Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Shepastor: “Rain Can Be Beautiful, Depending Upon Where You Stand…”

1The LORD then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”
5And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him
. Genesis 7:1-5, NIV

Leviticus 26:3-4, NIV
'If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit.

When I was growing up, I can remember hearing older people talking about knowing that rain was coming because their joints would begin to ache. As the years have passed, I can now relate to what they were saying! Rain and cloudy days impact me differently now.

As a child I enjoyed seeing the oily puddles on the ground, infused with gasoline from my dad’s car and thinking that the iridescent colors were mini rainbows. I remember jumping in those puddles, making mud cakes and tossing rocks to make a big splash. Rain was fun. Rain was interesting. Rain was not a problem, except when I couldn’t go outside due to thunder and lightning! But as I have gotten older, rainy and cloudy days can bring me down. My joints ache, my energy feels zapped and I just want to stay in bed! From this “new” vantage point, I no longer see rain as fun. So imagine my surprise when my daughter bounds into the room, carefree and happy and declares, “Mommy, isn’t the rain beautiful? Sometimes, rain can be beautiful!”

As always, her innocent words carried me to another place. I began to think about rain being synonymous with blessings – except for the great flood. In Genesis, God used rain to “wipe the earth clean,” from the wickedness of the sinful. Subsequently however, doing so grieved God’s heart. He gave us the rainbow as a promise and a reminder that He would never use that method again. From that time forward, rain blessed the earth with fruitfulness, healing and new life. Yes, rain can be beautiful!

Without rain, we experience drought. Without rain, new blossoms can’t form. Without rain, clean water can’t be caught. Without rain the ground would become hard and cracked. Without rain we would die.

Though inconvenient at the time, rain is beautiful. As the “rain” falls in your life, remember that blossoms, new life, rich soil and an abundant harvest are each on the way!

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Shepastor: "Point Your Remote in the Right Direction..."

"I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word
and have not denied my name."
Revelation 3:8, NIV

The other weekend my family and I spent the day in another city, walking through a mall, seeing sites, going to a movie and finally out to dinner. It was a beautiful day! When we came out of the movie, we walked towards our car and I pushed the "open door" button on the remote. Usually, I can hit the button from a far distance and the door will still unlock. The closer we got to the car, the more puzzled I became. The lights were not flashing and the doors were not unlocking. We have a new car and the remote should not need a battery so soon! As we approached the car, I pulled on the door and it still was locked. I was baffled! Suddenly my husband declared, "Honey, this is not our car!" It looked JUST LIKE our car. It was the same color and the same make. When I looked inside, however, the interior was different. Our car was a few cars down, lights on and doors unlocked!

Immediately, I thought about how this example relates to life. I was pointing my remote in the wrong direction. I was insisting that something was mine that was not. I was pulling on a door that did not belong to me. Yet, WHAT WAS MINE was just down the way. The lights were on and the doors were open! How often do we waste our time pointing our proverbial remote in the wrong direction? How often are we wasting time pulling on the wrong door, demanding that it open, when all along God has opened OUR door for us?

God has placed before each of us open doors. Sometimes something looks so right on the outside. It looks just like what we've been hoping for and praying for. But the closer we get, we catch a glimpse of the "inside" and realize that it is not what we thought. We can miss so many wonderful opportunities because we insist on pulling on doors that for one reason or another just won't come open. We are so focused on the exterior that we miss the fact that the inside is all wrong. There is a reason that the door is not coming open. Could it be that OUR DOOR IS OPEN just down the way...just around the corner...just up the road??? If you are frustrated, feeling daunted, discouraged, defeated because of locked doors, look up. Ask the Lord to show you YOUR OPEN DOORS. I suspect your open door is just a few doors down...

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Shepastor: "A Shift in the Atmosphere..."

3 ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.Jeremiah 33:3, KJV

"In the stillness of the midnight, sacred secrets will unfold..." This refrain from the hymn, "Precious Memories," conveys a powerful truth. In your "midnight," the Lord is able to show you great and mighty things! In this verse of scripture the "hearer" is encouraged to call unto the Lord, who is able to reveal "great and mighty things" that are not known. That word of truth remains relevant today.

There will be times in your life when anxiety, frustration, confusion and feelings of being overwhelmed will happen. Maybe you are experiencing those feelings right now. God's Word in Jeremiah offers hope. Things in the "natural" may appear to remain the same. However, in the "heavenly's" the Lord is causing a shift in the atmosphere! When we bow in earnest before the throne of grace, seeking the answers we need to life's dilemmas, the Lord can transform our thinking, enlighten our mind, change our outlook and show us how to process through our valley experiences! In our midnight experiences, we learn lessons that we can never learn in the bright sunlight. In our midnight, God reveals deep truths, opportunities to minister to others and a measure of strength we never realized we have!

Sometimes the answer will come through another person - a counselor, a pastor, a friend, a child, a co-worker or even an enemy! Sometimes the Lord will speak through nature - the rustling of leaves upon the ground, birds flying through the air, flowers blossoming in Springtime, a soft, cold winter snow....and sometimes, "in the stillness of the midnight," God speaks softly to our hearts and lifts us to another level - "A SHIFT IN THE ATMOSPHERE!!!"

Don't allow your natural sight to cloud the vision of victory the Lord is preparing in high places! God can and will answer when you call. Listen, watch and remain open. You WILL WIN! A change is on the way!!! The atmosphere is shifting in your favor and for God's glory!

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Shepastor: "When Silence is LOUD..."

...a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak
, Ecclesiastes 3:7, NIV

Recently as I listened to a radio program, the hosts of the program were having a dialogue about a controversial issue. As one host passionately shared his thoughts on the matter, the other remained completely silent. Usually, the co-host would make some remark or verbal utterance that indicated either agreement, disagreement or wonderment. This time, however, was different. There was no verbal interaction at all. I thought to myself, "Wow, her silence is deafening!"

There are times when silence is loud. The empty vacuum of voicelessness can create a sound that conveys deep and sometimes troubling messages. Inappropriate silence can convey messages of consent, agreement, indifference or fear. This is particularly true during instances of injustice. It is not enough to shake our heads, silently pray or simply think about what is wrong. There are times when righteousness compels us to raise our voices and cry out on behalf of the defenseless, the marginalized, the abused and the neglected.

Speaking up is a critical aspect of being a Christian and frankly, human. Throughout history, God has used the voices of every day men and women to speak up against blatant wrong happening in the world. The Old and New Testament prophets, Joan of Arc, Sojourner Truth, Jarena Lee, Nat Turner, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Abraham Heschel, Mahatma Gandhi and Marian Wright Edelman to name a few all raised their voices to address human suffering, oppression, slavery, economic injustices, sexism, etc.

Recently movements such as Black Lives Matter, "Me Too" and Youth against gun violence are all examples of the power and importance of voice. While there are times when silence is appropriate and even necessary, silence must never be used as an excuse or a vehicle carrying indifference. We must never allow our silence to be louder than our love.
May we have the courage to speak up, speak out and stand when the silence of others is booming.

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Until next Wednesday,

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Shepastor: "Today..."

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread
. Matthew 6: 9-11, NIV

One of the many struggles of the human existence is to remain focused on this day – today. And while some may say that particularly our young people don’t think about or don’t plan for the future because they are saturated with the “right now…” Many, however, are saturated with concerns about the future or even the past.

In consideration of this struggle, I like to think about the words of the late Ethicist, Theologian and Mystic, Dr. Howard Thurman who declared,
There is an abiding desire to know the future, to see around the corner of the days and the years. Even if we say that we will not concern ourselves with what will happen next month or next year, the shy insistence still remains – we want to know. This anxiety is the normal feeling that we face on the threshold of any new adventure. If we could be sure that all would be well, if we could have some guarantee that our present hopes would not betray us and leave us deserted and in the lonely place then we would find the peace that belongs to the contented. But life is not like that. He leads us on by paths we did not know…
If we could just see around the corner…if we could just peek through the door…if we could just see over the horizon, then we would find the peace that belongs to the contented…or would we? When I look back over my life, if I knew all that I would face before it happened, I don’t know if I would have had the courage to face those experiences. But God in His infinite wisdom chooses to keep things hidden from us until He knows we have what we need to face it.

On another note, “today” can be so frustrating because it’s not where we desire to be. For many, if we had our way, we would be somewhere else, experiencing something else, engaged in something else, doing something else. For some you are in proverbial waiting room…waiting for God to fix it, to change it, to move it, to improve it, to lift it, to take it, to make it, GRANT IT, DO IT– THE WAITING ROOM!!! For those in the waiting room, today may not feel so good. Often when we read this verse or even pray this prayer, we think of our “daily bread,” as the Lord supplying our physical needs. But our daily bread is more than physical needs – our daily bread is what we need to “feed us.”

The song write said, “Bread of Heaven, feed me ‘til I want no more…” Jesus understood the need for us to pray this prayer…give us this day our daily bread…because Jesus understood that we would be hungry…hungry for love, hungry for peace…hungry for satisfaction…hungry for healing…hungry for fulfillment…hungry for a break through…hungry for deliverance…HUNGRY!!!

Jesus knew that our hunger would cause us to lose the blessing and benefit of the day we currently have. As much as we long for tomorrow, there is nothing that we can do to rush it getting here. There are 24 hours in a day and that is that! There is nothing we can do to change the past. No matter how we long to go back and enjoy something or erase something, or fix something, we cannot – it’s the past. It’s done. It’s over. You can’t go back. But you can reap the blessings and the benefits of today.

We must learn to pray, Lord give us THIS DAY our daily bread…Lord give me what I need TODAY to satisfy my hunger. Lord give us this day what we need to fill that empty space, that pain, that struggle, that dissatisfaction – Lord give us THIS DAY the bread that will feed me until I want no more –THIS DAY do it in my heart, in my mind, in my spirit. Send your bread to fill me up.

Only Jesus can give us that kind of bread. Only Jesus can fill up the gaps that the world leaves gaping…only Jesus can teach us how to walk through the struggles of today.
Are you hungry? Are YOU hungry? The Lord wants to feed you. Jesus taught us this prayer and then he showed us what it means to be filled. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have days where the hunger pains return, but when you accept Jesus as your Savior, he teaches you how to hold onto today, make the most of today, be fulfilled with his love, his hope, his joy, his peace, his blessed assurance that he will never leave you or forsake you…the fulfillment that reminds you that your name is written in the lambs book of life and that you have eternal life.

Won’t you receive that bread today – Jesus the bread of life?

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Shepastor: "When Winter Lasts Too Long..."

3 Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5 New International Version (NIV)

The other day I heard a local meteorologist read a tweet from a viewer frustrated about the weather. It read in part, "So are we not doing Spring this year?" Many of us have been wondering the same thing! It's supposed to be Spring time, yet we are still experiencing snow showers, frozen soil, 30 degree weather and "Old Man Winter" just will not to let go!!! The Birds have come back from the south, the flowers are trying to push through the cold hard ground and we are still freezing!!!

Sometimes we feel that way about life. The winter of life seems to continue to persist. We thought that by now the "season" would have changed. We thought by now that we would have reached that goal, lost that weight, overcome that issue, conquered that struggle, paid off that debt, repaired that relationship, healed from that sickness...but for whatever reason, "Winter" is still here. During this time we are tempted to lose heart and hope. The enemy whispers into our ear, "Things will never change. You may as well give up." Rebuke those lies in the name of Jesus! Spring AND Summer, really are just around the corner!

Winter time can be depressing, gloomy and heavy. It can make you feel like staying in bed with the sheets pulled over your head. But we should take a page out of the book of God's example in nature. Each year, the birds return, the flowers push through, the trees bud and eventually, the sun shines. Yes, some plants wilt and die, but the greater majority prevail. The resilient nature of their composition and purpose pushes them forward.

For the child of God, trials, suffering, "winter," can produce perseverance, character and ultimately hope. Your winter is not without purpose. In the words of music artist Marvin Sapp, "You are stronger, wiser and better!" Your best days are ahead of you! You have learned things that "fun in the sun" could have never produced in you. Your ability to empathize with others has increased exponentially. You have discovered strength through Christ that you did not even know you possessed. HOLD ON!!! Your time of blossoming, soaring and experiencing the warm rays of the sun are on the way. By God's grace, may you press through your present experience of pain, cold and struggle. Spring and Summer are not far from your house!

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Shepastor: "Through the Eyes of a Child..."

1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. I Corinthians 11:1, NIV

On Easter Sunday, beautiful children came to worship all dressed up in their new outfits. Two of our little ones burst into our church office announcing themselves..."Hello..." It was their way of inviting me to come and see their new dresses and polished nails. Of course I obliged! They were adorable, beautiful and full of delight! I reached down, gave them a big hug and let them know how beautiful they looked and are. I was totally surprised and incredibly blessed by the response of the 3 year old... she flung open her arms (as if performing on a stage) gave me a million dollar smile and boldly declared, "I look like YOU!!!"

She sees herself in her pastor. She wants to imitate me...she believes that she looks like me (she is far cuter!!!). I suddenly had an increased awareness of my responsibility to be intentional about modeling true beauty...the beauty of Christ before our children. This baby's response caused me to think deeply about imagery and the power it wields over people in general and children in particular. Children will imitate what they see. They will follow the examples we place before them. They learn the lessons that we teach with our actions.

What are you teaching by your actions, your words, your example? Whether you realize it or not, the children in your sphere of influence are looking at you. Whether you realize it or not, your face is a mirror into which our children see themselves. May we prayerfully, lovingly and righteously provide a reflection that exudes the love and way of Christ.

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris