Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Shepastor: "Nevertheless..."

1Nevertheless 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. 2The 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. 3Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 4For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. 5For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire. 6For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9: 1-7, KJV
This passage of scripture reminds us that despite vexation, dark paths, affliction and sorrow, "nevertheless," light, joy and peace will come. "Nevertheless" is said when an individual makes a mental decision to do something, think something or believe something that defies apparent realities or logic.
Peter declared, "nevertheless" when Jesus told him to let down his net and get ready for a major catch of fish, even though he'd been fishing all night long and came up empty (Luke 5:5). Jesus, the "wonderful counselor, mighty God, and Prince of Peace" calls us to declare, "nevertheless" in the midst of our trials, valleys, wilderness experiences and struggles.
During this Christmas Season, remember that Jesus, our "Emmanuel" is with us, empowering us to embrace His promises and decalre, "nevertheless, at thy Word Lord I will..." you complete the sentence.
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Until next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Shepastor: "Moving Beyond Our Brokenness"

In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. 2For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. 3When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11: 1-3, NIV
Our Nation stands alongside New Town, Connecticut and mourns the loss of 20 innocent 6 and 7 year olds as well as the brave teachers and administrators who gave their lives trying to protect them. Our hearts are broken, our words fail us and our tears could fill an ocean. How many more times must we stand in this place of agony before we use our collective voices to say, “NO MORE!”?
This past week I sat with a mother who agonized over the lack of services available to assist her with her pre-teen child who has been diagnosed with a behavioral disability. The child has become increasingly verbally abusive, combative and frequently runs away. However, the mother has only been able to receive minimal support from local mental health facilities and hospitals, being told that her case is not “severe enough.”
As I sought to assist her by making calls to agencies I knew, the response was similar, “unless the child is threatening to kill them-self or to harm someone else, we cannot take them in…” Frustration mounts, pain deepens and the search for affordable assistance continues.
In the Greater Cleveland area, another young, single mother aged out of the foster care system. A victim of abuse herself, she struggled to care for her three young children. Records reflect that she went to several agencies and even sought to have her children adopted – little help appears to have been given. She reported her 3 year-old son kidnapped. A panicked community and police force scour the city looking for the child only to discover that his small beaten and broken body was thrown out with the trash behind the mother’s apartment. The mother is now being held for the murder of her own son.
Limited and/or difficult to access mental health care services. Increasing numbers of military style fire arms available to civilians. Loud voices championing 2nd amendment “rites.” After all of the prayer vigils and meetings may the people of God press beyond broken hearts and collectively cry out for systems and legislation that makes sense.
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Until next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Shepastor: "Since we have this ministry..."

1Therefore , since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, 2 but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves ; II Corinthians 4: 1-7 New American Standard Version
Recently I had a conversation with both male and female pastors regarding clergypersons leaving the ministry. One of the ministers talked about preachers leaving due to practical matters – low wages, high anxiety, difficult parishioners, etc. Another shared that he left the pastorate after 6 years because he realized that he did not want to deal with difficult people the rest of his life. Women in the conversation were lamenting the fact that they had not gotten ordained until their 50’s and would probably have few opportunities to pastor even if they believed that was their calling. All agreed that no one enters the ministry (at least in their right mind) and stays simply because they want to do so. Most agreed that we would have given up by now if it were not for the “call,” that mysterious thing given by God that compels us to hold on, keep pressing forward and continue on when everything in us and around us is yelling – GIVE UP! Anyone who is called and accepts the call understands this dilemma. Paul put it like this…
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves ; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed ; perplexed, but not despairing ; 9persecuted, but not forsaken ; struck down, but not destroyed ; 10always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. II Corinthians 4: 7-10; NASV
This is our lot as preachers of the Gospel. Outside of the call, there is no peace, no contentment, no fulfillment. Yet we wrestle with the dictates and the circumstances we find ourselves in due to “the call.” So, “since we have this ministry,” let us remember to do some thing so that we won’t faint and lose heart…
- Through prayer and discernment, find at least 1 or 2 friends that can relate to you and your circumstances, with whom you can share your struggles in confidence and have a good laugh on a regular basis
- Take care of yourself. Don’t allow others to run you into the ground, accepting/taking on responsibilities that stretch you to the max with few rewards
- Get some rest when you are tired. The world will not stop spinning on its axis if you sit down or take a day off!
- Don’t accept less that what God intends for you to have. Be sure that your circumstances are due to God’s seasons for your life and not you being a door mat!
- Keep your eyes and ears open to the voice of God and seek to fulfill God’s calling upon your life. Your gift will make room for you!
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Until Next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Shepastor Honors the Memory of a Trailblazer for Women in Ministry: The Reverend Dr. Margaret J. Mitchell

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Proverbs 31:10 (English Standard Version)
Today, Shepastor honors the memory of The late Reverend Dr. Margaret J. Mitchell. "Rev. Margaret," as she was affectionately known, was the first female preacher to be licensed in the historic Olivet Institutional Baptist Church (under the pastorate of the Reverend Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., current pastor, The Reverend Dr. Jawanza Colvin) - one of the largest African American Baptist churches in the Greater Cleveland area. She blazed a trail for many women in ministry to follow. Through her leadership, encouragement and efforts, many women accepted their call to preach and were subsequently licensed and ordained. Below is a tribute to Dr. Mitchell from WTIM (Women Together in Ministry of Greater Cleveland).
A tribute to The Reverend Dr. Margaret J. Mitchell...
Thank you Dr. Mitchell for teaching us the importance and critical nature of prayer and fasting in the life of the believer...
Thank you Dr. Mitchell for personally spending time with us when we were grieved and didn't know how to manage our losses and pain...
Thank you Dr. Mitchell for giving us an opportunity to share freely and without judgement when we were struggling...
Thank you Dr. Mitchell for teaching us how to persevere with patience as women in ministry...
Thank you Dr. Mitchell for teaching couples how to build and nurture healthy relationships...
Thank you Dr. Mitchell for your life, your love, your testimony and your legacy - We honor you, applaud you and miss you! Rest in peace...
You can read more about the life legacy of Dr. Mitchell by visiting the website of the Cleveland Baptist Association at
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Until Next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Shepastor: Highlights from the article, “How to Encourage Your Female Pastor”

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” I Thessalonians 5:11 English Standard Version
While all pastors need encouragement, female pastors in particular could use an extra measure of support. Female pastors constitute approximately 10% of all pastors in the United States (Barna Group, 2009). While not all, many female pastors serve small, struggling congregations, are paid significantly less and find themselves handling significantly more in order to keep the church moving forward. With these factors in mind, I found the article, “How to Encourage Your Female Pastor,” by Elizabeth (Lisa) Thompson, refreshing. Today, Shepastor shares highlights of six recommendations given to lift and support women in ministry…
“How to Encourage Your Female Pastor” by Elizabeth (Lisa) Thompson
1 Submit to your pastor and honor her… Follow church protocol and order when bringing suggestions to her. Be willing to let her speak into your life… Be respectful by addressing her as "pastor" unless she asks you to call her by another title or her first name.
2 Volunteer. Offer to help her where your strengths lie… Pick an area that works with your schedule and serve loyally and faithfully.
3 Pray for her… Send her a note to let her know of your prayers for her.
4 Let her know how she has helped you. Tell others how she has helped you as well. It won't cost you anything to praise her, but it will bless her. Remember her at Christmas and on her birthday and anniversary, even if you just send her a card.
5 Refuse to listen to negative comments, gossip or slander…If the negative comments are valid, direct the person with the complaints to follow biblical order in dealing with the problem, which is to go directly to the female pastor and speak to her privately. Correct any wrong information with the truth. Give her room to make mistakes. Be understanding and patient. Let her lead according to her own style and don't put her in a box.
6 Find out what makes her tick and encourage her in a way that will bless her. Some people like verbal praise, others appreciate gifts. Some like an affirming hug or touch; while some may be blessed by acts of service….
To read the entire article, visit
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Until next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shepastor: "Highlights from the Seven Meanings of Praise Series: Tehillah!"

This week, Shepastor highlights excerpts from another sermon in the series I gave a few years ago at my church, “The Seven Meanings of Praise.” As we celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday, we have many reasons to Praise the Lord! The focus of this sermon was the praise word, “Tehillah.” Read on and be blessed… “Seven Meanings of Praise” Series: Tehillah Tehillah is derived from the word halal and means "the singing of halals, to sing or to laud; perceived to involve music, especially singing; hymns of the Spirit.”
Psalm 33:1, KJV Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright
Our sermon text for today is taken from Psalm 33:1. Psalm 33: 1 declares, Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright
Another translation says, “… praise is befitting or becoming to the upright." Sometimes we will see someone with a nice outfit on or a new hairstyle and we’ll say, “that really becomes you…” Or we’ll see someone in a new position or carrying themselves a certain way and we’ll say, “that position befits you, becomes you, suits you.” What we are really saying when we use those terms is that whatever the person is wearing or has done to their hair or the new position that they are in looks good on them – it fits them – it is appropriate for them - it suits them.
The Psalmist in our text suggested that “Praise” befits, suits, or in our common vernacular “looks good” on the people of God. In other words, the Psalmist was making the case up front that the saints, the people of God, the righteous ought to be dressed up in praise. Praise ought to flow from our being. Praise ought to exude from our spirits. Praise ought to be the garment of the righteous. When people see us coming, they ought to see praise all over us, as children of God.
Our Sermon Subject for today is, “Praise Looks Good on You!” There is so much in the world today to be down about. Famine, wars, a downward spiraling economy, violence, joblessness, terrorism, disease – you name it – the world’s got it. Things were no different in the days of the Psalmist. Enemy nations frequently sought to steal, kill and destroy the land belonging to the children of Israel. Men, women, boys and girls at various times and for various reasons feared for their lives.
They constantly had to reassure themselves that even in the midst of the most terrible and turbulent times, God was with them. The Psalmist, it appears, sought to remind the people of God that no matter what trials and struggles they were facing God is in control. The Psalmist wanted the people of God to remind themselves of who they were serving, who they trust and the power He has to save. He reminded them that God sits high and looks low. God sees all, knows all and is watching all. God speaks and it is so. God’s counsel stands forever. God’s plans and purposes will prevail. It is not by might, nor by power, but by God’s spirit that the people of God rise in victory over their enemies and that is why we should praise the Lord.
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, trials or problems. It means 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 God’s faithfulness!” The child of God walks in the favor of God, knowing that everything somehow is 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! The child of God 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 heart and declares, “be exalted, O God above my situation and circumstances – I will let your glory be all over me!”
The child of God dresses up in praise because praise is befitting for us. In other words, the garments of a mean spirit, the garments of anger and hostility, the garments of narrow mindedness, the garments of a resentful and unappreciative heart don’t suit us. We sing the praises of our God in the good times and the bad – no matter what we go through because we understand that God is with us, that God is for us and that God will take care of us, no matter what the situation may be. The child of God also understands that we are the hands and the feet of Jesus. That God wants to use us to help relieve pain, to help feed the hungry, to help clothe the naked – that our garment of praise is obvious to all by the love and the care and the compassion that we show.
Our garments of praise are more than just lip-service. Our garments of praise are “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 garments of praise. So the child of God says, “Tehillah!” My heart will sing praises unto the Lord and I will be dressed up in the garment of praise! Tehillah – My spirit will sing praises unto the Lord because it is right, it is befitting, it is suits me as a child of God. I will not dress up in garments of darkness, gloom and doom. But I will shine like the sun the “sun” and the “Son!” I will dress up in the garments of praise – Tehillah! I will sing with my whole being praises unto the Lord our God for praise fits the child of God. God is worthy of our praise, worthy of our thanksgiving, worthy of our shouts, worthy of our uplifted hands, worthy of our bended knees – worthy of our praise no matter what we are going through. Give God your Tehillah praise today!
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Have a blessed, peaceful and Tehillah praise filled Thanksgiving Day!
In faith, hope and perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shepastor: Excerpts from a sermon series, “Seven Meanings of Praise: Barak"

Praise Term, Barak: “To kneel down, to bless God as an act of adoration”
Sermon Subject: “When God Speaks” Scripture: Psalm 29:1-22, Focus Verses, 29: 1-2
1Ascribe to the LORD, O mighty ones, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 2Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.
This week, Shepastor highlights excerpts from a sermon series I gave a few years ago at my church, “The Seven Meanings of Praise.” The focus of this sermon was the praise word, “Barak.” Read on and be blessed… “Barak,” means, “To kneel down, to bless God as an act of adoration”
In most cultures, kneeling, and bowing is an act of humility, honor and adoration. In our text for today, the Psalmist is listing the reasons why we should kneel, bow, adore and worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. The Psalmist repeatedly refers to the voice of the Lord – that when God speaks heaven and earth move to obey His dictates. When God speaks, heaven and earth listen. When God speaks, the winds and the waves obey. When God speaks, the planets align and orbit the sun. When God speaks, life begins and life ends. When God speaks, the whole of nature proclaims, “How Great Thou Art!”
Human beings are the only beings within creation that resist God’s voice, quench His Spirit and refrain from exuberantly giving Him the praise. We are the only beings in creation that have the audacity to think that we do what we do, have what we have, and are what we are because of our own will, strength and power. It seems that many lack the understanding that it is because of God and God alone that we live, move and have our being. Because of the fall, we have been enveloped by sin and engulfed by arrogance. We set the alarm clock and think that the loud buzz or the sweet music or the obnoxious clamor of a radio talk show awakens us – but it is God and God alone that allows us to wake up out of our slumber, sleep and rest.
If for physical reasons we are unable to literally get down on our knees and thank and praise God, then we need to bow the knee of our hearts, worship, thank and bless God for who He is. The other day I heard a powerful sermon by the late SM Lockridge, Pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church in San Diego, CA – a church of 100,000 members. He preached, “The Amen.” He declared that Amen is the conclusion of the matter, it is a declaration of affirmation.
In the book of Revelations, John referred to Jesus as, “The Amen,” and declared,
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
In other words, he is calling Jesus the ‘Amen.’ God spoke and caused His Son, Jesus to come down in human flesh to bring about the conclusion of the powers of sin, death, hell and the grave. When we consider all that God has done, we ought to give Him praise, bow down and worship Him for His grace, mercy and deliverance.
Every day is a day of thanksgiving. Every day is an opportunity to turn off complaining and turn on giving God the praise, glory and honor due His name. Everyday we ought to shout, “Barak,” God we worship you, God we adore you, God we praise you, God we bless your name because you’ve been so good, you’ve done so much, you’ve opened so many doors, you’ve healed our diseases, you’ve trampled under foot our enemies, you’ve made a way out of now way – we worship you today!
We need to cross over from complaint alley to “Thank you Jesus” boulevard! We like the psalmist must take time to look around at all of God’s creation, all that God has brought us through, all the promises that He has kept, all of the destruction He saved us from, all of the darts He shielded us from all the trials he has delivered us from and begin to worship and adore the LORD! Even in the midst of our darkest hour and our lowest valley’s God has been with us. Even when sickness and financial duress burdened us down, God has seen us through. God has kept us breathing, God has kept us eating, God has kept us moving, God has kept us and we ought to give Him praise. The Psalmist declared that when God speaks great things happen. I’m hear to tell you today that not only does nature respond when God speaks, but situations and circumstances respond when God speaks!
When God speaks on our behalf, things happen in the life of the child of God and for the life of the child of God. Things happen in our lives because God’s love and life changes, transforms and inspires us. When God speaks for our life, the devil has to get back. He has to get permission to try to “mess” with us. And even then God is only going to allow so much to go on before He declares – get back devil – that’s enough! When God speaks He doesn’t have to yell. All of creation knows His voice. And even those who choose to ignore Him know – one day, every knee is going to bow and every tongue is going to confess that He is Lord of all!
The psalmist concludes his admonition to God’s people to kneel down and worship God by declaring,
11The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
When God speaks, He gives us strength. When God speaks, He gives us peace. Have you ever experienced feeling alone and afraid, but when you heard the voice of someone you trust, someone in whom you have confidence that they can make everything alright that fear began to leave and you felt a peace come over you?
That’s what God does for His children. When He speaks His Word gives us strength and peace. God’s Word is living and breathing and it speaks and gives us strength and peace. That’s why David could say with confidence, I will bless the Lord at all times His praise shall continually be in my mouth. That’s why the Psalmist could declare, ‘when I am afraid, I will trust in you,’ That’s why the Psalmist could declare “he will perfect that which concerneth me.” That’s why Isaiah could declare, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusteth in Thee.”
God is a keeper, God is a sustainer, God is a way maker that’s why we ought to bow down, worship and adore Him. He is our deliverer, He is our salvation, He is our peace, our bread when we are hungry, our water when we are thirsty, our shelter when we are in the storm, our redeemer from destruction, our God in whom we trust - that is why we say, “Barak – God we praise you, God we worship you, God we love you!
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Until next Wednesday In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Monday, November 5, 2012

Shepastor: Early Edition...“God leads us on by paths we did not know…”

It is election eve night (Monday). I’m writing Shepastor early because of the many things going on between now and Wednesday. Tomorrow, our Nation will re-elect or elect the next President of the United States. There is lots of anxiety all around. Fears that those devastated by Hurricane Sandy will not have the opportunity or desire to vote, angst about voter suppression, hours and hours of long lines, robo calls, disenfranchisement etc.
We don’t know what the outcome will be. I have my hopes and I am certain that you have yours. As much as we would like to snap our fingers, choose our person and say, “it is finished!” we will just have to wait. Even when the election is over, some will rejoice and some will lament.
As the people of God, by faith, we must be prepared for whatever the outcome may be. We must remember that the Government shall be upon “His” shoulders. No matter the outcome, we must continue to “do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).” No matter the outcome, we must continue to be drum majors for social justice.
Vote and then rest, for “He leads us on by paths we did not know…”
Consider the profound and haunting words of Dr. Howard Thurman as we trust in the Lord and lean not to our own understanding…
"He leads us on by paths we did not know. There is an abiding desire to know the future, to see around the corner of the days and years. Even when we say we do not concern ourselves about what will happen next month or next year, the shy insistence still remains - we want to know. This normal feeling is a part of all the anxiety which we face on the threshold of any new adventure. If we could be sure that all will be well - if we could have some guarantee that our present hopes would not betray us and leave us deserted 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." – (The Inward Journey, by Howard Thurman, p. 53. Friends United Press edition, 1986.)
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Until next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Shepastor: “Humans plan, God Acts…”

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. 2So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. 3Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Pause and think about that 4A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. 5God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it. 6The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts! 7The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israelb is our fortress. Pause and think about that 8Come, see the glorious works of the LORD: See how he brings destruction upon the world. 9He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; he burns the shields with fire. 10“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” 11The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. Psalm 46: 1-11, NLT
The 17th century poet, Robert Burns declared,
The best laid schemes of Mice and Men oft go awry, And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy!
News broadcasts declared that this election season has been one of the most expensive in history. Millions of dollars have been spent to out inform, out smear, out debunk and out cast candidates of every persuasion. It is difficult to find one station that does not have a barrage of negative campaign ads on a continual basis. Just as we are fed up and tired, possibly God is as well!
Washington grid-locked. “Where are the jobs?” Yell one set of candidates, “We’ll create millions!” Yell more candidates. “You don’t know how to fix Washington, You don’t know how to work across the isles” come additional accusations.
Division, waste, lies and schemes. Enter hurricane Sandy. All of a sudden political parties don’t matter. Enter hurricane Sandy. All of a sudden, those who were disparaging, accusing and fighting one another are now thrust together to rescue, rebuild and restore. Need jobs? Enter hurricane Sandy. Thousands of jobs will now be created to rebuild what Sandy destroyed. Who gets the credit? God.
As my pastor once preached, When man’s plans fold, God’s plans unfold. Pause and think about that!
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Until Next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Shepastor: "The Importance of Knowing How to Encourage Yourself”

And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. David Destroys the Amalekites 7And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech's son, I pray you, bring me here the ephod. And Abiathar brought there the ephod to David. 8And David inquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for you shall surely overtake them, and without fail recover all. I Samuel 30: 6-8, KJV
David had a mess on his hands! Running from Saul, his family and the families of his soldiers had been taken captive by enemies and his army men were speaking of stoning him. The text says that they wept bitter tears until they had no more strength to weep. David, however, “encouraged himself in the Lord.”
We are living in discouraging times. Thousands have lost jobs, homes, family, health, strength and hope. Some are walking around feeling invisible, as though the world is oblivious to their hurts, their pain, their sorrow, their agony. Some are wrestling with feelings of betrayal – having trusted in a friend, a spouse, a mentor, a church only to find themselves standing alone in the hour of need. Encouragement can be a hard thing to find.
When facing the hardship of loneliness and despair, it is critical to know how to encourage oneself in the in LORD. David provides for us a marvelous example of how to find encouragement in the darkest of hours. The key is to encourage yourself in the Lord. The encouragement does not lie within you – it is to be found within the “Lord in you.”
David had to have a depth level relationship with God in the seasons of light and peace that prepared him for the experiences of the proverbial dungeon. This passage of scripture shows us that there will be times when those that we’ve led, those that we’ve nurtured, those that the Lord has used us to help rescue, and those who are closest to us can take up rocks to stone us! Bitterness, anger, disillusionment and destitution can all grip our hearts at this vulnerable time if we are not careful. When this happens, there must be something within the inner recesses of our being that enables us to stop listening to the noise and encourage ourselves in the Lord.
David had to make a decision – crumble under the weight of abandonment and depression, or seek the Lord with all of this strength. David chose the latter. He asked the Lord,
shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for you shall surely overtake them, and without fail recover all. (vs. 8)
David asked the Lord if he should pursue what was taken from him. He wanted to know if his pursuit would be victorious. The Lord answered with a resounding –YES – “Pursue for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all!”
When we have been beaten down, stripped, robbed and left alone, the temptation is great to just give up and let it go. When we find ourselves in that place – we need to ask the Lord if we should let it go or if we should pursue. Our victory is wrapped up in our willingness to get up, go to God, take hold of His direction and then move forward by faith.
Though no other human appears to be standing with you, take a page out of David’s book and encourage yourself in the Lord. Go to God. Ask God if you should pursue whatever was stolen from your life – your joy, your peace, your home, your family, your health, your stability, your finances, your job, your mate, your vision – ask God what you should pursue – listen for the answer and then with Holy boldness go and get those things back!
It will be a fight, but God will fight the battle through you. While the battle is not yours, it is the Lord’s, God will use you in the battle. By faith, chase down what God has promised you will overtake. It may be uncomfortable, it may sound unreasonable, it may appear down right foolish – but pursue God’s promise for your life. If God be for you, who can be against you?
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Remember to vote on November 6th – don’t sleep on this one!
Until next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Shepastor: “Voices that refuse to be silenced”

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13, NASV
The other day, the world watched in horror as we received the news that a beautiful, 14 year old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousufzai, was gunned down at point blank range by the Taliban. Her crime? She was determined to receive an education, strongly voiced that all girls should have the opportunity to receive an education and her refusal to be silenced. She proclaimed boldly that women have a right to learn, grow, be free, voice their opinions, express their displeasures, and declare their disdain for the atrocities happening to women who would not remain in “their place.”
Malala has given the world a gift. Malala treated all women and girls as “friends” as she fearlessly declared the importance of females having a voice. Fully aware of the dangers associated with such a bold stance – she stood anyway, effectively laying down her life. She has deactivated the proverbial “mute” button and released the voices of a chorus of women, men, girls, and boys who stand against the evils of terrorism and declared – WE WILL NOT REMAIN SILENT! It is only by God’s grace and miracle that she has survived to this point. Her resiliency has baffled the most gifted surgeons. Only God could have sustained her life after the devastation of a gunshot wound directly to her head.
While most of us will never face a literal Taliban or gunshot wound to our heads, many women have wrestled against various kinds of terrorism that have stripped them of their voices. Some have been raised in violent homes – physical and verbal – homes that have muted their voices for decades. Some have been terrorized by prejudice, being made to feel “less than,” their voices muted by the pain of ostracism, rejection, criticism and hatred. Some have been terrorized right in the church – rebuked for daring to declare that God has called them to preach!
Terrorism, however, cannot thrive when voices refuse to remain silent. Sometimes it takes the voice of one who will defy the threats, defy the fear, defy even the attacks that are sure to come – one who will say, “even if you kill me, 10,000 more will rise and declare WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED!”
Use your voice for deliverance. Use your voice to set captives free. Use your voice to defy the terrorism that seeks to strip, rape and rob you and others of God's gift to all - the right to pursue life in the broadest terms. If we will do these things, terrorism will not prevail.
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Until next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Shepastor: “Pray and Work, Work and Pray, Pray for People and leave the results to God!”

For all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, "They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done." But now, O God, strengthen my hands. Nehemiah 6:9, NASV
The Old Testament preacher, Nehemiah prayed the prayer, “Lord, strengthen my hands” as he faced ridicule, enemy opposition, discouragement and fear. Nehemiah was called by God to lead the people of Israel in rebuilding the wall surrounding the remnants of their plundered city after Babylonian captivity. The task was daunting and appeared almost impossible.
Nehemiah had to use “rubble,” broken, burned, crumbling stones to rebuild the city walls. In ancient times, city walls were used to keep enemies out and the city secure. He didn’t have a cheering section. He didn’t have a massive army of confident, well-trained, well nourished men. There was nothing happening around him that would reassure him that his efforts were not in vain. What Nehemiah did have was faith and prayer. So he prayed, simply, “Lord, strengthen my hands.”
In the book, Let’s All Pray Together, author, William J. Krulza shares these profound words of encouragement for those who are battling discouragement, seeking to rebuild with only rubble for resources:
Nehemiah learned somewhere that prayer and practice make good companions. Work and Pray. Pray and Work. Talk to God while working with people and leave the results to God. He heard the attacks of the enemy but prayed for strength to continue working.
Sometimes it feels like we have little or nothing to work with. Those around are long on criticism and short on encouragement. The few that are working with you, at times are half hearted at best. You are placed in a position of being “builder in chief, encourager in chief, defender in chief and ignorer in chief!” At times it feels like you are left to rebuild city walls using rubble!
When these feelings hit, take a page out of Nehemiah’s book – work and pray, pray and work. Talk to God while working with people and leave the results to God! Pray, “Lord, strengthen my hands!” Remain faithful. Understand that you have no control over how individuals behave or respond. Follow your heavenly instructions. Keep on working. Keep on praying. Keep on doing what is right. Keep on building. Keep on praising. Pray for the people you have to work with and leave the results to God! God will take your rubble and use it to build great things in His name!
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Until next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Shepastor: “From Convulsion to Conversion”

Mark 9: 14-29 The Healing of a Boy With an Evil Spirit
14When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. 16“What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. 17A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” 19“O unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 20So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” 23“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” 24Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 25When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evila spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. 28After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 29He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.b” KJV version says 9:29 in this way… 29And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.
Shepastor: “From Convulsion to Conversion”
There are so many poignant lessons in this text, but today, Shepastor will focus upon a few. It’s interesting to note that the text in the NIV says 14When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
It appears that the people may have been upset and the religious leaders may have been mocking the disciples because they could not liberate the boy from the oppressive spirit that was tormenting him. The boy was so oppressed that he could not speak. He was tormented, and torn, dashed about and afflicted, bruised and beaten – beaten down so bad that he could not speak,and the disciples could not free him. One can imagine that the crowd was angry because after all these were they that walked closely with Jesus. They saw them in his inner circle. They saw them out on the boat with him. They saw them up close with Jesus, hanging around as he taught, walking with him everywhere he went, so they assumed that because of their apparent close affiliation, they also had the power that Jesus had to heal.
What they did not realize was that everyone who looks like they are walking with Jesus does not necessarily walk in the power of Jesus. Observation 1: Looks can be deceiving. Just because people look like they are filled with the spirit of God, look like they walk in the power of God, look like they possess what God gives His children to do great and mighty things in His name, does not necessarily mean that they are filled with God's Spirit. Just because they walk into the church every Sunday, does not mean that they are walking in the Spirit of God’s love, grace, peace and deliverance. Just because people are religious, it does not make them righteous. Just because people hang out with someone that may walk in Holy Ghost power, does not necessarily mean that they have it themselves.
Sometimes people just go along to get along. Sometimes people just like being in the “in” crowd. So they hang out with the “right” folk. The problem is that their religion, their relationship, their commitment is only skin deep. They have not really understood what it means to seek the Lord, walk in the power of His might and stand upon His promises. It’s not that these blessings are only available to a select few, it’s that few truly seek to have them. In another place Jesus said, “broad is the path and wide is the gate that lead to destruction and many there be that go in there at. But straight is the gate and narrow is the path that leads to life and few there be that find it (Matthew 7: 13-14).” The disciples could not heal the boy because they had not yet been converted. Although they were walking close by Jesus – they had not yet been converted. They were friendly observers but their hearts had not truly been changed. Therefore they did not have the faith or the power to heal or help break the chains that bound the boy.
Jesus called the disciples, “faithless.” Similarly, Jesus told Nicodemas, “unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3).” In other words, there are some things that you will not be able to see, to do, to comprehend, to understand unless and until you have been converted, changed, delivered, set free, born again! The disciples hadn’t gotten there yet, but they would.
Observation Two: Consider the condition of the boy and the response of the demons to Jesus. The scripture says that when the evil spirit saw Jesus coming, it began to tear, throw down and convulse the boy. The evil spirit did not want to let the boy go. If every time a person came near someone and they subsequently began to foam at the mouth and convulse, the first natural inclination would probably be to draw back – to go away because it may appear that matters were being made worse. But in Jesus’ response we have a profound lesson. Before deliverance, before cleansing, before, healing, before restoration, before complete and total conversion, often there is a convulsion.
Often there is great resistance to changing from the unhealthy to the healthy, from the broken to the whole, from the dirty to the clean, from the dysfunctional to the functional. The demonic spirits that robbed that boy of speech and of a beautiful life shrieked when they saw Jesus. Frequently, as God is bringing about a change for the better, a change for the holy a change for what will bring Him glory – demons will begin to throw convulsions or what we used to call it “fits.” This occurs because the devil does not want us to be free. Therefore, he makes the conversion process look so terrible that often we will stop the healing process before it has a chance to make the situation whole. Individuals may act up so terribly when change begins to happen that people may say, “This is too hard - just forget it!”
Thank God, Jesus didn’t stop the healing process for this boy because the demon inside of him began to convulse. Sometimes when we ask for healing, we will have to go through convulsions. We have to know that on the other side of the convulsion is conversion. It must have been difficult for the boy’s father to believe that his son would ever be healed. It seems that he wanted to believe but he’d been disappointed so many times before. He therefore said a humble and powerful thing – “Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief." This man was honest with Jesus. He didn’t pretend – he said outright, “Lord, I want to believe you but this unbelief is still hanging on to me – HELP ME TO BELIEVE!” That is a legitimate prayer! God wants our honesty, our humility, our abject poverty of spirit. He already knows that we can’t do it on our own. He wants us to come to this conclusion along with Him. Jesus did not rebuke the man for his struggle to believe. He honored and blessed him for his honesty.
In the end, the boy was healed, the man’s faith was helped and the disciples learned a powerful lesson. They asked Jesus, “why couldn’t we heal the boy?” Jesus replied, “this kind goeth not out except through fasting and praying.” If you want to walk in the power of God, every now and then you’ve got to pray and fast. You’ve got to give something up. You’ve got to surrender. You’ve got to humble yourself and lay prostrate before the Lord and say, “Father fill me, use me, stretch me. Father break this stronghold, break this demonic force in my life and in the lives of those around me. Lord, deliver, bless and heal!” God will answer, God will move, God will deliver, God will give you a break through! Don’t fear the convulsion – it is the step before the conversion.
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Until next Wednesday In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Shepastor: “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry: Workshops that brought balance, enlightenment and healing to our souls!”

Wisdom and money can get you almost anything, but only wisdom can save your life. Ecclesiastes 7:12 NLT
What life saving words we received during the 2012 “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry Conference!” Over the past several weeks we’ve highlighted the sermons, the plenary and the panel. Today, Shepastor highlights the ministry workshops offered.
Conferees were given an opportunity to receive practical information concerning financial institutions and funding options, merchant services, guidance on increasing the odds of receiving grants and tips on starting a 501c3 through the KeyBank Financial Education and Economic Empowerment Workshops.
Additional workshop descriptions are provided below…
#1 “We don't know how she does it!" - Doing God's Work and Marriage”
Presenter: The Reverend Dr. Stephanie Allen, Associate Pastor for Adult Education, Small Groups, Fellowship Group, Covenant Groups and Outreach, First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland
A workshop for married female clergy
In a world where it seems like women can have it all and do it all female clergy have a rather large task of doing God's work while fighting the temptation to live up to the world's standards. What does God expect of us as married, female clergy? What does His word tell us about taking care of ourselves, friendships, relationships and what do we do when "having it all" is way too much on our plate? This workshop will navigate, discuss and highlight some of those issues and guide us through discovering healthy alternatives to the world’s standards of working women.
Those in attendance for Dr. Allen’s class raved about her ability to unpack the meaning of scriptures, reflecting upon the original Hebrew language to help them claim God’s promises and develop healthy views towards fulfilling roles and responsibilities.
#2 “Dating, Sexuality, Romantic Love…and the Single Clergywoman?”
Presenter: The Reverend Leah C.K. Lewis, J.D., Associate Minister, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church and Assistant to the Pastor for Community Engagement. Leader, Singles’ Fellowship of Olivet, a ministry actively engaged in the life of the church with book discussions, community outreach and social activities.
A workshop for single female clergy
A frank instruction accompanied by an earnest and edifying conversation on the topic.
Conferees greatly appreciated Rev. Lewis’ “frank” discussion concerning the realities of being single and clergy. They shared that they felt free to speak openly and candidly about the struggles of being single, living holy and fulfilled.
#3 H.A.L.T.: Take Care of Yourself!
Presenter: Dr. Julie Exline, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology/licensed clinical psychologist, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio
This session will focus on the importance of self-care for women in ministry. To focus our conversation, we will make use of this time-honored guidance: “Don’t let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired,” or HALT. The session will draw from Scripture and the field of psychology to help participants reflect on the vital role of self-care in ministry and personal life.
Class participants were empowered to “HALT,” reflect upon their own unhealthy, unbalanced ways and consider better choices for fulfillment in life. Dr. Exline was “excellent!” (shared one class participant) in her calm and effective way of ushering women into a place of peaceful contemplation and decisions for healthier responses to life circumstances.
We praise God for ALL of the wonderful, powerful, enlightening, inspiring, educational and challenging messages provided to us through all of our conference leaders! May the messages given speak to our hearts for many days to come and instruct our lives for healthier, balanced and empowered living!
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Until next Wednesday In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Shepastor: WTIM 2012 Conference Panel Discussion: Continuing the Conversation: “Women in Ministry Identifying and Breaking Dysfunctional Relationship Patterns ”

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7 KJV
With wisdom, clarity, experience, compassion and resolve, our panelists, Rev. Peter Faass, Rector of Christ Episcopal Church, Shaker Heights, Ohio; Rev. Barbara J. Essex, Author, Bad Girls of the Bible, and Dr. Thomas Gilmore, Senior Pastor, Fidelity Baptist Church; Cleveland, Ohio reflected upon questions related to women in ministry breaking dysfunctional relationship patterns.
Earlier that morning, conferees had an opportunity to consider how they related to the dysfunctional behaviors found in the story of Sarai and Hagar (see last week’s Shepastor, highlighting the Plenary session, “Woman to Woman, Breaking the Cycles of Dysfunction in our Relationships,” led by Rev. Marie Onwubuariri). The Panelists were asked to respond to the following questions:
- Have you observed behavior patterns unique to women’s relationships? If so, talk about both healthy and unhealthy patterns you’ve observed
- Identify some things that play a role in how women relate to one another
- How might “the ministry” play a role in creating healthy or dysfunctional patterns of behavior? (specifically, how women relate to one another as well as to men)
- What things may hinder women from recognizing harmful behavior patterns, both personally and in relationships?
- What can mentors and leaders (male and female) do to assist women in identifying and breaking dysfunctional patterns of behavior?
Healthy patterns observed included women’s ability to communicate, support and share with one another, despite the “dog eat dog” behaviors observed at times in male counterparts (in leadership positions). Women have a tendency to take “meager fare” and use it to create something awesome and beautiful. For example, female pastors often use their many gifts and talents to assist small, fragmented congregations to be all that they can be.
Unhealthy patterns were observed as well. Unfortunate experiences in the past have caused some female clergy to become bitter, seeing men through a single lens of chauvinism and oppression. The admonition, “all men are not against women preachers,” was lifted up. A well known issue was raised and discussed – the limited amount of senior pastorates available to women can create a “crab in the bucket” mentality if we are not careful. One of our panelists, Minister Carol Shannon also brought to light the discrimination that exists against individuals with disabilities as relates to ministry opportunities. We must look beyond what is readily apparent, suspend judgment and be open to receiving the blessings that the Lord has for us through which ever vessel He chooses.
Suggestions to improve our relationships as well as identifying unhealthy patterns of behavior within ourselves included making the decision to “search ourselves,” before blaming others (what role have I played in the relationship problem?), choose to rise above attitudes and behaviors that are negative, divisive and or corrosive and instead, model healthy, responsible, compassionate and thoughtful behaviors. Through prayer and persistence, your example will break the cycle and begin a new healthier pattern!
It was suggested that mentors can make a difference for women in ministry by being available (answer phone calls, respond to emails, offer to take a woman in ministry out once a month or every other month to give her an opportunity to share, raise questions, vent, get advice, etc.). As opportunities arise, mentors can assist in opening doors for women in ministry – recommend women for ministry positions, give them opportunities to share their gifts and talents through preaching, teaching, providing workshops etc. Mentors can provide a safe place for women in ministry to learn and grow.
We praise God for the blessings given to us through the open and candid discussions we shared, the issues discussed and the recommendations made through our panelists!
Our final segment from the 2012 “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference will be shared next week as we reflect upon our workshops offered. . Post a comment or send me an email at
Until Next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Shepastor: – WTIM 2012 Conference Plenary Session: “Woman to Woman: Breaking the Cycles of Dysfunction in Our Relationships”

Abram replied, "Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit." Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away. Genesis 16:6 NLT
Pause, reflect and think about that! Plenary Speaker, Rev. Marie Onwubuariri, Director of Admissions, American Baptist Seminary of the West, led us down through the ages of antiquity to the ancient house hold of Abram, Sarai and Hagar. Rev. Marie asked us to listen to that familiar passage of scripture three times. After each reading, she asked us to consider which woman we identified with the most – Sarai or Hagar.
Afterwards, we were asked to think about why we identified with the woman we selected. In a powerful, soul-searching, revealing session, women shared with one another and then the entire group how they may have thought of themselves more closely related to one, but after listening to the passage three separate times, could actually see themselves in the other. Women who originally readily identified with Hagar, began to see how they possessed some of the same struggles, insecurities, jealousies and doubts as Sarai. Women who originally identified with Sarai, began to see how they have also experienced looking with contempt upon another for various reasons.
Rev. Marie’s powerful and thought provoking message encouraged us to grapple with the following:
- Learn the “platinum rule”: Do unto others as they would have you do unto them. Instead of treating people the way you would like to be treated, strive to treat people the way that they desire to be treated. What works for you may not be the best for them
- Recognize when something is not quite right within yourself: Sometimes we are actually projecting how we feel onto others and assigning those feelings arbitrarily to them
- Learn how to suspend judgment: Be sensitive to the other person’s situation and the factors that may be contributing to their behaviors
- Spend time reflecting upon your own feelings: Be aware of what you bring to the situation
- Walk in God’s Grace: Don’t be too hard on yourself or others! Spend time understanding why you operate the way that you do and how that relates to the way you relate to others
- Be aware of power dynamics in mentor/mentee relationships: Understand the role you play in relationships and the unspoken dynamics attached to the role.
What an awesome time of reflection, introspection, conviction and enlightenment Rev. Marie led us through! Next week, we will reflect upon the Panel’s responses to the plenary session and their insights regarding, “Women in Ministry Identifying and Breaking Dysfunctional Relationship Patterns ”
You can view the 2012 “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference photo album by visiting the WTIM website home page,
Post a comment or send me an email at
Until next Wednesday, In faith, hope and perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Shepastor: “Those Preachin Women at the 2012 Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry Conference: Pastor Tonya Fields, Pastor Diana L. Swoope, and Pastor Marilyn Parker Jeffries!”

"...How shall they hear without a preacher?" Romans 10:14, KJV
What an awesome, anointed, power-packed three days the participants at the “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference experienced as God used three gifted, ministering agents for His glory!
At the Pre-Conference, Pastor Tonya Fields, Senior Pastor of New Freedom Ministries, Cleveland, Ohio poured out of her soul, admonishing the women of God to encourage, love and support one another. Preaching from Philippians 4, focusing on the challenges between two Christian sisters, Euodia and Syntyche, who knew the Lord, but bumped up against differences between each other, Pastor Fields drew comparisons between them and us. She emphasized that these two women needed the Fellowship to help them to work through their issues. She reminded us, “you can’t do it on your own – we need each other!” After her heartfelt, moving and convicting message, she called the congregation to the altar and anointed us all – how the Holy Spirit moved in that place! What healing, what deliverance, what enlightenment happened around the altar that night!
Pastor Diana L. Swoope, Senior Pastor of Arlington Street Church of God, Akron, Ohio rocked the house as she preached from Acts, 2: 14-17; “Living in the Spirit Zone.” Pastor Swoope likened the Christian walk to the Athletes who strive to get in “the zone,” where they operate in such a dynamic, victorious way that they become unstoppable by their challengers. She challenged us to know and understand our call to the ministry, to have a commitment to mastery and excellence and to gain a comprehension of the momentum. If you want to live in the “zone,” and be victorious and unstoppable by the opposition, you better know your calling, commit to excellence and take hold of the momentum when it comes! Don’t let the momentum pass you by!
Pastor Marilyn Parker-Jeffries, Senior Pastor of New Creation Baptist Church, Lorain, Ohio set us on fire as she preached from Luke 15: 8-10; “Lost in the House.” She captured our hearts, minds and spirits as she expounded upon the tragedy of losing something precious right in the house, right in the midst, right in the church! People can be right before us, right around us, right in the midst and yet be lost. Many things, many opportunities, many hopes, many dreams can be lost, right in the house! But God is able to find and restore that which was lost, but some sweepin has to go on! Many things will seek to prevent you from sweeping your house, from seeking and finding what was lost, but we must stand on the word that the “Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” that God’s Spirit has anointed us, has appointed us, has given us a work to do and we cannot allow anyone or anything to stop us from reclaiming what has been lost!
What a time, what a time, what a time! We praise God for those “preachin women!” Next week well share about the plenary session, panel discussion and workshops.
You can view the "Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry 2012" Photo Album by visiting
Post a comment or send me an email at Until next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shepastor: "A Picture Speaks A Thousand Words - WTIM "Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry 2012"

What a time, what a time, what a time the LORD blessed us to share as women from across the United States came together to praise God, and to empower and encourage one another! Next week, we will review the awesome sermons, workshops, plenary, panel, praise and worship. This week, I just want to share a glimpse of our joyous, victorious and blessed time we had together...
Post a comment or send me an email at Until Next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Shepastor: “Let Us Praise God Together and Congratulate Our Beautiful Sister, The Reverend Dr. Debora Jackson, Newly Elected Executive Director of the American Baptist Churches National Ministers Council”

The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. Psalm 126:3, KJV
The American Baptist National Ministers Council is an organization designed to promote health, wellness, encouragement and enrichment for pastors. On Monday, August 20th, 2012, The ABC/USA National Ministers Council announced the election of the Reverend Dr. Debora Jackson of Auburndale Massachusetts as the new Executive Director. Poised, articulate, tremendously gifted and beautiful, Dr. Jackson brings a wealth of skill and knowledge to the position. She has earned a Bachelor of Science in Business from Indiana University; Master of Science, Management and a Master of Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, both from Worcester Polytechnic Institute; and if that were not enough, she answered God’s call to the ministry and pursued the Master of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry both from Andover Newton!
Dr. Jackson served as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Needham, MA for a number of years before accepting her new position as Ministers Council Director. The Ministers Executive Committee said of her,
She has demonstrated her ability to empower organizations to discern their vision and bring that vision to fruition. Finally, she is a powerful communicator, graduating from Andover Newton having been awarded the distinguished, ‘”Outstanding Preaching Award.”
How proud we are to call her our sister and newly appointed leader! Another stained glass ceiling has been broken! We praise God for the wisdom, broadmindedness and vision of the committee that selected Dr. Jackson. We are also thankful for the excellent work and ministry of outgoing interim director, the Rev. Dr. Joe Kutter, who served all ministers in general and women in particular with great respect, compassion and an open hand to provide opportunities.
To read about Dr. Jackson’s vision for leading the Ministers Council, visit,
Keep her in your prayers as she prayerfully leads the Council to higher heights of support, service and blessing of pastors and ministry leaders throughout the ABC Family and beyond.
Also, tomorrow is the start of the “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry Pre-Conference and Conference.” Please pray with Women Together in Ministry of Greater Cleveland (WTIM) as we welcome women in ministry from across the United States. May each one be encouraged, empowered, uplifted, challenged and inspired to continue to do the work entrusted to them by God. Stay tuned for conference highlights next week!
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Until Next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Shepastor: “Missed Opportunities”

The master was full of praise. 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let's celebrate together!' Matthew 25:21
Some years ago, actor Harrison Ford starred in the movie, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” The movie had a particularly profound message. The character Indiana and his father were in search of the “holy grail,” the legendary cup from which Christ drank wine at the Last Super. After navigating through a variety of deadly tricks and traps designed to prevent explorers from finding the prized artifact, Indiana finally enters the cavern where the cup resides. There’s only one problem – the cup is not singularly placed – it is amidst an array of other cups – crystal, gold, silver, bronze, those adorned with precious jewels etc. If the wrong cup was selected, the one drinking from it would instantly die a horrible death – he had to choose wisely.
The scoundrel that was before him chose what appeared to be the most elaborate, lavish, sparkling and expensive cup. As he drank water from that cup, he immediately began to age, shrivel and explode! It was then Indiana’s turn. After thinking hard about the life of Jesus, he determined that he would not have had such a cup for his last meal. Therefore, Indiana chose the most simple, unpolished, dull looking clay cup from among the others. His selection was correct!
So often we are drawn to the glitz and glam in today’s society – even in the church. It never ceases to amaze me how many ministers miss wonderful opportunities to serve – to teach, to do missions, to give and to share their gifts in smaller, not so glamorous venues. In pursuit of “greatness,” they miss the clay cup. They fail to realize that every assignment is an opportunity for faithfulness – no matter how small.
I once was told, “when you do a job well, there’s always another job to do.” Realize that you are being observed – not only by humans, but by God. If you are given an assignment, do you give it your all no matter how trivial it may seem? Do you keep your word when you promise to do something? Can people count on you to finish what you start? Do you take your responsibilities seriously? Do you constantly have to be reminded to carry out your given tasks? Do you quit easily? Are you offended if you are not given a “major thing” to do?
I challenge you today to remember, that promotion does not come from the east or from the west or from the south, but God is the judge who puts one down and sets another up (Psalm 75: 6-7). Your gift will make room for you and bring you before great men (Proverbs 18:16). Be faithful in the small things, be faithful even when it looks and feels like no one cares or appreciates your efforts. Let the Lord guide your goal setting process. Your greatness is wrapped up in your faithfulness. Understand the meaning of “the cup.”
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Next Thursday, August 23 is the Pre-Conference for the “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference. Rev. Barbara J. Essex, author of Bad Girls of the Bible will be there for a book signing! KeyBank Financial Education and Empowerment workshop for women in ministry will be offered. Sister Joyce Lake from American Baptist Women in Ministry will provide awesome praise and worship! Pastor Tonya Fields from New Freedom Ministries will preach! What an awesome time we will have in the Lord! Don’t you want to join us? Visit and click on “donate n register” to pay the $15.00 pre-conference registration fee today! You will also see highlights of the Conference, August 24-25th as well. We hope to see you there!
Until next Wednesday In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Shepastor: "Your Living Is Not In Vain"

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” I Corinthians 15:58, KJV
It’s been said that pastors die a death of a million paper cuts. Statistics regarding longevity of pastorates are grim. Consider the following…
Statistics · 90% of the pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week. · 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. Many pastor's children do not attend church now because of what the church has done to their parents. · 95% of pastors do not regularly pray with their spouses. · 33% state that being in the ministry is an outright hazard to their family. · 75% report significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry. · 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands. · 80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged as role of pastors. · 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered the ministry. · 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job. · 70% of pastors constantly fight depression. · 70% say they have a lower self-image now than when they first started. · 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend. · 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month. · 33% confess having involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with someone in the church. · 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living. · 70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid. · 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years. · 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form. · 94% of clergy families feel the pressures of the pastor's ministry. · 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked. · 80% spouses feel left out and underappreciated by church members. · 80% of pastors' spouses wish their spouse would choose a different profession. · 66% of church members expect a minister and family to live at a higher moral standard than themselves. · Moral values of a Christian is no different than those who consider themselves as non-Christians. · The average American will tell 23 lies a day. · The profession of “Pastor” is near the bottom of a survey of the most-respected professions, just above “car salesman”. · 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close. · Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year. · Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month , many without cause. · Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year. · Many denominations report an “empty pulpit crisis”. They cannot find ministers willing to fill positions.
#1 reason pastors leave the ministry — Church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastor's believe God wants them to go in one direction but the people are not willing to follow or change.
Statistics provided by The Fuller Institute, George Barna, and Pastoral Care Inc.
Do you see yourself or someone you love reflected in the above statistics? Many of the prophets of old could identify with the aforementioned emotions – Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, John the Baptist, Paul and even Jesus!
You are not alone. If you are wading through the deep waters of depression and discouragement due to the pressures of ministry, remember…
Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 Difficulties and challenges are sure to come – but by the grace of God – YOU CAN OVERCOME!
Your life is not your own, you were brought here for God’s plan and God’s purpose… “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” John 15:16 Remembering that God is using us to be a light, an example, a witness, a blessing will help us when the temptation to become self absorbed and entrenched by our personal struggles looms large.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 When we “delight” ourselves in the Lord, we begin to desire the things that the Lord desires for our lives. Daily seeking the Lord’s face, pursuing the Lord’s heart in prayer and submitting/surrendering our desires to the Lord’s will prepares our hearts to receive the blessings He has prepared for us all along.
Jesus reminds us, “I am with you…” Matthew 28:20 Knowing that the Lord is always by our side is important during seasons of loneliness and feelings of abandonment.
Remember to always trust and reverence the Lord, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” Psalm 56:3; “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy is understanding.” Psalm 111:10. Trusting the Lord in all situations and circumstances will keep us stable and moving forward. A healthy dose of “reverence” or “fear” of the Lord will keep us walking in a spirit of humility and obedience.
Remember, your “due season,” will come – don’t faint now!
Get to know God, not just be a casual acquaintance, but get to know God – In Philippians 3:10 Paul said, I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
How was Jesus in His death – death on the cross? He was obedient to His Father, He was submitted to the will of His Father. When we submit to the will of the Father, God will exalt us in due season.
Keep on pressing toward your mark. Keep on runnin your race – don’t worry about somebody else’s race, just run your race – looking unto Jesus who is the author and the finisher of our faith – look to Jesus who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest you become weary and faint in your mind!
Your living is not in vain!
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The “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference is only two weeks away! There is still time to register. Visit and click on “donate n register” to download the conference registration brochure.
Until next Wednesday, In faith, hope and perseverance, Pastor Chris