10/14/2013 § Leave a comment
As an adult with children, I always wanted the best for each of them as they grew up, and I often imagined how life would be for them once they became adults. All loving parents want to see our children succeed in their education, and once they get older, their careers and even finding the perfect spouse. Each of these are significant life milestones, and in all of them, it is our hope that our children look to the Lord in all of their life choices and decisions. That is easily the most gratifying result that we want to see from our children…living a life that is holy and pleasing to God.
Teach a youth about the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Unfortunately, the challenge that parents of a Christian household often face with their children is far from what they envisioned when they raised them with the instruction of what it is to follow Jesus Christ. At one point, it appeared that a son or daughter was obedient and responsive to the instruction, but one day, something must have happened where the tide had turned. The turn occurs because our children possess the very same thing that we possess…free will. They have the ability to make choices, both good and bad ones, in the same way we do. We remember how we came up over the years and the choices that we made, and we don’t want our children to make the same mistakes. Our prayers have been, and will continue to be, that our children’s good choices will far outweigh the bad ones, and that the bad ones will not be as costly to them. The proverb of teaching the child is true…the child doesn’t forget what they have learned. It is not just your desire, but also God’s desire for the child to remember what was learned, to understand it, and to make the decision to completely live for Jesus Christ.
1 John 4:16
And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.
What a blessing it is when our child, who is obedient to the Lord, grows with this same philosophy as an adult! When our child veers into a different direction–one that is contrary to living a Christlike existence, we are deeply affected because it leaves the parents with feelings of helplessness, and even regrets that perhaps something could have been done differently that would somehow have made the child behave differently. The reality is that a child raised in a Christlike household may or may not follow that same teaching as an adult, and parents will beat themselves up with regret and blame that doesn’t change the behavior. This message is about those children who keep parents up at night. In moments like this, it is very important to remember God’s love and grace, and look at ways to manage our interaction with the wayward child.
First, before you interact with your child, you need to examine your own behavior. You cannot effectively minister to other people, let alone your child, unless you are paying very close attention to your level of obedience to Jesus Christ. You need to go through a self-examination of your life and your attitude. This allows you to truly listen to what the Spirit is saying to you and be aware of the leanings of the Spirit. It starts with the most important commandments as noted by Jesus Christ:
34 When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. 35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: 36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”
37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command.
39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
In order to love your wayward child (and you do love the child even though there are times when you are disappointed or angered by his or her behavior), you need to draw upon the basic principles of your faith in Jesus Christ–loving the Lord with all of your heart, soul and mind, and loving your neighbor as yourself. Both of these commands of Jesus Christ have a profound effect upon your life and the consistency of your behavior. Others, who observe your behavior, and especially your child will see your love for God. What is the one thing that you do that can have an adverse effect on your child and how he or she responds to you? It’s your inconsistent behavior. As a prime example, you can’t address the sin of another person without addressing your own sin.
1 “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? 5 Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Let’s look at the context of this verse when coupled with the second great commandment that Jesus mentions in Matthew 22:39 (Love your neighbor as yourself) with where He draws it from in Leviticus 19:
9 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 You must not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the foreign resident; I am Yahweh your God.
11 “You must not steal. You must not act deceptively or lie to one another. 12 You must not swear falsely by My name, profaning the name of your God; I am Yahweh.
13 “You must not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages due a hired hand must not remain with you until morning. 14 You must not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but you are to fear your God; I am Yahweh.
15 “You must not act unjustly when deciding a case. Do not be partial to the poor or give preference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly. 16 You must not go about spreading slander among your people; you must not jeopardize your neighbor’s life; I am Yahweh.
17 “You must not harbor hatred against your brother. Rebuke your neighbor directly, and you will not incur guilt because of him. 18 Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.
This part of the message is very important when it comes to the nature of developing a loving and consistent interpersonal relationship with your child. God’s love is always to be the foundation of your interaction with anyone, let alone your child. You must remove any hint of hatred or animosity in your dealings with your wayward child, for it is when they see your love and concern it paves the way for your ability to minister to them in the truth of God’s Word when the Spirit provides the opportunity to do so. Your sin and transgressions that God commanded the people of Israel not to do in Leviticus 19 can block your ministry to the child and show you as less credible in their eyes.
…let us draw near (to Jesus Christ) with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.
Another important point to consider here in this relationship is to take the focus off of yourself, which essentially means you need to give yourself a break. What does this mean?
1. Acknowledge that you did the best you could as a parent. You weren’t perfect, but you presented the gospel message to your child, and they heard what was necessary for them to effectively discern right from wrong. There’s no good energy spent in regret over the past or what might have been.
2. Acknowledge that you can’t control their behavior. The choices the child makes are on the child alone, and not you.
When you decide that you did everything you could as a parent and that you can’t do anything about your child’s behavior, it comes down to taking the humble approach and doing the most important thing that you can do for your child…prayer. Your communication to God is the natural response when God communicates with you through His Word and through His Spirit. Your prayers make a difficult situation bearable and put your faith and trust in God in action. He hears your prayers in the midst of your affliction and provides, first and foremost, peace to your soul and rest for your body.
7 I will rejoice and be glad in Your faithful love
because You have seen my affliction.
You have known the troubles of my life
8 and have not handed me over to the enemy.
You have set my feet in a spacious place.
28 “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.
30 Youths may faint and grow weary,
and young men stumble and fall,
31 but those who trust in the Lord
will renew their strength;
they will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary;
they will walk and not faint.
Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.
This endeavor is not a sprint…it is a marathon. Your in it for the long haul because you want the best for your child, and you don’t know or when God is going to reach your child to change the behaviors and, eventually, the outcome. This will always be part of God’s mysterious ways that He draws people near to Himself, but always remember that He loves your child more than you ever could, and He wants the very best for all of us.
10 For this is what the Lord says: “When 70 years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm My promise concerning you to restore you to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
I deliberately included verse 10 here to show that even as God has plans for our hope in the future, we need to remember that our time and God’s timing can be much different. In our prayers, we can certainly pray for change, but we must respect God’s timing in everything, including how He acts as a change agent for our wayward child.
An important aspect of your ministry to your wayward child is how you interact with your child. No matter how you feel about what he or she is doing, you are to always show yourself to be open for the child to come home or to have social time. You don’t condone their sin, and you establish ground rules as to behavior if the child is there for a period of time, but they should always see the love of Christ in you when they look at you. Love the child in the midst of your disappointment. This is admittedly tough to do, but with God’s help, you can do it, and you can shine for Christ while doing it. You are to regard your child in the same way God sees you (1 Samuel 16:7b – “Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.”).
Understandably, your ongoing prayers for help and guidance in maintaining the proper attitude will go a long way in this area. Pray for the right words and the boldness to remain steadfast in righteousness.
When a man’s ways please the Lord,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
In the same way that you are looking for the right words to say, keep your communication open with your child. Send emails and texts to keep in touch when you can (texts are brief, while emails will have more substance). Take an interest in the things that interest them (as long as they are not contrary to living for Christ). Have lunch or dinner with them, and keep the conversation as light as possible. All of this is to build upon your relationship. Even though this is your child, it is still an adult-adult communication that is taking place. Keep your focus on the love of Christ throughout your communication, and keep the lines open, free and clear.
All of this effort is to keep the focus on the saving grace and love of Jesus Christ.
1 John 4:16
And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.
7 So Jesus said again, “I assure you: I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.
In order for you to keep the door open for the child to enter the door for Christ, you have to provide the path for the child to pursue Him at the appointed time. We have the blessed assurance that Jesus Christ will welcome your wayward child at a moment’s notice. That day will indeed be a day of praise and thanksgiving. Keep your child before the Lord and bathe the matter in prayer, but remember to seek Him with righteousness in everything that you do, and God will hear your appeals.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
and delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near the brokenhearted;
He saves those crushed in spirit.
29 The Lord is far from the wicked,
but He hears the prayer of the righteous.
30 Bright eyes cheer the heart;
good news strengthens the bones.
Copyright © Melvin Gaines
07/01/2013 § Leave a comment
I have been blessed to be able to teach Sunday school and present sermons at my home church, Akron Alliance Fellowship Church in Akron, Ohio. There is nothing more important to me than to relay the gospel message through my words and actions everywhere I go. It’s important to me because it is also important to God that each of us presents the gospel to others, for He wants to see everyone receive the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9). Salvation is a gift–but just like any gift, you have to accept it.
Each of these is my way to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is only one way to receive eternal life, and it is through Jesus Christ when you acknowledge your need for Him to be your personal Savior (John 3:16-17; 14:6).
Feel free to share my eBook or pass on links to my podcast to friends or family members. If you are in need of prayer, please inbox me on my Facebook page or send me a message on Twitter (@melvingaines). You can also visit my website and my two blogs on Blogger and WordPress. I welcome your questions, comments or suggestions, but most of all, if you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, make a decision for Him today.
03/31/2013 § Leave a comment
The text from a sermon presented at Akron Alliance Fellowship Church on March 17, 2013:
Each one of us has had an experience with what we would characterize as a moment of truth. A moment of truth is the time when you have to make a decision or take an action because there are no other options under the circumstances. The moment of truth is the ultimate enemy of one who procrastinates, or the person who has trouble with commitment. It is when the person who normally puts things off realizes there is nothing else to do but to finally take action.
The word “truth” is relevant in “moment of truth” because it stands for something that is factual and is undeniable—it is the ultimate reality. Remember what Pontius Pilate said when Jesus stood before Him…
37 “You are a king then?” Pilate asked.
“You say that I’m a king,” Jesus replied. “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”
38 “What is truth?” said Pilate.
There are moments when we may have asked that same question—“What is truth?” When we reflect upon moments like this, we may have denied that the truth was right in front of us all along, but it doesn’t change the reality. Aldous Huxley, a famous writer, was quoted in his writing of Complete Essays, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
Author Flannery O’Connor stated, “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” Many people choose to ignore the truth or just flat out can’t deal with it.
A moment of truth can bring out the best in a person, or the worst in someone. It is often accompanied with some degree of pressure, and it is usually at a very high level at this point. Some people can handle pressure very well, while others seem to shrink when things get tough. The best response to these moments is when the right decision is made. But what if the wrong decision, or even no decision is made at that time? Pontius Pilate also had his moment of truth when Jesus was brought before Him.
1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had Him flogged. 2 The soldiers also twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and threw a purple robe around Him. 3 And they repeatedly came up to Him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and were slapping His face.
4 Pilate went outside again and said to them, “Look, I’m bringing Him outside to you to let you know I find no grounds for charging Him.”
5 Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”
6 When the chief priests and the temple police saw Him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”
Pilate responded, “Take Him and crucify Him yourselves, for I find no grounds for charging Him.”
7 “We have a law,” the Jews replied to him, “and according to that law He must die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”
8 When Pilate heard this statement, he was more afraid than ever. 9 He went back into the headquarters and asked Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus did not give him an answer. 10 So Pilate said to Him, “You’re not talking to me? Don’t You know that I have the authority to release You and the authority to crucify You?”
11 “You would have no authority over Me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.”
12 From that moment Pilate made every effort to release Him. But the Jews shouted, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Anyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar!”
13 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside. He sat down on the judge’s bench in a place called the Stone Pavement (but in Hebrew Gabbatha). 14 It was the preparation day for the Passover, and it was about six in the morning. Then he told the Jews, “Here is your king!”
15 But they shouted, “Take Him away! Take Him away! Crucify Him!”
Pilate said to them, “Should I crucify your king?”
“We have no king but Caesar!” the chief priests answered.
16 So then, because of them, he handed Him over to be crucified.
Think about what it means to make a critical error at the moment of truth. There is often not the opportunity to get a do-over or to correct any mistakes. The stakes are high, and the consequences can be devastating and regrettable.
Life is a series of decisions, and life progression is a part of our decision-making. On the surface, it is fair to conclude that a person who makes good choices can benefit from those choices, but we should also remember that one bad decision could undermine a lifetime of good decisions. That one bad decision may be the “moment of truth” that comes down to a test where you will either pass or fail. While there’s no changing the past, we can learn lessons from our previous life experiences to help us to be able to handle these situations better.
1. Be calm, cool and collected. The best decisions come from those who don’t lose their cool and get panicked. Notice in this passage where the true focus is:
1 Lord, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty.
I do not get involved with things
too great or too difficult for me.
2 Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself
like a little weaned child with its mother;
I am like a little child.
3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
both now and forever.
The person who is calm is able to focus on and draw their energy upon Jesus Christ in the midst of a difficult situation.
2. Be patient. Your patience prevents you from making a hasty decision, and it also allows you to see how God is working in the situation. He does not want you to miss his blessing and how He receives the glory from a great outcome.
1 I waited patiently for the Lord,
and He turned to me and heard my cry for help.
2 He brought me up from a desolate pit,
out of the muddy clay,
and set my feet on a rock,
making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.
A patient person shows great understanding,
but a quick-tempered one promotes foolishness.
Therefore the Lord is waiting to show you mercy,
and is rising up to show you compassion,
for the Lord is a just God.
All who wait patiently for Him are happy.
3. Be humble. Humility is the key to being open to good suggestions, wisdom and knowledge, and the realization that God may be speaking to you in your time of need.
When pride comes, disgrace follows,
but with humility comes wisdom.
1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. 3 Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.
Your exercise of calmness, patience and humility will help you to perform at the optimal level when it is time to make an important decision in your moment of truth. Don’t miss the fact that calmness, patience and humility are all godly attributes. In order to exercise these godly attributes, you need to rely upon the One who provides each of these things for us—Jesus Christ. Without the Holy Spirit operating as the Helper for Jesus Christ, we are incapable of success in the moment of truth.
Relying upon Jesus Christ leads to the one moment of truth that has a direct impact on where you will spend eternity. In your moment of truth, will you make a decision for Him, or will you put it off?
In order to live for Jesus Christ, it is necessary to acknowledge the following:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.
16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
2 Corinthians 5:15
And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.
When you make a decision for Jesus Christ today, it is the beginning of a beautiful, rewarding relationship that will help you to grow and develop your life for today and into eternity. Make today your moment of truth.
Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.
01/26/2013 § Leave a comment
I am pleased and honored to serve as Akron Alliance Fellowship‘s Church Administrator. God has been very gracious to me, for I have been involved with various parts of the ministry of Akron Alliance since 1995. I have always been very sensitive in my various roles over the years to support Pastor Gus Brown and his efforts, and the church family has been very gracious to me. They have also welcomed my wife, Lynn with open arms. With this new appointment, I welcome the challenges and responsibilities that come with the position, and I look forward to serving you.
A Church Administrator wears many hats in the role, including filling in for the pastor when he is away, but the most important part of the job’s requirement is having a heart for God in service and in stewardship. The position also requires a business perspective and professional expertise. In my business career that spans more than 35 years (!) including a stint as a company owner, I will strive to contribute a fair amount of real-world experience in my service to Akron Alliance, but I could not do any of it without acknowledging the presence and the work of God through the Holy Spirit (2 Thessalonians 1:12).
Even with valuable experience, each of us in church leadership has much more to learn and to do—there’s no standing still. I will be pursuing additional education with online studies and with memberships in organizations to help bolster my knowledge of church administration, and I will be working very closely with Pastor Gus to move Akron Alliance Fellowship into a new and exciting era that will promote our present and future members to continue to reach people for Jesus Christ, in accordance with the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
One of our goals is to welcome new guests to our church, but we will trust God in this area, as He is the One who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). In the meantime, it is vital that we continue to enrich the existing membership and attendees with wisdom and knowledge imparted through God’s Word from the pulpit and in the church classrooms. My intent is to bolster our existing church activities and to introduce new and stimulating programs to Akron Alliance Fellowship, and I look forward to your participation in our ministry to the people of Greater Akron and beyond. Your talents and gifts are encouraged as welcome contributions to Akron Alliance Fellowship, for we are all fellow workers in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:8).
An essential part of our transition as a church is the use of social media with church news, communication of the gospel message and words of encouragement. Please look for us on Facebook (by liking our page) and on Twitter (@AkronCMAChurch).
Your prayers for the people and the ministry of Akron Alliance are encouraged, and I wish you many blessings in the name of Jesus Christ.