Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Shepastor: "Shine Your Light..."

1 Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. 2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.Isaiah 9:1-3 (KJV)

In our text for today, Isaiah tells us of how the people of Judah had rebelled against the word of the Lord time and time again. God would send his messengers to teach them the ways of righteousness, to tell them how to worship and serve him, to teach them how to live holy lives. But time and time again, the people refused to listen. They angered God by their willful and disobedient ways. They worshipped and served other gods. They sought counsel from mediums (what we would call “psychics”), they sacrificed to other gods, they turned themselves over to every evil thing and even their kings forsook the God of their fathers and turned to folly.

Therefore, they were a people misguided by their own sinful hearts and minds. They were a people who forgot all that the Lord had done for them. They were a people with blinded eyes and burdened souls. They were a people who walked in darkness.

Thus the prophet declared:

… Vs. 2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
Isaiah 9:2 (KJV)

In our nation, in our communities, in our world, people are hurting. People are angry. People are suffering. People are afraid. Not only are we being pounded by the Corona virus, over 100,000 people have died in America over the last three months. But in the African American Community we have witnessed, yet again the brutal, hate-filled, death of Mr. George Floyd.

We watched with agony as a cold, hate-filled, insensitive, cruel Minnesota police officer suffocated a black man as he lay on his stomach, hands cuffed behind his back, two other policemen kneeling on his body and the main culprit putting the full weight of his body, using his knee to compress Mr. Floyd’s windpipe. We watched as he cried, begged, pleaded and gasped, “I CAN”T BREATHE!” People are TIRED!!! People are FRUSTRATED. People are ANGRY! While we do not condone or advocate rioting and violence, we must acknowledge the root causes of the mayhem. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “A Riot is the language of the unheard.”

We must ask the hard questions. We must face the consequences of generations of oppression, abuse, disenfranchisement, racist systems that perpetuate cycles of dysfunction, poverty, inequality and destruction. The blood of Trayvon Martin, the blood of Tamir Rice, the blood of Philando Castille, the blood of Sandra Bland, the blood for Freddie Gray, the Blood of Armond, the blood of Breonna Taylor, the blood of GEORGE FLOYD is crying out from the ground! JUSTICE MUST PREVAIL!!!

If we are going to shine the light, we cannot give the masses standard lines. We must HEAR their cries for justice. White and Black, and Brown and Red and Yellow Sisters and Brothers must band together and shout with one voice, ENOUGH! We HEAR the cries of the oppressed and we WILL NOT TOLERATE this injustice any more. Do you want the buildings to stop burning – STAND FOR JUSTICE. Do you want the rioters to stop rioting STAND FOR JUSTICE…Do you want police brutality to stop?
CHANGE THE LAWS that allow for unchecked abuse of power.

SHINE YOUR LIGHT at the ballot box. SHINE YOUR LIGHT at the State house…SHINE YOUR LIGHT in the community. Love is stronger than hate. Love is more powerful that hate. LOVE WILL PREVAIL. Love is an ACTION WORD!

Be determined to shine your light. We can waste our time cursing the darkness or we can be determined to shine the light of Jesus Christ. Jesus showed us the true meaning of love and light. Jesus encouraged us to speak truth to power. Jesus taught us to be concerned about the needs of the less fortunate. Jesus taught us not to be hypocritical, but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God. Someone is hurting today. Can you see Jesus in them? Someone needs a hand up today will you help them?

Someone with whom you don’t want to be bothered is pleading for guidance today – will you walk with them? We all are called to be missionaries to spread the good tidings of God’s goodness, mercy, grace and salvation. As God’s people, we all are called to shine the light for those walking through the darkness. We are called to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah 61).

Be determined to shine your light!

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Shepastor: “You Can Make It!”

Proverbs 30:1, NIV
The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh—an inspired utterance.
This man’s utterance to Ithiel:
“I am weary, God,
but I can prevail.[a]

Our focus verse for today has been attributed to an individual named Agur. We don’t have any additional information about Agur. His words presented here provide for us the only information we have about him. Agur starts out this section with a profound statement. Certainly, he is not the only Biblical writer to confess this psychological and emotional state, but he follows his initial statement with a declaration of faith… Agur says,

“I am weary, God,
but I can prevail.

Every translation of this verse does not say this.

The King James Version does not even include these words. The Contemporary English Version says it like this…

"Someone cries out to God,
“I am completely worn out!
How can I last?[a]"

The Living Bible combines verses 1-2 and declares,

2 "I am tired out, O God, and ready to die. I am too stupid even to call myself a human being!"
The New Revised Standard Version says it just like the Living Bible…
I won’t bore you with other translations. You get the picture. Of all of them, however, I was intrigued by the New International Version’s translation that has Agur declaring, in spite of his weariness that he can prevail.

Weariness is a condition that goes beyond physical exhaustion. To be weary involves more than aching joints, sweat rolling down your face, wanting to flop down on the bed and go to sleep. “Weariness” has several components. Weariness impacts the totality of a person. Weariness involves the psyche, the spirit and the body. The Hebrew writers suggest that this weariness means feeling completely spent…you’ve given all you’ve got, you are poured out like water out of a pitcher with not even one drop left to give. In other words, you are just DONE!

The man in the text says, “God, I am weary!” All of the translations agree on that. The man is weary, spent, poured out, feeling as if he can’t go one step further. But then the translators diverge. They break off from the one translator who, in spite of explaining the weariness of the man, has the man making a shocking statement… the NIV translator has the man declaring, “but, I can prevail!” The conjunction “but” suggests something to the contrary. The man is making a declaration that is contrary to the way he feels. He feels weary. He feels spent. He feels like giving up, BUT, he declares, “I CAN PREVAIL!”

The term “prevail” means,“to prove more powerful than opposing forces; be victorious.” The man is talking to the right one. He is expressing his weariness to God, but he then decides to that in spite of his weariness, that he can be the victorious over his circumstances. After spending time in the presence of the Lord, he comes to the realization that he can prevail. He realizes that he can be more powerful than the opposing forces… Whatever is making him weary, with God’s help, he can prevail!

There is much in life to make us weary…situations that keep dragging on long after they should have been over, disappointment, physical and psychological pain, poverty, loneliness, defeat, the death of dreams…the list can go on and on. Weariness is a condition of the heart, mind, body and soul. But if we like the Psalmist tell the Lord about how we feel, tell the Lord about our pain, our sorrow, our disappointment, our struggle, our trial…whatever, when we get before the Lord in sincerity of heart, something will begin to happen down on the inside.

When we turn our focus away from our weariness and instead begin to look at our GREAT and awesome and powerful God, then we like Agur will declare, I CAN PREVAIL! Whatever you are going through, know today that you can make it! As we move in faith, as we serve the Lord with gladness, as we listen and obey God’s Word and follow God’s way, our weariness will be replaced with energy. God energizes us when we make up our minds to walk with Him. God strengthens us by reminding us of His promises and revealing His beauty even in the midst of dark and trying times. God reveals Himself in unexpected ways when we make up our minds to search for Him with all of our hearts.

Yes, YOU CAN MAKE IT! God is with you, God is keeping you. God is for you! You are more than a conqueror! You can do all things through Christ that strengthens you! You are the head and not the tail! You are above and not beneath! You are a child of the King! Make up your mind today to cast down the enemy of fear, depression and defeat! Make up your mind to cast off everything that seeks to way you down. Make up your mind to focus on your GREAT AND AWESOME GOD! Tell yourself, “I CAN PREVAIL!” Tell yourself, “With the help of the LORD I WILL MAKE IT!!!”

Be encouraged! Be blessed by this song, “You Can Make it!” By Betty Griffin Keller…

You Can Make It


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

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Shepastor: “Are We Perishing from a Lack of Knowledge?”

6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. Hosea 4:6, KJV

As leaders in the faith community, we are held to a higher law – that of teaching, preaching and leading people to know and love the Lord and to trust and follow His Word. We also have the very important responsibility of serving as community leaders – exemplifying and teaching what it means to “do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.”

Like no other time in recent history, the covers are being pulled back on the health, economic and educational disparities between the majority culture and minorities in America. False information is leading some to believe that minorities and younger individuals cannot be infected by the Corona virus. According to a recent news report, African Americans comprise approximately 13.4% of the U.S. population, yet they account for approximately 60% of deaths related to COVID-19 (Read more at "Black communities account for disproportionate number of Covid-19 deaths in the US, study finds")

Many, believing and hoping that somehow COVID-19 will just disappear and we can return to life “as usual,” are ignoring the realities of science and the cautions of the medical community. It is incumbent upon us as faith/community leaders to help people to understand the elusive, dangerous and deadly nature of this disease. Without inciting fear, but instead by faith, we must encourage our congregants and others to listen to the facts, follow the guidance of our health professionals and avoid engaging in activities that unnecessarily expose themselves and others to the virus.

We also have the responsibility to challenge “the powers that be” to do all that they can to increase testing, pursue a viable vaccine and support local governments financially, enabling them to issue the necessary finances to individuals, families, small business leaders, etc., so that people can survive.
May we arm ourselves with the necessary knowledge to address all of the above. May we do what we can to help support one another…call others, send cards, make donations, offer to help someone who cannot help themselves, practice social distancing, wear gloves and masks. Walk in wisdom!

Refuse to perish for a lack of knowledge!

In faith, hope and perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Shepastor: “Be Counted…”

Now the Lord spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying: 2 “Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names… Numbers 1: 1-2, NIV


The concept of a Census is not new. It helps governments to know how many people are living in the country and how resources should be allotted based upon states, districts and communities. The Census is only taken once a decade. The 2020 Census has now been underway for a couple of months. Have you completed your 2020 Census?

Funding for our schools, community centers, safety net programs etc., as well as congressional seats and the drawing of district lines are at stake! In 2010 Ohio lost OVER $139 MILLION for our communities due to low numbers received during the Census. What about your state? Let’s not repeat that in 2020!

It is easy, safe and imperative that we respond! Here’s how:

Online: go to www.my2020census.gov
By phone: Dial 844-330-2020
By US mail: Complete the forms and mail in

If you don’t have your personal code, it’s ok. You can still complete the forms!!!

Please help us in this critical endeavor. Complete your 2020 Census, turn it in and share this information with others! BE COUNTED!!!

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Shepastor: “Lessons We Must Learn from this COVID-19 Season…”

1 Chronicles 12:32 New English Translation (NET Bible)
32 From Issachar there were 200 leaders and all their relatives at their command—they understood the times and knew what Israel should do.

“Stay at home…social distancing…wear masks and gloves…” These all are admonitions given by world health authorities and government leaders to try and flatten the pandemic curve and to save lives. These important physiological health instructions are critical for the well-being of all. However, these guidelines do not address the “sickness” that for too long has infected the moral compass of society.

The scripture reference for today highlights an obscure commentary on members from the tribe of Issachar. It suggests that the leaders and their families “understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” One has to wonder, are we as discerning? If we would be like the wise “Issacharian” leaders, we too must learn some lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and by doing so, gain an understanding of what we must do. Let’s consider the following…

We must learn to work together to get through this… A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. As much as possible we must honor the guidelines given for us to stay safe and alive. People of faith should lead the way as examples. Defying common sense health measures will not bring glory to God. On the contrary, it will bring shame upon the people of God if pride and ignorance govern our response to this pandemic.

We must learn to share more than ever… We must do more to help one another... It is becoming blatantly evident that “trickle down economics” will not work. While we wait for reasonable, strategic and “fact-driven” plans to “re-open our country,” we must re-think how our economy works. Our nation must do everything it can to provide assistance to those who, by no fault of their own are without work. We must all do that we can to share what we have with one another.

Cooking extra meals, making monetary donations, paying for someone’s groceries, making masks and gowns, offering free services when able for example. Utility companies should agree to continue to provide water, heat and lights while customers are without an income. Mortgage companies and banks should hold off on evictions for nonpayment of rent/mortgages. America is a wealthy country. It is time to share that wealth to care for the hard-working people who keep this country running and are devastated by current circumstances.

We must learn from our mistakes and re-consider our ways… Hateful rhetoric, divisive attitudes and behaviors, greed, slander, overlooking the needs of the poor, taking advantage of the ill-informed, voter suppression, oppressing and disenfranchising minorities, perpetuating systems designed to keep generational cycles of poverty…all of these sins must be addressed. Idolatry, sexual immorality, irreverent behaviors, pride and arrogance, racism, bigotry, sexism, “otherism”…ALL OF THESE THINGS have positioned us for unnecessary pain, devastation, loss and ultimately, destruction.

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

May we SOON learn and live these lessons. May we be wise, discern the signs of the times and by so doing, “know what to do.”

In faith, hope and perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org



Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Shepastor: “The Deadliest Week…”

And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,
2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.
3 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,
4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him
. Matthew 26: 1-14, KJV

We have been cautioned by health professionals that the week of April 6th – 11th 2020 may be the “deadliest week” so far in the United States. This ominous designation is directly related to the number of anticipated deaths our nation will endure because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Governors and health professionals are urging people to stay home as much as possible, particularly this week when the pandemic is thought to be at its height.

To date, over 10,000 lives in America have been snuffed out due to COVID-19. The “Death Angel” is sweeping across the land. For the Christian community, we remember this week as Holy Week…another “deadly week” that will “forever live in infamy.” For it is during this week that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ conquered Death, Hell and the Grave! At the beginning of the week Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, palms waving and adoring crowds shouting “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” By the end of the week he was struggling to carry a heavy, splintered cross, on his whipped, bloody, flesh torn back down the Via Dolorosa… crowds jeering and chanting, “Crucify him!”

Betrayal, denial, abandonment and separation…cruel mocking, inhumane beatings, excruciating, unimaginable suffering, condemnation as a criminal, death on a cross. These are the markers that were placed down during this deadly week for our Lord. Jesus endured all of this for us…for our salvation…for our redemption…for our restoration…for our healing…for our deliverance…for our peace…for our victory!

Friday, we mourn, but Sunday is coming! Do this week, in remembrance of Him!

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



Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Shepastor: "Don't Be a Fool!"

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1a, ESV)

Today is April 1st, a day known as “April Fools Day.” It’s a day when people play silly pranks, tell jokes and overall, seek to have fun at another person’s expense. In a sense, both the joker and the one on whom the joke has been played may be considered, “fools” in the spirit of fun. But in a very serious sense, being a fool is no laughing matter.

A fool may be described as someone who is “a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense,” (Dictionary.com). The Bible, however, states that a fool is anyone who says “There is no God.” The Scriptures teach us many important lessons about fools…

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
but a wise man listens to advice
. Proverbs 12:15 (ESV)

Like a dog that returns to his vomit
is a fool who repeats his folly.
Proverbs 26:11 (ESV)

Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense,
but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.
Proverbs 15:21 (ESV)

Fools are always right in their own eyes… We can avoid being foolish by seeking godly wisdom, accepting godly counsel and admitting when we are wrong.

Fools continue to repeat behaviors that bring about their own destruction… When we continue to repeat behaviors that we know are destructive and against God’s ways, we are acting like a fool. We must ask the Lord to help us and give us the mind and the will to break cycles of dysfunction.

Fools would rather enjoy “sin for a season” than to walk “straight ahead…” When we take “spiritual detours” and side step the “right path,” we will reap the painful consequences of momentary gratification. It is important to remember that each action yields a consequence.

The fool says, “There is no God…” It is foolish to believe that things in this life, in the world and in our lives “just happen.” It is foolish to believe that there is no accountability for our actions. God is sovereign. Whether humans acknowledge God or not, God’s omnipotence (all powerful) is not contingent upon humanity’s beliefs. The wise will humble themselves before the Lord, seek God’s wisdom and knowledge, turn from wicked and foolish ways and follow the path of righteousness. The wise will learn lessons from mistakes. The wise will keep walking “straight ahead.”

In this season and every season, may we honor the GREAT and awesome God. May we walk in wisdom, not leaning to our own understanding. May we seek the Lord’s mercy and favor. May we humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face and turn from wicked ways so that we may be healed.

Don’t be a fool!

In faith, hope and perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org