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how complaining blocks your blessings

How Complaining Can Block Your Blessings

Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me – Psalm 50:14-15

Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. commands the pulpit at West Angeles COGIC.

After their miraculous deliverance from the land of Egypt, the children of Israel observed the plagues that God brought down on their enemies. They saw the Red Sea divide so that they might cross on dry land. They saw the Red Sea destroy their enemies who would have enslaved them again.

After leaving the Red Sea, they traveled for three days, but found no water to drink. When they came to Marah, the water they found was bitter. They began to murmur and complain, but God miraculously made the water sweet and drinkable. He then lead them to Elim, where there were 12 wells of water, but then they began to complain again because of the lack of food.

You know, of course, that a murmuring person has no confidence in that which they murmur against. Murmuring is:

  • A manifestation of a lack of gratitude
  • A manifestation of a bad attitude.
  • A manifestation of a lack of faith.

DON’T COMPLAIN: PRAISE!

In Psalm 50, God says,

16 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to declare My statutes, Or take My covenant in your mouth, 17 Seeing you hate instruction, And cast My words behind you?

19 You give your mouth to evil, And your tongue frames deceit. 22 “Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces, And there be none to deliver: 23 Whoever offers

praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.”

Murmuring is the opposite of praise. If we want God to bless our lives, then we must obey the word of God and do the will of God. Yes, bad things happen, but God has already done so many good things for us, we ought to just praise Him anyhow!

God needs some “Hallelujah, anyhow” people!

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES: Exodus 16:4-31, Psalm 50:14-19, 22, 23.

Adapted from the sermon, “The Message of the Manna”, by Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., at West Angeles Church of God In Christ.

 

 

DID YOU KNOW?  

To “murmur” translates a Hebrew word “raghan,” which suggests the malicious whispering of slander. In the New Testament “murmur” also suggests indignation and fault-finding.

 

 

Bishop Blake to Headline CBCF Prayer Breakfast

Story originally published HERE.

Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ, Inc. (COGIC), Charles Edward Blake Sr., and legendary GRAMMY® award-winning powerhouse, Pastor Shirley Caesar, are set to headline the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Incorporated’s (CBCF) Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) Prayer Breakfast, September 23, 2017, from 7:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. This year’s ALC honorary co-chairs are Congressman Marc Veasey from Texas and Congresswoman Robin Kelly from Illinois.

Celebrating faith, freedom and resilience, this year’s event will introduce a creative worship experience with liturgical dancers Stacy J. & Unified Praise from Houston, Texas and will also feature a performance by the Great Commission Baptist Church Choir from Ft. Worth, Texas. The CBCF is honored again to have this year’s Prayer Breakfast sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company.

“People of all faiths, nationalities, and races are facing unprecedented attempts to take away basic civil and human rights. Our nation needs decisive leadership to overcome some of its most urgent challenges,” said A. Shuanise Washington, CBCF president and CEO. “The Prayer Breakfast is a time to unite and refocus our priorities on what is truly important, namely investments in our people. By doing so, we will ultimately prevail over those seeking to divide us.”

Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., is the Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ, Inc., a 6.5 million-member Pentecostal-Holiness denomination. In 2009, Bishop Blake was invited by President Obama to serve on the White House Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. As founder and CEO of Save Africa’s Children, a program of the Pan African Children’s Fund, Bishop Blake helps to support more than 200,000 children in 400 orphan care programs in more than 23 African nations. Bishop Blake is an ardent advocate of education and academic excellence, holding multiple academic and honorary degrees from various educational institutions.

Pastor Shirley Caesar is a music icon. Known as the “Reigning Queen of Gospel,” Pastor Shirley Caesar is one of the most recognized names and voices of gospel. She has won 12 GRAMMY® Awards, 14 Stellar Awards, 18 Dove Awards, has been inducted into the Gospel Hall of Fame and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“Music is my lifelong service in ministry. I am excited to be part of the CBCF’s Prayer Breakfast and hope that listeners will feel the love, embrace the strength and be inspired to keep rising through the tough times,” said Pastor Shirley Caesar.

Great Commission Baptist Church Choir’s main purpose is to touch people by ministering and imparting the gospel of Jesus Christ through song. This powerful ensemble from Ft. Worth, Texas, is filled with singers of various musical experiences and ages who celebrate music and spirituality. Under the direction of Excell Amos and backed by a talented ensemble of musicians, the choir’s spirit and harmonies bring audiences to their feet by making a joyful noise.

Stacy J. & Unified Praise want to change lives through dance. From Houston, Texas, this amazing and gifted group of liturgical dancers share their understanding of resilience through a cultural lens that is aimed at bringing glory to God through dance.

Proceeds from the Prayer Breakfast benefit the CBCF’s fellowship, internship, scholarship and research programs—and the foundation’s efforts to eliminate disparities in the African-American community. To purchase tickets to the breakfast and to register for the ALC, click HERE.

Happy Birthday, Bishop Blake!

Please join West Angeles Church of God In Christ as we wish Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake Blake a very Happy 77th Birthday! We are truly thankful that God has blessed us with a shining example of a family man, a leader, and a role model!

Pastor to West Angeles Church and Presiding Bishop to the Church of God In Christ denomination, Bishop Charles E. Blake, is arguably one of our nation’s modern day heroes and we are proud to call him our spiritual leader.

Bishop Charles E. Blake is the epitome of a servant. His whole life is, and has been, dedicated to loving his fellow man more than himself. He is first a husband to Mae Lawrence Blake. Together, they have three children and eight grandchildren. He is the pastor of West Angeles Church of God in Christ, which maintains a membership of over 24,000.

West Angeles is deeply involved in providing not only for the spiritual life of its people, but for the more than 80 programs aimed at the psychological, social, and economic enhancement of the community. Bishop Blake is a humble humanitarian and communitarian, whose dedication to serving men, women and children across the globe knows no bounds.

Bishop Blake’s dedication to service has touched the masses, and on April 6, 2009, in Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama tapped Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake to serve on his 25-person White House Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He was also tapped as one of four to speak at the Democratic National Convention’s first Ecumenical Service, where he pronounced his status as pro-life democrat and challenged both Democrats and Republicans to protect the rights of the unborn and born alike.

Happy Birthday to a man who has inspired many and continues to lead in humility, love, and worship!

God's got my back

SERMON: Bishop Blake says, “God Has Your Back”

Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr. offers words of encouragement, hope, and fortitude in difficult times in his September 13, 2015 sermon titled, “God Has Your Back.”

“One of the greatest joys of my life was early in the administration of Barack Obama,” Bishop Blake explained. “I was able to have a private meeting with the President in the oval office and sit and talk to him, and to be in his presence and to let him know how much I appreciated the opportunity. What had been set aside for a 15-minuute conference turned out to be a 1-hour conference, and as long as I live I’ll never forget sitting in the Oval Office, talking to Barack Obama.

“But I’ve got a greater honor for you today. We have the privilege of coming into God’s house, sitting before Him, lifting our hands to our Almighty God, letting him know how much we love Him and appreciate Him.

“What a privilege it is to worship God. God of miracles is here. God of power is here. God that is able to go inside your psyche, inside mind, your spirit, and set things right…Clap your hands and give praise to God!”

Bishop Blake’s full sermon titled “God Has Your Back” and the entire September 13, 2015 service is available HERE, on West Angeles Video On Demand. Highlights from this mighty and inspirational sermon follow:

“What do you do when your expectations crash on the rocks of despair…What do you do when it seems that God has changed His mind about you?”

“Sometimes God can so Bless us that we think we’re in some kind of special category of Blessing…Then on the other hand, sometimes it seems that God begins to snatch back Blessings formerly given to us.”

“Sometimes it seems that God does not behave like we expected God to behave.”

“I’m hearing from a lot of people who feel that God was just not there when they needed Him. They experienced repossession…foreclosure…death of a loved one or loss…Under circumstances like these, some people begin to wonder, ‘Where is God when I need Him?’”

“What God has provided for you is just what you need.”

“Learn to allow God to lead. Learn to allow God to choose what He chooses for you. The best prayer you can pray is ‘Thy Will be done.’”

“When you can see a miracle, it’s easy to believe God for another miracle.”

“There’s always an ‘after a while.’”

“Some people may begin to wonder, ‘Where is God when I need Him?’” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.

“Isn’t it amazing how the things that we escape from try to recapture us and entangle us again?”

“Have you ever been in that place where you needed to feel the presence and the anointing of God in a special way? Jesus went through that kind of time.”

“When God moves, some people interpret ‘move’ to be ‘leave.’”

“You know, most people don’t do ‘different’ very well.”

“I’ve got a word of encouragement for you today. I’ve got a word of Hope…God has not moved to punish you. Sometimes God just moves because He’s God.”

“Sometimes God moves to develop unexposed powers and abilities …within us. He wants us to trust Him, to expand into a new area, give us a new testimony. Sometimes God wants to bring glory to Himself in a special way. Sometimes he moves just because he wants to test our faith.”

“The greater the level to which an individual is to rise, the greater the trial God takes that person through” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.

“God does not change in his essential nature. God never changes in His purpose. But he changes in the methods and in the processes by which He perfects His children.”

“God’s trying to make something out of you.”

“God, I can’t see it. I can’t feel it. But I’m going to praise you anyhow!”

“Sometimes we need somebody to watch our back…God has your back.”

“Sometimes you can see God best by looking back.”

“Sometimes God goes behind you because there are things in your past trying to recapture you.”

“The devil always wants to remind you of your past.”

“You are not what was done to you…Stop holding on to that pain…Stop focusing on those kinds of memories that poison your present and poison your future.”

“Sometimes you can see God best by looking back”  – Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr.

“God’s gonna help you get over it.”

“Child of God, you can go out onto the back porch of your life and see where God has brought you from.”

“If you knew what God has in store for you, you’d be jumping and shouting and praising the Lord!”

“God will never leave you.”

“Lord, I thank you…you’ve been so good to me! Hallelujah!”

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES: Exodus 14:19-31; Isaiah 52:12; Exodus 12:37-38; 13:20-22, Matthew 27:46; Isaiah 43:19; Isaiah 54:17; Deuteronomy 28:2-3; Psalm 23:6; Deuteronomy 31:6-8; Psalm 34:7.


Hear JJ Hairston and Youthful Praise perform “You Deserve It” below:

Don’t Let These 6 Things Steal Your Potential

Are there “thieves” in your life? Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake exposes the elements of our lives which rob us of our full potential in Christ Jesus.

 

Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion – Luke 10:30-33(NKJV)

 

Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. teaches a lesson on the thieves which rob us of our potential.

We’ve heard many times the story of the good Samaritan.  Thieves came upon a man who was on a journey; the  man had a goal. Goals are essential to progress, but good goals must not keep us from the best goals in life.  In order to prosper and to reach high levels of renown and popularity, “good” can often be the enemy of “the best.”

In this scripture, the thieves beat the man and wounded him; they left him naked and half dead.  A wounded person cannot function normally until they have recuperated. Nakedness is a sign of disgrace and of poverty. To be half dead means being only half alive: and this man was destined to die without help.

The man who was devastated and wounded represents  us.

The priest who passed him by represents the rites and the sacraments of organized religion – which, in themselves, cannot save us.

The Levite who passed him by represents man’s moral and ethical efforts – which, by themselves, cannot save us.

And the thieves who beat him represent those things that potentially strip us and wound us and leave us half dead.

In this day and age, so many are moving  fast, but in reality they are really going nowhere. The man in our story had a goal.  He was on a journey; he had a destination.  Like him, men who were once exploding with dreams, goals and potential are now lying beside the road naked and dying. What happened to them?

Thieves happened.

 

6 THIEVES WHICH CAN STEAL YOUR LIFE

 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death – James 1:14-15 (NKJV)

The Bible teaches that sin is a thief. It’s a thief that destroys life and happiness on this earth, and also in the world to come.  The evil forces that would destroy us use various enticements, but the goal is to wound us, to strip us, and to leave us half dead.

God despises sin because of what it does to His children.  Romans 6 says that “the wages of sin is death”: that which is opposed to the will of God will kill us. And 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 tells us that:

Don’t Let These 6 Things Steal Your Potential: Sin keeps us from the fullness of Christ.

  1. Fornication and adultery  are thieves.  They spread diseases which cause sickness and death. They rob boys and girls of their childhood; making them parents while they are still children. They are the greatest factors in the abortion epidemic. They break up marriages and destroy families.
  2. Idolatry is a thief, causing men to serve the wrong God. Anything that separates us from God is an idol and is a sin.
  3. Homosexuality is a thief because it contradicts God’s image of what a family should be. It deprives society of needed mothers and fathers, and it sometimes recruits and draws children into that lifestyle.
  4. Covetousness is a thief. Excessive desire for material things places higher value on money and things than it does on people.
  5. Extortion is nothing more than a high-class thief.
  6. Drunkenness is a thief. Whether by alcohol or by drugs, the jails and mental institutions are filled with victims of substance abuse.

But verse 11 of 1 Corinthians 6 says, “and such were some of you: but you were washed, you were sanctified,  you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.”

That means, the better we become, the better our lives become.

 

JESUS IS THE WAY 

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly – John 10:10

The man in the story was on a mission: he had a goal. But even a good objective can become a bad objective when it precludes God and shuts God out.  He was on a journey, but he made a mistake: he should not have traveled alone. It’s time for me to reveal who the good Samaritan is:

The good Samaritan represents Jesus.

Have you been stripped? Have you been disgraced? Are you going through a time of trouble and distress? Know that you don’t have to travel the road of life by yourself.  In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God tells us, If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin.”  If you really want to live your best life, then it’s time to fall down before God and to repent for your sins.  Raise your hands and say:

“Lord, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank You, Lord, for stepping in just when I need You most, and for turning my life around. Thank You for giving me Your power.  I need the power of the Holy Ghost.”

Child of God, if you’ve got Jesus Christ with you on the road of life, then God will be with you. You’ve got the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: stand up and say, “Power!”

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES: Luke 10:30-37, Psalms 95:6, 101,147:4; Isaiah 43:7, Philippians 3:7, Acts 17:28, John 3:16, 6:68, 10:7-10; Matthew 6:33, James 1:14-15, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 6.

Adapted from the sermon, “Thieves”, by Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., at West Angeles Church of God In Christ. Watch the entire sermon below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you know what an idol is? Read our post titled, “WHAT’S AN IDOL?” HERE.

Featured illustration for Don’t Let These 6 Things Steal Your Potential by Pastor Kyle Reed, c/o Creation Swap.

Marriage Series: How Bishop & Lady Mae Met

As our Marriage Series continues, Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr. and First Lady Mae Lawrence Blake tell the story of how they met:

ARE YOU GETTING MARRIED? The West Angeles Counseling Center offers a wonderful 8-week Pre-Marital Counseling Course to give couples a strong foundation for marriage. Contact the West Angeles Counseling Center today. Phone: (323) 737-7463 Address: 3017 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016

Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. – How to Overcome Obstacles and Negative Circumstances in Your Life

Inspired by Psalm 18, the highlights of this sermon, titled “Overcome Negative Circumstances And Negative Emotions” by our Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., reference the words spoken by King David to the Lord on the day that the Lord delivered him from the hands of all of his enemies.

“One of the most important abilities a person can have is the ability to endure and rise above negative circumstances and emotions.”

“It was Samuel Lover who said, ‘Circumstances are the rulers of the weak, but they are the instruments of the strong.’”

“Napoleon said, ‘Circumstances? I make circumstances!’”

“The same circumstances that will destroy and devastate one person will make and develop another person.”

“Arnold Toynbee said, ‘Great civilizations are not born in circumstances where everything is nice or where everything is beautiful; but rather, in environments that are unusually difficult.’”

“It’s not your circumstances, it’s how you respond to your circumstances that is the important thing.”

“Some people don’t need a reason to hate you. They just find out that somebody else hates you, and they’re going to hate you, too! Does anybody know anything about haters?”

“Don’t be surprised when people hate you. Just be glad when you find some folk that love you.”

“If you live, you’re going to have enemies.”

“When you’re in the midst of wickedness all around you, it begins to drain your spirit – if you’re not careful” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.

“People are afraid today. They’re afraid about their marriage. They’re afraid about holding onto their job…They’re afraid for their children…and then there are some folk that are afraid, and they don’t know what they’re afraid about!”

“If I can get you depressed, I can defeat you.”

“When you’re in the midst of wickedness all around you, it begins to drain your spirit and drain your enthusiasm for righteousness – if you’re not careful.”

“Austin O’Malley said, ‘Sorrow, like rain, makes roses and mud.’ That same sorrow, if you allow God to use it, can create a rose garden in the middle of your mud.”

“One thing about Brother David is that even though he faced these negative emotions, he was under-girded with some firm convictions about God!”

“If you know God, you ought to be able to overcome negative emotions better than some folk who don’t know God.”

“Whenever you see those words ‘OH LORD’… that’s a Tetragrammaton to replace the word ‘Yahweh’ or ‘Jehovah’…that let’s you know the name of our God.”

“Nothing else defines God but God Himself!”

“God spoke out of a bush that was burning, but not consumed.”

“God doesn’t need any fuel to burn!”

“God can send fire, and He needs no fuel for the fire to burn…If our world could do that, then nations could stay at home, and not be out somewhere trying to take somebody else’s oil!”

“God speaks to the things that be not as though they were…and if God wants to create something out of nothing, God can do it. And if God wants to bring life out of death, then God can do it. And Jesus proved that when He died on the cross; nails in His hands, nails in His feet, but on the third day morning He got up!”

“With God, nothing is impossible! Does anybody know God? Does anybody trust God? I’m gonna rely on GOD! Clap your hands! Give praise!”

“When you have a God like that, you’ll stop telling your God about your problems, and start telling your problems about your God!”

“God loves you with an everlasting Love.”

“God wants you to love Him; and if you love Him, He’ll work it out for you.”

“With God, nothing is impossible” – Philippians 4:13

“The psalmist says, ‘I’m going to overcome my negative circumstances; I’m going overcome my negative emotions by loving the Lord.’”

“My love for God will cause me to hold onto God, no matter what else happens in my life.”

“If you don’t trust God, you’ll be overwhelmed by worry. If you don’t trust God, you’ll be overcome by fear.”

“Neighbor, put it down…Cast all your burden on Him, because He loves you. He’ll take care of you.”

“God is courteous…He will not come in until you call Him. If you call Him, He’ll hear your prayer.”

“Does anybody know He’s an on-time God?”

“Are there any overcomers in the house? Let all the overcomers give God a cheer!”

“I’m not going to let fear destroy me; I’m not gonna let negative circumstances drag me down… I’m not going to let the world take my salvation; steal my joy… I shall be saved!”

“Child of God, don’t throw in the towel; Child of God, don’t give up. Your best days are still ahead…Tell your neighbor, ‘Keep going! Hold on! Hallelujah!’ ”

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES: Psalm 18:1-4 ,“Proverbs 18:14, Psalm 46:1-2; Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 8:28, Matthew 17:20, 22:37; John 3:16, Philippians 4:13, Proverbs 3:5-6, 1Peter 5:7, Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 40:31, Job 1:13-22, 2:8-9, 23:10.

OVERCOMERS BIBLE FELLOWSHIP – You are invited to join the Overcomers Bible Fellowship, facilitated by Dr. Tonya Lewis. This fellowship can teach you how to overcome any and everything that’s contrary to God’s Word, thus developing you into strong, spiritual, Kingdom citizens. Join us each Sunday morning, 8-10 a.m., or Sunday evening 5:30-6:40 p.m. in the North Campus Sanctuary. Please contact:
Dr. Tonya Lewis at [email protected], or please call 323-733-8300 ext. 2242.

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.

Prayer Event: Congratulations, Mother McCoo Lewis!

Please join us for a very special time of prayer for Mother McCoo Lewis on her new appointment as COGIC’s General Supervisor of the International Department of Women

(see flyer below for details):

Watch Mother Barbara McCoo Lewis’ powerful, inspirational message at the 2012 COGIC Women’s Convention in Altlanta, GA (below):