Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Shepastor: "What Shall the Righteous Do?..."

For the choir director: A psalm of David.
1I trust in the Lord for protection.
So why do you say to me,
“Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!
2The wicked are stringing their bows
and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings.
They shoot from the shadows
at those whose hearts are right.
3The foundations of law and order have collapsed.
What can the righteous do?”
Psalm 11: 1-3, NLT

Our Nation is in an uproar…apparent police brutality and severe miscarriages of justice. Looting, burnings, broken curfews, bricks through police car windows, rampant violence in the streets – major unrest in the land. Earthquakes, landslides, adults and children buried alive…terrorism, horrific assassinations, beheadings, bombings, mass murders…hunger, disease, famine, deep, deep sorrow.

“If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?”

The Psalmist begins with a proclamation of faith and then raised a question…

1I trust in the Lord for protection.
So why do you say to me,
“Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!

Despite all of the horrendous realities that are plaguing our Nation and world, “the righteous,” those who have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ must “trust in the Lord for protection,” and move as the Spirit of God says move. We cannot allow ourselves to be governed by fear. We must trust the Lord for our protection. We must lift up a spirit of hope and faith. We must continue to preach, teach and practice the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.

What shall the righteous do? We must be “responders” and not “reactors.” We must pray for wisdom, strength and direction. What shall the righteous do? We must pray together, work together, address City Hall together, speak truth to power together, give together, love together and serve together.

Together may we pray for our homes, communities, schools, leaders, Nation and world. Together may we have the courage to speak corrective words to wayward children and adults. May we have the courage to look in the mirror, admit our faults and pray for the grace to repent.

May we resist the urge to “fly like a bird to the mountains for safety.” May we resist the urge to hide our heads in the sand like an ostrich. May we speak up when warranted. May we stand up when needed. If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?

May we seek to “be” the Body of Christ…His hands, His feet and His heart.

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Shepastor: "How Well Do You Know the Shepherd?"

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

1“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”6Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. 7Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.8All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.a They will come in and go out, and find pasture.10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full John 10:1-10, NIV

The other day I was having a conversation with someone about how times have changed. We were reminiscing about our childhood and how our parents did not have to send us to expensive day or summer camps because the “camp” was the neighborhood. All of the children would come out and play during those hot summer months to play baseball, kick ball, jump rope, hopscotch, hide and go seek, tether ball, “jacks…” you get the picture. If we were thirsty we might run in the house and get some Koolaide. If we were hungry, we might run in and get a hotdog or baloney sandwich, peanut butter and jelly, cream cheese and jelly or whatever happened to be available! The ice cream truck would play its music, rambling down the street and kids from everywhere would run to go and get a Popsicle or an ice cream sandwich.

If we wanted candy, we might run in the house and ask momma or daddy for a penny, nickel, dime or if we were a “big spender” a quarter. We’d run off to the corner candy store a few blocks away and come back with a bag full of candy that we might share or we might keep all for ourselves.

We did these things everyday from early in the morning until the street lights came on. At that point, you knew it was time to go home! But every now and then, we might get so caught up in whatever fun we were having that we ignored the street lights. Then all of the parents came out on their porches and started calling….Eric, John, Shan, Chrissy, it’s time to come home!

It didn’t matter how many voices were yelling at the same time, all of the children knew their parent’s voice. There was something distinct about their parent’s voice. So they jumped up and got to running! They knew the voice of their parents.

Now let me bring this concept up to 2015. For better or for worse, I am now a part of the “Facebook Family!” On Facebook, people can post just about anything. However, in general, people post things that most reflect who they are – pictures, quotes, good news, interesting articles and in the faith community, prayer requests. There is a general pattern to what a person does and does not “post.” However, in this highly technological age, from time to time, there are those who have developed skills that enable them to “break into” another individual’s account. Those wicked persons seek to impersonate the real account holder and to give the impression that the real account holder is sending messages, when in fact it is an imposter.

Well, recently I was the victim of a hacker. Some strange person, through their technological wicked, but ingenious skills was able to crack my secret code/password, break into my FB account and begin to impersonate me. They sent messages to my family and friends. They tried to give them the impression that it was me. But there was one problem. They did not know me well enough to trick my friends! Because I have a certain pattern, character, persona, delivery style etc., a style that they did not study or consider, they thought that they could fool my family and friends but could not!

My family and friends knew that I would not invite them to join a crazy pyramid scheme that would ask them for money to so that they could enter a sweep stake to win a million dollars! My friends and family know that I am a writer and an author and work hard at using the King’s English with verbiage, spelling, content and context. Immediately, I started getting messages from my friends and family, alerting me to the fact that I’d been hacked. They all said, “We knew that was not you!”

Over 2000 years ago, Jesus did not have a Facebook account! But the message remains the same. My sheep hear, know, discern, recognize my voice and they will not follow a stranger, a hacker, an imposter, a personality hijacker! Jesus said the “thief” who is the devil, satan, comes only to steal, to kill and to destroy, but I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly!

The devil is an imposter. In other words, the devil pretends to care about you, pretends to have your best interest at heart, pretends to know you, to love you, to be concerned about you. Otherwise, he could not attract unsuspecting souls. He tells the young person, “Do all that you want to do. Lie, cheat, have sex before marriage, try some drugs, quit school, hang out with some ‘bad’ guys etc. You can always get yourself together later in life.” But what they don’t understand is that death is waiting at the door to snatch them. They don’t understand that the prison is waiting to get them looped into a system that is almost impossible to escape once involved. They don’t understand the hardships of single parent hood and poverty.

But we cannot spend our time trying to figure out all of the tricks and the traps of the thief. There are too many schemes for us to comprehend. We have to spend time getting to know the Shepherd. I once heard that those government officials who are trained to recognize counterfeit money are not focused upon counterfeits. There are too many scenarios! Instead, they spend time training them how to see, recognize the pattern of the real thing. They study the real so that they know it so well, when a fake comes along, it is readily recognizable.

How well do you know God? In an article entitled, "Transformed by Knowing God,"
a Discipleship Journal writer made this statement:

“We often think of knowing God as learning facts about Him. Yet the Bible reveals that knowing God isn’t a matter of collecting and believing information. Rather, when we know God, who we are and how we act is fundamentally changed.” End quote
In other words, when we know God, something within us is transformed. Our behavior, our attitude, our deportment, our character all begin to change as we seek to know God better and prayerfully seek to develop the mind of Christ.

How does this happen? How do we get to know God? How do we get to know His voice, His character, His movement? His Spirit? How do we discern the difference between God and the voice of the devil?

We must develop and intimate prayer life with God. In other words, daily we must seek the face of the Lord through prayer. Jesus gave us a wonderful pattern for prayer in the Model Prayer. We have used the acronym, “ACTS:” Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.”

Adore God: Praise Him for his mighty acts and His excellent greatness!

Confess: Ask the Lord to forgive you of sin, search you, try you see if there be any wicked way in you and lead you in the way everlasting

Thank Him: Thank the Lord for all that He has done…

Supplication: Pray for yourself and others

As you practice this pattern of prayer, your heart will begin more and more to be open to the things of God, the purposes of God, the ways of God.

Study God’s Holy Word. You will learn and understand more about the Love of God, the Mercy of God, the Will of God, the Judgment of God, the Forgiveness of God, the Warnings of God, the Grace of God and Salvation offered by God when you spend time in God’s Holy Word. Individual study and cooperate study are necessary for the child of God to grow. The Bible is the child of God’s instruction manual about how the Lord wants us to live the abundant or fulfilling life.

Obey the voice of the Holy Spirit. When you accept Jesus as your personal savior, He fills you with His precious Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our guide, our helper, our counselor, our intercessor. He speaks to us and convicts our hearts when we are looking to go in the wrong direction. You know His voice. However, if you choose to ignore His voice, the imposter will trick you.

When you will not listen and obey, when you will not study and yield, when you will not follow the ways of the Lord, you open the door for the imposter. Disobedience brings about confusion. My sheep hear my voice and a stranger they will not follow.

How well do you know God? By faith, make a decision to get to know the Shepherd’s voice better today!

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Shepastor: "Are You Robbing God of His Praise?"

Praise the Lord
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.
Psalm 150, NIV

The Hebrew term, “Halal” which is a primary Hebrew root word for praise. Our word "hallelujah" comes from this base word. It means "to be clear, to shine, to boast, to show forth, to rave, to celebrate, to be clamorously foolish." Line 1 of Psalm 150 uses this term at least three times. It says,

Ps 150:1
Praise (halal) the Lord! Praise (halal) God in his sanctuary; Praise (halal) him in his mighty expanse.

The difference between a thief and a robber is that a thief will take what is yours when you are not looking…they will steal from you behind your back. You may not even notice that they’ve taken what ever it is from you until you go to use it or you need it or want it.

But a robber is different. A robber will point a gun in your face and will take what is not theirs, but yours and will dare you to say anything about it. People go to prison for both, but there is something so insidious about armed robbery that criminals frequently pay a heavier penalty for doing so. Robbery is ugly, it is scary, it is so disrespectful – “in your face,” if you will. The robber didn’t work for, sacrifice for, struggle for, give themselves for what they take. They circumvent the normal process to take what they don’t deserve.

We are angered and appalled when we here about people being robbed. But have we been guilty of robbing God by withholding our praise? There may be times when we don't feel like praising because of life circumstances. But praising God may be just the medicine that we need! Praise can aid us in refocusing when the struggles of life press in. Just as physical exercise releases endorphins into our system that gives us boosts of energy and lifts our mood, giving God praise energizes our spirits and lifts our hearts by reminding us of God's love, mercy, grace and power.

Praise is to be expressive. Praise is to be demonstrative. Praise is to be exuberant. Praise is to be joyous. Praise is to be open. And yes, praise is at times to be loud! This does not mean that we have to. Be loud and expressive every Sunday. There are times and scriptural support for quiet, meditative contemplation. However, there are also times to open our mouths, lift our hands and shout "Hallelujah!!!"

When we get in the habit of just coming to church and sitting there half a sleep, waiting for something to tickle our ears or prompt us to raise our hands, or urge us to shout, “amen,” we are robbing God of His praise. You are holding it back as if it is yours. It’s not yours, the praise belongs to The Lord! When you won’t praise, you are telling God, “it’s my mouth, and I don’t feel like doing all that…it doesn’t take all of that!” But you are robbing God of His praise.

Heaven is not a dull and somber place.

Revelations 4: 10-11 declares,

10The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

When we refuse to open our mouths and worship and praise God for who He is, for what He has done, for His excellent greatness, we are robbing God of His praise. Satan wants you to sit quietly and just stare off into space. He wants you to just sit with your hands folded, half asleep so that you miss the blessing that comes from praise. When we make up our minds that we've come into His house to magnify His name and worship Him, something happens inside of us.

When we begin to “halal” God, in other words, when we begin to "to be clear, about who God is, about what God has done, about how God brought us thus far, when we begin to be clear about God’s favor upon our lives, how it was God, not our strength, God, not our talent, God, not our education, God, not our families, God, not your business connections, God who blessed us, God who saved us, God who rescued us, God who delivered us, God who carried us through, we can’t help but to give God the praise! We can’t help but give God the glory due His name!

When you are clear about why you are praising God, you will begin to shine. Your light will shine, like the old song writer said, “this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, every where I go, I’m going to let it shine, Jesus gave it to me and I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!” When you become clear about who God is and all that God has done, nobody will have to beg you to praise, nobody will have to prod you to praise, you will BREAK OUT in praise! You will begin to boast in the Lord. As you are driving down the street, thinking about God’s goodness you'll break out in a praise. At times you may be sitting at your desk and begin to think about God’s goodness and you’ll break out in a praise. You may be in the kitchen cooking, in the shower bathing, in the garden weeding and you’ll break out in praise!

When you come into the sanctuary, you’ll be so thankful and so ready to bless the most high God that you will rave about His goodness, celebrate his greatness and at times act clamorously foolish about His blessings!
The psalmist said that when we think about the goodness of God, the greatness of God, the loving kindness of God, the mercy of God, the grace of God, the forgiveness of God, the healing power of God, the protection of God, every now and then we ought to break out in a dance, break out in a shout, break out with the instruments.
When you won’t open your mouth to say, “thank you Lord,” you are robbing God of His praise. When you sit week after week and just stare off into space, you are robbing God of His praise. When you won’t lift up holy hands and tell of His excellent greatness, you are robbing God of His praise.

Make up your mind to praise the Lord. Open your mouth and praise the Lord. Lift up your voice and praise the Lord. Even when you don’t feel like it, praise the Lord. Even if all hell is breaking loose in your life, praise the Lord. Praise him when times are good. Praise Him when times are bad. Praise Him when you are up. Praise Him when you are down. Give God the honor and glory due His name.

For when you make up your mind to worship and praise the Lord, something happens. God sees your faithfulness. God sees your pain. God sees your toil. God sees your tears and God is honored by your determination to praise Him anyhow. God will dispatch His angels to come and minister unto you. God will pour out His blessings as showers upon you. God will send His comforter the Holy Spirit to re assure you. God will lift you, God will strengthen you, God will bless you. God will empower you. When the praises go up, the blessings come down.
Let everything that hath breath PRAISE THE LORD!!!

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Shepastor: “Bringing Down the High Places…”

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16, NIV

The hymn writer, the late Charles P. Jones, inspired by the above stated verse declared,

I will make the darkness light before thee,
What is wrong I’ll make it right before thee,
All thy battles I will fight before thee,
And the high place I’ll bring down.

When thou walkest by the way I’ll lead thee,
On the fatness of the land I’ll feed thee,
And a mansion in the sky I’ll deed thee,
And the high place I’ll bring down.

With an everlasting love I’ll love thee,
Though with trials deep and sore I’ll prove thee,
But there’s nothing that can hurt or move thee,
And the high place I’ll bring down.

Although Satan in his rage would tear thee,
And with all his winning arts would snare thee,
Even down to thine old age I’ll bear thee,
And the high place I’ll bring down.

The “high places” in Scripture frequently refers to places where idols were worshiped. Many sinful and perverted activities occurred at the high places. People were deceived and led astray at the high places. Children were sacrificed at the high places. People were burned at the high places. Several Old Testament kings were condemned by God’s prophets for not tearing down the high places.

High places still exist today. Many have replaced/removed the Lord from the altar of their hearts and instead worship idols…maybe not bronze or golden images, but the idols of greed, prosperity, religion, self-centeredness and political correctness. Children may not be literally sacrificed on mountain tops any longer, but many children are being abused, neglected, born into cycles of dysfunction and poverty, because of adults who worship at proverbial high places.

Individuals may no longer be burned alive as sacrifices, but many are being “burned out,” being over worked and under paid, burned by those who take advantage of them, burned, even in the church because of mean spirits, unholy actions, gossip, slander and insensitivity. Many are broken and discouraged, longing for a light to shine in the darkness. Those who have refused to worship at the modern day high places are often ridiculed, criticized, ostracized and in some instances mistreated for their stance. But the Lord has promised to bring the high places down. The Lord has promised to open blind eyes, shine light in darkness and make rough places smooth. God calls us, by faith to participate in that process.

Every time we choose love over hate, we bring down a high place. Every time we “do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God,” we tear down a high place. Every time, by faith, we choose to persevere, continuing to build, continuing to lift, continuing to serve, we tear down a high place. By the power of the Resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ, God uses us to bring high places down. May we, by faith, have the courage to obey the Holy Spirit and partner with God’s mission to tear down high places.

You can hear a rendition of the beautiful hymn by clicking on the link below…

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Shepastor: "In Search of Heroes..."

Luke 19: 37-44 (NRSV)

37As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38saying,‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!’ 39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’ 40He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.’ 41 As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. 44They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.’

In the work entitled, In Search of Heroes: Tragedy to Triumph, the story is told of how famed deaf, blind and mute Helen Keller was born a bright and lively infant, but at the age of 19 months tragically developed a fever which left her blind and deaf and for a time, mute.

Her parents obviously devastated sought out the best help possible for their daughter. They heard of Perkins School for the Blind in Boston and there found a brilliant, compassionate young teacher named Anne Sullivan. Upon graduation from the school, Anne came to live with the Kellers. Working tirelessly with Helen, Anne frequently met with failure and frustration, but undaunted continued to work with her until one day she had a break through. Helen would go from learning how to say “water” to gaining a command of not only the English language, but other languages and ultimately went on to become a great writer.

Once when asked to give her thoughts on growing old, this is what Helen had to say:

All my life I have tried to avoid ruts, such as doing things my ancestors did before me, or leaning on the crutches of other people's opinion, or losing my childhood sense of wonderment. I am glad to say I still have a vivid curiosity about the world I live is as natural for me to believe that the richest harvest of happiness comes with age as to believe that true sight and hearing are within, not without.... --Helen Keller, on being asked about growing older (In,
In Search of Heroes: Tragedy to Triumph – Helen Keller)

“True sight and hearing are within, not without…”

What a tragedy to have physical eyes to see, yet remain blind. How sad to have the physical ability to hear, but lack the keen awareness of God’s Holy Spirit to be able to hear what God is speaking.

Such was the lot of the scribes and the Pharisees in our text. They had eyes but couldn’t see, ears but couldn’t hear. Even as Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem, palms waiving, crowds shouting, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord...” the religious leaders were not rejoicing. They were not giving God the praise. They were angry. They were envious. They were deaf and blind. Their inability to see God’s presence, see God’s hand of mercy moving, touching, delivering, healing… their rejection of God’s only begotten son, Jesus – their blind and deaf eyes, hearts and perceptions caused Jesus to weep over the city of Jerusalem. Jesus lamented,

“Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace!" They thought Jesus came to hurt them. But He came to heal them. They thought Jesus came to take their place. But Jesus came to give them a place. They thought Jesus came to restore unto them an earthly kingdom, but Jesus came to lead them into the heavenly Kingdom. They thought Jesus came to rob them of their positions of prominence and authority, but Jesus came to teach them what it means to truly be a servant-leader.

How tragic was their plight. How tragic was their deceit. The late missionary Jim Elliot was so right when he declared the words, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” So often we try so hard to hold tightly to things that we ultimately will have to give up. For the Pharisees, they wanted to hold tight to their positions, their perceived power and influence over the people. They were not concerned about soul salvation. They were not concerned about the poor among them. They were not concerned about healing and mending wounded and broken lives. They were only concerned about maintaining power.

How foolish they were! They didn’t realize that in days to come their temple would be destroyed, they would soon go into captivity and be scattered and all their earthly power, fame and fortune would perish. As Jesus looked out over the city, as he looked at their hard hearts and stiff necks, as he looked at their ornate temple and their neatly written scrolls and their prominently displayed laws and traditions he wept. He wept for their ignorance. He wept for their deceit. But most of all he wept because they were missing an opportunity like no other – to meet and know the son of God. God had placed in their midst the long awaited Messiah – the one that had been prophesied about for centuries – the one whom they say they were waiting for, looking for, longing for but they missed it!

How could they miss it? How could they miss Jesus? But before we jump all over the scribes and Pharisees, we must ask ourselves the question – Are we missing Jesus? What is Jesus trying to teach us, to lead us into, deliver us from and we like the Pharisees are refusing to see, hear or receive? What opportunities have we missed because we were too stubborn or stuck in old patterns or dogma or traditions? What lives have we neglected to bless, to touch, to heal because we were too concerned about things that in the final analysis don’t really matter?

Are we missing the things that make for peace? Is Jesus weeping over our lives because we are missing, we are blind to, we are deaf to the moving of His Holy Spirit? This week we mourn the tragedy of denial, betrayal and crucifixion. Next week we celebrate the triumph of victory over death, hell and the grave. But in between this week and next week, we again have an opportunity to prayerfully conduct a deep introspection into our own hearts, our own, souls, our own lives and ask the question, “Is Jesus weeping over my life because I am missing the things that make for peace…” We need to ask ourselves are we missing opportunities to reach out and help somebody, heal somebody, tell somebody about the good news that Jesus died for our sins and that we can be saved by grace through faith.

Are we missing the things that make for peace? Are we arguing about things that don’t really matter in the larger scheme of life? Are we carrying around grudges that we should have given over to the throne a long time ago… are we doggedly holding to our own opinions and perceptions about things without hearing another person out? Are we so wrapped up in our own lives that we cannot see someone who needs a word of encouragement, a lift up out of despair… Are we missing the things that make for peace?

Jesus invites us today to move from tragedy to triumph . What tragedy? – The tragedy of missing God’s best for our lives. Jesus invites us today to move from tragedy – what tragedy – the tragedy of having blind eyes and deaf ears, not hearing or seeing all that God has prepared for us – He’s waiting, He’s looking, He’s watching – Jesus is extending his hand, saying move today from tragedy to triumph. For the moment we surrender to Him, our triumph begins. True heroism, for the child of God, begins with a surrendered life, an open heart, “seeing eyes” and “hearing ears.”

Post a comment or send me an email at
Until Next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris