580x320-banner-2013RESOLU

A New Year Plan From Bishop Charles E. Blake

2 Kings 13:17-19

New King James Version (NKJV)

17 And he said, “Open the east window”; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot”; and he shot. And he said, “The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them.” 18 Then he said, “Take the arrows”; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground”; so he struck three times, and stopped. 19 And the man of God was angry with him, and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times.”

Some will say that Joash did what he was supposed to do…and he did.  But if you analyze the text, you’ll see that Joash’s heart wasn’t right.   Joash was not like Saul and he was not like Moses who illustrated the implications of our obedience and of our acts before the Lord. The difference is that Joash really obeyed God but we should examine his attitude.  The bible says in 2 Chronicles 25:2 And he did [that which was] right in the sight of the LORD, but not with a perfect heart.

We can look at the people of God today and see that their heart is not in it.  “Half singing, half praying, half worshiping, half participating, half giving, half..HALF. Their heart is not in it.  Because when your heart is in it—it shows up on the outside,” says Bishop. The best thing for us to do as people of the Lord is to work on our heart and work on our attitude…there are people who can see beyond that false smile and those false actions.

In Matthew 22, Jesus spoke of a parable of a wedding banquet.  He spoke and told the story of how a king (like the kingdom of heaven) had invited the people to come to his dinner in Matthew 22:5 the text says, they made light of [it], and went their ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise:

 So as the New  Year begins look at what our Bishop graciously identifies for us to live by.  Follow these invaluable steps to truly “Smite Out Your Destiny.”

1.       Smite the Blow of Salvation

  • Proverbs 14:12 KJ There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof [are] the ways of death.
  • Isaiah 57:20 KJ  But the wicked [are] like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

 

2.       Smite the Blow of Obedience

  • Deuteronomy 11:27-28 (KJV) 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known
  • Isaiah 1:19 (KJV) If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land
  • 2 John 1:6 (KJV)And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it

 

3.       Smite the Blow of Love

  •  “Love the lord with all your heart, all your soul and all your might. If you walk in love, you walk in God,” says Bishop Blake.

 

4.       Smite the Blow of Righteousness

  • Matthew 6:33 (KJV) But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you Walk in the righteous because sin is the reproach of people
  •   “God wants folks who will strike the blow of righteousness,” says Bishop Blake.

 

5.       Smite the Blow of Service

  • “Perform your assignments well so God can promote you to another level,” says Bishop.
  •  Nothing you do is unimportant or insignificant…like sweeping the floor.  Martin Luther King said, “sweep the floor like Michael Angelo painted.”  Cry out to the Lord and tell him that you’ll serve Him JUST because you love him.

 

6.       Write Priorities

  • “If you want go higher in commitment, in faith, and in love… write priorities and stick to them,”  says Bishop.

7.       Smite the Blow of Daring Faith

  •  Believe God anyhow! Trust him no matter what you have to go through and get ready for your miracle. Bishop  says, “No mountain too high, no valley too low. GET READY! Get ready to overcome…get ready for miracles…get ready to go higher because of your daring faith.”

8.       The Blow of Unrestrained Praise

  • “This is yet the beginning of the year, but we praise God for December.”  Bishop Says, “You have not seen you’re best days yet…you have not seen your best miracles yet!”

 

Thank God for giving us a “destiny moment—a window of opportunity.” Strike the blows above and you will have a fail safe way of navigating 2013!

580-X-320-SANDYHOOK2-1

When Christmas Collides with Tragedy—Connecticut Shootings

 

Dark clouds  encased the sky, wind thrashed about, and rain fell  during a moment-of-silence memorial in Newtown, Conn. this Friday morning, December 21st. The weather acted as a mirror reflecting the turmoil of families affected by the killings.  Officials scheduled the event to recognize victims of the massacre that began at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 14, when gunman Adam Lanza shot his way into Sandy Hook elementary and launched a shooting spree at the school, taking 26 lives, including 20 children, and then his own.

Tents and plastic were used to protect the stuffed animals, candles, notes and pictures that mourners have set up in the town. Flags in Newtown, Conn., which encompasses the village of Sandy Hook, are flying at half-staff.  Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake released a statement:

We were devastated to hear the news about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, CT.  This town has been rated as one of the top safe places to live.  26 people were murdered by a gunman, who was 24 years old and fired his guns more than 100 times; 20 children and 7 adults died.

Two of these incidents have happened on the average every 10 years since 1900 but since the beginning of 2000, there have been 26 of these mass killings.  Something is wrong.  We certainly need to pray for our world, and pray for our society.  I support every effort, every movement to reduce the proliferation of firearms.

We pray that Congress will understand that although there are things such as human rights and rights to defend one self, something is wrong in our society.  I strongly advocate universal background checks for all seeking to purchase a firearm, and an assault weapon’s ban to proclaim peace and safety.

Join us in prayer for the families  whose Christmas collides with tragedy. In a blink of an eye anything can happen.

 

 

5 Top Christmas Myths Answered

A baby in a manger, Santa Claus and Christmas trees, holly wreaths and poinsettias, colored lights and joyous carols, endless shopping and gift giving: these are the many sights and sounds of the beloved holiday called Christmas.  From the day after Thanksgiving until December25, cartoon specials, radio programs, store displays and houses lit up with lights tell the world that Christmas has come.  For most Americans, the Christmas season is a heart-warming time of good foods, delicious fragrances, colorful fantasies and fun with friends and family.  Yet, Christmas is also a time of crass commercialism, consumer debt, crowded malls and crushing depression.  Hundreds of websites on the Internet reveal the popularity and the controversy of the holiday, as debated in the site entitled, “Christmas in Cyberspace: A Christian Perspective,” whose authors boldly state, “No Santas here, just the Good News!”  Yearly, faithful Christians wonder if the true message of Christmas is forever obliterated and tainted by the many cultural expressions associated with this religious celebration.  Is Christmas a pagan holiday or a Christian holy day?  In order to answer these questions, one needs to look at the roots of the holiday celebrated by over a billion people worldwide.

Early Christians did not celebrate birthdays, especially the birth of Jesus Christ, according to “The Christian Book of Why” by John C. McCollister.  In a chapter entitled “Festivals and Seasons,” McCollister says that celebrating birthdays was a custom of the ‘pagan’ non-Christian culture from which these early Christian communities sought to separate themselves.  It was not until the fourth century A.D. that Christians chose to celebrate the birthday of their savior.  Were the early Christians adopting a pagan practice in celebrating the birth of Christ?  Probably not, instead, Christians began to recognize the importance of celebrating the incarnation as a historic fact.  The New Testament teaches that God put on flesh, or was incarnated as the man Jesus of Nazareth to fulfill the promise of a delivering Messiah (Matthew 1:23).  Christmas wasn’t intended to be a mere birthday celebration for Jesus.  Rather, it was the reenactment of the literal incarnation of God as a human being.  The word Christmas is actually a contraction of Middle English words for the phrase “Christ’s mass,” a worship celebration and holy communion service honoring Jesus Christ’s nativity or birth.

MYTH#1:  Christmas was once a pagan holiday.

Bishop Liberius of Rome in 354 A.D. declared that Christians in the western part of the Roman Empire acknowledge Christ’s incarnation on December 25.  This day was a Roman holiday, the feast of Sol Invictusor the feast of the “Unconquerable Sun.”  In non-Christian pagan Roman culture, December 25 represented the day the sun came alive again.  On this date of the winter solstice, the daylight hours stopped getting shorter and began getting longer, which assured this ancient culture that the world would not end.  Christians at this stage of history were still a hunted, persecuted minority in Roman society, therefore Bishop Liberius brilliantly seized upon this general time of celebration as a cover for the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  While the masses worshipped Roman gods, Christians worshipped the God of the Bible and celebrated the incarnation of the son of God.  Those that say Christmas is pagan in origin, because it occurs on the date of a pagan holiday, are ignorant of the historical reasons for the occurrence.  The safety of the Christian community was being protected and they were establishing a rival celebration in opposition to Sol Invictus. Interestingly enough the strategy worked, the world does not remember the celebration of the Roman god, but each year is reminded that Jesus Christ the Son of God was born as a little baby in Bethlehem.

MYTH #2:  Christmas trees are mentioned in the Bible and prohibited.

But what about the Christmas tree, is Jeremiah 10:3-4 a biblical injunction against this tradition?

“For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest,

            the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.  They deck it with silver

            and gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.”

 In his article, “Is Christmas Christian?” Hank Hanegraaff, president of the Christian Research Institute states, “A closer examination of Jeremiah 10 reveals that God is in reality condemning the creation of permanent wooden idols carved from the trees of the forest.”  In fact, the Christmas tree originated centuries after Jeremiah 10 was written.  In an attempt to rid German of idolatry, St. Boniface, an English missionary to Germany in the eighth century, cut down “the sacred oak tree in the city of Gelsmar.”  According to McCollister, in order to pacify the residents, Boniface gave them an evergreen fir tree as a symbol of their break with paganism and turn to Christianity.  The evergreen symbolizes the eternal life we receive by faith in Jesus Christ. The great German preacher and Protestant reformer Martin Luther is perhaps the first person to bring a fir tree into the house for Christmas, according to McCollister.  On a beautiful Christmas eve night, Luther saw a fir tree silhouetted against a starlit sky.  The beauty of the sight so overwhelmed him that he could not find the words to adequately describe it to his wife and children.  Impulsively he cut down a fir tree, brought it inside and set lit candles on its boughs. In later years Luther spoke of the candle lights as symbolic of Jesus the Light of the world, and the evergreen tree as representing the everlasting life in Jesus Christ.

MYTH #3:  “Xmas was adopted to take Christ out of Christmas.”

The Christmas tree is just one of the many popular symbols used by earlier Christians to communicate the message of the gospel. Holly wreaths are symbolic of the crown of thorns Jesus Christ wore at his crucifixion.  McCollister reveals that Christians hung wreaths on their doors to let their neighbors know a Christian believer lived there.  The “merry’ in Merry Christmas is an old English term meaning “blessed” or “happy”.  The star on top of the Christmas tree symbolizes the star of Bethlehem which led the wise men’s journey to the Christ child.  Poinsettias, interestingly enough, came into the Christmas celebration through an American minister, Dr. Joel R. Poinsett, who brought the flower-like plants from Mexico to the northern United States.  The deep red flower which peaks in December as striking in contrast to the drab foliage of the wintery north and was emblematic of the birth of Jesus – beauty in the midst of bleakness.  And what are we to do about the dreaded word, “XMAS?”  This abbreviation is really not a slight on Jesus Christ at all.  The “X” is actually the Greek letter “chi” which is the first letter in the Greek spelling of Christ.  The “X” represents Jesus’ title, “Christ” or Messiah. This “x” or “chi” has been used by Christians for hundreds of years as a sacred Greek language abbreviation for “Christ” as in the symbol “XP” (“chr” in English).

MYTH #4:  Santa Claus is based on a mythical figure.

But what are we to do with of Santa Claus? Certainly he has pagan origins.  Actually, the tradition of Santa Claus stems back to the celebration of the feast day of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of Russia.  Nicholas was an important Bishop (church leader) in the fourth century, known for his generosity to the poor, especially children.  His feast day, celebrated December 6, was a time to give presents to children.  The saint Nicholas orSanta Niklaus from the Dutch language eventually became Santa Claus in American English.  The current image of the chubby man in a red suit was popularized by Rev. Clement Moore, professor of theology at New York Theological Seminary, who published the poem, “The Visit of St. Nicholas” on December 23, 1923.  The poem later became known as “The Night Before Christmas.” We can tell our children that the real Santa Claus, the saint Bishop Nicholas, was a Bible believing, Jesus loving Christian who did so much good helping poor children, that he is remembered to this day in the mythical jolly man we call Santa Claus. We all can follow his example of helping to make life better for children and adults who are poor and oppressed.

Although contemporary mass market culture has taken over the symbols of Christmas as marketing ploys to motivate Americans to buy commodities, at the heart of most Christmas traditions is a Christian message.  Christians need to research and reclaim the truths earlier Christians infused in the symbols so beloved at Christmas.  Christmas need not be a time thought of as “xing out” Christ.  If current Christians recover the truths invested in Christmas traditions, they can communicate the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ to a world eager to enjoy the warm feelings of the holiday season.  In I Corinthians 9:22, the apostle Paul wrote, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”  For Christians, Christmas is a holy day of celebrating the historic fact of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, not just a holiday.  It is sacred time for us to spread the joy and good news of God’s free gift of salvation for all people who consent to believe.

By Elder Oscar O. Owens, Jr., M.Div.

President, West Angeles Bible College

 

How to Save Your Bank Account During Christmas!

5secreats_sm

1. Start a Christmas Savings Account

Enjoy the beauty of Christmas without the pressure to go into debt by saving a little toward the holiday throughout the year.  If you didn’t have a savings this year, then start now for next year.  If you need some help, some credit unions and banks offer Christmas Savings Accounts that let you decide on an amount to contribute during the months of January to October.  In November you’ll get a check to cover all your holiday expenses and gift giving.  Imagine, putting away $50 a month beginning in January would mean next November you’d have a check for $500 – A great step toward a stress-free Christmas.

2. Be Intentional

As you’re preparing to give, take a moment to refocus on the reason for your giving. Focus more on showing your appreciation for the person, and resist the urge to think that the best gifts always have a large price tag. Be intentional in your giving by thinking about those you’d like to bless. Honor them with gifts that express their uniqueness and what you know about them and you’re on your way to being a master giver.

3. Have a Plan

In most things a little planning goes a long way and giving is no different.  Taking the time to make your list, research items online and prepare a budget before you head to the mall can help you save both time and money, so don’t skip this step.

4. Pay Cash

It’s much easier to overspend with credit because you don’t see the money leaving your hands.  When you’re purchasing with cash you’ll make better decisions because we innately have more of an emotional experience when our hard-earned cash leaves our hands.  So leave the credit cards at home and then you’ll know when the cash is gone, you’re finished shopping.

5. Limit your Shopping to One Day

Once you’ve completed steps 1 – 4, all that’s left is to go shopping.  Consider planning to devote one day to completing all your shopping.  This way you’ll avoid impulse buying.  Multiple trips to stores increase the likelihood that you’ll find more reasons to bust the budget.  With steps 1 – 4 in place, step 5 should be a breeze

 

Written and Illustrated by G. Sharp

The True Meaning of Christmas: 3 Gifts to Share with the World

Over two-thousand years ago, God presented the world with a gift: Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem.  In an act of faith and worship, three kings traveled from different parts of the world to bring symbolic, spiritual  gifts to Jesus and to His Family:

  • Frankincense, symbolizing the power of God and  the Holy Spirit;
  • Myrrh, symbolizing healing; and
  • Gold, symbolizing His royalty and Kingship over the earth.

Today, we celebrate Christmas by buying gifts for each other and making merriment with family and friends. As the season approaches each year, our attention turns to making our shopping lists, checking for pre-Christmas bargains, and considering last-minute tax shelters.  Unfortunately, Christmas, known worldwide as “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, has become a tradition marked by gluttony, greed, depression and apathy.

What if we’ve gotten it all wrong?  What if the true meaning of Christmas is to share with the world that which God has created us to be?  What if the gifts we are to exchange at Christmastime are the gifts God has given to us in order to establish His Kingdom on earth?

For, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 9:6-7 (New King James Version)–

6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.      

 The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

 

We are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10); each and every one of us who calls Jesus “Our Savior” possesses His power.   In the season and Spirit of Christmas, and to honor God for the gift He has given us – His only Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ – the sincerest  gifts we could give to the world in return is to:

  1.  Manifest the fullness of God’s calling on our lives.  The Apostle Paul, in the book of Ephesians, asks us to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called”, and, in gentleness and understanding,  in love and in peace, to unify in one Spirit with the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:1-6). repent and transform ourselves into His loving likeness
  2. Share gifts of the Spirit.  In Romans 12, Paul outlines one of our clearest mandates for our life on earth as Christians: not to follow society’s ways, but God’s ways.  We are to activate our power of renewal and transformation, and, through the power of Jesus, to carry ourselves as His representatives of share the Good News of Christ through whatever gifts God has given us: be it to minister, to teach, to give money or possessions; to prophecy, to encourage, to show mercy, or to lead others (Romans 12).
  3. Spread the love of Jesus Christ.  Jesus said in John 15:11-12, 11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

It is only when we Bless God by presenting to Him our whole selves – our talents, our resources, our bodies,  minds, and souls – that His Kingdom can be established on earth: then we, and in turn the world, are Blessed.

Give the gift of LOVE this season: click below to give to West Angeles Church of God In Christ:

donate-2016

(First published on Dec 20, 2012 @ 13:22)

Christmas Sunday Service

580-X-320-XMAS-XMASDAY-5

Come celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ  on Sunday morning, December 23rd at 8:00AM and 11:00amAM service. We invite you and your family to join us for a family style service!  Come and be blessed as Bishop Charles E. Blake shares a special Christmas message.

Please keep in mind that in observance of the Christmas holiday, the church will be closed on Monday, December 24th and Tuesday, December 25th.

 

Give the Gift of “Ministry on the Go”

580X360MOTMOVE

What better gift to give  this Holiday Season then to share the almighty and luminescent, Living Word of God.  Introduce your loved ones and friends to West Angeles’ Shop.WestA.TV where you can have access to the Gospel of Jesus Christ from anywhere in the world!

Loneliness During the Holidays

The holiday season is a time of giving, cherishing time with family and friends–the epitome of hope and joy.  But let us remember that while we are enjoying the fruits of the holiday’s there are some who smile while inside they are hurting–because to them, the holiday season is synonymous with the passing of loved ones, lost relationships, or dark childhood memories. Loneliness is the only prison where we sentence ourselves and voluntarily carry out that punishment.  It’s a difficult place when we position ourselves to sit in areas of desolate solitude with the responsibility of nurturing ourselves—hoping the holiday season will end with haste.

If you are wrestling with the seeming insoluble virus of loneliness, know that there is a cure. And the cure isn’t some mystery that only can be obtained by in-depth counseling or seminary…but it involves a willingness to be guided down a path towards a healthy and wholesome you.Loneliness is cured by a bold desire to reclaim your life despite your circumstance, to acknowledge that God is right beside you despite your individual situation or what others may tell you.
Remember that God is right there to pick you up and mount up as wings on eagles, where you will run and not be weary you will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

 Deuteronomy 4:31 (New International Version)
31 For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath
1 Samuel 12:22 (New International Version)
22 For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own.

Psalm 27:10 (New International Version)

10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.

Psalm 31:7 (New International Version)

7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
for you saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul.

Psalm 46:1 (New International Version)

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

Psalm 55:22 (New International Version)

22 Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.

Psalm 112:4 (New International Version)

4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous

Psalm 147:3 (New International Version)

3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.

Cruz del Servicio Movimiento

Tonight at 7:00PM in the renown West Angeles Performing Arts Theater, the Young Adult Bible Study will close out the end of this year’s teaching with a combined service taught in English and in Spanish! West Angeles’ Young Adult Pastor, Elder Manuel Thomas, has invited La Iglesia de la Restauración’s Young Adults for a time of fellowship and unity in the Cross Movement Service. See a snippet on what’s to come from Elder Manuel below:

Candlelight Service

The candlelight service here at West Angeles is a tradition that Bishop Blake affectionately calls his favorite Holiday service. With the only light coming from a single candle held by Bishop Blake, this presentation illuminates the massive meaning behind, “so let your light shine” in Matthew 5:16 in the North Campus Sanctuary.

Here are a few videos from past Candlelight Services
2009

2010