Try out the new BibleStudyTools.com. Click here!

Chris Russell

  • The Two Edges of the Sword of God’s Word

    For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

    (Hebrews 4:12)

    The Bible truly functions as a “sword” in its ability to cut through to the innermost depths of a person’s heart and soul. God’s Word can penetrate through all the layers of impurity and get to the true central issues of life.

    In line with this conception, we can see that the Bible truly has two edges: condemnation and restoration. These two edges represent the beauty and wonder of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let me explain.

    First of all, the Bible condemns us. Now, this may sound rather bleak to you, but it is a critical part of your journey toward enjoying a full relationship with God. Before you can truly connect with God on an intimate level and enjoy His presence in your life each day, you must come to a proper recognition of the depth of evil in your heart. When we read God’s Word, we get a clear picture of just how bad we are in light of God’s holiness. We must get this. We must have an accurate picture of our own state of heart.

    Once we understand our need for a Savior and His forgiveness, then we can begin to experience His restoration. When we confess our sins to Him, He will forgive us and redeem (“buy us back,” i.e., receive us back to Himself; 1 John 1:9).

    I’ve heard it said that “we must be lost before we can be found.” In other words, you won’t turn to your Savior until you realize your need to do so. You won’t confess your sins until He shows you the true darkness of your heart.

    The Word of God acts as a mirror by giving us an accurate picture of who we really are (James 1:22-25). Once we see that image, God can begin to change us into what we really ought to be. So dig into His Word in order to experience both the sobering reality of your own condition as well as the healing forgiveness that you need to walk with God.

    What to pray: ask God to show you your true condition through His Word, and then confess those things that are hindering your journey with Him.


    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!

  • 8 Practical Ways to Use Facebook for Evangelism

    Paul tells us in Hebrews 3:13,

    “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

    I believe our generation has better tools for “encouraging one another daily” than any other time in history. Take Facebook, for instance. Through this powerful website, we now have the ability to stay in touch with people like never before!

    While Facebook is a great place to stay closely connected with your best friends and family members, I would encourage you to add in a ministry component to what you do online. Become purposeful in using Facebook as a subtle way of nudging your friends toward God. Use it as a vehicle for advancing God’s purposes on this planet. This all comes down to mindset. What is your purpose for engaging people on Facebook? Hopefully, you will see what a great platform Facebook can be for your ministry.

    With this in mind, here are eight simple ways that you can use Facebook to advance God’s Kingdom and to help others in their walk with the Lord:

    1. Use your status updates as a subtle way of identifying yourself with God in front of your friends.

    I don’t like to use Facebook for rants or soapbox preaching. However, I do like posting verses that have spoken to me during my devotional times, quotes from other godly people, and other spiritual insights that the Lord gives me from time to time. Regular, subtle status updates can go a long way in drawing your friends toward God.

    2. Create a group page for your church or ministry.

    Creating a Facebook page for your church is almost as important now as having a website for your church. Your church website can easily create an online brochure for people to learn about you. However, a Facebook page creates more of an opportunity to develop community for your church online. Once you have that page in place on Facebook, it can also become a fantastic opportunity for outreach. When page members like updates and pictures from that Facebook page, those likes will show up in their own newsfeeds. This becomes a subtle way for their friends to begin learning about your amazing church. We have discovered that any time we post pictures on our Facebook page, those turn into thousands of impressions to people who do not currently attend our church. And this outreach is FREE!

    Many churches today seem to be going to a lot of expense and effort to create their own, private online community through their church website (a member-only section). I tend to discourage this approach. I believe it’s better to keep your online community right out there in the open on Facebook where unchurched people already have their accounts and can connect easily.

    3. Train your church members to “check-in” on Facebook when they arrive at your church (via their mobile devices).

    Each Sunday we quickly flash a reminder slide up on the screen which reminds people to check in on Facebook. We also run this slide in a loop prior to the service, and we often have that announcement in the bulletin. Since those check-ins appear in each person’s time line, that then gives us thousands of impressions on Facebook each week. When Facebook friends see that they have two or three friends who already attend your church, that will give them a reason to consider visiting. Friends on Facebook will also begin to realize that “something’s up” at your church!

    4. Regularly create events for your church or ministry for which you can invite friends.

    When you create an event on Facebook for your church or ministry, this creates momentum to help boost attendance and involvement. It also provides a free tool for your church members to use to invite their friends to your event. The event does not need to be elaborate. It could merely be the title of your pastor’s sermon for that week. But creating an “event” around that topic can go a long way in attracting new people.

    By the way, keep in mind that the pastor is not the only one who can/should set up these events. Anyone in the church who is outreach minded can do these things to advance the ministry. As a matter of fact, it is probably even more effective if these events are set up by non-pastors.

    5. Send friend requests to guests who have connected with your church.

    When guests visit a church, they often feel like they are invading somebody else’s family reunion. A great way to help break down those barriers is to send them a friend request once you have gotten to know them a bit at church. Sending them a friend request shows them that you want to think of them as more than a church visitor; you actually want to become a friend. Facebook creates a terrific opportunity to begin planting the seeds of friendship.

    6. Connect with the greatest ministries that are represented on Facebook and then like and share their status updates on your own Facebook wall.

    Most of the greatest ministries in the country are already positioned on Facebook. Take some time to find those amazing ministries, and then like them. I have personally grown greatly in my journey with the Lord by receiving a steady stream of status updates from these great and powerful ministries. Those updates also give me valuable material to share with others on my own time line.

    7. Create light touches by liking or commenting on your friends’ pictures and status updates.

    When you like a picture or status update of one of your friends on Facebook, it communicates a subtle message that you care about them. These work well because they are light touches. By the way, for acquaintances, you will likely want to use these sparingly. You don’t want to “weird-out” people you barely know by liking every photo and status update they post. But occasionally noticing their updates can help you to begin connecting at a deeper level.

    8. Maintain balance with your profile by continuing the personal side of Facebook along with your ministry focus.

    Facebook is powerful because it is relational. If you use it merely as a soapbox or for self-promotion, you will actually begin to alienate your friends. So work to maintain a balance here. Go ahead and post a picture of that incredible hamburger or the video of that cat falling into the toilet. But then be sure to sprinkle some occasional seasonings of truth onto your timeline from time to time.


    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. For more, visit Sensible Faith.

  • 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.

  • About 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.'