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!
Posted by Russ Jones On 2:33 PM

This message is nothing new to Christians. 

The Human Rights Commission in Lexington, Kentucky has recently declared that Christian business owners who refuse service to LGBT organization will find themselves in a huge amount of legal trouble.  You can read about it here.  

Well, my first question is who is this Human Rights Commission?  Apparently they have been around for a long time (50 years).  And from their website they declare: It is the purpose of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission to safeguard all individuals within Lexington-Fayette County from discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, familial status and sexual orientation/gender identity in connection with employment, housing and public accommodations.

Just so that you understand the problem here, a Christian T-Shirt business owner refused to print some t-shirts for the Lexington Pride Festival.  The organization that ordered the t-shrits filed a complaint, and the t-shirt owner is now being ordered to take sensitivity/diversity training because of his religious beliefs.   Reread that last sentence. 

First of all, the t-shirt business is a privately owned and operated company.  That means that they have the right to do business with whomever they desire. 

Secondly, if it is the purpose of this commission to protect the rights of the people, and it openly declares that religion is one of those rights, how can they tread on the rights of one group in order to support the rights of another?

As far as I can tell from the article, the Commission is hiding behind a thin legal vail.  But as the article points out.  The government is "re-educating" a person because their religious beliefs don't agree with the governments point of view.  

Now if you think that this is an isolated case - you're wrong.  In fact, the Alliance Defend Freedom, a legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith, cites a number of current cases where this is happening nationwide.  They are defending this business owner as well as others who are being told - bury your religious beliefs or bury your business.  

Posted by Russ Jones On 2:09 PM
The headline reads "29 year old cancer patient seeks to control her own death."

A young woman has declared that two days after her husband's birthday, she will commit suicide (physician assisted). (FYI - This is legal in Oregon, where they live.)

She has stage 4 glioblastoma, a malignant brain tumor. First AND MOST IMPORTANTLY! I am praying for her. I hope that you will join with me too.

However, I cannot agree with what she is doing. I'm sure that she has already heard all of this and has made up her mind. But I'm not writing this to her - I am writing to you!

First of all she says that this isn't suicide. That is it death with dignity. I disagree.

According to the dictionary (Merriam-Webster), suicide is the act or an instance of taking one's own life voluntarily and intentionally especially by a person of years of discretion and of sound mind.

On November 1st she plans on taking her own life - that is by definition - suicide. I cringe at the thought of our culture blurring the lines between life and death. When is this acceptable? When is this right? When is it wrong? We are opening a door that we will never be able to close.

She is quoted as saying, "There is not a cell in my body that is suicidal or that wants to die." As if people who did commit suicide really did want to die. In all my experience with people who struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide - even the ones who were successful at doing it - none of them ever wanted to do it. They simply couldn't either see or believe in another choice. This young lady has choices, she just doesn't like them.

Just because we don't like what life is giving us doesn't mean that we can just "check out". I believe that some of this comes from the "entitlement" mentality that is saturating our culture today. The idea that life is suppose to be the way WE want it, and if we can't have it that way - well then we can check out - quit - throw a temper tantrum . . . . you get the picture.

"My glioblastoma is going to kill me, and that's out of my control," she says. "I've discussed with many experts how I would die from it, and it's a terrible, terrible way to die. Being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying."

I'm not going to argue with most of that statement. I will agree that for cancer patients, who I've had the privilege to be with during their fight, it is ugly, painful and even terrifying. But they fought it every step of the way. They did died with dignity! They lived the last moments of their life with honor! They never gave in to the cancer. They lived in the face of terror. And that gives hope to those who are facing the same thing. Teaching people to quit before the fight, doesn't add value to life - it takes it away.

Now some people would argue that allowing someone to choose to die actually adds value to life. But I will be honest with you (and I'm going to take some flack for this) allowing death to run it's course takes more faith and courage than to "die with dignity". When we begin to devalue life, and each day that we have - we devalue ourselves. At what time will we decide that someone isn't worthy living (Oops, sorry we already do that - it's called abortion). At what time will someone decide that we no longer deserve to live? Oh that will never happen? Wrong again.

If we are going to justify controlled death at the beginning of life and at the end of life - when will it be acceptable to do it in-between? Soon - that's all I know.

Value life more than death or what you personally desire. It is important to future generations of people who need to know that they are more valuable than our opinions.
Posted by Russ Jones On 3:28 PM
Statements of faith are a part of our lives.  "We believe that we will make it!"   "We believe we can turn this marriage around."  "We believe that we can live a sober life."  

Statements of faith are necessary for us to move forward and to move on.  

But our president just said in his 38-minute address to the United Nations. "No external power can bring about a transformation of hearts and minds."

If I believed that for a second, I would stop what I am doing.  

You've got to believe in something bigger than yourself if you are going to be a leader.  Faith is a huge part of leadership.  Jesus came to be the external power that would transform our lives and then He sent His Holy Spirit to continue that work in and through us.  

If there is no external power - then how do you explain miracles like this? 

If there is no external power - then how do you explain stories like this? 

Yes, there can be a transformation of hearts and minds when we give Christ a chance to be involved.  But as long as we push the hope of Christs' love for us and for others away - we will continue to watch our world disintegrate and destroy itself.  As long as we arrogantly think that we are the solution and that we don't need God's help - we doom ourselves to failure.  It is time to pray and ask God to forgive us - it is time to change our ways - it is time to believe!

Posted by Russ Jones On 3:03 PM
Years ago I was preaching and used an old line that I'm sure many of you know.  "Would you like some cheese with that whine?"  A few days later a woman brought me a wedge of cheese and told me that she was a whiner.  That Sunday she discovered that the problem wasn't everyone else, but herself.  She wanted to quit whining and complaining.

Complaining is second nature to all of us.  We can do it at the drop of a hat.  In fact, I think we can do it before the hat even hits the ground.  We complain when things don't go our way.  We'll complain even louder if we think that we know better than anyone else.  Now I have observed that there are different kinds of complainers.

These people complain but they don't do anything about it.  They complain to complain.  What you will notice about them is this.  They will complain themselves out of progress, advancement and even joy.  But after they have complained themselves out of something, then they will complain about not having it.  It's a vicious circle.

These people complain until they get what they want.  They are professionals.  Really!  They get paid to complain.  They get paid when they get their way.  I've seen people complain about something followed by a threat of action on their complaint.  It's always negative like: "I'll quit giving my money if you don't . . ."  or  "I'll stop shopping here if you don't . . . ".  You get the picture?

These people complain with a purpose.   Complaining isn't bad, if you have a good purpose in doing so.  If you are going to complain about something, follow it with a solution.  "Here is my problem, but what if we did this . . .?"  Now I'm not saying that your solution will work.  But instead of whining about something - be an active part of the solution.

So which one are you?

Now let's apply this to your life - what would happen?

Let's take your Marriage for example.  If you are a Level 1 complainer, you will always be miserable.  But you will not do anything about it.  You will not take some kind of positive action to begin restoring your relationship with your spouse.  You will not allow your marriage to achieve a place where you can find security and joy.  Most of the time, the other spouse will eventually divorce.

Let's take your Job for example.  If you are a Level 2 complainer, you will be unemployed - A LOT!  At best, your employer and fellow employees will hate your guts!  If you try to get some of your fellow employees to complain with you - as Level 2 Complainers like to do - your insurrection will go badly.

Let's take your Family for example.  If you are a Level 3 complainer, then you can work through your problems in a positive way.  Your children will learn to deal with their needs in a healthy way.  You will know that whatever you have to face, there are options for you to embrace and consider as you work through it.

When you treat complaining as a process rather than a event - you will discover that it's your point of view that matters more than anything else.  When you see people from a servants heart - rather than seeing people as your servant - you will discover a joy you have never known before.
Posted by Russ Jones On 10:04 AM
The need for information is so great in our culture today - we will get it any way we can.  The problem is, we don't check sources or credibility anymore.  Leaking information and spin doctoring is  at an all time high and no wonder.  We are more exposed than we have ever been.  With the internet, social media and security cameras watching your every move, you can't do anything without someone knowing about it.   When I was a kid, don't ask when, we got information two times a day.  The daily newspaper and the daily news broadcast.  Even then, questions you needed answers to were days late.  For example:  The Air Force decided to test one of it's new supersonic jets.  The sonic boom was heard for miles.  Everyone was talking about it.  It shook the windows, the dishes and everything else for that matter.  But what was it?  No one knew.  Then three days later an article came out in the newspaper explaining it all.  Was there panic in the streets for those three days?  No.  Was there a congressional hearing convened to study the reason why there was a big boom?  No.  People just waited for their information.  Was there some speculating, yes.  It went something like this.  "There must have been a large explosion somewhere!"  That was it.

Patience always delivers truth.  But when we get impatient we will believe anything, even if its just for a little while.  Then when that information brings some sizzle to the conversation or attention to the person who is leaking it to the public - it can be a thrill.  That's makes it gossip.

I have a saying that I like to use from time to time when someone brings me "news" about something or someone.  "Wait for it."  When I think that someone is getting caught up in gossip - wait.  The truth will expose itself shortly and the messenger is usually red faced after the fact.  Don't be red faced with them.  Guilt by association, you know.

Gossipers like to associate themselves with impatient people.  It's like pulling the pin on a grenade and watching it blow up.  It's fun and wrong.  Patience is a learned/taught character trait.  Gossipers are not patient and they like to associate with people like themselves.

#1 - Wait - Resist the urge to act upon something you cannot confirm or prove.  Even if the person telling you the information is urging you to take action - don't.   FYI - when you do that to a gossiper, they will quit gossiping to you.

#2 - Watch - The truth will reveal itself, if necessary.  (Let's be honest, most gossip isn't worth paying attention to at all.)  But you have to practice some simple mathematics here.  Remember you have one mouth, two ears and two eyes.  Use them proportionally.

#3 - Wisdom - Allow wisdom to be your guide, not just the facts.  First of all I guarantee that you don't have all the facts.  Period.  So think it through and don't jump ahead of yourself (impatience).