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Archive for April, 2012

Family Time…

Let me just tell you that I had a great last few days! I mean I really, really did! In fact, my lovely bride said to me at Atlantic Beach yesterday, “Honey, you seem so relaxed!” Now let me tell you, I can’t begin to remember the last time she said that to me! 🙂

Well, my bride was right. I was relaxed. Can’t you tell! We had a super time! Last time I shared with you the great time we had at Southeastern Seminary. We left there and headed down to Cherry Point, NC to the Marine Base there. While there we got a first class tour from Josh Isaacs, himself. He kind of likes my oldest daughter…

Here’s a typical Marine Barracks at Cherry Point…

This is inside…

Pretty much like a college dorm room if you ask me.

Here’s a warehouse on base where many, many shipments come in with plane parts.

Josh spends his “work days” there checking in and receiving parts and materials.

Josh took us out to a beautiful place called…

Take a look at this beautiful scene…

While at Cherry Point, we stayed in a hotel right in front of a Marine Museum. Andrew really liked this old rescue helicopter…

Cherry Point is only 15 minutes from the beach at Atlantic Beach. We spent a good chunk of Friday and Saturday there…

Andrew and Clara had the most fun! Kids just love the beach don’t they. This picture captures what Andrew loves doing…digging…and what Clara loves doing…dancing and prancing around…

Yes, it was a great four days. Now it’s time to get back at it. Got a busy week ahead! So…let’s get some reading done.

Blessings…

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I got to experience the preaching of a true saint earlier today. Dr. M. O. Owens, Jr. is 98-years young and let me tell you, he preached up a storm. I was privileged to hear Dr. Owens preach at Binkley Chapel on the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary today.

What was the occasion? It was the induction of Dr. David Alan Black as the chair of New Testament Studies at Southeastern. This honor was a double honor. One to honor Dr. Owens who is STILL PREACHING as Pastor Emeritus at Parkwood Baptist Church in Gastonia. And secondly to honor Dr. Black as the first “chair” of this area of the seminary.

Binkley Chapel was packed with faculty, students and dignitaries. The ceremony started off with some fantastic music from the Southeastern Seminary choir and orchestra. Phenomenal!

Their version of “Be Thou My Vision” was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard. I’m telling you, I felt a little piece of heaven had dropped down upon us as I listened to that throng of people sing. Wow!

Ok…so, I’m sure you want to see Dr. Black and Dr. Owens. Here they are along with Danny Aiken, President of the seminary.

That’s Dr. Owen on the right and Dr. Black in the middle with President Aiken on the right.

Dr. Owens preached about “Running with the Gospel.” It was an outstanding message and I’m not just saying that to be nice. Dr. Owens continues to preach every Sunday at Parkwood Baptist in Gastonia, NC. He’s amazing! He’s been preaching for 70 years. He was a teenager when the depression started.

He preached about the fact that we must run with the Gospel and unfortunately this is not happening to the degree it needs to in our country. He stated that the United States of America is the third largest mission field in the world with over 200 million unsaved people, behind only China and India. He challenged the students and this bald-headed preacher to preach the Gospel boldly and without fear.

Let me tell you that I needed to hear that message this morning. It was such an encouragement to me. He implored us to prayer. Dr. Owens said, “We must pray more than we are praying now. I can tell you that.” Ooh! That hit me. I know I’m not praying enough. I work hard and a lot. But, I’m not praying enough. Satan wants me to work and serve and serve and work and keep me off my knees and out of my prayer closet in concerted, deep prayer. No prayer…no power! I know what my marching orders are! Thanks Dr. Owens!

Certainly anyone who knows me knows how much me and my family loves Dr. Black. Andrew and Clara call him “Docta Bwack.” It’s precious! He and Becky Lynn, his wife, have been in our home many times and we have been to Bradford Hall (their home in southern Virginia) several times as well. I’m privileged to say that Dr. Black is a mentor of mine. And he has taken time to encourage me on many, many occasions. I’ll never forget the 17-hour trip in a refugee truck from Addis Ababa to Burji in Ethiopia. It was Dr. Black who encouraged me to write my first book.

I’m indebted to Dr. Black for many, many things, but mostly for his desire to be a “Paul” to this “young Timothy.” Thank you kindly, sir!

Oh…by the way…we had the chance to see the Hall family last night in Wake Forest. Who’s that? Well, they are a wonderful family that we met out in Nashville at the Annie Moses Fine Arts Academy a couple of years ago. Dr. Hall is a dentist and he and his wife, Kathryn have four of the sweetest and kind young ladies, (Jessica, Natalie, Lydia and Valerie), you’ll ever want to meet. Here’s a picture of our family with them when they visited recently.

Isn’t it wonderful when the Lord brings “like-minded” people into your lives no matter where you are. Everywhere you go there are believers sprinkled everywhere if you are looking. Today in a BoJangles in Zebulon, NC we met a wonderful Christian, retired-couple. What a blessing!

It’s been a great day! And now it’s on to meet up with a fine young man we know who’s on base in Cherry Point, NC at the Marine Base there. Anyone want to guess who that is?

Until next time…

Blessings!

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They’re Off!

Well, the casts are off of Andrew’s legs… Here’s the proof…

Doesn’t he look good?

No more sharing wheelchairs…

It’s amazing the work they did on him. His poor ole feet, legs and ankles have been cut on so much…but, they had to in order to get him where he can function…

All of those little flakes you see are his skin! He’s peeling from having the casts on for six weeks. Those scars on his shins are from where they had to cut him on this last round of surgery. He won’t go back until August for a check-up and eventually, next spring, they’ll go back in and take out the pins and that will be it!

He has a walker to use if he needs it. But, as of this morning, he was only using it just a little bit. He’s sore, but doing great over all! Thank you Lord!

Here he was when he got home last night…

We are so grateful for all the Lord has accomplished through the Shriner’s Hospital in Greenville, SC. Those folks are a class act. Dr. Westberry…you’re the best! Thank you from the bottom of hearts to the bottoms of Andrew’s feet!

While I’m at it…let me show you some pictures from our wonderful fundraiser at church Saturday night. We had a cake bake, where the men baked cakes (with the help of some wives and children) to raise money for construction this summer in Progreso, Mexico of bathrooms and a septic hole and roof for a storage shed at the church we built last year. Want to know how much we raised? (Or should I say, “The Lord raised.”)

$4,000

Woohoo!

Check out the cakes…

I love this one! It’s cracking on me for saying, “therefore” all the time. I usually say, “When you see the word ‘therefore’ in Scripture, you need to ask, ‘What is it there for?'” I love it!

The Keith and Kim Anderson family made this cake! It took all eight family members to do so!! Great job Anderson’s!

And then we got to cut them and eat them! Jackie Bryan was helping with this dutiful task! 🙂

Let me tell you. As a pastor/elder, I’m so thankful for a church family that loves missions. What is missions? Simply reaching people for Jesus Christ. We do this when we are at the ball field watching our kid’s practice. We can talk to the parent leaning against the fence beside of us. We do this in the classroom, boardroom, bathroom. We can do this in our dens, in our cars or on a plane. Jesus says, “Be my witnesses…” Yep…that’s missions and I love it!

So whether it’s ministering to children in Ethiopia…

Being taught and loved by Americans…

Or…just holding the hand of person in yours…

Thank you Lord for the privilege to tell the world about your Son. He saved my soul from an eternity of separation from you by being willing to be separated and forsaken by you so that I wouldn’t have to. How can I not praise His name and tell others of so great a salvation? Thank you Jesus!

My heart is full today…rejoicing in the Creator and all that He has created.

Hallelujah!

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Getting it done…

Life is hard. Flat out. It’s hard and not always “fun.” We’ve got things like this to do…

Last Saturday Pam, Katy and Kandace went bike riding on the Virginia Creeper Trail. Andrew and Clara are too small for this 17-mile bike ride, so we stayed back and “got it done.” What done?Well…take a look…

But, I want to show you something that is not “getting it done.”

Does this bother you? It should! It REALLY bothers me! This was at the Krispy Kreme Doughnut store in Winston-Salem. I just never cease to be amazed. This young man… No, I shouldn’t call him a “young man.” No…this “kidult,” said to his father, “Hey Dad, did you get me somethin’ to drink too? You know I’ve got to have something to drink with this!” Wow! But, I shouldn’t be surprised. This is the condition of our country.

I’m trying to teach my kids the value of hard work and discipline. Now, I’m not perfect at this, mind you. No one is… But, Pam and I are trying to teach and train in our home so that our children will be blessings to their future mates and not burdens. This kidult, pictured above is in for a rough life. I’m thinking he’s around 16 or 17 years of age by the looks of him and I’m afraid he’ll be living with his parents till he’s about 35. So sad!

Honestly, I just wanted to go over to this young man and say, “Son, pull up your britches and look like somebody!” But, then I could just imagine what the dad would say. Potentially something like, “Don’t you talk to my son that way. Who do you think you are? Get out of his face! Do you want to step outside?” So, as I stood there with Clara, I decided to do nothing. Except to take his picture of course. Ha! 🙂 The last thing I wanted was to be in the local newspaper headlines: “Local Pastor Gets into Fight at Krispy Kreme.” 🙂 I tell you all of this because I simply wanted to make a point. “The point, you ask? Simple. Mom’s and Dad’s, let’s not let this happen to our young people, because this is not “getting it done.”

That’s my bride! Here she is leading and coordinating our annual Easter Celebration for the children at church. She’s absolutely covered up with responsibilities, but she is a wonderful Pastor’s wife and she just “gets it done.” She’s amazing! And do you know what the best part about it is? I’m married to her! Woohoo! I’m blessed!

Hey…here’s some more folks who are getting it done…

These are the eight wonderful folks we baptized on Sunday. What I want you to notice are the young adults. We continue to have young adults come to us and say, “I’ve made a previous profession of faith, but the truth is, I’m not really saved. Jesus is not the Lord of my life.” Now that’s getting it done! That’s being honest and forthright and most importantly, that’s nailing down what’s eternal…which is most important!

Oh yes…I must tell you that earlier tonight at 6:07 pm, this young lady on the right turned 18 years of age…

It’s hard to believe that Katy is 18! I know that’s a trite saying, but it is true!

Katy has grown up on me! Bang! Just like that!

One last thing…

Early voting has started for the primaries here in North Carolina and I must tell you that I believe there is at least one item on the ballot we need to know about and vote for on May 8th. I pray that we’ll vote for marriage. Now please understand, there will be those who read this and say, “Why is he saying this?” He shouldn’t be talking about politics. You can’t legislate morality. Well, perhaps. But, I’ll tell you this. I have a responsibility as a citizen to vote. And I have a responsibility to let my voice be heard. And I believe in the Scriptural principle of one man for one woman for life. Therefore, I encourage you to vote this May 8th FOR the Marriage Amendment! Don’t be fooled. If you are in Winston-Salem, you’ll see billboards and yard signs telling you to vote against the amendment. They try to fool people by saying on these signs… “Vote for ALL families.” The “ALL” in these signs mean gay and lesbian families.

Now I’m not anit-gay or anti-lesbian. Heterosexual sin and adultery is sin too. So is two people of any gender who are living together outside of marriage. So please don’t send me hate mail. 🙂 My point is that we must get it done! We must at some point in this country to begin to stand up for the Scriptures and what the Bible teaches.

I would encourage you to Dr. Al Mohler’s blog post below when you have a minute. His perspective on the subject of marriage and “same-sex” unions is impeccable.

The Challenge of Same-Sex Unions
by Albert Mohler

In the world but not of the world? From the very beginning, the church has faced the challenge of responding to external events, trends, ideologies, and controversies. By definition, the church does not get to choose these challenges, but they have been thrust upon Christians by the world. The question always comes down to this: What now?

That question seems especially urgent in light of the emergence of same-sex unions and marriage in the United States and the world over. How must the church answer this challenge?

To answer that question, we need to think about the speed of the moral revolution that has pushed this question to the forefront of our culture. In less than a generation, homosexuality has gone from being almost universally condemned to being almost fully normalized in the larger society.

We are facing a true moral inversion – a system of moral understandings turned upside down. Where homosexuality was even recently condemned by the society, now it is considered a sin to believe that homosexuality is wrong in any way. A new sexual morality has replaced the old, and those who hold to the old morality are considered morally deficient. The new moral authorities have one central demand for the church: get with the new program.

This puts the true church, committed to the authority of God’s Word, in a very difficult cultural position. Put simply, we cannot join the larger culture in normalizing homosexuality and restructuring society to match this new morality. Recognizing same-sex unions and legalizing same-sex marriage is central to this project.

Liberal churches and denominations are joining the project, some more quickly and eagerly than others. The cultural pressure is formidable, and only churches that are truly committed to Scripture will withstand the pressure to accommodate themselves and their message to the new morality.

What, then, is the true church to do? First, we must stand without compromise on the authority of the Bible and the principles of sexual conduct and morality that God has revealed so clearly in His Word. The Bible’s sexual morality is grounded in the creation of humanity in God’s image; we are created as male and female and given the gift of sex within the marriage covenant — and only within the marriage covenant between one man and one woman for as long they both shall live.

The easiest way to summarize the Bible’s teaching on sexuality is to begin with God’s blessing of sex only within the marriage covenant between a man and a woman. Then, just remember that sex outside of that covenant relationship, whatever its form or expression, is explicitly forbidden. Christians know that these prohibitions are for our good and that rejecting them is tantamount to a moral rebellion against God Himself. We also know that the Bible forbids all same-sex sexual acts and behaviors. Thus, we know that homosexuality is a sin, that blessing it in any way is also sin, and that normalizing sin cannot lead to human happiness.

Second, we must realize what is at stake. Marriage is first and foremost a public institution. It has always been so. Throughout history, societies have granted special recognition and privileges to marriage because it is the central organizing institution of human culture. Marriage regulates relationships, sexuality, human reproduction, lineage, kinship, and family structure. But marriage has also performed another crucial function – it has regulated morality.

This is why the challenge of same-sex unions is so urgent and important. Redefining marriage is never simply about marriage. It leads to the redefinition of reproduction and parenthood, produces a legal revolution with vast consequences, replaces an old social order with something completely new, and forces the adoption of a new morality. This last point is especially important. Marriage teaches morality by its very centrality to the culture. With a new concept of marriage comes a new morality, enforced by incredible social pressure and, eventually, legal threats.

Third, we must act quickly to teach Christians the truth about marriage and God’s plan for sexuality in all its fullness and beauty. We must develop pastoral approaches that are faithful to Scripture and arm this generation of believers to withstand the cultural pressure and respond in ways that are truly Christian.

Last, and most important, this challenge must drive us to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians must be the first to understand this challenge in light of the gospel. After all, we know spiritual rebellion when we see it, for we ourselves were rebels before God’s grace conquered us. We know what moral confusion means because without the light of God’s Word, we are just as confused.

There is no rescue from the self-deception of sin except for the salvation that is ours in Jesus Christ. While doing everything else required of us in this challenge, the faithful church must center its energies on the one thing that we know we must do above all else – preach, teach, and live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thank you Dr. Mohler for “getting it done!”

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It’s been an interesting last few days. The last several blog posts have been some of the most viewed ever. I guess folks are really interested in dating/relationships and such. That’s good! We should be. After all, most Americans get married (at least once), and that’s a shame (the getting married more than once part) :). So, we should be discussing these things.

We’ve talked a lot about how marriage is God’s idea and He performed the first wedding in the Garden of Eden. We’ve talked about how a young man and young woman should trust the Lord to bring their mate into their lives. They don’t have to help God “find” Mr. or Mrs. Right. God knows exactly who they are and if He can take care of the universe and all that’s in it by just speaking the word, then bringing our mate to us should be no problem. We don’t need E-Harmony or Christian Mingle to do it for Him.

So, I’m living this whole deal in my own life right now. So, would you like to continue to look in on all the happenings? This is like a modern-day virtual reality show, perhaps. But, I’ve had so many comments like: “Thanks for showing us how this can be done in our culture.” And so has Katy. No, please understand. There is no “cookie cutter” way. We have Biblical principles to guide us; however, each life and each situation is unique and different. But, I’ll say it again. I sure wish I knew 30 years ago what I know now. It would have saved a whole lot of heartache.

So, let me share a little about me and Josh and how he and I communicated in this process of him sharing his intentions about Katy with me.

Here’s the family at Josh’s graduation from the Marines.

Now when Josh was sent to Mississippi for job training last fall, before he left; we had a long talk in the parking lot of Chick-Fil-A in Wilkesboro. I told Josh I could sense that he and Katy liked each other in a way that was more than just good Bible Study friends. I asked him to seek the Lord and hear from Him on what He wanted for the relationship. I told him that before he pursued Katy beyond just an occasional letter, etc. that I need to know his intentions.

That’s the proper question for any father to ask a young man who is interested his daughter. “What are your intentions?”

And the same is true for the father of a young man to ask that of his son, who might want to pursue a young lady. That father should ask his son, “What are your intentions, son?”

Now there is something that we must all get locked into our brains about the Scriptural tenets regarding relationships. In order for a young man to pursue a young lady, he needs to be able to show that he can pay the “bride’s price” as Jesus did when He was willing to die on the cross for His bride the “Church.” In our vernacular, paying the “bride’s price,” means that he (the young man), must have a way to support and provide for the young lady. In other words, he needs a job.

If a man cannot show that he can provide for the young lady, then he is unable to pay the bride’s price and is therefore disqualified from being “able” to pursue a young lady. It’s why I jokingly say that if a young man drives up my driveway and wants to see my daughter I ask him, “Who paid for the gas in your tank and paid the insurance on your car?” If his answer is anything but, “I did!” then he’s disqualified. His intentions are probably something else other than pursuing marriage with my daughter.

So, the day came when Josh and I talked on the phone. He was in Mississippi and I was in North Carolina. But, I remember the call vividly. Josh was nervous and frankly so was I. I knew in my heart what he was going to ask me before he uttered the first word. Long story, short. He declared his intentions to me. He said, “Sir (just like a good Marine), I want you to know that my intentions are to protect your daughter’s heart at all costs and I will do nothing but protect her and care for her in a way that is honorable. May I pursue a deeper relationship with her?”

We talked in detail about what my expectations were. I told him to take a deep breath, because he did well! 🙂 He laughed. But the gist of the conversation centered around the fact that I simply wanted what God wanted. I told him that I trusted him and that I gave him my permission to pursue a deeper relationship with her.

Now you might ask, “Was he asking her hand in marriage?” No. He wasn’t. He was simply stating his intentions. He is a Marine. He has a job and is earning a paycheck and if things were to progress “down the road,” I knew he could provide for her and when and if I place Katy’s hand into his hand at the altar, then I’d know he could take care of her.

Now you might ask, “What about love?” As Tina Turner used to sing, “What’s love got to do with it?” Well, a lot, of course! But, perhaps not the way you think. Love, my dear readers, is more of a decision than a feeling. Our culture has made “love” a feeling and something you “fall into,” I guess much like a mud puddle and something you “fall out of,” like an amusement ride. But, that is NOT Scriptural.

Did God feel like sending His Son to die for sinful man? For God so LOVED the world, He gave His one and only Son… No, I would say to you that it’s not true love until there is sacrifice. We live in such a “me” culture that is about instant gratification and pleasure and feelings of ecstasy, that we have no clue what true love is. Love is grinding it out when the feelings aren’t there. It’s about:

For better for worse…

For rich for poorer…

In sickness and health…

To love and to cherish…

Forsaking all others

Till DEATH do us part…

Where are the “feelings” in those words? That’s called “commitment.” That is what I was looking for from Josh and I got it. So, I continue to pray for Josh and Katy and look forward to all that the Lord has in store for them as they continue this journey together.

Josh and I continue to have conversations. We are not 300 feet from each other on this. We are side by side. I’m helping and encouraging him. That’s what men do. We help other men. That’s Titus 2 kind of stuff…the older teaches the younger. I’m honored to see that he desires to do what I desire to do for my daughter:

Protect her heart…

So, what’s your intentions?

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Today I’m going to post a blog by my daughter Katy. She is my oldest.

This is a picture of her right before our church, Passion Play along with Pam…

It seems just like yesterday when this was Katy…

That was Katy on the left with her cousin, Taylor on the right and her dad, Craig Church and my dad is in the background. Seems just like yesterday. And yet, next week…this little beauty is going to be 18 years old.

Amazing! Time surely does fly!

Well…I was telling you about blog post by Katy. Before I share it, I must say this. I saw it coming. Yes, I saw it coming and I began a couple of weeks ago blogging about relationships because I thought I’d be able to show you something beautiful and glorious. I have shared with you the Biblical principles of relationships and what God’s ways are and I believe I can now (via the words of my daughter) show you how God works.

Take a look…

It Happened to Me….

It has been one of my hottest topics and one of my greatest passions. The life of love between young men and women. If you have been around me long then you’ve heard me talk about it. I have a passion to see young people live lives of purity and to do romantic relationships right… the Biblical way.
Well, here’s the news. I am in a relationship. Yes, really. I’ve lived the life of the single and “waiting” girl and I thought I would for several more years, but God had a different plan. See, the one I love ended up being a family friend and honestly, a brother of sorts. His name is Josh. He was the one that you wouldn’t really think would end up in a relationship with me or visa-versa. His life was completely different than mine, but since the day I met him when I was 11, I was drawn to him.
Josh was just another guy in the youth group and was old enough to be the one who kept an eye on me and I remember him looking after me often. He was fun and I always loved to be around him. Years passed and our paths separated in 2007 when he went to seminary. Things changed and I didn’t hear from him for years. It wasn’t long after my 16th birthday that he came back and became involved in my church. My Dad and him became good friends and he often came with us on family ventures. He was like part of the family. He was always around. He was just… Josh.
In July of 2011, Josh headed off to Parris Island, South Carolina. I’ll give you one guess, boot camp… in the Marines. For some odd reason I missed him a lot more than I thought I would. I wrote him letters along with my family and tried to encourage him. The three months passed by slowly and in late October my family headed to South Carolina to see him graduate. He came home for 10 days and during that time I learned that he was an incredibly strong man in the Lord. Having only the Lord for strength for 3 months in brutal boot camp had made him rock solid. We became closer and talked a lot. He left again and this time I missed him more than ever. And what I didn’t know was that he missed me too.
Six weeks passed and while he slept in ditches and trained in the dark woods, eating nasty “meal readys”, I was in Africa. I found that I thought more about him there than I had in North Carolina. My Daddy worked with me through it and I kept no secrets from him. After arriving home, I was told by Mom that Josh had moved to Mississippi for more training. I was deeply disappointed. Mississippi???
I was so confused. Josh and I talked back and forth on Facebook, sporadically, and before long he told me he would be home for Christmas. Sure enough, a few days before Christmas I saw him at church. Yet again, my family spent much time with him. But this time, I noticed that he preferred my presence, and I preferred his. We went bowling with my family and, later, with friends. We spent Christmas Eve at my grandparents house and Christmas was splendid. However, time couldn’t stand still and a few days later he was leaving. All I knew was that something had to give. I knew that things were beyond just friendship between us and though neither of us had said anything, something just had to give. Josh and my Dad had a conversation about a Josh’s potential relationship with me and it concluded with Josh promising to pray about God’s will with it. I didn’t have to do anything! Dad handled it! You got to love him!
Josh headed back to Mississippi, but we kept closer contact and talked frequently. A few weeks later, after asking for my Dad’s permission and discussing the purpose behind his intentions, Josh asked for a relationship with me. A relationship with me is a big thing. Not because I’m great or anything, because I’m NOT, but simply because a relationship means something big. Dad and I talked a lot and agreed on the purpose. The purpose is for more much more than recreation. Josh and I talked via Skype and chats and texts for over 3 months. We kept romantic words to almost nothing and instead challenged and encouraged each other. We agreed to protect each other’s hearts.
Many, many times Josh had hard days and exams, but we prayed. We became a team. Our friendship grew and because it was built on a Biblical foundation and we were trying to put God in the middle, it blossomed, even though we were 600 miles apart.
As time went on, we Skyped more and grew closer. These past few months crawled by. Well, this past weekend, Josh came home for the first time in 101 days (since he left at Christmas)! We spent a lot of time together. We kept it family based and remained with someone in my family to keep things safe. Seeing him for the first time since this relationship began was amazing. I wouldn’t trade these past three days for anything. Telling him bye yesterday as my family sent him off was the furthest thing from easy. It was hard and it hurt, but I clinged and a still cling to my Father and rest in the truth that Josh and I are both forever in His hands.
Josh and I continue to walk this journey. We know only that God is guiding us and we will follow where He leads. It is incredible to finally live out some of the things I’ve blogged about. I tell you all of this to really say, keep waiting single people! God’s not going to hide that special person. He brings them out right when it’s time. I don’t do anything perfect, but I am trying to do what the Bible says with the support of my family and friends and Josh in this relationship. A relationship God’s way is always best. Even if it is only over blurry Skype sessions and through texts. It’s worth it. I wouldn’t trade anything for the “Skype prayers” Josh and I share.
He is still in the Marines and I don’t get to see him much, but we will follow the Lord’s plans as they come and I will pray for patience for both of us. Life may seem muddy and confusing sometimes, yet God sees it all and I don’t have to worry about the future.
There it is. The story. Some may say I fell in love with a solider, but I say God brought us to love. True love is only from the Father and it’s the best kind. “We love because He first loved us…”
So, there you have it! It happened to Katy and yes…it happened to me too! What happened? I am getting to see the hand of God. I really am. I never knew when I was discipling and mentoring Josh for the last 7+ years that I would be mentoring and training a young man who would perhaps one day be my son-in-law. Quite amazing, wouldn’t you say? That’s how the Lord works…in mysterious ways. So, you just never know as you seek to love and serve people (not that I’m that good at it…but, I try), what He’ll do.
Yep…it happened to me too… I get to see God’s principles work and I get to see His mighty hand in my daughter’s life in such a beautiful way.
I encourage all who read this…trust in the Lord…trust in His ways…trust in His timing…for you and for your children…because one day…it might just happen to you too! 🙂

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This is going to be an eclectic post (all over the place). I’m taking a short break from the relationship series and going to give you some “happenings” around the Brown home, etc.

First of all…this just cracked me up!

For the pastors who read this blog…you know it’s the truth! Ain’t it the truth! 🙂

This is what I love about pastoring (among many things)…people working for a common cause to reach lives. We’re raising funds to go to Mexico this summer. Two teams…64 people strong!! We had a chicken-q on Friday. It was great!

Way to go Wayne and Joshua! Sauce that chicken! They’re moving so fast, that they’re a blur!! Don’t you love it! Saucing the chicken with a garden sprayer! Whatever works, right?

Dan and Phillip are packing that chicken in the cooler to soak up that glorious sauce of Ray Huffman and Geoff Farmer! Yum! I’m smacking my lips as I type!

Chicken on the grill!! Oh, I wish you could smell that wonderful aroma!

Kandace, Lauren and Marc are loading up the bags for delivery. We sold over 450 plates! Woohoo!!

Keith Michael and the Brooks family are getting it done!

Check out the kitchen crew. Those boxes have to be packed with chicken, beans, slaw, roll and a dessert cake.

What a great crew!! And there’s the ring leader of the crew in the apron that says, “Kiss the Cook.” Way to go Ms. Sharron! You got all of these folks packing, delivering and coordinated! Wow! What a job!

And Sandra comes along and (along with many others) and helps to clean it all up!

I’m so thankful to be a part of a church that really desires to come together and work for kingdom purposes. We are not “tithing to ourselves,” and I can say that in all honesty in most cases. I’m not saying our church is perfect we’re not. In fact, if you find the perfect church, let me know, because you are probably not in it. 🙂 But, a church who desires to reach out to the world and go and “make disciples of all nations” is going to be blessed by God. You can mark it down. And God has blessed us immensely! Praise His name!

This is our folks on Wednesday nights, “breaking bread together.” We have a meal at 5:30 and then service at 6:20 and then choir practice at 7:30 and praise team practice at 8:30. We have a blast on Wed. nights!

Ok…you by now have heard about this movie…

Poster art for "The Hunger Games."

It’s a blockbuster!! I just read a blog post by a young man in our church (a teenager) who has written a very insightful piece about this controversial movie. “The Games Have Begun.”

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Greetings…

Are you ready for another blog post?

Well, before we get to that, I haven’t asked in a while…if you are receiving an email of these posts and would no longer like to receive such, just let me know and I’ll take care of that. No problem-o!

Please remember, that this blog is simply…well…it’s simply my blog…it’s Kevin Brown’s personal thoughts and represents no one or anyone else, group or institution. It just represents good ole me! That is why my blog is listed on the wonderful, world-wide web as: DKEVINBROWN.wordpress.com. The thoughts and perspectives that I offer are mine. I put them forth like anyone who does a blog…for anyone to read, or chose not to read. The definition of a blog is: A website on which an individual or group of users’ record personal opinions, reflections, information, etc. on a regular basis.

So, my thoughts and viewpoints are simply that. They are my own. You may not agree. You might not like them or even think they are valid and that’s ok. But, remember as you read…my thoughts are the thoughts of a man. So, don’t take them as Gospel, unless I’m sharing Scripture (then that is THE Gospel). Ok…now, we’ll get on with the post. I just needed to share that since I haven’t said that in a while. Thanks! 🙂

Now, in this post, I want to share some really cool information from Messianic Jew, Dr. Zola Levitt. http://www.levitt.com/

As I’ve been studying about Biblical marriage and relationships, I’ve been amazed at the parallels in Scripture between Jesus and the Church (his bride) and marriage between a man and a woman. Levitt’s descriptions of Hebraic marriage customs in first-century Israel is fascinating and offers great insight into what we’ve been thinking about over the last couple of entries.

This is a lengthy post and will be like three in one. Normally my posts are about 1,000 words. This one is close to 3,000. So you might choose to read it over a more lengthy time frame. But, I felt it important to get you all this information at once for clarity.
Marriage as Man knows it will not exist in heaven.

Matthew 22:30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
The Elect will be the Bride of Christ.

The reason people in heaven will neither marry nor be given in marriage is that the elect will be the bride of Christ.

Revelation 19:7, 9 [7] Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride [the elect] has made herself ready. [9] Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
Jesus’ courtship and marriage to His Bride to be, the Elect, generally follows first-century Jerusalem’s marriage tradition.

The first-century marriage contract and the “bride price.”

When a Jewish boy decided he wanted to get married he would go over to the girl’s house with a contract of marriage and the “bride price.” That would be the first “date.”
Jesus’ compliance with the tradition — the new covenant was the Marriage Contract.

Jesus followed the tradition. He came from His Father’s house to where we live, the earth. He brought a contract, or covenant: the New Covenant, i.e., the New Testament. (Contrary to common belief, the word “testament” has nothing to do with “testimony.” In King James’ time the word “testament” was a synonym for “covenant” or “contract.”)
The price Jesus paid for His bride was death on the Cross.

Jesus paid a dear price for his bride: the life of an innocent man on the Cross.
The Proposal — offering and taking the cup of wine.

In the course of the evening, the suitor would pour a cup of wine; which was the act of a proposal. This would be done in the presence of the suitor’s family as well as that of the young lady. She would accept the proposal by picking up the cup and drinking it, or she could push the cup away and thus reject the proposal.

1 Corinthians 11:25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
The groom’s preparation for the wedding.

If she picked up the cup and drank it, the groom would respond, “I go to prepare a place for you.” The man would return to his father’s home and begin building a wedding chamber for himself and his bride-to-be.

John 14:2-3 [2] In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. [3] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
The bride’s lifestyle during the engagement.

Now that the woman was betrothed, she was called “consecrated, set apart, bought with a price.” She was no longer her own. If she went out during the day, she would wear a veil, to indicate that she was “betrothed.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 [19] Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; [20] you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
The time of the groom’s return was uncertain.

Under the betrothal contract, the fiance (young man…the groom) could come back and claim his bride anytime, without notice. (The groom would come back when he had completed preparing a place for them to live…showing that he could provide for her.)

Matthew 24:37, 39, 42, 44 [37] As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. [39] and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. [42] Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

When the bridal chamber was finished, the young man would go to pick up his bride and they would have the wedding night and begin their new life together.
The groom’s father chose the wedding date.

John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Obviously, if it were up to the young man, he would put something together as fast as possible, to get to the wedding night. Therefore, the father of the groom would decide when the wedding chamber was ready. Because a new daughter would be joining the family, the father would want to make sure that she had a decent place to live. Hence, only the father would know the time when his son would return for his bride. In many instances, this could be months.

Obviously, from time to time the young man’s friends would come around and ask “So, when is the big day?” His reply would be “Only my father knows.”

Matthew 24:36 No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
On the wedding night the groom arrived unexpectedly.

Typically, the bridegroom would come to pick up his new bride at night, usually around midnight. Because no one knew what date this would be, the prospective bride would sit in joyful anticipation by her window night after night, perhaps for months. In some cases she would not see her betrothed at any time between the proposal and the marriage night.

Israel has some very rough terrain, and many areas got very dark and there were no paved roads. It became a tradition for the prospective bride to keep a lamp filled with oil by her bedside, to avoid injury when her new husband showed up and took her to their new home. The fact that she had the lamp ready showed she was waiting as she had promised to do when she accepted the proposal.

Finally, the groom’s father would announce that the marriage chamber was ready, and he would tell him “Go and get your brothers and your groomsmen and go and get your bride.”

That night, the groom and his friends would sneak over to the bride’s house around midnight to surprise her. This is documented in the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, (called the Ten Virgins in many translations.)

Matthew 25:6 At midnight the cry rang out: “Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!”
The groom’s arrival was announced with a shout.

The custom was that, when the group got relatively close to her house, the groom’s friends would give out a shout, to make sure she would be ready.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (KJV) [16] For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: [17] then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Matthew 24:31 And he [the Son of Man] will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

At this point, the bride-to-be would have a few minutes to get her veil on (she was not married yet) and light her lamp.

Matthew 24:33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.
The wedding party would bring lamps for the trip to the groom’s house.

When the groom’s party arrived they would rush in; they could also take any girls with lamps, e.g., her sisters, her bridesmaids, etc., making sure, of course, to get the one with the veil. 🙂 The bride would then be taken off with her new husband for the wedding night. This is described in the following:

Matthew 25:1, 5-7, [New English Bible] [1] … There were ten girls, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. [5] As the bridegroom was late in coming they all dozed off to sleep. [6] But at midnight a cry was heard: “Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” [7] With that the girls all got up and trimmed their lamps.
Neighbors learned later who got married.

The neighbors would see a group of people and they would know a wedding was taking place, but they wouldn’t know who was getting married. If they waited seven days until the honeymoon was over they would see the bridesmaids, etc., returning and they could find out who got married.

The analogy is that unbelievers see Christians and do not understand why we behave the way we do. When we return with the King in at Christ’s Second Coming it will become clear.
The “best man” would announce the marriage to the guests.

On the wedding night the “best man” would wait outside the wedding chamber for a signal from the groom. When the groom told him the marriage had been consummated, the “friend of the bridegroom” would announce the marriage to the guests.

John 3:29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.
John the Baptist’s announcement of Jesus’ marriage with the believers.

Asked if he was the Messiah, John the Baptist identified Him and announced His wedding:

John 3:28-29 [28] You yourselves can testify that I said, `I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ [29] The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.
The significance of the bridal chamber in the wedding analogy.

In the case of the Messiah, the bridal chamber is the Judgment Seat of Christ. In the bridal chamber, the groom removes the bride’s veil and sees her as she truly is, without cover or pretense. We may make pretenses to the outside world, but the Lord knows us as we truly are.

Revelation 19:7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride [the Elect] has made herself ready.
The two stages of the marriage ritual.

In the custom, after the marriage was consummated the husband would come out with his new bride and the wedding reception, called the “wedding supper” or the “wedding banquet” in the Bible, would begin. I believe the next prophetic event to take place is the Rapture, when Jesus returns to receive His bride in the air. The second stage of his coming will occur when the King returns with His saints.

Revelation 19:9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

In the tradition, the groom’s father was the only one who knew the time of the marriage, so he was the one who chose the guests.

In the tradition, there would be a week-long celebration by friends and family of the bride and groom. The wedding at Cana in John’s gospel was one such celebration.
The fate of those who do not attend the King’s banquet.

Obviously, it would be a sad day for a bride-to-be who was not ready when her intended husband came calling.

Matthew 25:1-12, [New English Bible] [1] When that day comes, the kingdom of Heaven will be like this. There were ten girls, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. [2] Five of them were foolish and five prudent [wise]; [3] when the foolish ones took their lamps, they took no oil with them, [4] but the others took flasks of oil with their lamps. [5] As the bridegroom was late in coming they all dozed off to sleep. [6] But at midnight a cry was heard: “Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” [7] With that the girls all got up and trimmed their lamps. [8] The foolish said to the prudent, “Our lamps are going out; give us some of your oil.” [9] “No,” they said; “there will never be enough for all of us. You had better go to the shop and buy some for yourselves.” [10] While they were away the bridegroom arrived; those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. [11] And then the other five came back. “Sir, sir,” they cried, “open the door for us.” [12] But he answered, “I declare, I do not know you.”

Matthew 22:1-14 [NIV] [1] Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: [2] “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. [3] He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. [4] “Then he sent some more servants and said, `Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ [5] “But they paid no attention and went off — one to his field, another to his business. [6] The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. [7] The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. [8] “Then he said to his servants, `The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. [9] Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ [10] So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. [11] “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. [12] `Friend,’ he asked, `how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. [13] “Then the king told the attendants, `Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ [14] “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

So, there you have it. Biblical parallels to Christ, the Church and marriage. Fascinating! Blessings to all!

By the way… a big “Happy Birthday” to my wonderful daughter, Clara! She’s 7 today!

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What does the Bible say about dating?

Nothing.

Zip.

Zero.

Nada.

Dating and the practice of it, simply doesn’t exist in Scripture.

Boy, this is such an important topic because it will affect every single person as they grow up. Every single one! For instance it’s prom season right now and everyone is scrambling around for a “date.” They’ve GOT to have someone to take to the prom or take them to the prom, as the case may be. And if they don’t, then they are deemed unpopular and a “nobody.” Why? Because it’s a culturally “rite of passage.”

How was the prom for you? Are you married to that person you took the prom. I’m not. I was caught up in the same scene that many of you are and/or your children. The dating scene. Oh, if I only knew then what I know now.

2011 Central High School prom

Nobody taught this stuff to me when I was a kid. Nobody looked at Scripture and said, “What does the Bible say about relationships and how a person gets married.” It just wasn’t discussed. So, what did we do? We got us a little boyfriend or girlfriend in the second or third grade and off we went. And where does it lead? Broken relationships, broken hearts and a trail of emotional baggage, not to mention the physical…

We’ve been talking about marriage, relationships and dating over the last several posts and we’ll continue to look at what the Bible says. Not what the culture says…but what the BIBLE says. You know the B- I- B- L- E…that’s the book for me…(remember singing that as a kid). Well…if it’s our guide for all of life…(and it is)…shouldn’t it be our guide for how we handle relationships? I think so.

We’ve talked about how a man, according to Scripture, must pay the “bride’s price” in order to be considered qualified to marry a young lady. Quite simply, he must be able to provide for her. In other words, he needs to have a job and be able to put a roof over her head, clothes on the young ladies back and food in her mouth. Who’s been doing this up to now? Her Dad. Her Dad will hand her off to the young man at the altar after he gives her away in marriage. You know the “her mother and I” part in the wedding. That’s Scriptural. He’s handing off to his son-in-law the responsibility of being the young lady’s:

Provider

Protector

Spiritual Leader

Those are the things he’s been doing, as the Father and so, he’s handing her (literally…giving her hand) to the young man in marriage. And what does he do? He backs away. He goes and sits down, right? “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and cleave (that means be glued to) his wife and they wll becme one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

Here’s a picture of some “dad’s” (including me), who promised our daughters that we would protect them and protect their hearts and make certain we hand them to their future husbands with their purity and their “emotional hearts” intact.

Here are the daughters who participated. Don’t they look lovely!

Let’s dig deeper, shall we?

Why do we get married? What’s the purpose? According to Scripture, the purposes of marriage are both companionship and procreation. Eve, (woman) was created because “It is not good for a man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) In addition, marriage enables fulfillment of the first commandment: “Be fruitful and multiply.” (Gen. 1:28)

Now in the Bible, in the Hebraic form of marriage, the institution of marriage was considered holy and purposeful and was literally a contractual agreement between two people with legal rights and obligations. A Hebrew couple would sign a “Ketubah” together. Which is the marriage contract and this would happen at betrothal. Here’s a picture of one. You would hang this on the walls of your home as a keepsake and reminder of your wedding vows.

File:V03p128a01 Ketubah.jpg

The Ketubah explains the basic material, conjugal and moral responsibilities of the husband to his wife. It is signed by the groom, as well as two witnesses, and given to the bride during the weeding ceremony. One of the main purposes of the Ketubah was to protect the woman’s rights during the marriage and in case she was divorced or widowed. It made sure that it was defined how she’d be provided for. Isn’t that wonderful? A so respectful and gracious! A whole lot better than a prenuptial agreement, if you ask me.

It was forbidden for Jewish couples to live together without a Ketubah. (Boy how things have changed!) If the Ketubahwas lost, a new one had to be written, again…for the protection of the lady (who was under the provision of the groom/gentleman). The Ketubah protected the lady and served as a disincentive for the husband contemplating divorcing his wife, because he would have to pay for the provision of her which was part of the bride’s price, he originally agreed to pay.

Sound to “stuffy” and “legal” to you? Maybe. But, folks…this is a big deal! Marriage is a big deal and we are so flippant about marriage and how we get to the altar in our culture. Marriage has become a joke in America. Over half of the 20-something’s living together in this country are NOT married. Why do they need to be? There is no stigma attached to it anymore. We’ve got parents allowing their sons and daughters to have sex in their own homes and let the couple live with them “unmarried.” Amazing!

Is there any wonder we have such an amazingly high divorce rate? We are the most “divorced” nation in the world. Did you know that? So sad!

In Scripture, a young man and young lady would see each other in the community and they would become attracted to each other and they would discuss this attraction with their families (unlike today, where parents are simply “informed” on who their son or daughter is dating). It’s funny. A dad will help his daughter pick out her first car and help her decide which college to go to…but has almost zero “say” in who her boyfriend is. Amazing! We’ll kick the tires on a car…but, not on the man who might be her husband. Wow!

As time, went along the fathers of both families would discuss along with the son/daughter the relationship and if all agreed, ultimately, when a young man wished to marry a particular young woman, it was customary for the prospective groom’s father first to approach the girl’s father with the proposal of marriage. The two men would discuss this possible union including the price offered by the groom for the bride (the bride’s price…showing he could provide for her). If the girl’s father agreed to the suggested amount, the two men sealed the agreement with a toast of wine.

Now, the young lady would then enter the room where the prospective groom proclaimed his love and asked her to be his bride. All of this was done with the blessing of both families. If the young woman wished to be his wife, she accepted his proposal at this time. The validation of the agreement made by the engaged couple was the presentation of a gift by the groom. He offered it in the presence of at least two witnesses. As he gave the gift, he said to his intended bride, “Behold you are consecrated unto me according to the laws of Moses and Israel.”

Arrangements were also made right then concerning the terms of the marriage and written in the “Ketubah.” This is what is called the “espousal or betrothal.” Remember, Mary was betrothed to Joseph in Matthew, chapter 1.

This espousal/betrothal meant that the two people were committed to each other as much as a married couple would be. You could only break the betrothal with a certificate of divorce. Remember, Joseph was going to “divorce her quietly,” when he found out marry was pregnant (not by him).

The groom then departed, but not before he assured his bride with the promises of building a home for her and returning to complete the marriage ceremony. He usually took a year to prepare her new home which often consisted of an addition built onto his own father’s house.

The bride was expected to remain true to her groom as she prepared herself. She lived for the day of his return for her which would be heralded by a shout from the members of the wedding party. The impending return of her groom was a time of great excitement for the bride to be.

The typical Jewish wedding took place at night. As soon as any members of the wedding party spotted the moving torches signaling the groom’s approach, their cry echoed through the streets, “The bridegroom is coming.” The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia tells us, “Mirth and gladness announced their approach to townspeople waiting in houses along the route to the bride’s house.” Upon hearing the announcement, the excited bride would make her final preparations and dress in her finest.

Rather than the groom entering the bride’s house, the bride came out to meet him. The two, accompanied by their wedding party, returned together to the groom’s home for the marriage ceremony. Following the public ceremony, the newlyweds entered their bridal chamber to be intimate with each other for the first time. This was where the marriage was consummated. After this union, the groom came out and announced to the wedding guests, “Our marriage is consummated.”

Upon receiving the glad news, the wedding party began a “festive” seven-day celebration. The celebration lasted seven days only if this was the first marriage of a virgin girl. During this time the bride and the groom stayed with each other in seclusion. At the end of this time of privacy, the groom would present his unveiled bride to everyone in attendance. The newlyweds then joined in the wedding feast with the guests.

So there you have it. That’s the Scriptural process of relationships and marriage. What are your thoughts?

Old fashioned?

Won’t work in our society?

Not appropriate for our culture?

Well, those are valid concerns. But, let me ask you something. Aren’t believers in Christ called to be different? To be peculiar people? Aren’t we going to be persecuted for doing the right things? Sure we are. So, you and I have a choice. We can “walk the narrow way” or we can go the “broad way that leads to destruction” and a 50% failure rate. You decide.

More later in the week on how the marriage customs of Scripture match exactly what the relationship will be like and is between Christ Jesus (the groom) and us (the Church). This will be fascinating.

Stay tuned!

Reminder…I’ve got 91 people receiving the daily devotion emails. If you’d like to be added…just drop me a line at kevin@mpbc.ws.

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