All posts by Ric Overton

Our Presidential Race and Who You Should Vote For

I have been very surprised by the results of the Presidential candidates and what it has brought out in our society.

I have always expected to see a division in political races.  There are similar opinions about the things that need to be done and disagreements as to how it should be accomplished.  I know that when you have more than two or three people looking at a problem you are always going to have a difference of opinion, even if the objective is the same the journey will be different.

I live in Los Angeles.  On the occasions that I have driven across country to my home in North Carolina I have chosen different routes for different reasons but all with the same destination in mind.  It’s the same in politics………..until now.

During this election process I have heard from both sides saying things and doing things that are beyond anything I could have ever possibly imagined.  Some days I am actually in shock.

I have heard from both sides “I can’t believe a Christian would vote for……….” “You can’t be a Christian if you vote for……..” Comments have been made from both sides that are so far from the truth and I am seeing fights and words being passed back and forth that is simply out of line for believers.  People have had disagreements that are so vile that they have unfriended each other, families have been split and lines drawn in the sand.

The President of the United States is possibly the most powerful position in the world.  It is a position that should be respected.  Today things have changed. Our society has changed, the typical profile of a voter have changed.  It’s a different world all together now.

So the question you have is who to vote for.  The answer is quite simple.  Without the help of the press and media (who are biased to the desires and needs of their advertisers) you should examine each candidate  in line with God’s word.

Ask yourself some questions.  Is their behavior something you  are proud of?  Are they saying the things you agree with?  If this person was not running for president, would you be proud to call this person a friend?  Are they qualified to run the office?

This is where things change in the heart of the believer.

At the end of the election process there will be a winner.  This is truly when you will be able to examine yourself and see what you are made of.  If you find yourself having a hard time supporting our new president with your prayers, you may need to take a look at yourself and see if you are part of the problem or part of the solution.

Every day I pray for our president.  President Obama.  I prayed George Bush Jr. before him, Bill Clinton, George Bush Sr., Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon.  All the way back to my beginning, I have had zero problem praying for and supporting our presidents.  Not because I always agreed with them but because I respect their position and their success either directly or indirectly affect me.

One of the most important parts of the equation here is that spiritual judgement is God’s problem.  Not mine.  I pray for many people that I don’t agree with.

The Pastor of Our church ( New Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ) recently gave us a prayer book.  She asked us to write in the names of people that we wanted to pray for.  This helps us remember people that need our prayers and support.  At the top of the list is The President Of The United States Of America.

Do you?   This is a time when you should be capable of actually demonstrating the Love of God. Can you pray and support your candidate?  Most likely the answer is yes.  Can you pray and support the opponent?  If not, examine your heart.  They will need both your prayers and support.

Lastly, don’t let that root of bitterness spring up inside if you lose and don’t let that haughty spirit get control of you if your candidate wins.

Now is the time for every believer to be careful with their spirits and be sure to keep it in line with God’s word.

In Love

Ric

Are You Kidding?

Is it really that simple?  I mean, to love someone else is actually very simple isn’t it? or is it?

Love is really a word that is misused in our coversations everyday.  We say to people that we love them but do we really?  Do we actually judge them or “size them up” unjustly?

One thing that I am beginning to realize is this.  When you judge someone it really becomes all about the other person.  A simple way to take the “heat” off of yourself for short comings or perhaps MUCH larger situations going on.

I noted this week a very popular eacher/preacher/evangelist/pastor on religious broadcasting as he was speaking.  He explained that when we are saved Jesus actually saves our souls – NOT our bodies.  Some people are still dealing with sins.

Quick Interuption

I have been somewhat absentee for the past few weeks with many things going on in my own life.  Of course, we all face the troubles and trials of everyday life.

On January 8th I lost my Pastor.  Not only has this been a man that I have looked up to for many years, I have been a fan of both him and his sister since the very first time I heard them sing in the 70’s.

Here’s my story:  When I first moved to Burbank, CA in January of 2013 I began looking for a home church.  I wasn’t trying to limit myself to only the denomination that I have been a part of most of my life, but, I visited several churches in the area. I never felt like I had found my home.

I got a call from a friend of mine in Nashville, TN., Rick Goodman who is the son of Howard and Vestal Goodman.  We have been friends for several years and although it is a cherished friendship its also a treat to hear stories of my other idols and his life with them.

During our discussion, I explained to Rick that I was having some difficulties finding a church.  He made the suggestion that I give Pastor Andrae Crouch’s church a try.  After Googling Pastor Andrae I found New Christ Memorial Church in Pacoima, CA.

I attended the next morning.  When I drove up I learned that this church was a Church Of God In Christ.  I knew that doctrinally I was safe and had no fears where that was concerned.

New Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ
New Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ

I thoroughly enjoyed my very first service.  Several people invited me to come to Wednesday night services and on my very first service those same people remembered my name.  Obviously, I have been there ever since.

I enjoyed almost two years having Pastor Andrae as my Pastor.  He and his twin sister Pastor Sandra Crouch have been great Pastors. Showing the love of Christ, expressing and demonstrating God’s love all the while maintaining a certain level of expectation from the membership of the church.

There are so many things that could be said about Pastor Andrae. There have been many comments and remembrances of him.  Several mentions of his “star status”, many comments of his accomplishments, lots of adieu about his songwriting and numerous appearances on t.v., guest albums, etc.

Understandably, many people have mourned his passing.  They knew him and his celebrity status.  They knew of his powerful music and his very obvious effect on Gospel music as well as his contributions in reshaping the church and (if I may be so bold) he was also instrumental in bridging a gap into the white churches with some of the most powerful songs and hymns ever written.

I simply miss him as my Pastor.  I miss his encouragement and smile.

I miss his smile and encouragement
I miss his smile and encouragement

Here’s the good news.  Pastor Andrae also served with Pastor Sandra (his twin sister) as Senior Pastor.  Pastor Sandra has stepped into her position alone for the first time and I have been very impressed with her abilities and stalwart attitude towards our church.

Senior PastorSandra Crouch
Senior PastorSandra Crouch

I think that I am so blessed. Not only have I had the opportunity to know one of my heroes, one of my other heroes is still in position.

On a side note: Senior Pastor Sandra Crouch is also a prolific songwriter who has won Grammy Awards of her own.  She was the author of one of my favorite songs which follows.

Ric Overton from Burbank, CA

 

1st Corinthians 12: 1-24

Paul opens the 12th chapter of 1st Corinthians being careful to let us know that he wants us to understand the gifts of the Spirit.  His first warning is that you can’t mistake the gifts of the Spirit and that when you see these gifts in action they are to be used to the glory of God and honor to the Lord Jesus.

While there are many gifts they are all coming from the same Spirit. That is the Spirit of God.  These gifts differ from each other in use but all bring glory to God when they are being exercised by His direction.

He  explains in verse 5 that there are even differences in the way they (the gifts) are demonstrated and the administration of these gifts BUT, they are all coming from the same place.

While Paul actually lists 11 or so different gifts that are (or at least should be) exercised  in the church.  They are all very different in meaning and use but all drawn from the same Spirit, that is the Spirit of the Holy Spirit.

While we are looking at these different gifts they are all part of one body.  The body operates with different parts.  The eyes do their part, the ears do their part, the hands do their part, etc.  Even so the gifts of the Spirit work exactly the same way.

But, while these different parts of the body all have separate functions and do different things they are all active for one body.  In that exact same train of thought the body of Christ works the same way.  Each man with different gifts work together for the glory of God inside the same body.

1st Corinthians 12 Introduction

I need to start out the next three chapters of Corinthians by saying that I was born and raised in a Pentecostal church.  I don’t apologize for that but simply explaining the thought process behind what you are going to be reading.

My Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather were part of the building of the Pentecostal Holiness Church in North Carolina.  My Grandparents and my parents were part of the Pentecostal Holiness Church and I attend a Church of God in Christ.

Please don’t misunderstand the reason I am telling you this.  Many people disagree with our interpretation of the next three chapters of Corinthians.  We believe in the gifts of the Spirit and that they are for our church today.  We believe and practice Speaking in Tongues.

What we do NOT believe is that you have to agree with our denomination in order to be saved.  Salvation has nothing to do with the gifts of the Spirit.  These gifts are just that.

The only reason I have for explaining all of this to you is that I do not want to offend anyone in any way.  Some of the things I may say could be interpreted differently that my intentions.  I have no disrespect for any denomination and do not want anyone to misquote me by insinuating that I have judged any one in any way.

You will see more of the reason why when we get into chapter 13.

 

1st Corinthians 11

Paul gives us an interesting insight into the “law” of the church that is under grace.

Verses 1-15 describe Paul’s reminders of how we are to conduct ourselves when we go to church and how men and women ought to pray.  Women should have their heads covered and men should have their heads uncovered, men should have short hair, women should have long hair, etc.

There are some denominations and some religious organizations that will go to extra lengths to require or even in some cases DEMAND that men and women follow these rules to a tee.  Whole churches have been formed with these laws at the forefront.  HOWEVER, verse 16 brings the entire instructions into a different light.

Verse 16 says:  But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.  Meaning that if you disagree with these “rules” then you are not bound by them.

This also bears a reason that I explain to many people.  Find out what the Bible actually says.  Find out what it means and immerse yourself in the Word.  Don’t allow someone to force you into believing something without finding out for yourself exactly what God says about it.  Find out what God’s heart is and get to know who Jesus is by finding out what His Word has to say in it’s entirety, not just what fits your situation or upholds your belief system.

Verse 17 – 34 Paul gives specific instructions on taking communion.  Jesus left us a “tradition” or a “ritual” of taking communion.  In so taking communion we are doing this as a remembrance of the crucifixion.  We are compelled to examine ourselves and we are required to ask forgiveness and prepare our hearts before God BEFORE we partake of this communion.

I can’t wait for the next three chapters.  Chapter 12 and Chapter 14 in regards to spiritual gifts.  Of course, being Pentecostal, these are two of my favorite chapters describing the use of Spiritual Gifts in the church.  HOWEVER, (as we would say it in the south) RIGHT SMACK IN THE MIDDLE OF THESE TWO CHAPTERS IS THE CHAPTER THAT IS DEDICATED TO EXACTLY WHAT THIS WHOLE BLOG IS ABOUT.  LOVE.

1st Corinthians 10

As we rush towards the real subject that I want to spend some time with which is the 13th Chapter of 1st Corinthians we have found some real nuggets of truth that if properly applied to our lives will help us gain perfection in Christ.

So far we have learned about the things that we should avoid in order to keep ourselves clean before God.  One point I would like to make here.  When we speak of how sin is anything that brings separation between you and God.  That separation can (and I suspect often is) be the fact that you condemn yourself when you commit some type of sin (big or small in your mind)  and that causes you to feel unworthy until you are able to personally feel that you have been forgiven.

As Paul opens the 10th Chapter of 1st Corinthians he tries to explain through verse 4 how the Jewish forefathers were all led and followed the same laws  and were under the same dispensation.  THE LAW.

Verses 5 & 6 Paul was very careful to point out that God was not pleased with “all” of the people and how they were led away from God by their own desires.

Verses 7 through 10  explains some of the things that can bring personal condemnation and therefor creates that separation between us and God.

  • Idolatry seemed to be the one thing that the children of Israel were constantly falling for.
  • Fornication has always been a major temptation.  Sexual sins seem to be the one thing that people are always drawn away by.
  • Tempting Christ is a hard one to explain.  It is when we continue to purposely fall into traps knowing exactly where we are and what we are doing yet, we still go against His will.
  • Murmuring against the Church and our fellow Christians.  Paul speaks of murmuring often.  This is a quick way to damage your testimony.

Verse 11 points out that we should have learned from all that these guys went through and how their faith was damaged.

Verses 12 through 13 is a warning and a way out to us.  First off Paul tells us to be careful about how we stand lest we fall.  In other words we should watch our walk.  However, God has promised us that he would not allow us to be tempted without giving us an escape route.

Paul points out in 14 through 21 that we can not follow the things of the world and the things of Christ and be successful.  We are encouraged to follow one path or the other.  Long periods of trying to be two different people in church and in the world can and usually does lead a person down a very dark path.

What I find very interesting is that Paul allowed the rest of this chapter to be directed to NOT offending others.

In the early church it was understood that we are now under a new dispensation.  Not being under the law but under grace was one of the reasons Christ came to earth in the place.  But there is also a problem with NOT being under the law.

Imagine a world of no laws.  In some ways it would be a much better world to live in and in other ways it would be a lot more dangerous. Because people are simply going to be people, some will take advantage of others as if it is second nature while others will naturally care when you are in trouble.

Paul explains this by showing us this:  When we have this kind of freedom we are not to do things in front of people who do not approve or would be offended by our actions.

Here’s a great example:  I am not a drinker at all.  I couldn’t fill up a wine bottle with the amount of wine I have had to drink in the past 5 years.  However, I am not offended when a fellow Christian has a glass of wine while I am with them.  This would immediately be offensive to many people.  In this situation, if you are the drinker, it is better to leave that aside so you don’t offend someone else or damage your witness.

Do NOT offend people just because you can.  More on all of this in a couple of chapters.

1st Corinthians 9

Evidently at some point Paul was taking criticism from an outside source that was attacking him.  While we can’t be totally sure what is actually happening, I feel we can be reasonably sure that Paul was being treated badly by someone.  Most likely it came as an inside job. In other words, someone was not happy with the way Paul was conducting himself OR because his ministry was doing well and this was a voice of jealousy.

Paul opened this chapter being somewhat obsessed and pre-occupied by the criticism that he was getting from someone in the area. His questions were directed by the fact that he was not married yet blameless  as far as his actions were concerned.

In verse 5 it is pretty apparent that some of Paul’s opposition was also perhaps criticism that he possibly took to heart.  Paul took exception to the fact that someone else was traveling with their wife or family member but they apparently did not want Paul traveling the same way.

It seemed there may have been other evangelist that had started to get paid and/or perhaps Paul was pointing out that not only did they pay their own way but they also earned a “fair wage” doing jobs.  However, at the same time Paul was confident enough to tell you to follow him as the example of how you should live your life.

The remainder of this chapter Paul seems to be reminding people that he has some power and  authority  over the church (I personally believe that this could have been the beginning of the first denomination.

He is quick to point out that he is abused for the gospel and that he literally has to beat his body into subjection.

1st Corinthians 8

Paul moves into a new subject that the church of Corinth was facing during that time.  Sacrifices being offered to idols as part of normal worship were also then sold once they had met the requirements of sacrifice.

In the second part of the very first verse Paul offers the information that knowledge can make you “puffed up” or proud but charity or love builds you up.

In verse two Paul is making a statement that I find interesting. Depending on how you personally interpret this verse, one way of looking at it is this:  Paul seems to be saying that if a person “thinks” he knows something or possibly this line could be seen as “if a person has formed an opinion about something” he has formed this opinion or feels as if he knows something because of his life experiences.

We know that the sum total of where we are personally today is based around our personal experiences.  We think and feel the way we do because of experiences we have had in our lifetime.

However, Paul follows that up in the 3rd verse by saying the if you love God, people will identify that in your actions and deeds.

So Paul goes back to addressing idols by saying since we know that there is only one God the offerings or sacrifices to another God is nothing.  Means nothing at all………a waste of time.  Therefore the meat offerings are nothing more than cooked meat.

Now he goes into the next verses saying that while we all realize there is only one God, there are others who have come out of those religions or possibly have some doubt that there is only one God so the offerings or sacrifices are more important to those people.

While Paul has preached that we have liberty and are free from the bondage of the law, not everyone feels or walks in that freedom and eating food that has been offered as sacrifices to false Gods is  blasphemous or just plain wrong.  When that person sees you eating the things that are offered as sacrifices or offerings, you become a stumbling block.

So while you may not see yourself as doing something wrong, someone else may feel that what you are doing is wrong and if that is the case then perhaps you should not do that thing that would be offensive to someone else.

By way of an example, many people do not like believe in the drinking of wine.  I personally do not have a problem with it.  In other words if you and I were having dinner together I would not be bothered by the fact that you are having a glass of wine.  While I do not personally drink and would much rather have a cup of coffee, I am not offended by someone who would have a glass of wine.

However, if you are going to dinner with someone who could possibly be offended by your glass of wine, my suggestion would be not to have it.  This was Paul’s point here.  In love, consider the other person before you start to do something that you feel the other person or group of people may have an issue with.

Verses 12 and 13 brings it home when he simply says that when you do something that you know would offend someone else, you are sinning against them.  Just don’t do it.

 

1st Corinthians 7

Paul took the 7th chapter of 1st Corinthians to discuss marriage and relationships between a husband and his wife.  In these 40 verses Paul was very specific about marriage and the proper roles that the husband and wife should play to each other.

I am not going to go into any great detail about this specific chapter for several reasons.  I am going to try and help set the stage to explain the possible logic and reasoning for this chapter.

Please remember as you read and study this chapter that at the time of Paul’s writings the city of Corinth as most likely at the height of their sexual awakening and explorations.  Corinth boasted of their temple to Aphrodite and several statues were eventually erected to prostitutes and sexually virile men and women.

The entire society was wealthy and sexually charged so it was very commonplace to see and hear of sexual games and activities throughout the region.

With this thought in mind it was important to the early church to begin to set some type of standards and limits of what Christians should be participating in.  While Paul seemed to many to be very judgmental  and condemning, it is my opinion that what Paul was attempting to do was to lead the early Church into a relationship with God.

Since this was the very beginnings of the early Church, most of the Christians and citizens of Corinth were perhaps unaware of what was the correct relationship standards between a man and a woman and between married couples.

Paul removed most of the doubt and confusion among the citizens of Corinth and among the congregation at the early Church.