Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Family Life’ Category

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.

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

 

Read Full Post »

My Struggle-My Revelation

Sometimes people ask me: “What happened to you? What got hold of you to get you to where you are today?” Well, I wrote about it in my book titled: “Rite of Passage.” In case you’re interested, here you go:

My Struggle-My Revelation

As I begin to type the words to this chapter, I sit in my small office in my basement and I look around at it and its contents. It has a small desk, a chair, a book case and a filing cabinet. It has some Christmas wrapping paper, a few boxes and my golf clubs that haven’t been used in almost four years. My little office has a small table with an old fax machine on it and about a dozen, small, framed pictures of various members of my family. There is a picture of all the children when they were small. There’s a picture of my grandmother, who has gone to be with the Lord and another one of me and Pam when we were first married twenty years ago. There is also a picture of me singing with a quartet that I sang with for about ten years. As I look at those pictures and think about those days that are in my past and I think about where I am today, writing this book, I’m struck with a sobering thought: I can’t go back.

Have you ever had that thought? I guess we all have at one time or another. We know we can’t go back and relive another day. When the day is gone, it is gone. Knowing that is good and bad. There are so many things I wish I could go back and do over. We’ve all said it: “If I only knew back then what I know now.” What is it that I know now that I wish I had known back then? Honestly, it’s what I’m trying to write in the pages of this book. Yes, this book is entitled “Rite of Passage,” but it’s about so much more. For years as a husband, father, businessman, deacon, choir member, quartet singer, and member of several community groups, I found I was running wide open. I never seemed to have enough time to do anything well. I was trying to do it all. Here’s the problem with the way I was living: I was missing it!

In Chapter 3 I spent quite a bit of time sharing about the role of the church in helping families raise Christ-centered adults. We looked at many passages of Scripture and by now we should all realize that the responsibility of raising children falls to the parents, principally the fathers. Certainly, you can go back and review those passages found in Genesis 18:19, Deuteronomy 6:1-7, Psalm 78 and Ephesians 6:4 any time you would like. The point is clear: fathers are to be leading the way in discipling in our homes. The truth is that I wasn’t leading in my home even 10 years ago. I hate to admit it, but it is the truth. I was succeeding in everything except in being the spiritual leader in my home. What became crystal clear to me through several incidents and God-ordained experiences was the fact I needed to change or I would lose my family. Am I saying my wife was going to walk out on me and take the kids? Not necessarily, but I am saying I was in danger of raising children that would potentially never truly see a genuine, sincere faith in Jesus Christ. I was leaving this teaching to others because I was too busy to oversee it. I had been climbing the proverbial ladder of success and when I reached the top, I found that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.

Why am I taking the time to tell you all of this? Because I want you to know and understand that I am where I am today, in pursuit of building a Christ-directed life, by the grace and mercy of God. The whole idea of Rite of Passage is something that God has revealed to me gradually over the years and it has been a process for me. I didn’t just get here overnight. What I am providing in the pages of this book is a culmination of the last ten years of my life. Indeed, I have learned the hard way what the Bible teaches about leading in my home, and I’m still learning.

As I think back, I realize I wasn’t making disciples of my children because I didn’t understand what was involved. I thought if I got my family to church each Sunday and I served on a few committees and tithed, I had my bases covered. Yet, I knew there was more. But, what was it? Did I need to serve more or be more involved at the church or give more money? What was this nagging in my soul? Finally, I attended a conference where I was challenged as a man. I had never been challenged like this before in the spiritual realm. I had been challenged as an athlete, at the office and even in the studio recording a CD with a quartet, but never like this. The Scriptures opened my eyes to what I knew intuitively, but couldn’t quite grasp: I must truly become a disciple of Christ to make disciples. I must lead my home by dying to myself. I realized for the first time in my life that it was my job to disciple my children, not that of my wife, not the church, or anyone else. This was a life-changing experience for me that sent me on a journey that has since led me to some amazing places.

I can often be an open book about my life. Some may say that I’m too open. I guess that’s probably true, but I sincerely believe it’s important that you know where I’m coming from, particularly if you are a dad reading this book. Please hear my heart! I was a successful business man, had a good marriage and wonderful children. I had also been to the top of what most laymen would consider the pinnacle of Christian service. Yet, I wouldn’t trade anything for the way my wife and children look at me now. Something amazing happened in my life over a period of about nine months of soul-searching. The Lord transformed my thoughts, simplified my focus and challenged me to do what he created me to do. He had given me a passion for truly becoming a committed, dedicated disciple of Christ. My desires changed dramatically. God turned my heart toward my home and discipling my children.

Changed Perspectives

I knew that I was a Christian; however, there was a depth of commitment to Jesus Christ that I had never known before. I was living on the periphery of deep commitment. Yes, I was a believer and follower of Christ, but I thought, let’s not get crazy. We don’t want to go too deep with all of this, right? Yet, Jesus calls us to a radical lifestyle. He calls us to hunger and thirst for righteousness. He calls us to holiness and purity. That means I don’t watch garbage on TV and I don’t listen to ungodly music on the radio. Do you know what’s funny? I didn’t think I did either of those things, but actually, as I look back on it, I did. I was watching TV shows filled with sexual innuendo and bathroom humor, and I never thought anything about it. As I began to study the Bible, God revealed these things to me very clearly. I was listening to the same music everyone else was, yet it was filled with impure lyrics. Finally, my mind was opened to the truth of Scripture, such as Ephesians 5:3-4:

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

Not even a hint of sexual immorality. No obscenity. As I continued to read and study Scripture, as I never had before, I was challenged by passages I had heard all of my life, but now saw differently. For instance, Romans 12:1-2:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

I discovered I was to be a walking dead man. That’s what it means to be a living sacrifice. I learned I am to be holy. Yes, as believers we are called to be holy. But, I had excused away this whole idea by saying, “No one is perfect.” So, I didn’t even attempt to live a holy and righteous life. Don’t get me wrong. I was good, as compared to the worst “Christians” I knew; but being holy and righteous, only Jesus could embody those qualities. I had been deceived. So, many things changed in my home. This is not to say we had a home filled with overtly sinful things. We didn’t. As a family, we decided to do our very best to live a sacrificial life before the Lord. Therefore, TV shows, music and movie preferences changed.

I slowly began to untangle myself from the world and secular worldviews that had been filling my brain since childhood. I became a student of the Bible. I sincerely began studying the Scriptures. I replaced so much wasted time watching TV and surfing the internet with Scripture reading and just spending valuable time with my family. I learned that it is indeed true that you will never be any better in public than what you are in private. So, I had to sacrifice sleep in order to get up early, get into the Word and meet with Jesus. I came to realize that for years I had desired sleep more than I had desired being with the Lord. Over time, my walk with the Lord became so much sweeter and more relaxed. It’s difficult to describe in words, but I hope what I have shared helps you to understand what God was doing in my life.

Kevin

Read Full Post »

Respect

This is still one of my favorite pictures…IMG_1997

That’s Charlotte, my granddaughter craning her head to hear her Papa. What a beautiful example of children being in the church.

As I preach each week, people will say, “I’m sorry my child was making noise,” or “Sorry we had to get up and go to the cry room.” Honestly, I don’t notice any of it. And truly, I’m grateful that we have a church that’s okay with children in the meeting. Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” What a blessing!

I helped conduct a funeral yesterday and I was awed once again at the profound soberness when “Taps” is played to honor a soldier who defended our country. I know there is still the debate about whether or not it’s okay to not stand at the playing of the National Anthem, but I say, “Come on folks!” Yesterday, when I looked into the eyes of a woman who had been married to her husband for 59 years and a I saw a soldier hand her a folded American Flag as he knelt on one knee…well…let’s just say that I had a huge lump in my throat. It looked much like this:

ar-141209483-jpgmaxh400maxw667

At the funeral yesterday, I preached a message and included Psalm 15 (the “Psalm of Integrity,” as it is sometimes called). He had defended our nation in the Korean conflict and for that I was grateful. As the VFW Honor Guard fired off a 21-gun salute, I was humbled.

When you see a veteran with a hat on signifying their branch of service, thank them. Walk up to them and shake their hand. Buy their lunch. But, show respect and honor to those men and women who risked it all for us.

No, I’m not saying we should put patriotism over Jesus. But, I am saying that as Christians, we should respect those who kept their word to our nation and defended us far and wide so that we have the freedoms we enjoy today.

Do you ever wonder if Female athletics are in danger of disappearing? They could. Here’s why:

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

Do you have tender vegetation blooming? If you are in North Carolina, they are probably going to get bitten tonight. Like the Bradford Pear trees at the bottom of our driveway.

img_3281

I’m really worried for the apple growers. It’s supposed to hit 24 degrees tonight. That could wipe out the apple crop this year for some farmers. Would you join me in praying for them? The Lord knows and we trust Him in all things. In the good and the bad He will sustain us and provide for us. Let’s be there for our neighbors and show the love of Christ.

Kevin

Read Full Post »

Is the weather crazy or what? Another record fell today. 74 degrees in Greensboro, broke the daily record of 73. But, beware! By the time we get to the first week of March, it’s going to change. How cold? It’s hard to tell at this point, but I’m convinced it’ll be below freezing and with those tender buds popping out on the apple trees and other trees…OUCH! I’m concerned it could be tough for the various fruit crops and the farmers praying for not so mild weather.

Some of the weather blogs I read are still saying there could even be cold and snow in the Mid-Atlantic. How far south could that go? Well, it’s hard to say. But, we all knows snow is possible in March. Here’s some of the latest thinking…

16939456_970360713065288_922552652684780610_n

Van Denton of Fox8 in Greensboro says:

“While we’re expecting more unseasonable warmth Friday and Saturday–and again after a brief cool down on Sunday–there are hints of a cold spell during the second or third week of March. Longer-range models are suggesting we may see an extended period of mostly below normal temperatures during this time.”

Interestingly, in 1980 after we hit 70 degrees in Wilkesboro, one week later we had 10 inches of snow on the ground. Here’s the map:

 

16832036_1480094435356929_7851904159110840834_n

Lately, I’ve been reading this book:

krs

I love history and I am convinced not only is the Bible the Word of God, the Bible is also history. Read it and you’ll see people repeating the same problems over and over again. Truly, “there is nothing new under the sun.” Throughout my 48 years on this earth I’ve watched humankind wrestle with life and how they’re going to live it.

In the book mentioned above, I’ve been reading about WWII and the Pacific theater. As everyone knows, that piece of the war was finally won by the Allies by the dropping of two atomic bombs. As I have studied the history of WWII I’ve been intrigued by the decision-making of people in power. And I’ve been reminded once again of Jesus’ words:

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Matthew 16:26

Think about those words. What does it mean to “gain the whole world?” Well, what means the world to you? For many of the decision-makers in WWII they were literally dealing with the world and millions of lives.

I was struck by this man.

1024px-robert_oppenheimer_1946

That’s J. Robert Oppenheimer. He is considered to be the genius and mastermind of the Atomic Bomb. He was hired by the US Government to design the bomb and ultimately it was tested on July 16, 1945 in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The project was called the Manhattan Project and Oppenheimer called the testing of the bomb the “Trinity.” Are you thinking: “Father, Son and Holy Spirit?” Don’t. Oppenheimer was a fan of Hinduism and the “Trinity” were the three major gods of Hinduism: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. He would quote a verse from the Hindu Vedas, Bhagavad Gita over and over during the development of the bomb.

“If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one.”

Years later he would explain that another verse had also entered his head at that time: namely, the famous verse: “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Interestingly during the development of the bomb, Oppenheimer would have an affair with a lady who would ultimately commit suicide after swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills. His wife would eventually leave him and return to her parent’s home in Pittsburg. Ultimately, Oppenheimer would seldom eat, and even though he was 6 feet tall, he would lose down to 115 pounds and his teeth were rotting out. It’s also reported that he lived off of five packs of Chesterfield cigarettes per day, and tons of gin and coffee.

Yet, this was one of the smartest men who ever lived. He is said to have been equal to Einstein, pictured together here:

einstein_oppenheimer

Yet, Oppenheimer died at the early age of 62 after complications and a subsequent comma from throat cancer. One of the smartest men who ever lived, yet his life was a colossal train wreck. A man of intellectual brilliance, who rejected Christianity because he was heard to say it was “unintellectual.” He was cremated and his ashes were dropped of the coast of a small island he bought in the Virgin Islands.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Matthew 16:26

If someone were to write a description of your life today, what would they write? What are you living for? What motivates you? Think about it today. What’s going to matter in eternity?

The Apostle Paul got it right…

Philippians 3:7-11

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.

What’s J. Robert Oppenheimer doing right now? What will he be doing 100 billion years from now? Do you think he regrets his rejection of Christ and his teachings as “unintellectual?” Do you think Brahma and Vishnu and Shiva are helping him now? Of course not! They don’t even exist!

I’ve been thinking of Oppenheimer a lot lately and I’m sobered by my reading of his life. Make your life count for Christ, Kevin! That’s all I can think of! Make your life count for eternity. Live for Jesus…the one who died for you! Live for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, for there is purpose and meaning in that.

Kevin

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »