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Archive for the ‘Family Life’ Category

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Precious!!

Here’s one of my favorite pictures…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One last picture…

Dole whip! Such fun!!

Kevin

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My Help Comes From…

Where does your help come from? The Psalmist said:

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

Mine comes from the Lord. But not always. Why? Because sometimes I don’t turn to Him. I turn to myself and that’s when I get weak. Does that ever happen to you? You are a believer in Christ, and you know that He is the One who will provide your strength. But it’s easy to look to our devices, isn’t it? When we do that, it’s almost like getting pounded by a hurricane. I was thinking about these past two hurricanes: Harvey and Irma. Man, did they beat up Texas and Florida. Pounding… Rain… Wind…

The truth is for me and my family, we’re going to try again to go on vacation to Florida. Yet, we might get run out by Hurricane Jose. Many of you know, last week we couldn’t go because of Irma. But, we’re going to try it again. Lord willing, we’ll leave later today. I’m SO ready for some rest and relaxation. This last couple of weeks has been so up and down with the weather and many different circumstances that after a while, it all just wears on you. You know how that is. You are ready to “do this thing.”

Life has a way of beating you like waves on a shore line. It’s the constant beating that wears you out. It was like watching Mike Bettes of the Weather Channel enduring the eye wall of Hurricane Irma last Sunday afternoon. I was tired for him.

I was so glad when the eye wall finally passed…

Have you been there in your life? Sure you have! We all have. You get to a place that you say, “Lord, I need a respite. I need a break.” Those who have been caregivers for sick loved ones know this so well. Weeks and months that turn into years can really pound a soul. I pray for those I know in those situations. The Lord will sustain and we are incapable of outrunning His mercy and grace.

I love Psalm 121 and it provides the insight I often need to set my mind and my spirit back on course.

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

I’m so thankful for the Lord’s strength and help. I’m so grateful for times of rest and I’ve learned that you better get them where you can and when you can, because you never know if you’re going to get hit by another hurricane. But, even then, the Lord is with us and He is our keeper and He is our fortress and help in times of trouble.

I’ll be back with you on September 25th. 🙂

Kevin

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

Remember that old cheer?

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

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

I was saved as a ten-year old boy.

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

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

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

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

What do you read?

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

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

Kevin

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

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FaithFest, Hurricanes, Florida

What a week! FaithFest was absolutely fantastic! To say that it was a success would be an understatement. The Wilkes Journal Patriot covered it here: http://www.journalpatriot.com/news/a-festival-based-on-faith/article_6c6a3010-8cb9-11e7-b683-03ae475c9443.html

To think that little ole Wilkes County could host a festival like this was amazing! Crowd estimates were around 8,000 people! Wow! For the first year that’s tremendous!! Truly, some of the best Christian artists in the country were on the stage at Wilkes Community College Saturday. The Gospel was preached and lives touched for all eternity! Now, I’m a bit biased because this was the vision of my brother-in-law Craig Church of Craig Church Ministries: https://craigchurchministries.org. Craig had a vision and the Lord saw it through! Our local businesses followed that vision and made it happen! Praise the Lord for Christian businessmen and businesswomen who love the work of the Lord and His kingdom and used their businesses as a conduit for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. https://faithfestnc.com/#sponsors

I must say I am biased in another way too. Kandace was one of the singer/musicians!

Man was I nervous. I tried not to let her know that I was, but I was. I was 10 times more nervous for her than I ever am when I’m in front of a large crowd. I guess that has to do with being a parent. Yes, I’m biased, but she did a fantastic job! You can watch a piece of her set here: https://www.facebook.com/johnlewismusic/videos/1874883719195555/ and here: https://www.facebook.com/FaithFestNC/videos/699993226838023/.

My favorite photo of Kandace was from Carly Blevins…

I love the smile! That’s joy! She had prayed and prepared and the Lord used my girl. I write this with a lump in my throat! I love you Kandace and I praise the Lord for your willingness to allow your life as a 19-year old young lady to be used for the kingdom! I thank you for being willing to stand for the things of Christ in a world that doesn’t necessarily revere the things of Christ as it once did. I thank you for being willing to put yourself on the line for Jesus! And “Thank you Lord! I’m so grateful for my girl.” As the Apostle John said: “I have no greater joy than to see my children walking in the truth.” 3 John 4.

Next year it’s looking like FaithFest might be a two-day event. Friday evening and Saturday. That would be tremendous! Thanks Craig and to all who made it happen! I’m really thankful too for our church, MPBC, that participated with so many workers, volunteers and helpers! Everywhere I looked I saw MPBC people working!

Speaking of working. There is so much to be done in Houston and the surrounding towns. It will literally take years to rebuild. My heart and my wallet goes out to those folks. I encourage you to consider helping our neighbors in Texas and I know of no better group to do that through than our own Samaritan’s Purse. https://www.samaritanspurse.org/disaster/hurricane-harvey/?utm_source=HurricaneHarvey2017Email1&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=m_YHHR-17E1&utm_content=Donate_Button

Did you see there is another one brewing in the Atlantic? It’s already been named: Irma. And she’s a powerhouse. She’s already a category 3. And wouldn’t you know it… Right now she’s headed for Florida.

Yes, she could go north and out to sea or even into the Gulf of Mexico. Let’s pray she goes north and curves out to sea. I’m praying that for our country and I’m praying that for my family. We’re heading to Florida at the end of next week for vacation and I’d really like NOT to have to come home early.

Here’s this week’s TMT: “The Envelope Please.”

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/wt4bctq

Kevin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For by grace

are you saved

through faith,

and that not of yourselves. 

It is the gift of God,

not of works,

lets any man should boast.

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

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

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

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

Laughing, we parted ways. 

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

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

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

 

 

 

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When I was a little boy I loved going to the grocery store with my whole family. (You know I’m a bit strange…so, this shouldn’t surprise you, even though it does sound a bit kooky!) Yep…me, momma, Dad and Kim. We’d all go to the Lowe’s Foods in West Park Shopping Center (where the YMCA Express is now).

Now why is this something I tell you? Because it’s one of my fondest memories as a kid. (No I’m NOT kidding.) Why? Because it was such a peaceful and enjoyable thing to do. We’d go on Saturday mornings and I kid you not, almost every Saturday I’d hear this song playing throughout the grocery store.

That song: “Last Dance,” by Floyd Cramer is imbedded in my brain. I heard it last week while I was with my family in Nashville at the Fine Arts Music Camp (FASA) at Lipscomb University when I heard one of the students play it. Immediately, I was transported back 40 years to Lowe’s Foods and riding on a grocery cart, shopping with my family. Wow! What memories. Isn’t it amazing what music can do?

I loved the fact that our family was together, because we lived such busy lives. It seemed that this was one of the places and times where we were together and just enjoyed: well…buying food and listening to Floyd Cramer.

What do you remember as a child? What memories do you have? Is music attached? Perhaps? It’s interesting if you ask children about what they like to do. It’s often got little to do with spending a lot of money. It could be catching fireflies. It could be watching a TV show together. It could be playing in the back yard. It could be reading together. It could be a lot of different things for sure…but, it’s fun to ask. If you have children in your home, you ought to ask them. What do you like doing together as a family?

I asked Clara and Andrew and they said they liked a number of different things. One of which was watching Carolina Basketball (that’s the truth…I’m not making this up) and going to the mountains and staying at a friend’s condo for a couple of days and swimming in a large indoor pool there and eating hot wings. I had no idea about either of those (for sure) until I asked.

Memories. Good stuff!

I made a bunch last week with Kandace and Clara and Andrew in Nashville. It’s become a tradition for our family to head west in July to Nashville. We’ve gone 8 out of the last 9 years. I enjoy the time as a place to allow my mind and my spirit to rest for a bit. Being a pastor is a 24/7 endeavor, and as long as there is a cell phone available, there is never a time when you are 100% off. The only time that ever really comes is when I’m out of the country. I’m not complaining, I’m just stating the facts and that’s sometimes hard. But, emergencies don’t wait. They come even when you are “out of pocket.” And that’s okay. You shouldn’t consider being a pastor unless you can handle this sense of duty.

Here’s some pictures from last week:

Here’s Kandace signing a James Taylor classic: “Lonesome Road” at the Grand Ole Opry.

To watch your children sing and play music is a phenomenal thing! I’m so grateful and thankful for the memories we’re making. And guess, what…FASA is part of our family tradition and likely always will be. And now songs, music and even food eaten in a Lipscomb dorm room are all rolled up together into fantastic memories that my children will one day tell their children.

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “What Does Your Teen Really Believe.”

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/mlhuy8q

Kevin

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It’s summer and it’s hot! It’s also really busy! For me this season of the year is loaded. From VBS to all the committee meetings, planning for the new year, budgeting, etc. And on top of that, we’ve had so much sickness and death in the church. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen in 12 years here. That’s how it goes. There are seasons of time for all of us. There are peaks and valleys. We all like the mountaintop experiences, but if you’ve ever climbed a mountain, you know you don’t stay on top long. You have to come down. But, the Lord is faithful and He sustains us in all things. You know that to be true don’t you. I sure do. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He’ll be with us until the end of time. Praise the name of Jesus!

I’m heading out for Nashville tomorrow. Kandace and Clara are once again involved in FASA (Fine Arts Summer Academy) at Lipscomb University in Nashville. The Academy is hosted by the Annie Moses Band. It’s a wonderful and busy time for them as they continue to polish and hone their singing and playing skills for the Lord.

I’m so proud of my children, (and I mean that in a non-boasting way). Quoting 3 John 4 says it all for me: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” No one’s kids are perfect, but I’m thankful for mine and for their talents and most of all for the fact that they have given their lives to the Lord and are seeking Him.

Katy wrote a blog post early this week that thrilled my heart. I’m glad Pam and I taught her at least one thing that was good. 🙂 Take a look…

THE LOST ART OF KIND GESTURES

There was a time when people stopped everything, even when it was completely inconvenient to come to the aid of a friend or an acquaintance or even a stranger. I’ve noticed since entering the world of adulthood that a lot of that mentality isn’t there like I thought it was. Interestingly – though not surprisingly – it seems that the older generation is the most likely to serve and sacrifice even when they know they won’t get anything in return.

In churches it’s most fascinating. Being completely honest, it’s amazing to watch millennials and some of generation X and their (our) lack of passion to be there for others. We are one way on social media… sweet and supportive in comments and statuses, hoping other will think that is how we are in real life. But are we?

My mom and dad tried to not only teach, but demonstrate a lifestyle of serving others. Sometimes I was on board and other times I was annoyed. I did not understand why I had to help mom clean up the house to have over company. I was too immature to realize it was a young couple coming over with their three young children, new to our church, looking for encouragement desperately. Mom was always organizing a children’s event at church, or directing a Christmas play, while dad was on the phone with a couple on the brink of divorce, sharing Scripture that would save their marriage. They had us working in the kitchen pouring drinks, making soup, delivering food to the elderly. We made our little allowances and were reminded to give out of them.

I say this not to brag, because many other families have done the same. It should be normal. Is it? Not really anymore. We say, “We just want to put our family first and if we have time we can give to our church and our community.” But one of the greatest ways to love our children is by helping them love others.

And my generation is the worst with the “consumer mentality.” We were raised to take the easy road and “find yourself” and do whatever is best for YOU. At the time it sounded like a nice idea, until all the bratty kids grew up. They’ll come to every event that’s free, but won’t lift a finger to volunteer. It’s easy to look godly and sacrificial on Facebook and in Instagram pictures, but when it’s ugly, dirty work that takes rolling up your sleeves and helping, serving, loving deeply… it’s not so glamorous. I remember a time when my favorite way to serve God was being on stage leading worship. I still enjoy it, but right now I get the greatest blessings out of doing the unseen. I never thought I would say that. This is something I’ll learn more about throughout my whole life, I’m sure.

I’m no master and who doesn’t like attention? We all do to some extent! But let’s take a step back and just learn to be generous again. So I encourage you, take the meal, send the note, hug the elderly lady. Do all the stuff no one sees, that you don’t get paid for. Great is your reward in heaven, but the feeling of pure joy down here is pretty great too. 

You’re 100% correct my dear daughter!!

You know I love statistics. I read this at Barna Research the other day. Not surprising…

Southern cities top the list of Most Churched Cities, but the fog of liberalism is drifting from the north and the west and we must continue to be on guard to teach and preach the truth of God’s Word, not man’s ways. See that here…

And to think that the northeast was where this nation started. It was in the northeast that we found the most dedicated Christians when this nation was founded. Are you curious what “Post-Christian” means? Well, here’s the metrics for the study by Barna Research:

Post-Christian Metrics
To qualify as “post-Christian,” individuals had to meet nine or more of the following factors . “Highly post-Christian” individuals meet 13 or more of the factors (out of these 16 criteria).

  • Do not believe in God
  • Identify as atheist or agnostic
  • Disagree that faith is important in their lives
  • Have not prayed to God (in the last week)
  • Have never made a commitment to Jesus
  • Disagree the Bible is accurate
  • Have not donated money to a church (in the last year)
  • Have not attended a Christian church (in the last 6 months)
  • Agree that Jesus committed sins
  • Do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”
  • Have not read the Bible (in the last week)
  • Have not volunteered at church (in the last week)
  • Have not attended Sunday school (in the last week)
  • Have not attended religious small group (in the last week)
  • Bible engagement scale: low (have not read the Bible in the past week and disagree strongly or somewhat that the Bible is accurate)
  • Not Born Again

My, oh my have things changed. Just look at what people now believe and consider “morally acceptable”…

I guess I was surprised to see that (according to Gallup), 69% of Americans believe it’s okay for their to be sex between an unmarried man and woman. Wow! 7 in 10 Americans believe that’s okay! Wow! And yet, according to Gallup, 78% of Americans say they are “Christian.” Folks, what kind of Christianity is that? It’s not Biblical Christianity. No! It’s a “make-it-up-as-you-go, please me” Christianity. And the winds of that kind of progressive liberalism and pagan viewpoint on God’s design for marriage has summarily destroyed the family in America.

But, Americans are messed up in what they think about God and the Bible anyway. Let me prove the point…

Folks, that’s almost half of Americans either AGREE STRONGLY or AGREE SOMEWHAT that all people pray to the same God. That means “all roads lead to heaven.” What a travesty for Jesus if that was the case. What a waste this was…

If all religions lead to “God,” then Jesus wasted His blood for nothing! Yet, all roads and all religions DO NOT lead to God, only Jesus does! Jesus said, “I am THE way, THE truth and THE life and NO ONE comes to the Father EXCEPT through ME!” John 14:6 (my emphasis added). Notice the article “the” that Jesus used. He didn’t use the article “A” before the words “way, truth and life.” And you know what? He proved He was the only one who could say that when He conquered death! The resurrection seals the deal, folks!

I did read an article by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council that I found interesting about “Faith in the White House.” See what you think…

http://www.frc.org/updatearticle/20170711/faith-whitehouse

July 11, 2017

Yesterday, I was invited to join about two dozen evangelical leaders from around the country at the White House for various briefings on a full range of issues which included the repeal of Obamacare, federal court appointments, foreign policy, Israel, and about a half-dozen other topics. The day-long meeting included time with both President Trump and Vice President Pence, concluding with prayer for them both in the Oval Office.

As I have stated before, I don’t agree with every decision or action by this administration, but I do agree with most — and I have found President Trump and the team he’s assembled to be genuinely interested and responsive to the concerns of the evangelical community. Trust me, after 14 years in this city, I am not naive to the ways of Washington, so it means something when I say that I am more optimistic that we (concerned Christian citizens) can change the course of this country and turn America back to the source of her greatness. To see this happen, we must not grow weary in well doing.

We must pray for our leaders, who are men and women with feet of clay, but many of whom have hearts after God. We must not be distracted or discouraged by the increasing volume of the media that has all but thrown off its disguise of objectivity. I never thought I would say this, as a former TV reporter that has defended the media, but DON’T TRUST THE MEDIA! Identify and rely on alternative, verifiable conservative news sources. FRC provides relevant and reliable information on timely topics, but you need more. A few other sources I trust are CNSNews.com, The Daily Signal, Todd Starnes at FoxNews.com, and The Washington Examiner. It is also critical, probably now more than ever, that you respond to our alerts as we work with the president’s team to drive forward a mutually beneficial agenda. Now is the time!


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Good advice!

Kevin

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