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Archive for June, 2014

If Your Church Ceased to Exist

It’s been asked:

If your church ceased to exist, would your community and the world miss it?

Well, I am convinced Mt. Pleasant would be missed. I don’t say that to be smug or in a form of braggadocio. I really believe that our church would be missed. I think I can make a case for this contention. I believe if you were to ask the good folks in the Progreso, Mexico and Weslaco, TX area last week, they would say that they appreciated us as much as we appreciated them. Check out the tile work in the church in Progreso, Mexico at El Laurel Baptist Church.

tileDoesn’t it look great?

Ask the pastor of the church, Pastor Oscar Martinez…

Oscar and Me

He’s a great guy! He loves the Lord. He told me, “Our church can never say thank you enough to Mount Pleasant. We have no building, no home, no property without you.” We have been going down to Progreso and partnering with our brothers and sisters there since 2009. We are like the Apostle Paul. We continue to go back just like he did on his missionary journeys. He would visit many of the same churches over and over again to encourage the people in Lystra, Derbe, Iconium, Antioch (of Asia Minor), etc. Why? Because he loved the people. That’s why we are not “once and done” with our mission efforts. We establish the connections with the church and help and support them and allow the local pastors/elders to do the work. We support them in their efforts. We love Oscar and Miriam (his wife) so much!

Oscar and Miriam

Here’s part of the wall we worked on last week around the perimeter of the property…

wall

Wall 2

Sand

Let me tell you…we got nasty mixing the cement, water and gravel…just ask Caison Jones…

CaisonI think Caison threw that t-shirt away.

Jason

Take a look at the body of Christ…

El Laurel

That’s Mexicans and Americans…one body in Christ. Yes, I believe if you ask the good folks in Mexico if they love us and if they would miss MPBC if we ceased to exist, I believe they would say, “Yes!”

I believe if you were to ask the children in Weslaco, TX if we love them that they would say, “Yes…”

Weslaco

Kasay

We prayed for the people there to come to Christ. One night the men got our faces and prayed for God to speak to hearts and save lives.

praying

And we saw souls for the harvest. This is Enrique…

enrique1

I have the privilege of talking to him about Jesus. Buddy…let me tell ya…he was ready! He wanted Jesus so badly in his heart.

enrique2

He was so sweet. He told me he didn’t really know how to pray and so I helped him. But, I wanted him to pray to receive Christ on his own and so I told him he would need to “confess with his mouth” the Lord Jesus. He said, “Out loud?” I said, “Yes.” He said okay and he prayed three sentences and said, “Jesus make me saved.” Precious. Look at his face…+

enrique3

We took a selfie together. He was so excited to be a Christian. I’ll never forget Enrique. He was at Pastor Jason’s church on Sunday in Weslaco beaming from ear to ear (said Pastor Jason).

By the way…all of this mission work is not really work…it’s flat out FUN!

turbie twist

We have the best time. It’s the closest to heaven that we’ll get on this earth. We’re living in the same house (just like one day we will in the Father’s house) and we’re eating at the same table (just like we will one day at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb). It’s wonderfully joyous!

YA

Steve and Kandace

Weslaco 2

Katy and Kandace

We fit 24 of us in one van.

Van

One of the highlights of the week was giving Daniel a walker. He can now walk and I mean…literally scoot on that tile floor in the church.

Daniel

The church will literally become his rehab center. (He can’t use the walker much on the dirt roads and the uneven floor of his home.)

And oh the relationships and memories…

Brooks ladies 

What a team!

Mission Team June 2014

Do you see this tall man in the middle? That’s my dad.

dad

Pop is 66 years old today! Happy Birthday Dad! He led a devotion at Flag Football last Saturday. That’s another way MPBC is reaching out. Close to 400 people each Saturday has been coming out. We conclude this Saturday! Pray for us as we share the Gospel. It’s yet another way to reach into the community. And while all of this is going on we’re having VBS this week.

VBS

Whew! I’m tired! But, it’s a great tired!

God is blessing us beyond measure at MPBC and I believe I know why. We are seeking to save that which is lost. That’s why Jesus came. We are seeking to edify the believers and then go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in.

If your church ceased to exist, would your community miss it? It’s a question that drives me as an Elder/Pastor. I pray to God that our community, nay…even the world would ever say, “No.”

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Last Friday I did something I’ve not done in…let’s see… I can’t remember… I actually… Well…I’m almost ashamed to admit it…

I’m looking to my right…now to my left…okay…

I took a day OFF!!!

Can you believe it! A whole day off!

Well…that’s not 100% true. I still checked emails and returned two phone calls…but, don’t tell Pam. I don’t think she noticed 🙂 (I’m pitiful aren’t I?)

You know Pam keeps telling me I’m working too hard. It’s probably true. But, it is what it is. I’m doing the best I can. With a church who runs 500+ people…well…as I said…it is what it is.

Interestingly, last week I had another pastor tell me that I was “insane!” Yep, he said, “You and just one other pastor are caring for 500+ people. You’re insane!”

He’s right! I know he’s right. But, you see, I’ve had this crazy desire to lead the church to follow the Scriptures regarding leadership of the church. Follow the Scripture and not the traditions of man. Follow the Bible and not what the business world teaches about leadership? Nuts, huh!

Crazy as it sounds, we are actually a church that wants and DESIRES to follow the Bible and what the Bible says about leadership and how we do church (church polity). I’ve been wanting to do this since I became an Elder/Pastor and I’m glad I’ve got a partner in crime that feels likewise. This man…

Brad and Michele

That’s Brad Cordray and his wife Michele.

Let me tell you something. That man is a machine! He works with his head down and doesn’t say anything about it. He just works. He is juggling the work of at least two men. I’m grateful for all that he does to look after our campus at church and all the miscellaneous things that go on with managing buildings and properties. Did I mention that he does an amazingly fantastic job with our music program. He’s training a whole new generation the wonders of music and the arts. What he and his team pull off each week is like a small cantata or production. All the coordinating and juggling of people’s schedules and practices, etc. is literally like pulling off a small miracle each week.

This is Brad’s family…

Brad's family

That’s an older picture (it’s the best I could find…I’m typing fast…). That’s Jameson on his lap and then Julianna and then Jackson (on Michele’s lap). I love those guys!

Brad told me last week, “Kevin, you have got to stop saying that we are holding on our own around here… WE’RE DROWNING!” He’s right. I know he is. I just don’t want to admit that we are large enough now that just the two of us can no longer cover all the bases any more. It’s hard to admit…yes…but, it’s true.

However, I’ve got to tell you that I’m thrilled! Why? Because of this guy…

Dale J

That’s Dale Jennings and he announced on Sunday to the church that he feels the Lord has placed the desire in his heart to help lead and shepherd our church as an Elder/Pastor. You know what I say about that:

“Woohoo!! Praise the Lord!!”

This is Dale’s family…

Dale's family

That’s Dale, Lori and their daughter Chloe. I love that family!

Now back to my story…why was I able to take off last Friday? Two reasons…

#1 Dale has been helping me in the church. He’s been helping with the “people needs.” Counseling, meeting with folks, visiting homes, hospitals and resthomes. He’s helping me with all of our mission work, administrating and coordinating our upcoming trip (a team of 39 of us are leaving Saturday for Texas and Mexico). His help has been invaluable.

Reason #2 that I was able to take a day off last Friday was the fact that my family was gone for five days prior to that. While they were gone, I literally worked almost non-stop. I ate sandwiches beside my computer. Again, I’m leaving for Mexico for a week this Saturday, so there is so much to do to get ready. But, I hammered it out…let me tell ya! And so, by the time they got back home from visiting Katy and Josh (in Havelock, NC) last week, I was able to be “ahead of the game.” So, I surprised the kids (and Pam) and on Thursday night I said, “I’m taking off tomorrow (Friday).” They said, “What?!!!!” I said, “Yep, Daddy’s taking off and we are going to Cascade Falls and have a picnic and we’re going to the big slide in W. Jefferson and we’re going to eat ice cream!” They jumped up and down squealing! We had a blast!

cascade

cascade2

cascade 3

slide

cascade4

Is it wrong to spend some time with my family? No!

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 3 that as and Elder/Pastor I should never think I can look after and shepherd a church if I’m not doing a good job in my own home first. I thought to myself, you “Big Dummy,” you’ve got to do this more often. But here’s the problem. I have simply not been able to because I haven’t had the time. There is just too much to do and yet…hear my heart…I’m simply not wired to let people down. If our people have needs and they send me an email or call me or whatever…how do I put them off? How do I tell someone who is struggling, “I don’t have time for you.” I can’t do that! I just can’t. So, I do it and I’m glad to do it. But, there comes a place and time that your work and yes…my time with my family begins to look like this…

Swiss cheese

Yes…that’s Swiss cheese and I don’t like eating it any better than I like admitting that my ministry is beginning to look like it.  But, it’s the truth and I guess there’s something freeing just admitting that you are at your limit. So there… I said it… I’m at my limit. I can’t do any more than I’m doing. I’m pushing the accelerator to the floor and the car is winding out its maximum RPM’s and the speedometer needle is pegged.

But, knowing that there is the opportunity for Dale to officially become and Elder/Pastor (pending a vote by the church on August 3), I’m feeling overjoyed! Have you ever been trying to pick up something heavy and someone comes and helps you and you say, “Wow…that sure helped make that easier!” That’s how I feel!

So, I hope to be able to do a better job at what I feel gifted in doing. I love to teach, preach and train. I’ve got young men in the church who desire to grow to the point that they are elders one day…but, I don’t have time to train and teach them. But, I want to so badly and if Dale can come on board and give more time…then, I’ll be more effective and my ministry will not be like Swiss cheese.

Woohoo!!!

 

 

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From the Ladies

I want to share a couple of blog posts from two wonderful ladies in my family. One from my wife and one from my daughter. The daughter? Well, it’s not Katy. She’s been working hard on her book. It will be out in about a month! This time the blogger is Kandace. Both posts are pretty awesome if you ask me. (Yes, I know I am biased…but, they are really good.)

The Battle Belongs to God

I have been reading in Genesis in my Bible lately. I recently read about Abraham and how he and Sarah could not have a child, even though God had promised one to him. Abraham decided to take matters into his own hands and have a child with Sarah’s maid, Hagar. I am sure you are familiar with the events. Sarah does end up having a child and the whole thing ends up a mess because Abraham got ahead of God and tried to manipulate circumstances, out of God’s will. I am sure he thought he was helping God out. God doesn’t need our help. I have to remind myself of that sometimes…a lot.

Because of Abraham “helping God out” and not trusting Him to work it out caused the “birth” of a heathen, Jew-hating nation and the bedrock of the Muslim faith. The result of Abraham’s actions were very catastrophic but he did not even live on this earth to see the complete unfolding of his bad decision. I wonder if we live to see the complete results of our bad decisions?

I would like to think that I am smarter than Abraham but I am not. I often want to put God aside and fight my own battles and manipulte my own circumstances and make everything “work out.” I am slowly learning that I must let God handle certain things that are out of my hands. There is a little “control freak” in all of us, I suppose.

I think of songs we sing in church like “I’m counting on God…” or “I believe, yes, I believe…” We sing, “Not for a moment, did you forsake me…” Here is another of my favorites, “I will walk with you, knowing you’ll see me through…”

I then turn around and say to myself, “Well, I had better handle this because God is not helping me here. Where are you God???” Do you think Abraham thought the same thing? I am sure he did.

We can certainly learn from his example there of what NOT to do. Usually, when we try to manipulate God’s plans and go ahead of Him the results are disastrous. Because of God’s grace, He can take our messes and restore us but the results, messes and scars are still there from our sin.

Abraham ended up with his son, Isaac, which God had promised him, but it did not change the fact that Ishmael had been born and there were consequences.

2 Chronicles 20:15 says, “And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah…Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed…, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”

We can do what the Lord requires of us, like be obedient and serve Him but HE must take care of the “impossible” tasks in our lives. We cannot control God’s timing and His perfect will.

Proverbs 21:31 says, “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord.”

Lastly, One of my favorite people in the Bible is Hezekiah. In 2 Kings we read of where the evil Assyrians come to Jerusalem to lay siege to the city. There are 185,000 of them and they are prepared to torture and murder everyone there. Hezekiah knows that his army is vastly outnumbered and there is NO WAY they can defeat the Assyrians. Hezekiah does not devise a clever battle plan but he prays all night while the Assyrians are camped outside the gates of Jerusalem. When the morning came all 185,000 of the Assyrians were dead in their tents. Hezekiah never raised a sword.

God took care of it! Always remember….The battle belongs to the Lord! He’s got your back. You don’t have to run ahead of him. He can handle it.

Blessings!

Pam

http://www.mpbcworship.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-battle-belongs-to-god.html

Hey…now it’s time for Kandace’s post. Her big sister posted it on her blog.  It’s about the phenomenon of “selfies.” Take a look…

So Long Selfies

So Long Selfies, by Kandace Brown (guest blogger)
We are living in a generation of young people that is all about taking and uploading selfies for the world to see. For those who might not know what a selfie is here is the dictionary meaning of the word, A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”. 
I have come to realize over the last few months how “selfish” selfies truly can be… It’s almost like we are saying “Look at me. I look good today so I want everyone on Facebook or Instagram to see it.” I am not pointing fingers because I have taken and uploaded selfies before. This is something that I have recently felt convicted about. 
If you think about it selfies can be very narcissistic and prideful. I know girls who post two or three a day. What is this saying? What are we trying to say or show off? Why should we find value in ourselves by how many people like our picture? Why should we feel upset when we don’t get as many likes as we hoped for? These are questions that I have recently asked myself. 
Selfies are mostly a girl thing (although I do know a few guys who post them)… Coming from personal experiences I know that we girls will take dozens of pictures of ourselves when we feel that we look good or we like our outfit. When we finally take one that we think looks good enough we will then doctor it up (with an Instagram filter or an editing app or whatever we choose to use) and then we post it. Then we wait…. We wait to see who will like it and how many likes we will end up getting. It can easily set up jealousy in a girl’s heart. She could see that her friend got 80 likes for her selfie and that she only got 25 for hers. She could start wondering why people liked her friend’s picture more than hers or think that she just isn’t as pretty or stylish as her friend. As silly as it may sound it can begin stirring feelings of bitterness or consternation in a girl’s heart. It will start to make her self value deflate rapidly and that can lead to many problems… 
There are also girls who can develop the opposite problem. When they get many likes and comments about how beautiful they are it can be the beginning of a pride issue. They can begin thinking they are better than other girls and start posting more and more pictures because they get addicted to that feeling of being “liked”. All girls need a flattering comment every once in a while and when you can post a picture of yourself and get dozens of likes and flattering comments then girls will naturally be drawn to that. Pride is very hard to break once it has been set in the heart of someone. It is so important that we don’t become obsessed with the comments and likes of something as seemingly harmless as a picture we took of ourselves. 
I feel that selfies are hurting our generation more than we know. They can become a sign of vanity and as we all know vanity can lead to many bad things. (Proverbs 16:18) So as the title says, I have decided to say so long to selfies. Yes, I have taken them and posted them before, but my eyes have been opened to how very harmful and pointless they can be. This will, of course, sound strange coming from a 16 year old girl, but this is my heart and I wanted to share my recent conviction on the matter. Just thoughts to ponder. 🙂
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4  (See more of Katy’s blogs at: http://heartsonthingsabove.blogspot.com/)

And there you have it… From two of the four of my wonderful ladies!! 🙂

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I saw this sign the other day at a doctor’s office and I was blown away. Take a look.

Food StampsYou might have to blow up the picture or click on it, but the bottom line is this… Get ready to be blown away. Are you ready for this?

According to those WIC income guidelines in the bottom right-hand corner, my family qualifies for Food Stamps!! After I pay my almost $11,500 in Self Employment tax (since I’m self-employed as a minister), our family qualifies. (What most people don’t realize is if they look at our church financial report, they will see my “salary and housing” amount, but don’t realize I have to hold out quarterly tax payments. So, I get to keep $11,500 less than what is actually reported in the church financial report.)

It’s totally nuts in my mind that my family qualifies for SNAP (Food Stamps). Hey, don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have some help with our grocery bill. Prices at the grocery store are outrageous to say the least, but come on… This just seems over the top to me.

When I saw that, I was absolutely aghast! Now, please hear my heart. I’m ALL FOR helping people who are in need and who need help. But, please… I don’t want the government buying my food for me. I can budget my dollars and scrimp and save and cut coupons and do okay. I can raise some of our own food in a garden. We can preserve food by canning it and get this… We can just eat less. Yep. We don’t have to eat like pigs! 🙂 We are the only nation on the planet who’s poor are obese. Think about that.

Get this. I read an article in the local newspaper (Wilkes Journal Patriot 5.19.14 edition) that reported folks receiving food stamps in the county increased by 43% since 2008. Almost 1/4 of Wilkes County residents receive Food Stamps. 15% of the American population receives Food Stamps (up over 50% since 2008). Get this… ONLY 4.7% OF WILKES COUNTIANS RECEIVED FOOD STAMPS IN 2000. So in just 14 years we go from 4.7% on Food Stamps in Wilkes County to almost 25%. That’s amazing!

Now I understand the economy has suffered greatly and many still struggle. Believe me. I understand this. We watch every penny we spend. We have no choice. Remember…I qualify for Food Stamps. 🙂 But, here’s the twistedness of all this. (Is “twistedness” a word?) Amazingly, our church was contacted about two months ago by the Food Stamp folks via letter. They asked us if we would run a bulletin insert advertising for people to sign-up for Food Stamps. Are you shaking your head yet? Aren’t these the folks that shout “Separation of Church and State?” They want me to never say anything about Jesus in the public forum. And now they want me to run a government Food Stamp advertisement in our bulletin? I guess that Church and State stuff only works one way. Who knew?

You see, I’m convinced we’ve lost our work ethic in this country and we now have generational apathy and laziness and our government is helping in this process. It’s sad but true that many, many Americans would rather have a handout than to work. Yet, the Bible teaches, “If a man won’t work, let him not eat.” I’m afraid those days of folks working hard for what they eat are long gone in this nation.

A good friend and brother in the Lord sent some information to me about how hard people used to work. It’s entitled “Before Chainsaws.”

Before chainsaws were invented, the logging industry in the United States and Canada was a seriously challenging occupation and we are only talking about 125 years ago. In the Pacific Northwest there were forests full of monster trees and cutting them down was done by hand.

Logging 1

Look at the length of the two-man handsaw and heavy duty axes above that they used to drop these tremendous trees. It is almost inconceivable to think of cutting down a tree this size with a handsaw.

Logging 2

The work required very strong men (and horses) working long days for minimal pay. Could you imagine doing this to earn a living?

Logging 3

After a tree was finally felled, it took a week or more to cut it up into sections that could be managed (somehow) and transported by train to a lumber yard.

Logging 4

Maneuvering the logs down the mountain to the train was a complex job. One slip and a hunk of wood as big as a hotel is rolling your way! The other question that begs an answer is how did they get those logs up onto the flatbeds of that train?

Logging 5

Hollowed out logs became the company’s mobile office. Can you imagine stacking such logs to build a log home? Two courses would produce a 30′ ceiling. Maybe that’s why it was easier to hollow out a tree a long time before anyone ever thought of a mobile home or RV.

Logging 6

Hollowed out logs were also used to house and feed the logging crews.

Logging 7

We are accustomed to our modern conveniences like electricity and gasoline powered chainsaws, and it is always such a mind-boggling experience to see how such monumental tasks were performed before these conveniences appeared on the scene.

So, that’s a trip down memory lane. Now back to 2014. If you’ll excuse me…I’m going down to the Health Department and get my share!!

Nah…just kidding… I think I’ll head out to hoe the garden instead…so that I won’t need food stamps. 🙂

 

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