Archive for the ‘Church Practice’ Category

We know God is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. We know that He is Sovereign over all. We know that He has a plan for all of our lives. And we know His will is perfect for our lives. But, how often do we really feel like we’re “in the will of God?” My great-uncle once told me, “Kevin, I feel like every now and again I my life sweeps across the will of God, but all too often, I didn’t realize it until I was out of His will again.” You’ll get a hearty Amen from me on that! It’s not that I feel I’m walking in the path of sinners, but it’s kind of like hitting a golf ball. You’ve really got to tag that little ball in the sweet spot of the club before it will really take off. You can be close to the sweet spot, but still shank it right into a pond.

Well, I believe I’ve witnessed the will of God quite a bit lately. Three examples I can give you that I really believe I’ve seen the hand of the Lord moving and working. And they just happened to all occur on the same weekend.

Many of you know I went to Texas and Mexico over the weekend of January 20-21. Andrew went with me. He’s a joy to be with (and I mean that…not just because he’s my boy…but, he truly is a good kid). This is us on the plane…

God’s beauty…

He loved the Mexican “Coca Cola.” Honestly, they do seem to taste sweeter and are more stout! 🙂

Andrew was so inspired being in Mexico that we’ve pulled out our Rosetta Stone and he’s learning some more Spanish.

We were there for this…

Can you make that out?

  • Baptist Church
  • Mount
  • Pleasant
  • MPBC
  • Fund Independent

They renamed their church after our church to thank us for the 9 years of work we’ve done to help build the church. What a joy!

This is Pastor Oscar and his wife Miriam and their boys, Oscarito and Eli.

What a wonderful family! Pastor Oscar and Miriam were planted by this couple…

Pastor Lupe Garcia and his wife. They are from Rio Bravo, about 45 minutes away. Oscar and Miriam went to Progreso on faith and saw the need for a church there. Progreso is a border town and there are tons of US visitors. The need for a church was great and Pastor Oscar said he’d go.

It was a great service!

This is the original group that grew from Pastor Oscar and Miriam’s work.

Oh how I love these people! We had a great time of celebration afterward upstairs (what we have helped build over the last three years)…

See those holes in the walls? We’ll be helping to put windows in those holes and to stucco the walls and ceiling. Lot’s to do this “mission season.” It’s gratifying to see all of this. It’s also gratifying to see MPBC here at home who loves people so much that we’re willing to work, raise money, sacrifice and give for the work of the kingdom and our brothers and sister in Progreso. Thank you MPBC! I believe it’s one of the main reasons the Lord has blessed us so much as a church.

Well, that’s #1. Blessing #2…

See these people…

That’s Pastor Jason and Katie Church and their wonderful boys, Caleb (beside of Jacob), Wesley (beside of Andrew) and Liam (on the end of the table next to Katie). What a wonderful family! They’ve been in Weslaco for almost 6 years. They have been serving the Lord in building a church called “Church of No Walls” and being the caretakers of our properties (MPBC) in Weslaco, for teams to come down and work in TX/MX from our church and others. They’ve done a fantastic job!

We’ve been praying for Pastor Jason and their church! We’ve helped to establish a storefront church on Texas Blvd, (Main Street), Weslaco.

They’ve been working so hard to grow the church and reach the people of Weslaco. We’ve been praying with them and for them as they seek to reach the community. Now take a look at this church…

That’s New Life Baptist Church on 6th Street in Weslaco (two streets over from Main Street). See this man with Jason…

That’s Pastor Manny Portillo. Pastor Dale Jennings and I Skyped with Pastor Jason and Pastor Manny several weeks ago. Pastor Manny is the current pastor of New Life Baptist Church. Yet, Pastor Manny came to Pastor Jason (they’ve known each other for several years) and said, “Jason, I believe the Lord has told me to come ask you to come and lead the church: New Life Baptist. You see, Manny is also a chaplain for Hospice and his job is so busy that there are times he is called out on Sunday mornings and can’t preach at the church. He is unable to keep office hours or really be there for the people. Pastor Manny knew of Jason’s work and Manny went to his leadership and said, “I believe Jason is the man for our church.”

The leadership met and take a look…

Jason is now serving as one of the pastors along with the Music Pastor, Steve Chamblin. This is pastor Steve…

The church was one of the first four churches established in Weslaco. This sign is outside of the church…

Here’s some of the old history photos of the church in the early 1920’s-30’s…

Unfortunately, over the years, the church had dwindled down to just six people. Those six knew they had to do something. They asked Pastor Manny to help them and he did. He along with those good people grew the church as far as they could take it. But again, Pastor Manny’s job keeps him so busy that he can’t do all that he wants to do and needs to do. So, Pastor Manny and New Life is looking to Pastor Jason to help the church to go to the next level.

Well, I was there and I saw just how much the people love Pastor Jason and Katie and their family!

Jason is filling the pulpit now…

Katie is part of the Praise Team…

Jason is keeping office hours four days a week from 9 am – 2 pm. Here’s his office…

Now someone is at the church to help meet the needs of the people. Talk about a shot in the arm to the church! What a blessing! And oh…the church is so nice. Those six folks sacrificed so much to keep it all going. And there is no debt on any of the buildings or property!

It’s beautiful!

It can hold over 400 people…

Here’s the kitchen…

It has a large field…

A beautiful gym with stage (I took the picture from the stage).

They had a movie night last Wed. night in the gym and showed the film via a screen from the stage. I was able to attend Sunday School and hear the people gush over Pastor Jason and all he is doing for the church.

I know that at least three, possibly four of the people in that SS class were of the original six that I mentioned earlier. But, here’s what I’m really thankful for…

Lives are being touched…

What a blessing! And in case you are wondering, nothing changes with the work with MPBC. We see this as a God-send! We are excited as a church (MPBC) to partner with New Life. And New Life is so excited to have Church of No Walls and their folks join them. The New Life folks said they see MPBC as another way of reaching people in the Weslaco area! Oh how I love seeing God’s hand! He’s working folks! Believe me! It’s amazing to see! Brothers and sisters in North Carolina, Texas and Mexico working together!

Blessing #3…

Andrew and I go to the airport on Sunday after church and lunch to prepare for our trip home and I’m so excited to listen to my niece, Leah Church and the Carolina TarHeels play Duke. At the airport I was able to get wifi and watch the final quarter (and the eventual overtime) on my phone. Andrew and I were going nuts! Carolina was down to the Blue Devils by 19 points, but came all the way back to tie. Leah was popping three-pointers all over the place. She ended up with five three’s for the game and she hit two monster 3’s in overtime to ice the game.

I was so happy that I was almost crying! (Actually I did wipe away a tear or two.) Why? Because Leah has worked so hard to get to this point in her life.

And she gave all the glory to Jesus Christ. You can read about that here in this article in the Daily TarHeel. It’s a great article about Leah and team and the huge comeback that was truly amazing! It’s titled “Take Me to Church.” (Gotta love that title!)


What a fantastic and amazing weekend Andrew and I experienced. All in God’s amazing timing!

This week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “What Happens When Things Go UNRESOLVED.”


I also want to tell you how thankful I am for this young lady…

I can’t believe I’ve got another daughter in her 20’s! Kandace turned 20 on Sunday! Man am I feeling old! I’m so proud of this young lady!

She loves her family…

and the Lord…

and she works hard at her job at Cook’s…

for her students at the dance studio…

and she’s a pretty fantastic lady any way you look at her! I’m a blessed man!

Happy Birthday Kandace! I love you with all my heart!



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Let me tell you something… The Lord designed homes to have a mom and a dad. If I ever believed that, I believe it even more after Pam was gone for 2 weeks. She and Clara returned from China this past Saturday night and what a reunion it was!

They landed in Charlotte about 9:30 pm and we got home about midnight. But, it took forever to go to sleep because we were so excited to see one another! What a joy! And another reminder to me that I’m a blessed man to be married to Pam. She’s wonderful! I really mean that!

Now, I almost hesitate to say what I’ve said because I know a single mom might read this and say, “Thanks a lot Kevin! I’m having to be mom and dad!” And that’s why I hesitated to write: “Families need a mom and a dad.” I know there are families that are doing quite well with the circumstances you’re living under. Honestly, my heroes are single moms and dads. I don’t know how you do it! You are amazing people! For me, I need my wife, particularly for my children. You see, there are things that my girls need that I can’t give them. Sometimes, a daughter and yes, a son, needs their momma.

Now, we didn’t have any major problems or issues…all went really well while Pam and Clara were gone…other than freezing to death (more on that in a moment). But, my point is that the Lord designed the home to be made up of a father, mother and children. That’s His design, not mine. He’s the grand designer and He knows what works best. This is why I counsel couples who are considering a divorce (and they have children), to hang in there and keep working. Because here’s the cold-hard truth…you’re going to work hard no matter what. You’re either going to work hard to save your marriage or you’re going to work hard to figure out who gets the kids on Christmas morning and on their birthday and on vacation. Yes, either way you’re going to work…so, why not work on the marriage and seek to put the effort into it on the front end and save the marriage versus getting out calendars and arguing over dates.

Yes, they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. I guess that’s true to a degree… But, I know absence of Pam makes me appreciate her even more!

Speaking of family. We had this one snapped at Christmas. This is how it all started… This was the original foursome…

In case you are wondering…yes…my dad is an inch taller than me. But, if you’ll look closely, I’ve got long legs. 🙂

Here’s a picture of the grandkids…

Isn’t that good?! (Again, this was minus Clara.)

And here’s a picture of my family on Pam’s side… (again, minus Pam and Clara.)

I’m so thankful for all my family! We’re very blessed!!

Something else we’re blessed with (all of us) is heat and a roof over our head. This past cold snap sure made me thankful for that. It was so cold. We were at our below zero 3 mornings during the 8-day snap. Creeks, like Lewis Fork Creek, were almost frozen over.

It’s going to go down as one of the longest cold snaps ever in our area and in many areas in the southeast and mid-Atlantic. I talked about it during the Two-Minute Tuesday this week… “Has the Record Cold-Snap Been Due to Climate Change?”


The Lord is good… We baptized 7 people on the last day of 2017! What a celebration! Listen, these people are genuine souls! I can’t say 100% that anyone is saved… Only God knows that. But, we talk to people at length before baptizing them. And so, I can tell you that in my heart, I’m convinced these 7 are genuinely, born-again, followers of Christ! Each of them gave me permission to share what I’m about to share (which I also shared on the 31st).

That’s Kristie Bryan (below). She’s a jewel. A wife and mom (her husband, Trey is with her), and a fabulous CRNA at Forsyth Medical Center.

Here’s what Kristie said:

“I was baptized at the age of 8, but through the years I began to have doubts and I just didn’t feel like some of my actions truly reflected what a Christian should be. There have been many nights that I woke up upset at the conflict that was in my heart. Pastor Kevin’s service [11.12.17] touched me that morning and I was led to talk to him. After I prayed to God with Kevin to be saved, I felt an immediate weight lifted and was more sure than ever that I would be in God’s kingdom someday.”

That’s Terry Walsh (below). We’d been praying for him for years. He was holding back…but, the prayers of his wife and mom and many folks in the church brought the conviction of the Holy Spirit to his heart and he walked the aisle on Sunday, November 12th and raised his hand before all the congregation and said, “I’m ready to be saved!” Praise the Lord!

That’s Dylan Kilby (below). Here’s a young man who was honest enough to say, “I had gotten into sin and that caused me to doubt my salvation and I’m nailing it down. I’m going to live for Jesus!” Now that’s a man, folks! It takes a man to admit that before a church. Dylan is married to a precious young lady, Josie…and they are going to have a great marriage.

Here’s what he said:

“I was living in sin without any remorse. I had said the prayer and thought I was good but I did not change. But I thought that was all you had to do to be saved. But the week after the total eclipse I was laying in bed and I felt a power of guilt come over me for all the sin I had been doing and I hit my knees and called upon Jesus Christ with all I had in tears to save me from this pain and sin that I was in and he did. He saved my soul from it all. He is lord of lords and king of kings I have felt his power and strive to become as close to him as I possibly can… I changed for sure this time I’m trusting in him alone to get me out of this doubt and the Bible is becoming more clear to me… Thanks pastor Kevin for the night you talked to me about doubt. You really helped me hold my head up and keep pouring it out to Jesus.”


That’s sixth grader, Isaiah Lewczyk (below).

He came forward on Sunday, November 12th at the end of the service and said, “I’m not afraid to make the journey.” (I had been saying that during the message.) He’s already been selected to be the Chaplain of the Jr. Beta Club at his middle school. What a fantastic young man Isaiah is and will be! He’s got a fabulous family and they are raising him in the Lord!

That’s Josh Farmer (below). Josh had gotten to a place in his life that he wasn’t sure he was saved.

Here’s what Josh said:

“When things were going good I thought I was going to heaven when I died, but when things were going wrong, there was doubt in my mind. That message with the blind beggar [11.12.17] was a mirror image of myself. While I listened to you, I realized I thought I was saved but I simply wasn’t. That’s when I decided it was time and enough was enough.”

Folks, the truth is, so many people in the South make a profession of faith when they’re kids (because they are scared of going to Hell…and that’s a good reason…but the truth is…it’s not till later that you can tell if they really got saved…looking for fruit). Josh nailed it down with me after the service on November 12th. (Can you tell the Lord was moving in a powerful way that day!!)

That’s John Edwards and Kristen Testerman (below). John is seeing Kristen’s mom, Sherrie. And amazingly…the Lord has been doing some powerful things.

John grew up with a Methodist background and had been christened as a child. However, since he’s been coming to the church with Sherrie, he said the Lord had really changed his life. Here’s what he wrote me…

“I was simply lost.. I wasn’t receiving the truth. My attendance had dropped off to nothing and for years I didn’t attend church anywhere… I was feeling ashamed of myself and missing a lot of fulfillment… I was invited to your church… and from day 1 the Lord was speaking to me. Every service after the message, I felt was directed to me. I began to learn more than I ever had. I physically felt forgiveness, a load was lifted from my heart. I knew the Holy Spirit was in me and I love it. I look forward to every day that I share with God. Thank you.”

Isn’t that wonderful! God is good!

Here’s what Kristen said:

“When I saw 8, I went through the general steps of being saved. I repeated a prayer in VBS, walked in front of the church, and got baptized. After that I went on mission trips and did things with the church, but in my heart, I knew I wasn’t saved. I believed in God, but I knew that I wouldn’t be going to heaven if I kept living the way I was. I got to a place where I was empty and I tried to fill that emptiness every way I could. On Thanksgiving I realized that I needed Jesus. So, I nailed down my salvation and I surrendered. Getting baptized is just me showing the world who is in control of my life.”

Folks, this is powerful stuff! And I pray it has blessed and touched your heart to read these testimonies. If for some reason, you aren’t a believer or you aren’t sure you are a believer in Christ, please contact me. I’m here to help! Email: kevin@mpbc.ws.


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I had a conversation with a young man last week and he made a comment to me that struck me when describing what he was learning at our church. He said, “You talk with God. I think I talk at God.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “I guess I’ve just never seen how we can actually talk to God throughout the day.” He continued, “I think a lot of Christians only know how to talk at God.”

That conversation has caused me to pause and think…

  • Talking with God
  • Talking at God

The word “with” and the word “at” are both prepositions.

  1. expressing location or arrival in a particular place or position.
  2. expressing the time when an event takes place.

Think about that. When we talk AT God, we are simply expressing our location and we’ve arrived. But, that’s all one-sided isn’t it? “I’m here God! Get ready to listen and bless!”


  1. accompanied by (another person or thing).
  2. possessing (something) as a feature of accompaniment.

See the difference? When we talk WITH God we’re accompanying Him. We actually possess time and space with Him. How about that? Amazing! Occupying time and space WITH the God of the universe! Wow!

What’s the dynamic of talking WITH God? In other words, how do we talk WITH God? Well, that would be through Jesus Christ. That’s why He came. Initially humankind had the joy and privilege of walking with God in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden, but we lost that joy, when we chose pleasure and knowledge over obedience. The “Fall” in the Garden cost us the ability to walk and talk with God. Now, our way of communication is via prayer, but that prayer must be delivered through the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you understand that prayers to God will not make it above the ceiling if they don’t come by way of Jesus Christ? He is our intermediary. He is our High Priest. We go through Him.

A man asked me years ago, “Does God hear all prayers.” I answered, “Yes, God hears all prayers…but, He’s only obligated to answer the prayers of those who have accepted His Son as their Lord and Savior.” Yes, God hears all prayers in that He knows all. He is omniscient. Yet, to say that God is beholden to answer the prayer of a person who has rejected His Son, Jesus Christ, would be absurd, and most importantly, unbiblical.

Back to the conversation with the young man… I listened to him intently. “I think a lot of Christians only know how to talk at God.” Have we gotten to a place as Christians that we only “talk at God,” and not “talk with God?” Is it possible to live our lives as believers and not really talk to God…hardly ever? Could it be, as American believers, that we actually live through the spiritual lives and journey of our spiritual leaders (pastors, Christians authors, teachers, etc.)? Could it be that the majority of American Christians haven’t talked WITH God in weeks or months or years.

Oh yes…we’ve talked AT God. We tell Him all the things we need and want Him to do. We rush through the prayer getting ready for work or driving to work, as we change the channels on the radio. We talk at God when we breathe a quick prayer before we drift off to sleep or before we gobble down a meal. Can I get a witness? I’m talking about me! I’m talking about going through the motions and believing this lie: “Who are you? Do YOU actually think YOU can talk with God? God doesn’t talk to people like YOU! He talks to people like Billy Graham, not YOU!” Believe me…I’ve had those thoughts and still do. And it’s easy to listen to the lies of Satan. After all, Satan doesn’t want us to commune with the God of the universe. There’s power in that! He wants to keep us powerless and praying powerless prayers. Just going through the motions…obligated petitions that are offered in dutiful monotony, but never expecting to hear from God.

When is the last time God spoke to you? No, I’m not talking about an audible communication from God. But, I’m talking about in your spirit…when is the last time you recognized the voice of the Lord and felt the weight and the power of His still small voice? You see, I’m convinced that young man is right. We do a whole lot of talking AT God and not WITH God. To talk WITH someone intimates a two-way communication. It’s not a one-way deal. I appreciate the fact that the young man said he was learning how to talk with God at our church. And I’ll be honest…at times, I feel I am talking WITH God…but, it’s so easy to get busy and get back into the rut of just talking AT God. That happens when I believe my schedule is more important than the Lord of the universe. It’s my fault, not His. I take Satan’s bait and I hurry through the praying or just don’t pray at all. Oh…I say the words…but, am I really praying, or just reciting my grocery list of “wants?”

I want to talk WITH God. I truly do, but it takes intentionality and it takes longer than 30 seconds standing at the Kurig waiting for my cup of coffee. Can the Lord talk to me as I pull the cup from the coffee maker and the pop tart from the toaster? Sure! But, is it likely? Is it likely that in my business that I’m in a position to be still long enough before the Lord to actually listen? That’s the talking WITH God part that is so easy to neglect. I give Him the list…but, do I listen. It’s when I listen that I enter the realm of talking WITH God and recognize His voice.

My encouragement for us all? Slow down. Slow down to talk WITH God. We’ll be the better for it and our lives will be fuller for the effort.

I really enjoyed Christmas with my families. Pam and Clara are still in China. They go to the orphanage tomorrow (tonight our time) to see where Clara was from. We never got to see the orphanage when we adopted her. We actually received her at a hotel conference room. Here’s the report about her. This is all we knew about her when we adopted her.

Growth Report of Xue Fu Mei  Xue Fu Mei, female, born on April 5th of 2005, was picked up at Wuxue City 16 Qinglin Rd. (the entrance of the third hospital of the city) on April 12th of 2005. At that time she was wearing a pink cotton-padded hat, a white cotton-padded jacket, and red cotton-padded pants. She was wrapped with a pink baby quilt. There was a birthday note with her. Wuxue City Qinglin police substation searched hard for the baby’s birth parents and other guardian. Since they couldn’t find them, they determined her as a foundling and sent her to our institute to be raised till today. 

According to her birthday note we determined her birthday to be April 5th of 2005 and named her Xue Fu Mei. Xue sounds the same as the “Xue” in Wuxue. Fu is the first character of Social Welfare Institute (Fu Li Yuan). Mei means beauty. At enrollment her head circumference was 35 cm (13.8 inches), her chest circumference was 35 cm (13.8 inches), her length was 50 cm (19.7 inches) cm, and her weight was 3.5 kg (7.7 lbs).

Since enrollment Fu Mei has been raised in her foster family. Her health condition is good all the times. She never had contagious disease. She has received BCG Vaccine, Hepatitis B, DTaP, Polio, and vaccine for epidemic meningitis.

Fu Mei receives good care in her foster family. Her health condition is good. Her appetite is good too. At first 2 months Fu Mei ate well and slept well. She was obedient. She could grasp the object in her palm. She could tell brightness from darkness. She could stop crying temporarily when she heard bell ringing. She could raise her head momentarily when she was lying on stomach. 

At 3 months Fu Mei became more sensible obviously. She babbled when she was happy. She recognized people around her. When an adult talked to her she stared at his mouth and smiled. When you made a face to her or when you tickled her, she would smile. 

At 4 months she liked playing with her hands. Occasionally she sucked her finger. She could pull her clothes up to the face or grab things nearby. She could differentiate familiar people from strangers. She liked when her “mother” took her outside to get sunbath. She was very curious. She could pronounce “b, p, m” sounds. She liked to “communicate” with people. She liked when others played with her. If you gave her something, she would touch it and put it into mouth to bite. 

At 5 months we started to add supplements, like egg, noodle, porridge, and vegetable soup etc. to her diet gradually. She grew fast. She could stand with support under arms. 

At 6 months she could sit steadily. She could hold the milk bottle. She tried to get an object in front of her purposely. But when she reached the second object, she abandoned the first one. She could imitate saying “baba”, “mama” etc. She liked tearing a piece of paper. 

At 7 months her hands and feet moved swiftly. She could pinch small beans etc. She could feed herself a cracker. She liked sitting in a walker and learning to walk. 

Now Fu Mei can crawl. She turns her head when you call her name. She understands adult’s expression. She can stand momentarily holding onto objects. When she sees familiar people she will ask to be held and smile to them. If she sees something she likes she will crawl over to get it or stretch her hand asking for it. If you ask for something from her she will give it to you. Now her head circumference is 44 cm (17.3 inches), her chest circumference is 43 cm (16.9 inches), her length is 68 cm (26.8 inches), and her weight is 9.5 kg (20.9 lbs). She has 4 teeth.

Fu Mei has a good appetite. Now her major food is milk and rice cereal. Her supplements are egg, noodle, and porridge. She drinks 170 ml (5.75 ounces) of milk each time. She drinks 4 times a day at 7:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 5:30 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. Her daily schedule is: She gets up at 6:30 a.m. She takes naps at 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. She goes to bed at 8:30 p.m. Fu Mei has a moderate sleep. Usually she defecates after getting up in the morning. She may urinate at any time.

Fu Mei is gentle, quiet and restless. She likes playing with toys. If you take away the toys she likes, she will cry. She is very surprised and excited about new things. She can be quite concentrated. She likes when her “mother” holds her strolling through streets and watching vehicles passing by. She is a lovely child.

Dean’s Signature:      Wuxue City Social Welfare Institute

Now look at this girl…

This is Dottie Windsor, whom Pam and Clara traveled with on the “Heritage Tour.”

Dottie is from a different orphanage, but nearby to Clara’s. This is Pam and Dottie’s mother, Robyn Windsor.

Pam and Clara could have never done this trip without Robyn and her husband Frank. Get this…Frank and Robyn have two biological children, but they’ve adopted SEVEN children from China. Yes, you read that correctly! Seven! They are some of the nicest and most godly people I’ve ever met or known. Frank is 6′ 7″ and loves sports. We have a lot in common! Here’s Frank…

He is COO, Rinnai America (tankless water heaters). Thank you Frank and Robyn for making all of this happen! We love you!

Yes…no doubt about it…I miss Pam and Clara so much! Andrew, Kandace and I are looking forward to picking them up in Charlotte at 9:34pm on Saturday night. After two weeks…it seems like two months!

Here is this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday:  “How NOT To Handle Family Conflict: IGNORING IT”


By the way…a weather note…

We’ve had 80 hours of below freezing temperatures. Since Sunday morning at 2am. The coldest so far at my house was 2.3 degrees on Tuesday morning. It’s possible we don’t get above freezing today. It’s 28 degrees right now. We’ll see. Here’s the thing… if we stay below freezing today, we aren’t forecast to get above freezing until Sunday afternoon!! That would be around 168 hours (over a week below freezing). I’m almost 50 years old. I’ve never seen it this cold this long. And guess what..,the same people who said it would never get cold again because of “Global Warming” are the same ones who will blame this on “Global Warming.” But you can’t have it both ways folks! 😀 What we are seeing are the normal fluctuations of the Lord’s earth.
Yep, it’s snowing in Charleston and Myrtle Beach! How about that!



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Compel Them To Come

Take a look at these pictures from over the past weekend…  Our Christmas Candlelight Celebration…

Yep, it’s snowing…

Over the four services (Saturday night and the three on Sunday) we packed in 1,546 people! Did you notice the joy on the little boy’s face above? Yes, it “snowed” inside the building. Can you believe that? What a joy to the see the faces of the children and even the adults!

You see, we publicized that it was “going to snow” inside our building on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and to everyone we knew. Why? Here’s why… Luke 14:23, “And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.” Do you know who said that? Jesus. Jesus Christ said that. “Go get ’em!” That’s what compel means. Tell people that it’s a necessity that you be here! And 1,546 people showed up!

And we sang about Jesus, did drama about Jesus and I preached about Jesus and many, many hands were raised indicating their desire to be prayed for as they seek Jesus and salvation. (No, I don’t have people repeat a prayer after me…that’s not in Scripture…but, I do quote Scripture…the Roman Road…and I tell them to pray in their seats and call on the name of Jesus like a drowning man in the ocean, that’s Romans 10:13…and if they were truly sincere and genuine…then, according to the Bible they can be confident of their salvation.) How many were saved? Only in eternity will we know. Dozens of hands went up throughout the four services…so, I praise the Lord for what I believe He’s continuing to do in people’s lives.

Truly, people have to wrestle with salvation. Here in the Bible belt, so many people make a profession of faith when they’re young…yet, it’s very difficult to tell if a person is truly a follower of Christ until they are put under pressure. So, I’m not one to snap my fingers at a service and “crown people saved.” But, I’m convinced many were and I believe more will be in the days and weeks ahead. Seed takes time to grow.

The point is: we must compel people to come to Jesus. I see that more and more every day of my life. And the real impetus in all of this is not to invite people to Jesus like you are going to give them an extra pillow for their head. No…we invite people to come to Jesus so that they won’t end up in Hell. Jesus said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus wants to save people from Hell and judgment. Yes, I know those aren’t popular subjects, but it’s the truth and the reality of why Jesus came to the earth. He is “Emmanuel, God with us” to save us from our sins…which means to save us from the penalty of sin, which is Hell. That’s more than enough reason to COMPEL people to come to Jesus, don’t you think? It is for me.

During the service, we sang a song called, “Offering.” A man named Paul Baloche wrote it. Here’s some of the lyrics…

I was sitting in the back as we sang it.

I was overwhelmed by the song. It was that song that helped give me assurance that I was supposed to leave the business world and go into the ministry. Truly, this song was part of my calling to the ministry. I remember being in our prayer chapel in December of 2005 and we were singing that song. I was standing on the piano side of the room and I ended up leaning against the railing surrounding the piano and I just wept. I knew God was calling me to preach and I surrendered to that call.

As we sang that song on Saturday night, I was reminded, yet again, of the privilege I have to preach and teach the Word of God. Thank you Lord! Here’s the song…

Yes, next week is Christmas! May we offer to Jesus our gift… the gift of our lives to Him. From my family to yours…

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday:



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That’s a picture of the marker indicating Mount Pleasant Baptist Church was established in 1875. That’s 142 years ago. That’s only 10 years after the end of the Civil War. Needless to say, the church has been around a long time. I love this artwork of Ivo Dean McGee, who is now with the Lord:

That was the church in 1875 when we started. A handful of men from the community started the church and look at what we are today…

Could they have imagined such a place? When I was a boy…this is how the church looked in 1974 when I was six years old…

Times sure have changed in the last 142 years. Here’s the total campus now…

The building at the top right is the old church, (we now call the Prayer Chapel) and the building attached to it making an “L” shape was built in 1960. It’s the administrative office building and houses the old fellowship hall on the ground floor. The building at the back of the Prayer Chapel, which has the drive-thru attached, was completed in 1996. I was the chairman of the building committee for that project. In fact, in 1992, as a wet-behind-the-ears 24-year old, I was named chairman of a committee called the Long Range Planning Committee that would eventually become that Building Committee. We built the Reach Center as the multi-purpose facility that it is and moved into it on July 6, 2006 that’s in the foreground of the picture to the left.

It still blows my mind that we average (year-to-date) over 600+ in attendance with three services each week. I remember as a boy when we had goals for High Attendance Sunday set at 100.

Now, I say all of that to share some things I read recently from Thom Rainer and LifeWay Research. This is Thom:

He’s a phenomenal researcher and I want you to see his study about churches and whether or not they’ll survive. Here’s his study research:

The Study encompassed 1,000 randomly selected churches with available data for 2013 and 2016. The margin of error is +/- 3.1%. (If you’re not a numbers nerd that means this data is incredibly accurate.) The possible weakness of this study is that it only includes churches of my denomination (Southern Baptist).

We took this path because we have a gold mine of data. I do believe, however, this data can be a good approximation of evangelical churches, and a rough approximation of all Protestant churches in North America. We used average worship attendance as our metric rather than church membership. We found:

  • 56 percent (not 80%) of churches are declining.
  • 9 percent of churches are plateaued.
  • 35 percent of churches are growing.

Over 61 percent of churches average fewer than 100 in worship attendance. But if your church has fewer than 100 in worship, it is likely to be a declining church. In fact two out of three of these small churches are declining. There is a direct correlation with the rate of decline in a church and the size of the church. Simply stated, the smaller the church, the greater the rate of decline in attendance. Perhaps these three statements will clarify my point:

  • A declining church with an attendance of 200 or more declines at a rate of 4 percent each year.
  • A declining church with an attendance of less than 100 declines at a rate of 7.6 percent per year.
  • A declining church with an attendance of less than 50 declines at a rate of 8.7 percent a year.

It’s a death spiral. Declining smaller churches decline much more rapidly than larger churches. Once the declining church goes below 100 in attendance, its days are likely numbered. Here is the sad summary statement of the research: Once a church declines below 100 in worship attendance, it is likely to die within just a few years. The life expectancy for many of these churches is ten years or less. Here are some surprising discoveries from this research:

  • If a church is growing, it is highly likely to be growing faster than the community in which it is located. In fact, 91 percent of the growing churches are outpacing the growth of the community. That is a huge number! And it’s really good news if we can move our churches from decline to growth.
  • Growth and evangelistic effectiveness are not limited to any one geographic area. To the contrary, we saw a very low correlation between the geographic region and evangelistic effectiveness. I see such information as very hopeful, because it tells us that demographics and geographic location are not usually limitations for churches.
  • We can no longer use membership in our metrics for churches. It does little good to use membership as a metric in most studies of large numbers of churches. Many churches have bloated membership rolls filled with missing and deceased members. Other churches don’t bother to even measure membership at all. This reality forces us to use worship attendance as our base metric. It is the most common and, usually, the most accurate metric churches keep.

 Here are the summary metrics:

  • 31.8% of churches are growing, and they are growing faster than their respective communities.
  • 61.0% of churches are declining or plateaued, and they are declining more rapidly than their respective communities.

We surmise the following: Culture is not causing churches to compromise. Churches are compromising and culture is saying it’s okay. The way you bring people into a church will show them the expected commitment level for the future. You must have introductory or perspective new member meetings.

  • Regular church attendance has waned in recent years as the commitment level of members continues to drop.
  • Leaders in the church set the example of commitment for the rest of the church. In other words, if leaders in your church sporadically show up, the rest of the members will see that and follow suit.
  • Unfortunately, there are a significant number of Christians who no longer see church attendance as important.

Our conclusions as to why they don’t see it as important:

  1. The importance of the local church in the community has been minimized.
  2. We worship the idols of activities.
  3. We take a lot of vacations and play a lot of sports.
  4. We do not have high expectations of our members.
  5. We make infrequent attendees leaders in our churches.

However, We are encouraged to say that once a church has a turnaround from decline to growth, the outlook becomes very positive. We pray for our churches and their health.

Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Is the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. Thom has a Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

That’s some good information. And here’s some interesting information from our church clerk, Amber Edmiston:

According to our Chronological Membership Roll

Increase in Members Per Year from 2007 to 2017 (10/1-9/30)

’07-28                         ’12-42                         ’17-60

’08-46                         ’13-95                         Total = 607/11 years = 55.2 people per year

’09-66                         ’14-70

‘10-63                         ’15-49

‘11-36                         ’16-52

That’s pretty amazing! And it shows the hand of God on us. Will it continue? Only God knows. I promise you these three guys are going to keep working hard, praying hard and trusting in Jesus…

Thanks be to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!


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I sat in an office earlier this week and a lady asked me that question: “How are you doing that?” The question came because she knew I was a pastor and she knew about our church. She was lamenting the fact that her church wasn’t growing and they were trying really hard. My heart went out to her. Honestly, I’m praying she and her husband don’t burn out trying to do everything in their church. Yet, I pondered the question: “How are you doing that?” The “that” is “success,” or at least that’s the way I took it.  Honestly, I get that question quite a bit these days and I guess I still don’t have a very good answer.

Is MPBC perfect? No. No church is, but every church has fallible and sinful people (of which I’m chief). Interestingly, I just saw on Facebook where a lady told one of our members that she was no longer attending our church. And that’s okay. That’s why we have different churches, preaching styles, music styles, etc. Honestly, I’m okay with that. I used to take it personally when someone left the church, but I don’t any longer. I know the Lord has a plan for all of us and for where He wants us to be. We’ve not had many leave the church through the years, but it does happen from time to time. Nonetheless, it is true that the church has grown exponentially in the last 10 years and it is truly hard to explain. However, I heard years ago where a man said, “If you can explain it, then it’s probably not God.” I like that. Because I honestly couldn’t answer the lady with the “how” to her question.

For you see, a church can change the music style, put up screens in the sanctuary, the preacher can lose the tie and the pulpit can become a stool and an I-Pad, but that still might not change your church or make it grow. It might. But, it might not. Yet, as I’ve pondered the question for several days now, I’ve come to these four conclusions: #1 If you’re faithful to teaching the Word of God (I exegete and teach Scripture verse by verse through books of the Bible) and lifting Jesus up, that’s essential. #2 If you’re faithful to sing about Jesus, (you pick the style), and the words to the songs are Biblical and sound, that’s essential. Remember, Ephesians 5 teaches us to sing: Psalms, Hymns and spiritual songs. Do it all. #3 If you’re reaching beyond the walls of your church and being the hands and feet of Jesus (we call that missions), that’s essential. #4 If your congregation shows love for all people and are excited about coming to church, they’ll tell others (Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20), and that’s essential.

You might ask, “What about children’s church, youth group, nurseries, and other age-segregated programs?” My answer: they’re not essential. We don’t have them and it’s not slowed us down a bit. In fact, you can click on the “Adult-Centered Youth Ministry” tab if you want to see more about my Biblical understanding of the things just mentioned. But, the bottom line is something I’ve not even mentioned yet. What’s the glue to all of this? Drum roll please… THE FAVOR OF GOD. That’s right, the hand of God and His mercy and grace bestowed on a group of people for His glory. It’s about an often mis-used word: anointing. Yes, “anointing.” And no, I’m not going to go all Benny Hinn on you. The anointing of God is truly His unconditional blessing and favor that can’t be earned or “worked up.” It’s just His goodness on display. I’m so humbled to say that I’ve sensed that anointing in our church and all I can do is say, “Glory be to God!”

So, I looked at the lady in that office and I said, “I’ll be praying for you.” I asked her where she went to church and the pastor’s name. She told me both and I’ve been praying for the last few days for them. God can do anything! But, I did tell her this: God doesn’t necessarily desire for every church to “get big.” Yes, MPBC is averaging 600+ people for our three services, but that doesn’t mean the Lord desires every church to get that size. Honestly, there are times that people make disparaging remarks about the church because of our size. But, I can’t control the growth of our church anymore than I can control the direction of the Yadkin River. I can tell you this: I’m certainly not going to put a message on our church sign that says: “We’re full, don’t come!” And I’m not going to apologize that the Lord has chosen to bless us. Why is it that growth is good in every other area of life (watching our children grown, businesses grow, gardens grow, our favorite teams win), but it’s not spiritual somehow for a church to grow. Well, tell that to the first church after Peter preached on Day 1 and they added 3,000. Not 30, not 300… They added 3,000!

I hope I encouraged my sister in Christ by telling her to “keep on keeping on” and realize that she can’t do it all. And the goal is not to get BIG, but to be faithful…nothing more, nothing less and the rest is in God’s hands. There was just one Peter. There was just one Paul. But, the Lord used Epaphroditus and Aquila and Priscilla. He used a group of women (Luke 8) to fund the ministry of Jesus. On and on I could go. So, my advice: just be you. Be faithful to the Lord and seek Him first and just be you.

Well, let me tell you about next week. Honestly, I’m still recovering from the week’s work. The work in Mexico was H-O-T! And I mean HOT! It was 103-106 during the biggest chunk of the week. That made it in the 110-15 degree range for “real feel temps.” Yet, we got the work accomplished in Mexico (for the roof on the church) and in helping the “Church of No Walls” and Jason and Katie Church in Weslaco, Texas.

We couldn’t have completed the work on the roof or continued the work in Weslaco, without the work of the April Team:

And now for a collage of pictures… Enjoy!


I believe this picture says it all…

I mentioned earlier about how to grow a church. Those pictures above will do it.

I wrote a blog post 7 years ago in 2010 about why a mission trip can change your life. Check it out below. That post explains the very beginning of the work we were doing in Mexico and Texas.


Several folks have asked me through the years why we don’t just stay in Wilkes County and do missions right here. Why go to China (which we just had a team return last week, as well…read all about it at Kandace’s blog: http://kandacebrown.blogspot.com/2017/06/china-part-2-orphanage_26.html)

We’ll be heading back to the Philippines in November. So, here’s my blog post to answer that question:


Take a mission trip! Do it! It will change your life and change your church. If you would like to learn more about doing mission work in TX and MX, you can contact our missionary pastor, Jason Church at: forhisglorychurch.jc@gmail.com or on Facebook. The church Facebook Page is: Church of No Walls. https://www.facebook.com/churchofnowalls/ Jason can schedule house groups in the Mission House of up to about 30-32 people. He’ll plan and coordinate the work for you and train you on to bring a team to Texas. We only charge $125 per person for an entire week at our mission house. The biggest expense is the plane ticket (usually around $500-$600 per person). But, it’s amazing to consider that you can do missions in another country and our country this inexpensively.

Indeed, it was a great question I was asked earlier this week: How are you doing that?

Yes, thanks be to the Lord Jesus Christ for the privilege to serve Him and watch Him bless, even though we are undeserving!


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It’s another year in the books. I told you last week that by this time next week I’d have pictures of another group of Young Adults who participated in our annual Rite of Passage. Well, here you go:

Isn’t that a fantastic group!! We had three that couldn’t make it to the Banquet on Saturday night (when this picture was made), so we had 14 in all. I’m ecstatic! Here’s some more pictures from the weekend.

The “Baton Pass…”

Here, the parents are preparing to pass the “baton of faith” to their young adult. Why? Because the young adult has to “own” their “own faith.” It can’t be their parents or someone else’s. It must be there’s and that’s what ROP does. It pushes them to “own” their faith. Here’s a picture of Emma Golds. Isn’t she just beaming!

I love that! Here’s another shot of some of the Young Adults holding their batons up high!

I’m so proud of these young adults and I’m proud of that young lady dressed in blue on the far left in the picture above. That’s Clara and that’s child #3 of mine and Pam’s who has been through this process.

(This was taken right before her violin recital in Winston-Salem last week.)

Andrew will be #4 next year. But, I don’t make them do this. I talk with my kids about what it means to be a Christian. I talk with them about what it means to own their own faith.

You see, it’s hard to grow up as a “pastor’s kid.” The expectations are unreal! People place responsibilities and demands on my kids that they would never dream of placing on their own. That’s the cold, hard truth. And that’s why a lot of “pastor’s kids” walk away from the faith. They are treated with a different set of rules than anyone else’s kids.

Now, please don’t get me wrong… Pastor’s kids should be held to a high standard, but there isn’t a passage of Scripture that says they are to be held to a higher standard than your kids. They are to be held to the same “Christian standard” in 1 Timothy 4:12. There isn’t a passage of Scripture for pastor’s kids that’s any different from anyone else. Paul told Timothy that an Elder (or Pastor) must: “manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive.” (1 Timothy 3:4) But folks, that’s true of any home, is it not? Every Christian home should seek to raise “submissive” children. Even Jesus was submissive. At the age of 12 the Bible describes that…

And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. Luke 2:51

So, when you see my kids…you are simply looking at children who are being raised in a glass box with expectations that are off the charts… Therefore, if you get a chance…pat them on the back for bearing up on the pressure. No, my kids aren’t perfect. But, they are following Jesus and I’m tickled to death about that and I praise His name for His mercy on them and for their desire to swallow hard and follow Him.

Oh by the way, I didn’t show you this picture of me and Charlotte from the beach. I love this picture…

Ain’t she a cutie-pie! She loved making sand castles with Christmas trees on top!

Here was our family picture from the beach…

We take a family photo each year. My, my, my how the kids have grown! And now I’m watching my grand babies grow! I’m a blessed man!

Speaking of my children and grandchildren… Katy wrote a new blog post this week that truly sums up so much of life. I leave you with it this week…


It’s funny because I’m not really sure if she picked it up from me or someone else, but Charlotte has picked up a new phrase. It’s one of the dozens she learns every week in this season of tremendous brain development and learning, but this one has stuck out and surprisingly has become of help to me.  She now says it many times a day as though God spoke it to her to comfort me. The first time happened like this….
I was having a rough day. Everything was getting on my nerves and all the mess and stuff to do was crowding out my joy. To make matters worse, I dropped something on the floor in the kitchen and food spilled out everywhere. Charlotte (2 and a half years old) was sitting in her seat waiting for me to deliver lunch to her empty plate. I let out something like, “Dad gum it!” There was a pause and then she calmly respond from her seat behind me “Oh Mommy! It’s okay though!”
It’s okay though. It hit me. How funny it is that my young daughter is so quick to remind me that this really isn’t a big deal, but me in all my adult-ness, blew it out of proportion. That’s when I realized that I do that a lot. Little stuff can make me so overly upset and aggravated. The actual big things that are more than just inconveniences seem crippling because I blow the LITTLE things out of proportion.
You know what I mean.
You have to wait and the doctor’s office longer than you wanted.
A rock cracked your windshield.
It rained on your new shoes.
You caught a cold before a presentation.
The potty training toddler peed on your carpet.
Your teenager absent mindedly locked his keys in the car.
You know.
But if those things cripple us and plummet us down the spiral of despair then what could real trauma do to our hearts? Cancer, Bankruptcy, Fire, Murder, Kidnapping, Death etc. What then?
That’s when it dawned on me that Charlotte is right. This little mess is okay. It’s not a big deal, because when things ARE a big deal I want to remember all that was actually good in my life and how even in the things that really are not okay, that God is good.
When Satan tempts you to blow the minor things out of proportion, remember that he is trying to get you and I to spend our whole lives selfishly focusing on ourselves. He wants us to think we don’t have enough to give, that we are too young or old or busy to help, he wants you to think that you have it so bad. But we don’t. I pray even if I do have it rough…. really rough one day, that I will look up and thank God anyway and be thankful that I tried really hard not to “major on the minors” when I had the chance.
Enjoy the flowers. Feels the breeze. Remember, it’s okay though.



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