Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Shepastor: "Dear Prophet..."

"What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law--justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.” Matthew 23:23, NLT

Recently I heard someone for whom I have great respect say that they did not want to attend a great majority of churches because they basically offered “fire and brimstone preaching.” They are not alone in having this sentiment. Many have stopped attending church because they felt that the messages were heavy on judgement and light on mercy, love and justice. Indeed, this is problematic.

On the other hand, one should not want to attend a church that only preaches on social reform/social justice, but has no word on immoral behaviors and patterns of living. Either extreme is dangerous. In our text for today, Jesus confronts the Pharisees for straining to adhere to the “letter of the law,” while ignoring the “spirit of the law.”

In other words, the Lord does not want hollow worship, empty religion or religiosity, hypocrisy manifested with “loud hosannas” from individuals with hardened and untransformed hearts. While chiding false religion, at the same time Jesus upheld the legitimacy of the law… “this ye ought to have done and not left the other undone.” Balance in preaching is necessary. We are called upon to preach the “whole scroll.” In other words, God calls his mouth pieces to preach the “unadulterated Gospel.” Yes, we are called to speak truth to power, to stand in the gap for the widow, the orphan, the poor, the defenseless. Yes we are called to confront the bastions of racist and oppressive structures. Yes we are called to tell modern day pharaohs, “Let my people go!!!”

But we are also called to tell a dying world that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. We are also called to tell the lost that the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life. We are also called to tell the wayward, there is a way that seems right unto a man but the end thereof is death.

While the Civil Rights Movement forced America to look at and legislatively change its ugly, oppressive and violent ways, it neglected to take moral arguments beyond civil actions to holy living. Unfortunately, some of the same leaders that marched and fought for civil rights became what they claimed to despise. Some of our same revered prophets, preachers and teachers became oppressive. Some became womanizers. Some fathered children outside of marriages, having women in every city on every stop. Some oppressed women in other ways, refusing to acknowledge their call to preach or to stand out front with the rest. Some became elitists, gathering the “spoils” from the war, moving up to higher heights, not lifting as they climbed, building dynasties for their families while others looked on eating crumbs. Families were broken, children were abandoned, marriages were ruined, communities were stagnated. Satan laughed…

“This ye ought to have done…” Stand for what is right. Fight for righteous causes. Practice what you preach. Speak truth to power. Lift as you climb. “…and not left the other undone…” Tell the world about Jesus! Let the lost know that it is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgement…If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive you and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.

Remember, we will give an account for the things done in our bodies and every word that we have uttered. Remember, that to whom much is given much is required.
Remember, our aim is to please our “enlisting officer!” Sometimes, even people for whom you have the greatest respect will disappoint you, look down upon you, think less of you, turn away from you. Don’t worry about that. Continue to love, continue to serve, continue to preach and teach the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ – the Lord will be pleased, many lost souls will be saved, many strongholds will be broken and justice will roll down like a mighty stream.

Be thou faithful unto death and God will give you a crown of glory! Dear prophet, keep standing on the wall!

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Shepastor: "Cycles..."

Acts 3: 1-6, NIV
Peter Heals a Lame Beggar

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

John 5: 14-15, KJV
14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

Have you ever seen someone sitting just outside of that which is beautiful, begging, not to get in, but for just to get enough to get by? Has that ever been you? Have you ever sat out begging, if not literally, in your spirit, just outside of that which seems so beautiful…thinking that you can’t have what you really want, so you may as well get what you can get and just remain in a “crippled state?”

This was the case of both men in these two passages of scripture. Both passages feature men who were crippled. We don’t know what happened to them. We don’t know how they lost the use of their legs or even if they ever had the use of their legs. What we do know, based upon the text is that people carried one man to the gate of the Temple every day so that he could beg. The other man laid by a pool for 38 years waiting for someone to put him in.

Let’s look first at the man at the gate called “Beautiful.” Why didn’t someone take him home and help him? Why did the people just pass him by and maybe throw him a coin or two as they went into the temple to pray? We don’t know, but we can only imagine…I imagine the people, much like the priest and the Levite in the story of the “Good Samaritan,” did not want to miss their daily prayer time. Maybe they were concerned that if they stopped to take time with him they might miss their special prayer spot near the front of the Temple!

Maybe they thought he was lazy. Maybe they thought he was a fake. Maybe they just didn’t really care. But what about the man? What happened to his spirit that he just resigned himself to sitting at the “Beautiful Gate” to beg? Culturally, because he was diseased and infirmed, he may have been forbidden to enter the Temple gates. So, he just sat outside of that which was called, “beautiful” and begged.

Some remain in the debilitating state of dysfunction – family dysfunction…cycles of drama…cycles of poverty…cycles of panic…cycles of debt…cycles of low self-esteem…begging for just enough to make it from day to day…sitting just outside of what appears to be beautiful. Some sit watching as other people seem happy…watching as other people seem fulfilled…watching as other people get their praise on…watching as others appear to connect with their God, passing them by as others throw crumbs and coins their way. So, they resign themselves to begging for crumbs and coins, caught up in a cycle. There is a way, however, to break the cycle. It may not be what you want, but it will be what you need!

At times we need a Peter and a John. At times we need someone who will say, “I don’t have crumbs or coins…I don’t have a space for a pity party…I don’t have what you are looking for…something to enable you in your dysfunctional state. But here’s what I do have…in the name of Jesus GET UP AND WALK! I’m not only going to tell you to get up, I’m going to take you by the hand, help you to get up and then help you to walk! I know it’s been a long time since you’ve gotten up. But in the name of Jesus you can get up and I will help you!” Indeed, God is calling for more “Peters and Johns!”

When you’ve been down for so long, out for so long, on the outskirts for so long, it can be a challenge to believe you can walk into the beautiful. When all you’ve done is watch others walk through the “beautiful gate,” brokenness can become an acceptable existence. The Lord, however, has a new script for you. It will be different than what you’ve come to expect. The Lord is sending what you need to get up. Your legs might be wobbly. You may be afraid that people are waiting for you to fall…laughing as you struggle. It will be tough, but it will be alright. You will not be by yourself. The man was begging for money so that he could get some scraps to eat. But the Lord wanted to give him healing so that he could do more than survive. He wanted him thrive.

Cycles of dysfunction vary. Not everyone is like the man encountered by Peter and John. Some are like the man by the pool. Some have been caught up in cycles of dysfunction for so long that they have not taken advantage of what is available to them. They have settled it in their mind that they can’t get up unless somebody drags them over to the pool. They have lost the mind to make it over to the place of healing, the place of deliverance, the place of blessing. For those like the man by the pool of Bethesda, Jesus has another message – GET UP!!!

Jesus takes a hard line with this man. People have been trying to help for a long time, but others can’t want healing for you more than you want it for yourself! You have to want to made whole. When your desire and your efforts meet the mercy and power of God, miracles happen. When Jesus told the man to get up, something stirred within him and he regained strength in his legs and rose.

Jesus told the man something else – He said,
“See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”

Once you have been healed, once you have been delivered, once you have been made free, it is a dangerous thing to go backwards and dabble in the cycles of the past. Cycles are like a whirlpool. If you stick even you toe down into the swirling waters, you could rapidly be pulled back in. When the Lord makes you whole, you must continue the process of healing. It is important to surround yourself with persons who are also moving in the healing direction. Feed your spirit with God’s healing Word. Speak to yourself wholistic and healing words. Keep moving forward! With the help of the Lord, don’t turn back or else something worse will come upon you. The enemy will work over time to drag you back down. Don’t aide his efforts by opening the door back up to dysfunction.

Are you begging for scraps when the Lord wants to empower you to walk and live? Have you resigned yourself to sit just outside of that which is beautiful when the Lord wants you to come running, leaping, jumping and praising into the beauty God has for you? It may not be what you want…but it is what you need. With the help of the Lord YOU CAN BREAK the cycles of dysfunction in your life. Through Christ, you can take the first step TODAY towards the beautiful. What cycles do you need to break? What is blocking you from your beautiful?

Post a comment or send me an email at

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

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Shepastor: “As We begin Lent...The Power of Our Heavenly Father’s Words”

Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness
1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.
3 And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God
. Luke 4:1-4, KJV

Today begins the Lenten season – the 40 days leading up to the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This passage of scripture found in the Gospel of Matthew introduces us to Jesus’ period of preparation before earthly ministry. He is challenged by a variety of temptations coming from the devil. Throughout this experience, Jesus teaches us how to be victorious over Satan’s “if’s…”

The story of Jesus’ temptation vividly depicts the treachery of the devil, seeking to derail Jesus from his mission and life’s purpose by trying to persuade him to get off track, give in to his weaknesses and to satisfy his cravings for a season. But Jesus was equipped with something far more superior than tempting tactics and words of the devil. Jesus had the words of his Father hidden deep down in his heart.

Jesus’ responses tell us something about our Heavenly Father’s words.

Jesus’1st response to the devil.
Verses 3 and 4 of our text declares,

3 And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Jesus knew that His Father’s words were trustworthy. Jesus let the devil know that physical food, while necessary will not satisfy you. Only God’s Word gives life. In other words, his Father’s words were life giving. His father’s words enabled him to “live” life. Even though he was hungry, he trusted His father’s words over the temptations of Satan.

In order to defeat the devil's "if" about who you are, about what you need, about what will satisfy, you've got to know God's Word. God's Word is the light and life and breath of our souls. When you know God's Holy Word, when you stand upon His promises, when you quote His wisdom to yourself, you beat back the lies and temptation that the devil sends your way. God’s Word teaches us how to “live” verses “exist.” So many are not living life, but rather are moving throughout the corridors of long dark seasons, pondering their purpose, their worth, their reason… Those thoughts open the gateway for the devil’s if’s…

Jesus knew the power of His Father’s words. When we embrace that power, we will unlock the doors that carry us from existing to living abundantly. When you speak God's Word over and into your spirit, God breathes life into you. When you trust God's word, you are less vulnerable to the lies that Satan tells you about yourself. You trust when God's word says, "You are fearfully and wonderfully made." You trust God's word when it says, "I know the plans that I have for you…plans never to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future…" You trust God's word when it declares that you are the righteousness of God. You trust God's word when it declares that if you confess your sins God is faithful and just to forgive you and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Trusting God's Word will help you defeat the devil's "if’s" and transition you from existing to living.

The consistent love of Jesus’ Father made him secure in himself. In each of the devil’s attempts, he began by questioning who Jesus was, “If you be the son of God….” “If…..” Inherent in the “if” is the question, are you really who you say you are?

Every day, the devil is bombarding God’s children with the question – “If you be so and so then do thus and so….” We must learn that we don’t have to prove anything to the world. We must open our hearts to hear God’s voice, calling and purpose for our lives. We must seek, by God’s grace to live out our purpose.
God is our heavenly Father. He is the supreme example of a Father. God is saying, “I’m here for you – I believe in you, I know all about you, I have a plan for your life. You are beautiful and you are mine.”

During this Lenten season, ask the Lord to increase your thirst for God’s Word. Embrace the promises found therein. Find the answers God has for your life. Move beyond the If’s and run into the arms of a loving God that reveals your true identity!

Post a comment or send me an email at
Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris