Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Shepastor: "The Blessing of Trials"

Romans 5: 1-8 (God’s Word Translation)Now that we have God's approval by faith, we have peace with God because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done. 2 Through Christ we can approach God and stand in his favor. So we brag because of our confidence that we will receive glory from God. 3 But that's not all. We also brag when we are suffering. We know that suffering creates endurance, 4 endurance creates character, and character creates confidence. 5 We're not ashamed to have this confidence, because God's love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 Look at it this way: At the right time, while we were still helpless, Christ died for ungodly people. 7 Finding someone who would die for a godly person is rare. Maybe someone would have the courage to die for a good person. 8 Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God's love for us.

In today’s Shepastor, the Apostle Paul emphasizes that since we have been justified by faith, “we have peace with God.” No longer separated from God by sin (disobedience) that wars against our very souls, we are now united in Christ and given peace that surpasses understanding. We praise God for this victory! However, Paul goes onto say, that we not only praise, or as one version puts it, “brag” about this new peaceful relationship in Christ, but we can also “brag” when we face tribulation, or trials, or great difficulties, because, trials – difficulties do some things for us.

Paul says it like this…

We know that suffering creates endurance, 4 endurance creates character, and character creates confidence. 5 We're not ashamed to have this confidence, because God's love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

“The Blessing of Trials”

A few years ago as my son and I were driving home, the sun moved behind the clouds suddenly, and small droplets of rain began to fall upon the windshield. Earlier that week, he’d had a science project where he had to write a mock weather forecast. Remembering his assignment and his own predictions about what the weather in the coming days would be, our son looked at me and said, “Mommy, rain was not in my forecast.” As I thought about his innocent words I responded, “Son, rain was not in my forecast either.” He didn’t realize that I was referring to more than the physical elements of water droplets falling from overburdened clouds packed to capacity with water.

I was referring to the rain that intermittently falls in life. I was referring to the misfortunes, mishaps, unexpected disappointments, and what we call inconveniences of life. I was referring to those unexpected events that come about when we were planning for sunny days, peaceful moments, relaxation, or just peace.

Rain was not in our forecast. The doctor coming out of the office after reviewing our labs and saying that the white blood count cell was too high or the psa level was too high and cancer may be looming. Rain was not in the forecast – That unexpected call from the school saying that your son or daughter was in an accident, you’d just seen them in the morning, happy, bright and bouncing and now you are wondering will they live – rain was not in the forecast – you thought you were being called in for a promotion and instead the boss looks across the desk with an apology and says they just can’t afford to keep you – rain was not in the forecast – the expectant mother going for an ultrasound, only to discover that there no longer is heartbeat in the ball of flesh developing in her womb – rain was not in the forecast!

Intellectually, we know, we understand that in every life some rain must fall, but we always hope that it will hold off at least for one more day. We know that all things work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to His purposes, but deep down within, we are just hoping, just praying, just standing with bated breath that our forecast – sunny skies with periodic overcast will only produce some droplets, but not a rain storm. Rain is not wanted in our forecast!

However, in every life, some rain will fall. Just as rain is necessary for the flowers to bloom and for the ground to grow grass and for our fields to be watered, the rain, the trials, the difficult circumstances that confront us in life are necessary to make us what God has created us to be.

Every now and then, God causes some rain to fall in our lives to make us strong. Every now and then God allows some tough situations to come into our lives so that we will be able to stand the storms that are coming on down the road. Storms help us to appreciate the good times. Storms help us to remain humble. Storms make us compassionate – if we will allow it. Trials can either make us bitter or better.

We have a choice. We can either trust God, cry out to Him in our pain and trials and seek His face and direction or we can recoil, become bitter, hateful, depressed, isolated and ultimately ball up and die.

The tree that never had to fight
for sun and sky and air and light
who stood up in the open plain
and always had its share of rain
never became a forest king
but lived and died a shrubby thing
good timber does not grow with ease
the stronger wind, the stronger trees
- Douglas Mallock

Walking with Christ does not shield you from the trials and struggles of life. Walking with the Lord does not immune you to the pain and toil that every child of God must face. Walking with the Lord will, however empower you to look for the lesson in whatever you face. It will give you hope, and strength and endurance to face each day and to praise the Lord at all times.

It will however transform you from the caterpillar to the butterfly. God will give you wings to fly, he will make your feet like hinds or deer feet so that you can walk upon the high places. Trials can be a blessing. Struggle can lift you to a higher plain. We can “brag” even when we are going through because we know that God loves us, that God is there with us, that God has great blessings in store for us.

Though others may look and wag their heads, some are hoping for your downfall, some are waiting to plan a party after (they hope) you fail or just give up – but the child of God, through faith, must endure hardship like a good soldier, remembering that we are not out to please man, but to please our enlisting officer, who is Jesus Christ.

“Harder yet may be the fight, right may often yield to might, wickedness a while may reign Harder yet may be the fight; right may often yield to might; wickedness a while may reign; Satan's cause may seem to gain. There is a God that rules above, with hand of power and heart of love; if I am right, he'll fight my battle, I shall have peace someday.”

Trials will come, rain will fall, but there is God who rules above, with hand of power and heart of love and He will fight your battles and give you peace. Rain may not have been in your forecast, but rain will fall The good news is that God has an umbrella!

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Shepastor: “Jump at de Sun…” Excerpts from Beyond The Stained Glass Ceiling: Equipping and Encouraging Female Pastors”

All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet
none of them received all that God had promised. For God had
something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection
without us.
(Hebrews 11:39-40, NLT)

This week, Shepastor highlights excerpts from Beyond The Stained Glass Ceiling: Equipping and Encouraging Female Pastors. Today’s focus is upon Chapter 5, “What Will We Find There?” This chapter discusses the decisions we must make as women in ministry to continue to blaze trails and pry open doors for others – doors that may not have opened for us…

In the words of the late Dr. Elton Trueblood, every generation has
the bittersweet task of “planting shade trees under which we
know full well we shall never sit.” To plant them with joy or resentment
is a choice.
Pride, pain, regret, and bitterness at times prevent
persons with a wealth of wisdom and experience from helping
those who are coming after.

I remember a stinging experience I had as a seminary student. I was given an assignment to contact a prominent female pastor to speak with her about her church’s outreach ministry. To my surprise, she agreed to speak with me, but with great hostility she yelled over the phone,

‘I started this church when nobody wanted to have anything
to do with me! They didn’t believe in women
preachers. Why do they want to know how I do what
I do? Where were all of you when I was working hard
in the community and doing outreach to the poor?

Where were you when I started a food pantry and a
clothes closet?’
After going on and on for a few more minutes she abruptly
hung up. Clearly the pains of rejection had not healed. Even the
high level of success she had achieved did not assuage the
wounds she endured as a woman rejected and denied, having to
start a church because no church would give her a chance
despite her qualifications.

If individuals are honest, it can be hurtful to realize and accept
that some ceilings will not be broken during their lifetime.
in ministry are still blazing trails, as it were. Women can, however,
take the proverbial mallet in their hands, determine to join together,
and beat upon the glass ceiling to make a million cracks.
must decide that the hardships they have endured will not embitter
them but instead will embolden them to help bring about a
change. Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston declared,

“Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to ‘jump at de
sun.’ We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off
the ground.”

They must decide that the hardships they have
endured will not embitter them but instead will
embolden them to help bring about a change.
(Smith: Beyond The Stained Glass Ceiling…pp. 87-87)

The words of singer/song writer Ruben Studdard are powerful and drive our point for today home…

Take the trials that you been through and all the times life made you blue, search down deep within yourself, make it medicine for someone else someone else…

Share the joys you wish you’d known, hold on to the tears that you share, bottle them with care as though for yourself, make it medicine for someone else someone else…
You gotta go on and it's hard I know sometimes the way you see it go, wish for you not to take it personal cause it's not about yourself, yes it's hard to face when you suffer for someone else…

Share the battles good and bad the hardest trials you've ever had, take out the trophies - take them off the shelf, make it medicine for someone else someone else…

Dear woman God, will you “take the trophies off the shelf and make it medicine for someone else?”

Post a comment or send me an email at

To order your copy of Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling: Equipping and Encouraging Female Pastors, visit

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Shepastor: "The Experiences of Female Pastors"

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. 1 Corinthians 15:58, KJV

Yesterday, during the C.D. Hubert Lecture Series (sponsored by the Interdenominational Theological Center, Baptist School of Theology, Atlanta, GA)at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, I was blessed to participate on a panel with three other female pastors. Our initial topic for discussion was "Women in the Community, the Academy and the Church." However, as we began to introduce ourselves and say a little bit about our experience as female pastors, several painful realities emerged:

- Many female pastors wrestle with loneliness due to the lack of support from their spouses, limited numbers of female colleagues and congregational insensitivity.

- Women frequently oppress other women for a myriad of reasons

- We are still looking for ways to confront and change these unfortunate truths

Despite all of these painful realities, God is still opening doors for women.

One of our panelist Rev. Billie Cox, is the newly elected pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Conyers, GA - a historic African American Baptist Church.

Another panelist, the Rev. Dr. Valerie Tate Everett, serves as the University Chaplain/Director of Religious Life, Clark-Atlanta, GA. There she holds services througout the week and on Sunday mornings, reaching a crowd of students of over 500 weekly!

Another panelist, Rev. Anita Green, serves as a chaplain, ministering to individuals, families and scores of others in need of support during times of tragedy and life transitions.

Each of these women shared stories of triumph in the midst of struggle.
Certainly, "we have come over a way that with tears has been watered!"

I praise God for the opportunity to have met these powerful women who have persevered, stood through the storm and are coming out blazing trails and opening doors for other female clergy!"

This coming Friday (February 15th), Judson Press will release, Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling: Equipping and Encouraging Female Pastors . I was privileged to share themes from this my first book, during the panel.

Women of God, let us remain faithful to the call of God. Although the struggle can feel daunting, through Christ, we shall prevail.

Post a comment or send me an email at

Today begins the Lenten Season. As we prepare for the celebration of Easter morning, may we pursue ways to help lead individuals to walk in the power of the resurrected Lord.

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

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Shepastor Highlights the "Religious Experience and Journal of Mrs. Jarena Lee"

Religious Experience and Journal of Mrs. Jarena Lee

In honor of Black History Month, today Shepastor highlights Jarena Lee, preacher extraordinaire! In 1819, Jarena Lee became the first woman to be authorized to preach by Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Below is an excerpt of her experiences in her own words… (Excerpts from PBS online series, "Africans in America")

I now began to think seriously of breaking up housekeeping, and forsaking all to preach the everlasting Gospel. I felt a strong desire to return to the place of my nativity, at Cape May, after an absence of about fourteen years. To this place, where the heaviest cross was to be met with, the Lord sent me, as Saul of Tarsus was sent to Jerusalem, to preach the same gospel which he had neglected and despised before his conversion. I went by water, and on my passage was much distressed by sea sickness, so much so that I expected to have died, but such was not the will of the Lord respecting me. After I had disembarked, I proceeded on as opportunities offered toward where my mother lived. When within ten miles of that place, I appointed an evening meeting.

There were a goodly number came out to hear. The Lord was pleased to give me light and liberty among the people. After meeting, there came an elderly lady to me and said, she believed the Lord had rent me among them: she then appointed me another meeting there two weeks from that night. The next day I hastened forward to the place of my mother. who was happy to see me, and the happiness was mutual between us. With her I left my poor sickly boy while I departed to do my Master' s will. In this neighborhood I had an uncle, who was a Methodist and who gladly threw open his door for meetings to be held there. At the first meeting which I held at my uncle's house, there was, with others who had come from curiosity to hear the woman preacher, an old man, who was a Deist, and who said he did not believe the coloured people had any souls -- he was sure they had none. He took a seat very near where I was standing, and boldly tried to look me out of countenance. But as I labored on in the best manner I was able, looking to God all the while, though it seemed to me I had but little liberty, yet there went an arrow from the bent bow of the gospel, and fastened in his till then obdurate heart.

After I had done speaking, he went out, and called the people around him, said that my preaching might seem a small thing, yet be believed I had the worth of souls at heart. This language was different from what it was a little time before, as he now seemed to admit that coloured people had souls, as it was to these I was chiefly speaking; and unless they had souls, whose good I had in view, his remark must have been without meaning. He now came into the house, and in the most friendly manner shook hands with me, saying, he hoped God had spared him to some good purpose. This man was a great slave holder, and had been very cruel ; thinking, nothing of knocking down a slave with a fence stake, or whatever might come to hand. From this time it was said of him that he became greatly altered in his ways for the better. At that time he was about seventy years old, his head as white as snow; but whether be became a converted man or not, I never heard…

What a powerful testimony of faith, determination and holy boldness! May we as clerygwomen gain strength and inspiration to persevere as we consider the paths that our forebearers tread to open doors for us today!

To read more about Jarena Lee, visit the PBS website at

Post a comment or send me an email at

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