Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Shepastor: “Destiny…Providence…God’s Will…"

 


“…And who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Esther 4: 14b

Due to a strange turn of events, Queen Vashti was unjustly removed as Queen of Persia when she refused to perform lewd dancing before her husband, King Ahasuerus and his drunken friends (Esther 1:1 and following). Although she maintained her dignity, she has been maligned as a rebellious wife and an arrogant woman (another blog for another day!!!). As a result, the King began a search for a new Queen.

Long story short, a beautiful, “fresh” young lady by the name of Esther was chosen. At the time, the King did not know that she was a Jew. Eventually, she would be challenged to reveal her true identity when her people were threatened with annihilation. Her uncle Mordecai urged her with these words,

“…And who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4: 14b

Was it destiny? Was it providence? People of faith declare, “It was God’s will, God’s purpose and God’s timing…”

Today our nation experienced another, “for such a time as this” moment. Following four years of turmoil, deep racial divisions, “hyper other-ism,” tribalism and unprecedented deceit from a presidential administration, a new day has dawned in America! Today, we witnessed a “peaceful transition of power.”

Today we witnessed the swearing in of the first African American/Southeast Asian Woman Vice President, in the person of Kamala Harris! Today we witnessed the first African American man (Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock) and the first Jewish man (Jon Ossoff) sworn in as Senators of Georgia. Today we witnessed the first National Youth Poet Laureate, in the person of Amanda Gorman! WHAT A HISTORIC DAY!!!

But one of the most powerful things we witnessed today was the swearing in of the 


oldest person to ever become President of the United States of America, Joseph R. Biden, age 78!
His story is particularly inspiring because of his life journey. A man who struggles with stuttering, a man who came from “blue collar” America, a man who did not attend an ivy league school, a man who lost his first wife and daughter on the week he was to be sworn in as a U.S. Senator. He is a man who ran for the presidency no less than three times (1988, 2008, 2020)!

Many thought that he was too old. Many thought that he couldn’t talk right. Many thought that he was not progressive enough. You name it, he was not the 1st choice…until now… Now, Joe Biden became just what our nation needed… a man filled with wisdom, dignity, calm, stability and experience…a man who is respected on “both sides of the isle…” a man who has a shot at bringing our country back together.

What made the difference? Did he change? Did he gain some different attributes? Did he somehow get a makeover? NO! The difference was God’s timing!

God’s timing is always different than our timing. You may think that your time has passed. You may feel its too late. You may have tried several times and failed. But God has a time, a space and a place where your gifts will shine through, your purpose will be made clear and your new day will dawn!


In the “fullness of time,” you will break out on the left and the right! You will make the difference that you were called to make. YOU WILL fulfill all that God has ordained for you to accomplish.

Don’t give up. Don’t be thwarted by the nay sayers. Keep on doing what the Lord has made you to do. Be the best YOU that you can, by the power of the Holy Ghost and God’s grace.

Your “for such a time as this,” will be revealed.

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,

Pastor Chris

www.shepastorchris.org

 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Shepastor: “As We March into the New Year…”

 

18 Therefore encourage one another with these words… 

1st Thessalonians 4:18, NIV





As we march towards 2021, may we by faith remember the following…

-        God is with us

-        We must encourage, comfort and build up one another

-        Our peace is not of this world, it “surpasses understanding”

-        We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us

-        We can do all things through Christ that strengthens us

-        Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen…

-        Trust God at all times

-        Your labor is not in vain…

 

Be encouraged!

Happy New Year!!!

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,

Pastor Chris

www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Shepastor: “True Joy”



Galatians 5:22-23, NIV

 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 

23 gentleness and self-control.

 Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." 

In observance of the 3rd week of Advent, today we turn our attention towards the topic of Joy. Some may ask the question, “How can we discuss being joyful in the midst of all of this pain?” The CDC has warned that we could see more than 3,000 deaths per day if the COVID-19 pandemic is not controlled. Many are losing or have lost their jobs and do not know how they can make it. Parents and teachers are struggling with online learning. The list goes on and on. How and the world can we discuss joy???

 In Nehemiah 8:10, as the people of Israel listened to the priest Ezra read from the book of the law from sunrise until noon, they mourned their life circumstances. They were struggling to rebuild the city that had been left in ruins after Babylonian captivity. They were struggling to rebuild the wall around the city that was a source of protection and safety. But more than that, they were struggling to rebuild their faith and their damaged relationship with God.

 As Ezra read the sacred text, the people mourned and wept. They wept because they had fallen away from righteous living. They wept because of their sinful disobedience. And they wept because of the consequences they faced as a result of their foolish, wicked and idolatrous ways. Upon seeing their pain and grief over their past sins, Nehemiah, in so many words told the people, “You can’t do anything about your past. Some of this pain is due to the consequences of cultural and individual sin. You can’t change the past. But you can make up your mind right now to walk with God and live consistently for Him! The joy of the LORD is your strength.”

 


This joy that Nehemiah spoke of had to be deliberate.  It had to be a decision to embrace the forgiveness, love and opportunities that God was offering them at that moment.  This understanding of Joy transcends feel good emotions.  It is larger and more intent than happiness.  Happiness is based upon what is “happening.” But “Joy” is based upon our faith, hope and trust in Almighty God, no matter what is happening. This Joy produces strength, faith, hope, endurance and the blessed assurance that the God we serve loves us unconditionally and wants us to move forward, no matter how sordid or corrupt our pasts may have been.  This joy reminds us that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in the time of trouble.

The New Testament Book of Galatians reminds us that Joy is one of the “fruits of the

Spirit.” In other words, the child of God has a depth level peace, contentment and assurance that no matter what life may bring, God is with us! Feelings will rise and fall.  True joy, however is a daily decision to remain focused upon the God who is able to “keep us from falling and to present us faultless before His presence with exceeding joy!” (Jude vs.24)

True joy is sustained within us when we purposefully, deliberately, intentionally make the choice to see God in the midst of our every situation and circumstance.  It is the decision to trust God in all things, to praise God in all things and to believe that God is with us and is available to help us not to slip back into ungodly and destructive ways.

Depression, oppression, perpetual sorrow, sadness and worry do not befit, suit or look good on the child of God.  The oppression of the enemy does not suit, befit or look good on the child of God because our God is bigger than any trial, situation or circumstance that the enemy can throw at us.  Emotional bondage, constant complaining, constant drama in the life of the child of God is not befitting, does not suit, does not look good on the child of God.  It does not suit you!

That does not mean that we won’t experience sorrow or worry, or struggle or trials or problems.  But what is means is that the child of God walks in the conviction that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning!”  The child of God walks in the blessed assurance that the Lord’s mercies are new every morning – great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.” 


The child of God walks in the favor of God, knowing that everything is somehow going to work together for our good.
Therefore, the child of God “puts on” the garment of praise, and makes the bold declaration, “I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth… and praises God in advance for His blessings and His deliverance.”  The child of God lifts up holy hands, bows down his or her head, shouts in triumph, plucks the strings of their hear and declares, “be exalted, O God above my situation and circumstances – I will let your glory be all over me!”

The child of God understands that God is mighty to save, that His compassions fail not, that He is a provider, a keeper, a sustainer, a deliverer.  The child of God also understands that we are the hands and the feet of Jesus.  God wants to use us to help relieve pain, to help feed the hungry, to help clothe the naked – Our joy in the Lord is obvious to all by the love and the care and the compassion that we show.

True Joy gives more than just lip service, true joy produces “life service.”  The way we walk, the way we talk the way we treat people, the songs we sing, the love we show, the compassion we give, the prayers we pray, the gifts and talents we share all are examples of our joy!

Be intentional about keeping your joy.  Resist the temptation to wallow in the past,

in depression, in self-pity, in anything that drains you of the strength and vitality available to you through the love of God our Father, the grace of our elder brother, Jesus Christ, and the sweet communion of the blessed Holy Spirit. Be intentional about keeping your joy! Put on the garments of Joy and Praise! Be intentional about keeping your joy! Determine to keep your spirit filled with the joy of the Lord and praise each day. May you walk by faith, continually give God praise, live in peace and remain determined to keep your joy!

In Faith, Hope and Joy,

Pastor Chris

www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Shepastor: “Confident Thanksgiving and Praise”

 

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. Psalm 100, KJV

 

It is Thanksgiving week in America. However, many may be struggling to be thankful in this season. Many are struggling with the loss of loved ones, employment and “Covid fatigue.” Frontline workers are exhausted, struggling as they work in over crowded hospital wards, intubated patients, grieving families and limited PPE. Our Nation is deeply divided over a plethora of issues. It’s a tough time! How do we “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise?”

Let’s consider the following…

We serve a God that loves and cares about us.  The psalmist said, “We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.  Be thankful unto Him and bless His name.  For the Lord is good, his mercy is ever lasting and His truth endureth to all generations.

We can thank God even before we see the answer, because we have the confidence that He is the answer.  We have the confidence that God can and will take care of His own.  We can thank and praise God with confidence because when we trust God, we know that no matter what comes, God is going to carry us through.  Yes, we face disappointments.  Yes, we face trials and tribulations. Yes, we have struggles and pain.  But God carries us through them all. 

The child of God will face trials and struggles, but the child of God knows that God is right there by his or her side, leading, guiding, comforting, encouraging, loving, supporting, providing, making a way.  He promised never to leave us or forsake us.  He promised to give us springs in the desert.  He promised to make the crooked places straight and the rough places smooth in our lives.  He promised that no weapon formed against us would prosper.  He promised that when the enemy comes in like a flood, His Spirit would raise up a standard against him.

God said, 

I am the Lord that healeth thee.  Fear not, for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine. 2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.  Isaiah 43:1-2 (ASV)

In other words, child of God, there’s nothing that you will face in this life that God cannot see you through.  You may feel as though you can’t make it, you can’t take it, but stand upon God’s Word and declare, “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.”  Sometimes God changes our situation and circumstances and sometimes God changes us.  Sometimes God moves mountains and sometimes God moves us.  Sometimes God heals our bodies, and sometimes He simply heals our minds and spirits.

God’s Word in Philippians 4 encourages us not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, we should let our requests be made known unto God. The promise is that the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will keep our hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.

Today, I encourage you to choose thanksgiving and praise. Even in the midst of your struggle and trial, choose confidently to bless and praise the Lord. Meditate upon all that you do have. Honor the Lord for all that He has already carried you through. Thank Him for your life. Praise Him for salvation. Trust Him for your future. Be confident, not in yourself, but in His faithfulness. God will carry you through!

This Thanksgiving and always,

May the Lord bless you and keep you,
May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you,

May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,

Pastor Chris

www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Shepastor: Master Class Highlights, "When God Sends Women..."

 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Matthew 28: 8-10, NIV

 

Shepastor: “When God Sends Women…”

Jesus’ ministry was inclusive. He did not adhere to the societal norms that marginalized and disenfranchised people based upon their race, gender, religion or ethnicity. Jesus loves us. This particular passage of scripture shows how Jesus was not concerned about the fact that those who came to the tomb first were women. He did not dismiss them and say, “Go get men. These women can’t carry my message!” 
NO! Jesus entrusted the women with the first word from the tomb! “Tell them that I am ALIVE!!!”

What an honor and blessing it was to the meet each week, November 2nd, 9th and 16th, 2020, with BEAUTIFUL Sisters who came together to listen, share and participate in the 3 week Master Class, “When God Sends Women,” (Based upon my book, Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling: Equipping and Encouraging Female Pastors, Judson Press, 2013) on the weekly Zoom Women’s Ministry program, “Let’s Talk.” Women shared openly and transparently as we explored together the concept and realities of the “Stained Glass Ceiling.”

We discussed barriers spoken and unspoken, words of wisdom, caution and encouragement and the importance of ”allies and power brokers.” I owe a special debt of gratitude to Rev. Jewel M. London and Dr. Carol Lynn Patterson who invited me to teach the class and provided their platforms weekly for the sessions. They also embraced, advanced and continue to advocate for the “Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling Endowment” for African American Women Senior Pastors of small, struggling congregations. I also shout out Pastor Patty Harris for sharing her radio platform for the replays of the classes. You can still hear session 3 on “Free Your Mind,” (See flyer above). To God be the glory for the GREAT things He has done!!!

While the class was free, participants were encouraged to make a donation to the Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling Endowment (select the pull down menu and click on ISOE Beyond the Stained Glass Endowment). This fund was born out of a desire to help African American women pastors to survive and thrive. So often women in general and African American women in particular find themselves only receiving calls to “Lazarus” churches (learn more about that in the class!). This endowment will offer 2 grants per year to two selected pastors based upon the grant criteria.

During Session 3, we invited “allies and power brokers,” to join us. We were blessed by the presence and words of Rev. Miriam Mendez, Executive Minister of American Baptist Churches of New Jersey; Rev. Jeffrey Johnson, Senior Pastor of Eastern Star Church of Indianapolis; and. Bro. Vincent Dent, Chief Development Officer of the American Baptist Home Missions Societies.

Each guest shared their own personal experiences as or with women in ministry, the authenticity of our calls, the importance and necessity of our leadership and the necessary response of the Church. I also thank my own spiritual father, my seminary pastor, the Rev. Dr. Cleopatrick Lacy, for speaking to us about his history of learning and serving alongside women in ministry, as well as the doors the Lord has blessed him to open for women pastors, including me!

While the class has ended, the mission continues! We praise God for those who not only verbally recognize, but support and advocate for the women God chooses to send! May we continue to press on, by faith!

 (To support the Stained-Glass Ceiling Endowed Fund give online at ABHMS and click the GIVE NOW button and access the drop down menu and select ISOE Stained Glass Endowment or mail your check with “Stained Glass Endowment” in the memo section to: American Baptist Home Mission Societies, 1075 First Ave., King of Prussia, PA 19406. If you have any questions about giving, please contact ABHMS’ chief development officer, Vincent Dent at vincent.dent@abhms.org or 610.768.2420.)

In faith, hope and perseverance,

Pastor Chris

www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Shepastor: "When God Sends Women..."

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Matthew 28: 8-10, NIV

 

Shepastor: “When God Sends Women…”

Jesus’ ministry was inclusive. He did not adhere to the societal norms that marginalized and disenfranchised people based upon their race, gender, religion or ethnicity. Jesus loves us. This particular passage of scripture shows how Jesus was not concerned about the fact that those who came to the tomb first were women. He did not dismiss them and say, “Go get men. These women can’t carry my message!” NO! Jesus entrusted the women with the first word from the tomb! “Tell them that I am ALIVE!!!”

In the upcoming Master Class, “When God Sends Women,” I am privileged to share the lessons from my book, Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling: Equipping and Encouraging Female Pastors. The classes will explore experiences of women pastors…words of wisdom, caution, encouragement and insight. Classes will also highlight current and past trends regarding the disparities and inequities women pastors face as they seek and answer pastoral ministry calls. Participants will also have an opportunity to engage "Power Brokers," those who stand on "the other side of the door" and help advocate for women pastors!


While the class is free, participants are encouraged to make a donation to the Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling Endowment (select the pull down menu and click on ISOE Beyond the Stained Glass Endowment). This fund was born out of a desire to help African American women pastors to survive and thrive. So often women in general and African American women in particular find themselves only receiving calls to “Lazarus” churches (learn more about that in the class!). This endowment will offer 2 grants per year to two selected pastors based upon the grant criteria.

I thank my wonderful and beautiful Clergy Sisters, Rev. Jewel M. London and Rev. Dr. Carol L. Patterson for inviting me to teach this class. These GREAT Women of God are doing PHENOMENAL THINGS in the Kingdom and are truly lifting others as they climb.

Register for the class, “When God Sends Women” featured on “Let’s Talk,” today!

Follow the links below to purchase the book and to register for the class...

Please join us for a 3-week Master Class (Mondays, November 2nd, 9th, and 16th, 8:00 p.m., EST) for women called to Pastor. The class is based on Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling: Equipping and Encouraging Female Pastors. Please order your book directly from the author and facilitator, Pastor Christine A. Smith (Let's Talk Week 5).

 

Master Class begins Monday, November 2 so click here to Order Book today - shepastorchris.org/my-book

 

Click Here to Register for the Master Class: "When God Sends Women" http://bit.ly/CTPMasterClass

 (To support the Stained-Glass Ceiling Endowed Fund give online at ABHMS and click the GIVE NOW button and access the drop down menu and select ISOE Stained Glass Endowment or mail your check with “Stained Glass Endowment” in the memo section to: American Baptist Home Mission Societies, 1075 First Ave., King of Prussia, PA 19406. If you have any questions about giving, please contact ABHMS’ chief development officer, Vincent Dent at vincent.dent@abhms.org or 610.768.2420.)

In faith, hope and perseverance,

Pastor Chris

www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Shepastor: “Six Reasons Why We Should Vote…”

 


Jeremiah 29:7 Common English Bible (CEB)

Promote the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because your future depends on its welfare. Jeremiah 29:7, CEB

The year 2020 has been a challenging, strange and painful year for many, to say the least. To date, over 210 thousand people in America have succumbed to COVID-19. Many small businesses and individuals have been devastated by the economic avalanche prompted by the pandemic. Families have not been able to mourn and celebrate the lives of loved ones who have died in the ways to which they are accustomed, honoring their sacred traditions. Many places of worship have had to shift from in person worship to some form of technological means. The nation is deeply divided along racial, theoretical, economical and ethical lines.

On top of all of this, we are in the throws of one of the most contentious presidential elections in modern history. Many are so exhausted and daunted that they are losing hope. Numbers of young people are looking on in disbelief. Some have even suggested that their votes will not matter. But before you join the “What’s the point” club, consider the following reasons why we all should vote…

    1.    Voting is your way of having a say… When you cast your vote for presidential candidates, judges, levy’s, council representatives, and any number of issues, you are adding your voice of agreement or disagreement. Your vote could literally change the course of history! When you neglect voting, you are voting by default!

      2.    Voting is your responsibility as a citizen… Everyone can complain. Everyone can talk about what is wrong. But when we vote, we participate in the election process. When we don’t vote, we have no right to complain about the way things are. To be a responsible citizen is to take part in the process. 

3.    3.  Voting empowers you to help make a difference…     In the words of our focus scripture verse, “Promote the welfare of the City…” When we vote, we have an opportunity to promote, move forward and positively influence the places where we reside. Issues regarding health care, jobs, wages, fair and equal standards, diversity, immigration, the environment, education, etc., all rely upon the voices of the people. Congress is moved by their electorate. They represent us! When we don’t vote, we leave them to their own devices and those of the lobbyists. Money, not your best interests govern.

 4.    People died so that we could vote… Blood was shed. Bodies were beaten. People mobilized and marched. Individuals were attacked by dogs, blasted by water hoses, burned, lynched, humiliated, jailed…all so that all citizens in America would have the right to vote. Voting rights were EXPENSIVE to obtain. We must honor, be grateful for and appreciate this right, not only with words, but with the action of voting.

 


   5.    People die unnecessarily when we don’t vote… There are those who suggest that young people aren’t moved by the reality that people died for their right to vote. If you feel that way you must consider that people are dying unnecessarily when you don’t vote. We need your voices to help demolish antiquated, unjust, racist systems that perpetuate models of brutality and death. We need your votes to help improve upon and expand systems that show promise, but need an overhaul. You need to vote, if for no other reason, than that you should be concerned about the country and the planet that will be left for you.

 6.    You should vote because your life depends upon it…The Lord told Jeremiah to tell the people, “Pray to the Lord for it, because your future depends on its welfare…” Your future, our future and our welfare, our wellbeing, our prosperity, our health depends upon the communities, nation and world we build. Here in America, that is determined by our vote. Our prayers must be coupled with our action of voting. Some will argue that the Electoral College makes the determination and not our vote. But remember, the Electoral College is influenced by our vote. When we vote in mass, we can far surpass the 270 electoral votes for a president to win. Also remember, the president is only one branch of a three-branch government (Executive, Legislative and Judicial). Even when our preferred leader does not win, we can still influence outcomes by having a balanced legislative branch (the House and the Senate).

Use your voice. VOTE!!!

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,

Pastor Chris

www.shepastorchris.org