can save us, but save us He will. We just have to remember this one thing: Philippians 4:13 - "I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

Pastor John

Monday, November 29, 2010


I love Thanksgiving! I enjoy the food, family, friends, and fun. It's a wonderful family time and probably the least commercialized of all the holidays. I'm glad God thought of it. We like to think of it as a uniquely American holiday, and it is, at least as far as holidays go. However, it was God who showed us throughout His word how important it is to be thankful. In fact, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." If we take the time to look, God will show us a reason to be thankful in any situation we find ourselves. To be "thank-full" means to be full of thanks. If we are full of thanks, then we won't be full of envy, jealousy, greed, bitterness, fear, emptiness, and a host of other negative traits.

Something else I've noticed is that it's all too often that people will give thanks without ever even mentioning God. They don't even know who they are thanking. James 1:17 tells us "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father..." God is the one who has given us everything we have and has made us everything we are. He is our provider and the only one who is worthy of our thanks.

You know what? This would be a perfect time to take a few moments to think about all the many reasons you have to be thankful to our Lord.

Thankfully Yours,
Pastor John