Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Watching The Needle

It is not my thing to drive around in my car with the gas gauge nearing the big "E". I did it today, and for far longer than I was anywhere near comfortable with. It may have had to do with the repugnant thought of shelling out $3.62 for one flippin' gallon of gas! (The economy is just fine, though; don't worry. Yeah, right!)

I usually put gas in the car when the gauge nears 1/4 of a tank left. Grandpa McDonald used to always say that a car just ran better on a full tank.

Same thing with me. Russ runs much better when the tank is closer to full than it is to empty. I can feel an uneasiness when I get closer and closer to "E" in my life...whether it is spiritually, relationally, physically, emotionally, etc. Gotta make sure I know where that needle is, and if necessary; take the steps to push that needle back towards "F".

For me:

Gotta get around high-energy, passionate, positive sold-out people of focus (which often means, as well, getting away from the no-energy, lackluster, lukewarm double-minded people!)

Gotta check and make sure that I am keeping God FIRST - in EVERYTHING.


Gotta keep communing with my Lord

Gotta get under some great teaching and preaching (lately for me...it's been Matt Fry, Joyce Meyer, Rick Hammond, and Ed Young)

Gotta get an occasional tune-up. That is why I am heading to the DC area in a couple of weeks for The Whiteboard Sessions (http://www.thewhiteboardsessions.com) I am going by myself, and that's a long drive...for me at least. I am so excited, though! I am going with big and bold expectations!

So, I "gotta" stay closer to "full". I have to watch the needle and stay out of that red zone. I don't want to be stalled out and not moving forward.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


I had the awesome opportunity today to worship at and experience C3 church in Clayton, NC. http://c3church.com

I love my church, but I also love seeing how God is working EVERYWHERE! I know I can get so focused on all of the wonderful things happening at Hope, that I sometimes forget about the Kingdom of God...the entire Kingdom! God is using more than just "my circle" to reach a hurting world. I never want to take for granted the true Kingdom building work being done around me. We should all be celebrating together.

Pastor Matt Fry is just crazy for Jesus. The passion and energy was contagious, and I know the Holy Spirit was present there today. I love the focus C3 is placing on Kingdom-building...generation after generation.

There was magnified joy and enthusiasm for what this community is believing for. "Real Hope for Real People in a Real World".

I read a lot of blogs (probably too many), and I am still amazed at the number of pastors, church leaders, and others who choose to be critical of what other churches are doing. It's jealousy. We should be celebrating together and building each other up and praying for each other. We should also be taking opportunities to expand our too limited vision. It's not just seeing what other churches are doing out there. It's about what our magnificent Lord is doing all around us.

So, I pray for Matt and Martha Fry and the C3 community. Thanks for the hospitality and all you do as you go about building God's Kingdom.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Give It Up

Isn't it a "kicker" when God is trying to teach you something and He brings real-life circumstances in to play to "show" you the principle or discipline in action? On "Enjoying Everyday Life" this week, Joyce Meyer has been teaching on Spirit -vs- Flesh. She said that "every choice...every decision you make is a seed you sow and will bring a harvest in your life".

"For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life." Galatians 6:8

Well, Amen!

That's an easy one to "amen" until...

God says, "OK. You think you got it?! Let's see that belief in action."

Something happened yesterday that kind of weirded me out a bit. It came from a source I didn't expect, and it confused me and bothered me. Initially, it hurt quite a bit. My previous nature would have been to set up camp on this thing and dwell, dwell, dwell! I would have been building my walls and getting myself all worked up.

I could feel my "flesh" heading down that destructive path yesterday. Praise God that the Holy Spirit alerted me that it was starting. I stopped. I prayed. I recalled Joyce's teaching from that very morning. I said, "OK, God. This is what your Word says (Galatians 6:8). I believe that acting the way my flesh wants me to act is going to lead to destruction in my heart, in my relationships, and in my life. I choose to give this completely to you. Completely. I am leaving it here at your feet, and I pray that the Holy Spirit keeps reminding me to not "pick it up" again. Ever! Thank you, Father, for the lesson. Thank you for growth and deliverance...and for FREEDOM from such things!"

If God needs to "deal with" something or someone about what happened, I have to allow Him...Him to do it...not me and not my flesh. I am responsible for how God is leading me, and that is plenty to keep me focused on. No need here to "set up camp" and allow the enemy to gain a foothold.

Thank you, God, for this lesson. Any chance I can have an easier lesson today?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Thanks For Sharing

Do you remember when you were growing up and constantly being reminded (forced) to share? Share your toys...share your snacks...share, share, share! Yuck, right?

For me now...I get the importance of sharing. I better get it, huh? How pathetic would I be...a 39 year-old guy running around hording things for himself?

I love sharing music. Man! If an artist "gets me going", I will try to get that cd to everybody! Tift Merritt, for a great example. When "Another Country" came out, I wanted everyone I knew to hear it. Most liked it, or at least told me they did. (one exception...Jake and Jenny Carpenter...they didn't like her at all. Pray for them.)

I also love sharing good books. If something someone has written impacted me in a huge way, I want all my friends to read it.

I love sharing food...or mostly having someone share it with me. We went to George's Garage in Durham before the Tift concert in March. That place was off the flippin' chain! I told everybody! Mary Ann got me hooked...HOOKED...on the barbeque sandwiches from CookOut. Man! Good BBQ, slaw, and hot sauce! Are you kidding me? I tell everybody about those sandwiches.


Am I using every opportunity to tell people about God and what He is doing in my life? Am I sharing about the impact of God in my life? The peace of God in my life? The power of God in my life?

Share. Share good music. Share good books. Share good food. Share.

I need to be mindful of sharing the GREATEST thing in my life, and that is Jesus Christ.

Off to CookOut for a bbq sandwich.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bloom, Dang It...Bloom!

When Beth and I were looking to buy a home, we bought one of the first we looked at. They had shown us pictures of the two beautiful trees in the front yard...in bloom. I think the trees are Japanese cherry...I think. Anyway, I got excited...and I let it show. Bad thing to do in front of the realtor. Beth reminded me that the trees probably only look that great for 10-14 days each year. Bummer.

We bought the house anyway, but I laugh everytime the trees bloom, which they are doing now. She was right. The trees look that pretty for only a short while, then I'm raking up "pink snow".

Seasons for everything. Right?

It does make me think about my walk with Christ, though. Am I "blooming" for just a short while and then returning to what I was before? Later on, as I seek God more; then I may bloom some more. Then...back to where I was. I am definitely not interested in living in that cycle.

"Most blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit."

Jeremiah 17:7,8

Saturday, April 5, 2008


Today is the 92nd birthday of Grandma Williams. 92!!!! Mom and Dad went to visit her today and said she was watching MTV on her tv! I love that! Some may believe that she really had no idea what she was watching, and that the television was just "on". Nah! I know her. She was looking for the latest Fergie video!
Either way, she is still with us. Her physical appearance and abilities have seen changes as she has gotten older. Obviously. She is still here by God's design, and in that, I rejoice. She isn't able to live in her "home" anymore, but God still makes His home in her.
She and Beth were big buddies! They would always be found near each other...usually plotting something. Beth saw things in my grandmother...in most elderly people...that I would always tend to forget or look past. I really loved that Beth loved me so much that she would love Grandma the way she did. Grandma loved me so much that she would love Beth that way. Actually, I didn't have to play that much of a role in their relationship. They were going to be great friends no matter what I did.
Grandma loves the hymn, "What A Friend We Have in Jesus".
"What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!"
What a privilege to carry,
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry,
Everything to God in prayer."
The very last line:
"In His arms he'll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there."
Even though I am not with my Grandma today on her birthday...
Even though Beth is not here to be with her on her birthday...
Grandma is shielded in God's arms.
What a solace!
What a God!
What a woman!
Happy Birthday, Irene "Tennie" Williams

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I'm A Survivor!

"I'm A Survivor"...sung by one of Beth's favorites, Reba McEntire. "Survivor" was also Beth's favorite tv show, and I just got through watching it tonight. I really don't even like it that much myself, but I keep watching it season after season because Beth loved it so much! Awesome!

Ami was voted out tonight, and that wasn't cool. Ami reminds me some of Beth. Ami kind of looks like Beth and their personalities (as much as careful editing would allow) are similar.

Sometimes I weep when I am thinking of Beth or enjoying some of the things that she used to enjoy. Sometimes...like tonight...I get a real kick out of loving her...and missing her.

I looked at the scenery of the beautiful islands where "Survivor" was filmed and remembered our fabulous St. Lucia. Man! We loved that place! It was made for us! One of the top two or three moments of my life...and all because I shared it with my Beth.

Las Vegas...Quebec...sitting at home in front of the fire. I miss those times, but thank you, God, for those times and those memories! Beth and I lived life!

I know God has great things in store for me, and I am so thankful that He gave me some awesome memories of my time with Beth to have forever. FOREVER!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What We Carry

We all have stuff that we carry with us...stuff that makes up a little or a lot of just who we are. I don't think it's fair to call it "baggage".

I always carry with me the agony of losing Beth. I think of her every day and I grieve for her every day. Now, there is a difference between grief and a "spirit" of grief. Contrary to the cliche, time does NOT heal all wounds. Not time in and of itself. God, as time and life continue, will provide healing.

There has always...3 years later...been something about Beth's death that affected me that I could not pinpoint. I think I got it this week.

I record "Guiding Light" (don't judge me) each and every day. 2 characters were dying on the show and a lot of the script focused on the last days spent between the characters and their respective families. One character, Olivia Spencer, was actually dying from what Beth had, severe dilated cardiomyopathy. I was sobbing as I watched everyone get the opportunity to say what was on their hearts...families and patients alike.

Beth and I and her family never got that opportunity. After her heart attack, she was "alive" for 13 days, but was never responsive. There was a brief span of 10-15 minutes initially in the ER when she could respond to questions by nodding her head, but that was it. I sat by her bed every day and told her how much she meant to me and how much I loved her. I really don't know if, being in a coma, she could hear me and understand what I was saying. I have to trust that God made it possible for her to hear my words and my heart.

The other side...maybe a more selfish side...mourns the fact that I never got to hear her say anything to me again. We awoke that morning...all was fine...that was the last time I heard her voice. I know that she loved me. We just never got the opportunity to say good-bye. I look back now and realize just how much I need(ed) that.

I've had people tell me, "Well, Russ; at least she didn't suffer much." That's crap! That is not comforting to me. I hope that she did not suffer. I hope that the doctors were telling me the truth when they said she probably never knew what happened. Selfishly, though...I wanted that chance to have her hear what I needed her to hear. Maybe she did.

I also wanted that chance to hear her...one more time.

Javier, a man who works with Dean, suffered a huge loss today. His daughter was shot and killed while at work in Louisburg. No chance to say what was on his heart. This will obviously be something he will carry for a long time.

We all carry things. Good and bad things. It is not easy always to open up and let people look at it, but it does all play a part in what makes us who we are.