Elder William Hampton: God’s Purpose for Our Thoughts

Elder William Hampton explores God’s power and purpose of our thoughts in the second of a 3-part series on the Elders’ Corner.

The World Book Dictionary defines a thought as “the power or process of thinking.” It is a mental activity; the characteristic thinking of a particular person, group, time and/or place.

The average human brain contains around 100 billion cells. The cells can live for an entire lifetime, frequently making them the oldest living cells in the human body. The brain weighs about three pounds, and continues to grow from conception until around 18 years of age.

The left side of the human brain has considerably more neurons than the right side, and the forebrain, which controls intellectual function, is far larger in humans than in other animal species.

The thoughts of the human brain are powered by neurotransmitters, which in turn are powered by copious quantities of blood flowing through the brain every minute.

According to scientific research, it is said that we have approximately 48.6 thoughts per minute which translates into 2,916 thoughts per hour and 69,984 thoughts throughout the day. We are literally thinking the entire day.

Even as we sleep, our brains continue to process thoughts. A different set of neurotransmitters controls our thoughts while we sleep, which is why our dreams can seem so different from our waking thoughts.

 

KNOWING OUR THOUGHTS: 7 QUESTIONS ANSWERED 

As we can see, our brain processes a lot of thoughts. We have good thoughts and bad thoughts, and out of them come the decisions of life. How can thoughts affect our lives? Who, or what, determines our thoughts? And does God know our thoughts?

Here are 7 questions to ask in understanding God’s purpose for our thoughts:

  1. Does God know our thoughts? In 1 Chronicles 28:9, David gives advice to his son because he has experienced first-hand the power of God. David’s thoughts at times were not pure; therefore, they led him into various sins. He’s telling Solomon not to do as he did because God knows his thoughts. In Isaiah 66:18, God tells the prophet that He knows the thoughts of the people, and the ones with pure hearts and thoughts will be taken as priests and Levites. Other scriptures about thoughts include, Psalm 94:11-“The Lord knows the thoughts of man that they are futile/vanity.” Matthew 9:4-“But Jesus knowing their thoughts said ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?’” From these and many other scriptures, we can infer that our thought patterns are known by God.
  2. Who should determine our thoughts? Amos 4:13-“For behold He who forms mountains, and creates the wind. Who declares to man what his thought is and makes the morning darkness, Who treads the high places of the earth…The Lord of hosts is His name.” Amos is saying, “Let God determine your thought pattern.” God is the Sustainer and Creator of everything. If He can form the mountains and wind, He can definitely form our thoughts.
  3. How can we develop our thoughts? Proverbs 16:3-“Commit thy works to the Lord and your thoughts will be established.” If we turn over to the Lord what we plan to do, our life’s purpose will come to fruition. As the song says, “Turn it over to Jesus, and you can smile the rest of your day.” Saints of God, please give your lives over to JESUS!
  4. What are God’s thoughts? Psalm 92:5 says, “O Lord, how great are your works, Your thoughts are very deep” We cannot even begin to fathom the deep thoughts of God. God’s thoughts are beyond our conception; beyond our expression. His thoughts are the products of great power and wisdom, of great consequence and importance! Our works are nothing to Him. Isaiah 55:8-“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways  higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  We cannot comprehend the greatness of God’s works. We can only reverently and gracefully wonder at them, and even stand dumbfounded at the magnificence of them. Our works are small and our thoughts are shallow; but God’s thoughts and works are great and cannot be measured or comprehended.
  5. Now that we know God’s thoughts, what about man’s? Isaiah 59:7 – “Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood, their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity…” This is the thought of man. Romans 1:21 – “Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Some of us know people in this state: but again, these are the thoughts of man.
  6. How can thoughts affect our lives?
    When inner desires respond to outward enticement, sin is spawned. In James 1:14-15, James does not mention Satan’s role in temptation. His purpose is not to discuss the origin of sin, but to explain that enticement to evil is not from God. In stressing the inward nature of temptation, James leaves sinners no excuse. Satan is indeed the external source of temptation, but no one can blame him for the roots of sinful deeds. Sin starts with a thought which becomes a very prevalent mindset. This leads us to trouble; then, our thoughts can become uncontrollable. Negative thoughts can begin to take root deep within our being, and those thoughts are fulfilled when the desire is satisfied. This is what is known as a spiritual death: but thoughts can also lead to physical death. For example: ingesting a foreign substance into your system, making the decision flee from the police, or sharing intimate relations with someone and contracting a deadly disease can all lead to demonic transfer or a tragic ending. This is why God tells us in Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Paul is telling us to exercise our minds. If we keep the mind of Christ, we can simply stay out of trouble.
  7. How do we keep our minds focused on good thoughts in life? All of us can testify that we thought of something bad – or good – and it actually happened. We, as saints, must understand one thing: every time we sin, we become more bound by that particular sin. That is how sin can become a part of us and we are unaware of its presence. Our bad thoughts are the same.  They can become a part of our thought process, and can begin to lead and to guide our lives until we get pleasure from thinking them. We feed off of them as if they were a narcotic substance in our bodies, then, when God saves us, we think everything will be alright. What God will do is begin to bring months, years and even decades of wrong thoughts to our remembrance, and allow us to see them for what they really are. Acknowledging that we have these negative thoughts, however, can be difficult.

The bible says in Proverbs 23:7 “ For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Saints of God, your thoughts are the gateway, portal and doorkeeper to your heart. When we allow thoughts to fester in our minds, they become embedded within our spirits.

This is why God has given us the provision to think upon His goodness. We must learn the art of “letting go and letting God.” Please keep your mind as pure as possible, and watch your life drastically change for the better.

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – 1 Chronicles 28:9, Isaiah 66:18, Psalm 94:11, Matthew 9:4, Amos 4:13, Proverbs 16:3, Psalm 92:5, Isaiah 55:8, Isaiah 59:7, Romans 1:21, James 1:14-15, Philippians 2:5, Proverbs 23:7.

Elder F. William Hampton is a long-time member of West Angeles Church of God in Christ under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. Born in Houston, Texas, he received his High School Diploma from Hinds Agricultural High School,  his Associates of Arts Degree from Utica Junior College, his BA from Texas Southern University and his MFA from Loyola Marymount University. Elder Hampton joined West Angeles Church in 1985 and was ordained as an Elder in June of 2008.  He has worked with the West Angeles Sunday School and Youth Ministries, and is currently a member of the Web Team.  

6 Questions to Consider on the Power of Your Thoughts

Have you ever considered the power of your thoughts? This week, we welcome Elder William F. Hampton to the Elders’ Corner, with the first piece in a new series which focuses on our thoughts.

The World Book Dictionary defines a thought as “the power or process of thinking. It is a mental activity; the characteristic thinking of a particular person, group, time and/or place.  

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a thought as “serious consideration.” Strong’s Concordance defines a thought as “an association of ideas; cogitation (meaning, ‘deep thought, careful consideration, pondering, meditation’…); divided in mind.”

My definition would be:

A process of thinking that dictates your future.

In the upcoming weeks, join us on Westa.org as we focus on our “thoughts.” I will examine how the brain processes thought, and I will also touch on the following:  

1. Does God know our thoughts?  

2. What are man’s thoughts?

3. Who should determine our thoughts?

4. How can we develop our thoughts?

5. What are God’s thoughts?

6. How can thoughts affect our lives?

Last, but not least, I would like to focus on what our thoughts should reflect. Please join me next week to explore the question, “Does God know our thoughts?”


Elder F. William Hampton is a long-time member of West Angeles Church of God in Christ under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. Born in Houston, Texas, he received his High School Diploma from Hinds Agricultural High School,  his Associates of Arts Degree from Utica Junior College, his BA from Texas Southern University and his MFA from Loyola Marymount University. Elder Hampton joined West Angeles Church in 1985 and was ordained as an Elder in June of 2008.  He has worked with the West Angeles Sunday School and Youth Ministries, and is currently a member of the Web Team.  

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Elder Charles Blake II: Our Double Political Identity

Republican? Democrat? Conservative? Liberal? In this installment of The Elder’s Corner, Elder Charles Blake II discusses the dichotomy of being a Black Christian in political – and often polarized – America.

By Elder Charles Blake II

Since the November election, I’ve been in a number of places with those both inside and outside the African American community who have had much to say about the results of the 2016 Presidential election. There are some who expect me, by virtue of the fact that I am African American, to be in a state of depression because of President Donald Trump’s victory in the election. If they were a supporter of Mr. Trump, then they quietly choose not to openly celebrate his victory in my presence, for fear that they may raise my ire and cause me to unleash a passionate barrage of anger. If they did not vote for him, then they expected me to join with them in their anger, despair, and uncertainty at the future of our country’s well-being.

After my general disclaimer that “Whoever sits in the White House, it is God that sits on the throne of Heaven,” I had to remind them that, even when the person that they voted for wins the election, there is no guarantee that the world that they wanted to see will come to pass. When Barack Obama ran for President both times, the African American community and communities of other races, faiths and cultures came out overwhelmingly to support him and the dream of hope and change that he represented. However, as time progressed, we African Americans saw President Obama move to support agendas that had nothing to do with the issues that we face as a people. We now realize that it takes more than an African American President to heal our communities, and to help us move out of some of the issues facing us as African Americans.


WHERE DO YOU STAND?

In 2008, then Senator Barack Obama was nominated as the Democratic candidate for the President of the United States at the Democratic

National Convention. Bishop Charles Blake Sr. addressed the convention (see video, right); he also participated in a number of interviews during that time. I distinctly remember Bishop expressing the dichotomy – the double identity – of our political existence as African Americans. I heard him describe how traditionally, because of our values and morals, we are conservative; but with our political perspectives we are more progressive. We were taught by the example of our parents and grandparents the Biblical, traditional structure and values of God and family; and how, with hard work and discipline, an individual could rise to a higher level in life.

On the other hand, in our political perspectives, we are progressive. We have seen how the Federal Government, as far back as Reconstruction, had a large hand in ensuring that we as African Americans attained the rights espoused in our Constitution. We remember when the U.S. Marshals, and at times the National Guard, had to escort young African Americans to high schools and universities in the South, just so they could learn and get an education.

As a strong believer in pro-life values and traditional definitions of marriage, Bishop Blake has applauded the conservative defense of these values. However, he has decried the fact that their love and concern for the unborn stops at birth, and that more effort on their part is put into the construction of prisons than into the institutions which would build productive citizens. We, like Bishop Blake, applaud and agree with the progressive assertion that equal rights and opportunities should be available to every citizen of our nation, and that the Federal Government should protect those rights. But we, as African Americans, cannot agree with either the wholesale annihilation of millions of unborn children through abortion; or the equating of sexual preference with that of racial designation and the human rights that accompany that designation. We also cannot agree with the destruction of the traditional definitions of family and marriage.

ON THE LORD’S SIDE

We, as African American Christians, realize that we must articulate an agenda that speaks to both of our identities within the conservative and progressive agenda. The Progressives say to the African American that if we believe in Civil Rights; in the work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others who fought in that struggle, then we should vote Democrat.  The Conservatives say that if we as African Americans believe in God and in Christian values, then we should vote Republican: yet, neither party speaks to the totality of issues and concerns of our community.

It is only when we, as a people, begin to articulate an agenda of our own, which speaks to both our moral and our constitutional values, that we can begin to change our communities, and, in turn, our nation. Until that time however, there will be those who seek to define and articulate our agenda for us, and we will continue to be torn between two worlds and at war with one another. If this continues to be the case Beloved, it will not matter who is in the White House.

 

WestAngelesStaff-058-Edit-L

Elder Charles Edward Blake II serves as Assistant Pastor and Director of Community Relations of West Angeles Church of God In Christ, under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr. He received his BS in Marketing from Oral Roberts University, and studied for his MD at the Interdenominational Theological Center. Elder Blake also serves as the General Manager of the Los Angeles Ecumenical Congress.  He and his wife DeAndra are the proud parents of two sons. 

 


VIDEO INSET: Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. discusses human value and a pro-life perspective at the Interfaith Gathering of the 2008 DNC. Video, courtesy of C-Span.

Hear Donnie McClurkin sing his anthem to the church, “Stand”, below:

West Angeles Celebrates Bishop’s 48 Years of Service

Deacon David Moore and the congregation of West Angeles Church of God In Christ celebrate Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake’s 48 years of excellence in service on Sunday, January 8, 2017.

(Please click the images below to enlarge gallery).

48 Years…that’s a long time on a job. A long time to serve with excellence.

When you, Lady Mae and Kim arrived in 1969 to a church with a small membership of 50, who knew you would become Pastor of a congregation of 20,000 plus? God knew.

Who knew you would support hundreds of thousands of orphans in Africa? God knew.

Who knew you would become the Presiding Bishop and Chief Apostle of the Church of God In Christ International for three consecutive terms? God knew.

Who knew you would build this amazing cathedral in which we worship in every week? God knew.

Who knew you would be recognized as a world leader in church growth and organization? God knew.

We thank God that your favorite job is pastoring us. We thank God for all the great preaching and teaching, and for:

  • The weddings you’ve performed
  • The babies you’ve dedicated
  • The families you’re comforted in their time of loss
  • The sick you’ve visited
  • The counseling you’ve provided
  • The church’s financial transparency
  • West Angeles’ 100+ auxiliaries and amazing church staff
  • The phone calls, the letters – the prayers…

The Bible tells us in I Timothy 5:17,

“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”  

Bishop, you deserve multiples of double honor. Bishop Blake, God is not finished with you yet.  With your “Secret Weapon,” our First Lady Mae Lawrence Blake, with your “amazing physique,” and with all of us by your side, there are great works yet to be done at West Angeles Church.

As you often remind us, I’ll take the liberty to remind you, Pastor, that:

“I see you in the future and you look much better than you look right now.”  

God bless you and we love you – Happy Anniversary!

 

Deacon David G. Moore

Chairman, West Angeles Deacon Board and The Brotherhood Organization


WestAngelesMassChoir performs “Great“, at West Angeles COGIC, 2016.

Elder Owens: The Top 5 Christmas Myths Debunked

Do you know the true origins of Christmas? The Christmas tree? Or Santa Claus? In this edition of the Elders’ Corner, Elder Oscar Owens reveals the origins of the Christmas celebration, as well some of its myths and traditions.

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.

For most Americans, the Christmas season is a heart-warming time filled with delicious foods, wonderful fragrances, colorful fantasies and family fun. Yet, Christmas has also become a time of crass commercialism, consumer debt, crowded malls and crushing depression.

Yearly, faithful Christians wonder if the true message of Christmas is forever obliterated and tainted by the cultural expressions associated with the religious celebration. Is Christmas a pagan holiday? Or is it a Christian Holy Day meant to be honored and respected?

Here’s a list of the top 5 myths about Christmas, as revealed in the history of the celebration:

MYTH#1: Christmas was once a pagan holiday. The idea of celebrating Christmas began in Rome in 354 A.D., when Bishop Liberius declared December 25 as the day for Christians in the western part of the Roman Empire to acknowledge Christ’s incarnation. This day of the winter solstice was a Roman holiday called The Feast of Sol Invictus. Christians were still a persecuted minority in the pagan, non-Christian Roman society of the day; therefore Bishop Liberius brilliantly seized upon this time of Roman celebration as a cover for the Christians to rejoice in the birth of Jesus Christ. The besieged Christian community could now be protected and allowed to worship their Savior in safety. Interestingly enough, the strategy worked: the world does not remember the celebration of Sol Invictus, 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. Is Jeremiah 10:3-4 a biblical injunction against the Christmas tree tradition? No. Further examination of Jeremiah 10 reveals that God is actually condemning the creation of wooden idols carved from trees.[2]  In fact, the Christmas tree originated centuries after Jeremiah 10 was written. In the 8th century AD, St. Boniface, an English missionary to Germany, cut down “the sacred oak tree in the city of Gelsmar.” According to The Christian Book of Why by John C. McCollister, St. Boniface, in an attempt to rid Germany of idolatry, instead gave the people an evergreen fir tree to demonstrate their break with paganism and subsequent turn to Christianity[3]. The evergreen symbolizes the eternal life we receive by faith in Jesus Christ. The book also states that on a beautiful Christmas eve night, the great German preacher and Protestant reformer, Martin 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 the tree, decorated it, and is perhaps the first person to bring an evergreen tree, representing Christ’s eternal life, into the home for Christmas.

MYTH #3: “Xmas” was adopted to take Christ out of Christmas. The XMAS 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 thousands of years as an abbreviation for “Christ” seen in the church symbol “Xp” or “Chr” in English.

MYTH #4: Santa Claus is based on a mythical figure. 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 in the 4th century, known for his generosity to the poor, especially children. His feast day, celebrated December 6, was a time to give presents to children. St. Nicholas, or “Santa Niklaus”  in 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, a 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, 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.

MYTH #5: Many symbols of Christmas have no real Christian meaning for the Holiday. The Christmas tree is just one of the many popular symbols used by earlier Christians to communicate the message of the gospel:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The candle lights, according to Martin Luther who first placed them on the boughs of his own Christmas tree, are symbolic of Jesus as the Light of the world.
  • Holly wreaths are symbolic of the crown of thorns Jesus Christ wore at his crucifixion. Christians hung wreaths on their doors to let their neighbors know a Christian believer lived there.
  • Poinsettias 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. Additionally, the brilliant red petals portray the blood of Jesus shed for all humanity during His sacrificial death on the cross.

Although commercialism has taken over the symbols of Christmas, at the heart of most Christmas traditions is a Christian message. For Christians, Christmas is indeed a Holy Day of celebrating the historic fact of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Share with your friends and loved ones the Good News of Jesus, God’s Love in  human form, given for everyone who will receive Him this Gift.

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.” Christmas is a sacred time for us to spread joy and God’s free gift of salvation to a world eager to enjoy the warm feelings of the holiday season, and to all people who consent to believe.

___________________________________________

Elder Oscar Owens has a passion for helping others deepen their connection to the Bible and to the Lord. He currently serves as West Angeles’ Minister of Christian Education, as well as President of the West Angeles Bible College, where he teaches Systematic Theology. He is currently studying for his Doctorate of Ministry in Christian Spiritual Formation at Azuza Pacific University’s Seminary in Los Angeles, where he also teaches Urban Spirituality. He’s been married to the powerful singer and Tony-nominated playwright Lita Gaithers Owens for 31 years. Read more about Elder Oscar Owens HERE.

[1] Jeremiah 10:3-4 (NIV) 3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. 4They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.

[2] Hank Hanegraaff, “Is Christmas Christian?”,  Christian Research Institute.

[3] “The Christian Book of Why” by John C. McCollister.

Elder Kenneth Hammonds – What Is Holiness? Part 1

The world today calls for the church to live in holiness and righteousness. God calls us as His people to maintain our connection to Him; to be a people set apart from the ways of society, and to use our lives to bring light into the darkness of the world. In the first of a 3-part series for “The Elders’ Corner,” Dr. Kenneth Hammonds discusses the meaning of holiness through linguistics, and through understanding the nature and wonder of God Himself.

What Is Holiness?

In order to study the meaning of holiness, we must start with God. God is the beginning of holiness. Before the beginning of creation was God, who existed in all of His splendor by Himself, of course in the persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But some theologians assert that God’s holiness – or His “otherness” – is His key attribute; the central core and foundational attribute of His nature and character.

One pastor, Pastor Jim McClarty, made a great statement which said, “God is unlike any other, and His holiness is the essence of His otherness.”

Defining Holiness through Language

Let’s look at some of the basic concepts of holiness through linguistics, in both its Hebrew and Greek foundations in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

In Hebrew, the word is Kadosh, which means “sacred or holy.” This word is used many times in the Old Testament, in the book of Leviticus. In the Greek (in the New Testament), the word is Hagios, which means, to be holy; to be sacred, to be set apart by or for God as holy or sacred.” The Greeks used the word in their temples. A third word, Ekklesia means “church, assembly, congregation, convocation.” It is made of two words: ek which means “out of,” and klesia, from the word kaleo, which means “to be called.” The church is not the building! To be the church is to be called out as the assembly for God’s purpose.

Three words summarize the linguistic foundation of holiness and what it is. Holiness is:

  1. DIFFERENT – standing out from the ordinary
  2. SET APART – for purpose, mission, and service to God
  3. BEAUTIFUL – the splendor, the beauty of our life and of our witness; holiness is attractiveness

In other words, to live holy means that we are called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light.

What Does Holiness Mean To Me?

Some questions about holiness we may ask:

  • “How do we know God is holy?” We know because God reveals, proclaims, and declares Himself as Holy to mankind. Leviticus 11:44 says, “Be Holy because I am Holy.”
  • “God is holy, but can He impart holiness to humans?” God says that it is possible, and it can be done.  Indeed without Him, you cannot be Holy. His nature makes it possible. You can be different; you can be set apart, but it takes His impartation of holiness to be set apart to God.
  • “Why is holiness required or indispensable?” Holiness is indispensable in the time in which we live, and in New Testament theology. It is absolutely required and indispensable to show God’s work in the lives of human beings. In you, as a holy human being, others have seen a difference in your life! The impartation of God’s holiness speaks to others about God’s work in our lives, which is for the benefit of mankind. Because others live holy, mankind benefits, simply because someone is set apart for God’s service. Most importantly, the reason we do anything and everything is found in 1 Corinthians 10:31 –

“We do all things for the glory of God.”

So, holiness is to be lived and enjoyed!

Conclusion

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. That is the holiness that God gives, and it is also the holiness of what God is. As you look at the words we’ve discussed above, you see that the nature of holiness is good. Holiness means being set apart. If you are a set apart being, then you are beautiful.

Therefore:

Be beautiful! Called-out! Set apart!

God Bless you!

Adapted from “Let’s Talk About It: Holiness,” by Dr. Kenneth Hammonds, Dr. Wilfred Graves and Elder Oscar Owens, 11/11/2015, at the West Angeles North Campus Sanctuary.


FOR FURTHER STUDY:

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – 2 Peter; Isaiah 6:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Romans 1:6, Leviticus 11:44 , 1 Corinthians 10:31.  See also: Strong’s Concordance, and the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon.

JOIN US FOR WEDNESDAY NIGHT BIBLE STUDY!  Delve deeper into the Word of God as dynamic pastors, theologians and speakers from across the country present riveting insights on the Bible, the basis of our faith. Please join us at West Angeles each Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the North Campus Sanctuary, 3045 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016. Visit Westa.org or phone:(323) 733-8300 for more information.

THE WEST ANGELES CHRISTIAN EMPORIUM –  Want to learn about the promises of God? Hear this entire sermon in its entirety on CD or DVD.  Visit us at the West Angeles Christian Emporium where you’ll find a variety of Bible translations, books on Christian life, devotionals, and more. Visit us in the lobby after each service, or visit us at  3021 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016. Phone: (323) 731-3012 for hours and directions.

 

 

Elder Thornton: What Am I Called of God To Do?

You’ve been attending church, enjoying the mighty choir and the moving sermon each Sunday. But you want to be more than one who just comes to Church and leaves until the next scheduled worship time. You’ve given your life to Christ, but now you may wonder, “What does He want me to do for Him? How do I find my place in the church?”

The Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:1 (NKJV),
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.”

Your vocation is your total life’s calling. It includes every aspect of your life, such as your occupation (your job), your avocation (your hobby), your family and your ministry.

What You Can Give God for His Service

Take inventory of yourself. Stand before a full-length mirror, and allow the Lord to show you six important items:

1. YOUR HEAD – “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” Romans 7:25 (NKJV)

2. YOUR MOUTH – “And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.” Ephesians 6:19 (NKJV)

3. YOUR WATCH – “Take advantage of every opportunity because these are evil times.” Ephesians 5:16 (CEB)

4. YOUR HANDS – “We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it.” 1 Corinthians 4:12 (NIV)

5. YOUR FEET – “I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies.” Psalm 119:59 (NKJV)

6. YOUR INCOME – “Sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.” Acts 4:37 (NIV)

Your body, like the church, is one unit made up of many members. And, like the church, God has created each member for His service.

You are fully equipped to answer His call. Therefore, God’s plan is for you to recognize your spiritual gifts, and to spend the rest of your life utilizing them in the ministry of reaching and teaching your generation for God.

“May God richly bless you” is my prayer for you.

Westa.org honors Elder Ronald Thornton, West Angeles’ long-time instructor of “What Am I Called of God To Do?” Elder Thornton uses the spiritual gift of teaching to prepare others for the life God has called them to. He received his B.A. from the University of Alaska and was ordained in 1975. Rev. Thornton served as Dean for the CH Mason System of Bible Colleges, and as Principal of the West Angeles Christian Academy. He was promoted to Facilities Manager for West Angeles Church of God In Christ, where he also teaches the popular class, “What Am I Called Of God To Do?” He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Louise.

Westa.org congratulates Elder Ronald Thornton upon his retirement this week! 


Watch Alicia Keys perform Bob Dylan’s “Pressing On” below. Copyright © 1980 by Special Rider Music.

WANT TO KNOW YOUR CALLING? Curious about your purpose on earth? West Angeles Church of God In Christ has classes to help you discover all of this and more.

For information regarding Sunday School, Bible College, classes offered and more, call West Angeles Church of God in Christ at 323/733-8300. Department extensions can be found below:

  • Christian Education (including Sunday School inquiries) – Elder Oscar Owens, Director; Ayanna Bereal, Administrative Assistant to Elder Oscar Owens, X2345
  • Bible College – Letha Rhymes, Bible College Registrar , X2367
  • School of Practical Christian Living – Elder Richard Brooks, Christian Education Program Coordinator, X2366
  • Young Women’s Christian Council – Mrs. Renee Weathersby, President, X2765

Elder Charles Blake II on the Importance of the Black Church

As a part of our Elder’s Corner series, Elder Charles Edward Blake II took time to reflect on the history and importance of the black church. 

“Over the course of centuries, black churches served as “hush harbors” where slaves could worship in safety, praise houses where their free descendants could gather and shout hallelujah. (They were) rest stops for the weary along the Underground Railroad, bunkers for the foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement. They have been, and continue to be, community centers where we organize for jobs and justice, places of scholarship and network, places where children are loved and fed and kept out of harm’s way, and told that they are beautiful and smart and taught that they matter. That’s what happens in church” – President Barack Obama, in the eulogy for Clementa C. Pinckney, Pastor of Emmanuel AME Church.

As I listened to our President deliver this historic, heartfelt [speech], I was especially drawn to his comments on the historical significance of the black church in American history. I have believed that the black church is as our president described: the beating heart of the black community. The first African American schools, hospitals, farming co-ops, workers unions, and many more aspects of our community, came out of the black church. After the Civil War and slavery had ended, the church was the only institution the black community had to protect our civil rights during Reconstruction.

Years later, however, after the Civil Rights Era, other secular African-American organizations did our civil rights work for us. Today, it would now seem that many of the rights that we gained during that time have either slowly eroded, or have not been realized at all by our community.

“The Black church is as our President described: the beating heart of the black community.” – Elder Charles E. Blake, Jr.

In light of what the church has been to our community in the past, we must continue to question: “Who are we as the church in the present?”

Impacting Our Future

As the church, we have the power to impact nations and transform cities. Yet many of us have not allowed ourselves to be transformed by the Gospel into something new that God can use to help someone else. We praise his name and the Spirit of the Lord is here…there’s no doubt about it! But while this Word, this truth, this gospel is widely believed and agreed upon and we praise the Lord for it, it is a truth we widely take for granted. We have to really ask ourselves: “Is the world a better place because we are in it? Is this a better church because I’m a part of it?”

We are called not only to worship Christ, but also to truly follow him. So, how do we do that? Mark 10:43-45 says:

43 “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

We have to remember beloved, that as members of the body of Christ, we have all been called as missionaries, evangelists, and ministers (Ephesians 4:11). We are here to follow Jesus’ example, to serve even those who we may feel don’t deserve it, in order to be a light to others. The church must be a better church because we are a part of it. The world must be a better place because we are in it.

Like the apostles themselves, we don’t deserve what Christ did for us when He died on the cross. But when we serve others and live our lives with integrity, God can look at our lives as an investment and pour out His blessings. We then honor the price that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ paid for us, and we begin to do our part to become the church He created us to be.

 

Elder Charles Edward Blake II serves as Assistant Pastor and Director of Community Relations of West Angeles Church of God In Christ, under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr. He received his BS in Marketing from Oral Roberts University, and studied for his MD at the Interdenominational Theological Center. Elder Blake also serves as the General Manager of the Los Angeles Ecumenical Congress.  He and wife DeAndra are the proud parents of two sons. 

Pay your pledge online!  To donate to the West Angeles FAMILY LIFE CAMPAIGN, please click HERE.

Elder’s Corner: Elder Potts Honors Bishop Blake’s 47 Years of Service

COGIC CFO Tyrone Potts takes a moment to survey America’s current fluctuating labor trends, while giving thanks for a Presiding Bishop’s five decades-long ministry tempered with consistency, resilience, and wisdom.

As an accountant, I tend to be fascinated by numbers, trends, and statistics. Recently, I read a few statistics revealed by the U.S. Department of Labor which you may find interesting, too:

  • The average American’s work life spans 40-45 years
  • Most older adults will have changed jobs at least 5-7 times
  • The average worker today stays at each of his or her jobs for 4.6 years [1]
  • The average person born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957-1964) held 11.7 jobs [2]
  • Younger Americans, also known as “Millennials,” (born 1981-96) may have 15 – 20 jobs over the course of their working lives 
  • Because we are now in the Technological Age, many will now change jobs in less than every 3 years [1]

Americans are changing jobs so often for reasons such as job frustration,  job dissatisfaction termination, promotion, pursuit of life’s calling, or flat out boredom and in desperate need of change. There’s nothing inherently wrong with changing jobs, however. In fact, some job changes are ordained by God.

“CAREER CHANGES” IN THE BIBLE

There are several notable career changes in the Bible. For example:

  1. In the Old Testament in 2 Samuel 5, David, a shepherd boy, tended sheep for many years before God promoted him to King of Israel.
  2. In the New Testament, the Apostles Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen (Matthew 4:18-22);
  3. Evangelist Luke was a physician (Colossians 4:14);
  4. The Apostle Paul was a tentmaker (Acts 18:1-3);
  5. The Apostle Matthew was a tax collector (Matthew 9:9-13),

These job changes all happened long before these figures were called to full-time ministry.

Although it’s quite common to move from one job or career to another during a lifetime, can you imagine what West Angeles would be like today if we followed today’s career trends? Can you imagine if every 5-7 years we had to search for a new pastor? That means over the last 47 years, West Angeles could have changed pastors between 6-10 times!

Thank God that West Angeles Church of God In Christ has had 47 years of the consistency and vision of one mighty man of God: Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr.

THANK YOU, BISHOP BLAKE

Today, job dissatisfaction has not escaped the world of ministry. Churches are shutting their doors every week. Men of God are discouraged, making the decision to walk away from ministry. But thank the Lord our God we have a Bishop who didn’t walk away from the church.  

Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr. has diligently and steadfastly served West Angeles Church of God In Christ, the West Angeles community, the national church, and the world at large for over 47 years. From the beginning, Bishop Blake and his family endured many hardships during their tenure of service to West Angeles. They’ve withstood a church split, court battles and threats of bodily harm. He mortgaged their home more than once to help keep West Angeles afloat. He underwent major surgery without complaining or quitting on the church. Even recently, he has endured attempts to assassinate his impeccable character. Yet through it all, he has continued to represent us with grace and dignity, and to preach the uncompromising gospel. What an incredible testimony of faith and faithfulness!

With all of the preaching, teaching, and conducting the affairs of multiple corporations, I can’t imagine his job could ever be boring in any way. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our pastor for his 47 years of service, and for his faithfulness in  ministry. In today’s world, it is uncommon for a person to stay at one job their entire adult life. But West Angeles has a rare and precious gift in Bishop Blake which we should not take for granted.

Please join me in thanks and prayer for our pastor, Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.:

Heavenly Father, as your church, we come before you today to honor your servant, Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr. Thank you for granting him vision, wisdom, health and longevity, and we pray that You continue to bless and protect him as he executes Your will for Your church.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

________________________________________________

Elder Tyrone Potts, CPA is the Chief Financial Officer of the Church of God In Christ, Inc. After obtaining a BA from Georgetown University, Tyrone worked for one of the top five accounting firms in the world and went on to become a Certified Public Accountant. He was saved, baptized and joined West Angeles COGIC in 1992. He acknowledged the call to ministry in 1999, was licensed in 2001 and ordained as an Elder in the Church of God in Christ in 2010. He is the author of several books including the “Escape from Debtors’ Prison” series, which he co-authored with his wife, Evangelist Rachelle Potts, a former stockbroker. Together they have traveled the nation teaching financial workshops for churches and other community groups.

 

[1] “Median Employee Tenure,” US Department of Labor.

http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2014/ted_20140925.htm. Accessed 1/25/2016.

[2] “Number of Jobs Held,” US Department of Labor. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/nlsoy.pdf. Accessed 1/26/2016.

Elder Richard Brooks Shares Practical Christian Wisdom

In this edition of “The Elders’ Corner,” Elder Richard Brooks shares pearls of wisdom on purpose, understanding enemies, and allowing God to use our lives to Bless others.

Every strong faith, culture or society makes room for the impartation of wisdom from its Elders, and the Church of God in Christ is no exception. The Bible provides us with such wisdom, and the Elders of the church are among those who teach and pass on that wisdom to others.

Elder Richard L. Brooks was raised in the church, and has been infused with Biblical wisdom and COGIC tradition through his grandmother, through YPWW (COGIC’s Youth Training Union), and through Prayer & Bible Band, the oldest organized auxiliary in the Church of God in Christ. A quiet, humble man, Elder Brooks has always had a fascination with education and Christianity, and is always seeking words of wisdom in the Bible.

He now passes on generations of tradition and wisdom through his Sunday School classes, during New Members’ Orientation, and as Program Coordinator of West Angeles’ School of Practical Christian Living.

In this edition of The Elders’ Corner, we’re blessed to have Elder Richard L. Brooks share some pearls of wisdom with us.

ON PURPOSE

“A lot of people talk about having an experience with God, but they don’t have any experience because they don’t listen. They know what they want to do and they go after that…That’s the biggest mistake we make. We are taught to make that mistake.”

“You’d be surprised at how many people have no idea what they are called to do. And it’s simply because they have not sought the Lord.”

“We ask our children from the time they’re little, what do you want to be? What are you going to be when you get grown? We tell our children to decide what they want to be. We don’t teach our children to seek the Lord. We don’t do that…we do not do that.”

“Children…they don’t know what they’re capable of…only God knows.”

“There’s a difference between a good idea and a GOD idea. A good idea, anybody can do it. But a God idea…only the person God gives it to can do it, because He only gives you a part of it at a time.”

“God will say, ‘Do this,’ and you do it, then it comes to a standstill. You can’t go further because you don’t know what to do. Then sometimes you say, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll try to do this over here’ – but it don’t work. God does not give you the whole program.”

ON OBEYING GOD

“The Lord is ‘hinkty!’ If He tells you something, and you don’t appreciate it enough to get up and write it down, He’ll let you forget it, and all you’ll have is the knowledge that ‘The Lord told me something…and I can’t remember what it was!’ You know that it’s something that you need, because every now and then, way down the line, you’ll hear it again.”

“God is telling you, ‘When I give you something, write it down!’ When He said (in Habakkuk 2:2), ‘Write the vision; make it plain, so that those who read it may run…,’ the Lord’s not in the business of telling us things just so we can forget it. God has something He is trying to tell us.”

“There’s a difference between a good idea and a GOD idea” – Elder Richard L. Brooks

“You have to stay in harmony with what God’s doing, because if you get out of harmony with what He’s doing, He’ll quit, and you’ve got nothing, because it all came from Him.”

“It’s important that we remember what the Lord tells us because God knows that the devil is waiting…just waiting…”

ON ENEMIES

“You’ll run into people who look at your success, and they’ll think it’s you, and they don’t realize it’s God. They want to tap into it. ‘Oh, I want to do that.’ But you can’t give them what you’ve got because it was given to you.”

“You’d be surprised at the enemies you’ll make while you’re busy working, trying to do what the Lord says. But somebody over there is plotting, setting you up to stab you in the back. It puts you in a position where you’re totally dependent on God.”

“When you get involved with the work of the Lord…you’re not going to be happy a lot of times. Folk will make you unhappy. They’re gonna see to it that you’re unhappy, because they’re unhappy. You’ve got to be able to throw that off and keep on going.”

ON HEAVEN

“People think when they get to Heaven, they’re gonna see the Holy Ghost. No, you ain’t gonna see the Holy Ghost…It’s a Spirit.”

“When Jesus said ‘I’m going to prepare a place for you’ – He said ‘a place,’ but it’s a body…’In my Father’s House there are many a mansions’… John said, ‘I saw a new heaven and a new earth coming down out of heaven.’ God don’t need Earth. He’s Spirit. Earth is natural. Christ is telling us…the people who need earth will have a body.”

“Paul talks about, ‘The mortal must put on the immortal’ bodies. You won’t be floatin’ around, eatin’ milk and honey!”

“Peter said, ‘Nevertheless, we, according to His promise, look for a new heaven and new earth wherein righteousness dwelleth.’ There’s something coming, but God doesn’t tell us. Paul said, ‘I saw it, but I can’t tell you. He won’t let me tell you.”

“Nothing that we can imagine approaches what God has prepared for them that love Him. It’s beyond our human imagination. If people are already jumping off bridges and taking poison trying to get there, imagine if we had an idea of what it would be like!”

“There are people who just want to end it all. But they don’t realize, you don’t end nothing. You’re gonna live forever. It’s where you’re gonna live that’s the thing.”

ON LIVING A CHRISTIAN LIFE

“Most of us don’t read the Bible because we don’t understand it. We read Psalms, but the Psalms don’t tell us a lot of things.”

“We’ve got to learn that just because we’re saved, we’re speaking in tongues, we love the Lord and so forth, it does not mean that we know what we need to do. We don’t know.”

“Don’t tell God what you want to do. Listen to God to find out what HE wants you to do” – Elder Richard L. Brooks

“Our will is not God’s Will. What we want to do 99.9% of the time is different than from what God wants us to do. Now, God will show us and tell us, and our reaction? ‘Ooooo, that’s going to hurt. I don’t know if I can do that!’”

“When you get in His Will, that’s when your life takes off. This is why Jesus said, ‘I do always those things to please My Father.’ It’s not our will, it’s God’s Will.”

“If you want the Lord to lead you, find out from Him what He wants you to do and you’ll be way up the line.”

“We must ask, ‘What does God want me to be? What does it take for me to be what the Lord wants me to be? How am I supposed to live and be a Christian?’ Don’t tell God what you want to do. Listen to God to find out what HE wants you to do. That’s Practical Christian Living.”

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – 1 Chronicles 16:10-12, Isaiah 55:6-7, Habakkuk 2:2, John 8:29, 2 Peter 3, Revelation 21:1-2; John 14:1-4, 1 Corinthians 2:9, 15:53; John 5:30.

Elder Richard Brooks is Program Coordinator for West Angeles’ Christian Education Department and its School of Practical Christian Living. A product of the Church of God in Christ, Elder Brooks acknowledged his call to ministry in 1953, preaching his first sermon that same year at Lockett Temple COGIC in Detroit, MI. He was ordained in 1967, and has served in various capacities within the Church of God in Christ, including District President of the Young People’s Willing Workers Department (YPWW), Pastor, and Sunday School Teacher, which he continues to do to this day. Elder Brooks encourages believers to practice Biblical concepts through daily application of its principles. He continues to direct, guide and serve the people of God through preaching, teaching, and living the Word.
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DO YOU WANT TO LEAD A ORE ENRICHED LIFE FROM A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE? THE SCHOOL OF PRACTICAL CHRISTIAN LIVING (PCL) offers classes such as Integration of Faith, Community and Service, What Am I Called Of God To Do and more. Learn to be the best Christian you can be by applying biblical principles and practices to your everyday life. Join us for the next session! For more information call (323) 733-8300, Extension 2366.