Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Family Life’ Category

Have you noticed something lately about post-game interviews with winners of games? Have you noticed that a lot of them thank the Lord? Many even go so far as to say, “I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?” I have! I’ve noticed a lot! And do you know what that makes me think about?

Platforms

What’s a platform? This is…

That’s the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs! And they won the Big South Championship over the weekend by defeating Radford 76-65 and they’ll be playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. https://gwusports.com/news/2019/3/10/mens-basketball-lets-dance-gardner-webb-punches-ncaa-ticket-sunday-with-76-65-win-at-radford.aspx.  I’m very excited and proud of those guys. I signed with Gardner-Webb out of High School.

My dad played for G-W too! So, we were both tickled to see them win and get into the “Big Dance!” But, here’s the cool thing. Their win became a platform for the Lord. Here’s how. The coach for the team is Tim Craft. He’s in his sixth season with the team.

He said this after the game at the press conference (his platform): “I’m just really humbled right now and blessed to get a chance to coach this group of guys. I want to give all the honor and glory to Jesus Christ, number one, and just thank God for what he’s done in my life, our family’s life and these players’ lives. I’m really proud of them. It was a hard fought win here on the road and I’m just really proud of them for pulling through.”

How about that! Didn’t Coach Craft do that well!!! What a powerful platform! Gardner-Webb will now await “Selection Sunday” this Sunday evening to find out where they will be headed for its first NCAA Tournament game. A lot of people may not know, but the Runnin’ Bulldogs have a lot of tournament experience through the years. They made national tournament appearances at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and NCAA Division II. My dad played for G-W. He’s #42. Here’s the 1967-68 team.

They were a fantastic team! They ended up playing in the NJCAA in Hutchinson, Kansas for the Junior College National Championship. They didn’t win it, but were one of the best teams in the country. See #54 in the middle? The guy beside my dad… That’s Artis Gilmore (who later played in the NBA). Gilmore was/is 7′ 2″ tall and could pin a basketball on the rim flat-footed. Here’s a closer picture of Dad and Artis.

Gilmore became one of five college basketball players ever to average at least 20 points and 20 rebounds over his career at 24.3 and 22.7. Gilmore led the NCAA in rebounding both years at Jacksonville, and his career average of 22.7 rebounds per game is still the highest in NCAA Division I history.

For my dad…

and for me…

Basketball has always been a platform for us. We’ve used it throughout our lives to start conversations and relate to people about “the game of life.”

What’s your platform? We all have one. Certainly your job is a platform. Your family is a platform. Your social media page is a platform. For me, my ministry is a platform. My family. This blog. Two-Minute Tuesday.

The truth is: everything we do is a platform…either good or bad. What kind of influence are we making on others? As a believer…what we say and do is going to draw people closer to Christ or push them away from Christ. You pick the platform, but that former statement is truth no matter what.

I’m grateful for Coach Tim Craft. Take a couple of minutes and watch the opening comments. It’s a beautiful example of a platform. You’ll also note the players with the coach… D.J. Laster (scored 32 points) and David Efianayi (15 points). They are both so polite and gracious as well. Laster talks about how God made him strong and prepared him for this moment. It reminded me of Queen Esther (For such a time as this…).

What a great use of platforms. I pray the Lord will continue to help me use mine. You pray that He’ll help you use yours for His glory!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “Who’s Your One?”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytkd2M5dDZnP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Have you seen this?

That’s pretty sobering. In fact if you do the math on it…from 2008 to 2017, the decline in baptisms throughout the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is down a whopping 18%. Look at good ole “Bible Belt” North Carolina:

We’ve dropped almost 22% in the past 10 years from 2008 to 2017. That’s scary stuff!

Folks, what’s scarier is that if you extrapolate this out for another 40 years… Well…it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to tell you that Christianity through the SBC is dying. Why is that the case? Take a look at a potential reason according to Barna Research:

 

That’s mind-boggling to me! 51% of churchgoers says they’ve never heard of the Great Commission! Are you serious! Those are our marching orders! Jesus is the one that gave us the Great Commission. This is not something obscure…something buried somewhere in the Bible in Obadiah or Zephaniah! This is in the New Testament from the mouth of Jesus:

Matthew 28:19-20

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus also said:

Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Hey folks, we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us share the good news of Jesus Christ so that folks might be saved and then follow Him in believer’s baptism. These are indeed our marching orders.

Do you know what I’m afraid of? I’m afraid as believers we see Jesus as someone we use like we do the Emergency Room. We don’t see Him like we do our cell phones. Is your cell phone near you? Do you know where it’s at right now? I bet you do. I bet you might have it within 10 feet of you. You KNOW WHERE YOUR CELL PHONE IS AT ALL TIMES. Why? Because it’s very, very important to you. It’s a lifeline to so many people and so many things in your life (and mine). But, the Emergency Room is someplace we only go to when we’ve got a big-time problem. And that’s how we can treat Jesus. We only go to Him with the problems and the cancer, and the inability to pay the mortgage. The everyday stuff…nah! I’ll use Google for that.

Here’s the point… Jesus wants to be wanted. Did you know that? He’s a person. He wants to be involved in our lives and when He is…then, He becomes important to us. He becomes more important than anything…including our cell phones. And when He has the place of prominence in our lives, then we will experience such power and joy in our lives through Him that we can’t help but tell others about Him. Trying to stop us from telling someone about all He’s done and is doing in our lives would be like trying to stop a tsunami.

Mom and Dad: are your children born again? Are they teenagers? If they are and you still aren’t sure they are saved…then, that’s your most important priority and you better get on it! Ma’am, Sir: Are you a Christian? If you are, then who has the Lord placed in your life…your circle of influence that needs to hear from you about Jesus?

Folks, we’re not getting the job done because we are so preoccupied with other things. I’m the chief of sinners, believe me. But, I’m working on it. I’m trying to be more intentional. I’m asking Jesus to help me open my eyes and yes, open my mouth and tell people about Him. Truly, He’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. He’s everything to me and I want others to know Him… I want others to know the joy and peace I have. I want people to experience the presence of Jesus, because there’s nothing better in this life than Him. And what is more, when we know Him, He’ll take us from this life to our new life in heaven one day! It doesn’t get any better than that!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday on the subject we’ve just talked about: “We’re Not Getting the Job Done.” You should watch this…because the stats are fascinating.

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytqbm5qeGJ3P2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

Read Full Post »

Seeking Jesus

I’ve been thinking about what it means to seek Jesus a lot over the last several weeks…actually the last 3 months. I’ve asked myself, “Kevin, are you really seeking Jesus or are you just going through the motions?” Now, I’m not trying to be super-spiritual and I’m not trying to be ethereal or out in left field. I’m simply saying, I believe there is a pursuit of Jesus that I’ve been missing. And I think a lot of people are missing it.

It seems to me that we’ve gotten to the place in our evangelism that we bring people to Jesus and we stop. We get people saved and then what? It’s like every service, every message has to be the same. And that’s needed! Of course we’ve got to get people to Jesus, but Jesus said we are to: “Go and make disciples…” Do you see that word: DISCIPLE. He didn’t say, “Go and make converts…” Conversion is the first step…yes…but there is more! We’ve got to be teaching people! We’ve got to be growing people. We’ve got teach people how to climb in their faith toward Jesus! That’s what we’ve been saying this year…

The question is…how much time does it take to climb? Can you hike a mountain in 2 minutes? Let me ask you this…can you and I seek Jesus in 2 minutes? Can He be found in our 20-second prayers over our meals or the prayer that’s quickly uttered as we fall asleep? Can we never read the Word of God and expect to call ourselves disciples of Christ? There is nothing disciplined about that.

Disciple

Discipline

Those two words have the same root! If we want to truly be a disciple, we are going to have to be disciplined. It’s no different than a ball team. They have to practice before they play. They must run, work-out, lift weights…eat right…you name it. It takes discipline to make champions. And you know what…the same is true as believers in Christ. God is person and He desires to be wanted. I’ll say that again: He desires to be wanted. Just like you desire to be wanted. Don’t you want to be wanted? Loved? Sure you do! So do I! After all, we are created in the image of God and it’s our spirits that must seek Him (for He is Spirit).

Lately, I’ve been trying to retrain my mind to think on Jesus. To set my mind on things above. But, some might say, “Kevin, be careful that you don’t get so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good.” Can I say this kindly to you… I’ve never met any single person that I believe were “too heavily minded.” I see people who are attached to this earth. I see that so much in myself. I spend so much time thinking about myself and my needs and my wants and my comfort and my desires… My problem is me. And your problem is probably you. It’s easy for the universe to revolve around ourselves.

I had to go to a place that I died to myself. And that’s a daily thing… Jesus said it would be a daily thing! And boy is it! It feels like some days I’m taking some major ground in moving up that mountain and other days I’m stuck or even losing ground. What do I mean?

I’m seeking the Lord throughout the day in that I’m trying to think about Him as I live life. I’m thinking about Him as I drive. I honestly don’t listen to the radio much anymore. I just keep it off and talk to the Lord. It’s been an amazing thing how much time I’ve gained. Folks, He wants to talk to us. He’s waiting! But, the truth is…we like our “noise.” We walk into our homes and we flip on the TV. We get in the car and we’re on the radio. We have an idle moment and we grab the phone to check social media. Believe me…I’m chief of sinners! And so, I’m seeking to NOT do these things as much. Am I becoming a hermit? No! But, there is something to be said for mediating on the Lord. There’s something to be said for “being still and know that He is God.”

Can you get still? For how long? 5 minutes? 10? Maybe that’s scary. Maybe you don’t want to be alone with your thoughts. Sometimes that can be scary… I must admit that! But, listen…you and I are not alone…not as followers of Christ! He’s with us! His Spirit dwells in our spirit and He bears witness with us. But, can we hear Him? Are we hearing from Him?

The Lord wants a relationship with us. He wants to talk to us. That’s why He came to die. He came so that we can know Him…and that we might not only be with Him forever in heaven, but have Him to guide our lives on this side of glory. I can tell you this…as I’ve been thinking on Jesus and focusing my mind more and more on Him, I’m changing in my spirit. There is more joy and more of a sense of peace and ease in my soul. I’m not as easily upset or “torn out of my frame” on things that really don’t matter.

The Scripture says:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

How can we grow in our faith? Simple. Go after Jesus! Ask and it shall be given…seek and you will find…knock and the door will be opened. All of that requires action! Go! Go! Go! Or in my vernacular these days…Climb, climb, climb!

It means when I’m walking through the parking lot at the hospital I look at the sky and see the clouds and I think, “Jesus, thank you for watching over me and caring for me and for what you will do to give me the words for this situation and this family.” Before I walk into my home and turn the handle on my door, I think, “Lord, help me to have saved enough of my time and patience to be what my family needs me to be for them tonight.” It’s driving down the road with the kids in the back of the van and saying, “Hey guys…look at the window…tell me what you see. Who made that?” It’s training our minds to “see” and “hear” with our spirit. Do you see? It’s just an intentional mindset and it’s that intentionality that’s slowly but surely changing this bald-headed man. I’m actually experiencing the presence of Jesus more and more in my life! It’s wonderful!!

Therefore, in the light of what I’ve just written, here’s this week’s TMT:

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytmMzV2cmN0P2F1dG9wbGF5PXRydWUmYnJhbmRpbmc9dHJ1ZSZlbWJlZD10cnVl

Kevin

Read Full Post »

I love to talk. But, you already know that don’t you? I enjoy talking to people and that’s why my kids have always dreaded the “I’ll only be a minute” when I go into a store. They know if I see someone I know that I’ll be in there for…well…who knows! Wink, wink.

Talking is good in that it’s communication. And if you are communicating then you are building relationships. When we stop talking we’ll likely be in trouble. And this is big-time true for our children. They need us talking to them. They want us to talk to them. They may give the impression that they don’t (particularly in their teen years) but that’s just not true. They WANT us to ask them how they are doing because it lets them know we care. And I guess this has been on my brain this week. I did the Two-Minute Tuesday about this topic this week: “Raising Children Who Love Jesus-How To Do It”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLys4cmZtYmNwP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

But, let me be clear. Talking takes time doesn’t it. And let’s be honest mom and dad. It takes effort…especially after a long day. You may be “talked out,” but we have to “save some for home.” I say that to myself all the time:

SAVE SOME FOR HOME KEVIN!!

I love this family!

Look, if I give everything I’ve got to everyone else and leave nothing for the ones I love most, what kind of husband/father am I? I’ll tell you what kind… A selfish one. A man who cares more about what others think about him (and making sure I meet their needs instead of my own family). I’ve struggled with this in my life, I’ll be honest. But, as I’ve gotten older, (and hopefully a bit wiser), I’ve gotten better about this. Truly, my first two kids got the worst end of the deal. I’ve apologize to them many times. By the grace of God and a fantastic mother, they’ve turned out well.

Maybe those of you reading this who have young families can learn from my mistakes. Take time for your family. Take time for your kids and TALK. Talk to them. Spend time with them. Put down the devices and talk. They’ll buck it… Yes…they will NOT want to sit on the sofa and talk as a family…but, this is critical. Turn off the TV…talk. About what? About life. About the weather. About what’s going on in the country, the world. Talk about Jesus. Talk about what’s going on in the world and think about how you can teach and make connections in their minds with the Scripture. Ask questions. Lots of questions. Don’t just lecture. Who likes that? Ask questions that are age appropriate.

Let me give you an example. We had a conversation Tuesday night and I asked Clara and Andrew “If you had a friend hurting or suffering in some way…maybe they’re down or depressed, what would you tell them?” Clara said, “I’d tell them to read Psalms.” I said, “Great!” Then she said, “Proverbs is good too!” Folks, she’s 13, but I truly expect her to know these things because Pam and I’ve trained her to know these things. Truly, these are the things of life that’s more important than Algebra and Athletics. Don’t get me wrong…those things are important, but I’d argue that those things don’t help someone in a dark place of anxiety or depression.

[By the way, this is a side note: I talk to tons and tons of people and I find that there’s a real lack of Bible knowledge. And because of this, folks don’t have anything to fall back on but the stuff of this world… So, it’s social media, maybe alcohol, and illicit relationship… Pain… Suffering… Hurt…]

Talk. Communicate. That shows care, love and concern. Hey…do you have time to do some of this? If you don’t, you’re too busy and you better ratchet it down a bit. You can’t be all things to all people…but, you better be some things to YOUR people.

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

Am I Equipped to Help My Struggling Friend,

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLys2cDRmZjJtP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Weather update: Don’t believe the groundhog. I don’t believe it’s going to turn to Spring early, even though it feels like it this week. I believe we’ll bounce back down to cooler weather over the remainder of the winter…and yes…possibly another “event” at some point. None of this is a guarantee…but, just my impression of what I’m seeing and hearing. The truth is there is a lot of disagreement between the US model versus the European model.

US Model:

See how warm it shows for Feb 15…

Now take a look at the European…much colder…totally different…

Folks, those two models couldn’t be more opposite. So we’ll see if our model wins or the Europeans win. Hint: I’m thinking the Europeans beat us on this one. Just a hunch.

Kevin

Read Full Post »

I Prayed for Seven and Got One

Does prayer work? Does it work in your life? When is the last time you prayed for something and it actually happened? As you are thinking, let’s go even deeper. If what you prayed for actually happened, how do you know for sure it was your prayer that caused it to happen? Was it your prayer or someone else’s?

Those are tough questions to sort through. Certainly they are in my own mind sometimes. The truth is…on this side of glory, it’s hard to tell for SURE about the specific answers to the questions I’ve asked. But, let me say this…I do believe prayer works, because I’ve seen it work in my own life. Can I say for SURE it was my prayers that did it…well…

I told you last week that “Sports Is Life.” I saw that come to fruition this weekend again! Let me go to last Saturday. I told you that from time to time I might find a few minutes to go out and shoot some hoops. I did this Saturday evening. I knew I needed to get a little exercise and get some “steps” in…so, out the door I go. My “go to” is basketball, of course. Just shoot and run from corner to corner and do the “around the world” routine. So, I started. It was cold. About 30 degrees and it was about 5 o’clock. I knew I didn’t have long. There was stuff to do for the evening. Nonetheless, I was nailing shot after shot.

As I was shooting, I started thinking about my niece, Leah Church, who play for the Lady TarHeels. They were playing Notre Dame the next day. Notre Dame just happened to be the #1 Women’s Team in the country. They had lost just one game…to powerhouse UCONN. It was going to be a tall task. The Heels have had an up and down year… They had an 11-9 record and were 2-4 in the difficult ACC.

Now let me say this…I don’t think the Lord is that interested in the outcome of ball games. I just really don’t. In the scheme of important things in life and eternity…whether it’s basketball, football, baseball…you name it… It’s just not an “eternal proposition” in most cases. Yet, I do believe He wants us to pray for our loved ones to do their best and for safety and things such as that. So, as I moved from shot to shot, I breathed a prayer for Leah and I said, “Lord, just help her and the team do their best. And Lord, give Leah 7 shots.” Why did I pray for 7 shots? That’s a big number for any player coming off the bench (which Leah usually does). But, I thought, “You have not because you ask not.” And I knew if she got up 7 shots, she’d hit 4 or 5 of them because she’s an amazing shooter! In fact, I asked several people to pray with me for 7 shots. And several said they would.

As I continued to shoot and pile up some “steps,” it hit me… “You are really nailing these shots today.” So, I had this crazy idea! I thought, “Video what I call ‘around the world’ and send it to Leah.” Just do the best you can and send it. So, I set up my phone on a bucket and shot this video… (listen what I say at the end)…

Nutty, huh! But, hey…I hit 9 of 11 after missing the first shot! So, give me some credit! Ha! I’m 50 years old folks! But, I wanted Leah to know I was thinking about her and praying for her. So, I sent it to her and she texted back, “that made my day…” And so, “mission accomplished.”

The family and I loaded up and headed to Chapel Hill on Sunday. Yes, I said, “Sunday.” I’ve never done that. In 14 years of ministry, I’ve never missed a Sunday except for vacation or a mission trip. But, I believe I needed the break and family needed me to take the break and the truth is… I wanted to go! Yes, I could have sent my family without me and preached. I’ve done that before. But, the church is in excellent hands when I’m gone, so we went with total confidence and peace.

Have you heard what happened? Is it even possible the Heels could beat the #1 team in the country? Well, first of all I want to tell you what happened with Leah. She didn’t get 7 shots off. She only got off two. In fact, in the first half, she to up her first shot and missed and pretty quickly was taken out for the game. I thought, “Oh no…this is going to be tough.” But, as the game went on and the second half came…she got back in the game. The Heels were playing well. A guard for the team, Paris Kea, was on fire. She ended up with 30 points and 10 assists. Amazing! But, in order for the Heels to pull off the massive upset, something needed to happen.

With 1:25 left in the game the ball comes to Leah in the corner. The entire arena was standing. I literally held my breath. I froze and it felt that time stopped. She caught the ball (would she shoot it or pass it back…would I shoot it…I don’t know…oh my…this is the number one team in the country…she’s not shot a single other shot in the game…would she have the nerve to take this shot…this is such a risk…such a gamble…but, she can shoot the lights out…she can make it), she set her feet and released the ball…it’s in the air…

The sound in the arena was strange…it was amazingly loud up to that moment…but, it was like a collective “breath-holding” moment for everyone. The ball splashes through the net and it sounded like a sonic-boom in the arena! Watch…

Did you watch the bench stand up when the ball was passed to her? They knew it was in! Paris Kea…the leading scorer in the game is the one who passed her the ball and she’s already backing up going down court the other way. She knew it was in too!

Pam happened to video the shot from our seats behind the basket! Needless to say, all the family went nuts: Me, Pam, Clara, Andrew, Katy, Josh, Charlotte, Evelyn, Kandace and Clark!

My mom and dad were in their seats to our right and below us. They have season tickets and of course, Kim and Craig, Taylor and Zac were in their familiar spots on the front row down below them. Not to mention that Craig’s family (dad and step-mom, step brother) was in the arena as well. Needless to say, there were plenty of #20 Leah Church fans in Carmichael Arena!

Now, why do I tell you all of this?

Honestly, I really believe with all of my heart that the Lord heard the prayers of our family and those close to Leah. Did God answer my specific prayer? Obviously not! I asked for 7 shots, but she only got 2. But, it only took 1 to answer my prayer! Do you see! The Lord can answer our prayers even when it’s not exactly what we ask. He has a plan that’s so much better than ours. In fact, Leah said it best on Facebook!

That same picture has been all over ESPN’s Women’s Basketball homepage!

Does prayer work? Ask Leah Church. This is a woman who knows more about prayer and the hard work of it than anyone I know.

Do you think our families were happy after the game?

Let me tell you something…prayer works. James says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16). That picture above you is a prime example of that. So, pray! Pray when it seems impossible! Pray when you miss the first shot! Keep going…Keep living! Look for the next chance and keep praying! It’s worth it! Even when it’s just going 1 for 2, and you asked for 7!

Kevin

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Sports Is Life

I love sports. And I believe “Sports Is Life.” Hence, the title of the blog. Sports mimic the ups and downs and highs and lows of life. Just look at what the New Orleans Saints are dealing with this week after the debacle of the missed call on Sunday. Yet, think of the joy for the Rams and Patriots. For me…it’s not football that pulls on my heart-strings. You know what does, don’t you? It’s basketball.

Truly, I believe it’s the greatest game that’s ever been invented. I love it because it’s a team sport and it takes tremendous athletes to perform it at a high level. I know that some who read this love baseball or football or some other sport or even activity or pursuit like I love the game of basketball and that’s the way it should be. I believe the Lord loves variety… Think of all the different kind of animals and all the different kind of fruits… Yes, God loves variety! So, for the sake of illustrating my example of basketball…as you read…you think of your favorite sport or activity.

When I was a boy I was given a basketball as an infant, literally. There’s a picture of me with a basketball as I’m sitting beside of it (and I was barely able to sit up). Throughout my life, the sport of basketball has been a part of it. It’s been like a familiar friend. I’m 50 years old and yet there are times I’ll still go out in my driveway and shoot hoops. It doesn’t happen often, but from time to time I’m by myself. (Most of the time, there are plenty of my children or grandchildren to join me.) Yet, every now and again…it’s just me. It might be for only 10-15 minutes…but, it’s just me again. Like a kid. I’m shooting free throws. I’ve got to hit 8 out of 10 to stop. 80% is the minimum. Then it’s “Around the World” and I’m shooting 10 shoots around the perimeter from baseline to the top of the key to the other baseline. I need to hit 6 of 10 on those shots. And then it’s left hand, right hand, alternating under the rim. 10 for 10 on both sides of the basket.

Call me crazy…but, this routine relaxes me. I’ve done it since I was 10 years old. Truly, that was when I could really get the ball to the rim consistently from 15 feet. So, here I am describing you to something that almost seems silly as a I type it. But, it’s the rhythm of life. Get this…I still dream about basketball. I dream about it usually once or twice a month. I could be back in college or high school. I could even be playing for a team I’ve never heard of before. Sometimes I’m dunking it and scoring from every position on the floor… Other times I’m sitting on the bench. Sometimes, I have this dream of not being able to find my jersey and I can’t seem to get out of the locker room. It’s crazy! Where is my jersey and I wake up nervous. No, I don’t try to figure out these dreams, nor do I really care. I just tell you that I love basketball.

Yes, some people love golf or fishing or knitting. Some find relaxation in a deer stand. Some enjoy gardening (I like that too). But, for me…give me basketball. I love to watch it. Think about it… Strategize about it… and hypothesize about it.

Call me crazy…but, I went through some old scrapbooks Tuesday night and I took a trip down memory lane. Want to join me? This might help you to understand the joy the game of basketball brings me. But, for others…you might just want to check out because you will probably think this is all silly stuff. But, I assure it’s not. It helps explain a lot about me (if you care) and who I am. Truly, it was a fun exercise for me in that I hadn’t been through some of these clippings in years. So, either keep reading or click back to Facebook. 🙂

This was my first basketball team. I played for Brame Drugs, a.k.a “dark blue.” (My Duke-loving son-in-law would like that 🙂 )

I was 8-years-old and the pencil is pointing to me. I loved that little team. I changed from my school clothes to my basketball uniform in the back of my mom’s 1966 Ford Mustang many, many times on the way to the YMCA.

My dad ended up coaching our team three years later. He’s on the back row, far left.

I’m in the middle in the back, to the right of the tall young man. By the way…the young man on the front row on the far left is Zach Galifianakis. He was a jokester even back then! I’ve never seen one of his movies and don’t plan on it. I know he’s a funny guy, but I wish he wasn’t so vulgar. I believe the funniest people are those who are funny without being vulgar.

Here I am in my Brame Drug uniform when I went to the University of North Carolina Basketball camp and won the free throw shooting contest for my age. 

I was 12-years-old and I hit 30 out of 30 free throws and then got to eat supper with legendary head coach Dean Smith at his table in the cafeteria. I could barely eat I was so nervous! I was able to win the contest again three years later…

I, again, was able to eat with Coach Smith and this time I was able to actually finish my dinner.

I played in Elementary School at Millers Creek Elementary and I wore my Dad’s college number (42).

This game was played in old Union Elementary School gym, which is now the sanctuary for Celebration Baptist Church. By the way, my sister is under the backboard as a Millers Creek Cheerleader. She’s in the middle of the three young ladies behind the referee. Yes, that’s the referee in the t-shirt and jeans! Back in the day…that’s what we saw a lot. No stripped, zebra shirts and black shoes for us!

Speaking of my dad… He was an amazing basketball player at West Wilkes and then at Gardner Webb and Mars Hill. Here he is in an “Old Timer’s Game” back in December of 1984:

He was 36 years old at the time. Dad hit the winning shot with one second left to beat North Wilkes. It was truly a Grant Hill to Christian Laettner pass and score before that even happened. My dad received the full court in-bounds pass and he went up over Danny Joe Pendry (a fabulous player in the day for North Wilkes) and nailed the shot! I was 16 at the time and boy was I proud of my dad!

Basketball has been such a huge part of my family. And I’m blessed in that my dad and I were able to play together on our church league team. Here we are side by side back when our team took the title.

Dad and I had a great championship game. Here’s the box score:

Not bragging…but, I think you could say that without Dad and me, we would have struggled to win. We accounted for 65% of our offense. Of course it helps to be 6’6″ and 6’7″ (dad).

The team looked to me to score and I did… A lot…

That was through 13 games… So doing the math…that’s right at 24 points a game. We had a great team and really dominated the YMCA Church League for many years.

I can’t describe to you what these shared experiences with my father means to me. I’ll never forget them. I’ll never forget my dad taking me to Chicago to see Michael Jordan play in the old (now torn down) Chicago Stadium. I’ll never forget riding down the elevator in our hotel with Patrick Ewing and Ewing asking us, “Do you guys play basketball?” It was surreal and such a blessing to have that time with my dad.

I worked hard on my game. I spent a tremendous amount of time right here…

That was by goal at my house growing up. My sister Kim took this picture. I was learning to dunk and obviously, you have to start with something…and in this case…it was a partially deflated volleyball. If you look at the net closely…you’ll see how frayed it is. I wore out a net about every six months. I played in the winter with gloves on and the fingers cut out so I could feel the ball. I shoveled the snow off of the driveway many times. I played in the rain, in the heat, in any conditions. Why? Because I loved the game. I loved the way it was such a challenge to get better and improve on my own and then couple that with my teammates to do something special.

I played in High School of course (West Wilkes). Junior Varsity (JV) to begin with…and then Varsity. Our JV team was really good. We were conference champions.

I’m on the back row, #30. My coach was Mac Atwood. He was a HUGE influence in my life. He encouraged me in so many ways. As I read through the article I was struck by how Coach Atwood talked about me. See the second paragraph…

“Kevin Brown played with great intensity. He’s a winner.” 

Folks, as I read that I got a lump in my throat. It’s been 34 years since I cracked open that scrapbook and read those words and I thought, “Wow…even then the Lord had given me a passion and fire.” And I’ll tell you…I try to take this same attitude into living the Christian life. I am playing for the greatest Head Coach of all time…Jesus Christ! How can I not play the game of life with all I have? Sports is Life and Life is Sports. They go hand-in-hand. How are you playing the game of life? Go for it! Live it with intensity, because as a believer in Christ…we are the ultimate WINNERS!

My junior year we beat our arch rivals Wilkes Central in the Christmas Tournament…

I’m on the far left. What a win! No one expected us to beat Central. They had fabulous teams back then too. I remember at the end of that game my dad running on the floor and literally picking me up in a bear hug! He was so happy and excited for us! He said, “You did it…you did it!”

I worked hard on my game. My dad made me a weight bench and I lifted weights. He built a squat rack and I got to where I could do three sets of 30 with 300 lbs on my back.

I got to where I could really jump. I could dunk the ball just about any way I wanted to! It was hard, challenging and difficult to get to that place…but, I was intent on being the absolute best I could be.

My senior year, we were conference champions…the first conference champions in the history of the High School in men’s basketball. If you are ever at West Wilkes High School…look in the rafters at the Basketball banner and you’ll see 1986. That was us! Unfortunately, we lost in the finals of the conference tournament that year to Mt. Airy. I was paired against best player in the conference and I gave it all I had…

I scored 24 points, and yet we came up just short. Funny how you don’t forget those things. I replay them in my mind from time to time. What could we have done better. Silly? Perhaps…but, when it’s in your blood…you can’t help it.

We were really good that year…

We made it all the way up to #11 in the western NC State High School polls. You’ll see Wilkes Central at #4. I told you they were good! One of their 4 losses was to us. Arguably, our team was one of the best basketball teams in the history of West Wilkes High School.

This led me to being able to sign with Gardner Webb to play college basketball…

Again, my dad played there and so I decided to play there too. Note, the fact that I said, “I decided to play there too.” Accentuate the word “I.” I didn’t seek the Lord on it. I just did it. I don’t believe the Lord was really in it to begin with, to be blunt. You see, I wanted to play basketball and maybe coach and teach High School Biology. But, the Lord had a different plan all along. He wanted me to get a business degree and work in the business world for 16+ years, which would be training for the pastorate, eventually.

Well, I had to learn the hard way. You know…when a team doesn’t listen and they have to run laps. I’m grateful the Lord was gracious with me. He led me to Appalachian State and eventually my wife. But, honestly, even then, I was still trying to play basketball. I tried out as a walk-on for the ASU team and actually made the team…for three days. That’s right. I made the team on a Friday and the coach called me into his office and cut me on Monday. He said, “Son, you’re good, but not good enough to make our 8-man rotation and we don’t need any dead weight.” Let me tell you…I cried like a baby after I walked out of his office. But, Sports Is Life. Sometimes we go through really difficult seasons and we just have to keep moving.

Here’s the truth: if I had stayed on that ASU basketball team, I would have never met Pam. She was at ASU, but we never had a class together and never saw each other on campus. She was an Education major, while I was a Business major. However, when I got cut from the team, my pastor, Jimmy Hubbard said, “Kevin, now you have time to teach a Bible Study.” Well, no more excuses. He had been on me and my roommate, Steve Bryan, for months to crank up a Bible Study. We did. And it was a tremendous blessing and influence on many lives. Again, it was through that 8 pm, Tuesday night Bible Study in Steve’s and my apartment that I met Pam. She came because of a mutual friend and “the rest,” as they say, “is history.”

And that brings me back to today. It brings me back to the place where a 50-year-old man still loves the game of basketball. It brings me to the place where I can rejoice and celebrate with my niece, who feels a whole lot more like a daughter, in that she has grown up right beside of us…

That was two years ago and today she is in her sophomore year at Carolina. And we love going to watch her play…

We love hugging her as she and the team runs through the crowd after the games…

And it’s why I show her a video of herself nailing a three pointer!

Want to see it? Here it is. 11 seconds of joy!

The entire family will be going down to Chapel Hill this weekend to watch Leah and the Heels play the #1 Team in the country, Notre Dame. I can’t wait! Even Josh, Katy, Charlotte and Evie will be able to see Leah play “live” for the first time!! Go Leah! Go Heels!

Yes, I’m old and a bit nostalgic and perhaps even silly…but, it’s true…I love basketball…even though I can’t play much of it anymore other than “Horse.” But, Life Is Sports and Sports Is Life. Think about any sport or any activity you do for fun. If you are going to be good at it, you have to work at it. I see that in my daughters Katy and Kandace who are musicians and writer/songwriters. And Clara who is a ballet dancer and plays the violin with tremendous skill. Or Andrew who builds gravity cars using a CAD computer and 3D printer. I see that in my wife who is a fantastic mom, homeschool teacher and pastor’s wife. What about you? What brings you joy and teaches you at the same time? For me…it’s basketball and I’m grateful for it! Thanks for taking this walk down memory lane with me!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, “What Can Children Understand in Church?” It’s about Charlotte, my 4-year-old granddaughter and her picture of “Jesus’ Boo Boos.”

Take a look:

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytxeWh5emJ4P2F1dG9wbGF5PXRydWUmYnJhbmRpbmc9dHJ1ZSZlbWJlZD10cnVl

Kevin

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Yes, I’ll admit it… I’m an old dog! And the truth is…I like for things to stay the same (most of the time). I guess as you get older you really like routine. That’s why “change” can be hard. Do you like change? You might not. Honestly, change is harder as you get older…hence the “old dogs” adage.

Yet, I’ve learned that change has to happen if there is to be growth. Think that through. Can you grow and not change? Ask a baby that grows into a toddler. Ask McDonald’s or Wal-Mart. Have they changed through the years? Yes, we have to change to grow, and I want to grow! Therefore, change will be in the offing. Let me give you an example of a recent change for me that wasn’t easy. See this…

Some of you might look at that and think, “What in the world is that?” Well, it’s a Day Planner. I have used it for my entire ministry, (which just flipped into my 14th year a few days ago). Everything…and I mean everything was in that Day Planner. Like what? My schedule of course. My important phone numbers, contacts, and even notes from various meetings and conferences, including goals and areas of improvement. 13+ years of important stuff! Well, I ditched the Day Planner for this:

That’s my calendar on my computer, which is also synced to my phone. Now when I’m out somewhere and someone asks me about meeting or setting up something, I don’t have to say, “Let me get back to my office and get in front of my Day Planner.” No sir! I’ve got it with me then and there…right there on the phone. How about that!!!

Now let me tell you something… It took a ton of time for me to transfer all of that information over from my “handwritten” Day Planner to the digital format. In fact, as I think about it… Hmmm…. I’m guessing it took me somewhere around 6 or 7 hours to do it.

You might also note an icon in the picture above that says, “KEEPER.” See that yellow lock? That’s an APP on my phone that has all of passwords and important contacts in it. (Yes, I know what some of you are thinking… “Kevin, did you have all your passwords written down in your Day Planner? That’s dangerous!!”) Yep, you would be right…it was dangerous, but I had to have them written down somewhere, right? Don’t you have yours written down somewhere? Now they are all safely stored away in my Password Keeper App.

Yes, I needed to change. It wasn’t easy. And there are times I go looking for my Day Planner… But, then I remember…Kevin, you have left that! You are traveling lighter! You are moving forward… And there’s an analogy there, isn’t there? If we are going to grow in our Christian lives…we have to be willing to change. We have to be willing to leave things behind. Things that aren’t necessarily bad…but, things that could be better. Areas where we have grown comfortable and we’re simply not growing.

Of late…we’ve been using this logo around here…

I really do want to pursue Jesus in 2019. I don’t want to stay stuck in a “base camp” that’s safe at the bottom of the mountain sitting in a lounge chair. No sir! I want to go climbing! I want to see all that the Lord Jesus wants me to see and experience in Him! I want to experience the views from heights I’ve never seen! But, you know what? If I want to do all of that…then I’ve got to climb and that means I’ve got to change! I’ve got to be willing to leave “comfortable” to experience places in my life I’ve never seen.

No, I’m not talking about some ethereal, mystical, weird experience. I’m not talking about emotionalism. It’s anything but that. I’m talking about a concentrated journey…one step at a time…climbing…going up, looking to Jesus. I’m talking about concentrating on experiencing the presence of Jesus in everything I do. It’s a focus. It’s a mindset. It’s a deliberate, intentional process of saying, “Lord, I don’t want any sin, any obstacle, any issue to dominate my life. I only want you.” Why? Because He is the best this life has to offer. He is the LIFE (John 14:6).

Now, let me tell you… When you say that and you mean it and you really begin to take your day by the throat and you grab everything that comes into your mind…WOW! That’s when you and I begin to truly “take every thought captive” to the point that we can have victory over sin and we can truly overcome bad habits in our minds. Because they truth is…you are probably not doing anything that’s really, really bad right now. But, in your heart and soul…you look deep and you may see things that you know aren’t right. Attitudes, motives, bitterness, malice, frustration…

I’ll be blatantly honest. My mind hadn’t gotten lazy. I was like my old, comfortable Day Planner. Ruts had formed in my brain that weren’t good. I needed to be blasted out of those ruts! And the Lord did just that. I preached about this a couple of Sundays ago. It was one of the most difficult messages I’ve ever preached…mainly because I was so brutally honest. You can watch it below. If you are short of time, start watching at the 35 minute mark and watch the last 9 minutes.

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLyszZHNxNTRyP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Truly, the Lord has moved me from my lounge chair to climbing…and you know what…I like that! The views are really amazing when you climb. You see things you’ve never seen. Is it hard? Yes. There is pain in the climb. And there is pain in surrender and confession of sin. But, there is freedom in confession. There is freedom in surrender. There is freedom in Jesus.

Truly, ruts are graves with the ends knocked out and I don’t want that. I don’t want that for me or my family or this church. I want to climb! So, I’m looking to Jesus to lead me in that climb. Want to join me? Put on the boots and get your backpack and let’s go climbing!

It’s hard to believe but Kandace and Clark’s wedding is just about 80 days away!

Wow! Time is flying! And I’m going to be giving up another girl to another wonderful man! I’ve done that once before, you know. 🙂 I hope folks will understand that Kandace and Clark’s wedding is going to be at a smaller venue (not at the church) and when you consider inviting those in our families and those in the wedding party’s families and those that Kan and Clark were close to growing up…well…that’s about it. Obviously, we’d love to invite the whole church and everyone that we’re close to…but, that’s not the way this cookie is going to crumble. There’s simply not enough room. Nonetheless, the planning is in earnest at my house and it will be here before you know it.

And that’s another area of change that will be coming to my life. Katy was married in 2012 and now Kan. The places at the table are getting fewer and that leaves a lump in my throat. But, that’s how it’s supposed to be. We raise them so they can leave the nest and make their own nest. I’m so grateful for Kandace and for the joy she brings to my life and it will be VERY HARD for us to not see here every day, but we will adjust. The Lord will help us on that climb too! That’s more “new tricks” for this old dog!

Speaking of Kandace… We’re so excited about this…

Is that crazy, or what? That’s my girl on Spotify! Her EP came out a few days ago on iTunes and it’s on Spotify too. I’m amazed at her talent and how the Lord has gifted her. She has such a smooth and soothing voice and the lyrics of her songs are about life. I like the fact that she can describe her emotions through words and then put them to music. That’s not easy, but she did it! I’m proud of my girl!

I mentioned climbing mountains earlier… It’s amazing how much walking/moving around can be done in one year.

2.6 million steps. 1,342 miles! Truly, that’s not near enough, to be honest. I need to be doing double that. But, it’s a function of my schedule (you know that thing on my phone and computer now). It’s having a big family, big church and big goals… So, there is much to be juggled. The Lord will guide in that too. I’ve just got to keep looking to the Author and Finisher of my faith in this journey and this old dog will be fine.

Of course it’s winter and you know I’m going to be talking about the weather. Take a look at what’s coming. After this weekend, buckle up! Here’s the temperature outlook through the first of March.

That green shading means 5-6 degrees celsius BELOW NORMAL. That’s 9-11 degrees Fahrenheit colder. And with our average temp during Jan/Feb being around 48 degrees…well, you can do the math. It’s potentially going to be frigid around. And if you couple the cold with an active Southern jet stream (which we’ve had the past year with record rainfall/moisture)… Well, you have a recipe for this…

And that chart is just through January 31st. So, get ready for a tough slog to Spring. This winter might go down as one we remember for a while. Remember, we’ve already had 18-20″ of snow and 1/4″ of ice. We’re already above the average of 12″ around here for the year…by a mile! And understand that temps can still swing up even in the midst of a cold spell. In other words, you can have a 55 degree day in the middle of a month of mostly 35-40 degree days. And it’s when you have those transitions in temps when you can have your bigger storms. Truly, when it gets bitter cold it’s hard to get moisture with it. Why? Because the push of the cold air from the Northern Jet surpasses the moisture from the Southern Jet. We get our biggest storms when the temps are in the low 30’s, not in the mid 20’s or below. So, watch for the transitional times between bitter cold and moderately cold.

Here’s this week’s TMT. “Does God Really Want Me To Be Happy?”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLyt4d3doOG16P2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

You might be surprised at the answer.

Kevin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »