God loves His children to bask in His presence. The Bible is filled with stories of the faithful being blessed while in the presence of the Lord. He never fails at keeping His promises, whether they are fulfilled in a day, or in 10,000 days. Most importantly, God’s presence and promises are available for all people to benefit from.
Earlier today, I ran into someone clearly outside of the presence of the Lord. While making my rounds, testing fire hydrants and gate valves for water leaks, I came across a young lady (maybe in her late twenties) huddled against a brick wall, swearing and crying to a friend on a cell phone. My heart immediately went out to her, because I overheard some of the conversation, as I worked on my gate valve. She’d been involved in a fight at home, and stormed out of the house, leaving all of her belongings behind. Whatever the situation was, she was tired of the recurring event. She cried desperate tears, wanting to go back home, but afraid to return. She seemed to be at her wits end.
I envisioned myself walking over to her, placing a hand on her shoulder and asking if it would be alright if I prayed for her. But just as I mustered the courage to do so, she started walking away, cell phone still in hand, still cursing the world, still lonely. Watching her walk two blocks then bending the corner, I prayed for her until she was out of sight.
I remembered that feeling of despair and loneliness. Although my circumstances may have been different than hers, I recognized the anguish brought on by bad choices; choices made outside of the presence of the Lord. I may be a different shade and gender than she, but despair doesn’t discriminate. Luckily for us, neither does the Lord.
Watching that young lady’s episode, I was made acutely aware of my own relationship with God today. He’s been with me all day you see: praying for family and friends, first thing this morning; reading one chapter of the Book of Acts; Listening to Tony Evans, at 7AM; humming contemporary Christian tunes while I worked; blasting my Christian rap, at lunch; thinking on God’s plan for my future, late this afternoon; consulting the Bible before writing this evening; and you better believe He’ll be with me when I read chapter 19 of Acts before saying my prayers and turning in for the night. My life is so much better when I’m in the presence of the Lord.
His promises help to keep me close to Him. God never fails in the promise department. From Abraham to David, Daniel to Jesus, God never fails to keep His promises. Jesus told the disciples to expect opposition for following Him, but He also promised the gift of salvation for those who did choose to follow. The same holds true today. Struggles come in droves at times, but God never fails to arrive right on time. Each time He shows up to take care of my family, it gets easier to remain faithful.
Tithing was a huge hurdle for me to vault. In the beginning of my walk, I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of turning over any percentage of my hard earned money to anyone’s church. As far as I was concerned, God had no hand in the money I had worked to earn. Even when I began to believe in the Bible and its Commands, I still struggled with tithing first before everything else. God’s word promises that He will look after the faithful. I’d heard it all before, but failed to truly believe in it.
Once I surrendered my egotistical pride and began to give, the blessings of the Lord began to show up unexpectedly. Now hear me right; I’m not talking about material blessings here. I’m talking about the blessings of a peaceful home, of a happy marriage, of a calm spirit, and an increase in a giving attitude. I’m speaking of intangible blessings. By the time the material blessings did begin to arrive, I barely noticed them for anything more than an added gift from the Lord. His promises are real.
God doesn’t hate anyone, despite what a handful of man-made religions might want you to believe. He hates the sin in man, but not man. Notice I didn’t express a certain type of man; he loves us all, and wants nothing more than for each and every one of us to come into a relationship with Him. In God’s grand scheme, there really shouldn’t have to be a black church, or a white church; Asian followers should be able to join with Dutch believers in worshiping the Lord. Men created the monk monastery, and the convent of Nuns wasn’t God’s plan either. He loves us all, and we should strive to worship Him as one body: the body of Christ.
Pastor Eddie Marcum, of River of Life Assembly of God, understands these core principles of worship and fellowship. On the surface, this unassuming man could blend into a crowd of spectators at a ball game, just as easily as he could blend in at a hip hop concert. On any given day of the week, he sports sneakers, straight-leg jeans, a simple T-shirt, and ball cap. I’ve even seen Pastor Marcum dressed in a Barry Sanders jersey complete with spot-on, matching blue, patent-leather shell-toe Addidas sneakers, circa 1988. He’s a fresh little white guy from a small town and he’s got more soul in his spirit than a lot of people I’m acquainted with. Yet this man worships the Lord with a fire and passion unlike many stuffy-suited pastors currently on the television. To stand next to Pastor Marcum, is to stand in the very presence of the Lord. He’s just one example of the type of person God saved and keeps a close eye on.
Under Pastor Marcum’s leadership, River of Life has adopted God’s core principles as the church’s vision for winning souls over to Christ. God: His presence; His promises; all people. As followers of Christ Jesus, we need to remember these core principles daily. God’s presence keeps us protected from the thwarts of the enemy. God’s promises keep us ever faithful to His commands. God’s love encompasses all people, so we should strive to eliminate judgment of any kind throughout our day-to-day lives. Being in His presence brings the fulfillment of His promises, and that is available for everyone.
The River of Life congregation believes in, and subscribes to these principles. On any given Sunday, the sanctuary is packed with a growing family of believers, made up of all nationalities, all financial backgrounds, and all levels of faith. Church elders make a point to welcome new faces visiting the congregation, and encourage visitors to return. Children’s ministry is in a current state of explosion, as God ministers to the youth. Special needs prayer, powerful message preaching and altar calls are the norm for every Wednesday evening and Sunday service. New believers-classes work to strengthen not only new converts, but those already familiar with the faith as well. With pilot groups such as Drama team, Softball leagues, church picnics, Men’s Ministry and Women’s Ministry, River of Life incorporates the core principles, to strengthen the R.O.L. family, and win new souls to the Christian faith.
The in house worship team, led by assistant Pastor Steve Marcum, leads the congregation into spirited and vibrant worship every week. From contemporary Christian music, to old school hymnals, the River of Life worship team is a body of musicians and singers dedicated to bringing the congregation easily into the presence of the Lord. No genre of Christian music is off limits, as the worship team offers Christian music for all tastes.
Look out into the crowd, from the pulpit view, and you will see God’s living church: an enormous body of believers young and old, rich and poor, black and white, all coming together to give praises to God. No discrimination, no hatred, no shame. The River of Life congregation believes that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was resurrected on the third day, and ascended into heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand. It is the common thread binding a multitude of differences. And underneath that common thread, lie the core principles: His presence; His promises; all people.
If you have church hopped, unable to find a home; if you are new to the faith and simply need guidance; if you’ve yet to take the step tugging at your heart, I invite you to join us every Sunday morning at 10:30AM. Come as you are. Come prepared to be changed for the rest of your life.
River of Life
870 Savage Road
Belleville, Michigan 48111-4916
Pastor: James E. Marcum