Chris Russell


Chris Russell
Pastor, Veritas Church

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.


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.


Could God Love Someone Like Me?

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Today’s big question: “Is it possible that God could love someone like me?”

Love is one of God’s most central attributes.The Scriptures tell us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). God’s love is clearly shown in His plan for our salvation, which was worked out through His only Son as a sacrifice for us. God’s Word comes from pure love and, in this sense, is a type of “love letter” toward us. The very act of revelation to us is an act of intimate love between the Creator and His creation. The Bible shows us clearly how we can have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ because of God’s love toward us (John 3:16).

When I was a younger Christian, I had a difficult time comprehending God’s love for me. I had knowledge of His love, but I didn’t really understand the depth of His love for me. That is, I did not fully grasp that love until December 22, 1993. That was the day that my first child was born. The day when I became a dad, I gained a whole new world of understanding about God’s love for me. I remember the flood of emotion that I felt when I saw my son for the first time. That was an overwhelming experience for me, and my heart overflowed with love for him.

I also remember the moment soon thereafter when it dawned on me: “Wow, you mean God loves me this much? I had no idea.” For the first point in my life, I began to get a glimpse of the depth of God’s love for me, and I found that to be truly astonishing.

That new sense of God’s love became a new motivation for my serving Him. You see, when you become aware of the depth of God’s love, it changes you. It changes the way you want to live your life, the reason why you want to live for Him, and the depth of your commitment toward Him.

Today’s big idea: as you become aware of the depth of God’s love for you, allow that realization to become the driving force in your obedience to Him.

What to pray: pray that God will help you to sense His love for you, and pray that He will help you to respond to His love with complete devotion to Him.


For more, visit Sensible Faith.


5 Simple Ways You Can Begin to Share Your Faith This Week

Jesus said in the John 4:35, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” If you are a follower of Christ, I hope you realize how important it is for us to actively be a part of the harvest of souls in our generation. It is absolutely essential that we put our finest efforts into rescuing lives from destruction.

But as I mention this subject, I realize many readers begin to tremble with fear. We worry about rejection or not being able to give an answer for those tough questions. Some do not even know where to begin with this mission.

Let me suggest five simple ways you can begin to share your faith this week:

1. Begin by living your life consistently with what God has said in His Word.

Many people get tripped up in sharing their faith because they know their lifestyle is not what it needs to be. The solution to this is very simple: turn your entire life over to God completely. Do it now.

2. Begin to publicly identify yourself with Christ through social media.

Social media can provide a subtle approach to sharing your faith. Change your “religious views” on your profile to “Christian.” Once or twice a week consider posting a Bible verse on your timeline. Link to your church’s website or to other Christian websites on your timeline. Let friends know you are praying for them when they express a need.

3. Volunteer to serve in a ministry at your church on Sunday mornings.

God’s strategic plan for evangelizing this generation is through His Church. When you serve in any of the weekend church ministries, you are becoming a part of the evangelistic machine that changes lives forever. Don’t underestimate the value of changing diapers in the nursery at your church. By serving you are opening up opportunities for people to hear the Word and surrender to Christ. That is a big deal!

4. Keep something on your desk or counter at work that identifies you as a Christian.

I had a dear friend (who has now gone on to be with the Lord in Heaven) who kept his Bible on his desk even though he never read it during business hours. And he told me often of how that symbol brought many people to his office asking questions about his faith and asking for prayer for needs in their lives. I would suggest you do something like this to identify yourself in your office as a follower of Christ. This could mean putting a Bible on your desk or something as simple as setting a coffee mug with your church’s logo in some visible part of your office. Better yet, put candy in the mug for coworkers to swipe when they stop in to talk to you!

5. Invite someone to church this Sunday.

Research indicates that the majority of unchurched people would attend a church if they were simply invited. Don’t be bashful. Send a few text messages out to some friends right now to invite them to church! Then you can allow the entire church body to be a part of bringing them to Christ! I would suggest that you invite them to church and lunch right afterward. This will turn it into more of a relational event, and you can have a chance to see how they felt about the church service.

Some of Jesus’s last words are found in Matthew 28:19-20. In this passage we are commanded to go out and make disciples. And in Acts 1:8, Jesus promises us the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit to help us in that mission.

So then, in the power of the Holy Spirit, let’s tell the world of the joy we have in knowing Christ!


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.


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!


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.


Beware of the Lion (1 Peter 5:8)

I recently saw several news articles about a sweet young woman in California named Dianna Hanson who was cleaning a Lion cage when she sadly met her fate. The lion was in a separate cage that had apparently not been secured properly. The lion somehow managed to pry the door open and then dashed into the main exhibit area where he quickly killed the young woman.

I was saddened to read this horrific story. The young lady was an intern at the wild animal park, and she was well-known within her community for serving others and mentoring those who were younger. She was a model citizen with great dreams for the future.

As I read about this great tragedy, I could not help but to be reminded about God’s warnings to us in 1 Peter 5:8:

Be serious-minded; be alert; for your enemy, the devil, walks about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.

Sometimes I forget about the danger that Satan wants to bring to my life. He is like a vicious lion that would love to destroy me.

I see Satan destroying lives all around the country every day. Marriages are being blown apart.  Young people are constantly being lured into a world where morals no longer seem to exist.  Drugs, alcohol, and a myriad of other addictions seem to be taking people wildly out of control in their lives.  And yet people do not seem to understand that these perils often come from the Ruler of the darkness of this world:  Satan.

 

I hope you fully understand that Satan is very real.  And he doesn’t just want to inconvenience you; he wants to completely destroy you.  

Last week I stumbled across an intriguing video of a man who appears to have no fear of lions. You can see that video here. This man calmly wrestles around with lions that have the power to rip him to shreds should they so choose. It appears that this man is bumping so closely up against a complete disaster. It seems like all it would take would be for a lion to barely, accidentally nick him, get a taste of his blood, and then decide this “friend” would actually make a rather delicious meal. Things could “go south” very quickly.

I see so many people today who seem to have no fear of Satan… the Lion. They “wrestle” around with him in a playful way just as this man plays around with these creatures in real life. But you must understand the truth: the Lion is not your friend. He wants to destroy you completely.

Make sure the gate is securely latched so that he cannot have access to your life. Every time you entertain a temptation, you allow Satan to tug on the gate. If you allow that enough, he will eventually force the gate open and end up destroying your life.

Be careful.  Be very, very careful.


For more, visit Sensible Faith.


Writing Someone Else's Story

Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

1 Peter 1:10-11

Today’s big question: whose message did the writers of the Scriptures write?

In the above passage, Peter gave us an interesting insight into the doctrine of inspiration. He mentioned that the prophets who gave us the message regarding the coming Messiah actually searched their own writings to try to figure out what those writings meant. What author has written a book and then gone back to figure out what it meant? This is only true of the Scriptures, because the Bible is not man’s word but God’s Word.

The writers of the Scriptures were not writing their own stories. They were merely writing the words that God gave them. Jeremiah described it like this: “Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.’” (Jeremiah 1:9) The content of the Scriptures comes from the mind of God and not from the mind of man.

This past June I attended a graduation ceremony in which they asked the graduates to stand who were planning to go from high school into the military. Dozens of young men and women stood, and the crowd gave them an enthusiastic standing ovation for their willingness to risk their lives for their country. When I saw that, I felt “inspired.”

We all experience that feeling at times. However, we must understand that when Paul said that the Scriptures are “inspired” (2 Timothy 3:16), the Greek word he used there actually means “God-breathed.” The writers of Scripture were not merely “inspired” in the human sense. They actually wrote the very words that God gave them. These are God’s words!

With this concept in mind, we must seek the great truths that are found in the Scriptures. Through that we can actually know the heart and mind of God Himself!

Today’s big idea: when we dig into the Scriptures, we can know the heart and mind of God Himself.

What to pray: ask God to reveal Himself to you personally through His Word so that you can enjoy an intimate relationship with Him.


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.


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


Beware of the Door With Too Many Keys

While listening to an audiobook this morning, I heard the author quote an old Portuguese proverb: “Beware of the door with too many keys.” He was applying the proverb to a different subject, but it brought my mind to the simplicity of Christianity.

I am thankful that there are not “too many keys” to our faith. The message of Christianity is very simple: “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)

To elaborate a bit,  you could look at that message delineated like this:

That’s it. Very simple.

False religions, on the other hand, tend to complicate and confuse. In light of that, I would say, “Beware of the door with too many keys.”


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!


How to Keep People from Sucking the Life Out of You

We are currently going through a teaching series at our church called, “come alive!”  As a part of this series, last weekend’s message was entitled, “How to Keep People from Sucking the Life Out of You.” During my sermon, I did an informal survey of the audience, and it became painfully clear that just about every one of us knows what it’s like to have hurtful people try to suck the life out of us.

Ticks are clearly one of the most revolting creatures in the insect kingdom. If you were walking through a woods, and you came across a sign that read, “Warning: Tick Infested Area,” I’m guessing that you would steer clear of that area. Ticks lie in wait for you to pass by so that they can climb aboard, dig their head below your skin, and begin to suck the blood right out of you. I hate ticks, and I have no desire to have them anywhere near me.

Some people seem to become “human ticks” around us. It feels like they want to suck the life right out of us. They put us down. They discourage us. They look for ways to trip us and cause us to stumble. When we stumble, they take great delight in watching us struggle. They are the first to let others know when we have failed – they will shout our weaknesses out for the world to know.

If you have experienced these life-suckers in your own life, you are not alone. We all have to encounter these people from time to time. Life-suckers even pop up in the Scriptures. For instance, King David was well aware of the devastation these life-suckers can bring.

Before you go further with this blog post, take a moment to read David’s life-giving words from Psalms 18:1.

As I read this passage, there were several important take-aways that jumped off of the page for me.  Let me share those with you now:

1)   When others are sucking the life out of you, lean into God.

David knew how to keep his eyes on God rather than on man. If you find people in your life who are hurting you, I would encourage you to find your hope and strength in God. Lean into Him. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. He will keep you strong and allow you to prevail.

2)   When you call on God, he DOES hear.

Have you ever called out to God and felt like He was nowhere to be found? You can get that out of your head, because God truly does hear your every cry. And He is ready to defend like a “mama bear” who wants to protect her cubs. Now, His response may not be what you expect, and it may not even be completely obvious that He is active in your situation. But make no doubt about it; He is working in the situation and in the heart of that person about whom you have prayed.

3)   Focus on keeping your own hands blameless.

It’s so easy to get pulled into the “junk” when others are assailing you. But as you can see from Psalms 18, it is absolutely essential to keep your own hands clean — even when others’ hands are covered in filth. Focus on your own spiritual health, and let God handle the life-suckers.

4)   As you walk closely with God, He will deliver you … in His time.

As I read Psalms 18, I felt like God was saying, “I’ve got this.” The reality is that we don’t have to worry or fret. He is in control, and He will make sure that justice is served… in His way… in His timing. The way God handles your particular situation may not look exactly like the way that you would respond, but you can rest assured that His ways are perfect, and He will deliver you… in His time.

5)   Worship God in good times and bad.

One big principle you can glean from Psalms 18 is that David truly had a worshipful heart. He loved the Lord. He was passionate for the Lord. And David kept His focus on worshiping the Lord in good times and bad. Can you keep that focus? Can I? If so, we will be in a much better place for keeping others from sucking the life out of us.


For more, visit sensible faith.


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


I Tried Christianity, But It Just Didn’t Work for Me

Over the years, I have heard many people say something like this: “I have tried Christianity, but it just didn’t work for me.” My observation has been that people who say this generally attended church for a short time period, watched what was going on, and then decided they weren’t really interested.

But there is a big problem with “trying” Christianity like this. You see, Christianity isn’t meant to merely entertain us or stimulate us intellectually. Sure, at times it may do these things for us. But that is not the essence of the Christian faith.

That “trying” approach puts a picture in my mind of a person walking down the city sidewalk until he passes a bakery. He stops in front of the bakery to peer through the window at all the delicious treats. He sees brownies and cupcakes and a wide assortment of fabulous pastries. He can even smell the scent of cinnamon and chocolate wafting through the air.

So, he decides he will give it a try. He leans forward and licks the glass. He then leans backward and feels like he has somehow been cheated. He tasted what he saw, but it just didn’t seem to be satisfying. So he walks away unimpressed. He “tried” the pastries, but they just didn’t seem to do anything for him.

I would invite you to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). But I don’t want you to remain standing on the sidewalk. Jesus said he has provided an open door (Revelation 3:8) for you into a relationship with Him. Don’t just lick the glass. Open the door and walk inside to experience all the fullness of God himself.

My suggestion to you is that you don’t just “try” Christianity. I want you to jump in with both feet. Call on God right now to ask for forgiveness of your sins, and commit your life to Him... fully (Romans 10:13).

When you truly turn your life over to Him, He will change you forever.

I promise.


For more, visit Sensible Faith.


Is God Capable of Forgiving Even That?

Psalms 136:1

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

One thing that all of us as men and women have in common is that we are all very, very sinful. We are dreadfully evil in the sight of the Lord. We can read about this in the Scriptures. For instance, Isaiah says, “All of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.“ (Isaiah 64:6) This reality is written so deeply into our souls that we all have a sense of it whether we admit it or not.

Many people approach this reality in different ways. Some people claim there is no real thing as sin. Others believe that sin really isn’t such a big deal. However, no matter how we attempt to sweep this reality under the carpet, we will never escape its grasp or consequences.

From a Christian perspective, we have the ultimate deliverance from this pervasive presence of sin in our lives. We have… forgiveness! We have… mercy! The God of heaven and earth has told us that, when we confess our sins to Him, He will gladly forgive us. I love the message of 1 John 1:9. This verse says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What an amazing release from the bondage of guilt and remorse for the many ways we have fallen short of God’s standard!

Furthermore, there is no sin that is so evil that it escapes God’s ability to forgive. God can reach all the way to the bottom of the barrel to offer His forgiveness. What a tragedy it is when people live their lives in this sinfulness but fail to seek God’s forgiveness. It is such a terrible thing when people miss out on the gift of forgiveness.

TODAY’S BIG IDEA: “God’s mercy is beyond human comprehension. His mercy endures forever!

Today’s prayer:

Pray that God will forgive you of any sin that you can think of that you have not yet confessed, and then live in peace knowing those sins have been cast as far as the East is from the West!

Chris Russell

Veritas Church (Cincinnati, OH)


Why Sex is So Addicting

Sex is a beautiful thing, and sex is a powerful thing. After all, God created it!

And it’s important for you to know that the reason God puts restrictions on sex is not because He is a cosmic killjoy who hates to see us having fun. That’s not it. The reason He has restricted it is because sex has a very powerful purpose in life.

The purpose for sex is to create a supernatural bond between a husband and wife that will never be broken. In line with this, sex is actually designed to be addictive!

Sex creates a nuclear-powered desire for a husband to be with his wife. It makes him think about her throughout the day. It makes him eager to be with her. It makes him want to serve her and to love her. And for the woman, it helps her to feel the closeness of their relationship as they become one in the marital act. Sex is the atomic bond that holds a marriage together.

Nuclear radiation can be a good thing or it can be a bad thing. It can be good when it is used in a controlled environment for a specific purpose. It can be used to provide energy to a city, heal a person from a disease, or to heat a cup of coffee in sixty seconds.

But when nuclear radiation leaks from a controlled setting, it can become very dangerous and even disastrous. Think Chernobyl.

This is similar to the power and danger of human sexuality. When it is enjoyed within the boundaries of God’s plan, it can be a beautiful, joyful thing. But when that sexual energy is allowed to leak into inappropriate areas of life, then that can bring disaster.

When a man and woman become sexually active, there is literally a chemical that washes across their brains that is similar to the rush that is brought on by drugs like heroin. This is a very powerful experience, indeed. And this is intended to be an addictive bond between a husband and wife.

But this becomes a problem when people who are not married become sexually active. This “rush” often impairs their judgment, and they become bonded to a person who may or may not be a good partner for life. When they are in the middle of all of this, they can easily overlook serious character flaws that would have made them run had they not been involved sexually. The physical union causes them to overlook all of those warning flags that are flapping conspicuously all around them.

How many times have you seen a decent girl who continually goes back to a guy who is a mess... over and over again? And we shake our heads and wonder, “What does she see in him? Why does she stay with that guy?” Well, it’s often because she has created metaphysical bond with him that is addictive and nearly impossible to dissolve. This is one good reason why God says we should save sex for marriage.

Another example of how this plays out in real life is when a guy stumbles into pornography. Through that surge of chemicals in his brain, it becomes addictive like heroin. And when a married man expends his sexual energy on porn, he then has less energy to direct toward his wife in what should be the appropriate expression of his love. With such depleted energy toward his wife, their marriage then begins to crack and crumble as well. An inappropriate focus of sexual energy can be devastating to a marriage.

God wants husbands and wives to be addicted to one another for life. Let’s trust in God’s plan and allow that to be our guide to ultimate fulfillment.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.


For more, visit Sensible Faith.


4 Important Reasons You Should Commit to Church Each Week

Not long ago, I was reminiscing with a pastor friend of mine about the previous couple decades of our ministries.  We both noted how commitment to the church seems to be at an all time low.

As we discussed this, we both agreed that a decade or so ago, the core leaders of our churches normally seemed to attend church about five out of every six Sundays or so. Less-committed church goers would attend with less regularity, perhaps about half the time. Sadly, it seems that the core leaders today only tend to attend church about half the time (about 2 Sundays per month), and the less-committed attend even less than that.

This is a tragic shift, and nationwide figures seem to be showing the exact same trend. People just don’t seem to be all that “into” God anymore.

People are clearly busier than ever, and that does not help the situation. Others have been hurt or disillusioned by churches or “religious” people, so they use that as a “reason” for why they do not attend church often. However, most people just seem to be looking for something better to do on Sunday mornings than go to a church to worship and learn about God and His ways. Golfing, sleeping, sports, and many other things turn out to be that “better option” for them than church.

I would like to suggest to you four reasons why church is a big deal – a REALLY big deal!  Let me give you some reasons why you should plan to be in church every single possible moment you can.

Why You Should Make a Huge Commitment to Being in Church Whenever the Doors Are Open . . .

1) The local church is a central part of God’s strategic plan for your spiritual growth.

I have often heard the statement, “Well, I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian.” On a slight technicality, that may be true, but it is certainly far-removed from God’s true plan.

Jesus said, “On this rock [Peter’s statement that Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God] I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not be able to stand against it” (Matthew 16:18). You see, the church is Jesus’ idea, not man’s idea. It seems like we should pay attention to His plan since it came directly from Him.

When a person says they don’t need the church, that is a departure from God’s plan. I would advise against that.

2) You are basically a composite of the five people with whom you spend the most time.

When I was a youth pastor, I could easily see how friends could influence young people for either good or for bad. Now that I am a pastor to “big people,” I can see that tendency is true for them as well! Even adults are influenced by their friends and the people with whom they spend time.

I have come to believe that we are basically a composite of the five people with whom we spend the most time. It is important, therefore, that we choose those people well. That is why it is so valuable for us to be in church every time the doors are open. We need to expose ourselves as much as possible to other followers of Christ who will draw us nearer to God.

Paul said it like this: “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13 NIV)  We need the support of other believers if we are truly going to grow in Christ.

3) You need the voice of the church to counteract all of the deception that is crammed into your mind all throughout the week.

Paul warns believers in Colossians 2:8, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”  (NKJV)

The word for “cheat” in this passage refers to kidnapping another person. We need to be careful that we are not “kidnapped” by false ideologies, by wrong thinking.

The term “traditions” refers to teachings. Do you realize how many ungodly teachers are speaking into your life every week? Internet. News media. Hollywood. Music. Co-workers. Friends and family. The list seems never ending. With so many messages streaming into your life every week that can “kidnap” you and take you away from God, it is extremely critical that you spend as much time in church as possible to fill your mind with godly wisdom and discernment. Soak in all you can whenever you can!

4)  Weekly ministry in a local church helps to build up your spiritual muscles.

In Ephesians 4, Paul says that we all are gifted in different ways. When we use our own particular gifts to serve within a church, it is a like a body with many body parts that all work together for a common goal.

As Paul discusses serving in this chapter, I find it interesting that he threw in the comment in Ephesians 4:14 in which he says, “... that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting….” In other words, when we use our spiritual gifts by serving within the local church community, we somehow become better-grounded theologically.  It will be more difficult for us to be deceived into thinking things that are not true according to God’s Word. Isn’t that amazing? Serving makes us more theologically astute. I’m not exactly sure how that works, but I do know that I have observed it to be true in my own life as well as in the lives of so many I have watched to grow in their journey with the Lord.

Commitment ain’t what it used to be. But I hope for you, you will go all out in your commitment to Christ and His church.

Begin this Sunday!


For more, visit Sensible Faith.


4 Reasons You Must Work on Your Spiritual Fitness

1 Timothy 4:8
For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

We certainly live in a health-conscious world. Everywhere we turn we see advertisements for fitness equipment, nutritional supplements, health food, gym memberships, and more. Many people are obsessed with taking care of their bodies—and it’s for a good reason, because our lives depend on it!

But even though our physical health is important, Paul reminds us in the above passage that our spiritual fitness is even more important than our physical fitness. We don’t want to neglect our bodies. But even more so, we must not neglect our spirits.

Here are four reasons why your spiritual fitness is such a crazy-big deal:

1) Your eternal life depends on it.

The life we spend on this earth is nothing compared to the eternal life we will enjoy with God in heaven someday. At least this applies to those of us who have put our faith in Jesus, the Son of God, and have called on God to rescue us (Romans 10:13). If you have not yet turned your life over to God and committed to following Him, I plead with you to make that commitment in your heart right now. We must not lose sight of the fact that life on this earth is temporary, but life after death is permanent.

2) Your current happiness depends on it.

When I was young, I used to think that Christianity was all about the “next life.” But over time, I came to learn that the Christian faith also has everything to do with enjoying a joyful, meaningful, happy life NOW. There is no greater life than a life that is lived walking with God… TODAY!

3) Your family depends on it.

If you’re not willing to take care of yourself spiritually for your own sake, I would still implore you to take care of your spirit for your family’s sake. Your kids need to see you walking with God. So many parents spin out spiritually in front of their kids, and their kids end up suffering greatly as a result. Your siblings need to see you walking with the Lord. Your parents will benefit when you are doing well spiritually. Your cousins and grandparents and nieces and nephews will be blessed when you are well spiritually. And it could be that you will be the only “Bible” that they will ever “read.” So do not neglect your spirit.

4) The world depends on it.

I often wonder how many unbelievers trip over unhealthy Christians when they are stumbling away from God. This world needs to see Christians who are healthy, passionate, and genuine. We are God’s vehicle for His message of love to those who are lost. But we must be healthy if we are going to effectively deliver that message in a way that will change lives forever.

Physical fitness is important. But spiritual fitness is even more important. So make plans to strengthen your spirit today!


For more, visit Sensible Faith.