Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Shepastor: "A Bend in the Road..."

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Philippians 1:6, KJV

Do you feel like you are at the end of your rope or your "road?" Consider these encouraging words by Helen Steiner Rice...

The End Of The Road Is But A Bend In The Road
by Helen Steiner Rice

When we feel we have nothing left to give
And we are sure that the "song has ended.'-
When our day is over and the shadows fall,
And the darkness of night has descended.
Where can we go to find the strength to valiantly keep on trying,
Where can we find the hand that will dry the tears
that the heart is crying.

There's but one place to go and that is to God
and dropping all pretense and pride.
We can pour out our problems without restraint,
and gain strength with Him at our side.

And together we stand at life's crossroads, and view what we think is the end,
But God has a much bigger vision, and He tells us it's Only a Bend-
For the road goes on and is smoother the pause in the song is a rest, the part
that's unsung and unfinished Is the sweetest and richest and best.
So rest and relax and grow stronger, LET GO and LET GOD
share your load.

Your work is not finished or ended,
You've just come to "A Bend in the Road.

You may be at the end of all your resources,
but you are at the Beginning of God's.

Be Still and watch God work,
You will be so very Amazed
God loves you!
He will reward you!

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

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Shepastor: "Purging Our Hearts Before God"

Psalm 139: 20-24
20 For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.
21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139 is ascribed to David. This Psalm is soul searching. Not only does it acknowledge the ever present, all seeing eye of God, it also is filled with raw anger, hatred and frustration. It is a “for real” Psalm.
David, the scriptures declare was “a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).” How could a man with the heart of God spew such poisonous language like that found in verses 21-22,

21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.

These verses are somewhat shocking to the Christian ear. Through Christ, we embrace turning the other cheek and forgiveness. But might we learn something transformative from the transparency of the Psalmist? Could it be that the LORD allowed these frank words into the holy writ that we might understand the process of healing and breaking the cycle of pain and dysfunction? Frequently as Christians, we rush and force others to verbally rush towards forgiveness. If someone steps on your foot or takes your parking spot, that may be completely appropriate. But if someone deeply hurt you, caused you tremendous pain, loss, humiliation etc., “quick forgiveness” may not be possible or realistic. True and depth level forgiveness is a process.

The Psalmist teaches us that deep pain, disappointment, loss, anger and frustration call for a purging of the heart. We flinch at the idea of speaking such harsh words, especially to the Almighty. But if we mask our true emotions with fake expressions, our hearts remain frustrated, angry and dirty before the Lord. While nursing a grudge is never helpful, pretending to forgive or convincing ourselves that we have forgiven when internally we are still seething is detrimental to our mental, spiritual and physical health.

David expressed his anger, frustration and “perfect hatred” directly to God. He released his emotions clearly and fully to God. He trusted that God would understand his pain and would not cut him off for being totally honest. When David did this, it led him to a beautiful conclusion…one that provides for us a wonderful picture of how the heart is cleansed and drawn back to a healthy place…

Verses 23-24 declare,
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting
When David emptied his heart before the Lord of all of the anger and hatred binding him, it was as if he dropped them on a table, looked at them and knew those feelings had to go. He knew that those feelings were not healthy…in fact they were ugly and were not in line with his true character. Purged of the poison, his heart was now ready to receive help towards the more excellent way. True forgiveness was now possible.

While it is not wise to unleash a barrage of hateful and angry words towards others, it is completely appropriate to speak openly and honestly to the Lord about our pain, anger and yes, even our hatred. God knows our hearts. He sees what is there whether we acknowledge it or not. He knows our desire to please Him. That is all the more reason why the Lord offers us a place at the altar to purge.

Stop carrying all of that “stuff” around, pretending to be whole. Get real with God. Trust Him to have shoulders broad enough to deal with your pain, your anger, your frustration, your disappointment. Then invite God to search you, try you and see if there is anything in you that is not right. Invite Him to lead you in the “way everlasting.”

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

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Shepastor: "God Has Another Plan"

Genesis 50: 15-20 (Bible in Basic English)

15 When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "It may be that Joseph will hate us, and will fully pay us back for all of the evil which we did to him."
16 They sent a message to Joseph, saying, "Your father commanded before he died, saying,
17 'You shall tell Joseph, "Now please forgive the disobedience of your brothers, and their sin, because they did evil to you."' Now, please forgive the disobedience of the servants of the God of your father." Joseph wept when they spoke to hi
18 His brothers also went and fell down before his face; and they said, "Behold, we are your servants."
19 Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid, for am I in the place of God?
20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save many people alive.

The poet William Cowper declared,

God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.

“God Has Another Plan”

Even in the midst of great dysfunction, God has another plan. Even when it looks like all the odds are against you, God has another plan. Even when it looks like boobie traps have been laid all around you, doors seeming to close before you, enemies seem to be gathering together against you and it looks like you’ve played your last best card – God has another plan. While all of these unfortunate things were happening, God was making Joseph. God was molding Joseph. God was preparing Joseph to be a great and mighty Leader who would not only end up saving his brothers that hated him and sold him into slavery, but God would use Joseph to save the nation of Israel.

When you are faithful, when you are committed to do things God’s way even in the face of hatred and resentment from others, even in the face of pain and disappointment, even in the face of lies and false accusations – God is looking, God is watching, God is moving on your behalf. And because Joseph didn’t try to fix things on his own, because Joseph didn’t try to repay evil for evil, because Joseph just kept trusting, obeying and believing God, he exalted him to a place of honor and great responsibility.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer once published an article from a minister entitled,
“Blooming in the Mud”

“I saw some beautiful flowers at Euclid Creek. They were growing in mud and bird droppings and broken branches.. What most of us notice are the flowers. We tend to see what we like and ignore what makes things happen. We may see the things that support us as disgusting or unpleasant, but the things you dislike are basically what wake you up to the truth…Mud and bird droppings make the flower bloom and you are the flower.”
There are times in our lives, seasons in our lives when it looks like everything is going wrong and everything is going against you. But God is working and moving in ways that you are not able to see, in ways that you are not aware of, in ways that seem impossible. In each situation where Joseph was treated unfairly, treated harshly, denied a chance to “tell his side of the story,” God was working on his deliverance. As Joseph lay bruised and beaten in a pit, not knowing what would become of him, then being sold into slavery, God was working on a plan to elevate him. After being raised to a position of power and prominence and it looked like he was finally on his way, Joseph experienced another devastating blow – he was falsely accused of trying to rape his master’s wife. He was accused falsely because he refused to get involved with her and sin against God and his leader.

Joseph helped two cell mates by interpreting their dreams. They promised him that when they got out of prison they would put in a good word for him, but instead, they forgot about him. He was left in prison for several more years. But God had another plan for Joseph. Even when people forget the good you’ve done to help them, God is not going to forget your labor of love. Even when those you’ve done the most for turn their face in a different direction when you need help, God will help you. Even when it looks like there is no one to walk with you as you go through the difficulties and struggles of your life, God will stand by you.

Sometimes you will suffer pain, false accusations and mistreatment because you refuse to do the wrong thing. Doing what is right will sometimes cause you to have to walk alone, experience pain and rejection and even loss of some so-called “friends,” but if you hold to what is right and true – God will elevate you in due season.

Because Joseph put his trust in God and did not repay evil for evil, but just kept on doing what was right, God exalted him to a place and a position of prominence and power. And God so fixed it that the very people who sought to destroy Joseph, the very people who sought to kill Joseph, the very people who sought to get rid of Joseph, those same people ended up needing Joseph to save their lives. God will make your enemies your footstool if you just wait on Him.

Here’s a great lesson from Joseph. When God delivers you, don’t try to repay your enemies. Don’t try to rub their misfortune in their faces, but if he or she is hungry, feed them. If they are in need of clothing, give them something to wear, if they are in trouble and call upon you, help them any way you can and God will continue to exalt you and He will cause them to repent and turn from their wicked ways.

I heard a story the other day about two women who lived in the country. For the purposes of this story I’ll call them Mary and Sue. Mary had a nice little home. It wasn’t fabulous, but it was her home. She raised her family along with her husband there for many years. But Sue, her neighbor hated Mary for some unknown reason. Sue had a chicken coup near the edge of Mary’s property. And every time Sue would clean her chicken coup, she would dump the mess from her coup into Sue’s back yard.

But Mary never retaliated. She just kept tending to her garden on her property. She kept speaking to Sue whenever she came out of her house. She kept teaching her children to be respectful of Miss Sue, even though she was mean and disrespectful to their mother. Well, in the process of time, Sue became ill. She could no longer tend to her yard. She became bed ridden. But something wonderful began to happen in Mary’s yard.

The mess that Sue had flung into Mary’s yard, fell on the garden and caused the flowers in her garden to blossom and bloom. The flowers were so beautiful that Mary decided to pluck some and prepare a bouquet to take to Sue. When Mary went into see Sue, she gave her the beautiful flowers. Ashamed of how she’d treated Mary all these years, she asked for forgiveness and asked her, where in the world did she get such beautiful flowers, and Mary replied, “All that mess you flung over into my garden from your chicken coup helped to fertilize my garden and now I have these beautiful flowers.”

Take the mess that is flung into your life and fertilize your garden. Learn all you can from the mess and let God fertilize your life. Take the bitter and give it to God and let Him make it sweet. God can take your mess and turn it into a miracle.

Won’t you trust Him today?

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

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Shepastor: "Stay Focused..."

11 Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out upward; each had two wings, one touching the wing of another creature on either side, and two wings covering its body. 12 Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. 13 The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. 14 The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning. 15 As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. 16 This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. 17 As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not turn about as the creatures went. 18 Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around. 19 When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. 20 Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. Ezekiel 1:11-20, NIV,

It is so easy to get distracted. Focus takes work. This passage in Ezekiel is mysterious and I don’t purport to understand all that it is revealing. One thing, however, is very clear…the “creatures” followed “the spirit wherever it went.” They did not turn to the left or to the right. They worked together and moved together. That is enough for me to chew on!

These creatures seemed to travel far and rise high. As I think about their unhindered unity, their clear focus and apparent dedication to what they were doing and where they were going, I cannot help but wonder what would happen if we operated in this manner, in the Church. With one accord, they moved as the spirit moved. I wonder how far we could go and how high we would rise if we followed this same principle.

How many ministries would be more effective if God’s people worked in this manner? How many obstacles would be overcome if we had this kind of focus and unity as the Body of Christ? How many arguments would be avoided, how many committees would be disbanded, how much ecclesiastical “red tape” would be discarded if we followed this principle?

Truly as individuals and as the Church, we get distracted – majoring in the minors, and “minoring” in the majors. In our own lives we get distracted from the priorities that the Holy Spirit has set in our hearts when we begin looking “to the left and to the right.” We get distracted when we compare ourselves to others. We get distracted when we focus too much on what we don’t have. We get distracted when we allow worry, doubt and fear to banter back our faith.

Life is filled with distractions, but by the grace of God and the power of His Spirit, we can live focused lives if we, like the “creatures” listen to and obey “the Spirit.”

Post a comment or send me an email at

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