Posted by Russ Jones On 11:17 AM
As I watch the events of Ferguson unfold the last couple of nights, I have to say that I wasn't surprised.  I don't think that it would have mattered which way the grand jury ruled - riots were going to happen.  That's just my opinion.

Now before anyone thinks that I am taking sides or speaking on behalf of my race, I'm not.  I'm speaking as a Pastor and as a follower of Christ.

I know that many people see this as an isolated incident.  That the reactions are unjustified.  I know that many people see this as a breakdown in the system.  That the reactions are justified.

What I see it as is a sin problem.

Let me bottom line this for you just in case you're not going to read the rest of this post.

Racism is a sin.  It's a sin just as much as murder, theft, lying and gluttony.  Sin is sin in God's eyes.  When sin saturates a culture and it's governing authority - it's going to act like it.  So, none of this surprises me.  In other words, sinners act like sinners.  I hope that didn't surprise you.

We need a sovereign move of the Holy Spirit in our lives, in our churches, in our communities and even in our government.  If you want to see things change you have to pray.  But?  What are you going to pray for?

Pray that people will have a hunger and thirst to have a right relationship with God again. 
Pray that people will repent of their sins and turn back to God. 
Pray that leadership will seek God's face and follow his will.  

But what about . . . ?  Listen, there are a thousand and one reasons why you or I could throw up our hands and quit.  There are plenty of reasons to write off certain people, races, the church, government and everything else.  BUT WE DON'T DO THAT!  Jesus died and rose again to overcome these obstacles.

Pastors don't preach about what is broken.  Preach about what works.  A relationship with Jesus works.  His promises work.  His Word never returns void.

Will racism ever go away?  No - Never.  We will have to be ever vigilant to confront it and deal with it.  Just like we do every other sin that tempts and confronts us.

Posted by Russ Jones On 10:49 AM
Today is my wife bday.  She usually doesn't mind me telling people how old she is, but I'm not going to risk it - you ask her if you want to know.

Did you know she is a . . .

Well if you know Anneka, you know that Betty is her mom.  But did you know that Betty has to recover from a serious pulmonary event in her 20's in order to be able to carry and deliver a child in her late 30's?  Did you know that she endured 4 miscarriages before Anneka? So when Betty comes off a little overprotective (And what mom doesn't?) I know she earned it.

Dance Mom?
She didn't see this one coming either.  If Betty and I were to trace our lineage back to Adam and Eve I do believe that you wouldn't find anyone coordinated enough to walk and chew gum at the same time must less dance.  But there you have it and Annekas #1 cheerleader is?  You guessed it.

Ordained Minister?
- Betty graduated with me in 1985 from Central Bible College in Springfield Missouri with a BA in Bible and Theology.  She received her credentials in the early 90's and was ordained in 1995.   In those days there was only a handful of women in the Assemblies of God who were credentialed or ordained.  Seeing her ordained inspired other women to follow.  (I know, they told me.)

Pastors Wife?
- It's a given that if you know that I am a pastor, then she is a pastors wife.  But you might not understand the statement.  Plenty of people are in the ministry, but that doesn't mean that their spouses are.  Betty has been my number 1 cheerleader for over 30 years now.  I COULD NOT HAVE DONE THIS WITHOUT HER.

Children's Pastor?
- 19 years ago I needed a children's pastor.  She agreed to do it on a temporary basis.  As it turns out, she is GREAT at it.  The children she taught 19 years ago now bring their children to her.  It isn't anything high tech, fancy or over the top.  It's Betty.  The children LOVE Miss Betty.  Also, she has led these kids to give in the area of $35,000 to missions through (Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge) in the last 19 years.

- John Maxwell said that Leadership is Influence.  If you know Betty. then you know that she is a powerful influence in the lives of people.  Is it her goal to control or manipulate?  No.  Her goal is to lead you to a better future.  She will share her wisdom and knowledge freely.  She will give generously.  She will love you unconditionally and she will always expect from you what you don't even know is within you.

She was classically trained to sing soprano.  She sang in her youth choir as a teen (which traveled the country).  She sang in our college choir.  They also traveled the country representing the Assemblies of God.  She has been singing at my side for over 30 years now every Sunday morning.  She has been a guest soloist at numerous events and for other church choral presentations.  

Oh yes, there's more.  But I think that I will save that for another time.

I think that she is an amazing woman and I have been the one that has been blessed all these years.

Posted by Russ Jones On 3:33 PM
Lives being changed for the better is always a good thing.

A year and a half ago a young lady walked into our church one Sunday with eyes wide open.  I could tell right from the beginning that she hadn't been in a church like ours before.  Everything that we did was strange and different.  While she had been raised in church - it wasn't the same.

Well a few weeks later, she gave her heart and life to Christ in a real and wonderful way.  She was excited about this new relationship and what it could bring to her.  Now I would be lying if I said that it's all been smooth sailing.  It hasn't.  But she will tell you that the trip has been worth it all.

As a result of her new found faith, her family has been transformed too.  Many of them giving their life to Jesus.  Many of them open to experiencing something new from God.

In all my years I have never seen someone's worldview change so quickly.  She no longer looks at her world through her eyes, she looks through Jesus' now.  Her heart desires to please Christ with everything she has, isn't just overwhelming - it's refreshing.

Her relationship with Jesus is always seeking His face and discovering new truths for herself.  Her love for His Church is passionate and alive.  Her desire to devour His Word into her life has changed her attitude, her life and her future.

Today is Transformational Tuesday.  Know this - Jesus will transform your life if you let Him.  Just like he did Bianca's.

See you Sunday at FFWC!  It's our annual Thanksgiving Sunday Service followed by a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner.  You and your family are welcome to attend.
Posted by Russ Jones On 10:36 AM
We haven't officially started the holiday season yet and already the griper's and complainer's are in full swing. 

During this season you have people who complain that we shouldn't celebrate Christmas because:
- it really isn't Jesus' b-day. 
- because Jesus didn't command us to celebrate His b-day. 
- because many of the traditions we celebrate are from pagan rituals. 
- because Christmas has become so commercialized. 

- and so on and so forth. 

Now I don't disagree with any of the above statements.  They are all true.  But does that mean that we should abandon the opportunity to help people discover who Jesus is?

The celebration of Christmas has been embraced by Christians for generations.  Families would remember the birth of Jesus as the greatest gift that God the Father could give us.  Salvation through His Son, Jesus.  

- We give gifts to symbolize that gift. 
- We celebrate Jesus' birth as an act of thanksgiving, praise and worship unto Him. 
- We make an extra effort to exhibit the Christian qualities of mercy, grace, hope, forgiveness and love to others during this season. 

If you take some time to google the origins of Christmas (which I wouldn't suggest) you will find a hundred versions mostly based on someone's conjecture.  

So how can you keep the main thing, the main thing this holiday season?

Keep Christmas about Christ.   If you make Christmas about it's past or it's tradition, then you will lose focus.  Every gift you gift, every act of kindness you commit, every carol you sing is about Jesus, not Christmas. 

Keep Christmas about the future.  Thanksgiving is to give thanks for what Jesus has done.  Christmas is a celebration of what Jesus is going to do.  Help people discover that there is a future in Christ and you can do that through Christmas. 

Sunday November 23rd is Thanksgiving Sunday at Faith Family Worship Center.  You and your family are welcome to join us for a great service at 10:30 am and one of the best Thanksgiving Dinners you will ever enjoy at 12 noon.  

Posted by Russ Jones On 1:06 PM
When you see someone's life transformed it is a miracle that we like to celebrate.

When Danielle first came to FFWC she was a woman looking for a direction in her life.  She already was an accomplished barrel racer - deeply in love with her boyfriend and dedicated mom to her two daughters.  She ran her own horse ranch where she taught young people how to ride and barrel race.  

But she didn't have a proper focus or purpose for her life.  Jesus was there, but she wasn't letting Him guide her.  

In a short period of time, God began to change her heart.  A desire to honor Him with her life became a priority.  People who didn't have a relationship with Jesus became her calling.  She still runs the ranch, talks to people about Jesus all the time, married her boyfriend and became part of our church family.  

What a transition in just a short period of time.  I have to say, I am looking forward to what Jesus is going to do through her.  It's just a matter of time now.  

Nov 23rd is Thanksgiving Sunday at FFWC.  You and your family and welcome to enjoy an outstanding service and Thanksgiving Dinner with us.  It all begins at 10:30 am with dinner served at 12 noon!  Come and discover your transformation at FFWC! 
Posted by Russ Jones On 5:22 PM

I've heard people tell me, "But God said . . . "

Now to be honest with you - I usually take that as a caution sign.  When people use God as an excuse to get what THEY want - trouble is going to follow. 

There is a simple process that you can use to determine if what they said is what God said.

#1 - What they say lines up with God's Word. 
God will never contradict Himself.  So if a person says, "God told me that He is going to heal me."  I'll agree, because the Bible supports it.  But if what they say doesn't line up with God's Word, then I know that God didn't say it.

#2 - What they say honors God and His will.  
There are some things that the Bible doesn't specifically talk about.  But if we know His Word and His Character - it usually isn't very hard to discover His will.  I'll go along with it because it honors God.

#3 - They are willing to allow what they say to be tested by others of faith. 
This tests the attitude of the person who is saying, "But God said . . ."  People who assume an attitude or superiority over others usually get it wrong.  But humility always leads people to wisdom and life.

#4 - Square pegs, round holes and patience. 
Are they trying to force this "will" on others?  Are they trying to "push" the timeline along.  Are they willing to be patient and allow God's timing to be their time?  They might know God's will - but their impatience will only ruin their blessing. 

What do you do when they are right?
REJOICE!  Glorify God for what He has done! 

What do you do when they are wrong?
Understand your relationship with them?  Do you have the right and/or authority to speak into their life?  (FYI Authority without relationship is worthless). Help them discover what's amiss.  If you can't, discover who can.  Ask for their help.  Preaching to them usually doesn't work.  Ask them questions that will help them connect the dots.  For example, "If God wants you to do .... then why does His Word say .....?"

What do you do when they are messing it up?
Again, do you have the right to speak into their life.  If you do, sit them down and ask them what they are doing.  Listen, listen, listen.  The reason, usually a fear, will reveal itself.  Address the reason and support them as they learn. 

Know that God will test our faith.  
Yep!  It's in the Bible.  James 1:3 (CEV) You know that you learn to endure by having your faith tested.  I've seen God ask people to do things that A) Never happened and B) He never followed through with.  I can hear some of you right now!  "Oh God would never do that!"  Which my response would be, "Really?  Every heard of a guy named Abraham?"  Look it up in Genesis 22. 

Posted by Russ Jones On 2:05 PM

Years ago a pastor older and wiser than I said, "I'm never transparent, it scares people away."

That's true, transparency will scare people away.  But my response to him was simple.  "You don't have a choice, if you're not real - then your people can't believe in you or the message that you preach."

Now let me say that confession is good for the soul, but hard on your reputation.  By no means am I advocating that you dig every skeleton out of your closet and irresponsibly toss them into the middle of your congregation.  I've seen some pastors do this with a "gotta love me" attitude.  The people will love you - as they leave.  Don't cause confusion.

Here is the problem.

We live in a day when people still stereotype pastors.  You know.  The stogy type that have no sense of humor.  They can face a tsunami and never get their suit wrinkled.  They are in the presence of God at all times and they never suffer from any malady.

Well, that is the farthest thing from reality I have ever heard off.  But I can tell you that I have had more than one good thrashing from a well intentioned saint for not living up to this standard.
Jesus was real.

Jesus had the same problem. 

He was a Rabbi - and as a Rabbi He was expected to say certain things and do things a certain way.   Most of the Gospels show us that He didn't do what the people or the religious orders of the day expected.  The people loved it - the religious orders hated it.  The reason the people loved Him so, was because He was a Rabbi of the people.  He didn't represent any particular religious sect of that day - He represented His Father in Heaven.

And now we see the problem.

When there is a clash between our stereotypes and reality - something has to give.  Stereotypes are a type of fantasy or reality that we prefer.  Reality is messy and complicated.  It can be downright aggravating too.  Stereotypes are clean and simple to understand.  Reality can confuse us and even depress us.

Now the choice.

Some pastors will embrace their stereotype and do their best.  Unfortunately they usually end up ministering to the same group of people week after week.  The ones who want their pastor that way.  Other pastors break from that mold and present a real Jesus from their reality.  Warts and all.  It's funny and it's painful.  It's scary and overwhelming.  There are good endings and bad too.  But Jesus is Jesus every step of the way.  He never leaves us and He never changes.

When your Pastor.

When your pastor reveals a part of himself or a part of his life.  When he or she talks about the time when their marriage almost fell apart.  When they talk about the time when mental issues haunted them.  When they talk about their struggles and their weakness - don't listen to the problem.  Listen to the context.  Why are they doing this?  To scare you?  No!!!  They do it to give you hope.  They do it to show you how Jesus got them through AND if He will do it for them, He will do it for you too!