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Honesty is a lost virtue in our culture today. You know it and I know it. It’s so easy to tell a lie to cover a situation that you don’t want anyone else to know about. Most lies are told because people want to present themselves in the best light. Lies are told so that we don’t have to admit or own up to deficiencies in our lives. Lies are told so that we…well…won’t have to admit the truth.

Do Christians lie? Of course. Do you lie? Yes. And so do I. Now, before you get mad at me…you know I’m telling the truth. You know we all tell “white lies” or “partial truths” or “veiled truths” to cover the “real truth.” True? Yes! Can we just admit it, please!

Some of you are thinking, “Does Pastor Kevin lie? Is he admitting it?” What I’m admitting is that it’s easy to not tell the 100% truth. But, if it’s 99% truth and 1% compromise, guess what you have? A lie. Think of it like a bottle of water. Do you want 1% cyanide poison in that bottle of water or 100% water? Give me 100% water!!! That 1% can kill you!

Do you find yourself lying a lot lately? It’s easy to qualify the lies and give excuses or justifications or rationalizations, but be honest. (There that word is again: “honest.”) Yes, be honest, what is the truth about you? What is the truth about me? What does the Lord see in our hearts? He sees the truth, you know. He knows all. Might I remind us…we can’t hide anything from the Lord. Oh, we might try. But, He knows the truth about us. He even knows the truth that we are having a hard time admitting to ourselves right now.

What are you struggling with this week? Right now. Today. What’s eating at you? Does it have anything to do with whether or not you’ll tell the truth about a situation? Of course it would be easy to sweep it under the rug, or not deal with it directly, or just send an email, instead of a face-to-face meeting. But, if you really want to deal with it…then, deal with it. Swallow hard, go to the Lord and lean into Him and say, “Show me the truth, Father. Show me what I need to know about myself and the situation and what you want me to see and give me the courage to do it. Help me to follow Truth.”

Truth. What is truth? Pilate asked that question, you know Truth is a person: Jesus Christ. If we are going to follow Him, TRULY follow Him, we’ll have to do it in Spirit and Truth. That’s the only way. Like the old song says: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

Has reading this made you feel uncomfortable? Yep, me too. But, it’s the truth and it’s needed and the truth may hurt, but the truth wins in the end. Always!

Here’s this week’s Two Minute Tuesday: “Are You Connecting with Your Teen?” I tried to be blatantly honest in it and admit my faults.

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLys5Z3E1aDhjP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

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I’m asked often, “What is the reason your church has grown so much?” I respond, “Well, first of all, it’s not MY church.” I say that in a kind way…because folks don’t mean it in a negative way. It’s just the way we talk about churches. But, then I hasten to say, “All I can say is the Lord has chosen to have favor on us and bless us.” Yet, now I add this: “But, the truth is I do believe I can point to something that we’re doing that’s pretty much a guarantee of the Lord’s blessings… GOING! Going and sharing the Gospel. Missions.”

I am convinced the Lord blesses churches who “gather for the going.” My job as a pastor/elder is to “equip the saints for the works of ministry” (Ephesians 4:11-16). Honestly, many churches tithe to themselves. Most of what they do is inward focused. Yet, Jesus told us to: “GO and make disciples of all nations…” So, we “gather for the going.” That’s got to be the goal. Why? Because Jesus’ command (not suggestion)…but command…is to GO!!

Last night we had a mission fundraiser called our “Cake Auction.” We raised over $7,000 for the mission work we’ll be doing this year. It was a fabulous time of fellowship and laughter and joy of being together and loving on one another and knowing that every dime that was raised will go to sharing the Gospel!

It’s always a blast making the cakes. Andrew made a cake all by himself (well…with a wee-bit of help from his momma) and it was delicious!

Check out this cake made by the Jason and Kristina Shropshire family. Can you figure it out…

Yep, it’s the “Lion and the Lamb” cake, representing the fact that Jesus is the “Lion of Judah” and the “Lamb of God.” I’ve been using that in the messages from Matthew 24-25 and Revelation. See this from our website:

Pretty awesome! We had some fabulous cakes and a WONDERFUL time!

Next up is our Soccer League that begins on Saturday! We have close to 200 kids signed up and about 50-60% of those (in my estimation) are in families that don’t have a church home. Would you pray for us as we kick off on Saturday? The weather looks to be perfect! Thank you Lord!

But, don’t get used to it. What? Yep, I believe after a brief “mild-up,” we’ll see cooler than normal temperatures lasting into the last 2 weeks of the month and probably into the first half of May. It’s really been a roller coaster ride. And this past winter proves that. See this graph…

I know it’s kind of “busy,” but you get the gist. We had a warm December overall. Yet, it snowed 7″ on December 8th. Then January was cold and February felt like “Spring had sprung.” However, March smacked us in the face. More snow. Huge flakes…

April will be much cooler than normal. Yep…big time roller coaster ride! Watch out for Sunday! There will be tons of potential in the atmosphere for bad storms. You’ll see this in the Plains today and then moving to Alabama and Georgia tomorrow and Saturday.

Someone asked me a few days ago: Do you do Spiritual Gifts tests for your members? I said, “No, because that’s between the person and the Lord. I see no spiritual gifts test in Scripture.” And what do you know…just a couple of days later I saw that Dr. David Black, professor of Greek and New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary posted this on his blog http://www.daveblackonline.com:

9:50 AM “In your opinion, what’s the best book on spiritual gifts?” A student asked me this question after my NT class yesterday. That’s easy. Kenneth Hemphill’s Spiritual Gifts: Empowering the New Testament Church. That said, I cautioned my student to be aware of two things: (1) the lists of NT gifts are not exhaustive, and (2) none of the gifts is defined per se. Then I asked him this question: “What, in your thinking, is the difference between a ‘natural ability’ and a ‘spiritual gift’?” I had a reason for asking him that question. You see, in the end I think there’s very little difference between a so-called natural ability and a spiritual gift.

When you become a follower of Jesus, two things happen. First, you acknowledge that every one of your so-called “natural abilities” is really a gift from the gracious hand of God. And secondly, you now employ those gifts in His service and for His glory alone. One of the gravest dangers of doing a spiritual gifts inventory on people is that it can all too often produce carbon copies of a stereotypical archetype. Instead, let’s ask people, “What do you love to do? What is your passion in life? What is it that you do that causes you to feel God’s pleasure?” Psychologists call this “self-discernment,” but for Christians, self-discernment is always connected to our relationship with God. The more we become like Jesus, the more we become authentically ourselves. What incredibly important theology. The path to self-fulfillment is simply discovering who our Creator designed us to be. (Side note. Here’s a quick test to determine if you’re doing the rightthing with your life and not merely a good thing. Do the satisfactions of your work outweigh the stresses? If your vocation is born out of a relationship with Jesus, then it will be a pleasure both for you and for others. After all, Jesus said, “My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” So what are we complaining about?)

Our chapel speaker on Tuesday drove this point home. “Don’t waste your life! Don’t bury your God-given talents!” It’s simply too costly. So let’s give people the freedom to be what God wants them to be. The best we can do is give them Jesus, not a book about spiritual gifts. I have no confidence in Dave Black but I have every confidence in my Savior. He is utterly dependable, and if we look to Him, He will guide us in the right path for our lives. Trust me, no one wants to follow a fraud. Be who you are, the real you, the person God created you to be. The church is for real people with real families who lead real lives. And always remember the theology: Our true self emerges only from our uniqueness in Christ.

Amen Dr. Black!

So often I hear people say, “I can’t get plugged into my church.” Well, I don’t mean to be crass, but that’s your fault. It’s your church! Look and see what the church is doing and get involved. The reason you don’t feel plugged in is because you haven’t plugged in! Listen, people do what they want to do. If you have a heart to serve, you’ll serve. If you don’t, you won’t. So, plug-in! Go! Get moving!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday. Yes, yes, I know it’s NOT 2 minutes. I’m sorry. They usually never are! But, I try to keep them under 4 minutes…wink, wink. 🙂 This week’s TMT is about the task of not losing our kids. Should we teach them the 10 Commandments? Yes. Should we tell them there are 66 books in the Bible: 27 in the New Testament and 39 in the Old Testament? Yes. Should we teach them about David vs. Goliath and Daniel in the Lion’s Den and Jonah in the great fish? Yes. But, we must do more. We must give our young people a reason for their hope, beyond just memorizing facts and hearing wonderful stories. We must 1 Peter 3:15 this deal if we’re going to have young people who embrace the faith. Tell me…what do you see?

Take a look at this to find out…

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLyszd3l6cGpkP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

One of the questions I’m asked the most is by parents. It goes like this: “Pastor, I’m so afraid my child will walk away from the Lord when they get older, what can I do?”

Well, first of all, their concern is valid. Studies continue to show that 70% or more of children who have been raised in Christian homes, will walk away from the faith by their 20th birthday.

That thought still jolts me.  Why does this happen?  Why do we lose children, even though they grew up in a “Christian” home?  Well, one of the primary reasons is because of the pagan culture we live in today.  We live in a culture that is in total opposition to what the Bible teaches about life and living, and our children are immersed in that culture. We know we can’t keep our children in a bubble…yes…they must be protected and nurtured…but, they are going to be exposed to the pagan forces of this world in ways that we’ll never be able to totally control.

So, what does the Bible say about raising children in a way that we will not lose them?  I’m glad you asked!

Deuteronomy 6:4-15

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.

I believe there are five things that we must understand if we don’t want to lose our children.

#1 We must worship God without rivals

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Deut. 6:4

What are rivals today?  Well, I’ll give you what I think the number one rival is.  Now this is strictly my opinion and I guess since it’s my blog…that’s what we’ll go with…ha!  I sincerely believe the #1 rival of God in our children’s lives (and ours too for that matter), is too many activities…i.e., sports, classes of all kinds, running every night of the week, etc.  Now please understand I have nothing against any of these things. My kids are involved in all sorts of things. But, there has to be a balance. We can’t be gone every night of the week and expect to raise Godly children. There must be time to teach the things of God.  Can I be bold?  I’ve learned that for most of us…when we were kids and we win trophies at 12, that most of the time by the age of 40 they end up in the basement or attic or the landfill.

When we are never with our kids except for running them to and fro from this thing to that…then guess who is raising our kids?  Not us!  It’s the teachers, coaches, etc.  Is this ok?  Perhaps, you might say…”They are good people.”  But, guess who’s responsibility it is to raise our children?  Parents… That’s you and me!

#2 We must build homes on God’s Love

5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Deut. 6:4-6

Love is a decision.  It is a decision of the will…a choice we make, however, it is not void of emotion or feeling…men, nor is it led by just emotion and feelings, ladies.  You’ve heard the man who says, I don’t need to tell her I love her, once at the altar was good enough, if I change my mind, I’ll let her know.  While that may be funny…it’s certainly the wrong philosophy!

What emotion does your children see you exhibit toward the Lord?  I tell you, I try to make my kids blush at least once per week as I love and dote on my wife in front of them.  Nothing out-of-place or wrong here…just hugs and kisses that make them say, “Aw daddy!”  But, they love it.  They feel secure when they see that I show love and affection for their mother and it models it for their future marriages.  By the way, where do you think children learn to love God?  From us!!!  If we get mad and walk out on each other, then it teaches the kids that God made do the same to them.

#3 Teach them diligently (Impress it on them)

7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Deut. 6:7

We do what we call ROP (Rite of Passage) at our church. https://www.amazon.com/Rite-Passage-Home-Church-Christ-Centered/dp/1893729958/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

It’s a Scriptural program.  Why do we need ROP?  Well, when does a young person become an adult?  Well, we don’t seem to know.  So, we, the church want to help.  But, it’s not the churches job to do the work of raising everyone’s child.  The Bible tells us that parents are responsible for raising the children…not the schools, coaches, teachers or, again, the churches.

But, it goes deeper than that.  We say it’s the job of parents to raise the children, but do you know who Moses was talking to specifically here?  He’s using the masculine singular in this passage in Deut. 6?  And that means the Lord is principally talking the Fathers and tells the Fathers it’s their responsibility to lead.  You say this is Old Testament.

Well, Ephesians 6:1-4 tells us something very important…particularly look at verse 4.

1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” 4Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Who’s the direction given to?  The Fathers!  Do you see that?  It’s the Father’s job to lead out in the training and instruction of the Lord! It’s not that the mom’s aren’t involved. Of course they are! In fact, mom’s often are the ones who have the greatest impact on a child in many ways. Yet, the dad’s are to set the tone and be INTENTIONALLY INVOLVED. Boy have we missed that in our culture!  Please hear my heart.  It’s not the church’s job to disciple your children.  Anything the Bible tells you to do that I, as a Pastor or the church, does for you, in essence, serves to cripple you and impair you from doing your job.  I or other pastors are simply crippling you and ultimately, (speaking for myself), I’m being disobedient to the Word.

Have you ever thought about this?  What we make our children crave, love and desire is more important and has more impact on their lives than what we make them learn?  You may need to read that again.  What do your children crave and desire?  If it’s not God and the things of God, then you have a priority problem in your home.

# 4 Mark your home as God’s territory

8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.  Deut. 6:8-9

I encourage people to place verses of Scripture on their bathroom mirrors, the walls of their houses in frames, etc.  Even make smells in your house mean something.  Pictures on the walls should depict your home as marked territory of God.  As believers in Christ we should say, “I’m not going to have anything in my house that doesn’t point to Jesus and show that we are His children.”  Make it a goal to touch all the senses of your children in your home.  We have food from a CrockPot many Sundays because of the hectic pace of the day. Pam puts the food on and it cooks while we’re gone and the children associate the smell of food from the CrockPot very often with the Lord’s Day.  Isn’t that neat?

Another example is the use of a Bible…an actual Bible that you read from in your home. Then pass that Bible down to your kids. I’ve done this with my Bibles as I use them and wear them out. Each of my four kids have an old Bible of mine now. I’m working on the grandchildren now. I pray those old Bibles mark their minds that Daddy (Papa for the grands) loves the Word of God…and loves them!

#5 Keep your prosperity in check

10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.  Deut. 6:10-15

This is simple.  Our children don’t want things…they want you!  Did you see what happened?  The people got all the stuff and they forgot God.  It’s happened in America too.  By the way, you’ve seen the poster that says, “He has the most toys in the end wins.”  Well the truth is, “He who has the most toys in the end still dies!”

As another side note, (this is for the ladies who may be reading this), it’s ok to want to and have the desire to spend your time raising your family.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  This used to never be questioned.  75 years ago…when this nation had a lot less…all the mommies stayed home and took care of their families.  Now look at what we have?  We’ve gotten “wealthy” and prosperous with our two-income families (trying to have it all) and look at the moral decay of our nation.  Now, don’t misquote me and say that just because women have gone en masse into the workforce over the last 75 years that is the reason why the country is sliding into moral decay.  But, I promise you…isn’t hasn’t helped.  It is God’s ultimate and first purpose for a mom to be able to manage and care for her home as the first priority.  If you can work outside the home while making your home the first priority…then that’s wonderful. But, the home is to be the first priority. The Bible tells us so.

3Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.  Titus 2:3-5

By the way, it’s ok to come home from work at quitting time too, dads!  One of our biggest problems is that we’re like hamsters running on a wheel.  We are all running around crazy and are worn out and tired and beat to death.  I just read a statistic last week that said kids, when asked what they wanted most from their parents, wanted them to not be so stressed out and tired all the time.  That’s pretty amazing.  Of all the things they could have wanted and that’s what crept to number one.

One last thing…do you know what else the study revealed.  It was simply…this:  If you were to ask your child if they could trade more of Dad and Mom in the home for more house, more vacations, more stuff, more gadgets and trinkets (those are my words for what was said to be “material possessions”), what do you think the kids would say they wanted?  They said, “No.  I’d take more mom and dad.”  Don’t believe this is true?  Just ask them.  They want you!  I promise.

I’ll say it this way…

At the end of your life, the most important thing that you will leave to those you love is the memory of simply being with them. It won’t be the houses, cars, money, material stuff… No, it will be you. Just you. And the truth is: that’s what matters the most to the ones you love most now…today…at this very moment. So, think about that as you pursue life and remember that people are more important than things…every time!

So, how do we make sure we don’t lose our kids to the world?  We must:  #1 Worship God without rivals, #2 Build our homes on God’s love, #3 Teach them diligently, #4 Mark you home as God’s territory and #5 Keep your prosperity in check.  I’d add one last thing…pray, pray, and pray some more…for all you are worth!  We’re in the battle of a lifetime for our children.  Let’s not lose them!  The statistics are stacked against us!  But, we can do all things through Christ and we’re more than conquerors…but, we better prioritize our lives and be INTENTIONAL if we want to have our kids in the percentage who will remain faithful and serve Christ.

Happy Birthday to this lovely young lady…who is now a teenager today!!! Amazing!!! I love you with all my heart Clara!!!

Here is this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday. It fits the topic of today’s post quite well.

Did that title grab your attention? If it did, then I did my job. I am an old marketing guy, remember that. Thus, I know that the title of a sermon, article, blog post, tag line, etc. must be catchy in order to grab and lure people to read your stuff.

This is why we exist. What am I talking about? The Church. I’m talking about the Church of Jesus Christ. So, do you know why we exist? We exist to go and share the Gospel. These are our marching orders:

Matthew 28:19-20

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Sadly, 51% of church goers have no clue that what you just read is the Great Commission.

That’s so sad that I can’t even comment on it. My question is: Are you going? I ask myself: Is our church going? If not, why not? We’ve got to be “going” folks…in everything we do! I’m talking about seeing your life, your marriage, your career, your home, your hobbies…EVERYTHING as ways to leverage the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the life of others. Use what you have and where you are to reach people. And here’s the thing…if it’s not happening in your church, then you should go somewhere that is reaching out.

The truth is: most churches “tithe to themselves,” as I’ve heard it stated. They give to themselves in how they spend money. They do stuff for them…not, the people outside the walls of the church.

Believe me…I think about this a lot. As a pastor, I think about, “Kevin, what are we doing as a church to reach people?” In other words, I’m thinking about what the motive is in each ministry and program of the church. And here’s the truth: If it’s not reaching people for Jesus, we need to ask ourselves…why in the world are we doing it?

Now, I say all of that to say how thankful I am for MPBC. No, our church isn’t perfect…far from it. Because we have non-perfect people attending it. But, I do believe we have a desire to reach people. And as I look at our annual church calendar, I see that in the things that we plan and do. We are trying to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus and we seek to bring them into the body and train them for works of ministry. In other words, it’s my job to teach and equip people to be Gospel-sharing people. We’ve got to be making disciples. And that must start in our homes and then spoke out into the world into every area of our lives (work, hobbies, buying groceries, you name it).

This past weekend we had 1,307 people go through the doors to watch and experience our annual Passion Play. It was incredible! The weather was tough in that we were dodging snow flakes and sleet, but we were able to do three of the four showings. And we still had 1,307 people! Crazy!

Now, anyone who knows me at all knows that I don’t have people repeat a prayer after me and then “crown someone saved” by snapping my fingers and doing that kind of invitation. But, like the Apostle Peter at Pentecost, I give people an opportunity to pray in their own words and receive Jesus and then follow-up with us (the Elders/Pastors of the church). With that said, we had in the neighborhood of three dozen people who made professions of faith with triple that of folks who said they were believers, who prayed to recommit their lives to a closer, more dedicated walk with Jesus. That’s astounding! Truly it was and is amazing to see how the Holy Spirit moves when the depiction of all that Jesus did for us is displayed on a stage.

Here are some of the pictures of those scenes and the preparation and work that went into the play.

I can’t tell you how much this brings our church together to attempt to do something for the Lord that’s much bigger than all of us! It involves over 180 people. It brings wonderful camaraderie.

Praise the Lord for all that He accomplished!

What’s next? Our Community Easter Egg Hunt this Saturday at 2 pm.

Yep! We’re hiding 10,000 Easter Eggs and we’re going to use it to share the Gospel. We’ll start out in the church, where we’ll gather everyone up to share the resurrection and then to the field to hunt those eggs. The truth is: there will be a lot of folks who will bring their kids to hunt Easter Eggs with candy in them that perhaps would never come to church the next day, Easter Sunday, for service. So, we GO! That’s right…we GO and get outside of the walls and compel them to come in…even with Easter Eggs.

What’s after that? Our Soccer League (Saturdays from April 14th through May 19th).

Again, folks might bring their kids to play soccer and hear the Gospel on a field, who may never come to a church service. That’s “GOING” and that’s reaching out. And it’s a ton of work and it takes a ton of people to pull all of this off. I’m so thankful for a church that wants to GO! Again, we’re not perfect…but, we’re trying and we’re praying the Lord will continue to have favor on us and anoint these efforts for His kingdom and His glory.

Might I say that we also have another team heading to Mexico/Texas this Saturday. They are going to be placing the windows in the second floor of the church in Progreso, Mexico and sharing the Gospel in Weslaco, TX. Pray for them, would you please!

I celebrated my 50th birthday yesterday and the day before, 3.27, we celebrated the fact that 12 years ago was “Gotcha Day” in China for this little girl:

Look at her now…

Where has the time gone? Thank you Lord for our dear, sweet Clara! You ordained it that we would have the privilege of raising her! What a blessing!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, “You Can’t Be Neutral About This…”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytjNW42MzZ3P2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

The Ordeal

What I’m going to share with you…I’ve titled: “The Ordeal.” Yet, compared to folks who are going through much, much more difficult things, it’s not an ordeal at all. I gave it that title so I could lure you into reading. (Isn’t that awful! That’s my sales/marketing background coming out of me! 🙂 )

You know I love basketball and you know my team is the TarHeels. I’ve been pulling for them for over 40 years. Well, I saw that they were going to the NCAA Tournament about 3 weeks ago when they went on a 6-game winning streak. The question was: “How high will the rise.” I’m talking about how high in the seedings could the Heels go for the NCAA Tournament.

You see, if they were to do well enough in the ACC Tournament, they could get a #2 Seed and play in Charlotte. However, this looked like a big-time outside chance, because they would have to likely get to the Tourney final to do that. Which, I might add, would mean beating Duke for a second time this year. Not likely! Well, I was wrong. It did happen. Even though they were seeded 6th, they beat Syracuse (now in the Sweet 16), then Miami, and then Duke (now in the Sweet 16) to reach the ACC Finals. They lost to Virginia in the finals.

Here’s where the fun (the ordeal) begins. I’m sitting in church on Sunday night, March 11th (the night of the NCAA Selection Show). We are having our Passion Play Dress Rehearsal, and I get a text from a friend that the Heels got the #2 seed in the West Bracket for the tournament, but they will play in Charlotte on Friday the 23rd. Awesome! I knew I needed to get home and see about getting tickets.

By the time I got home it was approaching 8:45. The selections were made around 6:15. Tickets had been selling for well over 2 hours. I had bookmarked the ticket site on my computer earlier that week (am I type-A or what?). I didn’t want to lose any time in getting to the site and securing tickets. The site pulls up and I see that the tickets are $50 each! That seemed pretty steep to me…until I remembered it was for 2 games. You see what’s called the “First Session,” which ended up being Providence vs. Texas A&M at 12:15 pm and then the Heels and Lipscomb at 2:50 pm. Okay. Sounds good. I’ll go for it!

I clicked on the screen the available tickets. (You had to hover the mouse over each section to see what was left.) Holy cow!! There was like almost nothing left with 4 seats together (it would be me, Pam, Andrew and Clara… Kandace had to work). Okay, okay, Kevin…take your time…BUT DON’T TAKE YOUR TIME because the TICKETS ARE SELLING OUT IN FRONT OF YOUR SLOW-MOVING EYES!!! HURRY!!!!!

You know how sweat can pop out on your upper lip in times of stress… Yep…I felt it. Then it hit me! “Does Pam even want to go!” Oh no! She’s not home from church yet…I’ll call her!

Hey honey… Do you want to see the Heels play Friday afternoon in Charlotte. Hurry!

She replied: “What? This Friday? Well, uh…I don’t know…I guess… Uh…do you want me to go? How much are the tickets? Do you just want to go with Andrew and Clara…you know Kandace has to work.”

YIKES!!!! (The section I was looking at with four tickets together just disappeared.)

“Oh honey”… I said, “Just make a decision, please. Either way is fine with me.”

Pam said, “I’ll be home in about 2 minutes and we can talk about it.”

I said, “Uh…Okay…bye.” (Big mistake!!!)

I should have settled it then and there, but I was in panic mode and I heard “2 minutes” and I thought, “Oh, that’s not long!” BUT, IT WAS! That’s forever! I just watched another section disappear. It’s nose-bleed city now! And can I even find four tickets together. Oh…oh…oh…wait…there’s a section with three tickets. Section 218, Row C, seats 1, 2 and 3. I thought, “I don’t think she really wants to go, because she would have probably jumped on the chance when we were on the phone.” Uh…oh…oh…the row below it just had two more seats disappear. YIKES!!! THESE THREE ARE GOING TO GET GONE TOO!”

So, I clicked those three seats and I hit: BUY! (I had already punched in my credit card number and details while talking to Pam! Can you believe it…I was actually multi-tasking… Can you imagine that… A man doing two things at the same time! Impossible! But, I did it. Of course you ladies do 9 things at once, but I’m not a lady!) I’m feeling pretty good about myself. Counting taxes and the surcharge fees, the total was $187. Indeed, I’m feeling pretty good!

And then Pam walks in the door.

I said, “Hey Honey…I got me, Clara and Andrew tickets for the game.”

You did?

Yes…man they were going fast!!

Did you get one for me?

Huh…what? Did I get one for you?

Yes, I think I probably need to go with you because you’ll probably get lost or lose one of the kids. (No joke…that’s what she said to me. Can you believe that? 🙂 Well, don’t think bad of Pam…because she’s right! Any of those things could happen. Remember, I’m a one-track mind. I did leave one of my kids on a mission trip at the church we were working at one time. I also left both Katy and Kandace’s luggage for a mission trip one time too. So, yes…Pam is right to worry about her doofus husband. 🙂 )

I said: “Uh…Okay…Yes, I’m going to make sure I have tickets for all four of us.”

You know that sweat-thing…on the top of the upper lip. Yep, it’s back!

I slinked off down the hall with my cell phone. I was dialing Customer Service to the ticket company as I walked. They answered quickly and I told them my dilemma and the lady (named “Precious”… No joke…that was her name. Try saying that to someone and not be sarcastic. Try it. It’s hard. :)) I said, “Precious, I need your help. I’ve got three tickets to Session 1 of the NCAA Tournament in Charlotte on Friday, but I need four. Is there any way you can help me. I know they are going fast. I was just watching the disappear online.” She said, “Yes, I think I can help you.”

I said, “Can you cancel the first three and get me four more…even if they are in the top of the arena.” (Because I thought that would be the only place left). It’s 9 pm by now.) She said, “Well, I can’t cancel your first three, but I can transfer you to someone else in Customer Service and they can help you with canceling those tickets. Yes…I have found four together in Section 221, Row K, seats 7, 8, 9, 10. Do you want them?”

“Yes ma’am! Get ’em before they get gone!” I replied.

“Okay sir, do you want me to use your credit card off the first order?”

“Yes, ma’am! Hit the button, please!” (I was nice…but, yes…I’m sure a bit panicky.) I said, “Precious (man that’s hard to say that to someone and not be sarcastic)…Precious…please hit the button on this…because I’ve told my kids I’m taking them to see Carolina…so, yes…go!”

Precious did it! Yes!

“They are yours sir!”

Woohoo!!! Cartwheels! Well, not really! I can’t do a cart-wheel. But, I was REALLY happy!

I replied, “Okay, thanks Precious!” (Are you laughing yet?) “Can you get me over to the other folks to cancel the other tickets?”

“Sure, Mr. Brown…one moment.”

Well, Precious transferred me over and I cancelled the tickets, right? WRONG! Remember, I told you this was an ordeal. I get on the phone with this lady who says, “Mr. Brown, because you ordered the tickets online, there is a no refund policy. You had to click that box to order the tickets.”

WHAT?

She said, “Yes, Mr. Brown, that’s the box that authorized the ticket purchase.”

Well, folks in the blur of my multi-tasking…I didn’t read that little box with 8 point font… I just clicked it because I WAS IN A HURRY! Bad mistake! The lady told me all they could do was give me 50% off a future ticket order. UGH!! I don’t NEED ANY MORE TICKETS! 🙂

The truth is: this is what happens when you get into a rush. This is what happens when you don’t have time to talk things through so you can make a wise decision. Honestly, ever time in my life where I’ve had to hurry or rush to make a decision…it’s usually a poor decision.

So, I’m stuck with three tickets. Well, okay then! When you are in a bind…what do you do? Go to Facebook! 🙂 No, not really. I did pray first…and then Facebook came to mind. “Who wants to see the Heels play…private message me and I’ll set you up…first come, first serve.” Well, within 2 minutes I had a guy from Salisbury interested. Then I had a couple of more “dings” right after that. But, remember, it’s first come, first serve. So, I told the guy from Salisbury, “Let me know ASAP.” He eventually came back and said, “He couldn’t get it worked out.” So, I went to the next on the list. She said, “I’ll take them.” I knew her. In fact, I had gone to school with her and I thought, “Cool…this is all going to work out.”

I told Pam what had happened and apologized for pulling the trigger too quickly and not waiting to talk to her. She was kind and said, “It’s okay. I know you were trying hard to get the tickets. It will work out.” I thought so too. Here’s an old school-mate and this will be fine!

I was wrong. Back and forth I went with this lady to try to meet up. It was one excuse after the other. But, since I knew her, I thought I’d try to make it work. This went on for the next three days, until finally on Thursday night, she cancelled. I couldn’t believe it! What an ordeal! I need that $187 for the food and the gas to go down there. Folks, I’m a preacher…I’m not rolling in the dough. 🙂 So, I checked back with a couple of other folks who had shown interest, but it was too late in the game. The games were the next day, after all.

So, I told Pam, “Honey, I’ll just have to sell them at the game.” I then made me a little sign that said, “Selling 3 Tickets.” I folded it up and stuck it in the back pocket of my blue jeans. I’ll be ready tomorrow!

Down to Charlotte we went. We got to the parking lot at 11:15 am. People were buying tickets everywhere. A man with a gold tooth walked up to me and said, “You got any tickets for sale?” I said, “Yes, I have three as a matter of fact.” He said, “What you want for them?” I said, “I’m selling them for $150, even though I paid $187 for them… I’m just trying to get rid of them and give someone a good deal.”

Now, remember, this guy has a gold tooth and I’ll be honest. Just by the way he was dressed and the way he was acting… He was a hustler! He had a buddy beside of him on the phone and they were scalping tickets. I could tell. Also remember, I’ve got my family in tow and so, I’m thinking “Kevin…don’t get bogged down with these two dudes if they start giving you flack.” The guy says, “I’ll give you $100.”

“What! No way Brother!” I said. “I can sell them at the door for $150 easy! After all, I’ve not even made it out of the parking lot.” He said, “Come on man! Give me a break. Help me out!”

I said, “Look if you want them…they are $150…take it or leave it.”

By then, I’ve motioned for Pam and the kids to come on.

He said, “Come on Big Man…you can do it…uh…how about $120.”

No, $150.

“Gee big fella…you are making it hard on me! $140.”

Nope…$150…

“Expletive…” “Okay Big Guy, let me see the tickets.”

I showed him the tickets and he said, “These are on paper.” I said, “Sure they are. I printed them out on my printer.” He said, “Are they real?”

Okay…now I’m offended. I said, “Look dude…I’m a pastor and I’m not lying. I bought too many tickets and I’m trying to sell these…so either you want them or you don’t.” And then (this is funny). My lovely little wife in her high-pitched little voice says, “Uh…it’s true…He is a pastor.”

Both of the guys looked at Pam and their facial expression was priceless. But, it actually helped. The guy says, “Give me your number because if these ain’t legit I’m coming back to you.”

Now folks, do you think I would answer my phone if this guy called me in an arena of 28,699 people (the capacity of the Spectrum Center)? Uh…the answer would be: “NO!” But, being the man that I am…I gave his buddy my number and he quickly called it and I held up my phone and I said, “Is this you?” He said, “Yeah…that’s me!” I laughed and I said, “Great!”

Folks, this is comical by now. And the best part was the look on Clara and Andrew’s faces. They are taking all of this in and I’m telling you…the life lessons in the Preferred Parking outside the Spectrum Center were bouncing around everywhere! This is something they’ll never forget!

So, Mr. Goldtooth pulls out a $100 bill and two $20’s. And I thought to quickly say, “Hey, I’m not going to ask you if that $100 bill is real like you just asked me if my tickets were real. I’m going to trust you.” He said, “Here you go!” I said, “Wait a minute…that’s just $140!” (I’m still holding the tickets in my hand.) He then produced a $10 and two $1’s and sadly said, “Come on dude…won’t you give a man a break… I ain’t got no money to spend on nuthin’.” I said, “I’m sorry…that’s your problem…” and I took the $10 from his hand and gave him the tickets. He said, “I’ll be callin’ you if these ain’t legit!” I laughed and I said, “I promise you they are legit!”

What an ORDEAL!

But, I must tell you, as I look back on it…it was a good ordeal. I learned a lot and so did my kids. Like I said: the life lessons were thick in this deal. I showed my kids how to deal with someone who was trying to hustle me. I did it in a kind, but firm way and I showed them that you don’t have to be intimidated by the situation.

Here’s where we ended up:

Yep, nose bleed. But, not the worst by any means. And did we have fun?

We had a blast! The Heels won and we have a great story to tell about “The Ordeal.”

This week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “In Secular Morality: The Majority Wins.”

It’s how peer pressure influences people to lie. Would you lie to go along with the crowd? See what you think…

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytrM3A3bTV5P2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

How’d I Do?

Do you go back and analyze your performance in your job or in your life? I do it all the time. That ten minute drive home from church each Sunday afternoon after three services can be excruciating. Why? Because I battle with the question: “How’d I do?” We all battle with self-doubt. We all struggle. We all have weaknesses. We all have strengths. I’ve learned to just be satisfied with doing my best. Yes, there are always things we can do better. But, if I’ve prepared, prayed and given my best, that’s all I can do. And that’s true of you!

Well, I was thinking about the winter weather and my little hobby of trying to forecast (even though I’m not a meteorologist). Well, “How’d I do?” Okay, let’s see…

I said all the way back in August…
“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 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! 🙂
Well, we had a big snow in December of all things! 7″ on December 8th (again, that’s really early for that much snow) and another 1″ on Tuesday, December 12th. Then, we saw 4″ on Wed., Jan. 17th and about 1/4″ of ice/sleet on Sunday, Feb. 4th. So, in Kevin Brown’s back yard, I had a total of 12.25″ of snow, sleet and ice for the year. That’s pretty much right on average for us.
BUT, I thought we’d get more. And we didn’t. The pattern turned warm in February, which I said it would (remember the roller coaster that I talked about)…and it’s turned back colder again…even today. And we’ll have a close call Sunday/Sunday night. But, in essence, meteorological winter is over.

So, how’d I do in summary? Back in August I said we’d get around 14″ and then I got cold feet in October and backed off to 9-10″ (Oh ye of little faith, Kevin!) Well, the 12.25″ was a pretty decent forecast overall.

I’ll tell you what I’ll remember about this winter… It was how cold it was in January. Remember we had below freezing temps for almost 9 straight days. I will remember having to have the faucet dripping at night so the pipes wouldn’t freeze. And I bet your kids and grandkids will tell their kids and grandkids 40 years from now: “Boy it sure doesn’t get as cold as it did when I was little.” Ha ha!

I also said this back in August: “There again…western NC is close to the ‘dividing line’ of normal to above average precip.” And this is the map I showed…
And we were just outside that “Above Average” blue bubble. Now, I’m not bragging (that’s not very Christian), but I believe I did better than the computer models. Why? Because most models rely too much on La Niña versus El Niño. Truly, there are so many variable. There are no guarantees! Most winter outlooks are no better than the flip of a coin.
There are two guys who are the best: Joe Bastardi of weatherbell.com and Judah Cohen, who handles the AER Model below. He literally blew the models away (the American Models, the European-ECMWF, NOAA and the UK). The OBSERVATIONS map below show that the AER of Cohen’s was spot on. Well, I use Bastardi and Cohen because they don’t JUST rely on models. They use their brains and the past to forecast the future.

So, overall, I feel I did okay this year on the forecast, but I really did believe we’d have more snow in March and that just doesn’t seem to be likely now. So, you decide. I’m just thankful I’m not driving home from church or I’d be beating myself up.

Speaking of church… Last Wed. night, this couple sang in the old sanctuary (we call it the Prayer Chapel now)…

Yep, that’s husband wife team of Josh and Katy Isaacs. They did such a wonderful job. They sang a Dave Crowder song, “Come As You Are.” The lyrics are powerful…

Come out of sadness
From wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

There’s hope for the hopeless
And all those who’ve strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace
There’s rest for the weary
Rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t cure

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

Come as you are
Fall in his arms
Come as you are
There’s joy for the morning
Oh sinner be still
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
Come as you are
Come as you are

Josh has been through a lot in his life and hearing and seeing him singing with Katy was so touching in my heart. I’m used to seeing Katy sing. She’s excellent. I mean that! Not just because she’s my daughter… It’s the truth. She’s gifted. But, to see Josh (who really can sing) pouring out his heart in the song…with those powerful words… Well, it truly touched me.

Folks, “How’d You Do?” Yes, ask those questions. Get better. But, also…don’t dwell on it. Don’t dwell on your past. It can hold you back and hold you down. Paul said, “This one thing I do…” Preach more? No. Start more churches? No. He said, “Forgetting the past…”

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” Philippians 3:13b

How’d I do? Okay. And so are you. Keep moving… Keep striving and keep straining to what lies ahead in Christ and you and I will do just fine!

Kevin

Hard Work!

“If a man won’t work, let him not eat.”

Is that in the Bible? Yes, it sure is!

It’s found in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3. Here’s the context:

10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13

Work.

How hard do you work? I’m sure you work hard. We all think we hard. And the truth is, the majority of people I know do work hard.

I was raised to work hard by parents who expected it and grandparents (on both sides) who expected it. From working in a chicken house, rolling a wheelbarrow loaded down with manure, to hoeing a garden in 95 degree heat, to weed eating around a million trees (well, maybe not a million). 🙂 Point is: I’ve never known anything but hard work and it drives me absolutely crazy when I see able-bodied people not working hard. When I see people with their hand stuck out, but that same hand will not wield a broom or a shovel, well…I struggle.

“If a man won’t work, let him not eat.”

Yes, it’s one thing if someone can’t work. But, it’s totally another thing if they’re faking it because they’re lazy.

Proverbs 10:4 A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

I’ve tried to teach these things to my children.

That’s the family walking back to the vehicles after another cleaning job. Yes, we’ve been cleaning offices for over a decade. Every week. 52 weeks per year for 13 years to be exact. We now take the grandkids. It’s amazing. When we started, we didn’t have Clara or Andrew. We clean toilets, windows, vacuum, sweep, dust…you name it. And it’s good for us! It’s good for the kids. It’s teaching work ethic.

The kids have chores at home and I bet yours do too. Chores are good and it teaches a good work ethic. The kids know how to wash clothes, load the dish washer, fold clothes, sweep, dust. You get it. We’re not running a Holiday Inn… We’re running a household and it takes everyone working to make the Brown and Isaacs Economies work.

At the end of the day…we reward the kids. We reward them with a good vacation. You know, Disney. It’s takes about 3 years of saving…but, boy…let me tell you something…we work hard…but, we play hard. It’s good to work…but, it’s good to play. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” You know that proverb, don’t you?

I also believe the way we work will be the way we live our relationships. If we are taught to work, we’ll work through problems in life. We’ll work through things that life throws at us and we’ll pray and with the Lord’s help we’ll overcome.

I’m thankful for work! I’m thankful that work wasn’t part of the curse. Adam worked in the garden naming the animals before the curse ever occurred. Did you know we’ll serve (work) in heaven? We sure will and it won’t feel like work. Here’s the verse I’m thinking of… It’s found in the last chapter of the Bible…

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. Revelation 22:3

You say, “Where’s the work?” Well, it’s the word “worship.” Did you know the Greek word used there is: latreuō.

What does it mean? According to blueletterbible.org:

  1. to serve for hire

  2. to serve, minister to, either to the gods or men and used alike of slaves and freemen

Folks, that looks like “work” to me. How about that? In fact the footnote in blueletterbible.org is this: in the New Testament, to render religious service or homage, to worship.

Therefore, when we work, we are actually “worshipping?” Isn’t that wonderful!! What a blessing to work!! What a joy to serve the Lord!!

Kevin