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Assumptions and Arrogance

by Pastor Ed Vasicek

Four people—a pilot, a professor, a pastor, and a hiker—were flying in a small plane when
the engines died. The pilot said, “There are only three parachutes. Since this is my plane, I’m taking one of them.” He put it on and jumped out. The professor said, “I’m brilliant and the world needs me, so I’m taking a parachute,” and he jumped out.
Then the pastor told the hiker, “I don’t want to be selfish, so you take the last parachute.” The hiker replied, “There are still two left, so we can each have one. The professor jumped out with my backpack instead of the parachute!” Though the professor thought he would land safely, his assurance was based on faulty thinking.
Some people have an assurance of salvation based on faulty thinking. They believe that church attendance, baptism, volunteering for a good cause, or just being good will gain them approval from God. 

Meditate on: 
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 16If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that.

17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death. 18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.  19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

2020 'INTENTIONAL'
"May Your Confidence 'REST' in the Jesus"

Complain or Rejoice, You Choose!!!

When I was in the first grade, we learned to draw and stay in the lines. My parents gave me a box of ten crayons. My ten crayons were big and fat and hard to keep in the lines. My friend Ricky that sat right in front of me had a big box of 64 Crayola Crayons. He had 8 times the selection I had for colors. His crayons were skinny and if they dulled he could sharpen them. As we drew there was a weekly prize for the best, he always beat me! Being a competitor and week in and week out, I LOST! One day, I asked him to borrow his flesh color for people, he said; "NO"!  I knew there was a sharpener right in his box. I learned to rotate mine as I drew to keep the point sharp. I thought, "This is not fair, he can beat me, I don’t have a chance". One day, I decided I was going to get good enough that I would win. I started learning how to get different shades out of one color. I practice hard to keep my coloring in the lines. WOW....I got better and better. I learned how to softly mix two colors and make a different color. I started winning some of the weekly contests, not all but at least some of them. Ricky could still beat me on some, but I made a choice: not to complain and focus on the ten fat Crayons I had or the 64 skinny crayons he had. Take note, I learned at an early age that life is not fair or things may not line up the way I want them to. My parents taught me to do the best with what you have and God will help you. Now Ricky, from a young age was driven, competitive and doubled whatever was given to him. It wasn't that he was rich, he achieved more by making do with what he had. The point here, you have enough crayons to add colorful meaning to your life. To splash on the pages of your life with joy. To bring brightness of God's Word to discouraging moments. Do the best with what you have, learn to reduce the noise of negative thinking and God will help you with more crayons as you progress along. Matthew 25:14-18 (NASB) says; “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.  To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.  Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.  In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more.  But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money". 2020 'INTENTIONAL' "Think Different, Before Complaining"

Equipped!

"The Lord has opened His armory And has brought forth the weapons of His indignation, For it is a work of the Lord God of hosts In the land of the Chaldeans". Jeremiah 50:25 (NASB) As a youth I loved comic books that told stories about super heroes that used super powers to fight off evil. However in this earthly realm, we fight spiritual stuff daily and the enemy is a relentless foe. He and his friends never let up. Praise the Lord, because He has equipped us with an arsenal that is full of weaponry. Weapons for our use. To name a few praise, worship, the Sword (Word of God), and prayer are weapons of warfare. Take joy in that our Heavenly Father has equipped us, empowered and commissioned us. Yet, many that have not discovered the weapons the Lord has equipped are not approaching this spiritual warfare in full confidence. There is a reason why it is called warfare. It’s ongoing! The enemy's focus is to kill, steal and destroy the life God has purposed for us. Let's keep going here. I read once; "The key in warfare is seeking the Holy Spirit to learn which weapon to appropriate". Questions: So how are you going to approach this week? Are you weapons up? Have you sought the Lord to guide you in how and when to use your weapons? Encouragement: remember 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 that states; "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled". Seal in your hearts: Ephesians 6: 10-17 "10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God". Well beloved, may we all experience a wonderful week and approach the days ahead of us with confidence in using our weapons. Glory! 2020 'INTENTIONAL' You're More Than a Conqueror"

I Can Still See You!

“Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy”. Psalms 33:18 (NKJV) One night a house caught fire and a young boy was forced to flee to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, "Jump! I'll catch you." He knew the boy had to jump to save his life. All the boy could see, however, was flame, smoke, and blackness. As can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the roof. His father kept yelling: "Jump! I will catch you." But the boy protested, "Daddy, I can't see you." The father replied, "But I can see you and that's all that matters." Beloved, it's difficult to see through the maze of unsettling conversations, social media posts, conflicts, and the effects of this current pandemic.  For businesses, entrepreneurs, teachers, law enforcement, medical professional, and certainly church leaders, but there is one thing we 'MUST' remember and hold onto, God can ‘SEE’ and that's all that matters! GLORY to His Holy Name! Loved ones, this moment I am aiming to encouraging you to remember God sees beyond the cloud of evilness that this world produces and cherishes. The ways of the wicked are not hidden from the Lord. According to Psalms 10:12-14; the bible states; “Arise, O Lord! Punish the wicked, O God! Do not ignore the helpless! 13 Why do the wicked get away with despising God?  They think, “God will never call us to account. 14 But you see the trouble and grief they cause.  You take note of it and punish them. The helpless put their trust in you. You defend the orphans”. So as life continues to shift and turn around uncertain corners, that surely can be difficult to maintain a positive attitude about the future, hold onto the Word! YES! When you're experiencing doubt or worry, whether it's about a difficult family situation, a health problem, or other obstacle, consider turning to the Bible to find verses about hope, then to prayer and meditation. Glory! I’m loving this, because now I understand a verse that rings loud in my heart and mind that I did not fully understand at the age of 30. Psalm 37:25 states; “I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or his descendants begging bread. Now that I have been through some stuff and witnessed God’s deliverance for other and for me, He has carried me through some horrifying events. He has never forsaken me.  Glory! 2020 ‘INTENTIONAL’ “Trusting God Through it ALL”

Be an Agent of Change

Proverbs 17:22 "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones". Glory to God!  The Word transforms surrendered minds and hearts that are devoted to the Lord. The Word is the power bar for our daily walk. It is the energy drink that provides the nutrients a body needs. The Word has the power to heal those who have been 'ABUSED' physically, mentally or emotionally. Listen, the Word is powerful beyond human intelligence, interventions and natural applications, if applied. For instance, emotional abuse ranges from consistent indifference to continual belittling of character. Proverbs 18:14 states: "A crushed spirit who can bear"? WOW! Our aim, identify and to assist in the healing process. YES! Today and going forward, may we all be encouraged to becoming an Agent of Change. An influencer that produces 'JOY' in someone's life. Not a shallow joy, but the JOY that comes from carrying out this verse; "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls". Matthew 11:28 -29. Those words are weighted and once truly received and applied, the heaviness will lessen as the burden of abuse is released. Please understand that abuse is a heavy subject and can leave lasting scars. I believe with the assistance of a mental health professional, one can discover healing from the years of scaring. Yet in the same voice, I have witnessed the eternal healing that many received by releasing their burdens to Jesus. Praise His Name! So today, be a Change Agent for the suffering and burden individual. Be an influencer of change to assist someone to remove themselves from the emotional abuse wheel into the process of healing.  Amen! Action: I am an Intentional Change Agent that offers the 'JOY' of the Word. Prayer: Heavenly Father create in me a sensitive heart that discerns the world needs of Your JOY and Your everlasting LOVE. 2020 'INTENTIONAL' "The JOY of the Lord is MY Strength"

Leading Under Pressure - Strategies For Keeping Calm During a Crisis

So many times, I’ve heard comments a statement that leaders seem to just sit around and talk all day. Well that is an assumption that could be true. However, the statement is typically framed from a place of negativity. In this narrative, I would like to shed a little light on some of the attributes that is required to be a leader and some of the challenges they face. In order for organizations to be productive and thrive leaders must be able to set the course for the organization. In this case, I am focusing on the church, however these traits apply to leaders regardless of the type of organization developing strategy, visioneering making key, decisions and solving problems. One thing I’ve found that problem solving can create a level of stress depending on the issue. Think about the process that leaders had to consider when the decision was made to put the world on timeout because of an invisible killer. Churches are closed and now pastors and leadership teams have to determine the method in which they physically reunite their congregations. Many of us have opinions regarding what and how things should be down, even though we have limited external incomplete information. Here are some points to think about before publishing your conclusion. The capability of a leader to influence and inspire others are especially critical during times of stress and crisis People remember the leader’s behavior during times of stress. It impacts the ability of the team to perform at their highest level if they act badly or have a breakdown Research shows that 53% of leaders become closed-minded and controlling, 43% become angry and heated. It is prudent that leaders control their emotions and maintain a level head in these situations. Here are a few points to consider from Harvard Business School when you find yourself in a position where you must make the hard and sometimes unpopular decisions Before you jump in headfirst, pause, wait to act, breathe, collect your thoughts, assess the situation with a clear mind and develop a plan. The smallest pause can help you calm down and gather your thoughts before you act or speak. This is the time to pray for guidance and listen to the voice of God Leaders cannot take on the giant issues alone. Build a strong support team. Great leaders have people around them who understand how to maintain a grounded, calm presence. It is crucial to understand the reality of the situation. No matter how difficult the decision, acknowledge your limitations during a crisis. It is important to act with integrity during these times. When the situation seems overwhelming, the best approach is to break it down step-by-step. This will help you get a clearer picture of the issue so you can prioritize the next steps and develop an action plan with your team. Be sure to delegate effectively. The attitude of leader and his/her ability to maintain a positive attitude with messages of hope is paramount. Constantly communicate with your team and encourage the doubters who may distract other from the mission at hand. Keep your focus on the goal, realizing that your strategy may have to change based on multiple moving targets if your goal is to keep your people alive and safe Dr. Jeannie Johnson

When I Think of the Book of Ephesians, I Think of...

(Unknown Author) I read this morning, "When I think of the book of Ephesians, I think of the story of the woman who woke up one morning and as she saw her husband getting ready to leave for work she said, with a big smile on her face, “Honey, I’ll bet you don’t know what day this is. ” Her husband had a hard time remembering birthdays and anniversaries, but since he was about to leave for work he excused himself from the embarrassing situation by walking out of the door while saying, “Honey, how could I ever forget. This is the best day of our lives.” All during the day, he kept trying to remember what month and what day his wife’s birthday was, and when their anniversary was, but he could not remember. The day wore on and it was getting close to time to get off from work and he knew he was going to have to go home and face his wife not knowing what made this day so special. He finally thought of a plan to save his hide. He rushed into the house and said, “Honey, get your best dress on. We are going to paint the town red to celebrate this outstanding day in our lives!” While she was getting ready he rushed down to the florist and bought her a lovely bouquet of flowers. He took her to the most expensive restaurant in town. He had spent $150.00 to celebrate this day and he didn’t even know what he was celebrating. It was on the way home that he finally discovered what day it was. His wife snuggled real close to him, placed her arm around his shoulder, planted a soft kiss on his cheek, and said, “Honey, this is the best groundhog day that we have ever enjoyed together". HA!  Poor husband. For two months, we have been examining the 1st chapter of Ephesians unpacking the truth In HIM, I am _____. YES! So when I think about this 1st chapter of Ephesians may I not forget that 'In HIM, I a SAINT' (Eph. 1:2)! When I am feeling down, confused, challenged, brokenhearted, and a bit lost, I know 'In HIM, I am Blessed' (Eph. 1:3)!  Glory!  The days that I feel unattached, separated, abandoned, I speak the words, In HIM, I am Chosen (Eph. 1:4)! Praise His holy Name! When I think about the book of Ephesians what whales up in my soul when I think back on its truth, In HIM, I am Accepted (Eph. 1:6)!  I do not have to go through any special process and/or carry out a required action, Jesus accepts ME!  Praise God for His promises and provision, because before the foundations of the world was established, He God Predestinated (pre-determined) us to Adopt us to be sons and daughters that have a full inheritance (Eph. 1:6). When you THINK, THINK in the and through the WORD! 2020 'INTENTIONAL' "YOU were BUILT for This"

#LASTONE Any is Too Many

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice".   Proverbs 31:8-9 (NLT) Beloved, Willow Street Church of God and our friends are deeply troubled by the searing images being shown from Minneapolis. As Pastor, I am speaking out against the senseless killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Michael Brown. Such tragedies require our voices, votes, and accountability. I am reminded of Martin Luther King Jr's quote; "The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people." Praise God that we will never become silent. I’m extremely troubled and disturbed by these horrific events. Yet, I’m hopeful and believe that the heart of the gospel is the road to both healing and hope during these challenging times. Additionally, I agree with Dr. Renee Harrison from Howard University, in an abundantly clear statement that  "Real strategies can change systemic and institutional realities which we often fail to dig deeper into to solve". Beloved, may we always speak up when we witness injustice, bullying, racism, hatred, and abuse. Jesus is our example in standing up for others and speaking the heart of the gospel. I am grateful to be part of the Long Beach Ministers Alliance movement that is passionate about influencing policy changes and accountability. Likewise, each of us is empowered to influence our communities and leaders to remember others and not operate in selfish mandates. Mahatma Gandhi stated, "Be the change that you wish to see in the world". Make the change and never be silent. Sincerely, Lloyd Harrison, Jr

Promises

"God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good"? Number 23:19 We make a lot of promises to others and many promises are made to us. Sadly, too many promises are broken on both ends of the equation. God, however, never breaks a promise. I love nature and especially trees, green grass, beautiful blue skies, birds chirping, lakes etc. I’m looking forward to one day walking among the towering giant redwood trees of Yosemite National Park. These gigantic trees, to this day, still offer living beauty and other values that benefit human life.  Their benefits are seen and unseen. Likewise, I once read; "God’s promises upon which the Christian rests are NOT dead stumps, but living trees that are vital with the life of God. When we stand on God’s promises we are not standing on dusty or dead things that may get lost in some archive in heaven. They are living promises and they will never be forgotten". So, may I encourage you don’t let the broken promises of this 'WORLD' keep you from believing the promises of God. The author of 2 Peter 1:4 used brilliant language as he wrote; "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." There is beauty and a ton of benefits in what God promises. Amen! Beloved, God meant exactly what He said. So, whatever you are going through today, or whatever we face for the next six months, lean heavily upon the promises of God—they never fail—or maybe it is better to say that the promises do not fail because GOD NEVER FAILS!!! Let’s pray:  God, I am trusting You!  When I struggle to believe, may I seek to strengthen my faith in Your promises.  Amen! 2020 ‘INTENTIONAL’ “YOU were Built for THIS”

Our Intentional Engagement During a Season of Uncertainty Pt. I

There are so many people writing and giving advice about the Woos and Winds of Change because of the Coronavirus. As we transform our thinking to keep our congregations intentional in attending worship and Bible Study, we will never return to church or business as usual. Our actions and thinking has changed as a result of this invisible enemy, COVID-19. Additionally, wonderful opportunities are opening daily that allow us to reach the masses without risking the well-being and safety of our parishioners. However, there is a way to plunge forward while delivering the Word of God. We can walk out the great commission: The Great Commission – Matthew 28:16-10 (NIV) 16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV) Holly Tate of Vanderbloemen Search Firm has some tips for: · Communicate a message of hope and foster a positive online community · Deliver encouraging messages to help online attendees put faith over fear · Find ways to support your community as well as your parishioners · Find ways to practically enhance your online worship services · Implement an “online foyer” so people can fellowship before services begin · Incorporate games and contests online that are designed to foster community · Implement various communication strategies to bridge the gap between and across generations · Maintain awareness among online attendees by Communicating frequently to maintains connections with Willow Street Church of God. This can be done during services, before or after sermons, social media, websites, newsletters, etc. · Stay in touch with your leadership team. Collaborate your leaders regarding plans, ideas and strategies so that important information is well communicated, and plans thought out and understood · Encourage the appropriate volunteers to engage online and interact with viewers who may be new or unfamiliar with this church. Dedicate individuals to answer questions and pray with online viewers. This practice should continue with online and on-campus services. Explore using Zoom, FaceTime or Skype, etc. to setup breakout rooms to facilitate small group sessions and gathering to ensure new and existing parishioners feel involved · Develop education and training processes and documentation for online systems and programs that will be used in the future to aide in online worship services and other events · Design online platforms that provide opportunities for online the online community to engage and serve with the church through the next steps processes and attending or leading small groups It is critical for Leadership teams to include all the appropriate individuals in planning our path forward. We have to provide the right tools to accurately implement the changes for the future. It is our responsibility to extend grace throughout the transition to reopen the church campus this season to those who are grieving this change. We are the Church of God and We are Strong because God is on our side. -PL

Check Points

Good morning wonderful loved ones. Blessings to you and all who you hold dear. Driving a vehicle is an activity that I enjoy. Along with that comes experiences like driving through flash floods, storms, accidents and good ole check points. Check points are used from time-to-time to ensure drivers are not driving under the influence or driving with expired licenses or various violations. Beloved, the Word has check points listed without the entire Word. Failure to stop and check our walk with the Word of God will be costly. The Word deems us saints, however we must check ourselves and keep growing our faith. Ridding ourselves of anything that is not of God. Amen! One verse that we visit every month is Romans 6:1-4; "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life". Loved ones, our fellowship entitled, 'The Gathering' was outstanding. Powerful testimonies, wounderful encouragements, prayers and requests were made that were not just solid or allowed us to experience a profound fellowship, my friends, the Holy Spirit anointed our gathering. YES! We were blessed to end in a prayer that illuminated Romans 6:1-4. One of our Intercessors cried out a prayer, "How long will you allow me to be nailed to the cross! How long will you allow me to have my hands and feet be re-nailed to the cross"? The prayer was authentic, truly from the Lord and a check point for each of us. Listen, should sin continue so that grace would abound? No, as saints of God, we must put off sinful behaviors, not ignoring the Lord's calls to separate ourselves for His use and/not give into fleshly desires. Praise God! The Word will offend those who refuse to follow the Word. Yet, we who are saved must walk in the newness of life. Glory! 'The Gathering' is truly a check point session. So may we be encouraged to check our walk with the Lord with a sincere heart and choose to walk in the newness of life that Jesus directs. YES! Let's pray: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your presence and Your Word that calls me to walk lock-in step with You. Thank You in Jesus Name, amen. 2020 'INTENTIONAL' "We Are Built for This"

A Word to Remember

"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations." Psalms 100:1-5 (KJV) The joy of the Lord is in our hearts and shimmers in our souls with depths of worship that does not restrain our voices of praise. Beloved as we end this month and enter May to carry out daily routines in the new normal, we are filled with praise! Hallelujah! The word I would like to use here is 'parsimonious'. The word suggests an unwillingness to share with others. The state of being frugal. Parsimonious suggests keeping a tight grip on one's money and possessions. Examples of parsimonious in a sentence: A society that is parsimonious in its personal charity (in terms of both time and money) will require more government welfare. O' come on family and friends, you know where we are going with this. God is to be praised! We are 'NOT' frugal, withholding nor absent in making a joyful noise unto the Lord. Glory to His Holy Name! We are servants of God and our hearts and hands are open. Glory! God is 'GOOD'! We serve Him and are active in His calling with gladness. YES! We journeyed through April and will begin May with open hearts and hands of adoration for His provision and continuous care. We may be challenged, but we have a PRAISE! Hallelujah! Prayer: Heavenly Father, as I journey through another day closer to May I am abundantly grateful to YOU. Heavenly Father, YOU are to praised and may we always show gratitude for Who YOU are. In Jesus name Amen! 2020 'INTENTIONAL' "You Were Built for This" Pastor Lloyd

Sunday Morning Worship
9:30am
Sunday School
8:30am
Wednesday Bible Study
7:00pm
1455 W. Willow Street
Long Beach, CA 90810
Telephone: (562) 424-4182
Email: wscog@sbcglobal.net
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