Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Shepastor: “Don’t Leave Before the Benediction” Part I

Numbers 6:22-27 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Priestly Benediction
22 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 23 Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them,
24 The LORD bless you and keep you;
25 the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
26 the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
27 So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.

For the next few weeks, Shepastor will highlight the words that the Lord spoke to Moses to give to the Priest Aaron and his sons as a blessing over Israel. These verses are known as the “Priestly Benediction.”

Our focus for today highlights God’s desire for His people to dwell in peace. Even as they journeyed through the desert – the wilderness, God wanted to bless them. God spoke specific words that Aaron and his sons were to speak over the children of Israel each time they gathered for worship and prepared to go back to their every day lives. Verse 27 says, “So they shall put my name on the Israelites and I will bless them.”

The term “benediction” has latin roots. “Bene” translates as “well” and “diction” translates as “to speak.” Before going back out into the ups and the downs of everyday life, as they departed from the space of cooperate worship, the gathering of the saints, the collective worship of the people of God, the Lord didn’t want them to leave without receiving a “well word” spoken over their lives.

Even in the dessert, God was speaking a word of blessing over them. Consider each phrase of this five-fold benediction:

Phrase I
“The Lord bless you and keep you….”

God wanted them to remember that even in the desert, He was blessing and keeping them. This phrase offers God’s protection and favor. In other words, God was telling Aaron and his sons, “Tell my people that I am protecting them and granting them favor.” It can be difficult to see, hear or understand blessings in the desert. But just like the Israelites, God provided for their shelter, their food, their protection. Even though they did not realize it, even though they did not appreciate it, even though they did not give God praise for it, God yet kept and blessed them. Even when you are feeling dry, isolated, disappointed, tired and wondering when in the world you are going to enter your promised land, God wants you to remember that He is with you, He is keeping you. You may not realize it but God is carrying you through this season. You are called to continue to put your trust in Him, follow His path and obey His voice. Determine not to leave until you receive the “good word” that God wants to speak over your life.

When we are frustrated, weary, feeling like things don't make sense... because it may feel like the dessert, we may be tempted to leave before receiving the "good word" God has for us. But God wants us to receive all that He has prepared for us in His timing and in our season. Some of the Israelites did not leave physically, but they checked out psychologically. In other words, they stayed in the camp, but they were bitter, complaining, arguing, fighting, rebellious and ugly. As a result, God allowed them to go around and around the same place, literally feet away from the Promised Land but never actually taking hold of it. In their hearts they “left” without receiving the good word from the Lord.

We all get tired and frustrated. We all experience doubt, fears and discouragement. But that’s when we must determine to take every thought captive and bring it into subjection to the obedience of Christ. Just as we are about to receive our break thru, our healing, our deliverance, our greatest blessing, the enemy tries his best to convince us that God is not for us, that God will not deliver on his promises, that God will leave us languishing in the desert. But the devil is a LIAR!!! God's heart is to bless and keep us. God has promised to give His children a hope and a future, but we must yield to Him with our whole heart. The desert will happen. But God can and will see us through the desert! Remember God's blessing over your life - "The Lord Bless you and keep you!"

Next Week we will consider the next two phrases of this Priestly Benediction…

Post a comment or send me an Email at

May you and your family have a blessed Christmas Season!

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Shepastor: “Be Sure of Your Footing…”

He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. Proverbs 18:33, NLT

The older I get, the more I hate winter! Of particular concern for me is navigating our icy drive way as I walk from our back door to the garage. As I slowly, carefully looked for dry or snowy patches weaved in and around icy patches, I prayed, “Lord, please don’t let me fall.” Thankfully, I was able, with the help of the Lord to make it to the garage safely. This experience caused me to think about the importance of “sure footing.”

The psalmist declared that the Lord made his feet “surefooted” (NLT) like that of a deer, enabling him to stand upon high places. The hooves of deer are shaped in such a way that that are able to grip the sides of mountains. While other animals or even humans may find mountain sides slippery and dangerous, the deer appear to effortlessly leap upon them.

Life presents many slippery places for us to navigate…places that make us feel unsure and insecure…dangerous traps to make us fall. But just as God helps the deer to climb mountains, the Lord can make our proverbial feet surefooted, keeping us from slipping into disaster. Even if we slip, the Lord is there so raise us up.

What slippery place are you fearing today? Spend time in the presence of the Lord, asking Him to develop your “deer feet,” so that you can walk upon the high places that have been ordained for your life! God Himself can and will make you “surefooted!”

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Shepastor: “The Disturbance of Deliverance”

Matthew 8:28-34 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Restores Two Demon-Possessed Men

28 When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes,[a]two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” 32 He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.

These two men had many evil spirits that were possessing, controlling, destroying, debilitating them. They were, to say the least, disturbed. It is interesting to note that these two men were able to hang around each other, but no one else could deal with them. They were disturbed together. Be careful with whom you choose to “buddy up." We don’t know how these two ended up possessed together, but somehow they were able to hang out in dead places with one another. Don’t allow people to drag you into their tombs. Don’t allow people to pull you into their disturbed, dysfunctional, destructive arena. Be careful. Do what you can but avoid ending up in a co-dependent situation! If you are not careful, you may find yourself possessed, disturbed, dysfunctional and in dead places!

In this text, Jesus does not even speak to the men. He interacts directly with the demons who recognized him immediately. The demons begged Jesus not to have to leave the man and go into the abyss, so Jesus allowed them to be cast out into a herd of swine or pigs.
Not even the pigs, however, wanted anything to do with the demons – rather than be possessed by them, they ran down into the lake and drowned themselves! When the pig owners saw what happened they ran and told the towns people. Everyone came running out to see what happened. You would think that they would give God high praise that the men were delivered. But instead, they begged Jesus to leave! Deliverance can cause a disturbance!

The herdsman lost their livelihood – a disturbance. These once dysfunctional, crazy men are now clothed and in their “right mind,” and the towns people didn’t know what to think or how to deal with them – a disturbance! The demons had to find somewhere else to go – A DISTURBANCE!!! The people had learned to accept and live with the demons. The deliverance created a new learning curve! For some, it’s easier to accept the demons than to do the hard work associated with deliverance.

Demons come in all shapes, and forms and sizes. They are not the mythical figures we see on television or in cartoons of red creatures with pitchforks with horns and jagged teeth. Nor are they reserved simply for those who we think are crazy or evil.
The devil is much more cunning than that. “Demons” are anything that oppress, shackle, depress, isolate, crush and come in the middle of our relationship with God. And while we may not go and hang out in literal grave yards, there are things that can separate us, isolate us, oppress, depress, hinder, obstruct, and yes crush our spirits, such that we even pull away from others and our relationship with God.

If you are pushed down long enough, you can begin to stop looking up.
If you are criticized long enough you can stop dreaming and reaching for higher. If you are failed repeatedly without any path for success you will deem yourself a failure. Even if you begin to succeed you will begin to make yourself fail so that you will fulfill your acquired MO.

Demons that shackle, demons that oppress, demons that tear at the very soul of our beings DON’T HAVE THE LAST SAY!!! Jesus is saying, TODAY get out of my daughter! TODAY, get out of my son! TODAY, get out of their situation! With the help of the Lord, deliverance can happen. But once deliverance happens, the challenging work of healing, thorough healing, full healing, complete and total deliverance begins. You may not have the support that you thought you would have from the same people that saw you in the tombs. The people in the text did not come to help them find a new place to live, get food to eat, clothes to wear. They were delivered, but their deliverance created a new reality not just for them but for everyone in the town.

You must realize that everyone will not be excited about your new found healing. Like the people in our text, there will be those who don’t understand what Jesus did for you. There will be those who have grown accustomed to your craziness! There will even be those who have profited from your sickness. There will be those who don’t want Jesus coming to town because he just might expose the demons in them!

When you walk out in the “new you,” there will be those who will question your authenticity, question your motives, question your glow of glory, question your new walk, your new talk, your new “swagger,” but you don’t have to answer them, just start singing to yourself, “I know I’ve been changed… the angels in heaven done signed my name!”

The challenge of deliverance is that you’ve got to fill up the empty spaces that have been created because the demons have left. You have to develop new habits, you’ve got to develop new relationships or at least change the dynamics of the relationships wherein you found yourself. You may have to change the places that you go, the activities in which you engage, the thoughts that you think, the words that you speak. For some, going back to the tombs may seem easier. But don’t you accept or believe that lie! Deliverance is a challenge, but you can do ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST that strengthens you!

Deliverance will disturb somethings in your life, but if you will press through the disturbance, healing is on the other side. Peace is on the other side. Wholeness is on the other side. Joy is on the other side. THE NEW YOU is on the other side!!! Don’t waste your time trying to convince anyone of your healing, your deliverance, your break through. It’s not for them, it’s for you and those who will be blessed and healed and delivered because of your testimony. There will always be those who want to stand in the way of your deliverance, but you let God handle them…you just keep moving forward.

Do you want to come out of the tombs…the lonely dark places, that place where you are broken and bruised, shackled and ashamed? Jesus can speak to those demons in your life and say, “COME OUT!” Even in their demented state, the men had enough within them to come out to meet Jesus. Yes, Jesus stepped onto the shore from the boat, but the men came out to meet Jesus.

You’ve got to come out to meet Jesus.
In other words, you’ve got to present yourself to the Lord…He knows you need healing…He knows you are shackled and broken and bruised…He knows that you desire to get clothed, your mind healed, your body healed, your self-respect restored…The Lord knows…but you’ve got to make that step and open up to Him. The Lord will never force Himself upon you. Won’t you open up and receive Him and get delivered today?

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Shepastor: "Gratefulness Pushes Us Beyond Our Pain..."

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Psalm 136:1, KJV

Dear Shepastor readers, it is my prayer that each of you will embrace the goodness and mercy of God with a thankful heart, not only during the Thanksgiving season, but each day of your life. In the midst of life's struggles, gratefulness is a choice. In the midst of pain and despair, gratefulness can be a struggle, yet a choice. In the midst of frustration, misunderstandings, doubt and fear, gratefulness may seem to elude us, yet gratefulness remains a choice.

Gratefulness pushes us to see beyond our pain. Gratefulness opens our heart to receive insights and possibilities that bitterness cannot afford. In despair, gratefulness may appear beyond comprehension. In our own strength it may not be possible. But with the help of God, all things are possible.

Open your heart to gratefulness and behold the that is not perceivable with the natural eye.

May you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Shepastor: “STOP! Going the Wrong Way…”

The prudent see danger and take refuge,
but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
Proverbs 22:3, NIV

The other day as my family and I entered the on-ramp of the expressway, we observed two big bright signs that read, “STOP – WRONG WAY.” The signs have been enlarged and conspicuously placed right near the on/off ramp of the highway.

Recently, there has been an uptick in the number of cars going the wrong way on the highway. Unfortunately, several accidents have occurred as well as several fatalities. Highway officials are making every effort to ensure that drivers can clearly see the signs posted so that if they find themselves going in the wrong direction, they can find a way to quickly turn around.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if life provided literal big red signs that read, “STOP – WRONG WAY!!!” While no such signs physically exist, certainly there are warning signs that yell at our spirit and tell us “STOP, TURN AROUND, DO NOT ENTER – YOU ARE GOING THE WRONG WAY!!!” How often do we ignore the warning signs?

Proverbs reminds us that when we “see danger” we should take refuge. In other words, when we hear the voice of the Lord saying to stop or the wise counsel of an elder, mentor, friend or even a stranger, we should never ignore those warnings. When we keep going in a direction that we have been warned to avoid, we are “kicking against the pricks.” When we behave in this way we are behaving “simple,” and will have to pay the penalty for our willfulness.

What words of wisdom are you ignoring? What warning signs are yelling “STOP – WRONG WAY” and you continue to keep going? Are you allowing pride to stop you from turning around? Isn’t it hard for you to kick against the pricks? Your simple behavior may not only harm you, but others. Just as a car going in the wrong direction can produce deadly results, your decision to continue to move down a path that is ill advised can produce long-term circumstances that cannot be easily or quickly remedied. Remember, your choices will not only impact your life, but the lives of those around you. Be wise, turn around. Stop. Back up. Begin again. Your life and the lives of others may be spared from major heart ache.

Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Shepastor Highlight: "Hit Reset..."

Today, Shepastor highlights a blog post that first appeared on Wednesday, March 16th, 2016. In this season when many are re-thinking actions, words, thoughts and deeds, it is good to know that with each new day we have an opportunity to begin again. This post talks about hitting the "reset" button. Enjoy...

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. II Corinthians 10: 4-5

Some years ago, in order to reduce the risk of getting shocked, electricians developed new outlets that use three pronged plugs, instead of two pronged. These outlets, though thought to be safer, are sometimes annoying. You go to plug in your lamp and low and behold, the light does not come on. So you run to the cabinet or upstairs or down stairs to get a new light bulb, go back to the lamp, plug it in and it still does not turn on. UGGHHH! What in the world could be wrong?

It finally occurs to you that you need to press the rest button. A fuse was tripped or burned out and the plug needs to be reset before it can produce the electricity necessary to turn the light on. In the same way, our minds, our brains, our psyche, at times need to be reset…reset because wrong thoughts of a garden variety can drain you of energy, joy, life, healing, wholeness and vitality in Christ.

Our focus scripture reminds us that we don’t have to fight off unhealthy patterns of thinking on our own. The children of God have weaponry that is not of this world.

The child of God has weapons with “divine power to demolish strongholds.”

What is a “stronghold?”

The literal meaning of stronghold is,
A place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack
Synonyms for stronghold are: fortress (A heavily protected and impenetrable building) - fort (A fortified building or strategic position) citadel (A fortress, typically on high ground, protecting or dominating a city.- castle - fastness – bulwark (a defensive wall)

In the spiritual sense, a stronghold is an incorrect thinking pattern that has molded itself into our way of thinking. Strongholds have the capability of affecting our feelings, how we respond to various situations in life, and can play a large role in hindering our spiritual freedom.

The Psalmist declared,
“I will meditate on Your precepts and have respect to Your ways [the paths of life marked out by Your law].” Psalm 119:15 Amphv

The Bible instructs us to meditate upon God’s Word. The Psalmist said that he spent a lot of time meditating upon the “precepts” of God. In other words, he spent a lot of time thinking about, praying about, pondering God’s ways, God’s instructions and God’s teachings. Psalm 1 tells us of the condition of the individual who meditates upon God. It says that we will be blessed, we will be like trees planted by the rivers of water, our leaves will not whither and whatsoever we do will prosper…

We must learn to cast down “mind binding spirits…”

Mind binding spirits are the spirits that seek to literally tie up your mind with thoughts of defeat, depression oppression, failure, inability etc. These spirits are strong holds that seek to thwart, lock up, bind up your faith and distort your outlook on life. You must learn to cast these demonic thoughts down and replace them through prayer, determination and meditation upon God’s Word. How? Consider the following…

Be careful what you think!

Consider Mark 4:24 in the Amplified version of the Bible…

"…Be careful what you are hearing. The measure [of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure [of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you who hear."

This scripture suggests that the more time we spend thinking about the Word we read and hear, the more power and ability we will have to do it, to follow it, to live it!

Romans 10:17 declares, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” (KJV)

“Think about what you are thinking!”

“Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind…” Ephesians 2:3 Amphv

This passage warns us not to be governed by our sensual nature or to obey the impulses of our flesh, the thoughts of our carnal mind. We must determine to replace our carnal thoughts with thoughts purified by the Holy Spirit through God’s Word.

Romans 12: 1-2. Tells us to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds…”

Always remember that your mind plays an important role in your victory!

Remember our primary scripture…

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. II Corinthians 10: 4-5

Determine today to take “every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.”

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Shepastor Highlights: "Are You a True Friend?"

This Shepastor blog post first appeared November 4th, 2015. Prompted by a conversation with my daughter about friendship, I was inspired to re-post this message today. Enjoy…

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12
9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
12And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Proverbs 18:24 (NRSV)
24Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than one's nearest kin.

In today’s society, we use the term “friend” rather loosely. Often we say "friend" when we really should use the term, "acquaintance." The term “friend” connotes something much deeper than a casual relationship. To be a friend means some very important and specific things…

The Biblical concept of friendship is lifted up throughout the scriptures. God called Abraham his friend. Saul’s son, Jonathan and David were the best of friends. The Bible even gives a negative example of friendship when it speaks of how Herod and Pilate became friends when they joined together in a decision to try, abuse and eventually crucify Jesus. (Luke 23:11-12 states: And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends, together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.)

The scriptures are filled with examples of real friendship. Consider the following verses:

Proverbs 18:24 (KJV)
24 A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

The New Revised Standard Version declares:
Proverbs 18:24 (NRSV)
25 Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than one's nearest kin.

Sometimes God places people in our lives that can relate to us, support us, love us, encourage us, and through their prayers, faith and witness, empower us even more than our own flesh and blood relatives. For many, the Church… the people of God are those which stick closer than flesh and blood.

Some people have never had a true friend. They are hungry for real friends.
There are many people who are “play friends…” those who want to stand with you in the good times, but not the bad…those who want to hang around you as long as it is advantageous for them. There are those who are interested in what you can do for them and not necessarily what you all can share together – you’ve seen them, “play friends.”

Proverbs 17:17 from the NRSV states
17 A friend loves at all times, and kinsfolk are born to share adversity.

God’s Word states that “a friend loves at all times,” which means that godly friendship endures and the love is unconditional. None of this, “I’ll be your friend if…” There may be times when we must love someone from a distance. Times change and people change, but love remains.

In true friendship, time, space and distance don’t change the love shared. Situations, circumstances and difficulties in real friendship don’t change the love shared. A friend loves at ALL TIMES.

The following verses further describe friendship:
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12

9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
13 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

True friends hold one another up. Human beings were made to be in fellowship with one another. God’s words concerning Adam, that it’s not good for him to be alone, extend beyond the husband and wife relationship. Human beings are meant for fellowship. We are like burning coals. As long as the coals stay together, they remain hot, they glow and produce heat. But if you take one coal away from the bunch and set it off to itself, the coal will soon go out.

God knew that if we did not have fellowship our coals would go out. There is something sweet about the sincere fellowship of God’s people. We lift one another up. We encourage and inspire one another. We give one another hope. We strengthen one another’s faith. God uses the testimonies of the saints to build up the body of Christ.

"Two are better than one. Woe unto him that is alone when he falleth for he hath not another to help him up again." We all trip now and then. But if we are standing close enough, we can catch one another before we hit the ground! And that’s what so special about the next verse:

Proverbs 27:6
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Real Friends will tell you the truth in love. It’s important to have friends that will tell you the truth. So many of us walk around like the king in the “Emperors New Clothes…” with no one to tell us that we are not fully clothed, but in fact naked! Real friends will tell each other when they are “naked,” even if the world is declaring that their “new suit” looks fabulous. Sometimes when we share the truth with our friends, they will be hurt or might even become angry, but in the long run, those “faithful wounds” will heal and the individual will be made whole.

Allowing a friend to go in the wrong direction while we remain silent is tantamount to knowing a person has a time bomb in his or her house and not warning them to get out! Real friends will take the risk of being misunderstood, and share, in love that which may hurt for the moment, but bring healing ultimately.

Finally, consider what Jesus said about friendship:

John 15:13 (NRSV)
13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.

True friendship is sacrificial. True friendship is willing to put self aside for the benefit of another. True friendship is willing to acquiesce or in other words, step back and allow your friend to be blessed. True friendship is willing to be the wind beneath another’s wings. True friendship rejoices with the one rejoicing and weeps with the one weeping. So often people can “weep” with you, but they struggle to “rejoice” with you! True friends strive to do both.

Jesus exemplified true friendship when he sacrificed his life for you and I. Jesus desires that we love each other as He loves us and also as we love ourselves.

Biblical friendship may be summarized as follows:

True friends love at all times
True friends hold one another up
True friends tell the truth in love
True friendship is sacrificial in nature

Are you a true friend?

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

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
(

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:

* 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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