Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Shepastor: “The Dilemma of Faith…”

“For we walk by faith and not by sight” II Corinthians 5:7, KJV

“a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially equally undesirable ones”

Some years ago, the late comedian Richard Pryor told a joke about being caught in the midst of certain, shall we say, “improprieties.” He said to the observer, “Who you gonna believe…me or your lying eyes?” Well, in matters of the faith, we too are being asked a similar question. Not by a shady character, but by God Himself.

“Who are you going to believe? Are you going to rely upon what your natural eyes can see or will you trust Me by faith and stand upon My Word?” If we are honest, it is a dilemma! Although as Christians, we verbalize the latter, frequently, internally, we wrestle with ignoring what our natural eyes see. Whether it is a matter of our health, finances, relationships, career, positions, lack of numerical growth in our congregations, years of waiting for a dream to come to fruition, etc., “keeping the faith,” while staring realities in the face can be a dilemma!

According to the above Miriam Webster definition, a dilemma is “a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially equally undesirable ones.” The choices are “equally undesirable” because if we believe what we see, we will become hopeless. But if we seek to believe what we cannot see, we find ourselves in the difficult and often painful situation of asking many, many questions… “Did the Lord really tell me that? Will I live to see this thing come to pass or turn around? Will I end up like Moses and “smote the rock” because folks are driving me crazy? Is this situation just my “thorn in the flesh” that I have to live with?”

Oh if only I knew the answers to those questions! But isn’t that the essence of faith? Faith requires that we believe that God is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Our peace only comes when we make the challenging decision to look through what our eyes can see naturally and trust that the God who made us, the God who “sees us” the God who hears us and the God who loves us has plans for us that will not harm us, but will ultimately prosper us. We must remember that we don't know what part we are playing in the process of God's plans. We may be a "planter." We may be a "waterer." God will give the increase. Our lives are not our own and God uses every aspect of our surrendered life to glorify His name and build up His Kingdom here on earth. We must see through our predicaments, situations and finite circumstances and remember that God sees the big picture. We must therefore trust and obey. In God’s own time, He will reveal the masterpiece being carefully brushed onto the canvas of our lives.

Ask the Lord for “Kingdom eyes.” Trust God and stand.

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

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Shepastor: "The Real Source of Our Energy"

Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?
28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:27-31, KJV

"The Real Source of Our Energy..."

Isaiah 40: 27-31 talks about those who have trusted in the Lord, have determined to serve the Lord, are seeking the Lord and yet are greatly discouraged. In the midst of national disaster, Babylonian captivity, pain and suffering, the true worshippers of God are wondering why their prayers seemed to be going unanswered. They are asking, “Has God forgotten us?” The Lord, through the prophet Isaiah reminds them of some very important things…that God is, the real source of our energy!

Because of the demands placed upon our high maintenance lives and for a variety of other reasons, many are now experimenting with any number of so called energy promoting or producing remedies. “Red Bull,” “Energy Source,” green tea, acacia berry drinks, special fruit smoothies, disgusting looking green concoctions, chai, you name it, folks are trying it!

But even after taking some or all of these things, many still find that they are restless, haggard, weary, wounded and sad. There is a difference between being weary and being physically tired. Everyone gets tired. But you don’t have to get weary.

Weariness is a condition of the spirit. Weariness is when your spirit feels daunted, your heart feels frustrated, your mind feels confused, and your soul is struggling not to give up. Lots of things can make you feel weary – difficult relationships, lack of finances and other resources, health challenges, questions about the meaning of your existence, wayward children, fearfulness about losing your job, wondering if God is paying any attention to your prayers and your life predicament.

This last issue – wondering if God “gets it,” was the plight of the audience in our text. They were saying, “Our way appears to be hidden from the Lord.” In other words, they were saying, “The Lord must not be aware of my circumstances, at least that is the way He is treating me!” Have you ever just paused and said, if not verbally, in your head and said, “God, do you see what is going on? Why haven’t you done anything about this?”

The Lord comes back with questions of His own…
“Why are you saying that your way, your experience, your circumstances are hidden from me? Haven’t you heard? Don’t you know that I don’t grow weary? Don’t you realize that there is nothing that I don’t understand?”

The Lord says, “I give power to the faint. To those that are weak, I increase their strength.” God says that He empowers those that are fainting and He increases or gives more strength to those who are weak. Someone might be saying, “well, I’m faint and I don’t feel empowered. I’m weak and I don’t feel like He has given me any strength…”

The answer comes in the next few verses…

30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Listen to these verses in the Message Bible…
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind.
The key to gaining real energy is to learn how to wait on the Lord. To wait does not mean to sit and do nothing. To “wait” means to serve the Lord. I am reminded of the 10 lepers that cried out to Jesus to heal them. The Scripture declares, “As they went, they were healed…”

It’s so easy to stop serving the Lord when we get into a state of weariness. But waiting consists of some things…
Think of the waiter in the restaurant.

A waiter takes orders…
A waiter makes preparation…
A waiter serves…

While we wait, we need to listen and move as the Lord dictates…
While we wait, we need to make preparations for what God is getting ready to do…
While we wait, we need to continue to be faithful and serve the Lord by doing whatever it is that God has called us to do.

As we move in faith, as we serve the Lord with gladness, as we listen and obey God’s Word and follow God’s way, our weariness will be replaced with energy. God energizes us when we make up our minds to walk with Him. God strengthens us by reminding us of His promises and revealing His beauty even in the midst of dark and trying times.

God reveals Himself in unexpected ways when we make up our minds to search for Him with all of our hearts.

The Lord is the real source of our energy.

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Shepastor: "Healing Takes Time..."

Mark 8: 22-26
Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida

22They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” 24He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” 25Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into a the village.”

The body is a wonderful metaphor for so many issues of life. Whether it is issues of cleansing, growth, physical illness and the need to regurgitate, rest etc., the body also reflects important and spiritual realities. Today I’d like to focus upon the healing aspects of the body and how the body can teach us something about emotional and spiritual healing.

Healing does not happen immediately
. Whether it’s a cut, a bruise, surgical procedure or whatever, the body takes time to heal. Although science has tried to speed up the healing process with laser surgery, the body still demands a time for healing. Although they have “outpatient” surgery, the body demands that you get rest after even the smallest procedures. Even if you get cut and require stitches, the body demands that you take time to “dress” and care for your wounds. Why is it that we think that emotional and spiritual pain can be healed over night?

I would like to suggest that many of the physical pains that we experience pale in comparison to the emotional and spiritual pain that many people face. Think about our grief policies from work. You are blessed if you can get 2-3 days off of work when a loved one dies. The Jewish Community has this process right. They sit, “Shiva” for at least 7 days and in some instances 12 days. They allow themselves to deeply mourn and reflect upon the life and the legacy of their loved ones. They bury them almost immediately, but they reflect upon them deeply and slowly.

Our society, however, frowns upon individuals taking time to heal. Even in the church, we expect people to quickly rebound from loss, hurt and pain. We accuse people of “brooding” or not having enough faith. Where does this “hurry up and get through it” mentality come from. Jesus himself exemplified the need to spend time away from even those closes to him. Frequently he would go off by himself, the scripture says to pray. I suspect that Jesus was not only praying, but reflecting, communing, consoling and preparing himself to continue to serve amidst a people who did not understand, believe in or appreciate him. Jesus too was hurting.

Our text for today presents an interesting dilemma. Jesus who is God made manifest in the flesh seemed to have needed a “second shot” at healing the blind man. It appears that his first attempt “did not take.” But was it that he needed to try again or was Jesus teaching us something all together different?

Consider the following…

- A blind man is brought to Jesus
- Jesus uses “spit” to heal him
- His healing came in two phases
- Sometimes we need a “second touch” before our healing is complete
- We don’t understand the methods God uses to heal us
- We need to be honest about the fact that we still are not healed – still cannot see (had the blind man pretended like he was healed completely, he never would have been given clear sight)
- “Don’t even go into the village…” Everyone will not be happy about your healing! Everyone will not understand your healing. You may even jeopardize your healing by sharing it with some people. Sometimes God has to "take us outside of the village" to bless us with healing.
- Healing takes time
Healing comes in phases. God may sometimes use “spit and dirt” to heal us…sometimes the very things that we, under other circumstances would view as lowly and undesirable are used by God to make us see more clearly and yes, heal us.

Everyone will not understand what God has done and continues to do for you so be prayerful and discerning about with whom to share your healing process. Avoid pretending that you are well, that you are whole, that you are healed when in fact you are still, “seeing men walking as trees.” Be honest with the Lord, yourself and select individuals about needing prayer, support and encouragement to press toward your healing.

Healing comes in phases. Healing takes time. Healing may happen in unexpected ways. Be “for real” about where you are in the healing process. Then and only then will you be able to see clearly and be made whole.

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

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Shepastor: "Don't Leave Before the Fireworks Start!"

24For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. Romans 8: 24-25, NASB

July 4th is the day that Americans celebrate “Independence Day.” It’s a day when many have picnics, family reunions, barbeques and, of course, going somewhere to see fireworks. This year, my family and I decided to drive across town to see fireworks in a park.

Literally thousands of people were there. Traffic was very slow and drivers were eagerly scouring the area for places to park and to get a good view. Some people arrived a couple of hours before the scheduled show just to get a good spot. We were not one of those families! We arrived about a half an hour before the show was to begin.

Thankfully, we were able to find a spot just across the street from the show and the entrance gate (yes, I’m one of those folks that pray for a good parking spot!) To our surprise, we saw a friend leaving the park just as we were about to come in. “Where are you going?” She responded, “Girl, I’ve been here for two hours. This is taking way too long, I’ve got to go!” We tried to convince her to stay, saying that surely the show would start any minute as night had fallen and since she’d already waited so long.

“Nope, this doesn’t make sense. It’s taking way too long. I’ve got other things to do!” So off she went. To our surprise again, about ten other cars followed, leaving angrily because the fireworks hadn’t started sooner. Our son (a recent high school graduate) retorted, “See mommy, you ‘old people’ don’t understand. Ain’t nobody gonna keep on waiting so long. We’ve got other things to do.” My husband and I retorted back, “No son, YOU don’t understand. What sense does it make to wait for something so long and then leave when it’s just about to get started?”

As we spoke, BOOM, BOOM, CRACKLE, BOOM… the fireworks began. Of all of the years I’d been to 4th of July shows, this was the best and clearest spot I’ve ever had. I turned to our children and said, “Remember this example…it’s just like life. So many give up just before they are about to receive their blessing. What sense does it make to wait for something so long and then leave just before getting what you’ve waited for?”
Truly this was a lesson for life. The difference is that we don’t have a time table for when our blessing, our deliverance, our healing, our break through is going to happen. However, “hope that is seen is not hope.” Our hope is in the LORD.

You have come this far, you’ve worked hard, you’ve persevered, you’ve stood in the heat of the day. Don’t allow “the wait” to cause you to leave your post. Yes, the “hoping process” can be painful. It can be stressful. It can be bruising. It can be daunting. But you are closer to victory than you think. Stay focused. Listen attentively to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Move at God’s command. Stay on the proverbial wall. Refuse to come down. Be patient. Persevere.

Your fireworks are about to begin!

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

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Shepastor: "Sewing in Tears, Reaping in Joy..."

“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126: 5-6).

Today I sat with a woman who shared her painful testimony of surviving being molested as a child. Her wounds ran deep, very, very deep. She shared that she didn’t realize the depth of her pain until she was a full grown woman. She talked about the years of dysfunction that followed her childhood experiences and the layers of pain, poison and destruction that loomed over her life.

Despite her successes in college and subsequent career, she could not quiet the smoldering rage underneath the mask of being “cool, calm and collected.” Not being a “church girl,” she didn’t now “church etiquette.” She saw the people praising, clapping, singing, dancing...testifying. She didn't understand the dynamics of "church." She knew, however, that she needed to get to Jesus. Hungry for a place of acceptance, a place of healing, a place to share her struggle, she believed church to be that place. Little did she know that frequently, "church people" are wearing masks of their own, caught up in a dance of mediocrity and religiosity. Unaware of the aforementioned dynamics, she fell down before the Lord in the presence of the people and began to cry out to God concerning all of her agony. During testimony service, she began to share the things that happened to her as a young girl, but that the Lord was healing and delivering her.

Unfortunately, the “church” was not equipped to handle her transparency. Instead of crying and praying with her, they shunned her and advised her to “not to say so much next time.” She was crushed. But thanks be to God for the power of His Holy Spirit. This dear sister was able to discern that the frailty of human hearts brought about the rejection and not our loving God.

The Lord has since led her to another ministry and Christian counseling. She has since experienced the Lord giving her “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Today she declared, “I know that the enemy tried to destroy me, but God instead took the ugliness of my journey and is now using me to minister to others who’ve experienced the same pain and suffering.”

“Precious seeds” have sprung forth from her tears. While our experiences are all different, we too have tears…we too have precious seed that are born out of our pain, our suffering, yes even our dysfunction. May we too find spaces and places to release that pain honestly and transparently. May we place our seeds in the fertile soil of other broken and wounded hearts and may they too join us on the healing journey with great joy.

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