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Archive for the ‘Family Life’ Category

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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Today was a big step back. You say, “Huh? A big step back?” Yep, a big step back toward the religious liberties and freedoms that this nation was founded on over 200 years ago. And yes, a BIG step back considering the last 8 years were simply catastrophic for religious freedom in America under the Obama Administration.

Today, President Trump signed a Religious Freedom Executive Order rolling back many of former President Obama’s  and his Administration’s policies that were nothing less than oppressive for Christians in Americans. A country founded by Christians, nonetheless.

Now, I really value what Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has to say on important issues. And so, I’m going to share with you the full report of today’s activities from Perkin’s report. Here it is. It’s worth a good read.

Congratulations Are in (Executive) Order!

May 04, 2017

It’s not just the National Day of Prayer. It’s the national day of answered prayer for many conservative Christians! After an eight-year war on faith, President Trump finally called a ceasefire on the conflict started by Barack Obama with an executive order on religious freedom. The measure, which was celebrated in a signing ceremony at the White House, was the fulfillment of one of the most significant promises made by the longshot candidate: “to preserve and protect our religious liberty.”

For evangelicals, whose support propelled Trump to a historic win last November, this was one of the most meaningful returns on that investment. Although the order didn’t make it in under the 100-day wire, the quickness of it showed just how committed this administration is to bringing the government back in line with the First Amendment.

Among other things, the directive checks another big box on the White House’s to-do list — lifting the gag order on churches and other nonprofits under the Johnson Amendment. Since the first days of his candidacy, Donald Trump has railed against the 60-year-old piece of tax code that liberals have turned into a club to punish pastors with. For too long, the Left has used the IRS to threaten the charitable status of churches who dared to speak out on the moral issues of the day.

Of course, the irony of this whole debate is that pulpits are free to do exactly that under the U.S. Constitution. It was only when liberals seized on this twisted interpretation of the Johnson Amendment that pastors came under fire for exercising their God-given rights. To the phony claim that churches would somehow turn into mini-PACs, the White House was clear: “Nobody is suggesting that churches are allowed, or it’s legal, for tax-exempt organizations to take out ads endorsing candidates. That’s illegal now,” said an administration spokesman. “We’re not changing what’s legal, we’re not changing what’s illegal…” Instead, the nation’s tax agency is directed to use “discretion” in enforcing the language named after JFK’s successor.

Medical professionals, charities, businesses, and even nuns who’ve suffered under the outrageous mandate of Obamacare will finally have the relief they need to say no to insurance coverage that violates their conscience. After years of court battles, they’ll be free from regulatory harassment of including contraception and abortifacients in their health care plans. But that’s not all the order does. It sets in place a multi-step process that will provide some long-overdue protections by directing the Attorney General Jeff Sessions to develop guidelines for every federal agency to ensure they protect and promote religious freedom. This includes members of our military, who, under the Obama administration, have been systematically silenced and even purged. Men and women like Chaplain Wes Modder (U.S. Navy-Ret.) and Monifa Sterling, who stared down the ends of their careers for their deeply-held beliefs, can finally come out of hiding and live out their faith openly.

Finally, for our friends like Barronelle Stutzman and Don Vander Boon, who’ve suffered for their biblical views on marriage, there’s hope. As President Trump said, “No American should be forced to choose between the dictates of the federal government and the tenets of their faith,” President Trump told those of us gathered in the Rose Garden for today’s ceremony. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore,” the president said. “We will never ever stand for religious discrimination.”

Thanks to this White House, the open season on Christians and other people of faith is coming to an end. And Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) looks forward to building on White House’s progress. “On this National Day of Prayer, I commend the Trump administration for taking action and will continue to make fighting for religious liberty a top priority of my speakership.” As we work with the Trump administration to address the problems created by Obama, it’s that they understand the dangers of the anti-freedom policies of the last administration. But, more than that, they’re committed to undoing those policies and restoring true religious freedom for everyone.

This step today starts the process of reversing the devastating trends of the last decade to punish charities, pastors, family-owned businesses, and honest, hard-working people simply for living out their faith. On behalf of FRC and the hundreds of thousands of families we represent, we offer our deepest thanks to the president and look forward to assisting him in returning America to the land of the free.


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

Now, there will be some who say that Trump didn’t go quite far enough with his order today. Some would have liked to have seen him go further. The National Organization For Marriage was one such group. They said:

President Trump has repeatedly promised that he would do everything in his power to protect the religious liberty of people of faith and faith-based groups. It was a major factor in his election. However, an executive order he signed today, while containing some helpful provisions for pastors and religious medical providers, falls far short of what is needed to protect people of faith from governmental persecution set in motion by the Obama administration. Instead, he has punted the issue to the Department of Justice which, he says, will develop new rules to protect the religious liberty rights of people and groups. 

Now, I don’t disagree with the NOFM. It’s true that the Department of Justice is going to weigh in on the future of “religious liberty” in this nation. But, I believe Attorney General, Jeff Sessions will handle things MUCH differently than Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch did. Don’t you?

Bottom line for me today this is where I’m at with all of this… Truly, I know that this is not a perfect world and so you take what you can get. For me, I’m so thankful that we’ve taken a step in the right direction. Yes, we’ve taken a step “back” toward our Founding Fathers and why we were established as a nation in the first place.

I feel exactly the same way about the repeal and replacement of ObamaCare. It’s not a perfect bill that the House is sending to the Senate and I promise you that it won’t look the same once the Senate gets done with it. (I really believe the Senate can make it better.) But, again…I’ll take what I can get.

For me, Neil Gorsuch, as our new Supreme Court Justice was a win as well! If Clinton had been in office, I can’t begin to even imagine what kind of judge we’d have had on the highest court in the land for the next (potentially) 20-30 years.

By the way, I laughed when I saw how CNN covered the events of the day. They hate and I mean HATE President Trump with a vitriol that’s truly amazing!

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 2.40.57 PM

“At last, a victory for Trump.” You gotta love the “At last” part. Makes me laugh. And then look to the right for the “Top Stories.” See the third story down where it says: “Trump signs order to allow more politics into the pulpit.” Oh come on! What a joke! That’s not the tone and tenor of the Executive Order at all! We’re not talking about bringing politics into the pulpit, we’re talking about a pastor not being targeted by the IRS because he speaks the truth from God’s Word. Truly, if Clinton had gone into office, I’m convinced my time as a “free” pastor would have been severely limited.

Let me return to ObamaCare for a moment. For me, (because of ObamaCare), I chose to save the church money and drop my “grandfathered” insurance plan from when I started pastoring (11 years ago) and go with a higher deductible (much higher in fact). (Let me say this…I’m blessed to have the insurance plan I have. I’m very grateful to MPBC for the plan I have.) But, my beef has been because of ObamaCare.

You see, because of ObamaCare, according to a letter I received from Guidestone Financial Insurance Company, they said they had to raise the premiums on the old plan I had by almost 25%. Why? Because of ObamaCare and the need to cover all of the Americans that would receive free insurance through the “Government Exchanges.” So, we dropped the plan several levels to compensate for that potential increase.

Well all would have been find, but Pam popped her ACL in China on a Mission Trip and the subsequent surgery, rehab and medical bills cost us over $12,000 out-of-pocket, when all was said and done. I guess I shouldn’t write that in the past tense, because we’re still making payments. Five of them to be exact, each month (to the tune of a nice-sized house payment).

So, do I have some animosity that’s built up in me over the last 8 years? You bet ya! And, I’ve had to pray a lot for a heart of forgiveness and surrender to the Lord. Therefore, the things that have happened today on this annual “National Day of Prayer” have not only been answers to prayer, but also some giant steps “backwards” to what we had in this nation prior to 8 years ago. And if you ask me, those steps are HUGE steps forward!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday (TMT)- “Which One Do You Believe? Both Take Faith.”

http://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/tuzosfm

Kevin

PS…I’m going to be taking a few days to unplug with my family next week. It’s time for a vacation break to recharge and refresh. There’ll be no TMT or Blog next week. Pastor Dale and Caleb will be covering the Devotions for me next week.

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Good Friday

Caleb hit the nail on the head for what this day means. It’s “Good” Friday. What’s good about it? See below…

Happy Easter to you all!

Why We Can Call the Worst Friday ‘Good’

Today is undoubtedly the worst day in human history, and certainly on the Christian calendar.

Today is the day that we observe the brutal injustice and suffering that

Jesus endured.

Nothing else can match it. No war, no famine, no assassination, and no collapse. Not even human trafficking, genocide, or slavery.

Jesus’ suffering was more unfitting than any suffering ever endured on this earth. The injustice He endured, and embraced, was incomparable because his glory and holiness was insurmountable.

Jesus was perfect. He showed love when it was needed, and discipline when it was fitting. He was self-controlled, compassionate, humble, and full of love. A great teacher, and a meaningful friend and mentor. In every way, Jesus was holy, perfect, and glorious.

Yet, we crucified him. We flayed his body on a wooden stake. We plucked out His beard. We whipped him with shards of glass and shrapnel. We drove thorns into his skull. Then we made him carry the tool that would be used for His most cruel torture across the city to the place where His body would endure a pain none of us will ever know.

Still yet, Jesus remained perfect. Despite being spit at, betrayed, mocked, and jeered He responded with a compassion that is beyond our comprehension. He continued to hope and work towards our Salvation through His life… And, now through His death.

How can we call such a terrible Friday ‘good’?

That is precisely why, that both in life and death Jesus was securing our salvation… and His glory. But, it was through His death specifically that our justification was won, and our ransom paid.

Romans 5: 6-10

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

That is why we can call this Friday- Good Friday. Because this is the day

in which we observe the God Man, Jesus Christ, endure the suffering required to win our salvation, so that we might receive the most undeserving grace ever imaginable.

We call it “good” because we are now Sons and Daughters of the King.

We call it “good” because we can now have hope in an eternity with our Savior. We call it “good” because sins that we do not have the power to justify were justified eternally on the Cross. We call it “good” because we have been reconciled, despite our sins, to the God of the universe. We call it “good” because His wrath was transformed into adoption on the Cross of Christ.

We ought to call it “adoption Friday”, because today is the day we were adopted by the Creator of the World, in the most scandalous display of love imaginable.

This is a glorious and simple truth, that only Jesus could make such a horrible day so good.

So, what remains? What do we do on this day, and every day, to celebrate this worst of days turned good?

WE CELEBRATE… but not through parties, or costumes, or silly displays of excitement.

We celebrate this day through worship, not only upon this day but every day we live this life. We celebrate through the way we live. And, we celebrate by rejoicing in Christ, by finding our sole satisfaction in Him.

Philippians 3: 1;7-11

1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. 

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

That is how we honor this day, because the worst of Friday’s was made ‘good’. Because the worst of sinners were made ‘good’ in God’s eyes.

Caleb

This week’s “Two-Minute Tuesday:” What Are Male and Female: XY and XX

http://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/cqwuxnd

Makes perfect sense to me! 🙂

Kevin

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I wanted to make everyone aware of our Schedule for the “Renewing the Family Conference” this Friday and Saturday night (6:00-8:30 pm) and Sunday morning (all services, 8:20, 9:40, 11 am) here at MPBC. We are super excited about all the Lord is going to do!

Here’s a tentative line-up so that you can plan.

Friday Night:

Session 1: “From Hell to Eternity”-Phil’s Story of combat in Vietnam (this will NOT be guts and gore and okay for children) to coming home and almost destroying His marriage, and how Susy, his wife, learned to love him again.

Session 2: “Making Your Marriage Even Stronger.” Even if you have a good marriage, there are areas that could be improved. Phil’s wit and humor will bring great encouragement in this session.

Saturday Night:

Session 1: “Resolving Conflict and Bringing Comfort to the Home.” We all struggle with busy, hectic, pressure-filled lives. So do our children. Even they feel it. This session will help to bring balance and practical Scriptural application of how to have a peaceful home.

Session 2: ““What To Do When One of Your Children Goes Crazy Wrong!” Just because you have adult children doesn’t mean you stop being their parents. In fact, it’s as they get older, they will come to lean on you and value you even more. What do you do when one goes off the rails?

Sunday Morning (All Three Services):

“Moving From Pain and Anger to Healing and Discipleship within the Home.” The process of family is never easy because we are all fallible humans. Yet, there is hope for experiencing love, nurture and joy for those we love the most. Then there is the next step of discipling (even older children) and even one another (in our marriages), even if that means you are an empty-nester. 

Phil serves as President of Discipleship Network of America. The ministry is instrumental in winning, teaching, encouraging and discipling others to become disciple makers in their work, marriage, family, neighborhood, and church.

Phil is a popular national speaker at men’s events and speaks to all branches of the U. S. military. He has been featured twice on Focus On the Family. He is the author of Eternal Impact: Investing in the Lives of Others, A Father’s Reward – Raising Your Children to Walk in the Truth, Optimize Your Marriage, Just An Ordinary Man: Principles of Godly Leadership, Brave, Strong, and Tender. He is a former machine gunner who served in Vietnam with the United States Marine Corps in 1967-1968. Phil has degrees from SMU and Emory University School of Law. Phil was a successful lawyer as senior partner of a 50-attorney law firm. Phil is on the Steering Committee of the National Coalition of Men’s Ministries, a former elder of his church.

I’m really excited about all the Lord is going to do! I just got a reply back on Facebook from a lady who has seen Phil and experienced one of his conferences, like I have. She said this:

Cindy Plotts DiMarco I have had the rich privilege of hearing him speak. Everyone that goes is in for a huge blessing!!!

Amen Cindy!

Come join us folks!

Kevin

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I can’t juggle. Can you?

I’ve tried many times. I just can’t do it! I’m amazed at those who can. But, I am learning to juggle in my role as a Shepherd. It’s taken me years to figure it out and to actually be able to do it. But, I’m thankful to the Lord that I’ve learned (somewhat). What do I mean?

Last Sunday we had almost 700 people attend our three services. The week before we had over 650. That’s a lot of people for three pastors. So, how do we juggle all of the people? VERY CAREFULLY. 🙂 Truly, the thing that many people don’t realize about a church our size is assimilating all of the new people.

We have an informal time where we bring folks in (who want to join the church) and we talk to them about their lives and about the church. In fact, here is the full run-down of that meeting:

MPBC Prospective New Member Meeting with Elders/Pastors

Questions for You:

  1. What brings you to MPBC? Tell us your story?
  2. Tell us about your Salvation Experience (You must be saved to join.)
  3. Have you been baptized by immersion? (You must be to join the church.)
  4. What do you believe about the Bible? (divinely inspired, inerrant Word of God)
  5. What do you believe about Jesus? Is He the only way to Heaven? (yes)
  6. What is your position on the Lordship of Jesus Christ? (Can a person take Jesus as Savior without taking him as Lord? The answer is: No.)
  7. Do you have a daily “quiet time” or “devotion time” with the Lord where you pray and read the Bible?
  8. What do you believe God has gifted you to do in His Kingdom’s work?
  9. What do you believe your level of commitment will be as a new member?
  10. Is there anything in your life right now that would be a detriment to the kingdom of God regarding your current lifestyle that needs to be confessed or repented of at this time?

About MPBC:

  1. History of church, been here since 1875 in the Reach Center since 2006
  2. Leadership Structure: Elders/Pastors (multiple elders/pastors to lead)
  3. Worshipful music through Praise Team and choir, which leads us to experience God’s presence and power in our lives (See Pastor Brad)
  4. Expository Preaching (verse by verse) Acts 2:42 (We want you to learn and be equipped)
  5. Our Goal: Equip the Saints for works of ministry. Ephesians 4:11, 16 (equip the saints for ministry, each member has a ministry) We are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20)
  6. Keep it Simple: We aren’t so interested in plugging people into a building and programs as we are plugging you into your family and community. GO and make disciples… (Matt 28:19-20)
  7. We Worship as a Family…we worship as a family (no children’s church/youth groups) The Bible teaches everyone is together in the meeting “ecclesia.” There is no Scriptural evidence that the family was ever separated during the ecclesia. That’s a modern invention of convenience, but it’s not Biblical.
  8. Rite of Passage (ROP)-Raise the Bar for our Young Adults. Give them a job, apprentice…Mentoring Class, kitchen duty, AV, choir, mission work, services, church-wide functions. We want your entire family to be a part of what we do. We don’t entertain children; we INVOLVE them.
  9. Bible Studies: Sunday Mornings-please plug-in for the fellowship and accountability
  10. Mission-minded-Local: Passion Play, Flag Football League (FFL), Movie Nights, VBS, Sportsmen Banquet, Trunk or Treat. Global: Weslaco, TX and Mexico, Philippines, China and beyond.
  11. Contribute: We expect and desire for you to contribute to the church in your time, talent and treasure (10% is a wonderful goal), but we don’t tell you what that is. God will. We don’t want you to just fill a chair. We want you to be involved in YOUR church.
  12. Service times: Wed. 5:15 meal, 6:30 Service, 6:30 Children’s classes (birth through 5th grade), Choir Practice 7:30, Praise Team 8:30 pm, Sunday Worship Services- 8:20 am, 9:40 am and 11:00 am. SS/Bible Study 9:40 am.
  13. Picture: We’d love the opportunity to have your picture for our reference as a staff and for our Deacons. We’ll do this following this meeting if you don’t mind.

How to join:

  1. Move your church letter from another church of like faith
  2. Upon your Statement of Faith (and previous baptism by immersion)
  3. Baptism by immersion (you must be baptized by IMMERSION to join the church)

That’s not too bad is it? I joke with folks and I tell them that sitting through this 45 min to an hour meeting is not as bad as getting a root canal. Ha! 🙂 But, seriously, it’s a wonderful time to sit down and get to know people. Because we want to know the people who are joining the church, right? Of course! We are confident about the majority of folks who join the church (we have some knowledge of them prior to joining), but we have had the occasion where we don’t know folks as well and we want to make sure we understand their theology and that they understand ours. One of the jobs of a shepherd is keeping wolves out of the flock. Again, we take this seriously. Most churches don’t, to be honest. They’ll let anybody join at any time and that can be dangerous.

The next step is to get the new folks plugged into the body life of the church and often this ends up leading to some more discussions and even some counseling. Now, that’s where the juggling comes in. We’ve been blessed to add over 200 people over the last 3 years and that’s a TREMENDOUS amount of time and discussion. It’s hard to describe the time that’s required. That’s why we’ve had to set up some protocol on talking with folks. Why? Because it was totally monopolizing our time and we couldn’t get to everything else. It was hard to find time to study and write sermons, devotions, get to the hospitals, rest homes, etc.

Something that I’ve learned through the years is the fact that the “tyranny of the urgent” doesn’t have to rule our lives. It’s so easy to do that. We’ve had to clarify what an emergency really is. What is an emergency? Can I be blunt? There is no way that we can handle close to 700 “immediate needs.”

So, what is an immediate need? Really just two things. (1) you’re going to the hospital that requires an overnight stay. (2) a death in your family. Those are the two things that we will try to drop everything and get to immediately…no matter what. Outside of that, a person will have to wait. Yes, wait. I know many folks have needs, but usually their situation didn’t pop up overnight and so we’ve had to schedule times with folks so that we can have somewhat of an appropriate and sustainable work/life balance. Without question, we want to care for our congregation and support our staff in maintaining a good balance.

During the week, we counsel on Monday afternoons, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. A member can contact our church and set-up a time with one of the pastors/elders. These are 1-hour long times. If more counseling is needed, another appointment can be made. Often, I will ask people to prepare before they come by giving them Scripture to read or some homework that will prepare them for the meeting. This prepares them spiritually. It allows the Lord to begin to work in their lives. I also tell people that I’m not a miracle worker and I try to minimize and bring down their expectations so that they’re not disappointed if things in their lives don’t change overnight (because they usually don’t).

I’ve had to learn that I’m not Jesus and I can’t fix every problem or anyone for that matter. It’s a God thing. Something else I’ve learned is the fact that having people make an appointment and wait (when it’s not truly an emergency) gives them time to prepare, pray and think and it does me, as well. It’s like making a doctor’s appointment and you bring your medicines and you think through all the things you want to tell him/her and you are prepared and ready for that appointment. The same is true spiritually. We believe this model is healthy and sustainable as we grow and move forward as a congregation. Believe me…it’s a juggling act…but, I’m getting better at it!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute-Tuesday about “What is Love?”

http://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/vxklcz8

 

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