Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Shepastor: “New Members of the Great Cloud of Witnesses…”

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12: 1, NLT

This passage of scripture is written in direct connection to Hebrews chapter 11, which has frequently been referred to as the “Hall of Faith.” The “Great Cloud of Witnesses” refers to those women and men in chapter 11, who remained faithful to God through many struggles, trials, hardships, persecutions, miracles, victories and even death. Our focus verse for today reminds us of their faith, and that they are “looking on,” encouraging us to continue to run our appointed race through faith, patience and grace.

In the past few days, in America and for us in the Greater Cleveland/Akron, Ohio area, we recognize the earthly loss of several giants of faith and social justice. Today, Shepastor pauses to honor the lives and the legacies of these great individuals who now have joined our “cheering squad” in the heavenly realms, taking up their places among that powerful group of witnesses…


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, aka, “RBG…” (1933-2020)

Affectionately called “R.B.G.” by her supporters, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has inspired generations of women to break gender barriers. Even after facing gender discrimination as she pursued her academic goals, Ginsburg forged ahead and became the second woman--and first Jewish woman--to serve on the Supreme Court. Read more at


The Rev. Dr. Diana L. Swoope, Senior Pastor, Arlington Street Church of God, Akron, Ohio (1955-2020)

“Never apologize for being a woman or being a pastor.”

That’s what Diana Swoope heard from her mentor, Pastor Ronald Fowler of Akron’s Arlington Church of God. Fowler broke ground not only when he hired Swoope as an intern in 1981 then later promoted her to assistant pastor, but the big move was in 2009.

That was when Fowler recommended Swoope replace him as head pastor of one of Akron’s largest and most prestigious African-American churches. Read more at


Bishop J. Delano Ellis, II, Metropolitan-Arch Bishop of the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops, Pentecostal Churches of Christ (1944-2020)

Bishop J. Delano Ellis II, a Black church official who started Pentecostal organizations and emphasized ecumenism, died over the weekend.

Over the course of his career, the Philadelphia native was a teacher, pastor and a chief of chaplains in the U.S. Air Force Civil Air Patrol.

But J. Delano Ellis was also among a group of “High-Church Pentecostal” clerics who in the 1990s became known for adorning their necks with Roman collars, wearing priestly garments with links to their African heritage and reciting the Nicene Creed. They were part of a trend that reshaped a portion of American Black religion. "Traditionally ... the Pentecostal church maintained its ardor but was never really known for its order," the bishop, then president of the United Pentecostal Churches of Christ, told Religion News Service in 1995. "What we're discovering ... is that order is not blasphemous. Order best represents God." Read more at

(Each of the above articles are attributed to the news outlets found in the attached links).

We give God praise for each of these GREAT leaders, trailblazers, social justice leaders and examples of perseverance and excellence. May we, like them, by faith, “strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12: 1, NLT

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,

Pastor Chris



Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Shepastor: “Crosswinds and Blessings…”


20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20, KJV

Recently, a massive explosion in Beirut caught the attention of the world. Debris flying, an unsuspecting bride taking wedding photos thrown to the ground as buildings began falling. Interestingly, one of the men interviewed shared that prior to the explosion, it was a beautiful, quiet day. He and his mother were sitting out on the balcony when they heard the loud noise and felt the ground rumble.

As they ran back into the house, he wisely told his mother to leave the windows and doors open. As they ran towards safety, a huge blast followed behind them. However, because both the windows and doors were opened, the impact was less lethal. They survived.

In a completely different situation, as I sat one day in a small room in our home, I had the window open. Even though the window was open, the room was a bit warm and uncomfortable. I opened the door to the room and all of a sudden, a pleasantly warm breeze began to flow and soothingly brush past my face. Opening the door created a crosswind that did not occur when the door was closed, even though the window was open.

As I pondered this experience, I thought about God’s blessings in our lives. Sometimes, we have opened the proverbial “windows,” in our lives… prayer, attending worship, striving to live “good” lives, etc. But we have kept larger doors closed…stepping out on faith to do things that are out of our comfort zone,  obeying the voice of God to answer a call, sacrifice a special offering, forgive someone who has wounded us, stand up for what is right even though it may not be popular.

Opening our doors require faith. It also requires trust that God is able to hold us in His loving care, give us what we need to accomplish what He has asked us to do and empower us to His will through His Holy Spirit guidance, strength and peace.

When we keep the doors closed, we miss the “crosswinds of blessings” that are not possible with cracked windows. We run the risk of inviting danger when we believe we are safe. We truncate the beauty of the wind of God’s favor upon our lives.

What doors are you afraid to open? What doors are you refusing to open? What blessings are you missing because you are content to remain in a closed off “room” with only a window open, ignoring the doors of opportunity?

Trust God and open your door today. The crosswinds of blessings are awaiting…

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,

Pastor Chris