Thursday, December 30, 2010

Memories

In a few days, if the Lord does not return, we will turn the page on another year. At the end of each year there is a message conveyed that while we are to look back at what transpired in the previous year, we are not to linger there too long. The songs we sing reinforce this idea. For example, "Auld Lang Syne" which means, "long, long ago" or "days gone by" or "old times." People burst out in song, "Let old acquaintance be forgot..." And if you are a Barbra Streisand fan you may find yourself humming, "Memories, like the corners of my mind. Misty water color memories of the way we were." Yes, when the New Year comes we wipe a tear away of what was and forget about it, moving on to what the new year will hold. A New Year in which we hope things will get better. However, God doesn't want us to forget. He wants us to remember. What He wants us to remember is His character and His works. We are to remember who He is and what He has done for us. Every time we celebrate Holy Communion Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:26, "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes." Some may ask, "Why would God want to keep on harping on such a morbid thought as death?" The answer lies in what Christ's death accomplished which is our salvation. We are never to forget the great sacrifice that came from the Father's heart. The loving expression which gave up His sinless Son for us sinful human beings that did not deserve His grace. God's call to remember permeates the Scriptures through His direct voice as well as the voice of His prophets and Christ's disciples. As I continue to struggle with this new season of my life, I sometimes suffer "memory loss" as I cry out to God for help. Recently, in such a moment God directed my attention to the book of Deuteronomy, the "swan song" of Moses to the people of Israel. Moses says to the people, "What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to Him?  Only be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.." (italics mine) Deuteronomy 4:7,9a. God has been good to me in allowing me to see and experience things both in the natural and the supernatural as I walk with Him. It is so easy to get wrapped up in self absorption that we fail to do the one thing God has commanded which is to remember and never forget the greatness of our God. So as we enter a new year, what will you choose to do? Will you be like those who in the guise of "celebrating" drink themselves into unconsciousness trying to forget and wipe away the pain of the past, hoping things will get better next year? Or will you choose to remember "the things your eyes have seen and not let them slip from your heart as long as you live?" I encourage you to change your perspective and remember our God. Read Psalm 77 and join with the psalmist who out of His distress was able to declare, "I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all Your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God?" (Psalm 77:11-13)
Blessings in Christ this New Year,
Pastor Sheree 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Want To Hold Your Hand

Studies have shown that touch is a very powerful thing. Premature babies are noted to respond to the touch of their parents stroking their tiny hand through an opening in the incubator. The power of touch conveys a sense of safety and security as well as comfort. Parents will take their children by the hand to protect and guide them when crossing the street. When a person is afraid holding their hand says to them, "I'm right here with you." During an uncomfortable medical procedure or pain stemming from an illness, holding the person's hand lets them know that although you can't experience the pain for them, you can be their strength. Hand holding in a dating or marriage relationship says "I love you and I want to be connected to you." Even in the process of dying, there is an unspoken moment in the holding of the hand that exists between the dying person and their surviving relative that helps the dying person make the transition to the afterlife. Hand holding is an intimate experience. Did you know God wants to hold your hand? I was recently meditating during my time with the Lord and seeking some reassurance from Him as I continue to wait upon His direction for the next season in my life. I was drawn to Isaiah 42:6a, "I, the Lord have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. (italics mine) The Lord wants to be that intimate with us. He wants to be our comfort and strength. He wants us to know He's right there with us when we are afraid and He will keep us safe in His care. He wants us to know He loves us and wants to be connected to us. And when it is our time to leave this life and walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He is right there to transition us to the life everlasting if we have trusted in Him. Yes, God came down and took the hand of a young virgin named Mary as the infant Jesus. And as He grew into a man, Jesus throughout the gospels literally touched many people, even the so-called "untouchables", "sinners", and "outcasts." Likewise, they were allowed to touch Him. So let us not hesitate to touch another person, literally holding their hand. Because the God who created the universe reaches out to us everyday and says, "I want to hold your hand through all the seasons of your life."
Have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year !
Pastor Sheree

Monday, December 13, 2010

In Hot Pursuit

It has been a very atypical day at work. I was scheduled to have a full day of clients but from the time I arrived this morning, my clients have either forgotten their appointment or run into some unforseen circumstance. As of this writing I have one more client I am expecting for the day and I'm unsure whether I will be striking out all together. I could easily see this as a disaster and  fret about the fact that I've lost a lot of money today. But instead I receive it as God clearing my schedule so we can spend some time together, I confess that the past few days have been spiritually dry as I continue to wonder what God is up to with leading us to a new church home. In this "free" time today the Lord was able to minister to me through the words of Saint Paul in Philippians 3:12-14. Paul talks about "pressing on" to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of him. (Philippians 3:12) The idea Paul is conveying is that of chasing after something and in turn being chased after by the Lord. It is the same Greek word Paul uses in verse 6 in Philippians 3 when he speaks of "persecuting" the church. Paul is in this case, chasing after in a negative sense God's people to apprehend them. But the Lord changes that which Paul is pursuing from something that will bring destruction to something that will bring life. Chasing after the Lord will not bring disappointment in the end. I realized that we are only willing to chase after that which we truly desre, that which we are truly attracted to, that which has the power to draw us in unimaginable ways. Unlike the writer of Ecclesiastes who laments, "I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind." (Ecclesiastes 1:14) To chase after the wind is to pursue futility. To try and grasp something you cannot see or hold on to. On the other hand when we chase after Jesus, He reveals Himself to us in various ways and we can hold on to Him through the promises in His word but more important through His Spirit that dwell within us. You can't get any closer to Him than that! It is equally awesome to know that God will pursue us until we accomplish what He has prepared for us in advance to do. (Ephesians 3:20) In commenting on the passage in Philippians, author and speaker Beth Moore states that "What God calls us into will stretch us but we must walk in it." We see with our eyes (the revelation), we press on (stretching to grab it with our hands), and we walk in it. (capturing and being captured by the One who has called us.) So what are you chasing after? My prayer to the Lord as He leads me through this new season of my life is to chase after or pursue what will stretch me to grow, to chase after and pursue what will help His people to grow, but most of all to chase after and pursue that which will bring God glory. May the Lord place me with the people who need the gifts He's given to me. Even if it doesn't look like what I imagine, I know it is for my good and for His glory.
Peace,
Pastor Sheree

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How Big Can You Dream?

At my last meeting with my spiritual director, I was challenged to dream big and commit those desires to God in prayer. As I continue to search for a church home where I can use my gifts of leadership to help God's people, it was pointed out that I tend to limit myself in what I seek and ultimately hinder God's desire to see my full giftedness find its expression among His people. In other words I see myself as settling for second best. In meditating on this point I was drawn to Ephesians 3:20 and another serious focus on the passage. "Now to Him who is able" (God is not crippled or hindered in any way by anyone or anything. He can do what we cannot do) "to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" (We ask for so little, He is able to do more than that. We think small and narrow. He thinks high, wide, and deep. We ask with little expectation and dream small. He has dreams for us we can't even conceive. When we ask for a tiny thing, He can pour out His grace and power to overflowing. Our imaginations are limited, stuck in the box. There is nothing He can't imagine---look at the diversity of creation and behold the wonder of your God!) "according to His power that is at work within us" (Because of His power at work within us, we can ask big, we can dream high, wide, and deep. What He can accomplish in and through us is beyond our ability to comprehend because it is His power that accomplishes it. "to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen." (His glory revealed in us (the church) is in the same sentence as the name of Christ Jesus, the revelation of God's glory. God's glory revealed in both the Holy Son of God and the frailty of humanity. It is passed on throughout all generations until He comes again. And when He comes we will see Him as He is because we will be like Him and experience the fullness of our glory. (1 Corinthians 13:12) How big can you dream? He commands us to let our light (the light He's given us through Christ) shine before others that they may see our good works and praise our Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16) It's all about His glory according to His power that is at work within us. Amen!
All Glory to God!
Pastor Sheree

Friday, November 26, 2010

Loved and Called

How many times have you read a familiar Scripture passage and "filed" it away in your memory? "Oh yes, I am familiar with that verse," we say to ourselves. However as the saying goes, "Familiarity breeds contempt." It is one thing to be familiar with a Scripture passage or verse and another to really meditate upon and internalize it. I have had the experience on many occasions of really allowing God to speak through a very familiar passage. Most recently Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Sadly this verse has been misused by well meaning Christians to try and encourage others who have experienced a loss or some other traumatic event. When I really stopped to break this verse down I discovered the beauty of God's activity and the humility of being included in His purposes. "And we know"..(This is not a guess, not an uncertainty. It is a sure thing, an unspoken promise by the Promise keeper Himself) "that in all things"(joys as well as sorrows, victories as well as defeats, every facet of life) "God works" (He is at the center, He is active not passive. He is laboring not indifferent) "for the good" (For He is good. There is no darkness or shadow of turning in Him. There is no evil intent or impure motive.) "of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." (Loved and called; chosen out of love for His purpose. An instrument of grace, especially chosen and selected because of His knowing that I am an instrument He can use for His honor and glory) I was especially moved by recognizing anew that God is at the center of all of creation and of my life. Romans 8:28 dovetails beautifully with Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Did you notice? God works, (Romans 8:28) God created (Genesis 1:1). God is always moving, re-creating, restoring, and making things come together to display His glory. The heavens and the earth declare His glory (Psalm 19) and He works for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose. His purpose ties into and reflects back His glory. All of creation is the conduit through which His power and presence flows. We see Him in the out working of that which surrounds us and the outpouring of His grace upon us which flows to others. What greater glory can there be, than to be loved and called by the Creator of the universe.  All glory to God!
In His grace,
Pastor Sheree

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's A Miracle!

In searching for a new church home, we have had the opportunity to visit many different congregations with varying worship styles. The past two Sundays we visited a church whose denomination is known for its charismatic displays of worship and strong emphasis on the Holy Spirit. As I mentioned in my first blog, I carry on the legacy of my great-grandmother who was a woman of great influence in the church. The particular body of believers she belonged to was Pentecostal in nature and she manifested one of the more unusual sign gifts. I believe that the Spirit of God still moves today in powerful ways. Two weeks ago at this church we attended, we sat behind a young woman who was in a wheelchair. She was being wheeled around by others and there was no indication that she was able to get out of the chair without help. I had no idea why she was in the chair and I thought maybe she had broken a leg or foot but there was no sign of a cast. The young woman was lifted out of her wheelchair and placed on one of the pew chairs for the church service. During the course of some very emotionally charged singing, I noticed the young woman standing up to worship. I thought to myself, "Maybe she has a back problem," as she stood up very carefully. When my husband and I returned to the same church this past Sunday, the pastor interrupted the worship time to give a testimony. He proceeded to state that the young woman from last week who was in the wheelchair was the victim of severe abuse. She had been abused so badly that she ended up in a wheelchair unable to physically walk. During the time of praise the young woman whispered to the folks who had brought her to the service that the Lord told her to "Get up and walk!" She obeyed and stood to her feet and was able to walk out of the church service on her own two feet! In fact, she has continued to walk unassisted since that day. I realized I had witnessed a miracle! It reminded me of Jesus healing of the paralytic in Mark chapter 2. The paralytic's friends ended up lowering the man through the roof of the house because they couldn't get through the crowd at the front door. When Jesus saw the faith of the paralytic and his friends, He said to the man, "Son, your sins are forgiven." This angered the teachers of the law who questioned Jesus' authority to forgive sins as such authority belonged to God alone. So to prove Jesus had such authority he said to the man, "I tell you get up, take your mat, and go home." Mark tells us the man "Got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!" (Mark 2:11-12) I know how those people felt. Imagine my surprise when I learned the real story about that young woman. I had witnessed a miracle and didn't even know it! I do not want to imply that this woman's paralysis was due to sin in her life. If anything, she was sinned against by her abuser. The message I take away is the power of God is still living and active in this world. We may not experience a "miracle" on such a grand scale as this young woman but God is able "to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 2:20-21)
Blessings,
Pastor Sheree

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Valuable Lesson

A classic line from the movie "Forrest Gump" states, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." As a Christian Counselor that is a great line and is often true. Recently I was meditating on the idea of the Lord's presence with us. In fact, God's presence within us is to be so apparent that others will see it. A verse from Matthew 5:16 states, "In the same way let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." I received a referral from a pastoral colleague of mine and after talking to the gentleman on the phone, I became concerned about meeting with him. Everything inside of me was saying, "Make up an excuse not to meet with this man" but I scheduled the appointment anyway. The gentleman described himself as a "redneck" which my pastoral colleague confirmed. As a black woman, terms like that can cause great anxiety. He also had committed a murder but it was deemed self defense and no time was served. I asked my pastoral colleague to accompany the client to the session for safety purposes which he did willingly. I had it all planned out in my head as to what I was going to do. I would politely meet with him, then refer him to someone else. However, just before the meeting, being a "good pastor" and Christian, I asked the Lord to give me the eyes to see this man as Christ would and the heart to have compassion. God is faithful and during the session I saw a very wounded person whose anger was driven by a difficult past. Yes, he was very much the "redneck" he described but there was something more than what physical eyes might see. Suddenly, my plans for referring him to someone else dissolved. At the end  of the session, the client stated that he "liked me" and I reminded him of his former therapist who he loved very much. I admitted to him some of my initial concerns about our meeting and he asked me not to judge him because he was from the south. We ended the session holding hands and praying together. God taught me a valuable lesson that day. When we let our light shine before others and approach them with the compassion of Christ, they will see the Lord and God will get the glory. I believe if Christ were here on earth, He would be hanging out with this client a lot. Don't forget who you are in Christ and the call of the gospel to bring the good news, hope, and healing to the broken hearted.
Peace,
Pastor Sheree

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On Eagles Wings

On Monday as I pulled into the church parking lot where my counseling practice is established I looked up and there circling the church steeple was a red-tailed hawk. It rode the air current with grace and beauty ever circling the steeple cross. I just sat there to take it all in. In my CD player was a song by one of my favorite groups SELAH. The song is entitled, "You Deliver Me." The chorus states, "When I feel like I can't go on, You deliver me. When the road is winding and way too long, You deliver me, You deliver me.  For me that hawk symbolized freedom and deliverance which comes from the Lord's hand. As the hawk hovers and soars on the unseen wind, so God's Spirit brings me life and allows me to soar. I watched the hawk as it slowly started to drift away until it was joined by another hawk. Together they circled and soared ever higher. I thought about the Lord's presence with me. He joins with me in this journey called life and is always by my side. I never have to worry about being alone or abandoned. I thought about my experience that morning and throughout my day. Later that afternoon, the word of the Lord came to me from Isaiah 40:31, "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Glory to God who delivers us from our fears and lightens our burdens so we can soar!
Be Blessed,
Pastor Sheree

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Perception is Everything

As I continue to struggle with my sense of "homelessness", I was drawn to a passage in Isaiah 48:18-19a.
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?" I kept meditating on this verse for many days especially the question, do you not perceive it? I confess it is hard to perceive much these days but God's Spirit was relentless in churning this question around in my soul. It seemed to me that God was saying to let go of my former experience because He's about to do some new things in my life and I need to in essence "keep my eyes open" enough to see Him at work. Later on that day I was drawn to my backyard. Last summer we had a number of trees cut down. The rubble of felled trees that remained seemed to be without life. But as I looked I saw in the midst of the rubble green vegetation starting to grow. The verse from Isaiah 48 came to mind! What I perceived as lifeless and dead, God was in the process of doing a new thing. In fact the verses that I was drawn to meditate upon in their context speaks to God's promise to bring restoration to Israel. Thus, I believe God is seeking to encourage me that restoration is coming just like the vegetation that springs up, can I not perceive it?
Shalom,
Pastor Sheree

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The other day I was watching a program in which the host was interviewing Dr. Tony Evans. Dr. Evans is a speaker, author, and writer. He is also the senior pastor of the 8,000 member Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship located in Dallas, Texas. On this program, Dr. Evans was discussing his most recent book entitled "Between a Rock and a Hard Place." I realized just the title alone described how I have been feeling these days. To have stayed in my former church was the rock but to be without a church fellowship is the hard place. In an article on line  about his new book, Dr. Evans states that he believes God puts trials in our lives in order to reveal where we are along our spiritual journey. He does this for the purpose of "correcting whatever happens to be wrong, revealing whatever needs to be revealed, and strengthening whatever seems to be weak so that we might move on to whatever He (God) parenthesis mine has in store for us." Dr. Evans goes on to describe that being stuck between a rock and a hard place often feels like being trapped, stuck, and tired of where we are.  We either don't know what to do or how to legitimately do what we feel we need to do. I say AMEN to that!  He compares the situation to Israel's dilemma when they faced Pharaoh on one side and the Red Sea on the other and certain death was upon them.  Dr. Evans describes such a dilemma as a lose-lose deal (the proverbial rock and hard place ) italics mine. He says, "If it were a clear win-lose deal, then you would know how to choose and where to turn." He then asks the questions, "But what do you do when there are no clear choices? What option do you choose when both options are bad? Have you ever been in a situation where all of the ways that you turn to are problems, and you are just trying to find the least possible problem to choose as a solution?" That's where I was a few months ago. The choices were to stay in a rather difficult and depressing situation or leave the situation and step into the "great unknown." Dr. Evans admits he has been in this situation many times and he has learned that God has a purpose for these times in our lives. God is not being mean when He decrees that we go through these trials.  In the on line article Dr. Evans concludes, "When God wants to reveal the real condition of your heart to empower you toward His plan for your future, He puts you in one of these kinds of trials." On the T.V. program in which Dr. Evans was being interviewed, he told the host that the great thing about being between a rock and a hard place is that it typically indicates that God is going to do something big that will "blow your mind!" and he cited several Biblical examples throughout Scripture. I agree. Do you think Israel's mind was blown when God parted the Red Sea? How do you think Mary felt when the angel told her she would give birth to the Messiah? How about the rock and the hard place that Joseph found himself in when he discovered that Mary was pregnant and knew what the law said he should do but he couldn't bring himself to do it. No, being stuck between a rock and a hard place is not fun but I am waiting to see how God is going to "blow my mind!" His word to me this day is from 1Thessalonians 5:24 "The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it."
Be Blessed,
Pastor Sheree

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Songs of Praise

Psalm 19:1-4 states, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." Did you notice how many words referring to sound are found in these four short verses? "Declare," "proclaim," "speech," "language," "voice," "words." How does that strike you? To me it says that there is a constant dialogue going on from earth to heaven and heaven to earth, "songs of praise!" We tend to think of praise sometimes in a limited way. The songs we sing as a body together or in our individual lives constitute in our minds praise to God. However, all creation is constantly praising Him in songs and words that we cannot hear with our human ears. The Scriptures are full of references exhorting creation to praise the Lord. Psalm 150 is a great example. In verse 6 the psalmist states, "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord." Have you ever considered that the singing of the birds or the sounds other creatures make may be more than just communicating with their own species? What if among those sounds of nature there are interspersed praises to God? What is even more exciting is the Lord responds! One of my favorite verses is Zephaniah 3:17 where there is rejoicing over the restoration to come for Jerusalem. "The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." (emphasis mine) Do you see that? God sings to us. Singing flows in both directions! There is an expression that says, "Music is the universal language." Given this constant serenade between heaven and earth, I say that music is the language of the universe. May you rejoice in knowing not only does God speak but He sings over you!
Be Blessed!
Pastor Sheree

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Promise

In my first post I mentioned that I believe I am to carry on the mantle of my great grandmother. This is a poem I wrote in response to awakening to the reality of that legacy.


The Promise
Abraham was just a man,
The Lord had called to leave Haran.
So Abraham obeyed and went,
To the place where he was sent.
He did not doubt, no not like Thomas,
For God had given him a promise.
“You won’t have fortunes or much fame,
But a son will carry on your name.
You’ll be the father of all nations,
And your heritage will last for generations.”
Florence was like Abraham,
She came into a foreign land.
She had no fortune had no fame,



But she had faith in the Lord’s Name.
And when her beloved husband died and left her in a lurch,
The Lord called out, “Stand on your feet and build for Me a church.”
So she obeyed and did not doubt,
No, she was not like Thomas.
For somewhere deep within her soul,
The Lord gave her a promise.
A promise is a spoken word its something like a dream,
The Spirit calls throughout the age,”Believe in the unseen!”
I never heard my Nanny say, “I know you are the one”,
But I believe I am a promise just like Abraham’s son.
I do not know where He will lead, so I will just be still.
For I know I’ve a task to do, a promise to fulfill.

(Sheree A. Harrington, July 7, 2009)
Peace In Christ,
Pastor Sheree

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Covenant

When I was a teenager, I used to write poetry to get through some of the painful moments of adolescence. Once I entered college the writing stopped for many years. However, a few years ago God rekindled my poetic gift. Over the next few posts I will share with you some of what I have written. This  poem was written as I came to the end of my time as Associate Pastor at my former church and was venturing into the unknown. 



THE COVENANT


 Open my eyes that I may see,
Your beauty thats surrounding me.
Open my ears that I may hear,
Your Spirit’s voice so sweet and clear.
“Do not fight the battles won,
The triumph rests upon my Son.
Because my love will last forever,
Don’t be afraid of this new endeavor.
Go to the place that I will show,
And when you arrive, then you will know.
That to my promises I am true,
This is the depth of my love for you.”
(Sheree A Harrington, August 29, 2010)
Shalom,
Pastor Sheree


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Longing for Egypt?

I was sitting in my den yesterday waiting on the Lord and having a pity party. I was thinking to myself, "I know how the Israelites felt out there in the wilderness." The Israelites had many pity parties as they cried out to God to return to Egypt. They didn't like the wilderness and longed for the comforts they missed, especially the food and drink. However, they were quick to forget their labor was hard, they were devalued, and downright abused. I too began thinking like the Israelites. Here I am in the wilderness, promised something better but unable to see it or imagine it. At least in my former church I knew everyone and had a role in the congregation. Unfortunately, I too was quick to forget the difficulties that led me out of that congregation. God released the Israelites and me from bondage. He is not pleased when His people are being mistreated. He rescued them in response to their cry to Him. I was captured by Psalm 18 and God's response to David's plea. "In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears.....He parted the heavens and came down." (Psalm 18:6,9) God displayed His power in a grand theophany of nature. For the Israelites God demonstrated His power in a series of plagues which ultimately led to the Egyptians releasing the people. God removed His people because He had something better waiting for them. Unfortunately they refused His gift. When they reached the promised land, Joshua and Caleb went on a mission and returned with a report. The land was everything the Lord promised. There was just one glitch, the current inhabitants were formidable and needed to be removed. The Israelites were not happy campers.They again had forgotten how God provided for them and protected them throughout their wilderness journey. He did not leave them at the edge of the promised land with best wishes for getting past the current inhabitants. What the Israelites failed to remember that Joshua and Caleb knew was that the God who led them out would lead them in. I realize that the same God has my best interest at heart. He is leading me to a new place and is providing for me, protecting me, and preparing me along the way.  He won't leave me on my own with best wishes for future success. I need that same mindset that Joshua and Caleb demonstrated. The God who led me out will lead me in. I may not always feel it, but God is true to His word and His truth and promises are what I cling to.
Be Blessed!
Pastor Sheree

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Touch of Grace

God has often connected with me through nature. This is a new experience for me which has come about through taking time to pay attention to Him. I have had a lot of encounters with dragonflies. They are beautiful and one of the many unique creatures that reflect the creative handiwork of God. God has allowed me to be able to touch them and have them land on me for brief periods of time. However, I have never had more than a few seconds of time to connect with these little wonders. This weekend, God granted me an extra touch of His grace. I was standing on my porch and noticed a dragonfly on the railing. It was a beautiful bright red. I went to touch it and it flew away much to my disappointment. Then, it flew back and I rested my hand next to it. It began to take off but instead of flying away it came to rest on my hand for  what seemed like an unending period of time. I'm not sure how long it was there but we spent the time just being in each others company. I was able to observe its beauty as well as its fragility. And somehow it new that I would not bring it harm. Often times after one of these creature encounters, God will draw me to some Scripture. I was led to Matthew 3 and the baptism of Jesus. After Jesus was baptized, the Spirit rested on Him in the form of a dove. A voice from heaven declared, "This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17) To me, this dragonfly represented God's Spirit resting on me. The red color reminded me of the red colors the church often uses at Pentecost and associates with the Spirit's coming. Although I heard no voices from heaven, I couldn't help but think of the Father smiling and declaring, "This is my daughter, whom I love; with her I am well pleased."As I had mentioned in my first posting, my great-grandmother was a women who was full of the Holy Spirit which often was manifested through her during her ministry. I feel this encounter was in some way a reminder to me that the Holy Spirit is the power  by which we are able to carry on the Lord's work. That same Holy Spirit that rested on my great-grandmother has rested on me and the dragonfly is symbolically the power of His Spirit affirming that His presence is with me. 
To God be the glory!
Pastor Sheree

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Relationship

I believe in the power of relationship. God is a relational God as evidenced in the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) God created us to be in relationship with each other. As a Christian counselor relationship is important. Although I have the academic credentials, I don't consider myself a "know it all" when it comes to entering into the personal stories of the people to whom I minister God's grace. Instead I consider myself a fellow traveler, walking alongside the people who have given me a sacred trust, to hear the stories of their lives. In walking alongside people I too am blessed as God has spoken to me through their stories. I share with you a poem that a client shared with me. It is simple but speaks volumes. My client who I will call Amy found this poem written on the inside of a closet in the apartment she is living in. Aside from her full time job, Amy cares for an elderly couple who need supervision especially at night. Amy is currently separated from her husband who is an active substance abuser and has been domestically abusive towards Amy. In a moment of despair, Amy was cleaning out this particular closet and discovered the following words. It is another example of God creating in the darkness of the poet's life and touching Amy with words of hope and encouragement. 


"I place this day, my life, my loved ones in the Lord's Hands.. For there is no harm, In the Lord's Hands, Only good, whatever happens, whatever results, In the Lord's Hands... If I am in the Lord's Hands, my life is his will And it is Good!!"  


Amy shared this with me and I look at it often. May it bless and encourage you.
Peace,
Pastor Sheree

Friday, October 1, 2010

In The Dark

I'm sure at one time in your life you have had to let go of what was familiar and cleave to God. In those moments we can feel very alone and walk through the "dark night of the soul." Who are you in those times of darkness and who is God? That's the question that was put to me recently as I have entered a time of transition. Leaving the familiarity of my home church and role as Associate Pastor to go to someplace yet to be revealed by the Lord. In thinking about who it is I am becoming in this next season of my life, the idea of a caterpillar in its cocoon came to mind. In that dark place, the caterpillar is isolated, disconnected, alone. It must depend on God to care for it in this temporary state. Likewise I must depend on Him in my temporary state. But I asked the Lord who am I in this place? The Lord impressed upon me that I am unique. A unique expression of God's design. No two snowflakes are alike neither are any two butterflies that emerge from their cocoon. So it is with humanity. I cannot compare myself to another nor seek to be like someone I may admire. In my present "dark place" I depend solely on God. I was still somewhat distressed in figuring out what to do in this holding pattern. Just before bed time last night the Lord impressed these words upon my heart, "Create in the dark." Needless to say it made for a very restless sleep but this morning things became much clearer. The Lord was adding to my "uniqueness" that I am also creative. To that end I was led to Genesis 1:1-2. What I noticed was that God not only is present in the darkness but actively creating. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2) (emphasis mine) Even before God said "Let there be light." He was creating in the midst of the darkness. From the outside of the cocoon we cannot see what is going on, but creation is taking place in the dark and God is at the center of it. So I am encouraged that this time of darkness is not one that is to be unproductive but creative. As I am created in the image of God, the God who created all things places His creative stamp on plants, animals, and humanity. And all of a sudden there is hope in the darkness.
Blessings,
Pastor Sheree

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Welcome To My World!

Shalom in the name of Yeshua Ha Meshiach! (Jesus the Messiah)
This is my first attempt at what is known as "blogging" so please bear with me as I learn the ins and outs. I would like to share with you my "God moments" or in other words the insights that God has shared with me. His revelations and inspirations did not come from angel visitations or some super natural manifestation but rather from taking the time to be still and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10) Did you know God wants to speak to you? He is constantly speaking and will connect if we take the time to listen. Thus, the title of the blog, "God Speaking." Much of what I share comes from my journaling. Journaling is one of the spiritual disciplines that allows me to capture what God has to say and hopefully learn from it as He daily transforms me from the inside out. My journey has been a long and interesting one but I really began to hear from God as I came to understand the legacy that I received from my great-grandmother Florence Mills. She was a co-founder of The Emmanuel Holiness Church in Roxbury, MA. which is still an active congregation today. Florence was full of the Holy Spirit and demonstrated a commanding presence among the people. In the church she was known as a "mother" of the congregation which in the Black Church is a term of great respect and honor. I believe that God made a promise to her that her legacy would be carried on similar to the promise God made to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. Through much prayer and work with a spiritual director I have come to recognize that I am the one who is to carry on my great grandmother's legacy. It is a humbling experience and I pray I will be a blessing to others following in her footsteps. I also pray that the insights I share will in some way encourage you and at the same time challenge you to draw closer to Him and listen for His Spirit to resonate in your soul!
In Christ,
Pastor Sheree
P.S. I'm the infant in my great grandmother's lap!