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Honesty-Are You Honest?

Honesty is a lost virtue in our culture today. You know it and I know it. It’s so easy to tell a lie to cover a situation that you don’t want anyone else to know about. Most lies are told because people want to present themselves in the best light. Lies are told so that we don’t have to admit or own up to deficiencies in our lives. Lies are told so that we…well…won’t have to admit the truth.

Do Christians lie? Of course. Do you lie? Yes. And so do I. Now, before you get mad at me…you know I’m telling the truth. You know we all tell “white lies” or “partial truths” or “veiled truths” to cover the “real truth.” True? Yes! Can we just admit it, please!

Some of you are thinking, “Does Pastor Kevin lie? Is he admitting it?” What I’m admitting is that it’s easy to not tell the 100% truth. But, if it’s 99% truth and 1% compromise, guess what you have? A lie. Think of it like a bottle of water. Do you want 1% cyanide poison in that bottle of water or 100% water? Give me 100% water!!! That 1% can kill you!

Do you find yourself lying a lot lately? It’s easy to qualify the lies and give excuses or justifications or rationalizations, but be honest. (There that word is again: “honest.”) Yes, be honest, what is the truth about you? What is the truth about me? What does the Lord see in our hearts? He sees the truth, you know. He knows all. Might I remind us…we can’t hide anything from the Lord. Oh, we might try. But, He knows the truth about us. He even knows the truth that we are having a hard time admitting to ourselves right now.

What are you struggling with this week? Right now. Today. What’s eating at you? Does it have anything to do with whether or not you’ll tell the truth about a situation? Of course it would be easy to sweep it under the rug, or not deal with it directly, or just send an email, instead of a face-to-face meeting. But, if you really want to deal with it…then, deal with it. Swallow hard, go to the Lord and lean into Him and say, “Show me the truth, Father. Show me what I need to know about myself and the situation and what you want me to see and give me the courage to do it. Help me to follow Truth.”

Truth. What is truth? Pilate asked that question, you know Truth is a person: Jesus Christ. If we are going to follow Him, TRULY follow Him, we’ll have to do it in Spirit and Truth. That’s the only way. Like the old song says: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

Has reading this made you feel uncomfortable? Yep, me too. But, it’s the truth and it’s needed and the truth may hurt, but the truth wins in the end. Always!

Here’s this week’s Two Minute Tuesday: “Are You Connecting with Your Teen?” I tried to be blatantly honest in it and admit my faults.

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Kevin

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One of the questions I’m asked the most is by parents. It goes like this: “Pastor, I’m so afraid my child will walk away from the Lord when they get older, what can I do?”

Well, first of all, their concern is valid. Studies continue to show that 70% or more of children who have been raised in Christian homes, will walk away from the faith by their 20th birthday.

That thought still jolts me.  Why does this happen?  Why do we lose children, even though they grew up in a “Christian” home?  Well, one of the primary reasons is because of the pagan culture we live in today.  We live in a culture that is in total opposition to what the Bible teaches about life and living, and our children are immersed in that culture. We know we can’t keep our children in a bubble…yes…they must be protected and nurtured…but, they are going to be exposed to the pagan forces of this world in ways that we’ll never be able to totally control.

So, what does the Bible say about raising children in a way that we will not lose them?  I’m glad you asked!

Deuteronomy 6:4-15

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.

I believe there are five things that we must understand if we don’t want to lose our children.

#1 We must worship God without rivals

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Deut. 6:4

What are rivals today?  Well, I’ll give you what I think the number one rival is.  Now this is strictly my opinion and I guess since it’s my blog…that’s what we’ll go with…ha!  I sincerely believe the #1 rival of God in our children’s lives (and ours too for that matter), is too many activities…i.e., sports, classes of all kinds, running every night of the week, etc.  Now please understand I have nothing against any of these things. My kids are involved in all sorts of things. But, there has to be a balance. We can’t be gone every night of the week and expect to raise Godly children. There must be time to teach the things of God.  Can I be bold?  I’ve learned that for most of us…when we were kids and we win trophies at 12, that most of the time by the age of 40 they end up in the basement or attic or the landfill.

When we are never with our kids except for running them to and fro from this thing to that…then guess who is raising our kids?  Not us!  It’s the teachers, coaches, etc.  Is this ok?  Perhaps, you might say…”They are good people.”  But, guess who’s responsibility it is to raise our children?  Parents… That’s you and me!

#2 We must build homes on God’s Love

5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Deut. 6:4-6

Love is a decision.  It is a decision of the will…a choice we make, however, it is not void of emotion or feeling…men, nor is it led by just emotion and feelings, ladies.  You’ve heard the man who says, I don’t need to tell her I love her, once at the altar was good enough, if I change my mind, I’ll let her know.  While that may be funny…it’s certainly the wrong philosophy!

What emotion does your children see you exhibit toward the Lord?  I tell you, I try to make my kids blush at least once per week as I love and dote on my wife in front of them.  Nothing out-of-place or wrong here…just hugs and kisses that make them say, “Aw daddy!”  But, they love it.  They feel secure when they see that I show love and affection for their mother and it models it for their future marriages.  By the way, where do you think children learn to love God?  From us!!!  If we get mad and walk out on each other, then it teaches the kids that God made do the same to them.

#3 Teach them diligently (Impress it on them)

7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Deut. 6:7

We do what we call ROP (Rite of Passage) at our church. https://www.amazon.com/Rite-Passage-Home-Church-Christ-Centered/dp/1893729958/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

It’s a Scriptural program.  Why do we need ROP?  Well, when does a young person become an adult?  Well, we don’t seem to know.  So, we, the church want to help.  But, it’s not the churches job to do the work of raising everyone’s child.  The Bible tells us that parents are responsible for raising the children…not the schools, coaches, teachers or, again, the churches.

But, it goes deeper than that.  We say it’s the job of parents to raise the children, but do you know who Moses was talking to specifically here?  He’s using the masculine singular in this passage in Deut. 6?  And that means the Lord is principally talking the Fathers and tells the Fathers it’s their responsibility to lead.  You say this is Old Testament.

Well, Ephesians 6:1-4 tells us something very important…particularly look at verse 4.

1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” 4Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Who’s the direction given to?  The Fathers!  Do you see that?  It’s the Father’s job to lead out in the training and instruction of the Lord! It’s not that the mom’s aren’t involved. Of course they are! In fact, mom’s often are the ones who have the greatest impact on a child in many ways. Yet, the dad’s are to set the tone and be INTENTIONALLY INVOLVED. Boy have we missed that in our culture!  Please hear my heart.  It’s not the church’s job to disciple your children.  Anything the Bible tells you to do that I, as a Pastor or the church, does for you, in essence, serves to cripple you and impair you from doing your job.  I or other pastors are simply crippling you and ultimately, (speaking for myself), I’m being disobedient to the Word.

Have you ever thought about this?  What we make our children crave, love and desire is more important and has more impact on their lives than what we make them learn?  You may need to read that again.  What do your children crave and desire?  If it’s not God and the things of God, then you have a priority problem in your home.

# 4 Mark your home as God’s territory

8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.  Deut. 6:8-9

I encourage people to place verses of Scripture on their bathroom mirrors, the walls of their houses in frames, etc.  Even make smells in your house mean something.  Pictures on the walls should depict your home as marked territory of God.  As believers in Christ we should say, “I’m not going to have anything in my house that doesn’t point to Jesus and show that we are His children.”  Make it a goal to touch all the senses of your children in your home.  We have food from a CrockPot many Sundays because of the hectic pace of the day. Pam puts the food on and it cooks while we’re gone and the children associate the smell of food from the CrockPot very often with the Lord’s Day.  Isn’t that neat?

Another example is the use of a Bible…an actual Bible that you read from in your home. Then pass that Bible down to your kids. I’ve done this with my Bibles as I use them and wear them out. Each of my four kids have an old Bible of mine now. I’m working on the grandchildren now. I pray those old Bibles mark their minds that Daddy (Papa for the grands) loves the Word of God…and loves them!

#5 Keep your prosperity in check

10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.  Deut. 6:10-15

This is simple.  Our children don’t want things…they want you!  Did you see what happened?  The people got all the stuff and they forgot God.  It’s happened in America too.  By the way, you’ve seen the poster that says, “He has the most toys in the end wins.”  Well the truth is, “He who has the most toys in the end still dies!”

As another side note, (this is for the ladies who may be reading this), it’s ok to want to and have the desire to spend your time raising your family.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  This used to never be questioned.  75 years ago…when this nation had a lot less…all the mommies stayed home and took care of their families.  Now look at what we have?  We’ve gotten “wealthy” and prosperous with our two-income families (trying to have it all) and look at the moral decay of our nation.  Now, don’t misquote me and say that just because women have gone en masse into the workforce over the last 75 years that is the reason why the country is sliding into moral decay.  But, I promise you…isn’t hasn’t helped.  It is God’s ultimate and first purpose for a mom to be able to manage and care for her home as the first priority.  If you can work outside the home while making your home the first priority…then that’s wonderful. But, the home is to be the first priority. The Bible tells us so.

3Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.  Titus 2:3-5

By the way, it’s ok to come home from work at quitting time too, dads!  One of our biggest problems is that we’re like hamsters running on a wheel.  We are all running around crazy and are worn out and tired and beat to death.  I just read a statistic last week that said kids, when asked what they wanted most from their parents, wanted them to not be so stressed out and tired all the time.  That’s pretty amazing.  Of all the things they could have wanted and that’s what crept to number one.

One last thing…do you know what else the study revealed.  It was simply…this:  If you were to ask your child if they could trade more of Dad and Mom in the home for more house, more vacations, more stuff, more gadgets and trinkets (those are my words for what was said to be “material possessions”), what do you think the kids would say they wanted?  They said, “No.  I’d take more mom and dad.”  Don’t believe this is true?  Just ask them.  They want you!  I promise.

I’ll say it this way…

At the end of your life, the most important thing that you will leave to those you love is the memory of simply being with them. It won’t be the houses, cars, money, material stuff… No, it will be you. Just you. And the truth is: that’s what matters the most to the ones you love most now…today…at this very moment. So, think about that as you pursue life and remember that people are more important than things…every time!

So, how do we make sure we don’t lose our kids to the world?  We must:  #1 Worship God without rivals, #2 Build our homes on God’s love, #3 Teach them diligently, #4 Mark you home as God’s territory and #5 Keep your prosperity in check.  I’d add one last thing…pray, pray, and pray some more…for all you are worth!  We’re in the battle of a lifetime for our children.  Let’s not lose them!  The statistics are stacked against us!  But, we can do all things through Christ and we’re more than conquerors…but, we better prioritize our lives and be INTENTIONAL if we want to have our kids in the percentage who will remain faithful and serve Christ.

Happy Birthday to this lovely young lady…who is now a teenager today!!! Amazing!!! I love you with all my heart Clara!!!

Here is this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday. It fits the topic of today’s post quite well.

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The Ordeal

What I’m going to share with you…I’ve titled: “The Ordeal.” Yet, compared to folks who are going through much, much more difficult things, it’s not an ordeal at all. I gave it that title so I could lure you into reading. (Isn’t that awful! That’s my sales/marketing background coming out of me! 🙂 )

You know I love basketball and you know my team is the TarHeels. I’ve been pulling for them for over 40 years. Well, I saw that they were going to the NCAA Tournament about 3 weeks ago when they went on a 6-game winning streak. The question was: “How high will the rise.” I’m talking about how high in the seedings could the Heels go for the NCAA Tournament.

You see, if they were to do well enough in the ACC Tournament, they could get a #2 Seed and play in Charlotte. However, this looked like a big-time outside chance, because they would have to likely get to the Tourney final to do that. Which, I might add, would mean beating Duke for a second time this year. Not likely! Well, I was wrong. It did happen. Even though they were seeded 6th, they beat Syracuse (now in the Sweet 16), then Miami, and then Duke (now in the Sweet 16) to reach the ACC Finals. They lost to Virginia in the finals.

Here’s where the fun (the ordeal) begins. I’m sitting in church on Sunday night, March 11th (the night of the NCAA Selection Show). We are having our Passion Play Dress Rehearsal, and I get a text from a friend that the Heels got the #2 seed in the West Bracket for the tournament, but they will play in Charlotte on Friday the 23rd. Awesome! I knew I needed to get home and see about getting tickets.

By the time I got home it was approaching 8:45. The selections were made around 6:15. Tickets had been selling for well over 2 hours. I had bookmarked the ticket site on my computer earlier that week (am I type-A or what?). I didn’t want to lose any time in getting to the site and securing tickets. The site pulls up and I see that the tickets are $50 each! That seemed pretty steep to me…until I remembered it was for 2 games. You see what’s called the “First Session,” which ended up being Providence vs. Texas A&M at 12:15 pm and then the Heels and Lipscomb at 2:50 pm. Okay. Sounds good. I’ll go for it!

I clicked on the screen the available tickets. (You had to hover the mouse over each section to see what was left.) Holy cow!! There was like almost nothing left with 4 seats together (it would be me, Pam, Andrew and Clara… Kandace had to work). Okay, okay, Kevin…take your time…BUT DON’T TAKE YOUR TIME because the TICKETS ARE SELLING OUT IN FRONT OF YOUR SLOW-MOVING EYES!!! HURRY!!!!!

You know how sweat can pop out on your upper lip in times of stress… Yep…I felt it. Then it hit me! “Does Pam even want to go!” Oh no! She’s not home from church yet…I’ll call her!

Hey honey… Do you want to see the Heels play Friday afternoon in Charlotte. Hurry!

She replied: “What? This Friday? Well, uh…I don’t know…I guess… Uh…do you want me to go? How much are the tickets? Do you just want to go with Andrew and Clara…you know Kandace has to work.”

YIKES!!!! (The section I was looking at with four tickets together just disappeared.)

“Oh honey”… I said, “Just make a decision, please. Either way is fine with me.”

Pam said, “I’ll be home in about 2 minutes and we can talk about it.”

I said, “Uh…Okay…bye.” (Big mistake!!!)

I should have settled it then and there, but I was in panic mode and I heard “2 minutes” and I thought, “Oh, that’s not long!” BUT, IT WAS! That’s forever! I just watched another section disappear. It’s nose-bleed city now! And can I even find four tickets together. Oh…oh…oh…wait…there’s a section with three tickets. Section 218, Row C, seats 1, 2 and 3. I thought, “I don’t think she really wants to go, because she would have probably jumped on the chance when we were on the phone.” Uh…oh…oh…the row below it just had two more seats disappear. YIKES!!! THESE THREE ARE GOING TO GET GONE TOO!”

So, I clicked those three seats and I hit: BUY! (I had already punched in my credit card number and details while talking to Pam! Can you believe it…I was actually multi-tasking… Can you imagine that… A man doing two things at the same time! Impossible! But, I did it. Of course you ladies do 9 things at once, but I’m not a lady!) I’m feeling pretty good about myself. Counting taxes and the surcharge fees, the total was $187. Indeed, I’m feeling pretty good!

And then Pam walks in the door.

I said, “Hey Honey…I got me, Clara and Andrew tickets for the game.”

You did?

Yes…man they were going fast!!

Did you get one for me?

Huh…what? Did I get one for you?

Yes, I think I probably need to go with you because you’ll probably get lost or lose one of the kids. (No joke…that’s what she said to me. Can you believe that? 🙂 Well, don’t think bad of Pam…because she’s right! Any of those things could happen. Remember, I’m a one-track mind. I did leave one of my kids on a mission trip at the church we were working at one time. I also left both Katy and Kandace’s luggage for a mission trip one time too. So, yes…Pam is right to worry about her doofus husband. 🙂 )

I said: “Uh…Okay…Yes, I’m going to make sure I have tickets for all four of us.”

You know that sweat-thing…on the top of the upper lip. Yep, it’s back!

I slinked off down the hall with my cell phone. I was dialing Customer Service to the ticket company as I walked. They answered quickly and I told them my dilemma and the lady (named “Precious”… No joke…that was her name. Try saying that to someone and not be sarcastic. Try it. It’s hard. :)) I said, “Precious, I need your help. I’ve got three tickets to Session 1 of the NCAA Tournament in Charlotte on Friday, but I need four. Is there any way you can help me. I know they are going fast. I was just watching the disappear online.” She said, “Yes, I think I can help you.”

I said, “Can you cancel the first three and get me four more…even if they are in the top of the arena.” (Because I thought that would be the only place left). It’s 9 pm by now.) She said, “Well, I can’t cancel your first three, but I can transfer you to someone else in Customer Service and they can help you with canceling those tickets. Yes…I have found four together in Section 221, Row K, seats 7, 8, 9, 10. Do you want them?”

“Yes ma’am! Get ’em before they get gone!” I replied.

“Okay sir, do you want me to use your credit card off the first order?”

“Yes, ma’am! Hit the button, please!” (I was nice…but, yes…I’m sure a bit panicky.) I said, “Precious (man that’s hard to say that to someone and not be sarcastic)…Precious…please hit the button on this…because I’ve told my kids I’m taking them to see Carolina…so, yes…go!”

Precious did it! Yes!

“They are yours sir!”

Woohoo!!! Cartwheels! Well, not really! I can’t do a cart-wheel. But, I was REALLY happy!

I replied, “Okay, thanks Precious!” (Are you laughing yet?) “Can you get me over to the other folks to cancel the other tickets?”

“Sure, Mr. Brown…one moment.”

Well, Precious transferred me over and I cancelled the tickets, right? WRONG! Remember, I told you this was an ordeal. I get on the phone with this lady who says, “Mr. Brown, because you ordered the tickets online, there is a no refund policy. You had to click that box to order the tickets.”

WHAT?

She said, “Yes, Mr. Brown, that’s the box that authorized the ticket purchase.”

Well, folks in the blur of my multi-tasking…I didn’t read that little box with 8 point font… I just clicked it because I WAS IN A HURRY! Bad mistake! The lady told me all they could do was give me 50% off a future ticket order. UGH!! I don’t NEED ANY MORE TICKETS! 🙂

The truth is: this is what happens when you get into a rush. This is what happens when you don’t have time to talk things through so you can make a wise decision. Honestly, ever time in my life where I’ve had to hurry or rush to make a decision…it’s usually a poor decision.

So, I’m stuck with three tickets. Well, okay then! When you are in a bind…what do you do? Go to Facebook! 🙂 No, not really. I did pray first…and then Facebook came to mind. “Who wants to see the Heels play…private message me and I’ll set you up…first come, first serve.” Well, within 2 minutes I had a guy from Salisbury interested. Then I had a couple of more “dings” right after that. But, remember, it’s first come, first serve. So, I told the guy from Salisbury, “Let me know ASAP.” He eventually came back and said, “He couldn’t get it worked out.” So, I went to the next on the list. She said, “I’ll take them.” I knew her. In fact, I had gone to school with her and I thought, “Cool…this is all going to work out.”

I told Pam what had happened and apologized for pulling the trigger too quickly and not waiting to talk to her. She was kind and said, “It’s okay. I know you were trying hard to get the tickets. It will work out.” I thought so too. Here’s an old school-mate and this will be fine!

I was wrong. Back and forth I went with this lady to try to meet up. It was one excuse after the other. But, since I knew her, I thought I’d try to make it work. This went on for the next three days, until finally on Thursday night, she cancelled. I couldn’t believe it! What an ordeal! I need that $187 for the food and the gas to go down there. Folks, I’m a preacher…I’m not rolling in the dough. 🙂 So, I checked back with a couple of other folks who had shown interest, but it was too late in the game. The games were the next day, after all.

So, I told Pam, “Honey, I’ll just have to sell them at the game.” I then made me a little sign that said, “Selling 3 Tickets.” I folded it up and stuck it in the back pocket of my blue jeans. I’ll be ready tomorrow!

Down to Charlotte we went. We got to the parking lot at 11:15 am. People were buying tickets everywhere. A man with a gold tooth walked up to me and said, “You got any tickets for sale?” I said, “Yes, I have three as a matter of fact.” He said, “What you want for them?” I said, “I’m selling them for $150, even though I paid $187 for them… I’m just trying to get rid of them and give someone a good deal.”

Now, remember, this guy has a gold tooth and I’ll be honest. Just by the way he was dressed and the way he was acting… He was a hustler! He had a buddy beside of him on the phone and they were scalping tickets. I could tell. Also remember, I’ve got my family in tow and so, I’m thinking “Kevin…don’t get bogged down with these two dudes if they start giving you flack.” The guy says, “I’ll give you $100.”

“What! No way Brother!” I said. “I can sell them at the door for $150 easy! After all, I’ve not even made it out of the parking lot.” He said, “Come on man! Give me a break. Help me out!”

I said, “Look if you want them…they are $150…take it or leave it.”

By then, I’ve motioned for Pam and the kids to come on.

He said, “Come on Big Man…you can do it…uh…how about $120.”

No, $150.

“Gee big fella…you are making it hard on me! $140.”

Nope…$150…

“Expletive…” “Okay Big Guy, let me see the tickets.”

I showed him the tickets and he said, “These are on paper.” I said, “Sure they are. I printed them out on my printer.” He said, “Are they real?”

Okay…now I’m offended. I said, “Look dude…I’m a pastor and I’m not lying. I bought too many tickets and I’m trying to sell these…so either you want them or you don’t.” And then (this is funny). My lovely little wife in her high-pitched little voice says, “Uh…it’s true…He is a pastor.”

Both of the guys looked at Pam and their facial expression was priceless. But, it actually helped. The guy says, “Give me your number because if these ain’t legit I’m coming back to you.”

Now folks, do you think I would answer my phone if this guy called me in an arena of 28,699 people (the capacity of the Spectrum Center)? Uh…the answer would be: “NO!” But, being the man that I am…I gave his buddy my number and he quickly called it and I held up my phone and I said, “Is this you?” He said, “Yeah…that’s me!” I laughed and I said, “Great!”

Folks, this is comical by now. And the best part was the look on Clara and Andrew’s faces. They are taking all of this in and I’m telling you…the life lessons in the Preferred Parking outside the Spectrum Center were bouncing around everywhere! This is something they’ll never forget!

So, Mr. Goldtooth pulls out a $100 bill and two $20’s. And I thought to quickly say, “Hey, I’m not going to ask you if that $100 bill is real like you just asked me if my tickets were real. I’m going to trust you.” He said, “Here you go!” I said, “Wait a minute…that’s just $140!” (I’m still holding the tickets in my hand.) He then produced a $10 and two $1’s and sadly said, “Come on dude…won’t you give a man a break… I ain’t got no money to spend on nuthin’.” I said, “I’m sorry…that’s your problem…” and I took the $10 from his hand and gave him the tickets. He said, “I’ll be callin’ you if these ain’t legit!” I laughed and I said, “I promise you they are legit!”

What an ORDEAL!

But, I must tell you, as I look back on it…it was a good ordeal. I learned a lot and so did my kids. Like I said: the life lessons were thick in this deal. I showed my kids how to deal with someone who was trying to hustle me. I did it in a kind, but firm way and I showed them that you don’t have to be intimidated by the situation.

Here’s where we ended up:

Yep, nose bleed. But, not the worst by any means. And did we have fun?

We had a blast! The Heels won and we have a great story to tell about “The Ordeal.”

This week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “In Secular Morality: The Majority Wins.”

It’s how peer pressure influences people to lie. Would you lie to go along with the crowd? See what you think…

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytrM3A3bTV5P2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

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Hard Work!

“If a man won’t work, let him not eat.”

Is that in the Bible? Yes, it sure is!

It’s found in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3. Here’s the context:

10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13

Work.

How hard do you work? I’m sure you work hard. We all think we hard. And the truth is, the majority of people I know do work hard.

I was raised to work hard by parents who expected it and grandparents (on both sides) who expected it. From working in a chicken house, rolling a wheelbarrow loaded down with manure, to hoeing a garden in 95 degree heat, to weed eating around a million trees (well, maybe not a million). 🙂 Point is: I’ve never known anything but hard work and it drives me absolutely crazy when I see able-bodied people not working hard. When I see people with their hand stuck out, but that same hand will not wield a broom or a shovel, well…I struggle.

“If a man won’t work, let him not eat.”

Yes, it’s one thing if someone can’t work. But, it’s totally another thing if they’re faking it because they’re lazy.

Proverbs 10:4 A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

I’ve tried to teach these things to my children.

That’s the family walking back to the vehicles after another cleaning job. Yes, we’ve been cleaning offices for over a decade. Every week. 52 weeks per year for 13 years to be exact. We now take the grandkids. It’s amazing. When we started, we didn’t have Clara or Andrew. We clean toilets, windows, vacuum, sweep, dust…you name it. And it’s good for us! It’s good for the kids. It’s teaching work ethic.

The kids have chores at home and I bet yours do too. Chores are good and it teaches a good work ethic. The kids know how to wash clothes, load the dish washer, fold clothes, sweep, dust. You get it. We’re not running a Holiday Inn… We’re running a household and it takes everyone working to make the Brown and Isaacs Economies work.

At the end of the day…we reward the kids. We reward them with a good vacation. You know, Disney. It’s takes about 3 years of saving…but, boy…let me tell you something…we work hard…but, we play hard. It’s good to work…but, it’s good to play. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” You know that proverb, don’t you?

I also believe the way we work will be the way we live our relationships. If we are taught to work, we’ll work through problems in life. We’ll work through things that life throws at us and we’ll pray and with the Lord’s help we’ll overcome.

I’m thankful for work! I’m thankful that work wasn’t part of the curse. Adam worked in the garden naming the animals before the curse ever occurred. Did you know we’ll serve (work) in heaven? We sure will and it won’t feel like work. Here’s the verse I’m thinking of… It’s found in the last chapter of the Bible…

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. Revelation 22:3

You say, “Where’s the work?” Well, it’s the word “worship.” Did you know the Greek word used there is: latreuō.

What does it mean? According to blueletterbible.org:

  1. to serve for hire

  2. to serve, minister to, either to the gods or men and used alike of slaves and freemen

Folks, that looks like “work” to me. How about that? In fact the footnote in blueletterbible.org is this: in the New Testament, to render religious service or homage, to worship.

Therefore, when we work, we are actually “worshipping?” Isn’t that wonderful!! What a blessing to work!! What a joy to serve the Lord!!

Kevin

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That Look

Today is a day of LOVE!

Image result for image of valentine's day

What a wonderful day to celebrate LOVE!

Love. It’s the core of the Gospel. For God so LOVED the world that He gave… Yes, He gave. In His love for us God chose to give of Himself and come to die for us so that we might have eternal life. Wow! What a LOVE!!! That’s better than a card or chocolates in my book!

Love. The world is looking for love. It’s been said that the greatest emotion of the human heart is to love. “To love and be loved is the greatest emotion.” That’s what many say and I won’t argue with them.

I’m thankful for this lady, who loves me…

For 27 years, I’ve been blessed beyond measure to be married to this dear lady. But, marriage is work, friends. You know it is. Marriage takes time and effort.

It’s like growing a garden. If you aren’t intentionally weeding that thing, you’ll have problems. Marriage is no different. It takes intentional attention for a marriage to thrive. You have to water, nourish and care for the marriage or it will produce no fruit. But, this takes time. It takes time to talk. Time to communicate. Time to work through disagreements and misunderstandings. It takes time to plan and time to rest. Yes, rest. Rest in each other’s presence. Our problem is most of us don’t rest much. We go, go, go and then one day… Well, we look at each other and say, “Who are you?” We’ve spent all of our time working, paying bills, raising kids and paying the mortgage that we forget each other.

I’m grateful for Valentine’s Day, because at least the calendar forces us to LOVE. We’re forced by February 14th to slow down and LOVE. So, we buy cards, candy, flowers, go out to eat, etc. And that’s a good thing. But, we need to do more of that. And the truth is: I’m chief of sinners, on this front. But, what we can do is communicate (even if it’s late at night, if you have kids in the home). You’ve got to talk. Communicate. Don’t live in separate rooms…where she watches her stuff, while you watch yours. Put the phones down and talk to each other. Get off the gadgets and talk. Remember. Think back. Enjoy each other’s company the way you used to (back in the days before Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, etc.). Just look at each other.

I’m strange and you know that. But, sometimes I’ll look at Pam… I mean really look at her and I might even lovingly and softly place my hands on her cheeks and say, “Let me look at ya!” And she’ll blush and say, “Aw, you’re crazy!” And I’ll say, “No…come on…let me look at you…” And I’ll look into those beautiful eyes… eyes that aren’t as bright as they were 27 years ago…eyes that might even be staring back at with my glasses just below them on her nose. And I’ll say, “I love you Pam. Thanks for loving me and putting up with me.” And you know what…that’s a good thing. Sometimes even one of the children will see us doing that or see me kiss Pam on the cheek and the look on their face is priceless. What look? That look that says, “My Daddy loves my Momma.” That look. That look that says, “Daddy and Momma are going to be together for you all of my life.” That look. That look that says, “I’m confident in my parent’s love for each other.” For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death us part. Yes, that look!

I sure do love Pam and I sure do love these people, who came from the love that Pam and I have for each other:

Speaking of LOVE. This week’s Two-Minute Tuesday is about the new No-No in dating. Have you heard about it? Don’t ask them their last name. Yep, you heard that right. The new dating No-No is to ask your date their last name. Folks, you can’t make this stuff up. Watch…

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLyt0empyYmJwP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a picture of the grandkids…

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

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

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

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

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

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytrcGp0Y2ZqP2F1dG9wbGF5PXRydWUmYnJhbmRpbmc9dHJ1ZSZlbWJlZD10cnVl

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

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

Here’s what Kristie said:

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

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

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

Here’s what he said:

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

Powerful!!!

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

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

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

Here’s what Josh said:

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

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

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

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

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

Isn’t that wonderful! God is good!

Here’s what Kristen said:

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

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

Kevin

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Compel Them To Come

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

Yep, it’s snowing…

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was sitting in the back as we sang it.

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

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

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

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

http://subspla.sh/vwh4wyk

Kevin

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