11/24/2017 § Leave a comment
Presented at this year’s Akron Alliance Fellowship Church Ladies Brunch Conference, Saturday, October 7, 2017:
I’ve come to a place in my life where I have determined, beyond any doubt, that I don’t suffer fools very well. I don’t. I’m not proud of this statement. In some ways, it is an admission of guilt; however, I will do everything in my power to make sure that the fool that I run across will never be insulted or belittled. There may be comments in my mind that I will need to take to God for forgiveness later on, but I will speak to that person with kindness and courtesy, and then later on pray for that person to get it right. I am wary of making sure that I watch what I say–or even keep my own mouth shut–lest I be called a fool, as well. Proverbs 17:28 says that “even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent, discerning when he seals his lips.”
All of us have encountered people who can be considered as fools as referred to in the book of Proverbs. In addition, Scripture refers to some who take foolish actions, or people who lack sense or understanding. We won’t cover all of those verses here, but you get the idea. The psalms and proverbs of Scripture cover a lot of ground in this area, and the general theme that pertains to a fool involves a lack of wisdom or discipline (Proverbs 1:7), performing acts of wickedness (Isaiah 35:8) or having poor judgment (Proverbs 10:21), or even deserving to be chastised or corrected with a baseball bat–I mean, a rod (Proverbs 26:3)!
Well, the truth of the matter is that those psalms, proverbs and other Scriptures are written to describe me–especially when I am being hard-headed and disobedient. When I’m trusting in anything and everything besides Jesus Christ. I wish there were more occasions where I could say that I was a fool for Christ more than just being a plain old fool, but I don’t think I can because I know that I needed some heart surgery to take place.
One of my new favorite singers, Ms. Crystal Jackson, has a song that refers to this heart surgery. It begins as you listen to the words and sounds of the Holy Spirit as He speaks to you about your life. The Spirit is kind and cool, but He also can cut right to the chase. His Word cuts bone and marrow (Hebrews 4:12) like a hot knife through butter, and it convicts you of the life that you are living. Even with all of this cutting, paring and pruning, you can still see the character of Christ at work in your life, who declares in Matthew 11:30 that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Sin in your life weighs you down to the point that you don’t want to carry the burden anymore. Thankfully, the burden can be lifted once you decide to turn from your life of sin (because you no longer want to disappoint God) and acknowledge your need for a Savior in Jesus Christ. The heart surgery begins there, and the Spirit joins you in your fight–but now it’s the good fight (2 Timothy 4:7)!
The words “heart surgery” are not unique. The act of heart surgery means that a surgeon is repairing damage to the heart to return it to a place where it is beating and performing as it should in order to sustain life within the patient. I’m thankful that Jesus Christ performs this surgery for me on a regular basis, because I know that I sin and fall short of His glory, and I need His Spirit to make those repairs in me. I know, in spite of my position, that I am a work-in-progress in my goal to be a faithful, loyal servant of Jesus Christ.
I’m getting better at it. I don’t take as many trips down Fools Lane as I used to. I still have a ways to go. I am still receptive to the Holy Spirit continuing this surgery that removes the heart of stone and turns it into a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26-27 says “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
I want the stubbornness and impatience to be thrown off for obedience, gentleness and compassion, and I want people to see my life as a testimony–in my obedience, gentleness and compassion–living a life of thankfulness in Christ.
Now, that’s my short story. I don’t need to remind you what it is to be the wrong kind of fool now, do I? There are examples of being this type of fool everywhere you turn. Let me give you a quick quiz as an example. An NFL (National Football League) player, who will remain nameless, has 11 children from 10 different women. If they were running a race (the player and the women–all eleven of them together) for Top Fool, who do you think would win? And they’re off! The player is running hard, but look at the speed of the other women! It would be stride for stride all the way to the finish! And it’s a photo finish! You can’t tell who won this race, because there is no such thing as a winner in this type of race. Everyone loses, and the children involved are also on the losing side because of the lives that they now have. Being a fool has consequences that affect others in a very negative manner, and only God Himself can rescue and heal those who suffer from the fallout. His love, grace and mercy prevails over selfishness, pettiness and evil. Praise the Lord!
We need more people to become fools for Christ. This is an acceptable kind of fool. Why use the term “fools for Christ”? Because Paul spoke about this exact term in Scripture. He was giving counsel and instruction to the Corinthian church about what true leadership in Christ represents. He stated in 1 Corinthians 4:9-10 that he and his disciples were fools in Christ to the world because their message of the gospel has made them stand out in a peculiar way before others, and that they have been subject to ridicule, dishonor and oppression. There were even a couple of references in Acts (17:18 and 26:24) where Paul, in proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ and His resurrection, was called crazy or insane. This is not hard to understand, because believers today are often referred to as “weird” or as “Jesus Freaks” (that’s an old term, too), or as “nuts.” More often than not, you are an outsider and treated differently among your friends or people you know because of your faith. It’s nothing that should catch believers off guard. I would rather be on the “weird” side than on the “wrong” side. I would rather be “left out” of a group because of my faith in Christ than be “lost” and without hope.
The passages in 1 Corinthians Chapter 1 are meant to be an encouragement to any of us who have been ridiculed or even mistreated overtly or even covertly:
1 Corinthians 1:18-19
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
1 Corinthians 1:21
For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
And there is a reason why Jesus embraced the children who ran to Him (they saw something in Him that some of the adults, with hardened hearts, never saw). He knew of their innocence, and declared that whoever becomes like a child and humbles himself before Jesus Christ will be great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:2-4).
Be encouraged, for God knows what you are going through. When we are down, He will lift us up! When we see signs that we are losing, He will remind us that we already have the victory! Even when we are ridiculed, He reveals to us His grace and compassion. He covets your prayers and your relationship with Him, and He will affirm you as you seek after Him and follow His instruction.
I sincerely pray that you will consider that being a fool for Christ is a much better way to live than being just another, everyday fool.
© Melvin Gaines
09/21/2015 § Leave a comment
Ladies, join us September 26, 2015 for a great morning of inspiration and encouragement with our special Guest Speaker: Angelica Leigh Reeves, author of Black Girls Don’t Cry, available at Amazon.com in the first of a new series of L.A.D.I.E.S. brunch events (Living as Devoted in Every Sense).
Angelica Leigh is an example of how God can take someone that was once broken into pieces and place them perfectly together to fit His will. Hidden behind her smile was a young girl who battled with low self-esteem and depression for many years. Finding herself jobless and pregnant at 19, was devastating; but she vowed with God’s help, to do everything she could to turn her life around. Through her journey she found that each experience was a stepping stone to discovering her purpose. Overcoming those obstacles fueled her passion to help young women find their way.
Joining Angelica will be Anita Bivens Morrison from Hope Alliance Bible Church of Maple Heights.
Admission is FREE for this “can’t miss” event! Please call 330.376.4654 or Melvin Gaines at 234.206.0345. You can also send a message (voice or text) to 234.214.6550.
04/16/2015 § Leave a comment
Spring Break is here! Join me for my annual Spring Break Relationship Conference tomorrow and Saturday. This year, the topic is Your IMAGE and Forgiveness! Admission is absolutely free!
If you are harboring animosity, resentment or dread over past hurts or injustices, then this two-day seminar is for you! We will discuss and share how forgiveness, with the healing power and grace of God, is the best way to conquer the past, free your mind and soul and experience true rest in Jesus Christ! Join us on Friday, April 17 and Saturday, April 18 for lively conversation, prayer time and fellowship! The seminar is free! Hotel rooms, if you choose to stay overnight on the 17th, are based upon availability.
Our program starts next Friday at the Hampton Inn in Stow OH at 5:00 PM. We will break for dinner and resume at 7:45 PM and continue until 8:30 PM, where we will break for the evening. The program resumes Saturday morning after breakfast (hotel guests only) at 9:00 AM, and we will continue through the morning and conclude at about 12 noon.
For more information, call Melvin Gaines at 234.206.0345 or visit akronalliance.org.
02/24/2015 § Leave a comment
The act of forgiveness is very difficult. An unforgiving person may experience extreme anger, anxiety or hopelessness…or all of these emotions. Unforgiveness can cause others a lot of pain, as well—people may tend to avoid you. What about you? These unresolved issues are spiritually debilitating and can even make you physically ill.
There’s no need to avoid dealing with forgiveness any longer! If you are harboring animosity, resentment or dread over past hurts or injustices, then this two-day seminar is for you! We will discuss and share how forgiveness, with the healing power and grace of God, is the best way to conquer the past, free your mind and soul and experience true rest in Jesus Christ! Join us for lively conversation, prayer time and fellowship! The seminar is free (hotel stay extra)!
Friday, April 17 · Saturday, April 18
Hampton Inn Stow
4331 Lakepointe Corporate Drive • Stow OH 44224 • 330.945.4160
Special room rate for overnight stay (April 17) only $85.00 plus 15.25% tax.
When booking ask for the Akron Alliance Fellowship Church rate.
Book your reservation by Friday, March 20 (up to 4 guests per room).
A free hot breakfast is available for hotel guests
Free internet • pool • fitness center
comfortable and relaxing amenities • shopping and restaurants nearby
Availability will go quickly! Be sure to register today!
Questions? Call Melvin Gaines at 234.206.0345 or visit akronalliance.org
04/17/2012 § Leave a comment
Spring Break 2012
Our Annual Relationship Conference Series continues with discussion about how God speaks in His special way to you:
Hosted by Melvin Gaines
God’s Love Languages for Your Life
A special weekend retreat for everyone where you can rest, relax, renew and recharge!
Everyone has at least one love language. Do you know yours? Marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman first introduced The Five Love Languages almost 20 years ago. Today, love languages are not just for married couples…they are also relevant to you and your own personal relationship with Jesus Christ! Knowing how you can best hear God speaking to you will only help you to grow and understand more about your relationship! Our seminar will explore all of these languages and give you insight into your communication with God that you may not have realized before! With your participation, this relationship seminar promises to be a fun, relaxing and fulfilling experience! Singles and married couples are welcome!
Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21, 2012
Hampton Inn, Stow OH
4331 Lakepointe Corporate Drive • 330.945.4160
Special room rate for overnight stay only $79.00 plus tax. When booking your room ask for the Akron Alliance Fellowship Church special rate. Please book your room reservation today (maximum of 4 guests per room). A free hot breakfast is available for hotel guests. Free internet • pool • fitness center • comfortable amenities • newly remodeled • restaurants nearby
For start times and additional information, call 234.206.0345.