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She’s Here!

Charlotte Rose Isaacs made her arrival to the outside world on Sunday afternoon at 4:08 pm.

Charlotte Rose-Birth

 

The last two days have been filled with absolute exhilaration! Pam and I are grandparents! It’s absolutely hard to believe.

Charlotte Rose Isaacs and Pam

She’s adorable, don’t ya think…

Charlotte Rose Isaacs and Katy

We are so proud of Katy! We are flying down the road trying to get to the hospital in New Bern, NC before she was born. We got the call from Josh on Sunday morning right after the first service, around 10 am. Kandace came running into the Reach Center, where we have our worship services and said, “Josh just called, they think Katy is in labor.” Well, that’s all she wrote, as the saying goes…because we were flying around like chickens with their heads cut off. You think you are prepared for these things. I’m 46 for Pete’s sake! But, when it’s your first granddaughter! Wow! Whoopie! You are a little bit “batty-brained.”

Dr. David Black was at church speaking about missions and a project that we are helping with in India.

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We are raising money to help finish this school in India that will likely be named after Becky Lynn Black (Dave’s wife, who went to be with the Lord in November 2013).

buildnerhyeueieoepo

Our goal is $6,000 and we’ll hit that goal by next Sunday. We’re close! I told Dr. Black, but he heard what I heard, as Kandace was giddily sharing the news. He said, “Be careful and go see that grand baby.” I sure do love that man…

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Then I told Pastor Brad and Pastor Dale and off to the house we went to get our suitcases. (I guess we could have packed them in the car/van, but we decided that she probably wouldn’t come until her due date, today, November 25th.) Well, Charlotte (and the Lord, of course) had other ideas. So, down the road we went. I was leading in my car with Kandace at my side. Pam was in the van with Clara and Andrew. (Pam drove too, because she’s going to stay an extra week to help Katy out.) We were moving briskly down the highway. Notice the word briskly? :) We were about 5-8 mph over each speed limit. I’m admitting it…we were just a teensy-weensy breaking the speed limit.

Here’s the deal. We got a text from Josh at 3:50 pm. We had gone through a drive thru at BoJangles in Yadkinville and stopped just one more time (on the five-hour drive) for a bathroom break. But, at 3:50, just said the magic words:

She’s pushing

Oh my! The speed limit was 70 on Interstate 70 and well…let’s just say that I met 80 and Pam wasn’t backing off an inch. We wanted to get to New Bern for that baby and for Katy. We got there 3o minutes later. Just in time, right? Wrong! Katy pushed for just 18 minutes! Just 18 minutes! Are you kidding me? She was a machine. We got there and Pam was allowed to go in and my phone soon buzzed and she sent me this picture…

Charlotte Rose Isaacs

Too late! Oh well. God knows and it just wasn’t meant for Pam to be in that delivery room for her birthday. But, Josh was and Katy said that he was wonderful. (I wouldn’t have expected any less. He’s a Christian and well…he’s also a Marine…which doesn’t hurt either. :)) We’re so blessed to say the least!

I can’t help but show you some more pictures…

Here’s Aunt Kandace with Charlotte…

Kandace and Charlotte

Kandace has been a huge help to Katy. She and Katy are close and have been for a long time. They went through a lot when Katy and Josh married and moved away. Katy and Kandace are friends and true sisters in Christ.

Kandace will be 17 in a month, but in many ways she acts much older than that.

Charlotte and Kandace 2

See that look on Kandace’s face? How would you describe it?

Solemn?

I’d say: enthralled with the joy of her niece.

How about this Aunt…

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Aunt Clara is one proud Aunt! She loves little Charlotte so much! She’s been a big helper! She loves to hold her and talk to her. She looks at her and smiles from ear to ear. She and Charlotte will be big buddies as they grow together. I have a feeling that Clara will have a HUGE impact on Charlotte’s life.

Here’s the proud Daddy. Josh is wonderful!

Charlotte Rose Isaacs and Josh

And here is the proud Papa…

Kevin and Charlotte

I’m overjoyed! Humbled. Thankful. Amazed.

Charlotte

Makes me think of Jesus coming as a baby. We’ll celebrate that fact one month from today. Jesus, God Himself, came in the flesh to live and dwell with His creation and then give His life for us. Jesus. Born as a baby. Just like Charlotte.

Charlotte 2

Hard to fathom. Jesus didn’t come as a teenager or a 30-year-old. He came as a baby. He came to live like we lived. Tempted in every way. Without sin. Yet, He gave His life for all mankind. For Charlotte too.

charlotte 3

So, we’re praying for her salvation, even now.

It’s been a whirlwind couple of days and we are rejoicing. In fact, today has been a double joy-filled day… Because it’s this lovely lady’s birthday…

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That’s Nana and I sure do love her!

Thank you Lord for all you many blessings! Praise His Name!

 

Hurry Up and Wait

Hurry up and wait. That’s what’s happening in our household right now. Bags are packed (as good as they can be), just waiting on the call from Katy that Charlotte is coming (our first grand baby). Nothing is happening yet. Charlotte is due to arrive one week from today, but we know God is in total control of her actual arrival. So what do we do? Hurry up and wait.

That’s okay though. It’s exciting and such a blessing. Some of you are in a “hurry up and wait” mode on hearing back from the doctor to see if you have cancer. That’s excruciatingly gut-wrenching. Some of you are in a “hurry up and wait” mode to see what’s going to happen at work (to see if you still have a job). Some of you are enduring health problems, marital problems, financial problems, children problems and it seems all you can do is “hurry up and wait.”

It’s okay. God has you. If you are His child, you can rest in His timing. Remember Lazarus? It seemed Jesus was four days late. Nope! He was right on time to perform a miracle and give His Father the glory. So, we hurry up and wait. We trust the Lord’s timing, even in our suffering. We know that He will sustain and His grace is sufficient (better word is: “ample”). So, let not your heart be troubled. Trust in your Heavenly Father. He will deliver you. He is your rock and fortress. He is your strong tower. He will provide for you. He loves you so much He died for you.

By the way, you know that God is in a “hurry up and wait” mode. He could send Jesus back right now. But, He’s waiting. He’s waiting because He is long-suffering and patient and extends more time to this season of grace so that people might be saved outside of the backdrop of His wrath (The Tribulation). So, praise His name that He’s willing to hurry up and wait too.

So, while you wait…pray. Pray and read His Word. There is something powerful in those two acts (Word and prayer). But, if you are to the point in your life that you can’t do either one of those, then it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to allow those hot balls of ache and pain to come from your tear ducts and burn your cheeks. Just cry. Cry out to God like David and say, “How long O’ Lord!” He can handle it. He has been there. And after your cry. Sleep. Rest. And when the morning comes…you’ll see that His mercies (which are new every day) will come with the dawn. It’s going to be okay. You’re going to be alright.

See this player…

Leah shooting

That’s my niece Leah Church. I’ve told you about her before. She’s a dead-eye shooter. She plays for the Carolina Cougars Homeschool team out of Winston-Salem. They are crushing teams right now. Leah is 16, but plays like she’s a college sophomore. She’s averaging around 25-points per game.

I went to watch her and her team play last Friday night. They played Forsyth Country Day School and they obliterated them. That’s Leah passing the ball below…

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I thought before the game started (during warm-ups) that FCD had a shot. Wrong. The Cougars walloped them by almost 40 points! Leah had 30.

I love this time of year because I’m a basketball fan. I always have been and I always will. About every other week I dream of playing basketball. Crazy? Maybe. But’s it’s the truth. I love the feel of a basketball in my hands. I love the way it feels when I shoot it and it strips the net. Crazy, I know! But, it’s in my blood and it’s in Leah’s. I see it.

What’s in your blood? Maybe it’s music or singing or playing an instrument? Maybe it’s dancing or cooking or building or hunting? Isn’t it cool how God gives us these wonderful things to fill our lives with joy?

Here’s another joy…

Tables

This was the “Festival of Tables” at church Saturday night. We had close to 200 ladies come and be involved in a wonderful time of fellowship and inspiration. Us fellas got to prepare the food and “wait” on our wives and daughters…

Tables 2

Tables 4

These three guys really did a yeoman’s job.

IMG_1776That’s Kevin Bounds in the red shirt. He prepared the meal. Grilled chicken, asparagus, twice-baked potatoes, salad, roll and cheesecake for dessert (see them preparing those above). Awesome! On the left is Claude Sturgill. They don’t come any better than Claude. You talk about a servant of the Lord and a “worker!” Wow! And in the middle is Steve Walter. He’s another “salt of the earth” servant.

We all had a blast! And let me tell you something. Next year, we are bringing in IV’s. For what? For those ladies. They drank over 400 cups of coffee (decaf). They must be camels. So, next year… IV bags of coffee at each table. :)

How are you enjoying the cold weather? I told you it was going to be a rough winter. It will warm back up some by the weekend and particularly into early next week, but it’ll cool back down to seasonal temps by Thanksgiving and beyond. I still believe we’ll have snow on the ground in Western NC (the foothills and Piedmont) before Christmas. The pattern is hinting at that already.

Speaking of snow… Christmas music is starting to crank up on the radio stations and I heard this one over the weekend. Do you know it?

Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!It doesn’t show signs of stopping
And I’ve bought some corn for popping
The lights are turned way down low
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!When we finally kiss good night
How I’ll hate going out in the storm!
But if you’ll really hold me tight
All the way home I’ll be warmThe fire is slowly dying
And, my dear, we’re still goodbying
But as long as you love me so
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

See this man with Clara and Andrew?
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That’s Woody Buchanan. He’s the General Manager and President of Granite Hardwoods in Granite Falls, NC. I worked for Woody the last 3 1/2 years of my business career. He was the best boss I ever had. Without question he taught me more about life through the way he managed his business than anyone I’ve ever met. He’s one of the most generous and gracious men I’ve ever known.
Woody taught me how to love people and do the right thing even when it hurt. However, he also taught me not to be afraid to let people go when they weren’t a good fit for the operation. I lived in fear of losing people and losing sales, so I often held on to people too long. Why? I was afraid I couldn’t find someone better. (That’s what a lot of women do…they “settle” because they don’t think they’ll “find” someone better.” Truth is…they don’t have to find anybody. God is in control of that.) Well, I learned the hard way on a couple of occasions and Woody kindly gave me enough rope to hang myself. And then he picked me back up and said, “Okay, what did you learn.” Man, do I miss that man! I love Woody Buchanan.
I try to drop by his office from time to time just to thank him for encouraging me and helping me. When he bought The Hardwood Company (of which I was General Manager), he could have drained me  dry (after purchasing the company) and cut me loose. But, he didn’t. He saw in me more than just a worker. He saw I could be more. Little did I know that he was actually training me for the ministry. God knew exactly what He was doing when He orchestrated the sale of the company to Woody.
I look back now and I’m thankful for my 3 1/2 years with Woody. That’s about how long the apostles had with Jesus. Now, don’t get me wrong, Woody is no Jesus…but, he does know Jesus and he taught me how to know Him better too. Thanks so much Woody! I’m eternally grateful!

 

 

There’s a problem in Christendom today and I believe it might just begin with this one question:

What does it mean to you?

It’s all about your experience today. It’s all about your interpretation of things. In fact, even the Bible is all about what you believe it says. Or so it seems that is the approach we take today in Christendom. Your experience trumps my experience and my experience trumps your experience. Your view of Scripture trumps mine and the guy who has the latest and greatest, cool post on Twitter beats mine and Martin Luther’s and John Calvin’s.

Do you know the difference between these two terms?

Exegesis and Eisegesis.

Exegesis is the exposition or explanation of a text-based on a careful, objective analysis. The word exegesis literally means “to lead out of.” That means that the interpreter is led to his conclusions by following the text.

Eisegesis is the interpretation of a passage based on a subjective, non-analytical reading. The word eisegesis means “to lead into,” which means the interpreter injects his own ideas into the text, making it mean whatever he wants. Those who eisegete Scripture are on the “Grace Train” today. The “Grace Train?” That’s the train that everybody who wants to live Christianity “any ole way they like” are on. And the only way to ride that train is to eisegete Scripture the Burger King way (have it your way).

Therefore, in my humble opinion, the word which describes what we see most today in relationship to biblical interpretation? Yep…eisegesis. It’s absolutely the mode and method of what you see on Facebook, Twitter and in many blogs today.

Let me give you an example with this guys blog post…

Being a Christian Doesn’t Always Look Like You Think It Should

Churches need to ditch their religious cookie cutters.

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The article was written by this man:

He is the vice president of Eternity Bible College’s Boise extension. He’s the author of Charis: God’s Scandalous Grace for Us and blogs at Theology in the Raw.

Those titles should give you an idea that this guy might just be the conductor of the “Grace Train.” Let me say this…I’m not seeking to beat this guy up. I know someone could take my blog posts and beat me up. But, this is a perfect example of what I’m speaking of…

Here’s the article. Buckle up:

Christian subcultures are an entertaining phenomenon. Multiple brands of Christianity claim the same Lord and read the same Bible, and yet they promote a set of values sometimes as different as apples and orangutans.

I once heard a story about a Christian woman from the East Coast who confronted a West Coast youth-pastor, who allowed “mixed bathing” at youth events. “I can’t believe any so-called Christian leader would allow boys and girls to swim together!” She expressed her concern, all the while puffing on a cigarette. The youth pastor couldn’t help but smile, speechless at the irony.

I attended a conservative Brethren church when I lived in Scotland. Some of the women wore head coverings and none of them spoke in church. When I had our Irish pastor and his wife over for dinner, I asked them what he would like to drink. “Beer please,” the preacher said. “And for you, madam?” “I’ll take a glass of Chardonnay, thank you.” Were they liberal or conservative? I guess it depends on which subculture you come from.

When you try to cut out Christians with a religious cookie cutter, you not only tarnish diversity, but you trample on grace. It’s one thing for Christian subcultures to cultivate unique values. But it becomes destructive when those values are chiseled on Sinaitic tablets for all to obey.

It’s even worse when Christians expect instant holiness from recent converts—holiness, that is, in areas where we think we’ve nailed it.

When you try to cut out Christians with a religious cookie cutter, you not only tarnish diversity, but you trample on grace.

It’s a shame that some believers have scoffed at some of Shia Labeouf’s recent comments about converting to Christianity, pointing fingers at the fact that he still uses bad language weeks after becoming a Christian. It’s worth noting that some are speculating that Labeouf’s conversion may have actually been more of a rather dramatic example of method acting than a true conversion but, regardless, many Christians chose to focus on his language instead of his heart. God only knows the true believers from the false. But to judge a man’s faith because there’s a residue of potty mouth?

Bad language may take years to weed out. Even more difficult to extract is the pride that drives judgmental Christians to mock the Spirit’s work in a man seeking his Creator. That sin could take decades to discover. Grace means that we are all works in progress, and God shaves off our rough edges in His timing. Just look at the thugs God works with in the Bible.

I know we’re programmed to see the 12 apostles as saints with halos and contemplative faces. But actually, they were criminals. These guys were more like prisoners than pastors, and few of them would have been let inside our churches today.

Take Peter, for instance. Peter walked with Jesus for three years, witnessing miracle after miracle, sermon after sermon. Still, on the night before Jesus’s death, a servant girl asked Peter if he knew Jesus. “I do not know the man!” Peter responded. And he even evoked a curse on himself to prove he wasn’t lying (Matthew 26:74).

Can you imagine if your pastor did that? “Good morning, church. I just want to say that I don’t even know who Jesus is!” We have a hard time forgiving pastors who commit adultery. I don’t think we’d know how to handle a pastor who had a public bout with doubt.

Then there’s James and John, whom Jesus nicknames “sons of thunder.” Apparently, they never made it through an anger management seminar. On one occasion, these two hotheads wanted to nuke an entire village because they wouldn’t let them spend the night (Luke 9:51-56). The whole village—women and children. Luckily, Jesus stepped in to prevent the destruction. These two holy apostles would have been better fit as bouncers outside an expensive casino in Vegas owned by a mobster, than preachers of the gospel of love.

My favorite pair is Simon the “Zealot” and Matthew the tax-collector. How did those two thugs get along?

Matthew’s vocation was nothing less than political and religious treason. Tax-collector’s were Jewish agents of Rome, who mediated pagan oppression through taking money from innocent people. Imagine if you found out that your childhood friend was making a living off funneling money to ISIS. Would you use him to plant a church? Apparently, Jesus did.

You cannot sanitize grace. You can’t stuff it into a blue blazer and make it wear khakis. Grace is messy, offensive, and it sometimes misses church.

Tax-collectors were more than extortionists. They were known for living excessively immoral lives and hanging out with all the wrong people. Religious Jews, in fact, believed that tax-collectors were passed the point repentance. Matthew didn’t have a moral bone in his body. But of course, after becoming a Christian, he immediately stopped sinning and never used bad language ever again.

Yeah right.

Simon, as a “Zealot,” probably grew up on the other side of the tracks. The “Zealots” were named such not because they were prayer warriors. They were just warriors—Jewish jihadists. The “Zealots” were known for killing their Roman oppressors or other Jews who were sell-outs. They were aggressive, violent, and they did anything but love their enemies. Had Simon met Matthew on the streets, there’s a good chance one of them would have been found lying in chalk.

To build His Kingdom, Jesus handpicks what could be compared to the leader of the Black Panther party and the grand wizard of the KKK. I doubt anyone closed their eyes at that first prayer meeting.

You cannot sanitize grace. You can’t stuff it into a blue blazer and make it wear khakis. Grace is messy, offensive, and it sometimes misses church. To expect God to pump prefabricated plastic moral people out of a religious factory is to neuter grace and chain it inside a gated community. If God’s scandalous relationship with the 12 thugs means anything, then we should expect a variegated spectrum of righteousness and be patient—or repentant—when such sanctification doesn’t meet out expectations. God meets us in our mess and pushes holiness out the other side.

Not anti-mixed-bathing holiness. But the real stuff. The holiness that serves the poor, prays without ceasing, redeems the arts, loves enemies, elevates community above corporate success, and preaches the life-giving Gospel of a crucified and risen Lamb in season and out.

Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/being-christian-doesnt-always-look-you-think-it-should#6vi6R66Hh3e3S4W2.99

There are many, many things I could say, but I’m going to let my life weigh in on the matter. Pam’s thoughts are brief, but to the point. Here’s her comments:

This article has some valid points. I am not for legalism for sure. He talks a lot about hypocrisy which is definitely a problem. I say read the Bible from beginning to end and then use it to guide, not some random blog. So many don’t do that.

What we do, even if we are a Christian, can mess up our families for generations to come. I don’t want that on my shoulders. The things we do in moderation our children often do in excess (good or bad). Here are two scriptures that address this particular article. Romans 14:21 and 1 Corinthians 10:23. Here is the latter…”I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive.” 

And I want to introduce you to a Millennial and give you his thoughts. Why? Because this is a 24-year-old and what he has to say is “spot on.”

This is Caleb Triplett.

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He is a Ministry Assistant at church and helps me in various capacities. His thoughts on the article above are excellent.

First off, I just want to say, I kind of get where this guy is coming from, kind of… See, I followed him pretty well for the first, let’s say 25% of this article, then he lost me somewhere around talking about how Shia Labeouf’s “potty mouth” was normal, and the how the “punks” that were the very people Christ handpicked to carry His Gospel and message to the entire world were examples of sloppy Christian living… No biggie right? Wrong….

I agree… growing pains are part of becoming a disciple. Spiritual growth is a process, and not one that happens overnight. All of us who are Christians know that sanctification is a process that ALL OF US ARE STILL WORKING THROUGH. Its one thing to understand that as a reality, and it is another thing to excuse it as permissible and good. There are strengths in this article. I “kind of” followed this guy for part of the article, by “kind of” I mean with skepticism.

The church has long been guilty, especially in the south (Bible belt) of looking down our noses at others, especially in the areas we are “good at”. We’ve been guilty of criticizing others as a way to serve ourselves by patting ourselves on the back. Truthfully, I grew up in the Church, and I experienced those types of painful jabs often before I became a believer. So, yes, we do need to improve in our humility and grace. We do need to be patient with young disciples as they go through growing pains, we do need to bear with the various nuances of each denomination and difference within Christendom with grace, we do need to embrace the world with the love of Christ. But, guys, we are going a little overboard. We can’t allow the pendulum to swing by excusing repeated, and habitual slothful and immature Christian behavior.

There are a couple things I didn’t like. From the get go, I got the impression that I was going to be told how I could be a “better” Christian by not expecting or telling others to be “better”. I got the hint that he was going to use some false humility. False humanity is hidden hypocrisy. It is talking ad nauseam about the importance of humility, and love all the while telling people how wrong they are, and how you’ve got it all together because you are “humble”. The author talked about being humble, graceful, and understanding while at the same time exhibiting very little of it for his fellow believers who have preceded him… after all, he’s young, and has all the knowledge of God at his fingertips…

Why Holiness should be expected and not excused:

While it certainly hurts to be rejected and looked down upon, it also hurts equally (in the long run) to be held unaccountable and to have no one around us that expects growth. That is the worst type of pride and lack of compassion. The kind that notches the belt, and lets you go on your merry way unconcerned about the rest of your life. Eventually we’ve got to come to the realization that while spiritual growth is a process that does not occur overnight, that it is still expected… required… commanded by scripture to all those that wish to follow after Christ. It is not the Church that demands it, or your fellow believers. It is Christ. He expects you to be radically transformed by the cross.

The fact is, it is the duty of the church and your fellow believers to hold you. We don’t use our opinions, we don’t use our own preferences, we use scripture, and we do so in love not in hate, pride, or selfishness. It hurts to be held accountable. Yet, how will we grow if accountability does not occur? We can do two things with accountability. We can be defensive, bitter, and reject it. Or we can embrace it with love and appreciation. We can use it to fuel our desire to honor Christ for His love and sacrifice. That’s the thing. We grow for Christ, not the church. We strive for Holiness to please Him, not others. But, we still grow, we still strive. It’s all in the motivation of it all.

Where and Why he REALLY Lost me:

You know, the thing that irked me most about this article is that it is completely rooted and founded on speculation and assumption. I see no part of scripture that refers to the disciples as “thugs”, especially after they leave behind their nets. The author takes certain passages out of context to give authority and substantiate his claims that the disciples were “thugs” and hoodlums in order to give reason for his thesis that scripture supports and understands fully that the Gospel doesn’t always have to “transform”. Sloppy Christian living is A-OK, so infers the author. The problem is, that is called proof-texting, and it’s not a proper way to interpret scripture.

What about using Matthew as an example. Matthew was a very pagan man before His conversion. Among the most despised of the Jewish community, and highly immoral. To that I agree. Yet, this author claims that basically there was no way that he was immediately transformed and stopped living that way. Well, maybe, maybe not. But, I think we get a pretty good idea of what happened by the fact that Matthew continued to become a very radical and committed follower of Christ. Why is it unreasonable to suspect that Matthew was immediately transformed? Of course its foolish to think he never sinned again, but I do believe it is reasonable to believe that Matthew wouldn’t have supported this idea that the author of this article purports by saying that Matthew is an example of why Christianity can be sloppy and untransformed.

It could be that this author just misspoke, or meant something other than what he said. If he is simply trying to say that we shouldn’t expect all Christians to “look” the same (i.e. fashion, hobbies, social status, color, gender, preferences, denomination, style, traditions, etc), he is exactly right. Christianity is diverse, and it is not “cookie cutter. Trust me, Christ was fully aware and conscious that He was going to be the Lord of the most diverse group of people this earth had ever seen. But, if this author is trying to lay claim that scripture is fully supportive of an habitually sinful, worldly and unrepentant lifestyle, or that Christianity doesn’t really require a “transformation” then He is a little off. Scripture does not support this claim…. Ever… In order to support this thesis, he has to pull out massive speculation and assumption, and even then we are all left having to still convince ourselves to believe a farce.

In short, I agree, spiritual growth is a process, and it doesn’t happen overnight, and we have to be patient with people. Yet, the only way they will grow is if we expect them to. After all, Jesus was awfully hard on the disciples, their lack of faith, and Peter’s crazy ways. He chastised them publicly, and privately. I bet the writer of this article didn’t think of that :) I think he should consider this topic next:

Christianity doesn’t always look like our culture wants it to.

Excellent Caleb!! Simply excellent!

I know it’s been a lengthy post, but I can’t end without giving you the words of Oswald Chambers. I think they will sum up this entire discussion quite well.

What understanding do you have of the salvation of your soul? The work of salvation means that in your real life things are dramatically changed. You no longer look at things in the same way. Your desires are new and the old things have lost their power to attract you. One of the tests for determining if the work of salvation in your life is genuine is— has God changed the things that really matter to you? If you still yearn for the old things, it is absurd to talk about being born from above— you are deceiving yourself. If you are born again, the Spirit of God makes the change very evident in your real life and thought. And when a crisis comes, you are the most amazed person on earth at the wonderful difference there is in you. There is no possibility of imagining that you did it. It is this complete and amazing change that is the very evidence that you are saved.

What difference has my salvation and sanctification made? For instance, can I stand in the light of 1 Corinthians 13 , or do I squirm and evade the issue? True salvation, worked out in me by the Holy Spirit, frees me completely. And as long as I “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7), God sees nothing to rebuke because His life is working itself into every detailed part of my being, not on the conscious level, but even deeper than my consciousness.

Amen and amen! 

I have renewed hope in my heart. Let me explain why. In fact, I’ll show you a map why.

red and blue map

That’s a map of the 114th Congress House of Representatives map and it gives a pretty good picture of the state of our country right now. The Red represents Republicans and the Blue represents Democrats. Can you tell a difference? It’s amazing how red the map is. Now what does this mean? Well, I’ll give you my opinion (since it’s my humble blog :)). I believe people in the country are seeing the direction of the nation was/is off and there needs to be a change. I believe folks have watched wages fall, handouts go up and the overall morality of our nation plummet and they said, “Enough.”

People have watched their paychecks not keep up with the price of gas or groceries and there seems to be almost no one getting ahead. I suppose I’ve been feeling melancholy and blue for some time, pardon the pun :). Now, I must admit to you that I have probably not been nearly hopeful enough regarding the condition of this nation. I guess when you are saturated with the main stream media’s view of the world and the majority of news seems to be “liberal” in its bias, then you can get a bit jaded. Yet, after the elections last week, here’s what I see: Hope.

Did you hear about the 18-year-old young lady from West Virginia going to Congress?

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That’s Saira Blair. The newest and youngest lawmaker in the land. She trounced her  44-year-old Democratic opponent 63 percent to 30 percent to earn a seat in West Virginia’s House of Delegates.


WATCH: First Female Elected as WV Senator Reacts to Historic Victory


She said that she wants to borrow ideas from Texas to bring more jobs to West Virginia. She ran on a very conservative platform. She says: “I am pro-life, pro-Second Amendment and I’m pro-Constitution because those are my uncompromising principles.” She also says: “I’ve watched too many people my age get their high school and college education here in the state and then have to leave because they can’t find a good-paying job.”

Her father was a state senator for several years, and she explained that experience got her interested in the political process. She said that she believes many teenagers are “afraid” to express their conservative beliefs because they don’t want to be criticized on social media.

That’s refreshing folks!

I’ll say it again. I don’t believe a political party will change this country. I’ve said that over and over. We need nothing short of a revival, another spiritual awakening in this nation. Yet, I see glimmers of hope when I look at that map. Could it be that people aren’t ready to throw in the towel just yet? Could it be that there are still folks who are willing to work hard and be brave and do the right thing (even to their detriment) who reside in this country? I believe the answer is: YES. I believe there is hope and because of that, I’m feeling encouraged this week.

I saw some information last week about what Americans believe and I found it interesting.

bigchart-overview

Obviously, the country continues to grow more and more liberal. It’s the cool aid we are drinking in our schools, universities and the media. Yet, we can still have this… IMG_1757

That was our crowd at church last Wed. night.Folks, that’s over 400 people if I’m sitting here! And that’s on a Wed. night! Why? I believe people are still hungry to come and hear the Bible taught and to worship with other believers. I am encouraged greatly and I praise the Lord!

But there is much work to do to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must be continually sharing His love with the world, otherwise we can see no change. In fact, we’ll just see more of the same, like Pope Francis’ latest comments about evolution.

francis-pope

That was the expression on my face when I read what he said:

The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it. Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.

Pope Francis has been drinking the cool aid too. God help him.

On another note, I had more questions than normal this year about ghosts (during Halloween, that question always comes up). People ask me, “Are ghosts real?” The answer is 100% NO! When a person dies, their soul goes to Heaven or Hades. There is no intermediate state. The Bible is very clear about this. So, people ask, “What about all the paranormal activity then?” Well, that’s simple. Ephesians 6:12 tells us…

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

For more great information about this. Click here:

https://answersingenesis.org/angels-and-demons/do-you-believe-in-ghosts/?utm_source=articlesmedia&utm_medium=email&utm_content=featurebutton&utm_campaign=20141031

One last thing. I know there are some of you reading this who are thinking, “He’s a pastor, so he needs to stay out of politics.” There is to be a separation between church and state. Well, I agree with you. The state should stay out of the church (that’s why the Separatists left England), but if we continue to believe that Christians should not be a part of the political process… Well, I will tell you that’s baloney. That’s why we have the condition we have now in the country. Romans 13 teaches me that I must be a part of the civic process and do my duty as a Christian.

If you want to know the truth about that infamous phrase, “Separation of Church and State,” then read here. You’ll be enlightened and more educated when folks tell you to keep your “religion” inside the walls of the church.

https://answersingenesis.org/culture/america/separation-of-christianity-and-state/?utm_source=articlesmedia&utm_medium=email&utm_content=featurebutton&utm_campaign=20141108

Yes, I’m encouraged this Veteran’s Day evening. And I want to thank our many, many veterans, and military personnel, including my son-in-law for protecting and providing the freedoms we all enjoy right now in this land.

Thanks Josh!

josh and Katy and babyAnd yes…I am excited. November 25th (Katy’s due date) is quickly approaching. Charlotte will make her debut soon.

Yep…feeling encouraged! :)

I’m all over the place today. Many thoughts to throw at you today…election day!

$4 billion dollars have been spent on this year’s mid-term elections. Sickening! Are you tired of election TV ads yet? UGH!

Yes, it’s election day (I early-voted last week) and I’m curious to see what happens with the Senate. Could it go Republican? We’ll see? The pollsters say, “Yes.” But, they said Romney would win in 2012 and we see how that turned out. Either way, I don’t expect much to change in this country because of a mid-term election.

The big deal comes in 2016. Why? It’s all about the courts! And it’s the President who seats many of the judges. I read an article in World Magazine (http://www.worldmag.com/2014/10/lifetime_achievements) about “Lifetime Achievements-The Underestimated Executive Power: Judicial Appointments.” It’s sobering.

Here’s the gist from the article:

U.S. presidents serve a maximum of eight years, and their attorneys general come and go—but long after a president leaves office, the judges he nominates make decisions with wide-ranging consequences.

obama_14

President Barack Obama has, without much notice, filled almost a third of the judiciary with his appointees–many of them controversial because he didn’t need Republican votes for Senate confirmation. When Obama took office, a majority of the nation’s 11 circuit courts had Republican-nominated majorities. He has reversed that. Unless Republicans win control of the Senate, Obama will continue to reshape the judiciary through party-line confirmation votes.

That’s what’s scary folks. Judges run the show in this country. You know that don’t you? It’s all about the judges. They can overthrow what millions of people say in their “vote” by the whack of a gavel. It goes without saying that Obama will continue to push for liberal judges who are typically anti-God and anti-Bible. If that offends you, I’m sorry. I’m just calling it the way I see it.

Speaking of Obama. Did you hear that she and Michele called Beyonce “an incredible role model?” The First Lady recently tweeted those very words. Mr. Obama said, “Beyonce could not be a better role model for my girls because she carries herself with such class and poise and has so much talent.”

Beyonce

(Pam, when you see “Beyonce” show up on my Covenant Eyes, internet software security report, you will know why. It blocked all but three pictures. Thank you Covenant Eyes!)

I can only ask: “Seriously, Mr. President! Are you serious!!!” Beyonce is one of the most sexually explicit music artists of ALL time. Are you out of your mind sir? Do you really want your girls to be like Beyonce? Oh my goodness! The lyrics to many of her songs are so explicitly vile that I can’t quote them here. Her music videos are pornographic and vile. One writer said her show are “variations that can be found in brothels, strip clubs and red light districts across the world.”

Is this really the best role model you can find, Mr. and Mrs. Obama? How about a nurse or a teacher or a mother? Oh…wait a minute… President Obama doesn’t want women to be relegated to “lower pay” and staying at home. Oh no…no…no.

During a speech in Rhode Island last Friday he called for more taxpayer-spending on pre-school in order to “make sure that women are full and equal participants in our economy” and said the following:

Sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.

http://m.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obama-moms-who-stay-home-raise-kids-thats-not-choice-we-want-americans-make_817807.html

I guess ladies need to drop of their kids at the sitter and work hard to be like Beyonce. So sad. Another example of the break down of the family in America. What does the government want? They want your children and mine from the womb to the tomb. I believe there are many in our government that believe they (the government) can raise our children better than we can, and the sooner they can get them the better.

I like what James Madison said in editorial 51 of The Federalist Papers: (Remember, he was trained in college at Princeton by Presbyterian minister and Declaration of Independence signer John Witherspoon, now best known as an ancestor of actress Reece.) He wrote: If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

What was Madison saying? My translation: Since we aren’t angels, we need government (God established it after all Romans 13). Yet, since the people in our government aren’t angels either, we need tight controls over government. And that’s what we no longer have. Government is so large today that its out of control. The Constitution’s preamble says the government is to: “provide for the common defense,” and “promote the general welfare.” I think they (the Government) misread that and feels they shouldn’t simply provide WELFARE. Hand-outs abound!

It used to be that the Church in America along with strong families and civic organizations were the primary promoters of the “general welfare.” Well, those days are long gone. The government does it for us now.

Did you vote today?

How did you vote? Did you vote based on the Bible or your wallet? Party? Welfare? As a Christian, it’s my duty to vote (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2) and I did my best to vote for people who will most closely follow what the Bible teaches. Truthfully, we don’t have many good choices. It’s the “lesser of two or three evils” in many cases. But, that’s what we are stuck with after a couple of generations of educating our “now leaders” in liberal  colleges and universities and being raised in homes that was more about the American Dream than the things of God.

Let me give you some encouraging news. (At least I think it is.) I’ve been concerned for the last few years about girls volleyball uniforms. They are so tight and the “shorts” are so revealing…well…as a man…I must admit that I blush. But, here in NC the Princeton girls volleyball team beat the East Surry team last weekend and check out the shorts. They are actually shorts again! Here’s the picture I saw that caught my attention:

princeton volleyball champsI said to myself: “Hey, hey…those are actual shorts. Yes, they are still very short…but at least they are not spandex.”

I clicked on the next picture…

volleyball_1a_finals_01-640x423

Doesn’t that look good? Way to go Princeton! I don’t know who your coach or administrator’s are, but I like the more modest uniforms. Way to go against the grain!

Have I told you lately how much I love this lady?

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I really do love that lady! We’re pushing 24 years of marriage (Dec. 22nd). We were recently up at the Blowing Rock in Blowing Rock, NC. Wow! What a view!

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That puts things in perspective doesn’t it? No matter what happens in this country with our mid-term elections, God is in total control. Praise His Name!!!

Want to see the latest winter forecast…stay tuned…it’s coming up… But, before I share that with you, I wanted to tell you about a couple of cool things going on this week.

First of all, I had the privilege of offering the dedication prayer at the new Samaritan’s Purse hangar at the Wilkes County airport earlier today. I had the opportunity to meet Franklin Graham for the first time.

IMG_1734

He is a very down to earth, kind and gracious man. I also had the opportunity to meet his wife, Jane. She, too, is a wonderful, delightful lady.

Franklin is maliciously maligned because he stands for truth, God’s Word and proclaims the name of Jesus Christ. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the link on Wikipedia about him. It’s all about “Controversy.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_Graham

What he’s done leading Samaritan’s Purse is astounding! The way this organization reaches out to help those in need throughout the world is amazing! The new building they’re in (the old Lowe’s Home Improvement hangar) is phenomenal. You could eat off the floors. This is a shot of the small plane and helicopter they use. There are a total of 5 or 6 hangars that they now own at the Wilkes County Airport.

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They had several of their large “Disaster Relief” trucks parked outside the hangars. Here’s one of them.

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Inside of these trucks is amazing! Take a look at this kitchen:

IMG_1733

Here’s part of the “Command Center.”

IMG_1732

They fed us a wonderful BBQ dinner and it was nice to see a lot of the local dignitaries there. Bottom line: Samaritan’s Purse is a class act and they are doing the work of the Lord the right way. Helping people in need by giving them food (help/relief) in one hand, and the Gospel in the other.

Here’s a picture of Fairview Baptist in Hiddennite, NC.

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I’m starting my third night with them tonight. You’ll see the church is in the shape of an octagon. It’s really neat. Here’s the inside:

IMG_1725

I’m preaching on “A Call to Purity.” The last two nights have been wonderful. The pastor is a whopping 26-years old. This is Durant Barr.

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He’s a jewel! He is pastoring his wife’s grandfather’s church (where he pastored around 40 years). Talk about tough shoes to fill! In fact, I told Durant, “Brother you can’t fill his shoes. Just walk in yours and you’ll be fine.” The people really love him and his wife, Kayla.

Barr

It’s been a wonderful time. I must say that you can’t always judge what’s going on if there is a full altar or not at the end of a service, but there has been a full altar both nights. I believe the church is sincere and desires revival and renewal and it’s been an easy time preaching. We talked about prayer on Sunday night and last night we talked about knowing the will of God. There are some really good people there. Pray for us as we finish up the next two nights.

Well, let’s talk weather.

Here’s what I’m going with for temperatures and snowfall for the coming winter. I’m riding the coattails of Joe Bastardi and http://www.weatherbell.coom. Snowfall first…

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 9.23.36 PM

You’ll see the bull’s eye is the Ohio and Tennessee valleys. North Carolina is in the 133% of normal range. That puts us in line for about 14-15 inches (in Western NC), if this pans out. But, understand something, please. This is an “AVERAGE” forecast. I’m here to tell you that somebody is going to get a ton of snow this year. I’m convinced based on the patterns we are seeing set up that somebody is NC is going to see a snowfall that eclipses a foot. There is zero chance of forecasting something like that. But, I believe there is a 50/50 chance of North Carolina seeing a couple of major snowfalls (4″-6″ or better) and somebody is going to see a lot more than that.

Here’s the temperature forecast. It’s based on Celsius. So, this would be about 8 degrees Fahrenheit below normal.

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 9.23.24 PM

That’s cold folks! Now remember, there will be fluctuations during the winter. It won’t be cold all winter, but it will be colder than normal and here’s one reason why.

This map shows the snow cover right now in northern Canada and Siberia. It’s TWICE as much as normal. Folks, that’s where we get our cold air.

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 9.22.54 PM

So, count on cold shots similar to last year.

One more thing. All the Global Warming folks (they call it Climate Change now) scream about increasing temperatures. Well, take a look at this chart.

IMG_1634You will see the temperature change from around 400 BC to the year 2000. Look at the ups and down. Yes, the temperatures haven risen (globally) in the last 50 years, but look at the temps in 400 A.D. and 950-1000 A.D. We’ve not reached those yet. So, calm down Al Gore. You said all the Arctic ice caps would be gone by 2014. Well, it’s 2014 and we’ve got twice as much snow on the ground right now in the Arctic than normal. :)

I’m going to list some other very reputable weather sites for their forecast for the winter. They are all pretty much in agreement: Colder/Snowier!

Ray’s Weather in Boone: http://raysweather.com/public/FearlessForecast.pdf

NC Piedmont: http://www.ncpiedmontweather.com/2014/10/winter-forecast-final-outlook-2014-2015/

Finally, here’s John Piper’s thoughts on Halloween…

http://www.churchleaders.com/children/childrens-ministry-videos/156066-john_piper_on_halloween.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cl_topvideos&utm_content=CL+TodaysVideo+-+20141024

I’m preaching in revival next week at Fairview Baptist in Hiddenite, NC, (near Taylorsville, NC) from Sunday night to Wed. night. A dear brother, Durant Barr, has invited me to come speak. He’s a young pastor. Only 26 years old and he’s pastoring a church that his wife’s grandfather pastored for 40+ years. It’s a small church. I’m looking forward to it.

I’ve been praying and working like a dog to get ready. I’ve been asking the Lord what He wants me to preach. The truth is…it would be easy to pick out my favorite sermons and let ‘em fly. But, that’s often times NOT what the Lord wants. It’s true, that I do get to preach some of my favorite messages in revival services from time to time, but often, it’s something totally different.

Each church is different. They have different needs and are in different places on their journey. Truly, Mt. Pleasant and Fairview are probably about as polar opposite as you can get. We are fairly large (560 last Sunday) and they are significantly smaller. Pastor Durant tells me to expect about 50-75 during revival. Hey…no problem. I’m good with that. Where two or three are gathered, right?

But, here’s why I’m telling you this. I would like to ask you to pray for me. Pray that I might be an encouragement to this young person and this church. Pray that I will preach with power, but do so in love and with great compassion. Pray that I will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and be willing to preach and say exactly what He wants. Pray that I will be faithful.

Honestly, weeks like next week wear me out. It’s hard to describe what it’s like to work all day and then preach four nights in a row. The mental, physical, emotional and spiritual toll it takes on a person is extreme. But, I love it! When I’m weak, He’s strong. And here’s the deal. I don’t do this much. Why? Simple. Peter said, “Shepherd the flock among you.” That means I need to focus on my people (flock). But, from time to time (when I’m asked), I pray and ask the Lord, “Do you want me to accept that invitation? Can I help? Can I encourage?” And yes…from time to time, He says, “Go.” So, I’m thankful for a church family at MPBC, that will let me go from time to time to try to help others.

So, if you think of it, would you pray for me and the good folks at Fairview and Pastor Durant? It would be much appreciated.

I want to show you something. See this receipt?

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I found it crumpled up in my driveway about 15 feet from the road. Obviously, someone just couldn’t wait till they got home to throw away this little tiny piece of paper. Can you see what they bought?

  • Cigarettes (over $5 a pack…YIKES)
  • Raisin Pies
  • Swiss Rolls

They spent $17.42 and broke a $100 bill to do it.

Now, what does that say to you? Oh…you don’t want to ask me what it says to me. :) I can conjure up all kinds of mental images of what this person might look like who littered on my driveway. Am I going to make a judgment? Am I going to bear to you a  stereotypical viewpoint or potential throw a large blanket on the situation that might not be fair.

Nope I’m not!

Why?

Because I’m not going to tell you what I’m thinking. And I suppose I’ll never know what you are thinking.

But, I will say this (I can’t help myself :)).

God loves this person. They might be a believer, they might not. So, I prayed for them. I told Clara and Andrew as we made our way back from the mailbox that we don’t know who this person was, but God does and so we’ll pray for them. (Clara was totally grossed out that I picked up the receipt from the driveway. She said, “EW! Don’t touch that Daddy! It’s like having Katy back all over again. She was/is the same way.)

I have no idea why people do what they do. Sometimes I wonder why I do what I do. I suppose it’s selfishness. I suppose I do exactly what I want to do. And that’s the crux of Christianity. Surrender. Surrendering myself to the hidden hand of God and allowing Him to mold in me a compassion for a litter-bug and a person who probably lives within a stone’s throw of my house who smokes Marlboro’s and eats Raisin Pies and Swiss Rolls. So, whoever you are…I’m praying for you and I love you in Christ.

You know, come to think of it…that’s exactly what I’m praying for me, MPBC and for a little church in Hiddenite, NC.

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