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!

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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?

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