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The Lord is good. I continue to be amazed at His provision in my life. I see His hand on my family and the church. Now when I say that, “I see His hand…” I’m not meaning that everything is always perfect. You know the Lord allows difficulties into all of our lives to grow us and shape us and mold us into His image. Difficulties and trying circumstances are a part of life. It’s how we handle those circumstances that will determine where our hearts are as they relate to Him. But, I’m grateful for another week. It’s been hectic and busy with funerals and Sunday’s messages and I’m in revival this week at a local church. As a matter of fact, we had 649 people on Sunday for our three services. There was nothing special going on… just an ordinary Lord’s Day. That’s still mind-boggling to me! I admit it!

Interestingly, I’ve heard some say that our church is growing because it’s liberal. Can you believe that? Me, a liberal preacher? Are you serious! I laugh when I hear that. I’m probably one of the least liberal preachers around. Don’t believe me? Watch some of the sermons I’ve preached lately online at http://www.mpbc.ws.

No, the truth is, there’s all kinds of reasons that folks, (including, sadly, other Christians), will run down another church and I can promise you, (in our case), it’s not because we’re liberal. Perhaps it’s because we don’t use the “right kind of Bible.” I use the ESV, a word for word translation of the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. I heard a NT Greek Professor say one time: “To the degree that your Bible translation is faithful to the original languages of the Bible (Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic), you can be confident you hold the Word of God in your hands.” But, for some, that’s not good enough I suppose.

I believe others, perhaps, believe we’re a liberal church because we use other instruments besides a piano and organ. I guess David was wrong when he said we should praise the Lord with the cymbals, trumpets and tambourines (2 Samuel 6:5). Psalm 150:5 says: “Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!” Perhaps it’s just the fact that the Lord is blessing and moving and people are being saved, baptized and are growing in their faith and some don’t like that. Who knows. But, I do know this. It’s all of the Lord. It’s all Him and I give Him the praise and the glory! 

Yes, I’m finishing up revival tonight at Pleasant Home Baptist Church in Millers Creek. The folks there have been so kind to me. I’m honored they asked me to come and preach and I believe the Lord has been moving in hearts and lives. I’m excited about finishing up in a little while. The Lord is good!

In fact, as I’ve thought about and prayed about preaching and teaching the Gospel all week, my mind has been taken back to: “The Story of the Donuts.” It’s a powerful story. Have you ever heard of it. It truly is wonderful! I’ve copied it below and I hope it encourages you as it continues to encourage me. I promise you… if you read it…you will be blessed.

The Story of the Donuts

There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man, who taught at a small college in the western United States. Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution. Every student was required to take this course their freshman year, regardless of his or her major. Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery.

Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously. This year, Dr. Christianson had a really special, dedicated, student named Steve. He was a tremendous athlete. Steve was studying with the intent of going on to seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, well-liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen. In other words, he was huge! He was the starting center on the university’s football team, and was the best student in the professor’s class.

One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. “How many push-ups can you do?” Steve said, “I do about 200 every night.” “200? That’s pretty good, Steve,” Dr. Christianson said. “Do you think you could do 300?” Steve replied, “I don’t know…. I’ve never done 300 at one time.” “Do you think you could?” again asked Dr. Christianson. “Well, I can try,” said Steve. “Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me if you can do it,” said the professor. Steve said, “Well… I think I can…yeah, I can do it.” Dr. Christianson said, “Good! I need you to do this on Friday. Let me explain what I have in mind.”

Well, Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. Now, these weren’t the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday. It was the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson’s class. Woohoo!

Dr. Christianson went to the first girl sitting in the first row and asked, “Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?” Cynthia said, “Yes.” Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?” “Sure…” Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve hopped back up and sat in his desk. Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia’s desk.

Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, who was seated behind Cynthia, and asked, “Joe, do you want a donut?” Joe said, “You bet I do.” Dr. Christianson asked, “Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?” Steve did ten push-ups, and Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut.

Walking down the second aisle, Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for female attention. When the professor asked, “Scott, do you want a donut?” Scott’s reply was, “Well, I can do my own push-ups?” Dr. Christianson said, “No, Steve has to do them anyway, whether you take the donut or not.” Then Scott said, “I don’t want one! That’s not fair!” Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and said, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut he doesn’t want?” With perfect obedience Steve started to do the ten push-ups.

Scott said with a red face, “HEY! I said I didn’t want one!” Dr. Christianson said, “Look! This is my classroom, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don’t want it. Now sit down!” And he put a donut on Scott’s desk.

Now by this time, Steve started to slow down with the push-ups. He was starting to tired. He was now just staying on the floor between sets because it took too much effort getting back into his seat. You could see the sweat beading on his forehead and sliding down his cheeks. Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get more angry. Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, “Jenny, do you want a donut?” Sternly, Jenny said, “No.” Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten more push-ups so Jenny can have a donut she doesn’t want?” Steve did ten….Jenny got a donut.

By now, a growing sense of tenseness and unease filled the room. The students were saying “No” with greater fervor and all across the room there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks. Steve was now really putting forth a lot of effort to get the push-ups done for each donut. There began to be a pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and face were bright red because of the physical effort Steve had expended.

Now, Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to go over and watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten push-ups in a set. He told Robert, “Make sure he does them all.” Robert complied. He didn’t like Steve anyway. He thought he was a “goody-goody” and so, he watched Steve closely and Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row.

From time to time however, other students from the class across the hall would come into Dr. Christianson’s class. The professor across the hall would not allow late-comers to barge into his class, but they would be counted present if they attended Dr. Christianson’s class. About that time, 4 students walked in and sat down on the steps that ran along the back wall of the room. As they came in they said: “Mmmm… We can smell the donuts!” When Dr. Christianson realized this, he did a quick count and saw that there were now 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.

Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Steve was really having a rough time now. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set. Steve asked Dr. Christianson, “Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?” Dr. Christianson thought for a moment and then turned to Robert the atheist and said, “What do you think, Robert?” Robert looked at Steve as Steve was lying on the floor with his arms beginning to shake and Robert said, “It’s alright…he doesn’t have to touch his nose to the floor.” Steve looked up at Dr. Christianson and then to Robert and said, “I’ll do them right. Nose to the floor.” Dr. Christianson, now with tears in his eyes didn’t say a word and continued on.

Just at that moment, Jason, a notoriously late student started to walk in to the room when all the students yelled in one voice, “No Jason! Don’t come in! Stay out!” Jason didn’t know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, “No, let him come.” Professor Christianson said, “Steve, you realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten push-ups for him?” Steve said, “Yes, let him come in. Give him a donut” Dr. Christianson said, “Okay, Steve, I’ll let you get Jason’s out-of-the-way right now.” He asked, “Jason, do you want a donut?” Jason, new to the room of course, hardly knew what was going on and said, “Yeah! I’ll take a donut.” “Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut?” The class groaned! Steve did ten push-ups very slowly and with immense effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and he sat down and bit into his donut, while everyone glared at him.

Dr. Christianson finished the fourth row, and then started on the late-comers seated in the back of the room. Steve’s arms were now shaking violently with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. By this time, sweat was profusely pouring off of his face. There was no sound in the room except his heavy breathing and the splattering of sweat on the floor. Oh…and the muffled sobs of some of the girls as they sniffed away the tears. Even the guys were struggling to watch this display. The last two students in the room were two young ladies…very pretty and very popular.

Dr. Christianson went to Ashley and asked, “Ashley, do you want a doughnut?” Ashley said, very weakly, “No, thank you.” Professor Christianson quietly asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Ashley can have a donut she doesn’t want?” Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push-ups for Ashley. Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Courtney. “Courtney, do you want a donut?” Courtney, with tears flowing down her face could barely answer for the tears and she said, “Dr. Christianson, why can’t I help him?” Dr. Christianson, holding back his own tears said, “No, Steve has to do it alone, I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not.”

Dr. Christianson continued: “When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Steve here is the only student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work. Steve told me that in football practice when a player messes up he must do push-ups. I told Steve that none of you could eat at my party unless he paid the price by doing your push-ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes.”

“Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Courtney can have a donut?” As Steve very slowly finished his last push-up, understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him. 350 push-ups. On the last one, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor with a “thud.”

Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said. “And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, pleaded to the Father, ‘into thy hands I commend my spirit,’ with the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him. He yielded up His life. And like some of those in this room, you have chosen to leave the gift on the desk, uneaten.”

Two guys helped Steve up from the floor and to his seat. Steve was physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile, as he wiped the sweat from his eyes. Dr. Christianson said, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” adding, “Not all sermons are preached in words.”

Turning to his class, the professor said, “My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. God spared not His only Begotten Son for you. Whether or not you choose to accept His gift, the price has been paid regardless. You see, Cain brought his offering to the Lord. It was unacceptable because it was brought with a dishonest and corrupt heart. Abel gave his best and it was received by God. What does God want? He wants you! He wants your all. He wants your faults, your failures, your fears, your struggles, your past, your present and your future. He wants to give you life in exchange for your certain death without Him. He wants your worship and He wants your love. He wants you to give from a heart that is clean and righteous before Him. He doesn’t want your effort. He doesn’t want your performance. He doesn’t want your good works. He doesn’t want your church membership and He doesn’t even want your money. He wants you! Just you!” And as the professor walked to the door of the class: “And that is the meaning of this class. Class dismissed.”

Perhaps as you read that story, it moved you. Perhaps there were tears in your eyes or a lump in your throat. Do you know what I find interesting about that possibility? It’s the fact that we can be moved by a story of a young man struggling to do push-ups, yet the Lord and Savior of the world was slaughtered on a cross and because we’ve heard the story so much, we are hardly blink an eye. Why? Because we’ve forgotten how good it is to be saved and just how blessed we are! We have little excitement or passion in us about our Lord Jesus because He’s become commonplace. Why don’t we thank Him for His precious salvation.

Thank you Jesus!!!

Kevin

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Can I be honest with you? I needed a break. And I got it (by and large) last week. No deadlines. No meetings. No hospitals. As much as I love what I do, (and I sincerely do)… I needed the break and so to the coast my family and I did goest! 🙂

Here are some pictures…

The family:

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The sunsets were amazing!

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These next two pictures of pelicans flying in V-formation above me were fabulous: img_0945 img_0947

Clara likes taking selfies:

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I got a real charge out of this one… Gotta love the “duck-face” she got Charlotte to make with her…

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It was truly a great week! Honestly, I think the build up to some time for R&R is almost as fun as actually resting. Is that crazy or what? You know it’s true. Planning a vacation and thinking about the fact that you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn and you can eat (a bit naughty) is really kind of fun (in and of itself) to think about and experience. 🙂

Isn’t it true that we all go at such a break-neck pace that probably none of us rest enough. We almost feel guilty when we do. I know I do. My mind is in overdrive almost all the time. I guess it’s just my nature (at least that’s my excuse). But, it takes a lot for me to push the “stop” button of my life and just “be still.” You know being still can make us better and more productive people. God says, “Be still and know that I am God.” And that’s what I did last week. I was still.

I hope you didn’t miss me too much! 🙂 But, the family and I were ready to have some undivided attention together. I liked that “undivided” part. Pastoring, (as wonderful as it is), leaves your attention divided a lot. It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekend or your day off, it can always be changed in a moment, in an instant.

That being said, it makes me think of Pam. I thought about her a lot last week because I was actually with her! 🙂 She is such a trooper and deals with even more than I do juggling all that she does so that I can do what I do. If it weren’t for all that Pam does as a stay-at-home, homeschool mom…the church wouldn’t get nearly as much out of me as it does, I promise you that. Sometimes I don’t think she gets enough credit for all she does as a pastor’s wife. I get the “at-a-boys” after a message is preached…and I’m grateful for those…but, I wish I could defer those to Pam as some “at-a-girl…way to go Pam!”

Some might think, “Well you guys just need to grin and bear it Kevin…after all you are a pastor’s family and that’s just the life you live.” Well, that is most definitely true, but it doesn’t change the fact that everyone likes a pat on the back occasionally and a “job well done” from time to time. Friday night last week, for instance, she did most of the packing up while I began working on a funeral sermon (because of a sudden death in the church). I delivered that sermon yesterday. Yes, it had to be done and as usual, she made it happen.

Yep, my lovely bride is a trooper and lest you are thinking she put me up to saying these things…you would be dead wrong. That’s not her style and those of you who know her know it. She’s one of the most unassuming and kindly, humble people you will ever meet and because of that fact…she’s often taken for granted by ME and many others. And so I’m publicly saying: “Pam Brown you are the bomb and I love you and I’m so proud of you that I can’t see straight! And thanks for all you do honey! Without you, I’m half of what I am (at best)!”

And while I’m at it…may I give a shout out to my kids. Pastors kids are placed under a microscope like no-one else’s kids, period. The expectations of pastor’s kids…well, let’s just say the expectations are almost unattainable. People expect things from pastor’s kids that they don’t expect from their own children in most cases. As harsh as it sounds, I’m really convinced that some people wish my kids would fail so that they could feel better about their kids. Ouch! I don’t mean that in a mean-spirited way… I promise. It’s just the way it seems and feels at times. I’ve been doing this for almost 11 years and unless you have lived it…you don’t understand it.

Now please, please don’t get me wrong. Pastor’s kids are to be submissive and under control (so says 1 Timothy 3), but many PK’s are expected to walk on water and that’s just not possible. They are human beings too! And yes, they need a break from time to time where they get 100% of their daddy and dad can just be Dad. They need me NOT to be in “work mode” as they call it. (Often times they’ll say to me…even at home… “Come on dad…get out of work mode…it’s us!”) It’s hard sometimes, I must admit, but Kandace, Clara, Andrew, (and still Katy, and now grand baby Charlotte and soon to make her appearance: Evelyn Ruth) are understanding and I’m grateful! And yes…I had a wonderful time with all my children and grandchildren last week…without a phone stuck to my ear and a computer on my lap! Woohoo! We had a blast! And thank you, thank you, thank you for being wonderful children who love the Lord and serve Him out of your own heart of love. You’re the best!

Might I say that I believe for folks who live an “on-call” 24/7 lifestyle, there must be times to totally unplug or you’ll burn out. You can’t run a race horse every single race and not eventually kill it. It’s got to have some “pasture time.” So, this pastor did just that…I cooled my jets and had some “pasture time” at the coast with the most. It was such a blessing to get away for a few days. And now, (as always after a break), I’m recharged and ready and raring to go and I’m back in the saddle again! Praise the Lord for His goodness and mercy and for the time to enjoy His creation at the coast and to have been with my family for a wonderful week!

 

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I just read an article by Dr. Russell Moore of the Ethics Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He was talking about how to engage the culture in the post-Christian country we find ourselves in today.

Here’s his thoughts (below). Just a quick excerpt. Really good stuff:

The test will be if we can engage the culture without losing the gospel. If we ever were a moral majority, we are no longer. As the secularizing and sexualizing revolutions whir on, it is no longer possible to pretend that we represent the “real America,” a majority of God-loving, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth cultural conservatives like us. Accordingly, we will engage the culture less like the chaplains of some idyllic Mayberry and more like the apostles in the Book of Acts. We will be speaking not primarily to baptized pagans on someone’s church roll, but to those who are hearing something new, maybe for the first time. We will hardly be “normal,” but we should never have tried to be.

I believe Moore is right. Honestly, the younger generation will embrace the Gospel better than my generation. Much of my generation is weak. We were handed the Gospel on a silver platter and we’ve done little with it. I’m sorry to say the next generation is being handed the Gospel on a napkin, but I believe they’ll run with it. Yes, there will be fewer self-identified “Biblical” Christians going forward in this nation, but that’s good. We’ll see the true Christians versus the cultural Christians. It used to be easy to be a Christian in this country. Not any more. It’s going to cost Christians to be “Bible-believing” Christians going forward.

I read another interesting article last night from a college professor at Notre Dame. His name is Patrick Deneen and he teaches political science at Notre Dame. He also taught at Princeton and Georgetown. He described his students as “know-nothings… devoid of any substantial knowledge.” As I was reading his article, he quoted an essay titled “Exercises in Unreality: The Decline of Teaching Western Civilization,”Anthony Esolen, who describes a university climate today in which many students and professors no longer possess the knowledge and skills that their peers of previous generations took for granted:

“But what if you know hardly anything about anything at all? That is an exaggeration, but it does capture much of what I must confront as a professor of English right now, even at our school, which accepts only a small fraction of students who apply for admission. Nor, I’m afraid, does it apply only to freshmen. It applies also to professors.”

He explains:

“I now regularly meet students who have never heard the names of most English authors who lived before 1900. That includes Milton, Chaucer, Pope, Wordsworth, Byron, Keats, Tennyson, and Yeats. Poetry has been largely abandoned. Their knowledge of English grammar is spotty at best and often nonexistent. That is because grammar, as its own subject worthy of systematic study, has been abandoned. Those of my students who know some grammar took Latin in high school or were taught at home. The writing of most students is irreparable in the way that aphasia is. You cannot point to a sentence and say, simply, ‘Your verb here does not agree with your subject.’ That is not only because they do not understand the terms of the comment. It is also because many of their sentences will have no clear subject or verb to begin with. The students make grammatical errors for which there are no names. Their experience of the written language has been formed by junk fiction in school, text messages, blog posts, blather on the airwaves, and the bureaucratic sludge that they are taught for ‘formal’ writing, and that George Orwell identified and skewered seventy years ago. The best of them are bad writers of English; the others write no language known to man.”

Is that sad or what?

I’ve been reflecting lately a lot about what it means to remember the Lord’s goodness in times of hardship. I wrote this yesterday in the Daily Devotion:

Yet, these are the times that we must remember the goodness of the Lord! These are the times when we must not let our circumstances dictate how we choose to see the situation. These are the times when we must not rely on our feelings, but on what we know. We must CHOOSE to “give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.” We must CHOOSE to reflect on how He has delivered us in the past and that “his steadfast loves endures forever.” We must remember to “utter the mighty deeds of the Lord,” because it’s when we do that we’ll be reminded that the Lord is unchanging and steadfast in His love for us. It’s when we praise Him in the midst of uncertainty and pain that He receives glory and honor. It’s when we lift our hands to heaven as the tears flow down our cheeks that we can sense His power filling our lives slowly but surely. It’s in the defeat that we can sense victory! Do you see that? You must see that?

Listen, this life is a training ground. It’s not heaven and we’ve got to stop trying to make it heaven. When sin came into the world, it destroyed paradise and brought devastation. And with that devastation comes pain. The question is: WILL WE CONTINUE TO GIVE THANKS IN THE PAIN? Can we fight through our emotions and our broken dreams or bitter defeats and still see that Jesus is enough… Jesus is faithful… Jesus is worthy.

Do you agree? Is Jesus worthy?

Here’s a picture of the church.

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It’s hard to believe we’ve been in this building for 10 years. We’re getting it close to being paid off. We owe just under $677,000. That’s not bad since we started out owing close to $3 million. We should pay it off in about 3 1/2 years at our current rate of giving. Thankfully the church continues to operate in the black. That’s saying something for a place where, when Pastor Brad and I took over, we had $12 in the General checking account. Most don’t know we were on the brink of collapse. Attendance was dropping and things were looking pretty bad. I really thought to myself “What have I done!” That will be nine years ago this Thursday, (August 12th). I was named “Senior Pastor” that day. (I hate that title…and I refuse it…I’m simply just a pastor/elder like Dale Jennings and Brad Cordray. The Senior Shepherd of this church is Jesus Christ :))

Yes, the Lord had mercy on us and has shown His favor and we’re now averaging 607 people for our three services combined. We average right around 300 people on Wednesday nights. How crazy is that? Our attendance since going to three services is up 10.4% and we’ve added 68 people in the last year. Folks, the average size church in NC is 75 people. So, we’ve added almost an entire church in one year. I think going to three services was a success, don’t you? 🙂

Here’s how the church looked in our second service before we went to three services last October 2015.

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And for all the money people… You know who you are! 🙂 Our total giving year-to-date is currently $103,000 over budget and that’s with a budget increase of over 10% last year. Hey…you add people…it’s just like adding a baby to your family…your budget goes up. Our projected budget in the coming year is projected to be just under one million dollars.

This is all taking place while the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is shrinking. According to the Annual Church Profile Report, last year attendance in the 46,764 churches across America decreased by 97,381 to 5.6 million people. And here’s the sad thing. There are 15.3 million members of SBC churches. Do you get that? Only 36% of the membership attends church weekly and only 23.6% attend Sunday School.

Why do I tell you all of this? Simple. The Lord is blessing and He is to be praised! This is a work that He is doing! How long will it continue? Will we continue to grow? I have no idea. I’m not seeking growth. None of our leadership is seeking growth. It’s just happening. What I want to do is to be faithful to the Gospel of Jesus and preach the truth of His word. Our music is impeccable and is such a tremendous draw! I’m telling you…the talent the Lord has blessed us with here is beyond belief. Pastor Brad does an unbelievable jump of putting together our teams and leading them. I don’t think people realize how talented he is to do this. He’s not only gifted musically, his organizational skills are truly wonderful!

Hey…do you think you don’t have much to offer the Lord? Think again… Here’s today’s “Two-Minute Tuesday.” (By the way, we had a family here this past Sunday who said they came to visit because of the TMT’s.)

http://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/8cd80d5

Blessings!

Kevin

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It’s another hot week in the foothills of NC and I’ll admit to you…I’m about ready for a break. The pace has been relentless over the last several months. Perhaps you are there too. Have you had a break lately? Do you ever get a day off? Good! That’s so important! I’m hoping to catch a break in late July and then I’ll head to the coast with the family in late September like we normally do. We’ll hope we can chase the hurricanes away! 🙂 Until then…I’m kind of like what the Carolina Panthers say… “Keep pounding!”

You know lately, I’ve been watching the political landscape and I continue to be dismayed at what I see. It’s like watching something from another planet. It’s hard to fathom the yo-yo-ing up and down of this Presidential campaign. The ads by Clinton have already started. They make her look like Mother Theresa as she cares for all the children. Have you seen them yet? Wow! I wonder if they have any footage of all the “Whitewater” days from Arkansas?

I’m also wondering what Trump will say next? It is a bit disconcerting that he is saying that we should shut down all mosques. Why do I say that is disconcerting? Read carefully: Because one day a President could say the same thing about Christian churches. The first amendment is clear here, in my opinion. The government has no right to get involved in telling people what to believe. Now don’t get me wrong…I’m not espousing Islam. You know me better than that. Islam is a religion inspired by Satan. But, when a government can determine which “house of faith” remains open based on what they (the government) thinks is right…well…that’s all “peaches and cream,” until the government decides that what Christians teach and preach is also unacceptable. We just saw this last summer in Kentucky with the County Clerk. We are seeing this now with bakers and t-shirt makers, etc. Believe me, if we go down this path…and the government begins dictating what is and isn’t acceptable to believe…wow…that’s going to become a very slippery slope in a hurry.

By the way, have you seen any Trump ads? He’s not started yet, apparently. I’ve not seen even one. I’m hearing that he’s looking for money now. Truth is…if he doesn’t start running some soon, he’s going to get behind in a hurry. Clinton has a huge money machine behind her and people believe what they see on TV. Most Americans are so easily  duped. Am I saying that we’re dumb. Yep…pretty much…yep…that’s what I’m saying.

You see, regarding this whole election, I continue to allow my thoughts to be directed toward the Supreme Court vacancies. That’s what is driving my thinking right now. Which person is going to select conservative judges? Clinton…NO WAY…zero chance. Trump? Who knows. He says he will…but, then again…he flip-flops so much, it’s hard to tell. Pray and let the Holy Spirit guide your conscience. That’s what I’m continuing to do. All I know is that we are in one HUGE (to use Trump’s word) mess!!

Here’s another example of the mess we’re in… I’ve decided that the situation in Orlando is being played out by the Obama Administration as just another form of their spin and propaganda. I’ve never in my life seen anything quite like it. They’re scrambling you know. Why? Because they are absolutely bewildered in how they are supposed to spin this whole thing? Think about it. They’re big-time pro-homosexuality and pro-Islam…so, how does Obama do this? How does he make this thing work without alienating either group (who are so loyal to him)? Well, you’re seeing it. He sends Attorney General, Loretta Lynch out on the Sunday shows and she spins a tale and then he has her walk it back yesterday. Amazing! It’s so wacky. Poor ole Loretta Lynch! She’s such a scapegoat. I feel sorry for her.

I feel sorry for us as a nation. I feel this way particularly about the next generation. We are failing you, young people. We are raising a generation that can’t tell fact from fiction. College professors, according to an ACT study, say this is the case. Only 18% of college professors say incoming freshmen have the ability to tell fact from fiction. I talked about this earlier today in my Two-Minute Tuesday. You can watch it here:

http://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/8b3c583

Do you know what I’ve decided? Just give people Jesus. I stopped a long time ago trying to win people over to my argument about politics or global warming or evolution or traditional marriage. You see, if I win them to my side of the argument, but I don’t win them to Jesus, then I’ve “won nothing.” I don’t want to major on the minors. I want to major on Jesus. So keep preaching Jesus! We need to preach Him in how we live even louder than what we say! He said, “Be doers of my word…not hearers only.”

Let’s do it!

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Each year I thoroughly enjoy leading our church through our annual Rite of Passage (ROP) ceremony. I started ROP back in 2008 and we’ve had 75 young adults (counting the nine going through it this year) over the last 9 years. It’s been phenomenal for our church in how we look at our young adults and how we value them.

Here is this year’s group:

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What is ROP? It’s simply a tool from Scripture, which points to a journey that is designed to move our children from childhood to young adulthood. It’s a “raising of the bar of expectations.” Because children will rise to our level of expectations as adults. Seldom will children reach further than our expectations of them.

The model for ROP comes from Luke chapter 2. You remember Jesus in the Temple? He was 12 years of old and yet, He knew exactly where he was headed in life and the ultimate purpose and goal of His life. He said “Didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business?” Yes, at 12 years of age, He knew exactly what He was to be doing. He was confident in His mission in life. And so, if Jesus is our example in all things, (and He should be), then He is certainly our example for 12 year olds.

Thus, there was a transition in Jesus’ life at the age of 12. We learn from Luke 2 that Jesus was submissive to His parents and the Bible says He “grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and men.” And so we follow Jesus’ example today. Thus, here at MPBC, at the age of 12 (and up to 18), you can participate in the annual ROP here at the church.

1 Corinthians 13:11

11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

ROP indicates that the young adults who participate in ROP are going to be expected and encouraged to act like young adults and to behave accordingly. It means he or she is expected to accept accountability for mature actions and to assume greater responsibilities. Why? Because we know maturity does not necessarily come with age, but with the acceptance of increased accountability and responsibility.

The young adults have to complete a rigorous gauntlet of questions that has them digging in the Bible for hours. They answered a myriad of questions in great detail such as:

  • What does it truly mean to be a Christian? (And they described their salvation experience.)
  • What does it mean to be obedient and honor your parents?
  • What does it mean to act like and behave like a young adult?
  • What does it mean to be responsible with money?
  • What does it mean to live a life of purity?

In the ceremony on Sunday, the nine young adults took a public oath of their commitment to follow the Lord as a young adult. Here’s the oath:

“Today in the presence of my family, my church and my God, I commit to put behind me childish ways and serve the Lord with His leading and guidance as a young adult. I agree to follow the teaching of Scripture as Paul told Timothy in… 1 Timothy 4:12:

12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

We did a ceremonial “passing of the baton.” The baton represents Jesus Christ, the Word of God and the principles of being a disciple of Christ. The family is (in essence) passing the baton of faith to their young adult, who now OWNS IT FOR THEMSELVES. Here’s what one mom said afterward on Facebook about the experience with her son.

What is “Rite of Passage?” In a nutshell, it’s your young adult owning their faith, their own relationship with Christ and not ‘mom and dad’s’. The father (who is the head of the home based on Scripture) is passing the baton to their son or daughter to continue their race (1 Corinthians 9:24, 2 Timothy 4:7). The young adult (12-18) is given 20 thought-provoking preparation questions for them to research through using Scripture based on what God says. The young adult develops his own alone time reading the Bible and praying. The questions are in regards to being a follower of Christ, work ethics, friendships, showing respect, future spouse, and character traits to name a few. Some start out and realize that they are not ready and that is ok. This is not about a notch in the belt. It is about taking on the responsibility of becoming a young adult and starting to put away childish things. When we make mistakes, we own up to it, ask forgiveness, learn from them, and move forward. Each individual, as a young adult, is accountable. The goal is representing Christ in all we say and do (Colossians 3:17). All for Him! We give glory to God for Josh’s testimony that came from his own heart. 🙂

This is the live version for Josh Saffold:

Here’s Josh’s testimony (which the majority of the participants shared with the church via video):

Here’s a picture of one of the young adults, Emma Wages with her baton…

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Check out this look on Emma’s face…

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I just love these pictures… This is Paige Phillips and me. What a smile!!!

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I can’t tell you what this means to me. It brings tears to my eyes!

We had a banquet Saturday night here at the church. (We cater a meal for the families and their siblings.) It was wonderful. Here’s Pastor Dale speaking to the group.

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The families also shared hand-written letters with their young adults and gave them a box or nice container, as a “keep-sake” through the years. Man oh man, did the tears start flowing when the letters were being read… This is Kenet Heacock and his mother and father, Scott and Victoria.

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Yep, I’m pleased as punch! I think this verse is so powerful and describes how we feel about our young adults…

3 John 4

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

I praise the Lord for a church that’s willing to go to Scripture and ask: “What is working and what’s not with young ministry.” Are we just spending money and spinning our wheels, or are we truly raising Christ-centered Young Adults. As a former businessman, I look at ROI. Do you know that term?

Return on Investment

What’s the return on investment in many of our churches when it comes to truly raising warriors for Christ? You’ll have to answer that question. I have studied for years about what the Bible teaches about our young people and how to seek to train them and that’s why I wrote a book about it.

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It’s not that I’m an expert (far from it). It’s just that I’m a businessman innately and I don’t want to waste time and money. And when I hear that between 70-90% of our young adults (raised in youth groups and “Christian homes”) walk away from the faith by their 20th birthday (Barna.com), that grieves my heart. There is a better way. It’s found in the pages of Scripture and it ain’t easy. Because it’s the parents who have to roll up their sleeves and train their children. The church comes alongside to help, but we can’t and won’t do it for them. It’s the parent’s job to trains their children and dad’s should lead out in this.

Psalm 78:1-8

1 Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
    incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
I will open my mouth in a parable;
    I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known,
    that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
    but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
    and the wonders that he has done.

He established a testimony in Jacob
    and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
    to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
    the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
    so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
    but keep his commandments;
and that they should not be like their fathers,
    a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
    whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Amen and amen! 🙂

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Want to see an almost silly site?

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Yep, that’s a “non-carpenter” doing carpentry work. 🙂 Let’s just say it’s rough carpentry. Thankfully I was only helping in certain spots that I could do. The work is about to come to a close at Josh and Katy’s house. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks we’ll be awfully close to being done and moving them in! Woohoo! I’m excited for Josh and Katy and Charlotte and the baby to come!!

I read a lot of stats and I read this a few a days ago from Thom Rainer’s website (a Christian statistician and CEO of LifeWay) and I chuckled:

Unknown3Here are ten of the most common painful sentences uttered to pastors by church members:

  1. “I love you pastor, but . . .” The pastor will only hear the words after the “but.” And they usually are painful.
  2. “Why didn’t you visit her?” Of course, she’s not a member of the church. She was in a hospital 70 miles away. And she’s married to the third cousin of the church member.
  3. “Gotta minute? This question is typically asked in the time frame of one to five minutes before the pastor preaches.
  4. “Have you heard this podcast pastor?” Meaning: That podcast pastor is better than you.
  5. “Pastor, people are saying . . .” Of course, there are no “people,” just the gutless person who won’t speak for himself.
  6. “We’ve never done it that way before.” And that is one of the key reasons the church is dying.
  7. “I do pay your salary, you know.” In other words, it’s not God’s money; it’s my money.
  8. “I wish she had heard that sermon.” And the pastor was hoping you heard the sermon.
  9. “I wish I worked just a few hours a week like you.” After all, the pastor just needs 30 minutes to prepare a sermon and 30 minutes to preach it.
  10. “Your kids need to behave like pastor’s kids should behave.” You can find those standards in the Bible: Hezekiah 3:16.

My favorite is number 3. I just chuckle because I’m grateful that I don’t have to deal with most of these now. But, I did in the first 2-3 years of ministry. Thankfully, I’ve been doing this for over a decade now and I think I’ve paid my dues enough that most of these things aren’t applicable. But, I do know pastors who are having to deal with these kinds of things and they can really hurt. I hope to encourage all of us to spend twice as much time praying for our pastors as we do talking about them. 🙂

Thursday is the National Day of Prayer and boy does our country need prayer. I just saw where Trump won Indiana and Cruz dropped out. That will leave Trump vs. Hillary. Let’s pray for our nation and for God’s mercy on us.

I thought this was a great article.

10 Reasons Not to Vote
by John Stonestreet & Matt Shervheim
The following is an updated version of an article written by John Stonestreet during the ’08 election.
“Everyone should vote,” or so they say. I disagree. Here are 10 reasons why you should not vote today:
1. If your main reason for registering to vote was “cash and cigs.”
3. If you think Republicans and Democrats should come together, but have no clue why they should, how they can, what they should accomplish, or even who they are.
4. If your main source of political information is Saturday Night Live, late night TV stand-up, Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, The View, etc. (However, if you actually are informed but still enjoyed this great parody of the Youtube Democratic debate, it’s OK to vote.)
5. If you can’t find Iran on a map, and think the “Iranian Nuclear Deal” is some sort of discount sale.
6. If the reason you give for your selection of the next leader of the free world is any of the following: (a) “I just like him better,” (b) “He seems more presidential,” (c) “He is a better speaker than the other guy,” (d) “He speaks to my needs,” or (e) “He’s just so inspiring.”
7. If, during this election, you have never asked yourself of any political candidate, including your own, this question: “What did he really mean by that?” and “Is that true?” Or, in other words, if you cannot tell the difference between an assertion and an argument.
9. If you are not familiar with any or all of the following, or if you have heard of them but have no clue what/who they are: (1) Obergefell v. Hodges, (2) ISIS, (3) Conestoga Wood v. Burwell, (4) Vladimir Putin, (5) Kim Jung-un, (6) the Supreme Court, or (7) the United Nations.
10. If you really think that “every opinion counts,” including those that are stupid, uninformed, and dangerous.
And, two more for good measure:
1. If you feel there is no difference between the presidential candidates.
2. If you think voting is your “right,” without remembering how you got it, why you have it, and what “responsibilities” are.
For more from Summit on Christian political engagement, check out Summit’s The Political Animal course, available here.

I hope you are laughing! Here’s today’s Two-Minute Tuesday:

http://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/3585c34

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It’s a busy week. I’m in revival and all is going well in Ashe County at Warrensville Baptist. They are such a sweet people. It’s been easy to preach to them, because they are used to hearing the truth preached. Of course, I don’t mince a lot of words. I preach what the Bible teaches, because there is nothing else I know to preach. Truth is…I’ve been to some churches that aren’t used to hearing the truth preached and when they do hear it…well…let’s just say that it’s not always well received. I’m thankful that’s not the case at Warrensville!

I’ve been taking Clara and Andrew with me. That’s always a blessing. They enjoy the treat at McDonald’s afterwards. (Do you think that has anything to do with them wanting to go with me? :)) I want the children to have memories of going with their daddy when I’m preaching. I want them to experience other churches, people, music, etc. It’s been a fun week. Unfortunately, a dear saint in the church passed away and the viewing was scheduled for tonight, so the service was cancelled. The pastor asked if I could preach tomorrow night and Thursday night (swapping tonight with Thursday) and I said, “Sure thing!” So, we’ll be in revival through Thursday night. Thanks for praying for us!

Last week we were able to watch Josh and Katy’s house set up. What a sight to behold!

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It was lowered in place in pieces by a massive crane.

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It was truly amazing to watch a house go on a basement foundation in a period of a few hours after nothing was there before.

This past weekend on Saturday my dad and my uncle worked like trojans to get the steps put in Josh and Katy’s house. These steps go down from the main floor to the basement. They also got the basement door put in. I helped hold things and did what I was told. 🙂 They are the brains and I’m the… (I started to say “brawn”)…well…I’m not sure what I am. But, I enjoy helping.

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Clara and Andrew enjoyed playing on the mountain of dirt!

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The siding will be completed this week and then the inside work next week: doors hung, carpet put down, moulding, plumbing tied in, electrical hooked up. Hopefully in about 3-4 weeks they’ll be moving in!

God is good!

Kevin

 

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