Memorial United Methodist Church
Saturday, May 30, 2020
God's Love Grows Here!

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God's Love Grows Here!
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 May 26. 2020

More Ramblings from Russell…


“This is God, our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.”

Psalm 48:14


            I have to confess I am doing a lot of talk these days about “control”.  Control from health experts.   Control from our Governor.  Control from our Bishop.  I’m thankful for care, compassion, and common sense.  I want to believe these are the motivations behind all the control.  And I’m truly working through forgiving all those in authority who are behind the controls, but I still don’t like being under someone’s thumb.

            But I am thrilled to be under God’s thumb!  His thumb seems so much kinder and understanding because I trust His motives.  He is the Truth.  And I recognize that part of His Truth is to be in submission to those whom He has placed in authority over my life whether I agree with them or not.  So, I’m submitting to control with gratitude today.


The story is told of a little girl whose father was an airline pilot.  As they crossed the Atlantic, a storm came up…. The little girl opened her eyes, saw the lightning flashing around the plane, and asked, “Is Daddy at the controls?”  The flight attendant replied, “Yes, your father is in the cockpit.”  The little girl smiled, closed her eyes, and went back to sleep.  God is at the controls of our lives.  Or, rather, He wants to be at the controls…. If we will only relinquish the control of our lives to Him, He will see us safely home.


            How can we help but love a Father-God like that?  God IS in control of our world and Jesus died that we might yield the controls of our lives to Him, even when we don’t understand.  Our friends in the Celebrate Recovery ministry write this to us today.


            Last night I looked up at a clear, high altitude Colorado sky and was taken aback.  My Father placed every one of those stars in the sky and then called them all by name!  And that is just the beginning of our Father’s handiwork.  Beyond the Milky Way, there are many more galaxies, too many to count, all created and placed by our Father’s hand.

            It makes me wonder what there could be in my life today, next week, or ever that is too big for my Father in heaven to handle.  The great God who set the stars in place surely wouldn’t have any trouble with the complications in my life.

            As I look up, I am amazed at the one who did all this loves ME.  I will never understand what he saw in my beaten-down, messed-up life.  But I happily accept the mystery of it all.  He has chosen me to be his child.  He has redeemed me with the precious blood of his one, sinless Son, Jesus.  He has invited me to lay all my troubles at his feet.  Words cannot express my gratitude.  I am completely starstruck!


            When I want to dwell on “control”, I have to admit that life is going to happen.  It is full of joys and heartaches, clarity and mystery, cowardice and valor, greed and generosity.  What can I control?  Nothing but my response to the surprises.  If I am to control myself in a godly manner, I must choose to yield to His control and His mercy, knowing that God cares for His children more than He cares for the stars in heaven.


                                                                                                             Praise the Lord!


                                                                                                              Pastor Russell


May 22, 2020

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist: 

JESUS:  “… that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in us….”

John 17:21


            The entire chapter of John 17 is known as Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer.  From it we understand that we live in a spiritual world and there is a tremendous battle going on between the spiritual forces of Satan and those forces under God’s authority.  Thank God that in the midst we can enjoy peace not in the circumstances of life but in the confidence of our relationship with God.

            Satan and his forces are motivated by a bitter hatred of Jesus and His Church.  In this prayer, Jesus prays for His disciples then as well as we who follow Him today.  Jesus’ prayer is that God would keep His followers safe from Satan’s power and that God would set His people apart from non-believers by making us pure and holy.  Finally, He prayed that God would unite us as one through our belief in the truth of the Scriptures.  Jesus was praying that because of our relationship with the Father, there would be a marked difference from the people of this world who don’t claim to follow Christ.

            The thinking and purposes of many of our world’s leaders and the thinking of the Church today is as polarized as ever.  Or, is it?  In its response in the name of compassion to the coronavirus pandemic both many of our nation’s leaders and the leadership of the United Methodist Church seem pretty close; i.e. it is all about keeping people from getting sick.  Is that the hope of the Church?

            We are in a huge spiritual battle.  God’s hope is that we will all be one with Him and with one another as He carefully takes us through the challenges of our day.  Oswald Chambers offers us The Explanation for Our Difficulties in his devotional today.


            If you are going through a time of isolation, seemingly all alone, read John 17.  It will explain exactly why you are where you are—because Jesus has prayed that you “may be one” with the Father as He is.  Are you helping God to answer that prayer, or do you have some other goal for your life?  Since you became a disciple, you cannot be as independent as you used to be.

            God reveals in John 17 that His purpose is not just to answer our prayers, but that through prayer we might come to discern His mind.  Yet there is one prayer which God must answer, and that is the prayer of Jesus—“. . . that they may be one just as We are one . . .” (17:22).  Are we as close to Jesus Christ as that?

            God is not concerned about our plans; He doesn’t ask, “Do you want to go through this loss of a loved one, this difficulty, or this defeat?”  No, He allows these things for His own purpose.  The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, and nobler men and women, or they are making us more critical and fault-finding, and more insistent on our own way.  The things that happen either make us evil, or they make us more saintly, depending entirely on our relationship with God and its level of intimacy.  If we will pray, regarding our own lives, “Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42), then we will be encouraged and comforted by John 17, knowing that our Father is working according to His own wisdom, accomplishing what is best.  When we understand God’s purpose, we will not become small-minded and cynical.  Jesus prayed nothing less for us than absolute oneness with Himself, just as He was one with the Father.  Some of us are far from this oneness; yet God will not leave us alone until we are one with Him—because Jesus prayed, “. . . that they all may be one . . .”


            The prayer in John 17 is only 650 words.  It takes about three and a half minutes to read it.  Dr. Henrietta Mears, the late founder of Gospel Light Publications says of this prayer:  “If you would know the beauty and depth of these wonderful words, kneel and let the Son of God lead in prayer as you read this seventeenth chapter of John aloud.”             


                                                                                                                                             Praise the Lord!                                                                                                                    Pastor Russell


May 21, 2020

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

More Ramblings from Russell…

                Yes, I have lots of hope.  I believe we have turned the corner on COVID-19.  But I think the news- the media- is very depressing.  One could almost think they are delighted with discouraging reports.  How do we combat that?

                Through the years a favorite Scripture of mine has been 1 Samuel 30:6.  The context is that David gets back with his 600 men to Ziklag, after having been dismissed by King Achish, and his home and town have been crushed and burned down.  The women and children and everyone else have been carried off from a raid by the Amalekites.  Even David himself was in danger because all his men were bitter about losing their sons and daughters.  What did David do?  “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30: 6).

                David found his strength and motivation in God and he began to look for a solution rather than a scapegoat.  What a good word!  When we face problems we need to remember that it is useless and a waste of time to blame or criticize.  Instead, consider how you can help find a solution. 

                So how do we encourage ourselves in the Lord?  We focus ourselves on the Lord, which is not easy.  I am so easily distracted, especially these days (but it could be any day), with all that is currently going on around us.  No wonder we can’t keep our minds quiet during our prayer time with God.  We get pulled away from where we should be focused and what will make the greatest difference.  Instead we focus on what we shouldn’t and run the risk of creating further problems for ourselves.  A few days ago I read this in my Celebrate Recovery: 365 Daily Devotional, which speaks to this issue.

                It happens to all of us from time to time.  It’s not easy to stay focused on heavenly things when the earthly things are making so much more noise.  The best and maybe the only way to stay focused on the right things is to always keep Jesus front and center.  That means we understand that he is with us throughout the day, as close as our breath.  He’s always there to help us at a moment’s notice, encourage us, instruct us, strengthen us, and protect us.

                God knows who we are.  He understands what we’re made of.  That’s why he sent his Holy Spirit to dwell in us.  He doesn’t have to come from some faraway place to hear us and help us.  When we focus on his presence within us, everything else will fall into place.

                Wow!  Doesn’t that help?  It helps me.  Thank the Lord the Holy Spirit does live within us, always ready to help us stay focused in the things that are most important.  God wants us to help those around us.  “All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.  When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4).  We can help others around us.  God is for us not against us.  We are His children.

Praise the Lord!

Pastor Russell

May 20, 2020

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

More Ramblings from Russell

I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” 

Galatians 2:20


            This is probably the premier Scripture from Paul that tells us our new life in Christ is about being dead – actually dead! – to the old person we were before we received Jesus as Savior and Lord.  2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us plainly:  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he/she is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

            But, how have we been crucified with Christ?  Well, legally, GOD looks at us as if we had died with Christ because our sins died with Him on the Cross.  So we are no longer condemned by those sins.  They have disappeared.  Relationally, we have been crucified because we have become one with Christ and His experiences are now our experiences.  Again, because of our faith, we believe our old self -- pre-Christ -- is dead and gone.

            Yet, the focus of Christianity is not on dying but living!  Because we died with Christ on the Cross, we were also raised with Him.  We are reconciled to God and free to grow into Jesus’ likeness.  And in our daily lives we experience Christ’s resurrection power as we daily continue to fight sin and the temptation of responding with our old nature.  We are no longer alone because Christ lives in us.  He is our power for living and our hope for the future.

            And how does this happen?  I read this wonderful illustration just this morning!


            My three-year-old grandson was right on my heels, following me closely as I walked across the lawn to the front door of our home.  I took my shoes off at the door and turned around to help him, but he said, “I can do it, Papa.”  So I watched as he sat there, took off his shoes, and placed them right next to mine.  Then he reached up to grab my hand and waited for me to lead him inside.

            In the same way, God wants me to follow closely in his footsteps, doing those things I see him doing.  The Bible calls that sanctification – becoming more like Jesus, one step at a time, which leads to one day at a time.


            Dying to self or as some people call it “dying to our flesh” is a process.  Many times it has seemed to me like one step forward and two back.  And, though it may hurt our pride to call ourselves babies, we have a grand goal before us to be named disciples of Christ.  Babies don’t learn to crawl, walk, run, or think as adults overnight.  It takes time.  Therefore, no condemnation (Romans 8:1)!

            Finally, how can we measure that we are dead to self or that our flesh has died? It looks like you going to a cemetery and screaming at certain people in their graves.  You can call them names or tell them you thought they were always stupid.  Or you can rant about today’s politics and all that’s going on.  Or you can tell them how rushed things are today.  Or how the world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket.  What kind of response do you expect to receive?  You will not hear a word.  Their flesh is dead! 

            When our flesh is dead, people can say or do to us whatever.  We may often be tempted to act like our old selves, but we will not be compelled to respond because we have a new self.  We are trusting Jesus is in control.  He knows us and loves us no matter what anyone else may say or whatever may happen around us.  We can trust Him!

                                                                                                                                                Praise the Lord!

                                                                                                                                             Pastor Russell


May 19, 2020

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

More Ramblings from Russell

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11


                This COVID debacle we have been going through for the past two months has been huge.  We have been pained physically, emotionally, and in so many ways life has been turned upside down.  Thank God the end is in sight.  Little by little, step by step we will begin getting back to normal, which may look (certainly at the beginning) a little different.  But it’s coming!  We thank God for His faithfulness and care.

                With fear no longer our strongest emotion, now we must deal with anxiety and being patient as we get back on the track.  Now the work begins!  And before we can even begin to tackle our jobs effectively, we will need to be vigilant to keep a good, positive attitude, which will also require work.

                My mentor in the faith is missionary E. Stanly Jones.  He says, “Since life is ongoing and positive and creative, to be in line with life you must say ‘yes’, not ‘no’ for in saying ‘no’ you step out of the stream of life into the stream of negativism, the stream of decay, the stream of death.”  Therefore, being positive is necessary.

                I have a friend and when you ask him how he is in the morning, the first thing he says, with a big smile is, “I’m glad to be alive!”  He has his eyes on life and purpose and not focused on himself.  I believe he has trained himself to think that way.  It may not be easy for some of us, but what is easy that’s worthwhile?

                Again, I go back to Brother Stanley who gives these positive steps to get us out of the negative and into a positive mental attitude.


1.      Stand off from your life and look at it objectively and honestly to see what your ‘eye’ is.  From what standpoint do you look at life from- fear or faith?  From defense or offense?  From apology or aggression?  Decide what kind of person you are.

2.      If you find a basically negative attitude, then surrender it to God.  Don’t spit on your hands and say you’ll fight it.  That will make you tense and strained.  Ask God to take it over with your consent and co-operation.

3.      After surrendering it, now accept the positive resources of God.  Begin to live on God’s Yeses.  Be God’s Yes-man or Yes-woman in the sense of saying Yes to God’s Yeses.

4.      Spend enough time in prayer to expose yourself to God’s Yeses.  The quiet time is the acquiring time.

5.      Now go over your vocabulary and cleanse away all weak and negative words.  Since they have become grooved in the mind, they will tend to hang on after the basic attitude has been reversed. 

6.      When these negative words come back to the mind, point them to the permanent sign, Verboten [Forbidden].  Don’t let them beyond the front porch.

7.      Cultivate the new vocabulary of strong, positive words.  Use them on yourself and on your friends.  Use them until they become real to you and habitual.

8.      Remember the dangerous ages are forty and above.  Remember that the wisest can be infected with negativism.  ‘For years Shakespeare seems almost maniacal in his blind hate of life, and his stinging contempt, his nausea indeed of men and women.’  As Raleigh put it, ‘He blasphemed the very foundations of life and sanity.’  Watch cynicism as you would watch a deadly germ.

9.      Look for the positive and strong and you’ll begin to see it everywhere.  For the creative God still creates.


                Each step is important.  We will have to go over the list several times.  Daily look at yourself honestly, surrender, accept God’s way and His resources, spend time alone with Him and His Word, and vigilantly make positive and strong choices habitually throughout the day.

                The Lord wants to bring us in line with Him and His creative processes.  As we turn to Him for help, we will find new attitudes working in us now and we can be thankful and even joyful in the midst of our present chaos and hardships in change. 


Praise the Lord!

Pastor Russel


May 15, 2020

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell


“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me….”

Psalm 23:4


                One of the most difficult things we have had to deal with in our nation’s response to the Coronavirus Pandemic is not being able to be with friends and extended family.  We miss the comfort and encouragement and joy of just being present with each other.  God said in Genesis 2:18:  “It is not good that man should be alone.”  We are made for relationship.  Jesus came in Person to us!  Our faith is all about being present in relationship with God and one another.  Presence with each other helps us to be present with God:  “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:30).


                How sad that we have not been able to be with one another in hospital settings or nursing homes or to support one another at funerals or wedding celebrations.  But the real shocker for me through this pandemic was not being able to come together to worship!  I understand the reasoning, but that still doesn’t make me like it or feel easy with it.  Again, our faith is about being present in relationship with God and one another.  Hebrews’ writer tells us to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another and so much the more as we see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:35).  Oh, I am VERY thankful that we can “be together” virtually through the Internet.  But having the opportunity to be with the “whole” person with the option of actually touching him or her seems so much more friendly and more vulnerable.


                Of course, over all this, we keep in mind this is temporary and it will pass – just a hiccup compared with eternity.  We are fighting an invisible enemy and we have had to do what we’ve had to do.  This is not about blaming anyone.  We hope that our leaders are empathetic with us and advising what they feel is best for all.  We pray for their wisdom continually.


                We are reminded today to thank God for the Internet.  Can you imagine how isolated we would feel without it?  Since the  pandemic began, my daughter, Rachel in Florida, has been working out of her home with her children, Ethan age 6 and Piper age 2, with her daily.  At times, she has had a conference call or zoom meeting and my wife, Julie, has had to “babysit” via Facetime on Rachel’s and Julie’s cell phones.  Ethan usually only wants to have Julie sit with him (on the phone) while he plays video games on the television.  He will talk with her as he maneuvers his player in his strategies to defeat the enemy.  They just sit together.


                Piper, on the other hand, takes Julie (on her mother’s cell phone) around with her as she plays with her dolls.  She even treats Julie (on the phone) as her “baby”!  She carries her around and sings to her.  She puts her to bed in her tent and puts a blanket on the phone to cover her.  At times, she’ll switch characters and let Julie be the mother and she will be “the baby”.  The other day she put Julie, as the baby, in the closet and closed the door and told her to stay right there while she went into the other room to watch a TV show.  Julie had to hang up and call Rachel and tell her that her phone was in the closet!


                So, we thank God for His presence with us always.  And we thank God for the love and faithfulness and the technical creativity of people to keep working at being present with one another as we move toward normalcy again.  I do believe we will be normal again, but with some modifications at first.  We were made for intimate relationship with each other.  God is here and He will help us.


Praise the Lord!

Pastor Russell


May 14, 2020

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

More Ramblings from Russell…

“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”

Romans 8: 24-25

                This Stay-at-Home Shutdown is getting long.  I feel controlled, and I don’t like that feeling.  I also don’t know who to trust that is making such big decisions for my life.  I don’t want people to die or to get sick.  I am not wanting to die yet myself.  I don’t want to hurt anybody but there are lots of considerations in all of this.  Death and hurt and loss are all parts of what it means to live.

                Our leaders say this has all been imposed upon us motivated by compassion.  I believe that was the motivating factor in the beginning, but we are not in the beginning any longer and what is now going on is no longer motivated solely by compassion.  I always thought the church was “essential”!  It’s hard not to get cynical, but our nation is out of control and I have lost trust in “the experts”.

                However, I do trust THE expert!  I believe God is still in control no matter what anyone legislates.  I believe He has this already taken care of.  We simply have to wait and trust Him and have hope!  The first thing this morning, I read an encouraging devotion called “No Hope But God” and it inspired me. 

In his book Through the Valley of the Kwai, Scottish officer Ernest Gordon wrote of his years as a prisoner of war during World War II.  The 6’2” man suffered from malaria, diphtheria, typhoid, beriberi, dysentery, and jungle ulcers, and the hard labor and scarcity of food quickly plunged his weight to less than 100 pounds. 


The squalor of the prison hospital prompted a desperate Ernest to request to be moved to a cleaner place- the morgue.  Lying in the dirt of the death house, he waited to die.  But every day, a fellow prisoner came to wash his wounds and to encourage him to eat part of his own rations.  As the quiet and unassuming Dusty Miller nursed Ernest back to health, he talked with the agnostic Scotsman of his own strong faith in God and showed him that- even in the midst of suffering- there is hope. 

The hope we read about in Scripture is not a vague, wishy- washy optimism.  Instead, biblical hope is a strong and confident expectation that what God has promised in His Word He will accomplish.  Tribulation is often the catalyst that produces perseverance, character, and finally, hope.   

Seventy years ago, in a brutal POW camp, Ernest Gordon learned this truth himself and said, ‘Faith thrives when there is no hope but God’.              

                So, Paul says, we are to “glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation provides perseverance, and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5: 3-5).  Well, we certainly have much reason to give glory to God for these days, don’t we?  And look at all the hope being produced!  We are becoming more hopeful people because of the hardships.  I like that kind of thinking.  It’s true.  So let’s keep plowing the field.  God’s love is growing.

Praise the Lord!
Pastor Russell

May 13, 2020


Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


“So, whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31


                As I was reading Oswald Chambers last week, he talked about the importance of keeping a vision of God as we go about our lives – living throughout the day with a vision of God with us.  I thought that sounded difficult to do with all the activities, people, goals of each day, and distractions.


                But as I meditated on holding a vision of God with me, I thought it is all about an attitude toward life and God.  Recognizing that since we have been redeemed as believers, then our call for our new life in Christ is to glorify Him in all that we do and think.  Now, please know I’m preaching to myself today!


                What is the glory of God?  Especially in her later years, my Mom never wanted to plan anything too far ahead because she KNEW she was not going to be here and would be at her new address in Glory.  She thought of Glory as heaven – being with the Lord.  And in a sense that is what glory is:  the manifestation of God and His presence and power.  And we glorify God through recognizing His glory and wanting all that we are and do to bring more glory to Him and not to us.


                Colossians 3:23 says it:  “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord, you will receive the reward of the inheritance if you serve the Lord Christ.”  So we are to go throughout the day keeping our hearts and minds turned toward Christ and pleasing Him first.  If we fix breakfast for ourselves or others, we do it in a way that makes God proud of us.  If we write a letter, we do it keeping our hearts pleasing to the Lord.  If we hammer a nail or drive a screw into a board, we do it in a grateful way to the Lord.  If we read the newspaper or watch a television show, we do it acknowledging God’s presence with us.


                Then, if the cake flops, God is still glorified as you try to make that next one better and improve as a baker.  (Sometimes even a flopped cake can taste good.)  If our presentation fails, God is glorified as you have learned to do it better the next time.  If you lost something, you can pray that God will help you find it and in the meantime to help you get along without it.  If the television show is discouraging, just turn it off!


                It all comes down to keeping an attitude of gratitude, doesn’t it?  God is with us and He’s for us.  He is always the Good Shepherd.  Gratitude is more than simply a mental acknowledgement.  We glorify God when we demonstrate our gratitude to Christ for the great price He paid for you and me.  Glorifying God is looking throughout the day for opportunities to demonstrate our gratitude to God in everything.  It is keeping the vision of God before us.  And it sure brings joy to life!  It keeps us thanking God and reminds us to thank others.  There are countless ways we can glorify God.  Let’s do it today!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                Praise the Lord!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pastor Russell



May 12, 2020

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


“You can’t heal a wound by saying it’s not there!”

Jeremiah 6:14 (TLB)


These are still painful days. Maybe not for everyone but many people are experiencing a world of pain caused by this Coronavirus Pandemic. I don’t enjoy pain and I do not handle personal pain very well. When I experience pain it most often takes front and center – maybe because I’ve not had to endure great pain. But for whatever reason pain, whether it is physical, psychological, or emotional, is very debilitating and makes me want to run away from reality. Maybe since pain gets my attention, that is why my devotional this morning entitled, “Who Needs Pain?” from Celebration Recovery: 365 Daily Devotional hit me.


Wouldn’t it be great if we could snap our fingers and suddenly there was no more pain in the world? Well, yes and no. While no one wants to experience pain, it does serve a number of important purposes in our lives. C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain. Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Pain is God’s way of letting us know something is wrong. If, for example, my appendix were about to burst and I felt no pain, how would I know to get help before the deadly infection spread throughout my body?

Pain is also God’s fire alarm. If an alarm goes off, we don’t say, “Oh, there goes that stupid fire alarm again!” We call the fire department. But when our “pain alarm” goes off, instead of dealing with the source of the pain, we often try to mute the noise with people, work, food, alcohol, sex, and many other things.

An important point needs to be made here: just because God allows pain to enter our lives doesn’t mean he causes the pain, and it certainly doesn’t mean he enjoys seeing us in pain. God often allows the natural consequences of our poor choices to play out. The miracle is that he brings good out of our pain by using it to demonstrate his goodness and grace.


Our nation continues in the Shut-Down. It’s not over yet. Paul admonishes us in Colossians 3:12: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved [that’s us!], clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” The seeds of patience live within us as believers, but only we can water them. “Patience is not the ability to wait but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” There is life on the other side of this crisis. During these days of suffering may we seek and feel the Lord’s presence with us, and may we continue to look for all the good God is bringing through it.


After the death of their father Jacob, the brothers of Joseph were in the pain of fear of retribution from Joseph. But Joseph encourages them with these words: “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good…. Now therefore do not be afraid [of pain]” (Genesis 50:18-21).


Praise the Lord! Pastor Russell



May 10, 2020
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May 8, 2020

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

More Ramblings from Russell…

“Since we have such a huge cloud of men and women of faith watching us from the grandstand,

let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back,

and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up;

 and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us” (LB).

Hebrews 12:1


            My experience has been that when you have been away from exercising for a while, it is the second day not the first that is the most demanding.  The first day back you are just so pleased with yourself that you are doing the right thing that you forget about the effort you are putting forth.  On the second day, however, it is all about getting through the workout:  This ain’t easy!  That is the way it was this morning.


            So, as I tried to complete my reps, I called out in my spirit to the Lord.  I began repeating in my mind, a litany of Scriptures I had committed to memory.  (For most of them I know the verse but not where it’s found.)  Here’s a few from today.


“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).


“No temptation has overtaken you except as is common to man but God is faithful, who will not let you be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).


If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).


The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:1-13).


            As I put my mind on these Scriptures as I worked out, God helped me.  I made it through!  Well, I did miss one last set of exercises because I got to talking with a friend.  I accepted that conversation as God’s favor on me that I had done enough.  Praise the Lord!


            My point is there is power imparted to us as we meditate on God’s Word.  As we call on Him by speaking His truth back to Him, He encourages us and helps us in whatever the task or situation confronting us.


            My friend form Pennsylvania who texts me everyday with a short devotional sent met this today.


“You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32).  Everyone wants their doctor or pharmacist to tell them the truth, yet many people seem unconcerned about knowing God’s truth.  His truth – the absolute standard of reality found in His Word – is all you need to discern and fully live out your destiny.

          The truth of God is the foundation of your life.  Read His Word.  Memorize it.  Meditate on it.  Know it.  Apply it.  Then watch it bear fruit as you live out the purpose He has for you.


            I say Amen!  People want to know:  Does God really speak to us?  Is He trying to reach us?  Yes!  The problem is not with Him, but with us.  We simply need to “tune in” – like to a radio station – to Him through His Word.  He directs us and strengthens us in whatever issue or workout or trial or decision we find ourselves confronting us at the moment.


    Praise the Lord!

                               Pastor Russell                          

May 7, 2020

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

More Rambling from Russell…

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ?  Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers nor things present, nor heights, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

                                                          -Romans 8:35, 37-39


Last week, good friend and good friend of Memorial, David Chase, now living with his sweet wife, Marilyn, in Spruce Head, Maine, sent me this encouraging email. 

I saved it, hoping it will encourage you, too.


I read a while back a story of a visiting pastor who attended a men’s breakfast in the middle of a rural farming area of the country.  The group had asked an old…er farmer decked out in coveralls to say grace for the morning breakfast.

“Lord, I hate buttermilk”, the farmer began.  The visiting pastor opened one eye to glance at the farmer and wonder where this was going.  The farmer loudly proclaimed, “Lord, I hate lard.”  Now the pastor was growing concerned.  Without missing a beat, the farmer continued, “And Lord, you know I don’t much care for raw white flour”.  The pastor once again opened an eye to glance around the room and saw the he wasn’t the only one to feel uncomfortable.

Then the farmer added, “But Lord, when You mix them all together and bake them, I do love warm fresh biscuits.  So Lord, when things come up that we don’t like, when life gets hard, when we don’t understand what You’re saying to us, help us to just relax and wait until You are done mixing.  It will probably be even better than biscuits.  Amen”

Within this silly prayer, there is great wisdom for all when it comes to complicated situations like we are experiencing in the world today.


We can stay strong believing our Lord is mixing together several things that we really don’t care for, but something even better is going to come when He is done with it.  Many prayers are being prayed.  We are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.  He is faithful.  Our God is near.

Praise the Lord!

Pastor Russell


May 6, 2020


Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


“Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.

  For you have need of endurance [patience], so that after you have done the will of God you may receive the promise….”

Hebrews 10:35-36


               Believe me, atrophy is a fact of this life. Praise the Lord!  I went back to our local gym, Elite Fitness, today and I made it through my workout as best I could.  Again, muscle atrophy happens and it doesn’t take too many days.  The last time I was at the gym was March 20.  So, one step at a time, one day at a time, I will persevere and endure.  Even though it was a little difficult this morning, I did enjoy it.  In the hour and a half I was there, I got to see a few of my gym buddies.  Only about ten to twelve came in and out during my workout.

               The above Hebrews 10 Scripture has been one of my favorites through the years.  When I recall it I remember memorizing it as I walked the streets of Manhattan in New York City.  I was so glad to be doing God’s will and not my own, and I was wanting that reward from Him!

               The writer encourages us not to abandon our faith in God during times of trial but to hang in there with the Lord because holding on shows that our faith is real.  We never outgrow our need to endure and show patience, do we?  Faith means resting in what Jesus has done for us in the past as well as trusting Him for all that He’s doing now and will do in the future.

               Pretty appropriate Word from God in these days!  Thank God we are one day closer to getting past the hysteria of this pandemic.  But we are certainly not out of it yet.  Endurance.  Yes, I’m back at the gym, but the social health disciplines are very much still in effect.  We each must remain thankful for our elected leaders and health professionals and the guidelines they have provided.  I think the sign on the door of the gym says it all.



We cannot express how happy we are to open back up, as you know we are in a new norm due to COVID-19.  We encourage all of you to do your part in protecting against the spread, as will we!  We are asking you to please use the list below as a guideline to help protect against the spread of COVID-19.











            America is opening up again and I am so happy and thankful to God.  It is the mercy of God and so many people’s sacrifices that have brought us this far.  Let’s be encouraged to stay vigilant.  God help us to endure patiently without a complaining heart -- or mouth!  Endurance doesn’t happen without sacrifice, but the promises fulfilled through our obedience to God’s will give us a strength that will not atrophy.


Praise the Lord!

 Pastor Russell
May 5, 2020

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


“God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

                                                                                                                                Micah 6:8


                It encourages me that God really does know us.  He knows me- and you!  Nothing that happens to us surprises Him.  David said in Psalm 103: 14-17: “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.  As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower in the field, so He flourishes.  For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.  But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him.”  He knows our coming in and our going out.  He who began a good work in us will complete it, He promises in Philippians 1:6.  And, though I know God to be completely faithful, I also know me.

                When big changes happen in our lives and our schedules are thrown to the side (like what we have been experiencing for the past eight weeks), our real self, many times shows up throughout the day.  Martin Luther King once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

                As I look toward the change of retirement, I’m wondering how well all this is going to work out.  Again, I know who I am, and I remember the lyrics of the old hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love….”  Having the church and God’s work as the focal point of my employment, which helps me to stay on point, more than ever, I will need to keep my priority fixed on Jesus and His Kingdom. 

                I read an Upper Room devotional last month that helped ease my mind and heart called, “Aging with Grace.”


                Recently I turned 73.  During the previous year, I had begun to feel life shifting.  My body was aging- my strength, energy, and endurance lessening.  I had to give up driving at night.  I needed hearing aids, and I struggled with arthritis. 

                Having spent my life seeking to do for others, I resented theses limits on my actions and activities.  Grieving and embarrassed that I couldn’t do all that I used to do, I wondered, What good am I at this stage of life? What is my mission now?

                I discovered answers in Micah 6:8- words that teach me how to accept aging with humility and grace.  They restore to me mission and purpose, telling me that I don’t have to do great deeds to make a difference.  So these days my mission and its impact are clear.  Every time I pray for justice to reign, every act of mercy I show, and each time I choose to put another ahead of myself, the world shifts a tiny bit for the good- and God is pleased.


        I do believe that even small acts of service that we might think are insignificant, God values.  Let us pray, not only in times of change and challenge, whenever we are in doubt of our purpose in life, that He will renew our vision.  And, that He will help us to stay His faithful and humble servants- doing what we can to make this world a better place.  I am sure if we’ll keep that as our focus, He will take care of the rest- and provide joy in the midst!


Praise the Lord!

Pastor Russell


May 3, 2020
Click below for today's Service 
May 1, 2020 

More Ramblings from Russell…


“This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalm 118:24


                I left the house this morning for my usual walk to the closed gym.  When I can at last get INTO the gym, I’ll drive there and what a good day that will be!  Anyway, I didn’t have any great expectations.  It was sunny and cool.  I walked past the house of an unknown neighbor down the street who had a sign on his mailbox that read, “Michael is 40!”  A bouquet of black star-shaped balloons blew on their strings in the wind.  Underneath the birthday sign was another sign anchored in the ground that said in large block letters:  QUARANTINE.  The blinds in the windows of the house where all tightly closed.


                As I set out walking up the street, I began to be aware of cars passing by me.  That was different.  Normally, the streets are pretty deserted except for an occasional car or truck leaving McDonald’s Drive-Thru.  More cars kept passing by.  Usually when I get to a corner, I barely break stride to cross the street.  Today, I even waived my “pedestrian’s right-of-way” at one of the corners to allow a lady to make a turn when her opportunity opened.  Something was different!


                I know I’m making this sound like I was in the midst of (a normal) Times Square in New York City; and this was far from that.  But, it was just very unusual to see traffic out on the roads in the morning.  The streets have been like a ghost town for weeks.


                It finally dawned on me that our nation is going back to work!  The President’s National Shutdown ended yesterday, April 30th.  People are coming out again – even in Appomattox, Virginia!  It reminded me of the summer when my wife, Julie, was dean of a church camp for Jr. High kids.  One particular night the kids were all going down to the lighted Cross overlooking the lake at Crosspoint Camp in Durant, OK.  They were going to be star-gazing under the full moon that night as they lay on their blankets in the open, grassy field.  Julie was to bring a devotion.  To accommodate more children, the leaders decided to move Julie’s lectern on its wooded platform.  When they lifted the platform and moved it aside, several snakes began to scurry to take cover in the tall grasses.  I wasn’t there, but Julie said it was a heart-throbbing, scary, screaming moment for both kids and adults as they sought safety.  So much for star-gazing that night!  Like the snakes coming out of hiding, so, it seemed to me that people were coming out of their homes this morning and (I hoped) returning back to work.


                We are not out of the shutdown yet.  Of course, we will need to continue with distancing with one another and washing hands, but, at least, we are making progress.  We are on the backside of this pandemonium heading toward normalcy, rather than the front side!  I am very encouraged.


                Some of us have friends who are testing positive and recovering from COVID-19, even in hospitals.  Across our nation and world people are grieving over the losses of life of loved ones.   Senior citizens and those with compromised health issues are still susceptible.  We need to continue to pray for all these and our medical personnel and our government officials.  We must continue to be responsible to hygiene disciplines.  But, the end of all this is now more than a light at the end of a tunnel:  a new day is dawning!  Be encouraged.  God is good and trustworthy.  He loves us and He is faithfully caring for us.

                                                                                                                                                                                               Praise the Lord!

               Pastor Russell

April 30, 2020 

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


“How long, O Lord?”

Psalm 13:1


                Solomon told us in Ecclesiastes 3:1:  “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”  That means that God has a special time for everything and it tells us Who is really in control in all that’s happening. 


                A dear Roman Catholic friend of mine sent the following to me from a priest at Immaculate Conception of Dardenne in Dardenne Prairie, MO.  It certainly gives us something positive to pause and think about in the middle of the hysteria around us.  Let’s Ramble with this today.


                Lockdown began from March 25th at midnight… and is now extended to 3rd of May.  Its exactly 40 days from 25th March to 3rd May.  Something is strangely biblical.



The Latin root of the word ‘quarantine’ is ‘forty’.  So what does the Bible say about 40?

The flood lasted 40 days.

40 years Moses fled Egypt.

40 days Moses stayed on Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments.

Exodus lasted 40 years.

Jesus fasted for 40 days.

Lent is 40 days.

40 days for a woman to rest after giving birth.

                A group of theologians thinks the number 40 represents ‘change’.  It is the time of preparing a person, or people, to make a fundamental change.  Something will happen after these 40 days.  Just believe and pray.  Remember, whenever the number 40 appears in the Bible, there is a ‘change’.

                Please know that during this ‘quarantine’ rivers are cleaning up, vegetation is growing, the air is becoming cleaner because of less pollution, there is less theft and murder, healing is happening, and most importantly, people are turning to Christ.  The Earth is at rest for the first time in many years and hearts are truly transforming.  So, during this time, enjoy it with your loved ones and return to the family altar together.  Family prayer is a great blessing.  Through prayer you will see the changes God can work in you and in your home.  Christ promises us that everything works together for the good of those who love God:  Romans 8:28!

                Remember we are in the year 2020, and 20 + 20 = 40.  Also, 2020 is the year of the United States Census.  Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, was born during a census.

                Lastly, 20/20 is perfect vision.  May our sight focus on the Lord and living according to His perfect vision for us knowing He holds us in the palm of His hand.  May these days of ‘quarantine’ bring spiritual liberation to our souls, our nation, and our world.  The best is yet to come.    


                God does have a plan for everything.  God does not will sickness or disease or suffering or sins for anyone.  But He does will that good may come from even the most difficult of situations.  How good to be reminded we are not to miss the opportunities for good that are coming from our current situations of inconveniences and disappointments and even job loss, sickness, and death.  John Wesley’s last words are said to have been, “The best of all is, God is with us.”


 Praise the Lord!

Pastor Russell



April 29, 2020 

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


“We were hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;

persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”        

                                                                                                                2 Corinthians 4:8-9


                It’s happening:  “America Is Opening Up”!  Praise the Lord!  Because of God’s mercy and the fact we’ve all worked together to slow the spread of COVID-19, the number of persons being impacted by the virus and those being healed is improving.  Fatalities, though continuing, are fewer.  We continue to pray for all those who are suffering and have lost loved ones.


                Slowly but surely, the states are opening up and we are getting back to work.  (Our church offices open up

9-2:00 beginning this Friday, May 1st.)  2 Thessalonians 3:10 makes it clear:  “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”  We know that, don’t we?  It’s not that we don’t love our families, but aren’t many of us so glad to be able to get out and do again?!


                Work is a good thing.  Work gives us purpose.  We can serve and glorify God in our work plus it gives us the opportunity to spiritually impact others.  Colossians 3:23-24 tells us:  “And whatever you do, do it heartily unto the Lord.”  Work provides money for us so we can give to and help others.  Work allow us to accomplish something meaningful.  “There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in their toil.  This also, I saw, is from the hand of God” (Ecclesiastes 2:24).   Finally, through our work we are able to meet our own financial needs and those of our family.  People have to work.  It is part of our DNA.


                Work places demands upon us, however, that are often not easy.  Again, work’s difficulties are all part of God’s plan for us to grow and learn in love.  I read my Celebrate Recovery 365 Devotionals this morning and I wanted to share it with you.  It spoke about work as well as our recovery from sin.  The article was titled, “In the Weeds.”


                I worked in a restaurant for five years.  When we were buried, slammed, as busy as we could be, we would say we were ‘in the weeds.’  When everyone is in the weeds at the same time, chaos ensues!  But here’s what I’ve learned:

                When we’re in the weeds, we have two choices.  We can panic or get to work.  Panicking is easy, but all it does is waste time and energy, both of which are in short supply.  And even worse, we only end up right back where we started.

                Getting to work is a much better option.  But it’s a step-by-step process.  First, we have to determine what is the biggest need and meet that need first.  Then we do the next thing, then the next thing, until the shift is over.  If you try to do it all at once, you’ll be as bad off as if you had panicked.

                Many of us are ‘in the weeds’ when it comes to our lives and our recovery.  It just seems like we are running as fast as we can and getting nowhere.  We’re behind in everything, and we feel like we’re out of control.  When we find ourselves in that situation, we have to take one step at a time, determining the greatest need and taking care of that.  Then the next, and the next.  We will make it if we keep our heads and refuse to panic.


                Thank God that America, as we continue in our recovery step-by-step, is no longer “in the weeds.”  Hindsight, we’re told, is 20/20.  Won’t we enjoy and be grateful as we look back on America’s Shut-Down to see and count all the blessings that God has wrought through this crisis?  He understands the situation of each of us today.  And His concern and care is unique and abundant for each one.  Keep looking up!

                                                                                                                                                                          Praise the Lord!  

Pastor Russell


April 28, 2020


Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


                All of us need a daily quiet time with the Lord.  A time of prayer, reading our Bibles and/or devotional materials, repenting, singing hymns, whatever.  We need to center ourselves daily.  Having devotions has been the mainstay of my Christian life.


                 Some of us think we or someone else needs that quiet time more than others.  Wrong.  Every believer in Jesus Christ needs quiet time daily with Him.  How can He be Number One in our lives if we don’t come apart to be with Him and know Him?


                Julie said to me the other morning:  “People don’t know what they are missing by not getting up early and having time with the Lord and letting the Holy Spirit lead and guide our day and our life!”  She went on, “My life changed when I developed that personal relationship with the Lord when I was twenty-three years old and I spent that thirty to forty minutes with Jesus before going to work in the mornings.  I got personal.  I don’t know what my life would have been had I not spent that time.  I became a different person as I knew He was there for me every day.  And for me, it had to happen in the mornings because once the day got started with all its activities and people – everything got away from me.  I needed to meet Him first thing and I still do.  What a difference that time has made for me through the years.”


                E. Stanley Jones talked about a man, Quintin Hogg, a businessman, who gave himself and his fortune to the outcast boys of London.


The boys adored him.  Jem Nicholls, one of the wildest characters before Hogg met him, was later asked how he was getting on.   He replied:  ‘I have a bit of trouble in keeping straight, but I thank God all is well.  You see, I carry a photo of “Q.H.” always with me, and when I am tempted, I just take it out and his look is a wonderful help, and by the grace of God I am able to overcome all.’  Jesus is God’s photograph.  We look at Him and we see God. 


                That picture of Quintin Hogg for Jem Nicholls is what daily devotions do for God’s people.  When we spend time with God we see God.  We remember He loves us.  He understand us.  He has a good plan for us.  He will take care of us.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                Praise the Lord!

                                                        Pastor Russell

April 26, 2020
Click below for today's Service
April 24, 2020

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


“Our work is not to save souls, but to disciple them.  Salvation and sanctification are the work of God’s sovereign grace, and our work as His disciples is to disciple others’ lives until they are totally yielded to God.”    

                                                                                                                                                                                Oswald Chambers

                                                                                                                                                                                My Utmost for His Highest


                A lot of LOL (“laugh out loud” for us dinosaur slow textors) humor has come out of our shared experiences from the mandated Home Lockdown during this pandemic.  Julie showed me a picture on Facebook this morning of Leonardo de Vinci’s portrait of the Mona Lisa.  The part down the middle of Mona Lisa’s hair had about three-quarters of an inch of light gray on each side of the part where her roots had grown out underneath the dark color job on her hair.  The picture was entitled “Corona Lisa.”  LOL


                We’ve also had many humbling and enlightening experiences as well, haven’t we?  In one of my earlier Ramblings, I talked about how helpful that we’ve become more hygienically conscious, especially me!  One day I found myself confessing to the ladies in the office that I grew up never being much of a “hand washer” – even after going to the bathroom!  If my hands felt and looked clean after “the event,” I usually went on my way.  And if they did have something on them, there was always my pant leg for a quick wipe!  LOL


                The ladies in the office were appalled.   One said that if people knew this about me, I might be shunned.  But, you know, it was just never a big deal in our home.  First of all I never observed my parents’ toilet habits.  If they did instruct me to wash (which I’m sure they did), for me that was just one more thing I had to pay no attention to.  I thought I looked clean and who would know?  So, not washing became another timesaver for me.


                Anyway, I thought hands were meant to get dirty eventually and that is when you washed them.  Hands that looked dirty were not idle hands.  If you were working, that is when your hands got dirty and that was a good thing.


                Plus, I’ve never worried or been fearful about germs.  In fact I thought it was good to be exposed to germs in order to develop antibodies to them if they tried to make you sick.  No germs:  no antibodies.  Isn’t that what they have been telling us about the asymptomatic persons who’ve already been exposed to COVID-19 and never got ill?  Their bodies fought the germs off and therefore developed antibodies so they can’t get or spread the virus! 


                If my confession surprises you today because you always thought that I looked like such a clean person, please hear this (if It’s not too late):  Because of COVID-19, I have become a hand washer – ALL the time! 


                God is with us.  He loves us and doesn’t judge us.  He does not want us to fear.  Hopefully everyday we are learning we can yield more of ourselves to God and know we are accepted by Him.  One of my devotional books is titled, Keep Calm and Trust God.  Good advice!  And, let’s keep looking for opportunities to LOL.


                                                                                                                                                                                                Praise the Lord!


                                                  Pastor Russell


April 23, 2020


Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,

who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in trouble,

with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us,

so our consolation also abounds through Christ.”            

                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Corinthians 1:3-5


                Endurance.  With “Opening Up America Again” beginning to move forward phase by phase, we can see the end of America’s shut-down on the horizon.  But we are still in it, and we must endure this thing to the end.  How shall we do it?


                The mantra we keep hearing is:  “We are all in this together.”  But it is more than a mantra.  It’s true.  To responsibly address this crisis it takes all of us working together to exercise caution.  It ain’t over yet!


                As we remember one another, some of us are suffering more than others.  There are those who have experienced and are experiencing the virus.  There are those who have lost loved ones to death.  Front line workers and medical personnel continue day after day after day.  Essential workers haven’t skipped a beat.  Businesses, large and small, teeter on collapse.  Monthly mortgage payments are stacking up.  Cash flow for many has stopped.  Families locked down in their homes are learning and relearning lessons every day on how to get along with each other peaceably and in love.  And it is still hard to find toilet paper!  Thank God for the television, radio, internet, and our phones that keep us linked to the outside world.


                The point is that when we remember others who are suffering like us, it reminds us to pray for them and seek ways we can help.  When we help one another we are helped.  “For God is not unfair.  How can He forget your hard work for Him, or forget the way you used to show your love for Him – and still do – by helping His children?” (Hebrews 6:10).


                Billy Graham said, “It is an undeniable fact that usually those who have suffered most are best able to comfort others who are passing through suffering.  They know what it is to suffer, and they understand more than others what a suffering person is experiencing – physically, emotionally, and spiritually…. Our attitude toward suffering should not be, ‘Grit your teeth and bear it!’ hoping it will pass as quickly as possible.  Rather, our goal should be to learn all we can from what we are called upon to endure, so that we in turn can ‘comfort each other and edify one another’ (1 Thessalonians 5:11).”


                Yes, this too, shall pass.  We are one day closer to having this thing behind us.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                Praise the Lord!


                                                            Pastor Russell





April 22, 2020

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


“Without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe

that He is and that He is a rewarder of them who seek Him.”

                                                                                                                Hebrews 11:6


                My friend in Pennsylvania who has the daily devotional texting ministry, has been sharing a lot recently about destiny.  Destiny according to Webster’s is ”the predetermined or inevitable course of events considered beyond the power or control of people.”  That is a fatalistic definition because it eliminates any responsibility on our part.


                The Bible provides the “God Factor” in our destiny.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares he Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to “run with endurance the race God has set before us.”


                God has a good plan for each of us, no matter what is going on in our world.  He wants us to live leaning on Him while discovering and following His plan.  Therefore to discover our destiny requires us to cooperate with Him.  I believe we can only find our destiny by seeking His will before our will, which will require us to choose gratitude through all that’s happening.  1 Thessalonians 5:18:  “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will [to give thanks] for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”


                My friend writes…


                As we travel down the road toward our destiny, let us always keep in mind that God is very different from us.  That seems obvious, but it’s easy to forget if we begin to focus on our circumstances rather than on Him.

                God is not bound in time the way we are.  From the starting point to the finish, He sees the whole parade.  He sees the whole package.  That’s why without faith it is impossible to please God.  We’ve got to believe He sees what we can’t.  We’ve got to believe His perspective includes the entire events of our life even though we cannot see around the corner.

                Has something ever happened to you that you wished had never happened…only to discover some months or even years later that it was a positive thing after all?  Whatever it was, hindsight changed our perspective and now we value what once disappointed us.

                In pursuing and living out our destiny, let’s try to remember and give God the benefit of the doubt because His perspective is like no other – He knows all, and it makes sense to Him.  We can trust Him, even when we can’t see what’s up ahead.  After all, God does some of His best work in the dark.


                I love being reminded that nothing is random in God’s creation which includes us.  God is using everything, even a pandemic, for His Glory and our good.  Keeping the faith is the issue.  Do you believe that He sees what’s up ahead that you can’t?


                                                                                                                                                                                                Praise the Lord!


                                                                                                                                                                                                Pastor Russell


April 21, 2020


Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


                Fear.  Fear is a common emotion that many of us deal with.  Some more than others.  I struggle with fear and anxiety.  The Coronavirus Pandemic has created many kinds of fears for many of us.  I want to talk a little bit about fear today, though I’d rather not talk about it:  I want it to go away!  It paralyzes me, but the thoughts keep coming back. 

1 Corinthians 10:13 promises:  “No temptation has over-taken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with this temptation will provide the way to escape, that you may be able to endure it.”


                My fears are bigger than me.  I can’t control them myself.  They just keep whispering in my ears.  They keep me under condemnation.  And because I can’t control them, they tell me:  “You impotent man!  How can you help anyone?  If you can’t live your faith yourself, why don’t you just shut up?  What you have to say makes no difference in the long run.  And life is all about ‘the long run’.”  But is it?


                Life can only be lived in the present.  I can only take one breath at a time.  I can only move forward taking one step at a time.  I can only live today.  Yet my mind is always wanting to jump from today to “but what about tomorrow or next week or next year?”  What if, what if, what if?


                Fear and anxiety are future oriented, but the reality is, again, I can only live in the present one moment at a time, one day at a time.


                A doctor friend of mine helped me to understand mindfulness, which is a mental process that helps me – when I remember.  Living “in the moment” is called mindfulness.  It is a state of active, open, intentional attention on what is going on in the present.  If you are eating, think about eating and the tastes of the food.  If you are brushing your teeth, think about how you are brushing and what you are brushing.  It is paying attention to the moment.  But, it is a learned discipline if you are not used to experiencing life in the moment.


                When we become mindful, we realize that we are not our thoughts.  Instead we become observers of our thoughts, which are constantly bombarding us, without judging those thoughts.  It is like sitting on the bank of a river, watching thought after thought go down stream.  As we learn to live mindfully, it really does help anxiety.


                Of course, nothing helps anxiety as much as remembering and thanking the Lord for His trustworthiness.  Billy Graham memorized the Presbyterian “Shorter Catechism” before he was ten years old.  It is a summary of basic Christian beliefs.  It defines God as “a Spirit – infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.”  Billy Graham says, “These three words beautifully describe God.  He is infinite – not body-bound.  Eternal – He has no beginning and no ending.  He is unchangeable – never-changing, never capricious, never unreliable…. His love never changes…. Can you think of any reason not to trust Him?  Neither can I!”


                Since we live in God’s world and each of us is one of His kids, why fear?  There is nothing He can’t do.  He is for us not against us.  We are His!  We may not be able to understand His plan, but He does.  Why fear?  I feel better and I hope you do.  Have a great day!


                                                                                                                                                                                                               Praise the Lord!


                                                                                                                                                                                                               Pastor Russell



April 17, 2020


Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


“Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? 

I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

                                                                                                                                Isaiah 43:19


                Boy, things have certainly changed!  And the changes become more dramatic everyday!  Spring flowers’ blooms have either already died or are quickly losing their color.  Leaves on the trees are popping out and growing daily to a richer green.  The sun somehow seems brighter and warmer every day.


                And who would have thought that with our interactions in our relationships with others that the kind and loving response now is to back away from one another and refuse to give a handshake or a hug?  Thank God we can still smile at each other!


                I like Corrie Ten Boom’s illustration of seeing a beautifully woven tapestry.  When she turned the tapestry over and looked at it from the backside, it was a tangle of threads and knots in a chaos of colors.  How could any design be here?  And yet, turning the tapestry back to its front side again, it had a perfectly beautiful picture filled with intricate detail and design.


                Despite the mayhem and disappointments and sadness of these days of the pandemic, I prefer to consider the lovely tapestry God is creating in our world today.  God always has a plan and He is perfectly good.  Romans 8:28 continues to be true:  “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”  And, Proverbs 3:5 & 6 directs us:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.   Seek His will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.”


                I may not know how God is going to straighten all this out, but I don’t have to know.  I’m just glad He is behind the wheel.


                As I was packing, I found this Prayer for Guidance in one of my Mom’s devotional books.  Let’s pray it together.


Dear God, in Your hands I place myself on this day.  Your purpose for my life, Your perfection for my body, your abundance to fill my need -- in Your hands lie these, and their fulfillment in my life is sure if by my will and my desire I, too, am totally in Your hands.  Guide me, then, in Your ways throughout the whole of this day -- free my mind of fear and doubt that I may think creatively.  Free my body of its limitations that it may be strong and vital.  Free my spoken word of hesitation and my action from indecision.  In Your hands I place my total self for I am Yours, dear Father-God.

                                                                        Praise the Lord!                                                                                                                     Pastor Russell





April 16, 2020



Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist Church:


                          More Ramblings from Russell…


               “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God, and the peace of God which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7


               On Easter, Bishop Lewis preached on our need for hope and for us to be hopeful in these troubled, confusing days.  She emphasized that hope believes with expectancy that God is and will be taking care of us. God is answering her prayers and ours. Watching the Coronavirus task force briefing last night on television, there is certainly hope at the end of the tunnel! I love being reminded there is an end to this tunnel. 


               In spite of the sadness of 27,000 plus persons in the United States having lost their lives to this virus, 45,000 patients have recovered from COVID-19! The spread of the virus is definitely slowing down. We still have plenty of food for our people. How thankful we are for the doctors, nurses, and health care professionals who are being deployed throughout our nation where needed. Medical supplies are getting to the hospitals. We are saving lives and healing our land.


               Money is being distributed to families and small businesses in record time. We pray for President Trump and Vice-President Pence and all of our elected leaders as they look forward to reopening our economy again. Yes, we will reopen our economy again! Let us pray against partisanship as hard decisions are being made to bring us through this pandemic.


               Thanks to you and everyone in our country for the sacrifices that each is making every day to help move us forward to victory over this war with the invisible enemy.  We are all in this together.  That is good.


               Years ago, my pastor, Paul Moore, was struggling to establish the Lambs Club, a missions church in Times Square in New York City which he started in the early 70’s. The trials and difficulties were enormous plus the enemy did not want God’s work to succeed. Paul always encouraged us with the words of Nehemiah as he was building Jerusalem’s wall and being harassed by naysayers who wanted to stop the project.  Nehemiah wrote: “But I realized they were plotting to harm me, so I replied by sending this message to them. I am doing a great work so that I can’t come down. Why should the work cease, while I leave it, and come down for you?” (Nehemiah 6:3). Thank God today we are one day closer to getting all this behind us. We are doing a great work. Let’s see it through.


Let’s all pray together the Lord’s Prayer.


Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen

                                        Praise the Lord!


Pastor Russell






April 15, 2020


Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”

                                                                Proverbs 23:7


                We live in a world of our own thinking.  I have a full-time job everyday keeping a harness on my thoughts and how I choose to think.  There was a great United Methodist bishop who used to say, “Rid yourself of your stinkin’ thinkin’!”


                It’s easy to get caught in stinkin’ thinkin’.  How normal, even responsible, it seems to worry about “what if, what if.”  Negative and critical thinking come easier than looking for a positive solution or seeking to understand another’s point of view.  Judgmentalism inflates our egos.  Continuing to flirt with and ponder on tempting thoughts is not resisting temptation – just put them away and run from them!


                I was reading this morning E. Stanley Jones’ article “What You Think, You Are.”  I liked it and wanted to share it with you.


                Our basic thinking is important.  For the mind and the whole personality are dyed by our thoughts. 

                Someone has put it this way, ‘You may not be what you think you are, but what you think, you are.’  If you think positive thoughts, you’ll be a positive person, but if you think weak, negative thoughts, you’ll be a weak, negative person.

                Go over your vocabulary and your habitual thinking and cleanse your vocabulary and your thinking from all weak and negative words and thoughts.  Replace them with the strong and the positive.  If you’ve been saying ‘No,’ begin to say ‘Yes.’  A friend, a management engineer, remakes sick businesses and sick personalities.  When he takes hold of weak persons, he makes them straight off say ‘Yes’ twenty-five times.  They have been saying ‘No’ to themselves – ‘I can’t do this’; ‘I’m afraid of that’; ‘This is too big for me’; ‘I’m not feeling well’; ‘I’m worried sick’; ‘I may fail,’ and so on ad nauseam, literally ad nauseam.  For under this sick thinking the whole person turns sick.

                Since life is ongoing and positive and creative, to be in line with life you must say ‘Yes,’ not ‘No,’ for in saying ‘No’ you step out of the stream of creative life into the stream of negation, the stream of decay, the stream of death.

                Listen to this trapped soul, trapped in her own negative, backward-looking attitudes:  ‘Even normally I seem to live in a state of self-condemnation much of the time.  You see, I am continually wondering if I have sinned here or sinned there until it has become almost an obsession with me.  All in all it makes me a very self-centered person until I don’t know which way to turn.  I have just returned from a place where I had a wonderful teaching position, yet I have failed again.  It was blamed on surface reasons; yet down in my heart I know it is the same old problem, that is the only problem in life for me, namely, my relationship with God.’  But I wonder if it isn’t her relationship with herself.  She’s saying ‘No.’  And just as you cannot live by denying yourself food, so you cannot live spiritually on a ‘No.’  It must be a ‘Yes.’


                Will you say “Yes” twenty-five times today?  Somehow it does seem to help.  I believe the circumstances of life can be happier if I am a “Yes” person with a “Yes” face.  Taking a negative stand can be lonely.


                God’s promises are a “Yes”!  Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”  Psalm 118:24 reminds us, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  Adverse conditions do not refute that each day is filled with possibilities and the Lord makes a good day everyday.  I’d rather enjoy it than dread it, wouldn’t you?  You have a good day!


                                                                                                                                                                                Praise the Lord!


                                                                                                                                                                                Pastor Russell



April 14 2020


Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


                Early on when I had become a believer in Jesus Christ as a young man, someone presented me with a yearly day-by-day devotional book by early-twentieth-century evangelist and teacher, Oswald Chambers (1874-1917), called My Utmost for His Highest.


                Charles Stanley says “no book has had as profound an effect on my life…. It was here that God impressed on my heart that precious truth essential to the life of every believer who truly desires to follow Christ:  the most important aspect of the Christian life is our personal relationship with Christ.”


                I heard that Jerry Falwell read My Utmost for years and years – maybe his whole Christian life.  So, I decided to do the same.  Julie and I both read the book for years and years – until the covers came off.  Then, for some reason (maybe because the book had gotten all torn up), I stopped.


                Last Christmas I received from a friend an inspirational day-by-day calendar called My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers with just snippets from the same day devotionals as the book.  I found a newer, updated edition of My Utmost among my books in today’s language and combined the calendar with the book.  Anyway, I’m hooked again!


                I want to share with you today’s devotion entitled “Inner Invincibility.”


                ‘Whom the Lord loves He chastens…’ (Hebrews 12:6).  How petty our complaining is!  Our Lord begins to bring us to the point where we can have fellowship with Him, only to hear us moan and groan, saying, ‘Oh Lord, just let me be like other people!’  Jesus is asking us to get beside Him and take one end of the yoke, so that we can pull together.  That’s why Jesus says to us, ‘my yoke is easy and my burden is light’ (Matthew 11:30).  Are you closely identified with the Lord Jesus like that?  If so, you will thank God when you feel the pressure of His hand upon you.


                ‘… to those who have no might He increases strength’ (Isaiah 40:29).   God comes and takes us out of our emotionalism, and then our complaining turns into a hymn of praise.  The only way to know the strength of God is to take the yoke of Jesus upon us and to learn from Him.


                ‘… the joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10).  Where do the saints get their joy?  If we did not know some Christians well, we might think from just observing them that they have no burdens at all to bear.  But we must lift the veil from our eyes.  The fact that the peace, light, and joy of God is in them is proof that a burden is there as well.  The burden that God places on us squeezes the grapes in our lives and produces the wine, but most of us see only the wine and not the burden.  No power on earth or in hell can conquer the Spirit of God living within the human spirit; it creates an inner invincibility.


                If your life is producing only a whine, instead of the wine, then ruthlessly kick it out.  It is definitely a crime for a Christian to be weak in God’s strength.


                I want to be invincible, don’t you?  I know what it feels like being alone under the heaviness of the yoke, whatever the problem may be.  What a difference it makes to share that weight together with Jesus!  That is being close and that is not scary.  We can do this!


“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me….”

                                                                                Matthew 11:29


                                                                                                                                                                                                                Praise the Lord!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pastor Russell

April 10, 2020


            Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


Good Friday 2020


“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me….”

                                                                                                                                                                                                Psalm 23:4

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!

Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!

Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!

Sing ye heaven and earth reply, Alleluia!

                                                                                                                Charles Wesley, 1739


                On November 12, 2002, the 60-year-old body of my older brother, Billy, died of colon cancer.  Truly a fallen warrior.  He was a great life:  tall and handsome with an easy, friendly smile.  Self-willed and often rebellious, he faced life full of expectations.  He had a great way of standing quietly and humbly through the storms of life, seeming at ease, blowing off the past and continuing to walk on.  Hunting became the love of his life and his greatest relaxation.  I was told he ruined his hearing because of all the damaging volume of shotgun blasts through the years.


                Partly because of our five-year age difference, we were never close as brothers.  I was more emotional and cried; he kept tender feelings deep within and never cried.  I liked words; he chose the outdoors.  I always admired him from a distance as we grew up.


                I remember, especially when I was young, I would greatly frustrate him when he’d try to make me understand something and I didn’t “get it,” or he’d try to point out something he was seeing in the distance and I could never see what he was looking at.  Many times, in his fury with me, he’d take my face in his hands and get down in my face with those blue eyes and he’d shout “Stup(id)!”  In the past I’ve laughed and vented about those times, but today I remember the pressure of his hands on my face.  He wasn’t trying to hurt me; he only wanted me to understand his frustration in trying to communicate with me.


                Particularly in the year before he died, Billy got very intentional with Jesus.  The Lord had been drawing him to Himself for years, but his relationship was full of stops and starts.  In his final months, he really opened himself up to faith, Christ’s healing love, and prayer.  I was thankful to be able to visit with him in Florida with my parents a month before his death.  Billy was secure in his salvation as he faced, without fear, “Graduation Day” on that Tuesday morning with his wife and children gathered around his bed.


                Easter’s triumph of faith is a song on earth and in heaven because it IS Good News:  Jesus died but was raised from death and remains alive and in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.  When we place our faith in Jesus Christ, new life secures us for eternity.  Loved ones are not lost.  We can joyfully anticipate wonderful family reunions!  Relationships begun here on earth can be resumed and enlarged in eternity.  Billy and I never sang together here; it will be beautiful to sing and raise our hands together over there.


                “This is my command – be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid or discouraged.  For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

                                Joshua 1:9


                                                                                                                                                                                Happy Easter!   Praise the Lord!



                                                                                                                                                                                Pastor Russell
April 9, 2020

     Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


                “So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb which had been hewn in the rock.  He then rolled a great stone at the door of the tomb and went away.  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.”                                                                                                                Matthew 27:59-61


                Today is Maundy Thursday.  “Maundy” comes from the Latin word madatum, or commandment, which reflects Jesus’ words in John 13:34:  “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”  The Cross is very near and as Jesus has accepted his destiny, he now has his last meal with his best friends, the disciples.


                A friend with Regeneration Ministries in Northern Virginia (www.regenerationministries. org) sent me this timely article.



This year, with a pandemic disrupting all of life, we approach Easter Sunday disoriented.


Christians around the globe will not gather together physically Sunday morning, kids will not participate in Easter egg hunts in the park.  There will be no grand Easter brunches with family and friends.


·         We want health, not sickness.

·         Embrace, not distance.

·         Feast, not hunger.

·         Drink, not thirst.

·         Love, not loss.

·         Life, not death.

·         Joy, not grief.


But the road through Holy Week has always been unwanted.  Holy Week, after all, is a path through suffering.


The first Holy Week was one of disruption, disorientation, separation, trauma, and death.  For Jesus, yes, and also for His followers:  Peter, James, John, Judas, the rest of the twelve, Jesus’ mother, Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary.  (You’ll remember none of them were exempt from their own pain and isolation that week.)


What is the value of observing Holy Week?  Why not just skip to Easter Sunday?


Because the condition of the world requires more than distracting ourselves, more than mutual encouragement, more than momentary happiness, and more, even, than a great Easter celebration.


We need God’s cataclysmic intervention.


In their trauma and grief, the two Mary’s must have wanted to wake up, to find the death of Jesus had been just a bad dream, that He was alive and well, teaching, smiling, healing as He usually did.  But that wouldn’t have been enough for them.


Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb.



                My friend asks the question:  How can you sit and face Jesus’ tomb awhile?  What might that do for you?


                                                                                                                                                                                                               Praise the Lord!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Pastor Russell


April 8, 2020

     Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


Did you hear?!


            The government and health professionals are telling us there are less people being hospitalized who have tested positive.  Even in “hot spot” cities and states the death count from those testing positive is declining.  Economic experts are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Did you hear that?!


                Now that is certainly not to say we are out of this crisis yet.  But we are hearing words of hope.  We have not heard hopeful words in weeks, but we are starting to hear them now in Holy Week.  Praise the Lord!  And we don’t just “sniff” because we don’t hear many hopeful words:   “inches make feet and feet make miles.”  When I put on my hearing aids this morning I thought I heard more clearly a few more hairs brushing up against my ear.  The point is things are getting better!  Aren’t we glad?


                Friends gave Julie and me a card this Easter that says:  “Easter reminds us that HOPE must never be lost for as dark as the road may seem, there is always light, the Light of Jesus Christ, at the end of it!


                                                                Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,

                                                                Because He lives, all fear is gone;

                                                                Because I know He holds the future,

                                                                And life is worth the living,

                                                                Just because He lives!


                “’Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In His great mercy he has given us new birth into a living HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade’” (1 Peter 1:3-4).


                Lots of people are and have been praying on account of this pandemic.  Because of the scope, horror, and sadness of this crisis on so many different fronts, I am sure that people who don’t even usually pray have been bowing in silence.  We pray for healing, deliverance, comfort, help, wisdom, and for people in countries many of us barely think about.  God is honored by every prayer and this kind of fervor.


                In 1 John 5:14-15, the Apostle John tells us:  “And we can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will.  And if we know that he is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that he will give us what we ask for.”  I have no doubt we are in his will when we make the above mentioned requests.  Also James, Jesus’ own brother, assures us in James 5:16:  “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.”  I believe the righteous are praying, believing God, and getting results!


                Hope. Hope!  God is with us.  God is for us.  He hears every prayer and answers each one even before we ask!  In Isaiah 65:24, the Lord says:  “I will answer them before they even call on me.  While they are still talking to me about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!”  Did you hear that?  Though he knows my heart I will continue to reach out and pray for His good will to be done.


                Have hope today!  Do the right thing.                    

                                                                                                                                                                                                 Praise the Lord!

                                           Pastor Russel



April 7, 2020

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


National Shutdown

Day 22


                 I have been laying low on the inside as I anticipated this week and a half.  Gloom and fear.  This morning as I left the house to come to the office, I had to clip on my large button that reads, “Caution:  I’m allergic to negative people.”  As I write to you this morning, I’m ready to be encouraged.


                God says in Deuteronomy 31:6, 8:  “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 neither fail you nor abandon you…. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you.  He will be with you, he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”  God is leading us.


                Certainly God is using this coronavirus crisis to get us back to depending – seeking and really depending – on Him!  President Trump said in a briefing the other night that since we are all having to stay at home through Holy Week and Easter – we can be working on our relationship with God in this time.  Amen!  I loved that.  Our Christian faith is not about church buildings and service attendance, but it is about having and pursuing a relationship with Jesus Christ.


                I was talking to a retired pastor friend from Iowa yesterday on the phone and he shared with me about another friend of ours who went to seminary with us and retired last year in Oklahoma.  He said that three weeks ago, before the lockdown, Governor of Oklahoma, Keven Stitt, on a Tuesday night on prime time 7:00 PM, hosted an hour long television service with ten local evangelical pastors in Oklahoma.  The pastors all shared a Scripture and each had a short message.  The interruption in the TV schedule and the content of the broadcast got no kickback!  What an enormous blessing that was!


                God is here.  He is working.  He is for us and not against us.  He is powerful and He is merciful.  Our leaders have given us a plan to slow the spread.  Our doctors have told us to wash our hands, keep a 6-foot distance, and stay home as much as we can.  I’m thankful Julie and I have a home.  Dear Lord, take care of those who don’t.


                God bless you as you trust Him today with your life and your families.  Let’s pray Bishop Sharma Lewis’ prayer she wants us to pray daily at noon from the VAUMC Conference.


Almighty God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, We thank you for your blessings, past, present and future. You are our rock and the source of our hope in all things and at all times. As Jehovah Jireh, our provider God, we ask you this day to stretch out your mighty hand and eradicate from the face of the earth forever this virus called COVID-19 (coronavirus) that is spreading rapidly from continent to continent. We also pray that you, Jehovah Rapha, our healing God, would place your hand upon all of those who have been stricken by this virus and restore them to full health. Be with those who have lost loved ones and are grieving. Protect all who are caring for those with this virus and keep them from contracting it themselves. Calm our fears and provide us with your peace that surpasses all understanding. Strengthen us with the joy of the Lord and help us to hold firmly to the hope that only you can provide. Unify us that we, the Virginia Annual Conference, may be able to experience anew the promise of your presence in and through the unity of our faith, hope and trust in you in the days ahead and forever. We offer this prayer in the mighty name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. AMEN.  


                                                                                                                                                                                                Praise The Lord!

                                                                                                                                                                                      Pastor Russell


April 2, 2020

     Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:


More Ramblings from Russell…


“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also….

You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:21, 24).


                I have appreciated our Lenten Devotional this year, “By His Wounds We Are Healed” by Paul Scheidt.  The devotions have been short and pithy and reminding us daily that by the stripes that Jesus took for us, we have already been healed in our bodies, minds, and souls.  It’s already happened!  We really are new creatures in Christ today –the old has gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).


                This week the emphasis has been on our finances and where our treasure is.  All of us have treasure.  For some that treasure is our money, our savings, and our security for the future.  For others it may be our family, home, fame, power, status, some addiction, whatever.  I liked what he said today about our giving of our finances to God.


                Test yourself:  Is it easier to find an excuse to give less to God (church, charity) or an excuse to spend more on yourself (pleasure, treasure):  My heart and mind argue constantly between serving God (denying self) and serving self (stealing from God).

                It’s really a question of where our heart is, and where we want it to be.  This debate is never fully resolved:  should my true treasure be determined by my human nature or by my new self made in the image of Jesus?

                The healing wounds of Jesus can give you strength to overrule your human instincts and focus your heart on the true treasure that is yours eternally.   Keep that in focus as you decide daily whom you will serve.


                God wants to be our treasure.  He is our treasure.  When we let Him be our treasure, Number One, we can finally become who we always wanted to be.  It is so much easier (and more fun) to not have to be in control all the time.  He can control us so much better.  And life can be so much more interesting if we live in thanksgiving for all that He is doing.


                He is certainly right in the middle of this coronavirus pandemic.  He didn’t cause it.  Only good things come from God, and He is certainly helping us through it.  Today let’s keep our eyes on Him and keep looking for the blessings, that God is doing as we see this thing through.  God is being glorified!  We are safe!  “I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).


                                                                                                                                                                                Praise the Lord!

                           Pastor Russell

April 1, 2020

                Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

More Ramblings from Russell…

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms,

Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.

I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.               

                On Day 1 of the 30 Day Plan to Slow the Spread of COVID-19, we are leaning hard on the everlasting arms, aren’t we?  If you saw the President’s White House Briefing last night, that could certainly put fear in you!  The ominous uncertainty of the next two weeks and the possibility of 100,000-200,000 deaths in the USA is sobering.  Already the death toll has exceeded that of 9/11.  Our battle is with a silent, invisible enemy!  Dear Lord! 

                When Julie and I went to the Museum of the Bible last summer in Washington, D.C., I bought two little rubber bracelets.  One says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart:  Proverbs 3:5-6” and the other says, “Be strong and courageous:  Joshua 1:9.”  I’ve been grabbing both of these and wearing them daily when I dress in the morning.

                The terrors of this virus in our world remind us we should spend our days in the Lord’s arms.  He is our only place of safety, peace, and comfort.  We have always known that is true, but living through this pandemic surely reminds us we need to lean hard.

                He says, “Peace be with you.  Do not fear.  I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  The Bible tells us in Hebrews 7:25:  “He [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.”

                He is praying for you and me and our world today.   Isn’t that encouraging?  As we remember Him throughout the day, read our Bibles, continue to pray honestly about our concerns and fears as well as our loved ones and those around us, we will be comforted knowing that we are doing our part.  Let’s continue to follow the plan our government and health professionals have laid out for us.  Live one day at a time and enjoy one moment at a time.  John Wesley’s final words were:  “Best of all, God is with us.”

                “What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms.”

  Praise the Lord!

Pastor Russell 


March 31, 2020

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

More Ramblings from Russell…

               Julie’s and my baby, Hannah, turns 35 years old today! She and her husband, Justin, live in Arlington, Virginia. She called her Mom the other day to check on plans of when she was to come home for her birthday with us. Julie told Hannah she didn’t think she should come now. COVID-19 is more widespread in Northern Virginia. Although Justin and Hannah have been working from home the past two weeks, who knows who is carrying what. We would not want to get infected ourselves and then we might infect someone else. So we respect “travel distancing.”

               It is not tragic that we can’t be together for Hannah’s birthday. Still, family celebrations are important for all of us. Wow! So many changes these days! I greeted a Church family from the front yard yesterday as they were walking down the street in front of the house. Their little five-year-old girl ran to me with arms extended ready for a big hug from her pastor and when I backed away and refused to hug or touch her, she began to cry. Her Mom and grandparents said, “We can’t get her to understand. She’ll be fine.”

               Weddings are being cancelled. Funerals are being downsized to no more than ten persons with only private services. Easter Egg hunts are cancelled. The Church cannot even gather together to celebrate Resurrection Sunday!   It’s remarkable that this is the first time in the history of our nation that churches have been closed for Easter. Downtown streets in New York City and Chicago and New Orleans look like the streets of Appomattox. 

               For some of us old-timers, we remember what we were doing the day President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas. Some of us can remember what the gas shortage lines were like back in the 70’s. We carry vivid memories of the morning of September 11, 2001. We are all certainly going to have “our stories” to tell as we make memories everyday from this coronavirus pandemic.

               An encouraging note from each of these difficult memories though is that all these events passed! And when lives were lost, the intensity of the sorrow though never forgotten, changed us, and we became able to handle it. We made it through. Life continued and so did we.

               This 2020 Pandemic will pass. Praise the Lord! Aren’t we looking forward to that!  I’m really looking forward to being with everybody with handshakes and hugs. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways [even pandemics] acknowledge Him [and His Presence], and He will direct your paths.”

               We can’t know why and what God is doing through all this. But we do know that God’s promises to us are true. Romans 8:28 promises “All things [even COVID-19] will work together for good to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Let’s dare to believe God is doing and will do great and miraculous things through the heartache and chaos of these times.                                                                   Praise the Lord!  

Pastor Russell

March 27, 2020 

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

More Ramblings from Russell….

               It is Day 12 of the Fifteen Day Plan to Slow the Spread of coronavirus in the United States.  Thank you for the sacrifices you are making to protect your life and the lives of your family and neighbors.  It seems our struggle is about balancing responsibility and control in order to prevent premature death.

               “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want…. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”       Psalm 23:1, 4

               Life is a gift.  We don’t want to give it up.  Still, heaven will be better!  And because of heaven’s promise, death is not the horrible enemy that it once was.  We deal with the reality of death everyday as Christians because our Savior Jesus came to die for the consequences of our sins.  Though the experience of dying may frighten us, the bottom line is that death can no longer hurt or destroy the child of God.

               In his book Facing Death, Billy Graham relates an experience of Donald Grey Barnhouse, one of America’s leading Bible teachers in the first half of the twentieth century.  Cancer took his first wife, leaving him with three children, all under twelve.  The day of the funeral, Barnhouse and his family were driving to the service when a large truck passed them, casting a noticeable shadow across their car.  Turning to his oldest daughter, who was staring sadly out the window, Barnhouse asked, “Tell me, sweetheart, would you rather be run over by that truck or it’s shadow?”  Looking curiously at her father, she replied, “By the shadow I guess.  It can’t hurt you.”  Speaking to all his children, he said, “Your mother has not been overridden by death, but by the shadow of death.  That is nothing to fear.”

               Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “Death in its substance has been removed, and only the shadow of it remains…. Nobody is afraid of a shadow, for a shadow cannot block a man’s pathway for even a moment.  The shadow of a dog can’t bite; the shadow of a sword can’t kill.”

               Because Jesus loves us, He took the full force of death’s destructive power by His death in payment for our sin and then rising to life again.  Our faith and trust in Jesus does not remove the shadow of death, but it certainly removes the power of death to destroy our life or our joy now.

                                                                                                                                                                     Praise the Lord!

                                                                                                                                                                     Pastor Russell

March 26, 2020


               Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

More Ramblings from Russell….


               Praise the Lord!  I was in Walmart last weekend and when I got to the check-out counter, I thanked the lady for working.  Her face lit up and she gave me a big smile and said, “You know there are so many blessings with this coronavirus!”  She said, “It’s like things the way they’re supposed to be!  People don’t have their noses in their phones.  Parents are home with their children.  It’s all right.”  She kept smiling and we finished our business.  It made me begin the think of how many things we need to thank God for in the midst of all that is happening and not happening.

               We are thankful God was not taken off guard by all this.  He is in control.  We certainly can see this in how our elected officials have acted so amazingly quickly in dealing with the containment of the virus.  How quickly and patiently our medical community has come to our aid.  Our spiritual leaders are turning us to prayer and offering comfort from the Lord.

               I was talking to a fellow yesterday who said that their little church had started a Revival last week – online’s Facebook for seven days!  They were having a different preacher each night.  He said, “We feel that what the people need is Revival!”  Amen to that!  (And we hope you will pull up Memorial on Facebook this Sunday, March 29, at 11:00 AM for Memorial’s first Facebook worship service.)

               I heard a teacher on the television this morning advising parents how they can still be educating their children at home.  With having extra time together at home, how can we help our children of all ages with their reading, writing, and arithmetic?  With reading she said children need to be read aloud to daily and also to have silent reading time everyday.  In writing, get your child a notebook and begin writing notes to each other throughout the day.  In arithmetic, there are tons of card games out there that help with counting and numbers.  What great ideas!

               I’m thankful for all the thoughtful phone calls I’ve received from friends and old friends (that I haven’t spoken with in so long) to check on me and my family.  I’m thankful for the work I can still do.  I’m thankful for a home to retreat in at this time.  And, I’ve never been so thankful for toilet paper, who’d have thought?

               What about you?  Have you been considering the blessings?  It helps to stop and be thankful especially in the midst of uncertainty.  This hardship will end soon.  Of course it’s bad, but we can try to make it less bad.  Everyone’s sacrificing is saving lives.  With God’s help we will defeat this virus.

               We remember the old song:  “God will take care of you, through everyday, o’er all the way; He will take care of you, God will take care of you.”

                                                                                                                                                      Praise the Lord!

                                                                                                                                                      Pastor Russell

March 25 2020 

Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

More Ramblings from Russell….

               “Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me:  your rod and your staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

               Fear has always been right around the next corner for me.  I’m just walking down the street and all of a sudden there it is, gripping me.  Then the negativity blankets everything.  I get immobile like a deer in headlights.

               When you’ve given in to fear and co-existed with it much of your life, the feelings become like a familiar friend and you don’t want to quickly let loose.  My experience has been that it takes less effort to live in the dark.  It just seems normal.  But, it does take effort to turn from self to God and to battle these feelings directly by getting into God’s words in Scripture.

               Fear of the unknown, fear of uncertain times, fear of failure, they bring out our weaknesses.  Irrationally, we want to be in control.  But we are not in control!  God is in control.  However, we are in control of our reactions to our always changing circumstances.  We cannot fear and trust at the same time.  A preacher once said there are 365 times in the Bible that we are told not to fear.

               Billy Graham said, “Months after September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, psychiatrists reported that people who lived thousands of miles away from these tragic events were still coming to them, unable to sleep and paralyzed by fear.  What is the answer to stifling fear?  ‘After Jesus had been put to death, His disciples huddled in fear behind closed doors, filled with uncertainty and despair.  But suddenly they found themselves in the presence of their Living Lord, and at His first words their fear disappeared:  “Peace to you” (Luke 24:36).’  We worship a risen Christ, who has broken the power of sin and death and Hell and is alive forevermore. 

Why then should we fear?”

               Let’s let our fear prompt us to prayer.  Pray against our fearing.  Pray for that which we are fearing.  Is it death?  Jesus got that one for us.  Loss?   God is our provider.  Discomfort?  “He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters” (Psalm 23:2).  Pain?  We accept hardships as THE pathway to peace (The Serenity Prayer).

               The COVID-19 outbreak will pass.  God is fighting this fight for us (Deuteronomy 3:22).  Coronavirus will be crushed and conquered in Jesus’ Name.

  Do not fear!

 Praise the Lord!

Pastor Russell


March 24 2020

 Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

                “Happy Birthday to Me.  Happy Birthday to Me.

Happy Birthday, dear Russell, Happy Birthday to Me!

  Happy Birthday to Me

Happy Birthday to Me.

Happy Birthday, dear Russell, Happy Birthday to Me!

                Have you gotten tired of singing Happy Birthday to yourself as you time the washing of your hands for 20 seconds?  That is how I was told you’d know you had thoroughly washed your hands long enough to be sanitized:  sing Happy Birthday through twice.

                I’ll have to confess that this hand washing and hand sanitizing thing is new to me.  After I got ready in the morning, if my hands looked and felt clean enough during the day, that was always good enough for me.  So, paying attention to hand washing throughout the day after I have been in a store or wherever I’ve been is a new discipline.  So, I thank God for teaching me about better hygiene through this virus.  How about you?

                “Always be joyful.  Keep on praying.  No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  It’s a tall order but God would not ask us to do something that He will not empower us to do if we will ask for His help.

                Maybe we can substitute someone else’s name for the Happy Birthday song and let our singing be a prayer for that person?  Maybe we can sing and pray about another person in the second time around.  God bless you.

   Praise the Lord!

Pastor Russell


March 23, 2020
Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist Church:

More Ramblings from Russell…

            It is the eighth day today in the President’s plan, The 15 Day Pause to Slow the Spread of COVID-19.  I listened to Vice-President Pence over the weekend as he explained the reasons for staying home and away from crowds and the importance of social distancing at this time.  We certainly don’t want to pick up the virus ourselves and infect our family or any others.  How can we ever contain the virus if we don’t do our part?

            Pence and his team prayed for the United States and God gave them this plan.  I was convicted.

            Normally on Monday mornings at 6:30am, I’m at the gym.  I decided over the weekend that I would stay home from the gym through this 15 Day Pause.  So, in my quest to continue with “normalcy” in the midst of the pandemic, I got up, shaved and showered, and put on my gym clothes and did a spirited walk to the gym but I didn’t go in.  I walked back home (it took about 30minutes) and I finished my push-ups and stretches.

            I really wanted to go in and exercise on the machines, but I also wanted to be obedient.  So I feel good.  I did MY part.  If we all do our part by faith, God will honor our faith and heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14) and our world!

            Over the weekend Memorial’s Worship and Music Teams met in our separate homes for a meeting through ZOOM.  Our plan is THIS week to put together a worship service for Memorial United Methodist on Facebook (@

Memorial United Methodist Church or click on this link at 11:00am Sunday morning, March 29th, so that we can worship together, pray together, and encourage one another as we work through this unprecedented time.  It will also be posted on our Website (  Pray for us.

          Reach out and encourage someone with a call, a text, or in some other way.  You will be blessed and so will they.  Continue to pray.  Say a prayer right now!  Your prayers are making a difference.

Praise the Lord!


Pastor Russell



March 19, 2020
Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

More Ramblings with Russell…

Happy Spring!  Happy?! Yes, Happy!  Look at that!  We made it to another Spring!  It’s still chilly but it looks like a pretty spring day.  Praise the Lord!

                In Mark 4, Jesus and his disciples were in a boat out on the Sea of Galilee in a horrible storm.  “And Jesus was in the stern of the boat, asleep on a pillow, and they awoke Him, and said ‘Master, don’t you even care that we are going to perish?’  And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still.’  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  And He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid?  Do you still not have faith in Me?’  And they were filled with awe and said to themselves, Who is this man, that even the wind and the waves obey Him?’ ”

                Jesus is on top of COVID-19.  We do not have to fear.  I used to be in a prayer group with a retired coach who used to praise the Lord and thank God for his routine every day.  That reminds me of “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) I say: “Let’s stay as normal as we can in the midst of this chaos because this, too, shall pass.  God is in control and He really loves the whole world” (John 3:16).

                Who can you be in touch with today to encourage them?  We can make a difference. 

                Happy Spring!    Praise the Lord,

                Pastor Russell 

March 17, 2020
Dear Friends and Members of Memorial United Methodist:

                Has Church stopped?  You mean there is no more Church?  How in the world can we continue to be the Church during this Pandemic season when we can’t get together for meetings or worship on Sunday mornings?  Isn’t that a good question?  What do you think?

                For Julie’s and my Sunday morning devotions last Sunday, we watched Charles Stanley.  He gave this terrific sermon on “Seven Habits for Godly Living.”  Habits are actions constantly shown in our behavior that are so frequently practiced that they become our custom of who we are.  What habits will create faithful, godly living?

                First we are to pray and talk to God, which is having relationship with Him.  Then we are to trust that He hears and answers our prayers.  Third, we are to meditate on God, the Scriptures, His promises for us throughout the day.

                Fourth, we are to obey what He says to us through His word.  Someone said, “The Bible is not simply to increase our knowledge but to guide our conduct.”  Next, we are to yield to and ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Sixth we are to give to others and to God.  Finally, we are to forgive – walk in forgiveness with ourselves and all others.  Forgiveness is always an action whatever our feelings tell us.

                Thank you, Brother Stanley!  What great habits!  Forming them and following them will cause us to be the Church seven days a week.  No! Church is not over.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!
 Praise the Lord!

Dear Members and Friends

of Memorial United Methodist Church,

I hope everyone received the church email yesterday from Bishop Lewis advising all local United Methodist Churches to cancel services in the VA conference for the next two Sundays, March 15 and March 22, due to the Coronavirus pandemic in our world.

I regret that we won't meet.  I admit my initial reaction to the request was to meet anyway.  Not have Church?!  But, with further consideration and understanding that Bishop Lewis is the Pastor for all of the Virginia Churches, I think it is best to abide by her wisdom and decision.  Hopefully, as our nation and churches work together, we can make a difference to contain and conquer this virus. 

Concerning individual small groups, committees, and studies scheduled throughout this time, each group leader should contact their own people and make a decision as to whether they feel they should meet or not. 

We will continue the "40 Days of Prayer" in the Sanctuary through lent from 5:00-7:00 pm.  I encourage you to come and spend time in prayer for the many needs close to your heart and for our world.  If ever we need to join in prayer, now is the time.

The office will be open 9:00-2:00 Monday through Friday.  If I can be of any help, please call on me.  We will resume worship on Sunday, March 29.  I look forward to worshipping with you then.

President Trump has designated this Sunday, March 15, as a National Day of Prayer.  Please spend time with your family in devotion and prayer this Sunday. 

God bless you, our nation, our world, and the United Methodist Church.

Praise the Lord,

Pastor Russell

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