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….
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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