Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Shepastor: "Leading by Example, Modeling What We Desire to See..."

Nehemiah 3:1 Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel.

"Leading by example" and "modeling what we desire to see" may be easier said than done. This can be particularly true for modeling Christ like behavior in the midst of "un-Christ like" people. Unfortunately many un-Christ like behaviors exist in the church. It can be challenging to continue to love, lift, encourage and support individuals who exhibit the opposite. It can be equally as challenging to model fervor, enthusiasm and faithfulness amidst the lax and indifferent. Yet we are called to lift high the spiritual fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and humility. We also must show balance, diligence and responsibility.

In our text, Nehemiah was leading the Israelites in rebuilding the wall around the city. In ancient times, city walls were critical. They protected enemies from easy access to the community. Cities without walls were vulnerable to easy attacks from enemy nations. Nehemiah led the people to rebuild the walls in sections. One of the first groups to begin the process were the priests. The high priest, Eliashib, "rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate;"

The sheep gate was the place where the priests brought in the sacrifices for the atonement of the sins of the people. Nehemiah understood the respect the people had for the priests and for the role they played in leading the people in holy living. How appropriate for the priests to be among the first to model rebuilding that which was critical to their safety and well being.

As leaders, we are called to lead by example and model Christ like behaviors. We are called to rebuild and to model shaping what is critical. When we model an even temperament, even in the midst of unreasonable and ill-tempered people, we are helping to rebuild broken walls that are creating avenues for the enemy of our souls to enter. As we pray and ask the Holy Spirit to order our steps, and to "bridle our tongue," we will begin to positively influence others who may struggle with their behaviors.

When we model a spirit of encouragement, even in the midst of discouraging and critical people, we are rebuilding healing walls and positively influencing the atmosphere with love, affirmation and kindness. When we model self-control in our responses, we rebuild walls of healthy communication...diffusing potentially explosive situations.

When we model a spirit of unity, support, compassion and considerateness, we rebuild the critical walls of working together, guarding against divisiveness, treachery, and cruelty, yes even in the church! When we exemplify diligence, balance, enthusiasm and responsibility, we model good stewardship.

We are unable in and of ourselves to model these behaviors. It is only through prayer, abiding in Christ and dwelling in God's presence that we are able to overcome all of the challenges associated with facing off all that opposes the spirit of Christ.

Yes, we can rebuild the right walls and lead by example through Christ. Is it easy? No! Is it possible and necessary? YES!

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shepastor: "Twelve Suggestions for Self-Care" by Thomas Wright, LMFT...

Matthew Chapter 22:37-40

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Often we focus upon the love of God and the love of fellowman. However, we forget that Jesus said, "love thy neighbor as
In other words, in order to love others, we must first understand what it means to love God and love ourselves. Today's Shepastor
reminds us of the importance of self-care, if we are going to effectively care for others...

"Twelve Suggestions for Self-Care" by
Thomas Wright, LMFT

1. Learn to air your feelings.
Don't keep them bottled up inside you. Share your sorrows and disappointments with someone you trust. Remember, expressed feelings are changed feelings.

2. Avoid comparing yourself with others by admiring their gifts and ignoring your gifts.
This kind of envy causes self-disgust. Put no one's head higher than your own.

3. Form a small group of people you can call on for emotional support.
Agree to "be there" for each other. Offer advice only when it is asked for. Listen without interrupting. Take turns talking and listening.

4. Take time to play.
Remember that play is any activity that you do just because it feels good. Remind yourself that you deserve to take time to play.

5. Don't forget to laugh, especially at yourself.
Look for the humor in things around you. Let your hair down more often. Do something silly and totally unexpected from time to time.

6. Learn to relax.

You can find books, tapes, programs, classes, instructors and other materials to teach you how to relax. Relaxation improves the mind, helps the body heal, and feels so much better than stress and tension.

7. Protect your right to be human.
Don't let others put you on a pedestal. When people put you on a pedestal, they expect you to be perfect and feel angry when you let them down.

8. Learn to say no.
As you become comfortable saying no to the unreasonable expectations, requests or demands of others you will discover that you have more compassion. When you do say yes to others, you will feel better about yourself and the people you're responding to.

9. Change jobs if you are miserable at work.
First, try to figure out if the job is wrong for you or if certain people are causing you to feel miserable at work. Try paying more attention to the things you enjoy about your job and less attention to the things that annoy you. Remember that all jobs have some unpleasant aspects.

10. Stretch your muscles.

Break a sweat. Go for a walk. Ride a bike. Park farther from the door. Take the stairs. You don't need fancy clothes, club memberships or expensive equipment to add exercise to your daily life.

11. Practice being a positive, encouraging person.

Each time you give others a word of encouragement you not only feel better, but you build up your best self.

12. Pay attention to your spiritual life.
Slow down. Practice sitting quietly. Listen to your inner voice. Spend time thinking about the things which bring peace, beauty and serenity to your life.

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Shepastor: "The Power of Connection..."

John 4: 6b-7
6and Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”

There is power in connection. In order for electrical devices to work, they have to have a power source. Even if you don’t have an electrical cord, you can still operate some items with a battery. But without a battery or a cord, the device will not operate because it is not connected to a power source. The power source provides a current that flows from the source to the device and that is what gives the device energy, functionality, operating power – the current flows from the source to the device. Without the current from the source, the device lays dormant or dead. Connection is critical not only for inanimate objects such as computers or iphones, ipads, televisions and even some cars, but connection is important for us as human and spiritual beings. Jesus provided for us some basic examples of how to reach or to connect with people.

We like to think about the miracles that Jesus performed as a way of reaching or drawing people. But the Lord knew that we as human beings would not have those specific kinds of abilities. So He gave to us some practical ways of connecting with others. In our text for today, Jesus gave us a powerful example of connecting.

Consider a woman who became a witness for the Lord as a result of a simple, yet profound connection. Although from a cultural and human perspective she was an unlikely candidate. Consider her plight in general...Women were thought of as property. This was a time when Jewish men would stand in the temple and thank God that they were not born a dog or a woman in that order…back to the time when the “clean” women went to the well early in the morning and only despised and shamed women went during the heat of the day. This was a time when men did not speak to women unless they were accompanied by their husbands or brothers or fathers. What about this woman in particular – this Samaritan woman who was despised, rejected, used and probably abused.

Think about all of those things and then consider Jesus’ example of the power of connection.

We don’t know what happened in this woman’s life that made her behave in the way that she did. We don’t know why she had five husbands and was living with a man that wasn’t even one of them! This was a shamed woman. She was outcast from society. She was among the dregs of society. She was a Samaritan. The Samaritans were a people that were a mixed race. They were the product of the Jews who became involved with persons from pagan cultures during the diaspora. She was not a “pure breed” if you will and they were despised by the Jews. She was a woman – that in and of itself was problematic. Women were last class citizens. They had no rights. They were property. They were used. They were frequently depicted as wicked, mischievous and to be avoided. And she was promiscuous. We don’t know what happened to her to make her this way, but this was her lot.

Jesus, however, looked beyond all of that – all of her shame, all of her rejection by others, all of her promiscuity and saw that she had a need for a connection. He saw that even though she’d had six men, she was lonely. Six men, but she was uncared for. Six men, but she was unconnected, alone at the well to fend for herself.

She needed a connection. Many are like this woman…many and varied relationships, but no true connections. Some have been molested by those they trusted. Some have been ignored and/or treated as objects. Some have lived lives that are less than holy and pure and therefore a cloud of shame rests over them. They, like this woman feel ostracized, criticized, despised and rejected. But just like Jesus said, “I have to go through Samaria,” Jesus continues to come to “Samaria” to have a talk with those in need of a connection. Jesus wants to connect with them through us!

If you are consumed by shame, consumed by low self-esteem, consumed by things that happened in your life that you had no control over – it can make you feel like you don’t have a connection. Not just any connection, but the living water connection! The power connection…the peace connection…the healing connection that you can only get from a connection with Jesus.

Many are looking for a connection but they may not even realize or understand what they are looking for. We like Jesus must learn how to connect with those who are broken and or lost. We must learn how to meet people where they are and not judge them, not look down upon them, not criticize them, but lovingly, prayerfully find a way to begin a conversation with them and connect. When people realize that you are doing more than just exchanging pleasantries (“Hey, how are you doing,” as you casually keep walking), but that you are looking into their eyes, looking into their hearts, offering yourself as a listening, praying caring ear and heart they will feel your sincerity and become open to a connection.

Connection is powerful. Connection helps you to share energy. Connection helps you to find intimacy. Connection helps you to discover your identity. Connection opens the door for deliverance and healing. Connection opens up opportunities for greater. God uses the power of connection to produce and reproduce life. Our navel or “belly button” reminds us that we were once physically connected to our mothers, receiving blood, nourishment and protection while growing inside of her.

We cannot survive without connection. Jesus connected with this woman by speaking to her in a language that she understood. He used the simple method of asking her for something that he knew she had – some water. She was familiar with water, had come to get some water and understood that without water we cannot live.

That is how we connect with others…identifying where they are, engaging them in conversations about things that are important to them and using those same things as a way to draw their attention to the light of Christ.

If we want to learn how to connect, then we’ve got to spend time ourselves connecting with Jesus. Jesus is our power source. Without that connection we will lay dormant. We cannot have the kinds of connections the Lord wants us to have with others if we are not connected, plugged into Him. When we connect with Jesus, the current of His Holy Spirit flows through us and we then become a powerful witness. As Martin Luther said, God’s holiness, God’s sacredness, God’s Holy Spirit will invade our very being and we won’t “do witnessing” we will, “be witnessing.” In other words, the love of Christ, the power of His Holy Spirit, the blessedness of being in connection with Him will invade our very being.

May we seek daily to get and stay connected to the ultimate power source, Jesus.

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Shepastor: "Prayers for Life's Seasons..."

Ecclesiastes 3:1; 4: 1-3, KJV

1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. 2Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive. 3Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

“Prayers’ for Life’s Seasons”

When the writer considered the pain of both the oppressed as well as those with power – their tears, their pain, their toil and struggle – the fact that they appeared comfortless, he declared that those who had not been born were better off than even those who die! What a pessimistic view of life – to go about like Eor on Winne the Pooh – head hung low, depressed, hopeless and too bogged down to try.

But in the eternal words the writer gave in Chapter 3 – there is a time to every season and purpose under the heavens… The good news about seasons is that they change. Change, however, can be slow, especially when we are waiting for a season to pass. That’s why we need to have a prayer for every season of life.

In the spring of life, we experience cool rain drops, green grass and budding flowers. That which has been dormant and sleeping begins to come alive, blossom and grow. Maybe a new opportunity presents itself, new relationships are being forged, a burst of energy emerges, a new job, a new house, the birth of a child, the sun is shinning – you look good, feel good, think good and life is good – the Spring time of life. Our prayer in this season is filled with thanksgiving and praise. We thank and praise God for His goodness, mercy, kindness, grace and peace.

In the summer of life, your flowers are in full bloom. It’s beautiful, but it can be hot! Sometimes the ground can be hard and dry. Every now and then you experience drought. That’s the summer of life – Beauty mixed with drought – things are good overall, but from time to time you find yourself thirsty, dry and hot. In this season of life, you are thankful for the beauty of life, but you are also experiencing some dryness – life feels mundane. You find yourself tired of doing the same things the same way. You are thirsty and hungry for something but you just can’t put your finger on it. You know that God is good and has been good, but you just find yourself feeling bored, tired, hot and bothered!

This can be a dangerous season because the goodness of God and the warmth of peacefulness can lull you into lethargy and passivity. You hit a dry spot – you lose the desire to draw closer to God, you don’t feel like coming to church, study His Word, spend time in prayer. In this season, we need to pray “Lord, don’t let me lose my focus, don’t allow me to become complacent, dwelling on the accomplishments of the past – thank you for the beauty in my life, but keep me from being so wrapped up in what
you ‘ve given me that I forsake you!”

After the summer is the fall or the Autumn of life. Things are still beautiful, but some things are dying. Just as leaves fall from the trees, the Autumn of life introduces loss. We experience seasons of life that bring loss – loss of time, loss of loved ones, loss of dreams – loss. Sometimes it’s the loss of a relationship. Sometimes it’s the loss of health, memory, skill. As leaves fall from the trees, little by little, we may experience loss. Our prayer during this season needs to be, “Lord, keep me from falling, help me not to lose my hope, faith and trust in You. Thank you for the beauty in my life and help me to remember all of your promises. Keep me from falling away.”

After fall, comes the Winter of life – that cold, snowy, blustery seemingly dead season when the ground is snow covered, the trees are naked, the sky is gray, the air is bitter and biting. Statistics show that depression abounds in the winter due to a lack of sunshine. The winter of life can make you feel like giving up. It is the season that is most representative of the gloom, doom and pessimism found in Ecclesiastes. The winter of life can make you feel like you would have been better off if you were never born. The winter of life can make you feel like you will never have a break through.

The winter of life can make you feel cold and isolated. But just as there is a time for every season and every purpose under heaven, you’ve got to remember that winter is just a season. It did not come to stay. In her book, Don’t Die in the Winter, Bishop Milicent Hunter encourages, “discern spiritual "weather" conditions and properly prepare for them. Endure the winter, for in the plan of God, spring always follows winter.”

As we pray for life’s seasons, we should always pray prayers of preparation. In other words, if we just wait until the winter of life to pray, we won’t know what or how to pray. But if we have prepared with continual communion with the Lord, if we have spent time in fellowship with Him, studying His life giving and life sustaining Word – we will have what we need to make it through the winter of life.

Prayer is necessary for every season of life. Prayer will strengthen you. Prayer will encourage you. Prayer will fortify you. Prayer will sustain you. When you pray in faith and stand on God’s promises that the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much, you will face your doubts and fears and come out victorious.

When you pray in faith that God can and will see you through, you may go down in fear, but you’ll get up with boldness, you may go down with doubt, but you’ll get up with faith, you may go down in prayer with sadness, but you will emerge with joy. When you go down before the throne of grace, humble your heart, and enter the holy of holies through the purifying blood of Jesus Christ, something supernatural happens on the inside. As you commune with God – He fixes whatever it is that is going on inside of you. The devil can’t steal what the Lord places within you – the Lord will fortify you. The Lord will strengthen you. The Lord will encourage you. The Lord will help you to realize that winter will not last forever. He’ll help you to realize that He can give you beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

Pray in every season of your life. Pray when times are good. Pray when times are fair. Pray when times are hard. Pray without ceasing and the Lord will see you through.

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Shepastor: "The Power of Intercessory Prayer"

James 5: 16, KJV

"Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much."

"The Power of Intercessory Prayer"

Since the beginning of time, God declared that it is not good for us to be alone. There is something about community. When we are by ourselves, it is easy to slip into unhealthy patterns of thinking, acting, doing and being. Our minds create the illusion that no one is looking, no one sees us. It’s easy to slip into the belief that no one loves us or cares about us. We were not meant to be alone. And although everyone will not get married, everyone can and should have a community.

In true community, in real community there is fellowship. In other words, it’s more than being in a room or a space with other people, it is being involved with other people, concerned about other people, sharing with other people, rejoicing with other people, feeling pain and hurt, and grieving with other people – that is the Greek concept of “Koinonia,” communion, joint participation; the sharing which one has in anything, participation, a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, etc.

Our text for today lifts up the important role of community in the healing and “answer to prayer process.” When the text says, “confess your faults one to another,” in this context it is speaking of sin and the relationship between sin and sickness. Yes, there can be a relationship between sickness and disobedience to God, but not always.

We see that is not always the case as in scriptures like those found in the book of Job…his illness was not because of sin, but because God allowed him to be tested by satan to prove his faithfulness and devotion to God. The disciples asked Jesus if the man born blind had sinned or if his parents had sinned, but Jesus declared, “It was not any sin of this man or his parents that caused him to be blind. He was born blind so that he could be used to show what great things God can do.” (John 9:3, ERV) Jesus eventually healed that blind man and caused many to believe as a result of the miracle.

So then sickness can be because of sin, but not always. Another concept, however, that comes from this verse of scripture is accountability. When we are in community, true fellowship, Koinonia, we have the opportunity to be open and honest with one another. Although we know that Jesus broke down the middle wall of partition and made it possible for us to go directly to God the Father through Him, there is a time and place for us to “confess” or to share our heart’s illness with one another.

That is why counseling is so therapeutic. It gives people the opportunity to openly share, without fear of rejection, judgment or condemnation. And while I am not suggesting that we share everything with everybody, I believe that people would experience fewer feelings of isolation and stress if the church was truly a place where people could find deep fellowship…a place where people could identify at least one or two people, in addition to their pastor, with whom they could freely share the difficulties of their heart and know that those individuals, in confidence would pray with them, press with them, “intercede” with them, stand in the gap for them, bow down with them at the thrown of grace and seek heaven until the answer came.

Intercession…It is difficult to know if the local churches of today really understand the power of fellowship and intercession. By God’s grace, together, we could run through troops and leap over walls if we grasped the power we hold as the people of God to join together in prayer, in fellowship and intercede for one another. The text says that we would be healed. But so often we relinquish our privilege and power by not taking advantage intercession.

Prayer meetings have become obsolete. Many view the idea of individuals coming together, in person (not through social media…tweeting…Facebook…Instagram…) – face to face, flesh and blood, kneeling together, holding hands, bowing our heads, calling out our prayers to God – as boring, “out of touch,” “old fashioned,” etc. But I believe that God still shows up in powerful ways through that kind of fellowship. Obviously, we cannot always get together in person. Prayers are not limited by human location. There is, however, something very powerful about human touch, human voice, human presence…something healing and transforming.

When we intercede, in other words, when we join together and go to God’s thrown, it moves God in a special way. It lifts our prayers higher. It strengthens our bonds of unity. It heals our wounded and brokenness.

The text then goes on to say that “the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much.” The term “fervent” means, impassioned, passionate, intense, vehement, ardent, sincere, heartfelt.

When is the last time you prayed an impassioned, passionate, intense, vehement, ardent, sincere, heartfelt prayer for somebody else, or even yourself for that matter?

Do we truly understand the power of fervent prayer? I believe that we lose so many opportunities, miss so many open doors, totally walk by so many blessings because our eyes are blinded by a lack of fervent prayer. I believe we miss so many answers, so many opportunities for deliverance, so many opportunities to bless and to help and to strengthen and to heal one another because we will not take hold of our chance to intercede together, on behalf of one another.

Could it be that God is just waiting to see how serious we are about whatever it is we are trusting Him for? That is not to suggest that fervent prayer is like a jeanie in a bottle…some magic formula to get whatever you want. But when we become serious about praying, not only for ourselves but for one another, miracles happen. Doors open. We begin to experience changes in situations and circumstances that we may have been waiting on for years. Opportunities open up. Healing begins to happen for individuals, families, communities, congregations, nations and yea even the world.

God is looking for those who will stand in the gap through intercessory prayer. God is looking for those who are willing to intercede on behalf of others. God is looking for someone who is hungry and thirsty for fellowship with Him and with others. Who is going to stand in the gap? Who is going to get serious about intercession and prayer? May our hearts cry out, “Hear am I Lord, send me.”

Post a comment or send me an email at

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