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Well it’s that time of year again. It’s time to make some winter weather predictions. Now, you must understand that these will be “educated” guesses into the future as we look at the weather patterns for this winter. The truth is: I’m not very educated when it comes to the weather, but I have stumbled across some folks who are and their track record over the years is fairly good.

Now let me say this right up front. Winter weather is very, very hard to predict. Literally a couple of degrees or 50 miles (storm track) can make all the difference in the world. So, we have to understand this isn’t like catching fish in a barrel. We also have to remember that winter weather (snow) is from “first flake to last flake.” The first flakes in western NC can come in November and literally last through the end of March. (I’ve seen it snow in the first week in April in Wilkesboro and the first week of May in Boone.)

The guy that I really like using is this guy:

BastardiThat’s Joe Bastardi. He’s a professed Christian who has his own website at: www.weatherbell.com. I’ve been following him for years and his predictions are about 70% accurate. And folks…for the weather…70% accurate is “crazy good!” He is on Fox News a lot and he is used often by USA Today and other major news outlets. He was educated at Penn State and his father was a meteorologist and so is his son. The guy eats up the weather and it runs in the family. He also is not a Global Warming alarmist. He says that the whole climate change hoopla is mainly just that…hoopla and hype.

Here’s his forecast for the temperatures.

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Here’s the forecast for the precipitation.

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And here’s the combination of temps and precip in a new index he has created he calls the “Severity Index.”

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As you can see from the above three charts, western NC is in the bull’s eye for twice as much snow as normal (200%). The rest of NC is at 150% of normal. For those of us in Wilkes County at 200%, that would put us around 2 feet for the winter. We are also in the darker blue shading for temperatures and that indicates we will be about 3 degrees Celsius below normal. That equates to about 5-8 degree Fahrenheit below normal. That’s cold! Did you see we are close to an “8” on the Severity Index (purple shading)? That equates to a tough winter indeed. And you know what? All it takes is one big storm to pull this off. If you get a: “One Footer,” or a huge Ice Storm, then you will get a big-time “Severity” issue for our area. With all of our hills and north-facing banks, it’s just hard to get roads scraped and for ice and snow to melt.

Bastardi says the winter could start out cold in November and early December and then pull back until Feb/March (similar to last year). What’s driving it is the El Nino. With the warmer waters off the western coast of South America, we get tons of moisture that comes across Mexico into the gulf and up the east coast. And if you know anything about big winters here in NC, our biggest storms come out of the Gulf. Remember this graph? I showed it to you before.

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By the way, here’s the Farmer’s Almanac forecast. As you can see, they play it pretty safe. They don’t really go out on a limb with that forecast.

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Also, while we’re talking about the weather, I wanted you to see where a scientist said President Obama missed the boat with Global Warming. Check it out here:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/07/08/nobel-prize-winning-scientist-says-obama-is-dead-wrong-on-global-warming/

So there you have it. It could be an interesting ride for winter. And if you are snow lover, it could be a ton of fun!

By the way…here’s a friendly reminder from your three pastor/elders to get signed up for Flag Football! :)

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Ever wondered what almost 10 year’s worth of messages stacked up looks like…

IMG_2844I was looking for a message the other day and pulled them out of the file cabinet. That’s about 2 1/2 feet. Hard to believe this January 1st I’ll be starting my 11th year of ministry. Man does time fly and I’m thinking we’ll probably have snow on the ground by then. :)

Ashley Madison

I had never heard of that name in my life until a few days ago. Now it’s popping up everywhere. And the bad thing is that it’s splitting up a ton of families. Of course this is the name of the website where you can sign up and cheat on your spouse. The Duggar family has once again been rocked by the actions of Josh Duggar. The latest, of course, being the discovery of his name on this site and his participation as such.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Josh Duggar attends the March for Marriage rally in Washington DC on April 25, 2014. Photo Credit: Patsy Lynch / Retna Ltd

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

So sad…so sad.

But, you know what? We’re all sinners. It’s a funny thing how we can offer such praise and admiration for some and not for others. Funny how we praise some sin in this country and call others deplorable. I guess it’s all about who is committing the sin. Bruce Jenner is good to go. Let’s give him an award. Homosexual marriage is good to go. Sports stars can cheat on their wives and still be applauded and set attendance records at the Wyndham Open. Even politicians’ spouses can have sex in the Oval office and all can be forgiven. Unless… Unless you are someone who doesn’t line up with your agenda.

Now, I’m not defending Josh Duggar. What he’s done is deplorable and if he’s truly a born-again follower of Christ, (and that’s a big “if” in my mind right now, based on his latest actions), then there should be time given to see if there is genuine repentance in his life. There should be prayers offered for him and his wife and children. And we should offer the same amount of mercy and grace as the world wants to offer Bruce Jenner and the folks who can’t get a cake baked for their gay wedding. Surely Christians can get on board with that. I would hope we could and we will!

But, here’s the thing that’s struck me about this whole Ashley Madison situation. It’s the symptom of bigger problem. The sexual revolution that started in the 1960’s has finally locked into high gear. What have we got from this revolution?

  • Adultery
  • Rampant Pornography
  • Gay Marriage acceptance
  • Transgendered acceptance
  • Cohabitation acceptance
  • No-fault divorce
  • Abortion on Demand
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Selling of Baby parts

We’re sick folks! Deeply sick! And that’s what a sexual revolution will do for a nation in about 50 years. It will turn it into Rome.

You see, when you have unbridled sex, it breeds tremendous problems. You see, when as a culture you say, “Let’s have all the sex we want. Let’s have it when we want it and with whom we want it and we’ll all just be as happy as a clam!” Well, we’re fools!

All of this “free love” has given us a country with rampant sexual sin. And lest you want to heap all the judgment you can muster on the LGBT community, what about the fact that your 16-year-old son is possibly looking at porn on his smart phone and you say nothing about it. In fact you never ask him, because you are afraid. Yet, you pay the bill for what might be destroying his sexual purity.

Ma’am…sir…what about the fact that your 17-year-old daughter might be having sex with her boyfriend (of 9 months) right under your nose in your own basement (while they’re watching a movie of course)? What about the fact that your 20-something is living with someone who they’re not married to? And oh…it gets better. In just a few months, they contact you and tell you that you’re going to be a grandparent! Oh believe me…that doesn’t slow Christians down from bragging.  It’s no big deal…after all…it’s just the culture we live in, right?

Well, it is a big deal! It’s sexual sin and it’s wrong! 100% wrong! I don’t care how we try to color it, everything I’ve just described from the LGBT community to Josh Duggar, to your sexually active teenager is sin. The Bible says it is. What does it say? It says that it’s the will of God that we should not live in sexual sin. It’s the WILL OF GOD that we know how to control our bodies!

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

We are totally disregarding God and His Word in this whole matter as a nation and even in the Church. So, mom and dad, do you know what your “dating” kids are doing behind closed doors? When their curfew is 11 pm and they go to a 7 pm movie (that gets out at 8:30), what will they be doing for the next 2 1/2 hours? Do you know?

Oh…I know what some are thinking. “Hey Kevin…get back on the the talk about Bruce Jenner! Let’s talk about Josh Duggar! Let’s talk about Jared the Subway guy!” Well, I’m sorry! We’ve got to stop being hypocrites in the church. Yes, let’s talk about the smut that we watch on TV and entertain ourselves with each weekend? Let’s talk about the fact that we won’t spend $11/month to get software protection on our teens’ phones, iPads or computers (Covenant Eyes). (Listen, if you have a teenage son and you don’t do this for him…you are setting him up for failure sexually. I don’t care how strong you think he is… The lure of sexual sin is devastating. Read Proverbs 7 if you don’t believe me.)

No…no… I’m not JUST going to lament about Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry, the legalization of Gay Marriage (and we should lament). But, I must be a person of integrity and discuss the sexual sin we (the Church) have justified for far too long. We don’t want to talk about divorce in the Church. We don’t want to talk about the sexual day-dreaming and the mental sexual trysts.

Folks, why do you think there is a market for an Ashley Madison website? It’s coming from our culture of sexual acceptance. We can’t be inundated with sex from the time we are kids and think that just because we put a gold or silver band on the left ring finger that we’re going to remain celibate. We’re crazy if we do!

Oh, that we would once again hunger and thirst for righteousness and desire to be pure in heart! But, I’m here to tell ya…the Gospel of Jesus Christ is no less effective. The good news is that Jesus can bring healing and restoration for all those who come to him in sincere and genuine confession and repentance. Notice I said, “sincere and genuine.” That’s the key. It’s not about owning up to something after you get caught… It’s about owning up to the fact that you are a sinner and without the mercy and grace of God through His Son Jesus Christ, there is no hope for you!

I pray that we, believers in Christ, will be ready, willing and available to help in the fall out of a culture that has embraced such overt sexual sin. And please remember, a light shines brightest in the greatest darkness. Even when it goes by the name Ashley Madison.

I spoke to this fact in yesterday’s “Two-Minute Tuesday.”

I love my family.

I’m sure you love yours too. Family is so important to me. So much so that I guard time with them. I was speaking with a man today (actually, I had four counseling sessions today…full day indeed) and I told him that I couldn’t be honorable in giving him encouragement and advice about his family if I didn’t protect the time with mine. I told him about a recent trip to Carowinds. Here we are eating…

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But, it’s hard to find that time. And it is for you too. I know that it is for me. But, we have to make the time for the things that are important in life. Being a work-a-holic it’s even harder. I have always associated so much of my self-worth with hard work. None stop. Go, go, go! It’s a constant battle for me. But, I do believe I’m getting better with age.

Honestly, as you get older you realize what’s important in more and more profound ways. Like this…

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And this…

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And this…

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Those images say so much about what’s important. You might look at those smiles again. Priceless.

I have made a commitment not to let the work of ministry destroy my family as I’ve seen it do to so many pastors’ families. Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand that there is a time and a place where a pastor has to be there for members of the church. Certainly, emergencies come to mind. Yet, there must be some off-hours for a pastor or he will end up losing his family. I’ve seen it happen way too many times.

In fact the Bible is clear:

1 Timothy 3:4-5

He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?

Pastors lose their families (particularly their children) because they are never there for them. But, we’ve got it backwards. Verse 5 says as much.

I read this article a few days ago and it’s very poignant. http://www.lifeway.com/pastors/2015/08/05/a-pastors-greatest-regret-after-a-lifetime-of-ministry/#.Vcy9K3mk6ew.twitter

This gist of it can be summarized in this one paragraph…

After 50 years of ministry the pastor said, “The minister who learns to say ‘no’ in order to protect his time with the family will occasionally anger a self-centered, demanding church member. But it’s a small price to pay, and in the long run, works out best both for the family and the immature member. Only a strong pastor can do this. I sure wish I’d been one.”

It’s taken me 10 years to learn the art of this and I’m still learning.

What about you?

To what or to whom do you need to say, “No?” It won’t be easy. But, we can’t be all things to all people and perhaps it’s time you need to swallow your prided and stop trying. In the end it will be worth it. I promise.

I’m thankful to have a church that understands this. How about you? Does your employer understand that there are times you can’t stay late (again) because you need to see your child’s game or simply have a meal with them at decent hour of the night? Take it from a 47-year-old man. They grow up so fast and then they are gone. Don’t miss out.

The reason I write this is because I have so many young pastors who read my blog. So, please listen to this middle-age-baldie . I know what I’m talking about. :)

Have you heard the strongest El Nino we’ve had since 1997 is brewing off the east coast of South America. It will knock up the temperature globally and the Global Warming folks will be buzzing. But, after this El Nino there will be a drop off of the Global temps just like in the late 90’s. It’s a cyclical thing. Yet, there are many folks out there who hype this thing. Like the Obama administration. Did you hear what this man said about it?

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/07/08/nobel-prize-winning-scientist-says-obama-is-dead-wrong-on-global-warming/

In part the article said this:

In 2008, Dr. Ivar Giaever joined over 70 Nobel Science Laureates in endorsing Barack Obama for president, but seven years later the Nobel Prize winner now stands against the president on global warming. “I would say that basically global warming is a non-problem,” Giaever, who won the Nobel for physics in 1973, told an audience at the Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting earlier this month.

Giaever ridiculed Obama for stating that “no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” The physicist called it a “ridiculous statement” and that Obama “gets bad advice” when it comes to global warming. “I say this to Obama: Excuse me, Mr. President, but you’re wrong. Dead wrong,” Giaever said.

Giaever was a professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s School of Engineering and School of Science and received the Nobel Prize for physics for his work on quantum tunneling. Giaever said he was “horrified” about the science surrounding global warming when he conducted research on the subject in 2012.

I mentioned a while back that an average El Nino typically brings colder and snowier weather to our region. The southern jet gets really juiced up. The truth is there is a sharp dividing line that normally sets up and sometimes North Carolina and Virginia can get left out.

imrs

I never thought I’d say this, but it appears China and Russia were actually on the right side of an issue versus the United States. Did you hear?

United Nations Reaffirms the Family: The World vs. the West

It’s easy as Christians in America to feel like our views and values are out of fashion. And in many ways they are. With so many rejecting the biblical family and our federal government leading the charge to dismantle any public recognition of marriage, it’s clear we’re living in a country in rebellion against God and his design. But America is far from a global majority report. And a recent resolution overwhelmingly supported by developing nations shows just how out-of-sync our country’s progressive and secular values are with the rest of the world. 

Last week the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva approved the “Protection of the Family” resolution, an unprecedented affirmation of the traditional family, its place in society, and the priority it takes over all other institutions. LifeNews reports that the resolution passed with broad support from developing countries, especially in Africa, and also enjoyed backing from major powers like Russia and China, as well as a host of conservative non-governmental organizations. Twenty-seven nations voted to approve it. Among the 14 delegations that opposed the resolution were the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and most other Western, developed powers.

Sharon Slater of Family Watch International called the vote an “unprecedented,” “tremendous victory for the family.” She noted that it marks a historic first for the United Nations — the approval of a comprehensive resolution calling for “the protection of the family as a fundamental unit of society, recognizing the prior rights of parents to educate their children, and calling on all nations to create family-sensitive policies and recognize their binding obligations under treaty to protect the family.”

The last couple of decades in this country has been catastrophic for the nuclear family. Satan is laughing his head off. He’s doing all he can to destroy the family (which was God’s idea from the Garden of Eden) and he’s doing an amazing job at it. We’ve redefined it in America to be anything and everything now. But, I’m going to continue to preach and teach the biblical definition of marriage and family. I can only hope we’ll be able to reverse course one day.

I’m told from time to time, “Pastor, you ought not be talking about politics. You just need to focus on the Bible.” And I agree wholeheartedly, but only with the second sentence. Because the second sentence trumps the first sentence. Why? Because the Bible is clear in Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 that we must be involved. Otherwise we are not meeting our civic duty.

I’m amazed at how people believe that politics will have no impact on the Church or the Kingdom. Do you understand if we lose our First Amendment right to freely share the Gospel and what the Bible teaches, it’s going to be harder to lead people to Christ and the Kingdom. Why would we want to watch that freedom go down the drain? Why would we not stand up?

Isn’t that what Daniel did? Daniel had risked his life for decades while serving as an Administrator in the pagan governments of Babylon and the Medo-Persians. Ultimately, he was told to stop worshipping God, but he refused to bow the knee to the government’s intimidation. Things looked bad…but, he didn’t give up.

Daniellion

Folks, you and I need to understand the times in which we live. Yes, they are bad…yes it seems we’ve lost the battle for the culture, media and academia. And yes…we’re seeing the results of this impact on our government and in the courts.

But now is not the time to dig a hole and pull it in after us. Now is the time (perhaps more than ever in our lifetime) to be engaged in the political process.

You see, I absolutely refuse to abandon the culture to the Left-wing, progressive liberals, whose gods are the Government, Global Warming, Planned Parenthood and Evolution and Cecil the Lion. I for one, refuse to surrender the religious liberties that were brought to us by our ancestors who wielded muskets and gave their lives during the Revolution from Great Britain. I refuse to sit idly by and watch any more of our religious liberties and freedoms squandered and given up to the would-be tyrants who want to silence Christians and push us back inside our churches to never speak in the marketplace again.

You see preachers and the Church in America have grown weak and intimidated. You see, I’m not naïve and I know a day may come when the courage of Christian men and women might fail, but let this not be that day. Today we must stand on the Word of God and we must continue to uphold the truths taught by Jesus Christ, found in the Bible and were once held by our government officials. May I remind you of the fact that our founding fathers did this…

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That was September and October of 1774 and the praying that was done at the First Continental Congress. We need the courage of Daniel. We must not be intimidated by the culture…instead we must engage it with the love, compassion and the truth of Jesus Christ! We can’t be mean and hateful or smug or condescending. But, we must stand for truth!

So, who will you be voting for in 2016? Have you thought about it? Have you been watching the news? There’s plenty of candidates to choose from for sure. Just last week, these 10 men debated each other last Thursday night in the first Republican debate.

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It was a very interesting and even entertaining debate. But, what I came away thinking to myself was this: Will American Evangelical Christians wake up and go to the polls in 2016. You see, 9 million evangelicals either stayed home or voted for Obama during the 2012 election. If that were to reverse, then a conservative person could be elected and if that were the case it might slow down or stem the tide of what we’ve seen in the last several years.

Here’s the truth. If we don’t wake up and if Evangelical Christians aren’t politically engaged in 2016 we will lose more and more of our First Amendment freedoms. And you might be okay with that. You might say, “Don’t worry about it Kevin. We just need to preach and teach the Gospel and let politics take care of itself.” Okay, fine. Choose that option and watch your religious liberties disappear so fast it will make your head spin and then be prepared for arrest or worse if you speak the name of Jesus or advocate the principles of Scripture. Are you ready to give up? Are you ready for that scenario? I’m not!

Do you understand if we don’t have the ability to live out our religious freedom via the first amendment and we lose those freedoms, then we will turn into China. We will have plenty of Christians but zero influence in the culture. If we don’t have a seat at the city gate in the marketplace and the public forum, then we’re done. As far as I’m concerned, this might be our last chance of seeing one final opportunity to stem the tide.

Watch the news and you’ll see that people are tired of politics as usual and they want plain-talking people and this is precisely why Donald Trump and this lady…Carly Fiorina…

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…are doing so well. Why? Because they are straight-talkers. Unfortunately, Fiorina is pro gay marriage.

In my opinion, Jeb Bush is done.

2016 GOP Debate

He’s the establishment Republican candidate. But the “regular folks” and evangelicals will not vote for him. And with his performance last week, as far as I’m concerned, put a fork in him. To me he looks like he just stumbled into this whole deal and he doesn’t seem like he’s really interested in running for President. Again, many establishment Republicans are pushing for him, but evangelical Christians won’t vote for him. He is a not conservative enough and quite honestly is a stick in the mud.

Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker and Mike Huckabee are men that Evangelicals will vote for. They resonate with them. What about Trump? Well, Trump is resonating with disgruntled and frustrated Americans who are sick and tired of the status quo. But, he will struggle to win the first caucus in Iowa. One of the main reasons is because he threatened to go third-party at the debate. By the way, if he did go third-party, he would hand the election to the Democratic candidate (most likely Hillary Clinton). That scares people

The first caucus is February 1st in Iowa and here’s some interesting facts. 60% of the people who voted in 2012 in Iowa were Evangelicals. 75% of the time, the candidate who wins Iowa is eventually the Republican nominee. And here’s the big one: Republicans have never nominated someone who is not in the TOP three in Iowa. So whoever is not in the top 3 in Iowa (historically) is out of the race on February 2nd. It’s that simple.

By the way, Ted Cruz is way ahead organizationally. He has raised over $50 million and 81% of that money has come in the form of donations that are $100 or less. That means he has a lot of “grass roots” support. Huckabee has huge grass-roots support in Iowa as well and don’t forget that he won Iowa in 2008 when he ran for the Republican nomination.

So, I’m encouraged. People are waking up. They are much more informed and much more engaged earlier than ever. Does that include Evangelical Christians? We’ll see. The truth is it seems to always take an external stimulus to wake up God’s people. Think of the Assyrians and Babylonians and as you do, think of Daniel. And don’t be afraid to stand for the truth of God no matter what!

Daniellion

Earlier today I shared another 2-Minute Tuesday. Today’s edition is titled: “What Happens When We Can’t Tell Ourselves ‘No!'”

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The reason I shared the video is because the majority of Americans have no idea what’s going on in this nation regarding our national debt. It only comes to the forefront when we have a battle in Congress about raising the Debt Ceiling. We are currently hurtling toward $20 Trillion in debt by the time President Obama leaves office. Incidentally the National Debt will have more than doubled in his 8-year tenure. Think about that. That’s mind-boggling. In the first 231 years of our existence as a nation, we rang up around $9 Trillion in debt. Under Obama we’ve done that in 8 years. Just 8 YEARS!!! Oh my!

Take a look at this picture…

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That pretty much sums it up. It’s not a matter of “if,” it’s simply a matter of “when” our national debt crashes down on us. We’ve got to understand this and it’s hard because we’re dealing with so much money. It’s almost ridiculous. We’re talking about TRILLIONS of dollars…not millions or billions…but trillions.

According to the US Debt Clock… http://www.usdebtclock.org We owe $18.3 Trillion. That’s $154,000 for every U.S. taxpayer. Now to put into perspective how much $1 Trillion dollars actually is, think of it this way. If you were to spend $1 million per day from the day that Jesus was born up to today, 2,105 years later, you still wouldn’t have spent $1 Trillion. See, I told you it was mind-boggling.

Take a look at this picture. This is what our National Debt looked like at $16.3 Trillion.

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Each of those standard-size crates has $100 million dollars on them. Look how small the Statue of Liberty is in comparison!

Now take a look at what is called our “Unfunded Liabilities.” It’s approaching $100 Trillion. Hold on to your seat!

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See how small the Statue of Liberty is? Now you might ask, “What in the world are our Unfunded Liabilities?” Well, I’m glad you asked.

The United States owes (has liabilities) for Social Security, Medicare, Medicare Prescription Drug Program, Military and Federal Employee Pensions. That’s to the tune of almost $800,000 for every US Taxpayer. Yikes!

So, how has this happened? The politicians, right! Let’s blame it on Obama! Let’s blame it on Bush! Let’s blame Congress!! No! That’s wrong! Let’s blame ourselves! That’s right. We need to look in the mirror and swallow hard and point the finger squarely in our own faces. WE ARE THE REASON WE’RE IN THIS MESS. Why? Because we know nothing about sacrifice anymore. Our politicians are simply mimicking what we’re doing. We are more concerned about our comfort, new experiences, fun entertainment and ease than we are about sacrifice.

Our motto over the last 50 years has become: “If we can make the payment, buy it!” Your great-grandparents never bought anything on credit. If they didn’t have cash on the barrel head, they didn’t buy. Not us! If we don’t have cash, we CHARGE IT! Therefore, the average American has:

  • $130,000 in mortgage debt
  • $24,000 in college debt
  • $23,000 in automobile debt
  • $21,000 in credit card debt

That’s almost $200,000 in total debt for the AVERAGE American. Should it be any wonder that the men and women we elect don’t manage the government any better than we do?

What’s amazing is that today in this country, we actually pay people not to work. I see them at Wal-Mart at 2 pm in the afternoons from time to time. They are in the pajamas and they walk out to their very nice car that’s parked in a handicap spot and ride away after they used their EBT card. Yet, the Bible says, “If a man won’t work, let him not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We’re so backwards in our country that we actually pay women to have children out-of-wedlock and not get married. It’s crazy! It’s absolutely nuts! And should we wonder why we’re in so much debt?

Did you know 60% of Americans receive more from the government than they pay in taxes? Did you know there are now almost 50 million Americans on Food Stamps. Folks, this is unsustainable…

And that’s why this is coming…

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It’s not “if,” it’s “WHEN!”

So what do we do? Bury our head’s in the sand? Run for the hills? No. It’s pretty simple. When you’re in a hole, you have to stop digging!

Friend, we’ve got to learn to tell ourselves “N0” again. We can’t do everything! We can’t buy every new gadget and go to the beach and have a huge Christmas and celebrate every birthday party as if it were another Christmas. We can’t keep up with the Joneses. We can’t have our cake and eat it too and we can’t keep borrowing from Peter to pay Paul because Peter is broke!

Can you say that little word? No. Go ahead. Try it. We can do this. Here we go now… deep breath… N…N…N…NO! There…there… That wasn’t so hard now was it? You see, I’m convinced the reason we’re in this mess is because we stopped living by the Christian ethic of living beneath our means.

Can you?

It’s going to take discipline. And that’s not something most of us like. Discipline. But the same root word in “Discipline” is in the word “Disciple.” And we are called to be disciples of Christ. Folks, let’s be honest. We’re spoiled. We live in 72 degrees year round in our homes. We have running water and indoor toilets. What am I saying? We’ve got 60 inch flat screens and pillow-top mattresses. We are living in the lap of luxury and it’s catching up to us.

Just like it did this nation…

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That’s Greece. I was there about 30 years ago. It’s one of the most beautiful countries in all the world. Yet, there citizens can only draw out $66 per day from their ATMs. Sad isn’t it. One of their citizens said last week on NPR , “We are headed for the ash heap of history.”

Folks, if we don’t begin to show a little austerity here in this country, we’re right behind them. The Bible is clear…

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19

We’ve got to stop being haughty. We’ve got to teach our children the value of a dollar and we’ve got to learn to say, “NO!” We’ve got to learn to trust in and rely on God…not the uncertainty of riches. We’ve got to discipline our lives or we’ll be squashed, not by ISIS or Terrorism, but by our own greed.

 

It’s funny how often I’m getting asked this question now that people are hearing that we are moving to three services this fall:

Aren’t y’all getting too big?

My question back (to the mostly well-meaning folks) is: “How do I stop it?”

I’ve been thinking: Am I supposed to make my sermons boring and dull in hopes of keeping people away? Do I just throw together a sermon at the last-minute (Saturday night) and say, “The Lord moved on my heart just last night…and so…here’s today’s message.” Do I hope our Praise Team and choir begin really stinking it up by hitting the wrong notes and playing wrong chords? It’s almost ridiculous to even consider. How am I supposed to stop growth? Can you tell a bean plant to stop producing? How about a tomato plant. Can you cap the plant at 10 tomatoes! That’s it! No more!!! You’ve produced too many!!! Stop it!

What do I do? Do I tell people not to come? Do we put out a notice in the local paper that says, “MPBC has got enough…don’t come!” That’s crazy, is it not? Sure it is! But, it’s really what plenty of folks are thinking.

Sometimes people will accuse larger churches of only caring about the numbers. But, I’ve usually found that’s a criticism coming from folks whose church is on the decline. It’s an easy way to cast stones. I had a lady at a hospital tell me: “You are just stealing other churches members.” I said, “Really? How am I doing that?” She smiled and she said, “I guess you’re just preaching too good!” I actually think she was mostly serious! Maybe that was Peter’s problem and the church in Jerusalem was too big when 3,000 got saved in one day (Acts 2:41).

Get this… People who have never been to our church accuse me of preaching like Joel Osteen or some other “Prosperity Gospel” preacher. And the truth is…they’ve never heard me preach or watched a single sermon online. They say, “He must be preaching a watered-down version of the Gospel! That’s the only reason they’re growing. People are coming who have itching ears.”

Well, anyone who knows me knows that I hoe really, really close to the corn and I’m not afraid to preach the Bible as it is written…giving the full counsel of Scripture. So, those accusations are totally baseless. And if you don’t believe me, then just click on our church website and listen to one of my sermons for yourself. If you think I’m not preaching the truth of God’s Word and I’m tiptoeing around the tulips, please let me know. http://mpbc.ws/media/

Sometimes people unfairly criticize larger churches and say, “Well, their people can’t be growing spiritually. It’s just all about attendance up there!” Honestly, I work on this the hardest of any of the criticisms. Why? Because I never want it to be true. Numbers mean nothing, except they represent lives. However, beyond those individual numbers are those individual lives. I want people to grow in their faith and then be salt and light to the world.

Recently, I preached a revival and a man said to me, “I know some people who go to MPBC and I’ll tell you something preacher…they have really grown in their faith. I have noticed the difference.” Folks, it doesn’t get any better than that! It’s music to my ears!

I’ve heard this one about larger churches: “I bet they don’t look after their people.” Well, we have 15 deacons and they work hard. Our deacons have the Scriptural assignment of looking after families in the church, particularly the older folks (Acts 6…widows). They don’t decide the finances. They don’t decide if we are serving Coke or Pepsi at the next Movie Night. They simply take care of people. We have our deacons listed along with each of their families and their names on a huge board over the water fountains near our restrooms in the auditorium. There is no mistaking who your deacon is at MPBC. The truth is folks have had to get used to the “preacher” not coming to make every visit and handle every counseling session. It’s impossible with a church averaging over 500 people.

One of my favorites is: “I bet if you went up there, you wouldn’t know anybody.” That one is hilarious! And the truth is it’s statistically inaccurate. Did you know that when you go to a church of any size, (according to LifeWay Research) you will not be able to get to know “well” more than about 15-25 people. In other words, if you go to a church of 75 people or 775 people you will only get to know about 15-25. That’s it. That’s all that a person can get to know in a church well. Think about your own church and your own experience. How many people have you gotten to know well? Yep…about 15-25 people… You get out of something what you put into it.

I just wish people would be careful with over-generalizations. Don’t throw stones at what you don’t know or have never experienced. But, here’s the truth. It can work the other way too. People can cast false impressions toward the church that isn’t growing, too. That’s equally unfair.

You see, I believe we are growing because the Lord has had His hand of favor and blessing on us. He’s blessing us in spite of ourselves. Yes, we are working hard. Yes, we try to do everything we do with excellence, because Jesus deserves our best. Churches are notorious for doing things poorly. Just thrown together… Pieced together at the last-minute. Shame on us! We ought to be known for being the most polished and well put-together group of people known to the community. So, the words on the screens should match the music. The transition between the music and preaching ought to be seamless and folks should feel welcome and graciously cared for while with us. Hospitality in action!

So, here’s what I plan on doing. I plan on continuing to give the Lord every ounce that I’ve got. I’m going to study hard. Pray hard. Preach with passion. Mentor. Train. Teach. Counsel. And love people with all I’ve got. And if the church continues to grow, then praise His name! And please understand…a lot of what I believe is so great at our church is the atmosphere of worship. The music is powerful and uplifting and the time of singing is precious to me!

You see, I don’t believe you have to forsake sound theology and orthodox teaching to grow a church. The segments of Christianity that are declining most sharply are those that have moved away from the orthodox Christian position on Scripture. Evangelicals, who far more often embrace the divine-inerrancy of Scripture, are the one group still showing signs of life and growth (Barna.org).

Honestly, I don’t care a whit about the Social Gospel. What I mean is that you can give people bread for their belly and clothes for their back, but if you don’t give them Jesus, they’ll still go to Hell with a full belly. We are not the United Way. You see, there is no reason for the church to exist unless we are teaching and preaching Jesus…Him crucified…Resurrected…on the Throne and calling us to be Disciple-makers. If all we do it give out clothes and food… If all we’re here for is to improve life in the community, we could spend our resources better by supporting local nonprofits. I’m tired of seeing churches who, in an attempt to be more agreeable with their surrounding culture, have forsaken orthodox Biblical teaching. And you know what…they are the ones losing large numbers of members. Funny how that works! Lift up Jesus and all men will be drawn to Him.

Many churches have turned into brands that try to please consumers…their “target market.” Jesus calls us to preach a Gospel of repentance. It’s a “come and die” invitation to discipleship. Give up your life to gain it. Die to self! That is to say, while we must meet lost people with grace and acceptance at their point of need, the invitation we offer is ultimately a call to come and lay your old life down in exchange for another…the life of Jesus Christ.

As churches, we’ve got to stop buying into “self-help” and the American Dream. Coming to Jesus is the only way to true redemption, healing and restoration. Coming to Jesus is NOT a pathway to personal comfort or the American dream. Salvation is the free gift of God, but there is a tremendous cost to following Jesus. Our society knows nothing of this. And as the culture continues to become more secular, the cost of identifying with Jesus will become greater and greater.

You see, I believe the church will continue to thrive until Jesus comes. The Church will continue on and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. But the church, as we know it, WILL lose people in the years to come, because some will decide it’s easier to leave than to endure the stigma of being a committed follower of Christ and His teachings in the Bible.

Well, Katy has written another great blog! Catch it here… http://heartsonthingsabove.blogspot.com/2015/07/home.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HeartsOnThingsAbove+%28Hearts+on+Things+Above%29

Hey, did you hear about this? I bet you haven’t. No mainstream media will cover this…

Sex changes in Serbia

A man (like Bruce Jenner) who had a sex-change in 1984 and now has reversed it. This man is Walt Heyer and he said that having a sex-change didn’t bring him happiness. He quotes stats at his website that indicate 41% of those who have had a sex-change attempt suicide. Very eye-opening. http://www.sexchangeregret.com

Finally, take a look at this picture. Do you know what that is?

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You might say, “I have NO idea!!” Well, let me explain. This picture will have a lot to do with our winter. All the red/orange off the west coast of South America is called an “El Nino.” And it’s a big one right now. There’s a ton of very, very warm water and that will feed the southern branch of the jet-stream this winter right up into the Gulf of Mexico. Look at the map again. See that blue in the Atlantic between the Caribbean and the west coast of Africa? That’s cooler water and that’s why we have had zero hurricanes develop in there and why we probably won’t have much of any coming from that direction this hurricane season. In this pattern, we get hurricanes that develop right along the coast of the Southeast or Gulf. Keep an eye out for that. And keep an eye out for an active winter. :)

Walking and Praying

I’ve really had prayer on my mind and heart the last 5 weeks perhaps like no other time in my life. I realize that my prayer life has little fervency and thus, I’d never know power in my life like Elijah. Remember, he prayed and it didn’t rain for 3 1/2 years and he was a man just like us James 5:17 tells us.

We’ve let Satan convince us that we can’t expect anything great from God, so we pray nothing little prayers. We pray in our strength, ability and reasoning. Thus, no power! No miracles. No lives being saved. Country going down the tubes. And we wonder why. We shouldn’t wonder. I shouldn’t wonder. We have not because we ask not. 100% of the prayers we don’t pray won’t get answered. Simple concept, right? And we know all these things, but we still just go through the motions when we pray. We do it out of duty and there is little feeling or burden behind our prayers.

Oh that I would come to the Lord like the little old lady before the judge. She didn’t let up. But, I had. I had gotten to the place of just going through the motions. Have you? This isn’t a guilt trip. It’s just asking us to take a “prayer inventory.” No condemnation. Just like with an annual physical…we need to know our prayer blood pressure. For most of us, it’s bottomed out at 60 over 30.

As a pastor/elder and as a husband/father, I’m done with allowing Satan to lull me to sleep in a lethargic, unexpectant apathy. Therefore, I shared with the church last Sunday that I’ve decided to go the way of the Children of Israel as they circled Jericho, I’m circling my house and the church asking God to cover my family in His presence… Shake us and give us a burden for the lost and seek to get us out of our desire for comfort, pleasure, entertainment and ease into a fervent, expectancy. Lord knows we need this and our country needs this. So this is now me…

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Crazy? Probably to most! But, walking and praying has made me intentional and focused like never before. I’m praying out loud and I’m crying out to God. I feel an intense urgency. This country is going down the drain spiritually. Everything is upside down. What was once deemed good is now deemed bad and what was once deemed sin, is now lauded, accepted and  seen as normal. Our only hope is to cry out to the Lord of heaven and ask Him to change us and have mercy on us.

Folks, we must be salt and light and dispel the darkness. We are running out of time and I am not ready to give up. I’m not ready to dig a hole in the sand and say, “Well, that’s just the way it is. We’re just marching toward the end times. There’s no hope. Just accept it. Get ready for prison.” Well, I refuse that line of thinking. Before I go down…I’m going to go down to my knees and boldly come before the throne of God asking for His mercy, grace and love. I’m praying for the sleeping giant of the Church to wake up and once again go and make disciples of all nations…including this one.

Here’s today’s, 2-Minute Tuesday video on the subject…

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I’ll have to admit to you, after the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states, I started buying into all that I was seeing and hearing from many Christian circles. What was that? Two words: DOOM/GLOOM. But, I’m encouraged that this is the very thing that was needed for the Church. We needed a wake-up call and I believe it’s working!

Let me tell you three things that I saw from the Supreme Court decision that encourages me. Yes, I said, “Encourages me…”

In one key paragraph, Justice Kennedy makes three major declarations about the importance of protecting religious freedom.

#1 Kennedy made it indisputably clear that those with religious affiliations may live in accordance with their conscience regarding marriage. Here’s what he said: “Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.”

#2 Kennedy affirmed that this protection (above) is granted by the First Amendment. He also recognized that the view of marriage as a sacred union between one man and one woman has been long-held by many Americans, validating traditional marriage as a legitimate viewpoint. Here’s what he said: “The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.”

#3 Kennedy upheld a vital aspect of America’s political and cultural tradition by recognizing the importance of free debate, an activity which is totally central to our nation’s foundation. Here’s what he said: “In turn, those who believe allowing same-sex marriage is proper or indeed essential, whether as a matter of religious conviction or secular belief, may engage those who disagree with their view in an open and searching debate.”

Those three points greatly encourage me. And they should you as well. Why? Because Kennedy recognized the strong protections recognized by the First Amendment for religious organizations and people like me (a pastor/elder).

One other note from the majority opinion as it was written stated this: “…as we deal with the implications of the decision— no matter what happens, religious liberty is a fundamental right that is respected in our country and must be held inviolate.”

The Liberty Institute’s CEO, Kelly Shackelford said this: “Some people think, this case was the end of the battle. This is really the very beginning of the battle as to religious freedom, and I think it’s a battle we can win, and we will win.”

Encouraged? You should be! :)

Hey…staying on the subject for a moment… This ought to be a great movie: Audacity… http://www.audacitymovie.com Anything that Ray Comfort does is excellent. This trailer really piqued my interest.

And for those who are being hit with tough questions and you’re wanting answers to help friends, family and neighbors in a loving and kind way…this really helped me. I’ve bookmarked it. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2015/07/01/40-questions-for-christians-now-waving-rainbow-flags/

See this picture…

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This means Josh, Katy and Charlotte are home! Woohoo!! We moved them in on Saturday. It’s a joy having them here and seeking the Lord for a job for Josh. It’s wonderful being on the roller coaster ride with the Lord at the controls. We can throw up our hands and relish in the journey because He knows how it ends. God is good and I praise Him in advance for all that He will do in the future.

And one of the joys in all of this is that I get to take part in all of it by walking and praying fervently to our loving and merciful Heavenly Father! Awesome!! :)

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