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The Church Edition

Well…it’s that time of year again for my family. We work hard all year trying to make extra money so the kids can do this…

Kan at FASA

That’s Kandace at the Fine Arts Summer Academy (FASA) in Nashville, TN. She got to sing “in the circle” last year on the Grand Ole Opry Stage…

Kan at FASA 2

Kan at FASA 3

That was a surreal moment for this old Dad! I’m proud of that young lady. Whether she gets to do that again this year or not remains to be seen, but either way… I’m delighted Kandace is my girl. She’s going to be a rising senior this year and I’m stunned once again at how quickly time flies.

She’s a pretty cool photographer too…

sunset-kan

Yep…I’m proud of that young lady, indeed.

So, I’ll be heading out to FASA on Thursday and be back at the end of next week. I’m looking forward to letting my brain rest. I’m tired. Being a pastor/elder is a blessed, but taxing vocation. Even a race horse needs a day or two in the pasture with a bucket of oats.

As I think about church, check this out.

Why-Church-Members-Dont-Invite-Others-to-Church

  1. “I just don’t think about it.” – Many church members have contact with the unchurched every week, if not every day. They go to school with them, work with them, live beside them – and sometimes live with them. What church folks don’t do, though, is see the unchurched as “sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36), as spiritual beings in need of redemption and a church family.
  2. “I’m afraid I’ll be rejected.” – Nobody likes to be turned down, especially after taking the risk to invite somebody to church. It’s just easier to avoid that possibility by not inviting anyone at all (interestingly, church members could tell us times when others said “no,” but few could tell us of times when they were rudely or unkindly rejected).
  3. “The music isn’t that good.” – Some may argue the worship wars are over, but the battles seem to be ongoing. Our teams continue to hear refrains like, “it’s too loud,” “it’s too boring,”  “we sing it over and over again,” and “nobody knows the songs.” Church members who themselves don’t enjoy the music don’t readily invite others to join them.
  4. “The preaching isn’t strong.” – This response was seemingly the most painful one to admit. Church members who love their pastors do not want to hurt them, but they spoke honestly to our consulting teams. When the preaching is poor, invitations to the unchurched decrease.
  5. “We’ve got too many church problems right now.” – Church members don’t always know all the issues facing a congregation, but they frequently recognize when something “just isn’t right.” They see the attendance decreasing, or they hear of internal conflict. Simply stated, they do not invite their friends onto a battleground.
  6. “Our church is already too crowded.” – This issue is particularly an American one, as Americans protect our personal space. We don’t like being cramped, even in church. Moreover, we don’t want to have to search for a parking space before entering that already crowded building. One way to avoid more crowding is to stop inviting anyone.
  7. “Nobody ever challenged me to invite anyone.” – This reason is related to the first one on this list. Some church members never think about inviting others because no one has challenged them to do so. This response is especially tragic if many unchurched would respond affirmatively to an invitation.
  8. “I don’t know how to start the conversation.” – Simply inviting somebody to church would seem easy, but that’s not the case for many church members. In a culture where discussing religion or politics is almost forbidden, even long-term Christians struggle with initiating an invitation to church.
  9. “It’s the Spirit’s job—not mine—to bring people to church.” – To be fair, we have heard this response primarily from congregations seeking to avoid any “man-centered” approach to evangelism. In their zeal to keep their focus on God, they walk cautiously when considering their role in evangelism – including simply inviting others to church.
  10. “It’s too far for people to come.” – We live in a mobile culture that promotes church attendance sometimes quite far from where we live. Our teams have learned, however, that church members who drive a long distance are less willing to invite others to drive that same distance.

Source: http://thomrainer.com/2014/07/15/church-members-dont-invite-others-church/

I must say I believe our folks are inviting people to church. We are the largest church in the county and yet, there are still so many people to reach. The fields are white unto harvest. Let’s go out into the highways and hedges and bring them in…

Hey…do you want to see the largest Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) churches for 2014? Here ya go:

RANK CHURCH NAME CITY STATE WEEKLY WORSHIP ATTENDANCE
1 NewSpring Community Church Anderson SC 27,158
2 Second Baptist Church Houston TX 26,022
3 Saddleback Valley Community Church Lake Forest CA 22,055
4 Woodlands Church The Woodlands TX 18,524
5 Prestonwood Baptist Church Plano TX 15,289
6 Thomas Road Baptist Church Lynchburg VA 13,500
7 Potential Church Fort Lauderdale FL 12,382
8 Elevation Church Matthews NC 11,708
9 Sagebrush Community Church Albuquerque NM 10,105
10 The Village Church Flower Mound TX 10,030
11 Lake Pointe Church Rockwall TX 9,250
12 Pinelake Church Brandon MS 9,091
13 Higher Dimension Church Houston TX 9,000
13 The Fountain of Praise Houston TX 9,000
15 Cross Church Springdale AR 8,562
16 Christ Fellowship Baptist Church Palmetto Bay FL 8,197
17 Shepherd of the Hills Porter Ranch CA 8,002
18 Shadow Mountain Community Church El Cajon CA 7,667
19 Bay Area Fellowship Corpus Christi TX 7,600
20 Voices of Faith Ministries Stone Mountain GA 6,900
21 Long Hollow Baptist Church Hendersonville TN 6,867
22 Sunrise Church Rialto CA 6,830
23 Elizabeth Baptist Church Atlanta GA 6,800
24 Church by the Glades Coral Springs FL 6,712
25 Bellevue Baptist Church Cordova TN 6,671

Source: http://thomrainer.com/2014/07/12/2014-update-largest-churches-southern-baptist-convention/

Those are some large churches and I’m sure they all do different things well. I must say that it’s easy to throw stones at mega-churches like these…but, I try not to do that. People throw a lot of stones at our church for being too big. Well, let me ask you a question? What did the church at Jerusalem say when 3,000 were added in one day at Pentecost to the 120 they had (as listed in Acts 1:15). That was the first mega-church. You can’t control the size of a church, and if you could…just hang out a sign and call it “Country Club Baptist.” God will do and accomplish what He wills. So, I don’t worry about the size of MPBC, it will be what God wants it to be. We’re certainly not going to start turning people away saying, “Sorry…we’re too big…maxed out…” That would be ludicrous.

Finally…Katy wrote a wonderful blog post about the church and the life of the church. Take a look…

The Life of the Church

I was standing in church on the front row like I always am when I come to my home church to visit. The worship music was going and everyone was singing. I realized that my brother Andrew wasn’t anywhere to be seen. I looked around and he was missing. About that time, the ushers began their walk down the aisle before the offertory prayer. Walking down the aisle, between men three times his height, was my brother. Quite the vision of excitement on his face. When the prayer was over, he was handed a gold plate and went straight to the aisle behind him to pass it. A few minutes later he came around the side of our row and plopped down in his usual spot between Josh and me. He grinned, completely overjoyed that he had finished his special job well. I smiled too and swallowed the lump in my throat. 
I watched several young adults (people under the age of 18) sing, play the piano, read Scripture and do what any adult would do in the church. They did it well. I was reminded of something so simple and yet so true. These “children” are the life of the Church. They are the heartbeat. Yes, they are more energetic, but is that a bad thing? 
When Dad got up to preach, none of the children were shooed away to “Children’s Church.” I remember Children’s Church from only a few years ago. I had been there a few times in several different churches. The children’s class teachers insisted that we couldn’t understand what the preacher was saying in Big Church. It was just for the adults… we were better off in the colorful classroom eating snacks and hearing about David and Goliath for the hundredth time that year. I always wondered what was such a secret in the Big Church that us kids couldn’t hear. Why couldn’t I be in there too? I was very thankful that my church didn’t make me go off to the kid’s classes during church service. There were no little disclaimers on the back of the bulletin that said, “If your child might disturb the service, we request that you take them out.” No sir, I got to hear the real sermon from the real preacher and it wasn’t such a big secret after all. I sat and scribbled on scraps of paper if I got bored and learned to sit there quietly the rest of the time. 
Jesus never sent the children away when he spoke. The children sat there and learned from God. So why can’t children sit and learn from the man of God in the pulpit? Is he not little Sally’s preacher as much as he is the elderly lady’s in the back row? 
No wonder so many college students say goodbye to church after they leave home. Who would want to come sit in a boring old service anyway when you haven’t had to do anything but listen to loud music in a youth room and have fun at Caswell every summer? No one in their right mind. They have no reason to stay. The “adults” handle all of the important things in the church anyway. 
Churches, stop taking the “heart” out of you church every Sunday morning. Let the life stay. Let them learn. Let them be involved so when they are adults themselves, they will still want to stay. 
What Andrew experienced on Sunday is more than he could ever experience in Children’s Church. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me.” So let the children come! 

Whose church do you think MPBC is to these young adults?

Working in church

Their parents? Nope. It’s their church. Why? Because they belong and have a stake in the inner workings in the church. Even if it’s (for now) washing dishes on Wednesday nights after the meal. That’s a picture of what Katy was talking about… :)

 

It’s over (for now). What’s over?

This…

Iron Men-Last One

That’s Iron Men. It was a regular part of my life for the last 6 years. Every Wednesday at 12 noon you could expect to find me with about 30 of my good Christian Brothers at Iron Men. It was truly a marvelous blessing and I’m melancholy about seeing it go away for now.

Why are we putting a bookmark in Iron Men? Well, it’s simply a matter of time management. I love it, but I honestly no longer have the time to prepare for it and do it each week. When I started Iron Men six years ago, we had 300 coming to the church and now it’s over 500. Yet, I believe there will come a time that it will be restarted by someone else. I really believe one of younger men will pick it up at some point in the future. But, for now…this is the scene that looked back at me yesterday afternoon that stung me…

Iron Men-Last One 2

So, all good things must come to an end for “such a time as this.” I love those 200+ men who came through our doors over the last six years. I pray that foundations were laid in their lives to lead their families, churches, jobs and communities as honorable, Christ-centered men. I pray that those men of “Iron Men” will now go out and be “disciple-makers.” I pray they will use that 1 hour time slot on Wednesdays to mentor someone. Take someone to lunch that needs to be encouraged or challenged…trained or coached. I pray that we will GO and make more disciples. If that takes place, then I believe Iron Men will have been a huge success.

I want to show you a picture of Andrew helping to take up the offering this past Sunday.

Andrew-Usher

It’s hard to see him. He’s in the center in the white pants and striped shirt. You see, he was asked to help take up the offering and you would have thought it was Christmas! He was so excited! I’m so thankful for a church that will “employ” the services of our young adults and allow them to take part in the inner workings of the church. That can mean being an usher, greeter, washing dishes on Wednesday nights, going on mission trips, etc. Mt. Pleasant is not just the church I go to, but it’s also Andrew’s church. It’s as much his church as my church. That’s exciting!

I’ve titled this blog post “Taking Things for Granted” and it’s because of something Clara wrote on Wednesday that Pam discovered on her computer. Sometimes Clara will park on my computer or her mom’s and just start typing random thoughts and musings of her life. What she wrote about her big sister Katy was very thought-provoking (coming from a 9-year old). You see what you think. (Please look over the typos…we’ve left it “as is” for posterity sake.)

In life I have noticed not to take things for granted. When you think about something next year you think that’s a long way away and then you blink and you’re there. I noticed that a lot when my oldest sister got married. When she and Josh got engaged I realized I had taken all those years with her for granted. I thought they would never come and there they were. Those days when I went up to her room and watched a movie on her computer the days where I would sit on her lap the days when she gave me baths. They were all gone. Sometimes I would be sitting on my bed and I would think about Katy and her getting married and I would cry. There were nights when I would cry myself to sleep. One day I was walking with Katy in the yard and we were talking about her and Josh. She talked about him. Then she looked at me and I was crying. She asked me what was wrong. I told her. “I’ll miss you.” 

She said she would miss me too. But I will never forget what she told me. “If I stay here with you I’ll miss Josh. If I leave with Josh I’ll miss you.”

“Will we still be sisters?”

 “Of course we’ll be sisters.” She told me not to be sad. I wish soooo bad that I would not have taken those wonderful years for granted. I will never get them back. I will never be able to go back. I long for those days again!!

It was this

 Girls

And I blinked and now it’s this

girls2

It happens so fast. I encourage you not to just take those years for granted but to see them as special memories. They are very important and they can change you forever. If you have brothers and sisters you know what I mean there is a different relationship with you and your sibling. It is love. The love is a strange love. But it is strong. It’s a love that loves even when you are hurt. I love my beautiful sister Kandace. I try not take the years with her for granted I don’t want it to be like me and Katy. It is so easy to take those things for granted. Me and Kandace have a different relationship. It is a very strong and special relationship. It is 2 sisters who love each other. I love the moments when Kandace asks me to come up to her room and says, “I want you to hear this song I learned.” I love the moments when Andrew does something weird at the table and me and Kandace look at each other. I love the moments when she curls my hair. I love the moments when we are all at the table and holding hands to pray.

Oh, how I wish I enjoyed the simple things with Katy. I will never get to hold Katy’s hand again at the table when we pray on a regular night. I will never get to go to her room and watch a movie. I have regretted that a thousand times. There are many different relationships in life. I used to think things like that were just life. But they aren’t. They are memories and very very special times. If you have a brother or sister enjoy the time you have with them cause soon it will all be gone. You’ll blink and everything will change. Your brother or sister may fight. They may annoy you sometimes, they may hurt you, they may even pick on you but enjoy the special memories. Don’t take things for granted like I did. You will regret it over and over. I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for any of my siblings, except maybe Andrew, just kidding! Sometimes he gets on my nerves but I love him.

I almost cry typing this, but I know now to enjoy the little things. There is a relationship with everybody. Some good, some bad… But I encourage you if you have a brother or sister. Love them. Just love them because soon it will all be gone and you won’t even realize it. Enjoy it. Still, when we are all together, Dad, mom, Katy, Josh, Kandace, me, and Andrew at the table to pray, I look around and see everyone and their faces and I am thankful! I miss Katy when she leaves to go back to her home but I know we still have a relationship and no one can ever separate us. Now when I see her I enjoy the little things.

I was here

girls3 

and I blinked and now I am here

girls4

If you’re the only child I feel bad for you. You will never experience or understand relationships with siblings. It may be fun not to have to share anything with anybody Or get to make decisions. But I had much rather have a sister or brother than not having to share with anybody or make decisions. Please enjoy the simple little easy things in life. They are special and you will never ever forget them.

I hope you got something out of this little blog. Thank you!

Clara Brown  

Last but not least… A couple of huge things going on in Katy’s life…

First…

Katy-Charlotte

To say that I’m excited would be the greatest understatement of all time!!!

Second…

Here book is almost done…

Want a sneak peek?

Katy's book cover

Isn’t it snazzy!!

Here’s and excerpt that will be on the back cover:

I turned the corner. The aisle stretched before me as the music escalated. My white slippers brushed over the red roses. My heart thumped. I had waited so long for this moment. Had I really made it this far? Hundreds of eyes twinkled their approval. But did they really think I was crazy? I could almost hear the question I had been asked before, “Do you think it will be worth the wait?” Here I was at this pinnacle moment. My first kiss.

Here’s the description on the back cover:

These are the lessons of a young woman’s life. It may seem an unusual narrative as she saved her heart for love and grew up knowing that being “different” was a gift. From her childhood years in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to the stark poverty and tremendous courage and faith of the Ethiopians, this is a riveting and inspiring story of God’s sovereignty and faithfulness. 

You can preorder the book for $9.09. The regular price will be $12.99.

Order here: http://direct.energion.co/authors/authors-d-k/katy-isaacs/the-unbroken-road

Let me say it again…

I’m not taking ANY of this for granted! :)

A Constant Fight

You know it’s going to be a constant fight at the Supreme Court as case after case will continue to come before the high court that will be very, very controversial.

Last week it was ObamaCare versus Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby won! The Supreme Court’s conservative members (4 justices) and one moderate, overruled the four (4) liberal judges.

Supreme Court 2014

I’m in a reflective mood tonight. I’m thinking way back!!

Check this out…

Here’s the price of gas in Boone in 1986.

Gas

Can you believe that? Oh my!

In circa 1989 this picture was taken by me:

ASU Bible Study

Pam is on the far left in the pink and black. Ain’t she purdy? That was the Appalachian State University Bible Study that my roommate Steve Bryan and I started in our apartment. We got large enough to move to Lori Webster (Jennings), Teresa Holland (Duncan) and Teresa Smith (Barnette). Also in that picture is Dale Jennings, Greg Wentz, Kim Brown (Church, my sister), Amber Wellborn (Edmiston), all members of Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church. That’s been almost 25 years ago and four ministers came from that Bible Study (Dale Jennings, Craig Church, Victor Church and me). Pretty good for one little Bible Study.

I preach over and over again to my children Proverbs 13:20:

Wise is the man who walks with the wise, but a friend of fools will suffer harm.

Bad company corrupts good character. 1 Corinthians 15:33.

Those folks at that Bible Study kept me accountable and from that Bible Study God showed me my wife. I am forever indebted.

Parents, your children’s friends will have a HUGE impact on their lives. I’m convinced that there are three things that have the most impact on our children today (in no certain order):

#1 Parents

#2 Friends

#3 Social Media

Parents, please watch carefully who your children’s friends are… It can determine so much of their future. Spend time with your children teaching them about the ways of God. Spend time talking to them and role playing circumstances and situations and “what if’s.” It will pay great dividends.

May I say this…

But, for the grace of God am I here today. I am so thankful for my godly friends. I’m so thankful my pastor as a teenager, Jimmy Hubbard pushed me and Steve Bryan to start that Bible Study.

Steve, Pam, Me

That’s Steve Bryan and Pam. Can I thank God again for that Bible Study at ASU?

Thank you Lord!

 

It’s been asked:

If your church ceased to exist, would your community and the world miss it?

Well, I am convinced Mt. Pleasant would be missed. I don’t say that to be smug or in a form of braggadocio. I really believe that our church would be missed. I think I can make a case for this contention. I believe if you were to ask the good folks in the Progreso, Mexico and Weslaco, TX area last week, they would say that they appreciated us as much as we appreciated them. Check out the tile work in the church in Progreso, Mexico at El Laurel Baptist Church.

tileDoesn’t it look great?

Ask the pastor of the church, Pastor Oscar Martinez…

Oscar and Me

He’s a great guy! He loves the Lord. He told me, “Our church can never say thank you enough to Mount Pleasant. We have no building, no home, no property without you.” We have been going down to Progreso and partnering with our brothers and sisters there since 2009. We are like the Apostle Paul. We continue to go back just like he did on his missionary journeys. He would visit many of the same churches over and over again to encourage the people in Lystra, Derbe, Iconium, Antioch (of Asia Minor), etc. Why? Because he loved the people. That’s why we are not “once and done” with our mission efforts. We establish the connections with the church and help and support them and allow the local pastors/elders to do the work. We support them in their efforts. We love Oscar and Miriam (his wife) so much!

Oscar and Miriam

Here’s part of the wall we worked on last week around the perimeter of the property…

wall

Wall 2

Sand

Let me tell you…we got nasty mixing the cement, water and gravel…just ask Caison Jones…

CaisonI think Caison threw that t-shirt away.

Jason

Take a look at the body of Christ…

El Laurel

That’s Mexicans and Americans…one body in Christ. Yes, I believe if you ask the good folks in Mexico if they love us and if they would miss MPBC if we ceased to exist, I believe they would say, “Yes!”

I believe if you were to ask the children in Weslaco, TX if we love them that they would say, “Yes…”

Weslaco

Kasay

We prayed for the people there to come to Christ. One night the men got our faces and prayed for God to speak to hearts and save lives.

praying

And we saw souls for the harvest. This is Enrique…

enrique1

I have the privilege of talking to him about Jesus. Buddy…let me tell ya…he was ready! He wanted Jesus so badly in his heart.

enrique2

He was so sweet. He told me he didn’t really know how to pray and so I helped him. But, I wanted him to pray to receive Christ on his own and so I told him he would need to “confess with his mouth” the Lord Jesus. He said, “Out loud?” I said, “Yes.” He said okay and he prayed three sentences and said, “Jesus make me saved.” Precious. Look at his face…+

enrique3

We took a selfie together. He was so excited to be a Christian. I’ll never forget Enrique. He was at Pastor Jason’s church on Sunday in Weslaco beaming from ear to ear (said Pastor Jason).

By the way…all of this mission work is not really work…it’s flat out FUN!

turbie twist

We have the best time. It’s the closest to heaven that we’ll get on this earth. We’re living in the same house (just like one day we will in the Father’s house) and we’re eating at the same table (just like we will one day at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb). It’s wonderfully joyous!

YA

Steve and Kandace

Weslaco 2

Katy and Kandace

We fit 24 of us in one van.

Van

One of the highlights of the week was giving Daniel a walker. He can now walk and I mean…literally scoot on that tile floor in the church.

Daniel

The church will literally become his rehab center. (He can’t use the walker much on the dirt roads and the uneven floor of his home.)

And oh the relationships and memories…

Brooks ladies 

What a team!

Mission Team June 2014

Do you see this tall man in the middle? That’s my dad.

dad

Pop is 66 years old today! Happy Birthday Dad! He led a devotion at Flag Football last Saturday. That’s another way MPBC is reaching out. Close to 400 people each Saturday has been coming out. We conclude this Saturday! Pray for us as we share the Gospel. It’s yet another way to reach into the community. And while all of this is going on we’re having VBS this week.

VBS

Whew! I’m tired! But, it’s a great tired!

God is blessing us beyond measure at MPBC and I believe I know why. We are seeking to save that which is lost. That’s why Jesus came. We are seeking to edify the believers and then go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in.

If your church ceased to exist, would your community miss it? It’s a question that drives me as an Elder/Pastor. I pray to God that our community, nay…even the world would ever say, “No.”

Last Friday I did something I’ve not done in…let’s see… I can’t remember… I actually… Well…I’m almost ashamed to admit it…

I’m looking to my right…now to my left…okay…

I took a day OFF!!!

Can you believe it! A whole day off!

Well…that’s not 100% true. I still checked emails and returned two phone calls…but, don’t tell Pam. I don’t think she noticed :) (I’m pitiful aren’t I?)

You know Pam keeps telling me I’m working too hard. It’s probably true. But, it is what it is. I’m doing the best I can. With a church who runs 500+ people…well…as I said…it is what it is.

Interestingly, last week I had another pastor tell me that I was “insane!” Yep, he said, “You and just one other pastor are caring for 500+ people. You’re insane!”

He’s right! I know he’s right. But, you see, I’ve had this crazy desire to lead the church to follow the Scriptures regarding leadership of the church. Follow the Scripture and not the traditions of man. Follow the Bible and not what the business world teaches about leadership? Nuts, huh!

Crazy as it sounds, we are actually a church that wants and DESIRES to follow the Bible and what the Bible says about leadership and how we do church (church polity). I’ve been wanting to do this since I became an Elder/Pastor and I’m glad I’ve got a partner in crime that feels likewise. This man…

Brad and Michele

That’s Brad Cordray and his wife Michele.

Let me tell you something. That man is a machine! He works with his head down and doesn’t say anything about it. He just works. He is juggling the work of at least two men. I’m grateful for all that he does to look after our campus at church and all the miscellaneous things that go on with managing buildings and properties. Did I mention that he does an amazingly fantastic job with our music program. He’s training a whole new generation the wonders of music and the arts. What he and his team pull off each week is like a small cantata or production. All the coordinating and juggling of people’s schedules and practices, etc. is literally like pulling off a small miracle each week.

This is Brad’s family…

Brad's family

That’s an older picture (it’s the best I could find…I’m typing fast…). That’s Jameson on his lap and then Julianna and then Jackson (on Michele’s lap). I love those guys!

Brad told me last week, “Kevin, you have got to stop saying that we are holding on our own around here… WE’RE DROWNING!” He’s right. I know he is. I just don’t want to admit that we are large enough now that just the two of us can no longer cover all the bases any more. It’s hard to admit…yes…but, it’s true.

However, I’ve got to tell you that I’m thrilled! Why? Because of this guy…

Dale J

That’s Dale Jennings and he announced on Sunday to the church that he feels the Lord has placed the desire in his heart to help lead and shepherd our church as an Elder/Pastor. You know what I say about that:

“Woohoo!! Praise the Lord!!”

This is Dale’s family…

Dale's family

That’s Dale, Lori and their daughter Chloe. I love that family!

Now back to my story…why was I able to take off last Friday? Two reasons…

#1 Dale has been helping me in the church. He’s been helping with the “people needs.” Counseling, meeting with folks, visiting homes, hospitals and resthomes. He’s helping me with all of our mission work, administrating and coordinating our upcoming trip (a team of 39 of us are leaving Saturday for Texas and Mexico). His help has been invaluable.

Reason #2 that I was able to take a day off last Friday was the fact that my family was gone for five days prior to that. While they were gone, I literally worked almost non-stop. I ate sandwiches beside my computer. Again, I’m leaving for Mexico for a week this Saturday, so there is so much to do to get ready. But, I hammered it out…let me tell ya! And so, by the time they got back home from visiting Katy and Josh (in Havelock, NC) last week, I was able to be “ahead of the game.” So, I surprised the kids (and Pam) and on Thursday night I said, “I’m taking off tomorrow (Friday).” They said, “What?!!!!” I said, “Yep, Daddy’s taking off and we are going to Cascade Falls and have a picnic and we’re going to the big slide in W. Jefferson and we’re going to eat ice cream!” They jumped up and down squealing! We had a blast!

cascade

cascade2

cascade 3

slide

cascade4

Is it wrong to spend some time with my family? No!

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 3 that as and Elder/Pastor I should never think I can look after and shepherd a church if I’m not doing a good job in my own home first. I thought to myself, you “Big Dummy,” you’ve got to do this more often. But here’s the problem. I have simply not been able to because I haven’t had the time. There is just too much to do and yet…hear my heart…I’m simply not wired to let people down. If our people have needs and they send me an email or call me or whatever…how do I put them off? How do I tell someone who is struggling, “I don’t have time for you.” I can’t do that! I just can’t. So, I do it and I’m glad to do it. But, there comes a place and time that your work and yes…my time with my family begins to look like this…

Swiss cheese

Yes…that’s Swiss cheese and I don’t like eating it any better than I like admitting that my ministry is beginning to look like it.  But, it’s the truth and I guess there’s something freeing just admitting that you are at your limit. So there… I said it… I’m at my limit. I can’t do any more than I’m doing. I’m pushing the accelerator to the floor and the car is winding out its maximum RPM’s and the speedometer needle is pegged.

But, knowing that there is the opportunity for Dale to officially become and Elder/Pastor (pending a vote by the church on August 3), I’m feeling overjoyed! Have you ever been trying to pick up something heavy and someone comes and helps you and you say, “Wow…that sure helped make that easier!” That’s how I feel!

So, I hope to be able to do a better job at what I feel gifted in doing. I love to teach, preach and train. I’ve got young men in the church who desire to grow to the point that they are elders one day…but, I don’t have time to train and teach them. But, I want to so badly and if Dale can come on board and give more time…then, I’ll be more effective and my ministry will not be like Swiss cheese.

Woohoo!!!

 

 

From the Ladies

I want to share a couple of blog posts from two wonderful ladies in my family. One from my wife and one from my daughter. The daughter? Well, it’s not Katy. She’s been working hard on her book. It will be out in about a month! This time the blogger is Kandace. Both posts are pretty awesome if you ask me. (Yes, I know I am biased…but, they are really good.)

The Battle Belongs to God

I have been reading in Genesis in my Bible lately. I recently read about Abraham and how he and Sarah could not have a child, even though God had promised one to him. Abraham decided to take matters into his own hands and have a child with Sarah’s maid, Hagar. I am sure you are familiar with the events. Sarah does end up having a child and the whole thing ends up a mess because Abraham got ahead of God and tried to manipulate circumstances, out of God’s will. I am sure he thought he was helping God out. God doesn’t need our help. I have to remind myself of that sometimes…a lot.

Because of Abraham “helping God out” and not trusting Him to work it out caused the “birth” of a heathen, Jew-hating nation and the bedrock of the Muslim faith. The result of Abraham’s actions were very catastrophic but he did not even live on this earth to see the complete unfolding of his bad decision. I wonder if we live to see the complete results of our bad decisions?

I would like to think that I am smarter than Abraham but I am not. I often want to put God aside and fight my own battles and manipulte my own circumstances and make everything “work out.” I am slowly learning that I must let God handle certain things that are out of my hands. There is a little “control freak” in all of us, I suppose.

I think of songs we sing in church like “I’m counting on God…” or “I believe, yes, I believe…” We sing, “Not for a moment, did you forsake me…” Here is another of my favorites, “I will walk with you, knowing you’ll see me through…”

I then turn around and say to myself, “Well, I had better handle this because God is not helping me here. Where are you God???” Do you think Abraham thought the same thing? I am sure he did.

We can certainly learn from his example there of what NOT to do. Usually, when we try to manipulate God’s plans and go ahead of Him the results are disastrous. Because of God’s grace, He can take our messes and restore us but the results, messes and scars are still there from our sin.

Abraham ended up with his son, Isaac, which God had promised him, but it did not change the fact that Ishmael had been born and there were consequences.

2 Chronicles 20:15 says, “And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah…Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed…, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”

We can do what the Lord requires of us, like be obedient and serve Him but HE must take care of the “impossible” tasks in our lives. We cannot control God’s timing and His perfect will.

Proverbs 21:31 says, “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord.”

Lastly, One of my favorite people in the Bible is Hezekiah. In 2 Kings we read of where the evil Assyrians come to Jerusalem to lay siege to the city. There are 185,000 of them and they are prepared to torture and murder everyone there. Hezekiah knows that his army is vastly outnumbered and there is NO WAY they can defeat the Assyrians. Hezekiah does not devise a clever battle plan but he prays all night while the Assyrians are camped outside the gates of Jerusalem. When the morning came all 185,000 of the Assyrians were dead in their tents. Hezekiah never raised a sword.

God took care of it! Always remember….The battle belongs to the Lord! He’s got your back. You don’t have to run ahead of him. He can handle it.

Blessings!

Pam

http://www.mpbcworship.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-battle-belongs-to-god.html

Hey…now it’s time for Kandace’s post. Her big sister posted it on her blog.  It’s about the phenomenon of “selfies.” Take a look…

So Long Selfies

So Long Selfies, by Kandace Brown (guest blogger)
We are living in a generation of young people that is all about taking and uploading selfies for the world to see. For those who might not know what a selfie is here is the dictionary meaning of the word, A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”. 
I have come to realize over the last few months how “selfish” selfies truly can be… It’s almost like we are saying “Look at me. I look good today so I want everyone on Facebook or Instagram to see it.” I am not pointing fingers because I have taken and uploaded selfies before. This is something that I have recently felt convicted about. 
If you think about it selfies can be very narcissistic and prideful. I know girls who post two or three a day. What is this saying? What are we trying to say or show off? Why should we find value in ourselves by how many people like our picture? Why should we feel upset when we don’t get as many likes as we hoped for? These are questions that I have recently asked myself. 
Selfies are mostly a girl thing (although I do know a few guys who post them)… Coming from personal experiences I know that we girls will take dozens of pictures of ourselves when we feel that we look good or we like our outfit. When we finally take one that we think looks good enough we will then doctor it up (with an Instagram filter or an editing app or whatever we choose to use) and then we post it. Then we wait…. We wait to see who will like it and how many likes we will end up getting. It can easily set up jealousy in a girl’s heart. She could see that her friend got 80 likes for her selfie and that she only got 25 for hers. She could start wondering why people liked her friend’s picture more than hers or think that she just isn’t as pretty or stylish as her friend. As silly as it may sound it can begin stirring feelings of bitterness or consternation in a girl’s heart. It will start to make her self value deflate rapidly and that can lead to many problems… 
There are also girls who can develop the opposite problem. When they get many likes and comments about how beautiful they are it can be the beginning of a pride issue. They can begin thinking they are better than other girls and start posting more and more pictures because they get addicted to that feeling of being “liked”. All girls need a flattering comment every once in a while and when you can post a picture of yourself and get dozens of likes and flattering comments then girls will naturally be drawn to that. Pride is very hard to break once it has been set in the heart of someone. It is so important that we don’t become obsessed with the comments and likes of something as seemingly harmless as a picture we took of ourselves. 
I feel that selfies are hurting our generation more than we know. They can become a sign of vanity and as we all know vanity can lead to many bad things. (Proverbs 16:18) So as the title says, I have decided to say so long to selfies. Yes, I have taken them and posted them before, but my eyes have been opened to how very harmful and pointless they can be. This will, of course, sound strange coming from a 16 year old girl, but this is my heart and I wanted to share my recent conviction on the matter. Just thoughts to ponder. :)
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4  (See more of Katy’s blogs at: http://heartsonthingsabove.blogspot.com/)

And there you have it… From two of the four of my wonderful ladies!! :)

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