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Archive for March, 2013

I’ve got a burr under my saddle.

HorseBurrUnderBlanket

I was at the hospital yesterday afternoon and I was blown away by what I witnessed. I was visiting a member in the church who has pneumonia and her white blood cell count is big-time out of whack. She’s in the ER and waiting to be admitted. Then a “hospitalist,” (what our local hospital calls a “doctor”), comes in with a telephone and says to the lady, “You need to speak to your doctor. He hands her the phone and I saw the look on her face (already pale and ashen in color) turn white. She said, “Oh, ok.” She handed the phone to her husband after a couple of minutes and said, “I guess we’re going home.”

I said, “What!” She looked at me and said, “My doctor says I’m a very sick lady, but not sick enough according to my insurance company.”

Folks, that’s where the burr dug in my back. I said, “Are you serious?” She said, “Yes, my doctor says the insurance company says I’m not sick enough to be admitted.” I said, “Let me get this straight. You have pneumonia and your white blood cell counts are all over the place and you look like you’ve been put through the mill and some insurance company is making this decision?” She said, “Yes.”

Let me explain. We live in a country now where men and women in business suits in high-rise buildings are now making decisions about our health care instead of doctors. This is frightening to me! Now, I’ve got my own opinion as to why I believe this is happening and has ramped up in the last few months. But, I’ll not get “political” here and make some of you mad. I’ll let you decide as to why our insurance costs are going to continue to go out the roof and why companies are laying off workers because of the new legislation coming on-line in this country as we speak.

I’ll say this. There will come a day when I’m afraid an elderly person will go to the hospital ER and a doctor calls an insurance company and the doctor is told, “They don’t fit the grid,” and that elderly person will be sent home. What’s the “grid?” The grid is the matrix the insurance company places you in based on your age and your “value” to society. Have you ever heard of “eugenics?”

eu·gen·ics /yo͞oˈjeniks/ (Noun): The science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics.

Have you ever seen the quote by the founder of Planned Parenthood?

Margaret Sanger

It’s absolutely amazing to me that we live in a society where it might become the “norm” in our health care policies, where a person has to fit into a “grid” in order for them to get treatment.

I thought of this as I was driving home from the hospital this evening. What if this lady (our church member I visited) was on Medicaid? Do you think she would have been admitted to the hospital? My answer? YES! But, a taxpaying citizen, who pays their insurance premiums? NOPE! In fact, the husband told me, “We just paid the insurance premiums online this morning.”

I’m praying for this dear lady. She was told by her doctor, while speaking with him on the phone, that she’d have to come to his office this morning for a shot to help her. Wow! That’s going to be great for her to get out in freezing temps to go to her doctor to get a shot. Does anybody else think this is nuts?

I’m also watching with angst at what the Supreme Court will decide about marriage. Will they uphold what the Bible teaches about marriage or go the way of culture?

Same-sex marriage, supreme court

Our culture has turned very, very pagan in the last 15 years. What will the Supreme Court decide? It’s anybody’s guess at this point. CNN reported this yesterday:

“Tuesday arguments showed this is Anthony Kennedy’s court. The 76-year-old jurist is likely to be the controlling or ‘swing’ vote for however the court decides the tricky issues.”
Kennedy is the second from the right on the front row. He’s seated beside of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with the white on her robe.

Supreme Court

The CNN article said: Four more liberal justices appeared at least open to the idea that same-sex marriage should be allowed in California. Three more conservative justices seemed to take a more “traditional” view: that marriage is between one man and one woman. Justice Clarence Thomas, who does not speak at oral arguments, seems likely to agree. That leaves the moderate-conservative Kennedy possibly in the middle and perhaps ready to offer a more nuanced, compromise view.

So, we’ll see what happens. But, I’ll tell you this. The Bible says (and thus this is God’s view about marriage) that marriage is between one man and one woman for life. There is no way to continue the human race without men and women doing what God designed them anatomically to do (be fruitful and multiply). Romans 1 teaches very clearly what happens to a society and culture that embraces homosexuality. God turns them over to a reprobate (wicked) mind.

But I know the argument. The argument is that “We just want equal rights.” Here’s the problem with this. If we as a nation legitimize sin, then where does it end? What is marriage going to become? Can it be between three men and four women? Can it be between a human and an animal? How about a human and a Coke can? The very fabric of a society is built upon what the society says about marriage. It’s only been since the year 2000 that gay marriage was legitimized in Finland as “law.” So, in just 13 years, it’s made its way to America.

Same-sex marriage, supreme court

I’ll make a prediction. In another 10 years, gay marriage will be acceptable and the law of the land. More liberal Supreme Court justices will be placed on the bench by Obama in the next three years. The balance of power will swing to 5-4 or 6-3 and there you’ll have it. You say, “You are being pessimistic.” Nope. I’m being honest.

People can look at me and say, “Kevin, you just need to focus on getting the gospel to people and don’t worry about politics.” Yep. You keep believing that and one day we are all going to wake up in a nation where you and I can’t even speak about sin without it being called a “hate-crime.” Satan wants us to keep believing that we just need to go to church and keep our mouths shut and say nothing except to “give them Jesus.” Yes, we must give them Jesus, but we must stand for truth in the meantime. Paul says, “Contend for the faith.” And “contend” we must. We are to give a reason for our hope (says Peter) in “gentleness and respect,” but we must give a reason.

Yes, we love all people…including gays and lesbians, but to say that gay marriage is acceptable is to deny the Word of God. We can’t and must not cave in to the peer pressure of the day.

You see this sign…

same sex

How would you answer this? Read carefully, please. I do not want anyone to think I’m abusing any power. Yet, the Bible is our authority. It’s our standard by which Christians live. Now, some say, “Times have changed.” I agree! But, the Bible HAS NOT changed, nor has the God who breathed it into man to write. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. To give “legal rights” to homosexuals is to legitimize the lifestyle and call it “okay.” It’s to give it legal standing that puts it on the same plane as marriage between a man and a woman.

Remember, there is healing for the homosexual sin as well as healing for the thief or drunk or man who has an affair with another woman (heterosexual adultery). The Bible says there is healing. See the words below that say “were?”

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

You can’t make the Bible a “buffet” that you pick and choose what you believe. If you say you believe what the Bible says about salvation and about Jesus, but you don’t believe what the Bible teaches about marriage and sin, then you are not being honest with the Scriptures. You can’t pick and choose. You can’t be intimidated by the intellectual elites of our day who says, “You can’t use the Bible as your standard, because that makes you look dumb and like a bumpkin.”

The Bible speaks to this:

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 1 Corinthians 1:18-21

So, pardon me while I pull this burr out from under my saddle. But, I promise you it won’t be the last. 🙂 We must stand for truth! Do it in love…but, please, please, please, stand for truth and pray for our nation and for God’s mercy on us.

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Desensitized

imagesCANHQBJE

If you do that long enough…you’ll desensitize your hand and your fingers and eventually you’ll be able to grab a lit bulb and not even feel it. That’s what the culture is doing to our brains, did you know that? Over time, we are searing our consciences by what we “allow.”

Last night I attended our local Pregnancy Care Center’s annual fundraising banquet. It was marvelous. The speaker was Abby Johnson.

Abby Johnson

She was formerly part of the largest Planned Parenthood clinic in America (Houston, TX). She saw hundreds of abortions. Now get this: She was raised in a Christian home and in her own words said, “I was in church every time the doors were opened.” Yet, this young lady didn’t “get it” when it came to understanding Christianity, following Christ and abortion versus life. That’s a wake-up call to parents. Hey, mom and dad…taking your kids to church is not enough. You better be teaching and training them in the home and having conversations and talking about life and Jesus, the Bible, etc. If not, you will potentially raise a child that knows all about Jesus in their head, but knows nothing about living out that faith in real life. Abby admitted to those of us in attendance at the banquet: I was messed up.

She said, “Over time, I just became desensitized to abortion.” Until she witnessed a procedure via ultrasound with the baby boy trying to get away from suction tube. God used that experience to change her life. The ultrasound broke through her seared mind.

You know we’re just like Abby. We are so used to a culture of death that we feel more remorse for animals we see on TV than babies being aborted (3,500 every day in America). Abby brought up the fact that Americans get more “tore up” about ASPCA ads on TV…
ASPCA
…than knowing babies are being dismembered in mothers’ wombs as they are suctioned out of them in death. Sorry if that’s gruesome, but we need to wake up. We have been desensitized to a culture of death in America. We cry out: “Save the whales and the sea turtles,” but “It’s a woman’s right to choose…it’s her body.” No, dear friends, it’s a baby and it’s a life. The Bible says so.

Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” Do you understand when life begins? It begins in the mind of God before a soul is even placed in the womb. Life doesn’t begin at conception. It begins in the mind of God. There should be no argument over when life begins. Think about it. If a baby is allowed to live inside the womb and be born and then a doctor kills it in the birthing room, then he’s a murderer. In fact, if most states, if a pregnant lady is murdered and the baby dies too, then a person can be charged with DOUBLE homicide. Our consciences have been seared! If it’s a double murder in that situation, why is it not murder when an abortionist takes a suction tube and does the same thing (murders the baby in the womb). God help us to be like Abby and see the truth.

What is this:
baby
Is that a blob of tissue, as the abortion industry calls it? In fact, they call those “poc’s.” Want to know what that is? Product of Conception. They aren’t allowed to say “fetus” or “baby.” Abby would know. She worked in a Planned Parenthood Clinic for 8 years. By the way, do you know how much federal tax money PP received last year? Are you sitting down? $500 million! That’s right! $500 million from me and you to kill babies. Amazing! We are so DESENSITIZED!

Abby has written a book entitled “UnPlanned.” It’s a pun on Planned Parenthood. I received a copy last night.

Abby Johnson-book

If you are local, buy it from Steve Bryan’s store, For Heaven’s Sake and support our local businesses. If you are out of town, you can buy it here: http://www.christianbook.com/unplanned-dramatic-parenthood-leaders-opening-journey/abby-johnson/9781414339405/pd/339405?en=google-pla&kw=christian-living-0-20&p=1167941&gclid=CODYpNfKkLYCFQ-xnQodCRIARQ

Oh, that we would wake up in America and care more about babies than sea turtles!

Speaking of being desensitized. Katy has written a wonderful blog post about “modesty.” I appreciate her point of view as a lady. I can tell you as a man that many women and young ladies and even little girls dress way too provocatively! It might not bother you (as a lady), but it bothers boys and men. The Bible teaches modesty and yet, when springtime comes…the clothes start coming off. Katy writes very well about how we have been desensitized here as well.

But, before I post her blog entry, I must tell you this. I read an article earlier this week entitled: Victoria’s Secret is Coming For Your Middle-Schooler. Here are a few lines from the article (reader beware): The new brand called, “Bright Young Things,” includes lace black cheeksters with the word “Wild” emblazoned on it, green and white polka-dot hipsters screen printed with “Feeling Lucky?” and a lace trim thong with the words, “Call me” on the front. SICKENING! Yet, we’ve been desensitized, so why should we expect any less?

You can read the rest of the article here: http://savingourfuture.com/2013/03/victorias-secret-is-coming-for-your-middle-schooler/

Now for Katy’s blog post…

Less Skin, More Dignity
It’s spring. And with the green leaves, and beautiful flowers comes something I dread so very much:

A lack of clothing on girls and women.

Every year I know it is coming. All winter long those large coats, thick pants, and scarves have covered all the ladies I see, but that is almost over for most. And with that thought, I cringe. I actually cringe more now than ever. Now it just doesn’t make me sick, it also makes me angry. It should have made me this upset before, but something about the fact that I am married makes it even worse. I have a husband. And when I see a lady dressed immodestly, I want to avert my husband’s eyes immediately, because I feel like she is being unthoughtful and quite bluntly… rude.

Where does it all begin? On the large signs in stores, on the racks of girl’s swimsuits, but mostly in homes where it is accepted.

The culture is so saturated with immodesty that most of us hardly even notice it. It is everywhere. So, let’s imagine that we are standing in a little shop in 1913 (100 years ago). The women surrounding you are dressed in long dresses and lovely hats. There is a row of magazines in the distance. The National Geographic, The Saturday Evening Post and, wait…. There is a horrible picture in front of you that catches your eye. A woman is dressed in nothing but a few patches of cloth and strings. Sports Illustrated. A modern magazine is placed in an early 1900’s world. A model in a string bikini. And you… well, you would have been mortified and probably very angered by such a risqué magazine.

Yet in 2013 we just ignore it. Why?

Why do we tell girls that dressing the way many do is okay? That it is good? Many of us are in relatively safe communities and towns. So 6 year olds wearing mini skirts doesn’t seem like a big deal. But there are countries and cities all over the world where little girls who wear things like that are automatically abducted and thrown into sex-trafficking. They would do ANYTHING to get to wear lots of clothes and be safe in a good home. It’s a horrible truth.

By letting daughters dress immodesty and dressing immodesty ourselves, we are smacking beautiful femininity in the face. We are saying that nothing is sacred. We bare all and show all and say, “Oh well, that’s just our day and age.”

It literally makes me want to cry. It is breaking our girls. If the girls and women in our churches wear immodest clothing then the world will only be worse.

Would you feel comfortable if you saw a 16-year-old girl walk into church one Sunday wearing only a bikini? Probably not! But why do we think it is okay to wear it around the same people at the pool? Plunging necklines on prom dresses. Is it okay? No. Please hold the rotten tomatoes!

I was told once that I was judging the girls and women who dress that way. It isn’t judging if you tell them in love that the clothing or lack of their of, is disobedient to God. Sure I do many things wrong, but to not address a problem because “no one is perfect” is not the answer.

Many dress the way they do because they don’t even know that it is wrong. Most women don’t realize that the way they dress, that the things they wear majorly affect the men they are around. Men can avoid temptation, yes, but to torture them with the opportunities to think bad thoughts over and over is just uncaring. It affects them very differently than it does us females. It’s a much more fierce battle of the mind.

See, if we are followers of Jesus, then our bodies do not belong to ourselves. So we should dress in a way that pleases Him. Don’t be ashamed to dress modestly, because it is a beautiful dignity.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
For more of Katy’s blogs, click here: http://heartsonthingsabove.blogspot.com/2013/03/less-skin-more-dignity.html

Let’s wake up folks! Stand for truth! There is no time for weak Christians in this country any longer. Let’s stand for truth in love and please, please, please, let’s take our hands off the lightbulbs…

imagesCANHQBJE

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smallpaperhanger

Ever feel like that guy? That’s a “one-armed, wallpaper hanger.” Tough job!

I feel like that a lot. I think most of us do because there is so much to do. My mind is filled with randomness at times and I just need to empty out my brain. Do you mind? I hope you don’t, because I’m going to anyway! 🙂

As the pace of life continues to quicken, I’m continually reminded of the Lord Jesus’ and the pace of His life. Have you ever thought about the fact that He only ministered 3 1/2 years. He was 33 when He died. Why not minister for 13 1/2 years and die at 43 instead of 33? Can I tell you my own thoughts on the matter?

Ministry will kill you!

It really will. Now, I don’t say that in any way to be crass. It just struck me that Jesus only had 3 1/2 years of ministry on this earth, partly because I believe it was so draining and taxing. He was dealing with men who never seemed to “get it.” He was being chased, threatened, harassed. He went without sleep, without a home, without most of what we would consider “normal” conveniences of life. And so, 3 1/2 years was it.

Now, please understand that we all have a ministry. Mine might be as an elder in a church (shepherding and leading), but yours is just as valuable where you live and work and play. But, if you work at it hard enough, you can get worn down. So, we must enjoy the journey. We must find our leisure and at times, even our rest in our work. Impossible? No, I don’t think so…not, if you are doing what you love. I am. I’m doing exactly what God designed and purposed for me to do in life.

People often ask me, “Did you run from being an Elder/Pastor (they might say Preacher).” I say, “No.” The reason I say that is because God used my 17-year business career to prepare me for the work of helping to shepherd a church. I shepherded a business for two men (business owners) for many years and God simply moved me from the business world to a flock of people. But, I was no less in “the ministry” as the General Manager of a Hardwood Flooring/Millwork company than I am now. Ministry is ministry. There is no professional clergy in Scripture. We all have a ministry and work to do in God’s vineyard. Mine just happens to be looking after a church. But, my job/work, is no more important or less important than yours. It’s all the same.

So life is hectic. Like that one-armed, wallpaper hanger. At the church we’ve added 68 people to the church since October 1st. Church attendance is up almost 30% over last year and so, my workload has increased at that same percentage (by and large). Thus, I’m “wide open!” Now, this means I’ve had to get smarter about how I work. There are no more hours in the day. We’ve only got 24. So, here’s what I’ve learned. Ready?

I can’t be “all things to all people.” There is only one of me. So, I’ve had to start using a wonderful two-letter word. Ready for it?

no

Do you know how hard it is for me to say that two-letter word? It just about kills me to say it! Do you know why? Because at heart, I’m a “people-pleaser.” I want to help people and encourage people and fix their problems and so, I just keep saying, “Yes, I’ll do it. I’ll counsel you. I’ll go do this and go do that for you.” Yet, that’s dangerous. I’ll become like peanut butter that’s spread too thin on the bread.

peanut butter on bread

See how the peanut butter doesn’t cover to the corners? Perhaps you are there too? Maybe you are just trying to do too much. What has God called you to do? What is your purpose? Do that and the other things (albeit good things), might have to go to the dogs, because you can’t do it all! So, what are you good at? Where are you gifted and where has God talented you? Seek to do those things. He’s wired you the way you are for His glory, so do those things and cut out the rest.

A couple of years ago, I was on several boards. You know what I did? As the church was really beginning to grow, I had to resign those boards. Please hear my heart. I loved the work I was doing for those groups, but couldn’t sustain the pace. So, I had to say, “No.” Maybe you’re at that point in your life. Have the courage to say, “No” and major on the majors and minor on the minors.

One of the things we major on here is the annual Passion Play. We had our dress rehearsal Sunday night to a huge crowd. Talk about being transported back 2,000 years to a Judean hillside… Wow!

Passion Play-Jesus

Passion play-children

Oh…and the last scene! Man…talk about spine-tingling!

Jesus-Heaven

You know what? That makes it worth it all. Think about that scene in that picture above. That’s what we’re looking forward to and working toward (or it should be). One day I long to hear the words of my Savior when says, “Well done, good and faithful servant…”

Yep…I’m busier than a one-armed, wallpaper hanger, but I want to keep all things in perspective. So was Jesus! He seldom rested. He took no vacations. Did He rest? Yes and He told His disciples to rest…

30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Mark 6:30-32

So, it’s okay to rest. But, no sooner as they found that place of rest, the crowds found them and this was the occasion of the feeding of the five thousand. Rest. Yes. But, know that it won’t be long. We are here on this earth to serve Jesus.

It’s taken a while, and I’m still learning, but I am learning to “rest in my work.” I have a sense of urgency. Jesus is coming back. Time is running out. We’ve got to tell people about Jesus. This must be our priority. Anything else to live for is too shallow and too selfish.

The old hymn says…

O land of rest, for thee I sigh!
When will the moment come
When I shall lay my armor by
And dwell in peace at home?

Refrain

We’ll work till Jesus comes,
We’ll work till Jesus comes,
We’ll work till Jesus comes,
And we’ll be gathered home.

To Jesus Christ I fled for rest;
He bade me cease to roam,
And lean for comfort on His breast
Till He conduct me home.

Refrain

I sought at once my Savior’s side;
No more my steps shall roam.
With Him I’ll brave death’s chilling tide
And reach my heav’nly home.

So, until that day…

It’s back to work…
smallpaperhanger

🙂

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Ever feel like quitting? Sure you have. Maybe you feel like throwing in the towel right now. I have felt like quitting before…many times in fact. Now is not one of those times for me, (there are no hidden messages here). Yet, I have a point I’d like to try to make via a baptism we just had at church.

Before I tell you about it, I want to share one of my favorite verses in Scripture and a super poem:

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

Don't Quit

Now for the story. This past Sunday we baptized 10 people. They ranged in age from teens to 88 years old. That’s right, I said, “88 years old!”

2013-03-09 002

This lady had been part of the Jehovah’s Witnesses for many, many years! Her daughter and son-in-law and many of us have been praying for Alice for years. And yes, there were times we all felt like giving up. I would look at Alice’s name on my prayer list sometimes and say, “Lord, I know you are the God of the impossible and nothing is too hard for you…but, this is starting to look bleak.” Yet, Ms. Alice started coming to the church. She was intrigued by Katy’s and Josh’s wedding and asked if she could come (even though she wasn’t a member). I, of course, said, “Yes!” From there, she started coming on Sundays and Wednesdays and she began to hear the Gospel from the Word of God. Truth began to take hold in her life. What is truth? Truth is Jesus. He says, “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life…”

Over time she began to see that she needed Jesus. She was lost in a world of false teaching and had been blinded by “man’s religion.” Yet, the love of Jesus won! Look at the smile on her face.

2013-03-09 003

That’s Claude Sturgill, her son-in-law, helping me baptize Alice. Claude is such an instrumental person in the life of Alice. Claude is a saint and will be at the feet of Jesus in Heaven. He’s one of the most self-less, loving servants of Christ on this earth. He works tirelessly in the kitchen on Wednesday nights to help serve our people meals and he’s at the church all the time (unnoticed by most) doing things to help in the church.

What a miracle! And folks, it is a miracle! You believe in the parting of the Red Sea? Jericho? Daniel in the lion’s den? The fiery furnace? Water into wine? Lazarus? Well, this is no different! This was a soul captured from the kingdom of Satan by the love of Jesus shown through a daughter, a son and loving Christians. Praise God!

Now, get this! We had two more folks who were baptized that had been involved in the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Here are Pete and Kathy Lamp.

2013-03-09 008

Kathy was and is very good friends with Alice and she (Kathy) was coming to the church prior to Alice. Kathy was excommunicated from the JW’s. Yet, Alice would not forsake her friend, Kathy. Alice knew something was wrong with what was happening to Kathy. During this time, Alice sat under the teaching of Scripture and her mind and spirit began to be pierced by the “double-edged” sword of the Word. Love had its hand on the Sword and that love pierced the hearts of three JW’s and now they have been rescued and placed into the kingdom of light!

We also had other another couple who came to Christ late in life. In the first picture (above), you will see Todd and Tammy Trivette. Both said that they didn’t truly come to Christ until later in life and coming to the church at MPBC showed them their need to “step it up” and truly live 100% for Jesus.

Sherrie Royster (picture above: kneeling beside of Alice) has a daughter on the mission field in Hungary. She had struggled with assurance of her salvation for years and yet, now…she’s solid in her knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord of her life. These are all miracles! Wonderful, wonderful miracles!

Here’s a family of four siblings (there are 7 total children) of the Harper family.

Harpers-Baptism

What a blessing! Their story is great! Their mom, Michelle, is also a blogger! And a wonderful one at that. You ought to check out their story, (“O Glorious Day), in the words of their mom! Grab a Kleenex.

http://morethanjustliving.blogspot.com/2013/03/o-glorious-day.html

I must tell you that Michael and I almost went under together. He’s a strapping 6′ 4” and built like a rock!

2013-03-09 016

He’s all muscle and I’m not! And I’ll tell ya…it took all I had to get that young man out of that water! 🙂

Sister Harper is right! O Glorious Day! And a reminder to NEVER give up! Keep praying! Keep loving! Keep trusting in Jesus! He’s timing is perfect! He stands outside of time and time is no obstacle for the One who never changes. He is the same, always! Yet, He is most concerned about “timing.” Ask Lazarus…given up for dead…four days…and yet, Jesus came along and brought him back to life. These ten lives are examples of that. So, don’t give up!

Here’s another example of a tough little guy who doesn’t have the word “quit” in his vocabulary! It’s Andrew. He had his fourth and final (Lord willing) surgery on his feet yesterday in Greenville, SC at the Shriner’s Hospital.

Andrew-hospital

He’s doing great! The pain has been minimal thus far. He had the pins and plates taken out from the surgery last year where his tibia was cut and they plated and screwed his bones together. Here’s his spot on the couch…

Andrew on couch

He’s got his buddy (the bear) that they gave him at the hospital to keep him company.

He can actually walk on his feet. They are just very tender. He’s got a walker to help him. We’ll take the thick bandages off on Sunday.

Andrew's feet

Oh…I want to tell you that on Monday after Andrew’s pre-op, we had a few hours in the afternoon and we went to the “Falls” in Greenville, SC.

The Falls-Greenville, SC

It’s a beautiful city and it was nice to have a few hours to unplug. My family gives me up so much, that it’s nice to just be a dad and husband for a few hours. I appreciate Pastor Brad and Dale Jennings who are helping give me the ability to do this. I’ll be back in the saddle at church tonight. But, Dale has agreed to teach for me. He’s functioning in the role of an Elder…just without the title. 🙂 Thanks Dale!

Isn’t this a lovely couple…

Pam and Kevin

It was nice to sit on a park swing for a few minutes and just chat. I’m blessed! I really am! Pam is an amazing lady! We are a team in ministry. It’s not just me doing the work at MPBC. She’s right there by my side. She sings in the Praise Team, leads our monthly women’s group called FLO (For Ladies Only) giving the ladies an opportunity to perform Titus 2 type, “Older teaching Younger” ministry, coordinates many of our family outings, and is preparing to head out to Mexico/TX with Kandace next month. She will be teaching with Katy to the women in Mexico. If that wasn’t enough, she helps me counsel and corresponds via email to numerous ladies in the church, offering counsel, advice, insight and encouragement. She is truly my “help-mate.”

Did I also mention she is a mother and homeschools and cuts coupons and is a master at saving money? Sincerely, without her, I could not do what I do as an Elder/Pastor. It would be impossible. She carries so much on her shoulders that most people can’t begin to understand. I just want her to know that I’m so thankful for her and praise God for her example. Thanks honey!!

Finally, Katy wrote a great blog post a few days ago that speaks to life. She entitled it: “Safe is Not the Answer.” This is how she starts out…

Safe is Not The Answer. Let me paint a scenario.

A man gets to the heaven. This was not your average human being on the planet of earth. This was a nice middle age, middle-class American. A Christian, middle-class American. He stands before the throne of God Almighty. THE God. After he has fallen to his face and worshipped his Maker, it’s time for business.

“Well, congratulations, my child. You succeeded in living the absolutely safest life you possibly could. You in no way went out of your comfort zone.”

It’s very thought-provoking. It’s worth five minutes of your time…

Click here for the rest…

http://heartsonthingsabove.blogspot.com/2013/03/safe-if-not-answer.html

Well…that’s about it for now.

Oh…I almost forgot… You’ve got to see this. Speaking of “Don’t Quit.” Do you think this tree gave up?

Tree Roots

We saw this tree in the park in Greenville. Wow! That’s called perseverance! Just another reminder!

DON’T QUIT!

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Anyone who knows me has a pretty good idea that young people and their future means a lot to me and motivates me greatly. I guess you could call it a passion of mine. It was two years ago that I was writing my book subtitled, “Raising Christ-Centered Young Adults.” So, I hope you realize that what I share with you on this blog is “heart-felt.”

I really believe parents sincerely love their children, but it seems to me (by observation) that many parents have little idea or understanding what’s going on in their child’s life regarding truth. Truth. Yes, truth!

Jesus Christ is the truth. He said that of Himself. Those are His words not mine. Satan is a liar. So, he is the opposite of truth. Thus we have a battle for truth and that battle is taking place in the minds of our children.

1 John 5:20-21 says, “20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

So, Jesus has come to give us understanding so that we may know the truth. And I want my children to know the truth and not be lied to by anyone and any time, if I can help it. Do you agree? Thus, Jesus Christ is the truth. John says, “He is the true God and eternal life.” John says to “keep ourselves from idols.” Now what is an idol? An idol as anything that is in the place of God. Yes, it can be a carved image or statue or it can even be something like money or power or fame. It can be a hobby or a person. Yes, an idol is anything that we place before or ahead of God.

So, what does that have to do with truth?

Everything!

Everything you and I (and our children) take into our lives (our brains), by what we hear or see can be categorized as either “true” or “false.” So, here is the issue, particularly for our young people. You must know the truth in order to determine that which is false.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you have a steady diet of information and news that comes to you via…

msnbc logo

You must know that MSNBC has a slant on the news that is very liberal. In other words, what you will hear on MSNBC is going to lead you to believe (in my opinion) a lot of things that goes against Biblical teaching.

Let’s say that you also watch a lot of TV sitcoms that depict dads as idiots and buffoons like…

family guy logo

Your children will see “dads” as dumb, uninformed and useless if they have a steady diet of this type of show.

Let’s say you watch the tremendously popular, teen show…

Glee cast

Over time, you can be very confident that your child will be indoctrinated to the idea that homosexuality is an “alternate” lifestyle that is acceptable and normal. Even though the Bible teaches that there is healing and gives proof of that here:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Did you notice the word, “WERE.” That’s in the past tense. That means there is healing for the drunk, the adulterer the thief and yes, for the homosexual. But, does your child know this Scripture? Do you know it? An even better question is: Do you believe the Bible is truth? Do you believe it is the authority you can build your life on without wavering? Are you going to choose man’s “truth” or God’s truth? But again, you must know the truth or you will fall for lies and this is certainly true of your children and grandchildren.

One last example. (And I know that many of you, who are reading this blog, do not watch any of the programs I’ve shared with you thus far, yet I’m seeking to make a point, so bear with me please.) The new popular movie for teens is:

Safe-Haven-Poster

Many “Christian” teens have already flocked to the movie theaters to watch this PG-13 movie that is laced with sexual content. How do I know? I checked it out via a Christian website:
http://www.pluggedin.com/movies/intheaters/safe-haven.aspx
This is what it said:

Spiritual Content
Jo warns Katie that Tierney is in town and looking for her by way of a dream—our first clue that Jo is not actually who or what she appears to be. Serving as more cinematic symbol and/or personification than anything spiritual, ultimately we learn that she’s a benevolent ghost who only Katie can see. Beyond that startling “supernatural” revelation, the movie avoids all things spiritual, short of a “God bless America” banner and a song lyric that’s either reverent or profane, depending on how you hear it.

Sexual Content
After a slow courtship, Alex and Katie eventually kiss—very passionately. Once the kissing starts, it’s not long before they consummate their relationship. A later scene implies that they’re moving toward cohabitation perhaps a bit faster than they are marriage.

Now why do I share this? Because we are in a battle for the minds of our children and what they see and hear will program their brains. If they watch enough of this kind of stuff, then they will be programmed to believe that sex outside of marriage is ok. Yet, the Bible says:

Ephesians 5:3-4
3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

Do you see that none of the above examples I’ve given can fit into this Scripture passage? What is shown in the verses above is truth and that truth is juxtaposed against that which is false and that which can easily become “idols” in our children’s lives. Do you see the subtlety of this? Satan is so sneaky!

Paul’s says in Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

You understand, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

So, where are you getting your information? Where is your child(ren) getting their information? If your child has Facebook, you should be their friend and know what’s on their wall. If your child has Spotify, you ought to sign up and know what they are listening to online. I’m amazed at the graphic and explicit lyrics that “Christian” teens are listening to today. Yet, most parents are oblivious. They seem to be so busy buying things and acquiring material possessions for their children, that they don’t have time for a relationship with them. This will lead to disaster.

Parents, you are going to either put in the time to raise your children while they are young, or while they are old. You might want to read that sentence again. Either way, you are going to put in the time raising your children. You can do it when they are small and have pliable minds, or you can wait and do it in the teen years or even in their 20’s and 30’s when they are often very resistant to what you have to say. Why? Because they don’t have a relationship with you that goes beyond, “How was school today?” “Do you need any lunch money?” “Is your homework done?”

I encourage you (especially dads) to teach the truth in your homes. You’ve got to pour the Word of God into their lives so they’ll know the truth. Otherwise, they’ll never know how to make wise decisions based on truth. I write “Daily Devotions” for my family and you are welcome to “piggy-back” on these. Just click below and sign-up (it takes 10 seconds) and you will receive Daily Devotions five days per week.

http://www.mpbc.ws/emailsubscriptions/index.html

You see, the Bible sifts out that which is not truth and we’re left with THE truth.

flour sifter

Parents, (even Grandparents), please help your children and grandchildren use Scripture to build a grid in their brains from which they can make decisions based on truth and not what the world system of Satan seeks to pump into their brains as lies.

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:20.

Teach ’em truth! The battle wages on and our children’s minds hang in the balance.

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You know there are a lot of misconceptions in the world of Christendom today. One is the idea that we “pay” people, those called “professional clergy” to do the work of the church. Problem is: This is absolutely, 100% false! If you are a saved, follower of Jesus Christ, you have a ministry. In a church it should be said, “Each member has a ministry.”

I talk about this a lot during our meeting together as a church family/body. Ephesians 4:11-12 tells me that pastors/teachers or elders are a “gift” from God. They have been given to the church as a gift.

I’ll show you:
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherd and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ… Ephesians 4:11-12

Why are shepherds or elders or pastors a given to a church? So, they can “equip” the saints for the work of the ministry. It’s my job as a pastor/elder to equip the saints. I can’t do all the work by myself. Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses…” Who was He talking to when He said that in Acts 1:8? Was it just the pastors or deacons? Of course not. He’s talking to anyone who names His name.

Paul tells us: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us…” 2 Corinthians 5:20a

Are you getting this job done? How are you doing? What’s your job performance as an “ambassador?” How would you grade yourself? Would you get an “A.” Or would you get a “C,” or possibly a “D?”

I’m not trying to levy guilt here. I’m not trying to be legalistic. I just wish people would stop thinking that they can throw a $20 dollar bill in the offering plate and “call it a day.” We’ve got to see life from a Biblical perspective: “Every member has a ministry.” Jesus told us to “Go and make disciples…” And “go” we must!

This is why I believe we must turn our homes into “disciple-making” factories. We must do so, first and foremost with our children, but we can’t stop there. The first century church moved along from house to house. If that was the case today, (house to house), the Gospel would die. Why? Because we have no one to our homes but ourselves and family. We don’t show hospitality any more. It’s a shame. Why do you have a home or rent a place? Is it just for you? We say the places we live are “for the Lord?” But, are they?

Pam and I have made it a practice for years to invite new people in our church or community into our homes. We “mark” this on the calendar once per month. If we didn’t “mark” it down…it would likely never happen. Why? Because, like you, we are all busy and have many things going on in our lives. This is why we must be intentional in reaching out and being “salt and light.” If we don’t, then we become a “holy huddle.”

holy huddle

We just attract people like ourselves. We become very inwardly focused and we are dangerously close to becoming “all about me.” A church can be like this as well. God forbid. We must get outside of our comfort zones and reach people for Christ. And guess what? This is going to get messy! Rolling up our sleeves and discipling (Remember Jesus said, “Go make ‘disciples,’ not just ‘converts’ of all nations.”)

Are you getting the job done of making disciples for Christ? Are you a good ambassador for Christ? Whom are you discipling right now? You might say, “Well, I’m not capable of discipling someone right now.” Well, why not? You might say, “I’m discipling my family.” Good. How long will that take? Forever. Yes, I’m with you! We will disciple our children from the womb to our tombs, won’t we? So, when do we reach out and include others into our lives? Again, I’m convinced there are way too many “holy huddles” in our homes and our churches. Jesus came to “seek and save that which is lost.” Most Christians have come to “seek and save me and mine.”

holy huddle2

So, I love the fact that our church is trying to reach inside and out. I’ll show you what I mean. Recently, we had a Sunday School/Bible Study class who hosted a dinner after church for our Young at Heart (YAH) group. What a blast! Take a look.

YAH 1

YAH 3

yah 2

Yah 4

Isn’t that great! Yes, we should care for our widows and widowers. We are to respect and care for our elders for the Bible makes this very clear. But, we must also get outside the walls and go!

Last Saturday night the men and boys of the church made cakes and we raised money to help put a roof on a church in Mexico. We raised over $5,100! Every dime will be used to “raise the roof” in Mexico!

Cake auction

No one was counting calories…I promise you that!!

We have a family in the church who always “take the cake,” (pardon the pun :)), when it comes to their unique and creative cake. Check this out! It’s a picture of our church with a hand reaching out to the world! Isn’t this awesome! That’s exactly a picture of what a church is to look like, according to Scripture.

Cake auction 2

Here’s a picture of two of the young men who made the cake. Simply amazing! Way to go Marc and Josh!!

Cake auction 3

And now for the cake Andrew and I attempted to make. Well, it wasn’t going so well. Therefore, we had some help. Recognize the hand?

Lego cake 1

Yep, that’s Pam’s hand and she and Kandace had to help me and Andrew with our LEGO CAKE.

Lego cake 2

And this is the finished product!

Lego cake 3

Pretty nice job of helping out the boys! Thanks Pam and Kandace! Andrew and I are very grateful! We returned the favor by folding clothes! 🙂

So, there you have it. Ministry. Each member ministry. Inside and outside the church. Inside: caring for those needs among us. Outside: in our homes and throughout the world. That’s being “Jesus’ hands and feet.” So, are you doing your job? Let’s roll up our sleeves and dive in! People are literally “dying” to hear about Jesus!

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