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Archive for September, 2018

Transformation

Check this out. Can you tell the difference? Look closely behind the playhouse and swing set.

Yep, that big oak is gone. It was a white oak to be exact. I counted the rings and as close as I can count, the tree was around 105 years old. It was a tree that’s on our neighbors property and he has been thinning out some of the bigger/older trees. Needless to say, it makes a big difference on the amount of shade. But, thankfully, we’ve still got some trees on our property that will provide some shade.

I share this to speak of: TRANSFORMATION. Wouldn’t you say that a transformation has taken place with that tree being gone? I would. Driving up my driveway and looking at that tree line for the last 17 years and seeing many of them gone…well…when you first see it…it’s a big staggering.

Let me ask you a question. Have you been transformed? Has Jesus Christ changed your life? Can you tell a difference in the “before and after” since your profession of faith in Him? The Bible says:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

If someone encounters Jesus Christ and His Spirit invades that life…I promise you…that life will change. As sure as lit dynamite causes an explosion, Jesus Christ is in the business of transforming lives.

This week I shared in my Two-Minute Tuesday this question: “Why Young People Ask: Does the Gospel Really Transform People’s Lives?” I say “Young People,” because I’m finding more and more that many tell me, “I’ve not seen a difference in _____________ life, even though they say they are a Christian.” Those type of comments are sobering to say the least. Can someone see a difference in my life? Can they tell I’ve been changed, transformed, regenerated, born again, made new? You pick the description. But, can people see a difference?

That white oak is now gone…

There is a huge difference!

You see, when the Holy Spirit invades the human life, a cleansing takes place and it’s like a tree man cutting down a massive oak. You’ll be able to tell a difference when you look at that place in the forest. It’s as plain as the nose on your face.

So, how do people see us? How do they see us react when we are being misused, mistreated, maligned, misquoted? How do they see us when we’ve been cut off in the parking lot at the grocery store? How do they see us act at ball games, concerts, etc? Do they see a transformed life? Believe me…I ask myself this question all the time. What do people see in me? Do they see the flesh: KEVIN or do they see: JESUS?

The Roman Christians were encouraged:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:1-4

Jesus wants us to walk in the newness of life… After all…we’ve died to ourselves and we’ve taken up our cross and following Him, right? But, how often do we have to take up the cross? Daily. Yep…daily! Now this doesn’t mean that we are “saved daily.” No…that’s a one-time event. But, in the process of our sanctification (being made holy), we have to choose to deny ourselves DAILY. And that means we must lean into Jesus. We must trust Him and not ourselves.

Truly, if young people don’t see a transformation in our lives… If we aren’t “practicing” what we preach, then they’ll run from us like a kid being chased by a bee. Honestly, kids can see through hypocrisy. They can tell if there is a difference in how we act at church versus home. They see the “true” us…not, the “fake” us that we show the world as we try to make everyone think we’re better than we really are. Ouch! I need to go back and read that again! That’s for me!

You know it’s easy to fall back into the old way of thinking/living. We can choose to go back. We can even play in the woods where the tree once stood. But, if we’ve been born again…it won’t be the same. We’ll see the hole in the ground and realize… NO WAY! I’ve changed! I’m not coming back to this!

Transformation is a powerful thing! I’ve seen it happen in many lives. I’ve seen it in my family. I’ve seen it in the church. I’ve seen it in people who I thought “Man…it’s going to be tough for them to ever be saved…they are so far gone.” Yet, BANG! God invades and they surrender to Jesus and the transformation takes place…life a caterpillar to a butterfly! Transformation! Truly, being born again is a miracle and I’m so grateful!

As mentioned…here’s this week’s TMT:

https://subspla.sh/bsdz289

Kevin

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The Steady Beat of Life

I’ve been thinking about life… I do that a lot. After all, I’m a preacher. I’m constantly confronted with life and death, situations that are life-altering and the like. Truly, by the time people contact me, it’s usually pretty bad. Life…it’s a steady beat. What do I mean? I mean life goes on. If I were to die today, life would not miss a beat. The sun will come up tomorrow. People would still go to the grocery store, eat at restaurants, check Facebook and brush their teeth. Life moves on… It waits for no one.

It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the moment. The problems. The troubles. The heartaches and forget to live life and enjoy the journey. There are the constant deadlines…another sermon to prepare, another death, another hospital, another counseling session. How about you. What would you write… another_________, another_________, another __________. Would it be: “report to create,” “diaper to change,” “truck to load,” “paper to grade”? What would it be? You see, that’s the steady beat of life. It doesn’t stop and it waits for no one. Now, what can we learn about this?

We learn that just as a drummer keeps a steady beat for the band…life keeps a steady beat for us. The sun will set…

(That’s the view from my house looking west…yes, the sun always sets in the west) And the sun will come up in the east… Yes, the grass grows… The coffee is in the cupboard… Holidays are coming… And people will continue to get married. Like my daughter next April. So, there are flower arbors to be built…

Dad, Andrew and I made an arbor…there was plenty of humming and drumming as we used our saws and drills. Yes, you can count on these things. Life moves on…

In the midst of uncertainty, turmoil and trouble, you and I can count on these things. And it’s that ordinary, hum-drum that keeps us grounded in the midst of difficulty. To wander into the kitchen half awake…sun barely peeking through the windows…oh yes…the sun…it’s up again…thank you Lord! And then wandering to the cupboard to grab the coffee…time to make a pot of coffee…oh yeah…thank you Lord for coffee. Do you see? It’s the common things that ground us and let us know that while chaos may be around us…the common things don’t change. I’m grateful for that. I’m thankful to the Lord for His goodness and the fact that His mercies are new each morning. I’m grateful that He gives us our daily bread and He will sustain us in all things. I’m thankful for the steady beat of life.

I’m grateful that I can walk up the hill and still see my mom and my dad and watch them play with their great-grandchildren.

What a joy!

Could it all change? You bet! In a heartbeat! Life changes. People die. Routines can change. But, some things stay the same…the sun comes up in the east and it sets in the west. I’m also reminded of this: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” Isaiah 40:8.

Thank you Lord for the steady beat of life! Thank you that you are unchanging…the same yesterday, today and forever. The Psalmist (Ps 136) has it right:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who alone does great wonders,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who by understanding made the heavens,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who made the great lights,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

Amen!!!

This week’s Two-Minute Tuesday (“What You Do Today Could Impact the Next 1,000 Years”) puts that into perspective for us:

https://subspla.sh/hjypn3b

One last thing… I was blown away when I received this:

Apparently our local newspaper, the Wilkes Journal Patriot, was running a “Best of Wilkes” awards, and yours truly was awarded the “Best Spiritual Leader.” When I was made aware of this…well…I thought it was some sort of hoax or scam. But, it’s not. Needless to say, I was and I am humbled and feel unworthy of the award. Yet, I understand the position the Lord has placed me and I will seek to continue to honor His name through our church (MPBC) and the ministry He has given to me and family and the other men I serve with each day. Thank you Lord…the beat goes on! 🙂

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Mother Nature and God

So, is Mother Nature mad right now? I heard that stated by a weather forecaster this morning as he showed a chart of all the hurricanes and typhoons in the Atlantic and Pacific, respectively. Is that true? Is she mad? Wait a minute? Just who exactly is Mother Nature? Where does she live? Where is her throne? What’s her location in the universe? I’m being facetious of course! There is not a Mother Nature. Anyone who knows me, knows this is a pet-peeve of mine. God is in control. Not Mother Nature or Mother Earth, et al.

He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
    who makes lightnings for the rain
    and brings forth the wind from his storehouses. Psalm 135:7

Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
    stormy wind fulfilling his word! Psalm 148:7-8

So, God is in control. Yes. Well, is He in control of the weather. Yes. So, is He mad at us? Is He trying to get us! I’ve been asked that question a lot lately. Particularly as Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the coast of NC/SC. Well, here’s my take on this matter. Think this through with me.

In the beginning, God made heaven and earth and He made Adam and Eve. And all was “very good.” But sin came into the picture. The Fall of Man. They sinned and everything changed. Think about that. From the beginning Adam and Eve were walking around naked. They were not dealing with storms, tornadoes, hurricanes or even rain. They lived in a very temperate climate. They weren’t wearing North Face jackets and Under Armour shoes. They were naked and living in a climate that was very comfortable. No real heat or cold or storms. Certainly no hurricanes.

So what happened? Sin! The Flood and death… Storms… Hurricanes, typhoons, upheaval. The earth ruptured from underneath and the rains came! Noah’s Flood! Bang! Weather patterns and storms were born! And we’ve been living with the effects ever since. Remember, Romans 8 says the “earth groans,” and it does. The earth feels the effects of sin, just like the universe. But one day, Jesus will reverse the curse and that goes for the earth. The earth will be refurbished (2 Peter 3) and all will be back to the original condition. But until then, we deal with hurricanes.

Yes, the Lord is in control and He could stop Florence if He wants to…no question about that. After all… The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens. By His knowledge the deeps were broken up And the skies drip with dew. Proverbs 3:19-20

Yet, God has a plan and purpose in all things. His ways aren’t our ways and His thoughts aren’t our thoughts. So, I trust Him. And I continue to pray. I pray for the people at our NC/SC coast, because this could be really, really bad. We may mark this storm as the worst to ever hit NC/SC (beating Hazel, Hugo and Fran). We’ll see.

In the meantime, I trust God…not Mother Nature. He is one in control!

“While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22

I praise the Lord for His goodness and I’m praying that people will listen and evacuate and be ready. I pray people will not value “stuff” over their lives. I pray that after all is said and done, we’ll help our neighbors as they rebuild and show the love of Christ in the midst of whatever happens.

Kevin

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I Finally Did It

Is there something in your life that you know you need to do and you know it, but you’ve been putting it off? Me too! But, I finally did it. Did what?

I’ve set up specified counseling hours. Yep, I had to finally break down and do it. It finally hit me that I’m pretty much counseling all the time…all hours of the day…every day…you name it. This included “days off,” which usually only comes on Saturdays. (As you know, Sunday is a work day for me… 🙂 And with three sermons…I’m running around like a chicken with his head cut off!) So, it became apparent to me when we topped 700 people a couple of Sundays ago: “Kevin it’s time. There is no way to keep up this pace…working all day and then coming home and answering emails and messages throughout the evening.”

Part of the issue is that we’re on local TV (two stations) and I’m getting thousands of view each week for the “Two-Minute Tuesday” on Facebook. Last week’s TMT got almost 14,00 views. Thus, people contact me through Facebook and ask for help, counseling, advice, etc. It’s truly non-stop.

Now, hear (or in this case, “read” my heart)…I LOVE people and I LOVE what I do! What a blessing! What a privilege and a joy! It truly is! But, there has to be “down times.” And I can’t shepherd half of Facebook. 🙂 So, I’ve made the policy that I only counsel church members or those who are actively attending the church. Peter said, “Shepherd the flock among you.” I take that admonition seriously. You can’t be all things to all people and no one can be “on” all the time. Not even a car can go “pedal to the metal” all the time. Even race horses don’t run every race. They have to have time to recover.

Recently, I read this book and was reminded again, “It’s time!” by what I read…

 It’s an excellent book and I’ve been using the nuggets in it a lot! One of those nuggets: a sabbath. A day where you totally unplug. A day where you don’t work unless it’s an emergency. What’s an emergency? Well, that’s different to different people. Everyone’s problem is an emergency to them. But, to me… an emergency is something that’s life-threatening. Again, to some people, an emergency is when the microwave doesn’t work. (wink, wink) Yes, if it’s an emergency…I’m on it. But, otherwise, going forward, counseling will need to take place during the hours I’ve set aside for that purpose. In fact, I’ve asked Pastor Dale to set hours as well. That way, we can do a better job of controlling our schedules and our time.

My counseling hours (which will be posted in this week’s bulletin) are:

  • Monday 1:30-4:30 pm
  • Wednesday 3-5 pm
  • Wednesday after Service

Pastor Dale’s hours:

  • Tuesday 1-3 pm
  • Wednesday after Service
  • Thursday 9-11 am

The sessions are 1 hour in length. We both counsel for these needs: marriage, financial and family counseling. We do NOT offer counseling for: drug/alcohol/substance abuse or psychiatric issues. For those areas we encourage folks to contact SureCord at 336.957.1710. SureCord is the Christian Counseling service MPBC supports through the Brushy Mountain Baptist Association. They are located in the Brushy Mountain Association Office on Highway 268-West near the Wilkes YMCA. https://www.surecord.com

I’ve been pastoring for 13 years and in the early years I could work in all the people when we had 285 people. But now that we have 700+ people attending (and truthfully about 850 who attend at least once or twice in a month’s period of time)…so, I finally had to do it.

Now what about you? What do you need to do? You know you need to do it. You’ve been feeling prompted by the Lord to do it. And now it’s time. Maybe it’s a difficult conversation. Maybe it’s something that’s been festering and needs to be addressed at home or at work or with a child. You dread it. You wonder how it’s going go? You are afraid it might be difficult and people might not understand it. I get it. Believe me, I do!

I think about all the ramifications of everything I do. I’ve thought about how some might even react to having to make an appointment to talk to me. I’ve thought about those who will not understand or complain: “He’s not accessible enough!!” You know what…there comes a time and place in your life that you have to do what you know the Lord has told you to do and let the chips fall where they may. I serve an audience of ONE. So do you! As a believer in Christ, we have to answer to Him primarily, first and foremost. My advice: Do what you know to do is right. Do it now and you’ll reap a harvest of peace from it. I already feel better about things just knowing that I can actually have some control over my life again. And I know my wife and family will be happy about that too!

This week’s Two-Minute Tuesday is about problem. We’ve all got them. How do you see them? As obstacles? As something to be swept under the rug? How about this: “Making Your Problems Work for You.”

Kevin

 

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