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Greenville

1405 SW Greenville Blvd. | Greenville, NC 27834
9:00am & 12:00pm

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Raleigh

Raleigh

1110 Buck Jones Road | Raleigh, NC 27606
5:00pm

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Sundays Online

Sundays Online

Every Sunday Morning
9:00am & 12:00pm

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2nd & 4th Wednesdays Online

2nd & 4th Wednesdays Online

2nd & 4th Wednesdays
7:00pm

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Sharing the gospel with strangers

Romans 10:14-17 (NLT) states, “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah, the prophet said, “Lord, who has believed our message?” So, faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” 

During the fall semester of 2019, I was reluctant to go to a school event to which my friend invited me since it was after work. I told myself that I would go for a few minutes, but the Holy Spirit knew I was needed that night to help someone. When I arrived at the event, I noticed that my friend was comforting some guy. I asked her what was wrong with him and she told me that he recently broke up with his girlfriend. I offered to walk him to his car. We talked about how he felt and gave him a shoulder to cry when he needed it. He felt that he did not want to continue, felt hopeless and he did not like being alone. I told him I understand his feeling of hopelessness, and I said that “Maybe God wants you to take the time to learn what you like to do by yourself.” I was not expecting that I would be helping this stranger as I did. Long story short, he thanked me for the advice, and he drove off to his apartment. I do not know what happened after that, but I am grateful that I listened to the spirit. 

I know it is not easy for me to start a conversation with a stranger. As Christians, we are encouraged to spread the good news of the gospel and share our faith. But how do we open the floor to discuss how God has been good to the people around me and me? First, pray about it. If you want to have a meaningful talk about God, you need to involve the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will be the one who will change and soften their heart. I think you need to set a warm environment to permit a conversation. Be respectful and gentle. You cannot just jump right into talking about God; you have to initiate in casual conversations. “How are you doing?” “I like your hat.” Depending on if the person what to continue to speak, you can use a current event or a personal experience they mentioned to incorporate God. 

Remember, when you talk with someone, you do not have a lot of time to invest. However, you do not feel the need to rush and expect to have a full conversation about God. Be prepared to listen more than talk. Jesus spent time listening to the concerns and issues of others, and we should do the same. If that individual wants to develop their relationship with God, invite them to church or an event the church might be having that week like Bible study.

#gospel #goodnews #thetalk #faith

Connecting with friends during the pandemic

We connect with our friends in many ways. The possibilities range from brunch to road trips to social media and so much more. But with the onset of COVID-19, we’ve had to learn how to connect with our friends by other means. Group Facetime has definitely come in handy at a time like this. Other applications like Zoom, House Party, and Facebook messenger have also come into play in our virtual connections with others. The love, laughs, and secrets that we share with our friends have been preserved. 

In that same way, we should preserve our sharing of the gospel with those who are close to us. For the Bible tells us, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15 NIV). These past few months of the pandemic have taught us that church is more than a building. Church is wherever God’s presence and the Holy Spirit is. So, in the same way that you connect with your friends about the events that unfolded in your day, connect with each other about God’s Word. 

Encourage each other to make safe, quiet spaces in your homes for prayer and worship. There is no right or wrong place to have prayer and worship for, “from inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God” (Jonah 2:1 NIV). Also, hold each other accountable as you fellowship. You wouldn’t let your friend go out in public wearing a bad outfit; therefore, don’t let your friend go without building their relationship with God. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV). Not only is God pleased with us when we do these things, but this will also make reuniting after this pandemic much more worthwhile. 

Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV) “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three is not quickly broken.” 

Contributor: K. Wyatt

#connecting #fellowship #friends #coronavirus #covid19 #socialdistancing

Neighbors and social distancing

The Marvin Gay song “What’s Going On?” is resonating all over our country and the world.  Some of us are wondering what is really going on in the world around us as we have entered the new normal of social distancing. 

Is it normal to go through daily activities wearing a mask and gloves?  It is difficult to define normal when toilet paper and cleaning products are scarce.  Do we go out in public and risk our health, or do we stay home from work and risk our family’s security?  How can we make things work for good if everything is uncertain and nothing is guaranteed?  

In response to this, a group of neighbors began using an app to come together to provide support and answer these questions.  The neighbors began being “neighborly,” reaching out to each other, looking out for one another, and lending a helping hand while still socially distancing.  They reminded us that the better way to do things in times like these is together.  These neighbors reminded us that two or three people or more are better together – couples, trios, quartets, groups of people – are better pulling together for a common cause.  The Bible elaborates that a two-fold cord is not easily broken and that when we all get on one accord that great things can happen as they did on the day of Pentecost (Ecclesiastes 4:12).  

Together we can do things better and greater than if we attempt to do them alone.  These neighbors decided that it would be better to look out for each other than to try to do things individually. Being neighborly is now and has always been socially acceptable.  So, let us do things for others that we would like done for us.  

Let us share our supplies, Internet links, essential items, food, information, health tips, and general knowledge with one another.  Drop off something to a friend, have an essential or care package mailed to a neighbor, friend, or loved one who needs something but cannot locate it or find it.  Check on an elderly neighbor and make sure that person or family is doing and eating well.  Check on the neighbor with several children and find out if the kids have everything that they need or pick up an extra meal and drop it off to them or order one and have it delivered.  

We can still be neighborly and keep our social distance.  Let us use some of those “back in the day” ways and show others God’s love in action.  Invest in others making good use of our time, our money, and our actions.  Although in-person visits may be limited, there are many ways to be neighborly.  Make more phone calls, send more emails, text more, video message more, or mail letters or cards.  Now are the right time and a good time to show we can love our neighbors as we do ourselves.  

#love #socialdistancing #lovethyneighbor #neighborly #neighbors #helpothers

Contributor: E. Taylor

#love #socialdistancing #lovethyneighbor #neighborly #neighbors #helpothers

Has this season of social distancing changed the way you connect with your family?

The effects of COVID-19 have touched every aspect of our daily life, especially how we connect with family. Initially, when our governor mandated the stay-at-home order, I was okay. I understood it was dangerous to see my parents or my brand-new niece. I accepted easily; I would protect my loved ones. I could not imagine being the cause of them becoming ill.

We found another way to connect. On Easter, I hosted a family Zoom call. It was great seeing each other. Everyone was excited; we seemed to talk all at once. It was a new way of communicating. 

New or not, different or not, we communicated. I believe we must be intentional about communication. Although we are socially distant, we must not be emotionally disconnected. The use of technology is playing a tremendous role in taking the place of our physical experiences. 

Now that the stay-at-home order has been lifted, we may socially distance in groups of ten or more while indoors. This is a true test of discipline. I understand this will not be an easy task. When communicating, I desire to look you in the eye and listen. By nature, I am a big hugger. Before COVID-19, I hugged a lot! 

While the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 does not have a vaccine, hugging is not recommended. We must remain in a “don’t touch” state.

I am reminded of being a young child and going shopping with my mom. She said, “Don’t touch. You look with your eyes, not with your hands.” In my mind, if I really wanted to see something, I had to touch it. I needed most of my senses involved. Many of us might be that way with our relationships. We want to see, hear, and touch to have the full experience of connecting.

So how do we fight the desire to physically connect with that parent, grandparent, niece, or nephew? We must place value upon the relationship above else. In other words, I love you enough not to put you in harm’s way.  After weeks of staying at home, it’s a sad reality we can’t hug our Mama or our Pop Pop?  

As believers, we know no matter the challenge, we can do all things through Christ because He strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). We can say to our loved one, “I love you enough to keep my social distance. Ultimately, I am so happy I can see you alive and well.” 

Finally, my brothers and sisters in the faith, Psalm 68:6 (NKJV) states, “God sets the solitary in families.” This means He has an ordained space for you and I. COVID-19 will not destroy our relationships. With high intention, prayer, and action, we declare our family relationships will be stronger than ever! To God be the Glory.

Until We Meet Again,

Tags: #COVID-19 #Family #SocialDistancing #Relationships

Contributor: A. Dorcent

Dealing with YOU during this time of self-isolation

By Guest Contributor: E. Taylor

Have you ever been lonely?  Loneliness is irrational and confuses us about who we really are.  Do not let loneliness dominate during this time of self-isolation.  Use this time to seek and search and welcome the new creation, new you with a new perspective and new outlook.  This is a time to share the Good News and the Gospel of Jesus Christ with yourself within your home and your family and community because building your faith strengthens those around you.  This is a time to focus on those virtues and characteristics that we have been wanting and talking about for such a long time.  Now is a time to go after them and pursue them with purpose and passion until they are ours.  Now is the time to fulfill those promises to ourselves, where we were just waiting to have time to do something or needing more time at home.  The time is here, and all we must do is walk into it and do it. 

Now is here.  If only is here.  I want, I wish – is here right now in front of us.  All of this is within arm’s reach, and now we must follow through on our part of it by committing to invest in self.  Now is a good time to be selfish, to invest in you, your relationship with God, and your relationship with yourself.  It always sounded so easy when we prayed, or hoped, or even imagined what could possibly be if only there was time for it.  

Now we have been given a time of refuge and solace and shifting away from the busyness and the routine of being caught up in and sometimes swallowed whole by life.  Here it is, the golden opportunity we have been waiting on for so long.  The question presents itself – what are we going to do with it now? How will we manage this time alone, time to ourselves, time away from others and other things, and time away from distractions?  We will not fall prey to loneliness but will wisely manage this opportunity of alone-ness.  

This is the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance we have been anticipating and expecting but disbelieving that it would arrive.  Now is the time to pursue God, to chase Him with all that we have, every fiber of our being.  Seek Him while He can be found.  Run, run, run!! Go get Him.  Grab hold to His Spirit.  He is here and within reach, just waiting for us to gear up and get into place.  As the deer pants and thirsts after the water, so should our souls be in pursuit of God (Psalm 42:1-2).  

Some of us are overdue for some “me” time, so let’s get it in now.  We will use this time of self-isolation to improve our lives and our relationships and to position ourselves into the place God will have us to be.  We will not focus on what we do not have or what we cannot do.  Our focus will now be on God and what He will have us do and become.

#aloneness, #isolation, #loneliness, #purpose, #relationships

Hope

How often do we really take inventory of our lives? Now amidst the crisis of the coronavirus, it is an opportunity for us all to count our blessings, reach out to our loved ones, and pay it forward with kindness, love, and encouragement. Let’s challenge ourselves to demonstrate genuineness and inspire others who may be struggling with everyday life events. 

It is often tough to stretch our budgets just to make ends meet, pay basic bills such as utilities and rent, and be able to afford healthy, warm meals for our family. This is a good time to purposefully link up with a buddy, another family, or an older adult to support and help each other, find out if there’s some way that we can complement each other in resources, time, childcare, meal planning, household shopping, etc. 

Now more than ever, people all over our country and all over the world need each other. There is someone near us who needs a friend, an encourager, a prayer partner, a dreamer, someone to build them up and to remind them that it’s still a time to plan, prepare, and accomplish. There’s someone out there that doesn’t see a way to make it work in their favor right now. They don’t want to give up but have reached a point where they feel there’s no other choice. Please be that person for someone else – the one that reminds them that there is HOPE. It is something that is needed so very much right now. 

How can we offer that hope to others if we seem discouraged, hopeless, or frantic?  We offer them the hope of the Lord, for He alone is worthy of praise and the holder and giver of hope, faith, love.  God alone is the provider of hope, the sower of faith, and the grower of what is to be and to come.  He is the fertilizer of the seeds of those that seek something to latch onto, that are looking for something to believe, someone to believe in, and somewhere to invest the energy, love, and labor of this life in order to reap His reward of a blessed eternal life.  

We are that light in this pressured time, that light that represents our God, that represents His hope, His peace, His love.  This is a time that people all over the world, regardless of their differences, need us, need the hope that there is an appointed time for these things we are experiencing right now.  They need to know and understand that the story of the current times was already written many, many years ago, and is only narrated now with His permission through media and social outlets. 

There are a time and a season and a purpose for everything, even the current situation of the coronavirus pandemic.  And there is still hope, the hope of God, the hope of Glory, the hope of His Son Jesus, the hope of His Spirit to comfort us.

Contributor: E. Taylor

COVID-19: Our Temporary New Normal

On March 18, 2020, President Donald J. Trump declared a National State of Emergency as a result of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus). This is an unprecedented time. Never have we experienced the massive shutdown of schools, places of worship, and businesses. 

Our normal routines have changed. As our Pastor has taught, we are now in the state of a temporary new normal. We adjust, finding effective ways to be productive. The first way to do that is by following the directives of our government leaders.

Even in this temporary new normal, we can be more productive than usual. For those required to stay home, we hope to have more time to pray, read our Bible, and reflect to understand the direction of our lives. We are confident in crisis and will not faint. There is hope now and after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Additionally, we are mindful of the severe impact this virus has had. Many have lost their lives with the possibility of more being lost. As believers, we thankfully realize death is not the end of life. It is a transition. We are spirit, we have a soul, and live in a body. This is our hope. After transition, our spirit does return home to our Father. For those who remain, we hurt, we grieve, and we trust God for His grace and comfort. Ultimately, we hold fast to our hope on earth.

During this time, a great word to reflect on is to carve. The essence of this word requires us to press on or into a tough surface, move forward, and make a beautiful impact. 

For many of us, before COVID-19, we knew God was calling us to be productive in a certain area. For you, that may be finding creative ways to be a blessing to others in this season. For others, it may be starting an online business, writing a book, organizing your home, or connecting with love ones. 

It is important that we do not allow this unprecedented time to pass without greatly reflecting and spending time in God’s presence. During the days ahead, here are three basic questions to reflect on:

  • Lord, what is your will for my life?
  • Lord, what strategy do I need to fulfill it?
  • Lord, how will this impact the lives of others?

Once you receive and record your answers, carve — press in, move forward, and make a beautiful impact. 

During this pullback season, we pray we do not miss what our Father is sharing. God has a way of doing the incredible in challenging times. He has an excellent resume of doing the impossible and providing unimaginable resources. The story of Moses filled with miracles surrounding His walk with God is a great reminder. 

Contributor: A. Dorcent

#COVID-19, #Hope

Fasting is a commitment to God

Christians fast with a purpose, with a goal as their focus, with an end in mind.  This fasting usually involves abstaining from something specific such as food, drink, specific foods or drinks, social media outlets, forms of technology, television, specific activities, variations of all of these, and even others.  The very nature of spiritual fasting is to give up something that often takes up a lot of our focus, our time, even our energy, and our efforts.  This focus, time, energy, and effort is then given to God and poured into our interactions and invested in our relationship with Him seeking to please and satisfy Him.  The time that would ordinarily be spent on watching television or on social media outlets is now focused on pleasing God.   

Fasting accomplishes what we cannot do on our own with our human efforts.  It grounds us, slowing us down where we would ordinarily continue our path of normal, regular, routine, and ordinary.  We now have something telling us how, when, where, and how to listen for God’s voice and to His voice so that we may enhance our relationship and intimacy with Him.  These efforts lead us, rejuvenate our spirits, and provide clarity in the midst of calamity. 

Fasting provides an opportunity for a revelation of God’s Word if we are in a posture conducive to learning, improving, and growing in our knowledge and experience of Him.  Our spiritual development then becomes what we invest in our fast.  If we invest heavily then we gain heavily and vice versa.  Fasting requires discipline which in turns increases our discipline.  Fasting requires us to seek God’s support and to admit that we are unable to achieve the same success on our own as we do with the combination of fasting and praying. 

The Bible identifies fasting as a part of our Christian and spiritual growth and offers suggestions on increasing our intimacy with God and the whys and how’s of fasting in itself.  In the Book of Ezra in Chapter 8, verses 21-23, Ezra declares a fast to find out from God the best route for travel for both the adults and the children.  Ezra and his people were fearful of their enemies, but God protected all of Ezra and the people on their journey to Jerusalem. 

Fasting works when we identify and exercise some basic principles such as inviting the Holy Spirit to do as He has promised: asking Him to lead and guide us and reveal to us His purpose in our lives and our role in this time of fasting and prayer.  This time of consecration can include prayer, fasting, using a journal, reading the Bible, meditation, attending church services, singing, clapping, dancing, and various other ways that we choose to demonstrate our commitment to God.  Christian fasting expresses a longing, a thirst, and a hunger for God’s presence for true transformation of our individual spirituality through our thoughts and actions as well as the changes seen in our lives and daily interactions with others.

Contributor: E. Taylor

#commitment, #fasting, #meditation, #prayer

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

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