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When I was a little boy I loved going to the grocery store with my whole family. (You know I’m a bit strange…so, this shouldn’t surprise you, even though it does sound a bit kooky!) Yep…me, momma, Dad and Kim. We’d all go to the Lowe’s Foods in West Park Shopping Center (where the YMCA Express is now).

Now why is this something I tell you? Because it’s one of my fondest memories as a kid. (No I’m NOT kidding.) Why? Because it was such a peaceful and enjoyable thing to do. We’d go on Saturday mornings and I kid you not, almost every Saturday I’d hear this song playing throughout the grocery store.

That song: “Last Dance,” by Floyd Cramer is imbedded in my brain. I heard it last week while I was with my family in Nashville at the Fine Arts Music Camp (FASA) at Lipscomb University when I heard one of the students play it. Immediately, I was transported back 40 years to Lowe’s Foods and riding on a grocery cart, shopping with my family. Wow! What memories. Isn’t it amazing what music can do?

I loved the fact that our family was together, because we lived such busy lives. It seemed that this was one of the places and times where we were together and just enjoyed: well…buying food and listening to Floyd Cramer.

What do you remember as a child? What memories do you have? Is music attached? Perhaps? It’s interesting if you ask children about what they like to do. It’s often got little to do with spending a lot of money. It could be catching fireflies. It could be watching a TV show together. It could be playing in the back yard. It could be reading together. It could be a lot of different things for sure…but, it’s fun to ask. If you have children in your home, you ought to ask them. What do you like doing together as a family?

I asked Clara and Andrew and they said they liked a number of different things. One of which was watching Carolina Basketball (that’s the truth…I’m not making this up) and going to the mountains and staying at a friend’s condo for a couple of days and swimming in a large indoor pool there and eating hot wings. I had no idea about either of those (for sure) until I asked.

Memories. Good stuff!

I made a bunch last week with Kandace and Clara and Andrew in Nashville. It’s become a tradition for our family to head west in July to Nashville. We’ve gone 8 out of the last 9 years. I enjoy the time as a place to allow my mind and my spirit to rest for a bit. Being a pastor is a 24/7 endeavor, and as long as there is a cell phone available, there is never a time when you are 100% off. The only time that ever really comes is when I’m out of the country. I’m not complaining, I’m just stating the facts and that’s sometimes hard. But, emergencies don’t wait. They come even when you are “out of pocket.” And that’s okay. You shouldn’t consider being a pastor unless you can handle this sense of duty.

Here’s some pictures from last week:

Here’s Kandace signing a James Taylor classic: “Lonesome Road” at the Grand Ole Opry.

To watch your children sing and play music is a phenomenal thing! I’m so grateful and thankful for the memories we’re making. And guess, what…FASA is part of our family tradition and likely always will be. And now songs, music and even food eaten in a Lipscomb dorm room are all rolled up together into fantastic memories that my children will one day tell their children.

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “What Does Your Teen Really Believe.”

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/mlhuy8q

Kevin

It’s summer and it’s hot! It’s also really busy! For me this season of the year is loaded. From VBS to all the committee meetings, planning for the new year, budgeting, etc. And on top of that, we’ve had so much sickness and death in the church. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen in 12 years here. That’s how it goes. There are seasons of time for all of us. There are peaks and valleys. We all like the mountaintop experiences, but if you’ve ever climbed a mountain, you know you don’t stay on top long. You have to come down. But, the Lord is faithful and He sustains us in all things. You know that to be true don’t you. I sure do. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He’ll be with us until the end of time. Praise the name of Jesus!

I’m heading out for Nashville tomorrow. Kandace and Clara are once again involved in FASA (Fine Arts Summer Academy) at Lipscomb University in Nashville. The Academy is hosted by the Annie Moses Band. It’s a wonderful and busy time for them as they continue to polish and hone their singing and playing skills for the Lord.

I’m so proud of my children, (and I mean that in a non-boasting way). Quoting 3 John 4 says it all for me: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” No one’s kids are perfect, but I’m thankful for mine and for their talents and most of all for the fact that they have given their lives to the Lord and are seeking Him.

Katy wrote a blog post early this week that thrilled my heart. I’m glad Pam and I taught her at least one thing that was good. 🙂 Take a look…

THE LOST ART OF KIND GESTURES

There was a time when people stopped everything, even when it was completely inconvenient to come to the aid of a friend or an acquaintance or even a stranger. I’ve noticed since entering the world of adulthood that a lot of that mentality isn’t there like I thought it was. Interestingly – though not surprisingly – it seems that the older generation is the most likely to serve and sacrifice even when they know they won’t get anything in return.

In churches it’s most fascinating. Being completely honest, it’s amazing to watch millennials and some of generation X and their (our) lack of passion to be there for others. We are one way on social media… sweet and supportive in comments and statuses, hoping other will think that is how we are in real life. But are we?

My mom and dad tried to not only teach, but demonstrate a lifestyle of serving others. Sometimes I was on board and other times I was annoyed. I did not understand why I had to help mom clean up the house to have over company. I was too immature to realize it was a young couple coming over with their three young children, new to our church, looking for encouragement desperately. Mom was always organizing a children’s event at church, or directing a Christmas play, while dad was on the phone with a couple on the brink of divorce, sharing Scripture that would save their marriage. They had us working in the kitchen pouring drinks, making soup, delivering food to the elderly. We made our little allowances and were reminded to give out of them.

I say this not to brag, because many other families have done the same. It should be normal. Is it? Not really anymore. We say, “We just want to put our family first and if we have time we can give to our church and our community.” But one of the greatest ways to love our children is by helping them love others.

And my generation is the worst with the “consumer mentality.” We were raised to take the easy road and “find yourself” and do whatever is best for YOU. At the time it sounded like a nice idea, until all the bratty kids grew up. They’ll come to every event that’s free, but won’t lift a finger to volunteer. It’s easy to look godly and sacrificial on Facebook and in Instagram pictures, but when it’s ugly, dirty work that takes rolling up your sleeves and helping, serving, loving deeply… it’s not so glamorous. I remember a time when my favorite way to serve God was being on stage leading worship. I still enjoy it, but right now I get the greatest blessings out of doing the unseen. I never thought I would say that. This is something I’ll learn more about throughout my whole life, I’m sure.

I’m no master and who doesn’t like attention? We all do to some extent! But let’s take a step back and just learn to be generous again. So I encourage you, take the meal, send the note, hug the elderly lady. Do all the stuff no one sees, that you don’t get paid for. Great is your reward in heaven, but the feeling of pure joy down here is pretty great too. 

You’re 100% correct my dear daughter!!

You know I love statistics. I read this at Barna Research the other day. Not surprising…

Southern cities top the list of Most Churched Cities, but the fog of liberalism is drifting from the north and the west and we must continue to be on guard to teach and preach the truth of God’s Word, not man’s ways. See that here…

And to think that the northeast was where this nation started. It was in the northeast that we found the most dedicated Christians when this nation was founded. Are you curious what “Post-Christian” means? Well, here’s the metrics for the study by Barna Research:

Post-Christian Metrics
To qualify as “post-Christian,” individuals had to meet nine or more of the following factors . “Highly post-Christian” individuals meet 13 or more of the factors (out of these 16 criteria).

  • Do not believe in God
  • Identify as atheist or agnostic
  • Disagree that faith is important in their lives
  • Have not prayed to God (in the last week)
  • Have never made a commitment to Jesus
  • Disagree the Bible is accurate
  • Have not donated money to a church (in the last year)
  • Have not attended a Christian church (in the last 6 months)
  • Agree that Jesus committed sins
  • Do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”
  • Have not read the Bible (in the last week)
  • Have not volunteered at church (in the last week)
  • Have not attended Sunday school (in the last week)
  • Have not attended religious small group (in the last week)
  • Bible engagement scale: low (have not read the Bible in the past week and disagree strongly or somewhat that the Bible is accurate)
  • Not Born Again

My, oh my have things changed. Just look at what people now believe and consider “morally acceptable”…

I guess I was surprised to see that (according to Gallup), 69% of Americans believe it’s okay for their to be sex between an unmarried man and woman. Wow! 7 in 10 Americans believe that’s okay! Wow! And yet, according to Gallup, 78% of Americans say they are “Christian.” Folks, what kind of Christianity is that? It’s not Biblical Christianity. No! It’s a “make-it-up-as-you-go, please me” Christianity. And the winds of that kind of progressive liberalism and pagan viewpoint on God’s design for marriage has summarily destroyed the family in America.

But, Americans are messed up in what they think about God and the Bible anyway. Let me prove the point…

Folks, that’s almost half of Americans either AGREE STRONGLY or AGREE SOMEWHAT that all people pray to the same God. That means “all roads lead to heaven.” What a travesty for Jesus if that was the case. What a waste this was…

If all religions lead to “God,” then Jesus wasted His blood for nothing! Yet, all roads and all religions DO NOT lead to God, only Jesus does! Jesus said, “I am THE way, THE truth and THE life and NO ONE comes to the Father EXCEPT through ME!” John 14:6 (my emphasis added). Notice the article “the” that Jesus used. He didn’t use the article “A” before the words “way, truth and life.” And you know what? He proved He was the only one who could say that when He conquered death! The resurrection seals the deal, folks!

I did read an article by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council that I found interesting about “Faith in the White House.” See what you think…

http://www.frc.org/updatearticle/20170711/faith-whitehouse

July 11, 2017

Yesterday, I was invited to join about two dozen evangelical leaders from around the country at the White House for various briefings on a full range of issues which included the repeal of Obamacare, federal court appointments, foreign policy, Israel, and about a half-dozen other topics. The day-long meeting included time with both President Trump and Vice President Pence, concluding with prayer for them both in the Oval Office.

As I have stated before, I don’t agree with every decision or action by this administration, but I do agree with most — and I have found President Trump and the team he’s assembled to be genuinely interested and responsive to the concerns of the evangelical community. Trust me, after 14 years in this city, I am not naive to the ways of Washington, so it means something when I say that I am more optimistic that we (concerned Christian citizens) can change the course of this country and turn America back to the source of her greatness. To see this happen, we must not grow weary in well doing.

We must pray for our leaders, who are men and women with feet of clay, but many of whom have hearts after God. We must not be distracted or discouraged by the increasing volume of the media that has all but thrown off its disguise of objectivity. I never thought I would say this, as a former TV reporter that has defended the media, but DON’T TRUST THE MEDIA! Identify and rely on alternative, verifiable conservative news sources. FRC provides relevant and reliable information on timely topics, but you need more. A few other sources I trust are CNSNews.com, The Daily Signal, Todd Starnes at FoxNews.com, and The Washington Examiner. It is also critical, probably now more than ever, that you respond to our alerts as we work with the president’s team to drive forward a mutually beneficial agenda. Now is the time!


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

Good advice!

Kevin

It’s been a week of celebration. We celebrated the independence of our country. I had a great time with the family at the fireworks. Kandace took some great pictures. I love this one of a smiley face!

What a joyous time! But, I worry about our country, and sometimes I wonder how much longer we’ll truly be independent. I’ve talked before about the “Tytler Cycle of History” and I think of it often. Do you know about it?

If you read that carefully, where do you think we are as a people in this country. I would argue we are at “Complacency and Apathy” and quickly moving to “Dependence.” Do you see what’s after “Dependence?” Yep, “Bondage.” And the cycle must begin again. You see, we, as a nation showed great Spiritual Faith and “Courage” to leave Great Britain and come to this country. That led to our “Liberty” as a nation. However, over the last 200 years we’ve become the most powerful nation on earth and that has led to great “Abundance.” Yet, abundance leads to “Selfishness.” You get it.

Am I being pessimistic. No. I really believe we’re marching toward “Dependence” and that can be seen by how popular Bernie Sanders was in the last election cycle. But, for the disingenuous  leadership of the Democratic Party, (in the back pocket of the Clinton’s), he would have been the Democratic nominee. And if that had happened, he could have potentially been President. And that my friends would have landed us squarely into a socialist government. We were so close to this and I argue, we still are. There are people who ardently believe that Socialism works. They are sadly deceived and by the time they figure it out, they’ve moved from “Dependence” straight to “Bondage.”

May I remind us of our founding?

Did you know Benjamin Franklin not only drafted a statewide prayer proclamation for his own State of Pennsylvania but also recommended Christianity in the public schools and he even worked to raise church attendance in his state? He sure did. He also worked to start a colony in Ohio with the help of Rev. George Whitfield to “facilitate the introduction of pure religion among the heathen…”  Franklin said, “In such an enterprise I could spend the remainder of life with pleasure, and I firmly believe God would bless us with success.”  It was Franklin who called for the establishment of chaplains and daily prayer at the Constitutional Convention when the Constitution was being developed, discussed and ultimately written.  And these are the documented actions of one of the “least religious” Founding Fathers.

John Jay was the original Chief-Justice of the US Supreme Court…now think about this…he was the first Supreme Court Justice: “Unto Him who is the author and giver of all good, I render sincere and humble thanks for His manifold and unmerited blessings, and especially for our redemption and salvation by His beloved Son…Blessed be His Holy name.”

Roger Sherman a signer of both the Declaration and the Constitution declared: “I believe that there is only one living and true God, existing in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost…and that at the end of this world there will be a resurrection of the dead and a final judgment of all mankind when the righteous shall be publicly acquitted by Christ the Judge and admitted to everlasting life and glory, and the wicked be sentenced to everlasting punishment.”

Richard Stockton declared: “I subscribe to the entire belief of the great and leading doctrines of the Christian religion and I exhort that the course of life held up in the Christian system is calculated for the most complete happiness that can be enjoyed in this mortal state.”

Please note, there is no mention of Buddha, or Confucius or Mohammed or Islam.  There is no mention of Hinduism. Think of this…  Joseph Smith, who started Mormonism, wouldn’t even be born till 1805 and Charles Taze Russell, who was instrumental in the initial growth of the Jehovah’s Witnesses wasn’t born until 1852.  Bottom line folks: This nation was founded on Christian principles and on the teachings and tenets of Jesus Christ.  The faith and belief in Jesus Christ of our Founding Fathers permeates every document written from the Constitution to the Declaration of Independence.  But something happened.  It picked up steam in the early 60s.

In 1962, our nation allowed a simple, non-denominational prayer in public schools to be declared “unconstitutional.”  This was the prayer:

“Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country.”

The people of this nation should have demanded the impeachment of Chief Justice Earl Warren and the other 8 men of his Supreme Court.  But, nothing was said or done.  So, in 1963 Bible teaching in public schools was banned, and again…we did nothing.  In 1980 the public schools were ordered to remove the Ten Commandments from students’ view, and we did nothing.

Please don’t ever forget dear friends from the Revolutionary War through the 1930s our school children learned to spell and read from passages from the Bible via McGuffy’s Reader. Mr. William McGuffy, the author of the “Reader” died in 1873, just two years before our church (MPBC) was established in 1875.  Be reminded that our Continental Congress approved on September 11, 1777 that 20,000 copies of the Holy Bible be purchased in order to supply Bibles to our country and its inhabitants.  In the word of the Special Congressional Committee:

“The use of the Bible is so universal and its importance so great…the committee orders the Committee of Commerce to import 20,000 Bibles for distribution in the states of this Union.”

The great heritage of our nation is being removed from our history books by progressive liberals and humanists who are re-writing history to suit their agenda.  One day…if we don’t point our children back to Scripture and to the true history of this nation…all will be lost.

What must we do?  We must pray for our nation and its leaders. We must follow the example of those who suffered and sacrificed to bring us Independence as a nation. We must remember the ancient paths walked by our ancestors. We must follow these familiar words:

2 Chronicles 7:14

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

I have a burden for this nation.  We need another Great Awakening.  That can only begin as we return to the ancient paths of Scripture and seek Jesus Christ. If we will, it will be costly and difficult and we will suffer. But, that’s where the cycle must begin again…

Kevin

I sat in an office earlier this week and a lady asked me that question: “How are you doing that?” The question came because she knew I was a pastor and she knew about our church. She was lamenting the fact that her church wasn’t growing and they were trying really hard. My heart went out to her. Honestly, I’m praying she and her husband don’t burn out trying to do everything in their church. Yet, I pondered the question: “How are you doing that?” The “that” is “success,” or at least that’s the way I took it.  Honestly, I get that question quite a bit these days and I guess I still don’t have a very good answer.

Is MPBC perfect? No. No church is, but every church has fallible and sinful people (of which I’m chief). Interestingly, I just saw on Facebook where a lady told one of our members that she was no longer attending our church. And that’s okay. That’s why we have different churches, preaching styles, music styles, etc. Honestly, I’m okay with that. I used to take it personally when someone left the church, but I don’t any longer. I know the Lord has a plan for all of us and for where He wants us to be. We’ve not had many leave the church through the years, but it does happen from time to time. Nonetheless, it is true that the church has grown exponentially in the last 10 years and it is truly hard to explain. However, I heard years ago where a man said, “If you can explain it, then it’s probably not God.” I like that. Because I honestly couldn’t answer the lady with the “how” to her question.

For you see, a church can change the music style, put up screens in the sanctuary, the preacher can lose the tie and the pulpit can become a stool and an I-Pad, but that still might not change your church or make it grow. It might. But, it might not. Yet, as I’ve pondered the question for several days now, I’ve come to these four conclusions: #1 If you’re faithful to teaching the Word of God (I exegete and teach Scripture verse by verse through books of the Bible) and lifting Jesus up, that’s essential. #2 If you’re faithful to sing about Jesus, (you pick the style), and the words to the songs are Biblical and sound, that’s essential. Remember, Ephesians 5 teaches us to sing: Psalms, Hymns and spiritual songs. Do it all. #3 If you’re reaching beyond the walls of your church and being the hands and feet of Jesus (we call that missions), that’s essential. #4 If your congregation shows love for all people and are excited about coming to church, they’ll tell others (Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20), and that’s essential.

You might ask, “What about children’s church, youth group, nurseries, and other age-segregated programs?” My answer: they’re not essential. We don’t have them and it’s not slowed us down a bit. In fact, you can click on the “Adult-Centered Youth Ministry” tab if you want to see more about my Biblical understanding of the things just mentioned. But, the bottom line is something I’ve not even mentioned yet. What’s the glue to all of this? Drum roll please… THE FAVOR OF GOD. That’s right, the hand of God and His mercy and grace bestowed on a group of people for His glory. It’s about an often mis-used word: anointing. Yes, “anointing.” And no, I’m not going to go all Benny Hinn on you. The anointing of God is truly His unconditional blessing and favor that can’t be earned or “worked up.” It’s just His goodness on display. I’m so humbled to say that I’ve sensed that anointing in our church and all I can do is say, “Glory be to God!”

So, I looked at the lady in that office and I said, “I’ll be praying for you.” I asked her where she went to church and the pastor’s name. She told me both and I’ve been praying for the last few days for them. God can do anything! But, I did tell her this: God doesn’t necessarily desire for every church to “get big.” Yes, MPBC is averaging 600+ people for our three services, but that doesn’t mean the Lord desires every church to get that size. Honestly, there are times that people make disparaging remarks about the church because of our size. But, I can’t control the growth of our church anymore than I can control the direction of the Yadkin River. I can tell you this: I’m certainly not going to put a message on our church sign that says: “We’re full, don’t come!” And I’m not going to apologize that the Lord has chosen to bless us. Why is it that growth is good in every other area of life (watching our children grown, businesses grow, gardens grow, our favorite teams win), but it’s not spiritual somehow for a church to grow. Well, tell that to the first church after Peter preached on Day 1 and they added 3,000. Not 30, not 300… They added 3,000!

I hope I encouraged my sister in Christ by telling her to “keep on keeping on” and realize that she can’t do it all. And the goal is not to get BIG, but to be faithful…nothing more, nothing less and the rest is in God’s hands. There was just one Peter. There was just one Paul. But, the Lord used Epaphroditus and Aquila and Priscilla. He used a group of women (Luke 8) to fund the ministry of Jesus. On and on I could go. So, my advice: just be you. Be faithful to the Lord and seek Him first and just be you.

Well, let me tell you about next week. Honestly, I’m still recovering from the week’s work. The work in Mexico was H-O-T! And I mean HOT! It was 103-106 during the biggest chunk of the week. That made it in the 110-15 degree range for “real feel temps.” Yet, we got the work accomplished in Mexico (for the roof on the church) and in helping the “Church of No Walls” and Jason and Katie Church in Weslaco, Texas.

We couldn’t have completed the work on the roof or continued the work in Weslaco, without the work of the April Team:

And now for a collage of pictures… Enjoy!

  

I believe this picture says it all…

I mentioned earlier about how to grow a church. Those pictures above will do it.

I wrote a blog post 7 years ago in 2010 about why a mission trip can change your life. Check it out below. That post explains the very beginning of the work we were doing in Mexico and Texas.

https://dkevinbrown.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/why-a-mission-trip-can-change-your-life/

Several folks have asked me through the years why we don’t just stay in Wilkes County and do missions right here. Why go to China (which we just had a team return last week, as well…read all about it at Kandace’s blog: http://kandacebrown.blogspot.com/2017/06/china-part-2-orphanage_26.html)

We’ll be heading back to the Philippines in November. So, here’s my blog post to answer that question:

https://dkevinbrown.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/why-we-go/

Take a mission trip! Do it! It will change your life and change your church. If you would like to learn more about doing mission work in TX and MX, you can contact our missionary pastor, Jason Church at: forhisglorychurch.jc@gmail.com or on Facebook. The church Facebook Page is: Church of No Walls. https://www.facebook.com/churchofnowalls/ Jason can schedule house groups in the Mission House of up to about 30-32 people. He’ll plan and coordinate the work for you and train you on to bring a team to Texas. We only charge $125 per person for an entire week at our mission house. The biggest expense is the plane ticket (usually around $500-$600 per person). But, it’s amazing to consider that you can do missions in another country and our country this inexpensively.

Indeed, it was a great question I was asked earlier this week: How are you doing that?

Yes, thanks be to the Lord Jesus Christ for the privilege to serve Him and watch Him bless, even though we are undeserving!

Kevin

Another summer is upon us and it’s in full swing in my world. This week is VBS and next week is off to Texas and Mexico. In the midst of that Kandace and 8 other ladies in our church are in China and there is the process of putting together the budget for next year, getting people in places to serve (Nominating Committee) and planning for the future. There’s never a dull moment.

Pray for us tomorrow night. We’ll have a ton of parents here and they’ll be watching their children and see what they’ve learned this week. I’ll be sharing the Gospel by way of the Three Circles.

It’s a fantastic way to share the Gospel and how the Lord delivers from brokenness all those who will repent and believe in His Son. If they will do so, they can be restored to God’s design for them. A perfect life? No. But, a life where His presence and peace covers us and provides for us strength and security for each day. Knowing God is the most unbelievable part of life. To actually call the God of the universe: “Father” is mind-boggling to me! But, that’s the offer to all those who will receive Jesus by faith, and choose to repent of their sins and follow Christ. It’s such a simple exchange. But, it’s so hard for so many. Satan has such a stronghold on their lives and their minds. Truly, salvation is a spiritual transaction and we must approach people by means of prayer as the greatest tool in our sharing the Gospel… Yes, a good approach (like the Three Circles above) is necessary…but, the essential thing is prayer.

So, I’m praying already about who will be here tomorrow night. I’m praying the Holy Spirit will speak to hearts as they watch the Three Circles. I love this presentation of it from a student at Appalachian State University.

How cool is that! So, pray for us tomorrow night around 7:30 pm, as I share the Gospel.

I checked the weather forecast for Weslaco, TX. When we land on Saturday it’s supposed to be 101 degrees. Yikes! We’ll be seeking to pour the roof of the church next week. That will finish the project. It’s hard to believe we started working on this project five years ago. Praise the Lord that it will be complete (Lord willing and there are no issues).

This is how it looks as of today…

We want to get that roof on next week! But, we also want to minister to the people of Weslaco, TX. We have been going to Mexico since 2008 and it’s been a wonderful journey to watch children who were very little, who are now grown and continuing to follow the Lord. It reminds me of the Apostle Paul has he went back to the same towns on his missionary journeys to care for the people and to encourage them. That’s what we seek to do as well. Pray for our team of 26 as we head down on Saturday. Thank you!

My goal is to upload pictures on Facebook throughout the week as much as I can. I’ll look forward to reuniting with Kandace as she will arrive back on the 23rd and we’ll arrive back on Saturday the 24th. It’ll be about 1 am or so before I hit the sack…but, I’ll look forward to hugging my girl the next morning before heading off to church to preach. Reuniting when you haven’t seen your family for a couple of weeks is bit like heaven if you ask me. What a grand reunion we will have there one day. How in the world does our Heavenly Father hold back from sending Jesus to come get us… I’ll never know. His love and desire for more to come to know Him before it’s too late must be the overriding desire of His heart. Otherwise, it would be: LET THE REUNION BEGIN.

Here’s this week’s Two Minute Tuesday. Senator Bernie Sanders really put his foot in his mouth last week. See here, why he doesn’t understand the claims and teachings of Jesus at all. Also see  why the Senator doesn’t even understand our Constitution. How does a man like this ever get elected? It’s beyond me. And on top of that…he was almost the Democrats choice! YIKES! It’s gotten almost 4,000 views as of this afternoon.

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

Here’s last week’s TMT on “Judging.”

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/lnz5z6z

Kevin

As I get older I see more and more that this life is going to always be riddled with problems and issues. Why? Because this world is riddled with sin. We’re going to overcome one hurdle, only to be confronted by another one. Where it gets tough is when the hurdles come really close together and you can’t seem to gather yourself to clear one, before the next one is right on top of you. Now, I don’t say this to be depressing. I say this to state in reality: “Life is hard.” And because of sin…that’s the way it’s going to be.

How do we handle these problems, these issues? Well, in a myriad of ways I suppose. However, as I try to boil down those ways, I see two main options: God’s way or the World’s way. I get to choose His path or the world’s path. And so do you. The question becomes: How do we know His path? Well, that should be pretty simple. His Word…the Bible. It’s a “lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

You see, it’s so easy to stumble and stammer around wringing our hands, when we have the GIFT of God’s word. Notice those large, bold letters: GIFT. The Word of God is a “gift” and for most Christians it remains an unopened and unused gift. Many Christians seldom read the Bible and when they do, it’s only a snippet here and a verse there (usually found in a devotional passage). Now devotionals and the like, aren’t bad. That’s not what I’m saying. But, it’s like this. If I could offer you a 7-course meal (and you’re really, really hungry) or a bologna sandwich; which would you take?

Truth is, we might be really hungry, but for most…we’re eating bologna sandwiches. And when we eat bologna we’re going to struggle. Because we begin to exude bologna. Everything that comes out of us becomes…yep…bologna. Solution: Sit down and read the Bible daily. The Bereans studied the Scriptures: DAILY. Not just when they felt like it. That’s bologna, you see. Didn’t Jesus say, “Give us this day our daily bread”? Now, I don’t know about you, but I like to eat (way too much). But, I can easily falter in my appetite to read the Word of God. And that is to my own detriment.

I know over the last several weeks I’ve gone through some real ups and downs in my life mentally and spiritually, as I have tried to assess where I am, where my family is and where the church is. I’m an old businessman at heart, so I continue to analyze over and over ROI: Return On Investment. I ask: Is the time and effort I’m spending growing the kingdom of God?

Think of it this way. Is your family growing the kingdom of God or hindering it? How about you? Are you growing the kingdom of God or hindering it? Think about how you work, play, etc. Think about how you spend your life. Is it growing the kingdom of God or the kingdom of you. Ouch! I’m asking myself those questions and I ask them a lot. Truly, I want to honor the Lord with my life and I want that for my family and for the church I help to shepherd.

As I think about the last several weeks, (which thankfully included a much needed vacation), it’s been a time of self-reflection for me. (Often vacations prove to be that for me. It’s typically the only concerted time I get to truly unplug for a few days where I can really assess things. And truthfully, that needs to change.) As a matter of fact, right after I took this picture…

…(that’s Clara and Andrew, of course), the sun was setting on Holden Beach, NC, and I took a walk down the beach by myself. That was the only time of the trip that happened. If you have kids you know how that is. They love to play and I love to be with them…but, in this case, they went back to the house and I thought, “Well, I’ll just take a quick walk.” And it was quick! A whopping 20 minute walk. 10 minutes down to the pier and 10 minutes back. But I must tell you, in that short period of time the Lord spoke into my spirit. He said, “Kevin, you need to think about everything you’re doing and self-assess. You need a cushion of time…y0u’re trying to do too much.” And I knew it. That’s my nature. I have never seemed to build much of any cushion in my life. How about you? Do you build cushion in your life? Is there any time to sit still and know that He is God, or are we all running 1,000 mph all the time? It’s a feeling of never getting done. Do you know that feeling? It’s a feeling that will beat you into the ground and the stress of that, (where there is no cushion in your life), can become suffocating. The Lord showed me that’s where I had been a lot for the past year or so.

So, as I walked on that warm sand and looked at the gorgeous sunset, I began to self-assess in my mind. I thought about all that I attempt to do each week and I said, “Father, what do you want?” And that’s when He quietly and firmly began to show me things in my mind and heart that needed to go and be adjusted. Truth is… I’m still working on some of these things in my mind and my heart and I’ll share them as the Lord leads. But, I began to feel a burden lift. A burden of not trying to be all things to all people.

Yes, self-assessment and building a cushion are good things. And for me, it took a walk down Holden Beach to grasp that fact. Hey, I feel like I can breathe again and that feels good! Thank you Lord! 🙂

Kandace wrote a fabulous blog post earlier this week about the upcoming trip she and 10 other ladies from our church will be taking to China next week (June 8-23). I’m so proud of her and her desire to do the work of the Lord around the world. Missions is in her blood.

PREPARATION

We’re closing in on our upcoming trip to China…. with just a little over a week to go until we get up at an ungodly hour on Thursday morning and depart from the hotel to the RDU airport to board our plane. I think everyone who has ever gone on an international trip where you will be gone for more than two weeks knows that feeling that hits you when you’re about a week out….. It’s one that is full of panic and excitement. I sat down with a close friend who will be my roommate on the trip yesterday and we went over our packing lists and that feeling of “dear Lord there is SO MUCH to do” washed over me.

For anyone who might not know, I went to China in January of 2016 with my mom and worked alongside some ladies from MPBC in an orphanage for two weeks. It was a life changing trip and on the plane ride home I was already trying to work out in my head when I could go back. I just knew I wanted to go back sometime when it wasn’t in the winter months. I nearly froze to death. 😉 I love China and I love Chinese children. I happen to have two of them for siblings. It was one of the most meaningful trips I’ve been on. ICC (International China Concern) is the organization we partnered with and they were awesome. Such a great group of Jesus loving and people loving individuals. I am so excited to go back and be partnered with ICC again.

In 2016 we went to Hengyang, China. This year we will be going to Sanmenxia. It will be a completely different orphanage with different kids. I hate that I won’t get to see the ones I built a relationship with last year, but I know that most of them have probably been adopted by now or are in the process of finding their forever families. It will be exciting to meet new kids and build new relationships. So, there’s a little of the backstory…

Along with this trip being in the summer (average temps are supposed to be in the upper 90s to low 100s) it will be different than the last trip in the fact that we will get to do a little touring in Beijing before we head to Sanmenxia. I’m super excited about this. China is such a unique and culturually different country. It’s always fun to get to do a little touring and site seeing along the way. I am hoping to be able to get some wifi here and there and share pictures and updates. Hopefully the hotel wifi will be stronger than the wifi we had last year. It worked two times for about five minutes out of the whole time we were there…. That drove me crazy because I love to post stuff when I’m on trips. Guess I’m too used to the free and lighting fast American wifi. 😉

I think the big thing with a trip like this is just the mental and emotional preparation that has to come along with it…. We will see and hear about heartbreaking situations and there will be times when the overwhelming feeling to cry or just scoop a certain child up and put them in our suitcase will overcome us. It happened to me a few times on the last trip. Each of the 11 people on our team will leave a little piece of their heart in China. I had a lump in my throat the whole way home last year. It’s so hard to leave. I think about how that must be how God feels when He looks at us. His helpless children who need love and guidance. He wants to scoop us up and take us home and make the pain and suffering of this life end, but there is more time on the clock and there is more work to be done, but one day it won’t have to be that way anymore. All of the orphans and helpless will have a home and a Father. That’s a really spectacluar thought. And for two weeks we will do everything in our power to scoop those children up and love them like Jesus loves us.

I was recently talking to one of the ladies who will be going on the trip and she was sharing about how she was feeling a lot of anxiety and like Satan was trying to attack her with doubts. Before every mission trip that I have ever gone on that has happened to me… It might come in the form of sickness striking close to the departure date or problems with a background check or a grandparent taking ill or just in the form of doubts… Satan will throw something at us and cause us to break down in fear and question why we’re even doing this. He wants to do everything in his power to stop the impending work that will take place in that orphanage in China. Even though we aren’t allowed to share Jesus with our mouths I believe he will shine through our actions and love. And Satan, of course, hates that.

So, I’m asking all of you who took the time to read this post to please pray for us. Pray for us in these upcoming days of preparation. Pray that on the days that will be hot and tiring and full of mentally exhausting circumstances and situations we will feel supernatural strength. Pray that our stomachs will be strong and that our bodies adjust to the time change. Pray that we will put our focus on why each of us chose to go on this trip and let Jesus work through our actions. Pray for me because I won’t have my Mama with me this time and that makes me a wee bit nervous. 😉 Just pray for us. I can’t wait to see what happens over those 16 days. I thank you in advance for your prayers and for partnering with us in this amazing work. I’ll be sure to post a lengthy blog when I get back. I know there will be tons to tell.

“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted. You consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” ~Psalm 10:14

http://kandacebrown.blogspot.com/2017/05/preparation.html

Kandace

Here’s this week’s “Two-Minute Tuesday” about how we use our cell phones. Do you sleep next to yours? Are they allowed at the dinner table? Take a look at how American’s do this “smart phone” stuff.

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

Kevin

Growing Up

It’s another year in the books. I told you last week that by this time next week I’d have pictures of another group of Young Adults who participated in our annual Rite of Passage. Well, here you go:

Isn’t that a fantastic group!! We had three that couldn’t make it to the Banquet on Saturday night (when this picture was made), so we had 14 in all. I’m ecstatic! Here’s some more pictures from the weekend.

The “Baton Pass…”

Here, the parents are preparing to pass the “baton of faith” to their young adult. Why? Because the young adult has to “own” their “own faith.” It can’t be their parents or someone else’s. It must be there’s and that’s what ROP does. It pushes them to “own” their faith. Here’s a picture of Emma Golds. Isn’t she just beaming!

I love that! Here’s another shot of some of the Young Adults holding their batons up high!

I’m so proud of these young adults and I’m proud of that young lady dressed in blue on the far left in the picture above. That’s Clara and that’s child #3 of mine and Pam’s who has been through this process.

(This was taken right before her violin recital in Winston-Salem last week.)

Andrew will be #4 next year. But, I don’t make them do this. I talk with my kids about what it means to be a Christian. I talk with them about what it means to own their own faith.

You see, it’s hard to grow up as a “pastor’s kid.” The expectations are unreal! People place responsibilities and demands on my kids that they would never dream of placing on their own. That’s the cold, hard truth. And that’s why a lot of “pastor’s kids” walk away from the faith. They are treated with a different set of rules than anyone else’s kids.

Now, please don’t get me wrong… Pastor’s kids should be held to a high standard, but there isn’t a passage of Scripture that says they are to be held to a higher standard than your kids. They are to be held to the same “Christian standard” in 1 Timothy 4:12. There isn’t a passage of Scripture for pastor’s kids that’s any different from anyone else. Paul told Timothy that an Elder (or Pastor) must: “manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive.” (1 Timothy 3:4) But folks, that’s true of any home, is it not? Every Christian home should seek to raise “submissive” children. Even Jesus was submissive. At the age of 12 the Bible describes that…

And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. Luke 2:51

So, when you see my kids…you are simply looking at children who are being raised in a glass box with expectations that are off the charts… Therefore, if you get a chance…pat them on the back for bearing up on the pressure. No, my kids aren’t perfect. But, they are following Jesus and I’m tickled to death about that and I praise His name for His mercy on them and for their desire to swallow hard and follow Him.

Oh by the way, I didn’t show you this picture of me and Charlotte from the beach. I love this picture…

Ain’t she a cutie-pie! She loved making sand castles with Christmas trees on top!

Here was our family picture from the beach…

We take a family photo each year. My, my, my how the kids have grown! And now I’m watching my grand babies grow! I’m a blessed man!

Speaking of my children and grandchildren… Katy wrote a new blog post this week that truly sums up so much of life. I leave you with it this week…

“IT’S OKAY THOUGH”

It’s funny because I’m not really sure if she picked it up from me or someone else, but Charlotte has picked up a new phrase. It’s one of the dozens she learns every week in this season of tremendous brain development and learning, but this one has stuck out and surprisingly has become of help to me.  She now says it many times a day as though God spoke it to her to comfort me. The first time happened like this….
I was having a rough day. Everything was getting on my nerves and all the mess and stuff to do was crowding out my joy. To make matters worse, I dropped something on the floor in the kitchen and food spilled out everywhere. Charlotte (2 and a half years old) was sitting in her seat waiting for me to deliver lunch to her empty plate. I let out something like, “Dad gum it!” There was a pause and then she calmly respond from her seat behind me “Oh Mommy! It’s okay though!”
It’s okay though. It hit me. How funny it is that my young daughter is so quick to remind me that this really isn’t a big deal, but me in all my adult-ness, blew it out of proportion. That’s when I realized that I do that a lot. Little stuff can make me so overly upset and aggravated. The actual big things that are more than just inconveniences seem crippling because I blow the LITTLE things out of proportion.
You know what I mean.
You have to wait and the doctor’s office longer than you wanted.
A rock cracked your windshield.
It rained on your new shoes.
You caught a cold before a presentation.
The potty training toddler peed on your carpet.
Your teenager absent mindedly locked his keys in the car.
You know.
But if those things cripple us and plummet us down the spiral of despair then what could real trauma do to our hearts? Cancer, Bankruptcy, Fire, Murder, Kidnapping, Death etc. What then?
That’s when it dawned on me that Charlotte is right. This little mess is okay. It’s not a big deal, because when things ARE a big deal I want to remember all that was actually good in my life and how even in the things that really are not okay, that God is good.
When Satan tempts you to blow the minor things out of proportion, remember that he is trying to get you and I to spend our whole lives selfishly focusing on ourselves. He wants us to think we don’t have enough to give, that we are too young or old or busy to help, he wants you to think that you have it so bad. But we don’t. I pray even if I do have it rough…. really rough one day, that I will look up and thank God anyway and be thankful that I tried really hard not to “major on the minors” when I had the chance.
Enjoy the flowers. Feels the breeze. Remember, it’s okay though.

http://heartsonthingsabove.blogspot.com/2017/05/its-okay-though.html