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Archive for June, 2017

I sat in an office earlier this week and a lady asked me that question: “How are you doing that?” The question came because she knew I was a pastor and she knew about our church. She was lamenting the fact that her church wasn’t growing and they were trying really hard. My heart went out to her. Honestly, I’m praying she and her husband don’t burn out trying to do everything in their church. Yet, I pondered the question: “How are you doing that?” The “that” is “success,” or at least that’s the way I took it.  Honestly, I get that question quite a bit these days and I guess I still don’t have a very good answer.

Is MPBC perfect? No. No church is, but every church has fallible and sinful people (of which I’m chief). Interestingly, I just saw on Facebook where a lady told one of our members that she was no longer attending our church. And that’s okay. That’s why we have different churches, preaching styles, music styles, etc. Honestly, I’m okay with that. I used to take it personally when someone left the church, but I don’t any longer. I know the Lord has a plan for all of us and for where He wants us to be. We’ve not had many leave the church through the years, but it does happen from time to time. Nonetheless, it is true that the church has grown exponentially in the last 10 years and it is truly hard to explain. However, I heard years ago where a man said, “If you can explain it, then it’s probably not God.” I like that. Because I honestly couldn’t answer the lady with the “how” to her question.

For you see, a church can change the music style, put up screens in the sanctuary, the preacher can lose the tie and the pulpit can become a stool and an I-Pad, but that still might not change your church or make it grow. It might. But, it might not. Yet, as I’ve pondered the question for several days now, I’ve come to these four conclusions: #1 If you’re faithful to teaching the Word of God (I exegete and teach Scripture verse by verse through books of the Bible) and lifting Jesus up, that’s essential. #2 If you’re faithful to sing about Jesus, (you pick the style), and the words to the songs are Biblical and sound, that’s essential. Remember, Ephesians 5 teaches us to sing: Psalms, Hymns and spiritual songs. Do it all. #3 If you’re reaching beyond the walls of your church and being the hands and feet of Jesus (we call that missions), that’s essential. #4 If your congregation shows love for all people and are excited about coming to church, they’ll tell others (Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20), and that’s essential.

You might ask, “What about children’s church, youth group, nurseries, and other age-segregated programs?” My answer: they’re not essential. We don’t have them and it’s not slowed us down a bit. In fact, you can click on the “Adult-Centered Youth Ministry” tab if you want to see more about my Biblical understanding of the things just mentioned. But, the bottom line is something I’ve not even mentioned yet. What’s the glue to all of this? Drum roll please… THE FAVOR OF GOD. That’s right, the hand of God and His mercy and grace bestowed on a group of people for His glory. It’s about an often mis-used word: anointing. Yes, “anointing.” And no, I’m not going to go all Benny Hinn on you. The anointing of God is truly His unconditional blessing and favor that can’t be earned or “worked up.” It’s just His goodness on display. I’m so humbled to say that I’ve sensed that anointing in our church and all I can do is say, “Glory be to God!”

So, I looked at the lady in that office and I said, “I’ll be praying for you.” I asked her where she went to church and the pastor’s name. She told me both and I’ve been praying for the last few days for them. God can do anything! But, I did tell her this: God doesn’t necessarily desire for every church to “get big.” Yes, MPBC is averaging 600+ people for our three services, but that doesn’t mean the Lord desires every church to get that size. Honestly, there are times that people make disparaging remarks about the church because of our size. But, I can’t control the growth of our church anymore than I can control the direction of the Yadkin River. I can tell you this: I’m certainly not going to put a message on our church sign that says: “We’re full, don’t come!” And I’m not going to apologize that the Lord has chosen to bless us. Why is it that growth is good in every other area of life (watching our children grown, businesses grow, gardens grow, our favorite teams win), but it’s not spiritual somehow for a church to grow. Well, tell that to the first church after Peter preached on Day 1 and they added 3,000. Not 30, not 300… They added 3,000!

I hope I encouraged my sister in Christ by telling her to “keep on keeping on” and realize that she can’t do it all. And the goal is not to get BIG, but to be faithful…nothing more, nothing less and the rest is in God’s hands. There was just one Peter. There was just one Paul. But, the Lord used Epaphroditus and Aquila and Priscilla. He used a group of women (Luke 8) to fund the ministry of Jesus. On and on I could go. So, my advice: just be you. Be faithful to the Lord and seek Him first and just be you.

Well, let me tell you about next week. Honestly, I’m still recovering from the week’s work. The work in Mexico was H-O-T! And I mean HOT! It was 103-106 during the biggest chunk of the week. That made it in the 110-15 degree range for “real feel temps.” Yet, we got the work accomplished in Mexico (for the roof on the church) and in helping the “Church of No Walls” and Jason and Katie Church in Weslaco, Texas.

We couldn’t have completed the work on the roof or continued the work in Weslaco, without the work of the April Team:

And now for a collage of pictures… Enjoy!

  

I believe this picture says it all…

I mentioned earlier about how to grow a church. Those pictures above will do it.

I wrote a blog post 7 years ago in 2010 about why a mission trip can change your life. Check it out below. That post explains the very beginning of the work we were doing in Mexico and Texas.

https://dkevinbrown.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/why-a-mission-trip-can-change-your-life/

Several folks have asked me through the years why we don’t just stay in Wilkes County and do missions right here. Why go to China (which we just had a team return last week, as well…read all about it at Kandace’s blog: http://kandacebrown.blogspot.com/2017/06/china-part-2-orphanage_26.html)

We’ll be heading back to the Philippines in November. So, here’s my blog post to answer that question:

https://dkevinbrown.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/why-we-go/

Take a mission trip! Do it! It will change your life and change your church. If you would like to learn more about doing mission work in TX and MX, you can contact our missionary pastor, Jason Church at: forhisglorychurch.jc@gmail.com or on Facebook. The church Facebook Page is: Church of No Walls. https://www.facebook.com/churchofnowalls/ Jason can schedule house groups in the Mission House of up to about 30-32 people. He’ll plan and coordinate the work for you and train you on to bring a team to Texas. We only charge $125 per person for an entire week at our mission house. The biggest expense is the plane ticket (usually around $500-$600 per person). But, it’s amazing to consider that you can do missions in another country and our country this inexpensively.

Indeed, it was a great question I was asked earlier this week: How are you doing that?

Yes, thanks be to the Lord Jesus Christ for the privilege to serve Him and watch Him bless, even though we are undeserving!

Kevin

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Another summer is upon us and it’s in full swing in my world. This week is VBS and next week is off to Texas and Mexico. In the midst of that Kandace and 8 other ladies in our church are in China and there is the process of putting together the budget for next year, getting people in places to serve (Nominating Committee) and planning for the future. There’s never a dull moment.

Pray for us tomorrow night. We’ll have a ton of parents here and they’ll be watching their children and see what they’ve learned this week. I’ll be sharing the Gospel by way of the Three Circles.

It’s a fantastic way to share the Gospel and how the Lord delivers from brokenness all those who will repent and believe in His Son. If they will do so, they can be restored to God’s design for them. A perfect life? No. But, a life where His presence and peace covers us and provides for us strength and security for each day. Knowing God is the most unbelievable part of life. To actually call the God of the universe: “Father” is mind-boggling to me! But, that’s the offer to all those who will receive Jesus by faith, and choose to repent of their sins and follow Christ. It’s such a simple exchange. But, it’s so hard for so many. Satan has such a stronghold on their lives and their minds. Truly, salvation is a spiritual transaction and we must approach people by means of prayer as the greatest tool in our sharing the Gospel… Yes, a good approach (like the Three Circles above) is necessary…but, the essential thing is prayer.

So, I’m praying already about who will be here tomorrow night. I’m praying the Holy Spirit will speak to hearts as they watch the Three Circles. I love this presentation of it from a student at Appalachian State University.

How cool is that! So, pray for us tomorrow night around 7:30 pm, as I share the Gospel.

I checked the weather forecast for Weslaco, TX. When we land on Saturday it’s supposed to be 101 degrees. Yikes! We’ll be seeking to pour the roof of the church next week. That will finish the project. It’s hard to believe we started working on this project five years ago. Praise the Lord that it will be complete (Lord willing and there are no issues).

This is how it looks as of today…

We want to get that roof on next week! But, we also want to minister to the people of Weslaco, TX. We have been going to Mexico since 2008 and it’s been a wonderful journey to watch children who were very little, who are now grown and continuing to follow the Lord. It reminds me of the Apostle Paul has he went back to the same towns on his missionary journeys to care for the people and to encourage them. That’s what we seek to do as well. Pray for our team of 26 as we head down on Saturday. Thank you!

My goal is to upload pictures on Facebook throughout the week as much as I can. I’ll look forward to reuniting with Kandace as she will arrive back on the 23rd and we’ll arrive back on Saturday the 24th. It’ll be about 1 am or so before I hit the sack…but, I’ll look forward to hugging my girl the next morning before heading off to church to preach. Reuniting when you haven’t seen your family for a couple of weeks is bit like heaven if you ask me. What a grand reunion we will have there one day. How in the world does our Heavenly Father hold back from sending Jesus to come get us… I’ll never know. His love and desire for more to come to know Him before it’s too late must be the overriding desire of His heart. Otherwise, it would be: LET THE REUNION BEGIN.

Here’s this week’s Two Minute Tuesday. Senator Bernie Sanders really put his foot in his mouth last week. See here, why he doesn’t understand the claims and teachings of Jesus at all. Also see  why the Senator doesn’t even understand our Constitution. How does a man like this ever get elected? It’s beyond me. And on top of that…he was almost the Democrats choice! YIKES! It’s gotten almost 4,000 views as of this afternoon.

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/kfbewhc

Here’s last week’s TMT on “Judging.”

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/lnz5z6z

Kevin

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As I get older I see more and more that this life is going to always be riddled with problems and issues. Why? Because this world is riddled with sin. We’re going to overcome one hurdle, only to be confronted by another one. Where it gets tough is when the hurdles come really close together and you can’t seem to gather yourself to clear one, before the next one is right on top of you. Now, I don’t say this to be depressing. I say this to state in reality: “Life is hard.” And because of sin…that’s the way it’s going to be.

How do we handle these problems, these issues? Well, in a myriad of ways I suppose. However, as I try to boil down those ways, I see two main options: God’s way or the World’s way. I get to choose His path or the world’s path. And so do you. The question becomes: How do we know His path? Well, that should be pretty simple. His Word…the Bible. It’s a “lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

You see, it’s so easy to stumble and stammer around wringing our hands, when we have the GIFT of God’s word. Notice those large, bold letters: GIFT. The Word of God is a “gift” and for most Christians it remains an unopened and unused gift. Many Christians seldom read the Bible and when they do, it’s only a snippet here and a verse there (usually found in a devotional passage). Now devotionals and the like, aren’t bad. That’s not what I’m saying. But, it’s like this. If I could offer you a 7-course meal (and you’re really, really hungry) or a bologna sandwich; which would you take?

Truth is, we might be really hungry, but for most…we’re eating bologna sandwiches. And when we eat bologna we’re going to struggle. Because we begin to exude bologna. Everything that comes out of us becomes…yep…bologna. Solution: Sit down and read the Bible daily. The Bereans studied the Scriptures: DAILY. Not just when they felt like it. That’s bologna, you see. Didn’t Jesus say, “Give us this day our daily bread”? Now, I don’t know about you, but I like to eat (way too much). But, I can easily falter in my appetite to read the Word of God. And that is to my own detriment.

I know over the last several weeks I’ve gone through some real ups and downs in my life mentally and spiritually, as I have tried to assess where I am, where my family is and where the church is. I’m an old businessman at heart, so I continue to analyze over and over ROI: Return On Investment. I ask: Is the time and effort I’m spending growing the kingdom of God?

Think of it this way. Is your family growing the kingdom of God or hindering it? How about you? Are you growing the kingdom of God or hindering it? Think about how you work, play, etc. Think about how you spend your life. Is it growing the kingdom of God or the kingdom of you. Ouch! I’m asking myself those questions and I ask them a lot. Truly, I want to honor the Lord with my life and I want that for my family and for the church I help to shepherd.

As I think about the last several weeks, (which thankfully included a much needed vacation), it’s been a time of self-reflection for me. (Often vacations prove to be that for me. It’s typically the only concerted time I get to truly unplug for a few days where I can really assess things. And truthfully, that needs to change.) As a matter of fact, right after I took this picture…

…(that’s Clara and Andrew, of course), the sun was setting on Holden Beach, NC, and I took a walk down the beach by myself. That was the only time of the trip that happened. If you have kids you know how that is. They love to play and I love to be with them…but, in this case, they went back to the house and I thought, “Well, I’ll just take a quick walk.” And it was quick! A whopping 20 minute walk. 10 minutes down to the pier and 10 minutes back. But I must tell you, in that short period of time the Lord spoke into my spirit. He said, “Kevin, you need to think about everything you’re doing and self-assess. You need a cushion of time…y0u’re trying to do too much.” And I knew it. That’s my nature. I have never seemed to build much of any cushion in my life. How about you? Do you build cushion in your life? Is there any time to sit still and know that He is God, or are we all running 1,000 mph all the time? It’s a feeling of never getting done. Do you know that feeling? It’s a feeling that will beat you into the ground and the stress of that, (where there is no cushion in your life), can become suffocating. The Lord showed me that’s where I had been a lot for the past year or so.

So, as I walked on that warm sand and looked at the gorgeous sunset, I began to self-assess in my mind. I thought about all that I attempt to do each week and I said, “Father, what do you want?” And that’s when He quietly and firmly began to show me things in my mind and heart that needed to go and be adjusted. Truth is… I’m still working on some of these things in my mind and my heart and I’ll share them as the Lord leads. But, I began to feel a burden lift. A burden of not trying to be all things to all people.

Yes, self-assessment and building a cushion are good things. And for me, it took a walk down Holden Beach to grasp that fact. Hey, I feel like I can breathe again and that feels good! Thank you Lord! 🙂

Kandace wrote a fabulous blog post earlier this week about the upcoming trip she and 10 other ladies from our church will be taking to China next week (June 8-23). I’m so proud of her and her desire to do the work of the Lord around the world. Missions is in her blood.

PREPARATION

We’re closing in on our upcoming trip to China…. with just a little over a week to go until we get up at an ungodly hour on Thursday morning and depart from the hotel to the RDU airport to board our plane. I think everyone who has ever gone on an international trip where you will be gone for more than two weeks knows that feeling that hits you when you’re about a week out….. It’s one that is full of panic and excitement. I sat down with a close friend who will be my roommate on the trip yesterday and we went over our packing lists and that feeling of “dear Lord there is SO MUCH to do” washed over me.

For anyone who might not know, I went to China in January of 2016 with my mom and worked alongside some ladies from MPBC in an orphanage for two weeks. It was a life changing trip and on the plane ride home I was already trying to work out in my head when I could go back. I just knew I wanted to go back sometime when it wasn’t in the winter months. I nearly froze to death. 😉 I love China and I love Chinese children. I happen to have two of them for siblings. It was one of the most meaningful trips I’ve been on. ICC (International China Concern) is the organization we partnered with and they were awesome. Such a great group of Jesus loving and people loving individuals. I am so excited to go back and be partnered with ICC again.

In 2016 we went to Hengyang, China. This year we will be going to Sanmenxia. It will be a completely different orphanage with different kids. I hate that I won’t get to see the ones I built a relationship with last year, but I know that most of them have probably been adopted by now or are in the process of finding their forever families. It will be exciting to meet new kids and build new relationships. So, there’s a little of the backstory…

Along with this trip being in the summer (average temps are supposed to be in the upper 90s to low 100s) it will be different than the last trip in the fact that we will get to do a little touring in Beijing before we head to Sanmenxia. I’m super excited about this. China is such a unique and culturually different country. It’s always fun to get to do a little touring and site seeing along the way. I am hoping to be able to get some wifi here and there and share pictures and updates. Hopefully the hotel wifi will be stronger than the wifi we had last year. It worked two times for about five minutes out of the whole time we were there…. That drove me crazy because I love to post stuff when I’m on trips. Guess I’m too used to the free and lighting fast American wifi. 😉

I think the big thing with a trip like this is just the mental and emotional preparation that has to come along with it…. We will see and hear about heartbreaking situations and there will be times when the overwhelming feeling to cry or just scoop a certain child up and put them in our suitcase will overcome us. It happened to me a few times on the last trip. Each of the 11 people on our team will leave a little piece of their heart in China. I had a lump in my throat the whole way home last year. It’s so hard to leave. I think about how that must be how God feels when He looks at us. His helpless children who need love and guidance. He wants to scoop us up and take us home and make the pain and suffering of this life end, but there is more time on the clock and there is more work to be done, but one day it won’t have to be that way anymore. All of the orphans and helpless will have a home and a Father. That’s a really spectacluar thought. And for two weeks we will do everything in our power to scoop those children up and love them like Jesus loves us.

I was recently talking to one of the ladies who will be going on the trip and she was sharing about how she was feeling a lot of anxiety and like Satan was trying to attack her with doubts. Before every mission trip that I have ever gone on that has happened to me… It might come in the form of sickness striking close to the departure date or problems with a background check or a grandparent taking ill or just in the form of doubts… Satan will throw something at us and cause us to break down in fear and question why we’re even doing this. He wants to do everything in his power to stop the impending work that will take place in that orphanage in China. Even though we aren’t allowed to share Jesus with our mouths I believe he will shine through our actions and love. And Satan, of course, hates that.

So, I’m asking all of you who took the time to read this post to please pray for us. Pray for us in these upcoming days of preparation. Pray that on the days that will be hot and tiring and full of mentally exhausting circumstances and situations we will feel supernatural strength. Pray that our stomachs will be strong and that our bodies adjust to the time change. Pray that we will put our focus on why each of us chose to go on this trip and let Jesus work through our actions. Pray for me because I won’t have my Mama with me this time and that makes me a wee bit nervous. 😉 Just pray for us. I can’t wait to see what happens over those 16 days. I thank you in advance for your prayers and for partnering with us in this amazing work. I’ll be sure to post a lengthy blog when I get back. I know there will be tons to tell.

“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted. You consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” ~Psalm 10:14

http://kandacebrown.blogspot.com/2017/05/preparation.html

Kandace

Here’s this week’s “Two-Minute Tuesday” about how we use our cell phones. Do you sleep next to yours? Are they allowed at the dinner table? Take a look at how American’s do this “smart phone” stuff.

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/flvafmv

Kevin

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