Covenant Baptist Church

  "Making a difference for the Kingdom"

Perfect Peace Devotional Archives

 March/April 2013

The meaning of Lent?

Every year towards the end of February, the Christian Church observes the season known as, Lent. Originally, Lent was a time of preparation for Easter baptism. Those preparing to be baptized would fast and pray. The climax of the season came with an all night vigil of Easter Even with baptism, confirmation and celebration of Christ?s Resurrection. Lent also was a time for all members of the church community to repent of and mourn for sin. The forty weekdays of Lent represent the time Jesus spent in the wilderness during His Temptation. According to Matthew and Luke, He fasted for forty days.

During Lent, the church of today continues to focus upon the themes of repentance, forgiveness and restoration. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. The ashes are made from the burned palms from the previous Palm Sunday. In the Christian Tradition, the ashes are blessed and then the pastor, using the ashes, makes the sign of the cross upon the foreheads of the repentant. The ashes symbolize repentance. The idea comes from the Old Testament times when mourners clothed themselves in sackcloth and sprinkled their heads and faces with dust or ashes.

Job said, ?Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:6). Jesus declared, ?Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Siden, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.? (Information obtained from, Symbols of Church Seasons & Days, by John Bradner)

While the ashes symbolize repentance, let us remember that outward symbols without inward transformation is unacceptable in the sight of God.

During the Lenten Season, we invite the entire congregation to join with the Pastor and Deacons to fast (from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 Noon each Wednesday) and pray for the following:

- The Pastor, Covenant Ministry Leaders and Officers

- Spiritual, numerical and financial growth for the Covenant Baptist Church

- The ?Vision? for Covenant to become a strong, vibrant evangelistic and disciple making congregation

- For the Lord to send Covenant more men who hunger to know God, study His Word and follow His Holy Spirit

- All church leaders and parishioners

- The Women and Girls that will be blessed through the COTAAN Ministry

- All Ministries of the Covenant Baptist Church

- Health and healing for our congregation, extended families and communities

- The impoverished, those who have lost jobs, those who have lost or are losing their houses

- Our youth (for their courage to make Godly choices in their lives, for their academic success, their safety, their self-esteem and their decision to follow Jesus Christ)

- Our nation, our President, our economy, rebuilding of healthy relationships in the world, our protection, our service men and women

?Hear our prayer oh Lord, incline thine ear to us and grant us thy peace?

October/November 2012

"Speaking Those Things That Be Not As Though They Were?

As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Romans 4:17 KJV

In, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Harlem Renaissance writer, Zora Neale Hurston declared,

Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing, until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men. Now, women forget all those things they don't want to remember, and remember everything they don't want to forget. The dream is the truth. They then act and do things accordingly.

Although the late Ms. Hurston suggested that for women, ?the dream is truth ? they act and do things accordingly,? I have observed that many, like men, stand on the banks of the proverbial waters and experience dreams being ?mocked to death by Time.?

When our dreams die, God has another option that can rescue us from resignation. We can exchange our grief and disappointment for God?s vision for our lives. The same God that took nothing, made something and called it ?good,? can take the ?nothingness,? the emptiness, the pain, the sorrow, the grief, the disappointment, the dreams dead and or deferred and replace them with His vision for you.

God can take the ?be nots? of our journey (even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were) and restore life. The chasm of grief and disappointment can be so broad and deep that believing God for a quickening feels impossible.

Push past perceived impossibilities and pursue God?s vision for you. God is able to ?speak those things that be not as though they were? over your life. Resist the temptation to resign from faith, hope, dreams and aspirations. Walk into your new reality. Accept those things you cannot change, reclaim the courage to change the things that you can and ask God for the wisdom to know the difference. Swim with the tide of God?s flow for you. Soon, God?s dreams and vision for you will become the desire and fulfillment of your heart.



July/August 2012

"Be" Scriptures... John 3:3 ?Be Born Again?

3Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Ephesians 5:18 ?Be filled with the Spirit?

18Stop getting[1][g] drunk with wine, which leads to wild living, but keep on being filled with the Spirit.

I Peter 1: 13b; 15-16 ?Be self-controlled, Be Holy?

13Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: ?Be holy, because I am holy.?a

Ephesians 4: 23, 26, 32 Be?

- ?Be renewed in your mental attitude?

- ?Be angry, yet do not sin?

- ?Be kind to one another?

22Regarding your former way of life, you were taught[2][h] to strip off your old nature, which is being ruined by its deceptive desires, 23to be renewed in your mental attitude, 24and to clothe yourselves with the new nature, which was created according to God?s image[3][i] in righteousness and true holiness.

25Therefore, stripping off falsehood, ?let each of us speak the truth to his neighbor,?[4][j] for we belong to one another. 26?Be angry, yet do not sin.?[5][k] Do not let the sun set while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil an opportunity to work.[6][l] 28The thief must no longer steal but must work hard and do what is good with his own hands, so that he might earn something to give to the needy.426

29Let no filthy talk be heard from your mouths, but only what is good for building up people and meeting the need of the moment.[7][m] This way you will administer grace to those who hear you. 30Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, quarreling, and slander be put away from you, along with all hatred. 32And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another just as God has forgiven you[8][n] in the Messiah.

Romans 12: 2 ?Be Transformed?

2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God?s will is?his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Galatians 6:7 ?Don?t be misled?

Don?t be misled?you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant

Proverbs 13: 20 ?Be wise?

Whoever walks with wise people will be wise, but whoever associates with fools will suffer.

Philippians 2:5 ?Be like Jesus?

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

May/June 2012

"If You Would Be Great..."

The Word of God in Psalm 48:1 declares,Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.?









We serve a great God. To be ?great? means to be larger in size than others of the same kind. When the Bible, however, speaks of the greatness of God, it is not referencing God?s ?size,? for God is immeasurable. Nothing or no one can compare to God. God?s greatness comes from the fact that God is above all, has no beginning or ending, is the Alpha and Omega, is eternal is all knowing, all powerful and is every where. God is GREAT!

While we cannot be great in the ?God sense? of greatness, we can be great according to another definition. Jesus said, 11The greatest among you must be a servant (Matthew 23:11, NLT). This definition challenges the world?s view of greatness. Greatness emerges from a heart that is willing to give, sacrifice and if necessary suffer for the cause of Christ. Jesus? definition of greatness challenges us to move out of our comfort zones and seek to do big things in His name.

?Big things,? not in terms of gaining status, building bigger buildings or amassing large amounts of money, but the big things of challenging unjust systems (educational, medical, penal), encouraging, affirming and lifting some child or adult that is broken, speaking truth to power, and lending a helping hand where needed. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Everyone can serve. Everyone can stand up for what is right. Everyone can pray. Everyone can love. Everyone can give something of them self that requires some blood, sweat and tears. Everyone can be great!

If you would be great, move out of your comfort zone. Consider the words of the poet and ask the Lord what ?great thing? He would have you to pursue in His name today...

?I'm tired of sailing my little boat, far inside the harbor bar. I want to go where the big ships float, out on the deep where the great ones are. And should my frail craft prove too slight, the waves that sweep those billows o'er, I'd rather go down in a stirring fight than drown to death in the sheltered shore.?

"If You Would Be Great"

Song and Lyrics by Ken Bible

If you would be great, you blessed of the Lord,
Be People of God and walk in His Word.
His heart is compassion, and love is His call,
So take up your cross and be servants of all.

The Father of Life has given you birth,
A light for the world and salt for the earth.
In all His abundance, be ever aware
The wealth He has given is meant to be shared.

We'll reach to the need; we'll listen and learn,
For this is our joy: the freedom to serve.
Our goal and our glory, whatever the cost:
To live and to love as the People of God.
End Quote

March/April 2012

"Messages of Faith" article, published March 3, 2012 Cleveland Plain Dealer (video about article may be viewed at

Persistent in the Pursuit of Social Justice

By Pastor Christine A. Smith

1 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must keep praying until the answer comes.
2 "There was a city judge," he said, "a very godless man who had great contempt for everyone. 3 A widow of that city came to him frequently to appeal for justice against a man who had harmed her. 4,5 The judge ignored her for a while, but eventually she got on his nerves.
" `I fear neither God nor man,' he said to himself, `but this woman bothers me. I'm going to see that she gets justice, for she is wearing me out with her constant coming!' "
6 Then the Lord said, "If even an evil judge can be worn down like that, 7 don't you think that God will surely give justice to his people who plead with him day and night? 8 Yes! He will answer them quickly! But the question is: When I, the Messiah, return, how many will I find who have faith and are praying ?"

Luke 18:1-8 (TLB)

The Gospel of Luke has been called the ?Social Justice Gospel,? because of the author?s unique attention to women, children, gentiles and the poor ? all disregarded, disrespected, disenfranchised members of that day?s society. Luke presents Jesus as the ?Son of God,? ? a humane savior who did not come to condemn, but to seek and to save that which was lost.

In this particular text, we find the parable of the ?Widow and the Unjust Judge.? The entire passage (Luke 18:1-17) epitomizes the humanity of Jesus for it further teaches the parable of the ?Publican and the Pharisee? and illustrates Jesus? love for children ? so we see a woman, a publican or sinner and children all being lifted to a place of honor and respect by Jesus.

In the above text, Jesus encourages believers to be persistent in prayer no matter how difficult or impossible the situation may appear. The author Luke, however, slips in a subliminal message as well ? those in disenfranchised groups must push past mean spirited, cruel and inhumane responses to their plight and press for justice. Luke also embodied another profound message. As a member of one of the despised groups ? a gentile, he understood the importance of utilizing his education and position as a physician to be a spokesperson for those without voice. Although he was somewhere in the middle ? a gentile (hated) yet with some level of authority and prominence, having burst out of the proverbial box prescribed for him, he did not take his freedom and run. Rather, he sought to break open the doors for others. Luke used the example of this woman, a parable, a metaphor to magnify a simple truth ? a change agent must be persistent.

In this age of self-indulgence, increased disenfranchisement of the marginalized, blatant disregard of the realities of inequity, we must determine to relentlessly pursue social justice. It does not matter how the insensitive may balk and cry, ?class warfare? or ?pull yourselves up by your own boot straps,? the people of faith must pray, be persistent and press for justice. In addition to being persistent, we must also be strategic and clever. Like Luke, we must find many ways to highlight and confront the multiple layers of injustices that exist in our societal systems: prisons, educational institutions, healthcare etc.

We must be willing to raise tough questions and press for real answers. We must ask why entities and individuals have millions of dollars to run smear campaigns, but not enough money to higher the unemployed, create better institutions of learning for all children and establish affordable healthcare.

We must ask why districts are being re-drawn to disproportionately favor one political party over another. We must ask why there is a push to further advance ?trickle down economics,? when that agenda has obviously failed. We must challenge the masses (in the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) not to be like, ?dumb driven cattle, but be heroes in the strife.? We must encourage the easily persuaded to read, get involved, be informed and avoid embracing empty rhetoric without considering an argument?s logical conclusions. Yes, change agents must be undaunted, persistent, courageous and prayerful.

In the words of the Old Testament prophet Micah, ?He has shown thee or mortal, what is good and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.? (Micah 6:8)

Keep praying, keep pursuing, keep pressing and don?t faint. Righteousness will prevail.

January/February 2012

"A New Life Resolution"

Text: Philippians 3: 12-14
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Every year between December 31st and January 1st, people make all kind of promises to themselves and to others. We call these promises ? ?resolutions.? The idea is that the old year for better or for worse is gone and is not coming back ? so in the new year, we hope to do somethings better, or at least differently.
You?ve heard them, ?I?m going to lose weight?, I?m going to stop cursing?, I?m going to stop smoking?, I?m going to save more money?, I?m going to stop using credit cards?? The list goes on and on.
But today, I?d like to challenge us not to think about making meaningless promises that most times we fail to keep. I?d like to challenge you to prayerfully consider making a ?New Life Resolution.?
There is a difference between changing a habit and changing your life. Even dieticians and physicians have come to the conclusion that if you really want to loose weight, you can?t just create a list of things you determine that you will give up. Human nature dictates that after a while, the feeling of self -deprivation will take over and you will return to old habits of eating things you shouldn?t. Therefore, they say, a life change ? in other words, a change of thought, a change of heart, a change of resolve has to take place in order for real results to happen and be long term.
So it is with our spiritual walk with Christ. Being a Christian is more than giving up the seven deadly sins?Lust, envy, gluttony, sloth, greed, anger and pride. Some stricter traditions have added a few more?
Drinking, smoking, playing cards, dancing, poppin fingers, wearing makeup and going out to parties!
The problem with both lists is that those efforts may control some external behaviors, but the human will can never change the human heart. In order to truly change, a spiritual transformation has to take place. This is not some mystical, secretive process whereby a person has to say chants or drink a potion or have a witch doctor shake some special formula with smoke over your head. No no!
Holy Ghost transformation ? the kind of transformation that changes your life happens when you have an encounter with God.
In 2012, the Lord is saying to somebody, ?I?ve got some blessings for you, but in order for you to receive those blessings, you?ve got to let some things go. That fear has been controlling you ? let it go. That anger has been consuming you ? let it go. That resentment that has been eating your insides apart ? let it go. That worry that has been keeping you up at night ? let it go.
The Lord is saying, ?I?ve got some blessings for you... I?ve got peace for you, I?ve got deliverance for you, I?ve got overcoming power for you, but you?ve got to let some things go!
Don?t let the demons of fear, of worry, of self-doubt, of low self-esteem, of old belittling voices in your head, of resentment, anger, hostility and yes even hatred ? don?t let those demons keep you shackled. As you enter 2012 let it go. Don?t be like the children of Israel who wandered in the wilderness for forty years because they kept looking back and couldn?t believe God for what they could not see. Step out on faith ?ask the Lord to reveal his will and purpose for you life and then pursue it.
Pastor and author Bill Hybel says,
?You will never take big hills without making bold moves?
Letting go of what has held you back, held you down, kept you imprisoned is not always easy ? it takes the bold move of faith to let it go, trust God, resolve to live for Him in every way. It?s a new path, a fresh encounter, a prayerful journey, a new way of living.
Be bold and walk with your head held high, press towards the mark that God has ordained for your life.

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-27)

In Faith, Hope and Love,

Pastor Chris






November/December 2011 

 Text:  Psalm 139: 23-24

Subject: ?Five Dangerous Prayers?

 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalms 139:23-24 (KJV)

In Psalm 139, David begins by acknowledging the fact that God has searched him out - that God knows him and that there is nothing about him that God does not know.  David acknowledges that there is no where that he can run, no where that he can hide, no where that he can possibly go where the Lord God cannot see him, feel him, touch him, search him out.

 David understands, unlike Adam and Eve who tried to hide themselves in the garden by sewing together some fig leaves, he understands that there is no garment, no covering, no place that he can run and hide from God. God is omniscient - all knowing, God is omnipresent - everywhere at all times and God is omnipotent - all powerful - what an awesome and mighty God we serve!

But there is something else about this Psalm that is particularly troubling. 

 David has not yet heard the teachings of Jesus that declared we are to pray for our enemies, bless them and not curse them.  David was still under the Old Testament mindset that declared ?an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.?  Therefore, he declared with boldness the following:

19 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. 20 For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. 21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? 22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies

Psalms 139:19-22 (KJV)

It appears that David feels that he is justified in hating - after all these men are wicked, they are bloody, they have shed innocent blood, they have taken the name of the LORD in vain.  Maybe David was thinking about the Philistines, in particular Goliath - the first major battle that he fought and won with a sling shot and a stone.

Maybe he was thinking about the Assyrians, that horrible enemy nation that plundered their land, stole their livestock and goods, raped and slaughtered their women and children and castrated their men.

 Whoever he was thinking about, his initial thought appears to be that God himself hated them.  But wait - David?s rant suddenly stops.  It?s as if he felt a pricking in his hear that said, ?David, that?s not my way?David, it?s easy to hate, it takes strength to love?David, you need to reconsider your thoughts, your deeds and your ways?David, what if I had cut you off when you lusted after another man?s wife and arranged to have him killed so that you could have her??

 David reconsidered his thoughts and he prays that profound and sincere prayer, ?23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalms 139:23-24 (KJV)

(1) A dangerous prayer!  Lord, search me! Now someone might be asking, how could any prayer be dangerous?  Prayer can be dangerous if we are not serious about what we are asking God to do in our lives.

When David asked God to ?search him, try him and see if there is anything wicked in him and lead him in the way everlasting?? David was asking God to check him out and if necessary correct him.  Correction is not always easy.  Sometimes our pride makes us resistant to correction.  But if we really want a closer walk with God, if we really want to know the heart of God and live according to his word then from time to time we must be willing to allow him to correct us.

Correction from the Lord takes many forms.  Sometimes correction comes to us in the form of reaping the consequences of seeds that we?ve sown.  Sometimes we?ve gotten involved in things, in relationships, in business affairs, in conversations, in behaviors that we as children of God know are wrong.  But for one reason or another, we stay in the wrong.  But God loves us so much, he is unwilling to allow his children to remain in wrong situations for long.  He sends situations and circumstances to prick us, prod us, move us, shake us up, make us uncomfortable and in some instances down right miserable until we wake and realize it?s time to make a change!

God?s word declares, ?whom the Lord loves he chastens or corrects.?  We correct our children because we love them and want what is best for them. They don?t always like it, they may resist it, the may, for a time rebel against it, but if we have coupled discipline with love and prayer, in God?s own time, like prodigal sons, they will look up from the hog pins of life and remember the words of instruction given.

Sometimes we have to pray dangerous prayers. (2) Another dangerous prayer is, ?Lord, break me?

Bill Hybels, in his book,  Prayer: Opening your heart to God , declares,

Ecclesiastes 3:3 says there is a time to tear down and a time to build up.  There is a time to pile up bricks and put mortor in between them, and there is a time to get a sledge hammer and to break the bricks apart.  After being a Christian for a while, you will discover that you need to develop a whole series of new patterns in your life.  To do this, you need God?s help.  You need to invite Him to break down those things in your life that are not pleasing to Him.  You need to learn to pray the dangers prayer, ?Break me!??

What is one area in your life in which you need to ask the LORD to begin tearing walls down?  Sometimes we block the blessings of the Lord in our lives because we?ve built up so many walls - walls of fear, walls of doubt, walls of stubbornness, walls of self hatred, walls of self-defeat, walls of pride, walls of hardness of heart, walls of sin.

In order to receive the full blessings of the Lord and realize our potential as his children, we need to begin to ask the Lord to tear down the walls that separate us from His perfect will in our lives.

(3) Another dangerous prayer is, ?Lord, stretch me??

When we?ve been walking with the Lord for many years, it?s easy to become complacent and believe that we?ve grown all we need to grow in the Christian faith.  It?s easy to do what we?ve always done.  But the Lord wants us, as long as we have life, to continue to learn, to continue to grow, to continue to increase in our faith.  What new things does the Lord want to show you, to teach you, to reveal to you to make your walk with him closer and your relationship with him stronger?  When?s the last time you?ve had to stretch out on faith and look to God for things that you couldn?t do for yourself?  Sometimes God will allow seemingly impossible situations to enter into our lives so that He can stretch our faith, stretch our understanding of His love for us, stretch our willingness to follow and serve him.

(4) Another dangerous prayer I?d like to lift today is, ?Lord, lead me??

?God, lead me.  Take my life, my gifts, my talents, my resources, my energy, my future and do with me as you will??  That?s a scary prayer!  Why, because we don?t know where that will take us.  When we really trust God, we must be willing to yield our total will to the Lord and allow Him to lead us into paths that may not have been our choice.

God?s leading is wrapped up in His will and purpose for our lives.  Every life has a purpose.  You were born to do the will of the Lord.  God has a very specific purpose and plan for you and for me.  He places within us gifts and talents to be used for the upbuilding of His kingdom.  He gifts us to be used to bless and minister to others.  God wants to lead you.  The question is, will you let Him?  Will you give him the reigns of your heart, the governance over your life?  Will you follow where Jesus leads?

(5) Then and only then can you pray in sincerity, this last dangerous prayer, ?Lord use me!?  Use me Lord, take my hands and my feet, touch my heart Lord speak to me.. use me.  Use me to do your will, use me to lift your name, use me to win the lost, use me to be an example of Christian witness, service and sacrifice ? Lord use me!

I challenge each one of us today to pray the prayer that David prayed, ?Search me O God and know my heart.  Try me and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.?

God wants to break you, stretch you and lead you so that He may ultimately bless you. 

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.  (Numbers 6:24-27)

In Faith, Hope and Love,

Pastor Chris









September/October 2011 


Romans 5: 3-5 

We know that suffering creates endurance, 4 endurance creates character, and character creates confidence. 5 We're not ashamed to have this confidence, because God's love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

 ?The Blessing of Trials?

The other Sunday as we were driving home from church, the sun moved behind the clouds suddenly, and small droplets of rain began to fall upon the windshield.  Earlier that week, our son Caleb had a science project where he had to write a mock weather forecast.  So remembering his assignment and his own predictions about what the weather in the coming days would be,  he looked at me and said, ?Mommy, rain was not in my forecast.?  As I thought about his innocent words, I thought to myself and then turned and said to him, ?Son, rain was not in my forecast either.?  He didn?t realize that I was referring to more than the physical elements of water droplets falling from overburdened clouds packed to capacity with water.


I was referring to the rain that intermittently falls in life.  I was referring to the misfortunes, mishaps, unexpected disappointments, and what we call inconveniences of life.  I was referring to those unexpected events that come about when we were planning for sunny days, peaceful moments, relaxation, or just peace.


Rain was not in our forecast.  The doctor coming out of the office after reviewing our labs and saying that the white blood count cell was too high or the psa level was too high and cancer may be looming.  Rain was not in the forecast ? That unexpected call from the school saying that your son or daughter was in an accident, you?d just seen them in the morning, happy, bright and bouncing and now you are wondering will they live ? rain was not in the forecast ? you thought you were being called in for a promotion and instead the boss looks across the desk with an apology and says they just can?t afford to keep you ? rain was not in the forecast ? the expectant mother going for an ultrasound, only to discover that there no longer is  heartbeat in the ball of flesh developing in her womb ? rain was not in the forecast!


Intellectually, we know, we understand that in every life some rain must fall, but we always hope that it will hold off at least for one more day.  We know that all things work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to His purposes, but deep down within, we are just hoping, just praying, just standing with bated breath that our forecast ? sunny skies with periodic overcast will only produce some droplets, but not a rain storm.  Rain is not wanted in our forecast!


However, in every life, some rain will fall.  Just as rain is necessary for the flowers to bloom and for the ground to grow grass and for our fields to be watered, the rain, the trials, the difficult circumstances that confront us in life are necessary to make us what God has created us to be.


Every now and then, God causes some rain to fall in our lives to make us strong.  Every now and then God allows some tough situations to come into our lives so that we will be able to stand the storms that are coming on down the road.  Storms help us to appreciate the good times.  Storms help us to remain humble.  Storms make us compassionate ? if we will allow it.  Trials can either make us bitter or better.


We have a choice.  We can either trust God, cry out to Him in our pain and trials and seek His face and direction or we can recoil, become bitter, hateful, depressed, isolated and ultimately ball up and die.

 The tree that never had to fight
for sun and sky and air and light
who stood up in the open plain
and always had its share of rain
never became a forest king
but lived and died a shrubby thing
good timber does not grow with ease
the stronger wind, the stronger trees

          - Douglas Mallock

 Walking with Christ does not shield you from the trials and struggles of life.  Walking with the Lord does not immune you to the pain and toil that every child of God must face.  Walking with the Lord will, however empower you to look for the lesson in whatever you face.  It will give you hope, and strength and endurance to face each day and to praise the Lord at all times. 


It will however transform you from the caterpillar to the butterfly.  God will give you wings to fly, he will make your feet like hinds or deer feet so that you can walk upon the high places.  Trials can be a blessing.  Struggle can lift you to a higher plain.  We can ?brag? even when we are going through because we know that God loves us, that God is there with us, that God has great blessings in store for us.


Though others may look and wag their heads, some are hoping for you downfall, some are waiting to plan a party after (they hope) you fail or just give up ? but the child of God, through faith, must endure hardship like a good soldier, remembering that we are not out to please man, but to please our inlisting officer, who is Jesus Christ.


Trials will come, rain will fall, but there is God who rules above, with hand of power and heart of love and He will fight your battles and give you peace.  Rain may not have been in your forecast, but rain will fall, but God has an umbrella!

 July/August 2011


?The Importance of Praise and Worship in the Life of the Believer?


Psalm 34: 1-8

1 A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed.  I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

3O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

4I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

5They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

6This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

7The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

8O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.


The primary Hebrew root word for praise is ?Halal,? which serves as the root for our word, ?Hallelujah.?  It means to be clear, to shine, to boast, to show, to rave, to celebrate and to be clamorously foolish.?

Psalm 34: 1-8, is based upon 1st Samuel 21: 10-15 when David fled from King Saul and ran to the land of Gath ? the home of the Philistines.  David had to be in a desperate situation because he ran from Saul, who was jealous and angry that God had removed the throne of Israel from him and chose rather to anoint David to become King.  David ran to the land of the Philistines.  The Philistines were arch enemies of Israel.  The giant Goliath that David killed as a youth was a Philistine. 

David had to be desperate to run to the land of the Philistines.  Desperation can cause you to do desperate and often foolish things.  That?s another sermon for another day!  David sought refuge in the enemy camp because he thought that Saul would not look for him there.  But even David?s enemies recognized who he was, ran and told King Achish, ?isn?t this David, the one about whom the Hebrew women sang, ?Saul has killed thousands, but David has killed 10 thousands??


At that, the king went out to see if in fact the mighty warrior David was in the land.  David had to think quickly ? there was no where to run or to hide, so he decided to act crazy ? like a mad man in order to disguise himself from the king of the Philistines.  The scripture says that David began to foam at the mouth, began clawing and scratching at the city gates and writing on the walls.  When the king saw this he said, ?No wait a minute, why did you all call me down here to see this mad man?  Surely this is not the mighty warrior David ? you all are wasting my time!?


So David, by behaving like a mad man was spared and was able to get out of Gath unharmed.  When David escaped both Saul and Achish, he began to praise God with these words?


I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth?


?Halal,? ?Hallelujah.?  To be clear, to shine, to boast, to show, to rave, to celebrate and to be clamorously foolish.?


In Psalm 34, David is clear, he is boasting, he is raving, he is celebrating, he is being ?clamorously foolish? about the praising God  - his deliverer, his keeper, his provider, his protector, his mighty battle axe.  David is ?dancing in the streets,? so to speak because God has been soooo good!  David is waving and clapping his hands,  David is stomping his feet, David is doing his dance,  David is shouting, ?Hallelujah!?  David did not care what folks thought about his praise ? he was being ?clamorously foolish,? because God had delivered him, protected him placed a shield around him ? made a way for him.


David was boasting about the goodness of the Lord!  Now let?s consider why praise is important in the life of the believer:


?Praise consoles us during difficult situations?

David had developed a life of praise.  David understood that when we elect to praise God, we take the focus off of our situation, our challenge, our fear, and place our focus upon the power of the awesome God we serve. 

David didn?t make that declaration ?I will bless the Lord at all times ? His praise shall continually be in my mouth?? when all was going well ? no, no, David was able to make that bold statement even in the midst of his deepest darkest hour of pain, fear and distress because David developed a deep relationship with God.  David knew God intimately.  David took time to learn what it meant to walk with God, trust in God, wait on deliverance from God ? to see God as a shield and buckler.

David?s praise grew out of knowing God.  Which brings us to importance of praise.  When we give unto God the glory due His name we remind ourselves of who God is.  When we acknowledge who God is then we can?t help but to praise Him.  When we praise God, we remind ourselves that we are not in this battle, this struggle, this difficulty, this situation or circumstance alone.  When we praise God ? we remind ourselves that God has all power in His hand and not battle is too difficult or hard for Him.  When we praise God, we release a super natural power and strength in our lives to help us to focus ? to persevere, to pursue, to keep on running, keep on pressing, keep on striving, keep on keeping in Jesus? name!

Praise consoles us, strengthens us and helps us to keep moving ahead.

Powerful praise gives rise to victory

All throughout the Old Testament, we find the prophets telling God?s people to praise Him.  Often as Israel was preparing to go out to war, God would send the prophets to have the musicians, the singers and the priests to go out before the army ? to lead in the procession to the battlefield.  The prophet would declare, ?Don?t fear ? the battle is not yours, it?s the Lord?s!?  The Levites ? that priestly clan of musicians and singers would rise up and start singing in loud voices, ?Jehovah the God of Israel reigns!?  They marched before the army saying, ?Glorify Jehovah, because His mercy endures forever!? When confronted with human enemies, the Levites responded by praising the Lord with a ?strong and loud voice.?    Whenever they did that ? God gave them the victory.  The result of powerful praise was total victory!   Praise gives rise to victory.  When we combine an intimate relationship with God ? a relationship of prayer, reading, studying and applying God?s Word to our lives with praise, the result is victorious living.  There is great power in prayer and praise.

That is why we sing songs and hymns in the worship service.  It is not just for the purpose of filing a spot in the bulletin.  The songs and the hymns are not for the purpose of performance or entertainment.  The purpose of praise, singing, clapping, shouting, even dancing in the service is to prepare us for the spiritual battles that lie ahead.  Whether you realize it or not, every day the child of God faces some kind of spiritual warfare.  Maybe it?s physical.  Maybe it?s spiritual.  Maybe its psychological.  Sometimes it comes in the form of difficulties on the job.  Sometimes it comes in the form of struggles in your relationships.  Sometimes it comes in the form of struggles with your physical health, your finances, your obligations and responsibilities.

Sometimes it?s a psychological struggle ? one in which you are daunted by painful memories or feelings of low self-worth, or depression.  And sometimes it?s spiritual ? the enemy sees you advancing towards victory and so he tries to thwart your progress ? crazy stuff starts happening ? some unexpected something comes up and hinders whatever it is you are on your way to do ? but what the devil means for evil ? God will always work out for good in the life of the child of God!

When you make up in your mind, when you are clear about who you are praising, when you make up in your mind that you are going to boast about who you are praising, when you make up in your mind that you are going to rave about who you are praising, celebrate who you are praising, even be clamorously foolish about who you are praising, you like David will be able to bless the Lord at all times!

Praise will well up within you.  Praise will be your first line of defense.  Praise will be your weapon against the advances of the enemy.  Praise will overtake you and place your feet on solid and higher ground.  You will worship and praise with expectation ? that the God you serve is ready, willing and able to carry you through.  Praise will proceed any other strategies you may be thinking about putting in place because you will recognize, you will realize, you will understand that praising God, glorifying God, worshipping and adoring God ? giving him the honor and praise due His holy name raises up above the enemy and guarantees your ultimate victory!


June, 2011



















"God's Timing"

 Psalm 31: 9-15

9 Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.

10 For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.

11 I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me.

12 I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.

13 For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.

14 But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God.

15 My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.

June's message is taken from Psalm 31: 9-15.  Psalms, is the hymn book of Israel.  In it we find the joys, sorrows, struggles, victories and overall life experiences of the people of Israel.  Many of the Psalms are attributed to  King David.

 This particular song has been called by one commentator, "David Under Stress."  He named it so because the writer, thought to be David is making an earnest plea to God to deliver him from vile and destructive enemies.  Jesus also quoted a verse from this Psalm while dying on the cross, "Into thy hands, I commit my spirit," (vs. 5).  David is longing for God to get him out of this pit, this trouble, this trap that it seems that enemies have laid for him. 

 But in the midst of his longings and mournful prayers, David also expresses trust.  He says, "my times are in your hand."  David didn?t know when or how God was going to deliver him, but he trusted, he expected that God would deliver him, in God?s own time.

 It?s hard to operate on somebody else?s time.  Independence can be a wonderful thing. I remember I could not wait to get my driver?s license because I was tired of having to wait until somebody picked me up and then having to wait for them to take me home.  When I turned 16, I thought the world would stop spinning on its axis if I did not get my drivers license.

 I remember my daddy taking me out to the old Rubber Bowl in Akron, putting up sticks to mimic the cones to teach me how to maneuver, how to parallel park etc.  I thought I had it down pat until it came time to take the test.  Two times I failed because I either touched or knocked over the cones.  I received a letter that informed me that if by the third time I did not pass the test, I would have to wait six months.  You should have seen me crying and praying out to the Lord, "Lord, PLEASE help me to pass this test."  Praise God, I did!

 I didn't like it, but I had to wait.  Waiting is no fun.  Now what I just described would be considered by some to be a light matter.  When I was 16, I thought the world was going to come to an end, because that was my perspective at 16. But now at age 47, I realize that there are some heavier matters, for which we have to wait that far out distance getting a drivers license so that I can come and go as I please. 

 The scriptures have given us many examples of the agony of waiting.  Abraham and Sarah had to wait until they were well into their golden years before the promise of a son was fulfilled.  Hannah had to wait to see if God would grant her petition for a son, all the while enduring the cruel taunting of her husband?s other wife, Penninah, mocking her and calling her barren.

 Moses had to wait and wander in the wilderness with the rebellious Israelites, who, no matter how much God did for them, still managed to argue, fight and complain themselves into losing what God had in store for them.  Moses had to wait to finally see the promise land yet not enter.  Simeon had to wait as he ministered in the Temple, asking God to allow him to see the glory of the coming of the Lord, the child Jesus.  Mary and Martha had to wait, wait for Jesus to come after they sent an urgent message that their brother Lazarus had died.  They had to wait and watch and wonder.

 And sometimes, we have to wait, and watch and wonder- waiting like Job for our ?change? to come.  Waiting like Sarah or Hannah for something to be birthed in us, waiting like Moses to just get a peek at what God has in store maybe not for our generation, but that which is to come.  And sometimes we have to wait for the Lord to come and resurrect that which has died and seems to have no hope.

 It?s not easy to wait.  Waiting can be hard. Waiting can be discouraging. Waiting can be debilitating.  Especially if we are waiting for God to get some enemies off of our backs!  If you?ve ever been in a situation like David where somebody is constantly fighting against you, constantly trying to trip you up, constantly trying to lay a trap for you or dig a ditch for you or make some kind of false accusations against you, then you can relate to David?s feelings of anxiety and stress.  It?s not easy to wait for deliverance.

 But we can learn something from David?s example about how to wait on God in the midst of difficult situations. 

 (1)     David called out to God and laid all his feelings on the line.  Get real with God.  Tell Him all about how you feel, even if you know it?s not the ?Christian way.?  David even confessed hatred to God.  We know that hatred is wrong, but the only way to get it out of our system is to confess it, look at it and ask the Lord to free us from it.  For hatred doesn?t hurt the object of our hatred.  Hatred hurts you!

 (2)     The next thing that you can do is speak in terms of faith.  David said, "You did not give me into the hands of my enemies.
     You made my feet to stand in a wide place."  David acknowledged that God was already keeping him.  Even though stress was making him sick, David spoke victory in his life.  He said that God had put his feet in ?wide? places.  In other words, God sent David help in such a way that he could go anywhere.  God was with him no matter where he went. Therefore, his enemies could not fence him in.  He didn?t have to walk around in fear.  He encouraged himself by saying, ?God is with me!?

 (3)     David  acknowledged that his times are in the hand of the Lord.  You can?t do anything to make this valley experience go any faster.  But you can look up and live.  You can speak those things that be not as though they were.  You can say like Job, ?all the days of my appointed time, will I wait until my change comes.?  David trusted God even in the midst of his most difficult life circumstances.  He trusted that God would deliver him, in His time.  Pray for deliverance, but accepted that deliverance will come only when God said so.  God?s timing is not our timing.  God?s ways are not our ways.  God?s vision is far above ours.

 The Lord knows just when to take you out of the boiling pot that you are in. God knows what He is doing. We don?t know, but that?s where faith comes in.  Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.

 Faith says that God is in control and no matter how this thing turns out, God is with me, God is keeping me, God is sustaining me, God will see us through. God will give me the strength I need to climb this high mountain, and when I am too weary to walk anymore, faith declares God will carry me.

 My times are in His hands.  Don?t worry about the future.  God holds tomorrow.  Trust in Him at all times and know that the wait will seem like nothing when He delivers you.

 Sometimes we have to wait because God is keeping us from something.  Sometimes we have to wait because God is preparing us for something. Sometimes we have to wait because God is using us for something.  And sometimes we have to wait simply because God said so!

 God knows what He is doing.  Trust and keep the faith.

April 2011

"What Did it Cost?" 

Sermon Text:  Luke 21: 1-4

Sermon Subject:  ?What Did It Cost??

Luke 21:1-4 (New International Version, ©2011)

The Widow?s Offering

 1 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 ?Truly I tell you,? he said, ?this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.?


This story is commonly known as the story of ?the widow?s mite.?  Often people will refer to this story when they are speaking of only having a little to give or giving little.  Unfortunately, however, a very powerful message is often diluted or even missed when it is used in this way.  People often refer to this woman?s offering when they give less than they truly are able to give ? whether it me money, or service or talent.   In the midst of that unfortunate interpretation, many miss the message of sacrifice.  Jesus did not emphasize the amount that she gave, but the amount of her sacrifice in order to give.


?What Did it Cost??

There's a story about a certain society in South Africa who once wrote to famous explorer David Livingstone and asked, "Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to send other men to join you." Livingstone replied, "If you have men who will come ONLY when there is a good road, I don't want them."

The following advice was submitted by Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionary Rick Lane, to all who might be considering short-term voluntary foreign missionary service:

"* If you must have mother's cooking or North American fast food, don't come
* If you must sleep in a bed like your own and have your own private room, don't come.
* If you must be transported in a private vehicle everywhere you go, don't come.
* If you must communicate only in English, don't come.
* If you must do it your way or not at all, don't come.
* If you must bring your biases and prejudices, don't come."

These words are a sobering reminder of the fact that truly dedicated Christian service always involves sacrifice and difficult times.

Matthew 7:14: "For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it."

What did it cost? What is the nature of true sacrifice? Rather than give you the Webster?s dictionary version, I?ll simply answer the question by asking a question?  Did it cost you anything?  If so, what?  If it was done with ease and without discomfort, then it is not a sacrifice.  If it is given out of abundance and not lack, then it is not a sacrifice. 


Song writer Isaac Watts declared,

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?

Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?
Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I?ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.


?Sure, I must fight if I would reign, increase my courage, Lord.  I?ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy Word.?  Sacrifice was something that our forebears understood as they gave when they didn?t have to give.  They gave because they understood that they were being called to something greater than that which was readily apparent.


This widow in our text for today only had two pennies, so to speak.  She was a widow which meant that she was not only husbandless, probably childless, and maybe even a resident of the local paupers house ? she may have even been outcast among the people.  A woman without a husband or son in those days was at the bottom of society.  She had no one to defend her, no one to care for her, no one to protect her.  She was poor and most probably destitute.  But this widow, took her two cents, probably all she had earned that week washing pots or sewing garments or peddling on the village streets and gave it to the work of the Lord.  There were others who gave, probably much more ? but this widow fascinated Jesus.  He saw her pitiful condition and immediately recognized the level of sacrifice she made in order to support the work of the kingdom.


Therefore He declared, ?this widow has given more than everybody in this line because she didn?t give out of her abundance.  In other words, she did not give and had a whole lot left over.  This woman gave and had nothing left over ? she gave all!  Some probably looked at her and declared her insane or foolish.  Some probably thought, ?awe, that sister should be ashamed of herself, giving that little bit of money.?  But Jesus understood that it cost this widow something to do what she did.


Every now and then we need to ask ourselves, ?what did it cost??  We ought not bring offerings and service to the Lord without asking ourselves the question, ?what did it cost??  For many of us, our Christianity is too easy.  It does not cost us anything.  We give when we feel we can afford it.  We serve when it is convenient.  We act, ?Christian? when it is acceptable.  But when is the last time you did something for the Lord that really cost something?


When is the last time you truly sacrificed for the Lord?  When is the last time you gave an offering that was sacrificial in nature ? I mean in order for you to give it, you had to give up something else?  In order to give it, you had to deny yourself in some way?  In order to give it, you had to pray that the Lord would somehow see you through because you are trusting Him to restore you?  When is the last time you followed the example of the widow or have you ever?  When is the last time you rendered service to the Lord that took you out of your comfort zone?  When is the last time that you denied yourself an extra hour of sleep or a special comfort in order to help somebody else or provide some kind of service for which you would receive nothing in return ? maybe not even gratitude?


This is not advocating salvation through works.  Our salvation is assured once we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord ? but that is because He paid a price for us.  What did it cost?  What did our salvation cost?  What did our deliverance cost? What did having our names written in the lamb?s book of life cost? 


It cost our loving and compassionate Savior Jesus, leaving his throne in heaven, coming down through 40 and 2 generations, being born in a stinking stable, living as a poor carpenters son, walking in anonymity of who He really was. What did it cost?  It cost him walking the streets of Jerusalem healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons, being threatened daily, being called everything but a child of God, losing position and respect, being called crazy, being betrayed by a close friend, denied by a trusted companion, doubted by student and follower, hated by members of the Synogogue.  What did it cost?  It cost His mental, physical and emotional health.  It cost his relationships with earthly family and friends, it cost his body being whipped and beaten, it cost his flesh being torn and his nailed being pounded onto an old, splintered heavey, dirty cross.


What did it cost?  It cost His Father turning His face away from Him and death passing over Him.  What did it cost? It cost His very life.


But for Jesus the cost was not too high, nor the sacrifice too great because He loved us so much ? he did not want us to have to go through what He went through.  He was wounded for you and for me. That?s what it cost.


The heavy price of our salvation was payed on Calvary.  And one day, every knee is going to bow and every tongue is going to confess that Jesus is Lord!  Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow. 


Don?t allow Christ?s suffering to be in vain in your life.  He died and rose again that you might live forever.  Won?t you receive your gift of love and salvation today?

March 2011 

A Word From The Pastor

 The Meaning of Lent?

Every year towards the end of February, the Christian Church observes the season known as, Lent.  Originally, Lent was a time of preparation for Easter baptism.  Those preparing to be baptized would fast and pray.  The climax of the season came with an all-night vigil of Easter Even with baptism, confirmation and celebration of Christ?s Resurrection.  Lent also was a time for all members of the church community to repent of and mourn for sin.  The forty weekdays of Lent represent the time Jesus spent in the wilderness during His Temptation.  According to Matthew and Luke, He fasted for forty days.


During Lent, the church of today continues to focus upon the themes of repentance, forgiveness and restoration.  Wednesday, March 9th at 7:00 p.m., Covenant will hold an Ash Wednesday Service.  Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent.  The ashes are made from the burned palms from the previous Palm Sunday.  In the Christian Tradition, the ashes are blessed and then the pastor, using the ashes, makes the sign of the cross upon the foreheads of the repentant.  The ashes symbolize repentance.  The idea comes from the Old Testament times when mourners clothed themselves in sackcloth and sprinkled their heads and faces with dust or ashes.


Job said,  ?Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:6).  Jesus declared, ?Woe to you, Bethsaida!  For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Siden, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.? (Information obtained from, Symbols of Church Seasons & Days, by John Bradner)

While the ashes symbolize repentance, let us remember that outward symbols without inward transformation is unacceptable in the sight of God. During the Lenten Season, we invite you to join with our congregation to fast (from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 Noon each Wednesday) and pray for the following:

-         Spiritual, numerical and financial growth for the Covenant Baptist Church

-         All church leaders and parishioners

-         Health and healing for our congregation, extended families and communities

-         The people of Libya and Egypt

-         The impoverished, those who have lost jobs, those who have lost or are losing their houses

-         Our youth (for their courage to make Godly choices in their lives, for their academic success, their safety, their self-esteem and their decision to follow Jesus Christ)

-         Our nation, our president, our economy, the Education and Healthcare Systems

-         Our service men and women

?Hear our prayer oh Lord, incline thine ear to us and grant us thy peace.?

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.  (Numbers 6:24-27)

In Faith, hope and love,

Pastor Chris