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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.

__________________________________________________________________

                        Signature                                                                      Date

__________________________________    _________________________________

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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In my last post we looked at the first three reasons that young Christians leave the church. Let’s take a look at the last three.

Reason #4 ‚Äď Young Christians‚Äô church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.

With unfettered access to digital pornography and immersed in a culture that values hyper-sexuality over wholeness, teen and twenty-something¬†Christians are struggling with how to live meaningful lives in terms of sex and sexuality. One of the significant tensions for many young believers is how to live up to the church’s expectations of chastity and sexual purity in this culture, especially as the age of first marriage is now commonly delayed to the late twenties. Research indicates that most young Christians are as sexually active as their non-Christian peers, even though they are more conservative in their attitudes about sexuality. One-sixth of young Christians (17%) said they ‚Äúhave made mistakes and feel judged in church because of them.‚ÄĚ The issue of sexuality is particularly salient among 18- to 29-year-old Catholics, among whom two out of five (40%) said the church‚Äôs ‚Äúteachings on sexuality and birth control are out of date.‚ÄĚ

Ok…this may sound similar to my last post…but, the reasoning is similar. Why is it that young adults feel the teaching is out of date? I believe it’s because they’ve been bombarded by a plethora¬†of existentialism (if it feels good do it) all their lives. They can have all the video games they want, unlimited text messaging, the newest North Face jacket and the latest iPhone, so why should they be told they can’t enjoy all the sex they want. Wait? Are you kidding?

Think about…when a lady delays marriage until 26 years of age¬†(the average) and men until 28¬†(again, the average), then who are we fooling to think that they will remain chaste. It’s not going to happen. A study done by Generations With Vision says, over 90% of incoming college freshmen have already had intercourse.

This statement in the study really got me: “One of the significant tensions for many young believers is how to live up to the church’s expectations of chastity and sexual purity in this culture…” Really…the “church’s expectations?” Is that what they are? I thought they were Scriptural expectations. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 comes to mind.

3For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6that 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. 7For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.

We need to wake up and smell the coffee. The reason these young adults feel inhibited is that they are bombarded with “Jersey Shore,” “Pregnant and 16,” “Glee” and not to mention their favorite movies like “Twilight” and “Hangover.” The sexual promiscuity in these movies and shows are absolutely off the chart in sensual immorality. Until we return to holiness in our teaching and in our expectations, you can forget seeing young adults grow to be able to have the self-discipline to seek the Lord for the one man (or one woman) for life.

Reason #5 ‚Äď They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.

Younger Americans have been shaped by a culture that esteems open-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance. Today‚Äôs youth and young adults also are the most eclectic generation in American history in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, technological tools and sources of authority. Most young adults want to find areas of common ground with each other, sometimes even if that means glossing over real differences. Three out of ten young Christians (29%) said ‚Äúchurches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths‚ÄĚ and an identical proportion felt they are ‚Äúforced to choose between my faith and my friends.‚Ä̬† One-fifth of young adults with a Christian background said ‚Äúchurch is like a country club, only for insiders‚ÄĚ (22%).

Boy, I can feel my pulse quickening as I type on this one. Are we supposed to teach our children that they can “choose” between their faith and their friends? Seriously? Folks, Jesus said, “I’m the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through me.” That’s it! Totally exclusive. 100% exclusive! Jesus is the only way! He’s THE way. He proved it by His resurrection. What else is there to discuss?

Do you see that unknowingly our young adults value “open-mindedness” over principle? Do you see how tolerance and acceptance are to be esteemed over Scripture? So, can I ask, “What will we use as our guide, our benchmark, our yard-stick to measure our lives?” Will it be the unchanging Word of Truth (the Holy Scriptures) or will it be the “truth of the day: tolerance, acceptance and open-mindedness?”

Reason #6 ‚Äď The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.
Young adults with Christian experience say the church is not a place that allows them to express doubts. They do not feel safe admitting that sometimes Christianity does not make sense. In addition, many feel that the church‚Äôs response to doubt is trivial. Some of the perceptions in this regard include not being able ‚Äúto ask my most pressing life questions in church‚ÄĚ (36%) and having ‚Äúsignificant intellectual doubts about my faith‚ÄĚ (23%). In a related theme of how churches struggle to help young adults who feel marginalized, about one out of every six young adults with a Christian background said their faith ‚Äúdoes not help with depression or other emotional problems‚ÄĚ they experience (18%).

I’m glad we can end with this one. Certainly we need to allow anyone (young or old) to speak about their doubts. John the Baptist doubted and Jesus said, “No greater man has ever been born of woman.” It’s ok to question, to probe, to dig, to reach, to research our doubts. The Word of God can handle it. Push it! Drop the bucket deep into the well of Truth. It’s all good! Go for it! Drink it in. The Word of God is a deep and fathomless well indeed!

Do you know what we need to do? Keep our young people talking. When we stop talking and we turn away and don’t listen…that’s when we lose them.

What kind of relationship do you have with your child? Are you talking? Really talking? Are you listening…really listening? Build that relationship! Take the time. They won’t leave if they know we care and they won’t walk away long-term if they are truly saved. They will persevere to the end.

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Barna Research has done it again. They’ve completed a new study. This time its on the woes of our young adults leaving church. Their recent study is “Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church.” It can be found here.

This study is new and compliments the study they did years ago that revealed¬†92% of Christian teens had abandoned their faith by their 20th birthday. Yet, this one is more disturbing. Why? Take a look…

“Overall, the research uncovered six significant themes why nearly three out of every five young Christians (59%) disconnect either permanently or for an extended period of time from church life after age 15.”

Did you catch that? The age of disappearance has been dropped to 15. Amazing and disturbing!

What are the six reasons? Here they are…

Reason #1 ‚Äď Churches seem overprotective.
Reason #2 ‚Äď Teens‚Äô and twentysomethings‚Äô experience of Christianity is shallow.
Reason #3 ‚Äď Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
Reason #4 ‚Äď Young Christians‚Äô church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.
Reason #5 ‚Äď They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
Reason #6 ‚Äď The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.
Ok…when I read those I was kind of dismayed. Why? Well let me give you a little bit more of the details. What is listed below comes straight from the study…

Reason #1 ‚Äď Churches seem overprotective.
A few of the defining characteristics of today’s teens and young adults are their unprecedented access to ideas and worldviews as well as their prodigious consumption of popular culture. They say, “Churches ignore the problems of the real world‚ÄĚ (22%) and ‚Äúmy church is too concerned that movies, music, and video games are harmful‚ÄĚ (18%).

Ok…(this is me again giving some commentary)…I agree that many churches are stuck back in 1970 and because of that teens feel that the church is irrelevant. The church is the only place in town that continue to do things like it did 50 years ago and think all is well. Do you listen to organ music in your car on the radio, CD or XM radio? Just asking?

Truth is…many churches in America have plateaued or are dying. Why? Because they give no answers to the young adults for why they should trust in the principles of Christ and Scripture.

Now regarding the issue of: ‚Äúmy church is too concerned that movies, music, and video games are harmful‚ÄĚ is simply this. We MUST be concerned about these things. Do you see? The culture has already indoctrinated these young adults and that’s why they are mad or frustrated. It seems to me that many young adults in their teens and 20’s want Jesus as a “flu shoot” to keep them out of Hell, but they don’t want Jesus to influence what they watch. Let me give you a case in point. Here is an actual Facebook page from a typical teen of today. I’m protecting the identity of this person and have removed personal information.¬†Take a look:

Philosophy

Religious Views

Political Views

Sports

Favorite Teams
  • Atlanta Braves

Arts and Entertainment

Music
  • Lil Wayne
  • Michael Jackson
  • Britney Spears

Books
  • The Notebook
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes
  • The Guardian
  • Twilight

Movies
  • The Hangover
  • Disney
  • Saw

Television
  • Glee
  • Cake Boss
  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager

Can you see the compartmentalized nature of this teen? They’ve got “Disney” beside of “Hangover II” for Pete’s sake. What happened to Ephesians 5:3 “Let there not be a hint of sexual immorality…among the saints.” Unreal! It’s like young adults in are saying…”I’ll be what I want to be and watch what I want to watch and everybody else just needs to deal with it.” Now I’m not trying to paint with a broad brush over all teens. Please understand me. I’m simply saying there is a disconnect taking place. And this shows up in this study.

Reason #2 ‚Äď Teens‚Äô and twentysomethings‚Äô experience of Christianity is shallow.
A second reason that young people depart church as young adults is that something is lacking in their experience of church. One-third said ‚Äúchurch is boring‚ÄĚ (31%). One-quarter of these young adults said that ‚Äúfaith is not relevant to my career or interests‚ÄĚ (24%) or that ‚Äúthe Bible is not taught clearly or often enough‚ÄĚ (23%). Sadly, one-fifth of these young adults who attended a church as a teenager said that ‚ÄúGod seems missing from my experience of church‚ÄĚ (20%).

Doesn’t this seem like an “it’s all about me” kind of attitude? To me it rings that way. Where is the service and sacrfice and the commitment to Christ? Is church simply a buffet for us. Come in and be served? Aren’t we supposed to be serving Christ?

Reason #3 ‚Äď Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected from church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science. The most common of the perceptions in this arena is ‚ÄúChristians are too confident they know all the answers‚ÄĚ (35%). Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that ‚Äúchurches are out of step with the scientific world we live in‚ÄĚ (29%). Another one-quarter embrace the perception that ‚ÄúChristianity is anti-science‚ÄĚ (25%). And nearly the same proportion (23%) said they have ‚Äúbeen turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.‚ÄĚ

These young adults have been told that science trumps the Bible since they were in about the 3rd grade. No wonder these young adults fill this way. They are being fed a steady diet (by and large) in school of secular humanism and science and there is no balance in their lives in the church. Most churches teach ZERO apologetics and this is why most young adults feel disconnected and have no answers for their questions. Want answers? Go to Answers in Genesis. This site is fabulous!

Well that’s enough for now. We’ll break down reasons 4, 5 and 6 in the next post…so stayed tune. In the meantime…teach, teach, teach. Begin young. Buy my book! ūüôā It gives specific details on how to teach and train using Scripture from the time our children are infants.

So here’s the key:

14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:14-15

We better start young, young, young!

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Victory

I love to win! Do you? Well…that answer may vary some. I would imagine that most men would say, “Yes, if they are keeping score, I want to win!” Many ladies might say, “It really doesn’t matter to me.” Well, I’ll say it again. I like to win!

Recently on vacation I was out riding waves with my girls and two of my nieces. We were having a blast. I was having a hard time catching a good wave and riding it to shore and it was frustrating me to no end. Why? Because I love to win! I love to conquer! I love to get it done…to get it accomplished! Well, I finally caught a good one! Woohoo!

What a ride! You say, “That’s silly!” It probably is…but, deep down in the soul of a man there is usually that desire to conquer, accomplish and win.

You will see this play out on adult league softball teams, bowling leagues, basketball leagues, flag-football leagues, etc.¬†You will also see it at¬†work…with the proverbial “corporate ladder.”

It’s easy to always want to look for that next promotion isn’t it?

Well, there is something else that I was reminded of this past weekend that I want to win in my lifetime. What’s that? The heart of my wife and my children.

I took my family to see the film “Courageous” along with about 200 other folks at our church on Sunday afternoon. The movie was absolutely wonderful! I mean that wholeheartedly! I give it two thumbs up while I’m standing up! ūüôā

Courageous Poster

I would highly encourage you to work it in your schedule to go see it! It’s a life-changing movie.

Now I say all of that to say this. Men…if we win at everything else in life on the ball field, in the woods, on the golf course, in the boardroom, classroom or cubicle, but we miss winning the hearts of our family…well, then we’ve missed it!

At the end of the day…or at the end of our lives, I should say…it won’t matter how big your paycheck or office was. It won’t matter if you won the most games in adult-league history. It won’t matter how big the buck, fish, golf swing or boat was. When people are standing around your coffin, it will only matter what you did for those that are…well…standing around your coffin.

I helped conduct a funeral yesterday afternoon. I had the graveside portion of the ceremony. It was a surreal time for me, because the gentleman who had passed away was a dear friend of my grandfather. I used to go with grandfather by his house as a boy and listen to he and grandpa talk. As I watched the pallbearers bring the casket to the grave, I thought back about this 96-year-old man’s life. He was truly a very, very successful business man and active community man. He was a Deacon in his church and was sincerely one of the nicest and kindest men I’ll ever know.

But, what struck me was this: none of that matters. What matters are the people sitting in those chairs across from his casket. That’s what matters. And the wonderful truth is…he had won their hearts. He was a godly father and a godly husband (his wife had preceded him in death). He got it right! He had won!

Men…if you are reading this…ask yourself this question? At what am I winning? Be honest.

At what am I winning?

Now make sure it’s worth the price you’re paying.¬†I know I am constantly evaluating this in my own heart.

One last thing. Check the scoreboard…

How do we do that? Simple. Ask your wife: “Honey, have I won your heart?” Now ask a second question: “Am I still winning your heart?” Got it.

Now go to your children…

Ask the same questions: “Have I won your heart, son?”

“Am I still winning your heart, darling?”

Whether you realize it or not…they’re keeping score. Not on scoreboard, but in their hearts.

Victory! How sweet it is…

Ok…huddle up…

We’ve got the play…ok…here we go…

“Wife and kids on one”

Ready?

On to VICTORY!

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