Chris Russell


Chris Russell

Chris Russell has spent the past 25 years actively involved in ministry through pastoring, church planting, writing, Christian radio, and special speaking around the country and in seven different countries. He is passionate about communicating the truths of God's Word in a creative, highly-relevant way.

Chris has three kids and happens to be married to his best friend, Leigh. He currently pastors a church on the north side of Cincinnati. When he's not pastoring or blogging (www.SensibleFaith.com), he runs a real estate company in his "spare" time (www.PlumTreeRealty.com). He believes that A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder) is one of his 'spiritual gifts.'

Why Doesn’t God Heal Every Sickness, Disease, and Illness?

I am a big believer in the doctrine of healing. I have experienced God’s healing in my own life, and I have witnessed God healing myriads of people over my past couple decades I’ve been in ministry. I am greatly comforted by verses like the one in James that gives us a great hope in the power of prayer:

James 5
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.
 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

I do believe that God heals, but I also believe that healing is not always the only path that He chooses for us. Sometimes His perfect plan for our lives is to allow us to suffer and experience disease, illness, and hardship. The reason for this is that He can often teach us things through suffering that we would never be able to learn through a book or seminar, or through comfort and prosperity.

Paul had a problem with his eyesight that God never healed. When Timothy was sick, Paul told him to drink wine (not go to a healing service). The Lazarus who was raised from the dead eventually died later. Paul says that he had a thorn in the flesh which he prayed for God to remove over and over again, but God never removed it. Job suffered because God had a whole bigger purpose for him than mere comfort on this planet. And Job’s suffering was not the result of a lack of faith.

Some of the greatest blessings in this world come from God’s power in the midst of trials. God changes us, molds us, strengthens us, and builds us through hardship. And there is nothing like the experience of being comforted by God alone in that dark hour.

Over the past twenty-five years that I have been in ministry, I have seen people hurt greatly by the false teaching that God always wants to heal every malady. This is because that belief can cause a massive amount of guilt and disillusionment for the afflicted in those times when God actually chooses not to heal. The implication is that the suffering Christian just didn’t quite believe enough or is hiding some sort of sin. I have seen Christians destroyed in their faith over this erroneous teaching.

We must realize that sometimes it’s just not God’s plan to heal or to fix a problem quickly for us. And that’s ok. He still loves us. He still has a plan. And He still has a profound purpose for that pain that can end up blessing us beyond anything we could ever imagine.

Often God chooses to heal! But sometimes He teaches us more and draws us closer when we walk the dark mile of suffering. But to experience such blessing, it is important that we run to God and not away from Him in the midst of the storm.

For an epic example of how God can bless even in the midst of a tragedy, check out this post:

“Experiencing God’s Grace — Even at the Death of a Child”


For more, visit Sensible Faith.


10 Questions to Get “Unstuck” Spiritually

During this past year, I bought a vehicle that I have wanted for just about all my life: a Jeep Wrangler. I’ve always liked seeing them, but I was just recently able to get one for myself. There’s nothing quite like zipping around town with the top off and doors off. It’s basically like riding a roller coaster… EVERYWHERE.

After buying my Jeep, I got on Youtube to check out what others do with their Jeeps. I was stunned. What do you do with a brand new vehicle? You bury it in mud! Here’s one video of what others have done with their Wrangler.

When I watched that video of that Jeep that was stuck, I realized that that is exactly what people do with their lives. They often run their lives into the muck and mire of this world, and they often get stuck with seemingly no way out. Well, my hope is that, if you are spiritually stuck in your life right now, this blog post will help to pull you out of the pit.

If you feel like you are stuck spiritually and are just spinning your wheels, then I would like to suggest that you take a few moments to ask yourself some self-examining questions. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” King David said it like this:

Psalm 139:23–24
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (NLT)

Many people I have worked with over the years have been able to get unstuck by prayerfully asking these following questions and allowing God to help them find areas that need to be fixed.

1.  Is there some unconfessed sin in my life that I need to deal with?

1 John 1:8–10
If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. (NLT)

2. Is there some person I have offended or hurt, but I have not apologized to or sought forgiveness or restoration?

Matthew 5:23–24
So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. (NLT)

3. Is there some person in my life whom I have not forgiven?

Ephesians 4:31–32
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (NIV)

4. Is there any idol  that I have adopted into my life in the place of God?

1 John 2:15–16
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. (NKJV)

5. Am I believing lies about God, myself, others, or my situation?

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (NKJV)

6. Am I being disciplined and consistent in my pursuit of God?

Psalm 63:1–8
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. (NKJV)

7. Are there any areas of my life that are out of balance?

Ecclesiastes 3
1 To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;  time of war, and a time of peace.  (NKJV)

8. Are there any areas of my life that are requiring inappropriate amounts of my time?

Ephesians 5:15–17
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (NKJV)

9. Is there some ministry that God wants me to pursue, but I have held out?

1 Timothy 4:14
Do not neglect the gift that is in you….  (NKJV)

10. Have I been 100% honest before God on each of the above questions?

 John 8:32
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (NKJV)


For more, visit Sensible Faith.


Could a God Who Allows Suffering Really Be Good?

Genesis 50:20

And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

Today’s passage gives us a beautiful glimpse at God’s amazing plan, which was set into place before the universe began. Joseph had to go through incredible heartache as a result of the horrible sins that his brothers committed toward him. They hated him with a perfect hatred. They sold him into slavery, and they hoped to never see him again. It appeared that there was no hope that Joseph would ever again be happy again.

But God was able to take an event even as terrible as this and use it for something beautiful. Through Joseph’s slavery, God was able to rescue the entire family of Jacob and turn them into the great nation of Israel. Wow! What a plan!

There is no such thing as random pain. God has a divine purpose for everything, and He can often accomplish things through suffering that He would not be able to accomplish in any other way.

Because God is omniscient (He knows everything),  He truly sees the big picture. He truly knows what’s best for us. He knows what will bring the ultimate good for mankind.  And He allows suffering at times to bring about that ultimate good –- in mankind in general, and in your life in particular.

As a parent, I occasionally have to do the same thing with my kids. My daughter may not understand why we would have to take her to the doctor to get a shot, but that medical treatment would be for her ultimate good. I can see the big picture in a way that she does not always fully understand … yet. At some point she will … perhaps.

One thing in this life about which you can be sure is that God loves you dearly. And the suffering that you experience is somehow related to His love for you. And this can only be understood fully as it is seen from His eternal, “out-of-this-world” vantage point.

TODAY’S BIG IDEA:  “Suffering can be an extension of God’s goodness when it is viewed from the perspective of God and eternity.”


For more, visit Sensible Faith.


Connecting with God Through Holy Living

1 Peter 1:15-16

But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Throughout the Scriptures we see a huge celebration of the holiness of God, and yet most of us really don’t have a full grasp of what it means to be holy. The original word for holiness in the Hebrew meant to be “set apart” or to be “separated from” something. As it applies to God, we see that He is exalted above and completely separate from any type of sin, flaw, or moral imperfection.

It’s interesting to note that God’s Word actually proceeds from His holiness. The Scriptures are perfect and infallible, and they can be trusted in every way. It is the fact that God is holy that allows Him to be able to produce such a document.

The Scriptures also indicate that, even as God is holy, so should we be holy in all manner of lifestyle. We are to follow that divine example. Now, on this planet, we certainly will never attain complete holiness, for we are ever warring with our old, sinful nature. But holiness is the target for which we are to direct our actions. Sin puts a barrier between us and God. Holiness brings communion and fellowship with Him.

As we grow in our journey with God and become stronger in our own personal holiness, we will actually begin to hate sin and its effects. We grow to despise those things that interfere with our intimacy with God and those things which bring so much pain to others here on this earth. And we will seek to avoid those things with a passion.

Toilet water may appear to be clean, but you would never be so foolish as to take a drink of it! That’s because no matter how pure it may look, you still know that it is contaminated. And it does not take much impurity to make that water unclean! In a similar way, we must understand sin to be a filthy contaminant to our spirit, and we must avoid those things through the power of the Holy Spirit.

TODAY’S BIG IDEA: “Seek to live a holy life, and you will enjoy an amazingly-close relationship with the Holy God.”

Today’s prayer:

Pray that God will help you to see those areas in your life that are contaminated and that He will help you to turn away from those things … toward Him!


Who's Running This Place?

Colossians 3:16-17

16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.  17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

Imagine a universe in which everything is completely random. There is no order; there is no consistency; there is no purpose. What a horrible place that would be! Yet those who believe in a purely naturalistic explanation for the origin of the universe find themselves in precisely such a place.

I’m thankful that we can know that there is purpose, there is direction, and that there is order in the universe. This universe was designed, laid out, and is maintained by the Creator, the God of the universe, Himself. The laws of physics are such a beautiful picture of the great order that God gives to His creation. Not only has God created this world, but He is intimately involved in keeping everything running according to His perfect plan.

This truth actually brings us great comfort. I don’t know if you’ve figured this out, but I have noticed over the many years that I’ve been alive that life does not actually turn out the way that I thought it would when I was much younger. As a matter of fact, life regularly takes turns that I never would have ever imagined in my early years.

Unexpected tragedies come. We experience loss. We experience pain, heartache, sorrow, failure, and despair. But knowing that God reigns on His throne on high is an incredible comfort. We can be assured that nothing takes place that is outside of His control. Take a moment to think about God’s perspective on this universe. Consider God’s perspective on your problems. God is not stressed out. God is not sitting on His throne wringing his hands in worry about how things are going to turn out.

As you go throughout this day, take time to ponder God’s sovereignty. Meditate on the reality that He is in control of everything. Take time to ponder His sovereignty and how it makes a difference in your life. Consider how big of a deal that is.

TODAY’S BIG IDEA:  “God is in control, and you can relax and trust in Him.”


For more, visit Sensible Faith.


How to Have a Half Day of Prayer with God

Mark 1:35
Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.


Many years ago I learned about a spiritual discipline that literally changed my life: a half day of prayer. I learned about this concept through leadership training with The Navigators, and it has stuck with me ever since. One of the most dynamic experiences I have come to enjoy in life is to take a half day to get away to a place of solitude and just … pray! I highly recommend it to any who are reading this post.

But as you ponder this concept, you are likely asking yourself something like, “What in the world would I do for 4–5 hours of prayer? What would I say to God? What would I do with that much time?” Great questions! Let me give you some suggestions!

First of all, I would suggest that you break the time up into two key divisions: speaking to God and listening to God.

Speaking to God

For the first division of your time, you can take time to pray according to the acronym ACTS. Each of those letters stand for a specific theme of your prayers to God: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication.

Adoration
A great way to begin your half day of prayer is to spend some personal time in worship with the Lord. Sing. Listen to worship music. Contemplate everything you can think of that makes God so great. Write down everything you can think of that demonstrates the awesome majesty of God. And then ponder the things you have written. Contemplate the greatness of God while you are there before Him.

Confession
After your time of adoration, then take time to confess to God any sin you can think of in your life. David said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Ask God to show you any sin that you have in your life that is interfering with your journey with Him. Ask for God’s forgiveness, and then ask Him to help you to turn from those sins.

Thanksgiving
Now spend some time thanking God for every blessing you have in your life. I have found it helpful to write these items down as they come to my mind. Make a list, and make it as exhaustive as you can. Don’t leave anything out. Thank God for every single way He has blessed you and those around you.

Supplication
For the supplication portion of your prayer, invest time into praying for every single person who is close to you in your life.  Remember every family member, every coworker, every friend, every neighbor, every church member you can think of, etc. Again, write down the names of the people as you pray for them.  This will help you to think of others who should be on that list.

Listening to God

The next section of your half day of prayer will be the “Listening to God” section. This is likely to become the most important, life-changing experience of your half day with God!

Years ago I read a great book by Bill Hybels called, Too Busy Not to Pray. One of the eye-opening suggestions for me in that book was the idea that we should actually take time to stop and listen to God. I realized after reading that book that, in my own prayer life, I had always been the one who did all the talking! I never stopped long enough to actually listen to God. Most relationships that operate like that end up failing, so we should assume that our relationship with God will struggle as well if we are the only ones doing the talking.

So, then, how do we go about “listening” to God? Bill Hybels gave some recommendations for that, and I have expanded on those a bit in my own practice of listening.

When I get to the listening portion of my prayer, after spending time going through the vital sections of ACTS, I then take out a notepad and write these questions on the tops of separate pages:

“What is the next step in my journey with God?”

“What is the next step for my family?”

“What is the next step in my ministry?”

“What is the next step in my career?”

“What is the next step in my finances?”

“What is the next step in my education?”

“What is the next step in my relationships?”

Sometimes I will add more pages with headings like these, and sometimes I will have fewer pages. After I have these pages ready with these questions at the top, I then just stop talking. I stop asking God for things, and I just let Him do the talking. You will find that if you stop to listen to the Lord, He will speak. He will begin to flood your heart with ideas around each of these questions. He may focus on just one or two of these areas of your life, or He may broaden to many of the subjects you’ve listed.

Of course, sometimes God will not speak as you want. There have been times when I haven’t heard Him say much. But more often than not, He has flooded my soul with myriads of ideas, thoughts, and impressions about how I am to move forward in my life. This is epic. It is life changing. In today’s fast-paced world of technology, we rarely take time to just stop and let God speak to us.

Furthermore, I must warn you to be aware that not all ideas come from God. Occasionally my flesh will start talking, and sometimes it might be Satan himself who is chattering in my ears. That is why it is so important to take time for worship, confession, and adoration before you begin your time of listening. It is also good to check the things you have heard with the Scriptures to make sure they are not in conflict with any biblical principles. If the ideas go against the Bible, then that was not God speaking. I have also found it to be helpful to check my notes with godly friends who can help me to make sure I am hearing God.

With all of that in mind, I have to say that the biggest step forward for me in my Christian journey was when I stopped talking and started listening to God! It’s one of the greatest experiences of my Christian journey!

The first step for you to experience a half day of prayer will be to put it on your calendar. Set aside a day, and then go out into a place of solitude to meet with God! You will never be the same afterward!


For more, visit Sensible Faith.


The One Book That’s Always Relevant

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:8)

I have three teenagers living in my home, and I find it amusing to see the trends that their generation seems to love! Messed up hair is OK now. Fashion companies can now sell jeans that have the holes already in them… for a rather high price, even! Nerdiness and social awkwardness are the “new cool.” Nice. Yes, very nice. Why can’t they come up with really great fads like I had in my day? You know.  Like the mullet! Well, maybe those fads weren’t much to be proud of after all!

Each generation has its fads, it seems. And with each generation seems to come a renewed call to be relevant. You are nothing if you are not relevant!

One of the fantastic claims of the Word of God is that it “stands forever.” God’s Word does not come and go like other books, movies, dramas, and fads of each generation. God’s Word is a compilation of inspired writings that are relevant to every generation, every culture, and every class of people in history. Wow! Take a moment to stop and think about that! Who could ever compose such a document – other than God Himself, of course!

As you study God’s Word, take time to see what He has to say about your work, your marriage, your parenting, and your journey with Him. Seek Him on a personal level and not just on an academic level. Seek His answers that He has given you that will help you to live your life better… today!

Today’s big idea: God has written His Word in such a way that it is truly relevant to every generation.

What to pray: ask God to help you to apply His Word to your life today in a way that is relevant to the specific issues you are facing.


For more, visit Sensible Faith.


5 Things That Cause Us to Drift Spiritually

Several years ago a friend of mine took his wife and kids to the ocean for a week of R&R. While they were there, they purchased a small, inflatable boat for recreational use on the beach. One day the wife jumped in the boat and launched out into the water to just lie back and soak in some sunshine. After what seemed like a short span of time, she opened her eyes and realized that she was several hundred yards away from the shore. In a panic, she screamed for help.

Only one person on the shore seemed to hear her call, and that was her husband. When he realized her predicament, he immediately attempted to swim out to rescue her. That did not turn out well, because he was soon in need of being rescued as well!

Fortunately the lifeguard was doing his job well that day, and he was successful in rescuing the husband and the wife. By the time he was able to get to the wife in the raft, they were nearly a half mile from the shore.

As I have thought about that experience over the years, it has often made me think about how Christians often drift away from the Lord spiritually. It really doesn’t take much time at all to drift so far from the shore spiritually that one can scarcely even see the land anymore.

As a pastor for the past couple decades, I have noted several key things that tend to cause Christians to drift away from God. Here are five of them:

1)  An Out-of-Control Schedule.

Ephesians 5:16
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

One of Satan’s greatest weapons against our generation seems to be his ability to make good people busier than ever before. We so often sacrifice the best things in life by spending time doing things that are just “pretty good.”

If you desire to walk closely with God, you will absolutely, necessarily have to begin by taking a close look at your calendar. It is likely that you are currently doing too much. And it is also likely that your overly hectic schedule is affecting your relationship with God. So take out your pruning shears and begin to cut out any activities you can that will allow you to focus more time on your relationship with your Creator.

2)  Misplaced Affections

1 John 2:15
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Be careful not to set your heart on things that really don’t matter. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen good people lured away from church life because they have fallen in love with things or activities that have no eternal merit. For example, children’s sports can certainly be a thrilling activity for your kids to pursue. But if those sports begin to adversely affect the spiritual involvement and development of your family, then pull the plug immediately.

3)  Discouragement

During the past couple decades that I have served as a pastor, I have often watched Satan using his weapon of discouragement to drag people away from spiritual activities. I have seen it many more times than I can number.

When the trials of life cause a person to become discouraged, he often begins focusing on those problems and takes his eyes off of Christ. It reminds me of when Peter walked on the water. He did great until he took his eyes off of Jesus and began looking at the waves beneath him and the clouds above him.

It is important for you to know that when life’s clouds grow dark and your trials become fierce, that is the time to run TO Jesus and not FROM Him.

4)  Abundance

1 Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

We Americans are so fat with our own prosperity that we often make wealth our god and not the true King of heaven. This has also been a recurring theme throughout the entire Bible. People struggle, God blesses them, they become prosperous, and then they depart from God. Ironic, isn’t it?

The chances are great that you probably do not feel like you are prosperous. But the reality is that nearly all Americans are extremely blessed and have more abundance than the vast majority of the population of the planet. If you are an American, you are most likely already a “One-Percenter” (wealthier than 99% of the world’s population).

People of abundance often choose recreation over worship. Why go to church if you could be out golfing, boating, camping, or going to movies or sporting events?

Satan wants us to be prosperous, because our prosperity and abundance often lure us away from our Creator.

5)  Parasitic Sins

Hebrews 12:1
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Many people begin to drift away from God, because they have sins in their lives that cause them to feel guilt when they show up at church. And they feel reluctant to pray or read their Bible when they know they have these issues in their lives.

Recently, I stumbled upon the most revolting video I’ve ever seen (through my Facebook news feed). The video showed an eye surgeon removing a parasite from a human eye. I won’t go into detail. That brief description alone is enough to send chills down the spines of many. All I can say is that the video was even worse than what you’re thinking right now!

When I watched that video, it dawned on me that many people have sins in their lives that are damaging them just like parasites in one’s body. And those sins will almost certainly affect your spiritual vision.

The solution here is not to run/drift from God. The key is to confess your sin to God who will restore you and make you whole again (1 John 1:9)!

How have you done in your journey with God over the past year or the past few months? Have you drifted? Now is the time to return. Call out to God before you are so far from the shore than you lose all sense of spiritual direction.


For more, visit Sensible Faith.


Don't Edit God's Words

Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.

(Deuteronomy 12:32)

Today’s passage is important because it established a very important principle as the Children of Israel prepared to enter into the Promised Land: Don’t add to or take away from the words of God. God (through Moses) wanted this to be a foundational concept for their nation as they developed in this new land that God had provided. The foundation of their new nation had to be that they let God speak for Himself, and they were not to try to add to that or take away from that.

John ended that last book of the canon of Scripture by adding a similar statement:

For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

(Revelation 22:18-19)

The challenging thing for us today is that we live in a culture that continually seems to add to and take away from God’s Word. The opening chapters of Genesis are an excellent example of this. For instance, many writers attempt to perform amazing “linguistic gymnastics” in order to to fit the notion of billions of years into Genesis 1. God has clearly told us that He created the earth in six literal days, and yet people regularly attempt to add to that message.

On the other hand, God has also told us that we will one day have to give an account of our lives before Him, but many Bible teachers seem to want to leave that part of the message out for fear of offending followers.  How much better it would be if they would communicate the life-changing truths that God has given us!

God has given us the exact, precise message that we need for life. It behooves us to know and heed every last word!


For more, visit SensibleFaith.com


Can I Really Trust the Bible?

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

One of the most remarkable characteristics of the Bible has to do with prophecies about the future. Have you ever taken time to examine some of the things that were prophesied in the Old Testament and then fulfilled hundreds of years later?

For instance, Jesus fulfilled a total of 48 prophecies that detailed when and how He came to this earth over 2,000 years ago. It was predicted that he would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25), descended from the lineage of David (Jeremiah 23:5; Matthew 1; Luke 3), born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:1-2; Matthew 2:1), sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:14-16), no bones would be broken at His death (Psalms 34:20; John 19:33-36), and that He would arise the third day (Hosea 6:2; Acts 10:38-40) to name just a few!

Some have alleged that He merely orchestrated the events of His life around the prophecies He knew needed to be fulfilled. But how would one decide the city of his birth or the details of his death? There was clearly a supernatural hand involved in the writings of the prophecies of the Scriptures.

Fulfilled prophecies such as these help to confirm the doctrine that the Bible truly is the Word of God. You can bet your life on it. As a matter of fact, you can bet your soul on it!


For more, visit SensibleFaith.com


5 Tips for Maintaining Sanity During This Election Season

Have you noticed the amazing intensity of this election season? Wow!  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen more anger between candidates, political parties, citizens, and … Facebook friends!

In order to keep us from getting hurt in the scuffle, I thought it might be useful to suggest a few tips to help us maintain our sanity during this election season!

1. Maintain a Kingdom Perspective.

There’s no sense in getting all uptight about politics when the reality is that we are just visitors in this world, anyway. We are just travelers. Tourists. Outsiders. (See 1 Peter 2:11.)

Think about it this way: do you get all wrung out of shape about the elections in Spain? No? Why not? I’m guessing it’s because you are not a citizen of that country. In a similar way, we Christians shouldn’t allow the affairs of American politics to get us overly stressed out, because this really isn’t our home country. We are from a different Kingdom altogether. And when we see the mess that this world is in, it is certainly a huge blessing to remember that this is not our eternal home.

2. Avoid Power-Over Thinking.

I recently heard a sermon by Pastor Greg Boyd in which he contrasted “power-over” thinking with “power-under” thinking. The kingdom of this world is all about grasping power and controlling others. The kingdom of heaven, on the other hand, is all about power-under. It is about serving. It is about placing the needs of others above our own. When Peter cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant in the garden, Jesus told him that “those who take up the sword will also die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). Jesus clearly came to turn this world completely upside down. He did not come to control; He came to serve and to lay down His life for all. Wow! How amazing is that?

As Christians, we must be cautious that we do not get drawn into the power-over approach. Rather than seeking to control and dominate others, we should step back and seek to love and serve. This applies to politics, and it also applies to all human relationships. Think about all the marriages that could be saved if the husband and wife sought a power-under approach rather than power-over!

3. Dodge the Emotional Loop.

One thing I have noticed this year more than any election year is the heightened state of emotions in regard to politics. I believe that Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media have made communication so open that many people seem to be getting quite carried away in the emotional surge.

In their book, The Leader’s Voice, Clark and Crossland note that our emotions run in an emotional loop with others around us. In other words, our emotions can affect the emotions of others, and their emotions can affect ours. Have you ever been having a bad day, and then someone came up to you who was bubbling over with joy? Can you recall how that had a tendency to lift your emotions? Or, on the other hand, have you ever been having a good day, and then someone approached you who was very angry or sad? Do you recall how that pulled your emotions down?

A person who is emotionally healthy can rise above that loop and stay in control of his emotions regardless of those around him. The Bible actually states that it is a strong person who has the power to stay in control of his emotions (Proverbs 16:32, Proverbs 25:28, Proverbs 29:11).

As we apply that concept to our current context, I see a lot of Christians who are getting dragged into a very negative emotional loop in regard to the political conversation. Through Facebook, TV, the Internet, talk radio, etc., many people’s emotions seem to be running wild. I am suggesting that you become intentional about rising above that loop and avoiding the damage that comes with it.

4. Seek to Shake the World Through Love.

Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples: by your love one for another” (John 13:35). In a world that is filled with anger and hostility, our most penetrating weapon is love. Through intentional love we can completely shake this nation.

Unfortunately, it appears that many Christians are taking their lead from some of the leading talk radio shows on the air today.  I believe Jesus’ pattern will allow us to be much more effective than that of, say, Rush Limbaugh. Truth without love alienates, and I believe that is one of the reasons we have such a divided culture today. Imagine what could happen if we approached the political conversation in the way that Jesus did! Now, that would be revolutionary! And that is what it will take for us to have a voice in this world.

5. Pray, Relax, and Go Make a Sandwich.

I believe we should be involved in the political conversation. I believe we should vote. I believe we should do what we can to influence our culture. But even then we should keep in mind that God is in control. In the midst of your activity, continue in everything with a spirit of prayer. Then, relax. Let God take it and deal with it.

Do you realize that God is not up in Heaven wringing His hands with anxiety? God is not stressed out about the election, so we need not be stressed over the election, either.

Once you have truly given this to the Lord, relax!

Then, go make a sandwich.

Everything will be all right.

The last chapter of history has already been written. For those of us who know Christ, it ends well. For those who do not know Christ, well … not so much.

If you do not know Christ personally, now would be a terrific time to find Him. The Bible says, “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be rescued” (Romans 10:13). Now is the time to ask Him for forgiveness and call on Him to rescue you from the consequences of your own sin. With that, you will avoid that ultimate Judgment and enjoy eternal life in a place that will blow your mind: the presence of God in Heaven!


Warning: This Book May Change Your Life Forever

… from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

(2 Timothy 3:15-17)

Sometimes I forget about how far God has brought me in my Christian journey since I first believed about 28 years ago. But the reality has hit me within the past year as I’ve gotten connected to some old friends through… Facebook!

What God has done in my life was highlighted when one of my Facebook friends, whom I haven’t seen since 7th grade (before I was a Christian), discovered that I am now involved in ministry. She wrote on my Facebook wall, “Chris Russell in ministry??? No way! Comedian? Yeah. Bartender? Yeah. Minister? No way! What has happened to you, Chris?”

With that I was able to share a testimony of God’s power to change lives. I told of God’s great grace that was able to even rescue someone like me and change my life forever. She was amazed, and so am I!

But my life is not the only one that has been changed. You see, God is changing millions of lives all around the world every day! God is doing a supernatural work by setting people free from bondage and bringing them into a joyful new life filled with blessing and purpose. The Scriptures claim to be able to change a life forever, and we see examples of that all around the world every day!

On the flip side, I never see people set free from addictions such as alcoholism or drug abuse as a result of deciding to drop Christianity and turn their lives over to atheism. How many people who are in bondage to self-destructive behaviors have been set free and changed forever because they turned away from God? How many airplanes loaded with atheists flew to Haiti this past year in order to help those who were devastated from the earthquakes? You don’t hear of that sort of thing, but you do hear about thousands upon thousands of Christians doing such a thing. Why? Because God has changed their lives – forever!

My encouragement to you is to saturate your heart and mind with this miraculous Book. But take warning:  it just may change your life forever!