Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July, 2015

Earlier today I shared another 2-Minute Tuesday. Today’s edition is titled: “What Happens When We Can’t Tell Ourselves ‘No!'”

11243762_957945327603507_1423394575_n.mp4

The reason I shared the video is because the majority of Americans have no idea what’s going on in this nation regarding our national debt. It only comes to the forefront when we have a battle in Congress about raising the Debt Ceiling. We are currently hurtling toward $20 Trillion in debt by the time President Obama leaves office. Incidentally the National Debt will have more than doubled in his 8-year tenure. Think about that. That’s mind-boggling. In the first 231 years of our existence as a nation, we rang up around $9 Trillion in debt. Under Obama we’ve done that in 8 years. Just 8 YEARS!!! Oh my!

Take a look at this picture…

Untitled3

That pretty much sums it up. It’s not a matter of “if,” it’s simply a matter of “when” our national debt crashes down on us. We’ve got to understand this and it’s hard because we’re dealing with so much money. It’s almost ridiculous. We’re talking about TRILLIONS of dollars…not millions or billions…but trillions.

According to the US Debt Clock… http://www.usdebtclock.org We owe $18.3 Trillion. That’s $154,000 for every U.S. taxpayer. Now to put into perspective how much $1 Trillion dollars actually is, think of it this way. If you were to spend $1 million per day from the day that Jesus was born up to today, 2,105 years later, you still wouldn’t have spent $1 Trillion. See, I told you it was mind-boggling.

Take a look at this picture. This is what our National Debt looked like at $16.3 Trillion.

Untitled4

Each of those standard-size crates has $100 million dollars on them. Look how small the Statue of Liberty is in comparison!

Now take a look at what is called our “Unfunded Liabilities.” It’s approaching $100 Trillion. Hold on to your seat!

Untitled5

See how small the Statue of Liberty is? Now you might ask, “What in the world are our Unfunded Liabilities?” Well, I’m glad you asked.

The United States owes (has liabilities) for Social Security, Medicare, Medicare Prescription Drug Program, Military and Federal Employee Pensions. That’s to the tune of almost $800,000 for every US Taxpayer. Yikes!

So, how has this happened? The politicians, right! Let’s blame it on Obama! Let’s blame it on Bush! Let’s blame Congress!! No! That’s wrong! Let’s blame ourselves! That’s right. We need to look in the mirror and swallow hard and point the finger squarely in our own faces. WE ARE THE REASON WE’RE IN THIS MESS. Why? Because we know nothing about sacrifice anymore. Our politicians are simply mimicking what we’re doing. We are more concerned about our comfort, new experiences, fun entertainment and ease than we are about sacrifice.

Our motto over the last 50 years has become: “If we can make the payment, buy it!” Your great-grandparents never bought anything on credit. If they didn’t have cash on the barrel head, they didn’t buy. Not us! If we don’t have cash, we CHARGE IT! Therefore, the average American has:

  • $130,000 in mortgage debt
  • $24,000 in college debt
  • $23,000 in automobile debt
  • $21,000 in credit card debt

That’s almost $200,000 in total debt for the AVERAGE American. Should it be any wonder that the men and women we elect don’t manage the government any better than we do?

What’s amazing is that today in this country, we actually pay people not to work. I see them at Wal-Mart at 2 pm in the afternoons from time to time. They are in the pajamas and they walk out to their very nice car that’s parked in a handicap spot and ride away after they used their EBT card. Yet, the Bible says, “If a man won’t work, let him not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We’re so backwards in our country that we actually pay women to have children out-of-wedlock and not get married. It’s crazy! It’s absolutely nuts! And should we wonder why we’re in so much debt?

Did you know 60% of Americans receive more from the government than they pay in taxes? Did you know there are now almost 50 million Americans on Food Stamps. Folks, this is unsustainable…

And that’s why this is coming…

Untitled3

It’s not “if,” it’s “WHEN!”

So what do we do? Bury our head’s in the sand? Run for the hills? No. It’s pretty simple. When you’re in a hole, you have to stop digging!

Friend, we’ve got to learn to tell ourselves “N0” again. We can’t do everything! We can’t buy every new gadget and go to the beach and have a huge Christmas and celebrate every birthday party as if it were another Christmas. We can’t keep up with the Joneses. We can’t have our cake and eat it too and we can’t keep borrowing from Peter to pay Paul because Peter is broke!

Can you say that little word? No. Go ahead. Try it. We can do this. Here we go now… deep breath… N…N…N…NO! There…there… That wasn’t so hard now was it? You see, I’m convinced the reason we’re in this mess is because we stopped living by the Christian ethic of living beneath our means.

Can you?

It’s going to take discipline. And that’s not something most of us like. Discipline. But the same root word in “Discipline” is in the word “Disciple.” And we are called to be disciples of Christ. Folks, let’s be honest. We’re spoiled. We live in 72 degrees year round in our homes. We have running water and indoor toilets. What am I saying? We’ve got 60 inch flat screens and pillow-top mattresses. We are living in the lap of luxury and it’s catching up to us.

Just like it did this nation…

Greece-debt-crisis-Kipper-003

That’s Greece. I was there about 30 years ago. It’s one of the most beautiful countries in all the world. Yet, there citizens can only draw out $66 per day from their ATMs. Sad isn’t it. One of their citizens said last week on NPR , “We are headed for the ash heap of history.”

Folks, if we don’t begin to show a little austerity here in this country, we’re right behind them. The Bible is clear…

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19

We’ve got to stop being haughty. We’ve got to teach our children the value of a dollar and we’ve got to learn to say, “NO!” We’ve got to learn to trust in and rely on God…not the uncertainty of riches. We’ve got to discipline our lives or we’ll be squashed, not by ISIS or Terrorism, but by our own greed.

 

Read Full Post »

It’s funny how often I’m getting asked this question now that people are hearing that we are moving to three services this fall:

Aren’t y’all getting too big?

My question back (to the mostly well-meaning folks) is: “How do I stop it?”

I’ve been thinking: Am I supposed to make my sermons boring and dull in hopes of keeping people away? Do I just throw together a sermon at the last-minute (Saturday night) and say, “The Lord moved on my heart just last night…and so…here’s today’s message.” Do I hope our Praise Team and choir begin really stinking it up by hitting the wrong notes and playing wrong chords? It’s almost ridiculous to even consider. How am I supposed to stop growth? Can you tell a bean plant to stop producing? How about a tomato plant. Can you cap the plant at 10 tomatoes! That’s it! No more!!! You’ve produced too many!!! Stop it!

What do I do? Do I tell people not to come? Do we put out a notice in the local paper that says, “MPBC has got enough…don’t come!” That’s crazy, is it not? Sure it is! But, it’s really what plenty of folks are thinking.

Sometimes people will accuse larger churches of only caring about the numbers. But, I’ve usually found that’s a criticism coming from folks whose church is on the decline. It’s an easy way to cast stones. I had a lady at a hospital tell me: “You are just stealing other churches members.” I said, “Really? How am I doing that?” She smiled and she said, “I guess you’re just preaching too good!” I actually think she was mostly serious! Maybe that was Peter’s problem and the church in Jerusalem was too big when 3,000 got saved in one day (Acts 2:41).

Get this… People who have never been to our church accuse me of preaching like Joel Osteen or some other “Prosperity Gospel” preacher. And the truth is…they’ve never heard me preach or watched a single sermon online. They say, “He must be preaching a watered-down version of the Gospel! That’s the only reason they’re growing. People are coming who have itching ears.”

Well, anyone who knows me knows that I hoe really, really close to the corn and I’m not afraid to preach the Bible as it is written…giving the full counsel of Scripture. So, those accusations are totally baseless. And if you don’t believe me, then just click on our church website and listen to one of my sermons for yourself. If you think I’m not preaching the truth of God’s Word and I’m tiptoeing around the tulips, please let me know. http://mpbc.ws/media/

Sometimes people unfairly criticize larger churches and say, “Well, their people can’t be growing spiritually. It’s just all about attendance up there!” Honestly, I work on this the hardest of any of the criticisms. Why? Because I never want it to be true. Numbers mean nothing, except they represent lives. However, beyond those individual numbers are those individual lives. I want people to grow in their faith and then be salt and light to the world.

Recently, I preached a revival and a man said to me, “I know some people who go to MPBC and I’ll tell you something preacher…they have really grown in their faith. I have noticed the difference.” Folks, it doesn’t get any better than that! It’s music to my ears!

I’ve heard this one about larger churches: “I bet they don’t look after their people.” Well, we have 15 deacons and they work hard. Our deacons have the Scriptural assignment of looking after families in the church, particularly the older folks (Acts 6…widows). They don’t decide the finances. They don’t decide if we are serving Coke or Pepsi at the next Movie Night. They simply take care of people. We have our deacons listed along with each of their families and their names on a huge board over the water fountains near our restrooms in the auditorium. There is no mistaking who your deacon is at MPBC. The truth is folks have had to get used to the “preacher” not coming to make every visit and handle every counseling session. It’s impossible with a church averaging over 500 people.

One of my favorites is: “I bet if you went up there, you wouldn’t know anybody.” That one is hilarious! And the truth is it’s statistically inaccurate. Did you know that when you go to a church of any size, (according to LifeWay Research) you will not be able to get to know “well” more than about 15-25 people. In other words, if you go to a church of 75 people or 775 people you will only get to know about 15-25. That’s it. That’s all that a person can get to know in a church well. Think about your own church and your own experience. How many people have you gotten to know well? Yep…about 15-25 people… You get out of something what you put into it.

I just wish people would be careful with over-generalizations. Don’t throw stones at what you don’t know or have never experienced. But, here’s the truth. It can work the other way too. People can cast false impressions toward the church that isn’t growing, too. That’s equally unfair.

You see, I believe we are growing because the Lord has had His hand of favor and blessing on us. He’s blessing us in spite of ourselves. Yes, we are working hard. Yes, we try to do everything we do with excellence, because Jesus deserves our best. Churches are notorious for doing things poorly. Just thrown together… Pieced together at the last-minute. Shame on us! We ought to be known for being the most polished and well put-together group of people known to the community. So, the words on the screens should match the music. The transition between the music and preaching ought to be seamless and folks should feel welcome and graciously cared for while with us. Hospitality in action!

So, here’s what I plan on doing. I plan on continuing to give the Lord every ounce that I’ve got. I’m going to study hard. Pray hard. Preach with passion. Mentor. Train. Teach. Counsel. And love people with all I’ve got. And if the church continues to grow, then praise His name! And please understand…a lot of what I believe is so great at our church is the atmosphere of worship. The music is powerful and uplifting and the time of singing is precious to me!

You see, I don’t believe you have to forsake sound theology and orthodox teaching to grow a church. The segments of Christianity that are declining most sharply are those that have moved away from the orthodox Christian position on Scripture. Evangelicals, who far more often embrace the divine-inerrancy of Scripture, are the one group still showing signs of life and growth (Barna.org).

Honestly, I don’t care a whit about the Social Gospel. What I mean is that you can give people bread for their belly and clothes for their back, but if you don’t give them Jesus, they’ll still go to Hell with a full belly. We are not the United Way. You see, there is no reason for the church to exist unless we are teaching and preaching Jesus…Him crucified…Resurrected…on the Throne and calling us to be Disciple-makers. If all we do it give out clothes and food… If all we’re here for is to improve life in the community, we could spend our resources better by supporting local nonprofits. I’m tired of seeing churches who, in an attempt to be more agreeable with their surrounding culture, have forsaken orthodox Biblical teaching. And you know what…they are the ones losing large numbers of members. Funny how that works! Lift up Jesus and all men will be drawn to Him.

Many churches have turned into brands that try to please consumers…their “target market.” Jesus calls us to preach a Gospel of repentance. It’s a “come and die” invitation to discipleship. Give up your life to gain it. Die to self! That is to say, while we must meet lost people with grace and acceptance at their point of need, the invitation we offer is ultimately a call to come and lay your old life down in exchange for another…the life of Jesus Christ.

As churches, we’ve got to stop buying into “self-help” and the American Dream. Coming to Jesus is the only way to true redemption, healing and restoration. Coming to Jesus is NOT a pathway to personal comfort or the American dream. Salvation is the free gift of God, but there is a tremendous cost to following Jesus. Our society knows nothing of this. And as the culture continues to become more secular, the cost of identifying with Jesus will become greater and greater.

You see, I believe the church will continue to thrive until Jesus comes. The Church will continue on and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. But the church, as we know it, WILL lose people in the years to come, because some will decide it’s easier to leave than to endure the stigma of being a committed follower of Christ and His teachings in the Bible.

Well, Katy has written another great blog! Catch it here… http://heartsonthingsabove.blogspot.com/2015/07/home.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HeartsOnThingsAbove+%28Hearts+on+Things+Above%29

Hey, did you hear about this? I bet you haven’t. No mainstream media will cover this…

Sex changes in Serbia

A man (like Bruce Jenner) who had a sex-change in 1984 and now has reversed it. This man is Walt Heyer and he said that having a sex-change didn’t bring him happiness. He quotes stats at his website that indicate 41% of those who have had a sex-change attempt suicide. Very eye-opening. http://www.sexchangeregret.com

Finally, take a look at this picture. Do you know what that is?

PastedGraphic copy

You might say, “I have NO idea!!” Well, let me explain. This picture will have a lot to do with our winter. All the red/orange off the west coast of South America is called an “El Nino.” And it’s a big one right now. There’s a ton of very, very warm water and that will feed the southern branch of the jet-stream this winter right up into the Gulf of Mexico. Look at the map again. See that blue in the Atlantic between the Caribbean and the west coast of Africa? That’s cooler water and that’s why we have had zero hurricanes develop in there and why we probably won’t have much of any coming from that direction this hurricane season. In this pattern, we get hurricanes that develop right along the coast of the Southeast or Gulf. Keep an eye out for that. And keep an eye out for an active winter. 🙂

Read Full Post »

Walking and Praying

I’ve really had prayer on my mind and heart the last 5 weeks perhaps like no other time in my life. I realize that my prayer life has little fervency and thus, I’d never know power in my life like Elijah. Remember, he prayed and it didn’t rain for 3 1/2 years and he was a man just like us James 5:17 tells us.

We’ve let Satan convince us that we can’t expect anything great from God, so we pray nothing little prayers. We pray in our strength, ability and reasoning. Thus, no power! No miracles. No lives being saved. Country going down the tubes. And we wonder why. We shouldn’t wonder. I shouldn’t wonder. We have not because we ask not. 100% of the prayers we don’t pray won’t get answered. Simple concept, right? And we know all these things, but we still just go through the motions when we pray. We do it out of duty and there is little feeling or burden behind our prayers.

Oh that I would come to the Lord like the little old lady before the judge. She didn’t let up. But, I had. I had gotten to the place of just going through the motions. Have you? This isn’t a guilt trip. It’s just asking us to take a “prayer inventory.” No condemnation. Just like with an annual physical…we need to know our prayer blood pressure. For most of us, it’s bottomed out at 60 over 30.

As a pastor/elder and as a husband/father, I’m done with allowing Satan to lull me to sleep in a lethargic, unexpectant apathy. Therefore, I shared with the church last Sunday that I’ve decided to go the way of the Children of Israel as they circled Jericho, I’m circling my house and the church asking God to cover my family in His presence… Shake us and give us a burden for the lost and seek to get us out of our desire for comfort, pleasure, entertainment and ease into a fervent, expectancy. Lord knows we need this and our country needs this. So this is now me…

IMG_2739

Crazy? Probably to most! But, walking and praying has made me intentional and focused like never before. I’m praying out loud and I’m crying out to God. I feel an intense urgency. This country is going down the drain spiritually. Everything is upside down. What was once deemed good is now deemed bad and what was once deemed sin, is now lauded, accepted and  seen as normal. Our only hope is to cry out to the Lord of heaven and ask Him to change us and have mercy on us.

Folks, we must be salt and light and dispel the darkness. We are running out of time and I am not ready to give up. I’m not ready to dig a hole in the sand and say, “Well, that’s just the way it is. We’re just marching toward the end times. There’s no hope. Just accept it. Get ready for prison.” Well, I refuse that line of thinking. Before I go down…I’m going to go down to my knees and boldly come before the throne of God asking for His mercy, grace and love. I’m praying for the sleeping giant of the Church to wake up and once again go and make disciples of all nations…including this one.

Here’s today’s, 2-Minute Tuesday video on the subject…

11739905_950621168335923_347672652_n.mp4

I’ll have to admit to you, after the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states, I started buying into all that I was seeing and hearing from many Christian circles. What was that? Two words: DOOM/GLOOM. But, I’m encouraged that this is the very thing that was needed for the Church. We needed a wake-up call and I believe it’s working!

Let me tell you three things that I saw from the Supreme Court decision that encourages me. Yes, I said, “Encourages me…”

In one key paragraph, Justice Kennedy makes three major declarations about the importance of protecting religious freedom.

#1 Kennedy made it indisputably clear that those with religious affiliations may live in accordance with their conscience regarding marriage. Here’s what he said: “Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.”

#2 Kennedy affirmed that this protection (above) is granted by the First Amendment. He also recognized that the view of marriage as a sacred union between one man and one woman has been long-held by many Americans, validating traditional marriage as a legitimate viewpoint. Here’s what he said: “The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.”

#3 Kennedy upheld a vital aspect of America’s political and cultural tradition by recognizing the importance of free debate, an activity which is totally central to our nation’s foundation. Here’s what he said: “In turn, those who believe allowing same-sex marriage is proper or indeed essential, whether as a matter of religious conviction or secular belief, may engage those who disagree with their view in an open and searching debate.”

Those three points greatly encourage me. And they should you as well. Why? Because Kennedy recognized the strong protections recognized by the First Amendment for religious organizations and people like me (a pastor/elder).

One other note from the majority opinion as it was written stated this: “…as we deal with the implications of the decision— no matter what happens, religious liberty is a fundamental right that is respected in our country and must be held inviolate.”

The Liberty Institute’s CEO, Kelly Shackelford said this: “Some people think, this case was the end of the battle. This is really the very beginning of the battle as to religious freedom, and I think it’s a battle we can win, and we will win.”

Encouraged? You should be! 🙂

Hey…staying on the subject for a moment… This ought to be a great movie: Audacity… http://www.audacitymovie.com Anything that Ray Comfort does is excellent. This trailer really piqued my interest.

And for those who are being hit with tough questions and you’re wanting answers to help friends, family and neighbors in a loving and kind way…this really helped me. I’ve bookmarked it. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2015/07/01/40-questions-for-christians-now-waving-rainbow-flags/

See this picture…

IMG_2726

This means Josh, Katy and Charlotte are home! Woohoo!! We moved them in on Saturday. It’s a joy having them here and seeking the Lord for a job for Josh. It’s wonderful being on the roller coaster ride with the Lord at the controls. We can throw up our hands and relish in the journey because He knows how it ends. God is good and I praise Him in advance for all that He will do in the future.

And one of the joys in all of this is that I get to take part in all of it by walking and praying fervently to our loving and merciful Heavenly Father! Awesome!! 🙂

Read Full Post »

2-Minute Tuesdays

As many of you know, last week I posted a video on Facebook and Twitter that received over 27,500 views (and still counting). I was inundated with emails and correspondence asking me if I would be willing to follow up this week with “How do we do this?”

If you remember, I described historically how, as a nation, we were inarguably founded on Christian Biblical principles. Take a tour of Washington D.C. and all the monuments and buildings (inscriptions) if you don’t believe me. However, through the years (and specifically in the past 30-40 years) we’ve seen a precipitous fall. We are now hurtling toward a sea of immorality that’s dark and murky. So, what do we do? Fold up our tents and dig a hole in the ground and call it a day? No. Of course not! God is still on the throne and we continue to live and represent Jesus Christ as His ambassadors. Not one jot or tittle of the Word of God will pass away and the church will stand forever and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. So, we march on as good soldiers of the cross with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

With all that said, I posted another video yesterday and I’ve decided to do so weekly on Tuesdays. I’m calling it “2-Minute Tuesday.”

image

Lord willing, each Tuesday I’ll post a video that is between 2 and 3 minutes long that will give practical steps and instruction on how we might fight the good fight and keep the faith as believers in Christ during these tumultuous times.

So far, the video from yesterday has received close to 2,000 views. We had 531 people here on Sunday (which ain’t bad for the middle of summer), so with 2,000 views, that’s almost as many people as I can reach in almost a month’s worth of preaching. Wow…the power of technology!

Here’s the video from yesterday…

http://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/d79fac6

My prayer is that it will encourage and strengthen our resolve to teach, train and share the Truth of Jesus Christ. Spread the word! 🙂

Don’t you just love this picture…

IMG_2154

That’s Clara and Charlotte just before the Fireworks display in our fair city this past Saturday night. What a joy!

Josh, Katy and Charlotte are moving back this Friday! Woohoo! They rejoined the church this past Sunday…

Josh and Katy rejoin

Josh served our country well for the past four years as a Marine and finishes out as a Sergeant. He’s a wonderful man and I’m thankful for him and for my fantastic daughter and precious granddaughter to be coming home!

I look forward to seeing more of this…

IMG_2574

And this…

IMG_0927

Can you say, “Precious!”

Thank you Lord for your many blessings! I’m unworthy of your kindness and favor to me! To You be all the Glory!

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

What Do We Do Now?

Many of you have asked that I put my video from yesterday (from Facebook) on my blog so that those who don’t have Facebook can see it. Well, here you go.

I never knew a 2 minute, 40 second video would get watched by over 13,000 people. I pray it will draw us closer to Jesus and cause us to spend time in the Word as we seek to disciple and train. Funny how a history lesson can be so popular. Truly, seldom is anything great accomplished without inspiration. 🙂

11648556_943630672368306_1704347400_n.mp4

Read Full Post »