Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Shepastor: “Do You Want To Be Used By God in the Potter’s House?”

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NRSV
This week Minister Kathryn Johnson and I are privileged to be guests and participants at the American Baptist Women and Girls National Conference, “In the Potter’s Hands: Sculpted Vessels.” During the Conference we had the opportunity to share the purpose, goals and objectives of the COTAAN (Covenant Outreach Through Advocacy and Agency Networking – an aftercare ministry for women and girls returning home from incarceration, )program with the entire delegation. That is not the focus, however, of today’s blog.
Women from around the world – Burma, South Africa, India, Asia, America etc., all gathered together in Nashville, Tennessee to worship God and reflect upon what it means to be “sculpted vessels in the Potter’s hands.” One of the keynote speakers, Lois Olmstead, gave us a series of profound messages utilizing humor and wit to both charm and engage the audience. Her intriguing presentation took us along a path filled with laughter and imagery common to women, such as forgetfulness as we enter the menopause years. Her methods were very effective, causing us to relax and become open to the powerful words of wisdom she shared to assist us along life’s journey.
After drawing us into a space of receptivity, Lois challenged us with the following:
“If you want to be used by God…"
(1) Learn to love where you are : instead of spending all of your time wishing you were some place other than where the Lord has currently allowed you to be, learn the lessons of your place. God has much for you to receive before you move forward.
(2) Learn to be thankful: Resist the temptation to grumble and complain. Rather than focusing upon all that is wrong or all that you were not able to accomplish or all that you wish were different, begin to thank and praise God for what you do have. If you do, you’ll discover that the blessings of the Lord will over take you!
(3) Learn that things are not always as they seem: Avoid comparing yourself to others. You don’t know what they are going through nor do you know how or why they have what they have. If it appears that God is answering someone else’s prayers and not yours or that others appear to get everything they are asking for and you feel frequently denied, trust that God knows what He is doing in your life. In His time and in your designated season, God’s will, will be made manifest in your life.
(4) Learn to laugh at yourself: Lighten up! Find humor in your daily circumstances. Don’t be so hard on yourself
(5) Learn to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ: The most important “learning” of all. Sincerely ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins, come into your heart and become the Lord of your life!
What a wonderful message! May you find grace, strength, hope and peace in Lois’ words of wisdom, assisting us in being moldable clay in the Potter’s Hands!
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August 23-25th, 2012 is fast approaching! If you have not already done so, visit and click on “donate n register” to download the registration brochure for the “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry Conference in Beachwood, Ohio.
Until next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Shepastor: “I’m Standing in the Gap For You”

Do you ever feel too weary to pray? I don’t know what is happening in your life today, but if you have been travailing in the valley, here is my prayer for you…
May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. 2 May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. 3 May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.[b] 4 May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. 5 May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests.
6 Now this I know: The LORD gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. 7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. 8 They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. Psalm 20: 1-8, NIV
Take heart beloved. He who sits at the right hand of the Father is pleading your case.
August 23-25th, 2012 you have the opportunity to fellowship with clergywomen from around the country, called by God and working in the vineyard. Join us in Beachwood Ohio for the “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference! Visit and click on “donate n register” to download the registration brochure.
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Until next Wednesday In faith, hope and perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shepastor: “Hope, Faith and Something…”

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11: 1 NIV
Each of my three children provides numerous illustrations for sermons during our conversations. The other day I was reminded of that fact! While eating dinner at a restaurant, we met a waitress named “Hope.” As my fifteen year old son observed her name, he asked me, “What is the difference between faith and hope?” I told him that hope and faith are closely related. “Hope” looks forward with a desire for “something” to happen. Faith declares, “I believe that something will happen.” The concept of “something” is loaded. While our desire for a particular something to happen may keep us with tip-toe anticipation, our belief that something will happen goes beyond hope to a depth level trust.
Faith empowers us to exchange our something with God’s something. When what we hoped for or anticipated does not come to pass, faith sustains our belief that God’s something will actually fulfill our desires. While hope is critical to our survival, faith is essential to helping us navigate, interpret and ultimately embrace all of the “somethings” that will happen in our lives.
Continue to trust that God’s “something” will always be immeasurably more than the something that you were looking for and for God reasons, you did not receive.
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If you have not already done so, take a moment to register for the “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” conference today! Visit and click on “donate n register” to download the registration brochure today.
Until next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Shepastor: "A Strange Freedom"

Today is Independence Day in America. On this day we commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, declaring the United States independent from Great Britain. Independence and freedom are beautiful things. Freedom, however, in the words of the late theologian, Dr. Howard Thurman, can be “strange.”
Individuals who have taken a wrong turn in life and ended up in prison face a challenging reality as they walk back into freedom. Although released from a prison cell, they frequently face another kind of imprisonment – an inability to find meaningful employment, societal unforgiveness, loneliness and constant reminders of their past. While some may believe that ex-offenders are getting what they deserve, Jesus calls the Church to embrace a spirit of compassion, reconciliation and rehabilitation. Today Shepastor highlights a developing ministry of the Covenant Baptist Church in Wickliffe, Ohio, “COTAAN,” Covenant Outreach Through Advocacy and Agency Networking. COTAAN is a prison aftercare program for women and girls.
Read about COTAAN below…
About COTAAN...
COTAAN is a prison aftercare program for women and girls Pronounced, "Cotton," the program is designed to be a “soft” landing for those coming from a “hard” start.
Cleveland, Ohio has been named the second poorest city in the country. Statistics reveal that the Greater Cleveland area is home to many “returning citizens.” These men and women have served their sentences and are attempting to resume their lives in the community. Many, however, find it extremely difficult to get re-established. While several programs focus upon assistance to male ex-offenders, fewer options are available for women and girls returning home from incarceration.
Covenant's Response
In 2010, In response to the above stated need, Covenant Baptist Church began the process of developing COTAAN: “Covenant Outreach Through Advocacy and Agency Networking,” a life-changing ministry that assists women and girls returning to society after prison. Minister Kathryn R. Johnson, Covenant Associate Minister and former marketing manager and non-profit administrator was named program director. In 2012 COTAAN was selected by and became the ministry focus for American Baptist Women and Girls Ministries. ABW set a goal of raising $25,000 for COTAAN from American Baptist women across the country. The campaign is on going.
Program Goals:
The goal of COTAAN is two-fold: To provide (1) spiritual guidance and support and (2) identifiable paths to economic self-sufficiency for women and girls who are ex-offenders. COTAAN hopes to provide women and girls returning home from incarceration with spiritual and educational assistance that will help them to become productive citizens re-entering society. Covenant believes the impact of a faith-based program will lead ex-offenders in making positive decisions in other aspects of their lives. Covenant also believes that financial education and planning is a critical aspect of sustained and productive re-entry into society.
The program includes weekly group spiritual guidance sessions, Bible study, and individual spiritual care meetings led by the senior pastor and clergy from the community. The program will also include twice monthly financial education classes. The Director will hold a weekly meeting with clients to track progress, assist with any program needs, and offer support. The use of inspirational DVDs, videos, and presentations will focus on faith, spiritual and personal growth, and overcoming life’s challenges. Speakers from the church and community will provide motivational talks and testimonials. The clients will be encouraged to attend weekly worship services and Bible study. Covenant’s hope is that COTAAN will provide examples of “radical discipleship” showing fully the impact of the program’s guiding scripture, Luke 4:18,
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed" Luke 4:18, New International Version of the Bible
For more information about COTAAN or to enroll, contact Minister Kathryn Johnson at (440) 585-7350 or via email at .
You can hear more about COTAAN in the July 2nd American Baptist Women and Girls Ministry Podcast series and blog, “In Their Shoes” by clicking on the link below:
You may also read about COTAAN’s thirteen week program by visiting
If you have not already done so, take a moment to register for the “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” conference today! Visit and click on “donate n register” to download the registration brochure today.
Have a happy, safe and thoughtful Independence Day!
Post a comment or send me an email at
Until next Wednesday, In Faith, Hope and Perseverance, Pastor Chris