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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Our Testimonies

Last Sunday, I spoke about the fact that we are all called to be "Witnesses" or "Evangelists" for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We may not feel like Billy Graham on any given day, but that doesn't really matter. Each one of us has a testimony - God's Word tells us exactly that.

1 John 5:10: "Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart."

1 John 5:11-12 goes on to say: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

What a wonderfully simple message! God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son: "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

It's so simple that it's almost too easy for many people to believe! Do you know who Jesus is? Would you like to live for all eternity with Him in heaven? Would you like to know Him personally? Would you like to pray and ask Him into your heart?

Simple questions, the simple truth.

But as simple as it is, it is the absolute truth. We can illustrate this truth with a story, the story that we know best - the story of our own lives.

This is our testimony. We have asked Jesus into our hearts, and He has changed our lives both inwardly and outwardly, now and forevermore.

Here is my challenge to you.

Take out a pen and paper or sit at your computer and begin to write out your testimony.
* Write out a little of your past, what you were into, where you were headed, how you felt, what didn't seem right about your life.

* Then write what caused you to begin to search for something better, for God, for a purpose or whatever caused you to eventually end up coming to Christ.

* Next write about the actual event, when you were born again, when you were saved, when you prayed and asked Jesus into your life.

* Finally, write a bit about what has changed since you became a Christian. How has God blessed you, how has He fixed some of those areas that were broken in your life, how has He changed your way of looking at life, etc.

I had a friend who once did this. After working on it and perfecting it and adding a prayer of salvation at the end, he made it into a little tract with his own picture on it and gave it to people he met. He also added the contact information for his church and let people get in touch with him through there.

It always does us good to sort out our thoughts and put them into some type of order. This will help us be able to share our testimonies with much more confidence and, who knows, maybe you'll make your own tract. If you do, please show it to me. I'd love to see it.

God Bless,
Pastor John

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Fruit Tree

Imagine a large beautiful tree. This tree has been growing in your neighborhood for many years and has now reached an impressive height. The wonderful thing about this tree is that it is filled with some of the most tantalizing fruit you have ever seen. This fruit must surely be filled with all kinds of vitamins and minerals and will certainly have the sweetest taste and finest texture of any fruit around, at least if the sight of this tree is any indication. Everyone talks about this tree with its amazing beauty, its bountiful fruit, and its unlimited potential.

What they don't know is that there is something terribly wrong with this tree. If you were to draw close to the tree and see what is actually happening, you would not believe your eyes. This tree is doing something that just isn't right. Certainly no tree was created to do this. It seems to go against all that is good, decent, and natural. This tree is eating its own fruit!

Upon closer inspection you find that this tree has set itself up so no one else gets to sample this very needed fruit. It takes in the sun and the water. It lets itself be trimmed and pruned. It enjoys the admiring looks of those passing by, but never even considers sharing with anyone else any of the amazing fruit that it has been blessed with. What a shame! What a waste! What useful purpose does this fruit tree really serve? Who ever heard of a fruit tree eating all of its own fruit and not letting anyone else enjoy what it has to offer? I'm sure God would never have created it to be like this. It's definitely not fulfilling its purpose.

This story reminds me of a scripture in the Book of Daniel. This scripture also talks about a large, beautiful tree.
The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. - Daniel 4:11-12
The fruit was meant for others - not for the tree, not for itself. This tree got it right!

In John 15, verses 5 and 8, Jesus tells us:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

God desires that each one of us bear much fruit. He wants us to be "full of good fruit" according to James 3:17.

According to Colossians 1:10, we are to " a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work..."

And one final scripture. Romans 7:4 tells us we are to bear fruit to God.

Let's not be like the tree in the story. Instead, let's use all that God has given us - our talents, our giftings..."our fruit" - and let them be food for all.

Don't sell yourself short. You've got a lot to give. God knew what He was doing when He made you!

Be Fruitful,
Pastor John

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dumping The Darkness

Everywhere we turn, we see and hear things that we know are wrong. So much of what is written, spoken, or viewed can actually lead many people down a path that could literally destroy them. It’s almost as if there were pipelines of lies being pumped into our culture through every possible outlet at an ever-expanding flow rate being consumed as fast as humanly possible. These lies are sort of like black crude in a way - they fill people’s minds with darkness. Of course, we know - or should know - the source of all these lies, all this darkness.

Speaking of the devil, in John 8:44 Jesus said: “...for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

The devil is pouring out his lies so that he can lure people into his kingdom, the kingdom of darkness. I used to live there - we all did at one time - until God, in His mercy, rescued us.

Ephesians 5:8 says: "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light."

God is now calling us to be the antidote to all of this darkness, all these lies. He is calling us to be light in this world.

Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Somehow, God wants to use us in all the different places where we have influence. We may not think we are very influential people, but I’ll let you in on a little secret. The Holy Spirit in us can touch people’s lives in ways we could never have imagined if we will just let Him use us when the opportunity arises.

We can bring terror into the devil's camp by blowing up his pipelines of lies. We truly can be light to this world. It's Christ in us - His word in us, His Spirit in us - that’s how we do it. With Him, all things are possible. Don’t sell yourselves short. I believe in you. God believes in you. Trust God who is in you!

Shine on Brightly,
Pastor John

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Guest Speaker: Craig Fasler

We had a guest speaker at church this past weekend. It was great to see Craig after close to 10 years! The weekend started out a little rough with a call I received telling me that Craig's flight had been canceled. Originally, Craig had been scheduled to arrive at 11:00am, but that time was changed to arriving at 6:40pm. This would be cutting it close, but still not too bad as we would arrive at the Young Adult meeting a few minutes late but they could hold off for us and all would be well. However, as the day wore on, the flight time changed five or six more times, and Craig didn't end up arriving until after 9:00pm when the meeting should have been winding down. I guess God had different plans.

We arrived at the Young Adult meeting around 9:30pm, and instead of finding a tired, bored group, we entered into a crowd of enthusiastic, on fire, excited young people. God had been working mightily. Many had already been touched, and one young lady had given her heart to the Lord.

As soon as Craig began to speak, God turned up the fire a notch. Before the night was through, everyone was stirred up by the Word and some challenging videos. Some of our young folks and some not so young had been prayed for and healed and that set the stage for the next day. Saturday morning everyone came ready to learn and then go out into the streets and to the stores to share the Lord and pray for people. More great testimonies!

Sunday proved to be an equally amazing day. Craig was in rare form and spoke on evangelism in a way that touched everyone's hearts as well as our funny bones. Some of the personal stories he shared moved many to tears, but in his own unique way he soon had us laughing again even though he was challenging us at the same time. 

Sunday on the way to dinner, Carolyn, Craig, and I stopped off at the hospital to visit and pray for a member of our church. While we were at the hospital, we ended up praying for a couple of other people, and one was very interested in coming out to church when he was released.

Dinner was at Outback, and there we witnessed and did the two-question test to our waitress and the manager who both promised to read a salvation tract before going to bed that night.

When all was said and done, I heard nothing but good reports about the whole weekend. I'll tell you what, Craig never stops. What you saw on Sunday goes on seven days a week for him.

I hope you were touched and challenged to go out and spread the Good News that only we, as Christians, possess.

Love in Christ,
Pastor John