Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Shepastor: “The Courage to Pray Dangerous Prayers”

Do you know that prayers can be dangerous? One might ask, “How could any prayer be dangerous?” Prayer can be dangerous if we are not serious about what we are asking God to do in our lives.

Sometimes we have to pray dangerous prayers. One such prayer is, “Lord, break me”

Bill Hybels, in his book, Prayer: Opening your heart to God , declares,

Ecclesiastes 3:3 Says there is a time to tear down and a time to build up. There is a time to pile up bricks and put mortar in between them, and there is a time to get a sledgehammer and to break the bricks apart. After being a Christian for a while, you will discover that you need to develop a whole series of new patterns in your life. To do this, you need God’s help. You need to invite Him to break down those things in your life that are not pleasing to Him. You need to learn to pray the dangers prayer, ‘Break me!’”

What is one area in your life in which you need to ask the LORD to begin tearing walls down? Sometimes we block the blessings of the Lord in our lives because we’ve built up so many walls - walls of fear, walls of doubt, walls of stubbornness, walls of self-hatred, walls of self-defeat, walls of pride, walls of hardness of heart, walls of sin. In order to receive the full blessings of the Lord and realize our potential as His children, we need to begin to ask the Lord to tear down the walls that separate us from His perfect will in our lives.

Another dangerous prayer is, “Lord, stretch me…”

When we’ve been walking with the Lord for many years, it’s easy to become complacent and believe that we’ve grown all we need to grow in the Christian faith. It’s easy to do what we’ve always done. But the Lord wants us, as long as we have life, to continue to learn, to continue to grow, to continue to increase in our faith. What new thing does the Lord want to show you, to teach you, to reveal to you to make your walk with Him closer and your relationship with Him stronger? When’s the last time you’ve had to stretch out on faith and look to God for things that you couldn’t do for yourself? Sometimes God will allow seemingly impossible situations to enter into our lives so that He can stretch our faith, stretch our understanding of His love for us, stretch our willingness to follow and serve Him.

Begin to ask the Lord to give you the courage to pray “dangerous prayers” and watch God move you beyond the boundaries that you’ve created. Watch God open doors and windows in your life. Watch God increasingly use you to help manifest His Kingdom on this earth.

Have you already begun to pray dangerous prayers? What new thing has the Lord taught you through the experience? Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Shepastor: “Thanks Trumps Defeat Every Time”

Being thankful is a choice. It’s not always an easy choice. Human frailty draws our focus towards what is not right rather than right, what is not fair, rather than fair, what is hurtful and bad verse what is healing and beautiful. A friend of mine once described it this way, “Our perception of life can be like two buckets of water – one filled and one with barely a drop. As blessings are thrown into our full bucket, they just makes ripples. But when proverbial rocks are thrown into the almost empty bucket, they make a very loud noise.”

So many blessings “plop” into our full bucket that we barely notice them. But when bad things happen, they make a loud, clanging noise and we are drawn to focus rather upon them. We can, however, choose to be thankful.

Hebrews 12: 1-3 declares,

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (NIV)

Singer/Song Writer Marvin Sapp has written a song, Praise Him In Advance.
“I’ve had my share of ups and downs, times when there was no one around. God came and spoke these words to me, praise will confuse the enemy.”

When we choose thanks and praise over frustration, over anger, over focusing upon all that is wrong, we “trump” satan’s attempts to defeat us. Our praise and thanks "confuse the enemy." When we choose thanks and praise over focusing upon the things that are wrong in our lives, we position ourselves for triumph over our circumstances. Let’s “lay aside,” “throw off” everything that hinders our praise – fix our eyes upon Jesus, remember the great cloud of witnesses not only in the Bible, but in our own lives and thank God for all that He has already done.

During this Thanksgiving Season, may your thanksgiving trump satan’s attempts to defeat you by causing you to focus upon whatever issues seek to entangle you.

Oh give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever!

Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In faith, hope and perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Shepastor Highlights Columnist, Qin Tang’s Article, “10 Unhealthy Thinking Patterns”

Ministers tend to spend a lot of time in their own heads. For a variety of reasons (personal reflection, preparations for preaching and teaching, administrative responsibilities, confidentialities, navigating church relationships etc), we can become victims of thought overload. For the same aforementioned reasons, our vocation easily lends itself to isolation, loneliness and vulnerability to unhealthy thought patterns.

Today, Shepastor highlights Librarian, Writer and Columnist, Qin Tang’s article, “10 Unhealthy Thinking Patterns.” Delving deeper than, “don’t worry, be happy,” Ms. Tang shares insights from recent studies on resilience – something that is definitely needed for the ministry!

Read on and be blessed!

Shepastor Highlights: Qin Tang’s Article, “10 Unhealthy Thinking Patterns”

“In a recent study on resilience, I learned about the following 10 unhealthy thinking patterns or thinking distortions. The research was pioneered by Dr. Aaron Beck, widely regarded as the father of cognitive therapy. It was later popularized by Dr. David Bums in his book The Feeling Good Handbook."

1. Extreme thinking (All-or-nothing thinking) – Thinking in absolute terms, like “always” and “never.”

2. Overgeneralization – Taking isolated cases and using them to make generalizations.

3. Mental filter – Focusing on negative aspects of an event while ignoring the positive.

4. Disqualifying the positive – Continually “shooting down” positive experiences for arbitrary reasons.

5. Jumping to conclusions – Based on little or no evidence, mind-reading (assuming special knowledge of the intentions or thoughts of others), fortune telling (predicting without special knowledge).

6. Magnification and minimization – Distorted thinking that twists facts, exaggerating the positive traits of others and magnifying your own negatives.

7. Emotional reasoning – Decisions based on intuitions or personal feelings rather than on objective facts and evidence.

8. Should statements – Thoughts focused on “should” or “ought to be” rather than reality, having rigid rules that “always apply” no matter what.

9. Labeling and mislabeling – Explaining by naming with “absolute labels (loser, bossy, shy, perfect, cheater, wishy-washy.)

10. Personalization – Assuming responsibility for events over which you have no control, magical thinking.

About the author
Qin Tang

Librarian, writer, columnist.
Qin Tang grew up in China, studied German at universities in China and Germany, and ended up living in the United States since 1991. She says, “Life is a journey and a mystery. I am still on the journey, learning and growing every day.”

To read more, visit

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Shepastor: “Understanding the Origin of the ‘NO’ Means Everything!”

“NO” is a legitimate answer. At times, “no” is necessary for our health and well-being. “NO,” can at times be discouraging and heart-breaking. Depending upon the situation, “NO” can help, heal, hurt or derail. Today, Shepastor, explores the importance of understanding where the “NO” is coming from as we seek to ascertain God’s will and purpose for our lives in general and ministry in particular.

Shepastor: “Understanding the Origin of the ‘NO’ Can Mean Everything!”

All of us at various points in our lives desire and need affirmation. As children we need a nurturing and encouraging hand to guide us and tell us that we are unique, beautiful, bright and have something to offer. As teens, we begin to assert our independence, yet we secretly look over our shoulder from time to time to get the affirming nod that we are “OK.” As we move into adulthood, depending upon our history, the quest for affirmation takes on various forms.

For some, affirmation is sought out through a series of unhealthy relationships. Others stop at nothing to gain certain levels of notoriety. Others come to terms with their “somebodiness” and understand their worth, gifts and mission in life through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Although we may feel confident in our relationship with the Lord and know that our help comes from above, there still may be times when we question our life’s purpose, a specific goal or direction.

When knocked upon doors remain closed, when proverbial detour signs keep popping up, when projects fail and dreams fall flat – we are confronted with the daunting question, “Whose “NO’ is it?” We are well acquainted with the scriptures that tell us,

“The steps of a good man/woman are ordered by the Lord,” “Delight thyself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart,” “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path…”

But when the path keeps winding and the glimmer of light becomes dim, we begin to ask ourselves the question, “Whose ‘NO’ is it?”

- When you’ve been to seminary and served faithfully in the lay ministry, but for some reason still can’t get ordained,
- When you’ve jumped through all of the hoops and prepared yourself well for pastoral search committees yet, as a woman, you still don’t receive a call to pastor a church
- When you’ve applied to doctoral programs and can’t get accepted
- When you’ve written a manuscript that you are convicted is from the Lord, but can’t get published
- When you can’t find a job
- When you can’t find a mate
- When you just can’t seem to get to where you want to go…

You are confronted with the question, “Whose NO is it?”

Your answer to that soul-searching question will mean the difference between dogged pursuit of your dream, goal, aspirations etc., and bowing in humble submission.

For those seeking a break through, I humbly offer the following…

Through prayer and discernment, fasting and consulting Holy Spirit led mentors and friends – strive to make a distinction between the aforementioned. In other words, is the “NO” answer due to human sinfulness such as sexism, racism, ignorance or mean spiritedness on the part of those giving the answer? Or is the locked door, no matter the situation, God’s decision to move your life into a different direction? Having the answer to that question is critical!

It is critical because understanding the origin of the “NO” determines the strength of your pursuit. If you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord God Almighty has placed a vision, a dream, a call, a ministry within you, no devil in hell or human on earth can thwart your determination to attain that goal. God plus you are a majority! No weapon formed against you will prosper and you will ultimately gain the victory! God will open doors that no man can shut and close doors that no man can open! God’s voice and His Holy Spirit will compel you to continue to doggedly pursue and you will overcome!

If on the other hand, in your innermost being, you have heard the Lord say, “My child, that is not My way for you,” or, “this is not the right time for you,” or “I have something different for you,” or “STOP!” and because of stubbornness, pride, foolish ambition or misguided thoughts you keep going in the wrong direction, you will not prosper in your pursuits. When you reach the proverbial fork in the road and are asking yourself if you should continue on the path pursuing a particular goal or if you need to let it go, understanding the origin of the “NO” means everything.

Before deciding either way, before allowing naysayers to discourage you or well meaning friends to encourage you to follow a path that is not the path the Lord has ordered for you, go before the Lord and stay there until the answer comes!

Are you trying to figure out the origin of “NO” in your life today? Have you just come through a discernment process and have an answer that may help another? Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Shepastor: "We Need Your Input!"

Dear Shepastor friends,
Plans are underway to prepare for the 2012 "Empowering and Encouraging Women In Ministry" Conference! We value your opinion and are praying to develop a conference that will address the needs of women in ministry.

Please take a moment to complete the brief survey "What Would Be Most Helpful? WTIM Conference 2012", by clicking on the link below.

When finished, simply click on the "done" button and your survey will be submitted.

Thank you in advance for your prayers and input!

I leave with you today the words of the Apostle Paul to the saints at Philippi...

6Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

8And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you
Philippians 4: 6-9 NLT

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