Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Shepastor: "Gifted and Still a Fool..."

20 Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!”
He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him.
21 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison. 22 But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
Judges 16: 20-22, NIV

Samson’s mother was barren, unable to conceive yet the Lord appeared to she and her husband and prophesied that they would have a son.
The Lord said to them,
“You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. 4 Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. 5 You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” (Judges 14:3-5, NIV)
Samson, was destined for greatness. But something happened along the way. While Samson was gifted with unusual strength, some other characteristics got in the way of all he could have been.

Never become so confident in the gift that you forget about the Giver.

The famous Rhythm and Blues group, the Temptations was arguably one of the greatest singing groups of their era. Dressed sharp, voices from every key in an octave, good looking and dance steps out of this world! And while all of them were extremely talented, gifted and soloists in their own right, one stood out – David Ruffin. Who could forget, “My Girl,” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg…” to name a few. We are still singing “My Girl” today! In 2008, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him as one of the top 100 singers of all times.

But David had a problem…he was gifted sure enough, but his group members saw him as a braggart, couldn’t get along with anybody…always wanted to steal the spotlight and eventually ended up splintering the group. Though extremely gifted, though he experienced great levels of fame, his life ended up in shambles. He fell into a life of drugs, showing up late or not showing up at all to performances and ultimately died a violent death.

In our text for today, Samson had loving, doting, accommodating parents who sought to honor all that the Angel told them to do regarding raising him. In spite of all of that, Samson had a temperament that led to his ultimate destruction. What are some lessons that we can learn from the life of Samson, in order that we may avoid the same pitfalls…avoid becoming too enthralled with our gifts and ignoring the Giver of gifts?

(1) Don’t flirt with the enemy – Samson was so arrogant, so sure of himself, so full of himself that he believed he could “rest in the lap” of the enemy and still prevail. Delilah showed who she was time and time again. Yet Samson kept putting himself in harms way. He thought that he could outsmart the enemy. In the final analysis, the enemy used Samson’s own pride and foolishness to defeat him. The enemy had no power against him. They had no understanding of where his strength came from. They could not bind him, hold him down, block him, overtake him until he gave them what was needed to use against him. In our lives, the enemy has no power over us. He cannot block our blessings, he cannot keep us down…he cannot take away our strength. We, however, CAN give the enemy the keys to defeat us when we continue to place ourselves in situations and circumstances that are out of God’s will for our lives, when we think ourselves to be smarter and stronger in our own strength and when we are filled with pride and arrogance.

(2) You can be gifted and still be a fool! – Samson is one of two individuals who the Bible declares, “The Spirit of the Lord left…” King Saul and Samson. The text says
He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him.” Samson was so sure of himself, so “full” of himself that he ignored all he’d been taught, all of his responsibilities as a leader and followed only his own fleshly desires and prideful proclivities. Clearly he did not listen to the voice of the Lord. So often people become so confident in their own giftedness that they believe that they are invincible…that the Lord is with them no matter how they behave. Don’t be a fool! All that we are, all of our gifts, all of our talents, all of our opportunities, all of our victories – EVERYTHING comes from the LORD!!! When we choose to step outside of godly ways, godly wisdom, godly discernment…when we are arrogant and prideful – full of ourselves and convinced that we have everything under control, we subject ourselves to defeat and destruction. Many a gifted person, many an anointed person has lost opportunities, blessings, opened doors, joy, peace, fulfillment and prosperity because they refused to listen, refused to follow, refused to be humble and instead followed their own prideful inclinations. There is the principle of reaping and sewing. The Lord is gracious, but the Lord can allow the consequences of our foolish ways to play out in many instances. Never believe that being gifted, anointed, called, set apart exempts you from losing blessings that God has intended for you. Consequences can be long, hard and painful. Some damage is irreparable. Some losses are cannot be retrieved. Samson lost everything because of his foolish and prideful ways. His spirit was arrogant and uncontrolled. His fall was great.

(3) Finally, God’s plans and purposes will prevail in spite of us. – Although Samson lost everything, including his freedom, his respect, his role as a leader, his family and his eyesight, God still used him to accomplish his life’s purpose to defeat the Philistines. In the end, Samson was avenged. His hair grew back. His strength came back. He was able to push down the pillars of the temple where the Philistines were feasting and making fun of him. They all were crushed to death, including Samson. God’s plans and purposes were accomplished, ultimately through Samson. But what a tragic way for it to happen. Who knows how Samson could have been used to bring down the Philistines through an invasion or through a victorious battle. Who knows how this story might have been differently written if Samson were not so uncontrolled, lustful, arrogant and foolish.

What am I saying? Whether we choose to honor God with our lives or not, whether we choose to follow godly principles or not, whether we choose to listen or not, God will still get the glory, God will still have His way, God will still use our gifts to bring about the results He wants, but we can become casualties of our own foolishness. There are consequences to foolish ways. Don’t flirt with the enemy…remember, you can be gifted and still be a fool…in spite of us, God’s will shall prevail. The paths of life and death are ever before us. Choose life. Honor God with your gifts, not just with lip service, but with faith, obedience, humility and reverence.

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Shepastor: "Starting From the Right Premise..."

The Fall
3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Genesis 3: 1-7 NIV

“Deceiver in chief,” that is the role of the enemy of our souls. In the garden, the serpent was able to deceive Eve by undermining her trust in God and the belief that God loved and wanted only what was good for her.

Fast forward to 2016. Satan continues to use the same tactics in our lives today. He strives daily, in subtle and not so subtle ways to convince us that God really does not love or care about us. When we are denied something that seems (at least in our own eyes) right, fair, beneficial, and good, naturally we are disappointed. When we are faced with pain, struggle and turmoil, of course, we question what is going on. If we are confronted with tragedy, deep sorrow and wounds that feel unhealable, we, like Eve may begin to question whether or not God really cares or has our best interest at heart.

Recently, in our own family, tragedy struck. A beloved cousin – an elder in her church, a benevolent, giving, loving, serving individual was murdered senselessly in her own home. She was murdered by a neighbor that she and her husband frequently helped by giving him meals when he claimed to be without. At her home-going celebration, another cousin gave her eulogy. His words blessed me and others greatly as we grappled with the pain and sorrow of our loss…

Our cousin shared that he saw a book with an intriguing title, "When God Does Not Make Sense..." He went on to say that he bought and read the book that was filled with stories of tragedies and struggles...ponderings of individuals who were trying to make sense of the painful realities sometimes dealt to people in life. He continued, however, by saying, "There's one thing wrong with the should be, 'When God does not make sense TO US.'" God always makes sense, but we in our human frailty can't see or understand. Patrick shared that we must start from the premise that in all situations and circumstances, "God is good ALL THE TIME and all the time GOD IS GOOD!"

While this phrase has become somewhat of a cliché, on that day, it took on a special meaning for me. No matter what we face, we must always remember that GOD IS GOOD…that God loves us, that God wants what is good and blessed and right for us, that God is with us and that God is for us.

In this life, we “will have tribulation.” The presence of sin in the world guarantees that we will experience pain, suffering, disappointment and struggle. Our premise, our foundation, our “bottom line,” however, must remain, that God is good and God loves us. When this is our starting point, it will keep us from spiraling into the pit of hopelessness, abandonment and rebellion.

There are some answers that we will not receive until we see our Lord face to face. Until then, may we anchor our souls in knowing God always has us in His heart and written on the palms of His hands. God will give us everything we need to walk through the valleys and come out victorious, with a peace that surpasses understanding.

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Shepastor: "Truth is Marching..."

"...And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." John 8:32 NASB

"What is truth?" This question has dogged the minds of philosophers and the everyday individual for centuries. Truth, it would appear, seems to be subject to individual perspectives. For the people of God, however, Jesus teaches us that "truth" is found in abiding in His word (John 8:31).

During these painful, difficult days when our Nation has been rocked to the core, God's people are being called upon and looked to for comfort, wisdom and guidance. What shall we say? What shall we do?

We must not ignore the realities of inequity, injustice, racism and hatred. We must speak truth to power, encourage peaceful protest, informed voting and clear, open minded dialogue. We must encourage the study of God's Word, history regarding American systems that produced and continues to perpetuate societal, psychological and economic oppression of certain sets of people...we must put love into action by working together to demand change. We parish for a lack of knowledge.

We must not use empty words and religious rhetoric during times that demand more pointed applications found in God's Word that calls for specific acts of justice, mercy and humility.

We must not retreat to our "crystal cathedrals," but we must engage in community efforts to bridge divides between those who struggle to see life through another's eyes...Times like these call for extraordinary efforts of courage, love, faith, and action.

May we remain in prayer for all of the families that are grieving...minority men and women, killed due to racial profiling, hyper vigilance and excessive force against them at the hands of some rogue police as well as the giving, caring, selfless, dedicated public servants/policemen who gave their lives, protecting those who were protesting...

In the beauty of the lilies
Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom
That transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy,
Let us live to make men free;
[originally …let us die to make men free]
While God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
While God is marching on.
Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Shepastor: "Answering the Call..."

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, Luke 4: 18, KJV

This past week, I celebrated in my spirit two ministerial milestones… July 3rd (1983) and July 5th (1995) …being licensed to preach and years later, being ordained to the Gospel Ministry. The Lord blessed me in a very special way to have male mentors and pastors that embraced, affirmed and encouraged women in ministry. It wasn’t until years later that I came to realize that everyone did not receive the same embrace as a woman called to preach and pastor.

Having said that, answering “The Call,” no matter your gender is a bitter sweet journey. The “sweet” is wrapped up in knowing that you are living out the assignment given to you by God before the foundation of the world…the sweet peace and assurance that you are walking in God’s will for your life…the sweet encouragement you receive from doing what you were born to do…the sweet anointing that rests upon you as you minister to the lost as well as the body of Christ. Indeed – serving the Lord is sweet! There is not one day that I regret saying “YES!!!” to God’s calling for my life.

However, the “bitter” also has its place in this course…the bitter…various forms of rejection whether by those who refuse the good news of the Gospel or by those who reject the vessel…the bitter…being filled with enthusiasm, joy, energy and vision, only to serve among a people who have little or no interest in moving beyond “surface religion.” The bitter…gifted, anointed, prepared, eager but “all dressed up with nowhere to go…” The bitter…giving your all while dying a death of “a million paper cuts” by a flow of negativity, criticism and complaints, not to mention, in many instances, the lack of human and monetary resources.
At times the bitterness threatens to overtake the sweet. Many preachers and pastors find themselves in proverbial caves, like Elijah, wanting to lie down and cover their faces. Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, John and Jesus all, at times suffered from bouts of depression due to the weight of the ministry. So how can we rejoice in the face of such blistering realities?

Below are several things that have helped me over and through some very difficult seasons as I strive to live out my calling

In Scripture…

- Remembering that greater is He that is within me than He that is within the world (1 John 4: 4)
- Jesus’ model of an appropriate response to weariness, pain and suffering… Jesus took time off and away to commune with the Father and he asked his Father why had He forsaken him (Luke 6:12, Matthew 27:46)
- Jesus’ compassion and understanding of us: We can go to the throne of grace and find strength and help in time of need (Hebrews 4: 14-16)
- Remembering that God is the “help” and the “health” of my countenance: (Psalm 42) When I “look at God,” over and above my situation and circumstances, my “countenance” and my health…mental, spiritual and emotional health are helped

In Fellowship…

- Prayerfully seeking out someone with whom to share your heart…Again, like Elijah, we can slip into a place of believing no one hears, sees or cares. But God always has those who love and serve Him. There is someone to help. Ask the Lord to show you who, where, when and how to reach out to others
- Spending time in worship and praise with other believers…Sometimes that means fellowshipping at another church (if you are a pastor) from time to time…a place where you can hear the word and be refreshed.
- Getting out and having some fun!!! Go to the movies, out to dinner or lunch, watch something silly on TV! Don’t be too serious all the time!

In Song…

- Listening to music…it is a gift from God to soothe our minds, hearts and souls.
- Learning songs to sing to yourself to encourage yourself
- Even if you “can’t sing,” sing anyway! Singing helps to release pressure, sorrow and even frustration.

Answering the call is serious business. You can run but you cannot hide. The sooner you say yes, the sooner you can get on with the business of learning how to live with the gift God has given you for His purposes, blessing others and receiving many, many blessing yourself! It will not be easy, but you find discover that it certainly is worth it!

Post a comment or send me an email at

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