Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Shepastor: “What is Your New Life Resolution in 2012?”

Text: Philippians 3: 12-14

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Every year between December 31st and January 1st, people make all kind of promises to themselves and to others. We call these promises – “resolutions.” The idea is that the old year for better or for worse is gone and is not coming back – so in the new year, we hope to do somethings better, or at least differently.

You’ve heard them, “I’m going to lose weight…, I’m going to stop cursing…, I’m going to stop smoking…, I’m going to save more money…, I’m going to stop using credit cards…” The list goes on and on.

But today, I’d like to challenge us not to think about making meaningless promises that most times we fail to keep. I’d like to challenge you to prayerfully consider making a “New Life Resolution.”

There is a difference between changing a habit and changing your life. Even dieticians and physicians have come to the conclusion that if you really want to loose weight, you can’t just create a list of things you determine that you will give up. Human nature dictates that after a while, the feeling of self -deprivation will take over and you will return to old habits of eating things you shouldn’t. Therefore, they say, a life change – in other words, a change of thought, a change of heart, a change of resolve has to take place in order for real results to happen and be long term.

So it is with our spiritual walk with Christ. Being a Christian is more than giving up the seven deadly sins…Lust, envy, gluttony, sloth, greed, anger and pride. Some stricter traditions have added a few more…
Drinking, smoking, playing cards, dancing, poppin fingers, wearing makeup and going out to parties!

The problem with both lists is that those efforts may control some external behaviors, but the human will can never change the human heart. In order to truly change, a spiritual transformation has to take place. This is not some mystical, secretive process whereby a person has to say chants or drink a potion or have a witch doctor shake some special formula with smoke over your head. No no!

Holy Ghost transformation – the kind of transformation that changes your life happens when you have an encounter with God.

Yes, even those who minister and preach the Gospel need to have transforming experiences – fresh encounters with God.

In 2012, the Lord is saying to somebody, “I’ve got some blessings for you, but in order for you to receive those blessings, you’ve got to let some things go. That fear has been controlling you – let it go. That anger has been consuming you – let it go. That resentment that has been eating your insides apart – let it go. That worry that has been keeping you up at night – let it go.

The Lord is saying, “I’ve got some blessings for you... I’ve got peace for you, I’ve got deliverance for you, I’ve got overcoming power for you, but you’ve got to let some things go!

Don’t let the demons of fear, of worry, of self-doubt, of low self-esteem, of old belittling voices in your head, of resentment, anger, hostility and yes even hatred – don’t let those demons keep you shackled. As you enter 2012 let it go. Don’t be like the children of Israel who wandered in the wilderness for forty years because they kept looking back and couldn’t believe God for what they could not see. Step out on faith –ask the Lord to reveal his will and purpose for you life and then pursue it.

Pastor and author Bill Hybel says,
“You will never take big hills without making bold moves”

Letting go of what has held you back, held you down, kept you imprisoned is not always easy – it takes the bold move of faith to let it go, trust God, resolve to live for Him in every way. It’s a new path, a fresh encounter, a prayerful journey, a new way of living.

Be bold and walk with your head held high, press towards the mark that God has ordained for your life.

To all Shepastor readers – may you walk into this New Year resolving to allow the Lord to order your steps, free you from whatever chains may bind you and bless you beyond what is readily recognizable in your eyes.

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Shepastor: "Victory Through Emmanuel: God Is With Us!"

“Because Emmanuel Lives I Expect Victory Everytime!”
- Darlene Bishop

"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." Matthew 1:23, KJV


24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Romans 8: 24-28 (KJV)

Today, Shepastor Reflects Upon "Victory Through Emmanuel!"

As a youth I can remember the pastor of my home church preaching a sermon entitled, “With Christ You Are Never On the Loosing Team.” He used the above passage of Scripture. I have carried that message with me ever since. Darlene Bishop’s words, “Because Emmanuel lives, I expect victory everytime!,” strikes a similar note.

Sometimes, when we hit a particularly challenging patch in life, it’s difficult to see how God could be making it work together for our good. Unexpected illness, the death of a loved one, the loss of employment, a wayward child, a broken relationship or whatever your “valley” might be – you may be asking, “how could this possibly work for my good?”

Unfortunately, many Christians have used this passage of scripture flippantly or even arrogantly, condemning hurting people for not having enough faith. That is not the intention here. God's Word encourages us to remember, that no matter what situation or circumstance we face in this life, God, our heavenly Father will take it and make it work out for our good. Not all good things, not all easy things, not all wonderful things –BUT ALL THINGS will be worked out in God’s miracle working laboratory to bless your life, strengthen your faith, increase your hope and give you peace.

Believe that because Emmanuel, which means, “God with us” is living and walking beside us, in everything, we will be victorious. The moment we repent of our sins and accept Christ as our personal Savior, we join the winning team. We may lose some battles, but through Christ, we will win the war. When we are distressed or troubled to the point of not knowing the words to pray, the Holy Spirit will intercede on our behalf and interpret our groans. Begin to walk in faith and expectation, trusting God to take you through whatever you are facing, knowing that He is working it out in ways not yet made manifest.

To all of the Shepastor readers, may you have a peacefilled, blessed assured, "knowing that God is with you," Christmas and a new year filled with Holy Spirit expectation and victory!

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shepastor: Healing and Restoration – A Word from The Rev. Dr. Alicia J. Malone, Executive Director & Founder Bondage Breakers, Inc.

About a year ago, I interviewed The Reverend Dr. Alicia J. Malone, founder and CEO of Bondage Breakers, Inc. In that interview, Rev. Dr. Malone shared, “Bondage Breaker’s, Inc. is borne out of my love for God and the broken in our midst. Its purpose and goal has always been to provide a “safety net” for those coming out of incarceration and/or confinement. BBI is in it’s 20th year, as of November 1st (2011) and has not lost it’s thrust to minister to “the least of these my brethren…Mt. 25:36ff.”

Today, Shepastor shares a meditation provided by Rev. Dr. Malone, “Going Through Samaria,” a reflection upon affirmation, healing and restoration in the lives of women in ministry.

Read on and be blessed…

Healing & Restoration by The Reverend Dr. Alicia J. Malone
John 4:1-24 – “Going through Samaria”

There is an unspoken Biblical precedence emanating from scripture, especially in the New Testament. God validates women. What I am referring to is the clear way in which Jesus affirms, elevates and respects “women.” When we take a deeper theological look inside John Chapter 4 and the engagement Jesus had with the “Woman at the Well,” many biblical and practical truths stand out:

At the onset one can clearly see that Jesus’ mission was (and is) to build involvement and community. Jesus’ mission was (and is) to break through cultural, gender and relational barriers. Jesus’ mission was (and is) to address the moral and social behavior that limits one’s access to “Kingdom living.”

As the catch phrase goes, “can you hear me now?” It would not be presumptuous to think, much less to say, that Jesus in the context of John 4, is affirming not only this woman, but women in general. Jesus’ response to the woman at the well helps women everywhere, especially believing women to know “that God is an equal opportunity Father” who has broken down the walls imposed by hierarchical structures, gender barriers and prejudice.

Women of God, let us move beyond the “walls” and go to the “well.” In the words of Mahalia Jackson, let us “Go tell it on the Mountain over the hill and everywhere…!” In her book: Chosen and Highly Favored, Dr. Diana Swoope says, “released people will communicate the power of the sacredness to others, who in turn will be set free.” Women of God, it is my prayer that we hear the Spirit in Dr. Swoope’s statement. God has a plan and it does “include us!” God has a plan, and since He has freed us. The question, however is, “what are we waiting for?” Can we hear the “woman at the well, running into the city crying: “Come see a man that told me everything I ever did…is not this the Christ (John 4:29)?”

During this season of sacredness, let us take the time to move into our sacred place. Let’s pray: “O Lord, thank you for your validation of women. Thank you for the examples in scripture that show your love, support of, and empowerment of women. Thank you for the examples of Old and New Testament women such as Queen Esther who bravely took a stance and saved her nation (Est. 4:14). Thank you for the “woman at the well” who engaged in conversation with Jesus and discovered her healing, her restoration, and her Savior! She and Esther go down in the chronicles of time as women who have inspired other women to exhibit courage in situations of oppression to call upon YOU, LORD, for deliverance, justice and liberty.”

Thank you, Lord God for the great women of the past. As we celebrate women, Christian women, movers and shakers of the 21st century, in the words of our American Baptist Societies heritage: “Rise up ladies and build; rise up with caring hearts, serving with hands and feet ready to go—with the voice of Jesus Christ.” (End quote)

May we as women embrace the liberty God has given us and walk in healing and restoration! Thank you Dr. Alicia for your words of challenge and encouragement.

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Shepastor: “Understanding Why We Do What We Do”

The other day I read a USA Today article that talked about gifts, givers and recipients. The article suggested that gifts given say more about the “giver” of the gift than the recipient. Consider the following quote…

"Giving is almost more about the giver" than it is about the recipient, says Tina Lowrey, a professor of marketing at the University of Texas-San Antonio who has studied gift-giving behavior.

One way to select better presents is to be aware of what kind of giver you are, she says.

"It depends on the person, of course, but if someone does become aware of their shopping roles, they can change the way they buy,"
says Lowrey.

While this article was clearly speaking about Christmas shopping, I believe the concept can easily be applied to other aspects of our behavior. From time to time we need to ask ourselves the question, “Why did I do that?” We would like to believe that our acts of kindness, benevolence and overall attitude of giving are intended for the betterment or joy of others. From time to time, however, we must re-examine our motives.

Kindness, sharing, giving and helping are all beautiful, necessary and legitimate expressions of Christian love. Sometimes, however, our reluctance to deal with our own internal issues relative to what motivates our actions blind us to unhealthy patterns for our lives. Sometimes, our gifts or actions are more about us than fulfilling a need for another. Sometimes it’s a need to keep busy. Sometimes it’s a need to control. Sometimes it is a need to douse guilt. Sometimes we are fulfilling our need to please. Sometimes we are “just trying to matter.”

Giving is a beautiful thing. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20: 35) As we do whatever we do, let’s ask the Lord to help us to do/give with pure motives, no strings attached and in the true vein of blessing another.

To read more about “gift-giving behavior,” visit,

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