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Archive for July, 2013

We’re back in the saddle again. Back from Nashville! But, there are many takeaways from our time last week in Nashville. Want to know what some of my takeaways are?

#1 Live for God’s kingdom not man’s:

This family sure is! That’s the Annie Moses Band and the Wolaver and Dupre families.

Here they are with the Dougan family (cousins).

Talk about a family that has taken “kingdom living” to the MAX! They have. For 10 years running they’ve been running a fantastic Summer Academy. They challenged me to see my family as one which strives to be “kingdom focused.”

#2 Hard work pays off.

I learned on the last night of the Fine Arts Camp that there had been over 50,000 copies of music printed and handed out over the two weeks of the camp. Couple that with many, many practices and well…you have perfection.

Time for a quick afternoon break…

Photo: Great first day of FASA with these great people! Love you guys!

Some are so tired they can’t even leave the practice room. They just slide out of the chair and sleep…

The performance time comes… Kandace helped backstage at the young artists performance… Clara is ready to go…

#3 Sometimes the Lord blesses beyond our wildest dreams.

The kids couldn’t believe it when they found out a few weeks ago that they’d be playing at the Grand Ole Opry. Truth is…without the Annie Moses Band and their tremendous and renowned success, the students at FASA (Fine Arts Summer Academy) would never have been able to play at the Opry. The Lord uses people to bless us and again, the Annie Moses Band (Wolaver’s and Durpre’s) blessed 300+ students.

Here we are heading in to the Opry. That’s Katy and Kandace, along with Madison Elmore (in the red) with their bags heading in…

It’s really big! Bigger than it looks on TV! It seats 4,400 people.

This man in the middle is the conductor. I told Andrew that he looks like him! 🙂 He’s with Kandace and Lydia and Natalie Hall.

Here’s practice on the stage. See the girl in rollers. 🙂

Kandace said, “Dad it was amazing that the Lord allowed us to do this!”

There are some pretty famous people who walked where our girls walked last week…

The Dressing rooms were amazing! Huge! Here’s Kandace in her dress… Ready to go…

Here’s Kaity Dowell (in the pink) and the dancers in one of those massive dressing rooms…

And there’s the circle!

Circle at Opry

#4 Watching your children do amazing things is surreal…

There’s Kandace standing and singing in that circle. To say that it was a surreal moment is an understatement.

And then to see them playing at their highest level…well…it’s beyond words…

#5 Rest is critical to life.

Last week was very helpful. I was still “working,” but being away from the office and not preparing for multiple speaking engagements gave me time with the family. I also got about an hour’s more sleep each night. It’s amazing what 7 hours versus 6 hours will do.

Katy saw this cup and said she was going to buy it for me…

cup

I laughed and told her that I didn’t think it would be appropriate to put it on my desk. Even though at times I sometimes might feel this way. 🙂 People don’t mean to…but, I think at times folks think I’m sitting around twiddling my thumbs just waiting for them to show up at my office. 🙂 With a church of 500+ and just two elders/pastors, every moment of the day is planned and for the most part scheduled. This doesn’t mean I can’t drop what I’m doing for an emergency. Certainly I can and often do. But, time for idle chit-chat and “shooting the breeze,” well…that’s not an option.

So, last week was a blessing to come off the throttle a bit. It’s hard to describe the work of a pastor. It’s really like being a doctor. You are always on call. I owe a big thanks to Brad Cordray for filling in for me while I was out. You’re a jewel dear Brother!

#6 Family time is precious…enjoy it while you can…

Here we are…loaded up and ready to come home. You can’t even see Andrew. He’s under the Krispy Crème donut hat in the back right. The van was loaded to the gills!

Family coming back from FASA

Here’s Andrew at the Opry with Mason Elmore. Andrew was a the Cowboy and Mason was the horse!

Andrew and Mason

I sure had a blast with my family! It was a true blessing to spend such an intimate time with my family. As I said last week, living in a dorm room with 236 square feet REALLY brings you together. And when we got home, my dear mother had fixed us supper. It was hot and waiting on us. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden, homemade biscuits, cantaloupe and sweet tea. Wow-ee!!!

Photo: Came home to a fresh cooked meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, veggie casserole, fresh fruits and vegetables, and biscuits all fixed by my Mawmaw. And don't forget the sweet tea! #countrycooking #yum #makesmehappy

What a wonderful mom! What a wonderful family.

So, those are my takeaways.

#1 Live for God’s kingdom not man’s

#2 Hard work pays off

#3 Sometimes the Lord blesses beyond our wildest dreams

#4 Watching your children do amazing things is surreal

#5 Rest is critical to life

#6 Family time is precious…enjoy while you can

I will tell you that at the end of the day all six of these can really be summed up in the first one. If we live for the kingdom of God, we will see that our work for the Lord will pay off in heaven and at times even here on earth, as the Lord blesses beyond our wildest dreams. And sometimes that “pay off” comes through our children and so we work for the kingdom and rest when necessary. (And I believe rest is necessary, as is taught by the principle of a 7th days rest…) So, enjoy the time with family. Who is your family? Your brothers and sisters in Christ. That’s what Jesus said when told that His mother and brothers and sisters were waiting outside the door. Jesus said, “…you are my mother, brothers and sisters.”

So, let’s enjoy living for the kingdom. That’s more important than any circle on any stage, as wonderful as that earthly stage might be. For one day those who know Jesus Christ as Lord will stand before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords on the biggest, most grand stage known to the universe…the stage in the very presence of the throne of the living God. And those beautiful dressing rooms in the Opry…well, as beautiful as they are, they can’t hold a candle and are literally nothing like the room that Jesus has prepared for His followers in His Father’s house (John 14:1-3). The Grand Ole Opry… Yes, it’s an amazing place and I’ll forever be indebted to the Wolaver and Dupre families for giving us the opportunity to see it and for my children to play there. But to consider the fact that one day I’ll walk into the Kingdom of God. Oh my!! That’s beyond anything that I could ever imagine. Last week at the Opry as the kids sang and played for the glory of Jesus Christ…wow…that might be as close as I might experience to the sheer joy and delight in this life. And that’s the ultimate takeaway for me from Nashville last week.

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Inspiration

It has been said, “Nothing great is accomplished without inspiration.” I believe that is 100% true. Think of the tough things you’ve done in life. I would bet that most often you were in some way “inspired” to do that work/thing/experience. Inspiration is an amazing thing. Young boys get inspired by watching a man repair a car and he decides to be a mechanic. A young girl sees her grandmother whip up a delicious meal and she says, “I want to learn to cook,” and nothing can hold her back from that point on! Inspiration!

As the week continues to move along here in Nashville at Lipscomb University at the Annie Moses Band Fine Arts Summer Academy (FASA), I see “inspired” students all around me.

Practice

practice 2

This is Bill Wolaver… He’s the composer of all the beautiful music at FASA! He’s a genius!

Choir

Katy, Coleman Parrish and Maddie Dowell are in the choir and Kaity Dowell is a dancer and is in the choir.

Practice 3     

Friends are made forever here at the camp… Each year is like a reunion of friends/family…

Kandace plays violin and is singing “Down to the River to Pray.” Here’s a pic of that practice session…

Here’s her song, “Down To The River To Pray”…

I know I’m biased, but it’s beautiful. The words and the way that she sings it with the back-up of Gretchen Wolaver singing and on mandolin and Jessica Hall (vocals) and Ellen Story (on fiddle) playing is amazing. There will also be a hammer dulcimer tomorrow night at the Opry playing along as well.

And this is ultimately what they’ll end up doing tomorrow night…

It’s called “Rhapsody in Bluegrass” at the Grand Ole Opry

There is a pre-show and Maddie Dowell and Madison Elmore are in it. Maddie plays the guitar and Madison plays the violin and clogs.

It’s a tough two weeks for the students. They are pushed beyond what they think they can do. They are up early and get in the bed late. It’s literally from 7:30 am to 10:30 pm. Yet, I ask my daughters and they say, “Dad, it’s hard, but we love it!” I’ve been told “This is better than Disney!” I’ve been told, “This is better than Christmas!” Really? 15 hour days of grueling practices and 30-45 minutes to eat meals and demanding teachers shouting orders and instructions. Yep! It’s worth it!

Here’s a quote from Kandace:

“FASA is tons of hard work, exhausting, and chaotic at times, but I wouldn’t trade a minute of it. It’s a honestly a little piece of heaven…”

You see, inspiration comes when they get pushed beyond what they THINK they can do. They come from back home where they are the best at what they do. Not here! They are pushed beyond belief and it makes them better. Usually there is a meltdown somewhere along the way. The 20th mile of a marathon. It’s called the WALL and they hit it hard. “Dad, I can’t do this! I’m too tired! They are asking too much! My brain can take in any more.” But, they push through it and BANG! It happens! Inspiration! And then the smiles… Tears in their eyes from euphoria! There it is: INSPIRATION! It’s happened again!

Take a listen to some of this evening’s practice session…

Inspiration! Oh the inspiration! It pushes people to their max when they are inspired… And they’ll willfully give beyond what they think they can do to accomplish something bigger than themselves. Today we seldom push children except in academics and sports. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, we seldom push our kids in the arts or even more importantly in the “spiritual realm.” What do we want our kids to accomplish? What’s going to matter when “nothing else matters” and they’re on their deathbed? Morbid thought? Not really. It’s the truth. In fact, our kid’s might die before we do. Tragically, if that happened, what will they be known for? How will they be remembered? What will their lives have been about? Something to ponder. I think of my own children. How will they be known?

Let’s consider that, shall we? You know Proverbs 22:6? I know you do…

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he’s old he’ll not depart from it.

I’m told all the time, “Yes, Kevin…if we train them right when they’re little, they might stray in their teen years and sow their wild oats for a while, but when they’re older, they’ll come back. Proverbs 22:6 is that guarantee!”

WRONG!

That’s not a guarantee. In fact those well-meaning folks have misquoted the Scripture and the principle (not promise) that’s made therein. That verse simply says that if we train a child in the way that God has molded or bent them, then even when they are old, they’ll not depart from the training. You see, God has molded and “bent” our children like a paper clip. If you try to take the bend out of a paperclip, you’ll never totally get those bends out of that clip.

File:Wanzijia.jpg

Our children are bent by God. They have gifts abilities and talents that we might not initially see. Do you know how your child is gifted? Often the only way to find out is to let them try different things and see. Can I encourage you to consider the arts? I mentioned this in the last blog post, but I simply mention it again because if you’re like me (a mid 40-year-old person) you’ve never considered anything but sports for your kids. That was me! I remember my mom asking me one time, “Son, would you like to take piano?” I said, “No way! Are you crazy mom?” Not very respectful, I know, but that’s how I felt. I thought only sissies (boys) played the piano. Boy, was I wrong! I’m blown away by what I’m seeing at this camp. Oh that I would have taken my mom up on her offer! I could still be playing. Oh well…time moves on. So, that’s why I’m giving my kids a shot at musical instruments. I want to see what kind of paperclip I’ve got.

Andrew is next. We’ve not been able to zero in on what that boy might be good at (regarding an instrument) yet. If you could play a LEGO as an instrument, we’d have it! 🙂 I’m literally praying this through in my mind right now. But, I will tell you, as Andrew has watched the practices and performances his been drawn to this:

He seems to possibly have a spark of inspiration in his eyes. You know it when it comes because it’s that jaw-dropping, wide-eyed look and I think I’ve been seeing that some.

Ok…so a quick inventory…

Katy: sing, piano, guitar, viola, drama

Kandace: sing, violin, mandolin, ukulele

Clara: sing, violin, piano, ballet

Andrew: sing, possibly xylophone and Karate

Yes, we’re still working on it…perfecting…looking for the bends and watching for inspiration…

So, Look for those bends parents…pray…seek the Lord…help them to know and discover that which God has for your child(ren).

Speaking of Clara and Andrew. I took them to the Nashville Sound triple-A, minor league game.

Dad, Clara and Andrew

I love the guitar scoreboard. That’s a full moon just to the top-left of the guitar.

Nashville Bball game

It was a great night for baseball and fun with the kiddos! It was their first professional baseball game! And I know now why we don’t go much. Get this. Two SMALL Cokes and one bag of M&M’s was $10.50! YIKES!

Josh is now in Yuma, Arizona where he’ll be for the next month. So, Katy is going to hang out with us. Here she is with Andrew…

She’s missing her honey and he’s missing her…

And we’re praying for him while he’s away…

But, it’s nice having to set six plates at the table again. Can I be honest. I’d love for Josh to get out in two years. In fact he’s got exactly two year left (tomorrow is his two-year anniversary going in to the Marines). I’d love for him to get out and come back to Wilkes, but that’s a Dad’s desire for all his family to be together and that might not be God’s will. We’ll see.

But, this is a fun scene for old Dad!

Oh…I’ve been invited to go speak in Texas as well. I’ve been telling folks that I have a 500+ flock in Wilkesboro and my first responsibility is to help shepherd that flock. With just two elders/pastors right now, this just isn’t possible. I’m flattered and I know that folks are hungry for the Word on relationships, dating, rite of passage, etc. But, that will have to wait until another season of life. For now, my blogs and sermons (online) at www.mpbc.ws/media will have to do. But, I’m honored to be asked.

And do you know what that did for me? Yes sir-ee Bob… It inspired me to continue to preach, teach, write, blog, encourage, mentor, train and live for the Savior!

Ah! That’s what inspiration will do for ya!

I’ll leave you with something that might scar you for life. All I can say is something happened to my LIPS at LIPScomb.

That’s 88 cents worth of yeast bread from the local market. I told you it would scar you for life. 🙂

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Pennywhistle Park

Each year I have the privilege of experiencing something that’s absolutely from an almost heavenly place. I get to partake in something that’s beyond this world. Music. Fantastic. Majestic. Tantalizing. Mesmerizing. Soothing. Healing. Comforting. Music and song has a way of doing that to the soul. And I experience that at the Fine Arts Music Camp my kids participate in at Lipscomb University via the Annie Moses Band.

Let me give you a taste of the first week. It’s filled with practices for the Lower Division (younger children 4-10 years of age), followed by their Saturday evening final performance. Listening to the kids practicing is wonderful. Here’s Clara and Olivia Eller along with a dear friend, Cami, they see each year from Oklahoma. It’s like a reunion.

One of the things I love about the camp is that there are young adult mentors helping the children. The older are teaching the younger (Titus 2).

More practice…

Here’s Clara practicing one of her songs…

And they work hard. Here they are lined up on stage at the Collins Auditorium on campus at Lipscomb University.

Let me give you a taste of this practice session…

Let me give you a taste of the practice session. Click here, then click the triangle at the left/bottom of screen.

Awesome, huh?

Then they work on the play. Talk about tremendous choreography. It’s amazing to watch this unfold. It looks like organized chaos! 🙂

See that lady in the middle? That’s Robin Wolaver. She wrote the play and she and her husband, Bill wrote and arranged all the music for this phenomenal performance.

It’s called Pennywhistle Park.

Pennywhistle Park

It’s the story of a young girl who’s in a family of three sisters who ends up giving her life to Christ. It’s a very moving play. It tugs at the heart in a powerful way. Want to know who played the lead role of the young girl who gave her life to Christ?

It’s this talented actress in the middle…

That’s Sarah Kathryn Dowell. Man can that girl act! She’s amazing! The mother (combing her hair) is Gretchen Wolaver (the daughter of Bill and Robin Wolaver). Sarah is multi-talented. She also played the guitar and sang…

And then there are all the other folks from our church…

Here’s Clara. She’s singing “Whiter Than Snow.” It’s during that song that the young girl, (Sarah Kathryn’s role), Molly receives Christ in Pennywhistle Park.

And then there is the godly dancing. No filthy looking costumes or immodest attire. No sir. It’s godly in all aspects. There’s Clara dancing again…

And oh…the music…it’s awe-inspiring! Here’s Olivia Eller absolutely tearing it up on the fiddle.

Clara’s in full concentration…

And then the song is complete with a flourish of the bow!

And oh did the laugh and celebrate! Woohoo!

All actors

To say that I was moved is an understatement. It’s almost impossible to describe. I’ll just say this. I’m a sports nut. I have been all my life. I still am. I love basketball and the TarHeels. Anyone who knows me realizes that. (Good or bad :)) But, I must tell you something. All that basketball playing does nothing for now. No one cares that I was a good basketball player in my day. I don’t either to be honest. Now I tell you this not to run down basketball or any other sport. But, I look at what I see these kids doing and how they can use instruments for the glory of the Lord and I think, “Man I wish I could play something!”

I think of these words of Isaiah:

19 The living, the living, he thanks you, as I do this day; the father makes known to the children your faithfulness. 20 The Lord will save me, and we will play my music on stringed instruments all the days of our lives, at the house of the Lord. Isaiah 38:19-20

The words of Psalm 81 ring in my ear:

1 Sing aloud to God our strength;
shout for joy to the God of Jacob!
Raise a song; sound the tambourine,
the sweet lyre with the harp.

And so, we have encouraged our children to play music and learn to play an instrument. They’ll do that all their lives as Isaiah said. Sports? They’ll die after high school for the most part. From then on all a person can do is talk about the “glory days.” We’ll always look backward to what “was.” That’s what I do. I look back to high school and even my college playing days. Again…there’s nothing wrong with sports. I love sports! But, I really believe there is something profoundly majestic and soul-stirring that we gain through the arts (music, instruments, etc.).

Young families…it’s something to be pondered. Yes, stick them in soccer and let them give it a whirl. But, I’d encourage to put an instrument in their hand and let them give it a whirl too! When they’re 80, they’ll still be playing the piano or guitar or violin. Shooting hoops or playing football? I doubt it! 🙂

By the way, thanks for praying for me today. I shared the gospel about what the Bible says about marriage and relationships. It was well received. I had an invitation to go to New Jersey to share the message there. I told the lady (and her husband) that my first responsibility is to the flock I help shepherd at Mt. Pleasant Baptist, but if the Lord opened the door, I’d pray about it.

Folks, people are hungry for the gospel. They want to know what the Bible says about a myriad of things. In the case of today, I taught what the Bible has to say about dating. Want to know in one word what the Bible teaches about dating? Here goes… Ready?

NOTHING!

The Bible teaches absolutely nothing about dating. The Bible teaches about parental involvement and God’s divine design for each young man or woman. Want to know more? Send me an email and I’ll email you the notes. It’s totally counter-cultural, so don’t say I didn’t warn you! 🙂 (kevin@mpbc.ws).

Want to know where we’re staying?

It’s 238 square feet.

236 sq ft

That’s dorm living and it’s how the majority of the world lives. I think of our time in China when we adopted Clara and I was blown away at the tiny little apartments the Chinese make their lives in each and every day. But, I’ll tell you something. It’s simple living. Not much to clean or mess up. You can sweep in 3 minutes!

Andrew likes his play spot…

Andrew's play area

Oh, by the way…

Promise made good…

lego

We did the Lego run to the Lego Store on Friday and then we had lunch!

Andrew eating lunch

That was one happy boy!

Well, I’ll update you more during the week to come. The upper division will be playing at the Grand Ole Opry on Thursday night. And I told you wrong. Kaity and Maddie Dowell and Madison Elmore are in the upper division and not the lower division as I previously said. My lovely wife straightened me out. Practices started this afternoon after lunch. It’s going to be…well…I don’t know if I can describe it…but, I’ll try to come up with some adjectives throughout the week. 🙂

I’ll close with this most poignant statement I saw about the now dead “GLEE” star…

SavedI saw this on a Kroger Food Store magazine rack and it nailed me. “He could have been saved…” How true those are those words. Who will we tell about Jesus so that “could have been” can never be used?

Yet, I saw these words in the Charlotte-Douglas Airport.

Our world

Oh my!

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Becky Lynn Black Update

Many of you know how much Becky Lynn Black (a.k.a “Mama B”) means to me and so many at our church and literally throughout the world. Well, I preached a message this past Sunday entitled, “Examination By The King.” The primary “life application” I used? Becky Black. You can watch the message here. Many told me that it was a powerful message.

I wanted to give you an update on Becky. I do so sitting in a dorm room at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN. It took all day to get here. Katy and I hopped a plane in Charlotte (thanks for driving us down Mom and Pop) and were to fly to Atlanta on Delta Airlines. It never happened. Mechanical problems. After the disaster in San Francisco with the plane crash a few days ago…well…it was FINE WITH ME! So, we waited until 6:15 for a flight on United Airlines to leave. We’d have a straight shot to Nashville. Once again…more delays. Thunderstorms!! Finally at almost 7 pm we got off the ground.

After greeting the family, I wanted to find out if Becky had heard back from the PET scan done on Monday. Is the cancer still growing? Here’s the answer from Dr. Black’s Blog.

Wednesday, July 17

6:10 PM Good evening, blog readers. Can you believe it’s been almost 4 years since Becky’s cancer diagnosis? We’ve got much to be thankful for. God has allowed her to live a lot longer than anybody was willing to predict when we began this blessed journey. So what’s the latest news? As you know, we had her PET scan on Monday. Today we received the results and it’s clear: Becky’s tumors have dramatically increased both in size and number. What to do now? Attitude is everything. Since ultimate victory over death is certain, we will continue to live hopefully and accept the brokenness of ill health, working with both patience and enthusiasm for the Lord with every breath He grants us. Today her pain was excruciating. So today I’m praying for lots of things: relief, stamina, wisdom, patience as we deal with the health care system, healing, vulnerability. Yes, I want to be vulnerable as I go through this process of losing one’s spouse, and I’m open to any suggestions you might have along the way. One thing I can affirm is God’s presence in the valley of the shadow of death. The mystery of evil is way beyond the ability of my puny mind to comprehend. But God’s Word tells us that He’s always loving and kind and persistent to bless His children even when they doubt and falter. That alone is a great blessing.

Tonight, by the way, Karen has gone to her church in Raleigh and Nigusse is still on campus, which means that Becky and I will have a hot date alone here at the farm. Of course, a big draw is the manicotti Karen prepared for our supper. The best thing, though, is just being in each other’s presence, puttering around the house and trying to live as “normally” as possible. As God’s children we will look to Him in the terror of the night, in the loneliness of pain, in the reality of our finitude and humanity. Becky will continue to pour her life into our daughters. She will dictate letters that Karen and I will transcribe. As her strength permits, she will entertain visitors. (There are so many who just want to love and love and love on her.) This evening, as usual, Becky and I will have our prayer time together, entering into a battle on behalf of friends and loved ones whose problems and challenges are no less serious than our own. We will fight for their souls. We will pray for salvation, healing, restoration, courage and peace, and that their Christian testimonies would be strong in the whole situation.

Have you noticed? There is unparalleled delight in the presence of the Lord. Being under His wings is a wonderful place.

And here’s an update from tonight’s blog entry by Dave…

Thursday, July 18

8:58 PM

So I don’t know what the outcome will be for Becky. I am still praying for a miracle, yet I am still pursuing hospice care. We still have to pick out a burial plot. My mind boggles when I see all the new places from neck to hip where Becky’s stubborn cancer cells have migrated and exploded. And I sit here at my computer, wondering when God will call her home, because unless He intervenes miraculously it’s just a matter of time. In the wake of suffering and uncertainty, I somehow am comforted by the knowledge that Jesus is watching from a foreign Shore, looking down at all of Becky’s friends who look past her scars and the cancer to the real Becky. Each of us — Becky, me, you — is called upon to do the work He’s set out for us daily. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but today. All we have to do is stop fretting and start thanking Him for His perfect plan.

Please continue to pray for Becky. We all love her dearly!

I will be speaking here at Lipscomb on Sunday morning.

lipscomb

The title of the message? “What the Bible Say About: Dating, Relationships and Marriage.” It’ll be a humdinger because almost ZERO of our current “relationship-making” practices are Scriptural. There are tons of young adults and kids here at the Annie Moses Band Fine Arts Academy. They need to hear this message. What will I offer? I’ll offer them what the Bible says about God’s design for marriage (not the culture). I’ll offer them filet mignon versus bologna. Bologna is fine if you are hungry, but I’ll take filet mignon any day. God’s ways are filet mignon, while man’s ways are bologna (if that).

I’ll keep you posted. By the way, one week from tonight Kandace will be performing on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry.

That’s Kandace on the left side of the poster. I’m proud of that girl! Coleman Parrish, who is a member of our church will also participate in the Final Gala at the Opry. Katy is helping with the Drama Track for the Academy.

Clara will be performing on stage at Lipscomb University later this week along with other folks from our church: Kaity Dowell, Maddie Dowell, Sarah Kathryn Dowell, Madison Elmore and Olivia Eller.

Well, time for bed. I’m bushed!

Blessings to you all!

 

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See this…

postLook closely at the bottom of the post. It’s brand spanking new. That’s my repaired front porch post. It was totally rotten until the man in this picture fixed it.

Mom and DadThat’s my mom and dad of course. The man, David Brown, is truly an amazing man and he reminds me of my heavenly father. How so? Let me explain.

The bottom of that post was totally rotten and it was literally just a matter of time before the handrail would have become detached and unsafe. Over time, that post, (being on the north side of the house), had been beaten and pummeled by the weather; particular during the winter, because that side of the house seldom dries out. Thus, rot had set in and the post was compromised.

Now what does this have to do with the heavenly father? Simple. It shows that the father cares and notices the smallest details in our lives (you remember He knows the number of hairs on our head). Fathers see those things that sons (and daughters) miss. That’s so comforting for me. In fact, I can’t express to you the blessing it has to have fathers who love me like my Dad and my heavenly Dad. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not trying to be cute calling God my Heavenly Dad. I’m just saying what just said. “Abba.” Abba means “Daddy” in Aramaic. I can run to Him at any time. I can call on His name at any moment. He is always there. He’ll never leave me.

Dad…

Just to say that word is a comfort. In fact, I often call him “Pop.” He’s a do-it-all man. He can fix anything and I mean that. He is a contractor (licensed at that), and a plumber, electrician, mower repairman and carpenter extraordinaire! Let me show you a few of the things he’s built at my house.

#1 Playhouse for the kids.

playhouse

#2 My office at home over the garage (formerly Katy’s room)…

Office at homeThis was a monumental job. It required cutting out the scissor trusses and building hip walls so that we could get in a room above the two-car garage. This was brilliant workmanship.

#3 Homeschool Room

homeschool room Pardon the mess…kids use it as a play station while we’re out of school for the summer. 🙂

#4 Down stair’s bedroom and bathroom…

Bedroom bathroom

Yep, you name it! Pop can do it. He’s so gifted. But, better than that…

Last night we had supper at mom and dad’s. Dad led us in prayer. A powerful prayer. Was it overtly eloquent and verbose? No. It was heartfelt and sincere. He prayed for our family. He prayed for Becky Lynn Black. He prayed for the church. He prayed for sick members in the church and he prayed for us. The lump I had in my throat wasn’t from my mom’s scrumptious chicken ‘n dumplings…it was from hearing the genuineness of a father and grandfather who loves the Lord and his family and cares enough to build rooms in a house and do this…

post

Yes. My earthly father shows the character of the heavenly Father. And I sure do love my Pop!

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The time the Lord has blessed me with him is such an honor. I mean that. Many don’t have a father like I do. Many who are my age do not have fathers who are still alive. My dad last his father when he was only 37 years old. I’ve had my Pop eight years longer. Thank you Lord!

Want to see how my garden is growing? I planted it late so it would be “coming in” when I get back from Nashville on the 28th.

Garden 2013

See that corn growing? Well, let me tell ya…I’m hoping and praying that this little contraption will take care of the raccoons and they won’t tear it all down…

radio in bucketIt’s playing the only radio station I can pick up with the antenna down to only 4″ tall. The station? 88.1 WPAR. Southern Gospel! I’m praying the Cathedrals and the Hoppers will keep those raccoons away! And I’m going to have some grapes this year. Last year we got to eat about 35 grapes. This year I got a net and I think this might do the trick…

GrapesSee that net? I’m hoping this will keep our “Wild Kingdom” around here out of our grapes. I’ll keep you posted.

And finally, Clara and Andrew planted sunflowers around the house. They are rooting that this one will grow to the size of the roof.

SunflowerIt’s got a chance!!

Well…I’ll sign-off now. Until next time… Blessings to you all!

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Intimidation and Love

When I was a high school freshman, I was intimidated by a 6′ 7″ junior. He was a football player, who would ultimately land a full ride to Carolina (UNC). He would never play there. He died in an automobile accident before he’d ever graduate. So sad.

Back to my freshman year. This guy was huge! He weighed close to 300 pounds and was mammoth. He had Study Hall in my Algebra I class. The class was right before lunch. The bell would ring and we’d race off to the lunch room. But, this guy would be waiting on me outside the door. I was tall, too. 6′ 2″ as a freshman, but no match for him. He had a class ring and it was huge (to fit on his massive ring finger). He would turn that thing over where the head of the ring was pointed down toward the palm of his hand and then he’d take that behemoth arm and come down on top of my head with that ring. It would leave a swelling knot on my head every day. This guy totally ruled me. Do you know why? INTIMIDATION!

What in the world was I going to do?

Fast forward to today. In America today there is a 6′ 7″, 300+ pound behemoth coming down on the Christian church and it’s intimidating the Church. It’s called “political correctness.” Christians are becoming more and more afraid to speak the truth. The PC police will come after you! Don’t talk about abortion as murder. Don’t say that homosexuality is a sin or two unmarried people who are living together is wrong. No sir! That’s not politically correct to say. Don’t say that Jesus is the only way to heaven and Islam is wrong. That’ll get you labeled “closed-minded” and a “hate-mongering bigot.”

Did you hear about the California preacher who took his family to see the Wimbledon tennis tournament in London and was arrested for saying, “Homosexuality is wrong and is a sin.” This video is amazing.

Now I’ll say this… I believe the best way to engage someone in a conversation is one on one. I never see Paul on any of his missionary journeys standing on the curb hollering the gospel. This man wasn’t hollering. He was very respectful, but he was still arrested. The British police said that he was being “offensive.” Oh my! I guess in London calling homosexuality wrong and a sin is “offensive” and it’ll get you in jail. Should we be surprised. In the last days men will have itching ears to hear only what he wants to hear. Jesus said that we would be persecuted as He was persecuted.

I’ve been saying for some time now from the pulpit that I’ll probably end up in jail in about 20 years. I believe I need to rephrase that. I now believe it will be sooner than that. It might be in the next 5-7 years. The country has changed dramatically.

George Barna’s recent research on this reveal as such…

We are told that homosexuals are born that way. And now it’s going to be pushed in our schools.

More pro-LGBT curriculum – coming to a school near you

Bob Kellogg     (OneNewsNow.com)          Thursday, July 11, 2013
A Christian teacher is warning parents about some pro-LGBT curriculum that may soon make its way into their child’s public school classroom, compliments of the NEA.
At their just-ended convention, the National Education Association adopted a business item that encourages members to incorporate into the classroom lessons promoting the homosexual lifestyle.Nat'l Education Assn. (NEA)The business item states that the NEA encourages “all educators [to] integrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) history, people and issues into their instructional programs.” The primary curriculum, Unheard Voices, is produced by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and offers what it calls “thematic” lessons on such topics as gender identity, “anti-LGBT slurs,” and “winning the right to marry.”NEA delegate Sue Halvorson of Minnesota, a Christian, tells OneNewsNow that she is very concerned.“I’m a teacher in a middle school, sixth- through eighth-grade, and I just feel like this is devastating for our children because they already do question and wonder what’s going on,” she shares. “And when these things are presented in the schools, nothing negative is presented with it.” Read the full article here.

Yet with all this said, recent studies on identical twins show this is not the case. But, that doesn’t matter. If you say homosexuality is not God’s design and it’s not of Him…well…in a day in the not to distant future you better be ready to stick out both hands with arms straight and wrists touching as you are cuffed and stuffed in the local jail.

But, here’s the question of the day. Do you know someone who proclaims to be gay? If you do, what are you going to do about it? Carry a sign up to his front door that says, “Repent!” Can I say to you that is not the Christian approach. We are to given a reason for our hope with gentleness and respect and that action (just described) would not qualify as such in my humble opinion.

I love what this guy has to say about “The way a discussion should go with a homosexual.”  See what you think? I agree with 95% of what the guy says. It’s love folks… We’ve got to love! Stand for truth? Yes! But, we’ve got to do it with outstretched arms not armed with placards and signs in protest. Jesus and Paul never called for Christians to protest Rome or slavery or homosexuality. They both said to love.

Back to my freshman year.

So, I’d had it! Finally, one day I got up the nerve when I walked out of Algebra on the way to lunch to stop in front of this intimidating bully and leaned my head over and I raised up just quick enough to say, “Go ahead.” I offered up my head to him. I said, “Go ahead. I’m not going to try to run from you. Go ahead! I’m waiting.” I didn’t budge, but I was braced. Head bent over…holding my breath… Waiting for the crash of that sledge-hammer of an arm with that ring-studded hand to collide with my head.

It never happened. I finally looked up and he was standing there with his mouth wide open and he said, “I’m not going to hit you today.” I quietly said, “Thank you.” And then I did something I hadn’t planned to do. I touched his shoulder with my hand and I said, “You doin’ okay?” He hesitated and said, “Ya…ya…yes…I guess.” I said, “Are you sure?” He said, “Not really?” I said, “Want to have lunch together and talk.” He said, “Yeah.” He was struggling at home mightily and the pressure of being a big-time athlete was weighing heavy on him. He was a “follower” and not a leader even though he was this mammoth guy.

From that day forward he never hit me again. In fact, he sought me out at other times at school and at ball games and said, “Hey…what’s up Kev!” What happened?

Kindness…

Humility…

Love…

Sound strange? It shouldn’t. That’s the Christian model of walking the second mile and turning the other cheek. Love wins. Love wins! LOVE WINS!

So, let’s not be intimidated and let’s not worry about carrying signs. Let’s love and the next thing you know… They’ll be open to listening.

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You know as a child you have those lazy, hazy days of summer that seem to never end. Yet, you look back on them and long for them again… Well, I’m 45 years old…but, I’ll not soon forget this day. It was indeed an unforgettable day. Dale Jennings and I drove to see this lovely lady…

Becky LynnThat’s Becky Lynn Black. To Dale and me, and many others, she’s better known as “Mama B.” Becky has stage 4 cancer. Her lungs are filling up with fluid and she’s draining 500 cc’s daily just to breathe. Oxygen is her friend. But, would you just look at that smile!

Dale and I spent a wonderful hour with her today. An hour we’ll never forget. Yes…just an hour. We didn’t want to wear her out. She’s so gracious. A few days ago, her husband, Dave indicated on his blog that all those who wanted to see Becky needed to begin to make their way to do so. I emailed Dale and thus, we made our plans to head to Nelson, Virginia. It’s a three-hour drive from Wilkesboro, but well-worth the drive to hear Becky’s laugh and see that smile.

But, I must tell you there were things I learned in the hour I spent with Becky that I’ll tell and retell in sermons, blogs, devotions and even in stories I’ll tell my children and grandchildren from this day forward. Let me tell you a few things…

No Complaining

We asked Becky how she was doing. She never complained. Yet, earlier in the day she’d had spasms in her right lung that were frightening for her. She was able to get medicine and short-circuit the pain. But, there are bouts of coughing that can last for a long while. But, this never happened while we visited. No spasms. No pain. The Lord blessed and she never complained.

Our Bodies Weren’t Made to Die

Becky, with that cute little laugh and giggle of hers told us how our bodies were never made to die. She said, “God never intended for Adam and Eve to die, so the body doesn’t know how to die…it only knows how to live.” I’ve never thought of that in this way, but she’s right! She said, “You know the body starts to die and then it fights off death and recovers, but never all the way.” She continued, “Then it starts to die a little more and then it fights to recover and this continues until finally the body can’t recover and it dies.”

Amazing insight! And she’s 1oo% correct. The body was made to live forever. Adam and Eve were made to live…not die. Sin short-circuited the plan and so the body decays and eventually dies.

No Squash

She said, “Kevin, so many Christians waste their time. They seek after the trivial and just waste time. They aren’t living for the kingdom. They live for themselves and their pleasure.” She said, “I want to finish strong and not waste time.” She laughed and said, “So, I don’t want to talk about the weather or sports or how your squash is doing in your garden. I want to talk about spiritual things that really matter.” And that’s exactly what we did. We talked about the kingdom and the work being done in Ethiopia and upcoming work to be accomplished in India.

She said, “Everyone I talk to I ask them about those things that are spiritual. I ask them if they are wasting time and how they’re spending their time.” She implored us, “Don’t waste time. Live for the kingdom.” She is a lady after my own heart and I agreed with her and told her that I feel the same way. So many people are constantly looking for the next “fun thing” and we love to be entertained. We’re here for God’s glory…not ours. Mama B reminded me of this again today. Am I saying that we can’t have fun? Of course not. In fact, we did laugh as we reminisced about old times in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia

Hands

Ethiopia Celebrating

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Ladies in Ethiopia

Teaching

Team

And there she is in 2010…middle/front…in the beautiful dress (she made herself)…

2010 Ethiopia Team

So, there is a time and place for everything and I must tell you we laughed and celebrated, but I can tell you that we never talked about squash. 🙂

Finish the Work

“Becky,” I asked, “How can we pray for you?” She said, “I just want to be able to finish the work. I’m going to miss the work. Yes, I’m going to miss Dave and my family…but, I just want to be able to finish the work.” That struck me. Finish the work… She wants to minister and that’s exactly what she did. She ministered to me and Dale, even though we had come to minister and encourage her. Amazing! She’s on oxygen…sweating…waiting for the next spasms to hit…but, she’s not worried about any of that. Nope…she’s just concerned and concentrated on finishing the work. Am I? Are you?

I want to be. But, honestly I’m most often concerned about me.

A Loving Husband

See this man…

Dave Black

That’s Dave Black and he sure does love his wife. He hopped off his Massey-Ferguson and hugged our necks. Dave, (Dr. Black as I call him), is a spiritual mentor in my life via his blog and writings. Thank you Dave for touching my life!

I sure do love this couple…

Dave and Becky Lynn Black…and I will never forget this day or that hour from 12:50 to 1:50 pm at Bradford Hall in Nelson, Va.

I close today with Becky’s own words that she wrote just two days ago. It’s a fantastic treatise of her life. The last paragraph is remarkable.

                                Running to Home Base (Heading Home)

Becky Lynn Black

For almost five years you have journeyed with me. Since my diagnosis we have had many turns and unexpected events. But God has worked out His perfect plan as He always does.

Last fall after suffering a stroke, emergency surgery for bowl perforation, and a blood clot we, set aside chemotherapy and tried an alternative treatment. Our hope has never been in any kind of treatment, and our goal has never been to be healed of cancer. Although people sometimes say that we are struggling with cancer, let me set the record straight. I have never fought this cancer. My goal has always been to display Christ to know His calling in the midst of dealing with cancer. We have dealt with cancer as stewards for the Lord Jesus. My body and everything I own belongs to Him as my creator and my redeemer. That fact has colored all of our decisions.

It is now apparent that the alternative treatment is not working against the cancer, and in the last two and half months we have seen a rapid decline in my body. We have a strong sense that I have rounded third base and am headed for home base. So what does this mean to me? Let me share with you four things. First, I have set my heart to praise Him because He is worthy of praise. He is not worthy of praise because I am in good circumstances or bad circumstances. He is not worthy of praise because I feel good or I don’t feel good. He is worthy of praise because of who He is. He is the Lord, High and lifted up. He is the creator and the sustainer of life. He is the redeemer who has made a way for us to God. Because of who He is, He is worthy of praise at all times and in all circumstances, and I have set my heart to praise Him, to worship Him, to honor Him no matter how difficult things may get for my body.

Second, I have asked the Lord to set a watch before my mouth and around my attitude so that I do not complain. I do not complain about when He is taking me or how He is taking me. He is God and He always does what is right and good and according to His perfect wisdom. Who am I to think that I have the right to complain before Him? So no matter how He ordains the days and weeks ahead, I have set my heart not to complain.

Third, like the professional baseball player, I have my eye on home base. I long to be with my Lord Jesus. I long to see Him, and when I come into His presence I will fall at His feet and hold His ankles and kiss His feet over and over and over again. And through tears of joy I will say to Him, “Thank you, thank you, thank you for pouring mercy on me!” The Lord Jesus Himself is on home base waiting for me, and I can’t wait to see Him. And to be with Him for all eternity, never again having to live by faith but instead having the reality of His person right beside me.

Fourth, I am not going to get to home base by just looking at it. I can’t just sit down and wait. Any baseball player runs with all his might to reach that home base. The race is not done. God still has work for me to do. God still has challenges for me to conquer by faith. God still has ministry for me, even as my body is failing. And I want to be faithful all the way to the end. And that means taking every advantage to influence others for Christ. That means pushing through the fatigue, pushing through the pain, pushing through the discomfort to pray, to communicate, to obey the Spirit.

And now my dear friend, I want to say a special word to you. I want to tell you as clearly as I can that there is nothing, nothing, nothing in this life that is worth the cost, and worth the sacrifice, except the Lord Jesus. Everything in life will fail: marriage, children, career, money, prestige, possessions, relationships, all things will turn to vanity. All things will fail you. Only Jesus will never fail. Only Jesus will stand by you in thick and thin, in peace and in turmoil, in feast and in famine, in illness and in health. Only Jesus will never fail. So I want to say to you, my dear friend, give your life to Him, dare to obey Him, dare to live in the reality of who He is, dare to believe that He is who he says He is and that He does what He says. If you will do, this listening to the Holy Spirit as He makes the Scriptures alive in you, then you will have your feet upon the Rock, you will have your shelter in the storm, you will have your reward that does not fade, and you will know the joy of the Savior.

Rejoicing in my Lord Jesus,

Becky

July 7, 2013

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