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Have you ever heard the statement, “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid?”

Kool-Aid

Do you know where that statement comes from?

Drinking the Kool-Aid” is a figure of speech we use to refer to a group of people who are holding an unquestioned belief or philosophy without really examining why. The phrase is often used by people who are knowingly going along with a doomed or dangerous idea because of peer pressure or to be politically correct.

The phrase is actually derived from the November 1978 “Jonestown deaths” that occurred in Guyana, South America.

541px-Guyana_(orthographic_projection)

Jonestown was the name of the community that cult leader Jim Jones established. On November 18, 1978 a total of 909 members (1/3 of which were children) of what was called the “People’s Temple” committed suicide by drinking Kool-Aid laced with cyanide poisoning.

Why did they do it? They believed Jones when he said that all who would go with him to Guyana would start a utopian (peaceful) society and they’d live together in a commune and it would be paradise. Obviously he lied and because of declining health (lung cancer) and mounting pressure from the US government, he demanded (at gun point) that his followers drink the Kool-Aid.

The youngest children were the first to die, as parents used syringes to drop the poison-powdered fruit juice down their children’s throats. Adults then lined up to drink the Kool-Aid while armed guards surrounded them. When Guyanese officials arrived at the Jonestown compound the next day, they found it covered with hundreds of bodies. Many people died with their arms around each other.

A memorial service was held in 2011 for those who died in the mass suicide…

Jonestown_Memorial_Service_Pictures

Amazing! How could this happen? Well, let’s go back to our definition from earlier…

Drinking the Kool-Aid: a group of people who are holding an unquestioned belief or philosophy without really examining why. This rings so familiar to me today in our nation. People today are “drinking the Kool-Aid” when it comes to the definition of marriage, the sanctity of human life, “climate change,” etc., etc. Whatever is reported in the media via TV or the internet is received as the “Gospel” and is seldom questioned.

Hence the “Rolling Stones Magazine” article about the supposed gang rapes that occurred at the University of Virginia, which ended up being a hoax. Hence the idea that all gay people are “born that way” and they are like black people in that a gay person can no more change their sexual identity than a black man can change his color. Folks, we’re drinking the Kool-Aid. The Bible is clear that a person can be redeemed and delivered from their homosexual tendencies just as much as an adulterer, drunk and thief can (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Yet, we’re not interested in really researching what the Bible says. We’ll just go with what our favorite actor, athlete or politician has to say about the subject. We won’t use the Word of God as our “…lamp unto our feet and light unto our path” Psalm 119:105. No, we’ll just go with CNN, Huffington Post and our favorite politician or sports figure.

When we do this…we’re drinking the Kool-Aid. You know this don’t you? What will be your guide? What will be your grid from which your brain makes decisions? Will you go with the current “cultural thinking?” Well you not question what you are seeing and hearing and just gulp down the Kool-Aid? Most are and that includes “Christians.”

It’s particularly happening with the situation in Indiana and the pizzeria that said they’d rather not cater a gay wedding (it was a hypothetical question). They had never been asked the question. But, an ABC news agency saw crosses in the business and thought, “Aha…got one!” Well, let’s turn the tables (and it’s being done). What about a Christian who goes to a gay baker and says, “Bake me a cake that says, ‘I support what the Bible says about marriage: One man for one woman, for life.'” If the gay baker says, “That goes against my convictions and my beliefs,” will he/she be forced (like the Christian bakers) to make the cake anyway? Will he/she be forced against his/her convictions to condone this type of thing?

As I said, this very thing is being “tested” as we speak and yet, no major news agency will pick it up. Because the agenda is not “Free speech,” the agenda is “You believe what I tell you to believe.” The agenda is, “When I want your opinion…I’ll give it to you.” The agenda is only “tolerance” for the position I tolerate and you “Christians,” no way…no can-do on your position. You can no longer point to the Bible as your guide. You must go with the cultural norms (mores) of the day.

You say, “Why does this matter?” I’ll tell you why it matters, because if taken to the extreme, one day they will come to me and say, “Kevin, if you preach that homosexuality is a sin and that it can be healed and forgiven, then your church is going to lose it’s tax-exempt status.” What happens then? How many people still write checks to a church where they can no longer receive a tax deduction. Think about that as you prepare for April 15th.

I read this on a blog the other day about the issue that I thought was excellent. It comes from http://thesidos.blogspot.com/2015/03/around-web-on-rfra.html:

Rod Dreher, writing for the American Conservative has a very comprehensive piece, Indiana: A Religious Liberty Bellwether.

It seems to me that the media/elite freakout over the Indiana law is a moral panic analogous to the freakout over the UVA rape case. People rushed like lemmings to endorse as true something that turned out to be a hoax because it confirmed their prejudices about Bad Classes of People. This is why so many in the media are making no pretense to be fair in their reporting and commentary on the Indiana law. As Mollie Hemingway avers, the most interesting — and most worrying — aspect of all this is that religious liberty is not considered to be important at all to very many people in this country, especially the most powerful people.

Notre Dame’s Pat Deneen wrote this weekend on Facebook that law school friends tell him of plans underway now by progressive law profs to “Bob Jones” churches and religious institutions that have policies they consider discriminatory against LGBT people. That is, they want to campaign to take away tax exempt status from all religious entities that have traditional views and practices related to homosexuality. This is the next frontier. Many churches and religious entities operate so close to the margins, budget-wise, that they will not be able to survive this.

I saw this on Twitter…

Any cause with the active support of Apple, NCAA, Wal-Mart and the Kochs is not a beleaguered minority, but the ruling elite. 

As the blogger noted: “The groups he lists have a lot in common, namely that they want nothing to rock the boat and interfere with the money flow that is the lifeblood of the government, the academy, the entertainment world and the massive corporations. Ironically the American Left has placed itself firmly on the side of the most privileged and white organizations in the world.”

In essence, the American Left and the Progressive Liberals hope Americans will continue to______???

Yep…you guessed it…

DRINK THE KOOL-AID

Let me give you an example of drinking the Kool-Aid by way of a couple of videos. First is a David Cameron the British Prime Minister. Below is his “Easter Message.” It’s just over 2 minutes long.

Okay, no watch President Obama’s “Easter Message.” It starts out okay, but in the middle to the end, you can tell that our President has been drinking the Kool-Aid.

So, what did you think? He gave away the farm with: “Whether faith in God shapes our lives completely or not at all…” Amazing. He just made “as equal” on the celebration of Easter (the  resurrection of Jesus) those who celebrate faith and God and those who don’t. Oh my goodness! Come on Mr. President. You just said that you were a Christian. Stand up and say it. Stand up and believe it. David Cameron did. You didn’t! Why? Because you, Mr. President, have been drinking the Kool-Aid. In fact, I’m convinced he’s now pouring the Kool-Aid.

I posted this on Facebook the other day:

This country is changing so fast. The reason we are here is because we left England seeking a place of refuge that we might be able to worship God freely and without oppression from the government. Well friends, welcome to 2015. Oppression is back. As a Christian, you are no longer allowed to believe what the Bible teaches if it contradicts the “new thinking” on a subject such as marriage. Today in America if you are a Christian and you hold to the Bible as THE ONLY source of authority for making all decisions, then you are a bigot and a hater. So sad. The issue before us is will we stand on the principles of Scripture, the timeless Word of God, or will we cave to the changing winds of culture and the whims of the “created” instead of the Words of the “Creator.”

Another Christian nailed me for it and said that (my words) I need to lighten up. Well, folks, I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid. I’m doing my dead-level best as a pastor and simply as a Christian to allow the living water of the Word of God to quench my thirst, because it’s the truth.

Christian, we have got to get back to the knowing what the Bible says and not being afraid to follow it. We’ve got to stand (lovingly, but firmly) on the teachings of Jesus.

Paul said:

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11

Did you catch the part about “knowledge and discernment?” How about the part about what is “excellent…pure…blameless…righteousness?” You see that’s the truth and Jesus said it best when He said:

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” John 7:37

Hey…I’ll take Jesus any day over Kool-Aid…won’t you? :)

Things I Believe

We all have a grid and a matrix in our brain from which we operate. The Scripture teaches that we are to renew our minds so that our lives can be transformed so that we won’t follow the patterns of this world. That transformation can only take place through the Word of God. It’s that simple.

The Word of God transforms the human mind. It will change the way we think and how we make decisions. The older I get and the longer I seek to walk with the Lord by devouring His word, the more I recognize just how bad my thinking has been, say 15-20 years ago. I was so driven by the American Dream 20 years ago. I’m ashamed to admit it. I never took a mission trip until I became a pastor. Can you believe that? I believed I was too busy to go. Can you see what I’m talking about. That’s bad thinking.

I believed the Word of God, but in so many areas of my life, I just didn’t apply it. The truth is, I’m sure that’s still very true in my life. I’m certain I’m blind to my own ignorance. I continue to ask the Lord to help me see these areas in my life as I hold up the Word of God to my life. I sincerely want to allow the Bible to be the “lamp to my feet and the light to my path.” If I’ll allow the Word of God to penetrate my thinking, then my life will be what God intends it to be. Otherwise, I’ll struggle mightily.

I’m pretty opinionated. I know that. I believe passionately. I’m not half-hearted in anything I do. I was raised to give it all I’ve got. That’s true whether I’m preaching, gardening or I’m pulling hard for the TarHeels on the basketball court. :) Passion can be good and bad. It depends on how one uses it.

In my past, (and I’m sure it’s still true), I’ve lopped my belief and view toward certain areas of life into what I call dogmatism. There was zero “give” on my part. If you didn’t do it the way I was doing it, or my family did it, then I thought you were dead wrong and “not with the program.” I see now that I’ve been off-base in many ways with this line of thinking. I’ll show you why in a moment. But, for now, please understand there is “no give” on doctrine, but on style there should be mercy.

Paul said it this way:

Romans 14:2-6

One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Now, with all that said, I’ll give you an example. My family and I choose not to eat out on Sunday after service. Why? We don’t want anyone at the restaurant to say, “Because of you, I wasn’t able to go to church because I had to prepare your lunch.” I used to be very dogmatic about this and tried to push this belief to others. That’s wrong. It’s my personal belief and I’m convinced (in my own mind) that it’s the right thing to do, so as not to be a stumbling block. But, the Scripture above makes it clear that this is “style” not “doctrine.” Do you see the difference?

Can you think of any areas in your life that you might place in the “style” versus “doctrine” category? I bet you can. It might be clothing. It might be hair style. It might be method of education. It might be a myriad of things.

So, I’m going to share with you some things I believe in very, very much and I’m convinced in my mind that these are things that I support and will continue to be a proponent of going forward in my life. These are hills that I’ll die on…but, I won’t kill you on this hill. You might not believe this way, and you know what… I’m not going to look down my nose at you because you do or don’t. I’m not going to condemn you because you “eat meat offered to idols” and I don’t. You might like to eat Sunday lunch at a restaurant and that’s totally up to you and that doesn’t make you better or worse than me, nor does it make me better than you because I don’t. Again:

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Here’s a few things I believe in greatly!

First, I believe homeschooling is a fantastic form of education and I believe it is the best way to educate my children. But, I’m not going to preach this from the pulpit, nor am I going to not allow my kids to play with yours because you choose not to homeschool. Yet, I will tell you that I firmly believe this method of education (homeschooling using the Bible) is the most reliable way to transfer the gospel to the next generation. Did you read what I just wrote. Here it is again:

I firmly believe this method of education (homeschooling using the Bible) is the most reliable way to transfer the gospel to the next generation.

I didn’t say it was the best way to train a physicist or engineer or even a ditch digger. I said, I believe it’s the best and most reliable method of education to transfer the GOSPEL to the next generation. Now, if you aren’t concerned that much with that…then, so be it. If you want a “brainiac” who will go to an Ivy League school or your desire is for you kid to be “All-State” in an athletic endeavor, then this method is probably not for you. Yet, eternal things are what I’m speaking of here.

Let me give you some statistics to digest and think about regarding various methods of education. These stats come from here: https://generationswithvision.com/article/the-gen2-survey/ This survey was conducted after interviewing 10,000 millennials who have graduated from homeschools, Christian schools, and public schools.

Here’s a breakdown of “type of education” and how they feel about supporting gay marriage:

Figure-2-High-Res

How about having sex before marriage in a co-habitation relationship:

Figure-3-High-Res

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that only 9% of Homeschoolers have engaged in sex outside of marriage (co-habitation) versus the highest category (public school) at 34%.

How about belief in God…

Figure-4-High-Res

This should make sense. The longer you have been educated in a public school environment, the less likely you will believe in God, while those educated at home are much more likely to believe in God.

Here’s the conclusion of the study:

Conclusion 

Ultimately, we must concede that truth is not determined by these “scientific studies.” Truth is obtained by the study of Scripture. Cause and effect relationships explained in Scripture may be believed with certainty (e.g. 1 John 1:9). God has assigned means to bring about certain effects. The means by which our children come to salvation include family discipleship (Deut. 6:7, Prov. 1:7, Eph. 6:4), and the preaching of the Word (Rom. 10:14).  Apostasy comes about by submitting our children to false teachers (Luke 21:8, 2 John 7-8). These deceivers usually teach in the academic and cultural institutions of the day. They present false worldviews. This is the means by which the great apostasies occur.

For my second belief that I feel very strongly…

I believe Barack and Michelle Obama do not understand what it means to be a Christian. Another case in point is the fact that Michelle Obama hosted a celebration event for the Iranian New Year. All of this was happening while President Obama refused to meet with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu when he came to speak to Congress. Amazing!!!

Mrs. Obama celebrated what is called “The Nowruz Celebration,” which marks the Persian New Year — traditionally celebrated in Iran and Afghanistan. Here’s a picture from the event…

dancersiran

That’s the Silk Road Dance Company performing in the East Room of the White House in celebration of the 3,000-year-old holiday. Really Mrs. Obama? The Persian New Year? She actually said, “…it is an important American tradition that helped shape us as a nation.” Are you serious?? I’m sure you are like me and you’ve probably never heard of this holiday before today. If you ask me, hosting that event at the White House was a shameless political move and showed the Obamas’ growing bias FOR Islamic culture, while ditching Israel. What’s next? I wonder if they’ll have an ISIS Day “egg” hunt in the Rose Garden??

You see Obama goes with the United Nation’s on almost everything and the UN despises Israel. Virginia Foxx spoke on the House floor about the United Nations (U.N.) last week. This was in her letter to constituents last week:

She said, “Last week the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women adopted a resolution that singles out and condemns Israel, a country that has guaranteed women equality in work, education, health and social welfare for more than 60 years, for violating the rights of women.

It is mind-boggling that the commission believes that Israel is the only one of the 193 U.N. member states worthy of condemnation for its record on women’s rights. What about Sudan where the legal age of marriage for girls is 10 years old? Or Iran where a woman’s testimony is only worth half of a man’s in court? Or India where statistics show a rape occurs every 22 minutes? You might be surprised to learn they all sit on the Commission on the Status of Women.

Some of the world’s worst violators of women’s rights sit on a commission that calls itself “the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.” It’s clear from the facts that this single-minded attack is just the latest salvo in the U.N.’s never ending anti-Israel agenda, and I am proud to stand up for our friend and ally.”

Third, I believe Climate Change is one of the most overblown, most ridiculous hoaxes that has been perpetrated on the world since Darwin and Evolution. John Coleman, an award-winning meteorologist and weatherman with sixty years of experience and founder of the Weather Channel, produced a video explaining the history of the man-made global warming hoax (see video link below).

Coleman is a former broadcast meteorologist of the year of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). He eventually quit the AMS. He said, “…politics has gotten in the way of the science.” Coleman says that there is no man-made global warming. He said: “I love our wonderful planet Earth. If I thought it was threatened by global warming, I would devote my life to stopping the warming!”

Coleman says that $4.7 billion in taxpayer money is funding “bogus reports” and “bogus research.” He says that any warming or “climate change” is extremely negligible from a long-term perspective and certainly nothing unusual or alarming. The video below is fairly lengthy, but if you’ll go to the 11:30 mark, he begins a detailed explanation about  how the global warming hoax was started and how Al Gore got involved in the movement.  Watch here:

For another article on why Climate Change is “Not Your Fault,” see here: https://answersingenesis.org/environmental-science/climate-change/globe-is-warming-but-its-not-your-fault/?utm_source=articlesmedia&utm_medium=email&utm_content=featurebutton&utm_campaign=20150307&mc_cid=ffd49ec350&mc_eid=4e7fcdcd8b

Well, there you have it. Three things that I firmly believe…

#1 Homeschool

#2 Obama is not a friend to Christians or Israel

#3 Climate Change (Global Warming) is Totally Overblown

Now you might disagree with me on all three of these issues and that’s totally okay. We can still have lunch together…just as long as it’s not on Sunday. Ha! :)

I’ve been working on the sermon for tomorrow night and I’m convinced that all of us struggle with priorities. I’m teaching from the book of Philippians and I love this book because in it we get a real simple view of life. Paul nails it when he tells us the priority in life.

Philippians 1:27

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.

See those words in italics? Paul says ONLY let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel. Is that true of our lives. Truly the priority of life is one word:

Jesus.

Too simplistic? Sorry if it seems that way, but it’s the truth. Jesus is the LIFE! Without Jesus there is no life. Everything was created by Him and for Him. But, is He a priority for our lives? I don’t know.

I remember growing up and going to church and just treating Jesus as an “add on.” He’s just someone who you need in your toolbox in case there is a problem. Ultimately, you’ve got to have Him to go to heaven, so you better get saved and stay out of Hell. And that’s how most people view Jesus. They “get saved” when they are a kid by praying a “sinner’s prayer” and walking an aisle. They get baptized and presto…that’s it. Now go on your merry way and live life. Go chase the American Dream and play sports, make good grades, have girlfriends and boyfriends, go to the prom, go to college, get a job, make money, get married, have kids, save for college and then your retirement and then finish off life in a rocking chair on a porch. Yep…that’s the American Dream and there’s nothing spiritual or eternal about it. It’s all about the here and now. It’s all about security, comfort and ease now. The kingdom? Who’s kingdom? God’s? No… I’ll choose this kingdom…down here…right now. I’ll take the next 50 years over the next 5 million in heaven.

Therefore, most people are so busy chasing the American Dream that by the time they slow down long enough to check their priorities, it’s often too late to do anything about it. I think about all the families I have counseled through the years who lament the fact, “If I only knew then what I know now. I would have done things differently with my kids.” Truth is… The majority of you reading this blog have it figured out, (whatever that means :)), already. In other words, you have your priorities straight and you ARE seeking to put the things of God first. But, you are few and far between. Even in our churches many families live just like the world and chase what the world is chasing. If you didn’t know any better, you couldn’t tell the difference except for the fact that they might come to church on Sunday for a couple of hours.

Sometimes people ask me if I get frustrated? The answer is, “Yes.” I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. At times I feel like I’m spitting in the wind. I preach and teach and preach and teach and preach and teach, and yet I see very little difference in how “Christian families” are living versus others. I write books about “Raising Christ-centered Young Adults” and “Biblical Relationships” and very few people seem to know anything about what’s inside them. I watch families see their kids go down the same paths they (as parents) did and then they lament the heartbreak in their kids lives (after the fact). I feel like saying, “Hey…Don’t you know I’ve been sounding the warning alarm for years! What part are you missing? You know Matthew 6:33, ‘Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.'”

You know, maybe it shouldn’t bother me, but if you were doing your job day in and day out and week in and week out and you saw very little difference, wouldn’t it bother you a bit? I bet it would and if you cared, it should. Am I frustrated to the point of being upset? Nope. Honestly I’m not. I don’t want you to get the impression that I am. Truthfully, I got over those feelings a long time ago. I totally get what I am. I’m a seed sower. I’m not responsible for the harvest. I just put the Gospel out there the best I know how and allow the Holy Spirit to do the rest. So, there’s a relief in knowing that I work hard and prepare hard and try to do the best I can to encourage and teach and train and then I just choose to rest in the knowledge that I serve an audience of One.

Maybe you feel this way too? Maybe you have been dealing with someone at work or in your family that just “doesn’t get it.” Well, don’t be discouraged. The Holy Spirit has to drive the train. We are just riding in the passenger cars with our heads out the windows sowing seed. So, I’ll keep on keeping on and I am SO grateful to do so, I rejoice in the knowledge that some get it and seek to walk the narrow way. I am totally stoked to know that some people and some families will choose to take the road less travelled and place a priority on the things of God. They’ll choose to face the persecution and endure the ridicule that comes with walking that narrow way. For you see, it’s those little victories that keep you pressing on and moving forward with a vigor and excitement (which I have). And the same is true of you. Don’t lose heart and don’t give up.

By the way, if you are reading this and your priorities are centered on things that aren’t “eternal,” and you aren’t intentional in how you are making eternal investments in your children, then take a look at this below. It’s going to be in our bulletin on Sunday:

Making the Investment in Our Children

We all know raising children is hard! It is a difficult, time-consuming and often thankless job. Yet, the Bible teaches that children are a heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127). They are indeed a reward from him. Our life is a race and we must realize the investment that must be made if we are going to pass to our children the baton of faith in Jesus Christ.

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:5-7

The Scripture tells us we must be talking about the Lord consistently and constantly to our children. We do this when we are sitting together and talking about the Lord and his commands. Watching TV or a movie together doesn’t qualify. That’s not teaching time. That’s entertainment time. There must be times where the Scriptures are read and discussed in our homes and we can slow down and focus.

Yet, there is a price to be paid to get everyone’s schedules together and place a priority on conversation, discussion and the study of the Word of God. Often this means a “downsizing” of our lives to make time for the things of God. This means a priority must be given to the things of God over the American Dream and even over sports and academics. We must care more about our kids making God’s team than making some other “team.”

If you do make the decision to pay the price and truly come together as a family, then you may wonder where to begin. First, you begin by coming together physically in the same room. This can be in the den, kitchen or even someone’s bedroom. A great place to have devotion time is around the dinner table. By the way, if you seldom have supper at a table, you are most likely over-scheduled. Second, you must schedule it in your week or it won’t happen. Third, don’t preach a sermon. Just read Scripture and talk about it. This is simply a back and forth conversation. Act it out. Make it fun. You can also simply use my “Daily Devotions.” They are online at the church website: www.mpbc.ws. Remember, the time you spend will depend on the age and maturity of the children in your home.

Think about what a typical week looks like in your home. Think about last week for instance or the week before. What did you do each night during the past two weeks? How did you spend your time? Were you on the go every night? Were you home much? What needs to change? What price are you willing to pay to make the eternal investments into your children? (From Pastor Kevin’s Book: ROP, Raising Christ-Centered Young Adults, Energion Publications, 2012)

Want to see a few pictures from the past week? Homeschool time. Clara reading to Charlotte as Andrew looks on.

IMG_1720

 

Josh is on deployment in Key West, Florida. I’ll be taking Katy to the airport on Thursday in Charlotte for her and Charlotte to go be with him. We are so grateful to the wonderful man who bought the tickets to bless my girls. You know who you are! Thank you!

It’s been a joy having Katy and Charlotte with us for a few days. Charlotte is eating her first baby food…

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Can you tell we love this little girl?

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Here’s Andrew whacking a board with his foot. Better watch out for this dude!

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Hey…need a couple of laughs?

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Gotta love it!

 

Yep, that’s right! We are going to be moving to THREE services this fall (2105) to accommodate the growth at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church (MBPC). We shared this with the church this past Wednesday night and I believe everyone is really excited! We are consistently running around 530-550 people (average) each week. The second service is overloaded and because of that we are capping out. For a rural church, (which we are), the gurus of attendance tell you that 80% capacity is about all you are going to get before folks start feeling “there’s no room” and “they don’t need me.” We are almost there now with our second service, thus the need for three. Therefore, we are moving full steam ahead to be prepared.  Do you see this guy?

huge-wave

He better stay ahead of that wave, or he’ll be taken under! That’s exactly how the Elders here at MPBC feel. We’ve got to stay ahead of the wave. We want to make room for more people to hear the Gospel and receive Christ and be trained and discipled so they can go and make disciples. That’s the goal and we believe the Lord has blessed and anointed us here out of his mercy and grace. He is having favor on us and we are grateful.  We really believe that growth will continue because we are starting to see some growth in the county, principally with Samaritan’s Purse. 54b02ab468f7f.image

They are bringing 600 jobs in the next five years to the county and we believe we have an opportunity to have some of these folks and their families attend our church. (Here’s the full article on their plans from our local paper: http://www.journalpatriot.com/news/article_42f14ca8-9835-11e4-b672-f78692e31039.html

Think about it. If just 100 of these “new job” folks and their families end up at our church, that could mean 300+ more people. We’ve got to be ready and able to handle this growth. So, there are exciting times ahead and that will also mean “growing pains.” Anytime there is growth in an organization (think of adding a new baby to a family), there are adjustments to be made. And there will be here as well. There are so many things to think about that it will make your head spin. But, we are announcing this decision early to give plenty of time to think and pray everything through and not surprise folks. In fact, this Easter, April 5th, we are going to have three services to show the people what it’s going to be like. I’m really pumped!!!

With all of that said, our drummer for our Praise Team, Martin Moore, wrote a wonderful blog post earlier today that I’m going to share in its entirety here. Why? Because it’s that good. And what he shares needs to be understood by ANY church member of ANY church, not just MPBC. This is Martin:

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Take a look and I think you’ll agree:

Three Services? Wow! (A Praise Team Member’s Perspective Who’s Been There)  

So, what did you think when you first heard that we were going to three services?  Excited? Bewildered? Amazed? Didn’t know what to think? To be honest with you, I’m pretty excited.  It’s an absolute joy to see this kind of growth. 

I grew up here in Wilkesboro, probably just over a five-minute drive to MPBC.  I always thought of Mount Pleasant as the little church on the hill.  I could have never predicted that Mount Pleasant would grow into what it currently is.   This brings us to where we are today: Three services starting in October 2015!  Unlike many in our church, I’ve been a part of a church that’s run three services on Sunday morning before.  What was it like?  I look back on those years as a time of excitement; it was such a whirlwind of activity, it’s all a little blurry to be honest.  It was a lot of music playing, a lot of practicing, and a lot of foot traffic.  It was also quite a bit of running ragged and chaotic at times. 

All in all, it was a great experience.  However, I think what made it so difficult was when the old 80/20 rule was blown out of the water.  If you haven’t heard about this rule, it basically states that 20% of the church does 80% of the work.  In my experience when there is growth, the stats begin to shift…but not in a positive way.  I think sometimes a church may end up with an 85/15 or even a 90/10 rule.  Why? Because many of the members don’t step up.  I realize you may be busy.  I am too.  We all are.  We are all only given 24 hours a day.  When I was growing up, my parents were busy, but sure enough I was at church at least three times a week without fail.  My mom was a school teacher, and my dad worked two jobs.  Here’s the thing – they MADE the time to serve and instilled this in me.  Parents, how are you instilling working for God’s kingdom in your kids?  Just something for you and me both to think about…   Being shorthanded at church works for a while…but it’s short-lived.  People will eventually burn out, and no one is immune to it.  I’ve seen it, and I personally have experienced it firsthand.  While some recover, unfortunately some do not. 

At one point in my life, I went several years without playing any sort of music in church because I was so burned out on the whole thing.  I got over it, but it took a while.   So, here’s an honest look at the current state of affairs (Well, as I see it anyways.). Our church is growing, and those of us who are already involved are working pretty hard, and it’s only going to get harder. 

As time progresses, the kitchen staff will serve more people.  Ushers will greet more members and visitors.  Sunday school teachers will teach to more people.  The praise team will be getting to church earlier, practicing more (both at church and at home), and staying later on Wednesday nights. Those that direct traffic will deal with an increased volume of vehicles coming in and out of the parking lot.  Custodial staff will have more to clean.  From my perspective, I think that it’s safe to say that the current 20% is being stretched.  A lot. 

With our growth (and the basic rules of percentages), our 20% is probably starting to shrink.   Is this a complaint?  Absolutely not.  It’s a charge.   To you.   “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10   If you have been attending our church and enjoy our services and programs, and yet you are not involved, I challenge you to do a few things:  

  1. Pray. Ask God where he wants you.  Ask God to put a burning desire in your heart to serve in a specific capacity.  When He puts the desire in your heart to do something and you choose to take steps to do it, you will serve Him with gladness, and it will show!  There’s nothing better than serving the Lord.
  1. Ask.  Ask those in leadership if there are any specific needs, and better yet, ask if they foresee any needs in the foreseeable future as our church starts to grow.  We need (or are going to need) additional Sunday school teachers, people to work in the kitchen, volunteers for chicken-ques, choir members, praise team members, greeters, traffic patrol, help setting up tables and chairs every week, ushers, drama team members, etc.  We also have seasonal positions that open up every years (e.g. flag football/cheerleading, passion play, etc.)  For more information, http://mpbc.ws/getinvolved/ or sign up for our Get Involved weekly newsletter.  Through your involvement, you can have a direct impact on people’s lives and make a difference. 
  1. Talk.  If you want to help in serving the church, begin by talking to people!  It’s so easy for new visitors to get lost in the shuffle; however, just taking 10 seconds to get to know someone’s name and his or her family will work wonders to help people feel a sense of belonging.  It takes a while for people to get connected in church, so talk to those around you.  If you greet and talk to just one person you don’t know, you ARE making an impact.  As a matter of fact, Marci and I didn’t start attending because of anyone in leadership; we started attending because a couple of members invited us.  Just like you.
  1. Unable to work? We can still use you!  Even if you are physically unable to work within the church, we covet your prayers.  Pray for the lost.  Pray for your lost friends and family members.  Pray for wisdom and endurance for your pastors.  Pray for safety every Sunday morning.  Pray for the person that serves you food.  Pray for the people you see stacking chairs and hauling tables.  Say a kind word of encouragement to those who are greeting.  Wave and smile at those directing traffic. Make a point to go speak to three people you don’t know before or after service.  Your ministry is just as important as anyone else’s.

It’s a great time to be a part of Mount Pleasant.  People, it’s time to move.  Take it from someone who has been down this road before.  It’s going to be up to YOU to make this work.  So, what do you plan to do?  

Martin

I told you it was good! Way to go Martin!! (And no…I didn’t tell him to write any of that! :) I didn’t even know about it until Pastor Brad shared it with me. But, I must say that I couldn’t have said it better myself. :))

Often I believe many parents today just cross their fingers and hope everything works out with their kids. I believe this is true spiritually perhaps more than any other area of life. We push them hard in the school and in they gym, but spiritually? Not so much.

Just take them to church. Drop them off. They pray a prayer at some point around 8 or 9 and get baptized and off we go. The rest is gravy on the potatoes. Not so fast. Are you sure they know Christ? 100% sure they are born again, regenerated followers of Christ?

Hey parents, if we get everything else right (good grades, good athlete, good education, well-rounded, etc.) and miss that one, then we’ve really blown it. The other stuff I mentioned is temporal. It’s going to vanish and yet their soul is eternal.

I bring this up because of the article I saw a few days again. Did you see it? It was a Wall Street Journal story profiling twin brothers who followed separate spiritual paths — one to become an Anglican bishop, the other a Catholic priest. Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Theological Seminary said this is a travesty because they grew up Baptists. Take a look: http://baptistnews.com/faith/theology/item/29880-mohler-says-churches-to-blame-when-youth-leave-the-fold

I bring this up because it reminds me why I wrote my first book: Rite of Passage.

We’ve got to have a way in our homes of pointing our children to Jesus, not just a church service. We’ve got to be intentional about instilling the teachings of Scripture into their lives. If we don’t make time to do this IT WILL NOT HAPPEN. It’s all there in the book.

But, most won’t take the time to read it. In fact most people don’t read. Why am I telling you this? You read! Thank you! Yet, most don’t read and they won’t take the time to invest in their child’s eternity. They invest in the transient…that which will soon pass away.

If you read the article about the two boys (above) you’ll see that their parents basically dropped them off at church and let them decide what they wanted to do. It was like picking out ice cream at the grocery store freezer section. I’ll take THAT RELIGION! Scary! But, if we aren’t careful, we’ll do the same thing, except the religion’s name will be: sports, academics or good looks. Ouch! I’m sorry. I just had to say that. I’m a preacher. I can’t help myself. :) As the old black preacher says, “If you can’t say, ‘Amen,’ then at least say, ‘Oh my.'” Amen Brother!!

By the way, did you know since we’ve been doing Rite of Passage (ROP) here at the church since 2008 and we’ve had over 70 participants in those 7 years and I can report something rather dramatic and amazing to you. According to various statistics from Barna Research Group to Lifeway Christian Resources to Pew and Gallop polls, between 80-92% of teenagers will leave the faith by their 20th birthday. Yet, because of the emphasis we place on intentionally imparting Christ to our teens here at MPBC we have seen a total reversal of that percentage. Is ROP 100% guaranteed to work? No. But, I’ll take an 80% success rate over and 80% failure rate any day, wouldn’t you?

Here’s the proof. Pardon the quality of the pictures, but I just ran downstairs below my office in snapped these pictures (of the ROP participants through the years):

ROP 2008

ROP 2009

ROP 2010

ROP 2011

ROP 2012

ROP 2013

ROP 2014

Isn’t that a phenomenal group!! I’m so proud of these young adults and their families. You see, we (the church), don’t do this for them. No sir. We only come alongside the families to place an intentional emphasis on raising Christ-centered young adults. The job is for the parents to do…not the church.

We’ve just started this year’s ROP work and we’ve got five more (all young men this year) to go through and we’re excited to keep adding to the numbers. Again, I’m not saying that ROP is foolproof and guaranteed. Nothing is 100% with creatures who have “free will.” Yet, I am convinced when churches and families come together to emphasis the importance of Christ-centeredness in the lives of our young adults, then we’ll have a much greater opportunity of seeing success.

I pray that we’ll teach our kids to have a love for the word of God like these dear believers in China:

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=0FECC1NU

Maybe your young adult is having a hard time believing and trusting in the Bible. Well, watch this 2 minute 25 second video with them and I promise you it will help and encourage.

http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/videos-for-pastors/172214-how-to-help-people-trust-the-bible.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cl_topvideos&utm_content=CL+TodaysVideo+-+20150224

Maybe your kids are just spending too much time in front of screens. Here’s how you can tell…

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/01/the-surprising-amount-of-time-kids-spend-looking-at-screens/384737/

While we are on the topic of children did you know how beneficial music lessons can be to your kids? You say, “Wait a minute. You were just talking about all the things that get in the way of spiritual stuff.” No I wasn’t. I was saying we must be intentional about things that are eternal. I’m not saying that sports is bad. I’m not saying making good grades are bad. I did both. I was the most valuable player on my high school basketball team, all county and I graduated #1 in my class in high school and in the College of Business at Appalachian State University. So, please hear me… There is nothing inherently wrong with sports and academics. But, if you have small children or grandchildren, you might want to read this:

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Psychological studies continue to uncover more and more benefits that music lessons provide to developing minds. One incredibly comprehensive longitudinal study, produced by the German Socio-Economic Panel in 2013, stated the power of music lessons as plain as could be: “Music improves cognitive and non-cognitive skills more than twice as much as sports, theater or dance.” The study found that kids who take music lessons “have better cognitive skills and school grades and are more conscientious, open and ambitious.” And that’s just the beginning.

Here’s the full article: http://mic.com/articles/110628/13-scientific-studies-prove-music-lessons-were-the-best-thing-your-parents-did-for-you

Talk about development and growing up. Check out the growth of Charlotte from birth to three months. Amazing!!

Charlotte stages

Truly amazing!!

I’ve got to show you the Lego cake that Andrew and I made (actually I didn’t do much…Pam did A LOT more than I did) for the cake auction to raise money for Mexico/TX Missions.

Lego Cake-Andrew

Pretty cool, huh? :)

Pam is so creative. She is the genius behind everything in our house. And we didn’t just cross our fingers in making that cake. It took intentionality and hard work. :)

Have you heard on the news that this man was in the United States today?

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That’s Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He delivered a speech before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington today regarding Iran and their determination to develop a nuclear weapon to wipe Israel of the map. Yet, there was a ton of tension! You ask, “Between whom?” Well, you would think it would be between the US and Iran, but mystifyingly it’s not. The tension is between the US and Israel.

You say, “What’s the big deal?” Well, the President didn’t go to the speech nor would he allow any of his cabinet to go. Talk about childish and dangerous. Yes, I said dangerous. Why? Because Israel is a special nation. Like it or lump it, they are God’s chosen people. Read Genesis 12 and you’ll see the fact that those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse her will be cursed. Obama, who claims to be a Christian, is seemingly clueless about Scripture except to invoke it (erroneously in most cases) in some of his speeches for dramatic effect (that’s my opinion).

Do you know what the President did today during Netanyahu’s speech? He had a meeting in the “situation room.”

Barack_Obama_in_the_Situation_Room

You ask, “When was that meeting scheduled?” This morning. That’s right. The meeting was scheduled this morning. Coincidence? Nope. Can I say it again? Pretty childish, Mr. President.

In fact NBC led with the story tonight that said, “Netanyahu delivers speech and the President fires back.” Oh my!

“The President fires back…”

Really? I thought I’d never hear something like that being said about an American President regarding an Israeli Prime Minister. America has always been on the side of Israel.

Well, let me be clear. No longer is America solidly on the side of Israel. In public, you will hear Obama’s people say that we are, yet if you talk to anyone from Israel, you’ll hear otherwise. No longer is America squarely in Israel’s corner. And if you think Netanyahu trusts Obama, you’ve got another thing coming. He doesn’t. Nor should he.

You see, the US has decided that we are willing to trust Iran in how they are going to handle their uranium enrichment program for the next 10 years. That’s what John Kerry, our Secretary of State is propagating to the world. Okay, if you believe that we can trust Iran, then I’ll tell you that ISIS would be a good baby-sitter for your children.

Iran can’t be trusted, nor can ISIS. They are cut from the same cloth. Interestingly, they (Iran and ISIS) don’t like each other because they are part of different sects of Islam, yet they are both reading from the same book: the Quran. Remember, the Quran teaches good Muslims to destroy infidels who don’t surrender and submit to Allah.

Now folks, Iran considers the United States and Israel as infidels. The “Great Satan” and the “little Satan” are what we’re called by Iran.

The term was originally used by Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini in his speech on November 5, 1979 to describe the United States whom he accused of imperialism and the sponsoring of corruption throughout the world. 1979. Does that ring a bell? Jimmy Carter, hostages…Ronald Reagan comes in and gets them released. Remember the name: Ayatollah Khomeini? He also occasionally used the term “Iblis,” or “Great Satan,” (the primary devil in Islam) to refer to the United States and other Western countries.

And yet, we, (the United States), are now questioning Israel’s motives and justification in not wanting Iran to have a nuclear warhead in which they could use to blow them off the map. Instead of taking care of one another, we are now fighting with each other. Amazing! I thought I’d never see the day.

Yet, this plays into the hands of Scripture. According to Bible prophecy, Israel will have no one to defend her except the Lord God Himself. So, this ultimately doesn’t shock me, but it does surprise me that it’s happening this fast.

Folks, I don’t trust this administration. If you haven’t figured that out already, then you don’t know me too well. I’m absolutely mystified at the approach of President Obama in handling the Iranian situation and ISIS. Why does he never talk about these groups as Islamist extremists? I can only speculate. But, I believe in my mind that Obama is sympathetic and careful to “label” (that’s his word) any Muslim as “extremist.” Why? Because of his upbringing. He was raised a Muslim up until the age of 7 in Kenya. His father was a Muslim.

Now, read carefully. I’m not saying Barack Obama is Muslim. But, I am saying he is sympathetic to the religion. He is being very, very careful to make certain that Christians know that we should “get off our high horse” and remember that we murdered people during the Crusades. Remember that line at the Prayer Breakfast a few weeks ago? Why (as a Christian) would he say something like that? I’ll let you decide.

But let me remind you that President Obama has repeatedly said Islamic terrorism actually has nothing to do with Islam. A New York Times story cites the baffling strategy of the White House as “strategic logic.” Apparently, Obama is trying to defeat terrorism by playing word and mind games. Obama likes to tell us that all religions are good, but in the same breath, he and his administration believe all religious expression must be under governmental control, which introduces a new definition of “religious liberty.”

Last week after a high-profile White House meeting on “Countering Violent Extremism,” the president held a press conference providing us a series of bland, generic terms over anything that explicitly connects terrorist attacks or plots to Islam. Sadly we continue to have a president who is willing to defend Islam as a “peaceful religion,” but unwittingly seems to continue to oppose Christian truth. Islam is NOT a peaceful religion and the sooner we wake up to this reality the better.

In a recent Biblical Recorder article, Editor Allan Blume said:

“The president has publicly identified himself as a ‘Christian’ on many occasions. Does ‘strategic logic’ mean the term ‘Christian’ does not apply because that would connect his belief system to the Christian faith, which rejects abortion and homosexual behavior? Let’s be honest. The 21 Egyptians who were murdered by the Islamic State were 21 Christians, intentionally targeted by the Islamic terrorists because they were Christians. The word ‘Christian’ is an important word. It means something to us. We value the name for many reasons, including the fact that it contains our Savior’s name.”

I can only hope that our “Christian” president would eventually make a decision like Thomas Jefferson. This is a great read indicating what Jefferson did when threatened by Muslims in 1801.

http://conservativepost.com/thomas-jeffersons-response-to-muslims-in-1801-is-more-important-today-than-ever/

l truly hope that our “Christian” president live up to the words of our Savior and “take up his cross” and follow Jesus today. Pray for our President. Pray for the peace of Israel. Pray for our nation.

Hey, I thought about posting this sign on my door…

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Hilarious huh!! :) I would never post that on my door…but, I can think about it can’t I?

I really enjoyed playing with the kids last week in the snow. They, (along with their cousins), made these snowmen of my mom and my dad. They got the height right.

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We built a bonfire and roasted marshmallows. It was wonderful!

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You know a couple of weeks ago one of the greatest basketball coaches of all times died: Dean Smith. When I was 10 years old, I won the free-throw shooting contest at the University of North Carolina basketball camp. I got my picture taken with Coach Smith:

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At age 10 I was taller than Coach Smith. You’ve got to love the socks and short-shorts. :) I love basketball and I always will. It reminds me of life and it is one of the few outlets I have that I can rest myself and my mind. I love the strategy of the game and I love the beauty of it. And that is a blessing and for that I’m thankful, just like NBA Basketball player Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

In these troubled times, let this 4 minute video encourage and comfort you. Even if you don’t like basketball, you’d have to appreciate this young man’s testimony for Jesus.

Blessings! :)

Delayed, But Not Denied

“Delayed, but not denied.”

That is the sentence I would use to describe the winter weather this year. And it appears we aren’t done. More snow is forecasted for tomorrow night into Thursday morning.

My favorite weather forecaster is Van Denton from FOX-8. Here’s his forecast.

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Hall family down in Cary, NC…get ready! It’s your turn! Dr. Black up in Nelson, Va., (above Oxford) you too sir! If the forecasts verifies, you’ll be in the thick of it!

Yes…it looked like this winter was going to be a dude for winter weather fans, but the Lord had a different plan. He controls the weather and it’s at His hand that all things move, breath, and have their being.

Clara and I took a ride this morning and she caught the worst of it in our 3+” of snow. Can you tell…

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She got “snow-sprayed” all the way down the hill!

By the way…I saw the coldest temperatures in my lifetime last Friday morning. Just before I left the house at 7:32 am it was -4 degrees.

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Initially I thought it said 4 degrees. But, I looked closer and there was the little minus (-) in front of the four (-4)! Holy Cow!! That’s cold!! I remember in 1985 when it was zero, but beyond that, I don’t remember it being below zero. What a winter!

Here’s something else you’ve never seen before. I, unfortunately, presided over my great uncle’s funeral last Friday and my great Aunt (his wife), dug up this picture of my family.

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Hey…check out my dad’s white belt. You know… if you keep something long enough, it’ll come back in style. He looks like he could be on the PGA Golf Tour. White belts are everywhere on the tour!

That picture was taken in Miami beach. Weren’t we a cute family! :)

I think I’m going to end here (a bit earlier than normal) because this video really got to me. It was wonderful and it sums up Christianity in so many ways. No remember, I’ve stopped about five minutes earlier than normal, so you can watch this video…and finish the last little thought after the video, so don’t short-change yourself. :)

It says, “For Pastors,” but I promise you that it’s for all!

http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/videos-for-pastors/248552-transformed-life-5-minute-video-will-encourage-pastor.html

Wasn’t that touching?

Now…this stats go right along with that video. See if you agree…

This is a poll done by Thom Rainer of LifeWay.

The Poll

I conducted an unscientific Twitter poll recently to see what church leaders and church members thought of this trend, My specific question was: “Why do you think many churches aren’t as evangelistic as they once were?”

The responses arrived quickly and in great numbers, both in public tweets and in direct messages to me. Indeed, I was still receiving responses four days after I sent my Twitter question.

The Results

The response was highly informative for me. Here are the top fifteen responses listed in order of frequency:

  1. Christians have no sense of urgency to reach lost people.
  2. Many Christians and church members do not befriend and spend time with lost persons.
  3. Many Christians and church members are lazy and apathetic.
  4. We are more known for what we are against than what we are for.
  5. Our churches have an ineffective evangelistic strategy of “you come” rather than “we go.”
  6. Many church members think that evangelism is the role of the pastor and paid staff.
  7. Church membership today is more about getting my needs met rather than reaching the lost.
  8. Church members are in a retreat mode as culture becomes more worldly and unbiblical.
  9. Many church members don’t really believe that Christ is the only way of salvation.
  10. Our churches are no longer houses of prayer equipped to reach the lost.
  11. Churches have lost their focus on making disciples who will thus be equipped and motivated to reach the lost.
  12. Christians do not want to share the truth of the gospel for fear they will offend others. Political correctness is too commonplace even among Christians.
  13. Most churches have unregenerate members who have not received Christ themselves.
  14. Some churches have theological systems that do not encourage evangelism.
  15. Our churches have too many activities; they are too busy to do the things that don’t really matter.

Rainer is right, oh that we will care to reach the lost…just like the young lady in the video. God help us all to care deeply about reaching the lost and take advantage of the opportunities before us every day.

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