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Archive for the ‘Family Life’ Category

The Steady Beat of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a joy!

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

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

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

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

Amen!!!

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

https://subspla.sh/hjypn3b

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

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

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I Finally Did It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Dale’s hours:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kevin

 

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Real Men Needed

It was an amazing scene last Friday night:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Marriage Killers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

So true! The Lord knew I needed that!

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

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

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

Kevin

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Last weekend was amazing! I had one of those life-changing weekends. How often can you say that in life, right? But, it’s true. I was able to go to Atlanta and attend Passion City Church. You’ll notice they don’t have their name on the side of the building. Just the address.

515. That’s how they are known. They have another campus in Cumberland, Georgia about 30 minutes away. They are called: “Cumberland.” I like that. Our logo for MPBC is a cross with a circle around it. Just pointing to Jesus. People were lined up to get on a shuttle to go to their car at a remote parking lot.

The church has three Sunday services: 9 am, 11:45 am and 5 pm. It’s mostly a Millennial church. I was an old guy as I looked around. Most were 35 years old and younger.

Did you notice that sign on the wall in the background? “Jesus is Life.”

When someone gives their life to Christ, they go to that center table under the sign and write their name on a light bulb. Then they climb that later (to the right) and screw in their bulb. How about that! So cool!!! And so true! JESUS IS LIFE!!! If we try to have life any other way, we’re settling for Satan’s counterfeit. Whatever we can’t “get enough of” is our god.

It was wonderful to sit back and just drink in all the Lord is doing at that church! Normally, on Sundays, it’s really kind of tough for me to worship 100% because I’m so focused on the sermon, the time, remembering everything I need to announce, etc. But, Sunday was amazing!

The church at 515 seats about 1200-1400 the best I could tell. Cumberland seat around 600, but they have plans to expand. They also have a church they’ve started in Washington, D.C. So, I’m guessing they probably average attendance for all three campuses of about 8,000 or so.

We sat near the back so we could take it all in. I feasted, let me tell you! Thank you Lord! I needed that. Sometimes a pastor needs to go somewhere just to have his own soul fed. I’m so thankful for the church allowing the pastor/elders to have a “conference” line item, so we can go do these things. Truth is: I would never spend money to go do it on my own, because I don’t have it to spend. I’m trying to raise a family and pay bills and I just don’t spend money on myself, and yet, I know I need time to get away from time to time to re-energize. Thanks to MPBC for my “conference” line item in the budget!

They have these metal containers like you see hauled on the back of tractor-trailers where they greet people and talk with folks after the services who are inquiring about being saved or want to join the church, etc.

The pastor of the church is Louie Giglio.

He’s 10 years older than me (60) and was going strong! It really gave me encouragement! I’m preaching three sermons every Sunday like Louie and I thought, “Lord, you are giving a 60-year-old man the strength to do that every week, and you are doing that for me too! Thank you Lord!” He is lived streamed from either the Cumberland campus or the 515 campus. Can I tell you something? It took me 10 minutes to realize he wasn’t at 515. Why? Because I was watching the screen because we were in the back.

I guess I have mixed emotions about live-streaming and satellite campuses. Each site at 515, Cumberland and D.C. have campus pastors and their own praise teams, etc. at each location. Yes, I get it in big cities. Traffic is horrible and it’s just tough to get around. In Wilkes County, people drive long distances to go to town or wherever. We are the third largest county (landmass) in the 100-county state of NC. So, people are used to driving 20-minutes to town (or more) to go to the grocery store. Therefore, people drive to church great distances too. We have folks driving 30 minutes or more to come to MPBC. Again, a lot of these dynamics for churches depend on the setting. I don’t see MPBC doing satellite churches anytime soon, if ever. I just don’t know if that would work in our rural area. I still believe people around here will drive to wherever they want to go. We’re not Atlanta or Charlotte or D.C.

I learned a lot this weekend and I was blessed beyond measure. One of the blessings was spending time with a family that we adopted with from China. The Windsor family. Their daughter and Clara were adopted at the same time, same town, 12 years ago. What a blessing they are to our family! They hosted us at a Braves game Saturday night. We had great seats!

Yes indeed! What a weekend! Thank you Lord! Now it’s on to the Iron Men Conference tomorrow night and three services here on Sunday! We have over 260 men and boys signed up for the conference tomorrow night. Will you pray for us! It doesn’t matter how hard I’ve worked on this and the men in the Praise Team, etc., if the Lord doesn’t empower it! We need His anointing and blessing. Would you stop right now and breathe a five-second prayer for us, please? I believe lives will be changed tomorrow night! I know mine has in preparing for it!

You can still sign-up, but you have to do it today: http://www.mpbc.ws/signuptable.

Here’s the past three week’s Two-Minute Tuesday’s. I forgot to load them on the last couple of blog posts. Sorry about that! 🙂

Two weeks ago: “Cheap Sex and the Decline of Marriage.” http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLysycTNuZG10P2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Last week: “So You Don’t Think God Will Judge-Francis Chan.” http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLys3czhydzVoP2F1dG9wbGF5PXRydWUmYnJhbmRpbmc9dHJ1ZSZlbWJlZD10cnVl

This week: “Helping Our Wives and Jumping Hurdles.” http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLyt3NW5wYzlwP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Blessings,

Kevin

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All Wound Up

Here I am after midnight and I’m all wound up. I’ve been working for the last two days on the Iron Men Conference and I really believe it’s going to be good. Iron Men was very special in my life for almost 6 years. Every Wednesday our group met. But, the church grew so large, that I couldn’t do it any longer. Here’s a picture of the last day of Iron Men.

As I’ve been preparing and working on the conference for August 3rd, the Lord has touched my heart and I’m excited to see what He’s going to do to encourage other men and their sons, friends, coworkers, buddies, etc. It will be at 6:30 in the MPBC Reach Center. You can click her to register (so we’ll have enough refreshments): http://www.mpbc.ws/signuptable/ We’ve got over 150 signed up now!

I’m staying by myself at a small condo on Beech Mountain that a friend has allowed me to use. I’ve only done this twice in my 13 years of preaching. I need to do it more often. But, I feel guilty for not being at home helping out. But, I knew I needed to get away for a couple of days to really lock in on what the Lord wants for the men.

I’ve not budged other than to go to a small store and by some bologna, salsa, a couple of peaches and pizza. I know! Not very healthy! But, I did get on an elliptical last night for 30 minutes.

Look what I saw from my window. See the four deer…

I mentioned going to the local store. It’s Fred’s Mercantile. It’s truly an old-timey General Store. Well, right in front of it…this caught my eye.

That’s an official NOAA weather collection rain gauge. How about that! I’ve never seen one of those. Pretty cool, huh!

Beech Mountain is such a pretty place…

I snapped that picture with those gorgeous Black-Eyed-Susans on the way back from Fred’s (with my bologna in hand). Ha! That’s Ski Beech in the background. It’s amazing! It was 89 degrees when I left home. It was 81 degrees in Boone. Oh…can you tell I was driving through Boone…

And then I got to Beech and it was 73 degrees. Amazing! A full 16 degrees cooler at the elevation of 5,500 feet. My house is 1,300. Boone is 3,300. Truly phenomenal what elevation does to the temperatures. Speaking of temps… It’s going to be cooler for the rest of the summer according to the Climate Forecasting System Model.

No more “Dog Days” of summer for us! By the way, I learned something about “Dog Days.” They aren’t what you think. According to Brad Panovich, weather forecaster from Charlotte, here is a correct understanding of “Dog Days:”

“The dog days of summer are upon us, and you might think that they have something to do with hot and humid weather. Well, that isn’t exactly where the term originated from. The dog days of summer are actually July 3rd through August 11th.  

The Heat of 2 stars?

Those days are the 20 days before and 20 days after the “Dog” star Sirius rises and falls in conjunction with the sun. Sirius is the brightest star in the constellations Canis Major. The ancient Romans believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and humid weather. During the time between July and August, the “dog” star rising with our sun made the ancients think the heat of two stars where making us hotter. In modern times we know that there is no heat generated from this very distant start, but the term stuck. So even in modern times, we consider the hot and muggy time of the summer between late July and mid-August as the dog days of summer.” http://wxbrad.com/dog-days-of-summer-arent-what-you-might-think/ 

You learn something new every day!

You know, I’ve only been gone two days. (I’ll be heading back today, Thursday), but I still miss my family. Truly, I’m a family man. I really love being with my bride, children and grandchildren. So, I’ve sent them several texts…including this one of me blowing a kiss.

Yes, I’m goofy! I know it! Last week we went up on our little mountain, Rendezvous (elevation 2,400 feet) for a picnic… (And yes, it’s noticeably cooler up there than at my house at 1,300 feet, even though we are only a 3 minute drive from the bottom of the mountain. It’s about a 10 minute drive up a gravel road to the gate.

That’s looking back southwest toward my home, just beyond CC Hayes Road. Gorgeous!

Speaking of gorgeous… Kandace and Clark have picked their venue for their wedding next April.

That’s Fussell Farm in Wilbar, NC. http://www.fussellfarmvenue.com.  www.facebook.com/fussellfarmvenue/  It’s about 15-20 minutes from our house and it’s absolutely stunning! It’s a smaller venue and Kandace and Clark will be inviting folks who have meant a lot to them in their lives and has made a direct impact on their lives. I hope folks will understand that not everyone we know can be invited. We’re so excited for them!

Well, it’s 12:30 am and I’m tired now. I guess I’ve finally wound down. So, I’m going to hit the sack. I’ll be back at it shortly!

Blessings to you all!

Kevin

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Wow! What an amazingly busy last couple of weeks it’s been. A trip to Mexico and Texas with the church was fantastic! So much was accomplished in Mexico with Mount Pleasant Baptist of Progreso and with New Life Baptist of Weslaco.

It was a blessing to travel with Pam this time. We’ve never been able to do a mission trip together. Yet, the kids are older now and we could pull it off.

I guess most of you have heard about this by now…

Kandace is engaged! Pam and I couldn’t be more excited. Clark Mayberry is a phenomenal young man! He’s a believer and he loves my daughter and that’s pretty awesome! He’s a graduate of ASU with an accounting degree and lives here in Wilkes, but works in Winston for C-Biz, a company that handles payroll and accounting for smaller companies.

Kandace and Clark plan to tie the knot next Spring, most likely in April 2019. They are such a blessing!

Kan is actually in Nashville right now working on an EP (a three-song Extended Play) that is being produced by some top-notch folks affiliated with the Annie Moses Band (AMB) and Nashville musicians. Kandace has the gift of song writing. AMB has seen that in Kandace and offered this opportunity to her, knowing it’s been a dream of hers to record some of her own music. She’s part of the faculty with the Annie Moses Summer Music Festival. She’s been attending this camp for years. Katy and Clara participated for many years as well. In fact, Andrew participated one year too. We miss Kan. She’ll be back the 16th. But, I suppose I need to begin getting prepared to miss her a whole lot more come next Spring (as she’ll be married) and moving out. Life moves on so quickly, doesn’t it!

Another testament of that is the fact that another July 4th is in the books.

We’ve been going and watching the fireworks across from Memorial Park in North Wilkesboro for years. We like the fire truck parade and all the festivities. But, I must admit, I really enjoy the hum-drum of just a quiet evening at home too.

Charlotte and Evie will come down and we’ll play together. I love it when Charlotte says, “Papa, do you want to play with me?” Truly a joy!

The same is true running up to mom and dad’s (we live beside of them). Here mom is explaining to Andrew how to make 14-day, sweet pickles the old-fashioned way…in a crock.

That’s a lost art and is dying out, unfortunately. Generations and priorities change. The time and effort to do things that takes 14-days are not in vogue. We like things to be accomplished in 14-seconds. 🙂 I’m thankful for mom working so hard to provide these yummy pickles. Let me tell you, a quart jar of those pickles…well…it’s like gold! Thanks mom!

Well, it’s time to get back at it. People to talk to and sermons to write. Blessings on a great summer… Busy…and not-so-busy. 🙂

Kevin

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Are you growing spiritually? You either are or you aren’t. There isn’t any middle ground. There is no standing still. Are you growing in your faith? How about your children? Are thy growing spiritually? Mom and Dad, it’s your responsibility that they are growing spiritually. Please don’t think that God has given the Church the responsibility to disciple your child. That’s your job. The Church is to equip ALL the believers in “works of ministry.” There are no special “groups” in Scripture. So, how are things spiritually with your children?

The Two-Minute Tuesday was about that very subject this week. Take a look: “Are Your Kids Spiritually Healthy?”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytkaDhueTVuP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Regarding this subject of children/kids, we often have families come to the church and as they are learning about the church, sometimes they’ll ask: “What about ‘Children’s Church,’ ‘Youth Group,’ etc?” I tell them, we don’t have those. We keep everyone together, just as you see in Scripture.

My daughter, Katy, blogged about this not long ago:

https://careercalledhome.wordpress.com/2018/06/16/children-in-the-church-service-why-and-how-its-for-the-best/

Not long ago, we had a family with several children come to the church and the mom and dad told me how excited they were that we didn’t split their family up as soon as they hit the doors of the church. They were so pleased that we worship as a “family.” Yet, people hear this and they say, “That’s great! But what do you do about the teenager who come to church who has no parents with him. What do you do for him?” Or they’ll say, “Hey, it’s great you have families in your church and dad’s who lead their homes well, but there are some dead-beat dads out their today, so what are we supposed to do with the kids of those kinds of dads?”

Well, most churches have asked that question and have come to the conclusion that they must be a substitute where the dads are not getting the job done. Thus, before we realized it, the Church was handling the training for all dads, Christian and non-Christian alike. But, this is a problem. For the past 30-35 years, the Church has undertaken a role that was never intended for the Church to do in the first place. Instead of getting our hands dirty in the hard work of teaching and training, and “adopting” into our families young people who don’t have a family in the church, we often want to take the easy way out and hire someone (a youth pastor) to do it for us.

Yes, we can simply “adopt” these young people into our families. This means inviting them to sit with of our family during service and making them feel they are accepted and belong. Problem is…in many churches today, the youth are never in the service with the “adults.” This is tragic! Paul instructed Titus to teach the elders in Titus 2 that the old should teach, mentor, the young. How can we do this if they are never with us?

Through the years, Pam and I have “adopted” several young adults into our family. One of which is now our son-in-law. We have tried to model and exhibit what a biblical family is to look like. We plug them in to our family life and we try to show them what a Christian family looks like. The most important part of this process is simply to show them love.

Christopher Schlect, in his book, Critique of Modern Youth Ministry, says it this way:

“Ministering to children of unbelievers need not be as difficult as it seems. These children should be drawn to associate with Christian families that will take them in and mentor them while at church, thereby showing those children the family model as illustrated in the Word of God. Invite them over for dinner, where the Biblical model of the family can be exhibited.”

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I believe it is time to get young people out of these church “game rooms” and get them plugged into our churches and get them on the mission field of life. We need to see our young adults as capable of “being about the Father’s business.” We need to expect them to step up to the level of a teenage apostle or Timothy or David.

Does offering more concerts, camps, lock-ins, pizza blasts, zip-lines, ski trips, and the like stand to give us spiritually mature young adults? No, not if that’s all we give them. A steady diet of activities and fun is not what they need or want. Our society’s youth orientation has bred little more than young adults hyped up on the junk food of entertainment and fun, yet they are starving to death and dying for answers to the difficult and tough questions of the day. Our young people sit in our churches week after week and we see them, but are they really there? Are they really engaged? Do they want to be at church or are they just coming because they have to or because they’ve been lured by the fun and games? Doesn’t our focus need to change?

If you think about it, of all the programs in churches which one is most commonly the largest and well-funded? The answer: youth programs. It seems that evangelical churches, and many mainline churches, began breaking out the youth in their congregations about 30-35 years ago. In fact, there is a feeling in Christendom that you aren’t doing too well as a church if you can’t fund and hire at least a part-time youth minister of some sort. But, what do youth ministries do? Many of these programs, if not managed carefully, can breed immaturity because they hinder younger people from associating with and learning from their elders. Paul told young Timothy to “flee youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22). Yet, it is common to take the young adults on an outing at night and youth pastors have to station chaperones throughout the church bus to make sure everyone is being nice. Is that something we should have to be doing with adults in the church? There should never be a youth function in a church in which everyone, young and old alike, cannot participate.

You see, when we totally separate our young adults from the rest of the church body, we are setting them up for an identity crisis. They don’t know who they are apart from their friends and buddies in the youth group. They know nothing of the functioning of the church, as a whole, outside of their youth room. After all, they have their own culture and music, geared to their own tastes. So, by the time they are 18, and we tell them they must leave the youth groups, they are sent to the “grown up” church where, in some cases many have never been. It is culture shock to say the least!

Despite all of this, some may think that we are trying to take the fun out of the lives of our young adults. Some say, “They’ve got to be kids. Let them have a little fun.” Please understand, I am not against anyone having fun, but is this the role of the church? Are we supposed to set up our churches to be centers for having fun? Somehow I believe we have mistakenly come to believe that teenagers are entitled to more fun than anybody else in the church. We may believe we must put something fun on the calendar every week or two, certainly monthly, so they can have a good time. Let me ask you this question: Do we owe any group in the church a good time? Truth is: Many youth ministries seem to be run like a cruise ship. We hear things like, “When’s the next event? When do we get to eat pizza and hotdogs?” Have you ever wondered why there is such a high turnover rate with youth ministers? They burn out after two or three years of this kind of activity planning.

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Can youth groups be a negative influence on our young people? Yes, some (not all) can. Unfortunately, I believe, (and this is certainly without meaning to), they can become a place of peer-driven frivolity. You see, when we place our young people in these peer-driven groups where the spiritual maturity is usually very low, and yet we desire for them to grow spiritually…we need to ask ourselves… “How?” How can they grow spiritually in these environments? The truth is…most of the time, youth pastors are trying to administrate some sort of crowd control versus being able to really teach. Unfortunately, our young people tend to find their identity in their friends and that can include youth groups. For them, it’s so easy to find their identity in what they wear, drive or have. Some young people have their entire identity wrapped up in the type of clothes they wear, cell phone they carry and who they are dating. This same mentality often transfers into our youth groups and can even be fed within the youth group.

Through the years, I’ve become more and more dismayed that many churches  no longer mix their young people with their adults in any way. They keep the youth in their own rooms, as far away from everyone else in the church as possible, in case they get too loud or rowdy. These rooms often have painted-tie-dyed walls…

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…posters, road signs and leftover sofas from our basements. These rooms are “play rooms” of video games and places to simply “hang out.”

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Some youth rooms I’ve seen look more like arcades. Some churches have even given their youth their own building, where they come for an entertainment smorgasbord anytime they want. Is this the structural model we really believe is going to grow mature, solid, faith-filled, Christ-centered, young adults? You sure won’t find this model in Scripture. We must stop kidding ourselves. The numbers, the surveys, and the statistical data do not lie. Many of our young adults continue to abandon their faith and will continue to do so unless we change our strategy and return to the Biblical model, where the church body worships and does life TOGETHER!

Churches should work to promote cross-generational interaction as Paul admonished Titus to teach the elders in Titus 2. In separating the youth from the church body at large, we are in essence saying, “Unlike adults, they can’t handle the weighty things of Scripture.” Thus, it seems okay for us to give them a driver’s license at 16 and put them behind the wheel of a 3,500 pound vehicle and turn them loose on our highways. We expect them to learn algebra, chemistry and calculus. Certainly, they can study and learn Scripture as well. Yes, our young people need to be with adults and be trained…older to younger. In fact, they will graduate from high school and college and go to work in environments with people of all ages. Only in our schools and churches are our young adults segregated by age.

What’s the role of the Church regarding our young people? Well, the Church is certainly here to help and partner with the family to grow our young adults in the way of the Lord. We are to equip all the saints (believers) for works of ministry. Yes, we are to partner with the family in training our young adults…yet, we don’t do the job for the parents. The church’s vision must shift from a consumer-driven focus, regarding our young people, to a partner-driven focus. In other words, the church must stop seeing itself as a vending machine of fun activities to give young people or children something to do to keep them out of trouble. As parents, we must stop seeing the church as a place where we drop off the kids to let the youth pastors train them or give them a little “faith development.”

We must stop thinking the church building and its programs are the conduits through which the gospel is spread. The gospel is spread through people, not programs. What programs existed in the first church? None that I know of with the exception of meeting together to fellowship, break bread, study the gospel and pray (See Acts 2:42-47). Afterwards, they left their homes and went out into the community and shared Jesus. The gospel must travel house by house through the community in the same way it did 2,000 years ago. And in the meantime, let’s continue to worship together and grow spiritually TOGETHER, just as the Bible teaches.

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