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Archive for March, 2018

Did that title grab your attention? If it did, then I did my job. I am an old marketing guy, remember that. Thus, I know that the title of a sermon, article, blog post, tag line, etc. must be catchy in order to grab and lure people to read your stuff.

This is why we exist. What am I talking about? The Church. I’m talking about the Church of Jesus Christ. So, do you know why we exist? We exist to go and share the Gospel. These are our marching orders:

Matthew 28:19-20

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Sadly, 51% of church goers have no clue that what you just read is the Great Commission.

That’s so sad that I can’t even comment on it. My question is: Are you going? I ask myself: Is our church going? If not, why not? We’ve got to be “going” folks…in everything we do! I’m talking about seeing your life, your marriage, your career, your home, your hobbies…EVERYTHING as ways to leverage the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the life of others. Use what you have and where you are to reach people. And here’s the thing…if it’s not happening in your church, then you should go somewhere that is reaching out.

The truth is: most churches “tithe to themselves,” as I’ve heard it stated. They give to themselves in how they spend money. They do stuff for them…not, the people outside the walls of the church.

Believe me…I think about this a lot. As a pastor, I think about, “Kevin, what are we doing as a church to reach people?” In other words, I’m thinking about what the motive is in each ministry and program of the church. And here’s the truth: If it’s not reaching people for Jesus, we need to ask ourselves…why in the world are we doing it?

Now, I say all of that to say how thankful I am for MPBC. No, our church isn’t perfect…far from it. Because we have non-perfect people attending it. But, I do believe we have a desire to reach people. And as I look at our annual church calendar, I see that in the things that we plan and do. We are trying to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus and we seek to bring them into the body and train them for works of ministry. In other words, it’s my job to teach and equip people to be Gospel-sharing people. We’ve got to be making disciples. And that must start in our homes and then spoke out into the world into every area of our lives (work, hobbies, buying groceries, you name it).

This past weekend we had 1,307 people go through the doors to watch and experience our annual Passion Play. It was incredible! The weather was tough in that we were dodging snow flakes and sleet, but we were able to do three of the four showings. And we still had 1,307 people! Crazy!

Now, anyone who knows me at all knows that I don’t have people repeat a prayer after me and then “crown someone saved” by snapping my fingers and doing that kind of invitation. But, like the Apostle Peter at Pentecost, I give people an opportunity to pray in their own words and receive Jesus and then follow-up with us (the Elders/Pastors of the church). With that said, we had in the neighborhood of three dozen people who made professions of faith with triple that of folks who said they were believers, who prayed to recommit their lives to a closer, more dedicated walk with Jesus. That’s astounding! Truly it was and is amazing to see how the Holy Spirit moves when the depiction of all that Jesus did for us is displayed on a stage.

Here are some of the pictures of those scenes and the preparation and work that went into the play.

I can’t tell you how much this brings our church together to attempt to do something for the Lord that’s much bigger than all of us! It involves over 180 people. It brings wonderful camaraderie.

Praise the Lord for all that He accomplished!

What’s next? Our Community Easter Egg Hunt this Saturday at 2 pm.

Yep! We’re hiding 10,000 Easter Eggs and we’re going to use it to share the Gospel. We’ll start out in the church, where we’ll gather everyone up to share the resurrection and then to the field to hunt those eggs. The truth is: there will be a lot of folks who will bring their kids to hunt Easter Eggs with candy in them that perhaps would never come to church the next day, Easter Sunday, for service. So, we GO! That’s right…we GO and get outside of the walls and compel them to come in…even with Easter Eggs.

What’s after that? Our Soccer League (Saturdays from April 14th through May 19th).

Again, folks might bring their kids to play soccer and hear the Gospel on a field, who may never come to a church service. That’s “GOING” and that’s reaching out. And it’s a ton of work and it takes a ton of people to pull all of this off. I’m so thankful for a church that wants to GO! Again, we’re not perfect…but, we’re trying and we’re praying the Lord will continue to have favor on us and anoint these efforts for His kingdom and His glory.

Might I say that we also have another team heading to Mexico/Texas this Saturday. They are going to be placing the windows in the second floor of the church in Progreso, Mexico and sharing the Gospel in Weslaco, TX. Pray for them, would you please!

I celebrated my 50th birthday yesterday and the day before, 3.27, we celebrated the fact that 12 years ago was “Gotcha Day” in China for this little girl:

Look at her now…

Where has the time gone? Thank you Lord for our dear, sweet Clara! You ordained it that we would have the privilege of raising her! What a blessing!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, “You Can’t Be Neutral About This…”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytjNW42MzZ3P2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

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The Ordeal

What I’m going to share with you…I’ve titled: “The Ordeal.” Yet, compared to folks who are going through much, much more difficult things, it’s not an ordeal at all. I gave it that title so I could lure you into reading. (Isn’t that awful! That’s my sales/marketing background coming out of me! 🙂 )

You know I love basketball and you know my team is the TarHeels. I’ve been pulling for them for over 40 years. Well, I saw that they were going to the NCAA Tournament about 3 weeks ago when they went on a 6-game winning streak. The question was: “How high will the rise.” I’m talking about how high in the seedings could the Heels go for the NCAA Tournament.

You see, if they were to do well enough in the ACC Tournament, they could get a #2 Seed and play in Charlotte. However, this looked like a big-time outside chance, because they would have to likely get to the Tourney final to do that. Which, I might add, would mean beating Duke for a second time this year. Not likely! Well, I was wrong. It did happen. Even though they were seeded 6th, they beat Syracuse (now in the Sweet 16), then Miami, and then Duke (now in the Sweet 16) to reach the ACC Finals. They lost to Virginia in the finals.

Here’s where the fun (the ordeal) begins. I’m sitting in church on Sunday night, March 11th (the night of the NCAA Selection Show). We are having our Passion Play Dress Rehearsal, and I get a text from a friend that the Heels got the #2 seed in the West Bracket for the tournament, but they will play in Charlotte on Friday the 23rd. Awesome! I knew I needed to get home and see about getting tickets.

By the time I got home it was approaching 8:45. The selections were made around 6:15. Tickets had been selling for well over 2 hours. I had bookmarked the ticket site on my computer earlier that week (am I type-A or what?). I didn’t want to lose any time in getting to the site and securing tickets. The site pulls up and I see that the tickets are $50 each! That seemed pretty steep to me…until I remembered it was for 2 games. You see what’s called the “First Session,” which ended up being Providence vs. Texas A&M at 12:15 pm and then the Heels and Lipscomb at 2:50 pm. Okay. Sounds good. I’ll go for it!

I clicked on the screen the available tickets. (You had to hover the mouse over each section to see what was left.) Holy cow!! There was like almost nothing left with 4 seats together (it would be me, Pam, Andrew and Clara… Kandace had to work). Okay, okay, Kevin…take your time…BUT DON’T TAKE YOUR TIME because the TICKETS ARE SELLING OUT IN FRONT OF YOUR SLOW-MOVING EYES!!! HURRY!!!!!

You know how sweat can pop out on your upper lip in times of stress… Yep…I felt it. Then it hit me! “Does Pam even want to go!” Oh no! She’s not home from church yet…I’ll call her!

Hey honey… Do you want to see the Heels play Friday afternoon in Charlotte. Hurry!

She replied: “What? This Friday? Well, uh…I don’t know…I guess… Uh…do you want me to go? How much are the tickets? Do you just want to go with Andrew and Clara…you know Kandace has to work.”

YIKES!!!! (The section I was looking at with four tickets together just disappeared.)

“Oh honey”… I said, “Just make a decision, please. Either way is fine with me.”

Pam said, “I’ll be home in about 2 minutes and we can talk about it.”

I said, “Uh…Okay…bye.” (Big mistake!!!)

I should have settled it then and there, but I was in panic mode and I heard “2 minutes” and I thought, “Oh, that’s not long!” BUT, IT WAS! That’s forever! I just watched another section disappear. It’s nose-bleed city now! And can I even find four tickets together. Oh…oh…oh…wait…there’s a section with three tickets. Section 218, Row C, seats 1, 2 and 3. I thought, “I don’t think she really wants to go, because she would have probably jumped on the chance when we were on the phone.” Uh…oh…oh…the row below it just had two more seats disappear. YIKES!!! THESE THREE ARE GOING TO GET GONE TOO!”

So, I clicked those three seats and I hit: BUY! (I had already punched in my credit card number and details while talking to Pam! Can you believe it…I was actually multi-tasking… Can you imagine that… A man doing two things at the same time! Impossible! But, I did it. Of course you ladies do 9 things at once, but I’m not a lady!) I’m feeling pretty good about myself. Counting taxes and the surcharge fees, the total was $187. Indeed, I’m feeling pretty good!

And then Pam walks in the door.

I said, “Hey Honey…I got me, Clara and Andrew tickets for the game.”

You did?

Yes…man they were going fast!!

Did you get one for me?

Huh…what? Did I get one for you?

Yes, I think I probably need to go with you because you’ll probably get lost or lose one of the kids. (No joke…that’s what she said to me. Can you believe that? 🙂 Well, don’t think bad of Pam…because she’s right! Any of those things could happen. Remember, I’m a one-track mind. I did leave one of my kids on a mission trip at the church we were working at one time. I also left both Katy and Kandace’s luggage for a mission trip one time too. So, yes…Pam is right to worry about her doofus husband. 🙂 )

I said: “Uh…Okay…Yes, I’m going to make sure I have tickets for all four of us.”

You know that sweat-thing…on the top of the upper lip. Yep, it’s back!

I slinked off down the hall with my cell phone. I was dialing Customer Service to the ticket company as I walked. They answered quickly and I told them my dilemma and the lady (named “Precious”… No joke…that was her name. Try saying that to someone and not be sarcastic. Try it. It’s hard. :)) I said, “Precious, I need your help. I’ve got three tickets to Session 1 of the NCAA Tournament in Charlotte on Friday, but I need four. Is there any way you can help me. I know they are going fast. I was just watching the disappear online.” She said, “Yes, I think I can help you.”

I said, “Can you cancel the first three and get me four more…even if they are in the top of the arena.” (Because I thought that would be the only place left). It’s 9 pm by now.) She said, “Well, I can’t cancel your first three, but I can transfer you to someone else in Customer Service and they can help you with canceling those tickets. Yes…I have found four together in Section 221, Row K, seats 7, 8, 9, 10. Do you want them?”

“Yes ma’am! Get ’em before they get gone!” I replied.

“Okay sir, do you want me to use your credit card off the first order?”

“Yes, ma’am! Hit the button, please!” (I was nice…but, yes…I’m sure a bit panicky.) I said, “Precious (man that’s hard to say that to someone and not be sarcastic)…Precious…please hit the button on this…because I’ve told my kids I’m taking them to see Carolina…so, yes…go!”

Precious did it! Yes!

“They are yours sir!”

Woohoo!!! Cartwheels! Well, not really! I can’t do a cart-wheel. But, I was REALLY happy!

I replied, “Okay, thanks Precious!” (Are you laughing yet?) “Can you get me over to the other folks to cancel the other tickets?”

“Sure, Mr. Brown…one moment.”

Well, Precious transferred me over and I cancelled the tickets, right? WRONG! Remember, I told you this was an ordeal. I get on the phone with this lady who says, “Mr. Brown, because you ordered the tickets online, there is a no refund policy. You had to click that box to order the tickets.”

WHAT?

She said, “Yes, Mr. Brown, that’s the box that authorized the ticket purchase.”

Well, folks in the blur of my multi-tasking…I didn’t read that little box with 8 point font… I just clicked it because I WAS IN A HURRY! Bad mistake! The lady told me all they could do was give me 50% off a future ticket order. UGH!! I don’t NEED ANY MORE TICKETS! 🙂

The truth is: this is what happens when you get into a rush. This is what happens when you don’t have time to talk things through so you can make a wise decision. Honestly, ever time in my life where I’ve had to hurry or rush to make a decision…it’s usually a poor decision.

So, I’m stuck with three tickets. Well, okay then! When you are in a bind…what do you do? Go to Facebook! 🙂 No, not really. I did pray first…and then Facebook came to mind. “Who wants to see the Heels play…private message me and I’ll set you up…first come, first serve.” Well, within 2 minutes I had a guy from Salisbury interested. Then I had a couple of more “dings” right after that. But, remember, it’s first come, first serve. So, I told the guy from Salisbury, “Let me know ASAP.” He eventually came back and said, “He couldn’t get it worked out.” So, I went to the next on the list. She said, “I’ll take them.” I knew her. In fact, I had gone to school with her and I thought, “Cool…this is all going to work out.”

I told Pam what had happened and apologized for pulling the trigger too quickly and not waiting to talk to her. She was kind and said, “It’s okay. I know you were trying hard to get the tickets. It will work out.” I thought so too. Here’s an old school-mate and this will be fine!

I was wrong. Back and forth I went with this lady to try to meet up. It was one excuse after the other. But, since I knew her, I thought I’d try to make it work. This went on for the next three days, until finally on Thursday night, she cancelled. I couldn’t believe it! What an ordeal! I need that $187 for the food and the gas to go down there. Folks, I’m a preacher…I’m not rolling in the dough. 🙂 So, I checked back with a couple of other folks who had shown interest, but it was too late in the game. The games were the next day, after all.

So, I told Pam, “Honey, I’ll just have to sell them at the game.” I then made me a little sign that said, “Selling 3 Tickets.” I folded it up and stuck it in the back pocket of my blue jeans. I’ll be ready tomorrow!

Down to Charlotte we went. We got to the parking lot at 11:15 am. People were buying tickets everywhere. A man with a gold tooth walked up to me and said, “You got any tickets for sale?” I said, “Yes, I have three as a matter of fact.” He said, “What you want for them?” I said, “I’m selling them for $150, even though I paid $187 for them… I’m just trying to get rid of them and give someone a good deal.”

Now, remember, this guy has a gold tooth and I’ll be honest. Just by the way he was dressed and the way he was acting… He was a hustler! He had a buddy beside of him on the phone and they were scalping tickets. I could tell. Also remember, I’ve got my family in tow and so, I’m thinking “Kevin…don’t get bogged down with these two dudes if they start giving you flack.” The guy says, “I’ll give you $100.”

“What! No way Brother!” I said. “I can sell them at the door for $150 easy! After all, I’ve not even made it out of the parking lot.” He said, “Come on man! Give me a break. Help me out!”

I said, “Look if you want them…they are $150…take it or leave it.”

By then, I’ve motioned for Pam and the kids to come on.

He said, “Come on Big Man…you can do it…uh…how about $120.”

No, $150.

“Gee big fella…you are making it hard on me! $140.”

Nope…$150…

“Expletive…” “Okay Big Guy, let me see the tickets.”

I showed him the tickets and he said, “These are on paper.” I said, “Sure they are. I printed them out on my printer.” He said, “Are they real?”

Okay…now I’m offended. I said, “Look dude…I’m a pastor and I’m not lying. I bought too many tickets and I’m trying to sell these…so either you want them or you don’t.” And then (this is funny). My lovely little wife in her high-pitched little voice says, “Uh…it’s true…He is a pastor.”

Both of the guys looked at Pam and their facial expression was priceless. But, it actually helped. The guy says, “Give me your number because if these ain’t legit I’m coming back to you.”

Now folks, do you think I would answer my phone if this guy called me in an arena of 28,699 people (the capacity of the Spectrum Center)? Uh…the answer would be: “NO!” But, being the man that I am…I gave his buddy my number and he quickly called it and I held up my phone and I said, “Is this you?” He said, “Yeah…that’s me!” I laughed and I said, “Great!”

Folks, this is comical by now. And the best part was the look on Clara and Andrew’s faces. They are taking all of this in and I’m telling you…the life lessons in the Preferred Parking outside the Spectrum Center were bouncing around everywhere! This is something they’ll never forget!

So, Mr. Goldtooth pulls out a $100 bill and two $20’s. And I thought to quickly say, “Hey, I’m not going to ask you if that $100 bill is real like you just asked me if my tickets were real. I’m going to trust you.” He said, “Here you go!” I said, “Wait a minute…that’s just $140!” (I’m still holding the tickets in my hand.) He then produced a $10 and two $1’s and sadly said, “Come on dude…won’t you give a man a break… I ain’t got no money to spend on nuthin’.” I said, “I’m sorry…that’s your problem…” and I took the $10 from his hand and gave him the tickets. He said, “I’ll be callin’ you if these ain’t legit!” I laughed and I said, “I promise you they are legit!”

What an ORDEAL!

But, I must tell you, as I look back on it…it was a good ordeal. I learned a lot and so did my kids. Like I said: the life lessons were thick in this deal. I showed my kids how to deal with someone who was trying to hustle me. I did it in a kind, but firm way and I showed them that you don’t have to be intimidated by the situation.

Here’s where we ended up:

Yep, nose bleed. But, not the worst by any means. And did we have fun?

We had a blast! The Heels won and we have a great story to tell about “The Ordeal.”

This week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “In Secular Morality: The Majority Wins.”

It’s how peer pressure influences people to lie. Would you lie to go along with the crowd? See what you think…

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytrM3A3bTV5P2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

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How’d I Do?

Do you go back and analyze your performance in your job or in your life? I do it all the time. That ten minute drive home from church each Sunday afternoon after three services can be excruciating. Why? Because I battle with the question: “How’d I do?” We all battle with self-doubt. We all struggle. We all have weaknesses. We all have strengths. I’ve learned to just be satisfied with doing my best. Yes, there are always things we can do better. But, if I’ve prepared, prayed and given my best, that’s all I can do. And that’s true of you!

Well, I was thinking about the winter weather and my little hobby of trying to forecast (even though I’m not a meteorologist). Well, “How’d I do?” Okay, let’s see…

I said all the way back in August…
“I’m a bit less bullish than their predicted 5 events and I will stick with 3-4 events and slightly above normal precipitation and cold… With all of this said, my “preliminary forecast” is for about 14″ of snow. That’s about 45% above average. However, if we get “the big one,” we could get that in one storm. I do believe we’ll have a warmer December to start…but, it should flip (if the Modoki pattern holds) by mid-to-late month into January. So, we’ll see. It’s always fun to try to predict these things. But, as we all know…only the Lord knows! 🙂
Well, we had a big snow in December of all things! 7″ on December 8th (again, that’s really early for that much snow) and another 1″ on Tuesday, December 12th. Then, we saw 4″ on Wed., Jan. 17th and about 1/4″ of ice/sleet on Sunday, Feb. 4th. So, in Kevin Brown’s back yard, I had a total of 12.25″ of snow, sleet and ice for the year. That’s pretty much right on average for us.
BUT, I thought we’d get more. And we didn’t. The pattern turned warm in February, which I said it would (remember the roller coaster that I talked about)…and it’s turned back colder again…even today. And we’ll have a close call Sunday/Sunday night. But, in essence, meteorological winter is over.

So, how’d I do in summary? Back in August I said we’d get around 14″ and then I got cold feet in October and backed off to 9-10″ (Oh ye of little faith, Kevin!) Well, the 12.25″ was a pretty decent forecast overall.

I’ll tell you what I’ll remember about this winter… It was how cold it was in January. Remember we had below freezing temps for almost 9 straight days. I will remember having to have the faucet dripping at night so the pipes wouldn’t freeze. And I bet your kids and grandkids will tell their kids and grandkids 40 years from now: “Boy it sure doesn’t get as cold as it did when I was little.” Ha ha!

I also said this back in August: “There again…western NC is close to the ‘dividing line’ of normal to above average precip.” And this is the map I showed…
And we were just outside that “Above Average” blue bubble. Now, I’m not bragging (that’s not very Christian), but I believe I did better than the computer models. Why? Because most models rely too much on La Niña versus El Niño. Truly, there are so many variable. There are no guarantees! Most winter outlooks are no better than the flip of a coin.
There are two guys who are the best: Joe Bastardi of weatherbell.com and Judah Cohen, who handles the AER Model below. He literally blew the models away (the American Models, the European-ECMWF, NOAA and the UK). The OBSERVATIONS map below show that the AER of Cohen’s was spot on. Well, I use Bastardi and Cohen because they don’t JUST rely on models. They use their brains and the past to forecast the future.

So, overall, I feel I did okay this year on the forecast, but I really did believe we’d have more snow in March and that just doesn’t seem to be likely now. So, you decide. I’m just thankful I’m not driving home from church or I’d be beating myself up.

Speaking of church… Last Wed. night, this couple sang in the old sanctuary (we call it the Prayer Chapel now)…

Yep, that’s husband wife team of Josh and Katy Isaacs. They did such a wonderful job. They sang a Dave Crowder song, “Come As You Are.” The lyrics are powerful…

Come out of sadness
From wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

There’s hope for the hopeless
And all those who’ve strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace
There’s rest for the weary
Rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t cure

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

Come as you are
Fall in his arms
Come as you are
There’s joy for the morning
Oh sinner be still
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
Come as you are
Come as you are

Josh has been through a lot in his life and hearing and seeing him singing with Katy was so touching in my heart. I’m used to seeing Katy sing. She’s excellent. I mean that! Not just because she’s my daughter… It’s the truth. She’s gifted. But, to see Josh (who really can sing) pouring out his heart in the song…with those powerful words… Well, it truly touched me.

Folks, “How’d You Do?” Yes, ask those questions. Get better. But, also…don’t dwell on it. Don’t dwell on your past. It can hold you back and hold you down. Paul said, “This one thing I do…” Preach more? No. Start more churches? No. He said, “Forgetting the past…”

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” Philippians 3:13b

How’d I do? Okay. And so are you. Keep moving… Keep striving and keep straining to what lies ahead in Christ and you and I will do just fine!

Kevin

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