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Archive for October, 2017

Tornado!!!

Monday afternoon I walked outside at the church at about 3:20 pm and realized the air felt strange. Hot and cold air swirling and so were the clouds. I went back inside and pulled up the radar. I saw the massive line of storms developing to our west and I saw they were coming in from the south.

Hey folks, when we get weather coming from the south or the north, watch out! That’s when we can get straight line winds and yes, tornadoes. Typically we are insulated here in the foothills from these weather phenomena because we’re protected by the mountains as the fronts come in from west to east. But, not on Monday. We had a freight train coming from the south.

I got on Facebook and said:

Strong line of storms will be coming through Wilkes this evening as folks are getting off of work. 5:30-6:30 pm timeframe. We’re under a tornado watch. So, know where you’re gonna go in threatening weather. Have a plan.

I meant it! Sometimes people like me (weather nuts) can be a bit overly dramatic about the weather. I admit it! 🙂 But, I was concerned. Real concerned! Then at about 4:45, I pulled the radar back up at my desk and I saw what was coming through Hickory. I saw the hook-echo in the signature of the line headed our way. That’s when I left the church and headed home. I knew my daughter Katy was going to head to dance class in N. Wilkesboro at Tonya’s Academy of Dance. I thought, “Surely, she won’t go.” After all, I had been texting my family since 3:30 telling them to “keep an eye to the sky.” My daughter, Kandace was at work at Cook’s Sporting Goods, but would soon be leaving to go to Tonya’s to teach dance.

Here were both of my daughters and my two grand daughters exposed to this line of storms. But, surely Katy wouldn’t be going! Surely! Nope! I pulled it right at 5:03 pm and sure enough less than a couple of minutes later, there she went down the driveway. What!!! What in the world is she doing!!!

Well, Katy teaches piano on Monday afternoons and Pam goes to watch the girls while she teaches. The dance class at Tonya’s is at 5:30 pm and we live about 20 minutes away, so Katy has to high-tail it down there to make it before the class starts. She was so busy teaching her piano class and Pam was so busy taking care of Charlotte and Evelyn, well…why pay attention to the “wolf-crying meteorologist want-to-be” like me??? Right??? After all, it seems (to them and perhaps many others) that I’m always saying, “The weather is going to get rough!” Yes, I’m paranoid! I admit it!

When I was about 4 or 5 years old I remember living in a mobile home with my family and it was in the afternoon and there was a tornado warning and remember going to my grandparents home (right beside of our trailer) to seek shelter in their basement (me, my mom and my sister). I still remember that vividly!

So, yes…I am constantly texting my family about weather fronts. But, this time was different and I tried to express that. But, they were all so busy! Kandace had to get from Cook’s to the dance studio ASAP too and so…there you have it… A perfect storm of: “EVERYBODY IS OUT IN THIS MESS!!” Yikes!

No sooner do I get in the door at my house than Pam pulls in from watching the grand babies and I said, “Why in the blue blazes is Katy going to dance! Is she out of her mind!” I pointed to the television and there was the blue screen that said: Wilkes County, NC TORNADO WARNING…a tornado that is radar-indicated is moving from Boomer toward Wilkesboro and N. Wilkesboro. Van Denton was on FOX-8 and Lanie Pope on WXII-12 saying, “Take cover Wilkes County residents: NOW!”

I told Pam, “Call Katy and tell her to turn around!” Pam tried and couldn’t get through. By now it was on!!! The cell lines were jammed! Everybody and their brother was calling and texting and the systems were overloaded. But, then Katy gets through to Pam. Pam said, “It’s Katy!” Hallelujah! “Tell her to turn around!” Pam told her. “What?” “Oh no!” Pam was saying with fear in her voice. I said, “What’s going on!” She said, “She’s trying to find a place to take cover in Millers Creek. She said it’s like the wind is picking up the van and the rain is white blowing sideways. “I can’t see anything!” Katy said. It was panic mode.

At that moment, my cell phone is buzzing… “Kandace Brown” I swiped it! “Daddy, what’s happening!” I said, “Kandace you’ve got to get out of the building NOW!” (You see, Tonya’s classes meet in a second story building that’s old…real old and I knew that building could never stand a direct hit.) At this point I had my computer pulled up and I could see the swirl on the radar coming just to the east of them…but, it was going to be close.)

“Kandace, get those kids out of that building and go to the ground floor of the Wilkes County Library next door. Now baby! Go!” She said, “Are you sure Daddy, I’m scared!” I said, “I’m sure baby…go.” Kandace is brave and strong but she was frightened and I knew Tonya was too. I could hear here in the background. They had about 40 little girls to take care of. Ultimately, they were able to get them to safety in the lower level of their building because the shop owner below let them in.

Meanwhile, back to Millers Creek and Katy and my granddaughters. They had gotten out of their van at a produce stand across from Millers Creek Baptist Church. They were holed up in the back of it…drenched, soaking wet. What a scene! Chaos unleashed on Wilkes County. It was amazing! Thankfully, everyone was safe. Oh…and I shouldn’t neglect to tell you that Josh, my son-in-law was driving in the mess too! He goes from Wilkes Communications in Wilkesboro over to N. Wilkesboro to the dance studio to meet Katy and the girls on Monday evenings. He was driving around trying to avoid the flying debris that was blowing around right behind Tonya’s studio. What an amazing scene! This is the Jewelry store just down the street…

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The damage around the county was amazing…

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Thankfully no one was killed in the storm. Yet, tragically, a lineman (a bi-vocational pastor) was killed. Here’s the news report:

The victim was identified as Brian Keith Wilmoth, 31, of Wilkes County. The sheriff’s office said Wilmoth, an employee of Asplundh Tree Expert Company, was operating a chainsaw and cutting a tree that had fallen on a power line. As Wilmoth cut the tree in two, the power lines sprang upward, throwing the tree back on to Wilmoth. Here’s the full story: http://www.wxii12.com/article/wilkes-county-man-killed-after-cutting-down-tree-in-county-hit-by-storm/13090052

Please join me in praying for this precious family…

My heart breaks for that sweet lady, his wife. I saw an interview on TV where she said, “The Lord will take care of us and I know my husband is with Him now and it’s going to be okay.” I have tears in my eyes typing those words. What a Christian lady! I just sent the family some money. They’ll need it. You can do so here: https://www.gofundme.com/support-for-karla-wilmoth/thankyou?d=nsbldhX1mz6AifZ87plLIYyVTedZ9UyUeKbZk07eWqY%3D#

I’m so blessed that my family is safe! I know many suffered without power for several days. We were without power for a day. But, even in that…we see the Lord is good.

This week’s Two-Minute Tuesday was about that, “When Everything Stops.” http://subspla.sh/w4j8fkp

Next week, Pastor Dale, Kandace, Clara and I head to the Philippines to share the Gospel. We’ll be speaking to as many as 5,000 people while we’re gone. That includes government workers and public school children. Pray that people will be touched and lives saved for Jesus Christ. Would you pray for us, please? We’ll be leaving after church on Wed. night and return about 2 am on Saturday morning, Nov. 11th. Thank you!

Kevin

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Updated Winter Forecast for 2017-18

Back in August I shared a preliminary winter forecast from the Farmer’s Almanac.

I’m not sure that’s a good bet now. Why? Because it appears that the Moderate El Nino isn’t going to materialize. It’s looking now like we’re going to have a La Nina. More on that in a moment. I think the Old Farmer’s Almanac (below) is probably closer to accurate. Note I said, “OLD” Farmer’s Almanac. This is different from the “Farmer’s Almanac.”

So, with that said, I’m going to take a middle of the road view. I really believe we’re probably going to have a closer to average winter than an above average winter regarding snow. I believe we’re going to see huge swings in temperature throughout the winter and probably end up about 1 degree above average in overall temps. By the time all is said and done at the end of the winter I believe (in the Wilkesboro area) we’ll have had around 9-10″ of snow, which is average for our area. I had originally thought we could have around 14″+, but that seems less likely now with the onset of La Nina. I believe we’ll see the majority of the wintry precipitation in late January and February. But, here’s the deal: Since we’re in the “dividing zone” of the precipitation between warm and cold, we could still get the “Big One” and that’s one storm with a foot of snow and there you have it…a “BIG WINTER.” So, we’ll see.

Now, for those of you who want the details and some other forecasts to compare, let me begin with Ray’s Weather out of Boone. He’s predicting Wilkes will get around 9″ of snow. Here’s his full forecast:RaysWeather.Com Fearless Forecast for Winter 2017-2018

Ray, like me and a lot of people are really focused on La Nina… As a reminder, here’s the big deal about La Niña/El Niño. This is simply the periodic cooling or warming of the waters off the west coast of South American in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. That warming and cooling can shift weather patterns over a period of months, bringing the possibility of more sustained warm, cold, wet or dry weather in parts of the world.

Right now, the sea-surface temperatures in this area are much cooler and that is why many folks are forecasting the potential for La Niña conditions to develop later this fall and winter. See below the patch of cooler-than-average waters (in blue) that are in place right now (as of 10.18.17). That’s La Nina.

While the water temperatures are below average, they have not quite reached the threshold for a La Niña event. That’s probably going to happen by December. Most forecasters give about a 55%-65% chance during the fall and winter that La Niña will fully form. If La Nina conditions develop, most predict it will be weak and potentially short-lived. During a typical La Niña winter, the Northwest and Midwest are typically colder and wetter, while the Southwest to Southeast remains drier than average.
This all happens because the Pacific jet stream meanders higher into Alaska and Canada, helping to keep some of the dips in the jet stream farther north. That means (here in the Southeast), we get less really cold, arctic shots of air during the winter. Now, it doesn’t mean that the Southeast won’t have cold air…it just means the chances are just lower for a lot of snow, and the average temperature is likely to be a bit above average.
So, with that being said, here’s the Climate Prediction Center’s (CPC) Forecast is for the winter for Temperatures and Precipitation:

Here’s the NOAA/Weather Channel forecast for temps and precip. It’s similar to the CPC.

Do you see how western NC is on that dividing line? We’re in the “normal range” on precipitation, but the “wetter than average” is close by in the Tennessee and Ohio Valley.

Again, most forecasters are relying on the formation of a La Niña to provide most of the clues about how the winter will unfold, but there are other weather pattern features like the North Atlantic Oscillation (called the NAO for short), which could easily alter conditions. If we were to get a blocking High Pressure over Greenland…that’s a game changer and it pushes the cold air south and can override a La Nina. This is why winter forecasting is SO HARD!! There are so many variable. In other words, there are no guarantees! Typically the track record for winter outlooks is better than that of outlooks for other seasons, or about 30% better than the flip of a coin (that’s sad isn’t it). Yet, these forecasts are made to give commodity traders an idea of what winter might be like and typically the forecasts are good enough for people to be able to utilize the outlooks for their needs, but the forecasts aren’t something I’d take to the bank.

Here’s the NOAA forecast for temps November through January:

Here’s their forecast for temps January through March:

And here’s their precipitation forecasts for the same periods N0v-Jan and then Jan-March. Are you seeing a pattern yet?

Most folks are leaning the same way with these forecasts. Here’s one more that I use from “Weather Decoded.”

There again…western NC is close to the “dividing line” of normal to above average precip.

The cool thing is that only the Lord knows. I know there’s a movie out right now that depicts mankind’s attempt to change the weather. Well, that ain’t happening! It’s a silly thought! Only God can control the weather. Dropping things from airplanes into hurricanes to “blow them up” is about like me trying to hold back a tidal wave with a teaspoon. It’s ludicrous. So, we’ll see what the Lord does. But, either way…as one of my favorite forecasters (Joe Bastardi) says: “Enjoy the weather, because it’s the only weather you’ve got!”

Kevin

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That’s a picture of the marker indicating Mount Pleasant Baptist Church was established in 1875. That’s 142 years ago. That’s only 10 years after the end of the Civil War. Needless to say, the church has been around a long time. I love this artwork of Ivo Dean McGee, who is now with the Lord:

That was the church in 1875 when we started. A handful of men from the community started the church and look at what we are today…

Could they have imagined such a place? When I was a boy…this is how the church looked in 1974 when I was six years old…

Times sure have changed in the last 142 years. Here’s the total campus now…

The building at the top right is the old church, (we now call the Prayer Chapel) and the building attached to it making an “L” shape was built in 1960. It’s the administrative office building and houses the old fellowship hall on the ground floor. The building at the back of the Prayer Chapel, which has the drive-thru attached, was completed in 1996. I was the chairman of the building committee for that project. In fact, in 1992, as a wet-behind-the-ears 24-year old, I was named chairman of a committee called the Long Range Planning Committee that would eventually become that Building Committee. We built the Reach Center as the multi-purpose facility that it is and moved into it on July 6, 2006 that’s in the foreground of the picture to the left.

It still blows my mind that we average (year-to-date) over 600+ in attendance with three services each week. I remember as a boy when we had goals for High Attendance Sunday set at 100.

Now, I say all of that to share some things I read recently from Thom Rainer and LifeWay Research. This is Thom:

He’s a phenomenal researcher and I want you to see his study about churches and whether or not they’ll survive. Here’s his study research:

The Study encompassed 1,000 randomly selected churches with available data for 2013 and 2016. The margin of error is +/- 3.1%. (If you’re not a numbers nerd that means this data is incredibly accurate.) The possible weakness of this study is that it only includes churches of my denomination (Southern Baptist).

We took this path because we have a gold mine of data. I do believe, however, this data can be a good approximation of evangelical churches, and a rough approximation of all Protestant churches in North America. We used average worship attendance as our metric rather than church membership. We found:

  • 56 percent (not 80%) of churches are declining.
  • 9 percent of churches are plateaued.
  • 35 percent of churches are growing.

Over 61 percent of churches average fewer than 100 in worship attendance. But if your church has fewer than 100 in worship, it is likely to be a declining church. In fact two out of three of these small churches are declining. There is a direct correlation with the rate of decline in a church and the size of the church. Simply stated, the smaller the church, the greater the rate of decline in attendance. Perhaps these three statements will clarify my point:

  • A declining church with an attendance of 200 or more declines at a rate of 4 percent each year.
  • A declining church with an attendance of less than 100 declines at a rate of 7.6 percent per year.
  • A declining church with an attendance of less than 50 declines at a rate of 8.7 percent a year.

It’s a death spiral. Declining smaller churches decline much more rapidly than larger churches. Once the declining church goes below 100 in attendance, its days are likely numbered. Here is the sad summary statement of the research: Once a church declines below 100 in worship attendance, it is likely to die within just a few years. The life expectancy for many of these churches is ten years or less. Here are some surprising discoveries from this research:

  • If a church is growing, it is highly likely to be growing faster than the community in which it is located. In fact, 91 percent of the growing churches are outpacing the growth of the community. That is a huge number! And it’s really good news if we can move our churches from decline to growth.
  • Growth and evangelistic effectiveness are not limited to any one geographic area. To the contrary, we saw a very low correlation between the geographic region and evangelistic effectiveness. I see such information as very hopeful, because it tells us that demographics and geographic location are not usually limitations for churches.
  • We can no longer use membership in our metrics for churches. It does little good to use membership as a metric in most studies of large numbers of churches. Many churches have bloated membership rolls filled with missing and deceased members. Other churches don’t bother to even measure membership at all. This reality forces us to use worship attendance as our base metric. It is the most common and, usually, the most accurate metric churches keep.

 Here are the summary metrics:

  • 31.8% of churches are growing, and they are growing faster than their respective communities.
  • 61.0% of churches are declining or plateaued, and they are declining more rapidly than their respective communities.

We surmise the following: Culture is not causing churches to compromise. Churches are compromising and culture is saying it’s okay. The way you bring people into a church will show them the expected commitment level for the future. You must have introductory or perspective new member meetings.

  • Regular church attendance has waned in recent years as the commitment level of members continues to drop.
  • Leaders in the church set the example of commitment for the rest of the church. In other words, if leaders in your church sporadically show up, the rest of the members will see that and follow suit.
  • Unfortunately, there are a significant number of Christians who no longer see church attendance as important.

Our conclusions as to why they don’t see it as important:

  1. The importance of the local church in the community has been minimized.
  2. We worship the idols of activities.
  3. We take a lot of vacations and play a lot of sports.
  4. We do not have high expectations of our members.
  5. We make infrequent attendees leaders in our churches.

However, We are encouraged to say that once a church has a turnaround from decline to growth, the outlook becomes very positive. We pray for our churches and their health.

Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Is the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. Thom has a Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

That’s some good information. And here’s some interesting information from our church clerk, Amber Edmiston:

According to our Chronological Membership Roll

Increase in Members Per Year from 2007 to 2017 (10/1-9/30)

’07-28                         ’12-42                         ’17-60

’08-46                         ’13-95                         Total = 607/11 years = 55.2 people per year

’09-66                         ’14-70

‘10-63                         ’15-49

‘11-36                         ’16-52

That’s pretty amazing! And it shows the hand of God on us. Will it continue? Only God knows. I promise you these three guys are going to keep working hard, praying hard and trusting in Jesus…

Thanks be to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Kevin

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Why?

When a tragedy like what took place in Las Vegas earlier this week takes place, the human heart wants to know: Why? Almost 60 people killed. Over 500 injured. Why? Why would someone do that? Human beings have a natural aversion to killing another human being. So, what could have possibly happened in the heart of a human being to bring them to the place to do something so EVIL?

Yes, I used the word: EVIL. More and more people in our culture that preaches a mantra of: “not hurting anyone’s feelings,” and don’t “judge,” well…there’s an aversion to call any one or any thing: “evil.” However, that’s what the murderous act in Las Vegas was: plain, unadulterated evil! I obviously didn’t know the man, nor his heart. And I won’t say his name, because that’s what many of these people want. They want to go out in a blaze of glory and be remembered as their name and face are plastered on every media outlet. But, I will say this. I have a pretty good idea he’s in Hell today. I believe he was tricked by Satan. For, I believe Satan was speaking into his mind. And the ultimate diabolicalness of the deceit of Satan is the horrible fact that this killer most assuredly left this world from that 32nd floor hotel room and entered the horrors of Hell. To say this whole situation is “sad” is such a gross understatement. It’s demented and twisted and Satan’s fingerprints are all over it.

So, why do things like this happen? Why does ISIS decapitate people? Why do babies die and people get cancer? Why? Well, I appreciate what the president said on Monday:

…Hundreds of our fellow citizens are now mourning the sudden loss of a loved one, a parent, a child, a brother or sister. We cannot fathom their pain, we cannot imagine their loss. To the families of the victims, we are praying for you and we are here for you. And we ask God to help see you through this very dark period.

We call upon the bonds that unite us, our faith, our family, and our shared values. We call upon the bonds of citizenship, the ties of community, and the comfort of our common humanity. Our unity cannot be shattered by evil, our bonds cannot be broken by violence, and though we feel such great anger, at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today. And always will. Forever.

In times such as these, I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness. The answers do not come easy. But we can take solace knowing that even the darkest space can be brightened by a single light and even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope.

I appreciate the fact that every President in my lifetime has chosen to use Scripture during times of turmoil and trouble. Barack Obama did when Gabrielle Giffords was shot. He used the book of Job. George W. Bush quoted Psalms on the rubble of 9/11. Bill Clinton used Scripture after the Oklahoma City bombing. Ronald Reagan quoted Scripture after the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion and said, “(they) waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.” I’ll never forget that speech.

You know, whether we realize it or not, that is what we expect our presidents to do. We expect them to try to bring comfort as “Comforter in Chief.” And where do they almost always turn? The Bible. They turn to Scripture. I’m truly grateful, even though we are becoming more and more a post-christian and secular nation, we still look to an authority outside of ourselves to explain pain and the “unexplainable.” Honestly, even if the men quoting the Scripture don’t read it in private, (because I’m not saying that any of the Presidents I’ve mentioned were big-time church goers or super dedicated Christians… Truthfully, most weren’t), but I’m still grateful that they quote Scripture in public. Because what else could they quote that could have such comforting impact? Nothing! Because the Word of God is supernatural. It’s, after all, God’s Word!

But the question remains. Why? We still ask: “Why?” We still want an answer to the question. After all, we aren’t animals, (contrary to what those with an evolutionary mindset believe), therefore we want an answer. Think about it. A tiger sees a wounded rabbit and thinks nothing of eating it. However, as a human being (a moral agent), we see the rabbit and think, “Aw, I want to help it’s little injured leg.” That’s why we ask: “Why?” Because we are created in the image of God. We are moral beings and we have a conscience and we want answers. And the hard truth is: some people allow sin to dominate them to the point that their consciences are seared and they surrender to the forces of evil in the spiritual realm and they are doomed.

You know, humankind had a choice in the Garden of Eden and that shooter had a choice too. So do you. So do I. Yes, I get a choice. You get a choice. You and I get to decide how we’re going to live our lives. We aren’t robots. Is God sovereign? Yes, of course. But, in the paradox of His sovereignty, He gives man the responsibility to “own” their own decisions.

Sin came into the world as the juice of the forbidden fruit was trickling down the throats of Adam and Eve. And as they wiped that juice from their chins, preparations were being made in Heaven for Jesus to come to set aright that which had been made terribly wrong. Jesus would come and be executed so that humankind would have an opportunity to know pardon from our inexorable death sentence.

So, we’ll continue to ask: “Why did he do it?” Why would a man kill that many people? We may never know the answer. But, I must tell you that I still ask the question: “God, why would you do it?” How could you have sent your one and only son to die for men and women who would hate you? How could you watch your son drink the bitter poison of separation from you on the cross and endure the Hell of that separation…alone?! I’ll never know the answer to that question either. But, in the meantime, I will trust my Father and His sovereignty and the fact that until Jesus returns, evil exists in this sin-fallen world and the only place to find comfort is in God’s Word…as our presidents have shown us.

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