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Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

Real Men Needed

It was an amazing scene last Friday night:

That’s 200+ men who came out on a Friday night to hear teaching on how to be a “Man of Another Sort.” That says a lot right off of the bat… Friday nights are precious and to have men and boys to give up their Friday evening to come hear our all-male Praise Team and this bald-headed guy preach…well, that was phenomenal!

We are working hard to get it loaded to the website. So, be patient with us. We want the conference on the two local TV channels (Spectrum-Charter and Wilkes Communications) as well. I believe the Lord used the evening and I certainly felt the prayers of so many people, particularly our wives. They love us and want us to be the best we can be. I’m so grateful for my wife.

You see, in my humble opinion we live in a society today where being a “man” is not always popular. Truth is, in many circles, we’re not even sure what a “man” is anymore. Men have been emasculated by the society for years. In fact, saying, “I feel like a man,” is considered in some circles to be threatening. Now, I’m not saying this because I am a man and I’ve got some inferiority complex. I don’t. I also don’t have a chip on my shoulder. But, I do believe we need to teach our boys how to be men. But, what does that mean? Does a man rule with an iron fist? Is he a chauvinist brute? No! Yet, it’s true… Men have done some really stupid stuff over the years and we’ve brought on ourselves a heap of justified criticism and critique. Men can be pigs…no question about it.

But, that’s not the kind of man I’m talking about. I’m talking about men who are servant-leaders. Men who are willing to bend the knee and take the towel and the basin. Men who are willing to die for their wives (as Christ died for the church) and that means a lot more than just taking a bullet in the head for her. That means we’re willing to do the laundry, load the dishwasher, bathe the kids, pick up the groceries. You get it. We lead by being humble, just like Jesus. I defer to Pam. I listen to her. I trust her judgment more than mine. (Can I get a witness men!)

Listen, men, plain and honest need all the help we can get! God gave Adam a “helper” in Eve. Read carefully: WOMEN DON’T NEED HELP. They can do it all on their own, if need be (and many do). Men need help! So, why would I ever (in my right mind) go against my helper. If Pam and I ever disagree, I don’t go against her wishes and say, “I’m the man and I’m supposed to lead…so I trump you!” Are you kidding! No way! We are one flesh in the Lord and if she doesn’t feel right about something (a decision or whatever), then I dare to stand still and wait. We wait to be in agreement. Why? Because there is one Holy Spirit. He’s not going to tell her one thing and me another. He will have us in agreement. There is no part of God that operates in confusion and certainly that is true of the Holy Spirit.

I shared the Top 10 Marriage Killers (from my perspective as a man in my 13-year pastor/counseling):

Top 10 Marriage Killers:

  1. tearing her down with words
  2. not listening to her, really listening to her
  3. comparing and contrasting your wrongs against hers
  4. responding with defensiveness or with sarcasm
  5. never saying, “I’m sorry”
  6. demanding she changes, but refusing to do so yourself
  7. thinking more of what you deserve, and she can give you, instead of what you can give her
  8. preserving your own well-being at her expense
  9. refusing to show humility with her or the kids
  10. reading this list and thinking she should be reading it…

I believe we grew as men last week. I know I did!

The Praise Team did great! I knew they would. They always do! Pastor Brad Cordray, Martin Moore, Geoff Farmer, Seth Rhoades, Derek Harless, Steve Bryan, Gary Foster, Justin Gourley, Scott Heacock. What a group of dedicated men! It was truly a blessing! We worshipped together and that’s a cool thing! To hear a room full of men singing in those baritone/bass voices is powerful! I’m telling you…it’s goosebump stuff!

I felt like I kind of fumbled through the two messages. I probably should have done more to include the boys that came. Perhaps even asking them to sign the Resolutions that the men did (as kind of “future promise”), but I never felt led in that direction as I prepared. However, I know there are things I can do to improve it for the years ahead. And yes, we will be making this an annual event!

I don’t know how it is with you…but, Satan is always telling me how worthless I am anyway. I struggle mightily with self-doubt and feeling like I can’t ever quite do enough. But, I do believe the Lord uses our weaknesses and turns them into something good for His glory, if our hearts are in the right place. Throughout Friday afternoon I felt so excited and nervous at the same time that I felt like a caged cat. I received this passage of Scripture from a sister in the church that really encouraged me:

And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:3-5

So true! The Lord knew I needed that!

Ultimately, after all is said and done, I’ve gotten a ton of texts and emails that have been very encouraging and kind. Men want to do it again and we’ll work toward that next year!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, “Answering the Top Three Argument Skeptics Make.” It might surprise you how easy it is to answer a skeptic.

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLyt2bnF2d3lrP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

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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.”

state-of-youth-ministry

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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It’s hard to believe…but, it’s year 11 for Rite of Passage (ROP). Amazingly, 101 young adults have passed through the waters of ROP over the past decade. Time flies and I’m getting older. Here’s this year’s group!

What a wonderful time we had at our banquet Saturday night. One of my favorite times at the banquet is the family sharing time. The members of the family share with their Young Adult what it means to be a follower of Christ and encouragement on how to live for Him.

Here’s the Anderson family…

And the Button family…

Here is the Bullock family…

In the background of the picture above you can see Pam and Andrew and part of Clara (as Andrew participated this year).

Here is the Wentz family…

Here is the Aiken family…

The Heacock’s have a huge family with 6 children…but, Daddy, Scott stayed with the kiddos, so Kaden could be pampered a bit by her momma, Victoria…

What a joy! It’s a great night where gifts are often shared…

And even pictures with the preacher…

Thanks Avery!!!

One of the questions I ask in the question section of ROP is this: Why do you think you will not fall away from the faith, since 70-90% of Christian teens fall away by their 20th birthday?

Check out some of these responses from this year’s group:

One young lady said:

This is a mind-blowing thing to me but I don’t think this will happen to me cause i’ve grown up in a house where God is number 1. Most people have grown up in a household with a parent that is too busy or they are just too hooked on the world that they don’t set their priorities straight. This is a common thing among families today. They don’t pray before meals or barely ever have a family dinner together. Families are growing apart which makes the children want attention leading them to get into bad situations…

Parents aren’t realising that they are hearing just bible stories and not the real deal. So when kids grow they think that Christianity is just another joke and they take it like it’s another day. Parents need to start bringing their kids to the sermon so they can learn that Christianity is not something to joke about, it’s a matter between eternal life with God or hell.

Here’s another young man:

I think that many 20-year olds that are raised in church fall short and walk away from church because of the people they choose to hang out with.  Also, they can become a follower instead of a leader…

Another young lady:

I think it’s because there are so many things that have Satan’s hand.  On top of that, it’s so easy to forget or get distracted if you take one step in the wrong direction it will become 2, 3, 4, 5 and on and on. It will never end.  It will be from a little step to a big step, to a huge step… I cling to Jesus and I’m passionate about him.  I love him too much he is my friend and without him, I would be nothing.  Jesus helps me not matter what.

Another young lady:

I think that the reason why 70% to 90% of Christian young people who were raised in church are supposedly likely to abandon faith by the age of 20 is because they were not well grounded in faith. They took Christianity lightly and then later became influenced by wicked people. I know that this will not happen to me because I know that the Word of God is true. I am reading the Bible and through this, I gain wisdom that will assist me on my everyday walk with God.

Another young man:

Sometimes they leave their family or move or get a job and they get too busy. They find new things in life and they don’t do what they used to do. They make new friends that don’t go to church and that causes them not to take the time to go. This will not happen to me because I was taught to read the Bible and go to church and to know the Lord and taught to do things without people having to tell me. And I was taught to remember and make time and do all I can for the Lord and that’s why I know I will not turn away from him.

Another young man:

I think so many young people abandon their faith because of peer pressure and the way the society is changing. Mainly they don’t have or never had a real relationship with God. They don’t know the danger they are in. I will never abandon my faith. I can not thank my parents and the Lord enough for being brought up at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. I am so thankful for the knowledge the Lord has given me and the church I was placed in.  I one day hope I can bring my family to MPBC.

Another young man:

This may be because the individual’s parents have not urged them to make firm their own beliefs before being thrown out into a secular and evil world. To many, Christianity is “what my family believes” and they fail to create a long lasting and meaningful relationship with Christ. Furthermore, when they go to a university and see people with different values and different beliefs, they may only see one side of the argument for Christ. If Christian households are not careful to back up their child’s faith with evidence and logic, a university may persuade the individual that one side stands for fact and logic, and the other is nothing more than a story passed down from generation to generation. Faith is of course important, but why give secular universities the opportunity to falsely portray their beliefs as logical and Christianity as illogical and not factual? Failing to back up faith with fact and evidence and not leading the son or daughter to develop their own walk in the Lord may be the cause for the multitude of youth leaving Christianity.

Another young lady:

I know that for a lot of young people, it’s an identity thing. Many times they don’t see themselves fitting into this whole “Christianity thing” and they fit themselves into other groups of people. Also, a way that I’ve imagined it, is that some people just want to have a little “pet Christianity.” They take it with them to church and they leave it home whenever they go out with friends. But, they can always show someone a cute picture on their phones of their “pet” whenever they want. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any little “pet Christianity,” I want a big honkin’ elephant that goes and takes me anywhere it wants! 

I don’t care if I’m not cool or popular, all of that fades. Plus, life is miserable without God. I have no purpose or reason for living. I may not know exactly where I’m going in life and I could have a lot to learn, but at least I have a core idea of what I am to live for.

(Don’t you just want to shout: AMEN!!!!)

Another young man:

I think they leave because they don’t have a personal relationship with God. 

Another young lady:

I think they leave because they were never part of the church to begin with. They never really set out to grow in a relationship with Christ. I think in this situation, it’s the parents who are making their kids go to church rather than the young adult wanting to go. Now I’m not saying that parents shouldn’t make their kids go to church… I think a lot of the reasons why they leave the church is because of life in general. We live in a very sinful world full of distractions and people are easily distracted and tempted by Satan. So they leave the church and abandon their faith. I think that this also has to do with bad choices of friends who they hang out with. 

Another young lady:

They have their parents’ faith and not their own faith. It will not happen to me because I own my faith…

Another young man:

I believe it is because young people today are on social media and watch R-rated movies a lot. If people are constantly exposed to this junk, it can be very bad for their minds and will make them act poorly. I do not think this will happen to me because I have parents who love me and have “taught me in the way I should go.”

Am I ecstatic? Oh yes! And I’m so grateful! I’m grateful for the families who are super busy, yet they are intentional about saying to their Young Adult, “I want you to know that this season of your life matters…and this spiritual aspect of it is worth it!” Man I love that thought!

3 John 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

If you are interested in learning more about ROP for yourself or your church, just click on the tabs: Adult-Centered Youth Ministry and Rite of Passage-Book. There’s tons of information there about how to do a ROP ceremony with your church, or even with your family. All the details are there and if you need me, ask me!

This past Saturday two of my girls danced at their recital! Again, super grateful!

Daughter…Clara…

Man, can that girl spin!!!

And I know she’s mine…but, she’s really graceful…as are all the girls…

And granddaughter, Charlotte…

Check out the smile!!!

Of course, flowers must be given by Daddy and Papa…and little sister, Evie will be next!

What a joy!

And I’ll look forward to spending more time with these wonderful folks as I’m on vacation starting Friday through Sat., May 19th…back in the pulpit the 20th.

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, “We’re All Icebergs-What’s Below the Surface?”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLyt0ZHQzcXM5P2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

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This week’s Two-Minute Tuesday “Is a College Degree Still Necessary?” seemed to resonate with a lot of people. As of today, it’s been viewed close to 4,000 times. That’s a lot folks! And that’s a lot of folks, folks! 🙂

Here’s why I believe it resonates. It’s because intuitively we know it’s true. A college degree is NOT necessary for everyone. Take a look:

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytuNDdrenRxP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Not that you need more information…but, even those who go to a university today…well…they aren’t getting the degree that you and I got (on average).

Tucker Carlson asks a similar question:

Watch the video here (4 minutes+)

The point of all of this is not to be down on college. No. I’ve got a degree and I’m grateful for it. But, the truth is…my college degree did very little to prepare me for my business career. I learned more working for my dad in his business by far. College degrees are over-rated. They are a “foot in the door” proposition. They were very necessary 30 years ago. But today? Today there are millions of jobs unfilled because no one wants to get their hands dirty. Masons, electricians, welders, mechanics, assisted living care-takers, construction workers. On and on I could go.

Therefore, I decided a long time ago that my kids weren’t going to be placed in anyone’s “cookie cutter.” Pam and I decided we would Proverbs 22:6 them. Train them up in the WAY THEY SHOULD GO. We find out what God wants to do with them and how He has molded them and let them flourish in that. Figuring out how they are bent… Like a paper clip. Try to take the bend out of the clip…and you’ll break it.

Andrew is bent differently than Clara and Kandace differently from Katy. They are all different. And you get that. So, we spend time and money to train Andrew with an apprentice, Barry Pybas…

And Clara for her dance and violin…

Yes, amazingly, Clara just finished another year of violin Tuesday evening in Winston-Salem! Indeed, it’s a lot of travel to Winston for lessons and concerts, but it’s how our girl is “bent” (Proverbs 22:6). So, we train her in her gifting. Her teacher is on the right, Katherine Wiley, Piedmont Suzuki Studio.

Am I finished when Andrew and Clara grow up? Nope! Because I have the privilege of helping to pray for and encourage these two precious souls!

And so, the work continues. 🙂

Kevin

 

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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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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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Hard Work!

“If a man won’t work, let him not eat.”

Is that in the Bible? Yes, it sure is!

It’s found in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3. Here’s the context:

10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13

Work.

How hard do you work? I’m sure you work hard. We all think we hard. And the truth is, the majority of people I know do work hard.

I was raised to work hard by parents who expected it and grandparents (on both sides) who expected it. From working in a chicken house, rolling a wheelbarrow loaded down with manure, to hoeing a garden in 95 degree heat, to weed eating around a million trees (well, maybe not a million). 🙂 Point is: I’ve never known anything but hard work and it drives me absolutely crazy when I see able-bodied people not working hard. When I see people with their hand stuck out, but that same hand will not wield a broom or a shovel, well…I struggle.

“If a man won’t work, let him not eat.”

Yes, it’s one thing if someone can’t work. But, it’s totally another thing if they’re faking it because they’re lazy.

Proverbs 10:4 A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

I’ve tried to teach these things to my children.

That’s the family walking back to the vehicles after another cleaning job. Yes, we’ve been cleaning offices for over a decade. Every week. 52 weeks per year for 13 years to be exact. We now take the grandkids. It’s amazing. When we started, we didn’t have Clara or Andrew. We clean toilets, windows, vacuum, sweep, dust…you name it. And it’s good for us! It’s good for the kids. It’s teaching work ethic.

The kids have chores at home and I bet yours do too. Chores are good and it teaches a good work ethic. The kids know how to wash clothes, load the dish washer, fold clothes, sweep, dust. You get it. We’re not running a Holiday Inn… We’re running a household and it takes everyone working to make the Brown and Isaacs Economies work.

At the end of the day…we reward the kids. We reward them with a good vacation. You know, Disney. It’s takes about 3 years of saving…but, boy…let me tell you something…we work hard…but, we play hard. It’s good to work…but, it’s good to play. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” You know that proverb, don’t you?

I also believe the way we work will be the way we live our relationships. If we are taught to work, we’ll work through problems in life. We’ll work through things that life throws at us and we’ll pray and with the Lord’s help we’ll overcome.

I’m thankful for work! I’m thankful that work wasn’t part of the curse. Adam worked in the garden naming the animals before the curse ever occurred. Did you know we’ll serve (work) in heaven? We sure will and it won’t feel like work. Here’s the verse I’m thinking of… It’s found in the last chapter of the Bible…

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. Revelation 22:3

You say, “Where’s the work?” Well, it’s the word “worship.” Did you know the Greek word used there is: latreuō.

What does it mean? According to blueletterbible.org:

  1. to serve for hire

  2. to serve, minister to, either to the gods or men and used alike of slaves and freemen

Folks, that looks like “work” to me. How about that? In fact the footnote in blueletterbible.org is this: in the New Testament, to render religious service or homage, to worship.

Therefore, when we work, we are actually “worshipping?” Isn’t that wonderful!! What a blessing to work!! What a joy to serve the Lord!!

Kevin

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