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Archive for November, 2017

A Fresh Outpouring!

The Lord has really been doing some pretty awesome things in my life lately. I’ve been watching and learning through the life of King David. What an up and down life he had. Catastrophe after catastrophe, tragedy after tragedy marked the life of this man described as a “man after God’s own heart.” How could this man be described in this way? He was a man of war. A man of blood. A man of murder. A man of adultery. He was powerful, killing Goliath. Yet, weak. He couldn’t even keep his family together.

Oh, Absalom! How David longed for the son who killed his half-brother. Why? Because his half-brother raped his sister, Tamar. What did David do? I read 2 Samuel 13 carefully. Verse 21 says, “he was very angry.” I read verse 22 and expected action. A family meeting. A pow-wow. Something. Nothing. Okay, maybe verse 23. Nothing! Nope, verse 23 says Absalom allowed his hatred and anger to fester in his heart for “two full years.” Samuel was clear on that. “Two FULL years.” Not close to two years… Not 18 months. No…24 months of hatred! Why didn’t David do something?

Absalom would plot the death of his half-brother, Amnon and see that he was killed. Tragedy! Ultimately, this hatred and animosity would run from Absalom’s heart from his half-brother to his father. He would seek to take the kingdom from David until his long hair got hung in a tree while seeking to escape on a mule. Joab, David’s general would drive three javelins through his heart. More tragedy!

David go back! David!!! David, think back to the moment you learned of the rape of your daughter by your son. Yes, you were angry! Yes, you were distraught. But, you did nothing (at least Scripture is silent from all I can see). Dad, we have to act when we know something is wrong. We have to speak up. I know you want peace. I know you don’t want to deal with it, but you must, or you might just lose your family! Am I being melodramatic! No. I don’t mean to be. But, you tell me…where do family split-ups start? They start somewhere, don’t they! And then the holidays come and it’s either awkward or well…they don’t show up.

It takes work to be part of a family. It takes being humble enough to take a knee and wash people’s feet. Even the feet of our family members. Those are the hardest feet to wash, folks. And you know that’s the truth. Family can thrill us or kill us. Do you know what I’m talking about? I think you do.

I’m grateful that I don’t have to deal with this in my family. I’m grateful that we are all together and solid. That doesn’t mean we always agree on everything. That would be absurd. Who agrees on everything? But, we have agreed to work through stuff and to talk. Always talk. When the talking stops, it’s over.

I heard it said earlier today, “Hope begins when you are standing in the dark, but then you look up and see the light.” Are you standing in the dark…look up. See the light. Look to the Lord. Forgiveness and love can overcome anything. Will it be easy? Nope! But, I bet if David could go back, he’d address the situation with Amnon and Tamar and Absalom.

Do the hard things and watch how God will use our families to shape us and mold us into the people He wants us to be! Love, forgive, give, sacrifice, swallow hard and do the hard thing. Yep, that about covers any relationship. Let’s hit those again:

Love

Give

Sacrifice

Swallow Hard and do the hard thing!

Let’s see, come to think of it…isn’t that what Jesus did?

I love this article by Andrew Seu Peterson of World magazine, https://world.wng.org/2016/09/forgive_those_debtors

Here’s a beautiful excerpt that will rock your world. It did mine!

…human forgiving is supposed to imitate God’s own manner of mentally removing transgression as far as east is from west (Psalm 103:12) and of tossing the offense into the sea of forgetfulness, then when we forgive-but-don’t-forget, we never give a chance to the other person to change.

Relations become frozen. You see a person who was a jerk to you 10 years ago, and you think as he approaches, “Oh, there’s that jerk.” But he may not be a jerk anymore. If he has the Holy Spirit in him, assume that he is not. Start in with that assumption. God has been dealing with him in many ways since you last interacted. Give your brother a clean slate every day. You know you want one too.

Christianity should be all about believing in and hoping for change—not only for ourselves but for other people. “Love believes all things. Love hopes all things.” Freezing our opinions based on past interactions gunks up the works and brings the life of the church to a grinding halt. We file brothers away in the file of “foolish,” or “proud,” or “liar,” and give them no chance to surprise us with their new growth.

That’s beautiful!

Well, we had a great time at Thanksgiving with family at my mom and dad’s. Everyone was together. Bless Kim’s heart for taking the picture. 

Here’s the one with Kim…

Took some time to go to the creek with the kids.

Clara wanted to build a monument to remind us that we had been here…

How cool is that. I saw this while we were down at the creek…

Does that remind you of Psalm 1?

1 Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

That’s good stuff! You know that picture of the tree and that little monument remind me of what’s important in life. What are we going to build of our lives in this stream of time? Where are we going to plant ourselves? The truth is…it will soon enough be gone. So we better plant well and build well and enjoy the journey!

I must say that I’m enjoying the journey these days. The Lord has blessed immensely. The kids are doing great and the grandkids! We’ve seen 7 saved at church in the last three weeks. We’ve got six to baptize on Dec. 31st. God is good! Please keep blessing us Lord! It’s all of you! I’m praying and believing that this fresh outpouring of His Spirit will continue. Would you join me? Would you ask the Lord to bless you with a fresh outpouring of His presence? Not a fresh outpouring of money or a new job or promotion. No. Just a fresh outpouring of His presence. Isn’t that better? I believe it is and I bet you do too. There is nothing greater on the face of this earth than to be in the presence of God. Can I get an “Amen!?!”

I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’m going to Chapel Hill with the family to watch Leah play for the Lady TarHeels. In the last game I saw Leah play, she nailed at three-pointer at the buzzer before the end of the first half. Here’s a picture of that…

Talk about concentration! Proud of that young lady! She’s played in all three games since she’s bounced back from her foot injury earlier in the year. That’s amazing for a Wilkes County girl from Purlear, NC. This is the University of North Carolina! It still blows my mind! God is good!

Get this…Kandace is going to be singing the national anthem at the game tomorrow at 3 pm against Hartford. It’s kind of old hat for Kan. She’s sung at the Grand Ole Opry and in front of 8,000 people at FaithFest. I think she can handle it. (But, I’m still praying for her and super proud of her for the opportunity and the gift the Lord has given her to sing.) God is good!

You can watch the game tomorrow afternoon by clicking on the link below the picture:

http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3228060/hartford-vs-north-carolina-w-basketball

Looking forward to a great time!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “The #1 Thing Parents Can Do to Ensure Their Kids Are Faithful Christians When They Grow Up”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytzaHZqM3A5P2F1dG9wbGF5PXRydWUmYnJhbmRpbmc9dHJ1ZSZlbWJlZD10cnVl

I missed getting you last week’s TMT. In case you are interested, it’s here: “Should Christians Stop Quoting the Bible?”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytjaHcyZDJqP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Enjoying the journey!!!

Kevin

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Thursday is Thanksgiving and for many in our country, particularly our younger generations, there is less and less knowledge about the reason we even celebrate Thanksgiving. I’m grateful and thankful for the proclamation offered by our current President describing why we will celebrate this Thursday. I’m grateful for the fact that he singularly mentions “Almighty God” and not some nuanced verbal innuendo about any and every “background and belief.” It’s interesting to me how the history of Thanksgiving is being re-written by the progressive liberals of our nation who propagate a false narrative through our nation’s educational system via revised History text books studied by our nation’s school children today.

There are actually those today who teach that the Pilgrims came to America and slaughtered the Indians and we should be ashamed to celebrate anything they did. Amazing! If you don’t believe this type of thinking impacts a culture, just read this one paragraph from President Barack Obama’s proclamation for Thanksgiving in 2016. Note the phrase I’ve highlighted…

In the same spirit of togetherness and thanksgiving that inspired the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag, we pay tribute to people of every background and belief who contribute in their own unique ways to our country’s story.  Each of us brings our own traditions, cultures, and recipes to this quintessential American holiday — whether around dinner tables, in soup kitchens, or at home cheering on our favorite sports teams — but we are all united in appreciation of the bounty of our Nation.  Let us express our gratitude by welcoming others to our celebrations and recognize those who volunteer today to ensure a dinner is possible for those who might have gone without.  Together, we can secure our founding ideals as the birthright of all future generations of Americans.

Did you catch the line I highlighted in bold? I’m sorry!

…we pay tribute to people of every background and belief who contribute in their own unique ways to our country’s story.

That’s not what Thanksgiving was about at all! The holiday of Thanksgiving is NOT about “every background and belief” at all! It’s a Christian holiday where people prayed to Almighty God…the God of the Bible. So, let’s make sure our children and grandchildren have a proper understanding of Thanksgiving. You might think they believe and understand what you and I understand, but don’t be too sure. You better know what’s in the text books. But, I can tell you a place that you can get a quick primer on a proper rendering of “Thanksgiving.” Where? By reading our current President’s proclamation for this year’s Thanksgiving 2017.

THANKSGIVING DAY, 2017

– – – – – – –

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

On Thanksgiving Day, as we have for nearly four centuries, Americans give thanks to Almighty God for our abundant blessings.  We gather with the people we love to show gratitude for our freedom, for our friends and families, and for the prosperous Nation we call home.

In July 1620, more than 100 Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower, fleeing religious persecution and seeking freedom and opportunity in a new and unfamiliar place.  These dauntless souls arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in the freezing cold of December 1620.  They were greeted by sickness and severe weather, and quickly lost 46 of their fellow travelers.  Those who endured the incredible hardship of their first year in America, however, had many reasons for gratitude.  They had survived.  They were free.  And, with the help of the Wampanoag tribe, and a bountiful harvest, they were regaining their health and strength.  In thanks to God for these blessings, the new governor of the Plymouth Colony, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and gathered with the Wampanoag tribe for three days of celebration.

For the next two centuries, many individual colonies and states, primarily in the Northeast, carried on the tradition of fall Thanksgiving festivities.  But each state celebrated it on a different day, and sometime on an occasional basis.  It was not until 1863 that the holiday was celebrated on one day, nationwide.  In the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg, of one of the bloodiest battles of our Nation’s Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that the country would set aside one day to remember its many blessings.  “In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity,” President Lincoln proclaimed, we recall the “bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come.”  As President Lincoln recognized: “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things.  They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”

Today, we continue to celebrate Thanksgiving with a grateful and charitable spirit.  When we open our hearts and extend our hands to those in need, we show humility for the bountiful gifts we have received.  In the aftermath of a succession of tragedies that have stunned and shocked our Nation — Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria; the wildfires that ravaged the West; and, the horrific acts of violence and terror in Las Vegas, New York City, and Sutherland Springs — we have witnessed the generous nature of the American people.  In the midst of heartache and turmoil, we are grateful for the swift action of the first responders, law enforcement personnel, military and medical professionals, volunteers, and everyday heroes who embodied our infinite capacity to extend compassion and humanity to our fellow man.  As we mourn these painful events, we are ever confident that the perseverance and optimism of the American people will prevail.

We can see, in the courageous Pilgrims who stood on Plymouth Rock in new land, the intrepidness that lies at the core of our American spirit.  Just as the Pilgrims did, today Americans stand strong, willing to fight for their families and their futures, to uphold our values, and to confront any challenge.

This Thanksgiving, in addition to rejoicing in precious time spent with loved ones, let us find ways to serve and encourage each other in both word and deed.  We also offer a special word of thanks for the brave men and women of our Armed Forces, many of whom must celebrate this holiday separated from the ones for whom they are most thankful.  As one people, we seek God’s protection, guidance, and wisdom, as we stand humbled by the abundance of our great Nation and the blessings of freedom, family, and faith.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 23, 2017, as a National Day of Thanksgiving.  I encourage all Americans to gather, in homes and places of worship, to offer a prayer of thanks to God for our many blessings.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

Now say what you like about our current President. Like him or hate him. But, this proclamation is spot on regarding an accurate historical accounting of the first Thanksgiving. Thank you Mr. President for this proper rendering of the history of why our nation celebrates Thanksgiving. Yes, as you said in your first paragraph: “…Americans give thanks to Almighty God for our abundant blessings.” Amen and amen!

Therefore, from my family, we offer to you and yours our desire that you may have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving! May Almighty God bless you and keep you in His abundant blessings today and in the coming year!

Kevin 

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It’s Complicated

Honestly, I’m still getting over the jet-lag and waking up at 4 am, as my body adjusts from the 14-hour time difference from the Philippines. What a trip! Wondering where the Philippines is in the world? See here:

The Philippines is made up of 7000 islands and has 103 million people (slightly less than Japan’s 127 million). It’s predominately Roman Catholic. Very few understand what it means to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s why we go. The Filipino people love Americans because we helped liberate them from the Japanese in WWII. The things the Japanese did to the people of the Philippines (particularly the women) were so heinous, that I’ll not mention them here.

General Douglas MacArthur said he would return to the Philippines to liberate them and he did.

He is highly revered in the country and so are these…

See to the left? That’s a Jeepney. They are replicas of the American Jeeps from WWII turned into their “taxi cabs.” We loved riding in them. 

They are a bit tight for me! Being 6′ 6″ has it’s disadvantages traveling, believe me!

Truly, we were on the go from the moment we landed.

The thing that really sticks out the most in my mind from the trip is something Pastor Dave DelaPaz said to me. He said, “The life of a Filipino is complicated.” I said, “Complicated, what do you mean?” He said, “Well, hard…difficult.”

Let me show you what he means…

See all of that traffic? There are no street lights or stop signs. It’s first come, first serve and it’s CRAZY! People are up all the time. They never go to bed. If you look out the hotel window (where we stayed at 2 am) the streets are full of people and the sidewalks thick with folks. It’s amazing!

You see, the traffic is so bad that it takes forever to get anywhere. Our hotel was about 4 miles from the church and it took a minimum of 30 minutes to get there. Sometimes 45 minutes. The airport was 10 miles away and it took 1 1/2 hours (minimum). Can you imagine? It’s nuts! So, folks have to get up at 4 am to go to work if they live far from their job. College students I met get up at 2:30 am to go to classes. They ride a Jeepney, then what’s called a tricycle. See that picture above? See the little vehicle with the number 33 on it and there’s a white one beside of it? Those are tricycles. They carry 2-4 people. Some folks have to take a train, as well. Then, they have to do it all again to get back home. Often arriving home at 8 pm…literally needing to go to bed right then, so they can get up in 5 hours and do it again. COMPLICATED! You better believe it. I’ll say: “UNREAL!”

Truly, I came to the realization on this mission trip just how hard the Filipino people have it trying to make a life for themselves. They are seldom together as a family to eat meals together. They often just pass each other in a blur to survive. It sounds a lot like America doesn’t it? Maybe that’s where they learned it. In the constant striving to attain more and more…we actually have less and less. Less and less of what? Each other. That’s right. We don’t have relationships much anymore. We’re so busy that when we are together…we’re distracted by the smartphones, television, social media and Netflix. Families don’t spend much time together. It’s sad, but true. And what are we reaping from all of this activity? I’ll let you decide. (Hint, a whirlwind…emptiness.)

I’m praying for myself and my own family in our lives of busyness. I’m praying for my church and my own relationships. Might we slow down and actually “see” one another. Sometimes I just take my children’s faces in my hands and I say, “Let me look at you.” I want to look into their eyes and see their faces. They are so precious to me. Oh, Lord, help me to slow down! I don’t want to miss what’s important.

It’s like Sunday at church. I got out of the rut of the routine. I posted this on Facebook on Monday:

Some Sundays aren’t routine. I hate to use that word, “routine,” but the truth is, for most of us, going to church and worshiping the Lord can become just that, routine and old hat. I’m just as guilty of that as anyone. However, yesterday was different. The Lord really did speak to hearts and we saw (I’m convinced) 5 genuine professions of faith in Jesus Christ.

That’s right: Five! In fact, one man gave his life to Christ whom we’ve been praying for many, many years. Seeing him walk down the aisle with that smile on his face was worth it all. Truly, I’ve come to believe that numbers aren’t everything. I’m the first to admit that. I know MPBC has grown a lot over the last decade, but that’s truly immaterial to me (numerically speaking). Days like yesterday, when lives are being redeemed from Satan’s kingdom to God’s kingdom, is truly what Jesus desires. After all, “He came to seek and to save that which is lost.” Praise His name for all that was accomplished.

Now, I know that every Sunday won’t be this way. I’m realistic about that. But, having a taste of what the Lord can do has given me an increased burden to seek Him in prayer and with faith that I hope there can be many more Sundays like yesterday. Thank the Lord for all of our churches that are seeking to bring people to Jesus. We are God’s army and I praise the Lord for my brothers and sisters in Christ spread throughout the world.

Who needs your prayers today to be saved? Who is literally hanging in the balance between heaven and hell? Pray for them. Pray that the Lord will move and believe that He will do so. And you know what…believe that this Sunday could be the day that they make that walk into God’s kingdom!

I think being in the Philippines helped me to see the need to slow down, even in how I was preaching. So, on Sunday, I asked our folks to bow their heads as I shared the plan of salvation. I asked them to raise their hands if they wanted to be saved or weren’t sure they were saved (after giving a quick…but, detailed explanation of salvation). Hands went up everywhere during all three services. No, I didn’t have them repeat a prayer after me. How, can a person possibly know if someone is sincere that way? You can’t. But, I asked them to raise their hand so I could know how to pray and so that the Lord would see their hearts. All of this, (as I shared above), ultimately culminated in 5 people coming forward either at the invitation or afterwards to the side room we have set up as “Guest Information.” Praise the Lord! Slowing down. Yes, that helps to “uncomplicate” life, wouldn’t you say? Yes. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Much of the living conditions of the Filipinos is very difficult.

Many live in shacks. Yet, the government is beginning to tear these down to build more roads…

Again, very complicated.

We were able to share the Gospel in a whirlwind of ways. They are wonderful at promoting what we do…

We shared with hundreds…no…literally several thousand people while we were there. I was even able to share the Gospel with the government officials in a town called Tay Tay last week. View here:

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/media/mi/+2zxyg7s

It was an amazing experience to share about Jesus being “The Life” with government officials. Can you imagine trying to attempt that in America? Forget it. Even though we were founded on Biblical principles, we are no longer allowed to mention the name “Jesus” in government settings. So sad. Here’s a few pictures from Tay Tay…

Notice how they cover their hearts when their National Anthem is being played. No kneeling in the Philippines…I can guarantee you that!

I was even able to speak about Jesus in a police station with officers in a town called Pasig City…

We were able to speak in the schools…

That’s Kandace and Clara singing.

That was about 700 students. Here’s another 250…

We spoke under covered basketball courts all over the place. (They love basketball…there’s not much land…so pretty much forget football, soccer and baseball.)

Pastor Dale even spoke in a McDonald’s that was rented to share the Gospel…

Kandace and Clara sang there too…

And we fed the people in McDonald’s…

And at the basketball courts…

Feeding stomachs and souls…

We went anywhere and everywhere! And the reactions were precious…

People raising their hands to be saved…and then, coming forward…

Then, talking to counselors… This is pastor Dave’s wife, Ethel…

Kandace and Clara sang and sang…

I shared with children on the ground…

Kandace shared with the girls…

Pastor Dale taught they boys…

Pastor Dale and I shared in the prisons…

Look at how those men are packed in there. See the ladies at the top left?

We taught in the church at night (Shekinah Glory Baptist Church). I love mentoring and training…

What a joy!! We love the dear people at the church…

The girls have made such wonderful friends!

Might I say that we’re considered giants in the Philippines. Look how much taller Clara and Kandace are…

Is that crazy or what? Speaking of crazy…

Yep…that’s a python! We’re crazy! Kandace was the brave one first…

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, eating, standing, child, food and indoor

What a wonderful time…

And a beautiful country…

I’m a blessed man!

Thank you Lord for the privilege to go share the life-saving Gospel! Thank you for the privilege to do that here in America. Thank you for that privilege to do that everywhere we go!

Thank you to a church (MPBC) who allows us to go. And for funding mission work so that we can help these pastors to share the Gospel in the Philippines…

And really…when you think about it…sharing the Gospel…well, it’s not that complicated. 🙂

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “Wearing Ourselves Out Trying To Relax.”

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/media/mi/+9655fs8

Kevin

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