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