Russ Ray

Trying to become more like Jesus

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Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight

In The Untouchables, the great philosopher Sean Connery makes a comment about how unwise it is to bring a knife to a gunfight.

Connery’s son Indiana Jones demonstrated this in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I may or may not be correct about the family relationships there.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.—Ephesians 6:10 (ESV)

How ludicrous would you look if you defended yourself with a Nerf gun against people with real guns? And yet, that’s what we do in our lives when we try to accomplish things in our own strength.

When I try to resist sin with my own strength, I am feeble and fail.

When I try to endure trials with my own strength, I am frail and collapse.

When I try to do what I know I should do and I’m disconnected from God, it is inevitable that I will fail. It may not be immediate (in fact, immediate failure would be welcome, because false success feeds the ego), but it is assured.

Why? Because in my own strength, I am bringing a knife to a gunfight. In my own pride, I am the swordsman showing off my skills, while the enemy takes but a moment to roll his eyes and pull the trigger.

Let’s put away the Nerf guns and draw from true power, the power of God’s strength. If we want 2017 to be a blessed and successful year, we need to be strengthened by God’s might if we want our actions to be effective.


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Another step of faith


Last month, I mentioned how 2013 was a difficult year for our family, and that despite all that went on, God had everything under control.

So far for 2014, I’ve left a job that I had for 8 years with a lot more security, better benefits, and a horrific commute for a job that is slower-paced (driving me nuts), has no benefits besides my vacation time (also driving me nuts), and the best commute that I’ve ever had (cut that hour or more in half).

God has used this new job as a fresh start. I’ve dusted off some skills that I had forgotten that I had, and once my project really gets going, it could be a big deal for our state.

My wife and I prayed for months for God to sustain us through that time, and He did… even when the doors that presented themselves weren’t the right ones and we had to move along to the next one. He gave us the wisdom to see what we might not have noticed if we weren’t looking closely.

God has since given me some time of refreshment, because now when I get home from work, I’m not rushing to eat, put everybody to bed, watch a bit of TV with my wife, and fall into bed just to start it all over again the next day. When I get home from work, I actually have time to spend with my wife and the girls.

So, once we walked along in faith on the path that God was leading us, would you expect Him to have us just park it and chill for a few years?

Probably not… in fact, I was surprised at how quickly the next step came along.

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A step of faith

One day the wife of a man from the guild of prophets called out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead. You well know what a good man he was, devoted to God. And now the man to whom he was in debt is on his way to collect by taking my two children as slaves.”

Elisha said, “I wonder how I can be of help. Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Nothing,” she said. “Well, I do have a little oil.”

“Here’s what you do,” said Elisha. “Go up and down the street and borrow jugs and bowls from all your neighbors. And not just a few—all you can get. Then come home and lock the door behind you, you and your sons. Pour oil into each container; when each is full, set it aside.”

She did what he said. She locked the door behind her and her sons; as they brought the containers to her, she filled them. When all the jugs and bowls were full, she said to one of her sons, “Another jug, please.”

He said, “That’s it. There are no more jugs.” Then the oil stopped.

She went and told the story to the man of God. He said, “Go sell the oil and make good on your debts. Live, both you and your sons, on what’s left.”–2 Kings 4:1-7 (MSG)


This has been a trying year. No gory details at the moment – it just has been that way.

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