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Archive for October, 2011

Yes, I do. I REALLY DO believe there is heaven. I’m totally convinced of it. 100%! No doubt. Really! How about you? Do you believe there is a heaven? I’m aware that most of my readers are Christians, so it’s easy to assume that if you are reading this you are indeed a Christian. Therefore it would probably be safe to say that you probably believe there is a heaven.

But how much do you really believe it? Are you willing to make a little wager? What? Some of you now have eyes about to bug out of your head. You can’t believe a pastor is talking about betting? Well, calm down. I’m not talking about betting. I’m talking about investing. Isn’t it true that we put our money where our mouth is?

If we believe something is valuable and we want it, then we’ll spend the buck for it won’t we. So, let me ask the question again. Do we really believe there is a heaven? If the answer is yes, then are we “putting our money where our mouth is?”

The truth is, how we spend our money is the greatest barometer of what we really believe in and value isn’t it? So, let’s think about this from a spiritual perspective. If we believe there is a heaven and we believe the words of Jesus when He said, “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust does not destroy,” and “where your treasure is, there will be your heart also,” then we should be making investments there, right?

Well, how do we do this? Well quite honestly that’s between you and the Lord. But, we need to be honest about it. We can’t say we are giving to the kingdom of God to buy a new outfit to wear to church. ūüôā Or we can’t say, we’re going to buy a new van because it will help haul some people to church (our kids). ūüôā

I know sometimes people get a little upset with me when I say that the American concept of “retirement” doesn’t exist in most of the rest of the world, and you won’t find the concept in Scripture. But, the truth is that we desire comfort, security and ease, (so much so¬†in our culture), that we’ll put more in our 401-k’s than the Kingdom’s work. Why?¬†Well…could it be that we really don’t believe there is a heaven or that we really don’t believe in the Word of God? Truth is, we might not want to admit¬†it, but¬†our actions¬†reveal what we believe. I’ll say that again:¬†our actions reveal what we believe.

So, what do we believe? Do we believe that life is all about getting a good education so we can get a good job, so we can make a lot of money, so we can have a big 401-k, so we can retire and get up late, travel the world, play golf and just “hang out,” because we deserve it? Or is life really about Jesus and the Kingdom to come?¬†Is it¬†true the we are just pilgrims passing through? Is¬†it that we are to be ambassadors for the Gospel and¬†to “go” and make disciples of all nations. Isn’t¬†the work of the¬†Kingdom and shouldn’t the work of the Kingdom be¬†our highest priority? And if it is our highest priority, then shouldn’t¬†our check book and bank statements reflect that priority? I think so.

Now, I hasten to say,¬†my family and¬†I aren’t perfect in this. I know if we wanted to go to extremes, we could sell our house and live in a tent and eat off of a milk crate (honestly, I think I could do that if I weren’t married and had no children). But, is that what the Lord is asking us to do? Probably not. But, if¬†He did, could we¬†do it? Would we do it?

You know,¬†I’m being as honest as I can be when I say that¬†it’s a joy for me and my family to give our time and money to the¬†Kingdom and to work for the¬†Kingdom. In fact “giving” for our family to the Kingdom work is a priority. So much so that we have little¬†“savings” and we cashed out our¬†401-k a long time ago. We adopted two children in the process and since then Clara has received Christ as her Savior. Is this kingdom business? We¬†believe so. We also believe in missions and the work of our church in reaching souls. Therefore, we have committed a large percentage of our money to various work¬†through our local church. We also support local missions through other organizations and local ministries. Why? Because¬†we really believe Jesus is¬†giving us the best investment advice in the world…”store up¬†your treasures in heaven.”

So, the Browns REALLY¬†DO believe there is a heaven and¬†I pray we will continue to place our security and trust in the Lord and not the things of¬†this world. Will we?¬†Well, the proof will be in the check register and the day planner. ūüôā

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Necessities

Much has been circulating through my mind lately. Truthfully, much like you I’m sure, our minds seem to operate at warp speed most of the time. How much time do we really have to think or pray? Not much I’m afraid. Life’s so busy and the pace so hectic.

This afternoon I was driving home from Winston-Salem and Brenner Children’s Hospital and I had about 30 minutes to think. But, I’ve got to show you a picture of a precious little 3 lb 12 ouncer (which incidentally was what I weighed 43 years ago when I was born). This is Barry and Andrea Warren’s little girl Hayden…

What a little bundle of joy! She is precious…gaining weight and will hopefully be home in then next 2-3 weeks.

Back to my random thoughts…

I thought about this country and the shape we’re in and I became overly sad. Why?¬†Because we no longer understand what is important in my estimation. We used to value integrity, hard work, honor and most importantly a Judeo-Christian ethos. Not any more.¬†No longer are those qualities considered “necessities.”

Today most¬†American’s necessities would¬†consist of Cable of Satellite TV, an I-Phone, Microwave¬†oven and air conditioning. We¬†get upset if we don’t get enough “free time” or “me time,” and we chant the mantra, “I just want to be comfortable and happy.”

Think back with me to WWII.¬†Well that might be part of the problem. Many young Americans (under the age of 30) know next to nothing about history.¬†Many can’t even identify Adolf Hitler…

Amazing, indeed…and a sign of the times.¬†Give us pleasure, fun, sports, movies, YouTube, Twitter,¬†Restaurant food, pillow-top mattresses and we’re “good to go.” No longer do people want to work and no longer¬†is an¬†individual defined by his/her work ethic, instead we’ll give you money for not working.¬†(Currently 2 years for the unemployed.) We’ll¬†pay people to do nothing but have babies out-of-wedlock. Why get¬†married when the government will give you more money for more kids. Now I’m grateful the children aren’t aborted,¬†but the motives are questionable at best.

Recently I took Kandace, (my 13-year-old daughter), to the Wilkes County Health Department for a Yellow Fever shot for our upcoming mission trip to Ethiopia (Nov. 16-30) and while we were there I noticed that we¬†were the only ones that “paid” anything for any service rendered. I finally asked the lady behind the counter, “How many people who have been in here today have actually paid anything?” She looked at her watch (it was 4:10¬†pm) and then looked at me and said, “As of this moment, you are the only one.” Oh my! Everyone else is on government assistance. Yet, I¬†saw people¬†coming in¬†with better shoes and clothes¬†than I had on and¬†carrying¬†I-phones to boot.

Back to WWII.¬†70 years ago this nation had a work ethic that was rooted in our Judeo-Christian belief system of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and “if a man won’t work, then he won’t eat,” and “neighbors helping neighbors and churches helping communities.”¬†We prospered after the war and then moved our way through the “Leave it¬†to Beaver” 1950’s and early 60’s…

¬†…and then we hit Woodstock…

…Vietnam,¬†free love, sex, Rock and Roll,¬†Feminism, and a major distrust of authority. Slowly but surely the nation is now under then control and influence of a generation of people who have been¬†educated in universities and colleges that teach secular humanism and evolutionary thinking. The American Dream is the American Way and well…we’re in a mess.

We have a $15 TRILLION¬†debt. What’s 15 Trillion? Well, according to statisticians, you would have to spend $15 Million dollars a day from the birth of Jesus until the year 2830 to equal $15 trillion. Wow!

What do we do? We must and I say MUST begin teaching and training our children from the Scriptures again. Even a bum in a bar in the 50’s had a healthy respect for God. Not today… I’ve never seen so many body piercings, tattoos, and abhorrent behavior in all my life. Just walking through the hospital today, riding the elevators, etc, I thought to myself: “I wonder what my Grandmother would have thought about all of this if she saw some of these folks walking the streets in the 1950’s?” I think she would have fainted.

We’ll see more of this behavior next Monday night at Halloween. It’s a night where over $5 billion will be spent and now ranks as the number 3 holiday (in spending), behind Christmas¬†and Valentine Day.

Last¬†Monday, during President Obama’s trip through Virginia and North Carolina, and right here about 1 1/2 miles from my house at my old high school, he got to see a lot of the Bible belt. Problem is…we don’t act like we believe the Bible¬†any more.¬†While in Nebo, North Carolina, Pastor Bob Ritter of Eastside Baptist Church

[Pastor+Ritter+034Ritter.JPG]…had just two or three minutes with the president. The pastor took the opportunity to share some his concerns about the administration’s policies, expressing his disappointment with the government’s corporate bailouts and economic policies that essentially pick who the “winners and losers” are. Ritter said that during those few minutes, he shared that he pastors a local church and that his congregation prays for him often. According to the pastor, the president responded that he believes in the power of prayer and was trying to get some jobs to the area.

“I wanted the president to know that though I do respect his office, I’m not going to be a passive man. I think that’s one of the biggest problems in America right now, that those of us men who know what God says and know how we budget for our own families and take care of our homes, that we can’t be passive right now.” Ritter said,
“When a crisis comes, we pull God out of the trunk and we call for pastors to come to schools when there’s been a shooting; we called for prayer after 9/11,” he said. “But then the sad thing is when it all works and God gives our country peace of heart and protects us, since 9/11 we’ve put God back in the trunk…

“… God’s not a spare wheel,” stated Ritter. “He’s supposed to be the steering wheel.”

Referring to the Book of Judges, Ritter said that was a time when there was no leader and “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” “That’s a pretty wicked time if everybody just does what they think they should do with no moral compass.”

Well, Pastor Ritter…here’s another pastor that feels the same way.

Where will it end? I’m not sure. I’m afraid we’ve gone over the cliff. Morbid thinking? Maybe. So, then what? Work hard to teach and train my children to be strong in Christ and the Scriptures. Reach out to those around us and share the love of Christ as much as possible by getting people into our homes and showing them the love of Jesus…in Christian hospitality. Go where the fields are white and get busy. Pray…pray to the Lord of the Harvest for Laborers…NOW! Today! There’s no time to waste! These must become our necessities!

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The Work Continues…

What is the purpose of the church? Boy, that’s a loaded question to get a blog post started isn’t it? Well…I want to try to show how the Lord desires for us to get out of the box (of the four walls of the church) and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to “seek and save that which is lost.” So, to me…the Church is being the Church when we come together and stir each other up to good works (as the Hebrew writer says) and then “GO,” the first word in the Great Commission…”GO and make disciples of all nations…” So, the work continues…

I have loaded up some pictures for you to take a look at of the work…

Here’s¬†Oscar and Miriam and their new baby “Oscarito,” (means “little Oscar”).

Ain’t he cute!!

 

Oscar and Miriam lost their first baby, Gracie. She died of a rare disease that caused her body and organs to “stiffen.” She died after living only a few months. Oscarito¬†appears to be doing well. The medical doctors in Mexico are nothing like in the States. They say, “He is normal.” But, this is what they said about¬†Gracie. However, Oscarito is already doing much more than Gracie and is only about 1 month old. He is moving and kicking his legs…Gracie never did either.

Here’s Katie Church with Oscarito…Miriam is full of joy!

Miriam had a C-section and she literally almost bled to death. She lost half the blood in her body before they got the bleeding stopped. She is just now able to go up and down steps well. She’s some kind of “trooper.”

I mentioned Katie Church. She and her husband Jason, whom I’ve mentioned before in previous blog posts, have felt led by the Lord to move to Weslaco to be missionaries and church planters. They had never been before. Sounds like Abraham. They had confirmed in their hearts this is the work God is calling them to do. Jason told me on Wednesday, “I don’t want to go home…because this is going to be home…this is where we are supposed to be.” Praise the Lord!

Here’s a couple of pics from inside the church in Progreso, Mexico that we helped build this past June. This is where Oscar pastors along with Miriam. They have been able to close in the holes with windows and doors. They’ve put in seats as well. It looks great!

The work continues on the church. The next project is to get the power pulled over from the main road to the church and to build classroom space for the Bible Study classes. We’ll work on these things when we head back in June 2012 (9th-16th).

My brother-in-law, Craig Church of Craig Church Ministries (CCM) has a desire to partner with us and help us reach Weslaco¬†and Progreso with community impact festivals or “mini-crusades.” There has never been a crusade in Weslaco. Craig has a fantastic ministry and you can learn more here at his website. Craig has a desire to help us (his home church) and we’re excited about having the calibre of his preaching and the prayers of his many supporters with us.

We got to reconnect with Kika (pronounced Kee-ka) in Weslaco, TX. Her husband is Andreas (pronounced An-drey-us) and her son is Frank.

Kika¬†is like the Macedonian man who¬†Paul saw in a vision recorded in the book of Acts. The man pleaded and begged Paul to come and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Kika told us, “You’ll never know how much I’ve been praying that someone would come and care about us.”

Adrian Cantu (whom I had the privilege of leading to Christ) told me, “We are a forgotten people. Nobody really cares about us.” That breaks my heart.

He told me, “Kevin, I want to help in any way I can to get a church started. I’m excited to help!” What a blessing!

The work continues. It all started many years ago with a man named Harold¬†Ward. Mr. Ward turned a cantina into a¬†mission house in Weslaco, TX. The house went from selling booze to housing people who would share Jesus. Covenant Baptist Church bought the mission house several years ago and now they are selling it to us at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church. We have raised almost $45,000 of the $80,000 needed. We have until 2/14/12 to raise the funds and I believe we’ll have it. How? I don’t have a clue. I just know that the Father provides for what He calls us to do. So the work continues.

Oh…I ran into a Gringo down there…recognize him?

After finishing up in Weslaco, I flew into Charleston, SC where Pam and the family picked me up at the airport and we headed to Parris Island, SC to see Josh Isaacs graduate from Marine boot camp. Here are some shots…

When we got there Josh took us on a tour of the facilities and grounds. This is from inside the barracks.

Family day was on Thursday and then he graduated on Friday. Josh was part of about 400 graduating in his group.

We got to the field for the graduation at about 7:30 am and it was 49 degrees and chilly…

We sat with Eric and Sandy Jeffcoat’s family and Robbie and Ashley.

They came down to support Josh¬†along with his mom and Josh’s aunt and uncle.

Finally they all came marching in… Josh’s platoon was the first one in… number 3080…man, can they march!

And here he is…

Doesn’t he look good? Let me tell you, they turned him into a rock solid, polite young man. He said, “Yes sir” to all the men and “Yes ma’am” to all the ladies. When we crossed the streets, he would make sure our entire group made it over safely. I thought to myself, “It’s amazing what the Marines expect of their men and women. Why not the Church as Christians?” What do we expect? Do we expect manners and discipline and self-control. I mean these men can’t even scratch an itch in formation or shoe away a bee if it lands on them. They can’t move and they are rock solid.

I have much more to share about the experiences of the week…but, I’m going to sign off for now. Honestly, I’ve done this post twice. UGH! Why? Because the first post (about 2/3rds¬†of it) crashed. UGH! Live and learn. I thought I was saving and that WordPress¬†was autosaving…but something glitched somewhere. Oh well. It’s done now. ūüôā

Praise the Lord for a super week! Church tomorrow…can’t wait!!

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Wow! What a Day!

Yesterday was a fantastic day! I’m in Weslaco, Texas with Jason and Katie Church (a couple in our church who feel led to move here and do ministry as missionaries to plant a church in this community and continue the work our church has been involved in Progreso, Mexico. I also have with me Craig Church, my brother-in-law, who is a missionary evangelist. He’s going to be partnering with us to do ministry here (evangelism) through small crusades called, Impact Festivals. Also, Clete Jarvis (who is bilingual) and is a member of our church is here to translate.

Yesterday we were able to re-establish contacts with folks in a housing project that is going to be the nucleus of where we sense the Lord is leading us to join him. Why? Because He’s already at work there. He has drawn the lives of several families to Him in that project. We talked to a man, named Adrian and his wife Kat. If you may remember, I had the privilege of leading Adrian to Christ in June. He and his family were ecstatic to see us, as we were them.

Adrian says, “We are a forgotten people here.” He said the white churches don’t want us and the Hispanics that do go to church are Catholic. I told him we were planning on starting a church in the spring and he and Kat were overjoyed. He said, “Why do you care about us? Why are you doing this?” I told him because the Lord has led us here. It’s that simple.

We talked to another lady who has been a huge help for us in the housing project. Her name is Keeka. She has a heart for the people in the housing project (about 400 units) and she said, “I’ve been praying someone would come.” It reminds me of the Macedonian call the Apostle Paul received. He had a vision of a man begging him to come and share the Gospel. We sense that same call.

You see, Jesus called us to be witnesses for Him? Where? Just in our own backyard? No. There…yes…but, also in Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Weslaco is our Samaria. When we reach out to share the Gospel…we must remember that Jesus died for the world…not just for white Americans who live in our town or community. We sometimes get to be very isolationist in our witness and we think we can only invest time and money in our own neighborhoods. I disagree with this philosophy because it’s anti-Scriptural.

Jesus said to go and be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the world. It’s like ripples in a pond…they expand from the stone drop…

The mother church in Jerusalem and ultimately even from Antioch…where believers were first called Christians, sent out missionaries. They sent them hundreds of miles to spread the Gospel. The book of Acts details these “Acts” very succinctly. What a privilege to be a part of God’s work in our Samaria…in Weslaco…and to the ends of the earth…in Progreso, MX and Alaba, Ethiopia and around the world.

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Getting It Done!

Getting it done! I’m a “get it done” kind of person and we did that today with a fabulous Chicken-Q to raise money for the purchase of¬†a Mission House in Texas. Why buy a Mission House in Texas? Because the opportunity came to us and we see the vision of planting a missionary couple there to plant churches and to be closer to a church we are partnering with in Progreso, Mexico. We are seeking to raise $80,000 and we’ve raised over $42,000 and that’s not including what was raised today through the “Q.”

I’m leaving Sunday after church with Jason and Katie Church (a couple in our church who has sensed God’s call to the mission field in Weslaco, TX), my brother-in-law, Evangelist, Craig Church, and another member of our church, who is bi-lingual, Clete Jarvis. Craig wants to look at helping us do some mass evangelism in Weslaco and Progreso. To say that I’m excited is an understatement!

Our goal is to plant churches and for them to be autonomous. We have no desire to “run” churches from 1500 miles away. We simply see ourselves like the mother church in Jerusalem in the book of Acts. We are sending missionaries to the fields with the desire for those churches that are planted to be led by folks from within. Jason and Katie don’t desire to pastor or lead churches. They desire to be missionaries who help (like the Apostle Paul and Barnabas). What’s the ultimate goal? To seek to save that which is lost…to see souls saved! After all, Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of the United States.” Right? Oops. I quoted Matthew 28:20 wrong. He said, “Go and make disciples of all people who look like you!” Nope! That’s not right either. He said, “Go and make disciples of ALL NATIONS.” Yep…now that’s more like it.

I led a man to Christ in a housing project this past summer that didn’t know who Billy Graham was. Seriously. He had never heard of Billy Graham, yet he lives in America. What does this say? It says the fields are “white unto harvest.” We just need workers. The Lord has commissioned our church to send them…just like the church at Antioch in Acts 13. This is exciting stuff!

So, we’ll be in Texas/Mexico through Wednesday next week. In the meantime…here’s some photos of today’s activities with some fine and wonderfully hard-working folks…

Go get ’em Geoff…those chickens are no match for you and your back-pack sprayer!

I have to show you Geoff loading up with that sprayer…it’s like out of a movie as the sun was coming up! We started this morning at 4:30 am!!!

Check this out. We laughed our head’s off at Geoff! He’s the Master Chef and here we are burning off the residue from the grates and Geoff is back there fighting fire with a water bottle! Hilarious!!

Check out these hard-working volunteers in the kitchen packing the boxes…

Here are some of the finest ladies in the church! You can always count on these folks!

Talk about a man who is not afraid to get his hands wet…WAY TO GO ART!!

There are some folks, two in particular that did a tremendous amount of work! Ken Bryan and Sharron Huffman (and her husband Ronald). Ken coordinated the cooking and Sharron coordinated the packing and delivery. What a blessing you are! Thank you so very, very much!

And to all of you who lapped up those 750 plates we sold…Thank you, thank you, thank you. We appreciate you so very, very much! Without you…well, we’d be cooking for nothin’!

Finally, I want you to see an email I just received from a lady who (along with her husband) led an effort to purchase over 100 plates!! It’s a wonderful example of how the Lord uses “mission work,” even the preparation…

Hey, 

I don’t know how the day went for you but it was a great day here! We ended up selling 104 plates in total. (We¬†got 100 physical plates, but we “double-sold” 4 that were donated.)

We¬†also sold drinks¬†at lunch today, and 100% of the proceeds from that go to the Mission House; and¬†a student¬†donated a few dollars. One bonus¬†from this is that we ended up with a bunch of plates donated by people who couldn’t pick¬†theirs up or who just bought extra.

It started with Scott¬†telling his classes¬†that even if they couldn’t be here, they could still¬†buy
a plate and we’d find someone in need to donate it to.¬†…so he’s¬†buying a plate and inviting a guy he always sees walking around to come¬†to lunch. That got people excited. They got behind that¬†and¬†donated a bunch of plates. We set up tables in the studio, and now we had to find people to give them to. (Scott went down to the police station and Wilkes Towers but we didn’t get a response.) Last night, one of our students told us about a homeless shelter down the street… Then she went there, at about 10pm, talked to the people there, invited a few, came back and told us about it. We went down there at 10:30pm and invited¬†more people there. It’s a small shelter. They have 8 there now. We had 6 people from the shelter come down for lunch,¬†plus the original guy Scott had¬†invited. (And some students of course) We had a great time! Caison and our students talked¬†with them, we got to know them a bit, and¬†one couple from the shelter is coming with us to church this Sunday! They are Greg
and Elisa and they just got¬†here from Texas a couple days ago.¬†The others we talked to were already attending church. So this chicken-que ended up blessing not only the people in Weslaco and Mexico but homeless people in¬†Wilkes¬†as well!¬† There is a lady in her late 60’s who came on her walker. She looks older and not healthy. She¬†was kicked out of¬†her¬†house last night, and¬†her family is all out of state. We have no idea what she is doing or where¬†she¬†goes when the shelter closes at 7am and everyone has to get out till nighttime. We are going to bring the extra plates down to the shelter tonight and¬†keep in touch with them.

Thanks for doing this chicken-que. Looking forward to this Sunday’s Homecoming.

God bless,

Renee and Scott

Isn’t that a fabulous email? Aren’t these fabulous people! They sure are! I believe they’ve discovered a ministry don’t you! Now that’s “Getting¬†it done!”

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Did you know that more than 60 percent of marriages today are preceded by some form of cohabitation. And 75 percent of current cohabitors enter these relationships with some plans toward marriage, even seeing this live-in relationship as a smart move toward marriage. But does the experience of cohabiting teach couples things that help make them better spouses once they do marry? Does cohabitation contribute to stronger, happier marriages?

Unfortunately, it does not. Not even close! Glenn Stanton reveals in his new book, The Ring Makes All the Difference,¬†that marriage, not cohabitation, is the best option for couples ‚Äď but especially for women. Research tells us¬†that a woman who cohabitates before marriage will increase her likelihood of getting a husband who:

  • displays violent behavior toward her;stantonring.jpg
  • is less committed to her;
  • is less committed than she is to the marriage;
  • is less likely to be emotionally and practically supportive; and
  • is more generally relationally negative.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but as Glenn and many other sociologists conclude, this pre-marriage experiment is not the best way to sustain a healthy relationship or to build a lifelong, lasting union ‚Äúin sickness and in health.‚ÄĚ

Cohabitation may be the fastest-growing family type in the U.S., but it is a mask to a true, authentic and committed relationship — marriage. Living together before saying ‚ÄúI do‚ÄĚ will not help lower the divorce rate, and it will certainly not ensure an unbroken heart.

In many cases, in fact, it will lead to exactly the opposite. In the study and I quote again:

“expectation of a positive relationship between cohabitation and marital
stability … has been shattered in recent years by studies conducted in
several Western countries, including Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, and the
United States.”

In Stanton’s book, the¬†data indicates that people with cohabiting experience who marry have a 50 to 80 percent higher likelihood of divorcing than married couples who never
cohabited. A Canadian sociologist who participated in the study explains: “Contrary to conventional wisdom that living together before marriage will screen out poor matches and therefore improve subsequent marital stability, there is considerable empirical evidence demonstrating that premarital cohabitation is associated with lowered marital stability.”

After surveying the data on this question, another leading scholar contends that the only conclusion one could honestly reach was to wholesale “reject the argument” that cohabitation contributes to stronger marriages. In fact, if a couple wanted to substantially increase their likelihood of divorcing, there are few things they could do to so efficiently guarantee such
an outcome than live together before marriage. In fact, this is such a consistent finding in the social science research that scholars have coined a term for it: “the cohabitational effect.”

Here’s another interesting quote:

“One of the most clearly defined correlates of cohabitation is an increased risk of marital
dissolution,” says professor Jay Teachman of Western Washington University.¬†He calls cohabitation one of the most “robust predictors of marital dissolution” — making living together first one of the worst things you can¬†do for your marriage. Teachman also warns that “Even premarital sex by itself is associated with an increased risk of marital disruption…”

Stanton arrives at this conclusion in his book:

And as with other studies, the married couples with no cohabiting past are less likely to engage in aggressive and negative interactions, experience more overtly positive interactions, and enjoy more positive communications. These researchers conclude, based on their review of the best studies to date: The major practical implication of this review is that psychologists can inform the public, that despite popular belief, cohabitation is generally associated with negative outcomes both in terms of marital quality and marital stability. You see, marriage is not a consumer product that you give a try to see how it suits you. Marriage is a leaving of all other relationships to give yourself completely to your beloved. Cohabitation says, ‘I’m not sure about you. Can I give you test-drive to see what I think?’ Melts your hearts doesn’t
it, ladies? Marriage says, ‘I want all of you and I want to give all of myself to you!’ This is why cohabitation and marriage are such very different kinds of relationships. It is why the social sciences have come to the conclusions they have about living together before marriage being a poor and unhealthy idea.

Here’s the bottom line for me: God’s plan works. Build a fire in the fireplace and it’s cozy. Build it in the middle of the den floor…you’re going to have a big-time problem. The fireplace is marriage and the floor is cohabitation. I’m a simple guy…so that sums it up for me.

One last thing…on the marriage theme. At our church, Mt. Pleasant Baptist, in Wilkesboro, NC…on Sunday afternoon, October 30th at 4 pm, we’re going to have a “Resolution Signing.” What is that? It comes straight out of the movie “Courageous.” It’s on a theaters now and it’s fantastic! In the movie, men stand up and say, “I will lead my families.” Over and over they say, “I will.” Kind of reminds me of the marriage vows, “I do.” ūüôā

What is the “Resolution?” I’m glad you asked. ūüôā Here it is:

The RESOLUTION

I,__________________________________________________

do solemnly resolve
before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.
I WILL love them, protect them, serve them, and teach
them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.
I WILL be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her,
and be willing to lay down my life for her as Jesus Christ did for me.
I WILL bless my children and teach them to love God
with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength.
I WILL train them to honor authority and live
responsibly.
I WILL confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.
I WILL pray for others and treat them with kindness,
respect, and compassion.
I WILL work diligently to provide for the needs of my
family.
I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile
with those I have wronged.
I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and
walk with integrity as a man answerable to God.
I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church,
obey His Word, and do His will.
I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.

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                        Signature                                                                      Date

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Witness                                    Date                                         Witness                                    Date

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. ‚Äď Joshua
24:15

Think you might want to be a part of this? I’d love for you too! It’s for the entire family! We invite to you to come dressed in your best. If you have a coat and tie, put them on…if you don’t, come in what you’ve got. Bring a plate of “finger foods” or a box of cookies from the grocery store and we’ll provide the tea, lemonade and coffee. We’ll have a time of commitment and challenge and ultimately an opportunity to say: I WILL LEAD MY FAMILY.

You see I’m convinced the only thing that will bring our country back is not what happens in 2o12 with Obama vs. a Republican. It’s not going to come back because we get rid of Hollywood either. This nation’s only hope is a REVIVAL. And the only hope of that is through the Church (the Bride of Christ…interesting parallel isn’t it…we’re not “live-in” partners with Christ…we’re His bride). But, here’s the deal…the only hope for the church is through the family and the only hope for the family is through the leadership of Dad’s. So, it all boils down to this:

We’ve got a MAN problem in America. It’s called Dads. Men…it’s time to step up. If we’ll step up…then the family will be restored. If the family is restored, the Church will be restored and when the Church is restored, then 2 Chronicles 7:14 will come true:

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

Let me know if you’d like to participate with us on the 30th at 4pm. Drop me an email at: kevin@mpbc.ws.

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Changed Hearts

This past weekend I had the wonderful honor of preaching and teaching in Roxboro, NC at Bethel Hill Baptist Church. We conducted a Mens Conference on Saturday and then I preached at their “Homecoming” service on Sunday.

Now I know this may seem strange for me to report on my own conference…speaking…but, I wanted to give you a report. When I taught on Saturday I taught about being a Godly Man and the Lord issued a call to “Return to Holiness.” I taught from Ephesians 5. The men of Iron Men, know how strong this passage is. In fact it’s gut-wrenching in our culture because it’s so “anti-cultural.” It says there can be no foul language (no bleeps¬†on any TV program), no¬†lewd or crude joking and NO sexual immorality (not even a hint of it…it couldn’t be named among believers). Man! That’s so hardline! Sorry! I didn’t say it…God did.

Well, let me tell you…the altar was full. What does that mean? Nothing. Well…it actually means something…in that there has been enough conviction to get a man out of his seat to move. But, what really matters at Bethel Hill is what is happening today and what happened yesterday and what will happen the rest of this week.

Men told me that they were going to re-prioritize their¬†lives and get their lives in line with Scripture. I taught another session about Fathers…Jesse and Zechariah. Jesse was the father of David and he had zero vision for his son. When Samuel came and was looking for the new king, Jesse didn’t even bring David in from the fields where he was shepherding sheep. Zechariah on the other hand was the father of John the Baptist and boy did he have a vision for John (take a look Luke 1:76-80 to see what I mean). I asked the men…Do you have a vision for your son or daughter “spiritually” beyond their salvation? Most don’t. Most say, “Well, he’s saved, so we’re good to go.” No sir. We learned that the men are to teach and train their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). We know this…however, when we are pointedly challenged with this…well…it smacks us in the face.

Sir, what about you? Are you teaching and training your children in the ways of the Lord? Are you more interested in your career, hobbies and stuff than your children? Maybe you think because you are your sons ball coach and work hard on putting together the starting line-up that you are getting the job done. I used to think the same thing. But, it’s not getting the job done. I even realized I could be serving in great ways in the church and getting it right in “God’s house” but missing it totally in “my house.” Paul told Timothy and Titus…”Don’t let a man serve in a position of leadership in the church if he’s not raising his family well.” Ouch!!

Do you need to re-prioritize? The men at Bethel Hill are doing that this week…not all…I’m not naive…but, I really believe many are.

While I was there, I stayed with a wonderful family. Woody and Cindi Jacobs opened up their home and Abigail, their 11-year-old daughter let me sleep in her pink bedroom in her bed. Thanks Abi!! Below is Cindi (the blonde-haired lady and Abigail is beside of her).

While I was there, the water went out. They have a well and the pump went bad. So, we pulled that sucker out of the ground

…all 300 feet of pipe.

We had plenty of good help! Great job men!

On Sunday at Homecoming, I preached from Psalm 78 about getting home. The essence of that entire Psalm is a recounting of the past of Israel and the fact that the Fathers must tell the children the great and glorious deeds of God so that the next generation would put their trust in God. It was a powerful service as well. Again, the altar was full with many families praying. Dads were praying over their wives and children. There were many tears and many hugs. Praise the Lord indeed!

Men…I was challenged once again with the questions: Am I getting the job done in my home? Am I the spiritual leader or is my wife? Have I turned my heart toward home¬†and to the hearts of my children?¬†Am I seeing my home as a ministry? Am I saving some for home?¬†When my hand hits the doorknob to my house each evening as I come home from work, am I ready and willing to teach and train that evening?¬†Is my family gone so much that there is no time to teach and train? Can I honestly look at my children and say with 100% that they are following Christ (not just in name only), but really have a desire to live for him? Am I fooling myself?

Are you? God help us to make sure that we get our children “home.”

It was a great weekend at the “Hill.” Thanks everyone! What a wonderful fellowship¬†of believers you are! We love you dearly!!

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