Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Shepastor: "Conversations"

This past week I attended the American Baptist Biennial in Overland Park, Kansas. The Focus of this year's meeting was conversation. They called it a "Mission Summit." This was a first for ABC-USA. Some what risky because there was no guarantee that people would be open and willing to travel across the country to "converse!"

However, expansion, progression and innovation all require some level of risk. For three days delegates from all over the United States, Puerto Rico, Burma as well as other lands gathered together to sit in groups and discuss a variety of topics. Over 1,000 people participated in the activity. The intent was not to answer questions, but rather to raise questions, wrestle with conundrums, hear one another's ideas and share how the Lord is moving in and through individuals, churches and ministries. Topics included discipleship, teaming, lay leadership, missions, pastoral transitions, evangelism, youth ministry, many, many more and of course, women in ministry.

Questions were raised regarding barriers and why they exist, how is God moving in the midst of the struggle, what has God already done and how do we see God moving us forward. Intriguing conversations indeed! We have been urged to continue the conversations in order that we may "hear what the Spirit is saying unto the churches."

May our conversations move us towards a greater understanding of one another, the issues that we face, the giftedness that we possess and the strength that we have as we work together. May we be empowered to tear down barriers, and open our hearts to the voice, purposes and will of The Lord in our lives and in the work of the Church.

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

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Shepastor: “The Lord Faints Not…”

Isaiah 40:28-31
Amplified Bible (AMP)

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not faint or grow weary; there is no searching of His understanding.
29 He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound].
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted;
31 But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.

Every now and then we need a reminder that the Lord knows, sees and understands our circumstances and will lift us up in due season.

Remember today…

- The Lord does not grow weary of working on your behalf
- The Lord will give you power when you feel “faint and weary”
- The Lord understands everything
- The Lord will increase your strength
- Through God’s grace and favor, you can surpass what appears physically impossible
- Wait on the Lord. He will renew you, lift you and help you to run with endurance.

Get your joy back - it is your strength. Refuse to allow negativity to stop you from soaring. Remember God is with you.

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

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Shepastor: “Settling the Lordship Question”

Sign Posts For Life: “Yield”

Romans 12: 1-2 (God’s Word Translation)

1Brothers and sisters, in view of all we have just shared about God's compassion, I encourage you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, dedicated to God and pleasing to him. This kind of worship is appropriate for you. 2Don't become like the people of this world. Instead, change the way you think. Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants-what is good, pleasing, and perfect.

When does it mean to “Yield?” Why is it important to yield in traffic? How does the term “yield” apply to Christians in day to day life? The term yield means to “give, surrender.” Investments, whether financial or crops yield produce. In order for investments to grow or crops to yield produce, both go through a surrendering of sorts. Investments are determined by the owner and or stock broker who moves monies around based upon the conditions of the market. Crops yield or produce fruit or grain based upon the tilling of the ground, the fertilization process, the irrigation process and harvesting.

The above mentioned entities have no say. We, however must choose to yield, surrender, obey. Our produce is dependent upon our choice in the matter.

Pride and self-centerdness can keep us from obeying God’s yield sign. A desire to rush ahead can keep us from obeying God’s yield sign. Disgust over “traffic” in our lives can cause us to ignore God’s yield sign.

What hinders you from yielding to God’s will?

Romans 12:2 states, “Don’t become like the people of this world. Instead, change the way you think.” (God’s Word Translation) To increase your willingness to yield to God, ask yourself the following questions…

Who is really the LORD of your life?

- Have I ever really surrendered my life to Jesus Christ as Lord and yielded myself to Him?
- Am I willing to do God’s will in any situation no matter what?
- Are my motives affected by pride? Am I unwilling to do something “beneath” me?
- Are my motives affected by self-centered attitudes? Am I placing my desires above God?

Surrender is the most important step in the process of hearing God. It “demystifies” the process of discerning His will.

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

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Shepastor: “No Figs, No Problem!” Excerpts from Hampton Ministers’ Conference Preacher, Dr. Carl J. Solomon

Mark 11:12-25
New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Curses a Fig Tree and Clears the Temple Courts

12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

This week I am privileged to be a presenter at the historic and prestigious Hampton Minister’s Conference in Hampton, VA. This 99 year-old gathering features some of the greatest preachers, teachers, lecturers and musicians from across the nation. Held on one of the Historical Black Universities and Colleges (HBCU) campuses, Hampton University, it boasts of an attendance of 8,000 – 12,000 annually.

This morning, attendees were electrified by a message from Dr. Carl J. Solomon, Pastor of United Baptist Church in East Baltimore, MD. Below are a few highlights from his message…

- The passage where Jesus curses the fig tree is some what quizzical. Why didn’t Jesus – the master of all, the one with all power in His hands – why didn’t Jesus command the fig tree to produce fruit when he saw that it was barren?

- Could it be that Jesus was teaching us a lesson… “stop wasting your time on dead things!” Some of us have allowed “dead things” to reside in our spirits for too long.

- Some of us have allowed disappointment and pain over something that is dead to rule over our spirits, consume us, depress us, discourage us and drive us in some instances to die. Anything that is a “disappointment” is in the past! It has already happened. Nothing can change it. Stop allowing that which is in the past to keep you from moving forward and receiving what God has for you in the future!

- Some of us spend a life time trying to revive, call back to life, rejuvenate, reinvigorate, etc dead things. We allow ourselves to become consumed with them. We take all of our energies to make them produce fruit.

- Instead, we need to let it die. “No fig, no problem.” You didn’t get the position? You didn’t get the promotion? You didn’t get the ring? You didn’t get the house? You didn’t get the decision? You didn’t get whatever? “No fig, no problem!” Place that disappointment under your feet and keep on moving.

- No fruit on “that tree” cannot stop you from getting fed elsewhere!

- Jesus did not go hungry because “that tree” did not bear fruit! Jesus moved on to other areas and so must we.

- Don’t allow barren trees to keep you hungry.

- Place disappointment under your feet. Leave disappointment in your past. Look rather for the new opportunities and fruit trees and blessings that God has for your life!

“No figs, no problem!”

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