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Bishop Blake: A Prayer Agenda for Fathers

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” – Colossians 1:9-10

 

“There’s a great hunger, a great need for expert advice on today…Abject failures are clamoring to tell you how to succeed.”

“Bad advice is everywhere but good expert advice is hard to find.”

“Sometimes, advice is very expensive, but there can be no more important dimension than that which relates to God and to eternal life.”

“The best advice comes from the Word of God.”

“It is so important to read the Bible for yourself.”

“Isn’t it great to be caught doing good?”

“Doesn’t it seem a little strange that Paul would pray for a group that seems to be doing pretty good?”

“All of us know a good start, but few of us are able to persevere.”

“When you decide you want to do something excellent for God, that’s when the devil attacks.”

“If you’ve never had a run-in with the devil, it may be because you’re going in his direction.” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake

“You ought to be further ahead and more accountable to God than you were last year.”

“Success imposes responsibility. Blessings impose responsibility.”

“When you are succeeding, it takes a strong, secure person to help you and not get jealous of you.”

“Many consider the apostle Paul to be the greatest preacher that ever lived, except for Jesus Christ.”

“When something is filled, it has no room for anything else. And when we are filled with the truth, there’s no room for error.”

“Paul did not just pray for knowledge, but for divine knowledge.”

“You don’t know a person because you’ve shaken hands with a person…you’ve got to stay around the person.”

“The most important associate you can ever have is God almighty.”

“Stay around the Lord.”

“The priorities of so many men are confused…They want the knowledge of God so that they can accomplish their will. It’s not our will, but God’s will.”

“Wisdom is practical knowledge.”

“A dumb question is better than a stupid mistake.”

“It’s not our will, but God’s will.” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake

“How many of you know that God will guide you and direct you?”

“When you’re prayerful… the Spirit of the Holy Ghost will guide you and direct you.”

“My brother…if you would open your heart to the Lord, He was a way of directing you in His way.”

“Your outward life ought to bring credit to your master’s name…If you’re a servant of the Lord, your life ought to reflect that.”

“The Lord wants us to be fruitful.”

“We need the help of God.”

“’Wait’ means trust in God. ‘Wait’ means rely on God. ‘Wait’ means believe that God is going to strengthen you. And if you put your trust in Jesus, He has a way of showing up.”

“Lord, I need your power. I need your presence. If you call Him, he’ll show up!”

“Lord, fill me with your power!”

“Jesus is alive!”

“God will bring you though!” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake

“Your enemies may come against you to bring you down, but God will pick you up.”

“God will bring you out! God will bring you over! God will bring you though!”

“Patience is endurance; it’s the ability to hold out and not be blocked by any attack of the enemy.”

“Thanksgiving is a command of God.”

“God wants you to stand!”

“Joy is in the Word of God!”

“The Lord is good!”

Adapted from the sermon, “Paul’s Prayer Agenda for Fathers.”  Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., at West Angeles Church of God In Christ.  See our entire Father’s Day service featuring Shelby 5, on The Legacy Broadcast.

 

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES: Colossians 1:3-14, 1 Corinthians 13:13, Matthew 22:29, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Proverbs 14:12, James 1:5, Ephesians 5:17, John 14:26, Proverbs 3:6,2 Timothy 2:19, John 15:5, Galatians 6:9, Isaiah 40:31, 2 Timothy 1:7, Acts 1:8, Luke 24:49, Jeremiah 33:3, Luke 10:19, Romans 8:31, Hebrews 12:2, Jude 1:24, Revelation 22:13.


Shelby 5 was our musical guest on Father’s Day 2017 at West Angeles Church of God In Christ! Hear their awesome acapella version of “CHAMPION” below:

DID YOU KNOW? The West Angeles Counseling Center has classes on parenting and marriage. We provide support and services to help strengthen every member of the family, and you do not have to be a West Angeles member. If you need support, and to find out more about our programs and services, please call the West Angeles Counseling Center at 323-737-7463.

Marriage Series: Should the Christian Wedding Vows Be Changed To, “As Long as We Both Shall Love?”

Our Westa.org Marriage Series continues! This week, Dr. Kenneth Hammonds takes a look at changes to modern Christian marriage vows. Should our vows change for good? Please CLICK HERE to take our poll on Facebook. 

As my wife, Naomi, and I enjoyed a rare day off today, I looked at her and thought, “You know – I really love this woman” (and by the way, I rarely miss a day telling her so). We are soon to celebrate 42 years as husband and wife.

The moment reminded me of an episode of one of my favorite TV shows called “Rhoda,” from back in the late 1970s (yeah, way back in the last century). Rhoda was a beloved character from the wildly popular “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” She was a wise-cracking, single woman whose dating ups-and-downs were the subject of her humor. But in Episode 1 of “Rhoda,” she’d meet Joe…and Rhoda was going to be married.

 

MARRIAGE FOR RHODA MORGANSTERN

I remember the special hour-long episode where Rhoda and her fiancé, Joe, exchanged their wedding vows. Viewed by more than 52 million people, the episode was a touching TV moment. A recent article about the show described ‘Rhoda’s Wedding’ as “a television landmark,” becoming the highest-rated television episode of the 1970s, a record it kept until the original Roots miniseries claimed the title in 1977.

Should the Christian Wedding Vows Be Changed To
“As Long as We Both Shall Love?” Actors Valerie Harper and David Groh from the series, “Rhoda”.

While watching this historic event back in 1974, I also remember clearly being shocked and surprised, however, to hear Rhoda and the man she loved vow:

“to live together as husband and wife, as long as we both shall love.”

Well, I’ve been to a few weddings in my day, and being a Christian minister, I’ve also officiated some, yet I have never heard any couple speak this phrase. But in today’s world – and even in the lives of Christians – the idea of marriage “as long as we shall love” seems to be lived out by many couples.

Although the American divorce rate is down in comparison with the 1970s, 80s and 90s, it is still higher (on a per capita basis, for every 1,000 people in the US) than it was almost 80 years ago, after the nation had endured the Great Depression. Today, article after article continues to promote the idea that ½ of all marriages end in divorce. So, is marriage really supposed to be forever? And should the vows be changed to “as long as we shall love?”

 

TO VOW OR NOT TO VOW: THAT MAY BE THE QUESTION

If a man makes a vow to the Lord, he shall not break his word. Numbers 30:2 

God takes vows pretty seriously. A “vow” in the Old Testament could be made between an individual and God or between two people. Whether to God or to man, a vow was considered a sacred, consecrated promise. It was a personal obligation that was to be fulfilled.

Today’s views on wedding vows and their content, however, are divided. Some still prefer the traditional phrase “As long as we both shall live,” while others seem to prefer the more modern “love.” An informal survey of both celebrity and civilian wedding vows around the world reveals that the phrases “as long as we both shall live,” or “’till death do us part” are still utilized and may even be preferred.

For example:

  • At their 2011 wedding, the Prince and Princess of Wales promised matrimony “so long as ye both shall live,” and “’til death us do part.”
  • Some Hindu wedding vows use the wonderfully poetic phrase, “Till both of us, with age, grow old.”
  • The book, 50 New and Traditional Wedding Vows, plus How to Write Your Own Vows: 10 Guides by Maria Kay, includes the modernized phrase, “all the days of my life.”

Many seem to believe that even if “forever” is not attainable, they still prefer the idea. Could concepts such as “promise,” “sacred,” “consecrated,” and “personal obligation” be of a bygone era?

 

WHAT IS LOVE?

If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 1 John 4:12

Love is an interesting human emotion (pain, pleasure, pressure, or whatever you wish to term it), particularly as it relates to the Western “civilized” society’s understanding of marriage. For many couples seeking holy matrimony today, love is that wild emotion; that tingling feeling down on the inside, that little taste of sexual fornication before marriage (if the marriage even happens at all). Others call it “indigestion” or “infidelity”: a breach of trust against God; the kind of stuff that is well below God’s righteous standard for our Best Christian living. This kind of personal, self-absorbed human love for many is merely a blind coagulation of looks, lust, and lucre.

The Greek word psychō (pronounced PSUE- ko;  ψύχω in Greek) refers to a human love that is gradually lessening in its fervor, power, and joy; waning, disintegrating, and evaporating away into non-existence. And the Scriptures do speak of a lower, less developed human-level type of love in Matthew 24:12, where Jesus predicted that the last days would be a time where “the love of many will grow cold” (NKJV). Bible Commentator, Marvin Vincent, defines this growing-colder-human-kind-of-love as a “spiritual energy blighted or chilled by a malign or poisonous wind.”  I would say that this “psychō”-type of love changed up on you! It was passionate, fiery, hot, and alive; but now, cooled off by the winds of time, adversity, or simply the desire for change, it has become cold, distant, impassionate, and dead.

Having spoken of a cold non-agapē love, we must ask, “Exactly what then is agapē in the fuller Christian expansion of this Greek word?” The best description of agapē in summary says:

Agapē is the highest form of love, a God-kind-of-love, whereby the one loving loves the one being loved unconditionally and also seeks that individual’s highest good and well-being.”

And in any human relationship, marriage or otherwise, we will need God to reach into the depths of our spiritual being to show this Christian agapē-love.

 

GOD’S IDEA AND GOD’S STANDARD

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” saith the LORD – Isaiah 55:8

Should marriage Vows Be Changed To “As long As We Both Shall Love”? Graph charting 144 years of marriage and divorce in America.

Jesus’ theology of marriage was too much for even His disciples to take in. He said, regarding the short-term marriage idea, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so… whoever divorces his wife… commits adultery.” You might respond in shock like the disciples did, saying, “Well Jesus, if this is your view of marriage, it’s better for us not to get married, at all!” (Matthew 19:1-10).

There may also be some young adults today who may say of the Christian marriage vow to love someone for the rest of their lives, “I can’t make that kind of commitment. I don’t know what may happen in the future.”  Maybe modern believers in Christ should just make no such “vows” at all if they are too hard to keep!

Okay, I’m in my 60s. I came from a different era (the generation which created the modern sexual revolution, by the way), but I still believe in the fervent seeking which lives out (or loves out) the biblical standard of marriage: “One woman for one man for life.” Yes, I know there are sometimes extreme challenges to this concept, but in our Christian life’s teaching and living, we must still speak and seek to live up to the best of God’s will, and God’s standard for the best functioning of human society, especially in these modern times. With Jesus, and our own personal commitment, we can perfect, improve, enhance, and advance love.

That’s possible: so, let’s do it daily.

 

WE NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Now back to the phrase, “as long as we both shall love”: should the Christian marriage vows be amended or changed to, “as long as we both shall LOVE” for this modern day, or remain “as long as we both shall LIVE” as it is has stated for the past 500 years or so?

Please answer on Facebook with a simple one liner. Include:

  1. Your age group (20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, etc.) and
  2. One word: “love” or “live” for how you think the vow should read.

Please, be honest. Don’t answer what you think we want to hear! Please feel free to forward this piece to your Christian friends and family; I’d love to hear their answers also.

As for me, I don’t see my 40 years of marriage to my lovely wife as some drudgery or lifelong slavery to an old vow, but rather as a wonderful and joyful relationship. It is for me a daily opportunity to say and honor “I do,” as in “I do love you and cherish you, as well as all the other good and the difficult stuff that’s part of any agapē relationship.”

 

 A PRAYER

“Dear Lord, I thank you for the spouse of my youth. It is an honor have him/her chosen for me by You for the enjoyment of our lives together serving Your purpose and glory. 

In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

 

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – Numbers 30:2-4, 1 Corinthians 13:8, Matthew 19:1-10, 24:12; Isaiah 55:8, 1 John 2:5; 4:12, 17. 

DR. KENNETH HAMMONDS (M.Div., Ed.D.) is a Discipleship Thinker- Teacher-Doer and Director of Christian Discipleship (Perfecting Believers) for West Angeles Church of God in Christ and Sector Leader for the Adult Ministries Division of the church. Of special theological interest for Dr. Hammonds is the discussion and development of a Theology of Discipleship that is spiritually vibrate, biblically sound, and personally practical.Dr. Hammonds has been a member of West Angeles for 30 years and serves on the Executive Staff as a Division Head. He also serves the Body of Christ as a Certified Life and Leadership Coach, and as a passionate New Testament Greek Trainer. He has been in Christian Ministry for over 45 years.

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DID YOU KNOW?

  • Two years after the “Rhoda” show began, Rhoda and her husband, Joe, broke up and later divorced. Joe revealed to his stunned wife that he had never really wanted to marry her. He said he only married her because she had pressured him into it after he’d invited her to live with him (it seems that an invitation to “move into my apartment” is not the same as an invitation to “move into my life in marriage.” Interesting ending to the vow, “as long as we both shall love”)!
  • The English word psycho is not related in meaning to the Greek word psychō, but rather a slang form of the term “psychopath.” The relationship between the Greek and English words is just an interesting coincidence!
  • The first known reference to the English phrase, “till death us do part” is in the Church of England’s “Book of Common Prayer” in 1529.
  • The idea of a marriage ceremony in the Christian Church seems to have become practice around the 9th century; however, as early as the 4th century there is evidence of couples seeking the blessing of the Church. Couples married in keeping with local customs and/or family traditions, making their own wedding “vows” of commitment, or having vows handed down to them.
  • On Valentine’s Day 2014, Pope Francis challenged 10,000 engaged couples who gathered in St. Peter’s square to consider marriage not as a temporary relationship, but as “The Joy of ‘Yes’ forever.” He said “It is still possible to take the risk of saying ‘forever’…it takes courage, but forever is a prospect that brings joy and allows us to look to the future.

20 Scriptures and Quotes on Love

As month of February turns our thoughts to love, here are 20 memorable quotes and scriptures to remind us of the true meaning of mankind’s greatest gift.

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” – The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

– The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

__________

“There are some who’ve said that it’s the role of the husband to love, and it’s the role of the wife to submit, but I would say that both20 Scriptures and Quotes on Love the husband and the wife must love and submit…The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:5, ‘All of you must submit to one another.’”

“Wisdom and love need to drink from the same cup.”

Before you fall in love, put priority on spiritual and emotional excellence, not just on physical and erotic attractiveness.”

“When two people love the Lord, who committed to the way of God, who believe the Word of God, and who believe in Christian principles, living, and raising their family, they’ve got a marriage that’s going to work and be blessed.”

– Presiding Bishop Charles Edward  Blake, Sr.

“Wisdom and love need to drink from the same cup” – Presiding Bishop Charles Edward  Blake, Sr.

__________

“Love should be your top priority, primary objective, and greatest ambition. Love is not a good part of your life; it’s the most important part. The Bible says, ‘Let love be your greatest aim.’”

“If God’s going teach you real love, He’s going put you around some unloving people.”

“The best use of life is love. The best expression of love is time. The best time to love is now.”

Pastor Rick Warren

__________

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public” –  Cornell West

__________

“We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense” – Former President Barack Obama

__________

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” – Matthew 22:37-39

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him,  and show him My salvation” – Psalm 91:14-16

As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34 

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:16-18

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” – Romans 8:35

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

“A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” – John 13:34.


Hear Hezekiah Walker & The Love Fellowship Crusade perform “LOVE LIFTED ME” below –

The True Meaning of Christmas

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 gifts, each with spiritual meaning, to the baby Jesus and to His Family:

  • Frankincense, symbolizing the power of God and  the Holy Spirit
  • Myrrh, symbolizing the blood
  • Gold, symbolizing Jesus’ royalty and Kingship over the earth

Today, however, 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 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, for many, a tradition marked by gluttony, greed, depression or apathy.

 

THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

What if we’ve gotten it all wrong? What if the true meaning of Christmas is to share Jesus’ Light with the world?  What if  the gifts we are to exchange with others are the gifts God has implanted within us to manifest that which He has created us all to be, and 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 of wisdom, goodness, light, and love. We are called to stir up the “zeal of the Lord” in order to boldly share His truths, and to manifest God’s will on earth (2 Timothy 1:6-7).

 

JESUS, OUR GIFT

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 Him and to the world in return is to:

  1. Manifest the fullness of God’s call on our lives. The Apostle Paul, in the book of Ephesians, asks that we, in gentleness and understanding, in love and in peace, unify as one Spirit with the body of Christ, and “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Ephesians 4:1-6).
  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 through Jesus Christ, and carry ourselves as His representatives in the world. Our mandate is to share the Good News of Christ through the gifts God has given us; whether in ministry, teaching, or giving money or possessions; through prophesy, encouragement, mercy, or leadership (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. Sharing Jesus’ light and love with others is indeed the true Spirit of Christmas.


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

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How Jesus’ Love Can Change Your Life

God desires to minister to us, and to bless and encourage our hearts by showing the greatness of His love for each one of us. Remember, although Jesus’ willing desire was to yield to the will of His Father and to die upon the cross (Matthew 26:39), He did ask the Father if the cup of His suffering could be taken from Him. One reason God’s implied response was “No” was because His love for us is as great as His love for Jesus.

God loves us so much that He allowed His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer throughout His life on earth, which concluded with the agony of the cross. This was so that each of us would have the chance to be saved, to experience God on earth, and to spend all eternity with Him.

GOD’S PLAN FOR US

Before the foundation of the world, God had the plan of reconciling man to Himself, even after Adam disobeyed Him and yielded to temptation (of course, this disobedience is what ushered sickness, pain, tears, sorrow, and death into our lives). Because God loves us so much, He had His plan and solution waiting for Adam – and for each one of us – to provide a way out of living life in agony, both here and in the hereafter. That is just how much He loves us!

The same is true today: God has a plan and solution awaiting our arrival, where and when it is needed. Thus, the actions of the Father who sacrificed His Son, and of Jesus who sacrificed His life for us, have assured us that we can believe Romans 8:32,37 (TLB):

32 Since He did not spare even His own Son for us but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also surely give us everything else? 37 but despite all this, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us.

5 BENEFITS OF JESUS’ LOVE

Now, let’s make these truths personal. As you reflect upon some of His many benefits, you can boldly say,

“Because Jesus loves me”

  • I can trust Him. I can declare His Word and unleash its power in my life. I can speak to my fears and rise up in faith. I can create a happy, fulfilled and prosperous environment.
  • I can change my life by yielding to, and abiding in, God’s perfect plan for my life. I can ask God our Father to teach me what I don’t know. As long as there is breath in my body, I can discover and rediscover my life, and all I was created to be. With the excitement of anticipation, I can continue looking forward to new chapters in my life.
  • I can realize my purpose – I can be assured that God has prepared each day for me to connect me with my destiny; to create blessings in my life, both for others and for myself. Because I will meet the right people at the right time, my encounters with others will be purposeful. I can rightfully believe that as long as I live, there is purpose and need of my gifts and talents, which were handpicked by my Father. I can know that yes, I am a blessing to others and do enrich their lives.
  • I can live and thrive, even beyond the passing of very dear loved ones. I can be honest about my feelings and own up to them. I know that Jesus will relight my fire when the situations of life begin to suffocate its flame.
  • I can have peace. Romans 8:28 says:

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.    

Because of the assurance of His love, I can hold my peace and let the Lord fight my battles. I can lay down in peace and enjoy the comfort of bed and covering and sleep. I know that He will work all things out, and that everything is going to be all right. 

YES, JESUS LOVES YOU

Just reflecting upon this partial list of blessings invokes love and praise in my own heart for my Heavenly Father; for Jesus, His Beloved Son, and for the Precious Holy Spirit. There are so many more reasons to praise Him, but know that our Triune God is always watching over our lives to love us, to enrich our lives and to give us fulfillment.

Thank you Lord!

Dr. Tonya Lewis has been a member of West Angeles Church of God In Christ for over 40 years. She serves on-staff as the Executive Director of Bereavement Ministries. She holds both Honorary Doctorate and Earned Doctorate degrees. Dr. Lewis has been teaching the Overcomer’s Bible Fellowship for over 34 years at West Angeles, along with other teaching venues.


Are you in need of peace in your life?  Read Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake’s message, “A Picture of Peace” HERE.

The West Angeles Couseling Center invites you to live a fuller life today and every day, but remember: “life happens” to all of us. We provide support and services to the greater Los Angeles area. You do not have to be a West Angeles member.  To find out more about our programs and services, please call the West Angeles Counseling Center at 323-737-7463.

West Angeles Bereavement Services – The loss of a loved one is never an easy thing to experience or expect and our experienced and dedicated staff serve in empathy and compassion during this difficult time. If you need help, please call West Angeles Bereavement Services  at 323/ 733-8300, Ext. 2242.

 

 

West Angeles Counseling: Which Spirit Drives Your Family?

In Part II of our Focus on the Family series, the West Angeles Counseling Center shares the principles of developing a strong family: starting with the right spirit.

 

Is your family ruled by hope, or by fear? Do you empower your family? Do you express love and acknowledge love in your family? Do you teach and instruct with an even-handed approach?

These are important questions to ask. Sometimes in families, our actions feed and encourage fear, and not power, love, and self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7 says that:

A mother and daughter enjoy Sunday fellowship.

A mother and daughter enjoy Sunday fellowship.

God did not give us a spirit of timidity (fear), but a spirit of power, love and, self-discipline (NLT.)

In this scripture, fear comes before power, love, and self discipline, and it can block us from achieving a Christ-like spirit.

THE POWER OF FEAR

When fear is present in a relationship, it can take our power or be used as a weapon to take someone else’s. Our personal fear comes from insecurities in our lives that we bring from childhood or from previous relationships into our families, and if we are not aware of them, they can feed the wrong spirit. These issues can affect our ability to:

  • Be able to be trusted
  • Discipline our children in a fair manner
  • Love one another as Christ loves us

In a relationship, arguments are often driven by our insecurities as we try to protect our fears and shame, but these feelings are not of God’s plan for us. They are events and situations that have happened in the past, but we always have the power and self-discipline to overcome them. Those situations can never rule us unless we allow them to.

THE IMPORTANCE OF HEALTHY COMMUNICATION

Unhealthy communication is an issue in families because of the presence of anger. This is not love. We are instructed that love is not easily angered (1 Corinthians 13:5), and this is one of the core principles that Christ came to teach us. So, if we argue a lot or struggle with anger, then this blocks us from sharing and receiving love. Communicating feelings without blaming others, or addressing and alleviating personal stress in our lives can help a family to communicate and grow with a spirit of love, as opposed to being repressed by fear.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PROPER DISCIPLINE

When you discipline your children, do you only focus on instilling fear in the child, or teaching the child that there are consequences to their actions? For example, if we only instruct our children to not touch the stove without teaching them why, then we are inadvertently instilling fear in them. A person develops self-discipline in their lives when they are free to think through experiences in their lives which help them measure the consequences of their actions. A child whom is taught that touching the stove will lead to a burn is more likely to not do it, and in the future they will make better decisions because their parents did their best to not allow fear to govern how they disciplined their child.

A father enjoys time with his 2 sons.

A father enjoys quality time with his two sons.

CONCLUSION

Challenging ourselves to embrace a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline as husband, wife, father, or mother, can aid in achieving the family harmony that Christ desires. The family we desire is in our spirit, because God has blessed us with it.


West Angeles Church of God In Christ is celebrating family strength and unity! Please join the West Angeles Counseling Center from July 15-18, 2016, as we launch Focus On The Family Weekend, a weekend of family unity packed with four days of events for the entire congregation. Please CLICK HERE for more information!

West Angeles Church of God In Christ invites you to live a fuller life today and every day, but remember: “life happens” to all of us. The West Angeles Counseling Center provides support and services to the greater Los Angeles area. and you do not have to be a West Angeles member. If you need support, and to find out more about our programs and services, please call the West Angeles Counseling Center at 323-737-7463.

Focus on the Family: A Message To Fathers

West Angeles Church of God In Christ is committed to developing and nurturing strong, resilient families, and today, we focus on fathers. In honor of Focus on The Family Weekend, the West Angeles Counseling Center, under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr., has compiled a list of 11 qualities which can help a man to develop into a strong, noble father.

The definition of a father, according to the dictionary, is:

One who has begotten a child; a male parent. A male who has impregnated a female, thus a child is born.

There are other significant definitions of fatherhood, but first and foremost, a father is a provider: spiritually, emotionally and physically. He is, in essence, a watchman over his children. He sets the spiritual tone in the family, and whether that tone is good or bad, he is the one who determines what will transpire in the home. If you had a negative experience with your father, dare to be different and do not allow that negativity to take place in your home.

Here’s a list of 11 things which help to define a strong father:

  1. Be a role model. A father should not only make available provisions to supply the needs of his children – food, clothes, and a roof over their heads – but he should also provide a stable and loving atmosphere for his children to enjoy. There should be warmth and peace in the home. There should be constant encouragement and a will inside of that man, that father, to be the best person he can be. A father should be a role model to his children. No other person should be able to compare to their dad. Be positive and optimistic. You can do this.
  2. Find employment. A man who is a father should be gainfully employed. There are times when a father is met with misfortune and a job is not available to him for a time. However this father must pick up the pieces and find or create employment wherever he can to maintain a living for his family.
  3. Show love. A father, if married, should show love in the household for his wife and the children should see the
    A young father walks with his son.

    A young father walks with his son.

    affection between the parents. The children should not be exposed to arguing and fighting, whether verbal or physical. A real man will not abuse his wife…period! The home must be a safe haven and a sanctuary for the family.

  4. Be strong. A father should show quality strength and courage even in the midst of trouble and his family will see that and line up with that. A father should show good character and help and equip his children to live a successful life. A father must teach his children good morals and ethics so they can be fine upstanding citizens in society. A father should instruct his children to obey the law and show them if one goes against the laws of the land what will transpire if they disobey authority.
  5. Value education. A father should make sure that his children are schooled. He must also be a part of the school system in that he has a caring attitude for what his child does in class. Enjoy your children through games, sports and activities. Spend quality time with your children at home. Take them on outings and stay within your budget. Everything does not have to be big and excessive. Small things count.
  6. Love the Lord. Take your family to church and instruct them on the ways of God. You, father, show them the scriptures. Take time to pray with your children. Show them that a real man depends on God for direction and then live it at home. You, father, take time at breakfast and at dinner to talk about the day. Find out what happened at school and discuss with them where they are as they share with you. You might feel, “I don’t have time” or “There’s not enough time in the day,” but if you don’t find time to give spiritual guidance to your family, someone else will. You can do this.
  7. Set boundaries. Teach them to be obedient at home, to you and to their mom. Teach them to respect their siblings. Teach your boys to respect females in your family. Teach your daughters to respect the males in your family. This will help them to have a mutual respect for all people. Let them know as they get older that there will be a curfew. Give them rules and create guidelines for the home. Let them know that there will be chores to do. You can do this.
  8. Discipline your children. Discuss with your wife or the mother of your children how this can be done. If a father does not live with the family, then find a way to achieve a special bond with your child. Pay your child support, and honor and respect the mother of the child that you helped to produce. Be in the child’s life.
  9. Teach them about life. Provide whatever life lessons you can for your children. Do not let them grow up without knowing that you are their father. Teach your daughter what kind of man she should be attracted too. She will look for a man like you who is of good moral quality and who has an attitude of righteousness; a man of substance and of prayer, a man who is gainfully employed (he may or may not have a degree, but he should be a hard working man). Help your son take the steps from childhood to adulthood. Show him how to be a real man as he grows. Show him the pit falls of making bad decisions in life and how to choose good friends. Train him up right. Let him know the mistakes you made and direct his path as God leads you. You can do this.
  10. Teach financial literacy. Save money for them for college and let them know that they can be a success in life (but of course it is better to show them with your own life). You can do this because God will help you if you ask Him.  Make sure that you have life insurance for your family in case of an emergency. Make sure that you have car insurance and medical coverage for the family. There is no excuse for excuses.
  11. Redeem the time you have with your family if you made a mistake. Humble yourself and find out if it is possible to correct your error. Even if it is your fault, it can be rectified. Fathers never give up and never give in. You can do this!

God has blessed and enabled you to plant a seed. Make sure that you water that seed and nurture that seed so that seed will someday blossom into a beautiful flower and strong deeply rooted plant and these will be your children. Be proud of them, and thank God that He allowed you to be their father.

This is our message to fathers…be blessed!


West Angeles Church of God In Christ is celebrating family strength and unity! Please join the West Angeles Counseling Center on July 15-18, 2016, as we launch Focus On The Family Weekend, a weekend of family unity packed with four days of events for the entire congregation.  Please CLICK HERE for more information!

 

Ready For Love? 7 Principles for Manifesting Love in Your Life

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

Love. We long for it. We pray for it. We even fast for it.  Many of us search for the meaning of love in the millions of poems, novels, films, and songs created throughout time about love. We test relationship after relationship – yet find it elusive. Some believe love is found in purity; others in lust. The world goes through great lengths to convince us we’re supposed to have it, and as a result, we often feel “less-than” when we believe that we don’t.

What is it about love that has us waxing lyrically at times, and giddy and light-headed at other times? Do we really even know what love is?

ALL ABOUT LOVE

Here’s some of what we know about love, from the famous verses of scripture in 1 Corinthians 13:4-13:

  • Love requires patience and kindness.
  • Love requires truth and honesty.
  • Love is an indicator of maturity.
  • Love is for the long haul.
  • Love respects.
  • Love endures.

But do we know the difference between love, infatuation, and lust? Do we really know what it takes to truly love and are we ready for it?

Here are 7 characteristics and principles of love, and some of God’s requirements for igniting and manifesting love in your life:

1. Love may not look like “your list.” No matter how great things look on paper, it may not be the situation God has for you. Fame and celebrity, sex appeal, monetary worth, educational achievement, social status,  skin tone, hair texture, race, country of origin, political party, sports team, zodiac sign…none of the things that our society holds in high regard as tools for finding or defining love can actually determine or dictate how to (1 John 2:15-16). So the first thing you probably have to do is delete from your mind all the mental images and sounds of everything society has created to represent love.

2. Love requires purity. There’s  a reason for consecration, holy living, virginity, fasting and abstinence. A pure heart, mind, and body allows us to best hear God, and to experience His full, true love (Matthew 5:8, 1 Peter 1:22). Without these, we end up in painful situations or relationships which could have been avoided, and tied to people we probably should have simply passed by (see #6). Fast; ask God to create in you a clean, pure heart (Psalm 51:10). Pray; open your heart, seek God’s will for your life daily. That way, when God speaks, and plants that perfect situation in your life, you’ll know.

3. Love isn’t seasonal. It isn’t “here today, gone tomorrow.” Love isn’t lukewarm. It’s not something you do “on the way past.” You can’t “fall out of love” if you’ve ever truly loved at all. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. Love is actually the thing that keeps you present and “in the game,” because love requires consistency (Ephesians 4:2). Love, like God, is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8).

4. Love cannot be bought or sold. In Matthew 6:24 (NIV), Jesus tells his disciples that “you cannot serve both God and money.” And if God is love (1 John 4:8), and God can’t be bought or sold (Acts 8:20), then money has no bearing on love either!

5. Love is not lust. Lust is uncontrolled physical or sexual desire. It’s one of those emotional states God categorizes under “the flesh”(1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, Romans 13:13-15). So if you think about it, if lust is present, it’s actually an indicator that love is not! That Commandment which talks about not “committing adultery” or “coveting the spouses of others.” This means that guy, gal, or material possession you’re lusting for may be the one God meant for someone else. Lust brings trouble to your soul, while keeping love from finding you; whereas, love requires discipline and maturity (1 Corinthians 13:11). As Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake says, “Put priority on spiritual and emotional excellence, not just on physical and erotic attractiveness.” Yes, lust is an indicator of desire or physical attraction. But Love is an indicator of spiritual connection. Don’t get it twisted.

6. Love is understanding. “It’s not about you!” as  Pastor Rick Warren says. Sometimes, God pairs us with people or situations that require our growth through love, and those situations may sometimes be difficult (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). “Love” is not “like.” You can love someone without liking their actions. But love means wanting God’s best for them; love means honoring their right to exist. So you can’t be loving and be selfish, controlling, jealous, quick-tempered, scheming, petty, or racist. Love doesn’t cause pain to others. You either love, or you don’t.

So…what is love? Seems it’s been inside of us all along.

7.  Love is to be the best that God created us to be. When God gave us life, He gave us love (Romans 8:30). When God gave us Jesus, He gave us a physical manifestation of His love; an example of salvation, grace, mercy, and excellence for us to follow for how to be our best, what our possibilities are, and how to live our best life (Philippians 4:13). As human beings, we are designed for love, to love; and by God, with love (Genesis 1:26-28). He gave us instructions on what love is, how to attract it, how to maintain it, how to be it. Most importantly, love is your most important duty during your time on earth. It is to use our gifts and talents to edify others, and to make the world a better place. Love is the secret to life!

Verse 8 of 1 Corinthians 13 says that love never fails. Why? Because God is love, and love transcends all things.

As you can see, it’s up to us to activate within ourselves the love that God has already provided for us.   Love is our spirit. Without love, there is no purpose, no trust, no liberty, no justice, no peace, no truth (Revelation 22:12-15). Without love, there is no life! Like a rose that opens petal by petal, love creates layer upon layer of possibilities; in its manifestation are the promises of increase.

So go, follow God’s will for your life; manifest love today. And who knows? Maybe He’ll send you someone special to share your love with!

 

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – 1 Corinthians 13:4-13, 15:3-4; 1 John 2:15, 3:3, 4:8; 1 Peter 1:13-22, 2:11; 1 Timothy 1:5, 2 Timothy 2:22, Psalm 51:10, Ephesians 4:2, Hebrews 13:8, Matthew 5:8, 6:24;  Acts 8:20, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, Romans 13:13-15, Exodus 20:14, 17; Romans 8:30, Philippians 4:13, Genesis 1:26-28, Revelation 3:16, 22:12-15.


*Want more on love? CLICK HERE to read highlights from Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake’s sermon on Love and Marriage, “Invite Jesus to Your Wedding and Into Your Marriage”  on Westa.org.  Hear the entire sermon and more on West Angeles Gospel on Demand.

 

 

Bishop Blake Shares the Biblical Principles of Money

Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake shares the biblical principles surrounding money, and God’s requirement that we be good stewards of our time, money and resources.

“I have a very unusual sermon for you today,” Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr. began, regarding his November 22, 2015 sermon. The sermon was rooted in Luke 16, The Parable of the Unjust Steward, where a worker had been accused of wasting the goods of the wealthy man he worked for.

“John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church, spoke from this text and said, ‘Gain all you can, save all you can, give all you can.’” Bishop Blake used these three points as the outline of the sermon. “Today,” said Bishop, “I’m going to talk about money.”

The entire sermon and more are available HERE, at West Angeles Gospel On Demand. Highlights from this sermon follow:

“Money is a medium of exchange; it’s a standard of value. Paper money itself has no value except the value we attribute to it.”

“There is a vast world of values that cannot be described in terms of dollars and cents, values like friendship, health, emotional well-being, knowing God, having salvation.”

“Our entrance into heaven is affected by our attitude toward money while we’re on the earth.”

“Wicked people are more shrewd when dealing with their own kind than are righteous people.”

“The Lord was talking about spiritual principles, that we should use our time, our energy, our strength, our resources, to bless God’s work and to bless God. So that when we’re going to eternity, God will be our friend and look well upon us.”

“Knowing God has tremendously high value” – Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake

“Jesus said, ‘Make friends with money, because with our correct use of it, and by our right attitude toward it, we’ll be welcomed into heaven when you leave this earth.”

“If Jesus talked about money, then I suppose I can give one sermon the title of money…Don’t be afraid. This is not a hold-up!”

“His teachings and His parables are filled worth references toward money, toward stewardship, and the proper conduct of our financial affairs.”

“The Bible does not say that money is the root of all evil. In 1 Timothy 6:10, it says that the love of money is the root of all evil; that while some have coveted after, they erred from the faith.”

“It’s certain that those who live successfully on this earth are going to have to have a wise and systematic approach to money.”

“Money…is used to corrupt the ideas of the young. It’s used to destroy and devastate lives, and to oppress people. It can be used to build empires of wickedness and sin.”

“Money can be used for evil, but it can also be used for good” – Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake

“Money can be used to build orphanages and care for the poor, to care for the sick, and care for children who have no one to care for them. It can be used for the under-girding of family life, for building strong families on the earth.”

“Make all you can, but don’t lose your soul. Don’t lose your relationship with the Lord.”

“It’s alright to make money, but don’t make money selling drugs and alcohol, and corrupting the morals of the young and twisting the lives of others.”

“How many of you know that if you’re a child of God, you need to seek God to find out what your quest for life should be?”

“If you’re too busy for God, then you are certainly too busy.”

“Wealth can do many wonderful things in our lives, but there are many things that wealth simply cannot do.”

“We read every day about celebrities, investors and business persons who, frustrated by their predicament or dissatisfied with their lives, are driven to drugs or to literally end their lives. How many of you know that money is not equal to happiness?”

“It takes more than just hard work to succeed.”

“Have good ideas. Let your good ideas work for you.”

“Be the best you can be. If you’re a child of God, if you’re a saint, then everything you do ought to be excellent.”

“It’s not too late to go back to school. It’s not too late to improve yourself. It’s not too late to enhance your skills, to study or learn something new.”

“The Bible says that if a man won’t work, don’t let him eat!”

“The reason some people are not doing well financially is because they are not excellent in their performance.”

“Work hard. Don’t expect someone to come along and put you on top.”

“The world will beat a pathway to your door if you’ve got the right stuff going for you.”

“God gives wealth.”

“1 Samuel 2:7 says, ‘The Lord makes poor, and the Lord makes rich’” – Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake

“You ought to give God tremendous amounts of your attention; tremendous amounts of your praise; tremendous amounts of your Thanksgiving.”

“If God ain’t in it, work yourself to death, and you’ll still be broke; and if God Blesses you, money will just follow you and overtake you and come into your life.”

“Provide for your needs. Provide for the needs of your family, your loved-ones and yourself, and then provide for the work of the Lord; for those things that are necessary for the doing of God’s Will.”

“The value of money is the use you put it to.”

“God gives you wealth to uplift the life on the face of the earth.”

“There’s an obsession today with the accumulation of things and gadgets and objects; things that will enhance your reputation in the eyes of men.”

“If God ain’t in it, work yourself to death, and you’ll still be broke” – Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake

“It’s not that you don’t have enough; it’s just sometimes that you’re spending too much.”

“Wanting all you see and getting all you want is not the way to go.”

“The Japanese save about 25% of their income. The Europeans save about 20%. Americans on the average save about 7% of their income. And Blacks? Well, you just tell me, I don’t know…”

“Watch out for pride…Pride will make you go beyond your capacity.”

“Save all you can. Save – God has Blessed you.”

“Save for a rainy day. How many of you have had rainy days that you were not prepared for?”

“Don’t spend to impress others. Save to be independent. ”

“Save all you can, because it’s a good spiritual discipline which smothers pride.”

“God gives us power to gain wealth, but God as He Blesses us want to use us to accomplish His goals.”

“When you are changed and Jesus comes into your life, it impacts every area and every part of your life.”

“Love will make you maximize, not minimize.”

“Child of God, there’s no Blessing like the Blessing that the Lord can give.”

“If you trust Him, God will take care of you.”

“I’ve been talking about money, but I’ve really been talking about your soul, your relationship to God, your life in Him.”

“Make all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can. And if you do, the Lord will reward you in the name of Jesus! Hallelujah!”

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES: Luke 16:8 – scorned him; Luke 16-1 Proverbs 11:28; (Prov23:4)NIV, ps37:16, Matthew 13:22, Ecclesiastes5:10, Proverbs 10:4, 1Samuel 2:7-8, Proverbs 11:24-25, Haggai 1:5-10, Leviticus 27:30, Malachi 3:8-11, Deuteronomy 8:18, John 15:8, Luke 12:15 Proverbs 10:5, Matthew 19:16-22, Luke 19:8, 2 Corinthians 5:14, Ephesians 3:20-21, Philippians 4:19, Luke 6:38, John 3:16.

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SERMON: Bishop Blake Delivers The Word on Love and Marriage

The West Angeles Church of God In Christ congregation was both entertained and enlightened by Bishop Blake’s lively, spirit-filled sermon on love and marriage titled, “Invite Jesus To Your Wedding and Into Your Marriage.” This entire sermon and more is available HERE on West Angeles Gospel On Demand. _____ Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake delivered a […]