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faith 2

Bishop Blake featured in NY Daily News column

As the attack that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend continue to fuel debate regarding the direction of our society, Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake’s statement on the matter found its way into political anchor Errol Louis’s column on Tuesday, entitled Vaccines against extremism: Culture and faith.

Click HERE to read the full story.

Christian education

Live With Purpose: West Angeles Christian Education

Do you have the desire to grow in your Christian walk?  Did you know that West Angeles is an educational ministry? Read more about the West Angeles Christian Education Ministry, and sign up for our next session.

christian education
West Angeles’ Christian Education (WACE) classes are for anyone interested in using the principles of the Christian faith more effectively. Directed by Elder Oscar Owens under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr., the WACE courses offered provide all levels of biblical study and are designed not only to serve those who are called to careers in ministry, but also to empower any Christian who wants to:

  • Live with purpose through the Word
  • Understand the Bible more thoroughly and how it relates to the times we live in
  • Improve their lives, their families’ lives, and the lives of others.

Classes offered through WACE are designed to help students create a deeper relationship with God, the church, and the Christian faith.

WEST ANGELES CHRISTIAN EDUCATION CLASSES

Taught in both the traditional classroom setting and online, courses offered through WACE are designed to help students to serve the church and the world through responsible imparting of biblical knowledge.

Sunday School – West Angeles’ Sunday School has introductory-level courses for children, youth and adults which are designed to provide a deeper knowledge of the Christian faith. Geared to help students overcome life’s obstacles and daily issues, we offer a variety of classes for children ages 5-12 years of age, youth Classes for ages 12-16 years of age, and adults 17 and older.

School of Practical Christian Living –Directed by Elder Richard Brooks, the School of Practical Christian Living has classes for those who desire to become more effective as a parent, spouse, or worker for Christ. The School of Practical Christian Living is a mid-level study program  which introduces systematic Bible study and foundational biblical knowledge.

West Angeles Bible College provides college-level study in biblical, historical, and theological foundations of the Christian faith. This comprehensive training provides an academic understanding of the Bible to equip individuals to competently serve and apply the teachings of the gospel to the spiritual needs of those around them.

All adult Christian Education classes are at 3045 Crenshaw Boulevard (unless otherwise specified); children and youth classes are held at 3010 Crenshaw Boulevard at the West Angeles Youth Center.

For information regarding schedules for the next session, Bible College fees, certificates offered and more, please call West Angeles Church of God in Christ at 323/733-8300, extension 2345.

 

CHRISTIAN EDUCATION

West Angeles Sunday School teachers and pupils.

BOOK Free To Dream by Bishop Charles E. BlakeDO YOUR DREAMS seem to be marked, “Never to be fulfilled”? Do you feel that it is impossible for your dreams to come true? Do you fear your dreams are too big to achieve?  Let  Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. teach you the biblical principles to follow from the life of Joseph and other dreamers. In Free to Dream: Discovering Your Divine Destiny, you’ll learn how faith, integrity and endurance will pull you out of the valley and up to the peak of success. Bishop Blake will encourage you to pick your dreams back up, dust them off, and persevere to the fulfillment of God’s plan for your life.

PURCHASE Free to Dream: Discovering Your Divine Destiny, by Charles E. Blake, Sr. at the WEST ANGELES CHRISTIAN EMPORIUM, 3021 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016.  Phone (323) 731-3012 for more info.

5 Things I wish I'd known before I went to College

5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Went To College

 

It’s “Back-to-School Season”; that time of year when youth and young adults around the world say “good-bye” to Summer fun and freedom, and go back to the structure and routine of school.

Senior year symbolically marks the end childhood and the beginning of adulthood: and for many, life on your own in college.

I still remember my first realization that I’d be leaving the small-town comforts and familiarity of home and family to embark upon the journey to adulthood in the big city. Up until that point, I’d spent most of my time focused on finishing my last year of high school; planning and preparing for entrance exams, college applications and portfolios; and gathering the necessities for dormitory life. Then it hit me: I’m going to be living a totally new life – and I had no idea what that was going to be.

Looking back now, I see an amazing adventure, and I wouldn’t have traded in a day of those experiences. But years later, much has changed in the world of today. The times are very different: and there might be a few things I’d want to know if I were doing it all over again.

Here are 5 things I wish I’d known before going away to college:

  1. Your faith will be tested. Your first encounters may be with people, activities, or ideas which are the exact opposite of everything you’ve learned to be true up until now.But although it’s great to learn new things, that doesn’t mean that your faith is wrong: even if everyone in society says otherwise.Your homework assignment for today: Read about Daniel and his friends in The Book of Daniel, chapters 1-6. Best advice here? Practice discipline. Know that saying “No” is a strength: not a weakness.
  2. It’s not necessarily a Christ-centered education you’re getting. Unless you’re attending a Christian college or seminary, your education is going to be secular; meaning, it may uphold more worldly ideas than Godly ones. I always thought that college was a more in-depth, specialized version of what we get in high school, and like the news, education was supposed to be neutral and objective, based on a central (bible-based) truth. Well, that’s no longer true for the news, and it’s not always true for your college education either. Holding onto your faith will prove to be an important asset (Proverbs 2:1-2).
  3. It’s a crash course in tolerance. My coed college dorm was a converted apartment building with large apartments as dorm rooms. Within my first two years of college, I’d had seven roommates; among them: a lovable white “hippie” drug dealer; a physically-challenged adopted Asian; a free-spirited African-American; a prim, Southern white supremacist; a shy Latino. That close proximity to actually living with diversity has continued to prepare me for life experiences to this day (Ephesians 4:2-5).
  4. You won’t always have someone on your side. Nope, not even professors. As a matter of fact, many professors feel it’s their duty to break you of whatever old ideas they think you’re harboring in order to make you “a new creation”. But remember your faith: and according to 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, that’s Jesus’ job. Joseph’s story in Genesis 34 is a great one to remember regarding the trials – and rewards – of staying faithful to the dream God has for you.
  5. It’s a very important step in a much bigger journey. Be proactive about your education; develop as many of your skills as possible. Where a syllabus may fall short culturally or spiritually, research other titles which can supplement your knowledge base. It’s important to seek and learn all you can to prepare yourself for the life God created you for (Matthew 25:14-30). Staying true to your Christian faith when you’re young will yield many rewards later in life, and this is just the beginning.

I guess the diversity of experiences was a gift, and I chose to accept it head-on (unlike our troubled, white supremacist roommate who, upon asking to be moved to another apartment during our first semester, was never seen or heard from by any of us again). My college years eventually led me to a fuller understanding of Jesus, of God, of my own values, and of the world. It may sound trite, but life really is a wonderful journey if you remember to keep the faith, stay the course, and hold on to the lessons it brings.

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES -Daniel 1-6, Proverbs 2:1-2,Ephesians 4:2-5, 2 Corinthians 5:17-18,Genesis 34, Matthew 25:14-30.

Are you ready for college?

Watch the trailer for the film, “God Is Not Dead”-

When atheist philosophy professor (Kevin Sorbo) plans to forego “dusty arguments” in his class, he insists the new students declare that “God Is Dead.” Unable to do this, Josh (Shane Harper) is challenged to defend his faith and prove to the class that God is NOT Dead. 

BOOK Free To Dream by Bishop Charles E. BlakeDO YOUR DREAMS seem to be marked, “Never to be fulfilled”? Do you feel that it is impossible for your dreams to come true? Do you fear your dreams are too big to achieve?  Let  Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. teach you the biblical principles to follow from the life of Joseph and other dreamers. In Free to Dream: Discovering Your Divine Destiny, you’ll learn how faith, integrity and endurance will pull you out of the valley and up to the peak of success. Bishop Blake will encourage you to pick your dreams back up, dust them off, and persevere to the fulfillment of God’s plan for your life.

PURCHASE Free to Dream: Discovering Your Divine Destiny, by Charles E. Blake, Sr. at the WEST ANGELES CHRISTIAN EMPORIUM, 3021 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016.  Phone (323) 731-3012 for more info.

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:

Bishop Blake: How To Praise the Lord!

“Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!” – Revelation 19:5

The Bible is filled with physical actions that we ought to take in relationship with God. God wants our bodies. He wants our submissiveness. Praise is the key to powerful living. It ignites God’s power in our lives.

As human beings, we were created by God to praise Him (Isaiah 43:7, Matthew 21:16). Praise, prayer, and fasting are for spiritual warfare, for lifting the spiritual man up and putting the physical man down. God is at work in your mind, in your soul.

So as we enter the season of praise of the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, do you know what it means to praise Him?

The Hebrews had seven words for praise which that tell us how to praise the Lord. All of them mean praise, but each word focuses on a different kind of behavior:

Towdah – Psalm 50:14. The word Towdah means “thanksgiving.” Towdah means “to lift up your hands in a cup-like manner

“Zamar” – Our musical gifts are given to us for the purpose of praising God.

as in giving or receiving a gift, or giving a sacrifice.” Lift up your hands and say, “Lord I praise you, and I know you’re going to pour out your spirit into my life. I’m cupping my hands so I can receive it and retain it.”

Yadah – PSALM 63:1. Yadah means “lift up your arms and worship with extended hands.” Lift up your hands; extend them into the air and say, “Lord, I surrender to you. Your will be done in my life.”

Zamar – PSALM 92:1-3.  Zamar is song and praise on the instruments of music. Our musical gifts are given to us by God for the purpose of praising Him.

Tehillah – PSALM 34:1; Tehillah means “to sing in the spirit, glorify the Lord in song. To be filled with the spirit; make melody in your heart.” Sing “Praise the Lord!”

Barak – PSALM 95:6-7; to kneel; to rock back and forth, and side to side. Bow down before the Lord. You’ve got to move!

Shabach – PSALM 150:6. Loud praise; shout to God proclaiming the glory of God. Release and lift your voice to the Lord! “Let everything that has breath praise Him!”

Halal – PSALM 147:1. Halal means “clamorous, foolish, crazy praise!” Whatever you do to celebrate anything else, you ought to do even more for the Lord!

 

The Bible says the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. When you praise Him, when you open your mouth and worship Him, the Lord shows up in the middle of your praise, and you feel His presence.

Lift your hands and say, “Lord, fill me again. I want to be filled with the Holy Ghost!” Clap your hands and praise Him! Hallelujah!

Excerpted from the sermon, “God’s Terms of Engagement.” April 24, 2016 at West Angeles Church of God In Christ. Watch it HERE on West Angeles Gospel On Demand.

Hear the phenomenal, anointed “SHELBY 5” sing “TOTAL PRAISE” at WEST ANGELES CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST below:


Encountering God: The Pathway to His Presence, by Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. Paperback Legacy Publishers International, 2004, 173 pages.ENCOUNTERING GOD book

In Encountering God: The Pathway to His Presence, Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake beautifully and poignantly illustrates to us the clear path to establishing a deeper relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Experiencing your divine encounter with God means following steps that will touch His heart. From Presiding Bishop Blake: “If you will follow these steps, then I can assure you that the experience you so desperately desire…will come!”

To  purchase your copy of Encountering God: The Pathway to His Presence, please contact the West Angeles Christian Emporium at 3021 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016. Phone: (323) 731-3012.

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.

GET INVOLVED: The COGIC Urban Initiatives

Dear West Angeles Family,

We are blessed with infinitely greater opportunities than Black people anywhere on the face of the earth. But we are blessed that we might reach out to those less fortunate, and to lift them and help them. We cannot be satisfied to be in a community that’s blessed and prosperous until we reach out and Bless everyone in that community.

I pray that, in this season, every one of us will stand upon our watch, and that we’ll go to God and pray:

‘God, I just don’t want to stand by. I want to have a positive impact on life on earth; I want to have appositive impact on my children, on my family, on my community. God, show me what you would have me to do show me what direction you would have me to go.’

As Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ, I’ve asked every one of our 12,000 churches across the world to incorporate into their operations 5 areas of emphasis. We call this the Church Of God In Christ Urban Initiatives.

Get Involved: The COGIC Urban Initiatives include progressive programs for youth and young adults.

The 5 areas are:
1. Education – Includes mentoring, tutoring, and Christian education.
2. Economic Development – We offer job training, employment counseling and assistance, and entrepreneurship programs.
3. Crime Prevention – We’ve developed alternative programs to proactively keep young people out of crime,

and to create collaborative relationships with law enforcement.
4. Family – We’ve created programs to strengthen the family with a special emphasis on the role of fathers.
5. Financial Literacy – Includes programs for both young people and adults.

Some of the best leaders in our denomination have been assigned to lead the success of these programs across the nation. If every church has these five areas at work, there will be 60,000 programs in inner city America impacting our nation, impacting our communities, impacting the cities of our nation. West Angeles Church Of God In Christ has all 5 of these areas well covered, and we must expand even more.

We are Blessed to be a Blessing.  We need your gifts, your skills, and your involvement, and we look forward to working with you.

Sincerely,

Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.
Presiding Bishop
Church of God in Christ, Inc.

 

GET INVOLVED WITH WEST ANGELES

  • For financial literacy, economic development, and community assistance programs, PLEASE CONTACT: The West Angeles Community Development Corporation at (323) 751-3440. Please click HERE for more information. http://www.westangelescdc.org/
  • For more on our family and personal development programs, PLEASE CONTACT: The West Angeles Counseling Center at (323) 737-7463 or (323) 733-8300×2360, [email protected] http://westa.org/counseling-2/
  • For our “Manhood 2 Fatherhood” sessions, please contact The West Angeles Counseling Center at (323) 737-7463. Please click HERE for more information. http://westa.org/portfolio/manhood-to-fatherhood/
  • For The Brotherhood Organization, please contact (323) 733-8300 http://westa.org/the-brotherhood/
  • For more information on our adult and youth Christian Education Classes including The School of Practical Christian Living, Sunday School, and the West Angeles Bible College, please call (323) 733-8300.
  • For college prep and Education Enrichment contact Deacon John Wilson at (323) 733-8300 x2628, 2629 [email protected] [email protected] http://westa.org/education-enrichment/
  • For Mentoring information, please contact Minister Sam Ransom, email [email protected] or call 323-733-8300 x2629.
  • For West Angeles COGIC Ministries and Auxiliaries – For more information on all of West Angeles’ ministries and auxiliaries, including our Skid Row Ministry, the Prison Ministry and many others, please call 323 733-8300, or CLICK HERE for a complete list. http://westa.org/ministries-departments/

THE COGIC URBAN INITIATIVES: “Building healthy individuals, families, and communities for a successful future.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


COGIC URBAN INITIATIVES IN ACTION – Please CLICK HERE to watch an inspiring conversation between our Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. and Operation Hope CEO and Founder John Hope Bryant, where they discuss a new COGIC partnership, the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement, and the power of financial literacy for the underserved.

What’s An Idol?

Most of us probably don’t make a connection between our favorite activities and the Bible’s definition of an idol.

We’re probably even content to pawn off our neighbor’s statue of the Virgin Mary as God’s idea of what a “graven image.” But the term idol is mentioned or alluded to so many times in the Bible – even in the 10 Commandments – that worshiping them must be a pretty serious offense!

So, before we discuss what an idol is, let’s first talk about what it isn’t, starting with those carved sculptures that are mentioned so much in the Old Testament. Sure, for those cultures that use them, they can be idols too, but they’re only a representation of the modern issues we’re dealing with today.

Second, let’s look at a passage that best defines what an idol is. Colossians 3:5 says it’s “everything that belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed” (NIV). Simply put, an idol is anything we live or swear by which keeps us from truly serving and worshiping God. So, chances are, there are elements of our daily routines which have “idol” written all over them (sorry, but that nightly smoke you “need” to get to sleep? That qualifies too).

Here are five things you probably didn’t know are idols:

  1. Your horoscope. It’s got the First Commandment written all over it (Exodus 20:4). We’re not supposed to worship the image of anything that’s “in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth,” and astrology certainly fits that description. One reason it’s bad: it limits your potential. If you think you’ve got no more capabilities than a goat or a scorpion, then how are you ever going to walk on water?
  2. Television and media images. Yes, I know you’re really into that show, and you also think you can’t live without your Xbox. But entertainment and social media has taken on a life of their own, and these days, unfortunately, there’s very little reality or God in them. Idols created by the entertainment industry now influence almost everything in society, from lifestyle choices to career pursuits. Its images can be as extreme as porn, or as violent as your favorite video game. But they can also be simple images repeated over time, like the thin blonde girl symbolizing universal beauty, or the African American man in handcuffs symbolizing universal fear. These images become idols which influence thought. They illicit desire, disparage a race or gender, create a false reality, or negatively influence our ideas about absolutely everything and everyone – even Jesus. Psalm 97:7 (ESV) lets us know that “All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols.”
  3. Bad habits. Drugs, alcohol and other addictions; phobias, sickness, family history, overeating, uncontrolled emotions, thoughts…the list goes on. How many times have we heard (or said) statements like:

“I just can’t handle [insert phobia here]: that’s just how I am”, or

“We Smiths are [insert vice here]”, or

“My Mom and Grandma had [insert illness here], so I will too…”

Whatever limiting thoughts and ideas we allow ourselves to attach to are not only idols, but they can also influence the way our children and grandchildren think about themselves too (Exodus  20:5).

  1. Society’s norms. Gluttony, racism, oppression, and yes, casual sex; the practices we engage in and ideas we adopt which go against God’s instructions for our lives not only limit our own potential, but also the growth and potential of others.
  2. Money. This is a big one. Yes, it’s part of survival in our society. But love of money is another thing entirely. Jesus makes it plain in Matthew 6:24 that it’s impossible to live for greed and God at the same time. Greed has been at the heart of man’s endeavors from the beginning of time, and manifests itself in a variety of ways, from slavery to economic recession. If the motivation behind any action is monetary gain, as opposed to the intrinsic good of all mankind, then that action becomes an idol. From manufacturing a seed, to building a business, to developing a community or governing a nation: if God didn’t ordain it, then man’s probably in it for profit and control, and its effects diminish and destroy God’s people and His Will for the earth.

Idolatry keeps us from finding true liberty and freedom in Christ, and prevents us and future generations from being all we’re created to be (Exodus 20:2-5). “There are ways which seem right to a man, but in the end are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25). That passage defines idolatry in a nutshell, and God seemed to believe the message was so important for us to understand, He sent it twice! But in Proverbs 19:21, He also makes it clear that, in spite of man’s ways, it’s only God’s methods that triumph.

So save yourself years of trials and anguish: drop the idols and do things His way.

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES: Colossians 3:5, Leviticus 26:1, Psalm 97:7, Exodus 20:2-5, Matthew 6:24, Proverbs 14:12, 16:25, and 19:21.

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