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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.

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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.”

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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.

Finally!

It finally happened!

Snow!!

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All winter we’ve been waiting here in western NC and it finally came. In fact it came twice in just three days. There was the surprise snow on Saturday night…

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We get a quick burst of about 1 1/2″ and the bad thing is that it was falling while the temperatures were still above freezing. So, you know what that means… Yep… Ice. Roads that froze solid and looked like this at 7 am on Sunday morning right below my house.

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Can you say, “Skating rink?” I saw that and I stopped dead in my tracks and said, “No way Jose!” I have a front wheel drive, but I was already spinning. I had Andrew with me because the rest of my family was still at the coast seeing Katy, Josh and some little girl named Charlotte. :)

I said, “Andrew, it’s not worth it.” Andrew didn’t speak. I think he was scared too. So, we cancelled services on Sunday. I know in my heart it was the right thing to do even though the conditions were not uniform across our county. Truly, there were some folks that didn’t have any issues like many of us “country bumpkins” had. But, I’d rather be safe than sorry.

What I have to remind people is that even if we have just one service at 11 am, we still have to get the Praise Team, Audio/Visual guys and the rest of our staff to the church 2 HOURS earlier than the start time. So, that meant 9 am. That doesn’t count getting salt on the sidewalks after shoveling them. That’s backing things up another hour. So, you see the dilemma.

It makes me appreciate the folks who make the decisions for our schools. It’s not an easy call for sure. The pressure I feel and the other Elders is immense. Thanks for your understanding and prayers. Believe me I WANT to have church. I’m ready to preach and ready to teach, but I don’t want to ever do anything that could needlessly hurt someone. With well over 500 people coming to our church each Sunday, it’s a lot of opportunities for someone to fall in a parking lot or even worse, get killed driving a great distance.

Many people don’t realize that we have people driving from across our county to church. Some folks are even driving from outside the county to church from Ashe, Watauga and Iredell counties. Well, enough said… you get the picture.

As a reminder if there is inclement weather, you need to find someone who has internet access and go to our website or find me on Facebook or Twitter. We will also update WXII-12 News in Winston-Salem. Problem is, they chose not to run our announcement on the screen because it was such an isolated event. Well, that’s not so today. There are cancellations galore.

If you know someone who doesn’t have access to a computer, please check on them and let them know. We stopped the Phone Tree last year because people don’t update their phone numbers. They drop land lines and go to cell numbers or they change cell phones and we just can’t keep up with all that. There is no perfect system. We’re doing the best we can. Again, thanks for your understanding.

It’s been nice to enjoy the snow though… Here’s our sled run…

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Fun, fun, fun!

Folks, this winter was DELAYED, but it will NOT be DENIED. Ask the folks in Boston who are approaching 100 inches of snow. We, here in the south, are going to see bitter cold. The Weather Channel, as I type have said our low Thursday night will be -7. Oh my!

The forecast for the next two weeks continues to show above normal precip and below normal temps. It looks to be an interesting time.

Well, I mentioned that the family was at the coast seeing Josh, Katy and Charlotte earlier. Andrew and I drove down separate on Thursday and came back Saturday. It was short and sweet, but it was SWEET because we got to see this little lady…

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Can you tell I’m a happy Papa?

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We had a Valentine’s meal together. Pam and I don’t mind sharing Valentine’s with our family. It doesn’t get any better than this…

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Isn’t that a happy looking bunch! Am I a blessed man or what? :)

Oh…and another fringe benefit of spending time and money on music lessons is hearing these three sing and play together. Wowie!!

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Can’t wait to get Katy back in the Praise Team at MPBC. She loves playing and singing so much!

Speaking of being blessed and being touched. Take a look at this story of a young lady that I’ve known all my life, Melanie Matthews. She was Melanie Huffman to me until she got married and moved to Tennessee. She and her husband, Chris and their two boys had a baby girl with a defective heart and Down’s Syndrome. Their story is awesome! Have a tissue ready…

Okay…are you ready for a few laughs…

Church Bulletin Mistakes:

The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.
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Scouts are saving aluminium cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
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The sermon this morning: ‘Jesus Walks on the Water.’The sermon tonight: Searching for Jesus.’
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Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those
things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
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Don’t let worry kill you off – let the Church help.
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For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
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Next Thursday there will be try-outs for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
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Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
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At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be ‘What Is Hell?’
Come early and listen to our choir practice.
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Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
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Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered..
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The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
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Pot-luck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM – prayer and medication to follow.
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The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
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This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn-singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
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The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
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Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM . Please use the back door.
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The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
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Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
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And this one just about sums them all up the Associate Minister unveiled the church’s new campaign slogan last
Sunday: “I Upped My Pledge – Up Yours.”

:)

High Horse

Boston has had 6 feet of snow this winter and all the Global warming folks want us to believe it’s because of Climate Change. Yep, it’s change indeed. It’s actually cyclical. Patterns come and go and this has been happening since the Flood. These folks are pushing this stuff like the Evolution folks push their “theory” as fact. Just take note of that when you are watching the Weather Channel (WC) and reading stuff on the internet. I love the WC, but they have swallowed this hook, line and sinker. Mainly, (in my humble opinion), because they are owned by NBC’s parent company.

Did you hear the President at the Prayer Breakfast last week. Amazing! He compared the Crusades where Christians were seeking to take back the Promised Land from the Muslim Turks with what ISIS is doing with burning people alive. Really, Mr. President??!

Do you now this man?

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This is Ravi Zacharias. He’s absolutely brilliant Christian apologist from India. I’ve shared with you about him before. Take a look at his take on the President’s remarks.

President Barack Obama’s address at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5, 2015 has reverberated through the corridors of the world and provoked shock and dismay in numerous quarters. Even a professor at the University of London commented on his shallow understanding of the Crusades. I hesitated to write anything on the subject because it would drag me into politics or into a sobering critique of Islam. I am not sure that at a time like this either distraction would be wise, so let me keep it to the minimum.

For those who did not hear the talk, it is sufficient to say that it was the most ill-advised and poorly chosen reprimand ever given at a National Prayer Breakfast. I have been to several and have never, ever heard such absence of wisdom in a setting such as this. ‎I wasn’t at this one but have heard the speech often enough to marvel at the motivation for such thoughts. President Obama basically lectured Christians not to get on a moral high horse in their castigation of the ISIS atrocities by reminding them that the Crusades and slavery were also justified in the name of Christ. Citing the Crusades, he used the single most inflammatory word he could have with which to feed the insatiable rage of the extremists. That is exactly what they want to hear to feed their lunacy.  ‎In the Middle East, history never dies and words carry the weight of revenge.

There is so much I would love to say in response but shall refrain. The President obviously does not understand the primary sources of either faith for him to make such a tendentious parallel. The predominant delight in his remarks would be in the Muslim world and the irreligious. The next day Geraldo Rivera, opining favorably, made the oft repeated lie that more people have been killed in the name of God than in any other cause. Try telling that to the Chinese and the Russians and the Cambodians and the victims of the Holocaust! ‎Such intellectual ignorance gains the microphone with pitiable privilege. If a thinking person doesn’t know the difference between the logical outworkings of a philosophy and the illogical ones, to say nothing of the untruth perpetrated, then knowledge has been sacrificed at the altar of prejudice.

But let me get to the President’s final statement, after he had wandered off into erroneous territory. That final remark was true. He said, “It is sin that leads us to distort reality.” He was right. In fact he embodied it in his talk. But there is good news for the President. At least in the Christian message forgiveness is offered for sin. In Islam it isn’t. You must earn it. May I dare suggest that if Christians had been burning Muslims and be-heading them, he would have never dared to go to Saudi Arabia and tell them to get off their high horse. He unwittingly paid a compliment to those who preach grace and forgiveness. That is the dominant theme of the Gospel. That is why we sit in courtesy listening to the distortion of truth, the abuse of a privilege, and the wrong-headedness of a message.

I cannot recall when I have heard such inappropriate words at so important an occasion, in such a time of crisis. The world is burning with fear and apprehension. We need a message that will inspire and encourage and redeem. Ironically, two years ago when Dr. Ben Carson spoke and made some comments about our medical plan and the tax system, the White House demanded an apology from him for straying into controversial terrain, because it felt his comments showed disrespect for the President.

This year’s National Prayer Breakfast speech was a blunder in thought. But there was a silver lining. In the end, President Obama blundered into the truth. Sin distorts… and only Jesus Christ restores the truth. Christ will ever rise up to outlive His pallbearers. Even presidents will have to get off their high horses then and recognize the Lord of life and hope and peace. There will be no speech making then. Only a prayer of surrender… which is what the National Prayer Breakfast was meant to be in the first place.

Amen and amen Ravi!!

Thankfully country boy and NASCAR announcer (and former driver) Darrel Waltrip set things straight.

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Darrell was just a feet away from President Obama when he delivered the keynote address. He said: “I did everything to satisfy me,” he said.

When his wife, Stevie, tried to get him to go to church, he responded, “I just don’t have time for this church stuff.”

“I realized that wreck knocked me conscience,” Waltrip said. “It scared the hell out of me. I mean that literally. I realized, what if I had lost my life that day at Daytona? Would I have gone to heaven or would I have gone to hell? I thought I was a good guy, but folks, let me tell you something: good guys go to hell.”

He continued, “If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your lord and savior, if you don’t have a relationship, if he’s not the master of your life, if you’ve never gotten on your knees and asked him to forgive you of your sins, or if you are just a pretty good guy or a pretty good gal, you’re going to go to hell.”

The country boy told the truth. I pray the President was listening.

Franklin Graham nails this situation on the head. The President is all about being politically correct.

Franklin said this at the Oklahoma State Evangelism Conference on January 26th:

“Secularism and communism are the same thing…they’re godless. They’re anti-Christ. So now we have the secularists who’ve taken control of our country. They’ve taken control of Washington. They’ve taken control our city governments, our local governments, our school boards all across the country, and we have just sat back. It’s happened and we haven’t even realized it’s happened.”

Franklin went on to say…

“Now, you say, Franklin, your father [Billy Graham] wouldn’t get on to these subjects. Wait a second. My father, when he was going to school, they had a Bible in school. When he was going to school, they had the Ten Commandments on the wall. When he was going to school, you could pray in school, and the teachers would lead in those prayers.”

“America has changed and it’s not coming back unless the church takes a stand. There are storms that are coming, and we find ourselves in these storms and many times, we as a church, we run. And we run to the wrong place. You see, Jesus is in the boat [with us]. All we have to do is call Him. Call on His name. But the secularist and the humanist, no.  You mention the name of Christ and they jump all over you. I get jumped on all the time. I don’t care. I really don’t. I gave my life to Christ.”

Me too Franklin and I’m not afraid to stand on His name no matter what they do to me. What the humanists want to do is back us into a corner and keep us there with a sock in our mouths. And here’s the deal if you think that we can just “love” people by our actions and not get involved politically (vote), then you will watch this country go down the tubes. And you know what that will mean? It will mean that the country that sends out the most missionaries and sends the most money to spread the Gospel throughout the world will find itself becoming more and more economically powerless and thus the Gospel will be more and more muted. Satan loves that!

Satan hated this…

This was our annual Sportsmen’s Banquet on Saturday. 400+ people! Tons of lives touched!

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James Quinn was our speaker. He’s the Construction Manager at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. He was excellent. Again…huge crowd…IMG_2034

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Christians are seeking to spread the Gospel. ISIS is seeking to spread fear and death. Mr. President, please remember that. And with all due respect sir, it may take you dismounting your “high horse” to understand that.

Weather update. Cold and wet. You know what that might mean? I’m afraid to say. It’s been a “bust” for the winter weather fans. But the blue on the first map and the green on the second might mean an interesting pattern change next week. :)

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