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Archive for April, 2018

Honesty-Are You Honest?

Honesty is a lost virtue in our culture today. You know it and I know it. It’s so easy to tell a lie to cover a situation that you don’t want anyone else to know about. Most lies are told because people want to present themselves in the best light. Lies are told so that we don’t have to admit or own up to deficiencies in our lives. Lies are told so that we…well…won’t have to admit the truth.

Do Christians lie? Of course. Do you lie? Yes. And so do I. Now, before you get mad at me…you know I’m telling the truth. You know we all tell “white lies” or “partial truths” or “veiled truths” to cover the “real truth.” True? Yes! Can we just admit it, please!

Some of you are thinking, “Does Pastor Kevin lie? Is he admitting it?” What I’m admitting is that it’s easy to not tell the 100% truth. But, if it’s 99% truth and 1% compromise, guess what you have? A lie. Think of it like a bottle of water. Do you want 1% cyanide poison in that bottle of water or 100% water? Give me 100% water!!! That 1% can kill you!

Do you find yourself lying a lot lately? It’s easy to qualify the lies and give excuses or justifications or rationalizations, but be honest. (There that word is again: “honest.”) Yes, be honest, what is the truth about you? What is the truth about me? What does the Lord see in our hearts? He sees the truth, you know. He knows all. Might I remind us…we can’t hide anything from the Lord. Oh, we might try. But, He knows the truth about us. He even knows the truth that we are having a hard time admitting to ourselves right now.

What are you struggling with this week? Right now. Today. What’s eating at you? Does it have anything to do with whether or not you’ll tell the truth about a situation? Of course it would be easy to sweep it under the rug, or not deal with it directly, or just send an email, instead of a face-to-face meeting. But, if you really want to deal with it…then, deal with it. Swallow hard, go to the Lord and lean into Him and say, “Show me the truth, Father. Show me what I need to know about myself and the situation and what you want me to see and give me the courage to do it. Help me to follow Truth.”

Truth. What is truth? Pilate asked that question, you know Truth is a person: Jesus Christ. If we are going to follow Him, TRULY follow Him, we’ll have to do it in Spirit and Truth. That’s the only way. Like the old song says: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

Has reading this made you feel uncomfortable? Yep, me too. But, it’s the truth and it’s needed and the truth may hurt, but the truth wins in the end. Always!

Here’s this week’s Two Minute Tuesday: “Are You Connecting with Your Teen?” I tried to be blatantly honest in it and admit my faults.

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLys5Z3E1aDhjP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

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I’m asked often, “What is the reason your church has grown so much?” I respond, “Well, first of all, it’s not MY church.” I say that in a kind way…because folks don’t mean it in a negative way. It’s just the way we talk about churches. But, then I hasten to say, “All I can say is the Lord has chosen to have favor on us and bless us.” Yet, now I add this: “But, the truth is I do believe I can point to something that we’re doing that’s pretty much a guarantee of the Lord’s blessings… GOING! Going and sharing the Gospel. Missions.”

I am convinced the Lord blesses churches who “gather for the going.” My job as a pastor/elder is to “equip the saints for the works of ministry” (Ephesians 4:11-16). Honestly, many churches tithe to themselves. Most of what they do is inward focused. Yet, Jesus told us to: “GO and make disciples of all nations…” So, we “gather for the going.” That’s got to be the goal. Why? Because Jesus’ command (not suggestion)…but command…is to GO!!

Last night we had a mission fundraiser called our “Cake Auction.” We raised over $7,000 for the mission work we’ll be doing this year. It was a fabulous time of fellowship and laughter and joy of being together and loving on one another and knowing that every dime that was raised will go to sharing the Gospel!

It’s always a blast making the cakes. Andrew made a cake all by himself (well…with a wee-bit of help from his momma) and it was delicious!

Check out this cake made by the Jason and Kristina Shropshire family. Can you figure it out…

Yep, it’s the “Lion and the Lamb” cake, representing the fact that Jesus is the “Lion of Judah” and the “Lamb of God.” I’ve been using that in the messages from Matthew 24-25 and Revelation. See this from our website:

Pretty awesome! We had some fabulous cakes and a WONDERFUL time!

Next up is our Soccer League that begins on Saturday! We have close to 200 kids signed up and about 50-60% of those (in my estimation) are in families that don’t have a church home. Would you pray for us as we kick off on Saturday? The weather looks to be perfect! Thank you Lord!

But, don’t get used to it. What? Yep, I believe after a brief “mild-up,” we’ll see cooler than normal temperatures lasting into the last 2 weeks of the month and probably into the first half of May. It’s really been a roller coaster ride. And this past winter proves that. See this graph…

I know it’s kind of “busy,” but you get the gist. We had a warm December overall. Yet, it snowed 7″ on December 8th. Then January was cold and February felt like “Spring had sprung.” However, March smacked us in the face. More snow. Huge flakes…

April will be much cooler than normal. Yep…big time roller coaster ride! Watch out for Sunday! There will be tons of potential in the atmosphere for bad storms. You’ll see this in the Plains today and then moving to Alabama and Georgia tomorrow and Saturday.

Someone asked me a few days ago: Do you do Spiritual Gifts tests for your members? I said, “No, because that’s between the person and the Lord. I see no spiritual gifts test in Scripture.” And what do you know…just a couple of days later I saw that Dr. David Black, professor of Greek and New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary posted this on his blog http://www.daveblackonline.com:

9:50 AM “In your opinion, what’s the best book on spiritual gifts?” A student asked me this question after my NT class yesterday. That’s easy. Kenneth Hemphill’s Spiritual Gifts: Empowering the New Testament Church. That said, I cautioned my student to be aware of two things: (1) the lists of NT gifts are not exhaustive, and (2) none of the gifts is defined per se. Then I asked him this question: “What, in your thinking, is the difference between a ‘natural ability’ and a ‘spiritual gift’?” I had a reason for asking him that question. You see, in the end I think there’s very little difference between a so-called natural ability and a spiritual gift.

When you become a follower of Jesus, two things happen. First, you acknowledge that every one of your so-called “natural abilities” is really a gift from the gracious hand of God. And secondly, you now employ those gifts in His service and for His glory alone. One of the gravest dangers of doing a spiritual gifts inventory on people is that it can all too often produce carbon copies of a stereotypical archetype. Instead, let’s ask people, “What do you love to do? What is your passion in life? What is it that you do that causes you to feel God’s pleasure?” Psychologists call this “self-discernment,” but for Christians, self-discernment is always connected to our relationship with God. The more we become like Jesus, the more we become authentically ourselves. What incredibly important theology. The path to self-fulfillment is simply discovering who our Creator designed us to be. (Side note. Here’s a quick test to determine if you’re doing the rightthing with your life and not merely a good thing. Do the satisfactions of your work outweigh the stresses? If your vocation is born out of a relationship with Jesus, then it will be a pleasure both for you and for others. After all, Jesus said, “My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” So what are we complaining about?)

Our chapel speaker on Tuesday drove this point home. “Don’t waste your life! Don’t bury your God-given talents!” It’s simply too costly. So let’s give people the freedom to be what God wants them to be. The best we can do is give them Jesus, not a book about spiritual gifts. I have no confidence in Dave Black but I have every confidence in my Savior. He is utterly dependable, and if we look to Him, He will guide us in the right path for our lives. Trust me, no one wants to follow a fraud. Be who you are, the real you, the person God created you to be. The church is for real people with real families who lead real lives. And always remember the theology: Our true self emerges only from our uniqueness in Christ.

Amen Dr. Black!

So often I hear people say, “I can’t get plugged into my church.” Well, I don’t mean to be crass, but that’s your fault. It’s your church! Look and see what the church is doing and get involved. The reason you don’t feel plugged in is because you haven’t plugged in! Listen, people do what they want to do. If you have a heart to serve, you’ll serve. If you don’t, you won’t. So, plug-in! Go! Get moving!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday. Yes, yes, I know it’s NOT 2 minutes. I’m sorry. They usually never are! But, I try to keep them under 4 minutes…wink, wink. 🙂 This week’s TMT is about the task of not losing our kids. Should we teach them the 10 Commandments? Yes. Should we tell them there are 66 books in the Bible: 27 in the New Testament and 39 in the Old Testament? Yes. Should we teach them about David vs. Goliath and Daniel in the Lion’s Den and Jonah in the great fish? Yes. But, we must do more. We must give our young people a reason for their hope, beyond just memorizing facts and hearing wonderful stories. We must 1 Peter 3:15 this deal if we’re going to have young people who embrace the faith. Tell me…what do you see?

Take a look at this to find out…

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLyszd3l6cGpkP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

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One of the questions I’m asked the most is by parents. It goes like this: “Pastor, I’m so afraid my child will walk away from the Lord when they get older, what can I do?”

Well, first of all, their concern is valid. Studies continue to show that 70% or more of children who have been raised in Christian homes, will walk away from the faith by their 20th birthday.

That thought still jolts me.  Why does this happen?  Why do we lose children, even though they grew up in a “Christian” home?  Well, one of the primary reasons is because of the pagan culture we live in today.  We live in a culture that is in total opposition to what the Bible teaches about life and living, and our children are immersed in that culture. We know we can’t keep our children in a bubble…yes…they must be protected and nurtured…but, they are going to be exposed to the pagan forces of this world in ways that we’ll never be able to totally control.

So, what does the Bible say about raising children in a way that we will not lose them?  I’m glad you asked!

Deuteronomy 6:4-15

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.

I believe there are five things that we must understand if we don’t want to lose our children.

#1 We must worship God without rivals

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Deut. 6:4

What are rivals today?  Well, I’ll give you what I think the number one rival is.  Now this is strictly my opinion and I guess since it’s my blog…that’s what we’ll go with…ha!  I sincerely believe the #1 rival of God in our children’s lives (and ours too for that matter), is too many activities…i.e., sports, classes of all kinds, running every night of the week, etc.  Now please understand I have nothing against any of these things. My kids are involved in all sorts of things. But, there has to be a balance. We can’t be gone every night of the week and expect to raise Godly children. There must be time to teach the things of God.  Can I be bold?  I’ve learned that for most of us…when we were kids and we win trophies at 12, that most of the time by the age of 40 they end up in the basement or attic or the landfill.

When we are never with our kids except for running them to and fro from this thing to that…then guess who is raising our kids?  Not us!  It’s the teachers, coaches, etc.  Is this ok?  Perhaps, you might say…”They are good people.”  But, guess who’s responsibility it is to raise our children?  Parents… That’s you and me!

#2 We must build homes on God’s Love

5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Deut. 6:4-6

Love is a decision.  It is a decision of the will…a choice we make, however, it is not void of emotion or feeling…men, nor is it led by just emotion and feelings, ladies.  You’ve heard the man who says, I don’t need to tell her I love her, once at the altar was good enough, if I change my mind, I’ll let her know.  While that may be funny…it’s certainly the wrong philosophy!

What emotion does your children see you exhibit toward the Lord?  I tell you, I try to make my kids blush at least once per week as I love and dote on my wife in front of them.  Nothing out-of-place or wrong here…just hugs and kisses that make them say, “Aw daddy!”  But, they love it.  They feel secure when they see that I show love and affection for their mother and it models it for their future marriages.  By the way, where do you think children learn to love God?  From us!!!  If we get mad and walk out on each other, then it teaches the kids that God made do the same to them.

#3 Teach them diligently (Impress it on them)

7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Deut. 6:7

We do what we call ROP (Rite of Passage) at our church. https://www.amazon.com/Rite-Passage-Home-Church-Christ-Centered/dp/1893729958/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

It’s a Scriptural program.  Why do we need ROP?  Well, when does a young person become an adult?  Well, we don’t seem to know.  So, we, the church want to help.  But, it’s not the churches job to do the work of raising everyone’s child.  The Bible tells us that parents are responsible for raising the children…not the schools, coaches, teachers or, again, the churches.

But, it goes deeper than that.  We say it’s the job of parents to raise the children, but do you know who Moses was talking to specifically here?  He’s using the masculine singular in this passage in Deut. 6?  And that means the Lord is principally talking the Fathers and tells the Fathers it’s their responsibility to lead.  You say this is Old Testament.

Well, Ephesians 6:1-4 tells us something very important…particularly look at verse 4.

1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” 4Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Who’s the direction given to?  The Fathers!  Do you see that?  It’s the Father’s job to lead out in the training and instruction of the Lord! It’s not that the mom’s aren’t involved. Of course they are! In fact, mom’s often are the ones who have the greatest impact on a child in many ways. Yet, the dad’s are to set the tone and be INTENTIONALLY INVOLVED. Boy have we missed that in our culture!  Please hear my heart.  It’s not the church’s job to disciple your children.  Anything the Bible tells you to do that I, as a Pastor or the church, does for you, in essence, serves to cripple you and impair you from doing your job.  I or other pastors are simply crippling you and ultimately, (speaking for myself), I’m being disobedient to the Word.

Have you ever thought about this?  What we make our children crave, love and desire is more important and has more impact on their lives than what we make them learn?  You may need to read that again.  What do your children crave and desire?  If it’s not God and the things of God, then you have a priority problem in your home.

# 4 Mark your home as God’s territory

8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.  Deut. 6:8-9

I encourage people to place verses of Scripture on their bathroom mirrors, the walls of their houses in frames, etc.  Even make smells in your house mean something.  Pictures on the walls should depict your home as marked territory of God.  As believers in Christ we should say, “I’m not going to have anything in my house that doesn’t point to Jesus and show that we are His children.”  Make it a goal to touch all the senses of your children in your home.  We have food from a CrockPot many Sundays because of the hectic pace of the day. Pam puts the food on and it cooks while we’re gone and the children associate the smell of food from the CrockPot very often with the Lord’s Day.  Isn’t that neat?

Another example is the use of a Bible…an actual Bible that you read from in your home. Then pass that Bible down to your kids. I’ve done this with my Bibles as I use them and wear them out. Each of my four kids have an old Bible of mine now. I’m working on the grandchildren now. I pray those old Bibles mark their minds that Daddy (Papa for the grands) loves the Word of God…and loves them!

#5 Keep your prosperity in check

10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.  Deut. 6:10-15

This is simple.  Our children don’t want things…they want you!  Did you see what happened?  The people got all the stuff and they forgot God.  It’s happened in America too.  By the way, you’ve seen the poster that says, “He has the most toys in the end wins.”  Well the truth is, “He who has the most toys in the end still dies!”

As another side note, (this is for the ladies who may be reading this), it’s ok to want to and have the desire to spend your time raising your family.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  This used to never be questioned.  75 years ago…when this nation had a lot less…all the mommies stayed home and took care of their families.  Now look at what we have?  We’ve gotten “wealthy” and prosperous with our two-income families (trying to have it all) and look at the moral decay of our nation.  Now, don’t misquote me and say that just because women have gone en masse into the workforce over the last 75 years that is the reason why the country is sliding into moral decay.  But, I promise you…isn’t hasn’t helped.  It is God’s ultimate and first purpose for a mom to be able to manage and care for her home as the first priority.  If you can work outside the home while making your home the first priority…then that’s wonderful. But, the home is to be the first priority. The Bible tells us so.

3Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.  Titus 2:3-5

By the way, it’s ok to come home from work at quitting time too, dads!  One of our biggest problems is that we’re like hamsters running on a wheel.  We are all running around crazy and are worn out and tired and beat to death.  I just read a statistic last week that said kids, when asked what they wanted most from their parents, wanted them to not be so stressed out and tired all the time.  That’s pretty amazing.  Of all the things they could have wanted and that’s what crept to number one.

One last thing…do you know what else the study revealed.  It was simply…this:  If you were to ask your child if they could trade more of Dad and Mom in the home for more house, more vacations, more stuff, more gadgets and trinkets (those are my words for what was said to be “material possessions”), what do you think the kids would say they wanted?  They said, “No.  I’d take more mom and dad.”  Don’t believe this is true?  Just ask them.  They want you!  I promise.

I’ll say it this way…

At the end of your life, the most important thing that you will leave to those you love is the memory of simply being with them. It won’t be the houses, cars, money, material stuff… No, it will be you. Just you. And the truth is: that’s what matters the most to the ones you love most now…today…at this very moment. So, think about that as you pursue life and remember that people are more important than things…every time!

So, how do we make sure we don’t lose our kids to the world?  We must:  #1 Worship God without rivals, #2 Build our homes on God’s love, #3 Teach them diligently, #4 Mark you home as God’s territory and #5 Keep your prosperity in check.  I’d add one last thing…pray, pray, and pray some more…for all you are worth!  We’re in the battle of a lifetime for our children.  Let’s not lose them!  The statistics are stacked against us!  But, we can do all things through Christ and we’re more than conquerors…but, we better prioritize our lives and be INTENTIONAL if we want to have our kids in the percentage who will remain faithful and serve Christ.

Happy Birthday to this lovely young lady…who is now a teenager today!!! Amazing!!! I love you with all my heart Clara!!!

Here is this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday. It fits the topic of today’s post quite well.

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