Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Shepastor Highlights: “Lessons From Ants, Badgers and Lizards Part III: The Lizard…”

Over the past several weeks, Shepastor has reached back to 2014 to highlight the series, "Lessons from Ants, Badgers and Lizards." Today we focus upon the last lesson presented in that series, "Lessons from Lizards..." Enjoy...

Four Small Wonders
24-28 There are four small creatures,
wisest of the wise they are—
ants—frail as they are,
get plenty of food in for the winter;
marmots—vulnerable as they are,
manage to arrange for rock-solid homes;
locusts—leaderless insects,
yet they strip the field like an army regiment;
lizards—easy enough to catch,
but they sneak past vigilant palace guards

Proverbs 30: 24-28 the Message Translation

This is our last lesson in our three week series, “Lessons From Ants, Badgers and Lizards.” Today, Shepastor focuses upon the lizard.

From the ants we learned to be disciplined and not spiritually lazy. From the badger, a creature the Scripture refers to as “vulnerable and powerless,” we learned to build our homes “among the rocks,” and use our spiritual jaws to hold on tight and our spiritual feet and hands to “dig deep.” The lizard teaches us how to move past, “gate keepers.”

Proverbs 30: 28 in the Message translation of the Bible states,

lizards—easy enough to catch,
but they sneak past vigilant palace guards


“How in the world did you end up there?” “What right do you have to be there?” “You are not welcomed here…” These are all statements that could be made about a lizard ending up in a palace. Lizards are not the prettiest creatures. If I saw one in my house I would probably jump, scream, and call my husband or sons to come and get it out immediately! The Scripture, however, calls the lizard “wise.” Although it seems to be easily caught, it is able to get past even the strongest guards. What can we learn from the lizard? The lizard is not concerned about what people think. The lizard’s objective is to get into the palace! It is not concerned about its appearance, whether or not it belongs or even if it will be stopped. It heads for the palace.

What has hindered you from “heading for the palace?” What high and beautiful places has the Lord called you to and you have allowed the opinions of others, the negativity of others, or your own low opinion of yourself to keep you from leaping towards higher plains? When will you accept God's view of you, even above your own? Why not accept the Lord's invitation to the palace?

The lizard knows when to leap… lizards hang out in the corner until the right time. When it discerns that its chances will be best, it quietly throws its tail in the air and propels forward, leaping towards its destination. It is able to successfully move past event the strongest gate keepers.

The term, “gate keeper” conjures up images of armed guards. But gate keepers can simply be people or anything that stands in the way of you gaining entrance or access. Sometimes people are gate keepers…deliberately blocking access or entrance to other people, positions, groups, relationships, etc. Sometimes our emotions are gate keepers – blocking us from entering psychological or real arenas. If you think that gatekeepers are blocking your access to something, ask the Lord to show you when and how to “leap.”

Psalms 75: 6-7 declares,
For promotion cometh neither from the east,
nor from the west, nor from the south.
7 But God is the judge:
he putteth down one, and setteth up another



Promotion comes from the Lord.
While human beings may throw up road blocks and hindrances for a season, God ultimately can show you when, how and where to “leap” towards your “palace.” No human can stop God’s will and purpose for your life. If the gate keeper, however, is your own fear and trepidation, you must first process the reasons why and seek God’s guidance and godly counsel so that you will be able to place trust in God above your fears.

Finally, lizards swing their tails up and keep them moving…

Consider these facts about lizards:
Scientists found that the way lizards swing their tails upwards mid-leap is key to a 'safe landing' on a tree - but that throwing their tail in the air isn't enough. Lizards move their tails in mid-flight to stay stable during a leap.

University of California, Berkeley, biologists and engineers studied how lizards manage to leap successfully even when they slip and stumble, and found that swinging the tail upward is the key to preventing a forward pitch that could send them head-over-heels into a tree
(Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2082518/Leaping-lizards-use-tails-stay-upright--the.html#ixzz2vgZULChR )

Lizards turn themselves upward and keep their tails moving! Even when they slip and stumble, they continue to swing their tails upward and keep moving. We will have times of “slipping and stumbling” on our upward journey. But if we continue to turn ourselves “upward,” looking to the Lord, seeking God’s face, taking hold to the wisdom, guidance and promises of His Holy Word, by faith, we will be able to keep moving toward our God given goals.

Like the lizard, let us ignore those who suggest we shouldn’t be here or there. May we go where the Lord leads. Like the lizard, may we use godly wisdom and discernment to know when and how to leap past gate keepers. Like the lizard, may we continue to turn ourselves upward and keep on pressing toward the mark of our high calling in Christ Jesus!

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, October 3, 2018

Shepastor Highlights: "Lessons From Ants, Badgers and Lizards" A special series...

“Shepastor Highlights…”
This post first was shared in March, 2014. Today, we again revisit the series, “Lessons learned from ‘Ants, Badgers and Lizards…”

Proverbs 30:24-28
The Message (MSG)


Four Small Wonders
24-28 There are four small creatures,
wisest of the wise they are—
ants—frail as they are,
get plenty of food in for the winter;
marmots (badgers)—vulnerable as they are,
manage to arrange for rock-solid homes;
locusts—leaderless insects,
yet they strip the field like an army regiment;
lizards—easy enough to catch,
but they sneak past vigilant palace guards.


This is our second, “lesson” in our series about ants, badgers and lizards. Today’s focus is upon the badger. I confess: I know little or nothing about badgers. I’ve never even seen one! However, I was intrigued with the proverbial writer’s observation about the badger’s wisdom.

Verse 26 of Proverbs Chapter 30 in the Revised Standard Version is stated in this way…

26 the badgers are a people without power,
yet they make their homes in the rocks;


The Message Bible states it like this…

26 marmots (badgers)—vulnerable as they are,
manage to arrange for rock-solid homes;


The Bible likens badgers to “vulnerable people without power.” Bodily, badgers have short legs, are low to the ground and have to dig deep for their food. God, however, has given them extremely strong jaws and the ability to dig deep, enabling them to dig and build homes even in and among rocks.

Jesus once admonished that the “wise” are like those who build their homes on a rock… (Matthew 7: 24-25, NRSV)

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.

Despite the badger’s “vulnerabilities” and “powerlessness,” God gave it the wisdom and strength to build its home in and among rocks. They have to dig deep. Jesus declared that if we listen to and obey His words, we, like the badger will be wise and will be able to stand the tests, the storms, the adversities, the struggles of life.

There are times when life propels us into circumstances that produce feelings of powerlessness and vulnerability – things over which we have no particular control…injustices, prejudice, sexism, disease, job loss, wayward children, death, generational/familial dysfunction, etc. Yet God’s Word gives us hope…if we choose wisdom, we too can “build our houses among the rocks,” but we have to dig deep. Jesus is the rock. The Word of God, when received, believed, followed and applied moves us from a position of vulnerability and powerlessness to becoming more than conquerors…but we must determine to dig deep.

No matter what our situation or circumstance, the Word of God can teach us how to prevail…but we have to dig deep. When we embrace the promises of God, they raise us above any power or principality that seeks to keep us down and or destroy us…but we must dig deep! God has also given, not only biblical “faith hero’s and shero’s,” but modern day “rocks” that have risen above trials, struggles and impossibilities – triumphing over satan’s rage…those women and men who chose to dig deep, refusing to allow that which was without to nullify that which was within.

Choose to build your “home” among “the rocks.” Build your hopes, dreams, prayers and aspiration upon Jesus and His Word. Build your house among those “rocks” that have done and are doing the same. Avoid the “Elijah” syndrome – you are not alone… you are not the only one going through…you are not the only one who has “haters!” Run to the rock, stand upon the rock, build your home among the rocks – consider the badger and be wise!

Next week we’ll consider the wisdom of the lizard!

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, September 26, 2018

Shepastor Highlights: "Lessons Learned from Ants, Badgers and Lizards" A special series...

“Shepastor Highlights…”
This post first was shared in February, 2014. Today, we revisit the series, “Lessons learned from ‘Ants, Badgers and Lizards…”

Proverbs 30:24-28, RSV


24 Four things on earth are small,
but they are exceedingly wise:
25 the ants are a people not strong,
yet they provide their food in the summer;
26 the badgers are a people not mighty,
yet they make their homes in the rocks;
27 the locusts have no king,
yet all of them march in rank;
28 the lizard you can take in your hands,
yet it is in kings’ palaces.


This week’s focus: “Lessons from the Ant…”


Proverbs 6:6-8, KJV

6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

Verses 7-8 in the Living Bible say it this way…


7 For though they have no king to make them work, 8 yet they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.
The necessity of internal motivation…


Have you ever watched ants work? I can remember as a little girl being so fascinated in the summer months, watching black ants on the side walk coming together to carry small crumbs to their ant hills. The crumbs that appeared so small to me, seemed huge to them. I watched as their little legs moved and struggled to carry a crumb, undeterred, undaunted, ever marching towards their destination. They did not appear to have a chief ant standing at the top of the hill demanding that they do the work. They just did what they had to do.

The scriptures advises us not to be lazy, but to consider the ways of the ant. Although we may not consider ourselves to be “lazy,” we can become spiritually lazy if we are not careful. With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is easy, if we are not careful, to neglect nurturing our spirits. The spiritual disciplines of prayer, meditation, fasting, contemplation etc., are just that – disciplines. “discipline,” closely related to the term, “disciple,” suggests that one is following something, adhering to something, becoming a student of something in order to learn, to cultivate, to become, to transform. True discipline is transforming.

The one who chooses to “discipline themselves” to follow after a way of thinking, living and or being does not need a school master over them, demanding that they do this or that. The desire to change, to become stronger, to get ready, to prepare, etc., propels the individual into behaviors that line up with the desired goal. When we desire a deeper relationship with the Lord, when we want our ways to please the Lord, when we yearn to know the Lord better and become spiritually mature, those desires emerge from within. No one has to force us to pray, read scripture, spend time alone in meditation and fasting. We listen for the Holy Spirit’s voice and accept the invitation to come away with Him.

The ant teaches us the value in having internal motivation and discipline. If we embrace these disciplines we will be wise and prepared…

Prepare for Winter in the Summer…


In general, we don’t see ants in the winter. That is because they have prepared their meals and stored them up for the winter, in the summer. Most prepare their nests under ground, in trees or in acorns to get ready for the cold winter months. They are not bothered by the snow and the subfreezing temperatures – they have made preparation for the winter…

The “winters” of life can be brutal…health challenges, difficult relationships, grief, depression, burnout, financial upheavals, “church,” etc. Christians are not exempt from “winter.” However, if we prepare for the winter by strengthening our spirits through the aforementioned disciplines, during the proverbial summers, we, like the ant will have what is necessary to sustain us until winter passes.

The good news about God’s grace is that even if we have not done our part to get prepared for the winter, God will still meet us where we are and provide strength to help us through. Our trudge through the snow, however, will be with greater ease if we have gotten prepared with the necessary “snow gear!”

Let’s learn from the ant and wisely prepare for winter. The Lord has promised to be with us in every season of our lives. May we choose to be intentional about strengthening our spirit and walking with Him daily.

Next week we’ll consider lessons from the Badger!

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, September 12, 2018

Shepastor: "Get it Done!"

17And tell Archippus, “Be sure to finish the task you were given in the Lord’s service.” Colossians 4:17, Today’s English Translation

“Everybody else is doing this! Why can’t I…” With tears and teenage frustration, I remember having this conversation with my father as he refused to sign papers that would have allowed me to get a job at age 14. Several of my classmates had received permission from their parents to work and go to school. What I did not understand was that for many of them, circumstances at home may have required extra income.

To God be the glory, that was not our situation. My father sternly responded, “Everything that you need, I provide for you. You don’t need an outside job. You have the rest of your life to get a job. Your job now is to go to school, do well and graduate.” Now that I have children of my own, I understand my father’s wisdom.

While there is nothing wrong with parents allowing youth to earn extra money and to experience the responsibilities that go along with money, in my situation, my parents wanted me to remain focused upon the specific task at hand…doing well and graduating. Their guidance turned out to be a tremendous blessing for my life.

In like manner, God has called each on of us to a task. No child is born without a purpose, a giftedness, a reason, a task. The task or tasks may be many-fold, but singularly focused – to accomplish God’s purpose and plan and to bring God glory. It can be so easy to become distracted by what other people are doing, what other people are accomplishing, where other people are going and what other people have. At times we may even find ourselves comparing what we have and do to others. But when we do that, we run the risk of not finishing “the task” that was given to us by the Lord.

In this glitzy, competitive, “bigger and better” world, it can become difficult to remain focused and faithful to the work the Lord has assigned to our hand. At times we may find ourselves frustrated, discouraged or maybe even bored. But Paul’s words to Archippus remain valuable to us today,
17And tell Archippus, “Be sure to finish the task you were given in the Lord’s service.”
Every life has a purpose, a reason, a gift, a task. If you get off track, lose your focus, compete with others, perpetually gaze at other pastures, who will complete your task? It may not look like much to you. It may not appear important to you. It may not be “center stage.” You may feel un/under appreciated. You may desire more. But remember, your task has been assigned to you for a reason, in this season and for God’s glory. Get it done.

Trust God’s plan and get it done. Remain focused and get it done. Keep your “hand to the plow” and get it done! With God’s grace, strength, patience, perseverance, hope and blessed assurance, run your race. Finish your course. Keep the faith. Complete your task. Get it done!

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, September 5, 2018

Shepastor: “How Are You Using Your Words?”

34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, Matthew 12: 34-36, ESV

Words matter. Recently a well-known minister at a highly publicized service used his words, in his own way, to challenge people to rise to a higher level of responsibility, unity, power and respect. Unfortunately, the apparent “intent” of his message was lost because of the perceived abuse of his words during a very sensitive moment – a funeral service.

Since the beginning of time, the power of the spoken word has literally shaped and formed the world. The first book of the Bible, Genesis tells us that God spoke and the world was formed, God spoke and light came into existence. God spoke and GREAT things happened! And while we do not have the power to speak and make literal objects appear out of thin air, we do have the power to speak things into existence.

With our words we bless and with our words we curse. With our words we hurt and with our words we heal. With our words we deliver and with our words we can imprison. With our words we can build up and with our words we can tear down. With our words we can create an environment of peace, hope faith and love. With our words we can create an atmosphere of anxiety, hostility, fear and dismay. Our words indeed have power.

Most recently several politicians are being taken to task because of their words. Some are being pummeled by news outlets that are playing their own words over and over again. Even their advocates are struggling to defend the incendiary things that were said, one right after another over a period of years. This example teaches us that words can come back to haunt you… Jesus warned his disciples, "And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak." (Matthew 12:36, NLT)

Can you imagine that? Think about the words you speak about others when you think no one is listening…think about the conversations you hold when you think whoever is not around to hear it…What if on that day, when we stand before the Lord, a big jumbo-tron like screen is up before the world to see, showing the words that we have said…would you be ashamed? Would you have to hang your head? Jesus said, that we will “give an account of every idle word spoken...” every mean word, every disparaging word, every ugly word, every hurtful word. Just the thought of that should inspire us to clean up our act!

Words are expensive…
We must even be careful how we engage the words that come into our minds about ourselves, about other people and about situations. Words have the power to create… When you repeat bad words to yourself…words of doubt, words of fear…words of self-loathing (I’m so big and fat, I’m not strong enough, I’m not good enough, I’m clumsy, ugly, stupid…) you limit what God wants to do in your life. Jesus frequently said to those who desired to me made whole, “according to your faith, be it unto you.”

If you constantly tell yourself the opposite of what you desire to change, how will it ever change? This is not a “name it and claim it” philosophy, it is simply saying that you deplete yourself of drive, energy, vision and hope when you are constantly speaking negativity over yourself. If you tell yourself, “I can never do this or that, I can never have this or that, I will never become this or that,” you keep yourself from even considering the possibilities. WORDS create a box that can contain you.

Jesus wanted his disciple and all who were listening to understand that our words reflect the condition of our hearts. Jesus is not concerned about form and fashion. Jesus is not concerned about whether or not we “appear” to be right…Jesus wants our HEARTS to be right. When our heart is right, we want to be mindful our how our words and actions impact the lives of others.

Finally, Our words can give life… Proverbs declares that life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Proverbs also declares, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” When we pray, “Lord set a watch over my mouth, guard the door of my lips,” when we pray, “Lord, let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight for you are my strength and my redeemer,” we open our hearts to the leading, molding, keeping and blessing of our words.
God has given us the power to use our words to create…God has given us the power to use our words to speak life…we can speak life over others, life over our children, life over our situations and circumstances…life over our communities…life over our nations…God has given us the power to SPEAK LIFE! Tell those you care about that you love them…tell those you care about how beautiful they are, how gifted they are, how important they are, how strong they are.

Declare your victory by faith, declare your healing by faith. Speak into your life and the lives of others God’s delivering power, God’s saving power, God’s transforming power, God’s restoring power…SPEAK LIFE! God will honor that which you declare by faith, God will restore the years that the canker worm hath eaten, God will open doors that no man can close and close doors that no man can open.

How are you using your words?

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, August 29, 2018

Shepastor: “The disease is gone, but are you whole?”

11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
(Luke 17: 11-19, KJV)

In this story, Jesus highlights interesting aspects of faith, compassion and gratitude. Prior scriptures highlight, “mustard seed faith,” “worthless servants,” who do just enough to get by and then Jesus’ decision to head towards Samaria and Galilee, on his way to Jerusalem. Many messages in just those few verses!!! Our focus today, however, considers the one leper who turned back to say, “thank you.” Jesus questions the absence of the rest of those who were healed. Only the “stranger” turned back to show appreciation. Jesus responds to him by saying, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole” (Vs. 19).

I would like to suggest that the one who had the faith to come back and say thank you received something that the others did not. He was made whole. Could it be that gratefulness makes one whole? The one leper could have perpetually lamented over the years of pain, disgrace, loneliness, disenfranchisement, marginalization, etc. He could have remained in a slump. He could have been so excited about "getting clean" that he forgot to express appreciation. For some reason, he chose gratefulness. The others were cured of a disease, but it appears that they were not made whole.

There are numerous medical stories of individuals who were cured of a disease, but were not made whole. The absence of the physical condition did not bring about their deliverance. In some instances, they continued to be afflicted with the same struggles that they had when they had the disease. They were never able to embrace their new freedom. There are many reasons why persons may not be able to fully embrace their deliverance. But this passage gives us something to think about…

There is something about being grateful that brings a healing that supersedes the absence of disease. There are individuals who have been delivered from a physical location, removed from a “diseased relationship,” cured from a particular ailment, but still are not whole. Gratefulness brings us one step closer to wholeness. Gratefulness causes us to engage in several things that can usher us into wholeness:

Gratefulness calls us to recollection, re-direction and renewal…

Recollection: Gratefulness causes us to reflect upon what has been done for us. When we remember our pain and suffering, we can be thankful that the Lord has kept us, sustained us and gave us grace to endure. We also remember God’s healing, strengthening and comforting presence through it all.

Re-direction: Gratefulness causes us to re-direct our focus. When we choose to be grateful, we fill up the spaces of our hearts and minds that are tempted to be consumed with thinking about all that is wrong. Gratefulness helps us to overcome and to be thankful rather than bitter, angry and filled with complaints.

Renewal: Gratefulness renews us. When we are grateful, it’s like we inhale fresh air, and release the poisons of negativity, old and maybe even new pain and sorrow. When we choose to be grateful, thankful, appreciative we leap beyond the threshold of just getting rid of a “leprous condition,” to the platform of hope, increased faith and joy – which is our strength!

Do you want to be made whole? Choose to exercise your mustard seed faith to become grateful.

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, August 15, 2018

Shepastor: “Standing in the Need of Encouragement…”

11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11, NIV

We are living in very discouraging times. Some are experiencing feelings of hopelessness. Some feel daunted by overwhelming responsibilities. Some are depressed. Some feel like they are drowning. The list goes on and on. We need encouragement. Below is a beautiful list offered by a Christian writer, Stacy Wiebe on ways that we can encourage one another…

19 Ways to Encourage Others
(Originally shared by Stacy Wiebe, from Christian Women Today)

Encouragement goes straight to the heart. In fact, the word itself comes from a combination of the prefix "en" which means "to put into" and the Latin word "cor" which means heart.

Knowing what a big difference encouragement makes in your own life, what can you do to help others "to take heart" when the going gets tough and way feels long?

Become aware of what encourages you, and do those same things for others.

Learn individuals' "love language"-the special way in which they feel most valued. In his book, The Five Languages of Love , Gary Chapman explains that not everyone's emotional needs are met in the same way, and that it's important to learn to speak others' love language. The five love languages are: words of affirmation, spending quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch.

If an encouraging thought comes to mind, share it! It may not have the same effect if you wait. Don't let shyness hold you back. Instead, form a new habit: "Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today…" (Hebrews 3:13).

When you introduce someone, add a few words of praise for the person's abilities, accomplishments, about how they've helped you or about the nature of your relationship. It's encouraging to be praised in front of others.*

When someone is discouraged or hurting, offer specific, practical help. If you ask, "How can I help?" the person might be at a loss to answer. It's better to ask, "Would it help if I…(specific action) or say, "I would like to…(specific action)?*

Remind fellow Christians of the specific promises of God and characteristics of God. We may know something with our mind, but need to be reminded in our heart. The Apostle Peter wrote, "I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have" (2 Peter 1:12).

Write someone a note to tell them that you're praying for them. Tell them what you're praying. You can pray specific Scriptures for individuals such as Romans 15:13, "[I pray that] the God of hope [will] fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Make celebration a more regular part of your relationships. Celebrate others' victories, large and small-with a note, with coffee together, with a special meal, a congratulatory phone call or just a high-five!

Be specific when you offer words of praise; it makes your encouragement more credible and concrete "You did a great job at…" "I really appreciate that you…" "I was really impressed that you…"

Encourage other believers with a reminder of Christ's coming. It redirects our thinking to an eternal perspective and ultimate deliverance from the sin and death. "We who are still alive and are left will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words." (1 Thessalonians 5:17b-18).

Realize the power of presence. Just being there is encouraging! When you're with others, you're telling them that they're important. The Apostle Paul closed his letter to the church at Colosse promising to send his friend Tychius "that he may encourage your hearts" (Colossians 4:8b).

If you're part of a church, Bible study or fellowship, be committed to showing up. Your simple presence encourages others that they are part of a community of faith and that they are not alone. That's why the writer of Hebrews says, "Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as we see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).

If someone you know is working on a large project, send her a single flower to encourage her at the beginning of the project, and a full bouquet when it's done.*

Use encouragement as an outreach. If anyone should be known for being an encourager, it should be the Christian. Write a letter of appreciation to people at work, your apartment manager, your child's teacher or your doctor. Often when we interact with these people, we are asking for their services. Take time just to say thank you!*

If you really want to encourage someone who gives you excellent service, write a letter of commendation to the person's boss.*

We could learn something from the way team athletes freely pat, touch and high-five each other in competition. Touch is a powerful encouragement. Be sure to be sensitive in this area, though. Ask someone if you can hug her first. And be careful to be above reproach with persons of the opposite sex.

When you see someone making positive changes in their lives, affirm them. "You seem to have a really great attitude about…" "It may be that I'm just starting to take notice, but I see that you're…" "Do you think that you are becoming more…?"

Tell people how they've encouraged you!

Walk daily in the power of the Holy Spirit, asking for what you need to encourage others. Just as it is impossible to live the Christian life in one's own strength, it's also impossible to freely, unselfishly pour out encouragement without the help of the Holy Spirit who is our Encourager.
For more information on walking in the power of the Spirit, see: http://www.christianwomentoday.com/spiritfilledlife.html

* These tips adapted from the book, 52 Simple Ways to Encourage Others, by C.E. Rollins, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1995.

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, August 1, 2018

Shepastor: “Learning from the Prayer of Epaphras…”

Epaphras sends greetings to you. He comes from your city. And he is a servant of Jesus Christ. Epaphras always prays hard for you. He prays that you will be mature Christians. He prays that you will be confident. He prays that you will do all that God wants you to do. Colossians 4:12, The Bible in Basic English

Epaphras was a Christian brother who visited Paul in prison and told Paul about the young church that was at Colossae. The Christians who lived there had begun to listen to false teachers. Paul was worried that the Christians would turn away from the true *gospel. Therefore, Paul wrote to the Christians at Colossae to remind them about Jesus Christ and about his true message emphasising that Christ is superior.

In this passage, Paul is reminding the Christians at Colosse that they have an advocate in the spirit, their brother Epaphras, as Paul puts it is always, “wrestling in prayer” for them.

The Bible in Basic English says verse 12 like this,
“Epaphras sends greetings to you. He comes from your city. And he is a servant of Jesus Christ. Epaphras always prays hard for you. He prays that you will be mature Christians. He prays that you will be confident. He prays that you will do all that God wants you to do.”

Prayer is more than just a ritualistic exercise. Prayer is greater than desperate utterance mumbled at the time of crisis. Prayer ought to be a way of life. Some have specific times and places that they pray. Some make a practice of praying at bedtime or saying, “grace” before meals. But prayer is so much more than “the regular.”

What is prayer? Prayer is a conversation with God. Prayer is a time to share our inner most thoughts and feelings with the Lord. Prayer is a battle ground. I like the translation that says Epaphras was always, “wrestling” in prayer for the Christians at Colosse. That means that Epaphras understood that something critical, something imperative, something of vital nature was at stake. He understood that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places. Epaphras’ example of wrestling in prayer teaches us that we need to “kick it up a notch” so to speak. He prayed some specific, strategic prayers for his people and his community.

He prayed for them to be mature Christians.Those who are immature in the faith lack self control… can’t control their anger, offended easily, giving up easily, not able to control their tongue, knows very little scripture, falling in and out of sinful behaviours – immature Christians. But after a while, after studying God’s Word, after hanging around other more mature Christians, after prayer and fasting – there ought to be some maturity about you – you ought to be able to digest the “meat” of God’s word.

Epaphras was wrestling against the spirit of immaturity among his people and in the community. He prayed that they would grow up in the Lord. The scripture says, “when I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things…” God calls us to be mature Christians – having a praying spirit, a discerning spirit, a peaceful spirit, a loving spirit, a giving spirit a forgiving spirit.

Ephaphras also prayed that they would be confident. He wrestled in prayer that his brothers and sisters at the church of Colosse would be confident, not in themselves but in who God made them to be. He prayed that they would be confident in the complete work of Jesus Christ – “being confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” When you don’t know your identity in Christ, when you don’t realize what God has done for you, you will live beneath your privilege and will walk in ways that are not reflective of who you really are.

Sometimes we lack confidence because someone has told us negative and degrading things about ourselves. Sometimes we lack confidence because we always felt that others were better than we are. Sometimes we lack confidence because we never had the support or the accolades or the positive encouragement that every child needs to realize their potential. So we live beneath our potential, beneath our God given talents and gifts, beneath our rightful place. We wrestle to really discover who God made us to be.

But through the wrestling of prayer, we can emerge victorious and reach the heights intended for us to reach. We sometimes have to wrestle to break old habits, wrestle to push past old pain, wrestle, to gain a new perspective, wrestle, to rise above negativity and shame, wrestle to be all that God has intended us to be in this world. We also need brothers and sisters who like Epaphras, will wrestle with us to help us to rise higher.

Finally, Epaphras prayed that the Christians at Colossea would do all that God wants them to do. We have to wrestle in prayer for others that they would realize what God is calling for them to do, created them to do, empowered them to do and then that they would get up and do it!

We must wrestle in prayer that we will do the will of God. We must wrestle against doubt, wrestle against fear, wrestle against gloom and doom, wrestle against nay sayers, wrestle against principalities and powers, not in our own strength but in the strength of the Lord. The wrestling is in a determination to be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord for as much as we know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Continue fervent in prayer – remember how Jacob wrestled all night long and said I will not let go until you bless me – may we wrestle in prayer like Epaphras…praying for other Christians, praying for our communities, praying for one another that we will be mature Christians, that we will be confident through Christ and that we will learn God’s will for our lives and do it!

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 18, 2018

Shepastor: “Know Yourself Holistically…”

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. III John 1:2, NIV

During a recent doctor’s office visit I had to remind my new physician that I cannot take medicines with a certain element due to allergic reactions. While that information is in my chart, for some reason my physician missed it. Had I not questioned whether or not the recommended med had that element, I could have taken it and become very ill.

Thankfully, there are safeguards in place, like the pharmacy questioning the meds because of notes in my records, but still, accidents happen. It was critical for me not only ask questions, but to know my own body, how things affect me and what I can and cannot take.

It is important to know yourself. Spiritually and psychologically speaking, it is important to understand who you are – your temperament, what pushes your proverbial “buttons,” your “Achilles heel,” your strengths, gifts and graces. It is also important to get to know and understand your body.

The scriptures focus upon the whole person. We are body, mind and soul. Jesus acknowledged this reality when He highlighted the summation of life: to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul and mind and our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37). We carry out that love while housed in our bodies.

When we neglect any aspect of our being, we jeopardize our overall health. Pay attention to your whole self. In communion with the Lord, seek wisdom, guidance and education to get and remain healthy. When you are tired, rest. When you are hungry, eat. When you are lonely, pursue healthy relationships. Drink plenty of water (spiritual and physical). Eat right (spiritually and physically). Watch what you “feed” your mind and spirit. Avoid filling up on physical and spiritual “junk food.”

Take care of yourself. Put on your oxygen mask first. Live life to the fullest. Remember, this is not a trial run.

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

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