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288,000That’s the number of people who went to the movies last year at Two Rivers movie theater in Wilkesboro, NC. That’s over four times the population of Wilkes County. That’s a lot of people!

Let me ask you something. Do you think people who go to the movies would be a good audience to share the Gospel? Do you think if you could find a way to share with the 288,000 who frequent Two Rivers Cinema annually about your church and the Gospel you would try?

Maybe if you could do something like this at the beginning of each movie for the next year?

What did you think? Well, we’re going to try it! We’re going to try to go out into the “highways and hedges” and compel people to come! I’m excited to see what the Lord is going to do with this.

You know, I love the fact that as you study the Gospels in Scripture you see Jesus going to the synagogues throughout Galilee in the first year of His 3-year ministry. But, at year #2, He’s doing outdoor ministry. He is preaching the Sermon on the Mount. He’s feeding the 5,000 and the 4,000 and He’s everywhere! And His popularity is growing to the point that the people want to make Him the King. Do you see the focus? It shifted. He started in the synagogues, where He proclaimed the Good News to those who were “God-fearing” people. But, after that was complete, He made His way to the common people by going to where they were.

In fact, He really made people mad by eating with publicans and sinners, tax collectors and such. It’s the whole “be in the world, but not of the world” idea that He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane:

15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. John 17:15-18

In Matthew 15, the Apostle records what Jesus did in Capernaum:

10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand.” Matthew 15:10

Jesus was with the people. He went to where they were because He came to seek and save that which is lost.

Do you remember where Paul went when he was in Athens? Mars Hill…the Areopagus. It was the “marketplace” of ideas and it was there that he explained to the people the “unknown God.” Paul went to the people just like Jesus.

Now, I know some will say, “I can’t believe you are running a 15-second ad in a movie theater. Don’t you know what kind of movies they show in there?” Yes, I sure do. Some pretty rough ones and because of that, wouldn’t it be pretty amazing to have our ad pop up right before that movie. Aren’t those the folks we want to try to reach? And you know what? Some Christians might be sitting in those “rough movies” and might could use a little conviction, don’t you think? As the old preacher says, “If you can’t say, ‘Amen,’ say, ‘Oh my!'”

I ask you to pray for us as we try to make an introduction to 288,000 people about the church, which would be the avenue through which we can share Jesus. We’re excited to see what happens!

Speaking of being excited… This past Sunday Evelyn was dedicated to the Lord at church.

Isn’t she precious! I’m certainly a blessed Papa! It’s hard to believe she’s already 6 months old. Last night Clara had her violin recital in Winston-Salem…

She’s been taking lessons for 7 years. That’s also hard to believe!

She played Vivaldi’s “Concerto in A Minor.” She had to memorize it and it’s about 5 1/2 minutes long. Let’s just say that I couldn’t have done something like that in a million years. It’s amazing what you can teach a young person. It’s astounding what they can absorb.

Speaking of young people… This is a big weekend at church. We’ve got our annual Rite of Passage (ROP) Banquet for our young adults who have chosen to go through Rite of Passage this year. What is ROP?

Well, it’s simply a tool from Scripture, which points to a journey that is designed to move our children from childhood to young adulthood. It’s a “raising of the bar of expectations.” It’s been said, “Children will rise to the level of their parents’ expectations as adults.” The model for ROP comes from Luke chapter 2. Do you remember how Joseph and Mary couldn’t find Jesus and then discovered Him  in the Temple? He was 12 years of old and yet, He knew exactly where he was headed in life and the ultimate purpose and goal of His life. He said “Didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business?” Did you catch that? “Father’s business?” It was time (at 12) to be thinking about the ultimate mission of life. We know Jesus is our example in all things, and in all stages of life and that includes 12 year olds and becoming a young adult.

We also know from Luke 2 that Jesus was “submissive to His parents” and the Bible says He “grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and men.” And so we seek to follow Jesus’ example. So, at MPBC, at the age of 12 (and up to 18), you can participate in our annual ROP. Here is our theme verse:

1 Corinthians 13:11

11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

You see, ROP indicates that according to Scripture, a young adult is expected to act like “young adults” and to behave accordingly. It means they are expected to accept accountability for mature actions and to assume greater responsibilities. Why? Because we know maturity does not necessarily come with age, but with the acceptance and ownership of increased accountability and responsibility.

This year we have 14 young adults who have successfully completed a rigorous gauntlet of questions that had them digging in the Bible for hours. This is taken from the book I wrote about the subject…

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_rsis_1_14?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=d+kevin+brown+rite+of+passage&sprefix=d+kevin+brown+%2Caps%2C229

This year is our 10th year of doing Rite of Passage and we’ve had 89 young adults go through the program. This was last year’s group:

Isn’t that cool!!

Now, why is this significant? Well, various studies show that young people are walking away from their faith in droves by their 20th birthday. Some studies show as much as 80-90% of “Christian teens” will walk away from their faith within 18 months of graduating High School.

The truth is, I saw this happening. I taught the High School Sunday School class at church for over 15 years and this statistic was shockingly accurate. I knew there had to be a better way. We had to find a way to stop just entertaining our kids and actually raising the bar of expectations in their lives and give them a job to do in the church and use them for God’s glory. Young people want to feel a part of their church, not shoved away in some room with games, food and hand-me-down sofas. They want to feel needed, wanted and involved. Hence, Rite of Passage.

The banquet is tomorrow night. This was last year’s…

We’ll conclude the weekend with the Recognition service on Sunday with the Ceremonial “Passing of the Baton.” This was one of the young ladies last year (Emma Wages).

Yes, I’m excited about all of this because we’ve reversed the percentages. Yep, you read that right. We don’t have an 80-90% failure rate, but instead we’ve flipped the percentages. No, I’m not saying just because you do ROP in your church you will guarantee that your child will walk with the Lord. It’s not 100%. But, it’s certainly a lot better than what we’ve been doing I’ll tell you that! 🙂

One of the things the young adults have to do in the process of ROP is to describe Biblical Salvation and their salvation experience. I want to give you just one example of one of the answers. In this case a 16-year old, sophomore young man. (Used by permission.)

“For the longest time I wished I could tell people that I had your ‘average youth salvation.’ I never could though. I now rejoice in it. My conversion experience was so shaking to the core that I abandoned my will to God. The average youth salvation is: Around 8 or 9 years old you go to the altar and shake the pastor’s hand and he knows why you are there, because he knows your parents have probably been pushing you. Most likely due to insecurity, your parents pushed for this experience and the child felt pressured to make a premature decision for their faith that’s not really theirs. This pains me so much because we create so many false conversions, and because of that; when challenged about their salvation, they respond in arrogance to their sin…

What they don’t understand, and using this as evidence against their ‘conversion’ is they don’t truly understand salvation. Salvation is a continual process by which we grow in Christ confirming our salvation in His finished work on the cross. Fruit being the only outward evidence we can see is so important because that is our witness! We are the link between the Holy Spirit and people that attract non-believers to Jesus Christ.”

Folks, what that young man just described is Biblical salvation and I believe that’s the issue. So many young people aren’t really walking away from the faith by age 20. I believe many were never Biblically saved in the first place and it’s not totally manifested that this is the case until they leave home and get on their own. Hence again, the need in our churches to make sure we are locking down on what true, Biblical salvation is and to point that out to our young adults so as to make certain of their salvation.

The mother of this young man sent me this email:

“I want to tell you how grateful I am for the Rite of Passage program at MP.  It has been a great deal of work for [my son] and I am so happy he decided to participate.  I never encouraged him to participate, because sometimes that back fires on us a parents… This was all on him!! This study has really caused him to think about what he believes and writing it down appears to have put some solidity to it for him and for us. Thank you for all your hard work and time surrounding ROP…”

And that dear folks is why we do what we do!

Here’s this week’s “Two-Minute Tuesday” on “Why Atheists Could Die Out Because They Aren’t Having Babies.” It’s certainly thought-provoking!

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/sx4csug

Kevin

Today was a big step back. You say, “Huh? A big step back?” Yep, a big step back toward the religious liberties and freedoms that this nation was founded on over 200 years ago. And yes, a BIG step back considering the last 8 years were simply catastrophic for religious freedom in America under the Obama Administration.

Today, President Trump signed a Religious Freedom Executive Order rolling back many of former President Obama’s  and his Administration’s policies that were nothing less than oppressive for Christians in Americans. A country founded by Christians, nonetheless.

Now, I really value what Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has to say on important issues. And so, I’m going to share with you the full report of today’s activities from Perkin’s report. Here it is. It’s worth a good read.

Congratulations Are in (Executive) Order!

May 04, 2017

It’s not just the National Day of Prayer. It’s the national day of answered prayer for many conservative Christians! After an eight-year war on faith, President Trump finally called a ceasefire on the conflict started by Barack Obama with an executive order on religious freedom. The measure, which was celebrated in a signing ceremony at the White House, was the fulfillment of one of the most significant promises made by the longshot candidate: “to preserve and protect our religious liberty.”

For evangelicals, whose support propelled Trump to a historic win last November, this was one of the most meaningful returns on that investment. Although the order didn’t make it in under the 100-day wire, the quickness of it showed just how committed this administration is to bringing the government back in line with the First Amendment.

Among other things, the directive checks another big box on the White House’s to-do list — lifting the gag order on churches and other nonprofits under the Johnson Amendment. Since the first days of his candidacy, Donald Trump has railed against the 60-year-old piece of tax code that liberals have turned into a club to punish pastors with. For too long, the Left has used the IRS to threaten the charitable status of churches who dared to speak out on the moral issues of the day.

Of course, the irony of this whole debate is that pulpits are free to do exactly that under the U.S. Constitution. It was only when liberals seized on this twisted interpretation of the Johnson Amendment that pastors came under fire for exercising their God-given rights. To the phony claim that churches would somehow turn into mini-PACs, the White House was clear: “Nobody is suggesting that churches are allowed, or it’s legal, for tax-exempt organizations to take out ads endorsing candidates. That’s illegal now,” said an administration spokesman. “We’re not changing what’s legal, we’re not changing what’s illegal…” Instead, the nation’s tax agency is directed to use “discretion” in enforcing the language named after JFK’s successor.

Medical professionals, charities, businesses, and even nuns who’ve suffered under the outrageous mandate of Obamacare will finally have the relief they need to say no to insurance coverage that violates their conscience. After years of court battles, they’ll be free from regulatory harassment of including contraception and abortifacients in their health care plans. But that’s not all the order does. It sets in place a multi-step process that will provide some long-overdue protections by directing the Attorney General Jeff Sessions to develop guidelines for every federal agency to ensure they protect and promote religious freedom. This includes members of our military, who, under the Obama administration, have been systematically silenced and even purged. Men and women like Chaplain Wes Modder (U.S. Navy-Ret.) and Monifa Sterling, who stared down the ends of their careers for their deeply-held beliefs, can finally come out of hiding and live out their faith openly.

Finally, for our friends like Barronelle Stutzman and Don Vander Boon, who’ve suffered for their biblical views on marriage, there’s hope. As President Trump said, “No American should be forced to choose between the dictates of the federal government and the tenets of their faith,” President Trump told those of us gathered in the Rose Garden for today’s ceremony. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore,” the president said. “We will never ever stand for religious discrimination.”

Thanks to this White House, the open season on Christians and other people of faith is coming to an end. And Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) looks forward to building on White House’s progress. “On this National Day of Prayer, I commend the Trump administration for taking action and will continue to make fighting for religious liberty a top priority of my speakership.” As we work with the Trump administration to address the problems created by Obama, it’s that they understand the dangers of the anti-freedom policies of the last administration. But, more than that, they’re committed to undoing those policies and restoring true religious freedom for everyone.

This step today starts the process of reversing the devastating trends of the last decade to punish charities, pastors, family-owned businesses, and honest, hard-working people simply for living out their faith. On behalf of FRC and the hundreds of thousands of families we represent, we offer our deepest thanks to the president and look forward to assisting him in returning America to the land of the free.


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Now, there will be some who say that Trump didn’t go quite far enough with his order today. Some would have liked to have seen him go further. The National Organization For Marriage was one such group. They said:

President Trump has repeatedly promised that he would do everything in his power to protect the religious liberty of people of faith and faith-based groups. It was a major factor in his election. However, an executive order he signed today, while containing some helpful provisions for pastors and religious medical providers, falls far short of what is needed to protect people of faith from governmental persecution set in motion by the Obama administration. Instead, he has punted the issue to the Department of Justice which, he says, will develop new rules to protect the religious liberty rights of people and groups. 

Now, I don’t disagree with the NOFM. It’s true that the Department of Justice is going to weigh in on the future of “religious liberty” in this nation. But, I believe Attorney General, Jeff Sessions will handle things MUCH differently than Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch did. Don’t you?

Bottom line for me today this is where I’m at with all of this… Truly, I know that this is not a perfect world and so you take what you can get. For me, I’m so thankful that we’ve taken a step in the right direction. Yes, we’ve taken a step “back” toward our Founding Fathers and why we were established as a nation in the first place.

I feel exactly the same way about the repeal and replacement of ObamaCare. It’s not a perfect bill that the House is sending to the Senate and I promise you that it won’t look the same once the Senate gets done with it. (I really believe the Senate can make it better.) But, again…I’ll take what I can get.

For me, Neil Gorsuch, as our new Supreme Court Justice was a win as well! If Clinton had been in office, I can’t begin to even imagine what kind of judge we’d have had on the highest court in the land for the next (potentially) 20-30 years.

By the way, I laughed when I saw how CNN covered the events of the day. They hate and I mean HATE President Trump with a vitriol that’s truly amazing!

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 2.40.57 PM

“At last, a victory for Trump.” You gotta love the “At last” part. Makes me laugh. And then look to the right for the “Top Stories.” See the third story down where it says: “Trump signs order to allow more politics into the pulpit.” Oh come on! What a joke! That’s not the tone and tenor of the Executive Order at all! We’re not talking about bringing politics into the pulpit, we’re talking about a pastor not being targeted by the IRS because he speaks the truth from God’s Word. Truly, if Clinton had gone into office, I’m convinced my time as a “free” pastor would have been severely limited.

Let me return to ObamaCare for a moment. For me, (because of ObamaCare), I chose to save the church money and drop my “grandfathered” insurance plan from when I started pastoring (11 years ago) and go with a higher deductible (much higher in fact). (Let me say this…I’m blessed to have the insurance plan I have. I’m very grateful to MPBC for the plan I have.) But, my beef has been because of ObamaCare.

You see, because of ObamaCare, according to a letter I received from Guidestone Financial Insurance Company, they said they had to raise the premiums on the old plan I had by almost 25%. Why? Because of ObamaCare and the need to cover all of the Americans that would receive free insurance through the “Government Exchanges.” So, we dropped the plan several levels to compensate for that potential increase.

Well all would have been find, but Pam popped her ACL in China on a Mission Trip and the subsequent surgery, rehab and medical bills cost us over $12,000 out-of-pocket, when all was said and done. I guess I shouldn’t write that in the past tense, because we’re still making payments. Five of them to be exact, each month (to the tune of a nice-sized house payment).

So, do I have some animosity that’s built up in me over the last 8 years? You bet ya! And, I’ve had to pray a lot for a heart of forgiveness and surrender to the Lord. Therefore, the things that have happened today on this annual “National Day of Prayer” have not only been answers to prayer, but also some giant steps “backwards” to what we had in this nation prior to 8 years ago. And if you ask me, those steps are HUGE steps forward!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday (TMT)- “Which One Do You Believe? Both Take Faith.”

http://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/tuzosfm

Kevin

PS…I’m going to be taking a few days to unplug with my family next week. It’s time for a vacation break to recharge and refresh. There’ll be no TMT or Blog next week. Pastor Dale and Caleb will be covering the Devotions for me next week.

The Unnamed Person

Have you ever heard about Naaman’s leprosy? You know the commander of the army of Syria back in 2 Kings, chapter 5?

2 Kings 5:1

Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.

Yep, he had leprosy and it was because of an unnamed girl from Israel that he was healed. This is fascinating.

2 Kings 5:2-3

Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

Sure enough, this mighty commander of one of the greatest nations on the face of the earth, Syria, was healed when he went to the Prophet Elisha of Israel. How cool is that? If it weren’t for the servant girl, that mighty man wouldn’t have been healed. But, we don’t even know the servant girl’s name.

Hey, that could be you! You could be an unnamed person that changes someone’s life. So could I. How? By sharing with them how they can find healing. Of leprosy? No. The leprosy of sin.

Last night Pam and I want to Boone to our old stomping grounds at Appalachian State University. I landed there exactly 30 years ago. I’m getting old! A lot has changed for sure. But, some things haven’t. We were on campus at the Solarium in the Student Union because of Baptist Campus Ministry of the High Country. I’ve been asked to serve on the Board of Directors and I’ve accepted. It’s the first board that I’ll be serving on in over 5 years.

You see, the church has gotten so large and so much to do, that I resigned everything else I was doing. And let me tell you, I was involved in some really great organizations. So, why jump back into this kind of thing? Because #1 the Lord gave me the nudge. #2 My wife gave me her nudge. #3 My love for young people #4 I’ve got help at the church and I can actually breathe again. #5 they only meet quarterly and that can be done via Skype or FaceTime if need be (that was a big one for me, to be honest).

Here’s the venue.

Looking through the trees is the old Belk Library. It was there that I did a lot of soul-searching my sophomore year and nailed down my salvation.

It was neat being with Pam (since we met at ASU) looking at the Mall where we once walked together.

I love the vision of BCM of the High Country…

It’s so true. Mike Puckett, shown above, is the Executive Director of BCM of the High Country. Man is he on fire for the Lord! And he’s right! He said last night, “This university is a laboratory and a sending agent for ideology of all kinds into the marketplace of the world.” Think about that statement. It’s so true. The ideology that’s being taught to the majority of the 18,000 students at ASU is certainly not Christian or biblical. It’s a worldview that’s anything but those things. It kind of reminds me about this cartoon I saw in World Magazine.  Therefore, anything I can do to help my alma mater in reaching kids for Jesus, well…sign me up!

See the difference in ideology? Same judge, but his worldview makes all the difference in the world. And the same is true of college professors.

This past year the Gospel was shared over 1,000 times by the workers and the students of BCM. I have three videos on my phone of three baptisms in the cold creeks of Boone of three students of the 14 who have made genuine professions of faith. You say, “Only 14?” Yep. That’s it. Can you imagine how hard the work is? Can you imagine what they’re up against? Will you pray? And will you think about what our kids are being taught. Yes, the are learning to be teachers and businessmen and businesswomen. Yes, they are learning music, etc., etc., but it’s the worldview of the professors that goes with that “education.” So, that’s why I’m involved and that’s why I want to make a difference.

How much difference can I make? Maybe as much difference as the unnamed servant girl that brought a great commander relief from leprosy and into contact with the great prophet Elisha. Just maybe!

Oh how I want to make a difference in the lives of our young adults. In fact, we’re going to have another “College Connect” at our house on Saturday, June 3rd from 5:30-9:30 and Mike Puckett will be coming down the mountain to speak. I’m already pumped. If you have them a college student, tell them to contact me on Facebook or email me at kevin@mpbc.ws and we’ll get them signed up.

Do you struggle believing the Bible is truly the Word of God? Take a look at this week’s TMT.

http://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/ffapdfu

Kevin

Grinding It Out

How much of life is about: “grinding it out?” Do you want to put a percentage on it? I don’t. I’m afraid to!

What is life? James calls it a “vapor,” a “mist.” I’ve seen that yet again this week. My great-uncle went to be with the Lord and I’m working on the funeral message that I’ll deliver tomorrow. Is it possible that he’s gone? Death comes and the finality of it is breathtaking. And that’s what makes life tough…grinding it out. Why? Because we have to keep living. People are counting on us. That’s what I plan to say to the family shortly as we meet at the funeral home. We must keep going. That’s what he would want.

Are you grinding it out? What does that mean to you? To me it means continuing to get up every morning and seek to help people. It means to write sermons, devotions, blogs. It means counseling people when you, yourself could probably use some counseling. It means taking a deep breath and saying, “Lord give me strength!” as you drive to another hospital, counsel another family, write another sermon. It means: grinding it out.

Is that okay? Is it okay to grind it out? Should I say it another way? Should I try to soften the blow of what it means to live in a world that’s filled with sin and sinners? Should I try to call “grinding it out” having “fun?” Should I? What do you think? My answer is: “No,” and here’s why. It’s okay to grind it out. That’s what Jesus did.

Remember when Jesus had heard that his cousin John had been beheaded? What did He do? Matthew 14 tells us.

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. Matthew 14:13a

He needed to be alone. He was worn out! He was grieving! He was tired! So, He went to a desolate place on the coast of the Sea of Galilee near Bethsaida Julias. Jesus was “grinding it out.” How can I say this? Because the Apostle Matthew records the second part of verse 13…

But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Matthew 14:13b-14

Can you imagine Jesus in that boat on the Sea of Galilee and He’s by Himself and He sees all of those people running across the northern part of the coastline to meet Him where He’ll come ashore at Bethsaida Julias? What did He do? He got out of the boat and went ashore. Why? Because He had compassion on them. The word means: “to feel it in your bowels.” Just couldn’t let His condition of being tired and grieved and worn out deter Him from doing the work. He had to grind it out. And I’m glad He did. It gives me my example…and you, your example.

Are you tired? Pray to the Lord to give you strength. His mercies are new each morning. Lean on Him. Lean into Him. He’ll sustain you and He’ll provide for you no matter what! Grind it out! He did and so can you!

You are loved!

Kevin

This week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “Is a 4-year Degree For Everybody?”

http://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/dlepngo

Good Friday

Caleb hit the nail on the head for what this day means. It’s “Good” Friday. What’s good about it? See below…

Happy Easter to you all!

Why We Can Call the Worst Friday ‘Good’

Today is undoubtedly the worst day in human history, and certainly on the Christian calendar.

Today is the day that we observe the brutal injustice and suffering that

Jesus endured.

Nothing else can match it. No war, no famine, no assassination, and no collapse. Not even human trafficking, genocide, or slavery.

Jesus’ suffering was more unfitting than any suffering ever endured on this earth. The injustice He endured, and embraced, was incomparable because his glory and holiness was insurmountable.

Jesus was perfect. He showed love when it was needed, and discipline when it was fitting. He was self-controlled, compassionate, humble, and full of love. A great teacher, and a meaningful friend and mentor. In every way, Jesus was holy, perfect, and glorious.

Yet, we crucified him. We flayed his body on a wooden stake. We plucked out His beard. We whipped him with shards of glass and shrapnel. We drove thorns into his skull. Then we made him carry the tool that would be used for His most cruel torture across the city to the place where His body would endure a pain none of us will ever know.

Still yet, Jesus remained perfect. Despite being spit at, betrayed, mocked, and jeered He responded with a compassion that is beyond our comprehension. He continued to hope and work towards our Salvation through His life… And, now through His death.

How can we call such a terrible Friday ‘good’?

That is precisely why, that both in life and death Jesus was securing our salvation… and His glory. But, it was through His death specifically that our justification was won, and our ransom paid.

Romans 5: 6-10

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

That is why we can call this Friday- Good Friday. Because this is the day

in which we observe the God Man, Jesus Christ, endure the suffering required to win our salvation, so that we might receive the most undeserving grace ever imaginable.

We call it “good” because we are now Sons and Daughters of the King.

We call it “good” because we can now have hope in an eternity with our Savior. We call it “good” because sins that we do not have the power to justify were justified eternally on the Cross. We call it “good” because we have been reconciled, despite our sins, to the God of the universe. We call it “good” because His wrath was transformed into adoption on the Cross of Christ.

We ought to call it “adoption Friday”, because today is the day we were adopted by the Creator of the World, in the most scandalous display of love imaginable.

This is a glorious and simple truth, that only Jesus could make such a horrible day so good.

So, what remains? What do we do on this day, and every day, to celebrate this worst of days turned good?

WE CELEBRATE… but not through parties, or costumes, or silly displays of excitement.

We celebrate this day through worship, not only upon this day but every day we live this life. We celebrate through the way we live. And, we celebrate by rejoicing in Christ, by finding our sole satisfaction in Him.

Philippians 3: 1;7-11

1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. 

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

That is how we honor this day, because the worst of Friday’s was made ‘good’. Because the worst of sinners were made ‘good’ in God’s eyes.

Caleb

This week’s “Two-Minute Tuesday:” What Are Male and Female: XY and XX

http://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/cqwuxnd

Makes perfect sense to me! 🙂

Kevin

I wanted to make everyone aware of our Schedule for the “Renewing the Family Conference” this Friday and Saturday night (6:00-8:30 pm) and Sunday morning (all services, 8:20, 9:40, 11 am) here at MPBC. We are super excited about all the Lord is going to do!

Here’s a tentative line-up so that you can plan.

Friday Night:

Session 1: “From Hell to Eternity”-Phil’s Story of combat in Vietnam (this will NOT be guts and gore and okay for children) to coming home and almost destroying His marriage, and how Susy, his wife, learned to love him again.

Session 2: “Making Your Marriage Even Stronger.” Even if you have a good marriage, there are areas that could be improved. Phil’s wit and humor will bring great encouragement in this session.

Saturday Night:

Session 1: “Resolving Conflict and Bringing Comfort to the Home.” We all struggle with busy, hectic, pressure-filled lives. So do our children. Even they feel it. This session will help to bring balance and practical Scriptural application of how to have a peaceful home.

Session 2: ““What To Do When One of Your Children Goes Crazy Wrong!” Just because you have adult children doesn’t mean you stop being their parents. In fact, it’s as they get older, they will come to lean on you and value you even more. What do you do when one goes off the rails?

Sunday Morning (All Three Services):

“Moving From Pain and Anger to Healing and Discipleship within the Home.” The process of family is never easy because we are all fallible humans. Yet, there is hope for experiencing love, nurture and joy for those we love the most. Then there is the next step of discipling (even older children) and even one another (in our marriages), even if that means you are an empty-nester. 

Phil serves as President of Discipleship Network of America. The ministry is instrumental in winning, teaching, encouraging and discipling others to become disciple makers in their work, marriage, family, neighborhood, and church.

Phil is a popular national speaker at men’s events and speaks to all branches of the U. S. military. He has been featured twice on Focus On the Family. He is the author of Eternal Impact: Investing in the Lives of Others, A Father’s Reward – Raising Your Children to Walk in the Truth, Optimize Your Marriage, Just An Ordinary Man: Principles of Godly Leadership, Brave, Strong, and Tender. He is a former machine gunner who served in Vietnam with the United States Marine Corps in 1967-1968. Phil has degrees from SMU and Emory University School of Law. Phil was a successful lawyer as senior partner of a 50-attorney law firm. Phil is on the Steering Committee of the National Coalition of Men’s Ministries, a former elder of his church.

I’m really excited about all the Lord is going to do! I just got a reply back on Facebook from a lady who has seen Phil and experienced one of his conferences, like I have. She said this:

Cindy Plotts DiMarco I have had the rich privilege of hearing him speak. Everyone that goes is in for a huge blessing!!!

Amen Cindy!

Come join us folks!

Kevin

I can’t juggle. Can you?

I’ve tried many times. I just can’t do it! I’m amazed at those who can. But, I am learning to juggle in my role as a Shepherd. It’s taken me years to figure it out and to actually be able to do it. But, I’m thankful to the Lord that I’ve learned (somewhat). What do I mean?

Last Sunday we had almost 700 people attend our three services. The week before we had over 650. That’s a lot of people for three pastors. So, how do we juggle all of the people? VERY CAREFULLY. 🙂 Truly, the thing that many people don’t realize about a church our size is assimilating all of the new people.

We have an informal time where we bring folks in (who want to join the church) and we talk to them about their lives and about the church. In fact, here is the full run-down of that meeting:

MPBC Prospective New Member Meeting with Elders/Pastors

Questions for You:

  1. What brings you to MPBC? Tell us your story?
  2. Tell us about your Salvation Experience (You must be saved to join.)
  3. Have you been baptized by immersion? (You must be to join the church.)
  4. What do you believe about the Bible? (divinely inspired, inerrant Word of God)
  5. What do you believe about Jesus? Is He the only way to Heaven? (yes)
  6. What is your position on the Lordship of Jesus Christ? (Can a person take Jesus as Savior without taking him as Lord? The answer is: No.)
  7. Do you have a daily “quiet time” or “devotion time” with the Lord where you pray and read the Bible?
  8. What do you believe God has gifted you to do in His Kingdom’s work?
  9. What do you believe your level of commitment will be as a new member?
  10. Is there anything in your life right now that would be a detriment to the kingdom of God regarding your current lifestyle that needs to be confessed or repented of at this time?

About MPBC:

  1. History of church, been here since 1875 in the Reach Center since 2006
  2. Leadership Structure: Elders/Pastors (multiple elders/pastors to lead)
  3. Worshipful music through Praise Team and choir, which leads us to experience God’s presence and power in our lives (See Pastor Brad)
  4. Expository Preaching (verse by verse) Acts 2:42 (We want you to learn and be equipped)
  5. Our Goal: Equip the Saints for works of ministry. Ephesians 4:11, 16 (equip the saints for ministry, each member has a ministry) We are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20)
  6. Keep it Simple: We aren’t so interested in plugging people into a building and programs as we are plugging you into your family and community. GO and make disciples… (Matt 28:19-20)
  7. We Worship as a Family…we worship as a family (no children’s church/youth groups) The Bible teaches everyone is together in the meeting “ecclesia.” There is no Scriptural evidence that the family was ever separated during the ecclesia. That’s a modern invention of convenience, but it’s not Biblical.
  8. Rite of Passage (ROP)-Raise the Bar for our Young Adults. Give them a job, apprentice…Mentoring Class, kitchen duty, AV, choir, mission work, services, church-wide functions. We want your entire family to be a part of what we do. We don’t entertain children; we INVOLVE them.
  9. Bible Studies: Sunday Mornings-please plug-in for the fellowship and accountability
  10. Mission-minded-Local: Passion Play, Flag Football League (FFL), Movie Nights, VBS, Sportsmen Banquet, Trunk or Treat. Global: Weslaco, TX and Mexico, Philippines, China and beyond.
  11. Contribute: We expect and desire for you to contribute to the church in your time, talent and treasure (10% is a wonderful goal), but we don’t tell you what that is. God will. We don’t want you to just fill a chair. We want you to be involved in YOUR church.
  12. Service times: Wed. 5:15 meal, 6:30 Service, 6:30 Children’s classes (birth through 5th grade), Choir Practice 7:30, Praise Team 8:30 pm, Sunday Worship Services- 8:20 am, 9:40 am and 11:00 am. SS/Bible Study 9:40 am.
  13. Picture: We’d love the opportunity to have your picture for our reference as a staff and for our Deacons. We’ll do this following this meeting if you don’t mind.

How to join:

  1. Move your church letter from another church of like faith
  2. Upon your Statement of Faith (and previous baptism by immersion)
  3. Baptism by immersion (you must be baptized by IMMERSION to join the church)

That’s not too bad is it? I joke with folks and I tell them that sitting through this 45 min to an hour meeting is not as bad as getting a root canal. Ha! 🙂 But, seriously, it’s a wonderful time to sit down and get to know people. Because we want to know the people who are joining the church, right? Of course! We are confident about the majority of folks who join the church (we have some knowledge of them prior to joining), but we have had the occasion where we don’t know folks as well and we want to make sure we understand their theology and that they understand ours. One of the jobs of a shepherd is keeping wolves out of the flock. Again, we take this seriously. Most churches don’t, to be honest. They’ll let anybody join at any time and that can be dangerous.

The next step is to get the new folks plugged into the body life of the church and often this ends up leading to some more discussions and even some counseling. Now, that’s where the juggling comes in. We’ve been blessed to add over 200 people over the last 3 years and that’s a TREMENDOUS amount of time and discussion. It’s hard to describe the time that’s required. That’s why we’ve had to set up some protocol on talking with folks. Why? Because it was totally monopolizing our time and we couldn’t get to everything else. It was hard to find time to study and write sermons, devotions, get to the hospitals, rest homes, etc.

Something that I’ve learned through the years is the fact that the “tyranny of the urgent” doesn’t have to rule our lives. It’s so easy to do that. We’ve had to clarify what an emergency really is. What is an emergency? Can I be blunt? There is no way that we can handle close to 700 “immediate needs.”

So, what is an immediate need? Really just two things. (1) you’re going to the hospital that requires an overnight stay. (2) a death in your family. Those are the two things that we will try to drop everything and get to immediately…no matter what. Outside of that, a person will have to wait. Yes, wait. I know many folks have needs, but usually their situation didn’t pop up overnight and so we’ve had to schedule times with folks so that we can have somewhat of an appropriate and sustainable work/life balance. Without question, we want to care for our congregation and support our staff in maintaining a good balance.

During the week, we counsel on Monday afternoons, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. A member can contact our church and set-up a time with one of the pastors/elders. These are 1-hour long times. If more counseling is needed, another appointment can be made. Often, I will ask people to prepare before they come by giving them Scripture to read or some homework that will prepare them for the meeting. This prepares them spiritually. It allows the Lord to begin to work in their lives. I also tell people that I’m not a miracle worker and I try to minimize and bring down their expectations so that they’re not disappointed if things in their lives don’t change overnight (because they usually don’t).

I’ve had to learn that I’m not Jesus and I can’t fix every problem or anyone for that matter. It’s a God thing. Something else I’ve learned is the fact that having people make an appointment and wait (when it’s not truly an emergency) gives them time to prepare, pray and think and it does me, as well. It’s like making a doctor’s appointment and you bring your medicines and you think through all the things you want to tell him/her and you are prepared and ready for that appointment. The same is true spiritually. We believe this model is healthy and sustainable as we grow and move forward as a congregation. Believe me…it’s a juggling act…but, I’m getting better at it!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute-Tuesday about “What is Love?”

http://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/vxklcz8