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Archive for the ‘Daily Living’ Category

Why?

When a tragedy like what took place in Las Vegas earlier this week takes place, the human heart wants to know: Why? Almost 60 people killed. Over 500 injured. Why? Why would someone do that? Human beings have a natural aversion to killing another human being. So, what could have possibly happened in the heart of a human being to bring them to the place to do something so EVIL?

Yes, I used the word: EVIL. More and more people in our culture that preaches a mantra of: “not hurting anyone’s feelings,” and don’t “judge,” well…there’s an aversion to call any one or any thing: “evil.” However, that’s what the murderous act in Las Vegas was: plain, unadulterated evil! I obviously didn’t know the man, nor his heart. And I won’t say his name, because that’s what many of these people want. They want to go out in a blaze of glory and be remembered as their name and face are plastered on every media outlet. But, I will say this. I have a pretty good idea he’s in Hell today. I believe he was tricked by Satan. For, I believe Satan was speaking into his mind. And the ultimate diabolicalness of the deceit of Satan is the horrible fact that this killer most assuredly left this world from that 32nd floor hotel room and entered the horrors of Hell. To say this whole situation is “sad” is such a gross understatement. It’s demented and twisted and Satan’s fingerprints are all over it.

So, why do things like this happen? Why does ISIS decapitate people? Why do babies die and people get cancer? Why? Well, I appreciate what the president said on Monday:

…Hundreds of our fellow citizens are now mourning the sudden loss of a loved one, a parent, a child, a brother or sister. We cannot fathom their pain, we cannot imagine their loss. To the families of the victims, we are praying for you and we are here for you. And we ask God to help see you through this very dark period.

We call upon the bonds that unite us, our faith, our family, and our shared values. We call upon the bonds of citizenship, the ties of community, and the comfort of our common humanity. Our unity cannot be shattered by evil, our bonds cannot be broken by violence, and though we feel such great anger, at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today. And always will. Forever.

In times such as these, I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness. The answers do not come easy. But we can take solace knowing that even the darkest space can be brightened by a single light and even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope.

I appreciate the fact that every President in my lifetime has chosen to use Scripture during times of turmoil and trouble. Barack Obama did when Gabrielle Giffords was shot. He used the book of Job. George W. Bush quoted Psalms on the rubble of 9/11. Bill Clinton used Scripture after the Oklahoma City bombing. Ronald Reagan quoted Scripture after the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion and said, “(they) waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.” I’ll never forget that speech.

You know, whether we realize it or not, that is what we expect our presidents to do. We expect them to try to bring comfort as “Comforter in Chief.” And where do they almost always turn? The Bible. They turn to Scripture. I’m truly grateful, even though we are becoming more and more a post-christian and secular nation, we still look to an authority outside of ourselves to explain pain and the “unexplainable.” Honestly, even if the men quoting the Scripture don’t read it in private, (because I’m not saying that any of the Presidents I’ve mentioned were big-time church goers or super dedicated Christians… Truthfully, most weren’t), but I’m still grateful that they quote Scripture in public. Because what else could they quote that could have such comforting impact? Nothing! Because the Word of God is supernatural. It’s, after all, God’s Word!

But the question remains. Why? We still ask: “Why?” We still want an answer to the question. After all, we aren’t animals, (contrary to what those with an evolutionary mindset believe), therefore we want an answer. Think about it. A tiger sees a wounded rabbit and thinks nothing of eating it. However, as a human being (a moral agent), we see the rabbit and think, “Aw, I want to help it’s little injured leg.” That’s why we ask: “Why?” Because we are created in the image of God. We are moral beings and we have a conscience and we want answers. And the hard truth is: some people allow sin to dominate them to the point that their consciences are seared and they surrender to the forces of evil in the spiritual realm and they are doomed.

You know, humankind had a choice in the Garden of Eden and that shooter had a choice too. So do you. So do I. Yes, I get a choice. You get a choice. You and I get to decide how we’re going to live our lives. We aren’t robots. Is God sovereign? Yes, of course. But, in the paradox of His sovereignty, He gives man the responsibility to “own” their own decisions.

Sin came into the world as the juice of the forbidden fruit was trickling down the throats of Adam and Eve. And as they wiped that juice from their chins, preparations were being made in Heaven for Jesus to come to set aright that which had been made terribly wrong. Jesus would come and be executed so that humankind would have an opportunity to know pardon from our inexorable death sentence.

So, we’ll continue to ask: “Why did he do it?” Why would a man kill that many people? We may never know the answer. But, I must tell you that I still ask the question: “God, why would you do it?” How could you have sent your one and only son to die for men and women who would hate you? How could you watch your son drink the bitter poison of separation from you on the cross and endure the Hell of that separation…alone?! I’ll never know the answer to that question either. But, in the meantime, I will trust my Father and His sovereignty and the fact that until Jesus returns, evil exists in this sin-fallen world and the only place to find comfort is in God’s Word…as our presidents have shown us.

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We had such a wonderful week on vacation. I know most folks have Facebook, but in case some of you don’t, here’s the obligatory picture with the castle in the background.

I’m grateful for the time off and the time to recharge. Everyone needs a break from time to time.

Might I say that one of my favorite times was spending time with my grandkids at the bus stop and on the bus and at the parks. What a joy! Here’s Evelyn and me at the bus stop.

Ain’t she cute! (I’m biased I know!) Riding the bus to the parks was a hoot. Honestly, it’s just time to sit and be with your family.

I know that sounds simple and it is…but, there is something tranquil just riding on a bus with your family and just chatting and even holding hands.

Call me crazy…but, I really enjoyed those rides to the parks.

One of my jobs was to watch the little guys while the bigger “kids” ride all of those wild and crazy rides. I’m way too old for those! Sometimes we could even pull this off…

Precious!!

Here’s one of my favorite pictures…

Oh…oh…oh…and the rides… Vicarious living is so much fun when you see things through your grandchildren’s eyes. Evelyn loved “It’s a Small World.”

She clapped and clapped! 10 months old and loved every minute of it! What a joy!

Pam and I even got to ride my favorite ride: “Soar-in.”

That ride has you flying around the world seeing God’s beauty, from whale’s jumping out of the ocean waters to elephants throwing dirt around in Africa. And you get to smell the dirt! It’s amazing! I always have tears in my eyes when I’m done.

You see, Walt Disney figured out the “human experience.” Disney employs 73,000 people! Is that amazing or what! Sadly, he never got to see Disney World in Orlando open. He died in 1966, five years before it opened in 1971. But, here’s the thing Disney figured out. People live amusement parks. Why? Because life is hard and they want to laugh and they want to be with other people and experience something exciting and fun. That’s why people love sporting events. It’s a joy to experience things together. That’s the same for congregating in a church. That’s why our church services can’t be boring! They just can’t! No! I’m not talking about having the Praise Team drummer entering the stage from cables in the ceiling. No! But, I’m saying, the reason so many people are forsaking the church is they feel it’s irrelevant. We’re doing church like we did in 1975. The music is boring. And the preaching is even worse.

And so, let me be blunt… Churches are in competition today with golf courses, amusement parks, fishing, sleeping in, eating brunch…you name it. All those things are happening on Sunday mornings. So, pastor…you better have your act together. Music leader, you better have your act together. And please, please…before everyone gets all up in arms and say, “Come on Kevin, people should simply come because they well…should simply want to come.” Well, I get that sentiment. I do. But, the truth is, for a lot of Christians today are not going to go to church unless there is something in it for them.

When I was growing up, you went to church no matter who was preaching or what was going on. Not today. If the lead pastor isn’t there…yep…Sunday off! “We’re not going today.” That would never be said by my grandparents. They would say, “We’re going no matter what.” You see, that’s what Christians did in the 80’s. You went to church no matter what was going on.

So, we can lament the fact that only about 36% of Americans go to church today, versus about 68% just 40 years ago. But, we must come to the sobering realization that if we don’t teach and preach well and the music is bad…well, you are going to struggle to keep people. You might think about the best restaurants you go to for a few minutes. What makes them good? As a pastor, I’m thinking that way about church.

So, this Sunday, when you come to the church, you’re going to get coffee and some muffins when you arrive. You are going to be taken care of from the moment you drive into our parking area with our First Impressions Team…to the Hospitality Team who will take care of you upon your entrance into the building to the Security Team who will make sure we’re all safe while we’re here. We’re going to make sure that the music and preaching is as good as we can possibly be, because Jesus deserves our best. I’m excited about Jesus and the fact that He saved my soul from Hell and that’s what I hope to get across every time I have the privilege to preach.

Can you tell I’ve been on vacation? I’m fired up and ready to go! Praise the Lord!

One last picture…

Dole whip! Such fun!!

Kevin

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1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. John 1:1-4

Remember that old cheer?

It was fun to chant that at a game about your favorite team and then point to the other side as you shouted back for a retort.

So, I just have to say it…I love Jesus!  I can’t help but shout it!  “I love Jesus!”  Sound strange?  It shouldn’t.  But, it seems kind of “over the top” to hear a man say, “I love Jesus!”  But, I do.  I sincerely do.  My love for this God-man has grown much through the years. I’m still blown away by the fact that Jesus died for me!

I was saved as a ten-year old boy.

I’m in the back in the middle.  Check out the hair and those short-shorts! Yikes!

At the time of this photo, I had only been a Christian for a short while.  What did I know about Jesus?  Not much.  But, let me tell you…almost 40 years later…boy, have things changed.  I sincerely and genuinely know Jesus.  I mean I KNOW Him.  I talk to Him.  I understand more and more about His character and His heart.  Why?  Is it because I go to church, or that I’m a pastor or that I’ve been a member of a church for basically all my life?  Nope!

I know Jesus because I have fallen in love with His Word.  I love the Bible.  I read it because I want to…not because I have to.  People often say to me, “Well you have to read the Bible, you are a Pastor.”  They say that I’ve learned the Bible because I’m a preacher.  I kindly tell them that I learned the Bible (and that’s a relative term…learned…because I’m still a novice), by simply reading it well before I ever became a pastor.

Do you love Jesus?  If you say, “Yes,” then can I ask you a bold question?  How much do you “read Him?”  Jesus is the Word, you know.  He became flesh and dwelled among us (John 1:1).  Consequently, if you and I love Jesus, we will read the Bible.  It’s that simple. If we don’t read the Bible, then can we honestly say that we really, truly and genuinely love Jesus.   You say that’s being “legalistic.”  Well, I don’t believe it is and I will respectfully disagree.  For instance, if you love Carolina Basketball…(and I do)…then you will read news articles or online articles about the Tar Heels.  If you love hunting…you will read hunting magazines.  You get the idea.  So, what do you love?

What do you read?

Honestly and truly, I love Jesus.  And I do desire to read the Bible. I’m not saying it’s always going to be easy to just pick up the Bible and read it, but the Lord will help us and give us the desire to do so.

So…here goes…I’m standing now…and shouting with hands cupped beside of my mouth…”I love Jesus, yes I do…I love Jesus…how ’bout you?”

Kevin

PS, Let’s please keep in prayer the folks in Texas and now the folks in Florida and all the way up the East Coast. We could get strong winds here too. I’m praying Irma is not another Hugo. We were without power for 8 days in 1989 when it came through.

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One Race-The Human Race

Folks, there’s a lot of talk about race right now. I want to offer this thought for our consideration as we think of race relations: There is only one race and that’s the human race.

Now, I know when we fill out forms there are all kinds of options, but at the end of the day, there’s just one race, according to the Bible. We are all descendants of Ham, Shem and Japheth, Noah’s three sons. And prior to that, we’re all the offspring of Adam and Eve. That includes all the various skin colors.

Take a look at this quote:

In 1950, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) issued a statement asserting that all humans belong to the same species and that “race” is not a biological reality but a myth. This was a summary of the findings of an international panel of anthropologists, geneticists, sociologists, and psychologists.

Most educated people would accept the facts that the earth is not flat and that it revolves around the sun. However, it is much more difficult for them to accept modern science concerning human variation. Why is this so? It seems that the belief in human races, carrying along with it the prejudice and hatred of “racism,” is so embedded in our culture and has been an integral part of our worldview for so long that many of us assume that it just must be true. Robert Wald Sussman, “The Myth of Race”

Take a look at this chart:

Acts 17:26 says: “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.”

Think about it. If you’re a Christian, then you probably believe that all human beings came from Adam and Eve. I said “probably” because everyone who names the name of Christ might not think this way. However, I believe it is truly Biblical. So, how can we get all the skin colors? Well, think back to High School at basic genetics. See it…

This chart helps us to understand this fact…

Genetically speaking, Adam and Eve were most likely what we would say is “Middle Brown” in color. So, what is the difference in skin color of human beings? Simply something called: MELANIN. What is melanin? It’s found in your skin…it’s your skin pigmentation that gives you your paint job…your color…

Think of cars coming off the Ford assembly line. What’s under the hood is the same…but, they have different paint jobs.

Melanin is what gives your skin color. The more you have of it, the darker your skin. Let me show you a picture that is fascinating. These two girls are twin sisters.

Isn’t that astounding? You see folks, I’ll say it again…skin color is just a paint job from God based on how much melanin we have in our skin.

Think of the iris of the eye. How is eye color determined? Yep, you guessed it: melanin. If the iris has a larger amount of melanin, it will be brown. If the iris has a small amount of melanin, the eye will be blue. The blue color in blue eyes results from the way light scatters off of the thin layer of brown-colored melanin.

Hair color is also influenced by the production of melanin. Brown to black hair results from a greater production of melanin, while lighter hair results from less melanin. Those with red hair have a mutation in one gene that causes a greater proportion of the reddish form of melanin.

Do you remember the Punnett Square from Biology class?

 

You have the Father’s genes on the left and the mother’s genes up top. Let’s say that Big A and Big B means you have lots of melanin and little a and little b means you have small amounts of melanin. So, if you have two Big A’s and two Big B’s, then you have very dark brown skin (what we would call black). If you have two little a’s and two little b’s, then you would have very light brown skin, that we call “white.” If you have a combination of a Big A and little a and Big B and little b, then you would be what is called “middle brown.” See how the color goes from dark black in the top left corner to really, really white in the bottom right corner?

Think with me biblically. All of the descendants of Shem, Ham, Japheth were dispersed at the Tower of Babel, remember? But also remember they are descendants of Noah, who is a direct descendant of Adam and Eve.

As people spread out from Babel…they went to different parts of the earth, just as God commanded (to be fruitful and multiple).

So, what makes our skin dark? The sun, right? The closer we get to the equator, the darker the skin. And the more athletic they are in the villages, where they still farm and hunt and run with tremendous speed and skill. Other people who migrated to the colder climates didn’t have the same amount of vitamin D from the sun and thus lighter skin. They also live more sedentary life-styles (indoors) because of the cold.

Think about the industrial revolution and how it changed many things in Europe and certainly here in the United States regarding how we raise food and hunt, etc. We live in totally different environments today. Think of the Chinese with their 1.7 billion people. They live off of rice and not a lot of protein. Therefore, they are typically smaller and thinner as a people group. And that’s what I call various “peoples”… I call them “people groups.” I don’t call them races. The Chinese are a people group and so are Indians, etc.

Take a look at this map of the various “paint jobs” as distributed throughout the world.

Aren’t you glad the Lord put such amazing variety in our DNA through 23 female and 23 male chromosomes to produce all of these skin colors? Amazing isn’t it! By the way, this is another example of God’s design for the human race and for marriage and procreation, which obliterates the idea of homosexual marriage. They can’t do this. They’re not designed to produce offspring (as same-sex couples). Only God’s design works.

Can I ask you a question? If a white person is looking for a tissue match for an organ transplant, is it possible the best match could come from a black person? The answer is: YES and it happens all the time. Can I ask you another question? If I were to show you a picture of a human heart, would you be able to tell if it was a white man’s heart versus a black man’s heart versus an Asian man’s heart? The answer is: NO. Because they’ll look the same! All of our organs look the same! A black man’s spleen is like a white man’s spleen, a Chinese man’s liver is like a Hispanic man’s liver and so forth. Why? Because we are all from one blood line…Adam’s!! We are all from the same race. It’s that simple! Our skin color is just a paint job.

The Bible is plain and clear:

Galatians 3:28

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Romans 10:12-13

12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

May we be reminded of what will happen in heaven one day…

Revelation 7:9-10

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Yes, here is just one race…the human race and all people are equal before God. All are sinners in need of Jesus for salvation. Because of this, we go as missionaries to China, Mexico, Ethiopia, the Philippines and points in between. Any descendant of Adam can be saved because Jesus Christ, born a Jew, gave His blood for all people for all time. This is why the gospel can (and should be preached) to all nations, tribes and tongues. And it’s this truth that must supersede all talk about race.

Here is this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, “I KNOW I’m Going to be Surprised!”

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/pxzflsc

Kevin

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Suicide-The Newest Fad

Is that title provocative or what? Yet, it’s the truth. Suicide is becoming a fad in our culture. More and more young people, particularly, believe it’s the way out of the problems. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among 10-24 year olds.

I was watching a documentary on this the other day and I saw where one of the counselors being interviewed, (about helping a High School address a recent suicide), said, “We don’t recommend having memorial services for the deceased so that the high schoolers can attend.” The reporter asked why? The counselor said, “Because there is too much ‘glorification’ of suicide right now. If these kids know that the whole school is going to stop and weep over them…well…it’s something glamorous…and we don’t recommend it to school guidance counselors.” That makes total sense to me.

As a pastor, one of the most troubling things I deal with is the subject of depression and suicide. Truly they go hand-in-hand. It’s deep and dark depression that leads to suicidal thoughts and ultimately the act of suicide. Let me say this: I’m not trained to handle suicide. I tell folks this all the time. If you want to talk and you want me to share with you and listen to you and encourage you…yes, please come see me. But, I’m not trained in the brain. I don’t understand all of the nuances of how the mind works. Therefore, I never want to say or do anything that would lead to more harm.

You see, I believe there is a balance in working with people. You (I’m speaking of myself) have to know yourself and what you can handle and are capable of handling. I, as a pastor, feel I can handle marriage counseling, financial counseling, family counseling, behavioral counseling (to a point). But, when it gets to be issues of someone is on the phone and they’re on a ledge about to jump…no…don’t call me first…call 911 first. I’m not trained to talk people off a building rooftop. The same is true with drug addiction. That’s over my head.

Honestly, I didn’t believe this way when I started out pastoring 12 years ago. I thought I had to have all the answers. I thought, “There paying me to have the answers.” I realized that wasn’t true. I realized there are issues that I’m not equipped to handle and I’m a better pastor to admit that versus trying to make it look like I know what I’m talking about. That’s nothing but blatant pride! So, I’m honest with people. I’m candid with people. I try to lower their expectations. I’m not a miracle worker and I don’t have a magic wand.

Here’s the truth. By the time a lot of people call me for counseling, they’ve already made up their mind. Let’s take marriage counseling for instance. What I’ve seen through the years is that one or both of the spouses has already given up and they simply agree to counseling to check it off the list so that they can tell everyone that they “exhausted all possible avenues,” including counseling. The truth is: I can tell in the first 15 minutes if one or both have already given up. That’s tough when that happens, because then it will only be a miracle from the hand of God that can save the marriage. Only God can change the human heart. I can only do so much and the same is true of you.

Today’s Two-Minute Tuesday is: “Exit: The Appeal of Suicide.”

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/q9puzbu

The movie is excellent. It’s about 37 minutes long, but it’s not something I can show in church (with our children). However, if you know of anyone who is in that dark place or dealing with depression or suicide, I would encourage you to pass along this website:

http://www.theexitmovie.com

Without question, we all go through seasons of time in our lives that are very dark and very difficult. I think of the Apostle Paul when he said that he was “so burdened beyond his strength.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-11

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

Verse 9 said he felt “the sentence of death” on his life. Maybe you have been there. Maybe you are there. Know that you are not alone. Know that you are loved and are valuable to God. He loves you so much, He sent Jesus to die for you…to save you…so that you might have eternal life.

Jesus, Himself, would cry out on the cross in His grief and anguish. He, too, felt such terrible stress and pain in the Garden of Gethsemane that He literally sweat drops of blood. He’s been there. The writer of Hebrews says:

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

Jesus loves us and He is able to bring meaning, purpose and hope into the life of each and every soul that will come to Him. He says:

28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I know in my own life of almost 50 years the there is no one or nothing that can give strength, power, purpose and meaning outside of Jesus Christ. Anything else is counterfeit and won’t last. If you need help, get help. Talk to a Christian counselor or pastor or trusted Christian friend.

The most important thing for those of us who are trying to help and encourage people is to know that we don’t have to have all the answers. We just need to be there and listen. Just be a shoulder for others to lean on.

I think of the first century church. There were no counseling services like we have today. It was just Christians helping Christians and the Holy Spirit to comfort, teach and guide. I believe Peter said as much in:

2 Peter 1:3-11

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I do believe there is a place for professional counseling, (I’ve already said that), but I believe the greatest Counselor is the Wonderful Counselor and that’s the Lord Jesus Christ, who operates in our lives through the Holy Spirit. If you are struggling today in any way…look to Christ. Bow your head and pray right now. Call on the name of the Lord! He’s waiting and He loves you!!

Kevin

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I read that phrase and I thought, “Is that possible?” This was a question asked by a 20-something to the founder of World Magazine, Joel Beltz, in his office in Asheville, NC. See the full article here…

Is ignorance about one of America’s greatest evangelists a worrying sign?

https://world.wng.org/2017/08/a_little_quiz

It’s fascinating! And scary!! To think that we live in a day and age that in the Bible belt, there are people who don’t know Billy Graham. Of course, as Beltz said, these same people don’t know of C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Charles Colson, J.I. Packer, and even contemporaries like Joni Eareckson Tada. Wow! Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore.

But, I bet they know about Al Gore. I bet they know about “climate change.” It’s ubiquitous (that’s my word for the day: meaning everywhere). Every TV show, news article, Hollywood star, you name it…they are all shouting, “The sky is falling!” Oops! No! Sorry, I meant, “The oceans are rising and we’re all going to die!” You know, Al Gore said in 2004 that the polar ice cap in the Arctic Circle would be totally gone by 2014. Well, Al ole boy…it’s still there! In fact, Greenland has had more snow and ice in the past year than they’ve had in the last 50 years (source: weatherbell.com).

You got to love Al Gore. Do you know where he lives? (I should say, his “main home?”) Here it is…

Can you say, “Wow!!!” You know Scientology founder and sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard reportedly once said, “You don’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.” Some people dispute that quote, but there’s no disputing that Al Gore took it to heart. He has combined sci-fi and religion to create what many are calling, “Doomsday environmentalism.” Gore is worth an estimated $300 million today. After he left politics as VP, he was worth a paltry $2 million.

Have you heard about his latest movie that’s coming soon? It’s “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.” I can’t wait! (NOT!!) Interestingly, the National Center for Public Policy Research  (NCPPR) decided to investigate the truth about Gore’s mansion and his own power bill. In 2007, he was slammed for having an energy hog mansion that used 20 times more power than the average American home. So he installed $250,000 worth of solar panels and other green updates. The NCPPR found that despite his claim that he uses 100% renewable energy, all those solar panels produce just 5.7% of the power needed for his massive home.

Again, that picture above is just of his Tennessee house. It doesn’t include the energy needed to power his seaside California villa or all the energy he expends jetting around to lectures and environmental conferences. As one man I heard recently say, “I’ll believe the environment is a crisis when the people who claim it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis.”

Please understand something. I have no problem with Al Gore saying anything he wants to say. It’s a free country! Or is it? Or is it becoming JUST a free country for those who believe and espouse the progressive liberal agenda? Did you hear about the:

I doubt you have. The mainstream media will never cover this. Well, NC Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest got this act through the legislature of North Carolina, which just went into effect without the signature of the Governor. Does that surprise you? North Carolina is the first in the nation to restore and protect the First Amendment free speech principles on college campuses, which have been whittled away by the political correctness of left leaning administrators and protesters.

You see, free speech and religious liberties have come under great attack on college campuses. Al Gore is allowed to speak anywhere at any time. But, if you’re a Christian with conservative principles. Forget it! Understand, if you’re a speaker or student group that holds opposing views to those on the left, you will be silenced on most college campuses. Period! I’m thankful for the courage and guts of Lt. Governor Forest and the fact that he recognized this issue was threatening our student’s freedoms and led the charge to protect their fundamental rights of free speech and free expression on NC college campuses. Other states are now looking at following our lead. Read more from the National Review.

I believe Religious Liberty is the tip of the spear for Christians in our country. This man…

(Photo: adflegal.org)

That’s Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop of Colorado. He declined to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex-wedding reception. He has since been told by the ladies of The View, “Just bake the d_mn cake!” Well, let me ask you something. What if someone came to a gay baker and said, “Make me a cake that says, ‘I hate Gays!'” Would it be okay for that gay baker to turn down that request because it violated his/her conscience? Sure it would! Or would it? You see, this is the issue: “who is going to dictate freedom?” Is it the government? If that’s the case, then the government becomes “god” and they will eventually dictate American’s lives from the womb to the tomb.

Understand this: With every cake he designs, Jack believes he is serving Christ. He had previously turned down requests to create Halloween-themed cakes, lewd bachelor-party cakes, and a cake celebrating a divorce. Yet Jack was never reprimanded over those decisions. He found himself in hot water only with the same-sex-wedding cake.

This case is now before the Supreme Court. I predict the court splits 5-4 and votes in favor of making Jack bake the cake (which he won’t…so it will shut him down and potentially throw him in jail for violating Colorado’s “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” (SOGI) antidiscrimination statute. So, this case has implications for millions of believers from every walk of life and, beyond that, for the health of our culture and our constitutional system of liberty.

Only in recent years has the government taken upon its shoulders the responsibility to force religious conservatives to violate their beliefs on sex and marriage. This has occurred because of  the tremendous influence and money (oh, don’t forget the money) that progressive, liberal advocacy groups have pushed legislators and in the judiciary. Apparently, there are no longer any civil liberties for those of us who conscientiously object to the sexual revolution.

That’s why we saw the American Civil Liberties Union oppose Catholic nuns’ attempt to get out of the Obamacare HHS preventive-care mandate, in which the Department of Health and Human Services required employers to provide insurance covering sterilization and birth control and that included several forms of birth control that prevented embryos from implanting in the uterus, thereby causing abortions.

Folks, it won’t stop with bakers. If this train keeps thundering down the tracks toward Christians, it will eventually threaten churches and religious schools adhering to the historic view of marriage that’s recorded in the pages of the Bible. Religious schools could possibly lose accreditation and nonprofit tax status as well as eligibility for student loans, vouchers, and education savings accounts. And churches could lose their tax-exempt status as well. Which I couldn’t care less. I don’t give my money just for a tax deduction. I give it because the Lord has saved my soul and I want to see others come to the kingdom. If I don’t get a tax deduction for giving my money, then who cares! But, I know I don’t speak for everyone. There’s a lot of folks who might just hang on to those dollars.

You see, what the Left has done remarkably well is to say that not baking a cake or performing a same-sex ceremony is akin to “homophobia.” They equate it with racism. And that’s where the question of authority arises. Who are we going to listen to obey? Man or God? Are we going to adhere to God’s definition of marriage as found in Holy Writ or man’s?

What justifies the government in telling Jack Phillips that he must create cakes for same-sex weddings? I’ll tell you! Government has redefined marriage! Yet, (and read this carefully to follow) that redefinition didn’t create an entitlement for some citizens to demand that other citizens help celebrate their same-sex marriages. Activists are using SOGI laws to weaponize the redefinition of marriage.

Did you know that during the Supreme Court case, two summers ago where the Court ruled Gay Marriage as acceptable, Justice Samuel Alito asked the solicitor general whether the state should yank tax exemptions for schools that uphold marriage as the union of man and woman. The solicitor general replied: “It’s certainly going to be an issue.” Right on cue, the Sunday after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell, the New York Times’ religion columnist wrote a piece for Time magazine titled “Now’s the Time to End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions.” It’s coming folks! It’s coming!

Please understand this as well. These “laws” will extend not only to evangelical Christians but also to Orthodox Jews, Roman Catholics, confessional Lutherans, Latter-day Saints, Muslims, and anyone else who believes that man and woman were created male and female, and that male and female are created for each other only.

Ryan Anderson at the Heritage Foundation (as reported in the National Review) says, “Charities, schools, and professionals will find themselves on the wrong side of regulations: bans on what government deems ‘discrimination’ in public accommodations and employment; mandates in health care and education; revocation of nonprofit status, accreditation, licensing, and funding. Rolling Stone just profiled the LGBT activist Tim Gill, who has pledged his $500 million fortune to passing SOGI laws that will, in his words, ‘punish the wicked.’ And it won’t just be government that does the punishing. As the law insists that social conservatives are like racists, big businesses and other institutions will bring their own pressure to bear on anyone who dissents. Professional associations, through licensing and accreditation procedures, will enforce the new orthodoxy. The American Bar Association has promulgated new model rules of professional conduct that make it unethical for lawyers to ‘discriminate’ on the ‘basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status,’ including in ‘social activities,’ which, as former attorney general Ed Meese has explained, would include ‘church membership and worship activities.'”

Folks, all I can say is: “Wow!” Oh how far we’ve fallen as a nation from the principles of our founding! Amazing!

So what do we do? Sit on our hands? Give up? No, of course not. God is still on the throne and His truth still marches on. What we need to do is to have kind dialog with people and help convince them that what we believe is at least reasonable and poses no harm to others, and thus that there’s no reason for the government to penalize it. In essence, you can be in favor of gay marriage (of which I’m not…I’m just saying this in reference to someone I might be talking to who is) and you (that would be me) might be in favor of Jack not being forced to celebrate gay weddings. In other words, we can civilly and kindly disagree. Someone else can bake the cake. But if you and I are told that we aren’t allowed to believe and think the way the Bible teaches about marriage and the government says the way we think about marriage (the union of husband and wife only) is akin to racism, then were doomed to be pushed into the closet.  Conservatives need to explain why we believe what we believe in terms that our neighbors can understand. We may never convince the far Left and progressive activists, but most Americans aren’t like that. In fact, most Americans aren’t even that well-informed on the issues. Therefore, I believe most folks are open to kind dialogue and are persuadable if we simply make the effort.

As Ryan Anderson says: “People are free to try to convince Jack that he should bake the cake, but the government shouldn’t be allowed to force him to do so. Religious-liberty protections help preserve the conditions that make peaceful coexistence possible. They acknowledge both man’s dignity and the reality of pluralism and diversity even as we work to know and live the truth.”

Well said Mr. Anderson, well said!

I guess some of this might go back to the beginning of this post… Maybe we simply live in a nation now that just doesn’t know who Billy Graham is anymore.

Here is this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “Living Two Lives Makes a Person Miserable.”

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/jwbahyd

Kevin

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Well, there’s good news and bad news. Which do you want first? Let’s try the bad news. Obamacare leaves on and that means insurance premiums could go up as much as 20% next year according to various think tanks in Washington. It’s like that old movie, “Towering Inferno” when the police chief told the captain of the fire department, “It’s out of control and headed straight for you.”

Yep, in split vote early this morning, Senator John McCain cast the deciding vote, joining two liberal Republicans from Alaska and Maine and wouldn’t allow the bill (called the “Skinny Bill”) to be sent to Committee (that’s where the House and Senate seek to work on it and make the bill better). What a loss for the American public! I’m amazed at McCain. He was recently diagnosed with brain cancer and I’m not wanting to be mean, but I’m wondering if it’s already having an effect on him. Truly, why in the world would you not want to work on this thing? It’s out of control! Oh well. They Republicans can all go home now for summer recess and get blasted by their constituents. If I’m McCain, I’m laying low. He’s not going to be a very popular man. That’s the bad news.

Now, for the good news. We win! Who wins? Christians! As I taught Wednesday night, we are “overcomers” according to 1 John 5:1-5. That means we are invincible and unconquerable! Indeed, to live is Christ and to die is gain! I’m learning more and more to live my life with my palms up. Meaning: “Lord take my life and use it any way you desire.” Meaning: “I don’t own my life, He does.” Meaning, “I’m not going to be tight-fisted and cling to anything in this life, because when I do, I make that thing a god.”

Yes, I look at Washington and the craziness of our world and it’s saddening. Yet, I remember that this is NOT my home! I am a pilgrim passing through! My home is in heaven with Jesus and I will live there forever. Therefore, what happens here is just a training ground for there. It’s just a way to prepare me and shape me and mold me for heaven. And whatever happens to me here is simply for the glorification of Jesus Christ in my life and in that process, I will go through ups and downs, but that’s to make me better.

I will say that I was pleased to see that at least our military wants to faithfully try to execute readiness and preparedness for battle. The whole transgender thing is really amazing to me. If you don’t embrace it, then you’re a bigot. Well, red/green color-blind folks can’t join the military either. Does that make the military bigoted against them. Let me ask you this, should cancer patients be allowed to join the military and have their treatments paid for by you and me (via our tax dollars)?

Clearly, transgenderism is a dysphoria. It’s confusion in the mind that creates a mindset where 40% of transgenders seek to kill themselves. Some will say, “That’s because of the persecution they endure.” Folks, they are not enduring persecution today. The LGBTQ has reached a new high in popularity. I saw this week where the Boston Redsox are now flying the rainbow flag beneath the American Flag at Fenway. Not a “Boston Strong” flag, but a rainbow flag.

Friends, when will we seek to try to help people who are confused versus patting them on the head and keeping them in their confused frustration? Never forget there is a political agenda here and these dear people (transgendered) are being used as pawns by the progressive liberals to push their agenda. The truth is, they don’t really care about them. They care about themselves. Christians, we must help and encourage people to see that Jesus loves them and that He desires for them to embrace them the way they were created.

Can I be honest with you? I don’t like my double chin and my skinny legs…or the fact that I went bald at 35. Yet, that’s the way God made me and so, I’ve learned to embrace who I am and who created me to be. We all have things that we’d like to change about ourselves, but at some point we have to own who we are and who God created us to be. I know, I know…some might be thinking, there’s more to it than this. Well, actually there isn’t. We try to make it complicated and it doesn’t have to be. Jesus said in Matthew 19, that God “made them male and female from the beginning.”

We live in a culture today that espouses that we must NOT deprive ourselves. We have a culture built on fulfilling our desires, one that tells us that we mind purpose and meaning in releasing ourselves from any prohibition so that we can live any way we please. That’s what happen when there is no God. That’s what happens when you teach evolution in our schools. That’s truly the survival of the fittest and doing what pleases you.

You see, the Sexual Revolution of the 1960’s has done it’s job. In the 60’s it was free love and all the sex you want and now the new “ideal” is “transgendered people.” No! You don’t have to be bound to your biology! That’s not freeing! That’s being trapped, right! After all, they have this movement (LGBTQ) behind them and they have wind in their sails that says, “You get to choose whatever you want to be,” because all that matters is the individual and their happiness. There are no inhibitions. There is no God. And you see, after transgenderism, the next step is polygamy and pedophilia. How do I know? Just read Romans 1. That chapter gives you the process of the demise of a culture and a society.

Thankfully, in the US military, at least…the good news is that this social experiment that was crafted by President Obama and then Defense Secretary Ash Carter has been stopped by President Trump and current Defense Secretary James Mattis. No, I don’t agree with everything Trump is doing, nor do I think he has a good handle on his White House staff, but I can see that I’m grateful for Mattis and I’m grateful for Supreme Court Judge, Neil Gorsuch.

One other thing I’ll share is this clip from an article written by Walt Heyer, who has lived the transgendered life in the military…

http://dailysignal.com/2017/07/26/why-forcing-the-military-to-pay-for-sex-changes-would-be-disastrous/amp/

“I think he (President Trump) made the right decision—and as someone who lived as trans-female for several years, I should know. When I discovered Congress voted earlier this month to not block funding for transgender-related hormone therapies and sex change surgeries, I wondered if it considered how devastating this will be to the fitness, readiness, and morale of our combat-ready troops.

In July, the House of Representatives voted down Missouri Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which would have banned the military from funding such treatments. Paying for transition-related surgeries for military service members and their families is beyond comprehensible. Perhaps they have forgotten that our military was forged to be the world’s strongest fighting force, not a government-funded, politically correct, medical sex change clinic for people with gender dysphoria.

Gender dysphoria, the common diagnosis for one who feels at odds with his or her birth gender, develops from prolonged anxiety and depression. People are not born that way. The “proof” for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria is having strongly held feelings—but feelings can and often do change over time. The military is expected to prepare its members in warfare: to kill, destroy, and break our enemies. The most important factors in preparing a strong military are not hormone therapy, surgical sex changes, or politically correct education.

We need psychologically fit, emotionally sound, highly trained troops to protect our nation from its enemies. While countless homeless vets are currently sleeping under cardboard boxes, or waiting for life-saving care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, we learn that transgender military recruits now qualify for preferential coverage for sex change procedures that are scientifically unproven and extremely costly.

I myself was fully sex-reassigned from male to female, and eventually came to accept my birth gender. I have over 70 years of firsthand life experience, eight years of living as a woman, 20 years of researching the topic, and 12 years of helping others who, like me, found that transitioning and reassignment surgery failed to be proper treatment and want to restore their lives to their birth gender.”

The next big battle is going to be at the Supreme Court level and we’ll see which trumps the other, religious freedom (and the First Amendment) or the cultural experiment birthed in the 60’s and the Sexual Revolution as being led by the LGBTQ movement. I’ll say it to you this way. I would not want an individual who has chosen the gay lifestyle and is a baker to have to bake a cake for someone who says to them, “Bake me a cake that says, ‘I HATE Gays!” That homosexual baker should not be required to bake a cake for someone as mean and hateful as that, because it would certainly violate their conscience. Conversely, I wouldn’t want a Christian baker, who believes the words of Jesus from Matthew 19, to have to violate their conscience and bake a cake for a gay wedding. Folks, this isn’t difficult. There are plenty of bakers and t-shirt makers and wedding organizers and photographers (gay and straight).

The real issue is not gays getting the right to marry. They have that for two years and the number of gay marriages in America has barely ticked up an inch. The issue was legitimizing the lifestyle in the eyes of the public. Don’t be deceived. That’s the truth! And this Sexual Revolution will NOT stop here. It will ultimately destroy the fabric of morality in America and led to the acceptance of adultery, polygamy and pedophilia. You mark my words. But, for now, there’s been a bit of a reprieve. So, I rejoice in that and I continue to pray for a spiritual awakening in America, because that’s the country’s only hope.

But, here’s the deal: This is NOT my home! My citizenship is in heaven and I’m not going to forget that. Yes, I’ll do all I can to write my senators and letters to the editor, as I feel prompted. But, I’m not going to lose focus that I’m a citizen of another land. I’m not going to forget that these are my orders from my Master via His Word:

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21

By the way, many of you know I love, respect and admire Dr. David Black. I read this on his blog earlier this week and it’s priceless. Enjoy!

When I exited the cafe I noticed two men in starched shirts and ties across the street sitting at a portable table with some literature on it. Well, since I had praying all morning that the Lord would open up for me a Gospel opportunity, I made a beeline for these distinguished-looking gentlemen. “You know the Bible doesn’t say anything about wearing ties when it’s 100 degrees outdoors, right?” We laughed and shook hands. “Jehovah’s Witnesses?” I asked. “Yes, sir,” they replied. And thus began an hour-long conversation.

As you folks know, I’m currently writing a book on the concept of the kingdom in the New Testament. The book is called Godworld: Enter at Your Own Risk, and in one chapter I’ll be discussing how various Christian denominations (and sects even) understand what the kingdom looks like. I asked the men, one of whom was about my age, and the other of whom was about 40: “Can you please tell me why your New World Translation says ‘a god’ in John 1:1 instead of ‘God'”? The younger man started in. “In Greek there is no word for ‘a.’ So every time you have a word like ‘God,’ you have to decide whether or not to use the indefinite article in English.” I said, “So you believe that Jesus is divine but not ‘God’?” The same man spoke up, “Exactly. We believe that the doctrine of the Trinity is a theological construct that’s not taught in the Bible. As a result, we don’t see Jesus being called God here.”

I had them turn to other passages such as Tit. 2:13 and Rom. 9:5. Conveniently for my interlocutors, the NWT renders both verses in such a way as to avoid a reference to Christ’s Deity. They had a little more difficulty when I asked them to read for me John 20:28, where Thomas, speaking to Jesus, says “My Lord and my God.” After about a half hour of discussing Christ’s Deity, I felt led to move the discussion in a different direction. “If you were to die today, do either of you know with certainty that you would go to heaven?” Again, the younger man spoke up first. “No one can know for sure whether they’re saved.” “Okay,” I replied. “Let me ask my question this way: On your understanding of the Bible, what must a person do to be saved?” “Strive his best to obey Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount,” said the younger man. “It’s the meek who will inherit the earth,” chimed in the older man. I said, “Well and good. I’m all for living out the ethics of the kingdom of God. But what about these verses?” I then quoted to them Eph. 2:8-9. 

For by grace

are you saved

through faith,

and that not of yourselves. 

It is the gift of God,

not of works,

lets any man should boast.

They looked at me like I had ten heads. I honestly believe they had never heard this verse before. Then I quoted Acts 16:31:

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

About this time I sensed that the conversation was going in a way they felt uncomfortable with. The older man excused himself to go to the restroom. The younger man stood up and announced with his body language that the discussion was now concluded. He said to me, “I want to thank you for being so polite and respectful to us during our conversation today. You know, people can disagree about salvation and that’s okay because it’s our sincerity that counts in the end.” I replied, “People can be sincerely wrong. Muslims are sincere. Buddhists are sincere. Even atheists are sincere.” Then I added, almost in a whisper, looking at that handsome, well-dressed young man straight in the eye: “I can tell you with complete certainty today that when I die God will take me straight to heaven, not because of any works of righteousness that I have done, but because on the cross Christ died the death that I, a terrible sinner, should have died, and when I placed my faith and trust in Him, God imputed Christ’s righteousness to me. I want you to know, my friend, that no amount of good works will get you or anyone else into heaven. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” 

We look at each other for a moment. Then we shook hands, and as I patted him on the arm I quipped, “And remember: There’s no verse in the Bible that says you have to wear ties on a hot day!” 

Laughing, we parted ways. 

Beautiful! Inspires me greatly to not be afraid to lovingly, whimsically and respectfully engage people with the Good News that Jesus saves! You can read more from Dr. Black’s blog at: http://www.daveblackonline.com/blog.htm

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, “What Does Your Pastor/Religious Leader Believe?”

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/kjlpxzk

 

 

 

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