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Archive for June, 2018

Are you growing spiritually? You either are or you aren’t. There isn’t any middle ground. There is no standing still. Are you growing in your faith? How about your children? Are thy growing spiritually? Mom and Dad, it’s your responsibility that they are growing spiritually. Please don’t think that God has given the Church the responsibility to disciple your child. That’s your job. The Church is to equip ALL the believers in “works of ministry.” There are no special “groups” in Scripture. So, how are things spiritually with your children?

The Two-Minute Tuesday was about that very subject this week. Take a look: “Are Your Kids Spiritually Healthy?”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytkaDhueTVuP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Regarding this subject of children/kids, we often have families come to the church and as they are learning about the church, sometimes they’ll ask: “What about ‘Children’s Church,’ ‘Youth Group,’ etc?” I tell them, we don’t have those. We keep everyone together, just as you see in Scripture.

My daughter, Katy, blogged about this not long ago:

https://careercalledhome.wordpress.com/2018/06/16/children-in-the-church-service-why-and-how-its-for-the-best/

Not long ago, we had a family with several children come to the church and the mom and dad told me how excited they were that we didn’t split their family up as soon as they hit the doors of the church. They were so pleased that we worship as a “family.” Yet, people hear this and they say, “That’s great! But what do you do about the teenager who come to church who has no parents with him. What do you do for him?” Or they’ll say, “Hey, it’s great you have families in your church and dad’s who lead their homes well, but there are some dead-beat dads out their today, so what are we supposed to do with the kids of those kinds of dads?”

Well, most churches have asked that question and have come to the conclusion that they must be a substitute where the dads are not getting the job done. Thus, before we realized it, the Church was handling the training for all dads, Christian and non-Christian alike. But, this is a problem. For the past 30-35 years, the Church has undertaken a role that was never intended for the Church to do in the first place. Instead of getting our hands dirty in the hard work of teaching and training, and “adopting” into our families young people who don’t have a family in the church, we often want to take the easy way out and hire someone (a youth pastor) to do it for us.

Yes, we can simply “adopt” these young people into our families. This means inviting them to sit with of our family during service and making them feel they are accepted and belong. Problem is…in many churches today, the youth are never in the service with the “adults.” This is tragic! Paul instructed Titus to teach the elders in Titus 2 that the old should teach, mentor, the young. How can we do this if they are never with us?

Through the years, Pam and I have “adopted” several young adults into our family. One of which is now our son-in-law. We have tried to model and exhibit what a biblical family is to look like. We plug them in to our family life and we try to show them what a Christian family looks like. The most important part of this process is simply to show them love.

Christopher Schlect, in his book, Critique of Modern Youth Ministry, says it this way:

“Ministering to children of unbelievers need not be as difficult as it seems. These children should be drawn to associate with Christian families that will take them in and mentor them while at church, thereby showing those children the family model as illustrated in the Word of God. Invite them over for dinner, where the Biblical model of the family can be exhibited.”

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I believe it is time to get young people out of these church “game rooms” and get them plugged into our churches and get them on the mission field of life. We need to see our young adults as capable of “being about the Father’s business.” We need to expect them to step up to the level of a teenage apostle or Timothy or David.

Does offering more concerts, camps, lock-ins, pizza blasts, zip-lines, ski trips, and the like stand to give us spiritually mature young adults? No, not if that’s all we give them. A steady diet of activities and fun is not what they need or want. Our society’s youth orientation has bred little more than young adults hyped up on the junk food of entertainment and fun, yet they are starving to death and dying for answers to the difficult and tough questions of the day. Our young people sit in our churches week after week and we see them, but are they really there? Are they really engaged? Do they want to be at church or are they just coming because they have to or because they’ve been lured by the fun and games? Doesn’t our focus need to change?

If you think about it, of all the programs in churches which one is most commonly the largest and well-funded? The answer: youth programs. It seems that evangelical churches, and many mainline churches, began breaking out the youth in their congregations about 30-35 years ago. In fact, there is a feeling in Christendom that you aren’t doing too well as a church if you can’t fund and hire at least a part-time youth minister of some sort. But, what do youth ministries do? Many of these programs, if not managed carefully, can breed immaturity because they hinder younger people from associating with and learning from their elders. Paul told young Timothy to “flee youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22). Yet, it is common to take the young adults on an outing at night and youth pastors have to station chaperones throughout the church bus to make sure everyone is being nice. Is that something we should have to be doing with adults in the church? There should never be a youth function in a church in which everyone, young and old alike, cannot participate.

You see, when we totally separate our young adults from the rest of the church body, we are setting them up for an identity crisis. They don’t know who they are apart from their friends and buddies in the youth group. They know nothing of the functioning of the church, as a whole, outside of their youth room. After all, they have their own culture and music, geared to their own tastes. So, by the time they are 18, and we tell them they must leave the youth groups, they are sent to the “grown up” church where, in some cases many have never been. It is culture shock to say the least!

Despite all of this, some may think that we are trying to take the fun out of the lives of our young adults. Some say, “They’ve got to be kids. Let them have a little fun.” Please understand, I am not against anyone having fun, but is this the role of the church? Are we supposed to set up our churches to be centers for having fun? Somehow I believe we have mistakenly come to believe that teenagers are entitled to more fun than anybody else in the church. We may believe we must put something fun on the calendar every week or two, certainly monthly, so they can have a good time. Let me ask you this question: Do we owe any group in the church a good time? Truth is: Many youth ministries seem to be run like a cruise ship. We hear things like, “When’s the next event? When do we get to eat pizza and hotdogs?” Have you ever wondered why there is such a high turnover rate with youth ministers? They burn out after two or three years of this kind of activity planning.

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Can youth groups be a negative influence on our young people? Yes, some (not all) can. Unfortunately, I believe, (and this is certainly without meaning to), they can become a place of peer-driven frivolity. You see, when we place our young people in these peer-driven groups where the spiritual maturity is usually very low, and yet we desire for them to grow spiritually…we need to ask ourselves… “How?” How can they grow spiritually in these environments? The truth is…most of the time, youth pastors are trying to administrate some sort of crowd control versus being able to really teach. Unfortunately, our young people tend to find their identity in their friends and that can include youth groups. For them, it’s so easy to find their identity in what they wear, drive or have. Some young people have their entire identity wrapped up in the type of clothes they wear, cell phone they carry and who they are dating. This same mentality often transfers into our youth groups and can even be fed within the youth group.

Through the years, I’ve become more and more dismayed that many churches  no longer mix their young people with their adults in any way. They keep the youth in their own rooms, as far away from everyone else in the church as possible, in case they get too loud or rowdy. These rooms often have painted-tie-dyed walls…

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…posters, road signs and leftover sofas from our basements. These rooms are “play rooms” of video games and places to simply “hang out.”

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Some youth rooms I’ve seen look more like arcades. Some churches have even given their youth their own building, where they come for an entertainment smorgasbord anytime they want. Is this the structural model we really believe is going to grow mature, solid, faith-filled, Christ-centered, young adults? You sure won’t find this model in Scripture. We must stop kidding ourselves. The numbers, the surveys, and the statistical data do not lie. Many of our young adults continue to abandon their faith and will continue to do so unless we change our strategy and return to the Biblical model, where the church body worships and does life TOGETHER!

Churches should work to promote cross-generational interaction as Paul admonished Titus to teach the elders in Titus 2. In separating the youth from the church body at large, we are in essence saying, “Unlike adults, they can’t handle the weighty things of Scripture.” Thus, it seems okay for us to give them a driver’s license at 16 and put them behind the wheel of a 3,500 pound vehicle and turn them loose on our highways. We expect them to learn algebra, chemistry and calculus. Certainly, they can study and learn Scripture as well. Yes, our young people need to be with adults and be trained…older to younger. In fact, they will graduate from high school and college and go to work in environments with people of all ages. Only in our schools and churches are our young adults segregated by age.

What’s the role of the Church regarding our young people? Well, the Church is certainly here to help and partner with the family to grow our young adults in the way of the Lord. We are to equip all the saints (believers) for works of ministry. Yes, we are to partner with the family in training our young adults…yet, we don’t do the job for the parents. The church’s vision must shift from a consumer-driven focus, regarding our young people, to a partner-driven focus. In other words, the church must stop seeing itself as a vending machine of fun activities to give young people or children something to do to keep them out of trouble. As parents, we must stop seeing the church as a place where we drop off the kids to let the youth pastors train them or give them a little “faith development.”

We must stop thinking the church building and its programs are the conduits through which the gospel is spread. The gospel is spread through people, not programs. What programs existed in the first church? None that I know of with the exception of meeting together to fellowship, break bread, study the gospel and pray (See Acts 2:42-47). Afterwards, they left their homes and went out into the community and shared Jesus. The gospel must travel house by house through the community in the same way it did 2,000 years ago. And in the meantime, let’s continue to worship together and grow spiritually TOGETHER, just as the Bible teaches.

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As human beings we are prone to get weary. That’s why we need sleep. Sometimes I lament that fact. I had a co-worker tell me years ago, “I’m still trying to figure out what to do with that 5 1/2 hours every night that I waste sleeping.” I laughed when he would say it and found myself saying, “You know, there’s some truth in that.” Or so I thought.

Truly, years ago, I though sleep was a colossal waste of time. Why did the Lord make it to where we would spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping. Think about that. 1/3 or our lives (on average) is spent in a bed sleeping. Does that seem like a waste to you? Why do we need sleep? Why did the Lord make it to where we would absolutely conk-out after a long day of work? Why not keep working? Why not live this life (as brief as it is) and go, go, go 24-hours per day?

Well, there are perhaps many reasons for why the Lord made us to rest, but the chief reason (in my humble opinion) is because He rested. He created the universe and all that exists in it in 6 days and then rested. Think about our culture. We have an “end” to the week that we call a “weekend.” And what are we to do? Rest. But, so often we don’t. We pack so much into the “weekend” that we wear ourselves out.

I’m chief of sinners here. In fact, for me, my weekend is not the typical weekend. Sunday is work day for me. Believe me…preaching three services is a challenge…but, I love it and I’m grateful to have the strength and the health to do it. So, after almost 13 years of ministry, I’ve started trying to take Fridays off, so I can truly have a “weekend.” Yet, there’s many weeks I don’t get a Friday off, or a Saturday for that matter. There is truly very little consistency in my weeks. I can’t really count on having a day off, unless I’m on vacation…and even then…depending on the severity of the situation, I might be “working” even then. After all, during a typical week, people get sick on Fridays and Saturdays too. There are weddings to do and funerals. No, I’m not complaining. I’m just admitting that we all get weary at times.

Therefore, I’ve learned through the years that if my family is going to have some part of me, I’ve got to try to squeeze in the time somehow. That’s a challenge, but a necessary challenge.

Are you tired today? Weary? When is the last time you rested? When is the last time you took your foot off of the gas and rested. (I’m saying this to myself as well.) Rest is good. Rest is necessary and rest will make us better people. Rest!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, “Don’t Give Up.” I pray it’s an encouragement to folks not to give up in the mundane of life.

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytyaG45aHl6P2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Hey, hey…I’m excited about this:

It’s our upcoming Men’s Conference on Friday, August 3rd at 6:30 pm here at the church. For 5 1/2 years we had a group of men that met for lunch on Wednesdays at noon to study Scripture. It was wonderful. 

Unfortunately, as the church continued to grow and approach 500 people, it became utterly impossible to keep up the pace. Remember the word from earlier: Weary. I was big-time weary. Yes, it was a very difficult decision, but I had to stop. Without knowing it, the group of about 30 men (who consistently came…even though at times we could have 50+) became like another church. Many of the men were from MPBC, but many weren’t and they seemed to gravitate to me for counseling, insight, etc.

I miss it. I truly do. But, I know I did the right thing for me, the church and my family. However, I believe there will be another group like this one day. It won’t be me leading it, but I believe there will be a time when this group begins again. Stay tuned on that. 🙂

In the meantime, we’re going to seek to bring men and boys together on August 3rd for a time of encouragement, challenge and fellowship. I really believe it’s going to be fantastic! We’re going to have an all-male Praise Team and I’m going to share a couple of messages under the theme of “Men of Another Sort.” I believe when all is said and done that evening, we’ll have men and sons who will be glad they came and experienced a renewal in their lives.

Would you pray for me and for the conference? I’d greatly appreciate it! And would you invite men and boys to come? Come from all over! This is for all…not just for MPBC. You can click here to sign up for the conference:

http://mpbc.ws/signuptable/

You don’t need a ticket to get in…but, we’re seeking to get a number so we’ll know how many will be attending for our refreshments. Please pass the word. Copy and paste that link above and share it…would you please! Thanks so much!

One last thing… Tonight we finish up our VBS. It’s been a great week and I’m excited that we’ll be sharing with the children under the theme “Game On,” this message from Leah Church.

As many of you know, Leah is my niece and she plays basketball for the UNC TarHeels. She just completed her freshman year. She is an amazing talent and she has an amazing testimony. We’ll be sharing this video tonight with the children and it’s excellent. I thought you might like to see it or share it with your family as well.

Kevin

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Needless to say, I was grateful to hear the Supreme Court ruling this week for this man…

That’s Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cake Shop in Colorado. I’m sure you’ve heard about the ruling, in that it’s been all over the news. But, the upshot of the ruling to me is this: The Government (at this point in our history as a nation) is NOT going to force people to go beyond their religious beliefs and convictions to do anything in their proprietary business. Notice I said, “at this point in our history,” because that can easily change.

After the ruling, Jack said this: “People don’t have to share my beliefs to support my freedom. They just need to agree that the decision should be mine to make — not the government’s to make for me… If the government can force me to celebrate events and express views that violate my conscience, they can do it to anyone.”

I agree.

For me as a pastor, this is welcome news. Because I was waiting for the day when I was going to be told I had to marry anyone who comes to me. In other words, I would not be allowed to decline to marry people who came to me living the gay lifestyle. This ruling was a breath of fresh air to me. While people are free to live any way they chose, I should not be forced to condone a lifestyle or belief system that goes against my beliefs. That’s truly the First Amendment in a nutshell. I get to “exercise” my freedom of religion…not “keep it in a closet.”

National Review’s David French wrote: “Americans should take comfort in the fact that the justices took the opportunity to ‘[remind] state authorities that people of faith have the exact same rights — and are entitled to the exact same treatment — as people of different faith or no faith at all.’ And it did so in an opinion that decisively rejected the exact talking points so favored by the anti-religious Left.” French went on to say, “Since the rise of the gay-marriage movement, it has become fashionable to decry dissenters as haters and bigots, to attempt to write them out of polite society in the same way that the larger American body politic has rightfully rejected the Klan… This week, the Supreme Court said ‘enough.'”

While it’s true that Justice Kennedy may never be able to undo the damage he did to religious liberty when he took a wrecking ball to marriage in the June 2015 Obergefell decision, but at least some of it was repaired (Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the 7-2 decision). French continued in his analysis, “the court breathed a bit of life back into religious-liberty jurisprudence. And the justice who did it is none other than Anthony Kennedy… the justice most responsible for the gay-rights revolution.”

In my mind, the point is this… no one should be kicked out of the public marketplace for peacefully living out his/her faith and for shaping their day-to-day business practices as such. As one attorney I read earlier this week said: “The First Amendment protects Jack’s deeply held beliefs in the sanctity of marriage and his ability to create art reflective of his convictions and conscience. Tolerance should be ‘a two-way street.'”

Speaking of politics… Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday… “President Obama Admits It.”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytoenp3enRmP2F1dG9wbGF5PXRydWUmYnJhbmRpbmc9dHJ1ZSZlbWJlZD10cnVl

I have been intrigued by a book that just came out about the 2016 Democratic debacle called, “The World As It Is,” by Ben Rhodes, an advisor to Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama. In essence, he said, “They blew it!” and they didn’t understand the American people. He quoted President Obama as saying, “Maybe we pushed too far.” Mr. President, you did. When you care more about which bathroom a person uses versus someone having jobs in the Rustbelt…yes…you pushed too far.

Yes, it’s true that most likely one day the progressive liberals may control the halls of Congress and the Whitehouse and they will have their day. But, for now, Americans have said, “Hold your horses and stop cramming down our throat your Elitist ideas and liberal agenda.” And this week, the Supreme Court said the same thing. Yes, that’s good news for a change.

Kevin

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