Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Shepastor: “Stop Demanding an Answer, Ask for Guidance…”

4 Show me the right path, O LORD;
point out the road for me to follow.
5 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.
6 Remember, O LORD, your compassion and unfailing love,
which you have shown from long ages past.
Psalm 25: 4-6, NLT

Some are of the opinion that it is never right to question God. That theology, however, does not necessarily square with scripture. Throughout the Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures, we find the people of God wrestling with questions, grappling with life’s conundrums, struggling to understand suffering and taking their queries and frustrations directly to God Himself.

Moses asked,
“Who should I say sent me?” (Exodus 3: 13)

Habakkuk asked, “How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save?” (“Habakkuk 1:2)

The Psalmist asked, “O LORD, why do you stand so far away?
Why do you hide when I am in trouble?” (Psalm 10:1)

Jesus asked, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46)

Paul asked for the thorn to be removed from his side… (II Corinthians 12:8)
Certainly, we have many and varied examples of God’s people asking him questions. Personally, I believe God welcomes our questions, our honesty, our open and frank emotions presented to him at the altar of our hearts. However, when heartfelt questions evolve into rants and demands, it may be a sign that we need to take a step back and quiet ourselves before the Lord.

Recently, as I wrestled with something for which there has not been an answer (for some time now), I found myself entering the “demand mode…” “God, what is the answer? When will things change?” I went to sleep with a heart filled with frustration.

The next morning during prayer and devotion, I was drawn to Psalm 25. Verses 4 and 5 declare,

4 Show me the right path, O LORD;
point out the road for me to follow.
5 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.

As I read the commentary on those verses, the commentator’s words spoke deeply to my spirit, “Stop demanding an answer and ask for guidance.” In that moment, I heard the Lord speak tenderly to my heart… “I see you, I know that you are frustrated…ask me for guidance and direction instead of demanding answers.” God’s peace came over me and I said, “Yes Lord, I receive your instruction.”

The place where we find ourselves at any given time is not a surprise to God. Through prayer and faith we must remember that God has allowed us to be in this space at this time for however long for a reason. Rather than banging our heads against the proverbial wall and becoming angry and frustrated with God, may we hear God’s invitation to ask for guidance.

Rather than getting stuck in “Why…How long…What good is this doing?” May we turn our hearts towards asking, “Lord, guide me through this…show me your will in this season…order my steps in your Word…help me to make wise and right choices…lead me in the way that I should go…show me how to give you glory in the midst of it all.”

If we will trust God and change our demands to humble requests for guidance, God’s peace will overtake us, God’s wisdom will guide us, God’s love will lift us and God’s Spirit will empower us.

Stop demanding an answer and start asking for guidance. God has surprises in the making!

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Shepastor: "Miles to Go Before We Sleep: Women, Keep Climbing..."

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
I Corinthians 15: 58, KJV

Women and girls across the Nation and around the world huddled around televisions, grown women held “watch slumber parties,” women adorned in pant suits waited with baited breath to witness America’s first woman to receive the nomination of a major party crash through that “highest, hardest stain glass ceiling.”

But as the night passed on and results came in, the hopes of any such victory were soon dashed. One of the most qualified individuals, male or female to ever pursue the highest office in the land was passed over, for an individual with no government experience, little or no charitable service, ill-tempered, vulgar language, predatory behaviors against women and questionable business dealings.

Although people made their voting decisions based upon a variety of reasons, not to be underestimated was the fact that America STILL is not ready to place a woman at its helm. Sexism remains a very formidable factor in doors remaining closed at the highest levels.

It feels impossible. It seems useless. But women must continue to prepare themselves, to give their highest and best, to stand firm on the truth that doing what is good, just, right and in a spirit of excellence will pay off.

Yes, it is hard to believe that in 2016 we are still “blazing trails,” and planting shade trees under which we may never sit, but may we continue to do so. May we keep climbing for all of those women who fought for our right to vote…for all of those women who fought for us to have equal rights…for all of our forbearers who knew that they would never taste the sweet dew of vistaed heights but served anyway, gave anyway, sacrificed anyway, so that they might pass the torch to some anticipated victor.

“Strong women, keep a comin,” our day will come.

May you and yours have a blessed, peaceful, joy-filled Thanksgiving!

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Shepastor: "Where Do We Go From Here?"

The Potter and the Clay
18 The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2 “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” 3 So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. 4 But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.
5 Then the LORD gave me this message: 6 “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.
Jeremiah 18: 1-6, NLT

Last Wednesday, November 9th, 2016 was a day filled with joy for some and deep mourning, sorrow and extreme disappointment for others. While that may be the case in every election in America, this time felt different. Our Nation is deeply divided. People are rioting across the country. Hate crimes are on the rise. Despair is in the air.

A member of my congregation shared that her students were raising questions about how someone who “cusses,” talks real bad about others and is a bully could become our President. Children are becoming confused about leadership and good character. Another member shared that her daughter, while pumping gas for her car at the gas station was approached by a man wearing a “Make America Great Again,” cap. She shared that he stared her daughter in the eye and declared, “Donald Trump is now the President of the United States of America. You, your family and all your kind will soon be eliminated!”

Whatever our political persuasion, we must face the reality that something very ugly, divisive and violent has been unleashed in America.

Today, one of our local clergy groups hosted a forum/panel discussion for clergy and community leaders entitled, “Where Do We Go From Here?” Leaders from across the community shared insights from scripture, history and life experiences. Questions were raised about whether or not marching and demonstrations were appropriate plans of action.

One of our “elder statesmen” and civil rights leaders shared these powerful insights…

There are several steps that civil rights leaders in the 60’s used before demonstrations:

1.Research –Information (history of the situation, previous actions and responses, precedence, outcomes…)
2.Education (voter education about issues and the critical nature of voting)
3.Mobilization (“getting out the vote,” strategically placing people to peacefully confront, show civil disobedience, in various areas)
4.Preparation (Prayer, Fasting, Discipline)
5.Action (gaining and influencing seats at “the table,” moving on agreed upon strategies)
6.Negotiation (presenting requests and or demands and processing what’s possible with "the powers that be")
7.Demonstration (If none of the above work, then march…)
8.Reconciliation (strive to bring the community together through acts of love, justice, mercy and humility)
Legitimate concerns do exist. We must, however, go about addressing those concerns in strategic, goal oriented ways.

On another note, like clay in the Potter’s hand, sometimes, things have to be “smashed” so that a new and more beautiful vessel may come forth. Being on the Potter’s wheel is never easy or comfortable. After being spun, pinched, wet, gooey and reshaped, then the vessel is ultimately dried and baked. We love the beauty of the crafted vessels, but we don’t necessarily like the “beautification process.”

God always has what’s best for us in His heart. God will, at times, allow us to reap the consequences of our foolish ways. God will, at times, give us what we demand in order that we may learn the more excellent way. There is no time like the present to preach prophetically, to remind God’s people that being on the Potter’s wheel may not be easy, but if we allow it, God will get the glory out of our lives.

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Shepastor: "Prayers For a Divided Nation..."

"If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” Mark 3:25 NASB

This past election cycle has been dubbed one of the most divisive, brutal, toxic and irreverent in recent history. Some have wondered if our Nation can ever heal from the vitriol. By faith, I make the bold declaration, “Yes We Can!!!”

If we can survive slavery, the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln, J. F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcom X, the Great Depression, the Civil Rights Movement and the breakdown of the Auto and Steel Industries, WE WILL SURVIVE THE AFTERMATH OF THIS ELECTION!!!

It will not, however, be easy. It will take intentionality and hard work.

Here are some things for us to remember and pray for moving forward…

- One of the things that sets America apart as a great nation is the peaceful transfer of power. Let us pray as leadership transitions, the process will be peaceful, respectful and hopeful

- America is more of a “stew” than a “melting pot.” While we are all “Americans,” we are distinct, valuable and an important piece of our fabric. Let us pray that we will increase in our levels of understanding, respectfulness, appreciation for and kindness towards one another

- We can accomplish so much more when we strive to work together. Let us pray that all sides will work towards the common good of all, instead of the partisan politics that have produced historic gridlock

- A divided Nation will fall. Let us pray for the minds, hearts, courage and integrity to move forward as “One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Shepastor: "Determine to Take a 'Thanks Break'..."

O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;
3 And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.
4 They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.
5 Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.
6 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.
7 And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.
8 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
9 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.
Psalm 107: 1-9 KJV

There is a popular phrase among some church goers, “Take a ‘Praise break!’” This phrase means that from time to time, one should stop whatever they are doing and begin to give God praise, glory and honor! The other day, I was inspired to commit to doing something similar…to take a “Thanks break.”

As I reached for my bible the other morning, it fell open to the verse, “Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.” Although I’ve read that verse many times, on this day, it impacted me differently. As I went throughout the day, contemplating, processing and musing…as I was tempted to complain, feel frustrated or discouraged, the Holy Spirit spoke… “Replace those thoughts instead with thanksgiving.”

All day long, when other issues tried to press in on me, I remembered the Holy Spirit’s prodding and sweet guidance to instead, take a “thanks break.”
Choosing thankfulness over frustration, anxiety, sadness and anger can be very empowering. Being thankful does not automatically erase the realities of struggle in whatever form, but it lifts your heart, mind and spirit above the fray. Thankfulness causes you to focus upon what God has already done, is doing and has assured us that he will do.

This truth was illustrated powerfully in the children’s Christmas story by Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The Grinch was confident that if he stole all of the presents, decorations and special meals prepared in anticipation of Christmas morning, that the residents of “Whoville,” would be devastated, distraught and defeated. But to his GREAT surprise, as the morning dawned, the “Whos” gathered together in a large circle, hands linked together, heads held high, voices loud with joy-filled singing, “Fahoo Fores, Dahoo Dores, welcome, Christmas, Christmas day!” That day the Grinch was taught a powerful lesson. When love and gratefulness fills one’s heart, even the meanest spirit cannot steal its joy. Thankfulness strengthens and fortifies our hearts against even the meanest, ugliest circumstances life can throw at us.

Several years ago, after an unfortunate and extended illness my god-sister died. My godmother was elderly and very ill herself. The family asked if I would be the one to break the news to her. With much prayer and sensitivity, I went to speak with her. I shall never forget her response. When I told her, her immediate response, after tears and calling my god-sister’s name was, “Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus…thank you for my daughter. She was a good daughter. Thank you Jesus for my daughter.”

My godmother’s response spoke volumes to me. In that moment of tremendous grief, she chose to thank God for giving her the gift of her daughter for a season. Thankfulness is empowering. Thankfulness gives strength. Thankfulness sharpens focus. Thankfulness fills the heart. Thankfulness is a choice.

At least one day a week, determine to replace other responses with “Thank you Lord for…” You will be surprised at how your mood, perspective and overall life experiences and outlook changes for the better!

Post a comment or send me an email at

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