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Archive for May, 2015

What a wonderful time of year! Graduation is in the air everywhere! And I got the privilege of watching another daughter graduate from high school this past Saturday! What a great and wonderful weekend!

Yep, Kandace walked the plank 🙂 on Saturday at the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem with a bazillion other homeschool graduates. It was fantastic!

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I don’t know if you can see it or not, but there’s a big lump in my throat as she was preparing to put on that cap and gown.

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Then, as she walked by at the end, I had another big lump in my throat! See here there in the middle? The big guy beside of her is going to be playing football for NC State next year.

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A quick selfie of proud mom and dad…

IMG_2480 I had a better one, but a lady behind us kept “photo-bombing” us.

The place was packed! They had to do the graduation in two large ballrooms because there were so many graduates. This was the back part (where the parents and grandparents sat) of our ballroom.

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Here’s the other room, called the North Main ballroom…

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Talk about a lump in your throat! Check this out…

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That’s graduation from kindergarten and high school. What happened! It truly seems just like yesterday. That little cutie is now my beautiful high school graduate with 9 college credit hours and three classes already on her resume. Wow!

Kandace said this on Facebook. It was so nice:

I owe my entire schooling career thus far to my parents and especially my mom. Mama has been my one and only teacher from the very beginning and I am so beyond thankful for the time and effort she has put into my life over the years. Daddy has been the math man, “principal,” and driver over the years. It was so special having my parents hand me my diploma today. They have poured all of their knowledge into me and for that I am so grateful.

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What a wonderful day last Saturday was for our family! We’re so delighted and thankful for the Lord’s blessings in Kandace! She is a jewel!

She will continue her education online with the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams. As I mentioned, she already has three college classes under her belt. Her desire is to complete a degree in Christian Ministries, with a concentration in Missions through Liberty University. She will also continue to teach clogging and is also teaching violin lessons. She’s busy at church with all the mission work (trips to TX-June, Philippines-Oct, China-January), and singing and playing (violin) in the Praise Team and singing in the choir, and helping with the Children’s Choir. Yep, I’m one blessed daddy!

While we were in Winston, we took this picture in front of the First Baptist Church. Talk about a huge and beautiful church!! Wow!!!

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I also had the privilege of being one of the speakers at the conference…

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Like a Baptist Church, nobody wants to sit up front. I guess they are afraid I might get a little holy water (my spit) on them. Ha! 🙂

I’ve been accused of being animated when I speak!!

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Surely not!! 🙂

Hey are you curious about what people are watching on TV today? According to Barna Research…

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And here are the specific shows by age group…

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Okay, here’s the thing that might surprise you.

Who do you think watches the most TV?

Younger or Older Americans?

If you said the kids…you’d be wrong…

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Boomer and Elders watch the most TV. They watch 5-7 days per week at a clip of 4-5 hours per day. The truth is, the new “TV” for the younger generations are the smart phones. If you did the math on the smart phones and added that to the “TV watching,” I’m totally convinced the younger generations spend even more time in the front of a “screen” of some sort. It’s been said that we’re allowing our lives to be run by the “squares” (TV, phones, tablets, I-pads, etc.). I would imagine that would be true. I don’t know how I would do my job and survive without my computer and phone. It’s just gotten to that place in life for me. Yet, I know that I must have times (and this is true of my family) that we put down the technology.

I got a charge out of these images…

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Hey…this one is one of my favorites. If Jesus were to come back today, this is what we’d do…

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Seriously, shouldn’t there be some time away from the squares and the phones? For our family, we have a “no device” rule at the dinner table. That is a “no-technology zone.” It must be, otherwise, we’d never talk. There must be times that we just sit and talk, right? Surely, we can still survive without a gadget. I hope! 🙂

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Is this what we’re turning into in our homes?

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Will this be how it ends up?

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Yikes! Lord help us! Or should I say, “Lord help me.” Why? Because, I’m the chief of sinners, here! I’m constantly trying to put the cell phone away when I’m home, but I’ll admit it’s a temptation and a struggle. I’m working on it…constantly!

You know, I show you a lot of pictures of Charlotte, my 6-month-0ld grand baby. Well, I want to show you a picture of this little girl and ask you to pray for her.

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This is Anna Grace Matthews. She was 6-months old yesterday. Charlotte is just two days older than Anna Grace. Anna Grace has Downs Syndrome and she had major heart problems (as a complication of DS) when she was born. She is the granddaughter of church members, Ronald and Sharron Huffman and the daughter of Chris and Melanie Matthews. Melanie and I grew up together. She’s a wonderful, godly lady!

Well, Anna Grace has completed surgery at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, TN. The surgery was a success to repair her heart, but she has a ways to go. Would you pray for her as the Lord brings her to mind?

This was her picture yesterday as Melanie and Chris brought her home…

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Did I say something about “lumps in the throat” earlier? 🙂 Praise the Lord for the miracles of modern, medical technology!

This is the entire family…

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Their story and journey can be found here. Have tissues ready. God’s power is evident…

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/annagracemathews/journal/view/id/5563d9534db921663a445580

I’ll finish up with a few shots of Charlotte. Josh, Katy and Charlotte were in this weekend for Memorial Day (thank you to all the Veterans and the memory of those who served our nation with such great honor and dignity to provide our political freedom as a country).

Andrew loves playing with her in the floor…

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If you ask me…that’s a Gerber baby if there’s ever been one. But, I’m a bit biased, I’m aware. 🙂

Here’s Kan and Charlotte…

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And one of the whole gang (minus the picture-taker, my lovely wife):

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Yes siree-bob…and there you have it…

It was a wonderful weekend indeed!

 

 

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I love this:

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(L-R) Jonah Horton, Jonah Brooks and Michael Davis. I have confidence in those young men!

Those three young men just completed this year’s Rite of Passage (ROP) here at the church. It’s always a privilege to watch another group come through. We’ve seen 66 young adults go through ROP since 2008 at the church.

What is ROP?

It’s simply a tool from Scripture, which points to a journey that is designed to move our children from childhood to young adulthood. It’s a “raising of the bar of expectations.” Because children will rise to our level of expectations as adults. Seldom will children reach further than our expectations of them.

The model for ROP comes from Luke chapter 2. Remember Jesus in the Temple? He was 12 years of old and yet, He knew exactly where he was headed in life and the ultimate purpose and goal of His life. He said, “Didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business?” Yes, at 12 years of age, He knew exactly what He was to be doing. He was confident in His mission in life. And so, if Jesus is our example in all things, (and He should be), then He is certainly our example for 12 year olds.

Thus, there was a transition in Jesus’ life at the age of 12. He knew He had to be “about the Father’s business.” We learn from Luke 2 that Jesus was submissive to His parents and the Bible says that He “grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and men.” And so we follow Jesus’ here at MPBC. Therefore, at the age of 12 (and up to age 18), you can participate in our annual ROP. It’s a way of marking time and saying, “We believe in you as a young adult and we have confidence in you in Christ.”

I wrote about this extensively in my book:

http://www.amazon.com/Rite-Passage-Church-Kevin-Brown-ebook/dp/B008A3D9D4

I’m very proud of the young men who completed ROP this year! It gives me great encouragement and hope for the Millennial Generation and let’s me know that the sky is not falling, contrary to Chicken Little.

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You see, things are changing in the way we look at young adults and Christianity in this country. There is soon going to be a “weeding out” of the fake versus the real.

I read an article recently (Found here: http://www.millennialevangelical.com/millennials-are-leaving-the-church-they-faked-caring-about-as-kids/) that shared the truth that Christianity (according to polls) is declining in America, but here’s why:

Back in the day, it was “culturally savvy” to call yourself a Christian. It had cultural value—there were benefits to being a “Christian” in American society. As a result, a lot of people called themselves “Christians” who didn’t actually possess true, convictional Christian faith. These people are called “nominals,” or people who are Christians in “name only.”

Today, a number of years after “back in the day,” it is definitely not culturally savvy to be a Christian. People don’t like Christians in most parts of the country. It costs a lot more social currency to be a Christian than it used to. As a result, many of the people who called themselves “Christians,” simply because it was more beneficial than costly to do so, are starting to check “none” on the list of faith options on social surveys. So, you could say, nominal Christianity is declining, but you cannot say Jesus is losing followers.

Christianity may be “losing ground,” but only because it was ground it never really occupied in the first place. American Christianity is bleeding, there’s no doubt about that. As one lets blood from a wound to prevent infection, so the American church must willingly release the nominal Christians whose unbelief in the lifeblood of the church makes them enemies of it.

 

Blogger Matt Walsh has this to say about Christianity. The title really caught my eye:

http://themattwalshblog.com/2015/05/14/young-people/

“Maybe Christianity In America Is Dying Because It’s Boring Everyone To Death”

What is said here is powerful and without question is controversial (in some circles), but it’s something that needs to be said. I’ve cut and pasted a good chunk of the article here because it needs to be said:

…some 70 percent of us might “identify” as Christian, but how many actually subscribe not to Christianity, but to Convenient Christianity? (Convenientanity, if you like.) How many are the type who call themselves Christian but don’t consider the Bible to be a particularly authoritative document? How many are in the group who see Christianity as nothing more demanding or complex than the 30 second life lessons speech Bob Saget gives to one of the Olson twins at the end of each Full House episode? How many believe that morality and faith can be severed from each other? How many believe in a Christianity that doesn’t include the existence of sin or Hell? How many are relativists? How many are prosperity gospel proponents? How many say they’re Christian but only because they’ve convinced themselves that Jesus loves gay marriage and abortion?

And what happens when you don’t factor these Convenientists — members of the Church of Convenience, proponents of Convenientism — into the equation at all? Are we still at 70 percent? Not hardly. What’s the real number? Forty percent? Thirty? Ten? Less? I don’t know, but it’s depressing, whatever it is.

So while everyone offers their own diagnosis of the cause of this catastrophe, this is mine. The light of the Faith grows dimmer in this culture because of that…kind of Christianity, generally. The lame and bored kind. The flavorless, tame brand.

Every branch of the Faith has become infected by it, and if we want to understand why Christianity is not out winning souls and conquering the culture, look there. Yet many of our fearless leaders, pastors, and pundits think this is, rather than the disease, the remedy. It’s the same remedy they’ve tried for half a century. As the problem gets worse, they don’t change the medication, they just keep upping the dosage. They tell us that in order to bring the sheep into the fold — especially the millennial sheep — Christianity must be as un-Christian as possible. It must be stripped it of its truth, of its sacredness, of its sacrifice, of its morality, of its tradition, of its history, of its hardships, of its joy, and whatever is left will be enough to, if not engage and excite people, at least not scare them away.

And that’s been the strategy of the American church for decades: just try not to scare people. They put on this milquetoast, tedious, effeminate charade, feigning hipness and relevance…

There are still plenty of Christians who desire the true faith, but they are mostly ignored or scolded by the very people who should be leading them. And the Convenientists, of course, find no happiness in their secular Christianity, nor do they find it in secular secularism. Even if they don’t know it, they yearn in the pit of their souls for the true message of Christ, but they rarely hear it. And when they do hear it, there are a million competing voices, many from inside the church, warning them that if they go down this road it might involve changing their behavior and their lifestyle, which is a total hassle, man.

Often that’s enough to dissuade any further investigation. And that’s how we ended up here. That’s it. That’s the problem. It’s plain as day, yet every time this conversation comes up, we’re told that Christianity is declining because Christians are too religious, too bold, too outspoken, too moral, and too firm in their beliefs. That’s the conventional wisdom, but as we’ve seen a thousand times over, the conventional wisdom of an unwise society should never be taken seriously.

If the faith is to regain lost ground in this country, it will only happen when Christianity is presented and understood as what it is: a warrior’s religion. A faith for fighters and soldiers. CS Lewis said it best (as usual):

Enemy-occupied territory–that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.

There. There it is, explained more compellingly in two sentences than many pastors can muster in a lifetime of sermons. This is frightening, militant language, but it’s exciting, it’s exhilarating, and it is, most importantly, accurate. As Christians, we are fighting a war against the Devil himself. We are advancing against the darkest forces of the universe, and we march with God by our side. And all the while, all around us, on a dimension invisible to mortal eyes, angels and demons and supernatural forces, both good and evil, work to defend or destroy us.

That’s how you stop the “decline” of Christianity in America. Tell people the truth. The truth, that’s all. Move them. Love them. Make them feel anger, and fear, and longing, and sadness, and happiness, and hope, and determination. All of these things. These are all a part of our Faith, because our Faith is everything. As Chesterton said, “there is more in it; it finds more in existence to think about; it gets more out of life.” Yes, Christianity gets more out of life. And whatever it gets might not be comfortable, convenient, or relaxing, but at least it isn’t boring. And best of all, it’s true.

Well said!

So, I’m hopeful and I’m confident there will be a sifting of Christianity in America and the wheat will be left and the chaff will blow away. What’s left will be strong, courageous and profoundly faithful to Jesus Christ.

And it’s this generation that will do hard things, like end abortion. This video is five minutes long and it’s powerful. It’s a video of young people who could have been aborted but weren’t. It’s amazing…

My Generation Will End Abortion, https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ylD7ajPflqo

I must tell you that my kids aren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I am proud of my children. Kandace is graduating from high school this weekend at the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem.

She finished teaching her last clogging class last night. Here she is when she started (left) and then on the (right) is where she walked out of studio last night.

She said this:

From my first day of dance to walking out of the studio tonight on my last. So bittersweet. I can’t believe it’s over. So many memories were made here. Time really does fly. 💜

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She sure has grown up. Here she is with her dance teacher, Tonya Wentz:
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She’s now passing the baton to Clara…
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I am so thankful for Kandace and for Clara and for these two:
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I bet this next picture will make you say, “Aw!!!!”
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I love Josh! What a phenomenal man he is!
Katy has been so busy being a mom that’s she’s not had time to blog much. But, she did the other day and here’s an excerpt:
…what I am saying is: don’t sweat the small things of life… and small things are usually material things. It sounds so simple, but it’s hard to apply to life. So. Here I am admitting that maybe I can’t make baby food all natural and do cloth diapers and cook and clean, pack to move home and a million other things and then wonder why there isn’t time to just sit beside the hubby on the couch or maybe write once in a blue moon or even touch that keyboard I haven’t hardly glanced at in months. Just maybe life is going to pass me by and what will I be able to say? Boy, I sure got all those clothes washed and look how much money we saved making baby food? None of that will matter. Time. Time will matter and what I did with it. Did I make a difference? And I used to think only “differences” could be made on extravagant mission trips or on big stages…. Ahh, that was a foolish thing to think. The biggest differences are made not from podiums or classrooms. They are made right at home.
 
So here I sit in my little home (only to be home for two more months) and savor each moment for what it is: a precious gift only given once. That is precisely why I shall stay home with my Rosebud as she grows never to leave her, for she is my legacy and a legacy can only be made with a whole lotta time, effort and love. I may not be good at this mommy thing all the time, but it’s right where God placed me and that helps me know… He thinks I’m good enough for the job.

http://heartsonthingsabove.blogspot.com

And just so you’ll know…she’s now sitting up on her own…

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Woohoo!!

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The Revival ended well last week. It was wonderful! We ended up with chairs set-up for the last two nights and a packed house. IMG_2421

Clara went with me the last night. That’s her on the front row. I shared about the importance of making sure that (as families) we focus on getting the gospel transferred to the next generation. That task is more important than academics and athletics. It’s more important than them being well-rounded and making “good money” one day. The Holy Spirit broke the church and there was a fantastic outpouring at the altar in prayer. Families were praying and crying together! All I can say is, “To God be the glory!”

Now the truth in “Revivals” are always revealed about a month after the meeting. If there is growth and the fervor continues to move the body forward, then I will feel good about officially saying that there was “revival.” Yet, I will say that I’m pretty convinced the good folks at Riverview Baptist were indeed stirred up to good works.

Hebrews 10:24-25

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

I shared with the church (as I have at MPBC) why it’s important (at least in my mind) to preach through the Bible text in an expository manner. In fact, I found this neat article that explains the importance of this kind of preaching. It lists “6 Advantages to Expository Preaching:” (Full Article here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/6-advantages-consecutive-expository-preaching/)

1. Expository preaching introduces the congregation to the entire Bible.

2. Expository preaching ensures that infrequently traveled areas of the Bible are covered.

3. Expository preaching prevents preachers from unwittingly shaping the way their hearers read their Bibles.

On this one, I wanted you to see these quotes:

A prime object of pastoral teaching is to teach the people how to read the Bible for themselves. A sealed book cannot be interesting. If it be read without the key of comprehension, it cannot be instructive. Now, it is the preacher’s business, in his public discourses, to give his people teaching by example, in the art of interpreting the Word: he should exhibit before them, in actual use, the methods by which the legitimate meaning is to be evolved. Fragmentary preaching, however brilliant, will never do this. Robert Dabney

John Stott, in an interview given in 1995, speaks to this issue:

We want to let the congregation into the secret as to how we have reached the conclusions we have reached as to what the Bible is actually saying… And gradually, as you are doing this in the pulpit, the congregation is schooled not only in what the Bible teaches but in how we come to the congregation as to what it teaches. So we have to show the congregation what our hermeneutical methods are. John Stott

4. Expository preaching is the only preaching method that exposes a congregation to the full range of Scripture’s interests and concerns.

5. Expository preaching provides variety to sustain a congregation’s interest from week to week.

6. Expository preaching, better than any method I know, aids preachers in thinking and preparing ahead.

I loved these comments to conclude:

Faithful expository preaching, whether textual or consecutive, is “a most exacting discipline,” according to Stott. He adds:

Perhaps that is why it is so rare. Only those will undertake it who are prepared to follow the example of the apostles and say, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word of God and serve tables…. We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:2, 4). The systematic preaching of the Word is impossible without the systematic study of it. It will not be enough to skim through a few verses in daily Bible reading, nor to study a passage only when we have to preach from it. No. We must daily soak ourselves in the Scriptures. We must not just study, as through a microscope, the linguistic minutiae of a few verses, but take out our telescope and scan the wide expanses of God’s Word, assimilating its grand theme of divine sovereignty in the redemption of mankind. “It is blessed,” wrote C. H. Spurgeon, “to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your spirit is flavoured with the words of the Lord, so that your blood is Bibline and the very essence of the Bible flows from you.”

If you want to see something beautiful. Take a few minutes and check out this “fly over” of Jerusalem. It was filmed in IMAX. It’s amazing! It’s like having a tour of the Holy Land in a blimp:

http://vimeo.com/15034110

I was in the Holy Land in 2007 and I must say that this is the closest thing I’ve seen that can do justice to what I saw and experienced. I’ve been blessed to go to many places around the world: (Ethiopia, Italy, Greece, China, Mexico), but Israel is absolutely tremendous! I’d love to go back again and I’d love to take the family. I sincerely doubt that will ever happen. But, it’s wonderful to wish and dream. 🙂

Hey…it’s been a while since I said anything about the weather. Do you want to know how the snowfall stacked up for last winter? This is in inches:

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North Wilkesboro showed 10 inches. At my house we got closer to 14″. That is above average by about 3″ and is what I predicted back in October. Here’s a line from my blog post on October 24, 2014.

That puts us in line for about 14-15 inches (in Western NC), if this pans out.

We started out slow with the winter precipitation. Ultimately, winter was delayed, but would not be denied.

Why did we get more than just 24 miles away at the airport? Elevation. We’re about 500 feet higher in elevation than the airport, so that makes sense. Interestingly, Boone and W. Jefferson were below average, but Mt. Mitchell was above average.

I can’t help myself. Do you want an early prediction for next winter? Well, I’m not ready to do that. But, it does seem that we will have a moderate El Nino (which actually never really developed last year). That means cold and wet. I’ll leave it at that for now. 🙂

Guess what came in the mail last week?

IMG_2422I’ve been wanting this book for some time, and a kind man said, “Tell me a couple of books you’d like and I’ll send them to you.” Bingo! Here’s the first one! Thanks so much! It’s tremendous and life-transforming.

Aren’t familiar with Dietrich Bonhoeffer? Check him out here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/131christians/martyrs/bonhoeffer.html He tried to overthrow Hitler and was killed. He was a powerful, humble yet gracious man. This book is spiritual dynamite!

The garden is in…

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Andrew and Clara helped me this past Saturday. We’ve got three rows of beans, two rows of corn, five tomato plants, 4 pepper plants and cucumbers. The kids also planted pumpkins and sunflowers (EVERYWHERE)! Around the house…you name it. I can’t wait to see where they all pop up!

Got to spend the weekend with this little beauty!

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She’s growing up and will be 6 months old in about two weeks. Man it’s hard when Josh and Katy leave with little Charlotte. But, praise be to God, come mid-July they are headed to Wilkes for good! Woohoo!

Over and out… 🙂

 

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Salt of the Earth

Let me show you some people who are the “salt of the earth.”

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Those are the folks I’m having the privilege of speaking to this week. That’s the congregation of Riverview Baptist Church in Creston, NC. Let me tell you, those kind people are some of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet. They have been so gracious and kind to me and my family. I continue in Revival there tonight and tomorrow night. And I must tell you that I really believe we’re having revival.

So far I have preached on “Warning People with the Gospel” and “The Power of Prayer.” Tonight the message is “Forgiveness.” I’m really excited. Here’s the church.

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As you can see, it’s a small church, but it’s a lovely church. It’s deep, deep in the mountains of Ashe County and it’s so beautiful up there in “dem dar hills.” He’s one of the roads right next to the church. Yep…you’ve got to cross the New River on this particular road…

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Isn’t that pretty?

We’ve had some wonderful music each night. It reminds me of my childhood. There was a group of men who came last night that played Bluegrass Gospel. It was wonderful!

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You know it’s an amazing thing… This past Sunday at MPBC we had almost 600 people (584 to be exact). I would guess at Riverview this week that we are running around 50-60 people each night. (The pastor says that’s a really good crowd.) Yet, some would question, “Why go to a church that’s so small?” Answer: Christians are Christians and Jesus ministered to the multitudes and he ministered to the 10 lepers and the 1 woman at the well. We make a big deal about numbers I guess. Numbers are important in that they represent lives. But, I’ve never made a practice of “not” doing a revival or speaking engagement because it’s “too small.” I honestly try to trust the leading of the Holy Spirit.

If you go back and look at the first picture, you’ll see standing in the aisle, (behind the bald fella) the pastor of the church. He has a beard. His name is Evan Moore and he is 27 years old and he is bi-vocational. He has a wonderful wife and three children and he’s a mail carrier. He’s my hero! He’s getting the job done in this little community that takes me an hour to drive to each night. When I tell you that this church is in the sticks…buddy…it’s in the sticks. But, people are people. And Evan is doing an outstanding job leading this church. He’s been there four years and that’s (top end) for most churches for most Southern Baptist pastors. I applaud this young man and the job he’s doing.

Yes, he only has a church of about 60 people (1/10 of MPBC), but he’s a success. He’s a success because he is doing the work of the Lord in this little mountain community and he’s touching lives. Yep, Evan is my hero and I’m honored he asked me to come and preach to the wonderful flock the Lord has entrusted to him. Please pray for me as I preach tonight (I’ll be leaving soon). Ask the Lord to bless us and move among us as I minister among the “salt of the earth.”

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