Pastor’s Blog

“Be Faithful To Forgive”

Matthew 18:21-22
Isaiah 43:25
Psalm 116:12

As I have been afforded a front row seat in the lives of many people, I come to notice what seems to be a recurring obstacle in many believers lives is the stressful struggle of forgiveness; many express that they can forgive but never forget. What a very tight rope to walk in our human experience.

Forgiveness is truly unconditional love given to humanity by God and what a gift it is; this gift of forgiveness from our God who has covered and concealed our disobedient actions. The garden experience of “Adam and Eve” put into motion a cause and effect plan that God gave unto us in the garden. Adam’s disobedience caused God to enact His word of a “death punishment” yet through God’s nature of love, grace, and mercy God released a provisional plan that rescued us. By the sacrificial offering of His son Jesus of Nazareth on Calvary’s cross we gained the opportunity to receive forgiveness. All we have to do to receive such love is “confess with our mouth and believe in our hearts that Christ Jesus was raised from the dead” then we can be saved and forgiven by God of our offenses. God not only forgives us but scripture declares He “blots out” our transgression. God hides from himself the evidence of our mistakes.

If that kind of love is given to us should we not try to imitate our Lord as we deal with situations that causes grief and grudges to rise in our life. Our desire to “be like” Christ should be stronger than the hurt, pain, grudge, or willingness to hold on to the memory of situation that causes grief. Forgiveness from my perspective takes the godly element in you to be stronger than the grudge in you. It may not always be an easy task but with prayer and being conscious of the many articles of evidence that prove our guiltiness, we should offer others an olive branch of forgiveness. For a gift received there should be a gift rendered!

Your Servant
Roger L. Russell
Senior Pastor / Teacher
Stones River Church

Trusting God in Uncertain Times

The Problems, The Provisions
Genesis 22:5-18

Most if not all of us have come to different places in our lives where we are faced with great levels of uncertainty. For some its family problems, for some it’s financial collapse, and for others its faith failures or many other circumstances that would be to lengthy to name. No one in this life is exempt from having to go through moments that press your back against the wall or your shoulders to the mat causing you to contemplate throwing in the towel. It has been said often by many great orators that “you either in a storm, coming out of a storm, or on your way to a storm”. What a very truthful statement to help us become aquatinted with the sober reality that dark clouds can and will come.

The trick of the enemy is to convince us to look at the situations and stressors in our lives rather that looking at the salvation that the Savior has made available to us. Let me also share that salvation in each circumstance can be different; meaning that salvation may be that we gain knowledge, strength, insight, or pain by walking through the gift of a rough road. I’ve come to rough patches in my life that taught me that trusting in God is the way. Faith that is sight oriented is not a faith at all. Faith can be understood by understanding that we place our trust in God to do, bring to past, or guide us to life shaping encounters while helping us to do what we are unable to do on our own.

Whatever you may be facing in your life trust God to see you through for He is our Jehovah-Jireh just ask Abraham!

Your Servant
Roger L. Russell
Senior Pastor / Teacher
Stones River Church

The Crisis of the Church

The Church of Jesus Christ maybe for the first time in our generation is facing a crisis we haven’t seen nor been use to dealing with. Over the last decade we have witnessed such great highs and lows of the church. We have seen filled to capacity churches; filled in such a way that the traditional constructions have been abandoned to build in the likeness of stadiums. In recent times we have preached as pastors in the best of financial times and now in some of the worst of financial times. The internet has served for opportunity and exposure to ministers and ministries creating wider nets for introduction to the gospel message of Jesus Christ. However along the way we have seen mega models of ministry go up and some come down fast. We have seen church move from being a place of spiritual edification to now sometimes places of spiritual socialism and entertainment.

What a great disconnect from what Christ intended the church to be! We often times value / rank ministries by bodies, budgets, and buildings rather than about soul salvation. The work that Jesus Christ gave to us is found in Matthew 28:19-20 known as the “great commission”. Yet sadly we have seen this command by Christ go unwanted and unworked. The disconnect has happened because out lack of desire to be fully engaged in the community in which we as churches reside. What happened to the day that the church was the pillar and cornerstone of a community? Now it seems that the church is simply another building passed by daily with no attraction or enticement. Rarely active other that Sundays and Wednesdays!

We simply have become delusional to think people will somehow just show up to the church by the presence of the building along. We my friend as believers must awaken from our church slumber and move out of the walls of the church to meet the mandates of God with the gospel of Jesus Christ which has saved countless men and women by the masses. The enemy wants us to believe that bigger building, bigger signs, and bigger budget will bring people yet I believe that the ones whom Jesus called and qualified must rise up and raise the banner of the cross while committing to community evangelism. Exposing humanity to the life altering power of the gospel and loving like Jesus all in whom we come in contact with; connecting them to Christ by way of the church.

Dutifulness is what we are in need of! I heard it once said that people will reject religion until that know that you are real. It’s our Christian duty to be real and to touch lives as ours have been touched. It’s our work to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless or stranger within our gates, give drink to those who are thirsty, visit the sick, and those who are bound in prison. What a well placed job description in Matthew 25:31-46. Ministry that’s practical and personal is the model set forth by the Master. May we be found doing the work of the church when Christ returns not simply waiting for the return.

Elder Roger L. Russell

Act Like a Saint, Think Like the Savior

The number one rated movie in America is “Think Like a Man” which is based on Steve Harvey’s best seller “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man”. This amazing book serves as a practical wisdom guide to women of all ages, race, and status to begin to value themselves as women of integrity while positioning themselves to move from “concubine positions to covenant partnership” This instant comedic classic while viewing caused my mind to begin to consciously think that if a woman can act like a lady and think like a man. Then why can’t all believers and even non believers come into a relationship with God and begin to “Act Like a Saint and Think Like the Savior”!

The questions that are relative to our thought can simply start here with two questions. What are the things that separate sinners from saints? What is it that separates the committed Christian from the casual Christian? I dare to say that it simply comes down to the choices we make before our companions, children, co-workers, and fellow Christians. The positive results that occur in life or the negative tension that comes in our life are often brought on by the choices we make whether publicly or privately. Choices are the driving influence by which we willfully follow Christ in such a way that bring glorification to God or misery to the Master. In the book of Joshua in chapter twenty-four the summation of Joshua’s character is shared as he gathered the people to ask a simply question / statement “choose you this day whom you will serve”. Life is filled with choices day by day. Our “saint’ status in the world is always under critical assessment by the choices we make before others. We can achieve the “social status” of a saint of God by making wise choices. My prayer is that we begin to be assets to the kingdom and not liabilities to the kingdom of God!

Christian character demonstrates itself by letting the word of God dictate your way of living. Character is a unique entity! It should remain consistent whether in moments of ease or difficulties. It was shared to me by one of my high school coaches that character is simply who you are when no one is watching you. As we desire to be saints and think like the savior may we evaluate our character formations to insure that what others see from us is a consistent reality. There is nothing more disappointing than to be in need of a particular product only to arrive and find that there are imitations or lower quality products that has replaced the original product. Oftentimes sadly that’s the commentary that’s coming from the camp of non-believers as they view we the church of God. Yet as we take each day and live it to acceptance of God by “Acting Like a Saint and Thinking Like the Savior”, I just believe we can become compassionate Christians making solid choices that are based off of the Christian character we can so proudly display through the spirit of the Living God.

-Elder Roger L. Russell, Senior Pastor
Stones River Church

The Life of Jesus & The Love of Jesus

The life of our Lord can be simply stated as the most remarkable life that was ever lived. What can we compare our Lord to? The existence of Him changed the world forever. Jesus with His birth into time parted what was with was to come. Jesus life from conception to the uncovering of it by the angelic host that praised His arrival, to the shepherds who came running, and the magi who came with gift left our world as we know it forever changed. This life was one that brought righteousness of living close enough to be beheld with eyes and touched with hands. The bible reports that men left saying “What manner of man is this”. Jesus ability to love the least, extend outreach to the outcast, and touch the terrible of heart then and now requires us to repeat those same words, “What manna of man is this”! What would you and I be if not for the example of pure love given to us by the Father by way of His Son? Some would say that one person can’t change a world, I deny the charge one life did in fact change the world then, now, and forever more. Other men and women are mentioned for great deeds, inventions, or thoughts but none are remembered for saving humanity. As we embark upon “Holy Week” may we be conscious to what God did for us through His son. Please take time this week to peruse the website and see ways in which we can consecrate our lives as we climax together on Resurrection Sunday. May our God richly bless each one of you.
-Elder Roger L. Russell-Senior Pastor

What is Love?

Love is the most sought after energy that living entities desperately seek to find or invest. What would we be without love that has been freely expressed in our lives? Life without love can be compared to a vase without flowers; marvelous artwork but yet empty. Love from the beginning of biblical presentation has been an expression towards a living entity that gathered in its value by the expression of love rendered to them. This kind of love is the perfect example for us to mimic in a world that exist today. We have all come to see the ill effect of what the absence of this kind of love within our churches, communities, cities and our country looks like. Our inability to responsibly respect our differences and come to light of the things we align ourselves together in for love sake. Love that comes from this kind of expression finds reasons to continue rather than find reasons to depart. Biblical love while acknowledging imperfections finds a way to massage the clay jars with each stroke removing the rubbish that can often time is visible unless lovingly removed by the steady hand of the potter. This kind of love that is on display as evidence in the book of Genesis demonstrates love that is an orderly design, orchestrated by a loving Deity, and ordered towards “dust”. It’s out of this kind of measured and momentous love that we can begin to immolate as credible witness of our Lord. The question for me that continues to leave me baffled and bewildered upon mental investigation is the most simple questions of “why and how”. Why would this kind of directed, determined, and dutiful love be given to such an awful distorted individual such as I am? How can God as pure as God is be as loving to such a “wretch as I”? I’ve come to some sort of finite answer that is simple but yet has depth. The love God gives to us is a love that is shared in spite of rather than because of. We often love others because of what is given, granted, and gained not simply because of! The invisible nature of God deposits such tangible evidence of love in our lives. We have received this covering, compassion, and counsel from God that gives notice for we the recipients of this favor not because of anything we neither earned nor deserve. Now armed with this beautiful communal love that exist between Creator and creation gives room for our ability to deposit this love within others.

This kind of love can be described as an inward concern and compassion that manifest itself upon a determined target. Love has a multitude of manifestations. Love that is “agape” in nature is anchored in a love that’s ethical, extensive, and encamping. God’s love was made known to us directly by way of Jesus as he promoted ethical love. The law of God’s word is the foundation and authority of love that is ethical. We can ask why love is so important and what gives love its prominence to be understood as ethical. Since the bible is our reference to the insight of God’s love may we peruse the written expression of God? The character of love is given in 1 Corinthians 13 and understood greater in John 3:16. The letter to the Christians in Corinth gives a model of love. Love is the primary fiber of the gospel message and the social behavior of every Christian. Christ utilized the Old Testament command which is to “love God and your neighbor” and “On these two commands hang the whole law and prophets”. For Paul’s love is a moral necessity for it fulfills the law (Rom. 13:8-10; Gal. 5:14). James the brother of Jesus considers love as the fulfillment of the law and John the beloved apostle said “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments”(I John 5:3). The love ethic of Jesus is expressed in a community that’s concerned about principles that become practices. This picture of love allows for hands of opposing brothers to be united for common causes of freedom and fellowship.

Elder Roger L. Russell

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