Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2010

There are few things in life that you can guarantee.  Death and taxes are the two we usually think of.  However, there is something else I can guarantee someone.  If you ever choose to go on a mission trip, it will 100%, positively, guaranteed, change your life.  I know that is a bold statement, but it’s the truth.  All you have to do is ask the 37 folks that went with Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, the church I help shepherd, that travelled to Weslaco, TX and Progreso, Mexico last week.  Here’s our team:

It truly was an unbelievable week.  It was absolutely amazing to see what the Lord did!  We started out the week with work on ripping off shingles of an old “Mission House” in Weslaco, TX where many mission teams come and stay each year.  They stay in the house and then drive into Mexico, about a 20 minute drive, to do the work in Mexico.  The roof had four layers of shingles on it!  FOUR…that’s right…I said FOUR!  The roof must have had 25,000 nails in it.  We weren’t expecting that to say the least.  It took two days to get the old shingles off in upper-90 degree weather.  Temps on the roof were around 110 degrees.  The men on the roof were soaking wet with sweat in 10 minutes. 

   

Ladies on the ground were tossing up water and soaked bandanas (the men wore on their heads or around their necks) to keep them hydrated.  

Finally, we got the roof off and put new shingles on as the week progressed.  Take a look!  Pretty good huh?

We also replaced a water heater (that’s a wonderfully “goofy” guy that helped with that)…

…dug out two pipes that were clogged, jack-hammered out a trench along the back of the house

 and put in perforated pipe to keep the house from flooding, and many other various maintenance projects to this old mission house.  At this mission house, it seems no one ever really has time to work on the house while they are there.  They just have time to go into Mexico and work and then they come back to Weslaco and just eat and sleep there.  Well…let me tell you…it really needed a lot of work and we did it.

The ladies and myself and two other men went to the city park on Monday morning to do the back yard Bible Club.  We were told there would be tons of kids there.  Guess how many we had show up?  NONE!  ZERO!  That’s after distributing 400 flyers the day before to the housing developments near the park.  So, we backed up and punted and went back to the mission house.  Another gentleman and I got in a van and started driving…looking for a low-end housing project.  The places we had been told to go to on Sunday were “higher-end” and there were very few people there.

Long story short…after talking to a lady…that I’m not so sure wasn’t an angel…no joke…we found a low end housing project with tons of kids…

We ended up having over 50 kids there with at least 12 professions of faith including a lady that was 65+ years old (seated on cooler).

I’m telling you it was a miracle what God did!  Our young adults (12-18 year olds) were “witnessing machines.”  They had burdens for the children and teens and they shared with all their hearts.  

 The young man in orange came to Christ after our young adults starting playing soccer in the streets with him along with a couple of “old guys” in the bunch that were they coaching them along like “Paul with Timothy.”

  Here is the young man who was saved one night earlier…the next night…now witnessing to his friend along with our young adults!  Woohoo!!  Talk about going and making disciples and “fisher’s of men.”  Awesome!

Let me tell you what I saw our team doing is a pastor’s dream!  They were “getting it” and had the “Great Commission” as their focus.  They were truly making disciples.  It was amazing to see my daughter and other young ladies rejoicing in tears for the simple privilege of sharing the gospel with a 17-year girl. 

 She is the young lady in white with blue pants. 

She didn’t accept Christ, but she is close…real close…so we continue to pray for her. 

My oldest daughter led a precious 9-year old girl to Christ and just received a letter in the mail yesterday from her!  Katy was so excited to hear from Kallista! 

Kallista said in her letter, “Everything is different now that I have Jesus in my heart.”  She said, “My mom is thinking about taking me to church.”  I pray her mother will and that she, too, will accept Christ.  So many are confused through the teachings of Catholicism about who Jesus is and why is the only way to heaven and that you don’t have to go through a priest for forgiveness of sins.

We went into Progreso, Mexico each evening and taught Bible School there and played soccer in the streets.  This is such a poor area and the poverty is so extreme that it’s hard to describe the conditions folks are living in…

   I thought…”there is no way someone lives in this house…”  Yet, when we went up to it to invite anyone we found there to church, 8 people rolled out.  The house is just two rooms…a den/kitchen and a bedroom with mats on the floor to sleep.  There is no air conditioning, no indoor bathrooms, limited food and clothes and they’ll use anything to tack up a house/shelter…

 

Several of the children had heads full of lice.  Here are girls picking lice out of their sister’s hair…

  Oscar and Miriam are going to help this little girl and the others with getting rid of the lice with proper hair care.

We also distributed rice and beans and candy canes for the kids…yes…candy canes in the middle of summer…and no complaints.  Would we complain about getting Christmas candy in June?

The experience for our team was truly life-changing.  I’ve talked to several of our team members this week and they’ve told me that they are almost depressed.  Why?  Because you miss the work, the closeness of the team and the people…oh, the people…those precious little faces…

…faces that represent lives that are hungry and the souls that long for peace…peace they can only find in Christ.It was awesome!  Ultimately, by the last night we had over 100 kids and we had 4 adults saved…on the street…  Can you say, “Wow!!”

We are helping a young 23-year old couple build a church for the people…for the congregation they have been building.  They have had the church going for about a year and they’ve had to meet in the lot of an old broken-down house that is so small that they meet in the front yard of it.  

  This is Oscar with the missionary interpreter at the broken down old house they are using as a church site.  They hold services in the front yard of the lot.

What a dedicated couple for Christ!  Our church has the desire to help them build their first church.  Here I am on the land as we presented Oscar and Miriam with enough money to make the land payment for the next 10 months. 

It is taking about 50% of Oscar and Miriam’s income to be able to make the payments on the land and for the lot they are using to hold church services now.  They are leaving their jobs in August and moving from Rio Bravo to Progreso to do the work full-time.  I’m sure Oscar will try to find some sort of work…but, they are living on faith.  Last year their 9-month old baby, Gracie, died of rare disease; yet they are persevering in Christ.

We want to go down in the fall or winter and help start building the church.  Here is a picture of the team on the land…

Going on a mission trip as families is an amazing thing.  Let me put it this way…I’m done with “youth” mission trips.  They seldom work.  But, you put Young Adults with Adults…hold on to your seats…Titus 2 and the concept of mentoring as Paul did with Timothy comes alive…just like the Bible tells us.  We often stick teens in rooms by themselves and think we’ve got to entertain them.  Not ours…they were teaching, leading children and adults to Christ…working for the kingdom!  We must continue to look for ways to engage our young people as the Church.  When we do…we’ll be astounded at the results.

    

They led the teaching times…they led in many of our team devotions…they were amazing!!  They worked and gave it everything they had on five our sleep each night…extreme heat and tight living conditions…but, so did the adults…  Some of us old-timers are still recovering this week!Woohoo!!  Here are three amigos “snoozing” on the plane… 

  Aren’t they precious!!

Why the long blog post?  Because missions is at the heart of our Lord…plain and simple.  He came to “seek and save that which is lost.”  He told us to GO and make disciples of all nations…to teach them…  He rejoices when we get about the business of the kingdom…His…not ours.  Why does a mission trip change a person’s life?  Because you leave the comfort and security of home and you sacrifice yourself…your sleep…your routine…your wants…your desires for that of the Savior’s.  When you choose to do this…I promise you…it will change your life and you will find that when you get back home, your priorities will change and you will adjust your life to do more missions.  In fact, I’m heading to another mission field next Wednesday for 17 days.  Ethiopia!!

Where the “Great Commission” work of the kingdom continues…  Please pray for our team…  We leave Wed., June 30th.  I’m certain I’ll be forever changed again…because…well…that’s what “doing” missions does…it changes your life!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I’ve learned something over 42 years of living.  Do you want to know what it is?  It’s how much I DON’T know!  Ha!  That’s the truth!  I’m really amazed at how little I seem to know about life even after 42 years of living.  But, I can tell you one thing I have learned in my 16+ years of being a parent.  It’s something that I’ve had to contemplate and study on for years when it comes to what is the most important thing I need to teach my child.

Some would say it is the ABC’s or how to read.

abc's

Some would say it’s how to fight and defend oneself (especially for boys)?

Some would say it’s how to make a lot of money and become rich.

No, I must say it’s not any of those, even though they may be considered essential to some.  Nope…it’s something of much greater importance that has come to me from reading Scripture and letting that Scripture sift my motives and ultimately my priorities.  It’s what I call the most important thing we could ever teach our children.  Ready to know what it is?  Psalm 78 tells us:

1 O my people, hear my teaching;
       listen to the words of my mouth.

 2 I will open my mouth in parables,
       I will utter hidden things, things from of old-

 3 what we have heard and known,
       what our fathers have told us.

 4 We will not hide them from their children;
       we will tell the next generation
       the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
       his power, and the wonders he has done.

 5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
       and established the law in Israel,
       which he commanded our forefathers
       to teach their children,

 6 so the next generation would know them,
       even the children yet to be born,
       and they in turn would tell their children.

 7 Then they would put their trust in God
       and would not forget his deeds
       but would keep his commands.

 8 They would not be like their forefathers—
       a stubborn and rebellious generation,
       whose hearts were not loyal to God,
       whose spirits were not faithful to him.  Psalm 78:1-8

Did you see it?  Verse 7 is the answer.  That they would put their trust in God.  Yes…that is the most important thing we could possibly teach a child…to PUT THEIR TRUST IN GOD.  Are we doing that?  Take a look at this quote from J. Hampton Keathley III, Th.M. a former pastor for 28 years and writer for the Biblical Studies Foundation.

A survey taken a few years ago revealed “that over half of the teenagers could not name even one of the four gospels. In multiple choice questions, some decided that the epistles were the wives of the apostles, that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife and that Moses was the father of Jesus. Answers like these would be hilarious if they were not pathetic!”  We are raising a generation of biblical illiterates. American youth growing up in our scientific age know more about getting to the moon or about computer terminology than they do about getting to heaven or about the Bible. 

We spend thousands of dollars strengthening and straightening children’s teeth, but we stand by as they develop crooked hearts and twisted lives. We purchase the latest volumes on child care so we can raise children by the book, but we have concentrated on the wrong book!  Then we act shocked when our children follow the system of the world, or when so few young people have the stamina and discernment to withstand the intense deceptions and temptations of our times. But its because we have too often failed to effectively communicate the eternal truths of the God’s Word in an atmosphere that truly communicates the reality of God along with God’s love and grace.  “Teach” is the Hebrew yada’. In this construction (Hiphil) it means “to make known, declare.” It means to know so that with the knowledge there is spiritual understanding and perception. This is not an option. It is an imperative. If we want our children to know and experience God and to experience His blessings on their lives, we must be dedicated to teaching our children to know the Lord and His Word.

What is the most important thing in life for your child and mine?  To KNOW God.  That’s it!  Not just know about Him…but, to KNOW Him as their own GOD and LORD.  Can I ask you some questions?

  • What is going on spiritually in your child’s life? 
  • Where are they reading in the Bible right now (assuming they can read). 
  • What is their prayer-life like? 
  • What is God teaching them? 
  • How is God growing and maturing them?
  • What evidence is there in their life that they really are a BELIEVER and FOLLOWER of Christ?

Yes…I’m 42 years old and I feel every year of that age…but, I’ve learned something very important.  That it’s my job as the father in my home to teach and train my children to know the Lord.  (Ephesians 6:4)  That is the number one and foremost priority in my life.  Once I’ve done that, then I can know for sure that I’ve done the most important thing for my child.   I’ve shown them God!  From there I am teach them how to transfer their faith to their children (my grandchildren) and beyond. 

In my home we diligently work to turn off the TV at night and spend time in the Word of God and to pray together.  We don’t do this every night, but at least 3-4 nights per week.  When we are having our Bible study time, I ask the oldest two girls (Katy and Kandace) question after question after question about Scripture and what they are learning, where they are reading, etc.  Pam (my wife) and I used to MAKE them read books about Christianity.  Yes, we MADE them.  But, you know, something has happened.  We no longer have to make them read the Bible and books on the faith…they do it on their own.  They have been trained.  For instance, they both have recently read “More than a Carpenter” by Josh McDowell…

More Than a Carpenter [Book]

…and Katy has finished two books that were written in the 1800’s but are fantastic…”The Hidden Hand” and “Ishmael.”  It’s a fantastic transformation when your children WANT to read books instead of be on the computer or in front a TV or a video game. 

When I am 72 instead of 42, if the Lord allows me to live that long, I am confident that I will have some grandchildren on my knee that will say, “PaPaw, we love the Lord and we thank you for teaching momma (or daddy) how to know Jesus, because we know Him too!”  You say, that’s pretty presumptuous on your part isn’t it Kevin?  Nope.  Because I claim Proverbs 22:6.  “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  And the Psalm we just read puts it this way:

4 We will not hide them from their children;
       we will tell the next generation
       the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
       his power, and the wonders he has done.

 5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
       and established the law in Israel,
       which he commanded our forefathers
       to teach their children,

 6 so the next generation would know them,
       even the children yet to be born,
       and they in turn would tell their children. Psalm 78:4-6

You see a picture of six people in the picture below right now…but, if Jesus delays His coming back, and 30 years pass by and he allows us all to live and our children have children…there will be more generations to tell of HIS most excellent way.

   I can’t wait!!

Read Full Post »

We live in a world today where there is a great shortage of true men of courage, honor, integrity and dignity.  Men of chivalry seem to be a thing of the past.  Why?  We will look at that in a moment.  To begin we must see what a man of courage really is.  The Apostle Paul tells us about men of courage in the final chapter of his first letter to the church at Corinth.

13Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 14Do everything in love. 15You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers, 16to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it. 17I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. 18For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.  1 Cor. 16:13-18

Take a look at these staggering statistics that shape our nation today as I believe we have lost a generation or two of real men of courage.  Note how many have to do with men not getting the job done of being true men of courage:

  • 2 out of 3 Christian men consider the education of their children as a priority, yet only 1 out of 3 Christian men consider their children’s salvation a priority.
  • 92% of Christian teens abandon the church and their faith by their 20th birthday.
  • 88% of freshman at UCLA say that money and the pursuit of it is the most important thing in life.
  • In the general population there is a 49/51 split “for/against” homosexual marriage in America.  Under the age of 35 it’s 65/35 and those with a Master’s Degree is 70/30.
  • Abortion statistics are virtually the same as those for support of homosexuality.  50 million babies have been aborted since 1973 effectively losing the “working class” that is to be supporting the retiring Baby Boomers.
  • According to a recent Time magazine article 70% of grown men are not mature by the age of 30.  We are raising a nation of “Kidults.”  These “men” want bread and games…just like Rome.  The average 20-something young man, has NO VISION for his life other than pleasure, fun, food, games, sex and enjoyment.  They are playing games while Rome is burning.
  • 41% of all boys born in America are born without fathers in the home.  In 1960 it was just 6%.  The statistic is almost 70% among African Americans.

Because of these statistics and more, the families in America and in our churches are effectively broken.  Why?  Because we don’t have men leading with a vision that is beyond their own lives and their own “kingdoms.”  The writer of Hebrews details the problem:

7So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, 8do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, 9where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. 10That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.'” 12See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

13But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. 15As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”[16Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? 18And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.  Hebrews 3:7-19

Do you see the problem?  Hardened hearts!  What is your heart like today?  Is it hardened to the things of God?  Did you know Christianity as we know it in America today will be gone, say statisticians, by 2145?  But, not if I have anything to say about it.  Let me explain.  If my 4 children have 4 children and they disciple their children to be Christians and their 4 have 4 and are discipled and this continues to happen until 2145, then there will be 8 generations of Browns on this earth or 262,144 offspring that have been trained for Christ.  Will this be a 100% success rate…probably not…but the point is I have a “multi-generational” vision for my family that goes beyond just my lifetime.  Do you?  What do you want your great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, (most likely whom will never know you or you know them) to say about you?  Now is the time to build within the lives of your children and particularly young men a vision for trust, faith, courage and dedication to Christ.

Look at what Paul told the church at Thessalonica:

11For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.  1 Thessalonians 2:11-12

It has been said, “The perception of the problem will drive the radical nature of the solution.”  What must happen to turn our families around? You see, as the family goes the church goes and as the church goes this nation goes.  This country will not change based on who is in the White House…it will only change based on who is in His house.  One of the most famous verses in Scripture regarding revival is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14.  It says:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

But when is the last time you have read it in the context of the passage in which it was written.  God was telling Solomon what would happen to the people if they chose to acknowledge Him and follow Him.  This commendation occurred at the dedication of the temple, which Solomon built to honor God.  Look at verse 14 now in context of this passage.

11 When Solomon had finished the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the LORD and in his own palace, 12 the LORD appeared to him at night and said: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.

13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.

17 “As for you, if you walk before me as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, 18 I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a man to rule over Israel.’

19 “But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 21 And though this temple is now so imposing, all who pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ 22 People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.'”

Do you see what God told Solomon?  He told him if he followed in the ways of his father, he’d be “good to go.”  But, if he didn’t follow in his father’s path and the path of his forefathers, (verse 22) that disaster would come upon him.  What is happening in America?  Disaster!  Disaster is coming upon us and we are asleep at the wheel.  You say, “What kind of disaster?”  A moral disaster.  We are in absolute moral decay in this nation and to most, we are blind to it…particularly the men.  We are building our “imposing” temples to ourselves and our pleasures while we have little to no consideration for how we are training or not training our children…particularly our young men.

So what do we do?  Simple.  Men must return God and in turn their hearts toward home and their children.  Today our young people are living in a world without truth and without relationships.  We’ve compartmentalized God to Sundays so that Monday through Saturday He is irrelevant.  We aren’t discipling our children.  They are being discipled by music, TV, computers, movies, video games and cyberspace.  We no longer mentor or disciple our children or other young men.  Why?  Because we are too busy with our own lives and they are being discipled by the worldview of those they are most in contact with…and that’s very dangerous…because most people’s worldview is anything but Biblical.  The prophet Malachi prophesied the remedy.

5 “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”  Malachi 4:5-6

Do you know what is amazing?  400 years later, (the “inter-testament” period…there were 400 years between the Old Testament and the New Testament), the Apostle Luke is saying the same thing.  Take a look.

17And he (John the Baptist) will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”  Luke 1:17

The same is true of us today.  We have got to have fathers turning their hearts to their children and grandchildren to “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”  But here is the key…the sacrifice we make must be in proportion to how much we value the mission.  What is the mission?  Building a generation of young people who are strong enough spiritually to make it in a world that is “anti-Christian” and “anti-God.”

Are we providing this kind of “spiritual guidance for our children?”  You say, “I provide for my children.”  Ok, great!  But, in what ways?  We say we are providing for them….but, I would tell you that it’s almost all “materially and physically.”

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  1 Timothy 5:8

But is there more to the “provision” than just food and shelter and a good education?  You better believe it!  How about “providing” in the area of trust, belief, surrender and dedication “to the death,” if necessary for Christ?  What are we doing to transfer the faith…Christianity to the next generation?  We must be “disciplers” men!  We must help our children and young people (if you have no children) to see that there is nothing on this earth that has greater purpose and meaning than those who have a vision for the things of God.  Matthew 6:33 sums up what we must teach…”Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”

We’ve got to become Nehemiah’s for the faith!

14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”  Nehemiah 4:14

Nehemiah was charged with the task of rebuilding the broken down walls of Jerusalem before they were marauded and destroyed by the enemy.  He said, “Don’t be afraid!”  He said, “Fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”  We’ve got to fight to build up our families and build a generation of men that can lead in difficult days to come.  Listen, if we don’t develop a “multi-generational vision” for raising sons and daughters, and particularly discipling young men who will follow the teachings of Christ and put Him first, then we WILL see the end of Christianity within the lifetime of our children and grandchildren.  That’s not being pessimistic…that’s a statistical fact.

Where have all the men gone?  They are still among us.  They are waiting to be discipled and mentored to be men of courage, who will stand strong and fight for the kingdom of Christ!  I choose to be one of the men who will turn his heart toward home and fight for his family and to disciple my children and other young men around me.  Who will join me?

Read Full Post »