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Enduring Love

Have you ever found it difficult to love those that are kind toward you? Most times, loving someone like this takes little effort. However, in those challenging moments, we find it difficult to love those that have hurt us. Loving someone in the difficult times requires a patient enduring love, but love has the ability to grow. Here’s what I mean.

The day my husband’s son was born, I cried. Yes, you read that right. After seven years of marriage and two children, my husband and I separated. During our separation, he entered another relationship and had a third child. So, if I had hope that perhaps one day we would reconcile our marriage, after my stepson was born all hope seemed lost. 

The dynamics of my life had changed. I became a single working mom and student. My favorite pastime was crying. Anger, confusion, and doubt became very familiar to me. Then, without warning and in the midst of my heartache, my mother passed. Loving my husband was the last thing I wanted to do. So, I talked over my woes with anyone who would listen: family, friends, but the best listeners were strangers on the New York City subways. Eventually, I did seek a professional therapist though.

I also sought help from God. Anytime I could find Him, I did. I started going to church on my lunch-hour to pray for strength and the strength and joy came slowly. I felt I could do this and deep down I had hoped for reconciliation, but I didn’t know if I could accept my husband’s child. However, I was willing if we could repair our marriage.

After three years, we did find love again and reconciled our marriage, but there was still the question of if I could accept my stepson as a member of our family. I had to stretch my heart — not much — just a little. My heart was not broken beyond repair; it still worked. 

Over the years, our family relocated from New York to North Carolina and my stepson spent weeks at a time with us. I soon realized how kind, helpful and respectful he was. In time, my heart began to stretch more. Then, as our children grew and bonded during his visits, I admired their love and laughter for one another and my heart began to stretch even more.

It is true that no one graces this green earth without the approval of Jesus Christ. I saw that in my stepson. It didn’t matter how he got here. What mattered most was he had arrived. He is a part of our family with a very important purpose. 

I learned no matter how hopeless a situation might seem, not all is lost. If you open your heart, just a little, there’s a Godly love, a mature love, a patient love, that endures. This love can and will stretch your heart. We just have to be willing.

Contributor – A. Dorcent 

#Children, #Patience, love

Act of Kindness

Do you know how we can make the world a better place? By being ourselves. I do not like to see people suffer especially when I have the resources to help them. I give without thinking about what reward I could receive from helping others. That is called being altruistic. Caring about the well-being of others without regarding your own interests. I express my concern towards others by asking, “How are you doing?” If their facial expression does not look like they are happy, I pull them aside to talk to them about how they are feeling that day. 

About two months ago, I was debating if I wanted to go to a school event to which a friend invited me. I was going back and forth in my mind because I was complaining that I was tired.  However, the Spirit led me to go to campus that night. The Spirit knew I had a purpose. Long-story short, I helped a young man deal with his emotions because he had recently broken up with his girlfriend.  He felt depressed and did not have the drive to keep going. I talked him through his emotions and encouraged him since I had been through those feelings myself. If I had been selfish and ignored where the Spirit wanted me to go, he could have fallen into a deep hole.  However, Jesus knew I had something within that would help that person. When we finished talking, he said that he appreciated me talking to him and figuring out things that would make him happy again. It made me feel good inside to know I helped him in some way. My act of kindness was my way of showing that person I loved them. 

Jesus showed us an act of kindness when He washed the feet of the disciples. He said in John 13:12-17 (NLT), “After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.”” Jesus showed us that we should treat everyone with the same respect. Sometimes, it takes that one brave person to lend a helping hand to show that there are people in the community who cares about them. You may not have changed the whole world but you have changed that person’s world.

Contributor – T. Dozier-Grady 

#BeKind, #BeSelfless, #BeYourself

Self-Love

Self-love is the appreciation of one’s own worth, value, well-being, and happiness. In order to truly love others, we must first love ourselves. The Bible defines love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV). This does not just apply to romantic love. It also applies to self-love. The verses state that, “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 records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 

Love is a verb. It requires actions. Practice loving yourself in the following ways: Be patient and kind to yourself. Do not be jealous of what others have and do not be prideful in what you have. Honor yourself, don’t be selfish, don’t be so quick to get angry, and forgive yourself for the wrongs you have done. Do not partake in what is evil. Protect your energy, trust in the Lord, have hope, and never give up. 

Self-love is not easy. It is a process just as any relationship is. The relationship you build with yourself is just as important as the relationship you build with others. You owe this to yourself. You are worthy of love. You were created in the image and likeness of God. God, who loved the world so much, gave His only begotten Son to die for our sins. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19 NIV), and when we love, the rewards that we gain are unimaginable: “…Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” (1 John 4:16 NIV). “Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor” (Proverbs 21:21 NIV). 

Loving yourself first will make it easier to extend this same love to others. The Word says, “…love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Matthew 22:39 NIV). God loves you, so you should love you. When you love you, you love others. God has commanded us to love others as we love ourselves. This starts with self-love. It starts from within. You are capable of love because God says so. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV). 

Contributor – K. Wyatt 

#GodsLove, #SelfLove

What is #Church

Dictionary.com defines church as a building for public Christian worship. Church, to me, is a place where individuals gather to worship and praise God. Church does not necessarily have to be a big, fancy building. Individuals can gather in the name of Jesus in a conference room, in a section of the library, or any other meeting space. As long as the purpose of the gathering is to spread the Word of God, it is church.

My definition of church has changed over the years in that, I used to think that you had to dress up and have money for the collection plate to go to church. I believed that if you did not dress accordingly or had money to give, then you shouldn’t go to Church because you would be looked down upon. Over the years, I have learned that church is especially for individuals who may not have nice clothes to wear or extra money to give. These are the individuals who we as Christians, are trying to minister to and help them to become believers. Therefore, we must make church an inviting place so that others will want to come back and worship God no matter what their situation is. 

My earliest memory of church is vague. I remember wearing white stockings and a dress and having my hair done. I also remember sitting for a long time and not being sure of what was going on. But whatever was going on, I was required to sit there and listen and not say a word. Luckily, my earliest memories of church have not stirred me away, and I have grown to realize that that is not what church is all about.

It is believed that the world’s first church was built around 230 AD in northern Jordan. Named Saint Georgeous, evidence suggests that this church sheltered the 70 disciples of Jesus Christ. The disciples escaped from Jerusalem because of religious persecution. They met at Saint Georgeous to practice their religion in secret. This goes to show that it is not about where you praise God. What is important is that you praise Him, period. God sees and hears all and rewards those who are righteous in His name. 

*Matthew 5:3-20*

Contributor: K. Wyatt

Finding the Right #Church

Have you considered worshipping in a place that needs and appreciates your gifts? However, not only your gifts, it needs the gifts of your family members. Now, consider those collective gifts poured into the community that ultimately changes our world. This sounds like a wonderful place for a family. Hebrews 10:24-25 speaks about the importance of the assembly of believers, encouraging one another, working together, and sharing the heart of Christ. However, how does a family find the right church?

My husband and I pondered this question sixteen years ago after relocating to North Carolina. We found one very similar to our church in New York. After attending for one year, I could not settle in. A co-worker invited me to Koinonia Christian Center Church (KCC). As soon as I heard the Word of God preached in such a practical life-applicable way, I connected but my husband and children – not so much. My traditional husband liked a smaller congregation. My children were afraid of starting over and being the new kids on the block. It did not take long to see we were welcomed into a loving family and not lost among the crowd. We had found our church home. We unpacked all our baggage! Today, we worship freely and serve in our local church. 

My two oldest children are adults now. Times have changed, and I wondered what do young families today look for in finding the right church. As I chatted with some families, many said a good Bible-based children’s ministry was vital. Other key factors included humble leadership, welcoming environment, great worship, and a strong penetrating Word.

One couple shared their story after relocating, leaving the KCC-Greenville location. Their search for a church home took twenty months. As working parents, they desired a worship experience that would break up the hardness that builds around the heart from working all week. The long search created a starvation for the Word of God. None of the churches they visited hit the mark. They wanted an all-encompassing church, a place for their children, worship music that spoke to the heart and soul, and a Word from God that was meat, not milk. Finally, they did find one. Surprisingly, an opportunity arose to relocate again. After praying, the family relocated to the Raleigh, NC area. They re-connected with the KCC-Raleigh location. With over fifty different ministries to serve in, they knew their gifts would be used and greatly appreciated. Looking back, their experience created a deep affection for authentic fellowship and taught them how to prioritize their search. 

As you seek the right church, here are some factors to consider:

  • Pray for God’s leading.
  • Research the church’s core values.
  • Learn what the church has to offer for every family member.
  • Find out how you can become involved.
  • Research the church’s community participation.

Please review our website for information. You are in our prayers and are welcome here!

Until we meet again…

#church, #family, #findachurch

What does the Bible say about going to #church as a family?

It is vitally important for families to attend church, praise, and worship the Lord together, which affirms the stance that we choose to serve God regardless of what other households have decided (Joshua 24:15).  My childhood memories include my parents, my sister, and I, as we sat together, singing, clapping, and repeating the “affirmation of faith,” which summarized our church’s biblical beliefs.  My parents taught me early on that serving the Lord was important, so I joined the choir as a child.  

God commands parents and caregivers to raise children on biblical principles so that if they go astray, their foundation will lead them back to God.  This is true, especially for myself, who went astray after my parents divorced when I was in middle school.  For many years, I floundered and struggled with my identity in the world.  One day I realized that my identity was within the body of Christ, found my way back to church after being witnessed to by a local pastor, and have continued to rebuild my faith since then.  

God desires us to experience life through our interactions with others, within our family, through involvement in our support networks, as we work alongside employers and colleagues, and in everything that we do.  It is all about our purpose – to worship God, to witness of His goodness to others, and to profess our faith to everyone.  A fond childhood memory is the song “Yes, Jesus Loves Me” because as the Father has loved Him, He has loved me (John 15:9).  This hymn holds special meaning because although the particular details of childhood church service escape me, the feelings of the assurance that this song brought me still rest deep within me.  As the words wash over me, the hope that only rests in Jesus and the salvation that He brings warms and renews my heart.   As a child, I was taught this love and filled with His Spirit and is now reconnected to the true vine.  

Another childhood memory is of Willie Banks and the Messengers singing “Lord, I Know You Been So Good.”  This song was sung in church, at local gospel concerts, and at home around warm slices of an old-fashioned molasses cake.  Memories of church from my childhood all include my family as a unit serving and praising the Lord which set the precedence for instilling those same values in my own children – the importance of attending church, serving in the church, and praising and worshipping God as a family.  God wants all of us to give our children these same types of memories. 

Contributor: E. Taylor

#church, #memories, love

What is the importance of #church attendance?

Church attendance is important because it is a way to check up on people and to make new friends. When I attend church, it gives me the opportune time to greet people and ask them how they are doing if there is no connection between us through any form of social media. It makes me more accountable to make sure that we see each other at church, and we are consistent with attending church each week.  You can establish a bond and create a friendship with those people because you get the opportunity to worship and praise the Lord with other believers. It makes people feel good when they know you care about attending church with them. 

It is also important to attend church to see how you interact with other people and to see how God works within our lives. After church, I go to my deacon or a prayer warrior to talk to them about what is the best way to deal with certain situations and people, so I do not act and speak irrationally. These people can guide me on how to act Godly and can show me what scriptures to study. They also share their stories on how they reacted to similar people or a similar situation. I am gaining knowledge by learning from my fellow church members’ experiences and encouraging me to consult the Bible. This has helped me manage my emotions and control my tongue from speaking too fast. 

Reaching out to church members has helped me become a stronger person spiritually and emotionally. We grow together by learning from one another. I am learning to set an example, not for myself but my peers as well. I believe they are mentoring me so that I can mentor those around me. Titus 2:6-8 (NLT) says, “In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about us.” 

I attend church to understand the Bible more effectively. In the past, I had a hard time understanding the lesson of the sermon. Once I started to attend church regularly, I was able to grasp the concepts and learned how to apply these lessons to my daily life. Church teaches me how to think and act positively and not let negative words control the way that I think about the current situation. Learning the truth behind the Word of God has made me more appreciative and thankful for what He has done and will do in my life.

Contributor: T. Dozier-Grady

#advice, #teamplayer, #thankful

#Community

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

Having pride and love for our communities involves having love and respect for the people who live with us inside of the community. This begins with knowing what Jesus requires from us. It may be hard to believe, but there are young people in our communities who don’t know about Jesus. We take for granted that everyone belongs to a Bible-based church or that they even attend church at all. We also take for granted that all people are not taught about Christianity as children or required to attend church. I encourage you to get out in the community and spread God’s love. This will also be a great opportunity for us to pour into someone by inviting them to our great church.

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