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The Lord is good. I continue to be amazed at His provision in my life. I see His hand on my family and the church. Now when I say that, “I see His hand…” I’m not meaning that everything is always perfect. You know the Lord allows difficulties into all of our lives to grow us and shape us and mold us into His image. Difficulties and trying circumstances are a part of life. It’s how we handle those circumstances that will determine where our hearts are as they relate to Him. But, I’m grateful for another week. It’s been hectic and busy with funerals and Sunday’s messages and I’m in revival this week at a local church. As a matter of fact, we had 649 people on Sunday for our three services. There was nothing special going on… just an ordinary Lord’s Day. That’s still mind-boggling to me! I admit it!

Interestingly, I’ve heard some say that our church is growing because it’s liberal. Can you believe that? Me, a liberal preacher? Are you serious! I laugh when I hear that. I’m probably one of the least liberal preachers around. Don’t believe me? Watch some of the sermons I’ve preached lately online at http://www.mpbc.ws.

No, the truth is, there’s all kinds of reasons that folks, (including, sadly, other Christians), will run down another church and I can promise you, (in our case), it’s not because we’re liberal. Perhaps it’s because we don’t use the “right kind of Bible.” I use the ESV, a word for word translation of the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. I heard a NT Greek Professor say one time: “To the degree that your Bible translation is faithful to the original languages of the Bible (Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic), you can be confident you hold the Word of God in your hands.” But, for some, that’s not good enough I suppose.

I believe others, perhaps, believe we’re a liberal church because we use other instruments besides a piano and organ. I guess David was wrong when he said we should praise the Lord with the cymbals, trumpets and tambourines (2 Samuel 6:5). Psalm 150:5 says: “Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!” Perhaps it’s just the fact that the Lord is blessing and moving and people are being saved, baptized and are growing in their faith and some don’t like that. Who knows. But, I do know this. It’s all of the Lord. It’s all Him and I give Him the praise and the glory! 

Yes, I’m finishing up revival tonight at Pleasant Home Baptist Church in Millers Creek. The folks there have been so kind to me. I’m honored they asked me to come and preach and I believe the Lord has been moving in hearts and lives. I’m excited about finishing up in a little while. The Lord is good!

In fact, as I’ve thought about and prayed about preaching and teaching the Gospel all week, my mind has been taken back to: “The Story of the Donuts.” It’s a powerful story. Have you ever heard of it. It truly is wonderful! I’ve copied it below and I hope it encourages you as it continues to encourage me. I promise you… if you read it…you will be blessed.

The Story of the Donuts

There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man, who taught at a small college in the western United States. Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution. Every student was required to take this course their freshman year, regardless of his or her major. Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery.

Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously. This year, Dr. Christianson had a really special, dedicated, student named Steve. He was a tremendous athlete. Steve was studying with the intent of going on to seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, well-liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen. In other words, he was huge! He was the starting center on the university’s football team, and was the best student in the professor’s class.

One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. “How many push-ups can you do?” Steve said, “I do about 200 every night.” “200? That’s pretty good, Steve,” Dr. Christianson said. “Do you think you could do 300?” Steve replied, “I don’t know…. I’ve never done 300 at one time.” “Do you think you could?” again asked Dr. Christianson. “Well, I can try,” said Steve. “Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me if you can do it,” said the professor. Steve said, “Well… I think I can…yeah, I can do it.” Dr. Christianson said, “Good! I need you to do this on Friday. Let me explain what I have in mind.”

Well, Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. Now, these weren’t the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday. It was the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson’s class. Woohoo!

Dr. Christianson went to the first girl sitting in the first row and asked, “Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?” Cynthia said, “Yes.” Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?” “Sure…” Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve hopped back up and sat in his desk. Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia’s desk.

Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, who was seated behind Cynthia, and asked, “Joe, do you want a donut?” Joe said, “You bet I do.” Dr. Christianson asked, “Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?” Steve did ten push-ups, and Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut.

Walking down the second aisle, Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for female attention. When the professor asked, “Scott, do you want a donut?” Scott’s reply was, “Well, I can do my own push-ups?” Dr. Christianson said, “No, Steve has to do them anyway, whether you take the donut or not.” Then Scott said, “I don’t want one! That’s not fair!” Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and said, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut he doesn’t want?” With perfect obedience Steve started to do the ten push-ups.

Scott said with a red face, “HEY! I said I didn’t want one!” Dr. Christianson said, “Look! This is my classroom, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don’t want it. Now sit down!” And he put a donut on Scott’s desk.

Now by this time, Steve started to slow down with the push-ups. He was starting to tired. He was now just staying on the floor between sets because it took too much effort getting back into his seat. You could see the sweat beading on his forehead and sliding down his cheeks. Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get more angry. Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, “Jenny, do you want a donut?” Sternly, Jenny said, “No.” Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten more push-ups so Jenny can have a donut she doesn’t want?” Steve did ten….Jenny got a donut.

By now, a growing sense of tenseness and unease filled the room. The students were saying “No” with greater fervor and all across the room there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks. Steve was now really putting forth a lot of effort to get the push-ups done for each donut. There began to be a pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and face were bright red because of the physical effort Steve had expended.

Now, Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to go over and watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten push-ups in a set. He told Robert, “Make sure he does them all.” Robert complied. He didn’t like Steve anyway. He thought he was a “goody-goody” and so, he watched Steve closely and Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row.

From time to time however, other students from the class across the hall would come into Dr. Christianson’s class. The professor across the hall would not allow late-comers to barge into his class, but they would be counted present if they attended Dr. Christianson’s class. About that time, 4 students walked in and sat down on the steps that ran along the back wall of the room. As they came in they said: “Mmmm… We can smell the donuts!” When Dr. Christianson realized this, he did a quick count and saw that there were now 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.

Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Steve was really having a rough time now. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set. Steve asked Dr. Christianson, “Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?” Dr. Christianson thought for a moment and then turned to Robert the atheist and said, “What do you think, Robert?” Robert looked at Steve as Steve was lying on the floor with his arms beginning to shake and Robert said, “It’s alright…he doesn’t have to touch his nose to the floor.” Steve looked up at Dr. Christianson and then to Robert and said, “I’ll do them right. Nose to the floor.” Dr. Christianson, now with tears in his eyes didn’t say a word and continued on.

Just at that moment, Jason, a notoriously late student started to walk in to the room when all the students yelled in one voice, “No Jason! Don’t come in! Stay out!” Jason didn’t know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, “No, let him come.” Professor Christianson said, “Steve, you realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten push-ups for him?” Steve said, “Yes, let him come in. Give him a donut” Dr. Christianson said, “Okay, Steve, I’ll let you get Jason’s out-of-the-way right now.” He asked, “Jason, do you want a donut?” Jason, new to the room of course, hardly knew what was going on and said, “Yeah! I’ll take a donut.” “Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut?” The class groaned! Steve did ten push-ups very slowly and with immense effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and he sat down and bit into his donut, while everyone glared at him.

Dr. Christianson finished the fourth row, and then started on the late-comers seated in the back of the room. Steve’s arms were now shaking violently with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. By this time, sweat was profusely pouring off of his face. There was no sound in the room except his heavy breathing and the splattering of sweat on the floor. Oh…and the muffled sobs of some of the girls as they sniffed away the tears. Even the guys were struggling to watch this display. The last two students in the room were two young ladies…very pretty and very popular.

Dr. Christianson went to Ashley and asked, “Ashley, do you want a doughnut?” Ashley said, very weakly, “No, thank you.” Professor Christianson quietly asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Ashley can have a donut she doesn’t want?” Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push-ups for Ashley. Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Courtney. “Courtney, do you want a donut?” Courtney, with tears flowing down her face could barely answer for the tears and she said, “Dr. Christianson, why can’t I help him?” Dr. Christianson, holding back his own tears said, “No, Steve has to do it alone, I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not.”

Dr. Christianson continued: “When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Steve here is the only student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work. Steve told me that in football practice when a player messes up he must do push-ups. I told Steve that none of you could eat at my party unless he paid the price by doing your push-ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes.”

“Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Courtney can have a donut?” As Steve very slowly finished his last push-up, understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him. 350 push-ups. On the last one, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor with a “thud.”

Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said. “And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, pleaded to the Father, ‘into thy hands I commend my spirit,’ with the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him. He yielded up His life. And like some of those in this room, you have chosen to leave the gift on the desk, uneaten.”

Two guys helped Steve up from the floor and to his seat. Steve was physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile, as he wiped the sweat from his eyes. Dr. Christianson said, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” adding, “Not all sermons are preached in words.”

Turning to his class, the professor said, “My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. God spared not His only Begotten Son for you. Whether or not you choose to accept His gift, the price has been paid regardless. You see, Cain brought his offering to the Lord. It was unacceptable because it was brought with a dishonest and corrupt heart. Abel gave his best and it was received by God. What does God want? He wants you! He wants your all. He wants your faults, your failures, your fears, your struggles, your past, your present and your future. He wants to give you life in exchange for your certain death without Him. He wants your worship and He wants your love. He wants you to give from a heart that is clean and righteous before Him. He doesn’t want your effort. He doesn’t want your performance. He doesn’t want your good works. He doesn’t want your church membership and He doesn’t even want your money. He wants you! Just you!” And as the professor walked to the door of the class: “And that is the meaning of this class. Class dismissed.”

Perhaps as you read that story, it moved you. Perhaps there were tears in your eyes or a lump in your throat. Do you know what I find interesting about that possibility? It’s the fact that we can be moved by a story of a young man struggling to do push-ups, yet the Lord and Savior of the world was slaughtered on a cross and because we’ve heard the story so much, we are hardly blink an eye. Why? Because we’ve forgotten how good it is to be saved and just how blessed we are! We have little excitement or passion in us about our Lord Jesus because He’s become commonplace. Why don’t we thank Him for His precious salvation.

Thank you Jesus!!!

Kevin

Sometimes people ask me: “What happened to you? What got hold of you to get you to where you are today?” Well, I wrote about it in my book titled: “Rite of Passage.” In case you’re interested, here you go:

My Struggle-My Revelation

As I begin to type the words to this chapter, I sit in my small office in my basement and I look around at it and its contents. It has a small desk, a chair, a book case and a filing cabinet. It has some Christmas wrapping paper, a few boxes and my golf clubs that haven’t been used in almost four years. My little office has a small table with an old fax machine on it and about a dozen, small, framed pictures of various members of my family. There is a picture of all the children when they were small. There’s a picture of my grandmother, who has gone to be with the Lord and another one of me and Pam when we were first married twenty years ago. There is also a picture of me singing with a quartet that I sang with for about ten years. As I look at those pictures and think about those days that are in my past and I think about where I am today, writing this book, I’m struck with a sobering thought: I can’t go back.

Have you ever had that thought? I guess we all have at one time or another. We know we can’t go back and relive another day. When the day is gone, it is gone. Knowing that is good and bad. There are so many things I wish I could go back and do over. We’ve all said it: “If I only knew back then what I know now.” What is it that I know now that I wish I had known back then? Honestly, it’s what I’m trying to write in the pages of this book. Yes, this book is entitled “Rite of Passage,” but it’s about so much more. For years as a husband, father, businessman, deacon, choir member, quartet singer, and member of several community groups, I found I was running wide open. I never seemed to have enough time to do anything well. I was trying to do it all. Here’s the problem with the way I was living: I was missing it!

In Chapter 3 I spent quite a bit of time sharing about the role of the church in helping families raise Christ-centered adults. We looked at many passages of Scripture and by now we should all realize that the responsibility of raising children falls to the parents, principally the fathers. Certainly, you can go back and review those passages found in Genesis 18:19, Deuteronomy 6:1-7, Psalm 78 and Ephesians 6:4 any time you would like. The point is clear: fathers are to be leading the way in discipling in our homes. The truth is that I wasn’t leading in my home even 10 years ago. I hate to admit it, but it is the truth. I was succeeding in everything except in being the spiritual leader in my home. What became crystal clear to me through several incidents and God-ordained experiences was the fact I needed to change or I would lose my family. Am I saying my wife was going to walk out on me and take the kids? Not necessarily, but I am saying I was in danger of raising children that would potentially never truly see a genuine, sincere faith in Jesus Christ. I was leaving this teaching to others because I was too busy to oversee it. I had been climbing the proverbial ladder of success and when I reached the top, I found that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.

Why am I taking the time to tell you all of this? Because I want you to know and understand that I am where I am today, in pursuit of building a Christ-directed life, by the grace and mercy of God. The whole idea of Rite of Passage is something that God has revealed to me gradually over the years and it has been a process for me. I didn’t just get here overnight. What I am providing in the pages of this book is a culmination of the last ten years of my life. Indeed, I have learned the hard way what the Bible teaches about leading in my home, and I’m still learning.

As I think back, I realize I wasn’t making disciples of my children because I didn’t understand what was involved. I thought if I got my family to church each Sunday and I served on a few committees and tithed, I had my bases covered. Yet, I knew there was more. But, what was it? Did I need to serve more or be more involved at the church or give more money? What was this nagging in my soul? Finally, I attended a conference where I was challenged as a man. I had never been challenged like this before in the spiritual realm. I had been challenged as an athlete, at the office and even in the studio recording a CD with a quartet, but never like this. The Scriptures opened my eyes to what I knew intuitively, but couldn’t quite grasp: I must truly become a disciple of Christ to make disciples. I must lead my home by dying to myself. I realized for the first time in my life that it was my job to disciple my children, not that of my wife, not the church, or anyone else. This was a life-changing experience for me that sent me on a journey that has since led me to some amazing places.

I can often be an open book about my life. Some may say that I’m too open. I guess that’s probably true, but I sincerely believe it’s important that you know where I’m coming from, particularly if you are a dad reading this book. Please hear my heart! I was a successful business man, had a good marriage and wonderful children. I had also been to the top of what most laymen would consider the pinnacle of Christian service. Yet, I wouldn’t trade anything for the way my wife and children look at me now. Something amazing happened in my life over a period of about nine months of soul-searching. The Lord transformed my thoughts, simplified my focus and challenged me to do what he created me to do. He had given me a passion for truly becoming a committed, dedicated disciple of Christ. My desires changed dramatically. God turned my heart toward my home and discipling my children.

Changed Perspectives

I knew that I was a Christian; however, there was a depth of commitment to Jesus Christ that I had never known before. I was living on the periphery of deep commitment. Yes, I was a believer and follower of Christ, but I thought, let’s not get crazy. We don’t want to go too deep with all of this, right? Yet, Jesus calls us to a radical lifestyle. He calls us to hunger and thirst for righteousness. He calls us to holiness and purity. That means I don’t watch garbage on TV and I don’t listen to ungodly music on the radio. Do you know what’s funny? I didn’t think I did either of those things, but actually, as I look back on it, I did. I was watching TV shows filled with sexual innuendo and bathroom humor, and I never thought anything about it. As I began to study the Bible, God revealed these things to me very clearly. I was listening to the same music everyone else was, yet it was filled with impure lyrics. Finally, my mind was opened to the truth of Scripture, such as Ephesians 5:3-4:

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

Not even a hint of sexual immorality. No obscenity. As I continued to read and study Scripture, as I never had before, I was challenged by passages I had heard all of my life, but now saw differently. For instance, Romans 12:1-2:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

I discovered I was to be a walking dead man. That’s what it means to be a living sacrifice. I learned I am to be holy. Yes, as believers we are called to be holy. But, I had excused away this whole idea by saying, “No one is perfect.” So, I didn’t even attempt to live a holy and righteous life. Don’t get me wrong. I was good, as compared to the worst “Christians” I knew; but being holy and righteous, only Jesus could embody those qualities. I had been deceived. So, many things changed in my home. This is not to say we had a home filled with overtly sinful things. We didn’t. As a family, we decided to do our very best to live a sacrificial life before the Lord. Therefore, TV shows, music and movie preferences changed.

I slowly began to untangle myself from the world and secular worldviews that had been filling my brain since childhood. I became a student of the Bible. I sincerely began studying the Scriptures. I replaced so much wasted time watching TV and surfing the internet with Scripture reading and just spending valuable time with my family. I learned that it is indeed true that you will never be any better in public than what you are in private. So, I had to sacrifice sleep in order to get up early, get into the Word and meet with Jesus. I came to realize that for years I had desired sleep more than I had desired being with the Lord. Over time, my walk with the Lord became so much sweeter and more relaxed. It’s difficult to describe in words, but I hope what I have shared helps you to understand what God was doing in my life.

Kevin

What a combination! Basketball and Snow!! And both are coming this week it appears. We know the Basketball is here. The ACC tournament is in full swing, but what about the weather? Well, it’s a bit early…but it appears we have a decent shot at some March Snow this weekend and that will only increase the “March Madness!”

Here’s the latest forecast from our United States model called the GFS.

That’s right! We could see some snow on Saturday night and Sunday morning. We’ll see. A forecaster in Charlotte is only rating the chance at 10% right now…

The system is still off the west coast and that’s why the confidence is so low. Honestly, we won’t know until tomorrow when it gets onto the continental US that the models can really pick up on what’s going to potentially happen.

My favorite forecaster is Van Denton and this is what’s on his Facebook page. The top one is the European Model and the bottom one is the GFS (US Model).

Van’s Post:

2:40 pm Wed March 8, 2017 Feel free to SHARE

Still way too early to have a good fix on specifics for Saturday night/Sunday morning, but here is what the 2 models show that go out that far. The GFS has lowered amounts from the past 2 days and last night and the Euro has remained about the same.

We expect colder air to push in from the north on Saturday and an area of low pressure to arrive from the south on Saturday night and pass to our east on Sunday. This combination would produce the snow chance that the models are showing. The ground is warm and that would cut into amounts that we see accumulate. One thing to note about the models, they show the amount of snow that actually falls based on it all sticking. With a warm ground, much of it would melt and depth would likely remain below what a model actually shows.

By tomorrow night the energy will reach the mainland (currently over the Pacific Ocean). Once it reaches land, we will get better data from Weather balloon sounds which take measurements within the storm. Then we will have a much better idea what to actually expect from this system. We usually start putting out OUR forecast for snow amounts within 48 hours.

So, we’ll see. Either way…it’s kind of exciting. I am reminded of the Blizzard of 1993 that occurred during the ACC Tournament. Wow! That was something! Here’s the snowfall map from that one…

We had that 22″ amount at my house. Unreal! Mt. Mitchell got 5 feet!!!

This was a picture from Eastern Tennessee…

I remember the snow drifted up to four feet in some places around the house. It was truly an amazing event!

Well, you can be sure we’re not looking at anything like that…but, nonetheless, the timing of the event being March 11 and 12 this Saturday and Sunday is very similar to 1993 in timing.

So, enjoy the weekend! I will! Snow and Basketball! Wow! What a potential combination!

This week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, “Children in Big Church? It’s up to over 4,300 views. Amazing!

http://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/ozgx3o5

Kevin

Respect

This is still one of my favorite pictures…IMG_1997

That’s Charlotte, my granddaughter craning her head to hear her Papa. What a beautiful example of children being in the church.

As I preach each week, people will say, “I’m sorry my child was making noise,” or “Sorry we had to get up and go to the cry room.” Honestly, I don’t notice any of it. And truly, I’m grateful that we have a church that’s okay with children in the meeting. Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” What a blessing!

I helped conduct a funeral yesterday and I was awed once again at the profound soberness when “Taps” is played to honor a soldier who defended our country. I know there is still the debate about whether or not it’s okay to not stand at the playing of the National Anthem, but I say, “Come on folks!” Yesterday, when I looked into the eyes of a woman who had been married to her husband for 59 years and a I saw a soldier hand her a folded American Flag as he knelt on one knee…well…let’s just say that I had a huge lump in my throat. It looked much like this:

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At the funeral yesterday, I preached a message and included Psalm 15 (the “Psalm of Integrity,” as it is sometimes called). He had defended our nation in the Korean conflict and for that I was grateful. As the VFW Honor Guard fired off a 21-gun salute, I was humbled.

When you see a veteran with a hat on signifying their branch of service, thank them. Walk up to them and shake their hand. Buy their lunch. But, show respect and honor to those men and women who risked it all for us.

No, I’m not saying we should put patriotism over Jesus. But, I am saying that as Christians, we should respect those who kept their word to our nation and defended us far and wide so that we have the freedoms we enjoy today.

Do you ever wonder if Female athletics are in danger of disappearing? They could. Here’s why:

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

Do you have tender vegetation blooming? If you are in North Carolina, they are probably going to get bitten tonight. Like the Bradford Pear trees at the bottom of our driveway.

img_3281

I’m really worried for the apple growers. It’s supposed to hit 24 degrees tonight. That could wipe out the apple crop this year for some farmers. Would you join me in praying for them? The Lord knows and we trust Him in all things. In the good and the bad He will sustain us and provide for us. Let’s be there for our neighbors and show the love of Christ.

Kevin

Is the weather crazy or what? Another record fell today. 74 degrees in Greensboro, broke the daily record of 73. But, beware! By the time we get to the first week of March, it’s going to change. How cold? It’s hard to tell at this point, but I’m convinced it’ll be below freezing and with those tender buds popping out on the apple trees and other trees…OUCH! I’m concerned it could be tough for the various fruit crops and the farmers praying for not so mild weather.

Some of the weather blogs I read are still saying there could even be cold and snow in the Mid-Atlantic. How far south could that go? Well, it’s hard to say. But, we all knows snow is possible in March. Here’s some of the latest thinking…

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Van Denton of Fox8 in Greensboro says:

“While we’re expecting more unseasonable warmth Friday and Saturday–and again after a brief cool down on Sunday–there are hints of a cold spell during the second or third week of March. Longer-range models are suggesting we may see an extended period of mostly below normal temperatures during this time.”

Interestingly, in 1980 after we hit 70 degrees in Wilkesboro, one week later we had 10 inches of snow on the ground. Here’s the map:

 

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Lately, I’ve been reading this book:

krs

I love history and I am convinced not only is the Bible the Word of God, the Bible is also history. Read it and you’ll see people repeating the same problems over and over again. Truly, “there is nothing new under the sun.” Throughout my 48 years on this earth I’ve watched humankind wrestle with life and how they’re going to live it.

In the book mentioned above, I’ve been reading about WWII and the Pacific theater. As everyone knows, that piece of the war was finally won by the Allies by the dropping of two atomic bombs. As I have studied the history of WWII I’ve been intrigued by the decision-making of people in power. And I’ve been reminded once again of Jesus’ words:

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Matthew 16:26

Think about those words. What does it mean to “gain the whole world?” Well, what means the world to you? For many of the decision-makers in WWII they were literally dealing with the world and millions of lives.

I was struck by this man.

1024px-robert_oppenheimer_1946

That’s J. Robert Oppenheimer. He is considered to be the genius and mastermind of the Atomic Bomb. He was hired by the US Government to design the bomb and ultimately it was tested on July 16, 1945 in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The project was called the Manhattan Project and Oppenheimer called the testing of the bomb the “Trinity.” Are you thinking: “Father, Son and Holy Spirit?” Don’t. Oppenheimer was a fan of Hinduism and the “Trinity” were the three major gods of Hinduism: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. He would quote a verse from the Hindu Vedas, Bhagavad Gita over and over during the development of the bomb.

“If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one.”

Years later he would explain that another verse had also entered his head at that time: namely, the famous verse: “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Interestingly during the development of the bomb, Oppenheimer would have an affair with a lady who would ultimately commit suicide after swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills. His wife would eventually leave him and return to her parent’s home in Pittsburg. Ultimately, Oppenheimer would seldom eat, and even though he was 6 feet tall, he would lose down to 115 pounds and his teeth were rotting out. It’s also reported that he lived off of five packs of Chesterfield cigarettes per day, and tons of gin and coffee.

Yet, this was one of the smartest men who ever lived. He is said to have been equal to Einstein, pictured together here:

einstein_oppenheimer

Yet, Oppenheimer died at the early age of 62 after complications and a subsequent comma from throat cancer. One of the smartest men who ever lived, yet his life was a colossal train wreck. A man of intellectual brilliance, who rejected Christianity because he was heard to say it was “unintellectual.” He was cremated and his ashes were dropped of the coast of a small island he bought in the Virgin Islands.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Matthew 16:26

If someone were to write a description of your life today, what would they write? What are you living for? What motivates you? Think about it today. What’s going to matter in eternity?

The Apostle Paul got it right…

Philippians 3:7-11

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.

What’s J. Robert Oppenheimer doing right now? What will he be doing 100 billion years from now? Do you think he regrets his rejection of Christ and his teachings as “unintellectual?” Do you think Brahma and Vishnu and Shiva are helping him now? Of course not! They don’t even exist!

I’ve been thinking of Oppenheimer a lot lately and I’m sobered by my reading of his life. Make your life count for Christ, Kevin! That’s all I can think of! Make your life count for eternity. Live for Jesus…the one who died for you! Live for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, for there is purpose and meaning in that.

Kevin

When the puritans, pilgrims, separatists, (you pick the name), came to this country, they sought the ability to freely worship. They sought to escape the oppression they were facing in the “Mother country,” England and the corrupt Church. In the process of setting up the government of this nation, along with our constitution, came a Bill of Rights and amendments to those rights. The very first amendment says this…

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The “free exercise thereof” seems to be limited (as is being interpreted by the courts today) to be within our church buildings. In other words, you are free to believe what you want to believe inside the walls of your church, but NOT in the marketplace. Case in point… See below. (Note: this will take you about 5-6 minutes to read…but, it’s worth it to understand where we’re headed as a nation regarding religious liberty and the First Amendment.

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The Weekly is a rundown of news by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission highlighting the week’s top news stories from the public square and providing commentary on the big issues of our day.

Washington Supreme Court Rules Against Christian Florist in Same-Sex Marriage Case

The Washington State Supreme Court ruled against a Christian florist who refused to serve a same-sex wedding because of “her relationship with Jesus Christ.” In their unanimous decision the state court claims that, “discrimination based on same-sex marriage constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The ruling is the latest legal setback for Barronelle Stutzman, the 72-year-old owner of Arlene’s Flowers & Gifts. Last year Washington State’s sued Stutzman because she refused to sell flowers to a long time customer when the arrangements were to be used for a same-sex marriage ceremony.

Although Stutzman, an active member of a Southern Baptist church, did not have any qualms about serving homosexual customers, she “didn’t want to be involved in a same-sex marriage.” Stutzman had served her friend and customer Rob Ingersoll for nearly a decade, designing custom arrangements for Valentine’s Day and other holidays. But when Ingersoll asked Stutzman to arrange flowers for their wedding, she told him that while she valued him as a friend, her faith would not allow it.

Last year a Benton County Superior Court judge ruled that the law trumped her rights of conscience. “Religious motivation does not excuse compliance with the law,” said Judge Alexander C. Ekstrom in his 60-page opinion.

At the time, Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced he would accept $2,000 in penalties, $1 in fees and costs, plus an agreement not to discriminate in the future and to end further litigation. But Stutzman rejected the proposed settlement, and in a letter to the Washington state attorney general, said:

Your offer reveals that you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about. It’s about freedom, not money. I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important. Washington’s constitution guarantees us “freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment.” I cannot sell that precious freedom. You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver. That is something I will not do.

I pray that you reconsider your position. I kindly served Rob for nearly a decade and would gladly continue to do so. I truly want the best for my friend. I’ve also employed and served many members of the LGBT community, and I will continue to do so regardless of what happens with this case. You chose to attack my faith and pursue this not simply as a matter of law, but to threaten my very means of working, eating, and having a home. If you are serious about clarifying the law, then I urge you to drop your claims against my home, business, and other assets and pursue the legal claims through the appeal process.

The attorney general continued to go after Stutzman, even though the refusal could cause her to lose her shop.

In the Washington Supreme Court ruling, the nine justices contend Stutzman discriminated against Ingersoll because of his sexual orientation. They also determined the Washington’s Defense of Marriage Act is to be “construed liberally” and that all people “regardless of sexual orientation are to have ‘’full enjoyment of any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, or privileges’ of any place of public accommodation.”

The court also contends that the Washington’s Defense of Marriage Act “contains no mandate to balance religious rights against the rights of protected class members” and that her rights to freedom of religion and speech under the U.S. Constitution were not violated.

Alliance Defending Freedom, the organization defending Stutzman in this case, says they will continue to stand with her by appealing this ruling against her to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The Washington Supreme Court’s ruling shortchanges our nation’s most fundamental freedom in favor of ideological conformity,” said ERLC president Russell Moore in response to the ruling. “Barronelle Stutzman followed her genuinely held beliefs without hostility toward any, and yet finds herself the target of a government that wants to steamroll her constitutional rights. The Court held that the government can force citizens to use their creative gifts and expressive speech to participate and endorse acts they believe to be immoral. This decision is a loss not only for Barronelle Stutzman but for every American who values liberty and civility over coercion by the government. My prayer is that this ruling would be overturned and that the U.S. Supreme Court would recognize the crucial importance of religious liberty.” 

Did you notice the words: “U.S. Supreme Court” in that last sentence. That’s where it’s headed and that’s why the Trump appointment of Neil Gorsuch and his confirmation is so critical. It will at least give the court a 4-4 tie and Justice Kennedy (as usual…as the “moderate-left-leaning” justice) will be the swing vote. If Clinton had won the whitehouse, it would have been “game over.”

So, there’s been another blow to religious liberty. But, there’s also been a victory for Religious Liberty. Did you hear about this?

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Fighting Fired With Fired

February 09, 2017

Squashing a person’s religious freedom will cost you — $225,000 in fact! That’s how much the state of Georgia was forced to pay Dr. Eric Walsh for taking his family on a two-year roller coaster of Christian persecution. As some of you might remember, the Californian was hired by Georgia officials to run the state’s Department of Public Health. But shortly after accepting the job and preparing to move his family to the Peach State, his new office called and asked for copies of sermons he’d delivered on the weekends at his church as a lay pastor. The next day, to everyone’s astonishment, Walsh was fired. Why? Because he dared to preach what the Bible says on issues from sexuality to evolution.

“This has been very painful for me,” he told Fox News’s Todd Starnes at the time. “I really am a strong believer in the Constitution, but now I feel like maybe all these ideals and values that I was raised to believe — the ideals the country was founded upon — no longer exist.” Of course, Georgia’s DPH insisted it had nothing to do with his biblical beliefs, but as our friends at First Liberty Institute know, that was nothing but a vain attempt to cover their tracks for what should be an open-and-shut case of religious discrimination.

Since 2015, the case has taken some interesting twists and turns, including a Houston-esque subpoena for Walsh’s sermons, sermon notes, and even his Bible! Like far too many people, the government not only scrutinized Dr. Walsh for his Christian beliefs — but used those beliefs against him! That’s not only unconstitutional — it’s un-American! Fortunately, the state finally realized as much and decided to settle before its intolerance was made even more visible and painful as this case wound its way through the courts.

Now, months into his legal battle, Dr. Walsh can finally celebrate. “It’s been a long, difficult journey,” he said today, “but it’s worth it to have my name cleared and to ensure that all Georgia government employees know they have religious liberty.” First Liberty attorney Jeremy Dys is hopeful that this case will help send the message that religious discrimination won’t be tolerated. And 40,387 of you helped make it possible! Tens of thousands of you signed our petition and supported us when we played a part in Dr. Walsh’s press conference in Atlanta. As First Liberty says, that was all crucial in making Georgia officials feel the pressure. Hopefully, other states will think twice before trying to use Americans’ religious beliefs against them!

So, there you have it. A Win and a Loss. And this is how it’s going to be going forward. What does this mean for you and for me? It means we need to continue to pray that we can have the opportunity to share the Gospel in a free country.
  • A country that’s free to help the poor and the needy and the immigrants. (Might I encourage all of those who believe this is true to support adopting a foreign child, an immigrant. Pam and I have adopted two. You see, it’s more than just talk about immigrants on blogs and social media that really counts. It’s more than espousing idealogical profundity, it’s about putting your money where your mouth is.)
  • A country that is free to allow other religions to worship as they so choose.
  • A country where we, yes… allow a Muslim to wear a hijab to work and people to burn flags, (as awful as that seems to me). Yet, freedom is freedom in a “FREE COUNTRY,” right?
  • A country that, yes… still allows Christians to believe the Bible and to live out their faith in the marketplace. In other words, a country where it should continue to remain free for even the CHRISTIAN to express their faith and PRACTICE their religion anywhere at anytime (not just in a church building or religious center).
  • A country where Bible-believing, followers of Christ don’t have to look over their shoulders before they say the name, “Jesus” or quote scripture.
  • A country where we actually remember why we were founded in the first place, (religious freedom), by a people who actually believed in the Bible and lived by it in their daily lives.

Kevin

Enjoying the Journey

There’s certainly a lot going on in the world. The news is littered with trials and troubles and problems. I think about and pray about how the Lord might use me during “such a time as this.”

Think about our world. Problems. There are problems everywhere. But, isn’t that life, folks? Isn’t like about dealing with problems. Problems: not enough money, not enough time, not enough health, not enough patience, not enough gas in our tanks to enjoy life…instead…we just endure it. Is that what God intended? Just endure this life? Surely there’s more.

I believe there is. Jesus said, “I am come that you may have an abundant life and live it to the full” (John 10:10). What does, “abundant” mean? According to http://www.blueletterbible.org it means: “exceeding some number or measure or rank or need.” I’m glad of that! Jesus wants to give us a life on this earth…yes…a sin-filled earth that exceeds measure and need. That’s good! That means that even in this crazy world, we can enjoy the journey. Even with the debates about immigrants and refugees…we can enjoy the journey. Even though work may not be perfect, your health may not be perfect, your kids may not be perfect, you and I can still “exceed some number, or measure or rank or need.” I don’t know about you, but that comforts me!

I’d like to post some articles I’ve read this week that are really good. Two from folks who are near and dear to me. First, my daughter Kandace. She wrote this beautiful blog about music. I want to post the entire article here because I think it’s that good and because I’m big-time prejudiced about my daughter and I believe (like I do the rest of my family) that she’s the best thing since sliced bread. 🙂

http://mpbcworship.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-power-of-music.html

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Power of Music

 Music is a powerful thing. Music has been a part of my life for as long and as far back as I can remember. I remember sitting in Dad’s car as a little girl and listening to classical music. He always said it made a person smarter. I remember my first piano lesson and how I hated it and Mama telling me that I would learn an instrument and learn it well so I had better find one that I liked and stick with it (it wasn’t the piano) 😃 I remember Daddy would sometimes pull out his old tape of instrumentals composed by Michael W. Smith and he would have us close our eyes and try to imagine seeing heaven for the first time. I remember singing my first solo at church when I was about 6 years old. And from the time that I was about 4 or 5 until I was 14 Mama and Daddy would sing a hymn to me before bed every single night.

One of my earliest memories of actually feeling the Lord’s presence in my life very much involved music… I was about 5 or 6 and we were singing the song “Shout To The Lord” one Sunday morning at church. We always showed a video during the song of different things in nature…. One of the things on the video was waves crashing in the ocean. I remember standing there, singing along, and when the waves part of the video came on the screen I felt the Lord speak into my spirit and say “Do you see that? I made that. And this music. Those notes that make up this song? I made that too.” I came home from church that day and told Mama that when we sang “Shout To The Lord” I felt Jesus.

That’s the especially beautiful thing about music. Still to this day when I hear those songs by Michael W. Smith I remember thinking about heaven. Or when I hear certain hymns I think about being little and the feeling of peace, safety and contentment I felt as I laid in my bed, in my little pink bedroom, with Mama and Daddy sitting on both sides of me singing those old songs with such rich and meaningful lyrics. Music has a way of embedding itself in our minds and bringing back memories, thoughts and feelings…. and for me, it has and always will be a source of peace and comfort. I have this thing that I do when I’m feeling afraid or overwhelmed. I sing. I usually sing a hymn or a worship song and I’ll sing it until the feeling passes. After the car accident I was in back in December I had dreams about it for about 3 weeks. Almost every single night I would wake up in a sweat after dreaming about the crash in slow motion over and over again. Every night that I had a dream about it I would turn on my light and sing “It Is Well With My Soul” or “Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus” and slowly, but surely the fear would dissipate and I would go back to sleep.

I love when I’m onstage on a Sunday morning or Wednesday night and I close my eyes during a song and listen to all of the voices around me. I love that God is using something so near and dear to my heart to bring people closer to Him. I love when people say that something I have sung or played has made them feel the presence of Jesus in their lives. There is nothing else like it. I am so thankful for the power that music carries. It has brought me out of many a dark place. I encourage you, the next time you’re at church, to close your eyes during one of the songs and just listen to the voices around you. It truly is a powerful thing.

~Kandace

“Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn— shout for joy before the Lord, the King. Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”Psalm 98

Pretty good, huh? I’ll say so!

And if I might brag (albeit humbly) on her a little more… Check out this song she wrote herself.

https://www.facebook.com/MPBCNC/videos/316741702061073/

I also want to link to our Daily Devotion page to a devotion that our Ministry Assistant, Caleb Triplett wrote earlier this week about raising children. It’s near and dear to my heart, because we’re getting ready to embark upon our 10th class of Rite of Passage participants at the church. It’s crazy to think it’s been 10 years, but it has. For 10 years we’ve been seeking to raise the bar of expectations for our young adults. In fact, on this blog, you can click on: “Adult-Centered Youth Ministry” and see a ton of articles on the subject. You can also click on: “Rite of Passage-Book.”

Well, the upshot is this: our kids will rise to our level of expectations and that’s true of their spiritual lives. I know we all have goals of what we want our kids to do academically and vocationally and even athletically, but what about spiritually? Caleb’s devotion addresses that very well.

https://dkevinbrowndailydevotions.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/the-desperate-plea-of-a-father/

Here’s some pictures from of our Sportsmen’s Banquet last week.

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We had over 400 folks come and participate. Do we love our community at MPBC? You better believe it! Here’s Amanda Eddins helping Andrew shoot a bow.

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Amanda is an amazing teacher and she is quite a markslady herself!

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Don’t you just love that picture. Desi and her son, Jace taking care of making sure all our folks had plenty of soft drinks and water! Yes, we love our community and gave them a wonderful meal, music and most importantly, Jesus!

And you see, that’s important. We’ve got to give people help in one hand…but, Jesus in the other and a lot of churches are moving away from that. Today, they only offer the “social gospel.” Just feed people and that’s it. Well, if that’s all you do and that person dies without Jesus, they’ll go to hell with a full belly, but what have we really accomplished? Give ’em food and clothes and love…but, for Pete’s sake…give them Jesus!

People are asking me: “Is winter over?” Well, it’s certainly been an anemic winter if you like snow. What a roller coaster. From low 40’s for highs to mid-70’s within just a few days. It was a high of 43 yesterday and Sunday it’s supposed to be 74! Is that crazy or what?

As far as the snow goes…there’ll be nothing for the rest of February. But March is always the wild card. It’s possible we could see one more snow, but the odds are slim. It’s been a La Nina winter and they never bode well for snow. We’ve had right at 8″ for the year, which is below the 12″ average for our area. Yet, the forecasters said it would be a “slightly below-average” to “average” year. So, we’re pretty much on track for that. We’ll see how it all turns out. In the mealtime…enjoy the roller coaster ride! 🙂

The grandkids are growing…

Evelyn rolled over this week. She’ll be three months old tomorrow. Here’s the aftermath from Facebook…

https://www.facebook.com/katy.brown.3150/videos/1505020449510635/

I’m a proud Papa!

Kevin