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My Help Comes From…

Where does your help come from? The Psalmist said:

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

Mine comes from the Lord. But not always. Why? Because sometimes I don’t turn to Him. I turn to myself and that’s when I get weak. Does that ever happen to you? You are a believer in Christ, and you know that He is the One who will provide your strength. But it’s easy to look to our devices, isn’t it? When we do that, it’s almost like getting pounded by a hurricane. I was thinking about these past two hurricanes: Harvey and Irma. Man, did they beat up Texas and Florida. Pounding… Rain… Wind…

The truth is for me and my family, we’re going to try again to go on vacation to Florida. Yet, we might get run out by Hurricane Jose. Many of you know, last week we couldn’t go because of Irma. But, we’re going to try it again. Lord willing, we’ll leave later today. I’m SO ready for some rest and relaxation. This last couple of weeks has been so up and down with the weather and many different circumstances that after a while, it all just wears on you. You know how that is. You are ready to “do this thing.”

Life has a way of beating you like waves on a shore line. It’s the constant beating that wears you out. It was like watching Mike Bettes of the Weather Channel enduring the eye wall of Hurricane Irma last Sunday afternoon. I was tired for him.

I was so glad when the eye wall finally passed…

Have you been there in your life? Sure you have! We all have. You get to a place that you say, “Lord, I need a respite. I need a break.” Those who have been caregivers for sick loved ones know this so well. Weeks and months that turn into years can really pound a soul. I pray for those I know in those situations. The Lord will sustain and we are incapable of outrunning His mercy and grace.

I love Psalm 121 and it provides the insight I often need to set my mind and my spirit back on course.

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

I’m so thankful for the Lord’s strength and help. I’m so grateful for times of rest and I’ve learned that you better get them where you can and when you can, because you never know if you’re going to get hit by another hurricane. But, even then, the Lord is with us and He is our keeper and He is our fortress and help in times of trouble.

I’ll be back with you on September 25th. 🙂

Kevin

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1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. John 1:1-4

Remember that old cheer?

It was fun to chant that at a game about your favorite team and then point to the other side as you shouted back for a retort.

So, I just have to say it…I love Jesus!  I can’t help but shout it!  “I love Jesus!”  Sound strange?  It shouldn’t.  But, it seems kind of “over the top” to hear a man say, “I love Jesus!”  But, I do.  I sincerely do.  My love for this God-man has grown much through the years. I’m still blown away by the fact that Jesus died for me!

I was saved as a ten-year old boy.

I’m in the back in the middle.  Check out the hair and those short-shorts! Yikes!

At the time of this photo, I had only been a Christian for a short while.  What did I know about Jesus?  Not much.  But, let me tell you…almost 40 years later…boy, have things changed.  I sincerely and genuinely know Jesus.  I mean I KNOW Him.  I talk to Him.  I understand more and more about His character and His heart.  Why?  Is it because I go to church, or that I’m a pastor or that I’ve been a member of a church for basically all my life?  Nope!

I know Jesus because I have fallen in love with His Word.  I love the Bible.  I read it because I want to…not because I have to.  People often say to me, “Well you have to read the Bible, you are a Pastor.”  They say that I’ve learned the Bible because I’m a preacher.  I kindly tell them that I learned the Bible (and that’s a relative term…learned…because I’m still a novice), by simply reading it well before I ever became a pastor.

Do you love Jesus?  If you say, “Yes,” then can I ask you a bold question?  How much do you “read Him?”  Jesus is the Word, you know.  He became flesh and dwelled among us (John 1:1).  Consequently, if you and I love Jesus, we will read the Bible.  It’s that simple. If we don’t read the Bible, then can we honestly say that we really, truly and genuinely love Jesus.   You say that’s being “legalistic.”  Well, I don’t believe it is and I will respectfully disagree.  For instance, if you love Carolina Basketball…(and I do)…then you will read news articles or online articles about the Tar Heels.  If you love hunting…you will read hunting magazines.  You get the idea.  So, what do you love?

What do you read?

Honestly and truly, I love Jesus.  And I do desire to read the Bible. I’m not saying it’s always going to be easy to just pick up the Bible and read it, but the Lord will help us and give us the desire to do so.

So…here goes…I’m standing now…and shouting with hands cupped beside of my mouth…”I love Jesus, yes I do…I love Jesus…how ’bout you?”

Kevin

PS, Let’s please keep in prayer the folks in Texas and now the folks in Florida and all the way up the East Coast. We could get strong winds here too. I’m praying Irma is not another Hugo. We were without power for 8 days in 1989 when it came through.

What a week! FaithFest was absolutely fantastic! To say that it was a success would be an understatement. The Wilkes Journal Patriot covered it here: http://www.journalpatriot.com/news/a-festival-based-on-faith/article_6c6a3010-8cb9-11e7-b683-03ae475c9443.html

To think that little ole Wilkes County could host a festival like this was amazing! Crowd estimates were around 8,000 people! Wow! For the first year that’s tremendous!! Truly, some of the best Christian artists in the country were on the stage at Wilkes Community College Saturday. The Gospel was preached and lives touched for all eternity! Now, I’m a bit biased because this was the vision of my brother-in-law Craig Church of Craig Church Ministries: https://craigchurchministries.org. Craig had a vision and the Lord saw it through! Our local businesses followed that vision and made it happen! Praise the Lord for Christian businessmen and businesswomen who love the work of the Lord and His kingdom and used their businesses as a conduit for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. https://faithfestnc.com/#sponsors

I must say I am biased in another way too. Kandace was one of the singer/musicians!

Man was I nervous. I tried not to let her know that I was, but I was. I was 10 times more nervous for her than I ever am when I’m in front of a large crowd. I guess that has to do with being a parent. Yes, I’m biased, but she did a fantastic job! You can watch a piece of her set here: https://www.facebook.com/johnlewismusic/videos/1874883719195555/ and here: https://www.facebook.com/FaithFestNC/videos/699993226838023/.

My favorite photo of Kandace was from Carly Blevins…

I love the smile! That’s joy! She had prayed and prepared and the Lord used my girl. I write this with a lump in my throat! I love you Kandace and I praise the Lord for your willingness to allow your life as a 19-year old young lady to be used for the kingdom! I thank you for being willing to stand for the things of Christ in a world that doesn’t necessarily revere the things of Christ as it once did. I thank you for being willing to put yourself on the line for Jesus! And “Thank you Lord! I’m so grateful for my girl.” As the Apostle John said: “I have no greater joy than to see my children walking in the truth.” 3 John 4.

Next year it’s looking like FaithFest might be a two-day event. Friday evening and Saturday. That would be tremendous! Thanks Craig and to all who made it happen! I’m really thankful too for our church, MPBC, that participated with so many workers, volunteers and helpers! Everywhere I looked I saw MPBC people working!

Speaking of working. There is so much to be done in Houston and the surrounding towns. It will literally take years to rebuild. My heart and my wallet goes out to those folks. I encourage you to consider helping our neighbors in Texas and I know of no better group to do that through than our own Samaritan’s Purse. https://www.samaritanspurse.org/disaster/hurricane-harvey/?utm_source=HurricaneHarvey2017Email1&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=m_YHHR-17E1&utm_content=Donate_Button

Did you see there is another one brewing in the Atlantic? It’s already been named: Irma. And she’s a powerhouse. She’s already a category 3. And wouldn’t you know it… Right now she’s headed for Florida.

Yes, she could go north and out to sea or even into the Gulf of Mexico. Let’s pray she goes north and curves out to sea. I’m praying that for our country and I’m praying that for my family. We’re heading to Florida at the end of next week for vacation and I’d really like NOT to have to come home early.

Here’s this week’s TMT: “The Envelope Please.”

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/wt4bctq

Kevin

Yes, believe it or not I’m getting people asking me about the winter weather forecast for the upcoming winter. Normally, I put out my thoughts around September, but I’ll give a pre-preview and then finalize it in October. So, here goes.

Let’s look at last winter. It was an El Nino winter. It was even stronger than predicted. The average snow for our area in Wilkesboro is 9.7″ per year. I thought we’d have at least that and perhaps above. So, how did we do? Well, we had 8″ of snow on Friday/Saturday, January 8/9. That was our big storm and our main storm. We had a second snow of 1″ on Sunday, March 12th. So, we were slightly below normal with 9″ compared to the average of 9.7″. Therefore, we ended up having what I would call a “slight bust” for the year on the forecast. Again, the El Nino was stronger and the storms we had were more “wet” than snowy.

Now what is El Nino? Well, it’s part of the driving mechanism for our winters here in the southeast. In fact, I believe the main driver of much of our weather comes from that part of the world. I’m talking about the warmth of the water off the South American west coast. If that water is warm, it’s called El Nino. If it’s cooler, it’s called La Nina.

There are other very complicated factors that play into our weather for the winter such as the North Atlantic Oscillation (called the NAO). If we get into what is called the “negative phase” of the NAO (which is a big blocking High Pressure over Greenland and we can get moisture coming up from the Gulf (driven by the warm waters of the Pacific), BANG…that’s our recipe for winter weather.

Here’s the difference between the negative and positive phases of the NAO.

You can see that the Negative NAO makes it cold and snowy in the southeast.

Currently, the weather patterns have been up and down throughout the summer. We’ve had periods of wet and dry. Remember July was hot and dry and recently we’ve gone through cooler, wetter weather. This seems to be something we’ll see through the fall. September looks to be cooler than normal and then warmer for October and November. Here’s the Weather Channel forecast for September:

Now, no one is putting out a forecast for December and beyond at this point except for the Almanacs. One of my favorites is the Old Farmer’s Almanac. They’ve been forecasting the weather since 1818 using a formula that’s “secret” and by using the “signs of nature.” One of the things they look at is the Moon and its motions because of its influence on the tides. They say, “Ocean tides can be accurately predicted, so part of our formula relies on the belief that we can line up certain weather patterns with a specific position of the Moon in its orbit…”

They are predicting “above normal” precipitation that looks “wet, wintry, and white.” They have noted the dates of “January 20-23, February 4-7 & 16-19, and March 1-3 & 20-23 along the Atlantic Seaboard for some heavy precipitation.” Now, to me, this isn’t a stretch. Truly, we get the majority of our winter weather in Jan-Mar. January 20th through February 10th is the coldest part of the winter. So, to guess that we could have snow during that period is not that risky. However, for them to say that we’ll potentially have 5 events is pretty aggressive. Normally, we’ll have 2-3 events in a normal winter. Here’s their chart…

Sandi Duncan, Managing Editor of the Farmers’ Almanac, stands by the publication’s accuracy track record. “Our predictions over time have been 80% to 85% accurate and continue to be a valuable planning tool for the year ahead.”

I’m a bit less bullish than their predicted 5 events and I will stick with 3-4 events and slightly above normal precipitation and cold with a moderate to weak El Nino. Which is actually good. You say, “It is? I thought a strong El Nino is what we wanted…the warmer the water the better.” No, that’s not true. For snow lovers, we want a moderate El Nino because if the water is too warm it makes the storms too warm and we can’t get snow. That happened three times last year. We were plenty wet…just too warm. The moderate El Nino makes the water not quite as warm. Think of Goldilocks… We want it “just right.”

This “just right” for us is called a “Modoki El Nino” or a “moderate” El Nino.

I know this is technical…but, what you are seeing above is a moderate El Nino. It’s barely above the Zero line and that’s good for snow lovers. Here’s what a weak El Nino does for us…

What forecasters try to do is to look at what are called “analog years” and that is where they look at the past and see which winter in the past might be most similar to the upcoming one and then peg it to that winter. The winter they are looking at is 2010. Remember that winter? It snowed at Christmas. Clara and Andrew were little tykes then…

The snow was majestic as we walked up to mom and dad’s to celebrate…

Will that happen this year? Honestly, there’s no way to predict that. It would be a wild guess, no matter what anyone tells you. It’s such an anomaly here. White Christmases are very rare. I’ve seen two in my lifetime of almost 50 years.

With all of this said, my “preliminary forecast” is for about 14″ of snow. That’s about 45% above average. However, if we get “the big one,” we could get that in one storm. I do believe we’ll have a warmer December to start…but, it should flip (if the Modoki pattern holds) by mid-to-late month into January. So, we’ll see. It’s always fun to try to predict these things. But, as we all know…only the Lord knows! 🙂

We had a great week with our family. Josh celebrated his 29th birthday (he’s getting old isn’t he?).

Charlotte was so excited! Josh is a fantastic son-in-law! Truly, he’s more like a son to me than a son-in-law. He loves my daughter well and he is a wonderful father to Charlotte and Evelyn… That’s his hand holding Evelyn as they play…

We also celebrated mom and dad’s 50th wedding anniversary!

What a testimony of longevity in this day and age where folks throw in the towel so easily. Marriage takes work, folks. It’s that plain and simple. It’s been said, “Marriage is often the anvil the Lord uses to make us into the people he desires.”  I’ve been married almost 27 years and I would agree with that. I’m so hard-headed! I’m a blessed man! If you are struggling in your marriage, you might consider this…

https://www.thecouragecourses.com/p/109320

I love Kirk Cameron and this is an online course that you can do in your home. Marriage takes work, nurture and time. Way too many people treat their marriage like a car they never maintenance and have the oil changed. If you do that with a car, it will leave you stranded. Do it with a marriage, well…expect it to leave you stranded, disillusioned and joyless. Invest in your marriage and talk to each other. Spend time in prayer together. Do that would you? Tonight? Just hold hands and say a pray before you go to sleep. Do that each night and I promise you it will revolutionize your marriage. Why? Ever tried to pray mad? It’s hard! Knowing you’re going to pray every night means you work, talk and sort things out. Yep…that’s the ticket. Talk! Pray together. Grow! 🙂

Here’s a family picture at mom and dad’s as we celebrated…

Something else that happened last week, is that a dog just showed up on our property. I really believe someone set him out.

As you can tell, he’s now a Brown. 🙂 His name is Jack and he’s cross between a Jack Russell and a Chihuahua. He’s about 6 months old. The kids love him! I do too! Our cat, Wendy, died about a month ago. She was 16. I think the Lord knew we could take care of him. He looked to have been abused and he was pretty sick. He’s on antibiotics now and is like night and day versus last week. He’s running, jumping, playing! He’s a dude!

Hey, hey…it’s finally here! Tomorrow is Faithfest!!! Kandace will be singing at it! What an opportunity!

I’m really excited about that and about Faithfest! What a blessing to have this event in our county! Thanks to Craig Church Ministries for putting this together. Will you pray with me that lives will be saved and Christians touched and strengthened? It should be a fabulous day! Kandace sings at 3:25. You can still buy tickets at the gate tomorrow for $25. It all begins at 2:30. Here’s the list of events… https://faithfestnc.com/#schedule

I’ve been teaching Andrew how to hit a golf ball. He can whack one about 85 yards.

That’s pretty good for a little guy like him!

Take a look:

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, “The Real Reason We Don’t Read the Bible.” https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/ek4kwes

Kevin

Folks, there’s a lot of talk about race right now. I want to offer this thought for our consideration as we think of race relations: There is only one race and that’s the human race.

Now, I know when we fill out forms there are all kinds of options, but at the end of the day, there’s just one race, according to the Bible. We are all descendants of Ham, Shem and Japheth, Noah’s three sons. And prior to that, we’re all the offspring of Adam and Eve. That includes all the various skin colors.

Take a look at this quote:

In 1950, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) issued a statement asserting that all humans belong to the same species and that “race” is not a biological reality but a myth. This was a summary of the findings of an international panel of anthropologists, geneticists, sociologists, and psychologists.

Most educated people would accept the facts that the earth is not flat and that it revolves around the sun. However, it is much more difficult for them to accept modern science concerning human variation. Why is this so? It seems that the belief in human races, carrying along with it the prejudice and hatred of “racism,” is so embedded in our culture and has been an integral part of our worldview for so long that many of us assume that it just must be true. Robert Wald Sussman, “The Myth of Race”

Take a look at this chart:

Acts 17:26 says: “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.”

Think about it. If you’re a Christian, then you probably believe that all human beings came from Adam and Eve. I said “probably” because everyone who names the name of Christ might not think this way. However, I believe it is truly Biblical. So, how can we get all the skin colors? Well, think back to High School at basic genetics. See it…

This chart helps us to understand this fact…

Genetically speaking, Adam and Eve were most likely what we would say is “Middle Brown” in color. So, what is the difference in skin color of human beings? Simply something called: MELANIN. What is melanin? It’s found in your skin…it’s your skin pigmentation that gives you your paint job…your color…

Think of cars coming off the Ford assembly line. What’s under the hood is the same…but, they have different paint jobs.

Melanin is what gives your skin color. The more you have of it, the darker your skin. Let me show you a picture that is fascinating. These two girls are twin sisters.

Isn’t that astounding? You see folks, I’ll say it again…skin color is just a paint job from God based on how much melanin we have in our skin.

Think of the iris of the eye. How is eye color determined? Yep, you guessed it: melanin. If the iris has a larger amount of melanin, it will be brown. If the iris has a small amount of melanin, the eye will be blue. The blue color in blue eyes results from the way light scatters off of the thin layer of brown-colored melanin.

Hair color is also influenced by the production of melanin. Brown to black hair results from a greater production of melanin, while lighter hair results from less melanin. Those with red hair have a mutation in one gene that causes a greater proportion of the reddish form of melanin.

Do you remember the Punnett Square from Biology class?

 

You have the Father’s genes on the left and the mother’s genes up top. Let’s say that Big A and Big B means you have lots of melanin and little a and little b means you have small amounts of melanin. So, if you have two Big A’s and two Big B’s, then you have very dark brown skin (what we would call black). If you have two little a’s and two little b’s, then you would have very light brown skin, that we call “white.” If you have a combination of a Big A and little a and Big B and little b, then you would be what is called “middle brown.” See how the color goes from dark black in the top left corner to really, really white in the bottom right corner?

Think with me biblically. All of the descendants of Shem, Ham, Japheth were dispersed at the Tower of Babel, remember? But also remember they are descendants of Noah, who is a direct descendant of Adam and Eve.

As people spread out from Babel…they went to different parts of the earth, just as God commanded (to be fruitful and multiple).

So, what makes our skin dark? The sun, right? The closer we get to the equator, the darker the skin. And the more athletic they are in the villages, where they still farm and hunt and run with tremendous speed and skill. Other people who migrated to the colder climates didn’t have the same amount of vitamin D from the sun and thus lighter skin. They also live more sedentary life-styles (indoors) because of the cold.

Think about the industrial revolution and how it changed many things in Europe and certainly here in the United States regarding how we raise food and hunt, etc. We live in totally different environments today. Think of the Chinese with their 1.7 billion people. They live off of rice and not a lot of protein. Therefore, they are typically smaller and thinner as a people group. And that’s what I call various “peoples”… I call them “people groups.” I don’t call them races. The Chinese are a people group and so are Indians, etc.

Take a look at this map of the various “paint jobs” as distributed throughout the world.

Aren’t you glad the Lord put such amazing variety in our DNA through 23 female and 23 male chromosomes to produce all of these skin colors? Amazing isn’t it! By the way, this is another example of God’s design for the human race and for marriage and procreation, which obliterates the idea of homosexual marriage. They can’t do this. They’re not designed to produce offspring (as same-sex couples). Only God’s design works.

Can I ask you a question? If a white person is looking for a tissue match for an organ transplant, is it possible the best match could come from a black person? The answer is: YES and it happens all the time. Can I ask you another question? If I were to show you a picture of a human heart, would you be able to tell if it was a white man’s heart versus a black man’s heart versus an Asian man’s heart? The answer is: NO. Because they’ll look the same! All of our organs look the same! A black man’s spleen is like a white man’s spleen, a Chinese man’s liver is like a Hispanic man’s liver and so forth. Why? Because we are all from one blood line…Adam’s!! We are all from the same race. It’s that simple! Our skin color is just a paint job.

The Bible is plain and clear:

Galatians 3:28

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Romans 10:12-13

12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

May we be reminded of what will happen in heaven one day…

Revelation 7:9-10

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Yes, here is just one race…the human race and all people are equal before God. All are sinners in need of Jesus for salvation. Because of this, we go as missionaries to China, Mexico, Ethiopia, the Philippines and points in between. Any descendant of Adam can be saved because Jesus Christ, born a Jew, gave His blood for all people for all time. This is why the gospel can (and should be preached) to all nations, tribes and tongues. And it’s this truth that must supersede all talk about race.

Here is this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, “I KNOW I’m Going to be Surprised!”

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

Kevin

Is that title provocative or what? Yet, it’s the truth. Suicide is becoming a fad in our culture. More and more young people, particularly, believe it’s the way out of the problems. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among 10-24 year olds.

I was watching a documentary on this the other day and I saw where one of the counselors being interviewed, (about helping a High School address a recent suicide), said, “We don’t recommend having memorial services for the deceased so that the high schoolers can attend.” The reporter asked why? The counselor said, “Because there is too much ‘glorification’ of suicide right now. If these kids know that the whole school is going to stop and weep over them…well…it’s something glamorous…and we don’t recommend it to school guidance counselors.” That makes total sense to me.

As a pastor, one of the most troubling things I deal with is the subject of depression and suicide. Truly they go hand-in-hand. It’s deep and dark depression that leads to suicidal thoughts and ultimately the act of suicide. Let me say this: I’m not trained to handle suicide. I tell folks this all the time. If you want to talk and you want me to share with you and listen to you and encourage you…yes, please come see me. But, I’m not trained in the brain. I don’t understand all of the nuances of how the mind works. Therefore, I never want to say or do anything that would lead to more harm.

You see, I believe there is a balance in working with people. You (I’m speaking of myself) have to know yourself and what you can handle and are capable of handling. I, as a pastor, feel I can handle marriage counseling, financial counseling, family counseling, behavioral counseling (to a point). But, when it gets to be issues of someone is on the phone and they’re on a ledge about to jump…no…don’t call me first…call 911 first. I’m not trained to talk people off a building rooftop. The same is true with drug addiction. That’s over my head.

Honestly, I didn’t believe this way when I started out pastoring 12 years ago. I thought I had to have all the answers. I thought, “There paying me to have the answers.” I realized that wasn’t true. I realized there are issues that I’m not equipped to handle and I’m a better pastor to admit that versus trying to make it look like I know what I’m talking about. That’s nothing but blatant pride! So, I’m honest with people. I’m candid with people. I try to lower their expectations. I’m not a miracle worker and I don’t have a magic wand.

Here’s the truth. By the time a lot of people call me for counseling, they’ve already made up their mind. Let’s take marriage counseling for instance. What I’ve seen through the years is that one or both of the spouses has already given up and they simply agree to counseling to check it off the list so that they can tell everyone that they “exhausted all possible avenues,” including counseling. The truth is: I can tell in the first 15 minutes if one or both have already given up. That’s tough when that happens, because then it will only be a miracle from the hand of God that can save the marriage. Only God can change the human heart. I can only do so much and the same is true of you.

Today’s Two-Minute Tuesday is: “Exit: The Appeal of Suicide.”

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/q9puzbu

The movie is excellent. It’s about 37 minutes long, but it’s not something I can show in church (with our children). However, if you know of anyone who is in that dark place or dealing with depression or suicide, I would encourage you to pass along this website:

http://www.theexitmovie.com

Without question, we all go through seasons of time in our lives that are very dark and very difficult. I think of the Apostle Paul when he said that he was “so burdened beyond his strength.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-11

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

Verse 9 said he felt “the sentence of death” on his life. Maybe you have been there. Maybe you are there. Know that you are not alone. Know that you are loved and are valuable to God. He loves you so much, He sent Jesus to die for you…to save you…so that you might have eternal life.

Jesus, Himself, would cry out on the cross in His grief and anguish. He, too, felt such terrible stress and pain in the Garden of Gethsemane that He literally sweat drops of blood. He’s been there. The writer of Hebrews says:

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

Jesus loves us and He is able to bring meaning, purpose and hope into the life of each and every soul that will come to Him. He says:

28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I know in my own life of almost 50 years the there is no one or nothing that can give strength, power, purpose and meaning outside of Jesus Christ. Anything else is counterfeit and won’t last. If you need help, get help. Talk to a Christian counselor or pastor or trusted Christian friend.

The most important thing for those of us who are trying to help and encourage people is to know that we don’t have to have all the answers. We just need to be there and listen. Just be a shoulder for others to lean on.

I think of the first century church. There were no counseling services like we have today. It was just Christians helping Christians and the Holy Spirit to comfort, teach and guide. I believe Peter said as much in:

2 Peter 1:3-11

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I do believe there is a place for professional counseling, (I’ve already said that), but I believe the greatest Counselor is the Wonderful Counselor and that’s the Lord Jesus Christ, who operates in our lives through the Holy Spirit. If you are struggling today in any way…look to Christ. Bow your head and pray right now. Call on the name of the Lord! He’s waiting and He loves you!!

Kevin

I read that phrase and I thought, “Is that possible?” This was a question asked by a 20-something to the founder of World Magazine, Joel Beltz, in his office in Asheville, NC. See the full article here…

Is ignorance about one of America’s greatest evangelists a worrying sign?

https://world.wng.org/2017/08/a_little_quiz

It’s fascinating! And scary!! To think that we live in a day and age that in the Bible belt, there are people who don’t know Billy Graham. Of course, as Beltz said, these same people don’t know of C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Charles Colson, J.I. Packer, and even contemporaries like Joni Eareckson Tada. Wow! Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore.

But, I bet they know about Al Gore. I bet they know about “climate change.” It’s ubiquitous (that’s my word for the day: meaning everywhere). Every TV show, news article, Hollywood star, you name it…they are all shouting, “The sky is falling!” Oops! No! Sorry, I meant, “The oceans are rising and we’re all going to die!” You know, Al Gore said in 2004 that the polar ice cap in the Arctic Circle would be totally gone by 2014. Well, Al ole boy…it’s still there! In fact, Greenland has had more snow and ice in the past year than they’ve had in the last 50 years (source: weatherbell.com).

You got to love Al Gore. Do you know where he lives? (I should say, his “main home?”) Here it is…

Can you say, “Wow!!!” You know Scientology founder and sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard reportedly once said, “You don’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.” Some people dispute that quote, but there’s no disputing that Al Gore took it to heart. He has combined sci-fi and religion to create what many are calling, “Doomsday environmentalism.” Gore is worth an estimated $300 million today. After he left politics as VP, he was worth a paltry $2 million.

Have you heard about his latest movie that’s coming soon? It’s “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.” I can’t wait! (NOT!!) Interestingly, the National Center for Public Policy Research  (NCPPR) decided to investigate the truth about Gore’s mansion and his own power bill. In 2007, he was slammed for having an energy hog mansion that used 20 times more power than the average American home. So he installed $250,000 worth of solar panels and other green updates. The NCPPR found that despite his claim that he uses 100% renewable energy, all those solar panels produce just 5.7% of the power needed for his massive home.

Again, that picture above is just of his Tennessee house. It doesn’t include the energy needed to power his seaside California villa or all the energy he expends jetting around to lectures and environmental conferences. As one man I heard recently say, “I’ll believe the environment is a crisis when the people who claim it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis.”

Please understand something. I have no problem with Al Gore saying anything he wants to say. It’s a free country! Or is it? Or is it becoming JUST a free country for those who believe and espouse the progressive liberal agenda? Did you hear about the:

I doubt you have. The mainstream media will never cover this. Well, NC Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest got this act through the legislature of North Carolina, which just went into effect without the signature of the Governor. Does that surprise you? North Carolina is the first in the nation to restore and protect the First Amendment free speech principles on college campuses, which have been whittled away by the political correctness of left leaning administrators and protesters.

You see, free speech and religious liberties have come under great attack on college campuses. Al Gore is allowed to speak anywhere at any time. But, if you’re a Christian with conservative principles. Forget it! Understand, if you’re a speaker or student group that holds opposing views to those on the left, you will be silenced on most college campuses. Period! I’m thankful for the courage and guts of Lt. Governor Forest and the fact that he recognized this issue was threatening our student’s freedoms and led the charge to protect their fundamental rights of free speech and free expression on NC college campuses. Other states are now looking at following our lead. Read more from the National Review.

I believe Religious Liberty is the tip of the spear for Christians in our country. This man…

(Photo: adflegal.org)

That’s Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop of Colorado. He declined to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex-wedding reception. He has since been told by the ladies of The View, “Just bake the d_mn cake!” Well, let me ask you something. What if someone came to a gay baker and said, “Make me a cake that says, ‘I hate Gays!'” Would it be okay for that gay baker to turn down that request because it violated his/her conscience? Sure it would! Or would it? You see, this is the issue: “who is going to dictate freedom?” Is it the government? If that’s the case, then the government becomes “god” and they will eventually dictate American’s lives from the womb to the tomb.

Understand this: With every cake he designs, Jack believes he is serving Christ. He had previously turned down requests to create Halloween-themed cakes, lewd bachelor-party cakes, and a cake celebrating a divorce. Yet Jack was never reprimanded over those decisions. He found himself in hot water only with the same-sex-wedding cake.

This case is now before the Supreme Court. I predict the court splits 5-4 and votes in favor of making Jack bake the cake (which he won’t…so it will shut him down and potentially throw him in jail for violating Colorado’s “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” (SOGI) antidiscrimination statute. So, this case has implications for millions of believers from every walk of life and, beyond that, for the health of our culture and our constitutional system of liberty.

Only in recent years has the government taken upon its shoulders the responsibility to force religious conservatives to violate their beliefs on sex and marriage. This has occurred because of  the tremendous influence and money (oh, don’t forget the money) that progressive, liberal advocacy groups have pushed legislators and in the judiciary. Apparently, there are no longer any civil liberties for those of us who conscientiously object to the sexual revolution.

That’s why we saw the American Civil Liberties Union oppose Catholic nuns’ attempt to get out of the Obamacare HHS preventive-care mandate, in which the Department of Health and Human Services required employers to provide insurance covering sterilization and birth control and that included several forms of birth control that prevented embryos from implanting in the uterus, thereby causing abortions.

Folks, it won’t stop with bakers. If this train keeps thundering down the tracks toward Christians, it will eventually threaten churches and religious schools adhering to the historic view of marriage that’s recorded in the pages of the Bible. Religious schools could possibly lose accreditation and nonprofit tax status as well as eligibility for student loans, vouchers, and education savings accounts. And churches could lose their tax-exempt status as well. Which I couldn’t care less. I don’t give my money just for a tax deduction. I give it because the Lord has saved my soul and I want to see others come to the kingdom. If I don’t get a tax deduction for giving my money, then who cares! But, I know I don’t speak for everyone. There’s a lot of folks who might just hang on to those dollars.

You see, what the Left has done remarkably well is to say that not baking a cake or performing a same-sex ceremony is akin to “homophobia.” They equate it with racism. And that’s where the question of authority arises. Who are we going to listen to obey? Man or God? Are we going to adhere to God’s definition of marriage as found in Holy Writ or man’s?

What justifies the government in telling Jack Phillips that he must create cakes for same-sex weddings? I’ll tell you! Government has redefined marriage! Yet, (and read this carefully to follow) that redefinition didn’t create an entitlement for some citizens to demand that other citizens help celebrate their same-sex marriages. Activists are using SOGI laws to weaponize the redefinition of marriage.

Did you know that during the Supreme Court case, two summers ago where the Court ruled Gay Marriage as acceptable, Justice Samuel Alito asked the solicitor general whether the state should yank tax exemptions for schools that uphold marriage as the union of man and woman. The solicitor general replied: “It’s certainly going to be an issue.” Right on cue, the Sunday after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell, the New York Times’ religion columnist wrote a piece for Time magazine titled “Now’s the Time to End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions.” It’s coming folks! It’s coming!

Please understand this as well. These “laws” will extend not only to evangelical Christians but also to Orthodox Jews, Roman Catholics, confessional Lutherans, Latter-day Saints, Muslims, and anyone else who believes that man and woman were created male and female, and that male and female are created for each other only.

Ryan Anderson at the Heritage Foundation (as reported in the National Review) says, “Charities, schools, and professionals will find themselves on the wrong side of regulations: bans on what government deems ‘discrimination’ in public accommodations and employment; mandates in health care and education; revocation of nonprofit status, accreditation, licensing, and funding. Rolling Stone just profiled the LGBT activist Tim Gill, who has pledged his $500 million fortune to passing SOGI laws that will, in his words, ‘punish the wicked.’ And it won’t just be government that does the punishing. As the law insists that social conservatives are like racists, big businesses and other institutions will bring their own pressure to bear on anyone who dissents. Professional associations, through licensing and accreditation procedures, will enforce the new orthodoxy. The American Bar Association has promulgated new model rules of professional conduct that make it unethical for lawyers to ‘discriminate’ on the ‘basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status,’ including in ‘social activities,’ which, as former attorney general Ed Meese has explained, would include ‘church membership and worship activities.'”

Folks, all I can say is: “Wow!” Oh how far we’ve fallen as a nation from the principles of our founding! Amazing!

So what do we do? Sit on our hands? Give up? No, of course not. God is still on the throne and His truth still marches on. What we need to do is to have kind dialog with people and help convince them that what we believe is at least reasonable and poses no harm to others, and thus that there’s no reason for the government to penalize it. In essence, you can be in favor of gay marriage (of which I’m not…I’m just saying this in reference to someone I might be talking to who is) and you (that would be me) might be in favor of Jack not being forced to celebrate gay weddings. In other words, we can civilly and kindly disagree. Someone else can bake the cake. But if you and I are told that we aren’t allowed to believe and think the way the Bible teaches about marriage and the government says the way we think about marriage (the union of husband and wife only) is akin to racism, then were doomed to be pushed into the closet.  Conservatives need to explain why we believe what we believe in terms that our neighbors can understand. We may never convince the far Left and progressive activists, but most Americans aren’t like that. In fact, most Americans aren’t even that well-informed on the issues. Therefore, I believe most folks are open to kind dialogue and are persuadable if we simply make the effort.

As Ryan Anderson says: “People are free to try to convince Jack that he should bake the cake, but the government shouldn’t be allowed to force him to do so. Religious-liberty protections help preserve the conditions that make peaceful coexistence possible. They acknowledge both man’s dignity and the reality of pluralism and diversity even as we work to know and live the truth.”

Well said Mr. Anderson, well said!

I guess some of this might go back to the beginning of this post… Maybe we simply live in a nation now that just doesn’t know who Billy Graham is anymore.

Here is this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “Living Two Lives Makes a Person Miserable.”

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

Kevin