Tag Archives: Bob Russell

Terrific Tidbits From This Year’s Triple Crown Winner…

Friends!  How exciting was this year’s Belmont Stakes with Kentucky’s newest star horse, Justify?  Already victorious in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, suspense built all the way up to June 9th’s last leg of the Triple Crown, finding millions of us glued to the television not to mention those in attendance at the race, all of our hearts pounding…

Much to our delight, Justify and his jockey, Mike Smith, pulled it off for the win.  PLUS Justify was the second horse for trainer, Bob Baffert, to win the Triple Crown since 2015. (American Pharaoh)

I was thrilled to discover Eric Metaxas invited Elliott Walden into his studio on Monday, June 11th for the first hour of the show. (www.metaxastalk.com ). Elliott is the current President, CEO, and Racing Manager at WinStar Farms in Versailles, Kentucky. (www.winstarfarm.com )

Also, in the studio was Lisa Troutt, wife of WinStar Farm’s owner, Kenny Troutt.

We’ve been blessed to know Elliott over the years when his boys and our youngest son, Woody, played football together at Christian Academy. Fast forward a few years and my John got to be with Elliott again. They were two of ten men Bob Russell spearheaded to attend the first Businessmen’s Retreat at Country Lake Christian Retreat Center in Indiana.  (www.bobrussell.org ) Bob’s hosted three so far, and they’re planning on more.

Bob’s been mentoring young pastors from all over the country, teaching monthly retreats for several years since he retired from Southeast Christian Church. He also wanted to do the same for Christian men in the marketplace.

My John maintains their experience was worth a small fortune.  Bob brought in successful business entrepreneurs  and other ministers to share some of their insight as part of the program. Since their gathering, Elliott often sends out devotions he crafts, always centering around a Scripture verse to share with their fellow attendees.

In the radio interview, Eric begins talking with Elliott, sharing how he and his wife, Suzanne, enjoyed the race immensely. When he heard jockey  Mike Smith give all the Glory to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Eric shouted out a huge “Hallelujah!”

He continues by saying, “I’m a Jesus freak.” To which Elliott says, “So am I.”

Eric said, “I know that.” Christian fellowship at its finest, live on the air!

Elliott proceeds to show how Mike Smith truly walks the walk in his faith, always exalting the Lord and not himself. You’ll learn some jaw dropping tidbits throughout the interview PLUS you’ll get to hear from Mike Smith as well.  Learning of Mike’s faith and witness is heartwarming. What an encouragement to all of us!

A few examples you’ll want to listen for:

How long was Elliott a horse trainer before he got the opportunity to work for WinStar?
Who names these horses?
How do they come up with the names? (This part is fascinating.)
How much does Justify weigh?
How much does Mike Smith weigh? (Aren’t we glad we’re not all jockeys who have to STEP ON THE SCALE before every race?!!!)
How did Elliott wind up in the horse business?
How did Elliott beat Bob Baffert out of a win for another potential Triple Crown many years ago?
How long has Mike Smith been a Christian?
Hear why Mike thinks the Lord has blessed this horse so much…
Will Justify run in more horse races?
How much longer will Mike Smith, now 52, ride?

Run, don’t walk to your nearest iPad or phone or laptop and listen up.  You’ll be so glad you did.

To God be the glory.

‘Til next time!

 

 

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Filed under Friends, Kentucky Derby

The Single Most Effective Exercise You Can Do… (With Help from New Author, Carol Bonura and her book, “Our God is a Big God—Personal Stories of Those Touched by the Bigness of God”) Part 1 of 4 on Fitness

Friends!  Let’s play Good News/Bad News….

Bad news first:  Yes, we’ll be doing a four-part series on fitness over the next few weeks which does involve exercise. But, here on the blog, you only have to read about it.  If you want to try it, well, that’s up to you!

Good news:  We’ll be starting out slowly (!!!), and some of the exercise is metaphorical vs. physical.  We’ll break halfway thru’ to talk about Book Club (Mark your calendars for February 27th when Branches Book Club will be discussing Beth Moore’s debut novel, The Undoing of Saint Sylvanus and will receive a personal video message from Beth.)

**Even BETTER news**:  There’s a brand new book out by my sweet friend, Carol Bonura.  It would be great for any age, male or female.  Checkout the title:  Our God is a Big God—Personal Stories of Those Touched by the Bigness of God.

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The format is fantastic as is each, unique story by over forty different individuals.  As the title indicates, these friends of Carol’s share a story where God has revealed Himself.  Many of the stories are an only-God-could-pull-this-off kind, leaving no other possible explanation.

Prior to the contributor’s story, Carol shares how she knows this person.  Their story rolls, followed by that person’s favorite Scripture verse.  Carol then blesses each contributor with a verse which is not only fitting to the story, I believe it inspires that person to carry on. To see the Word of God “work together” so beautifully is another one of my favorite parts of Carol’s book.

I can’t begin to choose a favorite story.  I’ve loved them all.  (I happen to have a story in Carol’s book and while it’s my story, it’s still a cool God-incident, also irrefutable.)

Bob Russell wrote the Foreword and he has written a story.  Liz Curtis Higgs, Pat Day, Elizabeth Jeffries, Amos Martin, Dave Stone, and Joe Donaldson are just a few of the many contributors.

Bob said, “When we allow the Spirit of God to work through us, we have a positive story to tell to the nations, a story that can change lives and inspire others to be more than they can be alone.”

Carol’s book came about from a recent vacation she and her husband, Joe,  took with friends.  Carol tells us while on vacation, they all participated in Bible study every morning.

She was so moved by Ecclesiastes 3:11, she decided to ask these six friends to share “how they’d been impacted by the immensity of God.” After hearing their amazing stories, it was Joe who suggested she enlist more friends and family to share their stories on the Bigness of God, putting them together in a book.

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Once you dive into the book, you’ll immediately say to yourself, “Oh my goodness, so-and-so would enjoy this!”  Take my advice and have a notepad nearby as one friend will lead to five.  What a beautiful gift this makes.

So, I’ve dodged exercise long enough…What’s fun about this week’s post is you can read Carol’s book and try this most effective exercise at the same time.

A fascinating book came out in 2010 entitled The Blue Zones—Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner (The 2nd edition is in paperback.)

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Dan used to write for National Geographic magazine.  His article on “The Secrets of Long Life” and its’ popularity, caused him to research the ends of the earth to find more concentrated areas of living centenarians. He studied the lifestyle of these people. They dubbed these parts of the world “Blue Zones”.

Dan also includes lessons enabling you to create your own personal Blue Zone. Happy to report one of the common denominators you’ll discover is these folks consume dark chocolate.

Every day. 

(Just on the off chance you need one more reason to consume chocolate.)

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Other common denominators include participating in a community.  Another one, across the board, is these folks walk everywhere.  Many times, logging miles and miles a day.  (One of our four exercise posts will discuss walking and jogging in detail…)

One of a handful of helpful take-home resources is where Dan reveals the single most effective exercise you can do for yourself :  Simply sit in a chair.  Followed by standing to get yourself up out of the chair. (These women in the picture are practicing!)

Senior Women Standing And Sitting For ExerciseWorking your three sets of thigh muscles faithfully will keep you out of a wheelchair. I know this to be true as this happened to my own Mother.  She quit trying, and kept sitting, causing her to be unable to get up out of that chair, sadly landing her in a wheelchair, immobile.

My proposition to you dear friends, today, is to suggest you grab a good book.  Preferably Carol’s new one, Our God is a Big God, and read one of the stories each day. 

Take it with you to your favorite chair.  Sit down, read one of the stories.  Then get up!  This simple act will help you stay mobile. Read another story, repeating this action the next day.  And the next…

Now see?  That wasn’t too painful!  This is a mere warm-up for next week’s post.  Much  more vigorous exercise lies ahead…

One more fun fact before we close:  I was blessed to meet Carol many years ago thru’ mutual friends plus we attended Book Club together.  One New Year’s Eve, John and I were with Carol and Joe and Liz and Bill Higgs over at Elizabeth Jeffries’ home.  Elizabeth and Stephen had asked us over for dinner to ring in the New Year.

We each shared something fun we’d done in the previous year.  I about fell out of my chair when Carol reported she’d read sixty-five books that year.  How wonderful for her she now has her very own book for us to read!  Congratulations, Carol!

‘Til next time!

P.S.  FYI, here are other interesting books by the Blue Zone guy,  Dan Buettner:

The Blue Zone Solution:   Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People

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Thrive:  Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way

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Filed under Book Clubs, Book Reviews, Life Lessons

When You Miss Your Mom and Dad…

What seemed like a normal stop in the laundry room last week turned out to be a devastating downpour.  This is the challenge in losing a loved one.  One little photo can spark a thousand emotions…

Growing up a lonely only was super swell in my book.   My petite universe swirled around me.  No wonder sharing wasn’t in my vocabulary. (Can you say, “spoiled”?)

My Mother and Father married in 1952, but I wasn’t born until 1960.  After eight long years of waiting, who wouldn’t be fearful of a brand new baby girl?  I still believe they had no idea what to do with me.

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(Note most of our pictures were either of Daddy and me or Mother and me as with the three of us, who else would take the picture?  Please don’t miss Daddy’s very svelte argyle socks.  This was 1960.  My sweet sister-in-law got all our boys rockin’ with svelte socks last Christmas.  Yeah, 2015.  Thank you, Nordstrom Rack.)

Mom and Dad perfected helicopter parenting, not wanting a scratch or a bruise to mar my little self.  The day I rode my Radio Flyer Classic Red Wagon down our neighbor’s hill, crashing on the asphalt in our driveway, depositing some skin on the pavement, freaked us all out.  Odd, there was no flying in that wagon.

Once in school, I began inviting friends over.  Many of them were lonely onlies too.

God provided the best kind of friend directly across the street from us.  She was ultra cool because she came with the bonus of having two older brothers.  They were boy scouts and there was nothing they couldn’t do.  Each visit was a new lesson.

Her name is Meredith Myers.  She and I are only one year apart, so for several years, we’d ride our bikes together to Glendover Elementary School in Lexington, Kentucky.  God graciously protected us because we never paid attention to cars near us as we talked non-stop all the way to and from school.

Bikes bicyclist girl. Girls wearing bicycle helmet with rucksac

(Note these little girls are wearing helmets.  Helmets weren’t invented back in our day.  Yes, we are old.)

Meredith’s parents and mine also became close friends and “those were the days” as they say.  Elementary School evolved into “Junior High” (now Middle School), on into High School.

Meredith and I went to different colleges, but we managed to visit each other, staying in touch.  We married three weeks apart and were in each other’s weddings.  She and her husband settled in Nashville while John and I settled in Louisville.

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Meredith lost her parents first.  Both deaths seemed too early and too sudden.  Thankfully, we were able to trust in a Sovereign God.

Two favorite Scriptures  which help are:

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My folks stayed in their home, still across the street from where the Myers lived, as long as they could. Multiple illnesses plus my Dad having a stroke landed them in an Assisted Living facility in Lexington.

Unfortunately that was a short term band-aid, causing us to move them to Louisville into a nearby nursing home.  Our three boys swear they’ve never moved so much furniture so many times. God bless their strong backs.

Daddy had a heart attack that ultimately took his life, followed by a seventeen-month progression of health deterioration in my Mother.  “Only the Lord” is how we answer the question of, “How did we survive those difficult years?”

Deuteronomy 31:6 is one of our favorite “life-lines”: 

“So be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you.  He will never fail you nor abandon you.” (NLT)  Somehow that little word “panic” resonates. But look at the promise that follows…God will go ahead of us, never failing nor abandoning us.  Isn’t that the best?

Many of our friends are losing their parents too.  I find myself buying sympathy cards by the box.

Visitations and funerals are not at the top of my list of most desirable activities, but of course, who wouldn’t go for a friend?  The greater challenge of attending these services is offering the right words of condolence.  Not a gift of mine, rest assured.

I’m embarrassed to admit that often, the bereaved winds up comforting me because I’ve dissolved into a puddle of tears.  Thus, I’ve resorted to borrowing words of encouragement from a few of my favorite authors:  Max Lucado, Bob Russell and Kerry and Chris Shook.

The Shooks help with a good perspective when a death seems to happen too soon. They tell about a young couple in Owensboro, Kentucky.  The wife discovers she has terminal cancer and soon will be leaving her young children and husband behind.  (This is in their book, One Month to Live—30 Days to a No-Regrets Life.)

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She asks her pastor, Jess Moody, about the below verse:

2 Peter 3:8 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

She did the math, and “figured if a thousand years is like a day, then forty years is like one hour…my husband may live another forty years, but that will be just like an hour to me in heaven.  When he gets to heaven, I’ll greet him and say, ‘Where have you been for an hour?…I’ve missed you.’”

My children may live another seventy or eighty years, but that will be like two hours to me.  When they get to heaven, I’ll greet them and say, ‘How was school today?  Mom misses you when you’re gone for a couple of hours.’”

Jess said, “Now that’s an eternal perspective.”

Max Lucado, in his book, When Christ Comes, quotes Bob Russell.  He tells about Bob’s father’s funeral.

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Bob said the day of the funeral was a “cold, blustery, Pennsylvania day”…The Funeral Director told Bob the roads were too treacherous to take a procession to the burial.  He said he’d take the body to the grave.

Bob couldn’t bear to not be at the burial, “so he and his brother and their sons piled into a four-wheel drive vehicle and followed the hearse.”

Bob said, “We plowed thru’ ten inches of snow into the cemetery, got about fifty yards from my Dad’s grave, with the wind blowing about twenty-five miles per hour, and the six of us lugged that casket down to the grave site…”

He continued, “We watched the body lowered in the grave and we turned to leave.  I felt something was undone, so I said, ‘I’d like for us to have a prayer.’  The six of us huddled together and I prayed, ‘Lord, this is such a cold, lonely place.’

“And then I got too choked up to pray anymore.  I kept battling to get my composure, and finally I just whispered, ‘But I thank you, for we know to be absent from the body is to be safe in your warm arms.’” (2 Corinthians 5:6 KJV)

Max concludes with what I hold onto today:

“We don’t like to say good-bye to those whom we love…It is right for us to weep, there is no need for us to despair.  They had pain here.  They have no pain there.  They struggled here.  They have no struggles there.

“You and I might wonder why God took them home.  But they don’t.  They understand.  They are, at this very moment, at peace in the presence of God.”

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This is an older picture of my parents, but it’s how I like to remember them. It’s the one staring at me over the washer and dryer.  It’s the one that triggered the unexpected tears.

On days when those of us who’ve lost our parents are homesick for them, I pray these words of these great authors plus The Author of the Word of God bring us all comfort.

‘Til next time!

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Life Lessons

Bob Russell’s New Book, “After 50 Years of Ministry, 7 Things I’d Do Differently and 7 Things I’d Do the Same” Will Bless and Teach More Than Ministers…

God’s hand has been on Bob Russell for well over fifty years. It’s nothing short of astonishing. John and I’ve been two of thousands upon thousands of blessed recipients of his ministry.

Twenty-seven years ago, two of John’s siblings began talking non-stop about Bob and his church, Southeast Christian, where he was the Senior Pastor. We remained skeptical. The following Sunday, however, we decided to visit purely out of curiosity.

With our firstborn two-year old in tow, we were told the first floor was full. Climbing the steps, we discovered every seat was also taken in the balcony. People motioned to us to sit on the steps. Clearly this was commonplace.

The Lord was doing amazing things, drawing crowds like we’d never witnessed. Wanting to do further research, John and I stood in line one Sunday to meet Bob. Zeroing in on us, Bob asked questions, fully listening in spite of the line of people piling up behind us.

I said, “We’d love to have you and Judy over for dinner one night, if that would suit?” He quickly answered, “Sure. Give Judy a call. We’re in the phone book.” I was stunned, thinking surely they had an unlisted number. The next morning I called Judy and we set a dinner date. (Some of you are wondering, “What is a phone book?”)

Fast forward several Sunday services and a fun meal between the four of us later, John and I walked forward to join Southeast. Judy told me afterwards she about fell out of her chair when she saw us join as she’d thought we were already members. I’m beyond blessed to report we call Bob and Judy dear friends and mentors.

Last summer, I interviewed Bob about his book, The Acts of God: Why Does God Allow So Much Pain? Several of us enjoyed it as a Bible study along with the impactful teaching DVD’s. It is excellent if you’re on the hunt for a new fall study.

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Now, let’s dive in to his newest book, After 50 Years of Ministry, 7 Things I’d Do Differently and 7 Things I’d Do the Same. Bob told me this book is his favorite because of the ripple effect it’s already had.

After forty years of pastoring Southeast, Bob retired.  Here’s what his retirement looks like:  For the past ten years, Bob’s been preaching all over the country and leading several mentoring retreats for pastors each year. He also writes an inspirational weekly blog plus he squeezes in a game of golf when he can (www.bobrussell.org). Sitting in a rocking chair is still not in his future!

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While ministers of all ages can greatly benefit from Bob’s book, many of my friends are reading it even though we’re not officially in the ministry. (You’ll see later where I make the case we are all in ministry of some sort.) One of our preacher friends told us he’s already watching less TV per one of Bob’s suggestions!

I started by reading all the chapter titles. When I saw Bob wrote about Judy in Chapter Four, I flipped ahead to read it first. (Kinda cheating, but not really?)

Very vulnerable, Bob confesses he wishes he’d have been “kinder, more attentive, and more animated” with Judy. He gives us readers a peek into their lives revealing valuable lessons.

Bob and Judy recently celebrated their fifty-first wedding anniversary. Their two sons and their wives and seven grandchildren are a testimony to their faithfulness not only in their marriage, but to the Lord. Their oldest grandson, Charlie, recently got married and was ordained into the ministry. He and Faith are ministering at a church just outside of Chicago.

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My favorite part of the chapter is near the end where Bob shares twelve, count-’em-twelve, reasons he loves Judy. He entitled it, “Fifty Years of Marriage—Enjoyment, Not Just Endurance.” (I told Judy that chapter alone is brownie points for life on Bob’s part. Way to go, Bob.)

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Another favorite aspect of this book is how each chapter stands on its’ own. I found myself ping-ponging between the 7 Things I’d Do Differently and 7 Things I’d Do the Same. Fascinating discoveries.

Often I’d read snippets to John. One time we’d say, “Oh wow, I had no idea.” Another time we’d howl out loud. I love how Bob stresses the importance of humor. Bob says, “I think laughing out loud is one of the healthiest things a person can do.”

Chapter Nine’s title, “I would make the necessary adjustments to cope with the taxing pressures of ministry”, has all of our names on it. After all, we’re all ministers to others, aren’t we?

Remember the saying, “You may be the only Bible someone will ever read.” True we’re not all senior pastors of a mega church, but our spheres of influence are far reaching.

Bob offers eight suggestions, many of which we can take to heart. One suggestion Bob recommends is to start each day with prayer. He prays out loud to keep himself focused.

He says, “I take time to thank God for yesterday’s experiences and answered prayers and then lay before Him the needs of that day. I pray for my family and a list of missionaries and people in need.”

Afterward I read one chapter from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament, underlining passages that are meaningful to me. Most of the time I conclude by reading a section of a Christian book.

Bob steps on all our toes, rightly so, by comparing our lives to our cell phones. We charge our phones every night, and yet we fail to recharge ourselves. Hello?

He reminds us of Jesus praying, “Give me this day my daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11) I love what The New Living Translation says, “Give us today the food we need.”

He tells of his Mother repeatedly talking about the importance of “staying prayed up.” God rest her sweet soul. I was blessed to meet Catherine Russell on occasion and can only imagine how proud of Bob she was. Bob adds, “A daily quiet time contributes to staying prayed up and lays the groundwork for ‘praying without ceasing.’”

Bob closes the book with two challenges. One is, “Be faithful.” He says, “Woody Allen was certainly no theologian, but he was right when he suggested that eighty percent of success is just showing up. ..

Sometimes the way we tell the Lord we love Him is to:

Get out of to bed,

Put our feet on the floor, and

Go about our daily assignments even though we don’t feel like it.

That’s called faithfulness.”

Two examples of this popped in my head from a couple of books I’ve been reading. One comes from Lysa TerKeurst. She talks about her daughter’s struggle with a certain sport. She said she finally had to keep telling her, “Just show up for practice. Just show up for practice.” (www.lysaterkeurst.com )

Another one comes from Ken Davis. He said while he was attempting to morph into a cyclist in Fully Alive, he’d try to make himself go one more telephone pole further on each ride. (www.kendavis.com )

May we press on for God’s glory and “May all who come behind us find us faithful.”

Now, please go grab Bob’s book and start reading! You’ll be blessed beyond measure, a beautiful picture of Bob’s favorite verse:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)

 ‘Til next time!

 

 

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A Man Walks into a Bar…(When Today May Be Your Last)

Lest you think I’m vying for Late Night TV, a man really did walk into a bar.  John and I were right there, and this is no joke…

Being empty nesters for a handful of years, Hubster and I have developed hilarious habits. My favorite of which happens to be eating out. (Emphasis on O-U-T.)

Recently, while dining at one of our favorite haunts, Porcini’s (www.porcinilouisville.com ), something happened which opened our eyes… porcini-store-front2 John and I were talking to one of our favorite waitresses who informed us EMS would be arriving soon. Seems a guy literally walked in off the street and hollered, “I think I’m having a heart attack.”

Sure enough, we began to hear sirens. A fire truck and an ambulance pulled up out front. Before we knew it, the EMT’s were whisking a stretcher, occupied by this guy, thru’ the door, and up into the ambulance. Off they went. Ambulance car back at the white background While I don’t know the outcome, it sure made me think: What if that evening, that man didn’t live to see the next morning?

Which of course leads me to pose three huge questions to us all:

What if today was your last day on this Earth?

– Are you sure you’re Heaven bound?

– While you’re at it, are you aging gracefully?”

This week at Middletown United Methodist Church, we are finishing up the Bible study on Acts of God—Why Does God Allow So Much Pain? by Bob Russell. As God would orchestrate, we’re on Chapter Eleven which discusses the trials of aging.

Bob shares the painful process of watching his Mother succumb to Alzheimer’s. Several of my friends are dealing with this very scenario as I type. It’s not easy by any stretch. My own Mother died of Advanced Dementia.

Bob tells about two final encouraging visits he had with his Mother, long after she quit recognizing him. They began as seemingly futile. One visit, when Bob was about to leave, he decided to read the 23rd Psalm to his Mother. Like a switch was turned on, she began to quote it with him, word for word. psalm23 On another visit, Bob and his brother, John, began singing a hymn, and their Mother suddenly sang along with them. Bob said, “God is at work in ways we never see. I thanked Him and praised Him on my way home.”

Here’s the bottom line: “It’s only human to fear the unknown, of course, but at some point, genuine trust in God should make the difference.” May we truly trust, daily.

Bob reminds us, “Revelation 2:10 is a promise from the mouth of Christ: ‘Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.’”

Bob talks about people aging gracefully, and of some who do not. You’ll be astonished to learn about Florence Nightingale.

You’ll get tickled when Bob discusses those who get so consumed with all their aches and pains take themselves out of the battle before it’s fought. Anyone or several who come to mind for you? Clouds and female hand waving with a white flag to surrender Or have you heard, “Oh, we must make the trip, for this could be Aunt Edna’s (or fill-in-the-blank of your longest living relative) last Thanksgiving!” Bob says if we are to age gracefully, we must “live life to the fullest, and let God decide when the curtains are going to close.”

Finally, one more point to consider: “The truth of heaven should also impact our feelings of urgency in sharing the Gospel with those we love.” Old Bible With Sword Do you have a friend or family member who needs to hear the Good News? I keep thinking of that man John and I saw who came into the restaurant, right off the street. Did he know the Lord? I pray so.

Bob concludes, “Every act of God carries more meaning than our minds can grasp. No matter how we mourn, no matter how sad some days can be, we must believe that God is loving and good, and that someday, in His presence, we’ll see the whole picture and understand that the darkest moments of this life were necessary ingredients to the brightest miracles he was planning.”

May our eyes be opened to those God places in our path.

Press on, friends.

Be ready.

‘Til next time!

(FYI: The teaching DVD’s to Acts of God are incredible. They include clips from the movie of the same name, memorable teaching by Bob, and helpful nuggets from God’s Word. I highly recommend it for your small group/Bible study. You can find these, on special right now, at The Living Word Bookstore, www.livingword.org or, you can order these from www.actsofgodthemovie.com or www.cityonahillstudio.com )

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A Chat with Bob Russell on his Book, and the Movie, Acts of God—Why Does God Allow So Much Pain, Plus a Few Questions of Interest…(BOOK GIVEAWAY TOO!***)

Many of you know Bob Russell and have been blessed by his preaching. John and I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with him early into our “visiting days” at Southeast Christian Church before we became members. While I still find myself calling him “our pastor”, I’m certain many of you claim him as well.

When Bob announced his retirement from Southeast a few years ago, I confess, I thought, “Well, there goes the church!” But as we all know, Southeast continues to grow. (www.southeastchristian.org)

Additionally, it never occurred to me that by Bob “retiring”, this freed him up to preach all over the United States, blessing many audiences he wouldn’t normally be able to reach.

Bob’s not about to kick up his feet and sit on the sofa all day. He’s still writing books, Bible studies, his weekly blog (www.bobrussell.org), hosting monthly mentoring retreats for pastors, and playing that frustrating game called golf.

He and his wife, Judy, also a dear friend, just celebrated fifty years of marriage! What an amazing milestone! Bob’s blog from May 30th of this year, Fifty Years of Marriage – Enjoyment Not Just Endurance just doesn’t get any better.  Do not miss this!!!

(Also, please see Judy’s wonderful post from last week if you missed it: JUDY RUSSELL CHALLENGES US TO SPEND MORE TIME AROUND THE TABLE… ) Bob and Judy After all these years, the only flaw I’ve seen in Bob is his tendency to pull for the “red-n-black” team here in Louisville, and not our “blue-n-white” team in Lexington. S’pose we can overlook that…

Concluding a church member must’ve brainwashed him early on, I point blank asked him this week:

What swayed you to pull for the Cardinals?

Bob said, “I pull for the Cardinals because when I moved to Louisville I was impressed with the play of Wes Unseld who I thought was a terrific player. Then Mike Lawhon, a member of our church, played for U of L and I had someone special to cheer for. Plus U of L is 70 miles closer than Lexington!”

Alrighty then….Here are the cardinal glasses I get out just to be hospitable when Bob and Judy come to dinner, even tho’ I do use our UK pitcher occasionally!!! All in good fun… FullSizeRender Another cool thing Bob’s been doing since he left Southeast is hosting a mentoring retreat for pastors. The retreat is called “A Time of Refreshing.” (For more information on these retreats and how to apply, go to Bob’s website listed above and click on “Mentoring”.)

Bob says, “It’s purpose is to encourage and re-energize ministers for their stressful task. Preachers are constantly serving others, so we provide a retreat where they can be spiritually, emotionally, and physically refreshed.

I guess the one most important lesson we try to pass along to them is from Galatians 6:9: ‘Don’t grow weary in doing good, for in due season you will reap a harvest if you don’t give up.’”

Bob’s most recent book, Acts of God: Why Does God Allow So Much Pain?, comes highly endorsed. When I saw some of my favorite authors endorsing our favorite preacher, I knew before I ever read the first page I’d dive in quickly! (Liz Curtis Higgs, Max Lucado, Al Mohler, Becky Pippert, and Ann Voskamp are just a few of his endorsers. HUGE!!!)

***You have a chance to win a FREE copy of Acts of God when you comment below.*** Acts of God Book In an interview about the Acts of God project (which includes a Bible study and a full length feature film), Bob was asked, “We are seemingly inundated by news accounts of tragedies back to back. How should the Christian respond?

Here are his answers:

1 – “First, don’t blame God. He is not the author of most suffering any more than a father who takes the training wheels off his child’s bicycle intentionally causes the spills and tears that inevitably follow…We live in a fallen world where the lethal sin-virus strikes without discrimination. God warns us that the rain will fall on the just and the unjust.

2 – And don’t expect any pat answers. God doesn’t normally explain why He doesn’t exempt good people from pain. He doesn’t disclose the future and reveal to us just how, ‘all things will work together for good.’ God asks for two responses from us: trust and patience. Job said, ‘Even if He slay me I will trust Him.’ It takes time for God’s good purpose to unfold.

3 – Remember this is exactly what the Bible predicted would happen. God’s Word warns, ‘There will be terrible times in the last days’ because of unrestrained evil in the world. The Scripture does not teach that we will be exempt from the world’s hurt, but reminds us that this temporary, evil world is not our home. Jesus promised, ‘In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ Even tho’ it may appear the world is unraveling, the Lord has not lost control. The world is moving toward God’s final intervention. The increased tragedies are reminders of our ultimate hope.

4 – Finally, band together as a Christian community and use the horrible tragedies as a positive testimony to the world. C.S. Lewis called pain, ‘God’s megaphone.’ He said God shouts to us in our pain. But pain is also God’s spotlight. The world watches intensely to see how we respond. They’re  keenly interested in seeing whether our faith sustains us thru’ tough times. We may have more opportunity for witnessing in tragedy than we ever do in prosperity.

The world needs to see, ‘….We have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure,’ even when the sea is turbulent.  Our MOST EFFECTIE TESTIMONY is when we say, ‘I don’t understand this, but I still believe God is going to make things right one day.’” 

Another question asked of Bob was: “The movie looks intense—how will it bring a message of hope in such depressing situations? Why should we watch something with so much reality in our faces?” 

Bob answered, “That was my concern when I first read the script for Acts of God. It’s a heavy film. It’s not an escape from reality. It deals with very intense and very realistic situations. But, because it is so real, the end result is edifying and encouraging. 

After a preview of Acts of God, one man came out in tears and said, ‘Thanks for doing this movie. I had a child killed in an auto accident years ago and I’ve struggled with anger against God. This really, really helped me.’

Another said, ‘I have a son who lost his faith because he saw so many horrible things in Iraq. I want to bring him to this movie, I think it will help him to see he’s not alone.’

Bob added, “The movie shows it’s possible to hold on to our faith even when life falls apart. It shows that we can forgive even the most hideous of offenses. It shows that life can go on and we can be joyful because we have an eternal hope.” 

Don’t forget Middletown United Methodist Church (MUMC) is showing Acts of God Monday night, June 22nd, at 7:00 p.m. Popcorn included!!! Bring a friend to this fun, FREE event!!! (You can also order a copy of the movie by visiting www.actsofgodthemovie.com )

MUMC’s Summer Bible study will be on Bob’s book, Acts of God—Why Does God Allow So Much Pain. It will begin that same week of June 22nd. Nancy Tinnell will teach and Bob teaches via the DVD’s, plus he will teach in person the week of the last classes, July 21st and 22nd . (For details, click on YOU’RE INVITED TO A SUMMER BIBLE STUDY…)

Lastly, I asked Bob what he’s working on now:

He said, “Moody Press asked me to write a book on experiences of being a pastor for forty years—what I’d do differently and what I’d repeat. That’s a primary project for me right now along with the speaking engagements, mentoring groups and weekly blog. I’m also hoping to tape another series of Bible studies this November on the book of Acts.”

Thanks, Bob, for your time and great example of a life well-lived for the Lord. You continue to touch so many lives. Your family, friends, audiences and readers are beyond blessed! We look forward to hearing you teach in July at MUMC!

Also, for those of you near Louisville, Bob’s preaching at several Louisville churches this year. If you’re not near Louisville, take heart, he’s all over the place and he may be coming to your town! To see his schedule, go to his website and click on “Events”.

***If you’d like to comment on Bob’s post, please leave one in the Comment section and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a FREE copy of Acts of God!!!***

‘Til next time!  

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Filed under Author Interviews, Book Reviews

God is in the Delivery Business…(Part 1 of 4: Do You Know Where God Is?)

Crunch time…

After months, and months, and months of planning, Monday, July 8th finally arrived.  Hundreds of people would soon be setting up exhibit booths, stages, wiring mics, speakers, more setting up of chairs, tables, workshops rooms, and meeting speakers at the airport, etc.  Most downtown hotels would be scrambling, checking in several thousand attendees.

My responsibility for this first day was meeting a furniture delivery guy for our twenty-by-twenty foot exhibit booth.  As Murphy’s Law would have it, I was running late.  Rushing downtown.  (Major oxymoron.)

Driving in downtown Louisville is not in my comfort zone.  Murphy’s Law resumed and I missed the street I needed, taking me way out of my way.  My cell phone chirped as I hit yet another red light.  Sigh…

Red Traffic Light

Thankfully it was the furniture company and they were just loading up the truck.  That bought me time to get in the parking garage.

Quickly I snagged a parking place and dashed thru’ the pedway.  It was a mere four hundred degrees, akin to a tubular glass oven, thanks to our heat and humidity.  Finally I found our exhibit booth in the abyss of the convention center.

Hurrying-while-frazzled in horrific heat-n-humidity makes for ugly results.  Trust me on that one.  Oh, but I was on a mission to find out if anyone would be on hand to help unload the furniture.

Only girls were manning our booth, so I prayed we’d find some helpful, strong soul along the way.  Lo and behold, in bright, neon green shirts, there was an army of God’s angels.  Well, they were guys with the words, “NACC Volunteers” on the back of their neon green shirts, but one in the same for this frantic female!

I reported the good news to Allison, my “furniture friend”.  Thankfully, the day continued to improve.  Her furniture delivery guy found the loading dock and “God’s angels” proceeded to help unload the furniture.  We had it in our booth in no time.

God has a sense of humor, too.

 Follow me with these connections:

I was blessed to talk with Bruce, who happened to be our furniture delivery guy that day.  I introduced him to my friend, our Women’s Ministry Coordinator, Judy Russell.  Bruce  had heard her husband, Bob, speak before.  (www.bobrussell.org)  He excitedly shared with her how Bob had truly blessed his life.

bobrussell

Next Bruce and I talked about the owners of Summer Classics, my friend Allison and her family.  Summer Classics is where Bruce works.  This amazing furniture store generously allowed us to borrow some of their beautiful things for our booth. (www.summerclassics.com ) Bruce said, “You have no idea what a difference it makes to work for Christians.”

Summer Classics

Allison and her family attend Northeast Christian Church.  Their senior minister is Bob Cherry.  His wife, Vicki Cherry, was also on our Committee.  (www.necchurch.org )

After about our third trip of unloading, Bruce asked, “What is all this for, anyway?”

I said, “Oh, we’re setting up for the North American Christian Convention.”  I told him about the speakers, the expected crowd, the theme “Victorious”, etc.  (www.gotonacc.org )

He said, “Oh my gosh!  I had no idea!  I am coming to this very convention!

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Can you hear heavenly laughter?  Is God in the details, or what? Friends, God is in the delivery business!!!

He delivered Christian delivery men with our furniture.  And, a message many of us need to hear:  God seemed to be sayin’, “Elizabeth, I’ve got this one…”

The  exact same phrase was uttered by my dear friend and mentor, Liz Curtis Higgs two days later.  I’d emailed her on Wednesday morning asking her to pray Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts, in to Louisville.  Ann’s flight was due to arrive at the same time severe storms were predicted.

One Thousand Gifts

Additionally, another one of our speakers, Nancy Sleeth, would be driving in from Lexington at that same stormy hour.   Liz said, “I’m praying and will be praying, but rest assured, God’s got this.”  Okay, Lord, I’m listening…

Almost Amish Sleeth

Never mind that this very same week, Liz Curtis Higgs’ most excellent blog was on Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Her message sums it all up:  Fret not…Hello? (www.lizcurtishiggs.com )

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Pictured from left to right: Nancy Sleeth, Judy Russell and Ann Voskamp

God continued to cover us the entire week.  Our women’s luncheon sold out in advance for the first time.  We served eight hundred and fifty women on Thursday.  We were beyond blessed by Ann Voskamp’s message.

A couple of favorite quotes include:

“When you let something steal your joy, you let that something steal your strength.”

 “Joy is a function of gratitude and gratitude is a function of perspective.”

 “The answer to anxiety is the adoration of Christ.”  Yes, I’m listening!!!  Are you?

Ann’s blog is another resource you do not want to miss:  www.aholyexperience.com

The next morning, at our minister’s wives’ breakfast (which also sold out), we were blessed to hear Nancy and Matthew Sleeth’s message.  They coached us on how to simplify our lives and savor the Sabbath.  (www.blessedearth.org )  Their message paralleled Ann’s.  One quote in particular stopped my heart:

“The more we simplify, the greater our joy will be.  And the more we give up, the greater our blessings will be.”

Count your blessings.  Wield your pen (your “sword” as Ann said).  See if your attitude doesn’t change for the better.

God kept on blessing:  workshops filled, evening sessions were packed out.  Countless individuals were filled to overflowing.  IF you missed the NACC, you can go to their website to order copies of various sessions.

So the next time you’re on the frazzled side, STOP.  “Fret not!” Remember, “God’s got this.”

God is Sovereign and we must remember to scoot over to the passenger seat and let Him drive.

Yes, God is in the delivery business!

‘Til next time!

(This week’s post is dedicated to our “furniture friends”, Allison, Bruce, and Fred at Summer Classics. Your alls’ generosity made us “look good” for the whole week!  You went above and beyond given this week is Homearama too!  For you readers out there near Louisville, run, don’t walk to Westport Village and visit Summer Classics.  My husband, John, will tell you it’s been a “bad” discovery for our wallets!  Wink.)

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Filed under Conferences, Friends