Practical Living through Biblical Principles

Christians and Mental Illness

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By Elder Myrtice Rhodes

Psalm 34:17-20 – “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.”

Why is it uniquely challenging for Christians to address issues often associated with mental illness?

As Christians, we sometimes tell ourselves we should not have these afflictions associated with mental illness, and if we do, it somehow translates to a lack of faith. People who suffer from mental illness often struggle with anxiety, suicidal ideations, shame, depression, trauma, obsessions and thoughts of compulsion.

Sometimes they are aware that something is not right or that they need help, but are fearful to go to the church for assistance for fear of being judged…sadly because sometimes they are, or have been judged in the past. People who suffer from mental illness are waging a war in their minds to keep their thoughts healthy and bodies well, whether they are Christians or not. This is why it is important for the church to have a better understanding of mental illness and to be able to share resources for both members and non-members of the body of Christ to get appropriate assistance.

Action: Take a little time to learn about mental illness…learn the signs so you can get family members, friends and colleagues the help that is needed. Pray for those that suffer from mental health.

Prayer: Lord, you said in your word that the righteous cry, and you hear and deliver them out of all their troubles. That you are close to the broken hearted. Though many are the afflictions of the righteous, you will deliver them out of them all. So, Lord, we bring you into remembrance of your word and ask that you deliver those who suffer from mental illness Lord, renew in them a right mind and clean spirit, bring their systems back into the right balance. We ask that you open the eyes of understanding of their loved ones so they can recognize the signs and help them. We pray that you provide the resources that is needed for their complete healing. In Jesus name, Amen.

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What’s Holding You Back?

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By Elder Yolanda K. Edwards

Scriptural Text: Ephesians 5:15-18 (NLT)

Often times when God gives us an assignment, we find ourselves procrastinating. Well, I don’t know about you, but I do! One day, I was reading and studying, and my mind began to drift to thoughts about an assignment that God has given me. One in which I have procrastinated to begin. Then my mind drifted to a conversation I had with a good friend of mine, who too had a God given assignment, but has been procrastinating.

During our conversation, I discovered a few of the main UNDERLYING reasons why people procrastinate on God given assignments. You may be wondering why I used all caps for the word “underlying” in the previous sentence. We frequently come up with superficial excuses as to why we cannot or should not move on an assignment that we have received from God. However, the reasons that we publicly share and try to fool ourselves into believing, are surface reasons. Not that they are not valid, but they are not what is really holding us back.

There are three main underlying reasons that we procrastinate when God gives us an assignment: 1) Fear of failure; 2) Fear of rejection and 3) Feelings of inadequacy.

When I think further a bit more, these three main reasons are superficial too, because God has not given you the spirit of fear, neither has He rejected us. In fact, He gave the life of His only son, so that you may have an abundant life. As for the feeling of inadequacy, well God already knew the plans He had for you and the assignments that He would task you with before you were born. He has already equipped you with the knowledge, tools, and resources you need to get started. What you don’t already have, He will provide along the way.

When we choose not to move on an assignment from God, we hinder ourselves from living the best life that God has for us. We also block blessings that we would receive as a result of obedience in accepting and moving on a God given assignment. Lastly, we deny others that would benefit from us completing the assignment. Remember, this journey is never all about you.

Have you been tasked to do something, but have been procrastinating?

Action: Stop procrastinating. Take a leap of faith. Sit down and write out a plan for the assignment that God has given you. Follow the plan until it is complete.

Prayer: Lord, I know you do not give me the spirit of fear, but I am afraid. Please help me overcome my fear to begin the assignment you have given me. I’m putting my trust in you to provide everything I need to accomplish the task. I pray that I remember to consult you along the way. I ask that you lead me throughout the process and help me make the decisions you would have me to make. In Jesus name, Amen!

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Relentless for Christ

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Relentless for Christ – By Denise Kennedy

I must admit that I have a thing for action movies, and nothing keeps me on the edge of my seat like a good war movie.  I was searching for a good action movie to watch a few weeks ago and I came across a newer war movie that piqued my interest.  I won’t share the title in case someone plans on watching it. Just to share some of the background, two British soldiers were given an assignment to travel across enemy territory to deliver a message to the Colonel to call off a scheduled attack that would put the lives of 1,600 men in jeopardy. I watched as the two men set off on what others in the regiment called a “suicide mission.” The soldiers would walk across mine fields and survived a massive explosion from a tripwire that was set by their enemies. One of the soldiers didn’t survive one of the countless attacks that they endured, which left the one soldier on his own. I watched in horror as the lonely soldier survived numerous sniper shots against him, long and cold nights without sleep, food, and shelter. At one point the soldier jumped into a river to avoid being killed by his enemies.  The river overtook him, and he was swept over a waterfall. After surviving the fall, he managed to find a log and grab hold of it until he made it to land. He realized that time was of the essence and he still had more to go.  After all that soldier endured, he finally made it to his destination but still needed to find the Colonel who was positioned further down the trenches.  After the soldier realized that the trenches were too crowded and that he probably wouldn’t make it in time to deliver the message, he made the daring decision to run across the battlefield in the line of open fire.  Well thank God he was brave enough to make that decision because he was able to deliver the message to the Colonel just in time to save the lives of many.  

You may be wondering what this war movie has to do with God.  Well, I’m happy you asked.  While I watched this movie, I saw how determined this soldier was to fulfill the assignment that had been given to him. Even though he faced many trials and tribulations, he kept going.  My question to you is, how relentless are you in fulfilling God’s assignment for your life? While you may not endure the same type of attacks as the soldier, there are still attacks from our enemies that we will face.  Will you be just as determined and intentional to get to where God is telling you to go?  In what ways are you building your spirit-man so that you can walk in your calling?  The year of 2020 has ended and 2021 has begun.  We get to start new and God has given us a clean slate.  Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT) says “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection.  But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Take Action: As you start this new year, think about how relentless and intentional you’re willing to be to get to your destination.  If you don’t already know your assignment, seek God and ask Him to reveal it.  2021 is the year of going all in for Christ.

Prayer: Dear gracious and heavenly Father, thank you for bringing me into the new year with a renewed mind.  Thank you for giving me a hope and a future. I pray that you remove those things that would cause me to remain stagnant in my faith.  Remove those things that run contrary to your will and that stand in the way of fulfilling the assignment that you’ve given me.  I bind the spirits of procrastination, double-mindedness, fear, doubt, and lack in the mighty name of Jesus.  I declare that I am set free from my past for John 8:36 says “who the son sets free is free indeed.” I plead the blood of Jesus over my thoughts and actions, that I will walk in the fullness of who you say I am. I thank you for calling me for such a time as this…to rise up and be relentless about what you’ve purposed me to do. It is these things that I pray in Jesus’ name and declare them done. Amen.

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Procrastination and My Destination

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By Reverend Lawrence Patterson

Last month, I was sharing with a group of associates about our plans for the summer.  Each of us had the opportunity to express our sentiments. However, one of them had ideas that captivated everyone because the goals were innovative and made us wish that we had planned out our summer a little better. 

During the conversation, one of our associates asked a question, “do you have a timeline to make certain you remain on schedule to reach your destination?”  The room went silent, while we waited for a response.  Our dear associate paused in deep thought and said “I have a confession to make.”  Every year, I make plans with really good intention, yet something seem to happen on my way towards my desired outcome.  I inserted some helpful food for thought.  

Procrastination is a destiny killer, it destroys time and if we allow its companionship, it breeds depression and will derail opportunity. Have you ever wondered why getting started is difficult, or better yet when something is due, you find a surge of energy to complete what you could have completed weeks ago?  Some people use the response, “I work better under pressure” when in actuality, all of these delayed actions have their root system in procrastination. 

Procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something important to you or someone else. I have come to learn that time is an equal opportunity employer, and each of us have 24 hours to make a difference on something important to us or someone else. What we do with time determines if we prefer to win, or if we prefer to just watch the winners. The reality is that your future destination toward success is more than faded inspiration, it is actually revelation that you are much better than where you are right now.  Beloved, get up, get moving, failing is not an option. God placed those desires of change in your heart to make an impact and a difference.

Action:  Meditate on these few scriptures (Ecclesiastes 11:4; Proverbs 13:4; 1Corinthians 2:9; John 9:4; Philippians 4:13).  Consider this way forward to defeat procrastination: Make a list, eliminate distractions, get an accountability partner, celebrate small victories and never let procrastination steal your destination again.

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Christ Canceled Culture

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By Reverend Shakita Valentine

The Canceled Culture has been trending and forming silently in the background for a number of years. In the recent year, the Current Canceled Culture supporters have leveraged every trending matter of societal impact, looming in the background watching to see who will say or do something this is closely offensive to a race, religion, or culture to scrutinize them to say, “YOU ARE CANCELED”! Turning their culprit into an outcast. Placing them on list of “are nots”. How would it feel to have the “world” turn their back on you?

Let us further that thought in our daily walk with all kinds of humanity. How quick are you to “cancel” a person? I propose that we exercise the original “Cancel Culture” where we do not ostracize one for an act or offense. That we cancel what they did but not the individual.

How fortunate would you be, or already are to be a part of the original culture called the “Christ Canceled Culture”. This is the place where you were forgiven but not forgotten. That you were exonerated from all your excuses.

The “Current Canceled Culture” has taken something of old and added their spin to make it new. Christ Canceled Culture does the opposite, it takes the outcast, depressed, and cancel what they did, not the individual! Will you join the “Christ Canceled Culture “?

To do so read: Romans 10:10For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

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Is Your Word Your Bond?

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By Pastor Brenda Gray

Numbers 30:20 “If a man vows a vow to the Lord or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”

I have often heard people say ‘my word is my bond.’ We say this because we want people to take us at our word. We may think that our words only carry weight if given under oath, but, should an oath be necessary to bind us to our word?

I want to ask you a question, ‘Is Your Word Your Bond?’ You probably feel that your word is your bond because you meet your commitments. But are there times that you do not follow through on all that you say you will do? Could it be that you are going about it the wrong way? When we say our word is our bond what we are doing is making promises. Let’s divide the term promises into three categories:

The first category is Overt commitments. An example of an overt commitment is: I will recalculate and correct the numbers on Barbara’s checking account next week.

The second category is Implied commitments. An example of an implied commitment is: I will be at the soccer meetings involving my team every Saturday.

The third category is Self-commitments. An example of a self-commitment is: I will put away $200 a month in my savings account.

When you do not follow through and make excuses for why you did not correct Barbara’s account, why you blew off the soccer meetings to only let someone else deal with it or take money from your savings for the second time in 6 months, ask yourself this question, ‘who loses?’ Not just people you may be letting down lose, but ultimately your whole sense of yourself and what your word is worth. None of us are perfect; we all have commitment lapses, intentional or not.

Could it be that you have not examined the promises that you make? Keeping a record of your promises could be an opportunity to examine how you make and keep commitments to the people you work with, live with, are friends with and your relatives.

In just one week you can change everything about the way you relate to other people and the way they relate to you. All it boils down to is practicing a very simple phrase, do what you say you will do, which is the same as saying my word is my bond.

I would like to Challenge you for 7 days to:

Write down every specific promise or commitment to yourself, family members, business associates, clients, or prospects and to write down every implied promise or commitment which includes statements you might casually make that others could interpret as a commitment or promise. At the end of every day, see how you did. If there are promises you made but did not keep, roll those over to the following day. At the end of the week, assess your performance; How many promises did you keep?

Reflect on what you learned about yourself, the way you communicate your word, and determine what you will change for next week and beyond. You might find that you tend to promise to do things just to get someone to stop asking. You might find that you agree to take tasks on the assumption that the person asking will forget or does not care if you do it or not. Maybe you will find that you are agreeing to do too many things even if you are able to follow through on every one of them.

Fortunately for us, God does not operate as we sometimes do. He always speaks and acts with complete integrity. He keeps his word and honors his commitments to the truth. And since that is how God operates, our desire should be to operate that way as well.

You may find that you may need to think things through before giving your word. Having the conscious awareness before committing to something will make a huge difference in your ability to follow through when you do. Your word is your bond, even when it is difficult or inconvenient. All our words are binding because everything we say, we say before God. God weighs every word we speak as if we spoke it to Him directly and God requires truthfulness. Simply put we should always be truthful, faithful, have integrity and keep your word for the glory of God. Amen!

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By Minister Yolanda Kennedy-Edwards

1 Peter 3:8 – “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”‭‭

2 Corinthians‬ ‭13:11‬ ‭- “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”‭

My church had a guest speaker this past Sunday and part of her message touched on the topic “Beyond Politics”. In fact, later that evening, she hosted a prayer conference with that same title. I share that because I’ve come to the realization that we as a nation, in particularly the body of Christ, have gotten so caught up on the election and the world’s agenda, that we’ve forgotten about God’s agenda. Even as Christians, we’ve become so divided over our political views, that we’ve succumbed to the division of the enemy instead of the unity that God calls us to.

Even the Pledge of Allegiance calls for unity in God: “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” So when did we become a nation so divided? It’s time for us to put aside our differences and move forward in unity and love.

Action: Pray for unity, peace and love for our country and all over the world. Share God’s message of unity with a minimum of 2 people each week.

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The Ability -vs- The Capacity

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By Reverend Lawrence Patterson

Recently, I had an encounter with two nouns that sparked my investigatory consideration.  “Ability” and “Capacity.”  While the line of definition between the two is thin, there is a distinction.  For example, “one might have an ability to sing, but are they capable to sing as an artist?” Often times, the natural reflexes of life are to look at what someone else has accomplished and without weighing the cost of their sacrifice, think that we can do the same.  I call it the Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQ) syndrome.    

The MMQ is when someone without demonstration evaluate the works of a practitioner.  One time, while I was watching a football game with some friends, one of the attendees started yelling at the quarterback from the couch, instructing where the ball should be thrown.  We all had a different lens from those who were actually in the game.  You should have been there, we all started weighing in on what we felt would be best and at one point, we stood up in the basement with an imaginary football to demonstrate our perspective.  It was in the middle of our boastful yelling and exchanges, that I heard a small voice reminding me that we were in the basement, sitting on the couch with chips and hot dogs.  I then realized while many of us had played football (ability) before, reaching the practitioner level (capacity) was not a part of our destiny.  When reality hit, I chuckled and gracefully took my seat.  A word of thought to consider, “Just because we have the ability to lift it, does not mean we possess the capacity to carry it.”   

In life, you will always have evaluators that have opinions on the route you should take; however, always look at where your evaluators are sitting, and their track record of personal and professional success.

Action:  Meditate on these few scriptures (1Chronicles 4:10; Psalm 71:21; Romans 12:3; Ephesians 3:20;).  Prayer, preparation and proper planning are vital tools that will always take us beyond ability into the realm of capacity. 

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Walking in Integrity

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By Elder Myrtice Rhodes

Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse. Proverbs 28:6 (NIV)

The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. Proverbs 12:22 (NIV)

Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong morale principles, moral uprightness. These days it is hard to find leaders who walk in integrity. People need to be trustworthy, respectful, responsible, helpful, and patient. Our leaders of today, cannot be called good quality leaders. You may know some leaders who are childish in nature and lack integrity. People with integrity take responsibility for their actions, puts others needs above their own.

Leaders give people the benefit of the doubt and are not accusatory. Good leader’s manifest humility. Having integrity is a positive character trait. You are regarded as being honest and truthful in your actions.

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Spiritually Saved with Sinner’s Thoughts

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Spiritually Saved with Sinner’s Thoughts – by Pastor Brenda Gray

Do not conform to the pattern of this world. But be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

We must go to the next level in our thought process. It is shameful to be saved in your spirit but not saved in your thought process. What God can do in your life to bless you, Satan cannot. What Satan gives is false evidence appearing real.

Everything in your life is based off your thoughts. You cannot think negative thoughts because they will steal your joy. When you get saved your spirit also gets saved (Romans 8:10 – And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness). Though we see, once you get saved, the spirit of the Lord abides in you, you still have those negative thoughts.  James 1:21 (NIV) says “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

As you hear the word of God His word begins to grow deep in your life, then it plants seeds deep in your spirit choking out every negative thing that has been spoken in your life.

Your spirit is your inner man and your soul is your mind. Some people hear by watching and others by tribulation. Science found out that our brain changes every day because of our thoughts. If you continue to think negative thoughts, you will have a negative outcome. But when you begin to think good and positive thoughts God has your back.

Satan’s job is to create negative thoughts. You begin to allow these thoughts to take up residency in your mind. It is time for you to frustrate Satan. You do not have to worry about his trickery because no weapons formed against you shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17).

Negative thoughts create doubts and worries which produce unpleasant feelings that make you feel stressed and anxious. Being stressed and anxious affects the way you do things.

Do not let your past affect your future. Once you know better you are to do better. You have the power to change your thoughts.

It is time to change your mindset and renew your thoughts and ways of thinking. If you can change your mind and thoughts toward the things of God, you can change your world. Changing your mindset can change your circumstances because your mind is powerful. It has the power to bring life or to bring destruction, because everything starts with a thought. How you think determines how you live.

Pray: Father in the name Lord Jesus please forgive us for our negative thought process. Please change our mindset to think good and positive things that please you. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” We trust you God and we ask you to direct our path. In Jesus’ name Amen!

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