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Archive for May, 2012

There I was…

7 years later…. I’m in the same room where I had an encounter with God. It was a surreal moment to say the least. I’m walking down the main corridor of the Benton Convention Center looking for the room where I was to deliver a session to Fathers at the North Carolina Home Educators annual conference. I looked up and saw the sign and it said:

Room B-D

I stopped dead in my tracks. I looked at the sign and then at the large four-some of doors which led to the room. I opened one of the doors and slowly looked inside. There was a session underway, but I could see inside the room nonetheless. Yep…same room. I remember where I was seated. Third row. Third seat from the center aisle. Yep…that’s where it happened. An encounter with God.

Ever had one of “those moments?” I bet you have. Two days later…here I was standing in the same room where I had been seven years earlier. A room that at that time had dads seated in chairs in rows, just like now. I heard a man who shared the truth with me that was sent by God. He said, “Dad, you are not getting the job done.” Initially I was mad and offended, but as the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, I realized that I was dead wrong in my way of thinking. I was getting everything right in my career and hobbies and even in God’s house…but, I was not leading in my house.

I share with you an email I received Saturday evening after I returned home…

Kevin:

Thank you for your talk today at NCHE. You weren’t just throwing darts, you hit me between the eyes with a hollow point shell.

I am the chairman of the Deacons, I sing in the choir, an ensemble, the praise team and fill in when the quartet when they needs it.  I serve on the finance, media shout, vision committees and as  moderator.  I make six figures working in a sales management job.  My wife does the home schooling, I am uninvolved. I coach sports of my kids and lead a devotional sporadically and bring home the bacon. Not saying I’ll be a Pastor in 7 years, but today is a turning point!  Please send me your devotional. Time to go wash my family in the word.

Thank you and God bless your ministry!

I could have written that email seven years ago and now I was the one delivering the message to Fathers. The message?

Developing a Spiritual Vision for Your Home…

Here’s the 9 points of the talk:

  • Make certain Christ is their Lord. Many children who are being raised in “Christian” homes have “Hell Insurance,” versus truly serving Jesus Christ
  • Be careful of a “compartmentalized faith.” Do your children “own” their own faith, or is it yours? What’s the handwriting on their “spiritual box?” Is it your name on their spiritual box or theirs?
  • Dad’s, realize it is your job to spiritually train your children, not the Youth or Children’s Pastor. (Eph. 6:4) Don’t let your child be a part of the 92% who leave the faith.
  • Seize the Day. There’s only 168 hours in a week… How are you spending yours? Every home is a classroom. What is your’s teaching?
  • Train, train, train in the Word of God. The Word of God must become a priority in the life of your home, or your children will be raised by the culture. After all, shouldn’t our children know more about Abraham than Algebra and the Bible than Biology? And shouldn’t we value Jesus more than jerseys?
  • Our Children should follow Jesus’ Model at age 12: “Didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business?” Whatever you make your children crave is what they will love.
  • Establish Family Devotions: Remember: Nothing that doesn’t occur on a daily basis will ever dominate our lives. I will gladly add you to my daily devotion list if you will email me and ask for me to add you to the list.
  • Eat Meals Together. If you can’t do this 3-4 times per week, then you’re too busy!
  • Get them “Home” (heaven is our ultimate home) and forget the American Dream and the pursuit of “stuff.”

To say that I was blessed to have the opportunity to speak at the conference was an understatement. I also sold out of every single book I had! I’ve got more on the way!

The conference was a time of refreshing for me. I hear such wonderful speakers, who provide me, as a pastor (teaching Elder), the ability to listen and learn, when I’m usually the one doing the teaching.

The conference was packed with close to 6,000 people…

In the state of North Carolina there are now…

In Wilkes County, there are now over 500 homeschools. (Again, that’s just homeschools. In my family for instance…we have four children in our homeschool. Well…actually just three…since Katy just graduated. :))

I really enjoy the book fair…

There are dozens and dozens of vendors. Clara really liked this vendor’s books and other stuff…

A wonderful time was had by all…

We baptized 7 more on Sunday. And get this… I had the privilege of baptizing a grandfather and granddaughter at the same time!

Here’s the entire group…

Note the ages of these folks. There are no children here. These are young adults and adults who are nailing down the Lordship of Jesus Christ in their lives. Yes, Jesus is more than just “Hell Insurance.” That’s 42 we’ve baptized in the last 6 months! The Lord is on the move and I’ll never tire of the looks on the faces as they come out of the water! Proud of you Emily!!

Sunday afternoon was a blast as well! I attended a wonderful graduation celebration for a young man that was a bar mitzvah of sorts. What a fantastic family!

That’s Keith Michael Anderson on the right and his mother and father on the left…

Keith is a loved young man. He has missionary grandparents on both sides. Talk about an amazing legacy!

There were several men in the church invited to share about faithfulness to the church, the Word of God, purity, missions and to handling money wisely. The testimonies of the grandparents and parents and words of encouragement offered was one of the most moving things I’ve been a part of in a long time. I really enjoyed this scene…

I began this post talking about fathers. Well…this one is getting it done right. He’s trained and discipled his son well and to see them sitting side by side and even at times, with their arms over each other’s shoulders was so heart-warming to say the least. They were watching a video put together by two of Keith Michael’s younger brothers. Keith Michael is the oldest of six children. Thanks so much for including the church in your celebration and thanks to Keith and Kim for opening up their home to us all!

After we left the Anderson family, we went and celebrated with the granddaughter and grandfather I was telling you about earlier at a fabulous cookout. What a special day for them (being baptized together). Here’s Mary Anna…to the left with grandfather, James Richardson behind here. Mary Anna’s mother is in the back and her grandmother, Mary to the right…

There is something special about coming together and sharing a meal together with brothers and sisters in Christ around a table. Thanks so much Mike and Caroline!!

What a glorious weekend! And we finished it off last night with catching lightning bugs.

Well…that’s plenty for now… Blessings to you all!

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Kind of tired…not going to write anything too deep tonight. I travelled to Statesville and met with a Pastor who is seeking to bring Rite of Passage to his church. He sees the value of the Scripture as it admonishes to us that there are only three seasons of life. Childhood…from birth to 12. Adulthood…beginning at 12…extending through 30 and then mature adulthood, from 30 and beyond. Now that’s what Scripture teaches. You won’t find this in the culture.

Jesus is our model and example in all things. At the age of 12 He was “about His Father’s business” and then at 30 He began His ministry. Now this can be argued and debated (and it is in many circles), but it is most evident to me that the example of Christ in His phases of life should be ours. With that said, I tried to encourage my brother in Christ and fellow elder.

Change is hard in a church and everyone wants to “entertain the kids.” So, it’s paintball, lock-ins, pizza blasts and ski trips. It’s short devotions, silly games, rooms in churches loaded down with old sofas and stolen road signs, Wii’s and X-boxes. And we wonder why we have 9 out of 10 young adults walking away from the church by their 20th birthday. We have “fun-ed” them to death and given them no substance…little Scripture and nothing to build their lives on.

Here’s a picture of a youth group playing basketball with the disciples and Jesus…

Problem is…when the fun and games…concerts…entertainment…peer driven frivolity ends…well…that’s it for them too. They disappear.

It’s why I wrote my book last year, “Rite of Passage-Raising Christ-Centered Young Adults.” And I’m praying my brother in Christ will have stamina as he seeks to raise the bar for the young adults of his church. It won’t be easy and he may have a group of folks that have to “graduate” out, but he can start with younger families and teach the value of substantive and in-depth teaching that will reward families with Christ-centered young adults. Is this guaranteed? No! But, it’s a Scriptural approach that we must return to and the results will be much, much better than our current abysmal failure rate we are enduring in Christendom today.

Oh…sorry…I said I wasn’t going to get deep. I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it. You know me… Got on a tangent. Ok…here’s some “this and that” for your reading pleasure…complete with pictures.

This past Saturday we had a neat outreach into our community. Scott Matheny (that’s him in the middle on stage)…

He and his wife, Renee and there boys are members of our church runs a LifeSkills studio that teaches “Self Defense Classes for Women.”

Scott taught the class for $10 per person for all ladies 12 and older (Rite of Passage age…) and then donated over $1000 to the Mission Fund for our work in Mexico in a few weeks. What a blessing! Pam, Katy and Kandace went through the two-hour class and they learned some really neat and very important ways on how to protect themselves with some very simple moves/techniques. Thanks again Scott!

Saturday morning was our kick off and “Meet Your Coach Day” for our Flag Football League.

We have 165 kids signed up!

Most are not members of our church and that means we have the opportunity to share the Gospel with a lot of folks! We estimate (counting parents, grandparents, etc), we’ll see around 400+ people each Saturday in June. This is “missions” in our own back yard…our Jerusalem!

Clara, Andrew and I got the garden planted. We planted 8 rows of beans, 3 rows of corn and a row of watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers and several tomato and pepper plants.

Children love to work with their Daddy. I’m telling you those black heads of theirs were sweating up a storm! And so was my bald-head! 🙂

Speaking of Clara. She sang at church with Sarah Kathryn Dowell on Sunday. The children’s choir sang “Mighty to Save.” It was beautiful!

Speaking of performing…Katy and Kandace had their violin and viola concert at Appalachian State on Sunday afternoon. I know they are my children…but, let me tell you…they did a “bang-up” job! Wow!

Katy played guitar in one song and Kandace played the violin…

 Their class had a ton of young students! I love it!

Last night we celebrated my mom’s birthday! You talk about a godly woman! Kim and I are so blessed! Mom, we love you dearly! What a sacrifice you have made for our families and we can never thank you enough! Here’s mom and the grandkids!

These are the best days of our lives! We are living them right now! Often it’s easy to look to the past or even to the future…but, all we have right now is today. So, let’s enjoy the journey!

I’ll be speaking at conference later this week… I’ll update you the first of next week! Blessings!

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Living by the squares? What does that mean? It means this:

And this…

And this…

Computer Image Gallery

And this…

All of these items are square, aren’t they? They sure are. And there is nothing wrong with them, but I would tell you that they are taking over our lives. I was talking to a man the other day who said that his family were all in the den the other night and everyone had either a laptop computer, tablet/notebook, or cell phone in their hand, while they were watching their flat screen TV. Wow! But, I can’t say a whole lot…because the truth be known…that has happened in my home too! YIKES!

Next thing you know…no one is talking…we just have this blue haze on our faces from looking at the screens…the squares that are dominating our lives. What’s wrong with us? We don’t talk anymore or get outside or do much of anything except to play with or look at our squares. Are we missing something here? Yep…we’re missing each other in the midst of our squares.

Jim Daly, the President of Focus on the Family asks the question, “Do You Let Your Children Play Video Games?” It’s a great question. He has some interesting insight about how he and his wife control this in their home. Check it out here…

Boy, we’ve lost the days when folks would go outside for an evening stroll or even be home for an evening stroll. We are all so dog-gone busy. It’s like the tail is wagging the dog. I had a friend of mine send me a link to some paintings by a man that took back to days gone by. It will take you about 4 minutes to take a look at these and so, to shorten this post from the usual 1,000 to 1,200 words that I normally write, I’m going to only do about 330 words so you’ll take the time to click here and relax.

Prepare to relax…

Hey…why don’t you get out and take a stroll tonight and leave the squares at home. 🙂

 

 

 

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Five years ago I was in Israel and this was our tour guide. He was an Israeli and he was 74 years old.

He was so bright and energetic. I could hardly keep up with this 74-year-old. I’m telling you, he was so knowledgeable and it was a joy to be with him for about five days of our 11-day trip. I got to know him fairly well and one day, out of the blue, he asked me (and I will word it as I remember him saying it), “Why you put your old people in homes with other people to care for them. Why you not care for your own family in your country and pay others to do it?” I was somewhat taken back by the question. I really wasn’t sure how to answer the question. I thought for a moment as we were riding from Jericho to the Dead Sea and I said, “I honestly don’t know.”

We continued to talk and he shared that it was unheard of in his country for anyone to take care of family in their old age other than family. He had been a tour guide for about 15 years and in speaking with many, many Americans, he said, “Your people seem to busy and interested in money to take care of family. Why is this so?”

Again, I had a tough time answering his questions. I told him that most families lead very busy lives and it’s tough to be able to take care of family members in their old age because these families are in the prime of their working (earning) years to do so. What he said next really astounded me. He said, “Americans want money and success over family.” He said, “Where in the Scripture does it say to have others take care of family.” He said, “James said that the best form of religion is to take care of widows and orphans.”

You know it’s been five years since that conversation. We talked all the way from Jericho to the Dead Sea on the tour bus and then from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem. Now this discussion re-framed my thinking on the family. As I read the words of Paul to Timothy I see something very different today than what I see in Scripture…

7 Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. 8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied  the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 9 No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 10 and is well known for her good deeds,  such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. 1 Timothy 5:7-10

Did you know that the church was to step in and take care of widows if there was no family to do so? We’ve sure dropped the ball on this haven’t we? Yet, it was the responsibility of the family to take care of the parents in their old age prior to the church stepping in. Paul made sure that Timothy understood this when directing and instructing him. Think about it. Who took care of aging parents back in the early 1800’s in this country? Well, the immediate family, of course. Did you also notice that a widow could not be cared for if she had not been “faithful to her husband” and did the “good deed of bringing up children well,” among other things.

In our culture, we find it easy to go after the money and double incomes and place children in day cares and aging parents in homes, while we make enough money to pay for our homes, cars, vacations, and comfortable lifestyles. Truthfully, the tour guide was really blunt and it offended me. But, the more I thought about it, I thought, “He’s probably right…we do seem to love money in many cases more than families.” Truthfully it’s not even really about the money. It just messes up our agendas and our quality of life. Just ask a caregiver. Until you’ve been there you’ll never know. And I must say, I’ve not been there yet.

However, after I got home, that prompted Pam and myself to discuss what we would do for one another (you know those marriage vows…for better…for worse…for richer for poorer…in sickness and in health, till death do us part) and our own parents. Honestly, we made up our minds a long time ago to live a different lifestyle that is geared toward the family and not away from it. It’s why Pam is a stay-at-home mom and homeschooler and I might I also add that we made the decision that we are going to do everything in our power to take care of our parents in their old age. Now, we have no idea how this will turn out. Some of you reading those words my say, “Yeah…wait till they have to do it and they’ll eat those words.” You might be right. Only God knows. But, that’s our desire and we believe we owe this to them and it will honor the Lord.

Please understand, I’m not saying that you are doing wrong if you have parents or relatives in a nursing home or assisted living center. Certainly there are situations medically that might inhibit and even cause death if proper care is not administered. There are some diseases and circumstances that dictate outcomes that are out of our control. Each person/family has to make decisions based on the circumstances at hand. So, no hate-mail please. 🙂 My family and Pam’s have had to deal with these issues and they are very, very difficult. Again, I’m not seeking to be legalistic about this in any way.

However, I’m speaking mainly of situations where folks simply decide that they would be too inconvenienced to take care of their aging family or they might be inhibited socio-economically to spend money to even bring in help to keep a family member in their home, even if they can’t care for them every moment of the day. This is certainly a difficult situation for anyone to consider and every family is different and unique. So, I’m not trying to “cookie-cutter” this conversation in any way. Each Christian home must wrestle with these things and seek the Lord and his will. I know that I had never given it much thought until pushed to do so in Israel.

I must tell you, each week I make my rounds through the nursing homes and I see so many people who are alone and have no one. When I stop and talk to these folks in their rooms or in wheelchairs in the hallways, I ask them, “How are you doing?” They just love to be talked to and have someone touch their hand or shoulder. There is something powerful about the human touch for sure. But, I must tell you that so many of these folks DO have families nearby and yet they just don’t come around. They visit infrequently at best and at worst, only come on holidays and/or on their birthday.

Just visiting the rest homes is a wonderful ministry indeed. And you don’t have to be a preacher or deacon to do this. They love children. Yesterday our homeschool group went to a local rest home and sang songs and performed for them (a talent show of sorts) and those folks LOVED IT!

I tell my kids all the time that THEY are my retirement! I say, “Kids, don’t forget your old daddy and momma in our old age!” Ha! But, it’s really true. I pray they will want to take care of me and Pam as time goes along. I sincerely believe this is Scriptural. Yes, it’s not what the majority of folks do in our culture, but my tour-guide friend in Israel jarred me forever when he asked me, “Why you not take care of your families in America and pay people to do it for you?” I don’t think I’ll ever forget that question. And I’m sure I’ll wrestle with it for years to come.

We had another wonderful chicken-que to raise money to send our 64 folks to Mexico this summer. You want to see some of the best lookin’ BBQ chicken you have ever seen? I must warn you! It will make you hungry!!

Can you say, “YUM!!!!”

We sold over 700 plates!! Woohoo!!

Take a look at these dedicated souls who made it happen…

Take a look at our new tool of “stoking the flame.”

Yep…that’s a leaf blower… Aren’t we brilliant!!

And there’s more good folks…hard workers…

Thanks for a most wonderful and successful fundraiser!

Oh…can I show you a picture of Clara and Andrew before church on Sunday…

Aren’t they cute? Can you tell I’m biased!! I don’t mean to be, but I can’t help it!!

One last thing…

I saw this guy wire embedded into a “former” tree. Can you see it?

Over time, the tree just captured the wire. The same is true of our thinking. We must be careful what we allow to slowly creep up and capture our thinking. May our minds be transformed and renewed by the Word of God and not be ruled by the patterns of this world.

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Things that make you go…hmm??

Recently, I’ve been amazed at various things I’ve been seeing and hearing from various circles of academia and science and our president. Yesterday our president, (the first one in history, I might add)…

A portrait shot of Barack Obama, looking straight ahead. He has short black hair, and is wearing a dark navy blazer with a blue striped tie over a light blue collared shirt. In the background are two flags hanging from separate flagpoles: the American flag, and the flag of the Executive Office of the President.…has indicated his personal “evolution” to now be ok with same-sex marriage. Wow! This makes me go…hmm… I guess we should not be surprised. He has been leaning toward this move for some time. In his declaration Obama has declared to the world his opposition to the historical, common law and biblical meaning of marriage. President Obama may be remembered for many things, but few are as fundamental in its reversal of what our nation was founded than his decision to use the presidency to redefine a definition of marriage that was established on Day Six of Creation and has been the benchmark of civilization for 6,000 years.

I must tell you that Obama is absolutely the antithesis of this man…

Ronald Reagan…

I’d encourage you to take four minutes and watch this video. In it he talks about the need to trust in Jesus Christ and that all the answers to the world’s problems are found in the Bible. Oh how far we have fallen since he left office just 22 years ago. Boy, it makes me go hmm…

Watch Reagan here…

Speaking of marriage. Take a look at these two mapsFor instance these two maps…

See any correlation? Are you going hmm, yet? In case you are having a hard time seeing it, you will notice that those counties who voted in aggregate to not support the marriage amendment had the most college educated. To put it another way. If you have a college degree you were more likely to vote against the marriage amendment. Why? I’ll let you decide. But, I want to share an email I received last night from a student who recently graduated from college who voted FOR the marriage amendment… It will make you go hmm…

Hi Kevin,

I just wanted to share my heart with you tonight. I have been extremely bothered for the last couple of days about the whole Amendment 1 thing.  I’m very upset that ALL of the negativity I have received for stating my opinion has come from my former college class mates.

I voiced my opinion that homosexuality is wrong and although it IS already illegal for gays to marry in the state of NC I would like to see it constitutionalized. Additionally, it is my belief that couples who live together outside of marriage, or who are in civil unions, are not heeding God’s word. 
 
Because I was in favor of Amendment 1, I lost many friends this week. Not because I fought tooth and nail, because I don’t argue with people, but because I simply stated something. While I was a freshman at State I started to realize that more and more people were not in the will of God. Even my Bible study group was liberal. I am very moderate about most things, but I found that more and more people who had grown up in church had completely turned their backs on not religion, but the Bible. I am a firm believer that you can’t just take the Bible and make it say what you want it to say, the Bible is finite. It leaves no room for interpretation, what it states is what it states. I have been positively repulsed this week at the actions and words of my former class mates. We grew up in church, how could SO many people turn away from God and his word?

I’ve concluded that the problem is not college life. The problem is not a higher education. We can’t blame everything on professors. The problem is that most Christians are not ready to be thrown to the World at 18. If it weren’t for my parents and their unyielding faith, I would be right in line with them. I’m EXTREMELY upset by the fact that parents are not doing their job to get their children ready for what the real world has to say.

As college students it is our job to soak up everything we hear, however, most 18 year olds haven’t been equipped with a filter. The problem is believing everything you have heard because it sounds good. There are plenty of facts to back up what the real world has to say, but we have got to have a Biblical filter on our mind. We have got to realize that not every word that comes out of a professors mouth is true.

We have GOT to get young adults ready for college better than what we have been doing. Additionally, the blame isn’t all put on the student. It is a parent’s job to give a child the tools they need to combat the things they will hear in college. Even better, students aren’t prepared because they haven’t done their own research. SO many college students turn away from God because they don’t have a rock-solid foundation.

College is supposed to be fun, but I will tell you, college was NOT fun for me. I continuously had to fight for my beliefs. I’ve been called naive, closed-minded, a Jesus Freak, ignorant, and stupid more than once. If it weren’t for my rock-solid foundation I would have questioned everything I had ever been taught. I would have turned away from everything I had every known.

However, that rock-solid foundation would not have existed without Godly parents. Scripture was ingrained in me from birth. I grew up loving God and serving him with my whole heart because I saw how much God means to LIFE. My parents have a phenomenal marriage because of Jesus Christ. They raised my brother and I in such a way that we would never have to question how we were raised because we knew that the answer is always Christ.

And now that I am expecting a child of my own, I weep at the thought of sending my children to college. It’s a lion’s den. We have got to get our young people prepared because it’s so much worse than people think it is. It’s not just about the kids knowing Christ anymore, it’s about the whole family as a team. We have got to pull EVERYONE together and get rock-solid. Not firm but diamond-hard in our faith and the Word. We have got to get these young adults in the Bible and we can’t just do it at church. Parents have got to step up and get their children ready for what is ahead of them because just thinking they’re going to be okay is not enough.

I’m so distraught about this. I’ve watched friend after friend fade away from me because I do not have an open-mind, and I’m fine with that. My conscience is clear because I know that I am rooted in the Word enough to go on. I’m just devastated because I watch year after year as students fall off the wagon and begin to question and blame God. Satan has his hands so deep in college campuses that it makes me sick. We have got to get our young people ready for that fight. 

I’ve written a book about this entire subject so that you won’t have to go hmm…

Rite of Passage for the Home and Church: Raising Christ-Centered Young Adults

You can buy it here or email me and I’ll send you a copy. kevin@mpbc.ws

Here’s something from the science world that literally blew my mind. Here’s a recent headline…

“Dinosaurs Gassed Themselves into Extinction”

Clash of the DinosaursI must warn you that this is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard in my life. I mean to tell you that if it was not reported by a reputable news organization, I wouldn’t believe it. You’ll have to read this to believe it. The first three sentences will tell you all you need to know…

Take a look here at your own risk… I promise you that you’ll go hmm….

Finally, take a look at the recent “USA Today Topography of Faith” This is a fascinating map that shows the religious affiliations of adults in America. It will explain why we will have a very close election this November.

USA Today Topography of Faith in America Map

I promise you that it’ll will make you go hmm…

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Have you heard the quote (and I’m not even sure who said it):

“Life is not a journey to the grave with intentions of arriving safely in a pretty well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming … WOW! What a ride!”

I like that! And that’s how I feel. Last week was a week that was fantastically wonderful, but thoroughly exhausting. I spoke 9 times in 7 days. I loved every second of it…please don’t get me wrong. But, I’m getting old! 🙂

Let me tell you what a joy it was though!

I had a daughter to graduate from high school! Yep! That’s right! We homeschooled Katy all the way through school and it was a joy! And here she is:

The old saying is true that “time flies!” Here’s part of the speech I delivered at her graduation:

Katy, with the strength of the Lord, you have accomplished many things in your short 18 years of life. You have been to almost 60% of this nation’s states and you have literally travelled the world. You have been two China twice to receive your siblings and you’ve been to the ends of the earth in Africa serving your Lord. What’s more…you now have one of the most-read blogs that I know about, because you continue to lead the way in purity and love with your choice of choosing to pursue relationships and marriage according to Scripture and not the culture and the world. You lead by example because you are mature beyond your years. You have chosen to follow Jesus Christ and to allow Him to be the Lord of your life and this has made all the difference.

It was said to our family not long ago, “I’m worried about Katy. She doesn’t spend enough time with her peers.” That’s a fascinating statement to me and one that is a product of the culture. You have chosen to associate with mature believers even at a young age. You have never established your identity by a peer group or by the kind of cell phone you have or clothes you wear. I’ve never seen a Hollister t-shirt on your body and you don’t care if it’s North Face or No face jackets that you wear. Why? Because you have chosen to find your identity in Christ!

Paul told young Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:14-15:

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and 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

Katy, you have continued in what you have learned and firmly believed since your childhood and you have grown wise through your faith in Jesus. Therefore, I can say as your father, that “I have no greater joy this day…than to hear that my daughter is walking in the truth.” (3 John 4)

Katy, I sincerely could not be more proud of you than I am today. You have carried the family name with honor and dignity and most of all, you have represented you Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ with supreme commitment and dedication. Now, as life moves forward, I’m convinced you will continue to lead and you will continue to be looked to as an example. Whether it’s singing in the Praise Team, giving piano lessons, studying in your online college courses, acting, writing, teaching…I’m convinced you will do it all for the glory of God. Katy, my beautiful daughter, I am your father and I tell you that I love you with all of my heart! May God continue to bless you and pour out His favor and anointing on your life! Hallelujah!

Here’s some more pics…

At her graduation, Katy sang a song, “Your Enough,” she wrote. The words speak volumes…

Verse 1:

Surrounded by life

And the broken dreams

The greatest victories

And yet you see me

And I know you’re there

I will say to you

Chorus:

You’re enough for me, you’re enough for me

When tears are my offering

Or when joy is my song, I’ll always sing

Jesus, you’re all this heart needs

Verse 2:

When I speak your name

Peace overflows

Like a tidal wave

Because of your great grace I will live

With you as the Lord of my heart

Chorus

Bridge

I will not be afraid

I will not live in fear

You are my Savior and you’re always near

Chorus

Katy’s first cousin, Taylor Church, also graduated. She’s in the green sweater in the picture below…

I truly loved it when Pam gave Katy her diploma. In case you are wondering, Katy was awarded her diploma like any other high school graduate. She had to complete all the requirements any other high school graduate. We didn’t just print a certificate off our printer. 🙂

Isn’t that great! That’s a ton of time at the kitchen table and in our “school room” in the basement. Here’s Katy’s thoughts that she shared at the graduation…

What can I say about the last 18 years of homeschool? For me, this journey of school was much more than a list of subjects and grades that I had to accomplish. It has made me who I am. It was my life. My parents incorporated my schooling into the training they we already doing to make me a Jesus follower. It was “when you get up, when you walk along the way and when you lie down” (Deut. 6:7). My parents taught me that “learning” is not confined to desks and textbooks. The true Teacher is God and the true classroom is life. They taught me to LOVE to learn. They taught me to think for myself and decide whether I wanted to believe what they believe. They showed me that my faith had to be mine.

I’ve realized that I’m not always going to remember every detail of Algebra or every date in History, but what I WILL remember will be Daddy sitting beside me at the kitchen table still in his work clothes quizzing me on my multiplication tables. It’ll be sunlight shinning through the window on Mama as she read to us from our History books with an elevated voice, excited about the stories. It’ll be Daddy stopping by a tree in the woods to explain why it’s an oak tree. It’ll be getting my first red journal from Dad and realizing as I wrote in it that I loved to write. Explosions in the kitchen from science experiments. Music practice when I didn’t want to practice. Lunches of peanut butter, corndogs, hot pockets, summer tomatoes, and ice cream sandwiches. Every Bible verse uttered in our house. Every prayer. And even…. Love Lifted Me sang before bedtime.
Those are things I’m going to remember. I can’t buy those days back. I look back and don’t regret the way I did school. I can’t thank my parents enough. They were with me not just in word, but in their actions.

To say I’m overjoyed is an understatement!! I’m so blessed!

Get this…the next day…last Friday…I took Katy to register and then to cast her first ballot…

And then she slid it in the counter…

Then it was off to our fifth annual Rite of Passage banquet. What is Rite of Passage? Click on the “Adult Centered Youth Ministry” tab on the right side of my blog and check it out. Here’s the families who participated this year… Here’s the Dowell family with their daughter Kaity, who participated this year…

Let me tell you…when the parents share the letters they have written to encourage and challenge their young adult, it’s a powerful thing! Here’s the Bryan family! Their son Chandler participated! What a job he did on all of his work!

Here’s the Boyles family, Andrew and son, Jake… (Mom and sister were at a dance rehearsal…along with two of my daughters and wife :))

Here’s the Edmiston family. Not a dry eye as momma (Amber) reads her letter to Kaitlyn.

And finally, here’s the Hodges and Watson families where their sons, Coby and Aaron participated…

We celebrated on Sunday as a church family as these young adults committed before the church that they were dedicated to pursue Jesus Christ as young adults.

We have raised the bar of expectations for our young people and that’s exciting! We have had 41 young adults go participate in the last 5 years. I can’t wait to see what the church will look like in 15-20 years!

Saturday morning I spoke at a Community outreach to remember a young boy, Seth Teague, who was killed on his bicycle 10 years ago. Our church reached out to our community and I’m proud of our “yellow-shirted” workers!

And last but not least…my girls clogged and performed ballet on Saturday afternoon… Here’s Clara’s costume…

And Kandace clogged “up a storm…” She’s on the far left…

Whew! Can you tell that we’ve been busy? You better believe it! Wow! What a ride!!

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Without a doubt, the most viewed blog posts I’ve ever done have been the ones on dating and relationships. So many people, (young and old) have been supremely interested in what the Bible teaches about relationships and that’s so refreshing to me. I really believe people, especially our young adults are interested in getting off the treadmill and take themselves off the “meat market” and do things God’s way when it comes to relationships and dating.

So, you have read and heard my perspective as a father and Katy (my daughter’s perspective) as a lady. But, what about the “guys’ perspective?” Well, I’m glad you’ve asked, because Josh has been kind enough to write a blog post from his perspective.

Here it is:

Some amazing things have been happening in my life. If you know me then you know what I’m talking about. I have fallen in love with an amazing girl, and I was asked to share my side of the story of how it happened, so this will be my attempt in doing so.

But before I share about that, I wanna give you some back ground on myself. My parents aren’t Christians and they we’re never married, so I grew up in a world view of things and ideas. And I also spent a good deal of my life in the public school system, so my idea of love and relationships was pretty twisted. I grew up thinking if you liked someone and they liked you then you just jump in a relationship with no guidelines and eventually one of you would lose interest and the relationship would be over, then you move on to the next. So for years I went from being in one relationship to another, getting hurt over and over again. It’s funny, at the time you think you have found love and that person is like the sun and everything revolves around that person.

Back in 2010 I started getting mentored by Kevin Brown, and at the same time he was going through some series and things about love, and he started to share a whole different view of love I had never heard. He started sharing that love isn’t based on feelings and that God has to be the center, and it’s not this idea of bouncing from one relationship to the next, it’s about so much more. So I started seeking God, and I found growing strong in Him and His love was all I needed. So that’s all I focused on. And then I went to Marine Core boot camp, and all I had was God, I had to rely on Him in everything I did. It was one of the hardest things in my life I have ever been through, but while I was there I got a letter from Katy Brown, and for some reason it brought so much joy into my life. I at first couldn’t understand why? I knew reading her words to me made me extremely happy and every time we got mail I would hope that I had something from her. Then Kevin and the whole Brown family including Katy came down to my graduation last October and I felt this attraction to Katy I had never felt before. I was home for 10 days before I left again, and during those days all I wanted was to spend time with Katy and just find out more and more about her.

For years, ever since I was 17 I had been going to Mt Pleasant Church, and had spent a lot of time around her, as a friend. But I knew then I wanted more than just being her friend, so I started praying about it a lot. I wasn’t sure if it was Gods will and I just didn’t wanna be in a relationship based on how I felt, but what God plan was and what he wanted. So a month and a half passed and I came back home for Christmas, I went bowling with the brown family and spent some quality time with Katy. Then the Wednesday before I left I was with Kevin, doing the usual, going to Chick-Fil-A and Iron Men and stuff, and that’s when Kevin brought it up…he wanted to know if I had any intentions on being in a relationship with his daughter, and after a couple deep breaths I told him I had feelings but wasn’t a 100 percent sure and that I wanted to continue to pray about it.

So I left again and I started to talk to Katy more and more and finally felt it was of God. So me and Kevin had another conversation in where I told him what my intentions were. I told him I wanna be with Katy, and grow in the Lord and protect her and her heart. So I asked Kathryn and she said yes, I went in this relationship desiring more than just feelings and a few dates…I asked myself could I spend the rest of my life with her, can I see myself marrying her, is she a girl after Gods heart? And since January I have found that I love her and I know she loves God and in everything we do, we both wanna put God first, for He is the foundation and without Him our relationship is nothing.

So with all that said, I encourage anyone reading this that, even though you have made mistakes, you can change. God has been so good to me and has restored me in all ways. If you seek Him, He will give you the desires of your heart. So stay strong, don’t give yourself away and fall into dead relationships. I don’t regret my past mistakes because they have made me who I am today, I have learned from them. Don’t rush, be patient and rely on God. So that’s my side of the story, I hope it encourages you. Love comes when you least expect it.

That’s good stuff, Josh!

I’m proud of that young man and I’m so thankful for all the Lord has done in his life. So, we all have a choice. We can do things God’s way or our way. But, I hope you are beginning to see the picture that God’s way is the best and least painful.

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