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

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Game

I was thinking about a little toy that Carolyn and I bought for our granddaughter to play with at our house. It's one of those wooden boards with all the different shapes cut out: square, circle, triangle, octagon, etc. The object is to put the right shape in the right hole, and it ends up teaching you about all the different shapes. In fact, this particular board speaks out the name of the shape when you put the right shape in the right hole, so you also learn how to pronounce the words.

The reason I brought this little game up is that it's a matching game and I thought I would challenge you to a matching game of our own. Remember the scripture I talked about on Sunday? Let's look at it again.

Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Here's the way this game goes. Consider what you have been thinking about for the last day or so. You've probably had hundreds if not thousands of thoughts. Now write them all down. Yeah sure! I'm not going to get a lot of takers on that challenge. Ok - how about something a whole lot easier. Write down the main parts of this scripture, just the key words.

True, Noble, Right, Pure, Lovely (lovable), Admirable, Excellent, Praiseworthy.

Eight simple words. Now when you start thinking about something or talking about something, see which word it matches up to. Remember the one who is really challenging you to this game is not me but God himself. He is the all-time champ. He's the one who made up the rules and who is also the judge.

This is a great way to begin to train our minds to start thinking as God would have us think. This is how we renew our minds. This is how we are transformed. This is how we are then able to determine God's will or purpose for our lives - His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

If you would like to take this challenge a step further, look up the eight key words. In fact, I'll give you the Greek translations for them, and you can go to a search engine ( and look them up.

Here they are:
  1. Alethes
  2. Semnos
  3. Dikaios
  4. Hagnos
  5. Prosphiles
  6. Euphemos
  7. Arete
  8. Epainos

Type the word above and type "Greek" next to it. The search engine will give you a definition of the word. Now you're doing a Bible study!

Get these words in your head and use them like a filter. See how many of your thoughts can pass through them and how many get filtered out.

This is a great way to grow. Challenge yourself and see how well you do.

Remember you do have a partner who will be more than happy to help you - the Holy Spirit. He will guide you into all truth.

God Bless You Abundantly,
Pastor John

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Washing The Car

I got my car washed a few days ago and what a difference! All the salt, all the sludge, all the dirt was gone. Just like that, what a transformation! My car looked like it was brand new again, almost like it just came from the dealer's showroom. It's fairly easy to renew the way a vehicle looks. Too bad we can't renew our minds the same way — something quick and easy for five or six bucks.

So why am I talking about renewing our minds? Because God told us to do it in His Word. Romans 12:2 tells us: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will."

How many times have we, as Christians, wished we knew what God's will was for our lives? Let me let you in on a little secret. Our carnal minds don't want anything to do with following God's will. They only want to please our fleshly nature. The problem with this is that we feel empty and without purpose or hope. We believe deep down in our spirits that there is more for us...and there is.

To get hold of God's will and to understand His purpose for our lives, we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Only then can we begin to grasp the wonderful plans He has designed for our particular life!

How do we do that? If God is a spiritual being, how can we understand His thoughts?

Romans 8:5b: “...those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”

Let the Holy Spirit lead us. He will guide us into all truth. As we read God's Word, He will open it up to us and cleanse our minds by washing them with the Word.

Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

The Word of God is the true and final authority to help us sort out our thoughts. It will judge them. The Holy Spirit will speak to us through God’s Word and tell us when our thoughts, perceptions, and attitudes are wrong.

The only way we can walk in God’s purpose for our lives is to have the focus of our minds changed from pleasing ourselves to pleasing our God. Then our will is transformed. Then our minds will be renewed. "Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will."

God bless you!
Pastor John

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Seeing is Believing

Why is it sometimes so hard to believe that God truly does have great things in store for us? Think back to when you were young and you wanted something so badly that you could almost taste it. You probably had no possible way of getting what you wanted unless your parents got it for you. And then it happened. Maybe it was Christmas or your birthday or some special reward, but you saw the box or went to the store and suddenly the dream became a reality.You got what you really never believed you would have, or at least you weren't sure you would have. Seeing was believing!

Now we're grown, and God want us to know that greater things are yet to come! I'm not talking about material things now, I'm talking about the things God wants to do in our lives: big changes, great accomplishments, spiritual gifts, restored relationships, defeated sins, renewed minds, and so many other things that only you and God know about. God wants to give you the desires of your heart, but our love for Him must be real.

For these things to happen, we need to believe God for them - that He has the ability and the desire to do them for us. We need to see to believe, but not like when we were children. Now we see differently. We see with eyes of faith. We need to draw near to God and get a revelation of His vision or purpose for us. God will speak to us through His Word, through the Holy Spirit, and sometimes through those He has put in our lives. God doesn't want us to wander aimlessly through life. He has a purpose and a plan for each of us. The problem is that we don't always see them or sometimes even look for them. That's why we need to open up those eyes of faith. We weren't born to be blind, but to see both physically and spiritually.

I know that your heavenly Father wants to bless you. His plan is to prosper you and give you a hope and a future. Can you see it, can you taste it? The Lord is good! His mercies are new every morning! Taste and see that the Lord is good. Stop, look and listen! What is God trying to get across to you? Whatever it is, it's what you need.

God Bless You Abundantly,
Pastor John

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The New Year

Here we are in the new year. It's now 2011, and I just got used to writing 2010 on my checks. Oh well. It's funny how the days and weeks can go by relatively slowly, but the years seem to fly by. I'm still thinking of Y2K as though it were yesterday and that was already 11 years ago! Anyhow, it is a new year once again, and I was thinking of a scripture that seems very appropriate for this time.
Ephesians 4:22-24: You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
I recently read that the typical New Year resolution lasts about two weeks, so don't make this a New Year resolution. Instead, decide that it's time for some more of that old "self" to be gotten rid of. Like spring cleaning, once it's thrown away, it's gone...for good.

What "old thing" has been hanging around and getting in our way, preventing us from moving forward? What part of our old selves can we "put off" or put out in the trash to get rid of? Just like going through the garage or basement or closet, something that looked good a while back looks outdated or useless now, and it's time to get rid of it. Some of those old ways - that old self - are also pretty dated, so let's dump them. God will send a helper - the Holy Spirit - to help us carry them out to the trash. Then we'll have more room for the new us, the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

I pray that God will bless you and prosper you in this new year of 2011 and that all of us will be seeing more of the new self in each other as the year progresses.

Pastor John