Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shepastor: “You’ll know better next time”

10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.Pressing on Toward the Goal 12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3: 10-14 NIV

The other day as I was coming out of the grocery store, I saw a young mother with her two children. One was sitting in the grocery cart and the other was standing over the side of the cart sobbing. The mother was comforting him concerning a bad decision he’d made. With a gentle tone and a reassuring voice she said, “Honey, everybody makes mistakes. You’ll know better next time.”

As I listened to that mother, I thought about how much it hurts when we realize that we’ve made a bad choice, gone in the wrong direction or made a mess of something. The mother’s words were wise, encouraging and relayed a profound message: we all make mistakes, but learn from what you’ve done and press on! Weep for a moment, but don’t stay there. If you have made a mess, ask for God’s guidance and wisdom to clean it up and then turn the rest over to Him.

You cannot change the past. You can, however, move wisely into the future. Learn the valuable lessons of the valley classroom and determine not to repeat a grade. Press toward the mark of God’s high calling upon your life. Release the guilt, release, the shame, release the sorrow. Turn it over to Jesus. He will make everything all right. Press toward the mark of God’s high calling upon your life. The dash between life and death is too short to dwell in regret and defeat too long.

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

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Shepastor: “Speak Until Justice Wakes”…For Trayvon Martin

If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteousness do? (Psalm 11:3)

In 2012, we in America are still wrestling with issues of racism. Foundations are being destroyed: “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” “One Nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” These concepts are a part of our foundation. The foundation, however, is being destroyed. Stereotypes, ignorance, intolerance and hatred are all contributors to the fragmentation of our unity. Upon what do we stand? If we continue to attempt to stand upon a broken and jagged foundation, we will all be destroyed.

Recently our Nation experienced one more painful example of our brokenness –the murder of a beautiful, young man, Trayvon Martin. According to news reports, Trayvon was unarmed, carrying a can of tea, a bag of skittles and was on his way home. A neighborhood vigilante determined that Trayvon was “suspicious looking,” followed, confronted and ultimately shot him in the chest and killed him. Below is the moving plea of his family to demand justice. Read on and prayerfully consider joining the voices who will speak until justice wakes…

Why This Is Important

On February 26, our son Trayvon Martin was shot and killed as he walked to a family member's home from a convenience store where he had just bought some candy. He was only 17 years-old. Trayvon's killer, George Zimmerman, admitted to police that he shot Trayvon in the chest. Zimmerman, the community's self appointed "neighborhood watch leader," called the police to report a suspicious person when he saw Travyon, a young black man, walking from the store. But Zimmerman still hasn't been charged for murdering our son.

Trayvon was our hero. At the age 9, Trayvon pulled his father from a burning kitchen, saving his life. He loved sports and horseback riding. At only 17 he had a bright future ahead of him with dreams of attending college and becoming an aviation mechanic. Now that’s all gone.

When Zimmerman reported Trayvon to the police, they told him not to confront him. But he did anyway. All we know about what happened next is that our 17 year-old son, who was completely unarmed, was shot and killed.
It's been nearly two weeks and the Sanford Police have refused to arrest George Zimmerman. In their public statements, they even go so far as to stand up for the killer - saying he's "a college grad" who took a class in criminal justice.

Please join us in calling on Norman Wolfinger, Florida's 18th District State's Attorney, to investigate my son's murder and prosecute George Zimmerman for the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin.
End Quote.

If you would like to join me along with thousands of other individuals who would like to see justice served, please visit the link below, sign the petition and stand for Trayvon.

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Shepastor: A Special Lenten Reflection, “ Turning Around”

Every year somewhere between the February and March, the Christian Church observes the season known as, Lent. Originally, Lent was a time of preparation for Easter baptism. Those preparing to be baptized would fast and pray. The climax of the season came with an all-night vigil of Easter Even with baptism, confirmation and celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. Lent also was a time for all members of the church community to repent of and mourn for sin. The forty weekdays of Lent represent the time Jesus spent in the wilderness during His Temptation. According to Matthew and Luke, He fasted for forty days.

During Lent, the church of today continues to focus upon the themes of repentance, forgiveness and restoration. A few weeks back we observed Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. The ashes are made from the burned palms from the previous Palm Sunday. In the Christian Tradition, the ashes are blessed and then the pastor, using the ashes, makes the sign of the cross upon the foreheads of the repentant. The ashes symbolize repentance. The idea comes from the Old Testament times when mourners clothed themselves in sackcloth and sprinkled their heads and faces with dust or ashes.

Job said, “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:6). Jesus declared, “Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Siden, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” (Information obtained from, Symbols of Church Seasons & Days, by John Bradner)

While the ashes symbolize repentance, let us remember that outward symbols without inward transformation is unacceptable in the sight of God. To repent means to literally, “turn around,” or to “turn back.” In today’s Shepastor, we reflect upon a Christian writer’s message regarding going in God’s direction. Read on and be blessed…

Turning Around…

We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. We have all seen this when doing arithmetic. When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start over again, the faster I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistakes. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on. End Quote

There is no shame in turning around, if that is what is necessary to get us moving forward in the right direction. Do you need to turn around? Do you hear the Lord speaking and saying, “Turn back my child, that is not the plan I have for you.” Don’t allow pride and the fear of human reprisal or judgment to block you from God’s best. If you are headed down the wrong road, obey God, return to “that place” where you first heard God’s message. God will restore, renew, refill, recharge and advance your life and ministry – praise His holy name!

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

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Shepastor: “Selah: Communication Without Words”

Habakkuk 2:20
But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

The term, Selah is a Hebrew musical instruction that the choir- master used to instruct those singing the psalms to pause, reflect and meditate upon what was just said or sung. We are so quick to speak. Silence, however, can be powerful. Often we fear the awkwardness of silence. Sometimes, silence is a requirement. Sometimes silence is what is needed to appreciate the beauty and splendor of what the Lord has to offer us in the moment. Today in Shepastor I share an experience I had years ago while serving as a hospital chaplain. Words would not work. Communication had to happen another way.

Read on and be blessed…

Communication with out Words

As I visited patients one day, the unit social worker came and asked if I would spend some time with a particular patient. “I think she’d really appreciate a visit from you. When she was a little girl she experienced an accident that literally melted a portion of her brain. Her condition has gotten progressively worse. She’s lost most of her speech, but she does express emotion.” “I’d be happy to visit her.”

Down the hall I went, not quite sure what to expect as I entered the room. As I approached the patient’s bedside, she looked at me and smiled –not a vacant expression, but a true acknowledgement of my presence. She had a beautiful face, freshly braded hair and painted fingernails. It was evident that she was well loved and cared for. “Hi, my name is Chris. I’m the chaplain. May I sit with you for a while?”

She smiled and nodded her head, “yes.” “I came to see how you are doing.” She immediately began to express noises, “um, ah, ah, um…” as if they were words. She looked at me, made gestures with her hand like she was telling me how she was doing (it reminded me of the conversations I have with my baby daughter as she communicates with her own language and I respond as if I understand what she’s saying.)

On her lap lay a clip board with a black and white picture of butterflies. On the tray was a glad bag with colored pencils. She’d made an attempt to color one butterfly, but couldn’t quite control her hands to press the pencil against the paper. She lifted the bag and attempted to hand it to me. “Oh, would you like me to help you color?” She smiled and nodded yes. I took the pencils and began to color a butterfly. Soon she raised her hand again like she wanted to try. She tried to reach in the bag and select another color. She struggled to pull out red. I helped place the pencil in her hand and she gently, awkwardly scribbled a few lines on the page. I then took a few other colors and began to color the other butterfly. She stared at me. I stopped coloring and lifted my hand, spreading my fingers like a five. She lifted her hand as well. I then placed my fingers against hers and pressed my palm against hers. She smiled and pressed back.

We sat for a moment, smiling together. I began to color again. When finished with my butterfly, I wrote a note on the bottom of the paper, “Susie is as beautiful as a butterfly.” She smiled and looked flattered. I said a brief prayer with her, thanked her for allowing me to sit with her and to color and helped place her things back on the tray. No words were exchanged that day, but lots of wonderful things were communicated.

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