Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Shepastor: “The Power of Honest, Transparent and Respectful Conversation…”

 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12, NIV


For the last five years, the Cleveland Foundation has supported a community wide initiative called, “Common Ground.” Common Ground is a platform for community members to come together to discuss ideas, issues, concerns, etc., to make our communities healthier, stronger, better.

On July 27th, 2021, Restoration Ministries of Greater Cleveland, Inc., and Faith in the City Euclid, Ohio, hosted the conversation, “People, Place and Shared Power: Where Are We On the Journey?” Our facilitator was Dr. Martina Moore, Ph.D., President and CEO of Moore Counseling. The basis of our conversation was the ground breaking book, White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo.

In preparation for our discussion, the board members of our group came together to read the book and discuss how the concepts, truths, and overall idea of the book impacted us as individuals. Our conversations were open, honest, transparent and raw. Sometimes we laughed, sometimes we cried, and sometimes we became angry. But our conversation remained respectful with truths shared in love. 

Dr. Moore asked that each of us share our experiences during the book discussion with our conversation participants. Our participant audience of 22 individuals was diverse in terms of age, race, ethnicity and religious beliefs. Following opening remarks from the facilitator and the experience sharing from the book study group, everyone was given an opportunity to respond and share.

Individuals transparently shared their thoughts about racism. White participants shared honestly the fears they had been taught to have over the years about African American people and their culture. African American participants shared the realities they face daily related to systems that were designed and continue to persist to oppress, marginalize, penalize and disenfranchise minorities on every level. An Asian participant shared the oppressions, aggressions and disappointments they face as they experience “tokenism” from White people, and rejection from African American people.

A young person responded to a statement regarding fear of the African American culture. He shared that most fear is based in a lack of knowledge about the culture. He also articulately shared how history writers control the narrative, frequently painting those they oppress in a negative light. It is therefore important for people to get to know people for themselves, to read a more expansive repertoire of literature, from the perspective of those from the culture and to understand the systems that create and perpetuate poverty, “inner city” conditions and the dangerous atmosphere that rightly engenders fear.

WOW! What a POWERFUL CONVERSATION!!! Following the sharing of ideas, thoughts and experiences, participants all agreed that more dialogue is needed on these issues. Participants exchanged contact information and made a commitment to spend time getting to know one another. People expressed a desire to learn more and to engage in a follow-up discussion in the Fall. 

To God be the glory, honest, transparent and respectful conversation produced the fruit of meaningful dialogue, new friendships and hope. We began to "see" one another! With God, all things are possible, even in a time of historic divisions in our nation. By faith, we will walk on. By faith, together, we will overcome, someday…

In Faith, Hope and perseverance,

Pastor Chris

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

 Shepastor: "What Kind of Fruit Do You Bear 'On the Regular?' "

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[a] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[b] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1: 9-14, NIV


In this text Paul is praying some detailed prayers for the people of God, the new believers in Colossae. Specifically, Paul prays:

-        That the Lord would fill them with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding given by the Holy Spirit

-        That they would live a life worthy of the Lord, pleasing him in every way 

-        That they would bear fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of the Lord

-        That they would be strengthened by God’s power so that they may have great endurance and patience

It is so easy for us to say that we could never be worthy of all that the Lord has done for us. And that is true. The scripture says that “all of our righteousness is as filthy rags…” There is nothing that we can do to make ourselves clean, right before the Lord. However, we can live a life that is worthy of our Lord. In other words, through Christ, and with the power of the precious Holy Spirit, we can “walk worthy.”

Paul emphasizes that through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, we can live a life that is worthy of our Lord. We cannot do it on our own, but through Christ, we can do all things. Let’s consider his prayers for them:


The first two things Paul prays are:

(1) That the Lord would fill them with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding given by the Holy Spirit

(2) That they would live a life worthy of the Lord, pleasing him in every way

 When we yield our heart, mind and spirit to receive God’s word, when we pray to understand and apply God’s word to our lives, we will, by faith, trust in the Lord with all of our heart, not leaning to our own understanding, but instead we will acknowledge him and trust him to direct our path. We will learn how to please the Lord….Trust, pray and obey!


Today’s focus is upon the third thing that Paul prayed for the believers:

(3) That they would bear fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of the Lord


Paul prayed that they would bear fruit in every good work and grow in the knowledge of the Lord. What does it mean to “bear fruit in every good work?” To bear fruit means that there will be evidence of our walk with the Lord. Jesus said, “they will know that we are Christians by our love.” Jesus also said that good trees will not bear bad fruit. We will be known by our fruit.


This does not mean that we won’t ever do anything wrong. It does mean, however, that our “record” of fruit, the kind of fruit we bear, should be consistent. What kind of fruit do we bear on the regular? For example, an apple tree cannot bear oranges. A grape vine cannot bear lemons. If we are living a life worthy of our Lord, then our fruit will be consistent with the Spirit of Christ. We are known by our fruit. We win lost souls to Christ through God’s love. It does not matter how many scriptures you know, how many days you fast or how many committees you join if you don’t have love. What kind of fruit do we bear “on the regular?”

 Our fruit is reflected in the way we behave. Do we treat people like we want to be treated? Do we forgive, even when the offender does not apologize? Do we speak the truth in love? Do we have the joy of the Lord? Are we the hands and feet of Jesus, helping others, encouraging others, serving others, supporting others? 

 God’s people have the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, endurance, patience, meekness “against such there is no law.”

In other words, when we live a life filled with the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit, we don’t have to worry about “the law,” for our love fulfills the mandates of the law. Jesus said that we can hang all of the law and the prophets on the two great commandments – the love of God and the love of fellow human beings. May we pray to bear good fruit regularly that reflects the love of Christ!

 A song writer put it like this… 

Day by day

Day by day

Oh Dear Lord

Three things I pray

To see thee more clearly

Love thee more dearly

Follow thee more nearly

Day by day


May we join Paul in this prayer not only for ourselves, but for one another, that we will live a life worthy of our Lord, and bear good fruit in the name of Jesus!

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,

Pastor Chris

Check out this amazing forum happening on Sunday, July 25th at 6:00 p.m.! See the information posted below...

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

 Shepastor: "Lessons From the 


Matthew 4: 3-11, NIV The Temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness


The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[a]

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[c]

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[d]

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.


The wilderness…that place where we imagine solitude, the sounds of nature, running brooks, tall trees, cool breeze, and “roughing it.” That’s one image. The wilderness can also refer to a mental, emotional or physical place of isolation, weariness, concerns about the present and future, vulnerability. In this passage of scripture, we find Jesus in both the physical and mental wilderness. After having fasted forty days and nights, and in preparation for his earthly ministry, Jesus is confronted by Satan himself. Humanly speaking, Jesus is at his lowest point…tired, hungry, alone and facing major tasks and responsibilities ahead. The weight, no doubt, is heavy, hard and harrowing! But Jesus went through this process to teach us how to overcome the enemy’s tactics, and stand victorious through the wilderness. 

 Jesus’ victory over temptation teaches us how to resist Satan and reign victorious as we experience the wilderness. As we read verses 3-11, we should not look simply at “bread, suicide or worshipping the devil,” but rather, we should see these as representations of categories for life. The writer in 1st John puts it like this, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16, KJV).

 When the enemy came to Jesus, tempting him to turn the stones into bread, he was appealing to Jesus’ human sensation of hunger. To understand this more fully, consider what happens to a person when they fast for extended periods of time. “With no carbohydrates coming in, the body creates its own glucose using mainly fat. Eventually, the body runs out of these energy sources as well. Fasting mode then becomes the more serious starvation mode. At this point, a person's metabolism slows down, and their body begins burning muscle tissue for energy” (Medical News Today, online).

 Your muscles begin to weaken. Starvation begins to set in. When a person is in this state, they are extremely vulnerable. This describes physical hunger, but there are many kinds of hunger that can weaken, debilitate, and break down a person. When the devil told Jesus to turn stones into bread, it didn’t sound like such a bad idea. I mean, why not? He was starving, he was weak, he was tired. He had the power to do it. Why not? 

Here’s lesson 1: Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.
Jesus was on a mission. He was in preparation mode and needed all of the spiritual strength as a human being that he could garner. Although he was God in the flesh, when Jesus came to earth, he came as a human being, to teach us how to walk, how to live, how to serve, how to forgive, how to have faith, how to love and how to make it through our wilderness experiences. Had Jesus used his super natural gifts, which we don’t have, then he would have lost the influence to show us how to overcome when we are hungry.

 When Jesus faced hunger, he stood upon God’s word… “But he answered and said, it is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” We all get hungry physically. But we also get hungry in other ways…hunger for love, hunger for physical touch, hunger for affirmation and encouragement, hunger for fulfillment…hunger for relationship…hungry for fellowship, etc. None of these things in and of themselves are wrong. But if they are fulfilled in the wrong way, we will lose our authority to witness, to be an example, to show others a more excellent way. We can ruin not only our testimony, but our life’s work, our life mission, our life as we know it if we seek to fulfill hunger in unhealthy and immoral ways.

 Just because you can go where ever you want to go, doesn’t mean that you should. Just because you can attract or get involved with a particular person, doesn’t mean that you should. Just because you can enter into a particular business venture, doesn’t mean that you should. Pray, weigh the consequences, ask yourself is it really worth it? Think about who will be impacted by the decision that you are about to make to satisfy some passing hunger. Understand that once you yield to the temptation that the devil dangles before you, he leaves you to deal with the fall out, stands back to the side and laughs.

 Lesson #2: Don’t throw yourself down unnecessarily. The devil next tells Jesus to jump off of a cliff, suggesting that if he does, the Father would send angels to come and rescue him. Listen again to how Jesus responds…

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[c]

The devil loves to take scripture out of context. The devil quoted Psalm 91:11-12 out of context…

11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.


Within context of this passage, these verses refer to accidents or harm coming to a godly person unaware of a danger. This DOES NOT suggest that God’s people can take on foolish dares, deliberately put themselves in unnecessary harm, handle snakes, drink poison, jump in front of cars as a stunt and expect “angels to lift you up.” This is a trick, a trap and involves foolish pride. Sometimes people will knowingly get themselves involved in foolish, ill advised, even sinful situations and then say, “the Lord will protect me.”

 The Lord may have mercy and keep you from death, but that is not guaranteed. Don’t fall for the devil’s trick. Jesus said, “do not put the Lord your God to the test.” In other words, don’t do foolish, stupid, ill advised, immoral things and then EXPECT that God will protect you. “Be not deceived, God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soeth, that shall he also reap.”

 We all make mistakes. We all make ill-advised choices from time to time. But understand that when such things happen, if we are spared, it’s because of God’s mercy, not because God is obligated to spare us. When we choose to step out from under the arc of God’s safety, God’s Word, God’s guidance, we open ourselves up to unnecessary pain, sometimes life-long anguish and scars. Don’t put God to the test…don’t do whatever you want and expect that God will rescue you from the consequences.

 The final trick and trap Satan offers Jesus is to “give him all of the kingdoms of the world, if he would fall down and worship him.” Lesson #3: “Don’t fall for the ‘Okidoke! Worship God alone.’” Listen to how Jesus responds…

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[d]

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.


Of all of the tricks and traps, temptations Satan offers Jesus, I always thought this one was the most ridiculous. Satan knows that Jesus is the Son of God. Satan knows that Jesus is God- the Word made flesh. He knows that Jesus is a part of the God-head and that God owns all – “the earth is the Lord and the fulness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein…” (Psalm 24:1, KJV). What was he up to? Was he appealing to Jesus’ self-worth and pride? Did he think that because Jesus was adorned in human flesh that he would forget who he was, who the Father is?

The devil knew that Jesus was doing this for us. He knew that Jesus, although fully divine, had taken on the feelings, emotions, fears, struggles, hopes, desires, etc., of humanity, so that he could relate to us completely. Therefore, the devil was appealing to his human tendencies. Jesus knew that we would be faced with these same temptations… “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.”

Jesus knew that there would be times when we wanted something…we wanted a position, or some power, or some material things, some relationships, some opportunities etc., that appeared to be out of our reach. And while the devil is not like God – the devil IS NOT omniscient. In other words, the devil does not know everything. Only God knows all. But the devil is ancient. In other words, the devil has been around a very long time and he has learned the weaknesses of human beings.  He also remembers what made him fall – the spirit of pride. Proverbs declares that pride goes before the fall.

Satan was appealing to Jesus’ human side, hoping that somehow, the prospect of having fame and fortune on earth would cause him to bow down and worship him. But Jesus summed up the answer for us, for all time – “worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”  The old saying goes, “if you dance to the music, you’ve got to pay the piper.” My mother always said, “ill-gotten gain will never serve you well.” You cannot accept the trinkets, the material things, the position and the power, the fame and the fortune offered by the devil and think that there is no price to pay.

Satan has NOTHING to offer you except destruction, death and hell. No matter how good it looks, no matter how sweet it sounds, no matter how much of an “opportunity” it appears to be, it is an illusion, a trick, a trap, a fleeting moment of pleasure that turns bitter in your mouth, sour in your stomach and send you on a trip to the proverbial emergency room with a massive bill! Satan is a loser. You cannot win on his team. Stay with God! Worship and serve the Lord who is worthy of all of our praise! God has all power in His hand. God is the giver and the sustainer of life. God is able to keep you from falling. God is able to lift you up in the presence of your enemies. God will supply all of your needs according to his riches in glory. But most of all, God is the giver and the sustainer of your life, not only here, but in eternity through Jesus Christ.

Don’t fall for the Okiedoke! Learn from Jesus’ examples and lessons from the wilderness. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you. Follow the Lord Jesus and daily, he will teach you how to avoid, resist and beware of the tricks of the devil!

Until next Wednesday,

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,

Pastor Chris