Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Shepastor: “You Can Get Up, but Will You?”

1Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 2Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesdaa and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.b 5One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 7“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 8Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. John 5: 1-9, NIV
Artists often depict Jesus as a soft, demure, gentle spirit hanging out with sheep or knocking on a wooden door with no handle. I’ve not seen too many pictures of Jesus throwing the money changers out of the temple or telling a sick man to “get up!” Yet the text above shows a Jesus that in so many words, cut to the chase. Jesus’ response to the man who’d been on a mat beside the pool, seemingly debilitated for thirty-eight years, appears less than compassionate. Jesus did not coddle him. He did not allow him to wallow in self-pity. He did not even encourage him to continue to talk about his condition. Jesus simply asked, “Do you want to get well?”
Jesus is asking the same question today. Maybe you, like the man at the pool of Bethesda have had debilitating experiences. Maybe you’ve been knocked down by family dysfunction, mean spirited individuals, grief, illness, financial duress, etc. Maybe you feel like no one has given you the necessary lift or assistance to get the healing that you need. Jesus simply asks, “Do you want to get well? You can get up, but will you? Will you make the decision to release the hurt, the pain, the past, take up your bed and walk?” Are you saying, “But you don’t understand. You don’t know what they did to me. You don’t know how I’ve been bruised. You have no idea how long I’ve waited for someone to give me a hand and help me to get over to the healing pool!”
Jesus responds, “Get up!” Jesus says, “I am the one that will heal you. Accept my outreached hand today.” No matter what your situation, with the help of Jesus, you can get up. Will you?
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Until next week, In faith, hope and perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Shepastor: “Do the Right Thing”

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, since you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. I Corinthians 15:58, KJV
Today in the Greater Cleveland area, the temperature is about 90 degrees in the shade. Having said that, I was eager to get out of the heat! I’d visited a local store to make a purchase. Coming out of the store and heading towards my car, I noticed that the shopping cart rack was much further away from me than it originally appeared. As I glanced around the lot, several carts were left beside cars. No doubt, others, like me, did not feel like walking the extra distance, particularly in the heat, to return the shopping cart to its rightful place. As I debated whether or not to just find a convenient spot to leave the cart or make the extra effort and walk the cart down the way, a woman parked near me placed her items in her car and without hesitation, made the long walk to the rack, placed her cart in, returned to her car and drove away.
In that instant, observing her decision to do the right thing and return the cart, I was motivated to do the same. The woman, I am sure, had no idea that her simple act of being a responsible shopper and citizen (carts left unattended and in the wrong spot can scratch cars, cause damage, hinder parking and possibly cause an accident) encouraged and influenced me to also do the right thing. As I drove away, I thought about the power of right actions. When others are taking the line of least resistance, it may be tempting to do the same. You may be asking yourself, “Why should I make the extra effort to do this or that when my acts go un-noticed and unappreciated. Why should I press myself to go above and beyond?” You, however, are making a difference. Someone is watching- not only the LORD, but others who may be in the midst of choosing a path. When we elect to do what is right, what is ethical, what is responsible, we encourage and influence others to do the same.
Like the woman in the parking lot, we may never know how our right actions impact the lives and the decisions of others. We all face moments when it would be so much easier to take the road with the least amount of push back. When you are faced with much weightier matters than pushing a cart to a rack, remember that your decision(s) is impacting others. Ask the Lord for the strength to keep pushing your proverbial cart and do the right thing. Your beautiful example will ultimately have a chain reaction in ways that may not be revealed until you cross the river and see Jesus. Dare to take the road less traveled. Consider the words of John Oxenham paraphrased for women…
The Way
To every “woman” there openeth A Way, and Ways, and a Way, And the High Soul climbs the High Way, And the Low Soul gropes the Low, And in between, on the misty flats, The rest drift to and fro. But to every woman there openeth A High Way, and a Low. And every woman decideth The way her soul shall go.
By faith, choose the “high way.” Your labor is not in vain.
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Don’t forget to register for the “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference, August 23-25th, 2012. Register before June 30th and save $25.00! Visit and click on “donate n register” to download the registration brochure.
Until Next Wednesday In faith, hope and perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Shepastor: “Things We Can Learn From the ‘Brethren’”

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” Proverbs 4:7, KJV
The term “principal,” means “most important, consequential, or influential: chief.” (Merriam-Webster). As a child, I was taught to remember the difference between “principal” and “principle” (a rule or code of conduct) by thinking of the school director/leader as our “pal.” With that distinction in mind, as well as the childhood imagery of a pal, Proverbs 4:7 can take on an interesting meaning: Seeking wisdom should be a top priority in our lives. We should make wisdom our best friend.
Wisdom challenges us to consider the broader scope of things and make decisions that are good, not only for the moment, but also for the long haul. Having said all of that, I’d like to suggest that women clergy could learn some things from male clergy that will benefit them over time.
The other day I heard a clergywoman say, “Men can argue all morning long in the board room, but go out to the golf-course together in the afternoon!” She was suggesting that in general, men are adept at separating business from personal relationships, networking and camaraderie. Of course, we have seen men ostracize one another, be “cut throat,” and have their own cliques and clans in business meetings, but we have also observed their ability to make connections, look for who has certain areas of expertise and tap into their reservoir of resources, come together to get a job done and then go out together and take in a sports event!
What, in wisdom, can we learn from their behaviors?
- Separate personal issues from business: Even if you don’t like the way “she” acts or dresses, or whatever, is there something you can learn from her? Is there any area in which you could collaborate?
- Learn how to disagree and let it go: So often our “board room disagreements” turn into long term “I can’t stand her!” As a result we miss opportunities to make connections, listen and learn, consider another person’s point of view and grow as Christians
- Learn the benefits of “playing well” together: Women miss so many chances to network, experience open doors and open doors for others, lifting as we climb. Frequently we allow our differences, jealousies, fears and insecurities to hinder the power and blessing of joining forces together with other women.
In wisdom, let’s learn. The next time you find yourself in a room full of men with one or two sisters scattered in the mix, take time to go over and introduce yourself to them. Take time to talk to them about their work, their lives, the ministries in which they serve. Avoid the temptation to only hang out with the “boys.” Even if, due to the unfortunate patterns of behaviors common to the few who “make it into the circle” they appear cold, disinterested, disconnected and even disrespectful, I challenge you to push past all of that and be the standard bearer.
In the spirit of wisdom, show other sisters how to affirm, encourage, lift, support, include, understand and advocate for other women. Even if you are misunderstood, rejected, given the cold shoulder, negatively spoken of etc., push forward. Your light, your example, your bold spirit, your love for the Lord and the “sisteren” will ultimately break down barriers, create opportunities and develop new and productive patterns for women to follow. We are better together. In wisdom, let’s learn and march on!
June 30th is rapidly approaching! Take the opportunity today to register early and save $25.00 on registration for the “Empowering and Encouraging Women In Ministry” Conference, August 23-25th, 2012 in Beachwood, Ohio. To read more and register, visit and click on “donate n register.”
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Until Next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Shepastor: "If You Would Be Great..."

The Word of God in Psalm 48:1 declares,Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.”
We serve a great God. To be “great” means to be larger in size than others of the same kind. When the Bible, however, speaks of the greatness of God, it is not referencing God’s “size,” for God is immeasurable. Nothing or no one can compare to God. God’s greatness comes from the fact that God is above all, has no beginning or ending, is the Alpha and Omega, is eternal is all knowing, all powerful and is every where. God is GREAT!
While we cannot be great in the “God sense” of greatness, we can be great according to another definitionJesus said, 11The greatest among you must be a servant (Matthew 23:11, NLT). This definition challenges the world’s view of greatness. Greatness emerges from a heart that is willing to give, sacrifice and if necessary suffer for the cause of Christ. Jesus’ definition of greatness challenges us to move out of our comfort zones and seek to do big things in His name. “Big things,” not in terms of gaining status, building bigger buildings or amassing large amounts of money, but the big things of challenging unjust systems (educational, medical, penal), encouraging, affirming and lifting some child or adult that is broken, speaking truth to power, and lending a helping hand where needed.
No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Everyone can serve. Everyone can stand up for what is right. Everyone can pray. Everyone can love. Everyone can give something of them self that requires some blood, sweat and tears. Everyone can be great! If you would be great, move out of your comfort zone. Consider the words of the poet and ask the Lord what “great thing” He would have you to pursue in His name today...
“I'm tired of sailing my little boat, far inside the harbor bar. I want to go where the big ships float, out on the deep where the great ones are. And should my frail craft prove too slight, the waves that sweep those billows o'er, I'd rather go down in a stirring fight than drown to death in the sheltered shore.”
"If You Would Be Great" Song and Lyrics by Ken Bible
If you would be great, you blessed of the Lord, Be People of God and walk in His Word. His heart is compassion, and love is His call, So take up your cross and be servants of all. The Father of Life has given you birth, A light for the world and salt for the earth. In all His abundance, be ever aware The wealth He has given is meant to be shared. We'll reach to the need; we'll listen and learn, For this is our joy: the freedom to serve. Our goal and our glory, whatever the cost: To live and to love as the People of God.
End Quote
Post a comment or send me an email at Don’t forget to register for the “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference, August 23-25th, 2012. Register before June 30th and save $25.00! Visit and click on “donate n register” to download the registration brochure. Until Next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris