Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Shepastor: "Calling in the Key of She..."

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:26-27, NIV

For centuries, patriarchal structures inculcated and advanced an inferior and subordinate view of women and their perceived appropriate roles. Despite these formidable factors, the Bible itself raises serious contradictions to the belief that women are not called to serve in equal and authoritative roles. Frequently, persons who draw on selected passages to argue against women leaders ignore the broader implications of the texts. It is therefore beneficial to consider other compelling Scriptures that speak positively about women and present them as leaders.

This week, July 21-22, 2017 Equity for Women in the Church and Memphis Theological Seminary will partner to address these issues. This FREE event is open to all.

If you are in the area, check it out. I'll share highlights from our time together next week.

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Shepastor: "Are You Parched or Well Watered?"

5 Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. 8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. Jeremiah 17: 5-8, KJV

This past week as my family took a trip to visit family in California, I was struck by what looked like a natural contradiction. As we drove further north, away from the Bay area, the weather changed drastically. The temperature rose from 70 degrees to 108 degrees! The grass was completely parched along the highway. To reduce the risk of wild fires, crews were out spraying the dry grass with water. What was most intriguing to me, however, were the green, flowering bushes and tress standing tall amidst the brittle dry grass. My first thought was, "How can this be?" How could there be such beautiful green bushes and trees growing from the ground where there was hay like parched grass? The answer is depth of roots.

Trees and bushes establish deep roots...roots that drink in water from rain and other forms of watering. In times of extreme heat or drought, trees rely upon their root reserves. Grass, on the other hand has shallow roots. Grass is easily pulled up and burned by bad weather conditions. It cannot withstand extreme conditions. As I observed these differences along the road, it occurred to me that these examples are like the life of a believer. The depth of our roots...our prayer life, our depth of relationship with the Lord and others, our knowledge and understanding of God's Word and our faith will determine the depths of our roots. When extreme "heat," struggle, trials, opposition, pain, pressure, etc., comes, if we have not "stored up" spiritual nutrients of the living water, we will become parched...brittle, dry, easily burned and dying.

The text above teaches us that we should not make flesh "our arm." While we must learn to develop trust of other humans, our deepest trust must be reserved for the Lord. Even those with the best intentions will at times disappoint. If our eyes are only upon humans, we will become parched. If we have not stored up the water of the Word, suited up in the "whole armor," and immersed ourselves in consistent communication with our Lord through prayer, the "heatwaves" of life will burn us up.

We all experience periods of drought and dryness. But our ability to press through those seasons will depend upon our roots. Will you be like the green bushes and trees or the parched grass? You have a say in the matter.

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Shepastor: “When Healing Takes Precedence Over Power and Position…”

A Man with a Withered Hand
6 On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. 9 And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored.11 But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. Luke 6: 6-11, ESV

In the text above, the religious leaders came face to face with their greatest fear…that Jesus would “take their place” as leader. While they pretended to be concerned about “keeping the law,” their real concern was for their own perceived positions of power. The fact that someone else was suffering, was broken, was unable to care for themselves, was in poverty, was marginalized was of no concern. They just wanted what they wanted. Jesus’ compassion, however, revealed the true essence of their dark souls. Their “hoopla” about keeping the law rang hollow because of their lack of concern for another human being. Hunger for power leads to dangerous places… Hunger for and the fear of losing power can strip you of a conscience.

Jesus’ bold act of healing the man with the deformed hand teaches us some important lessons:

When healing takes precedence over position and power, deliverance as well as hostility happens… Everyone is not joyous when deliverance and healing happens. Unfortunately the world frequently “profits” from the misery of others…

Deliverance exposes dysfunction… When Jesus healed the man, the true motives of the religious leaders were exposed. Dysfunctional systems/structures collapse when others are bold enough to speak the truth and move to make changes…

Healing frequently changes a power dynamic… Healing and deliverance are accompanied by empowerment. Both healing and deliverance can bring about an awareness of one’s true self, gifts, talents, opportunities and strength. A need to rely upon another’s “motive laced” offerings will dissipate…

Finally…
Be prepared to face hostility as God uses you to heal “withered hands…”
Power and position in the hands of people with ill intent will not easily be released. A “convulsion” of sorts will always happen. Whether in a place of employment, in the government, in the community, in the home, yea even in the church, spirits of selfishness, greed, jealousy and insecurity desire to keep others down to lift themselves up.

Breaking those chains come with a cost. Jesus paid for our deliverance with his life. While we may not be nailed to a literal cross, we may be falsely accused, lose positions or employment, “friends,” experience being ostracized, criticized, and viewed as a threat. The scriptures teach us that the cost of real discipleship is high.
The blessing, however, is that we will gain the praises of heaven.

11“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12, NASB

May we pray for hearts, eyes, and spirits to heal withered hands…

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com
Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Shepastor: "A Word of Blessing for You..."

Psalm 20: 1-7, NIV
For the director of music. A psalm of David.


1 May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
3 May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.[b]
4 May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
5 May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests.
6 Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Shepastor: “On Being a Leader…”

6Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the LORD appeared to them. 7The LORD said to Moses, 8“Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.” 9So Moses took the staff from the LORD’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. 12But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” Numbers 20: 6-12, NIV

“Don’t let ‘it’ take you there. Take a deep breath, relax and remember what you are trying to accomplish!”

These words came so powerfully into my spirit one day as I wrestled with responding to some issues. “In the moment…” it can be difficult to remain “cool, calm and collected.” I imagine many a leader can identify with Moses. Having led an ungrateful, doubt-filled, rebellious group of individuals through the wilderness, he was exacerbated by their criticisms, quarrels, accusations and threats.

After all that the Lord had done for them…after all that the Lord had delivered them from… after all that the Lord had carried them through AND after all he had put up with and still faithfully led, loved and cared for them, the people still complained! Can you identify with Moses? Have you ever poured out your heart, mind, body and soul to lead and care for ungrateful, critical, doubt-filled people? If you have ever found yourself in circumstances like that of Moses, you may be able to understand why he said (in so many words…), “Look people after all I’ve done to lead you, plead on your behalf, stand in the gap for you, pray for you, put my life on the line for you, I can’t believe that you are still acting like fools!!!”

Anger consumed Moses. Frustration got the best of him. He was so angry that he began to operate in his own willfulness, lifted up what HE had done and disobeyed God’s command to “speak to the rock.” For that reason, God said this to Moses…

“Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” (Numbers 20:12, NIV)

Because Moses chose to “strike” the rock rather than obey God and “speak” to the rock, God prohibited him from entering the Promised Land. WOW!!! That’s TOUGH!!! Why did God deal so harshly with Moses? Because Moses was the leader. God would deal with the people for their rebellious spirits. But Moses was to continue to trust and obey the Lord.

It can be very difficult to take the “high road.” Leading people can be extremely challenging. Leaders are called to remain above the fray. Leaders are called to be the example. Leaders must always strive to do what is right, highest and best. Do we fail? YES. Why? Because we hold this treasure in earthen vessels. We must remember, however, that the role of a leader is to lead, therefore, according to the scriptures, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1, NIV.

While this scripture is speaking of “teachers,” leaders are in the same category, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 12:48, KJV.

It’s not easy being a leader. Leadership requires that a leader march to the beat of a different drum. The good news is that we are not expected to lead on our own. God’s precious Holy Spirit is there to lead, guide, counsel, instruct and empower us to obey God’s voice over our own willful impulses.

The enemy’s goal is not only to cause us to miss the “promised land” experiences God has for us, but to cause people to doubt God and look at us. When we allow the behaviors of others to “take us there,” we come down from the place of leadership where God has called us. When we disobey God’s Holy Spirit and resort to our own devices to convince people of our strength, our power, our whatever, we yield victory to Satan’s darts, lose our place and misguide people.

Are you a leader? Remember what happened to Moses and seek God’s strength to trust and obey. “Don’t let ‘it’ take you there. Take a deep breath, relax and remember what you are trying to accomplish...” and what God desires to accomplish through you!

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com
Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Shepastor: "Supporting Healthy Minds, Bodies and Spirits..."

"for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body." I Corinthians 6:20, NLT

We are mind, body and spirit. God's Word teaches us that we are precious, fearfully and wonderfully made. In order to be whole, we must attend to every aspect of our being. In an effort to encourage God's people to view themselves and their well-being from a holistic perspective, our congregation (Covenant Baptist Church, www.covenantbaptistministries.org ) in collaboration with several other churches in our area and staff from the Cleveland Clinic are in the midst of a free three day event, "Healthy Temples: Supporting Healthy Minds, Bodies and Spirits."

Over this three day period, we will cover the topics of depression, healthy eating patterns and our overall health, balancing emotions, stress and self-care. Participants will also have the opportunity to have free blood pressure checks by nurses from the Cleveland Clinic. During our first night's presentation on depression, the class became so engaged, sharing their own experiences and the experiences of loved ones regarding this painful reality, that it became abundantly clear that a follow-up workshop is needed. Plans are underway to make that happen!

The classes are not only for adults, but for children. Children are engaged in biblically based discussions and crafts related to the same topics as the adults. Healthy snacks instead of the usual hot dogs and hamburgers are being served.

We are praying that all who attend will receive education and inspiration for a healthier life.

No matter the size of your congregation, God can and will use all who commit their efforts to making a difference for God's Kingdom here on earth.

May our prayerful efforts inspire many, in the name of Jesus!

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Shepastor: “Tips to Help You Feel Better…”

3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3, KJV

Years ago, there was a commercial showing a woman taking a bath saying, “Calgon, take me away!” In recent times I have found myself needing some “Calgon moments!”
Let’s keep it real…ministry can be stressful and at times down right depressing. Ask Elijah, Moses, Jeremiah, John, Paul and Jesus!

As a pastor, wife, mother, daughter, sister, mentor, community leader and friend, things can get a bit overwhelming. Due to menopause and hormonal upheaval, aching knees, numerous family and ministry responsibilities, etc., there are days when I feel down. When the skies are literally and figuratively gloomy, when my “tween” girl is exceedingly “sassy,” when I wake up at 3:00 a.m. and can’t fall back to sleep, thinking about “this or that,” a spirit of weariness can take hold.

As Christians, we frequently deny the aforementioned feelings, thinking that expressing them will make us appear less “holy” or “faith-filled.” I beg to differ. Admitting we have these feelings simply make us human. Having said that, there are some practical things that I have found that help to take the edge off when life becomes challenging…

- If possible, get out and walk… Walking is a great way to clear your head, release some stress and exercise…

- Take a hot shower or bath and use a bubbly fragrance that appeals to your senses. Aromatherapy is real!!! There is something soothing and lifting about beautiful fragrances. They help to relax you and release natural agents in your body (endorphins) that can help to lift your mood. Lavender, vanilla/almond or jasmine/vanilla have been particularly helpful fragrances for me…

- Find a private space to talk out loud to God…Hearing your lament and struggle can help you to process your feelings before the Lord. After you talk, listen, trust and obey…

- Take deep breaths, sit quietly with your eyes closed and your palms lifted. This “centering” activity can also help relieve stress and cultivate inner healing and peace…

- Look at nature. Listen to the birds sing. Watch them fly through the air. Look at plants and flowers. Listen to some soothing music. All of these small things help to cultivate inner calm and peace.

Let me hasten to say, obviously, there are major sufferings in life that cannot be melted away by a bubble bath. Understandably, these simple actions will not erase the issues you are facing or the realities of your life. However, they can lift, strengthen, encourage and empower you to lift up your head and smile. You may not be able to change your circumstances, but you can change your outlook. Through grace, faith, prayer and intentional actions, you can rise and shine!

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org