Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Shepastor: “Fiercely Honest: Reflections on Loneliness, Life and Learnings…Words from Rev. Dr. Courtney Pace”

The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet. Proverbs 27:7, KJV

Loneliness, a desire to “be a part,” and cruel taunts lead many young people down paths of pain, rejection, abuse and self-destruction. A dear colleague in Ministry, The Rev. Dr. Courtney Pace knows all too well the torment of the aforementioned realities. In her most recent blog post, “Fiercely,” Dr. Pace shares her personal testimony of victory over brokenness through honesty. Below are excerpts from her blog…

I owe Amy Schumer a debt of gratitude. In fact, I almost titled this post, "Thank You, Amy Schumer." Her book, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, is raw and hilarious, but also wise and right on the mark. She tells her story, just puts it out there, and it's brilliant. I relate to her so much. I'm a professor/preacher, not a comic, but we're about the same age, and we've faced a lot of the same pressures and hardships along the way: an athletic build rather than being stick thin, becoming adults way too fast, career ambition at an early age, and being introverted in a public profession…

…I was always a little different from my peers. I starred in musicals at competitions (Google it). I earned dozens of skating medals. But I was also hella insecure. I was desperate to fit in, to belong. The kids at church had stay-at-home moms who drove them to play dates. The kids at skating lived near each other, across town from me. The kids at school lived near each other, across town the other way. I remember spending a lot of my childhood alone. I was a latchkey kid. I’ve been responsible for my own rides, schedule, meals, and homework since I was 12. At the time, I felt very sophisticated, like I was ahead of the curve. But now, I realize there was so much more childhood to be had, that I never got to have…
I urge you to go to Dr. Pace’s blog (see link below) and read the rest of her story. If not for you, I am confident that you know someone who has or is struggling with many of these same issues. “Fierce” can help them to take the first step towards self-reflection, honesty and freedom.

Rev. Courtney Pace, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Church History at Memphis Theological Seminary. She has a PhD in Religion from Baylor University (2014), a Masters of Divinity in Theology from George W. Truett Theological Seminary (2007), and an Honors Bachelor of Science in Computer Science Engineering, with minors in Mathematics and Psychology, from The University of Texas at Arlington (2004). She researches social justice movements in American religion, particularly race and gender. She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, book reviews, and encyclopedia articles, and is currently in the process of publishing her dissertation. She is an ordained Baptist minister and the proud mother of Stanley. She is also the creator of the Stole Sisters podcast, which features women preachers of all Christian traditions.

Click here to connect to Dr. Pace’s Blog…

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Shepastor: “The Half Has Not Been Told…Be Careful With Accusations”

Jesus Faces Pilate
11 Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” 12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.
13 Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” 14 But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly
. Matthew 27: 11-14, NKJV

There comes a time when enough has been said, enough has been shown, enough has been given, enough has been presented. There comes a time when no matter what you say or do, people are going to believe whatever they want to believe. There comes a time when we like the song writer must declare, “May the works I’ve done, speak for me.”

A few days ago, The Advocate, which is the State of Louisiana’s largest news paper called out President Obama and declared, "A disaster this big begs for the personal presence of the President at ground zero." All of the major news networks began to loop the story. Some pounced, “A real leader would cut their vacation short and get down there as soon as possible.” CNN began interviewing individuals who echoed the same sentiments. By all appearances, the President was being selfish, insensitive and out of touch…how could he remain at Martha’s Vineyard, leisurely playing golf with friends and family, sipping bear and enjoying the views while thousands of individuals suffered amid historic floods in Baton Rouge, Louisiana?

What kind of President, what kind of leader would do such a thing? With glee, his accusers ripped him from head to toe. Hoping to damage his legacy and paint him as a cerebral, out of touch stiff that really does not care about the people, pundits loudly accused President Obama. But the President, stayed the course, remained focused and did what was right and best. He understood his mission.

I must admit, the story line was so convincing, I turned to my husband and said, “Oooh, I hope the President hurries and gets down there. It does look bad for him not to go.” But then, the governor of Louisiana came on and said, “We would much rather the President wait for 11 to 14 days before coming.” He went on to explain that the man power, to clear the area, the effort it would take to clean and prepare the highway to make ready for the Secret Service and his arrival, the resources it would take to accommodate him…all of these energies would best be used to assist THE PEOPLE rather than hosting a dignitary.

WOW! I had not thought of all of that. On the surface, it looked like one thing, but THE HALF HAD NOT BEEN TOLD… The President was thinking about the people. He cared enough to ensure that the necessary people and resources would be sent, not for a photo op, but to HELP!!!

How often do we jump to conclusions, form opinions, make accusations because of how things “appear?” Jesus was a victim of false accusations and individuals who were jealous, insecure and misguided. Throughout His journey here on earth, Jesus was misunderstood.

Jesus was misunderstood by His earthly family… Although Mary was visited by the Angel Gabrielle who told her that she would conceive and give birth to a baby boy without having physical intimacy with a man, Mary still saw Jesus as her “little boy.” Not really understanding his calling, not quite grasping his mission, she sought to raise him, nurture him, love him and protect him as any mother would. There was nothing wrong with that from a human perspective, but the problem was Jesus was no ordinary baby boy, he was God wrapped up in human flesh who came to save a dying world!

Jesus had to remind his mother that he had “to be about His Father’s business.” But the half had not been told. As Jesus stood up in the Temple and began to read from the Prophet Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound… THIS DAY has this scripture been fulfilled in your hearing!” his brothers became concerned… “Momma, we’ve got to go and get Jesus for he has lost his mind! The members of the Synagogue became angry and called Jesus a blasphemer, the community members became incensed and declared, “Isn’t this the carpenter Joseph’s son? Who does he think he is?”

The text says that Jesus could there do no mighty works except to lay his hand on a few sick folk and heal them and he marveled at their unbelief. Jesus was accused of being a blasphemer, out of his head and arrogant, but the half had not been told… Despite all of these things, Jesus remained focused upon his mission…
Jesus was misunderstood by his disciples…. We must applaud them for forsaking everything and following Jesus, but they really did not understand what they were getting themselves into. They walked with him daily…they saw him cause the lame to walk, the mute to talk, the deaf to hear, the blind to see, the demoniacs made whole, the diseased cured and the dead raised, YET they misunderstood his mission, his vision, his plan his ministry. And while they did not openly accuse Jesus, Jesus discerned their minds, their hearts, their spirits. He asked them, “Who do men say that I am…?” then he frankly asked him, “Who do YOU say that I am?”

Jesus understood that even though he’d walked with them for three long years, ate with them, rested with them, fished with them, ministered with them, prayed with them, performed miracles before them, they still did not know him. It’s a sad thing to have people to walk with you, observe you, benefit from you, be supported, loved and lifted by you, but still don’t know you, still question your character, your motives, your love. They were not necessarily accusing him outwardly, but in their hearts they were questioning, resenting and ultimately accusing… Can’t you imagine their thoughts? “Why isn’t he doing more to help us over throw the Roman Government? Why is he eating with sinners? Why is John his favorite? Why is he always taking those three with him? Why can’t we sit on the left and the right? He probably shouldn’t have thrown those money changers out of the Temple. They could have helped us with the ministry! I don’t think he should have called the Pharisees hypocrites and white washed sepulchers, they might really get mad and make things really uncomfortable for us! Why won’t he show us this Kingdom he’s always referring to? Is he really who he says he is?” But the HALF HAD NOT BEEN TOLD!!!
Despite all of these things, Jesus remained focused upon His mission.

Jesus’ mission was higher and greater than they could imagine. Jesus did not come to hang out with the righteous, but to call sinners to repentance. Jesus did not come to set up an earthly Kingdom, Jesus came to prepare us for a Heavenly Kingdom. Even those closest to him falsely accused and misunderstood him.

Ultimately, Jesus was hated and accused by the religious leaders…
They hated and accused Jesus not because they were concerned about the people, not because they thought he was a devil, but because they were concerned about their place…what they perceived to be their positions and the things that they thought they’d gained in they eyes of the Roman Government and the people. They were concerned about their territory and the Synagogue changing from what they wanted, under their control and their influence. They were insecure, envious, resentful, angry and deadly.

Accusations are horrible things.
If you’ve ever experienced the pain of unfounded, false accusations, you can imagine the anguish Jesus must have felt. People are quick to believe the ugly, the twisted, the salacious with little or no evidence. Often the people for whom you have done the most, loved the most, helped the most, given the most will be the first in line to resent and accuse you.

But for the accused, the falsely accused, there comes a time when you have to look at Jesus’ response and do like wise. There comes a time when after you’ve given your all, done your best, shared your love, opened your heart, shed blood, sweat and tears and people are still suggesting you have ulterior motives and dark agendas, there comes a time when you must keep your tongue with a bridal and let God give the answer. There is a time to speak and a time to be silent. Jesus could have called ten thousand angels to come to his rescue, but Jesus was on a mission and he didn’t say a mumbling word.

We must remember that we too are on a mission. There will be times when we will be misunderstood. There will be times when the very people you’ve helped, loved, nurtured, supported and opened doors for will falsely accuse you, resent you and treat you as if you are nothing and nobody. But remember Jesus…after all that Jesus had done, they mocked him, scorned him, spat upon him, beat him, tortured him and ultimately crucified him, but on the third day Jesus got up with ALL POWER IN HIS HANDS!

Be careful who you accuse – you don’t know the whole story. Be careful how you go about believing, receiving and repeating accusations, the seeds you sew today will come back to haunt you. Reaping season is long and hard. Reaping season is bigger and more painful than you can imagine. Reaping season impacts not only you, but your household, your family, your children and those around you. Be careful who you accuse, how you accuse. Remember, you don’t know the whole story and things are not always what they seem! Stop and ask yourself, “Is there something that I may not know?” Stop and ask yourself, “Is it something that I am projecting onto that person that maybe is not in them, but me? Stop and ask yourself, “Why am I so quick to receive all this negativity?” Remember each time you point your finger, four are pointed back at you!

Let your works speak for you. Don’t get caught up in trying to answer every question, don’t respond to every critic, don’t try to set right every rumor, don’t try to please every disgruntled individual – live your life to the glory of God. Stay focused upon pleasing God. Like Jesus, remember your mission – listen, trust and obey God, treat your neighbor as you want to be treated. Place and keep God first in your life. Love unconditionally, forgive and keep on moving forward. And God Himself will fight your battles, God Himself will show Himself strong on your behalf. God Himself will make the crooked places straight and the rough places smooth. God Himself will vindicate your name and one day will give you a crown of glory!

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Shepastor: "Conventions, Long Lines and Life..."

2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ. Colossians 2:2, NIV

This past week, my family and I were blessed to participate in the Progressive National Baptist Convention gathering, in New Orleans, Louisiana. For many reasons, our time away was empowering, encouraging, enlightening and refreshing. Daily we heard powerful messages from pastors and leaders from across the Country.

We were also privileged to hear messages from public officials, dignitaries, missionaries, and service men and women. Of all the days, however, one day in particular sticks out in my mind. Vice Presidential Nominee, Senator Tim Kane was coming, unexpectedly, to address us. Although the meeting was not going to be held until 10:00 a.m., we were told that “the doors would open at 8:30 a.m.” We were all encouraged to arrive bright and early. My family was tired from the previous day’s activities and decided to sleep in. So off I went to “represent.”

As I stepped off of the elevator, another guest says, “Have you seen that line? Some people have been down there since 7:00 a.m.!” As I looked over the balcony, literally hundreds of people were lined up for as far as I could see! I took a deep breath and convinced myself that I could make it! Walking, walking, walking, I sheepishly looked for the “end” of the line to jump in. When I finally reached the end, the last of us were told to go down the escalator to another floor below to make room and start a new line!

I debated about whether or not I should continue, but figured I’d gotten up, put on my makeup (a big deal!) and dress and was all geared up, so I stayed. As I stood, several beautiful ladies (inside and out) began laughing and talking about the experience of standing in this loooooong line. I chimed in, resonating with comments about arthritis, aching knees, medicines, and how ridiculous this all seemed. Soon we began learning about one another…our home church, our home town, ministry endeavors etc. Once they learned that I was a senior pastor, they wanted to know about my experiences, struggles and triumphs. An hour and a half passed before we reached the door.

But amazingly, it didn’t seem to matter. During that time we became less focused upon our discomfort and more focused upon hearing one another. We learned about each other, became concerned about each other, and began advocating for each other…telling ushers and secret service members that this one or that one needed to be able to sit down because of their conditions. While I enjoyed Senator Kane, I was richly blessed, inspired, empowered and encouraged by the time I spent in line with my new “Sister Friends.” My legs, which in general can’t take standing too long before cramping were able to stand almost two hours…I believe, because of encouragement, fellowship and love.

Life is filled with “long lines” of sorts. The journey, however, is made so much more bearable when we have others to share in the experience. When hearts are open, sharing is genuine, and people don’t feel the need to “put on airs,” marvelous fellowship can happen.

I don’t know if I’ll ever see my new friends again, but on that day, that long line seemed so much shorter because of their warmth. May we seek to help others make it through life’s long lines by emanating warmth and sincerity from our hearts.

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Shepastor: "Bind Weeds In Your Garden..."

Remain alert. Keep standing firm in your faith. Keep on being courageous and strong. I Corinthians 16:13, International Standard Version

Recently, our family traveled out of town by car. As we rode along the highway, I was impressed with the number of bright green and “flowering” weeds along the road…operative word, “weeds.” The weeds grew strong and tall. It was tempting to think that they belonged there. What was the harm? They looked like the rest of the plants and in some cases were even more beautiful!

My curiosity peaked about these “beautiful” weeds. So, I began to do a little impromptu research on these leafy, flowering, vine like intruders…

The description of two weeds caught my attention…”Morning Glory” and “Bind Weeds.”

Listen to the following descriptions…
Morning Glory belongs to a family of unique and tenacious plants…Morning Glory vine is an annual but reseeds itself so successfully you really wouldn’t know it…the Bindweed grow from underground storage structures that promote the spread of the weed. They are hardy tenacious, opportunistic weeds that get into the cracks and crevasses and are nearly impossible to remove…Controlling Morning Glory will take several seasons and persistent seeds in soil can sprout years later.*

Upon reading the above description, I immediately began thinking about our lives as Christians. So often, the enemy of our souls “sows” in our “gardens” flowering, beautiful weeds…things that may seem harmless, maybe even comforting, encouraging…beautiful, but are in fact choking the very life out of us. When we allow these seeds to take root, they can take years to remove. Depending upon the depth of the root, even if we get rid of them on the surface, the “seeds” can sprout years later!

I will not attempt to list these things…let’s just say anything that goes against the will and the Spirit of God in our lives…things that in our innermost soul we know are wrong, less than what God has for us, sinful but feel good, satisfying and uplifting in the moment, in the season…in short, WEEDS! Sometimes “bind weeds” come in the form of people. Sometimes “morning glories” come in the form of suggestions, ideologies, trends, movements, biases, etc…things that sound good, appear harmless, presents as smooth, uplifting and encouraging, yet at the core are devastating, deteriorating and ultimately destroying your walk of faith.

It was encouraging, however, to read the following concerning eradicating these deceptive vines…

For as stubborn as bindweed can be, it has a very hard time competing with other aggressive plants. Often bindweed can be found in poor soil where few other plants can grow. Improving the soil and adding plants that spread densely will force the bindweed out of the bed…*

Once “spiritual weeds” have infiltrated our hearts, our fellowship, our relationships, they can be difficult to uproot. However, just like bindweeds, the enemy cannot compete with good soil and “aggressive” plants. Bindweeds and Morning Glory thrive in poor soil. But they struggle to survive in good soil and among strong plants.

Do you want to get the flowering weeds and choking vines out of the cracks and crevices of your heart, your fellowship, your relationships? Cultivate good soil and strong plants…Study God’s Word, prayerfully apply it to your life…strive to surround yourself with “strong plants,” …individuals who divide God’s Word rightly, have a strong prayer life...individuals who seek to listen to and obey the voice and leading of God's Holy Spirit and holds you accountable to do the same.

Don’t get tricked by the weeds…they will choke the life out of you!
*Information about the weeds obtained from

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Shepastor: "Prayers for Our Communities, Nation and World..."

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14, KJV

…For the families and loved ones of individuals killed for any reason
…For a shift from an ever increasing irreverent, insensitive and violent atmosphere to one of health, understanding, peace and love
…For our children who are confused about right and wrong in this season
…For the changing of unjust systems that continue to oppress, disenfranchise and marginalize
…For The Church to open doors for men and women to serve equally
…For national and international missionaries as they carry the good news of Jesus Christ to “the uttermost parts of the world”
…For our armed service men and women as they work hard to protect our Nation and world
…For “Black Lives” and “Blue Lives” for healing, justice and “the common good”
…For the impoverished, abused, neglected, forgotten
…For our upcoming Presidential, State and Local elections

Hear our prayers Oh Lord, incline thine ear to us and grant us thy peace…

Post a comment or send me an email at
Until next Wednesday,

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris