L.A.D.I.E.S. Brunch Conference featuring author Angelica Leigh Reeves – Saturday, Sept. 26

09/21/2015 § Leave a comment

LADIES Flyer Large Quick Text September 26 2015

 

 

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).

About Angelica:

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.

 

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L.A.D.I.E.S. Brunch Conference 2015 – Saturday, September 26 – Save the Date

08/05/2015 § Leave a comment

LADIES Flyer Quick Text September 26 2015

Forgive and Forget?

04/30/2015 § Leave a comment

Forgive and Forget?

Hardly. It’s difficult to get past the pain and trauma that occurs when someone hurts you. It’s something that each one of us has experienced, and it shapes our view of the world.

When we experience pain, our defense mechanisms kick in.  Everyone responds differently when they have been hurt, but most often the response is proportional to the painful experience.  It is manifested in both emotional and even physical responses, where the physical ailments are often the result of prolonged emotional difficulties.

The response in kind to the stimuli of pain and trauma experienced is similar to that of Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion: To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction. [1]  While the response may be equal to what a person has done to you, it is how you respond and manage this pain that is very important as you seek the Lord for ways to cope with your experience.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Pain makes it hard to forget the hurts.  It’s hard to let go of the wrongs that you have experienced.  It makes it difficult to conceive the nature of “forgive and forget.”

First, we need to note that forgive and forget is not found in Scripture.  It is a term that comes out of a world view that proclaims a person can indeed forget the hurt upon forgiveness and move on.  There are many verses that discuss forgiveness, and there is a reference to how God sees our sin once a person repents of it:

Isaiah 43:25 HCSB

It is I who sweep away your transgressions for My own sake and remember your sins no more.

The concept of forgive and forget means to suck it up and move on with your life.  Sure, you got hurt or you’ve been damaged, but now it’s time to let it go and face the next life challenge.  The reality of this is that we never truly forget.  We may indeed forgive, but we never forget.  In fact, remembering the hurts can help you put the healing process into perspective.

With that in mind, does God truly “remember your sins no more,” or “forget” them as if they never happened?  Well, if we consider the passage of Isaiah 43:25, we need to also note that Jesus Christ made a one-time payment that covered all of mankind’s sins–past, present and future.

Hebrews 10:14-18 ESV

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

“This is the covenant that I will make with them

after those days, declares the Lord:

I will put my laws on their hearts,

and write them on their minds,”

then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

God does not forget in the same way that we forget—He doesn’t forget anything.  He is omniscient.  He knows everything and forgets nothing, but, in the case of our sin, because of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, He chooses to not remember our sin.  He even provides a visual measuring distance as to how far He removes sin from each of us:

Psalm 103:11-13

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is His faithful love

toward those who fear Him.

As far as the east is from the west,

so far has He removed

our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children,

so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.

Note that God’s choice to not remember our sins reflects His love for each one of us and how he has patience and compassion for His children.  In order to experience true forgiveness, on either side, there must be love, compassion and humility within the process.

So, when we use the words forgive and forget, we must rely upon the power of God to give grace in forgiveness.  True forgiveness is to move past the pain.  While you don’t forget the sin or its behaviors, you have to choose to overlook them and extend the grace of forgiveness to the other person to move through and out of our pain.  Knowing that Christ forgives us and remembers our sins no more is a reminder that grace does not need to stop with Christ.  He gives you the ability to forgive and, not forget, but to choose to remember the other person’s sins no more.

Matthew 6:15

But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.

This leads to the discussion about where forgiveness begins.  True forgiveness comes with the understanding that it’s time to get right with God.  It doesn’t matter if you are on the giving or receiving end of forgiveness.  Your relationship with God requires a cleansing.  In order for you to love God with all of your heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37), you need to give all of who you are and what you are to Him.

1 Article – Newton’s Law of Motion. (n.d.). From Wikipedia. Retrieved March 25, 2015 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton%27s_laws_of_motion#Newton.27s_3rd_Law

Copyright © Melvin Gaines

Your IMAGE and Forgiveness – Free Seminar – April 17-18, Stow OH

03/27/2015 § 1 Comment

Spring Break 2015 Flyer Quick Text

Your IMAGE and Forgiveness – Spring Break Relationship Conference 2015 – April 17-18

02/24/2015 § Leave a comment

Your Hosts: Melvin and Lynn Gaines

Your Hosts: Melvin and Lynn Gaines

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

Courageous in Christ

05/04/2014 § Leave a comment

A summary of a message presented at Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, May 4, 2014:

2 Corinthians 2:14

But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.

Believers in Jesus Christ are reminded by Scripture to be confident in their faith, but often, this is easier said than done. Perhaps you have experienced difficulties or setbacks in your faith because of life’s circumstances. These are completely normal and understandable. You can be a believer in Jesus Christ and experience different degrees of hardship. In these experiences, there is a lack of confidence in your circumstances.

Where does this lack of confidence come from?

  • First, it begins with a loss of focus on Jesus Christ
  • Next, it continues with doubt–something is not right, and now you’re not sure about the outcome of the situation
  • Finally, the loss of focus and the doubt is stirred up with a potion of fear.

A loss of focus is a huge distraction in your walk of faith.

Doubt is the opposite of faith.

Fear creeps in when faith is absent.

In order to get back to a place where faith can be placed at the forefront, you need to overcome the greatest obstacle that perpetuates doubt, and that is fear.

Fear comes from the available information, or a lack of information, which leads to a perception or anticipation of a negative outcome.

There are many different ways that fear become manifest in the life of a believer. Here is a top ten list that encapsulates how fear can overshadow a person’s life:

10. Losing your freedom

09. The unknown

08. Pain

07. Disappointment

06. Misery

05. Loneliness

04. Ridicule

03. Rejection

02. Death

01. Failure

Fear is a real emotion, but it is debilitating to your faith.

The result of fear, in your doubt and lack of focus, is a believer who is outside of the place where God wants you to be. It’s a place that is unsettling at best, and dreadful at worst.

Fear is not a switch that one can turn on and turn off. In our flesh, there is no such thing as an absence of fear. Fear is like a wound that needs ointment and a bandage in order to promote healing.

In order to overcome fear, which allows us to combat doubt and regain focus on Jesus Christ, there is a remedy. Fear must be suppressed with a reliance on God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Fear must be met with courage.

Courage is the essence of a believer that drives the necessary change to promote growth of your IMAGE in Jesus Christ and the ability, in spite of any life difficulty or circumstance, to proclaim the good news for the Great Commission.

God reminds you of the importance of being courageous. It takes your mind off of the things that you are fearful of. He gives us many reminders and words of encouragement throughout Scripture.

2 Timothy 1:6-7

6 Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Joshua 1:9

“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

 

Fear is anxiety and can be driven by impatience. God wants you to be patient.

Psalm 27:14

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and courageous.
Wait for the Lord.

 

God wants you to experience rest and comfort as you rely upon the Spirit to overcome fear.

John 16:33

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

 

Fear is the absence of trust. God reminds us to trust in Him. Leave the results of your anxiety at His feet.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding;
think about Him in all your ways,
and He will guide you on the right paths.

Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom should I be afraid?

 

There’s no need to go it alone. There’s strength and courage in numbers. Stay in a fellowship.

Philippians 1:27-28

27 Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel, 28 not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your deliverance—and this is from God.

 

Trusting God in your fear leads to confidence that there will be a good result…but even more than this…that God will be glorified.

Daniel 3:15-18

15 Now if you’re ready, when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, fall down and worship the statue I made. But if you don’t worship it, you will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire—and who is the god who can rescue you from my power?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. 17 If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. 18 But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”

What amazing courage! But make no mistake about it…your courage is far from your own strength. God provides the ability for you to overcome fear and be strong in Him.

Philippians 4:11-13

11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

 

Proverbs 3:25-26

25 Don’t fear sudden danger

or the ruin of the wicked when it comes,

26 for the Lord will be your confidence

and will keep your foot from a snare.

 

Isaiah 41:8-10

8 But you, Israel, My servant,

Jacob, whom I have chosen,

descendant of Abraham, My friend—

9 I brought you from the ends of the earth

and called you from its farthest corners.

I said to you: You are My servant;

I have chosen you and not rejected you.

10 Do not fear, for I am with you;

do not be afraid, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you; I will help you;

I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.

 

God offers Himself to you for comfort, healing, preservation and love, which overcomes all fear. He is your confidence. He is our confidence that we will succeed in any difficult situation or circumstance.

His love overcomes fear.

1 John 4:17-19

17 In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because He first loved us.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines

A Heart of Reconciliation

10/21/2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve learned a lot about myself as I have matured in both age and in demeanor.  One of the things I have learned is that I have grown to be more protective of myself when it comes to interpersonal relationships.  There is no one closer to me than my lovely wife, Lynn, and I have often called her my best friend.  Outside of our marriage, I can honestly count on one hand the number of close friends that I have, and it’s all because of my life experience with friendships and close relationships.  I have always proceeded with caution in these types of relationships because of a latent fear of my friendships dissolving instead of evolving.

My concern about friendships or close relationships is probably not justifiable, but everyone will acknowledge that it is very tough when good friendships come to an end.  The end can be abrupt because of a blowout argument, or they can be very agonizing and painful as they deteriorate over time.  Some are blessed to have friendships last a lifetime; however, many of us know all too well of relationships when they go bad.  The memories of both good and bad relationships impact our lives, and they can have a lasting effect.

Interpersonal relationships come and go, and they sometimes change because we move, our environment changes, or we change as people.  We learn to adapt even during relationships, and we sometimes make choices to compromise or acquiesce in order to make situations or circumstances work out.  When this happens, we learn from experience that healthy relationships can evolve into unhealthy relationships, which can lead to ongoing misunderstandings, disagreements and defensive behaviors.  Friendships are more pressurized and marriages can be strained.

Instead of finding yourself gearing up for the next blowout or confrontation, or even making dire predictions that things are not going to work out, it is necessary for all of us to remember the importance of selflessness in these relationships instead of the practice of selfishness.  Exercising forbearance instead of frustration—humility instead of hostility.  Each of the positive traits that keep relationships strong and intact involve patience, persistence, and even practicing love for the other person when you don’t feel like loving them.  In order to live in this way, consider the attributes that God provides for us to follow when we operate through the Holy Spirit:

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

What I have learned from the good and bad relationships in my life is that I needed to grow personally and develop my communication skills—to be a better listener and to be patient, especially with my children.  I didn’t start out as patient, but with God’s help, it became easier and easier over time to be patient with them and more attentive to them.

James 1:19-20

My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.

The character traits in practicing effective communication with friends, family members, and close acquaintances require one to have a spirit of reconciliation.  The spirit of reconciliation results from having a heart for reconciliation.  It means you are always seeking ways to bring a relationship to an even keel—finding ways to resolve issues or problems.  To be clear on the meaning of reconciliation, here is a definition of the word reconcile from The Free Dictionary by Farlex, © 2012 Farlex, Inc.

1. To reestablish a close relationship between.

2. To settle or resolve.

3. To bring (oneself) to accept

4. To make compatible or consistent; to adapt.

5. To reestablish a close relationship, as in marriage.

All of these meanings require some sort of effort or undertaking by one or more persons to come to an agreement that reconciliation is necessary or even possible.  If one person makes the effort, there is always hope for progress within the reconciliation process.  There is no promise that reconciliation is an easy process; in fact, it can be a very long, arduous, and painstaking endeavor.  It can require a great deal of prayer, longsuffering and patience.  The Spirit must often take the lead in this process because God must be the catalyst in the repair of a troubled relationship.

Psalm 51:12

Restore the joy of your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit.

Philippians 4:6-8

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.

Romans 15:13

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

In order to have a spirit of reconciliation, you must make an effort to reach out to the other person and “forget” the things that brought about the conflict in the first place.  You don’t really forget the past, but you find a way to move beyond the past.  In fact, you may be the only person that talks about working things out or moving forward when the other person is not talking about it at all.  It takes a concerted effort to do this (you and the Holy Spirit), for sure, and it starts with forgiveness.  A sincere effort of reconciliation cannot begin without a sincere effort of forgiveness.

This is a very key part in the process of reconciliation.  Forgiveness is a necessity.  Forgiveness is a release.  It releases you from the burden of the pains and hurts related to the conflict.  You don’t forget the pain, but forgiveness relinquishes the burden from the pain.  Think of the burden that sin carries.  Without a release from sin, the burden is the guilt—the bondage that we experience.  We are released from the bondage of sin because of the forgiveness of sin that comes from our acknowledgment of the transgression before the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 6:6-7

For we know that our old self was crucified with Him (Jesus Christ) in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims.

The repentance is the first step.  Without it, the burden of sin remains in place.

Matthew 6:14-15

“For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well.  But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.

1 John 1:8-9

If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

God’s forgiveness is the beginning of the reconciliation process that we experience with Him when we seek Him in repentance.  Our sin separated us from Him, for God hates sin and does not fellowship with sin, but, thankfully, it is our repentance and recognition of who Christ is brings about reconciliation.

Romans 5:10-11

For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!  And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him.

Sometimes we are harder on ourselves than others are on us…in other words, we have a hard time forgiving ourselves for things we have done to others.  This is also a major obstacle to reconciliation.  If God says that we are forgiven, we need to believe in the forgiveness process and forgive ourselves, too, just as in the same way we are to forgive others.

Isaiah 43:25

“It is I who sweep away your transgressions

for My own sake

and remember your sins no more.

The words ”remember your sins no more” is best understood as “put aside” what we know and move forward.  The positive relationship that you have with others, and even with God, is much more important than keeping score over issues from the past or any issues that come up.  The world’s approach is to maintain conflict at every opportunity, and even get back at the other party with a spitefulness or even revenge.  In stark contrast, a person who possesses a spirit of forgiveness opens the door for humility and a heart of reconciliation.  How welcoming is it to have a person in your midst that is kind and considerate, and operates with a peace-loving nature to work through issues and solve problems!

A heart for reconciliation requires a child-like faith—not child-like as in immature (1 Corinthians 13:11), but in a faith that is much like that when you first believed in Jesus Christ.  Jesus loved to see the children that were brought before Him.  There is something to be said about the innocence of the children seeing Jesus for who He really was.  Their desire was to be near Him because they knew that He had a genuine love for them and wanted them around, and they praised Him openly before everyone when they witnessed His healing powers.

Matthew 21:14-17

The blind and the lame came to Him in the temple complex, and He healed them.  When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonders that He did and the children shouting in the temple complex, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?”

“Yes,” Jesus told them. “Have you never read:

You have prepared praise

from the mouths of children and nursing infants?”

Jesus refers to His followers throughout Scripture, both young and old, as His children.  He speaks lovingly of His children and desires to have a relationship with them, but He wants His children to seek Him with a childlike, sincere enthusiasm.  To do anything other than this is a hindrance to the relationship with God, and it is certainly a hindrance to understanding the importance of reconciliation with others.

It is also important to point out that for those of us who know Jesus Christ as personal Savior, the Spirit that indwells us gives us the extra-special ability to understand the need for reconciliation.  The Holy Spirit is the foundation of our desire to be obedient to God and His will.  His desire for us is to have a heart for Him and a heart of reconciliation, for He has reconciled us to Himself.

2 Corinthians 5:16-19

From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way. Even if we have known Christ in a purely human way, yet now we no longer know Him in this way.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.  Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us.

We don’t know anyone in a purely human way because of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  We no longer operate as the world does because we have the power of Jesus Christ within us that guides us through the steps that need to be taken in the reconciliation process.  The presence of the Spirit leads to a heart for reconciliation.  If we really want to please God, we will seek Him throughout the process of reconciling with someone or with others.

God desires for each of us to have a heart for reconciliation.  It is this ability that makes a divine difference in a world of conflict, and our obedience to His Word as we work through issues and problems can truly change lives and win people over to Jesus Christ.  What a powerful and wonderful testimony!

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.

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