Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Shepastor: “Choices Have Consequences…”

Samuel's Warning Against Kings
10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots.12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men[a] and your donkeys, and put them to his work.17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

The Lord Grants Israel's Request
19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” I Samuel 8: 1-22a, ESV

When we repeatedly ignore God’s warnings in our personal lives and in the life of a nation, when we demand our own way instead of God’s way, when we “lean to our own understanding,” our choices create our reality. In demanding a king, Israel rejected God’s manner of leadership for their nation. While Samuel’s sons’ dishonest ways precipitated the leaders to demand a king, they chose to ignore God’s warnings through Samuel that their solution to the problem was ill advised.

More than disgust with Samuel’s sons, the national leaders wanted to be more like surrounding nations. They wanted kings instead of God’s representatives – judges. The Lord gave them what they wanted. They had no idea that one foolish, arrogant decision to reject God’s direction would haunt them for generations to come. Reaping season is long and hard. Seeds sown in seasons of foolishness produce fruit that can negatively impact not only your life, but the lives of generations yet unborn. Like individuals, nations can experience the same painful consequences of rejecting God’s call to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.

We cannot control everything. We certainly cannot control the choices of others. Through prayer, faith, education and wisdom, we can, however, make choices that are aligned with the ways of the Lord. Honoring God with our lives and in the choices that we make will not exempt us from all pain and misfortune. Walking in the paths of righteousness, mercy, love and truth will lead us in the way of peace and being whole.

Choose wisely, not only for your own sake, but for the sake of those coming after you.

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Shepastor: “The Fruit of Barren Seasons…”

5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
Luke 1: 5-7, KJV

Zacharias and Elisabeth were old. No doubt they had accepted the fact that their “season” had passed and they would probably never become parents. They served in pain. In subsequent verses we learn that the angel Gabriel came to Zacharias while he was performing his priestly duties in the temple and informed him that a change was coming…his wife Elisabeth would conceive and bare a son.

I imagine that Zacharias may have felt that he’d been inhaling too much incense! His doubt produced a seemingly harsh sentence. He would not be able to speak until the promise came forth. Seasons of being barren can carve out deep caverns of sorrow, embarrassment, confusion, reticence and resignation. Barren seasons can produce iron clad locks upon our hearts and minds in which doubt and fear become the formidable door keepers.

At times, God imposes silence upon us so that we do not speak against the blessings that are coming our way. Our own words can “curse” our outcome. If Zacharias conveyed his doubt and angst to Elisabeth, she may have never conceived John. That doubt and fear had to be quarantined!

Sometimes the vision of blessings to come appear so impossible that we shut down. It is too emotionally costly to invest in believing, hoping and trusting, so we shut down. Much like the physiological reaction of shock during trauma to protect our psyche and other body parts, the Lord, at times allows us to go into “shut down mode” in order to protect us from ourselves. Our momentary “emotional paralysis,” however, does not stop God’s activities behind the scenes on our behalf.

Some translations start verse 7 with the conjunction, “but” they had no child… I like the King James’ translation that begins with a different conjunction, “and” they had no child…

The conjunction “but” suggests something to the contrary. The conjunction “and,” however, suggests that something else is on the way! In other words, when one translation says that they were “righteous and blameless” before the Lord, “but she was barren,” it suggests that her barreness was in direct contradiction to her righteous life or living.

“You are righteous, you are holy, you are clean before the Lord, why are you barren? Something surely must be wrong with you.” Why aren’t you producing? Why can’t we see your fruit? You appear to be righteous but your apparent condition is in direct contradiction to who you are supposed to be.

Have you ever felt barren? Have you ever experienced a season of dearth, “fruitlessness,” an empty womb if you will? We learn from this text and several others that being righteous and walking blamelessly before the Lord does not exempt us from seasons of being barren…seasons of feeling like we aren’t accomplishing anything, giving birth to anything, producing anything. Yes even in the life of the righteous there are seasons of flowerless, leafless, fruitless trees. I’m not speaking of the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, self-control, meekness, humility. Those fruits should be budding on our proverbial trees daily. I’m speaking now of the fruit of expectation...the production or coming forth of things we’ve been praying for, longing for, waiting for, preparing for. Sometimes it just seems like it will never happen. Sometimes it feels like it will never come to pass.

Can you really blame Zacharias for asking the angel what in the world he was talking about? We beat up on Zacharais for not really believing the angel but can you imagine if it were you? I imagine that Zacharias and Elisabeth had just accepted their plight. Their season of expectation had ended, or so they thought. The Lord had an “and” in the plan! The Lord had something else on the way! They Lord had delayed their blessing. The Lord had not denied their blessing!

You may have what feels like a barren womb right now…you may feel like God has but a big red “X” on your dreams, your vision, on your hope for a brighter future…but God wants you to know that your blessing, your healing, your deliverance, your breakthrough has not been denied, it’s just been delayed!

In Elisabeth’s case, she didn’t know it but she was about to carry the forerunner to Jesus. Elisabeth and Zacharias didn’t know it but they were designated to play a major role in the preparation for the savior of the world to make his grand entrance. They didn’t know it but they had been selected by God the Father Almighty to give birth to a great prophet, teacher and evangelist, John the Baptist.

Elizabeth didn’t know it but the Lord wanted the baby in her womb to bare witness to the baby in Mary’s womb and for that to happen, God had to delay her pregnancy so that a young, struggling, fearful Mary could have a mentor, an encourager, a witness to what the angel told Mary she was about to bring forth!

You may not realize it but sometimes God delays your blessing, your healing, your produce, your break through because God wants to use what he’s about to do in you to help
encourage, affirm and lift up that which is about to be birthed in somebody else!
You may feel like it’s too late…you may feel like there’s no point in holding onto your expectations, but God is saying “I’ve got something that’s about to leap in your womb!” Your blessing has not been denied. Your blessing has just been delayed! The blessing may not come about they way that you think that it should or in the form that you expect, but God’s blessings over your life have not been cancelled! At the right time, in the right place, during the right season, with the right people around, in the right context, for the right purpose, your fruit will produce. Your healing will be made manifest. Your breakthrough will break out, your deliverance is on the way!!!

You may be in a season of feeling barren – AND something else is coming…AND your expectation is going to be fulfilled…AND whatever God has planned for you will exceed your greatest vision and hope and dream – your blessing has not been denied, it’s only been delayed!

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Shepastor: "Lessons from Trees..."

Psalm 92: 12-15, NIV

12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

"Trees"

“I think that I shall never see
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.”

-Joyce Kilmer, 1913

Trees are spoken of many times in Scripture

The Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden
The Juniper Tree that Elijah ran and sat under when he was depressed
The Tree upon which Absalom’s hair became caught in the thicket
The Tree that bears fruit
The Tree that Jesus cursed
The Tree of Life

Scripture uses trees to teach us many lessons. But in our particular text for today, the Psalmist lifts up two trees:
The Palm Tree
The Cedars of Lebanon

The Psalmist said that the righteous shall flourish like a Palm Tree. What is so special about a Palm Tree?
- Palm Trees are tall, majestic and beautiful
- Palm Trees are resilient. They flourish even in drought because of their deep root system
- Palm Trees are able to withstand hurricanes and massive storms because they know how to bend

The Psalmist also likened the righteous unto the Cedars of Lebanon.
-The Cedars of Lebanon stood 120 feet tall and 30 feet wide.
-They were firmly rooted and were very strong. They were so high that they could see far above the city out into distant lands. The Psalmist said that the righteous, like the Cedars of Lebanon are firmly planted and they flourish in the courts of the Lord. They continue to bear fruit even in their old age. They stay fresh and green.

Sometimes we have to be like Palm Trees, getting our thirst quenched by our deep root systems. During times of spiritual drought, our “roots” must be deep…deep enough to help us to reach the living water of hope in Christ, resilient through adversity, encouraged by remembering those who have gone before us…Like a palm tree, we must learn how to be flexible. There are times when we must learn how to bend down and be humble. We must bend, but not break during the storm.

Sometimes we’ve got to be like the Cedars of Lebanon. Sometimes we must stand firm, stand tall and stand strong. We’ve got to learn how to be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, in as much as we know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.

We’ve got to stand tall and stand strong. In order to do that, we must be firmly planted in the courts of the Lord. The courts of the Lord, the house of the Lord, the ways of the Lord, the Word of the Lord. is In Psalm 1, the righteous are described as “blessed…” not walking in the council of the ungodly, or standing in the way of sinners, or sitting in the seat of the scornful.” The righteous delight in the law of the Lord and meditate upon it both day and night. This behavior makes them like “a tree planted by the rivers of water.” Their leaves don’t whither and whatever they do shall prosper. Conversely, the ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drive the away...”

The Lord is looking for those who will be like trees, Palm Trees, Cedars of Lebanon who know how to be resilient through Christ, who know how to bend and be flexible, but also who know how and when to stand tall, stand firm and will not move.

Over two thousand years ago, there was another tree. Jesus was crucified on that tree and died for all of our sins. He went through the agony, the separation from his Father, the shame and the blame. He went all of that so that we might have a right to the tree of life. We all will one day leave this earth, and give an account of the things we have done in this body. The most important this will be whether or not we accepted Christ as our Savior and embraced the lessons of trees…

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Shepastor: “Revisiting 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
...For Families at the border, children and parents who are being ripped apart and being treated inhumanely
...For our current president to reconsider and reverse his stance on using defenseless children as pawns to “build a wall...”

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

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com
Until next Wednesday,

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Shepastor: "The Blessing of Refreshers..."

15 You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.
16 May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. 17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. 18 May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.
2nd Timothy 1: 15-18

From beverages to skin products and vacations, “refreshers” are in high demand! When people are feeling heavy (in body, mind or spirit), hot and bothered, or down, things that refresh are welcomed in. Even computers have a “refresh” mechanism to re-start or do- over the page.

Refreshments quench thirst, uplift, boost and revive. Refreshments can help to push the “re-set” button when things go awry. Refreshments enhance life. After mentioning “Phygelus and Hermongenes,” two men who apparently deserted Paul at a time when he needed them most, he goes on to talk about “Onesiphorus,” who “often refreshed” Paul and was not ashamed of his chains. Furthermore, Onesiphorus “searched hard” for Paul until he found him. He helped Paul in many ways (2nd Timothy 1: 16-18).

Many pastors have had their share of individuals who like “Phygelus and Hermogenes” have deserted them right when they were most needed. Many, however, have not experienced “Onesiphorus…” a “refresher.” Could that be why so many pastors experience burnout, depression, thoughts of leaving the ministry, poor health and family struggles?

Each pastor needs at least one refresher in the ministry where they serve…someone who pays attention to “where they are.” In other words, someone who is sensitive to their need for rest, encouragement and support. The size of the church does not matter. Whether large, mid-sized or small, the work of the pastor is a difficult task.

Don’t wait until “pastor appreciation month” to bless and encourage your pastor. Ask the Lord to help you to be a refresher…one who is sensitive to the pastor’s human condition. Pay attention to things that need to be done around the church and/or within the ministry. Don’t wait to be asked to help. Can you help clean the building? Can you call and encourage those who are sick and shut in? Can you offer to take the pastor on pastoral visits so that they don’t have to drive? Can you help out in the office by sorting files or answering the phone or offering some other kind of assistance? Does the pastor have to ask you two or more times to complete tasks that you have agreed to do? What can you do to help lighten the pastor’s load?

How can you be a refresher? Ask the Lord to use you to help and refresh your leadership today.

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Shepastor: “Suicide is NEVER the right option…”

5 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. II Corinthians 5:1, KJV

This week the world lost a great, creative, innovative and beautiful woman, in the person of Kate Spade. Her iconic hand bags were worn by women world-wide…classy, simple, timeless. It would appear that she had it all – fame, finances, family. We don’t know what drove her to take her own life. We just don’t know.

In light of this tragedy, it is important for us to think about the painful reality of suicide. Many are walking around filled with pain, sorrow, depression, melancholia, mental and physical maladies that press people to believe that the only way out is to leave the world. Suicide is a lie from the pit of Hell! In addition to the pain and agony that taking your life causes those who love and cherish you (yes, you are loved and cherished whether you believe it or not), the bitter irony is that the body dies, but the soul lives on. The body may die, but the soul is everlasting. The body returns to dust. The soul returns to God.

Suicide strips you of the ability to do anything. Suicide, contrary to the lies of the enemy, will not produce peace…only pain, agony and frustration for everyone involved. Suicide IS NEVER THE ANSWER, THE OPTION, THE WAY OF ESCAPE. Choose life.

May we share love, encouragement, support and prayer generously.
If you think of someone, pray for them. If someone is on your heart, if possible, call them. Let people know how much they mean to you and to others. Dowse the negativity. People get enough of that daily! Accentuate the positive. Show love, give love, be love. You never know who is just one step away from stepping into the abyss…

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
“We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.” (retrieved from https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ )
1-800-273-8255

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Shepastor: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road…

7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Revelations 21: 7, KJV

“Lions and tigers and bears, OH MY!!!” That was the refrain chanted by Dorothy and her friends as they traveled along the famous (or infamous) yellow brick road in the 1939 movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” Having been caught up in a tornado, bumping her head and falling into a deep sleep, Dorothy awakens in the magical land of Oz. However, the beauty and enchantment of the land does not phase her. All she really wants is to get home.

You have to watch the movie for the rest of that story…Today I’d like to focus upon the proverbial “yellow brick roads” that we find ourselves on, trying to “get home,” or just trying to get somewhere in this life! The journey can be scary tiresome and tedious. Along the way we meet people who are insecure, arrogant (but inwardly cowards) and rusty. However, they too are in search of something, wondering if they will ever have what they long for.

We also encounter “lions and tigers and bears.” Sometimes in the form of adversaries, sometimes in the form of obstacles and sometimes in the form of our own internal struggles. But along the way, God places markers, encouragers, glimmers of hope, sparks of light, help from above that pushes us onward. We just have to remain on the path – not a yellow brick road, but the path of faith, the path of endurance, the path of righteousness, the path of hope, the path of Love, the path of Jesus Christ.

God will give us overcoming power if we will put our faith, hope and trust in Him. Stand upon His Word. Build yourself up on your most holy faith! Don’t allow the ugliness of others to deter you. God will lead you on the straight and narrow path. Through Christ, you will make it home!

Enjoy this song,
“He that Overcometh Shall Inherit All Things…” By the Gospel Music Workshop of America

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czDHS_-t-6g

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com
Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Shepastor: “Rain Can Be Beautiful, Depending Upon Where You Stand…”

1The LORD then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”
5And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him
. Genesis 7:1-5, NIV

Leviticus 26:3-4, NIV
'If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit.

When I was growing up, I can remember hearing older people talking about knowing that rain was coming because their joints would begin to ache. As the years have passed, I can now relate to what they were saying! Rain and cloudy days impact me differently now.

As a child I enjoyed seeing the oily puddles on the ground, infused with gasoline from my dad’s car and thinking that the iridescent colors were mini rainbows. I remember jumping in those puddles, making mud cakes and tossing rocks to make a big splash. Rain was fun. Rain was interesting. Rain was not a problem, except when I couldn’t go outside due to thunder and lightning! But as I have gotten older, rainy and cloudy days can bring me down. My joints ache, my energy feels zapped and I just want to stay in bed! From this “new” vantage point, I no longer see rain as fun. So imagine my surprise when my daughter bounds into the room, carefree and happy and declares, “Mommy, isn’t the rain beautiful? Sometimes, rain can be beautiful!”

As always, her innocent words carried me to another place. I began to think about rain being synonymous with blessings – except for the great flood. In Genesis, God used rain to “wipe the earth clean,” from the wickedness of the sinful. Subsequently however, doing so grieved God’s heart. He gave us the rainbow as a promise and a reminder that He would never use that method again. From that time forward, rain blessed the earth with fruitfulness, healing and new life. Yes, rain can be beautiful!

Without rain, we experience drought. Without rain, new blossoms can’t form. Without rain, clean water can’t be caught. Without rain the ground would become hard and cracked. Without rain we would die.

Though inconvenient at the time, rain is beautiful. As the “rain” falls in your life, remember that blossoms, new life, rich soil and an abundant harvest are each on the way!

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Shepastor: "Point Your Remote in the Right Direction..."

"I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word
and have not denied my name."
Revelation 3:8, NIV

The other weekend my family and I spent the day in another city, walking through a mall, seeing sites, going to a movie and finally out to dinner. It was a beautiful day! When we came out of the movie, we walked towards our car and I pushed the "open door" button on the remote. Usually, I can hit the button from a far distance and the door will still unlock. The closer we got to the car, the more puzzled I became. The lights were not flashing and the doors were not unlocking. We have a new car and the remote should not need a battery so soon! As we approached the car, I pulled on the door and it still was locked. I was baffled! Suddenly my husband declared, "Honey, this is not our car!" It looked JUST LIKE our car. It was the same color and the same make. When I looked inside, however, the interior was different. Our car was a few cars down, lights on and doors unlocked!

Immediately, I thought about how this example relates to life. I was pointing my remote in the wrong direction. I was insisting that something was mine that was not. I was pulling on a door that did not belong to me. Yet, WHAT WAS MINE was just down the way. The lights were on and the doors were open! How often do we waste our time pointing our proverbial remote in the wrong direction? How often are we wasting time pulling on the wrong door, demanding that it open, when all along God has opened OUR door for us?

God has placed before each of us open doors. Sometimes something looks so right on the outside. It looks just like what we've been hoping for and praying for. But the closer we get, we catch a glimpse of the "inside" and realize that it is not what we thought. We can miss so many wonderful opportunities because we insist on pulling on doors that for one reason or another just won't come open. We are so focused on the exterior that we miss the fact that the inside is all wrong. There is a reason that the door is not coming open. Could it be that OUR DOOR IS OPEN just down the way...just around the corner...just up the road??? If you are frustrated, feeling daunted, discouraged, defeated because of locked doors, look up. Ask the Lord to show you YOUR OPEN DOORS. I suspect your open door is just a few doors down...

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Shepastor: "A Shift in the Atmosphere..."

3 ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.Jeremiah 33:3, KJV

"In the stillness of the midnight, sacred secrets will unfold..." This refrain from the hymn, "Precious Memories," conveys a powerful truth. In your "midnight," the Lord is able to show you great and mighty things! In this verse of scripture the "hearer" is encouraged to call unto the Lord, who is able to reveal "great and mighty things" that are not known. That word of truth remains relevant today.

There will be times in your life when anxiety, frustration, confusion and feelings of being overwhelmed will happen. Maybe you are experiencing those feelings right now. God's Word in Jeremiah offers hope. Things in the "natural" may appear to remain the same. However, in the "heavenly's" the Lord is causing a shift in the atmosphere! When we bow in earnest before the throne of grace, seeking the answers we need to life's dilemmas, the Lord can transform our thinking, enlighten our mind, change our outlook and show us how to process through our valley experiences! In our midnight experiences, we learn lessons that we can never learn in the bright sunlight. In our midnight, God reveals deep truths, opportunities to minister to others and a measure of strength we never realized we have!

Sometimes the answer will come through another person - a counselor, a pastor, a friend, a child, a co-worker or even an enemy! Sometimes the Lord will speak through nature - the rustling of leaves upon the ground, birds flying through the air, flowers blossoming in Springtime, a soft, cold winter snow....and sometimes, "in the stillness of the midnight," God speaks softly to our hearts and lifts us to another level - "A SHIFT IN THE ATMOSPHERE!!!"

Don't allow your natural sight to cloud the vision of victory the Lord is preparing in high places! God can and will answer when you call. Listen, watch and remain open. You WILL WIN! A change is on the way!!! The atmosphere is shifting in your favor and for God's glory!

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Shepastor: "When Silence is LOUD..."

...a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak
, Ecclesiastes 3:7, NIV

Recently as I listened to a radio program, the hosts of the program were having a dialogue about a controversial issue. As one host passionately shared his thoughts on the matter, the other remained completely silent. Usually, the co-host would make some remark or verbal utterance that indicated either agreement, disagreement or wonderment. This time, however, was different. There was no verbal interaction at all. I thought to myself, "Wow, her silence is deafening!"

There are times when silence is loud. The empty vacuum of voicelessness can create a sound that conveys deep and sometimes troubling messages. Inappropriate silence can convey messages of consent, agreement, indifference or fear. This is particularly true during instances of injustice. It is not enough to shake our heads, silently pray or simply think about what is wrong. There are times when righteousness compels us to raise our voices and cry out on behalf of the defenseless, the marginalized, the abused and the neglected.

Speaking up is a critical aspect of being a Christian and frankly, human. Throughout history, God has used the voices of every day men and women to speak up against blatant wrong happening in the world. The Old and New Testament prophets, Joan of Arc, Sojourner Truth, Jarena Lee, Nat Turner, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Abraham Heschel, Mahatma Gandhi and Marian Wright Edelman to name a few all raised their voices to address human suffering, oppression, slavery, economic injustices, sexism, etc.

Recently movements such as Black Lives Matter, "Me Too" and Youth against gun violence are all examples of the power and importance of voice. While there are times when silence is appropriate and even necessary, silence must never be used as an excuse or a vehicle carrying indifference. We must never allow our silence to be louder than our love.
May we have the courage to speak up, speak out and stand when the silence of others is booming.

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Shepastor: "Today..."

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread
. Matthew 6: 9-11, NIV

One of the many struggles of the human existence is to remain focused on this day – today. And while some may say that particularly our young people don’t think about or don’t plan for the future because they are saturated with the “right now…” Many, however, are saturated with concerns about the future or even the past.

In consideration of this struggle, I like to think about the words of the late Ethicist, Theologian and Mystic, Dr. Howard Thurman who declared,
There is an abiding desire to know the future, to see around the corner of the days and the years. Even if we say that we will not concern ourselves with what will happen next month or next year, the shy insistence still remains – we want to know. This anxiety is the normal feeling that we face on the threshold of any new adventure. If we could be sure that all would be well, if we could have some guarantee that our present hopes would not betray us and leave us deserted and in the lonely place then we would find the peace that belongs to the contented. But life is not like that. He leads us on by paths we did not know…
If we could just see around the corner…if we could just peek through the door…if we could just see over the horizon, then we would find the peace that belongs to the contented…or would we? When I look back over my life, if I knew all that I would face before it happened, I don’t know if I would have had the courage to face those experiences. But God in His infinite wisdom chooses to keep things hidden from us until He knows we have what we need to face it.

On another note, “today” can be so frustrating because it’s not where we desire to be. For many, if we had our way, we would be somewhere else, experiencing something else, engaged in something else, doing something else. For some you are in proverbial waiting room…waiting for God to fix it, to change it, to move it, to improve it, to lift it, to take it, to make it, GRANT IT, DO IT– THE WAITING ROOM!!! For those in the waiting room, today may not feel so good. Often when we read this verse or even pray this prayer, we think of our “daily bread,” as the Lord supplying our physical needs. But our daily bread is more than physical needs – our daily bread is what we need to “feed us.”

The song write said, “Bread of Heaven, feed me ‘til I want no more…” Jesus understood the need for us to pray this prayer…give us this day our daily bread…because Jesus understood that we would be hungry…hungry for love, hungry for peace…hungry for satisfaction…hungry for healing…hungry for fulfillment…hungry for a break through…hungry for deliverance…HUNGRY!!!

Jesus knew that our hunger would cause us to lose the blessing and benefit of the day we currently have. As much as we long for tomorrow, there is nothing that we can do to rush it getting here. There are 24 hours in a day and that is that! There is nothing we can do to change the past. No matter how we long to go back and enjoy something or erase something, or fix something, we cannot – it’s the past. It’s done. It’s over. You can’t go back. But you can reap the blessings and the benefits of today.

We must learn to pray, Lord give us THIS DAY our daily bread…Lord give me what I need TODAY to satisfy my hunger. Lord give us this day what we need to fill that empty space, that pain, that struggle, that dissatisfaction – Lord give us THIS DAY the bread that will feed me until I want no more –THIS DAY do it in my heart, in my mind, in my spirit. Send your bread to fill me up.

Only Jesus can give us that kind of bread. Only Jesus can fill up the gaps that the world leaves gaping…only Jesus can teach us how to walk through the struggles of today.
Are you hungry? Are YOU hungry? The Lord wants to feed you. Jesus taught us this prayer and then he showed us what it means to be filled. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have days where the hunger pains return, but when you accept Jesus as your Savior, he teaches you how to hold onto today, make the most of today, be fulfilled with his love, his hope, his joy, his peace, his blessed assurance that he will never leave you or forsake you…the fulfillment that reminds you that your name is written in the lambs book of life and that you have eternal life.

Won’t you receive that bread today – Jesus the bread of life?

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Shepastor: "When Winter Lasts Too Long..."

3 Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5 New International Version (NIV)

The other day I heard a local meteorologist read a tweet from a viewer frustrated about the weather. It read in part, "So are we not doing Spring this year?" Many of us have been wondering the same thing! It's supposed to be Spring time, yet we are still experiencing snow showers, frozen soil, 30 degree weather and "Old Man Winter" just will not to let go!!! The Birds have come back from the south, the flowers are trying to push through the cold hard ground and we are still freezing!!!

Sometimes we feel that way about life. The winter of life seems to continue to persist. We thought that by now the "season" would have changed. We thought by now that we would have reached that goal, lost that weight, overcome that issue, conquered that struggle, paid off that debt, repaired that relationship, healed from that sickness...but for whatever reason, "Winter" is still here. During this time we are tempted to lose heart and hope. The enemy whispers into our ear, "Things will never change. You may as well give up." Rebuke those lies in the name of Jesus! Spring AND Summer, really are just around the corner!

Winter time can be depressing, gloomy and heavy. It can make you feel like staying in bed with the sheets pulled over your head. But we should take a page out of the book of God's example in nature. Each year, the birds return, the flowers push through, the trees bud and eventually, the sun shines. Yes, some plants wilt and die, but the greater majority prevail. The resilient nature of their composition and purpose pushes them forward.

For the child of God, trials, suffering, "winter," can produce perseverance, character and ultimately hope. Your winter is not without purpose. In the words of music artist Marvin Sapp, "You are stronger, wiser and better!" Your best days are ahead of you! You have learned things that "fun in the sun" could have never produced in you. Your ability to empathize with others has increased exponentially. You have discovered strength through Christ that you did not even know you possessed. HOLD ON!!! Your time of blossoming, soaring and experiencing the warm rays of the sun are on the way. By God's grace, may you press through your present experience of pain, cold and struggle. Spring and Summer are not far from your house!

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Shepastor: "Through the Eyes of a Child..."

1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. I Corinthians 11:1, NIV

On Easter Sunday, beautiful children came to worship all dressed up in their new outfits. Two of our little ones burst into our church office announcing themselves..."Hello..." It was their way of inviting me to come and see their new dresses and polished nails. Of course I obliged! They were adorable, beautiful and full of delight! I reached down, gave them a big hug and let them know how beautiful they looked and are. I was totally surprised and incredibly blessed by the response of the 3 year old... she flung open her arms (as if performing on a stage) gave me a million dollar smile and boldly declared, "I look like YOU!!!"

She sees herself in her pastor. She wants to imitate me...she believes that she looks like me (she is far cuter!!!). I suddenly had an increased awareness of my responsibility to be intentional about modeling true beauty...the beauty of Christ before our children. This baby's response caused me to think deeply about imagery and the power it wields over people in general and children in particular. Children will imitate what they see. They will follow the examples we place before them. They learn the lessons that we teach with our actions.

What are you teaching by your actions, your words, your example? Whether you realize it or not, the children in your sphere of influence are looking at you. Whether you realize it or not, your face is a mirror into which our children see themselves. May we prayerfully, lovingly and righteously provide a reflection that exudes the love and way of Christ.

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Shepastor: "Ever-Increasing Glory..."

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. II Corinthians 3:18, NIV

Some years ago, while driving home from a family trip, my daughter (who is known for pulling things “out of the sky” and making remarks) looked at me and declared, “Mommy, you are going to be so beautiful!” To which I responded, “Aris, you don’t think that I am beautiful now?” Aris went on, “Yes Mommy, but not as beautiful as you are going to be…”

While I am not quite sure what she saw or what she was thinking, her words carried my thoughts to another place. As the people of God, our desire should be to continually transform into the image of God with “ever-increasing glory.” During Holy Week, we stand on the sidelines of history, processing images of a Savior who began the week with loud hosannas and ended the week unrecognizable due to unimaginable brutality, mockery, and humiliation.

Yet Jesus endured all of these things to conquer Death, Hell and the Grave for us. What appeared to be defeat, was the dawning of a new day for humanity. Through God’s love, grace and mercy, Jesus’ willing sacrifice and the Holy Spirit’s guidance, counsel and comfort, we can walk in victory…not only in the “life eternal,” but in our everyday lives. Through Christ we are no longer slaves to the sins that bind us, but are made “free indeed!” The Law that was a school master, reminding us of our inability to flawlessly follow every “jot and tittle” becomes the usher, that carries us to the throne of grace, taking us beyond the veil.

Through Christ, we can submit to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, transforming our lives to reflect more of the love, the grace, the mercy, the peace, the joy, the beauty, the justice, the righteousness, the compassion of God.

As we march towards “Good Friday,” and ultimately, “Resurrection Morning,” may we embrace the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. May God’s ever-increasing glory be abundantly evident in our daily walk and may we know that our current beauty is merely a glimpse of what we shall be!

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Shepastor: "Drive Out the Giants..."

Allotment for Caleb
6 Now the people of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8 but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.’[a] 10 “Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” 13 Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14 So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly. 15 (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.) Then the land had rest from war. Joshua 14: 6-15, NIV

Caleb knew that this land had been promised to him. He never forgot what the Lord told Moses – that he was to give this land to Caleb. Caleb had to watch as an entire generation faded away – forty-five years before reaching his promised destination. But in spite of the long, treacherous struggle and wait, Caleb was determined to receive what God had promised him. He didn’t want just any land, he wanted the specific land that was designated for him. The “mountain” or hill country he was promised was Hebron. What was so special about Hebron?

The significance of Hebron:


-After going his separate way from his brother Lot, Abraham “pitched his tent” in Hebron
-Abraham’s wife Sarah, after her death was buried in Hebron, as were all three of the patriarchs, Jewish Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
-It became a Levitical city and a city of refuge.
-As King of Judah, Hebron was David’s royal residence, and he was anointed as king over all Israel there.
-When David became King of Judah, he chose to make Hebron Israel’s first capital city.
-Next to Jerusalem, this is the most important city in the Bible.


This was a rich land, a holy land, a historic land – a “promised land.” But in spite of all that, there remained a big issue with the land – the land STILL HAD GIANTS!!!
One might think that after having to wait all of that time, the land would have been “good to go,” care free, smooth terrain, no problem, right? Not so!!! Even though it was rich, historic, anointed, holy, BEAUTIFUL, it still had some problems – BIG PROBLEMS!!! But look at Caleb’s attitude – no matter the problem, he still not only wanted, but was willing to fight for what God had for him! Let’s think about what we can learn from this passage and Caleb’s attitude…

Things to learn from this passage:


(1) You may have to wait a while for God’s promise to come to pass
I imagine that it was no cake walk for Caleb. 45 years is a LONG TIME by anyone’s count. But Caleb was a man that wholeheartedly followed the Lord. When he received God’s guidance and promise given through Moses, he didn’t buck up against Moses, he didn’t go against Moses with the rest of the eight spies,he grabbed hold to God’s promises and ran with them. You will not be able to stand on God’s promise, stand firm against a majority who are fearful, doubtful, pessimistic, and contrary unless you wholeheartedly follow the Lord. You will not be able to hold on and hold out for God’s best for your life if you are “half steppin” with your faith. Coming to church every now and then, praying every now and then, barely if ever studying God’s Word, living in ways that you know go against what God’s Word teaches about holy living…Jesus said, “a little leaven, leveneth the whole lump.” A pinch of yeast can cause an entire loaf of bread to rise because of its potency. That is the thing with sin, disobedience, bad attitudes, rebellious spirits, foolish pride, unholy behaviors, etc. When you allow seeds of sin to take root in your heart you undermine the seed of faith, hope, love, trust, truth in your own heart. The thorn-bushes of sin will crowd out any seed of faith, hope and righteousness that propel you into having “Caleb-like” faith – a faith that helps you to hold on to the promises. We’ve got to nurture and build our faith so that we can hold onto God’s promises and receive that which He has promised – not just any old thing, but God’s best for us, a “Hebron blessing!”

(2) There are still giants in the “promised land”

Another thing we learn from this text is that even when we receive the promise, proverbial giants will often still be in the land. You finally land your “dream job” only to find out that the person or persons you have to work with are mean, jealous and undermining. You finally get your new home, only to find out the previous owners nor the realtor told you all of the expenses you would have fixing hidden problems. You finally get out of prison only to find out that you can’t find a job. You finally reach your educational goal, but now you’ve got to pay back student loans. You finally get what you’ve been waiting for only to find out that THERE ARE GIANTS IN THE LAND!!!

Be prepared for the giants. In other words, understand that in this world we will have tribulation, but Jesus said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” There will always be something that you will have to overcome. There is no perfect place, there is no perfect job, there is no perfect relationship, there is no perfect church, there is no perfect human beings…everybody and every place has some kind of issues. If you run away, you will still face issues because you can’t run from yourself and believe it or not WE ALL HAVE ISSUES!!! Don’t relinquish what God has for you in your promised place because of challenges, because of trials, because of discouragement. Learn from Caleb who declared, 12 Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

Our third and final lesson,
(3) With the help of the Lord you can drive them out…

My father always used to encourage me by saying, “Chrissy, life could never be that hard. Always say to yourself, ‘With the help of Almighty God, I can make it!’” Caleb in our text recognized the giants. He called them by name. He acknowledged their strength, but then he affirmed his faith that even though they were strong, with God’s help, he could and would drive them out because God said that the land belonged to him! Learn how to claim your territory. Name your giants. Recognize what your problems, your issues, your stumbling blocks, your challenges, your weaknesses. When you know what they are and you can name them, then you can move on from there and process through understanding its strength. In other words, we’ve got to be strategic about facing and defeating our giants.

You cannot defeat or overcome your issues if you are unwilling to name them, understand their strength and then strategize on how to drive them out. You’ve got to name your issues. Don’t under estimate the strength, the pull the current power whatever it is has over you. For some, the giant is anger and hostility…can’t control your emotions. For some the giant is low self-esteem…because you don’t understand and embrace the beauty of who God made you to be you are ever comparing yourself, ever under-rating yourself, ever insecure about yourself. For some the giant is perpetually making bad choices. You don’t stop and think things through. You don’t pay attention to warning signs. You don’t look before you leap!

We all have giants. But with the help of the Lord, we can drive them out. It does not matter how old you are. God can help you to name, face and defeat the giants that seek to oppress and overpower you, blocking you from having the best blessings that God has for your life, for your family, for your household, your marriage, your children, your finances, your relationships. God will help you to name, face and ultimately drive out the giants that are holding you down, dragging you back, controlling you with heart ache and fear.

Do you want to drive the giants out? Learn from Caleb in our text…wholeheartedly follow the Lord – stop half steppin. Give your life, your heart, your mind, your mouth, your will, your finances, your whole self to the Lord. Do you want to drive out the giants? Stop playing games with God and yourself. Name your issues. Deal with them through prayer, faith, a decision to change and therapy is necessary. Deal with your giants! Do you want to drive the giants out? Take hold of God’s promises over your life. No matter how long it takes, no matter how difficult it may seem, no matter who does or does not stand with you – hold to God’s unchanging hand – follow God with your whole heart – trust and obey and God will give you what you need to be victorious in every arena of your life!

Post a comment or send me at email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Shepastor: “For the Common Good…”

11A person’s wisdom yields patience;
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
Proverbs 19:11, NIV

It is not always easy to “overlook an offense.” Our natural inclination (at least for me) is to either say something or withdraw. Frequently, relationships are strained or broken because of offenses. Through observation, however, I am learning the benefits of overlooking offenses.

Let me hasten to say that some offenses CANNOT be overlooked…abuse, sexual or racial attacks, bullying etc. These issues must be addressed head on and must not be tolerated.
But there are other offenses that we should learn to move past and work through. I am always impressed to take note of individuals who have learned the delicate art of moving beyond an offence to work with others to accomplish good.

For example, people with opposing political views coming together to work on a community project to help many… acquaintances who just “rub one another the wrong way,” putting aside their differences to share their expertise to help educate or inform others…pastors and leaders who don’t ordinarily “run in the same circles” or who have different approaches to addressing issues, coming together on one particular thing to help advance a cause.

Can you overlook an offense in order to reach a higher goal, address a pressing issue, attend to a major problem? Can you push past your offense in order to make a greater impact for good? How adept are you, through prayer, patience and discernment at “picking your battles?”

May we pray for the wisdom and discernment to address those issues that need addressing and overlook those issues that get in the way of our doing common good.

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Shepastor: “The Glass Slipper Does Not Fit…”

Now this is what the LORD says--the one who created you, Jacob, and the one who formed you, Israel--"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1, Christian Standard Bible

There is so much pressure on people to “fit in.” The other day while riding along in the car, my thirteen year old daughter and I had an interesting discussion about “misfits.” She asked me what I thought the term meant.

Out of the blue, she declared, “The glass slipper does not fit…” The phrase, borrowed from Cinderella struck me. In the fairy tale, a prince came and rescued the beautiful young lady who was being mistreated, abused and oppressed; but for many, no such “rescuer” appears. Maybe they appeared and left because of unfulfilled expectations. Rejection, bullying, mean words and abuse have many walking around thinking, “the glass slipper does not fit…no prince is coming for me!” But there is One who has chosen us, calls us by our name and claims us as His own…the LORD!

It is critical that we teach not only our children and youth, but all ages the importance of knowing who we are…who we really are. If our identity is based only upon what others think or say, we will ever be mired in uncertain and untenable frames of mind. Although it is easier said than done, we must daily remind ourselves and those we influence to find their true identity in Christ.

As the people of God, we will never truly “fit”…being “in the world, but not of the world (John 15:19).” Our differences, however, are beautiful, a breath of fresh air, salt and light.
The ugly duckling is really a swan. The lowly caterpillar is evolving into a beautiful butterfly. The misfit is actually an anointed, gifted, creative, stunning blessing waiting for God’s appointed time to emerge from beneath the ash heap of ignorance and fear cast upon her.

Forget the glass slipper! The real Prince has a crown waiting for you and in this life, a world waiting to experience your unique glory and splendor! Learn who you are in Christ and then go and be your best self ever, to the glory of God!

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Shepastor: “Let Your FIRST Step Be Prayer…”

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly
. Psalm 5:3, NIV

Before I look at my text messages, jump onto Facebook or even begin a conversation with my family, I look to meet first with the Lord in prayer. In recent days, people have become frustrated with those who are using the refrain, “We are keeping everyone in our thoughts and prayers…”

Yes, the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous avails much. Yes there is GREAT power in prayer. But prayer is not the end…prayer is the beginning. It is the first step in seeking God’s guidance, strength, courage, and wisdom to address whatever life brings our way. Prayer is the first step in putting feet to our faith.

The Psalmist declares that the Lord will hear his voice in the morning. In other words, the Psalmist wants to give God the first of his day. He then “waits expectantly” for God’s response. How many foolish decisions have we made because we didn’t “meet God in the morning” and wait for His response? How many opportunities have we missed because we dashed out of the door and didn’t check in to “get our assignment” for the day?

What’s first on your agenda? Who receives the first fruits of your heart and your lips? If you are not in the habit of meeting God first, at the very first part of your day, try it out and see how your journey changes…

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com
Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Shepastor: “I’m Overwhelmed…I Can’t Do it…Oh, Yes I Can!!!”

Hear My Cry; Listen to My Prayer
1{To the chief Musician upon Neginah, A Psalm of David.} Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
2From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.
Psalm 61: 1-3, KJV

If your heart has ever been overwhelmed, not with joy, but with stress, pain, “work overload,” etc., then you can identify with the psalmist. There have been occasions when I lay in my bed and wonder how in the world am I going to accomplish, get through, get over whatever it is I’m dealing with. There are days when I feel like picking up the phone or sitting down at the computer to send an email to say to whomever, “Sorry, I just can’t get this done…”

Yes, there are times when we must pull back, say “No,” scale down responsibilities. Particularly in ministry, we can fall into becoming a “Jack of all trades and master of none!” But there are also time when we have been called, anointed and appointed to carry out specific responsibilities. It is our time and our season to lead, to accomplish, to fulfill. It can be OVERWHELMING!!!

At those times, we must learn to pray like the psalmist, “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Sometimes being overwhelmed is not the pressure of external forces, but rather internal stressors, telling us, “you can’t do it, you are not strong enough, you don’t have what it takes, just give it over to someone else.” Could it be that our own fears and insecurities are blocking the energy and creativity we need to get it done?

When we lay our cares, concerns, responsibilities, and heart bare before the “Rock,” Jesus, our Lord and our Savior, He will give us the peace, wisdom and fortitude we need to do those things that we are being called to do. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed because we are being stretched…pulled out of our comfort zone. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed because we are being challenged to grow and go higher than where we currently are.

With the help of the Lord, YOU CAN DO IT…YES YOU CAN!!! Today, I encourage you to examine the source of your feelings. If it
is truly something that you need to release, turn over to someone else, forget, etc., the Lord will give you the insight, courage and peace to do so. But if it is the enemy of your soul, seeking to distract, intimidate, overwhelm and push you off the path of your destiny, RESIST, look to the Rock that is higher and by faith “keep on keepin on!” For the Lord is your shelter and strong tower from the enemy!

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Shepastor: “New Wine Skins…”

"And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved." Matthew 9:17, NLT

Earlier today a talk show host was interviewing a member of the “Geek Squad,” on how to improve computer performance. The young man suggested that many of our computers are slow, sluggish and performing poorly because we need to clean out our “cookies” and empty our “recycle bins.”

For those who don’t work on computers, “cookies” are like file cards that remind your computer of various sites that you’ve visited. The “recycle bin” is where files go when you’ve deleted them. They don’t go away completely until you empty the virtual recycle bin.

When these old files are “junking up” your computer, it makes it difficult for the computer to process and correctly apply new information. In a similar way, the religious leaders who opposed Jesus were filled with old ways of thinking and living. Their traditions had overtaken their way of understanding God’s Word and God’s way. They were more concerned about their way, than God’s way.

As a result, they could not receive the new covenant being offered to them through Christ. They rejected the “new wine,” of love, deliverance and salvation. They needed a new heart in order to receive the new way.

During the Lenten season, God’s people have an opportunity to reflect, repent and renew our relationship with the Lord. During the forty days of focused prayer, sacrifice and service, we have an opportunity to empty our proverbial “recycle bins…” asking the Lord to help us get rid of some old ways, old thoughts, old behaviors that maybe still hanging around. We need to “empty the trash” of our hearts so that we can receive the “new wine” that Christ has for us in this season.

What do you need to empty out of your spiritual system? What old issues, thoughts, hurts, disappointments, frustrations, fears, etc., do you need to discard? As we begin Lent today, may we ask the Lord to remove those things that are blocking the new, the fresh, the clean, the beautiful that God wants to bring into our lives. May the Lord bless you as you begin your Lenten journey…

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Shepastor: "A Lenten Litany for the Beloved Community..."

Several years ago, I was asked to prepare a litany for a community Lenten Service. Below are the words I was inspired to prepare. May they be a blessing to you and those you serve...

“A Lenten Litany for the Beloved Community”

Leader: During this Lenten Season, we remember our Savior’s ministry, life, death and the horrific pain he endured, not only physically, but in his spirit as he took upon himself the sins of the world. We remember how you wept over the unbelief of your people, the hypocrisy of the religious leaders, the neglect and the marginalization of the oppressed.

People: Lord, help us to see ourselves and others as you see us.

Leader: Today we remember that Jesus was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him and with his stripes we are healed. With this in mind, let us rededicate ourselves to his ministry of teaching and his way of demonstrating love, peace and understanding of the social conditions of all humankind.

People: Lord, help us to become more committed to improve the conditions of poor and oppressed people and all God’s people.

Leader: All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. All of our righteousness is as filthy rags. Through the blood of Jesus, however, we can be washed clean. Through the power of his Holy Spirit, we can be made whole. Through the love of Christ, we can become all that God has created us to be.

People: Lord help us to remember that you have not called us to a “religion,” but a “relationship.” Help us to be in right relationship first with you and then with one another.

Leader: Lord, you have called us to be the “beloved community,” to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with you. You have called us to free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who are over worked, and to let the oppressed go free.

People: Lord, you have called us to share our food with the hungry, give shelter to the homeless, clothe those who are naked and not hide from those who need our help. May we work together, not only to give immediate help, but to correct systems that keep the poor oppressed.

In Unison: Lord, help us to become the beloved community that you came for, lived for, died for, rose for and for whom you will come again!

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope, Love and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Shepastor: "Have You Lost Your Song?"

5Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
6They spread a net for my feet—
I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah
7My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
8Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
9I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
10For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
11Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
Psalm 57: 5-11, NIV


The Hebrew writers did not have one word for the term “praise,” but rather they used various, specific words, depending upon the message that they were attempting to convey to the reader and or listener. In Psalm 57, the Psalmist uses the Hebrew term, “Zamar.”

Zamar means "to pluck the strings of an instrument, to sing, to praise; a musical word which is largely involved with joyful expressions of music with musical instruments.”

Back in the late 70’s/ early 80’s an R & B group named Earth, Wind and Fire had a song called, “Sing a Song”

The lyrics said,

When you feel down and out
Sing a song, it'll make your day…

Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles and James Cleveland declared,

Without a song the day would never end
Without a song the road would never bend
When things go wrong a man ain't got a friend
Without a song…

...I'll never know what makes the rain to fall
I'll never know what makes that grass so tall
I only know there ain't no love at all
Without a song


Even Elmo, in his dvd, “Welcome to Grouch Land,” sings the 70’s group the Carpenters tune…

Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good things not bad
Sing of happy not sad
Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not
Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song



All of these songs have a common theme – songs of the heart greatly contribute to the health and sustainability of life. Proverbs 17:22 declares, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Proverbs 18: 14 declares, “A man's spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?”

It appears that the Psalmist had every reason to have a crushed spirit. Enemies had stolen “his song.” In verse 4 of our text, Psalm 57, the Psalmist declared,

4I am in the midst of lions;
I lie among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords


The Psalmist describes his circumstance as being “amidst lions, ravenous beasts, men whose teeth are as spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp as swords… He’s in a bad place. Have you ever experienced the pain of being attacked by mean spirited people? Not necessarily physically attacked, but having your character attacked, your name dragged through the mud, your motives questioned, your every move considered suspect. Have you ever experienced a jealous co-worker or sibling, an insecure mentor or boss, an envious relative, a cruel bully – if you have, then you can relate to the psalmist.

The pain inflicted by the tongue sometimes lasts years longer than any bruise caused by a physical punch. The feeling that someone is waiting to pounce on you, so to speak by speaking cruel words, or by plotting to get you removed or in trouble can break your spirit and make you feel sick. The Psalmist said that these enemies seemed to be as ravenous beasts – their treatment of him felt like a wild animal was tearing him from limb to limb. He was in some serious pain – He had lost his song but not for long. Something happened within the Psalmist. He began to speak in His native Hebrew language and declared, “Zamar!”

Zamar means "to pluck the strings of an instrument, to sing, to praise; a musical word which is largely involved with joyful expressions of music with musical instruments.”
He stepped over the pain of attacks and climbed up to platform of his soul and began to pluck the strings of his heart and declared,

5Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
6They spread a net for my feet—
I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah


In the text you see the instruction, “Selah” that is not to be spoken or pronounced, it is an instruction to pause and think about what was just said. The Psalmist said, “They spread a net for my feet – I was bowed down in distress – they dug a pit in my path – but they have fallen into it themselves.” And then, he stops and thinks about what God has done and declares…

7My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.


The Psalmist declared with strength, faith and determination – “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast, I will sing and make music.” You have to make up your mind to get your song back! Much in life will try to steal your song. Much in life will threaten to break your spirit, to crush your dreams, to laugh at your vision, to press down, your enthusiasm, but you’ve got to declare like the Psalmist – “Zamar!” I Will sing and make music.

Keep a song of faith in your heart. No matter what comes your way – declare, “Be exalted O God above the heavens, let your glory be over all of the earth.” In other words, the Psalmist was saying, “God be exalted over my enemies, over my situation, over my pain, over my circumstances – let your glory be over EVERYTHING that concerns me!” The Psalmist made up his mind that he was going to sing his song. He said, “Zamar!” My heart is going to be an instrument – your goodness, mercy, glory and grace is going to pluck the strings of my heart and I exalt you in my life – I exalt you in my spirit, I exalt you above all that would seek to cast me down and I will praise your name! The Psalmist declared in so many words – I will not let you steal my song!

Sing your song – exalt God in your life. Proclaim God’s glory unto yourself – exalt God in your life – refuse to accept the enemies report – Isaiah raised the question, “whose report will you believe?” Get your song back! Sing your song. Stop letting the mean spirited attacks of your enemies to pluck your heart strings. Instead, shout, “Zamar” and proclaim – “Be exalted O God above the heavens, let your glory be over my life!”

Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Shepastor: El Roi: “The God Who Sees Me”

O LORD, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up [my entire life, everything I do];You understand my thought from afar.3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And You are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Psalm 139: 1-3, Amplified Bible

Psalm 139 presents God as El Roi, “The God Who Sees Us.”
In this Psalm, David was doing some deep introspection. He was pouring out all of his feelings - the good, the bad and the ugly before God. He was, “keeping it real.” David didn’t try to hide his feelings, his struggles, his questions, even his hateful feelings toward his enemies from God, because David understood that there was no place he could run or hide from the all seeing eye of the Lord. Interestingly, he took great comfort in Knowing that God sees and knows all.

When our daughter Aris was just learning how to talk she enjoyed playing “peek - a - boo.” Sometimes she would crawl up the stairs to the landing which divided our staircase, run to the window and pull the curtains over her face, peek out with a big grin and say, “I See You!” Playing that game gave her great delight because she enjoyed hiding her face and then peeking out and saying, “I See You!”

While God is not in heaven playing peek - a - boo with us, saying, “I See You,” there are times, when we like Adam and Eve in the garden want to run and hide ourselves, run and cover ourselves, pull, if you will, a curtain over our faces because we don’t want the Lord to look at us. Sometimes we don’t even want to look at ourselves. Sometimes we wrestle with who we are, who we aren’t and who we wish we were. There are others who feel that nobody “sees” them. They feel invisible.

In Ralph Ellison’s Work, The Invisible Man, he discusses one man’s struggle to “see” himself after years of feeling invisible. The character declared…
And my problem was that I always tried to go in everyone’s way but my own. I have also been called one thing and then another while no one really wished to hear what I called myself…

This was grieved that no one cared to know him. He felt that no one ever gave him a second thought. Who he was didn’t matter - not to those who couldn’t see him…not for those who had no desire to see him. They only saw what they wanted him to be - they only saw what they carved out for him to be. Therefore, the true essence of who he was, was invisible. So he spent years of his life trying to be something he was not, living beneath who God had created him to be, trying, as June Cash, the widow of Johnny Cash used to say, “Just tryin to matter.”

So many spend their lives, never learning who God meant them to be, just tryin to matter - walking around, feeling invisible because nobody can “see” them. Some are so buried under the junk of stuff that folks have piled on them over the years that they can’t even see themselves!

But there is one who sees you! God sees us and loves us unconditionally just as we are.
While the Lord desires that we become all that we were created to be, His arms are open to receive us just as we are, where we are, however we are. Your only pre-requisite is to say “Yes” to His out stretched hand, receive Jesus as Savior and allow the Lord to cleanse you and make you whole.

You are not invisible! El Roi sees you and loves you.
God wants you to be able to see yourself as He sees you - wondrously made, gifted, beautiful, resourceful, meaningful and fit for His use. The Lord wants you to throw off all of the negativity, all of the baggage from the past, all of the mess that weighs you down and buries the real you. God wants to lift you. God wants to free you. God wants to restore you. God wants you to see yourself as He sees you – VALUABLE, BEAUTIFUL, GIFTED, AND READY TO RISE!!!

If you are struggling to know the true you, the real you, the “you” that El Roi sees, ask the Lord who knew you before the foundation of the world to open your eyes to all that God intended you to be and walk into your God appointed destiny!

I am standing in agreement with you today for GREATER!!!
Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris
www.shepastorchris.org