Friday, August 31, 2007

50/20 Vision

Good morning! This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice (spin) and be glad in it! Friday has finally arrived! Praise the Lord! Of course, my excitement has nothing to do with my family and I going to Fayetteville for the first Razorback football game! I LOVE football season. It is a great stress reliever for me.

This week I have been speaking about storms that come along in our life, and how God wants to bring us through those storms victoriously. Just like Elijah, it is important that we don't PROCESS the WRONG DATA. We must get our thinking right!

As I was studying this week about storms, I came across something from a Pastor that I went to Central Bible College with. He said that he received the thoughts from a Christian message board. As I read it, I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to share it with you guys on my blog. As you read the following, please allow the Holy Spirit to remind you that your problem may have been meant for evil, but God will turn it around for GOOD.

The problems you face will either defeat you or develop you – depending on how YOU respond to them. Unfortunately, most people fail to see how God wants to use problems for good in their lives. They react foolishly and resent their problems rather than pausing to consider what benefit they might bring. Here are five reasons God May have permitted the problems for experience in your life:

1. God permits problems to DIRECT you.

Sometimes God must light a fire under you to get you moving. Problems often point us in a new direction and motivate us to change. Is God allowing this situation to get your attention?

"Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways." Proverbs 20:30

2. God permits problems to INSPECT you.

People are like tea bags ... if you want to know what's inside them, just drop them into hot water! Has God tested your faith by allowing a problem or two into your life? What do problems reveal about you?

"When you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience." James 1:2-3

3. God uses problems to CORRECT you.

Some lessons we learn only through pain and failure. It's likely that as a child your parents told you not to touch a hot stove. But you probably learned by being burned. Sometimes we only learn the value of, money, a losing it.

"It was thebest thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws." Psalms 119:71-72

4. God permits problems to PROTECT you.

A problem can be a blessing in disguise if it prevents you from being harmed by something more serious. Last year a friend was fired for refusing to do something unethical that his boss had asked him to do. His unemployment was a problem-but it saved him from being convicted and sent to prison a year later when management's actions were eventually discovered.

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good"... Genesis 50:20

5. God permits problems to PERFECT you.

Problems, when responded to correctly, are character builders. God is far more interested in your character than your comfort. Your relationship to God and your character are the only two things you're going to take with you into eternity.

"We can rejoice when we run intoproblems...they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character inus and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady." Romans 5:3-4

Obviously, God is at work in your life, even when you do not recognize it or understand it.

My prayer is that we will ALL have 50/20 Vision. What is that? Genesis 50:20 Joseph is speaking to his brothers after they had sold him into slavery many years earlier, and he says "this thing was meant for evil, but God turned it around for good." Whatever you are facing today, ask God to help you look at it through 50/20 vision. Sure, it may have started out as an evil plot to destroy you BUT GOD will turn it around for good!

Yesterday Mindy Rogers sent a video to Dorinda that was the most powerful video that I have ever seen. I am downloading it to this blog for you all to enjoy. It is a human video to the song "Everything." It discusses how Jesus is our everything, then it shows how the enemy will bring storms and problems along to try to get our focus off of Jesus. Ultimately it shows how you must get THROUGH these problems and refuse to allow them to hinder your intimate relationship with Jesus. I truly believe you are about to be blessed!

I love you guys and pray you have a wonderful weekend! I hope to see you Sunday at First Assembly!

Rejocing (and spinning) in this wonderful day,

Pastor Rusty L. Blann

Thursday, August 30, 2007

In the midst of the storm

I am sitting in the sanctuary as I write this blog and the song that is playing is “Jesus, there is just something about that Name.” Wow! What a powerful song! Let me write down the lyrics for you:

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. There's just something about that name. Master, Savior, Jesus-Like the fragrance after the rain. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Let all heaven and earth proclaim. Kings and kingdoms shall all pass away. But there's something about that name.

This song was written by Bill and Gloria Gaither. This is one of the most powerful songs ever written. When they recorded the song, Gloria spoke the following anointed words on the recording:

Jesus, the mere mention of His name can calm the storm, heal the broken, raise the dead. At the name of Jesus, I've seen sin-hardened men melted, derelicts transformed, the lights of hope put back into the eyes of a hopeless child... At the name of Jesus, hatred and bitterness turned to love and forgiveness, arguments cease. I've heard a mother softly breathe His name at the bedside of a child delirious with fever, and I've watched that little body grow quiet and the fevered brow cool. I've sat beside a dying saint, her body racked with pain, who in those final fleeting seconds summoned her last ounce of ebbing strength to whisper earth's sweetest name--Jesus, Jesus... Emperors have tried to destroy it; philosophies have tried to stamp it out. Tyrants have tried to wash it from the face of the earth with the very blood of those who claimed it. Yet still it stands. And there shall be that final day when every voice that has ever uttered a sound--every voice of Adam's race shall raise in one great mighty chorus to proclaim the name of Jesus--for in that day "every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!!!" Ah--so you see--it was not mere chance that caused the angel one night long ago to say to a virgin maiden, "His name shall be called Jesus." Jesus--Jesus--Jesus. You know, there is something about that name...

My friends, there really is something about the name of Jesus. I am so thankful that regardless what you are facing today you can just whisper the name of JESUS…JESUS, and all of heaven stands at attention. I have linked a video of the Gaither’s singing this powerful song, and Gloria Gaither reciting what I shared with you above. If you want to be blessed today in a powerful way, play that video and just sense the presence of God as you hear that name mentioned…Jesus!

I want to share something with you that God spoke into my life this morning.

Mark 4:37, 39 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And He [Jesus] arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

In this verse, Jesus was crossing the Sea of Galillee on his way to deliver the demoniac of Gadara from the demons that held him in bondage. This demon-possessed man was an important weapon in Satan’s arsenal. Through the actions of the demoniac of Gadara, the devil had held the countryside hostage with fear for a very long time. The demoniac was so legendary that people throughout the entire coastland region knew of him. The devil knew that if Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee that night and reached the other side, He would cast the demons out of that man. When that happened, Satan would lose the weapon he had long used to terrorize the whole countryside.

So as Jesus and His disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee that night, violent and destructive winds seemed to come from out of nowhere to try and capsize Jesus’ boat and drown Him and His disciples in the middle of the sea. Mark 4:37 says, “And there arose a great storm of wind.”

I love Rick Renner, a pastor and author, has a great devotional book entitled "Sparking gems from the Greek." When discussing this verse, he points out that the phrase “there arose” is taken from the Greek word ginomai, which in this case describes something that happens unexpectedly or something that catches one off-guard. This plainly tells us that Jesus and His disciples did not expect bad weather that night. The Greek word ginomai emphatically means that this event completely took the disciples by surprise.

To let us know the size of this storm, Mark uses the Greek word mega, which denotes something of massive proportions. It is where we get the idea of mega-bills, mega-work, and megaphone. Because Mark uses the word mega, it alerts us to the fact that this was a mega-storm with mega-winds! The word “wind” is the Greek word lalaipsi, which means this was a turbulent or terribly violent wind. This word can also be translated hurricane, cyclone, tempest, gale, windstorm, a furious tempest, or a fierce squall. Therefore, we know the storm that came against Jesus that night was no small breeze. It was a formidable, crushing, overpowering type of storm.

One very important fact must be pointed out: This was a windstorm. There is no mention of rain at all because this was a storm of wind. Jesus and His disciples could feel its effects as the wind blew against them and their boat. They could see the raging waves that were tossed to and fro by this violent wind. However, the windstorm that had come to overturn their boat in the middle of Sea of Galilee and to kill them before they reached the other side was invisible.
Here was Jesus — on the brink of one of the greatest miracles of His ministry. At the same time, there was the devil, fearing that he was about to lose one of his most highly prized weapons of terrorism. It was at this exact moment that this violent, destructive turbulence came down upon Jesus and His disciples.

The occurrence of the storm at this exact moment was no accident. The devil didn’t want Jesus to reclaim one of his most prized captives. This was a preemptive strike of the devil to undo the work of God.

I feel that there are people reading this blog that are facing a preemptive strike from the devil. He is attacking your family, marriage, finances, health, peace of mind, and for some, your employment. The enemy is doing anything he can to destroy God’s peace in your life by attacking your FAITH through FEAR. You see FAITH is trust and belief in God, FEAR is trust and belief in your problem. Why don’t you right now, whisper the name of Jesus, and tell Him that your faith is no longer going to be in your problem, but in YOUR GOD!

Back to the scripture that we are looking at today, that night in the midst of the storm, Jesus arose and took authority over the situation. The Bible says that when He exercised His authority over this unseen turbulence, “ the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39).

I love this verse in the Message version: Mark 4:39 Jesus said to the storm, "Quiet! Settle down!" The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass."

Think about that for a moment. The wind RAN OUT OF BREATH. I believe that as you continue to put your trust and your hope in Jesus, your storm is going to run out of breath or steam. This thing that you are facing will pass, and you will be victorious. Whether you see Him, or feel Him, please know that Jesus is IN THE MIDST of the storm with you. When Jesus calmed the storm He demonstrated that He was the Lord of the wind and the waves. This potentially deadly situation provided a great opportunity for the disciples to learn that Jesus Christ is truly Lord over all!

Rest assured — Satan will certainly try to attack you with unexpected turbulence from time to time. His attacks against you will probably escalate whenever you’re right on the edge of a breakthrough, as was the case with Jesus that night. But just as that event provided an opportunity for Jesus to demonstrate His power and authority, you need to see each demonic attack against you as an opportunity to rise up, take authority, and demonstrate who you are in Jesus Christ! Mentally and spiritually prepare yourself to deal with the devil’s attacks. Put on the whole armor of God. Rise up and take authority in Jesus’ name over the wind and the waves that come against you and your family. Never forget that this is your golden opportunity to see a demonstration of God’s power in your life!

I love you guys, and prayed for you this morning! Blessings!

Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful day,

Pastor Rusty L. Blann

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Four words that could keep me from victory

Yesterday I talked about Elijah and how he wanted to die because he processed the wrong data. In other words, his THINKING was messed up. Proverbs 23:7 says “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” That is a verse that should make us pause for a moment and ponder it. If what we THINK is going to affect us so much that we become LIKE OUR THOUGHTS, and that IS what this verse says, then don’t you believe that we need to better examine our thought life? Looking back at Elijah, he wanted to die, because he was thinking the wrong way. In fact, not only was he thinking the wrong way, but he had the wrong information that he was meditating on.

Let’s look at another example in the Bible of people who processed the wrong DATA:

Numbers 13:27-33 Then they told the story of their trip: "We went to the land to which you sent us and, oh! It does flow with milk and honey! Just look at this fruit! (28) The only thing is that the people who live there are fierce, their cities are huge and well fortified. Worse yet, we saw descendants of the giant Anak. (30) Caleb interrupted, called for silence before Moses and said, "Let's go up and take the land--now. We can do it." (31) But the others said, "We can't attack those people; they're way stronger than we are." (32) They spread scary rumors among the People of Israel. They said, "We scouted out the land from one end to the other--it's a land that swallows people whole. Everybody we saw was huge. (33) Why, we even saw the Nephilim giants (the Anak giants come from the Nephilim). Alongside them we felt like grasshoppers. And they looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers."

Moses sent the spies into the promised land to spy it out. Now think about what I just said. They went to spy out the “Promised Land.” Who promised the land to them? God! If He promised the land to them, then they could certainly possess it, because God would go before them. Anyway, the ten spies reported back to Moses, and they all said it was GREAT land, flowing with milk and honey, and wonderful fruit. They seemed to be excited about the land God was giving them. However, at the beginning of verse 28, the ten spies speak FOUR words that eventually brought them defeat. Because of these FOUR WORDS they wandered in the wilderness until they died, never seeing the Promised Land in their lifetimes.

What were the words? THE ONLY THING IS. Just like Elijah did, they processed the wrong data. This was God’s promise to them that they would possess the land. It was God’s inheritance to them. God would MAKE IT HAPPEN. He would create a way where there seemed to be NO WAY. They limited God because of these four words. Verse 30 shows that Caleb tried his best to get God’s people PAST these words, but he couldn’t do it. “THE ONLY THING IS” was like a cancer that began to spread throughout the faith of God’s people.

Notice the difference between words of FEAR and words of FAITH. The ten fearful spies said, “THE ONLY THING IS…” and they went on to explain the reasons why God COULD NOT or WOULD NOT be faithful enough for them to possess the land. Wow! However, listen to Caleb’s words of FAITH… “Let’s go up and take the land—NOW. We CAN DO IT.” Caleb refused to allow the WRONG DATA to change his faith in God. As is the case so many times, FEAR won out. They didn’t possess the land until forty years later, AFTER they had wandered in the wilderness and everyone of that generation had died out. God wanted to bring them into this wonderful land but they couldn’t get past ‘THE ONLY THING IS…”

My friends, do you have a “THE ONLY THING IS” in your life? Do you have faith that God can do anything, except that one THING? Does it seem too big for God because you have been praying for some time and haven’t seen the answer yet? These four words are very dangerous and serious. God’s will and purpose for the Children of Israel was not accomplished for forty years because of FEAR. They forgot the miracles that God had very openly displayed before the world to see. In fact, if you read this story to its completion, you will see that the world had more faith in God than His own people did. That is why it is so important that when we are making decisions that we ask ourselves the question, “Am I going with FEAR or FAITH?” Many times we make decisions without properly consulting God. The Children of Israel failed to ask God what He thought. Obviously Caleb and Joshua did, but the others did not.

So, again, do you have a “THE ONLY THING IS” in your life? What about the situation with your family? What about your finances? What about your stubborn spouse? What about the problems at your job? Do you have more FAITH or FEAR? Do you truly believe that God can do ANYTHING? Or is there a “THE ONLY THING IS” that you can’t seem to have faith for. If you are being dominated by this ONLY THING, then you have processed the wrong data. The ten spies said that the people of the promised land looked at the Israelites like they were grasshoppers. In other words, they had no fear of them or their God. That WRONG DATA kept the Children of Israel from going forward. However, listen to what Rahab, who lived in Jericho which was part of the Promised Land, told some Israelites spies:

Joshua 2:8-11 Before the spies were down for the night, the woman came up to them on the roof (9) and said, "I know that GOD has given you the land. We're all afraid. Everyone in the country feels hopeless. (10) We heard how GOD dried up the waters of the Red Sea before you when you left Egypt, and what he did to the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you put under a holy curse and destroyed. (11) We heard it and our hearts sank. We all had the wind knocked out of us. And all because of you, you and GOD, your God, God of the heavens above and God of the earth below.

She said, "I KNOW that God has given you the land (that was more faith than God's own people had) We’re all afraid. Everyone in the country feels hopeless. We heard how God…” This is what I was talking about earlier. The world that didn’t know God, had more faith in Him than the ones that He had performed miracles for. Why is that? Because of the FEAR that “THE ONLY THING IS” brought into their lives.

My prayer for you today is that you will no longer be dominated by these four words. You know what God says about your ONLY THING that seems impossible?

Mark 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

All THINGS are possible to him that believes. All things includes your, “THE ONLY THING IS.” It is all about being very careful of the DATA that you allow to be processed in your mind. I would like to leave you with an acrostic that I pray will help you process the correct DATA in your mind today:

Daily place God’s Word in your mind to MEDITATE on

How do you meditate? You just simply dwell on or think on something until it becomes cemented in your mind. We do that with worries, frustrations and hurts to name only a few. If we would ever get to the point where we daily mediate on God’s goodness and faithfulness and His Word, then we would be able to get past FEAR and move over into the FAITH realm where all things are possible.

Attack FEAR with PRAISE

When fear attacks your faith, and that is what fear does, then you re-focus on God by praising Him. When the enemy speaks to you through FEAR, then you turn the table on him by allowing that to be a reminder to stop whatever you are doing and just begin to give God thanksgiving and praise. Name the blessings of God in your life, and just begin to thank God for them. Begin to think about God’s goodness and mercy and verbalize them, either through the spoken word, or by typing them into a journal.

Train your mind to think within the boundaries of Philippians 4:8

Philippians 4:8 (MSG) Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious--the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

If what you are dwelling on doesn’t fit within the boundaries mentined in this verse, then get it out of your mind immediately. Do like David did, and what Caleb tried to do, and that is get your FOCUS off of “THE ONLY THING IS” which represents your storm, giant, or problem, and re-focus your thoughts on God and His faithfulness.

Attach yourself to some godly people with the Spirit of Caleb

Numbers 14:24 (MSG) "But my servant Caleb--this is a different story. He has a different spirit; he follows me passionately. I'll bring him into the land that he scouted and his children will inherit it.

I Corinthians 15:33 (NLT) Don't be fooled by those who say such things, for "bad company corrupts good character."

It does matter what you allow yourself to hear all the time. If you are around negative, fearful talk all of the time, it can’t help but get into your spirit. You may be married to someone who is constantly negative, or you may be in a work situation that is constantly negative. Even in that situation, it is imperative that you find some people with the spirit of Caleb, in other words, people of FAITH and not FEAR that encourage you in the Lord. There are many ways that you can do this: Sunday School, other small groups, attending church on a regular basis, reaching out to people (of the same gender) that you have wanted to get to know because they are faith-filled. Go ahead and do it…TODAY. Why wait?

I love you guys and pray daily for our church family. I call your family’s individual names out before God. I believe in you and thank God for you. Thank you so much for the comments that many of you have left, and please continue to do so. They serve as an encouragement to others. God bless!

Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful day!

Pastor Rusty L. Blann

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wishing to Die while processing the WRONG DATA

Good morning! This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. My prayer is that you had a great day yesterday, and looking forward to the blessings of this day. God is faithful!

The past few days I have been meditating on a thought that God is developing into a sermon in my heart. I really felt directed of the Holy Spirit to share a little of this thought on today’s blog.

In I Kings 18, Elijah has just seen miracles happen through his ministry. He prayed for fire to fall from heaven and it did. He prayed for it to rain for the first time in three and half years, and it did. He was so anointed that he outran King Ahab’s chariot as they both traveled to a place named Jezreel. However, as we look in chapter 19, things have ALL OF A SUDDEN changed for him. He went from an extreme spiritual high, to an extreme spiritual low. Life is like that at times, isn’t it? Your situation can change in a moment, without any warning whatsoever. That is exactly where we find Elijah. King Ahab’s wife Jezebel has said that she was going to kill Elijah. So, literally in a matter of MINUTES he went from running in victory, to running for his life.

Where does he run to? Please read this verse carefully:

1 Kings 19:4 (MSG) and then went on into the desert another day's journey. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all--to just die: "Enough of this, GOD! Take my life--I'm ready to join my ancestors in the grave!"

He was so upset, frustrated, depressed, disappointed, angry…you pick one, and that’s what he was. I’m sure he was even questioning why he had to go through this struggle. He had been faithful, so why all of this pain? Have you ever been there before? When you have been trying to do everything RIGHT, but things just keep coming up WRONG it seems? God’s Word is going to speak to you today.

Do you know WHY Elijah wanted to die? You will find the reason in following passage:

1 Kings 19:9-10 When he got there, he crawled into a cave and went to sleep. Then the word of GOD came to him: "So Elijah, what are you doing here?" (10) "I've been working my heart out for the GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies," said Elijah. "The people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed the places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I'm the only one left, and now they're trying to kill me."

Did you notice the problem? Elijah BELIEVED that he was the only one of God’s prophets left. Elijah truly believed that there wasn’t a GODLY man left on earth, but himself, and now the enemy was trying to kill him as well. This brought so much distress into his life, that he crawled into a cave and was just determined to stay there and not come out.

I believe that there are some today that feel exactly like Elijah. Where’s that cave God? I’m going to join Elijah. Or, maybe you are already there. Your thoughts are, “Just let me die God. My life is no good, so you might as well take it.” Do you know what the problem with that is? You are PROCESSING THE WRONG DATA. That is what happened to Elijah. Listen to what God tells him:

I Kings 19:18 (MSG) Meanwhile, I'm preserving for myself seven thousand souls: the knees that haven't bowed to the god Baal, the mouths that haven't kissed his image."

God tells Elijah to come out of the cave and go to work. He gave him instructions to go and anoint a young man by the name of Elisha as his replacement who would give him much needed help and encouragement. If he had stayed in the cave, or if he had DIED, God wouldn’t have been able to fulfill His purpose in Elijah’s life, and it goes further than that. It would have affected Elisha as well. The young prophet who needed someone to learn from and to look up to, would have been devastated and lost without Elijah.

It is so sad to me that Elijah wanted to die because he THOUGHT he was the only one left. He was depressed and ready to give up because he was PROCESSING THE WRONG DATA! He was messed up because his THINKING was messed up. God had to get the TRUTH into his mind and thoughts. It is amazing how godly men and women allow the enemy to deposit WRONG DATA in our minds, and then we allow that to become our driving force in life.

You feel like a loser because someone told you that you would always be a loser, and never amount to anything in life. Was the person that spoke that over you God? Were they a prophet of God? Could they see the future? They couldn’t see past that day, so how could they determine your FUTURE? They couldn’t! However, they have affected your future because you have been PROCESSING THE WRONG DATA. God doesn’t call you a loser, He calls you a winner, and you are MORE THAN A CONQUEROR according to Romans 8:37.

Someone reading this today may be saying, “This marriage is never going to work. I don’t DESERVE to be happy.” You are making a decision that is based on WRONG DATA. We must get our thinking straightened out. We need the MIND OF CHRIST (I Corinthians 2:16)

There have been people that quit church because their thinking says, “No one cares about me.” My friend, that is a lie that the enemy has deposited into your spirit, and you have been processing the WRONG DATA, so you are about to make a wrong decision. You don’t know the whole story. Ask God to help you get your thinking straightened out!

“Well, we will never get out of this financial mess.” Really? Who told you that? Where did that come from? Is that God speaking into your life? Or are you processing the wrong data. Don’t die in a cave, when God has so much more for you and your life.

Some may be thinking, “There really is NO REASON for me to live. No one will miss me if I were to die anyway.” When did God give you the ability to see the future? Do you really know what your life will be like in one year or two years? How about ten or twenty? You see my friend, you are processing the wrong data. The enemy has made a deposit into your mind just like he did Elijah’s. You have MUCH to live for, even if you can't see it right now because your thinking is skewed because of FALSE data.

Naaman in the Old Testament had leprosy and God told him through the prophet Elisha to go into the dirtiest river around, the Jordan, seven times and he would be healed. He almost didn’t do it because he was processing the WRONG DATA. Read the following and see how he responded:

2 Kings 5:10-12 Elisha sent out a servant to meet him with this message: "Go to the River Jordan and immerse yourself seven times. Your skin will be healed and you'll be as good as new." (11) Naaman lost his temper. He turned on his heel saying, "I thought he'd personally come out and meet me, call on the name of GOD, wave his hand over the diseased spot, and get rid of the disease. (12) The Damascus rivers, Abana and Pharpar, are cleaner by far than any of the rivers in Israel. Why not bathe in them? I'd at least get clean." He stomped off, mad as a hornet.

His thinking was messed up. He THOUGHT that Elisha would come out and “wave his hand over the diseased spot, and get rid of the disease.” Because of wrong data in his mind, he stomped off angry and almost missed out on the miracle that God had for him. He would have DIED because or what he was processing in his mind. If it hadn’t been for his servant girl that talked some sense into him, he would have missed out on victory. I could go on and on, and I might share a few more examples tomorrow.

My question for you today is, “Is there an area of your life where the enemy is trying to TALK YOU out of a victory that God has for you.” Have you had thoughts like, “it’s never going to get any better” or “I don’t deserve things to get better, I’ve made too many mistakes.” How about, “No one cares about me.” These are just a few examples of how the enemy works hard at getting us to PROCESS the WRONG DATA.

My prayer for you today is that you come out of your cave BY FATH, and remember what God says about you. He calls you the apple of His eye, more than a conqueror, the head and not the tail, He also promises that He will never leave your or forsake you. He sees you today, even in that cave of discouragement and despair and he is asking, WHAT ARE YOU DOING THERE? Will you answer His question today, like Elijah did? When you do, ask the Holy Spirit to show you the WRONG DATA that you have been processing and change it TODAY.

Meditate on Jeremiah 29:11 for a little while today. Meditate just means to dwell on, and to think on. I have it in the Amplified and the Message version. This verse is God talking directly to you:

Jeremiah 29:11 (AMP) For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.

(MSG) I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out--plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

God bless you all. I love you and thank God for you (Philippians 1:2-6). Please feel free to comment on this blog if you would like. Also, if you need to talk with someone about this blog, please email me. I would love to talk and pray with you!

Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful day!

Pastor Rusty L. Blann

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Unsearchable Blessing of Rain

Job 5:8-10 But as for me, I would seek God, And I would place my cause before God; Who does great and unsearchable things, Wonders without number. He gives rain on the earth, and sends water on the fields.

Is rain a great and unsearchable wonder wrought by God? I guess it depends upon your perspective.

Picture yourself as a farmer in the Near East, far from any lake or stream. A few wells keep the family and animals supplied with water. But if the crops are to grow and the family is to be fed from month to month, water has to come on the fields from another source. From where? Water will have to be carried in the sky from the Mediterranean Sea, over several hundred miles and then be poured out from the sky onto the fields. Think about that, the water has to be CARRIED. Have you ever wondered how much that would weigh? Well, if one inch of rain falls on one square mile of farmland during the night, that would be 27,878,400 cubic feet of water, which is 206,300,160 gallons, which is 1,650,501,280 pounds of water. That's heavy.

So how does it get up in the sky and stay up there if it's so heavy? Well, it gets up there by evaporation. That's a nice word. What's it mean? It means that the water sort of stops being water for a while so it can go up and not down.

Then, it has to get down and that is called condensation. What's that? The water starts becoming water again by gathering around little dust particles between .00001 and .0001 centimeters wide.

There’s only one problem, the Mediterranean Sea is salt water. That would kill the crops. So, the salt has to be taken out. So the sky picks up a billion pounds of water from the sea and takes out the salt and then carries it for three hundred miles and then RAINS the billion pounds of water on the farm. God couldn’t just DUMP it because it would overflow everything and everyone. The raindrops have to be big enough to fall for one mile or so without evaporating, and small enough to keep from crushing the wheat stalks.

How do all these microscopic specks of water that weigh a billion pounds get heavy enough to fall? Well, it's called coalescence. That means the specks of water start bumping into each other and join up and get bigger. And when they are big enough, they fall.

My friends, now you can see why Job said that rain on the earth is UNSEARCHABLE. Now think about this for a moment. If RAIN is an unsearchable blessing of God, how many other blessings has He poured out upon us without us even realizing it. Whatever you may be battling today, please know that the same God that sends rain can send victory your way TODAY!

On this Monday morning, at the beginning of another work week, why don’t you take just a moment wherever you are, and think about the blessings of God that you may have taken for granted. Even though we are in the midst of a drought right now, I have often taken rain for granted, and failed to see it as an unsearchable gift from God. Meditate on that for a moment. I told my Sunday school class yesterday that whatever you chew on in the morning often will eat at you all day. That is so true! If I start the day off worrying about STUFF, then STUFF will eat at me all day. However, the opposite is true as well. If I start off the day thinking about the God who sends rain to the earth in a miraculous way, and mediating on His Holiness and Worthiness, that will eat at me all day.

I love you guys, believe in you, and prayed today for you! I feel so blessed to be your Pastor! What an AWESOME day we had yesterday. God met with us in all three services in a great way. He is so FAITHFUL. Thank you for being a part of what He is doing in HIS church!

Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful day!

Pastor Rusty L. Blann
First Assembly of God
West Memphis, Arkansas

Friday, August 24, 2007

Small Potatoes

Good morning! This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice (spin) and be glad in it!

I awakened this morning thankful that today is Friday. I love the weekend. I get to spend time with my wife and children, and I also have several opportunities to spend time with my wonderful church family and share with them what God has been pouring into my heart.

As I begin to contemplate about this weekend, I began to think about the many fine, Godly people that are facing difficult situations in their lives. As we go through difficult times, it is easy to lose our perspective in life. We can forget what our main purpose in life is. I would like to share something from God’s Word with you:

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Therefore we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day. (17) For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!], (18) Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.

Verse seventeen in the Message version of the Bible says, “these hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us.”

I love that! The hard times that you may be going through today are just SMALL POTATOES compared to the coming good times, and “lavish celebration prepared for us.” “Us” is referring to the children of God. Sometimes we just need to think about heaven. Listen to what the Apostle Paul tells us about this:

Colossians 3:2 (AMP) And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.

Meditate for a moment on the words of this old and powerful song:

“It will be worth it all when we see Jesus, Life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ; One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase, So bravely run the race till we see Christ.”Sometimes just the truth about heaven can change our perspective.

Now, if you will, please read this excerpt from Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven:

“In 1952, young Florence Chadwick stepped into the waters of the Pacific Ocean off Catalina Island, determined to swim to the shore of the mainland California. She’d already been the first woman to swim the English Channel both ways. The weather was foggy and chilly; she could hardly see the boats accompanying her. Still, she swam for fifteen hours. When she begged to be taken out of the water along the way, her mother, in a boat alongside, told her she was close and that she could make it. Finally, physically and emotionally exhausted, she stopped swimming and was pulled out. It wasn’t until she was on the boat that she discovered the shore was less than half a mile away. At a news conference the next day she said, “All I could see was the fog…I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”

My prayer is that as you go through this weekend, you won't be overwhelmed by the FOG of your troublesome situation, but you will be able to “see the shore” and remember that there is so much more to life than just what you see in the here and now!

2 Corinthians 4:18 There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever.

Now that’s not SMALL POTATOES.

I hope to see you Sunday morning as I preach an illustrated message entitled, “The Road of Regrets”. Please invite your friends and family! Blessings and I love you! This is my commitment to you as your Pastor:

"You will never knowingly suffer at my hands. I will never say anything or do anything knowingly to hurt you. I will always, in every circumstance, seek to help and support you. If you're down and I can lift you up - I'll do that. If you need something and I have it, I'll share it with you. If I need to, I'll give it to you. No matter what I find out about you, no matter what happens in the future - either good or bad, my commitment to you will never change. And there is nothing you can do about it."

Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful day,

Pastor Rusty L. Blann
First Assembly of God
West Memphis, Arkansas

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Temptation of Saul's Armor

Good morning! This is the day that the Lord has made! I will rejoice (spin) and be glad in it! This is a wonderful day that the Lord has given us, isn’t it?

The past couple of days we have been discussing a BEWITCHING spirit that the enemy tries to bring upon the church through people. Listen to this warning from Acts:

Acts 20:29-30 "I know that as soon as I'm gone, vicious wolves are going to show up and rip into this flock, people (30) from your very own ranks twisting words so as to seduce disciples into following them instead of Jesus.

Once again we see that Bewitching spirit mentioned: Wolves in sheep’s clothing secretly entering God’s family for the purpose of harming the family of God. How? By seducing or bewitching people to follow them. When people begin to follow them, the influence leads the group away FROM Jesus and TO the CHARMER. God warns us to beware.

Now, I want to discuss a very real temptation that is associated with this BEWITCHING spirit. Today I want to look at the story of David in I Samuel 17. Please allow me to summarize briefly. The Israelites are in battle with the Philistines. The Philistines have a ten foot tall giant who is named Goliath. Every day the challenge is given. The Israelites are on one hill, and the Philistines are on another, with a valley between them. In the mornings, Goliath would come out and ask for the Israelites to send someone out to fight him. Whoever won the individual battle, would win this particular war and the losing nation would serve the winning one. This went on for several days, with the Israelites scared to death, and no one willing to fight Goliath.

Enter David! He is at home tending his sheep when his dad sends him to the battle with food and to check on his brothers. Fast forwarding to the battle line, David walks up just as Goliath is making his blasphemous challenge to the Israelites and cursing Jehovah God. David wonders why no one will fight this champion, so he asks what will be given to the person who defeats Goliath. David’s older brother Eliab hears David talking and begins to mock him and make fun of him. I believe you can see the BEWITCHING spirit at work here. Eliab begins to talk against David and stir up trouble for him. Eliab ask him, “Where are your FEW sheep? I know your heart. Your motives aren’t right. You just want to see a bloody battle.” David was falsely accused and made fun of. You know this had to HURT. When someone falsely accuses you, makes fun of you, questions your motives that is very painful. One thing that I have learned is that “hurting people, HURT people.” But how do we react when we have been hurt? Remember the Word of God tells us to “come out from among them and be ye SEPARATE” This phrase, “Be ye separate” means to be marked by a BOUNDARY. So God is telling us to have boundaries in our life’s that are so different from the world that people will be able to tell the believer from the unbeliever by the way we respond, especially when we have been hurt or betrayed. The unbeliever strikes back, and tries to hurt the person that hurt them. Their motto is: “Do unto others AS THEY DO UNTO ME” That feels good to the flesh. However, that is not how the believer responds. We strive to “raise the bar” and live and respond the way that Jesus did and taught us. Our motto should be: “Do unto others AS I WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO ME.”

Now, let’s talk about the temptation of Saul’s Armor. Can you imagine what David felt like being questioned by his brother? He ignored him, and ended up standing before King Saul. King Saul heard that David wanted to fight Goliath. Listen to what happened next:

1 Samuel 17:38 Then Saul outfitted David as a soldier in armor. He put his bronze helmet on his head and belted his sword on him over the armor. 39 David tried to walk but he could hardly budge. David told Saul, "I can't even move with all this stuff on me. I'm not used to this." And he took it all off.

Can you imagine the temptation that was going on in David’s head? “Look at me now Eliab, big brother? You talked about my FEW SHEEP, but how do I look now in the Kings armor? You were WRONG in your thoughts and comments about me” I believe that was a very real temptation for David. However, he resisted the temptation and took off the armor and depended upon God to deliver him, and to VIDICATE him.

You see, whenever we are hurt or wronged, the Kings armor is very tempting. The Kings Armor represents vindication or validation.

What is validation? An act or process of proving one is valid, real, strong or powerful. What about vindication? The act of disburdening, discharging, or freeing morally or legally. To FREE FROM ANY QUESTION OF ERROR, DISHONOR, GUILT or NEGLIGENCE.

The temptation is to talk, discuss, email, and do whatever we can to prove the person that hurt us is WRONG and EVIL for hurting us. Down through the years as a Pastor, I have had people try to blame me for their problems, or even family problems. It is a very strong temptation to put on the King’s armor and vindicate myself. I am tempted to share the BAD STUFF that I know and have heard. However, with God’s help, I resist that temptation and allow God to give me vindication and validation, and He HAS NEVER FAILED TO DO THAT.

We are tempted to wear Saul's armor by taking matters into our own hands. We make statements like:

Let me tell you what the real truth is...
Do you know what she has been doing...
Let me tell you how big a hypocrite they are…

God has shown me something the past couple of days. I love Isaiah 54:17. It is a powerful verse. Listen to it again:

Isaiah 54:17 (AMP) But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification], says the Lord.

I have always quoted this verse and believed that God would show those harming me to be in the wrong. But that’s not what this verse says. Look at it again. God says, “YOU shall show (the words spoken about you) to be in the wrong. Wow! The responsibility is put back on me to show that the harmful words or gossip spoken about me are WRONG by my actions. When I get angry and lash out I’m not proving the words wrong. Quite the contrary, I may be validating the accusations.

God help us today, to do what David did as he went out to face Goliath. He declared, “The battle is not mine, Lord, it is yours.” That is why he resisted “The temptation of the King’s Armor”. My prayer is that we will all RESIST this temptation today, and allow God to fight the battle for us! He really can handle it and will do a better job than we can. Our part? Show the accusations to be wrong by the love of Christ that flows from us.

God bless you all! I love you and thank God for you. If you would like to comment on today’s blog, please do so below!

Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful day,

Pastor Rusty L. Blann

P.S. Please allow me to add a comment that I read from a Pastor friend of mine. I love it, and plan to use it from here on out. It is a commitment that he makes to the people that he Shepherds (Pastors). I have asked God to help this to be my commitment to you, the people that I am priviledged to Pastor:

"You will never knowingly suffer at my hands. I will never say anything or do anything knowingly to hurt you. I will always, in every circumstance, seek to help and support you. If you're down and I can lift you up - I'll do that. If you need something and I have it, I'll share it with you. If I need to, I'll give it to you. No matter what I find out about you, no matter what happens in the future - either good or bad, my commitment to you will never change. And there is nothing you can do about it."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Becoming Careless with my Heart

Yesterday we talked about the danger of a “Bewitching spirit in the Church.” Paul, Peter, and Jesus warn the church that in the last days there would be “Sheep in wolves clothing” that would infiltrate God’s church. These “wolves” portray themselves as HOLY and ABOVE REPROACH. In fact, the deception of the enemy is so strong upon them, they will have a following…for a time. However, as time goes by, the more discerning of God’s people will begin to figure out that the SUPER SPIRITUAL side of the “wolf” was only a covering to hide what was really in their heart. For you see, God knows the heart of men and women. But that is not an excuse to sin. Quite the contrary!

Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:8 that only the “pure in heart will see God.” Then Solomon tells us in Proverbs 4:23 “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.” In this text, God is showing us the importance of making sure that we do everything possible to keep our heart PURE. Then David shows us the danger of becoming CARELESS with our heart: Psalm 51:10-12 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me. (11) Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. (12) Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit. David had sinned greatly, and now his heart was corrupt. You see, my friend, that’s what sin does to your heart. It is a dangerous thing to allow sin to remain in the heart and spirit for the child of God without REPENTING of it, and changing! Repentance does no good if you just say “forgive me Lord”, but keep doing the same things over and over again. What will happen to someone that keeps sinning and justifying it, without leaving that lifestyle through TRUE repentance? Well, listen to some of the saddest, yet most revealing Words in the Scriptures: Judges 16:20 She said, The Philistines are upon you, Samson! And he awoke out of his sleep and said, I will go out as I have time after time and shake myself free. For Samson did not know that the Lord had departed from him.

As I sit here in the Sanctuary typing these words, my heart is tremendously saddened and troubled by those words. Samson had become so CARELESS with his life and RELATIONSHIP with God, that he honestly thought that God would UNDERSTAND his situation and allow SIN to continue in his life with no consequences. He was deceived into believing that NOTHING would change between him and God, because he was a SPECIAL, ANOINTED man of God. He would just do what he had always done…allow the power and Spirit of God to come upon him, and win the battle when he needed to. However, he learned a lesson that I hope we all learn from him. The lesson is that you may get by with cherishing sin in your heart for a season, but mark my words, friend…NO, mark God’s Word…there is coming a season in your life, when everything will crumble around you if you continue in the careless way that you have been living. You won’t even realize that the Lord’s Spirit has departed from you, until much damage is done. Listen to Psalm 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me; What a powerful, yet sobering verse. This word “regard” means to cherish, or to see the sin in your heart, but think it’s not a big deal. Of course, iniquity is sin, breaking God’s Law (Word). So God makes it plain that if we allow sin to remain in our heart, the ONLY thing He understands is that HE WILL NOT HEAR our prayers. Continued, habitual sin damages our relationship with God. That is very evident and plain in the Word of God.

So, what can we do to rid our HEARTS of the sin? Well, just saying “God forgive me” is not what repentance is. 2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly grief and the pain God is permitted to direct, produce a repentance that leads and contributes to salvation and deliverance from evil, and it never brings regret; but worldly grief (the hopeless sorrow that is characteristic of the pagan world) is deadly [breeding and ending in death].

Then John the Baptist gives some insight about repentance as well: Matthew 3:2 And saying, Repent (think differently; change your mind, regretting your sins and changing your conduct), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matthew 3:8 Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart];

So, to truly guard our heart, we must stop being CARELESS with our heart, and start striving to be BLAMELESS with it. To do this, we must make sin our enemy. As long as sin is a FRIEND that we justify then we will NEVER be victorious over it. God never promised to give us victory over our friends, but over and over again, He promises to make us victorious over our ENEMIES. My prayer is that all of us will begin to hate sin so much, that God can help deliver us from that ENEMY. When David sinned, it broke his heart, not just because he had been caught, but he began to realize what his sin had done to his relationship with His God. He asked God to please, not take His Holy Spirit from him, and he then asked Him to create a new, steadfast spirit within him. And above all else, he asked for a CLEAN HEART! Even after he sinned, because of his true repentance, God was able to call him a “man after my own heart.”

1 John 1:9 If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].

What a promise that I John 1:9 is. Thank God, that we can come to the Heavenly Father, through Jesus’ blood and have forgiveness and deliverance from the bondages and strongholds in our lives. My prayer is that we will all guard our hearts, and strive to be BLAMELESS through the blood of Jesus Christ!

God bless you, and thank you for reading this blog. I had planned on writing about “The temptation of Saul’s Armor” and even had that title above, but as I began to type, I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to talk about the Heart. If you would like to comment on this blog, please do so below.

Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful day,

Pastor Rusty L. Blann
First Assembly of God
West Memphis, Arkansas

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A "Bewitching" Spirit in the Church

As I sit in the sanctuary this morning during my devotion, I just sat and meditated for a moment on a truth that Paul often wrote of, but it hardly ever gets mentioned from the pulpit. This truth is mentioned in Galatians 3:1-

"Of foolish Galatians, who hath BEWITCHED you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?"

Paul asked the Christians in the church, who has betwitched you? What does this word mean?

The Greek word is baskaino and it means to speak ill of one, to slander, TO CHARM.

The word CHARM means: to influence or control through deception, to subdue or dominate or hold under a spell.

Guys, I am troubled this morning by this verse. Paul was writing to the CHURCH about a BEWITCHING spirit that was charming good people and leading them astray. We have warning after warning in Scriptures about the ease at which God's people can be deceived. We must be aware of the enemies tactics and devices. Listen to some of the warnings in the Bible:

2 Timothy 3:6 (AMP) For among them are those who WORM their way into homes and captivate silly and weak-natured and spiritually dwarfed women, loaded down with (the burden of their) sins (and easily) swayed and led away by various evil desires and SEDUCTIVE IMPULSES

Paul warns that there will be people who WORM their way into lives to cause division. You know what the word WORM means in the Greek? To hide their true self or identity. In other words they come among us, looking spiritual, but truly they are bring division and leading people AWAY from Christ and not to Him. They are sheep in wolves clothing, using deception to cause division. Listen to what Jesus said about this:

Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you dressed as a sheep, but inside they are devouring wolves.

The message version says this in the same verse: "Don't be impressed with CHARISMA; look for character."

Then Simon Peter says this:

2 Peter 3:17 But you friends are well-warned. Be on guard lest you lose your footing and get swept off your feet by these lawless and loose-talking teachers.

Again Paul warns in Galatians 5:7

"You were running the race nobly. Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the Truth?"

Then Paul gives direction of where this hinderance comes from in Galatians 5:8

"This evil persuasion is not from Him Who called you (Who invited you to freedom in Christ)"
It is as if Paul, Simon Peter, and Jesus are pleading with us to be aware of this BEWITCHING spirit that is in the church and will become more and more prevalent the closer we get to the Rapture of the Church.

I heard a former Pastor of mine say several times while I was his youth pastor, "Everything that sparkles is not gold" Just because someone looks and sounds spiritual and full of integrity does not mean that they are genuine. We need discernment in the day that we live in. We must BEWARE of who we allow to influence us. If you aren't careful you can find yourself being BEWITCHED. I was talking with someone yesterday that admitted that she had been BEWITCHED by someone who she looked up to greatly. She didn't realize until the past few weeks that she had fallen for the CHARM of this person. We prayed and rebuked this BEWITCHING spirit and believe that she is FREE FROM IT.

One sure way of discerning whether someone is of God or of the devil is by their words and attitudes. If someone is constantly tearing down (maybe in a deceptive way) everyone, including the church and its leaders, then you need to understand quickly this BEWITCHING spirit that is trying to CHARM YOU and to do harm to you and GODS CHURCH.

I love you my brothers and sisters, and will continue on this point tomorrow morning, when I will discuss, "The temptation of Saul's Armor."

My prayer is that you have a wonderful and blessed day! Walk in the Spirit, living by His nudge so you can expose and rebuke this BEWITCHING SPIRIT! God bless!

Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful day,

Pastor Rusty L. Blann

Monday, August 20, 2007

Back to School

Summer is officially over at the Blann home! Today dawned a new day and a new season as sleepy eyed teens and tweens drug themselves out of bed much earlier than their summer routine. Today is the first day of school! Some may approach it with excitement, trepidation, or even fear. But ready or not, it is here. My prayer is that all of our children are safe in the physical, spiritual and emotional realms

As we drove past the army of other parents dropping off their children for the first day of school, I was reminded of a prayer strategy a friend of mine, Cecil Culbreth, designed for Christians to pray for our schools. It is called the Prayer Zone Partner strategy. It is explained in detail at (The Assembly of God Youth Alive website.)

Basically, the strategy is this, when you drive by a school, you pray for it - the students, the administrators, the educators, etc. On the website listed above, there are even scriptures to pray over a school.

My heart's prayer today is this, let's make a commitment to pray for all of the schools in our county. If you don't have a school in your daily commute then ask God to lay a particular one on your heart. Make it part of your drive each day and pray for that school.

Prayer changes things. Prayer changes lives. Prayer changes destinies. Prayer will change our schools!

Rejoicing and spinning in this wonderful day,

Pastor Rusty

Friday, August 17, 2007


The definition of DESTINY according to the Encarta Dictionary is: Somebody's preordained future, the predetermined and inevitable series of events that happen to somebody or something. That sounds kind of like Jeremiah 29:11 doesn't it:

Jeremaih 29:11 (AMP) For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.

(MSG) I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out--plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

Seventeen years ago, God brought a sweet, beautiful young lady into our lives. My wife (Dorinda) and I were pastoring in South Arkansas and our church was in the midst of a great youth revival. During that revival a 15 year old little girl responded to the altar call. She poured her heart out to Jesus, and He changed her life and DESTINY. It's a LONG and wonderful story, but suffice it to say through a series of circumstances that God directed, Dorinda and I adopted Glenda and she became a forever part of our family. It is amazing how God directs our paths, and destinies to bring about HIS purposes.

Glenda went to Central Bible College, met a wonderful young man (Brad), and they have been pastoring ever since they left Bible College. We are so proud of Glenda and her family. God blessed Brad and Glenda with a beautiful daughter, Macy. She is "Big Daddy's" pride and joy!

As God continues to direct the destinies of our family, just three months ago, my wife had the great privelege of going to China with Brad and Glenda to adopt our second granddaughter...Mia. Mia had been abandoned by her biological parents and was living in an orphanage. But Thank God, she wasn't abandoned by her Heavenly Father, because God directed her DESTINY as he guided every decision that led to her being placed into our family. Just think about that for a moment. Almost a year ago a little girl was born in China to parents that, for whatever reason, couldn't raise her. So, they decided to leave her bundled up outside of a restuarant. That restaurant called the orphanage, and the orphanage came and picked her up. Again, through many decisions that were God-led, Mia was picked by someone to be THE CHILD out of literally thousands to become a part of our family. Wow! That is God directed and mandated DESTINY.

As I write this blog, I am sitting in a hotel room preparing for Mia's dedication service this Sunday morning. Dorinda and I have the privelege of dedicating her to the Lord. It will be a very emotional time, but exciting time. We are so blessed.

Romans 8:15 (AMP) For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father!

I am so thankful that God, through Jesus Christ, has adopted me into His family, and forever changed my DESTINY. At the same time, I am so thankful that God led a little girl, by the name of Mia, to be placed into our family through Adoption, and forever changed her DESTINY.

My friends, that same God has you in His hands, and is directing every decision, and every step. The Bible tells us that the steps of a righteous man are ordered of God. Trust your life and the life of your family into loving hands of God, and trust the DESTINY that He has for you!

God's blessing upon you today!

Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful day!

Pastor Rusty L. Blann

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Like a mother in the pain of childbirth

I am sitting in our church sanctuary just enjoying the presence of God! Wow! So refreshing. As I was reading and meditating on God's Word, Galatians 4:19 caught my attention:

Galatians 4:19 (MSG) "Do you know how I feel right now, and will feel until Christ's life becomes visible in your lives? Like a mother in the pain of childbirth."

My heart was stirred as I stared at the phrase "Like a mother in the pain of childbirth". Paul is saying that is how he feels and will continue to feel until, Christ's life becomes visible in your lives.

Paul had a passion for DISCIPLESHIP. He didn't just want people to be saved or born again, but he wanted them to grow in Christ and become a DISCIPLE of Jesus Christ. That is our commission from Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20) to make disciples, not just converts.

So the Holy Spirit asked me a couple of questions this morning:

#1 Is Christ's life visible in my life? Do my children and wife see Christ's life in me? Do my co-workers see Christ's life in me? Does my community see Christ's life in me? Does the cashier at Wal-Mart see Christ's life in me? Does the waitress at Cracker Barrell see Christ's life in me? Do the parents at my kids ball games see Christ's life in me?

As I asked myself those questions, I wasn't happy with the response that I got on each question. I want my desire to be as passionate as Paul's that not only in others, but IN MY LIFE, Christ's life becomes more visible in my every day decisions and walk.

#2 How am I doing discipling new converts?

I read Galatians 4:19, this time in the KJVR:

"My little children, of whom I travail in birth AGAIN until Christ be formed in you,"

The Greek word for formed is morphoo and means to form or shape, but originally was used by artists who shaped their material into an image. How ludicrous would it be to cast away the artists' work prematurely because of the way it looks in the beginning stages? In the same way, it is even more so ludicrous to cast away new converts when they slip and fall because of the way they look and act in the beginning stages of their salvation. Evangelism is messy at times. When sinners get saved, they still have issues that takes time and nurturing, for them to overcome. Remember, Christ is being FORMED in them.

The question that I felt the Holy Spirit ask me is, "whose travailing for them?" Who is as burdened for them as a mother in the pain of childbirth? I was convicted and asked God to help me do a better job helping Christ be FORMED in the babes in Christ.

One more thought. The greek word morphoo is from the word metamorphoo where we get our word metamorphosis. Metamorphosis is the process that causes a caterpillar to become a butterfly. Now think about this. A caterpillar is a stinky, ugly little creature. However, within that ugly creature is a BUTTERFLY just needing a little bit of time (and nurturing) to make it through the process of forming. In the same way, new converts will come to Christ and still have many hangups, habits, and problems, however, God has placed something within them that is beautiful that will take a little bit of time before it is manifested. Someone needs to travail for them, and nurture them to bring about Christ being formed within them. That is where discipleship comes in. It is a process that is well worth the travail and effort.

My prayer is, "Lord, help me to truly be like a mother in the pain of childbirth today.

Any comments? Please feel free to share your thoughts and feelings!

God bless you all!

Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful day,

Pastor Rusty L. Blann
First Assembly of God
West Memphis, Arkansas

Monday, August 13, 2007


Wow! What a great weekend of services that we had yesterday. Last nights service was refreshing and encouraging. Students of all ages, as well as adults of all ages lingered in the altars for close to an hour, broken and still before the Lord!

Last week at General Council, the outgoing General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God presented a challenge from Revelation 3:1-3. It was a powerful Word from God. Verse two says, "Strengthen that which remains, before it dies." As I listened to the message, I felt God begin to speak to me about somethings that we need to STRENGTHEN in the Assemblies of God in general, and in our local church specifically. I put these in the form of an acrostic with the word STRENGTHEN. I would like to share these notes with you. We must fight to strengthen the following beliefs from God's Word, or they may not be seen or heard among us much longer:

Sacredness of the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8)

Exodus 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

The Blood of Jesus (Leviticus 17:11; Ephesians 2:13; Hebrews 10:19; Leviticus 14:1-7)

Leviticus 17:11 (NLT) for the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the LORD. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.

Ephesians 2:13 (AMP) But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were [so] far away, through (by, in) the blood of Christ have been brought near.

(MSG) Now because of Christ--dying that death, shedding that blood--you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.

Hebrews 10:19 (MSG) So, friends, we can now--without hesitation--walk right up to God, into "the Holy Place." Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The "curtain" into God's presence is his body.

Real deliverances from bondage (John 8:36; Galatians 5:1)

John 8:36 (AMP) So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free.

(KJVR) If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

(MSG) So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.

Galatians 5:1 (AMP) IN [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off].

(KJVR) Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

(MSG) Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

Evidence of Holy Ghost Baptism (Acts 2:1-4; Acts 19:1-6)

Acts 19:2 (AMP) And he asked them, Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed [on Jesus as the Christ]? And they said, No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.

No way to heaven but through Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12)

John 14:6 (AMP) Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me.

Acts 4:12 (AMP) And there is salvation in and through no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by and in which we must be saved.

(KJVR) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

(MSG) Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one."

God still Heals and peforms Miracles (Isaiah 53:5; I Peter 2:24; Hebrews 13:8)

Isaiah 53:5 (AMP) But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.

1 Peter 2:24 (AMP) He personally bore our sins in His [own] body on the tree [as on an altar and offered Himself on it], that we might die (cease to exist) to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.

Hebrews 13:8 (AMP) Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is [always] the same, yesterday, today, [yes] and forever (to the ages

The Rapture of the Church (I Thessalonians 4:16-17)

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God. And those who have departed this life in Christ will rise first. (17) Then we, the living ones who remain [on the earth], shall simultaneously be caught up along with [the resurrected dead] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so always (through the eternity of the eternities) we shall be with the Lord!

Holiness (Psalm 96:9; Hebrews 12:14; Ephesians 5:8; Leviticus 20:7)

Hebrews 12:14(AMP) Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord.

(KJVR) Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

Ephesians 5:8 (AMP) For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [lead the lives of those native-born to the Light].

Leviticus 20:7 (KJVR) Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.

(MSG) "Set yourselves apart for a holy life. Live a holy life, because I am GOD, your God.

Emphasis on Intercessory Prayer (2 Chronicles 7:14)

2 Chronicles 7:14 (AMP) If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

(KJVR) If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Nine Gifts of the Spirit (I Corinthians 12:4-11)

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 Now there are distinctive varieties and distributions of endowments (gifts, extraordinary powers distinguishing certain Christians, due to the power of divine grace operating in their souls by the Holy Spirit) and they vary, but the [Holy] Spirit remains the same. (5) And there are distinctive varieties of service and ministration, but it is the same Lord [Who is served]. (6) And there are distinctive varieties of operation [of working to accomplish things], but it is the same God Who inspires and energizes them all in all. (7) But to each one is given the manifestation of the [Holy] Spirit [the evidence, the spiritual illumination of the Spirit] for good and profit. (8) To one is given in and through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit; (9) To another [wonder-working] faith by the same [Holy] Spirit, to another the extraordinary powers of healing by the one Spirit; (10) To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such] tongues. (11) All these [gifts, achievements, abilities] are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, Who apportions to each person individually [exactly] as He chooses.

My prayer is, "Lord help us to truly STRENGTHEN these things before they die!" God bless you!

Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful day!

Pastor Rusty L. Blann

Friday, August 10, 2007

Final Election Results

After many hours (it seems) of sitting in convention center seats, all offices are filled and all but 2 resolutions passed.

I will recap the major elections:

General Superintendent: George O. Wood (former General Secretary)
Assistant Superintendent: Alton Garrison (former U.S. Mission Director)
General Secretary: John Palmer (Iowa)
World Missions Director: John Bueno (re-elected)
US Missions Director: Zollie Smith, Jr. (New Jersey)

Please log on to to view all the resolutions and elections.

Fine Arts News

Wow! I wish you could all be here to see our youth - they have made us proud!
Samantha and Amber (Samber) received a Superior with Honors.
Samantha made it to Round 2 of the female vocal solo.
Jason Peninger received a superior for his percussion solo.
Jasper - Jason, Amber and Christian received a Superior with Honors on their collaborative songwriting. (We are still waiting to here if they received a callback.)

I wish I could relay the sights and sounds of General Council. It is such an experience. Here are a few thoughts:
.....walking through the crowded skywalks as people are scurrying to go to business sessions, fine arts, youth convention, or a shopping break at the mall.
..... the sense of belonging and pride one gets each time you see the masses - and they all have the AG nametag on!
...... on the other hand, a sense of AAAAHHHHHH!!! when you see many of our fellow AGers looking very much like the world..... (aka - not enough clothing.....)
...... the feeling of great joy witnessing the very first African American elected to our Executive offices! The standing ovation was resounding! Then, Bro. Zollie Smith gave one of the most exciting and exhilerating acceptance speeches I have ever heard!
...... hearing the cheers and excitement as Fine Arts participants learned they advanced to the next round.
...... watching with such pride as our own youth presented themselves with great character and a sense of unity.
...... knowing that our own youth are in the capable hands of Pastor Tommy and Sis. Cheryl.
...... sitting in a worship service with thousands upon thousands of fellow Assembly of God believers, hands lifter in adoration of our Lord and Savior!
...... feeling the presence of God so powerfully in an arena filled with brothers and sisters in the Lord thinking "this is nothing compared to what heaven will be like".

Please join me Sunday in service as I preach Sunday morning and Sunday evening a message from Revelation 3 entitled "Strengthen that which Remains". I look forward to seeing each of you!

Rejoicing and Spinning!
Pastor Rusty and Dorinda

General Superintendent Wood
(The following Bio is from
Dr. George O. Wood was elected general secretary of the Assemblies of God in 1993. Wood is a member of the Board of Administration and the Executive Presbytery. As general secretary, Wood oversees the credentialing of ministers, church chartering and the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.
The son of missionary parents to China and Tibet, Wood holds a doctoral degree in pastoral theology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and a juris doctorate from Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, California. He did his undergraduate work at Evangel College in Springfield, Missouri, and served the college in several capacities, including being director of spiritual life and student life from 1965-71. Wood was ordained with the Southern Missouri District in 1967.
Prior to his current post, he was assistant superintendent of the Southern California District from 1988-93. He also pastored Newport-Mesa Christian Center in Costa Mesa, California, for 17 years. During his tenure, the church experienced significant growth, relocated and constructed new facilities, and gave $1 million to world missions in the last biennium of his pastorate.
Wood is author of seven books which include, A Psalm In My Heart Vol. I & II, Living Fully, The Successful Life and a college text on the Book of Acts. He also is an attorney and a member of the California State Bar.
Sermons by Dr. Wood may be heard at

Thursday, August 9, 2007

General Council News

We arrived in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Monday evening for the convening of the 52nd General Council of the Assemblies of God. Every time our family attends a Council event, I am reminded that our great fellowship is a growing and thriving church body.

With several events taking place simultaneously, there are over 25,000 Assembly of God people in Indianapolis this week! It seems we are all in a 2 mile radius- and during meal times, crawling all over each other! The National Youth Convention and Fine Arts Festival has 12,000 attendees. (Of those, about 40 are youth and sponsors from West Memphis First Assembly. ) For the business of council, around 4,000 A/G pastors and delegates registered to vote. Needless to say, there are a lot of Pentecostals in downtown Indianapolis!

In the service Wednesday night, our Fellowship Honored our General Superintendent, Thomas E. Trask as he took the pulpit for the last time as Superintendent. The standing ovation was lengthy as we all realized the great humility, integrity, anointing, and capable leadership Bro. Trask has provided us for the past 14 years. Bro. Trask preached a challenging message to our Fellowship, excerpts of which you will hear Sunday morning.

We have a great Fellowship! Through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit we are changing eternity through our Foreign and Home Missions emphasis. Please, browse the website listed below to get a feel of the deep impact we make on the world as we trust and obey the Lord of the Harvest.

Business and Election News
Many of you are wondering about the election of our new General Superintendent. As of tonight, Thursday, there still has not been an election. When we left the business session today, we completed the 3rd vote, which according to our constitution and by-laws was limited to the top 3 which were - Douglas Clay (Ohio District), Alton Garrison (former Arkansas Dist. Superintendent), and George O. Wood (General Secretary). In our first session on Friday morning we will learn if there was an election from the three. Our constitution and by-laws state that the election requires a 3/4 majority.

For more information, please go to On that site you will find a link to the 52nd General Council. You may also subscribe to the news update. There are also several web casts posted that you may view on your computer.

There are several more elections to be voted upon:
Assistant General Superintendent
General Secretary
Executive Director, Assemblies of God World Missions
11 Nonresident Executive Presbyters
-along with 32 resolutions

Fine Arts News!
Also of great interest to West Memphis First Assembly is the news of our 4 entrees in the Fine Arts Festival. We are so proud of all of our young people that participated this year. Four of these teens received invitations to compete on the national level here in Indianapolis. Listed below are their names and the categories they are competing in:
Small Vocal Ensemble - SAMBER - Samantha Burks and Amber Troxler
Female Vocal Solo - Samantha Burks
Group Songwriting - JASPER - Jason Peninger, Amber and Christian Troxler
Percussion Solo - Jason Peninger

SAMBER competed on Wednesday and received Superior with Honors. Samantha competed today and received a Superior with Honors and a Call Back (for Friday morning). On Friday morning Jason competes and JASPER competes on Friday afternoon.

I cannot tell you how well these young people have represented our church! We are proud of each of them. Just for your information - a Superior with Honors is the highest rating, but only those with Call Backs can advance in the competition.

If you want to follow the Fine Arts Festival ratings you can log on There is a link to the ratings and call backs.

Please be in prayer for the remainder of the council and for every one's safe travel home!

I have a message burning in my heart for Sunday morning! I look forward to seeing each of you then!

Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful day,
Pastor Rusty