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Archive for September, 2017

We had such a wonderful week on vacation. I know most folks have Facebook, but in case some of you don’t, here’s the obligatory picture with the castle in the background.

I’m grateful for the time off and the time to recharge. Everyone needs a break from time to time.

Might I say that one of my favorite times was spending time with my grandkids at the bus stop and on the bus and at the parks. What a joy! Here’s Evelyn and me at the bus stop.

Ain’t she cute! (I’m biased I know!) Riding the bus to the parks was a hoot. Honestly, it’s just time to sit and be with your family.

I know that sounds simple and it is…but, there is something tranquil just riding on a bus with your family and just chatting and even holding hands.

Call me crazy…but, I really enjoyed those rides to the parks.

One of my jobs was to watch the little guys while the bigger “kids” ride all of those wild and crazy rides. I’m way too old for those! Sometimes we could even pull this off…

Precious!!

Here’s one of my favorite pictures…

Oh…oh…oh…and the rides… Vicarious living is so much fun when you see things through your grandchildren’s eyes. Evelyn loved “It’s a Small World.”

She clapped and clapped! 10 months old and loved every minute of it! What a joy!

Pam and I even got to ride my favorite ride: “Soar-in.”

That ride has you flying around the world seeing God’s beauty, from whale’s jumping out of the ocean waters to elephants throwing dirt around in Africa. And you get to smell the dirt! It’s amazing! I always have tears in my eyes when I’m done.

You see, Walt Disney figured out the “human experience.” Disney employs 73,000 people! Is that amazing or what! Sadly, he never got to see Disney World in Orlando open. He died in 1966, five years before it opened in 1971. But, here’s the thing Disney figured out. People live amusement parks. Why? Because life is hard and they want to laugh and they want to be with other people and experience something exciting and fun. That’s why people love sporting events. It’s a joy to experience things together. That’s the same for congregating in a church. That’s why our church services can’t be boring! They just can’t! No! I’m not talking about having the Praise Team drummer entering the stage from cables in the ceiling. No! But, I’m saying, the reason so many people are forsaking the church is they feel it’s irrelevant. We’re doing church like we did in 1975. The music is boring. And the preaching is even worse.

And so, let me be blunt… Churches are in competition today with golf courses, amusement parks, fishing, sleeping in, eating brunch…you name it. All those things are happening on Sunday mornings. So, pastor…you better have your act together. Music leader, you better have your act together. And please, please…before everyone gets all up in arms and say, “Come on Kevin, people should simply come because they well…should simply want to come.” Well, I get that sentiment. I do. But, the truth is, for a lot of Christians today are not going to go to church unless there is something in it for them.

When I was growing up, you went to church no matter who was preaching or what was going on. Not today. If the lead pastor isn’t there…yep…Sunday off! “We’re not going today.” That would never be said by my grandparents. They would say, “We’re going no matter what.” You see, that’s what Christians did in the 80’s. You went to church no matter what was going on.

So, we can lament the fact that only about 36% of Americans go to church today, versus about 68% just 40 years ago. But, we must come to the sobering realization that if we don’t teach and preach well and the music is bad…well, you are going to struggle to keep people. You might think about the best restaurants you go to for a few minutes. What makes them good? As a pastor, I’m thinking that way about church.

So, this Sunday, when you come to the church, you’re going to get coffee and some muffins when you arrive. You are going to be taken care of from the moment you drive into our parking area with our First Impressions Team…to the Hospitality Team who will take care of you upon your entrance into the building to the Security Team who will make sure we’re all safe while we’re here. We’re going to make sure that the music and preaching is as good as we can possibly be, because Jesus deserves our best. I’m excited about Jesus and the fact that He saved my soul from Hell and that’s what I hope to get across every time I have the privilege to preach.

Can you tell I’ve been on vacation? I’m fired up and ready to go! Praise the Lord!

One last picture…

Dole whip! Such fun!!

Kevin

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My Help Comes From…

Where does your help come from? The Psalmist said:

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

Mine comes from the Lord. But not always. Why? Because sometimes I don’t turn to Him. I turn to myself and that’s when I get weak. Does that ever happen to you? You are a believer in Christ, and you know that He is the One who will provide your strength. But it’s easy to look to our devices, isn’t it? When we do that, it’s almost like getting pounded by a hurricane. I was thinking about these past two hurricanes: Harvey and Irma. Man, did they beat up Texas and Florida. Pounding… Rain… Wind…

The truth is for me and my family, we’re going to try again to go on vacation to Florida. Yet, we might get run out by Hurricane Jose. Many of you know, last week we couldn’t go because of Irma. But, we’re going to try it again. Lord willing, we’ll leave later today. I’m SO ready for some rest and relaxation. This last couple of weeks has been so up and down with the weather and many different circumstances that after a while, it all just wears on you. You know how that is. You are ready to “do this thing.”

Life has a way of beating you like waves on a shore line. It’s the constant beating that wears you out. It was like watching Mike Bettes of the Weather Channel enduring the eye wall of Hurricane Irma last Sunday afternoon. I was tired for him.

I was so glad when the eye wall finally passed…

Have you been there in your life? Sure you have! We all have. You get to a place that you say, “Lord, I need a respite. I need a break.” Those who have been caregivers for sick loved ones know this so well. Weeks and months that turn into years can really pound a soul. I pray for those I know in those situations. The Lord will sustain and we are incapable of outrunning His mercy and grace.

I love Psalm 121 and it provides the insight I often need to set my mind and my spirit back on course.

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

I’m so thankful for the Lord’s strength and help. I’m so grateful for times of rest and I’ve learned that you better get them where you can and when you can, because you never know if you’re going to get hit by another hurricane. But, even then, the Lord is with us and He is our keeper and He is our fortress and help in times of trouble.

I’ll be back with you on September 25th. 🙂

Kevin

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1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. John 1:1-4

Remember that old cheer?

It was fun to chant that at a game about your favorite team and then point to the other side as you shouted back for a retort.

So, I just have to say it…I love Jesus!  I can’t help but shout it!  “I love Jesus!”  Sound strange?  It shouldn’t.  But, it seems kind of “over the top” to hear a man say, “I love Jesus!”  But, I do.  I sincerely do.  My love for this God-man has grown much through the years. I’m still blown away by the fact that Jesus died for me!

I was saved as a ten-year old boy.

I’m in the back in the middle.  Check out the hair and those short-shorts! Yikes!

At the time of this photo, I had only been a Christian for a short while.  What did I know about Jesus?  Not much.  But, let me tell you…almost 40 years later…boy, have things changed.  I sincerely and genuinely know Jesus.  I mean I KNOW Him.  I talk to Him.  I understand more and more about His character and His heart.  Why?  Is it because I go to church, or that I’m a pastor or that I’ve been a member of a church for basically all my life?  Nope!

I know Jesus because I have fallen in love with His Word.  I love the Bible.  I read it because I want to…not because I have to.  People often say to me, “Well you have to read the Bible, you are a Pastor.”  They say that I’ve learned the Bible because I’m a preacher.  I kindly tell them that I learned the Bible (and that’s a relative term…learned…because I’m still a novice), by simply reading it well before I ever became a pastor.

Do you love Jesus?  If you say, “Yes,” then can I ask you a bold question?  How much do you “read Him?”  Jesus is the Word, you know.  He became flesh and dwelled among us (John 1:1).  Consequently, if you and I love Jesus, we will read the Bible.  It’s that simple. If we don’t read the Bible, then can we honestly say that we really, truly and genuinely love Jesus.   You say that’s being “legalistic.”  Well, I don’t believe it is and I will respectfully disagree.  For instance, if you love Carolina Basketball…(and I do)…then you will read news articles or online articles about the Tar Heels.  If you love hunting…you will read hunting magazines.  You get the idea.  So, what do you love?

What do you read?

Honestly and truly, I love Jesus.  And I do desire to read the Bible. I’m not saying it’s always going to be easy to just pick up the Bible and read it, but the Lord will help us and give us the desire to do so.

So…here goes…I’m standing now…and shouting with hands cupped beside of my mouth…”I love Jesus, yes I do…I love Jesus…how ’bout you?”

Kevin

PS, Let’s please keep in prayer the folks in Texas and now the folks in Florida and all the way up the East Coast. We could get strong winds here too. I’m praying Irma is not another Hugo. We were without power for 8 days in 1989 when it came through.

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