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I read that phrase and I thought, “Is that possible?” This was a question asked by a 20-something to the founder of World Magazine, Joel Beltz, in his office in Asheville, NC. See the full article here…

Is ignorance about one of America’s greatest evangelists a worrying sign?

https://world.wng.org/2017/08/a_little_quiz

It’s fascinating! And scary!! To think that we live in a day and age that in the Bible belt, there are people who don’t know Billy Graham. Of course, as Beltz said, these same people don’t know of C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Charles Colson, J.I. Packer, and even contemporaries like Joni Eareckson Tada. Wow! Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore.

But, I bet they know about Al Gore. I bet they know about “climate change.” It’s ubiquitous (that’s my word for the day: meaning everywhere). Every TV show, news article, Hollywood star, you name it…they are all shouting, “The sky is falling!” Oops! No! Sorry, I meant, “The oceans are rising and we’re all going to die!” You know, Al Gore said in 2004 that the polar ice cap in the Arctic Circle would be totally gone by 2014. Well, Al ole boy…it’s still there! In fact, Greenland has had more snow and ice in the past year than they’ve had in the last 50 years (source: weatherbell.com).

You got to love Al Gore. Do you know where he lives? (I should say, his “main home?”) Here it is…

Can you say, “Wow!!!” You know Scientology founder and sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard reportedly once said, “You don’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.” Some people dispute that quote, but there’s no disputing that Al Gore took it to heart. He has combined sci-fi and religion to create what many are calling, “Doomsday environmentalism.” Gore is worth an estimated $300 million today. After he left politics as VP, he was worth a paltry $2 million.

Have you heard about his latest movie that’s coming soon? It’s “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.” I can’t wait! (NOT!!) Interestingly, the National Center for Public Policy Research  (NCPPR) decided to investigate the truth about Gore’s mansion and his own power bill. In 2007, he was slammed for having an energy hog mansion that used 20 times more power than the average American home. So he installed $250,000 worth of solar panels and other green updates. The NCPPR found that despite his claim that he uses 100% renewable energy, all those solar panels produce just 5.7% of the power needed for his massive home.

Again, that picture above is just of his Tennessee house. It doesn’t include the energy needed to power his seaside California villa or all the energy he expends jetting around to lectures and environmental conferences. As one man I heard recently say, “I’ll believe the environment is a crisis when the people who claim it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis.”

Please understand something. I have no problem with Al Gore saying anything he wants to say. It’s a free country! Or is it? Or is it becoming JUST a free country for those who believe and espouse the progressive liberal agenda? Did you hear about the:

I doubt you have. The mainstream media will never cover this. Well, NC Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest got this act through the legislature of North Carolina, which just went into effect without the signature of the Governor. Does that surprise you? North Carolina is the first in the nation to restore and protect the First Amendment free speech principles on college campuses, which have been whittled away by the political correctness of left leaning administrators and protesters.

You see, free speech and religious liberties have come under great attack on college campuses. Al Gore is allowed to speak anywhere at any time. But, if you’re a Christian with conservative principles. Forget it! Understand, if you’re a speaker or student group that holds opposing views to those on the left, you will be silenced on most college campuses. Period! I’m thankful for the courage and guts of Lt. Governor Forest and the fact that he recognized this issue was threatening our student’s freedoms and led the charge to protect their fundamental rights of free speech and free expression on NC college campuses. Other states are now looking at following our lead. Read more from the National Review.

I believe Religious Liberty is the tip of the spear for Christians in our country. This man…

(Photo: adflegal.org)

That’s Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop of Colorado. He declined to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex-wedding reception. He has since been told by the ladies of The View, “Just bake the d_mn cake!” Well, let me ask you something. What if someone came to a gay baker and said, “Make me a cake that says, ‘I hate Gays!'” Would it be okay for that gay baker to turn down that request because it violated his/her conscience? Sure it would! Or would it? You see, this is the issue: “who is going to dictate freedom?” Is it the government? If that’s the case, then the government becomes “god” and they will eventually dictate American’s lives from the womb to the tomb.

Understand this: With every cake he designs, Jack believes he is serving Christ. He had previously turned down requests to create Halloween-themed cakes, lewd bachelor-party cakes, and a cake celebrating a divorce. Yet Jack was never reprimanded over those decisions. He found himself in hot water only with the same-sex-wedding cake.

This case is now before the Supreme Court. I predict the court splits 5-4 and votes in favor of making Jack bake the cake (which he won’t…so it will shut him down and potentially throw him in jail for violating Colorado’s “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” (SOGI) antidiscrimination statute. So, this case has implications for millions of believers from every walk of life and, beyond that, for the health of our culture and our constitutional system of liberty.

Only in recent years has the government taken upon its shoulders the responsibility to force religious conservatives to violate their beliefs on sex and marriage. This has occurred because of  the tremendous influence and money (oh, don’t forget the money) that progressive, liberal advocacy groups have pushed legislators and in the judiciary. Apparently, there are no longer any civil liberties for those of us who conscientiously object to the sexual revolution.

That’s why we saw the American Civil Liberties Union oppose Catholic nuns’ attempt to get out of the Obamacare HHS preventive-care mandate, in which the Department of Health and Human Services required employers to provide insurance covering sterilization and birth control and that included several forms of birth control that prevented embryos from implanting in the uterus, thereby causing abortions.

Folks, it won’t stop with bakers. If this train keeps thundering down the tracks toward Christians, it will eventually threaten churches and religious schools adhering to the historic view of marriage that’s recorded in the pages of the Bible. Religious schools could possibly lose accreditation and nonprofit tax status as well as eligibility for student loans, vouchers, and education savings accounts. And churches could lose their tax-exempt status as well. Which I couldn’t care less. I don’t give my money just for a tax deduction. I give it because the Lord has saved my soul and I want to see others come to the kingdom. If I don’t get a tax deduction for giving my money, then who cares! But, I know I don’t speak for everyone. There’s a lot of folks who might just hang on to those dollars.

You see, what the Left has done remarkably well is to say that not baking a cake or performing a same-sex ceremony is akin to “homophobia.” They equate it with racism. And that’s where the question of authority arises. Who are we going to listen to obey? Man or God? Are we going to adhere to God’s definition of marriage as found in Holy Writ or man’s?

What justifies the government in telling Jack Phillips that he must create cakes for same-sex weddings? I’ll tell you! Government has redefined marriage! Yet, (and read this carefully to follow) that redefinition didn’t create an entitlement for some citizens to demand that other citizens help celebrate their same-sex marriages. Activists are using SOGI laws to weaponize the redefinition of marriage.

Did you know that during the Supreme Court case, two summers ago where the Court ruled Gay Marriage as acceptable, Justice Samuel Alito asked the solicitor general whether the state should yank tax exemptions for schools that uphold marriage as the union of man and woman. The solicitor general replied: “It’s certainly going to be an issue.” Right on cue, the Sunday after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell, the New York Times’ religion columnist wrote a piece for Time magazine titled “Now’s the Time to End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions.” It’s coming folks! It’s coming!

Please understand this as well. These “laws” will extend not only to evangelical Christians but also to Orthodox Jews, Roman Catholics, confessional Lutherans, Latter-day Saints, Muslims, and anyone else who believes that man and woman were created male and female, and that male and female are created for each other only.

Ryan Anderson at the Heritage Foundation (as reported in the National Review) says, “Charities, schools, and professionals will find themselves on the wrong side of regulations: bans on what government deems ‘discrimination’ in public accommodations and employment; mandates in health care and education; revocation of nonprofit status, accreditation, licensing, and funding. Rolling Stone just profiled the LGBT activist Tim Gill, who has pledged his $500 million fortune to passing SOGI laws that will, in his words, ‘punish the wicked.’ And it won’t just be government that does the punishing. As the law insists that social conservatives are like racists, big businesses and other institutions will bring their own pressure to bear on anyone who dissents. Professional associations, through licensing and accreditation procedures, will enforce the new orthodoxy. The American Bar Association has promulgated new model rules of professional conduct that make it unethical for lawyers to ‘discriminate’ on the ‘basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status,’ including in ‘social activities,’ which, as former attorney general Ed Meese has explained, would include ‘church membership and worship activities.'”

Folks, all I can say is: “Wow!” Oh how far we’ve fallen as a nation from the principles of our founding! Amazing!

So what do we do? Sit on our hands? Give up? No, of course not. God is still on the throne and His truth still marches on. What we need to do is to have kind dialog with people and help convince them that what we believe is at least reasonable and poses no harm to others, and thus that there’s no reason for the government to penalize it. In essence, you can be in favor of gay marriage (of which I’m not…I’m just saying this in reference to someone I might be talking to who is) and you (that would be me) might be in favor of Jack not being forced to celebrate gay weddings. In other words, we can civilly and kindly disagree. Someone else can bake the cake. But if you and I are told that we aren’t allowed to believe and think the way the Bible teaches about marriage and the government says the way we think about marriage (the union of husband and wife only) is akin to racism, then were doomed to be pushed into the closet.  Conservatives need to explain why we believe what we believe in terms that our neighbors can understand. We may never convince the far Left and progressive activists, but most Americans aren’t like that. In fact, most Americans aren’t even that well-informed on the issues. Therefore, I believe most folks are open to kind dialogue and are persuadable if we simply make the effort.

As Ryan Anderson says: “People are free to try to convince Jack that he should bake the cake, but the government shouldn’t be allowed to force him to do so. Religious-liberty protections help preserve the conditions that make peaceful coexistence possible. They acknowledge both man’s dignity and the reality of pluralism and diversity even as we work to know and live the truth.”

Well said Mr. Anderson, well said!

I guess some of this might go back to the beginning of this post… Maybe we simply live in a nation now that just doesn’t know who Billy Graham is anymore.

Here is this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “Living Two Lives Makes a Person Miserable.”

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

Kevin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For by grace

are you saved

through faith,

and that not of yourselves. 

It is the gift of God,

not of works,

lets any man should boast.

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

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

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

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

Laughing, we parted ways. 

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

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

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

 

 

 

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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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Guys, (and yes, I’m speaking to the males reading this), it’s time we step up. The ladies have been pulling the load for far too long and it bothers me.

Men, we get so jacked up about so many things. Sports, hunting, video games, Fantasy Football, working out, food.

Jersey City, New Jersey, USA --- Jersey City, New Jersey, Man watching tv in living room --- Image by © Tetra Images/Corbis

Earlier this week I read a great blog post from John Piper and I want to share a good chunk of it here. I pray that men will read this and step up (and that includes this bald-headed fella!).

But what about leading our homes? That seems to take a back burner. I see this more and more and more. Men becoming disengaged to the point that all they do is bring home a paycheck and little else. This is a tragedy even in the church.

From: “What Does It Mean For a Man to Lead His Family Spiritually?” Full article here: http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/271926-what-does-it-mean-for-a-man-to-lead-his-family-spiritually.html?mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRojsqTBZKXonjHpfsX67OwtWqCyhokz2EFye%2BLIHETpodcMSsBnM6%2BTFAwTG5toziV8R7DEJM1u2dkQXhXh

The point is: She ought not to have to feel that she is constantly doing the initiating, prodding to get this man to talk about things that need to be talked about, plan things that need to be planned, do things that need to be done. So here are some of the kind of things where I think a husband should be taking active initiative:

What is the overall moral vision of the family? He should take initiative, asking that question and pursuing an answer with his wife at his side. What do we believe about God and the world and family and culture? All families stand for something. All families are known for something. All families are called to glorify God according to their gifts. What does that look like? And that is the man’s responsibility. Pursue that. Figure that out. A man feels responsibility to take initiatives to form and carry through that moral vision of the family and, of course, he is doing it through the constant interaction with his wife. She would not be thrilled to be left out of that formulation, but I think most Christian women are thrilled that the husband is taking the initiative and drawing her in to see to it that they have such a moral vision for the family.

And this would include initiatives like: Let’s clarify the expectations we have for our children and how they will be disciplined and then how my leadership will relate to the discipline and your leadership as the mother will relate to their discipline and how they are going to spend their leisure and so on. It includes things like taking initiatives in deciding on where the family goes to church and how they participate and whether they get there or not. It includes things like ministries, what the family is doing in ministry, and how they are involved together in the neighborhood and missions. It includes things like taking initiatives with lifestyle issues for the family, like what are we going to do with social media and television and entertainment and leisure and sports and vacations.

Every family has to make hundreds and hundreds of decisions about these things, and one of the things that depresses a wife is when a lackadaisical husband never thinks about what needs to be done and has to be constantly prodded to figure things out. She wants, of course, to have input. She has probably got more insight on a lot of these things than he does. But she wants him to take initiative. We need to think about these things. He needs to say: Let’s sit down. Let’s talk. Let’s pray. She wants him to do that.

It includes things like finances and how the family spends its money and what they are going to save for and what kind of insurance they are going to have and retirement plans and pensions and the whole financial vision of the family, including how much they give to the church and all these things. The husband should feel a special responsibility to take initiatives to work it out with his wife constantly being drawn into that initiative. She is going to have superior wisdom on many of these things, but she longs for a husband to take initiative to put the process in motion by which these things can be worked out and problems can be solved and plans can be made.

Finally, perhaps most important: Yes, the husband should feel a special responsibility to lead the family in a pattern of prayer and Bible reading and worship. And here again the issue is not competency. He may have an eighth grade education and his wife may have a college degree. He can still take initiatives to see that the family is a prayer-saturated, Bible-saturated family by working it out with his wife, how she uses her gifts which may exceed his own in Bible reading and Bible explaining.

So I hope those few examples give a taste of what it means for a husband and a wife to model Christ and the church for a very needy world who needs badly to see it.

Father playing with daughters

Hey would you mind praying we can get our ladies from Charlotte on Saturday. With the weather forecast calling for a monster storm heading our way, it’s causing me some concern about them even being able to get home. As many of you know, Pam and Kandace are part of a group from our church in China. They’ve been there for two weeks and will be flying back later this week. They are to fly to Vancouver, Canada and then to New York (early Saturday morning). They are then supposed to land in Charlotte at 11:21 am on Saturday. Folks, that’s going to be really, really dicey if the weather forecast verifies. Pray that we can get them. I love you all!

Kevin

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You know sometimes in life, you get your socks blessed off. You didn’t ask for it and you really don’t feel you have earned it. You just get blessed. I attribute that to the Lord’s blessings. Sometimes He will bless us above and beyond what we can imagine.

Pam and I have had that happen to us recently. We had a friend who blessed us immensely. Here’s the story. I was communicating with this friend via email and was asked, “When is your anniversary by the way?” I replied back, “Dec. 22nd the Big 25.” He replied back, “Wow! What a milestone! Would you and Pam like to visit Oahu?” Here was my reply:

“Uhhhh! Pardon me while I pick my tongue up off the floor and put it back in my mouth! 🙂 I’m literally speechless. Seriously! I am so blown away right now that I have a lump in my throat!!! Oh my! Oh my!!! Pam and I were talking about maybe going a couple of days to Charleston…but…wait a minute…Oahu or Charleston!!?? Duh!!! Okay…so let me see if I can think…”

We went on to communicate back and forth and ultimately, this is the gist: Pam and I are going to Hawaii for a week Dec. 8-15 all expense paid. Can you believe that!! I feel so guilty even typing those words. We don’t deserve something like that, but let me tell you something  I’ve learned: Be willing to be humble enough to accept the blessings the Lord brings. The Lord uses people and circumstances to bless us beyond anything we deserve.

When Pam and I were married all I could afford was a 2-night, 3 day honeymoon to Pigeon Forge. Many of our friends had these exotic honeymoons to very nice places and well…Pigeon Forge is nice…but, not exactly exotic. 🙂 So, for years, I’ve told Pam, “Maybe one of these days we can go someplace nice.” Well, the years have passed and the best I’ve been able to do is a meal and a card. Now, don’t get me wrong… Pam is grateful and so am I. We are blessed beyond measure.

Here’s what’s really cool. When I was talking to this family friend via email, it was about 9:00 at night. So, when we were finished communicating, I said, “Pam do you have a second you could look at something on the computer for me?” She said, “Sure.” I stood beside of her and watched her facial expression change as she read the email…

“Wow! What a milestone! Would you and Pam like to visit Oahu?”

Pam turned and looked at me with this look of bewildered excitement. She said, “What in the world!! Is he serious!!” I said, “Keep reading.” She did and when she was finished she was like me: speechless. I wish I could have captured that look. I should have videoed it or taken her picture. But, the truth is: I’ll always remember that look. It will be etched in my brain forever.

We will be going to the island of Oahu. See it below…

hawaii

We will be staying in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. Again…even typing those words literally blows my mind and I’m not sure it’s even sunk in yet. Honestly, I could never thank our family friend enough for this privilege for this “once in a lifetime” opportunity. He is an amazing man. And no…he doesn’t go to our church or for that matter, he doesn’t even live in this county. No, check that…he doesn’t even live in this state. So, let your mind rest. 🙂

The timing couldn’t be better. We have Josh and Katy here and they can help with things here at home, along with Kandace, of course, while we are away. And things tend to slow down a bit (at the church during December) because there is so much that families are doing with their work, school, parties, etc.

You know, this just goes to show when you try to put the Lord first in your life (and by no means have Pam and I been perfect), the Lord blesses. And the truth is, those blessings aren’t all relegated to heaven. They can be bestowed upon us here as well. For years and years Pam and I have tried to faithfully give to the church and to the Lord’s work. We’ve been giving to a Building Fund for 20+ years and that would have paid for about 30 trips to Hawaii. Yet, we wanted to “store up for ourselves treasures in heaven” and honor the Lord with the money He has given us to steward. And what do you know… He chose to bless us (even here and now) for that sacrifice. I’m convinced of that. I’m convinced as His children, He will go above and beyond what you can think, dream or imagine. But, sometimes you just have to wait. You have to be patient. You do the right things and your sacrifice. And in the end…well, things like this come and it blows you away.

So, I pray that this news of our blessing comes to you as an encouragement. Maybe you won’t be going to Hawaii some day. I’m certainly not guaranteeing that. But, I am convinced the Lord will provide and sustain us and as we choose to seek Him and put His kingdom first, He will often times in His mercy, faithfulness and goodness…bless our socks off!

So, Hawaii…here we come!!! Thank you Lord for your kindness to us!!!

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I’ve learned something about social media and my new foray into Twitter. (I’ve only been on it about 2 months.) For many of our young people Twitter seems to be a place to talk about the desire for a relationship or how to recover from a bad one. I see tweets like this:

“If only I could find Mr. Right. Where are you hiding!”

“You’ll miss me one day…”

“Whoever I end up with is going to be so lucky, cause I’ve done so much for the wrong people.  I can only imagine what I’ll do for the right one.”

“Did you have to do that to me. I thought I could trust you.”

So sad.

I hear parents talk about how their kids are now dating “so and so” and I rack my brain and try to think about how old they are…Hmm…let’s see…they’re 11! Oh my!

Solomon said, “Don’t awaken love too soon.”

But, then we can easily move to the other extreme and see that people are now deferring marriage altogether. Marriage is totally out of favor now. I heard one stat a few weeks ago that over 50% of couples under the age of 30 are cohabitating. The question I have is: From what grid are we using to give us our reasoning for how we do relationships? Could it be that we are summarily dismissing the Word of God or even worse…we don’t want to even know what the Bible teaches on the subject because it might implicate and indict what we’re currently doing?

I wrote a book (more like a booklet) about dating last year and I guess I shouldn’t be disheartened, but it’s certainly not flying off the shelves of Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Now don’t get me wrong…it’s selling copies…but it’s certainly not a top seller (nor did I expect it to)…   411ESCnsQbL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

It’s on Kindle for only 99 cents and it would take maybe an hour to read (that’s if you are a slow reader). You see, I wanted to know what the Bible says about relationships so I took the time to take the passages of Scripture about relationships, marriage, etc. and put them concisely in this small 35 page book. But, I’m afraid most people won’t take the time to read it. Why? Well it’s hard to type these words, but I believe people are more interested in fitting in than being Biblical.

Truth is: If they did read it and then felt convicted and didn’t follow through with changes, then…well…let’s just not go there. You get the picture and I guess you can’t say I haven’t tried. Look, I’m just trying to say that I’ve got it all figured out. I don’t. I promise! I’m just trying to save people from a lot of heartaches. I’m trying to share with folks what I wish someone had told me. I hurt for this young person who tweeted this: “Whoever I end up with is going to be so lucky, cause I’ve done so much for the wrong people.  I can only imagine what I’ll do for the right one.”

Ugh! I hurt for that person. Can you feel their hurt and pain? Yet, God has given us principles to follow if we will simply choose to do so. It’s like a man thirsting to death, and yet there’s a canteen of water right beside of him. But he ignores the canteen and crawls right past it looking for a watering hole. I believe many are looking for the watering hole when the canteen (the word of God) is at their reach if they’ll just take it and drink.

Can I say it again? UGH! So, if you are reading this and you haven’t read my book, it’s okay. Maybe you’ll read this blog post from a young lady who followed what the Scriptures teach.

Now let me say this (and I said as much in my book): Every situation is DIFFERENT. The way the Lord leads us to our spouse is as different and unique for all of us as our individual salvation experiences, but the principles are the guard rails for that road. I hope you’ll take the time to read this beautiful story of trusting God and His timing… FullSizeRender (3) This is Margaret Wilkes and Wyatt and here’s a couple of paragraphs to whet your appetite… (YES, I’m trying to convince you to read her blog post that will take about 6-7 minutes.)

I came to a point in my life where I just “gave it up.” I realized that what I really wanted was God’s will for my life. If that meant being single, then so be it. “…..and if I am an *old maid,* it’s ok, I will just be the most fabulous old maid that ever lived.” said I. “Or I will just be a nun! That’s an idea!” 

Kidding aside, I know plenty of single folks who are amazing and are a very integral part of the body of Christ. But if His will meant getting married one day, then so be it. I would learn and be useful until that time. I realized that I had been living with the subconscious thought in my mind that told me “your life won’t really begin or be truly wonderful until you get a boyfriend or get married or have your own family!” (BIG LIE!) I decided to trust that if God wanted me to be in a relationship someday, I simply needed be faithful to what he had me doing at the moment and NOT CONCERN MYSELF about if and when my man would make his appearance. God can handle the details.

Read full post at: http://astepheavenward.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-times-they-are-changin.html

I read an article a while back about the negative consequences of delaying marriage in our culture.

Here’s a couple of paragraphs…

“We [in the church] are teaching kids at 14 to wait until they get married before they have sex,” says Marshall. “Historically, that might have been until they were 21. If they’re not getting married until they’re 30, that looks like a really tough hurdle. As a public policy person looking at these questions, we look at the aggregate data. As the typical age of first marriage is climbing, we’re also seeing cohabitation rates climb. We’re seeing unwed childbearing climb dramatically.” Without the “easy out” of premarital sex and cohabitation, Christian young people often find themselves in a struggle to keep themselves for a honeymoon that could be a decade or more away.

The average age for marriage among American men is now 29. For women it’s 27. This means churches are asking Christian students to spend, on average, 15 years fighting the strongest hormones of their lives. It’s an expectation no previous generation of believers has faced. But increased emphasis on self-betterment isn’t entirely to blame. As Karen Swallow Prior writes at The Atlantic, our culture’s conception of marriage itself…is now “something [young people] do after they have all their ducks in a row, rather than a foundation for launching into adulthood and parenthood.” 

Full article here: http://www.summit.org/blogs/summit-announcements/the-consequences-of-putting-off-marriage-for-christians-and-for-culture/

I suppose the current debates over whether marriage is a good, over whether children need mothers and fathers, over whether sexual expression should be bound by the covenant-reality of the male-female one-flesh union versus homosexuality will continue. Our nation has now embraced and even celebrates casual sexuality, cohabitation, no-fault divorce, homosexuality, and abortion rights as parts of a sexual revolution that rips down “old, out-dated” ways. Yet, as a believer, I must stand on God’s unchanging Word.

The apostle Paul warned that the sexually immoral person sins not just against another but “against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). He compared the spiritual union formed between Christ and the believer with the union brought about in the sexual act. Even one who is “joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her,” Paul wrote, (citing Genesis). You see, the sexual act, mysteriously, forms a real and personal union. Immorality whether that be cohabitation, homosexuality, adultery, sex before marriage for teens…all of these things are not just some sort of “naughtiness,” but is a description of a different gospel. They are not part of the mystery of the Church (the Bride) and Jesus (the Groom). This is why attempts to “free” sexuality from marriage as the union of a man and a woman do not lead to freedom, but bondage.

I know some will read this post and say, “There he goes again! Kevin just won’t let up on this stuff.” The truth is I can’t because I can’t get this out of my mind…

TWEET: “Whoever I end up with is going to be so lucky, cause I’ve done so much for the wrong people.  I can only imagine what I’ll do for the right one.”

Yes, I know, many will tell me that people will not hear us if we limit people to the Bible’s definition of sexuality. They won’t say it out loud, but they are whispering this: “Tone it down… or at least avoid the conversation of what we believe about the definition of marriage, and you’ll win more people to your side.” Wrong! To throw out or minimize what the Bible says about sexual ethics is to throw out the baby with the bath water.

Jesus has invited us to a wedding. His wedding. His wedding with the church. Like it our lump it. That’s the truth. That’s why Jesus said to the woman both “go get your husband” and “come here.” So must we. It has been said, “Lust is the craving for salt of someone who is dying of thirst.” Our young people are looking for a love that is stronger than death. They cannot articulate it in a tweet, but what they are looking for is God.

So, we must both articulate and embody a correct understanding of marriage. For you see, marriage is the very picture of the mystery that defines Christ and the Church. And the last time I read the Bible I see that Jesus loved His bride so much that He died for her and is now waiting in a state of betrothal for the day when His Father says, “Go get her!” Now that’s true love and that’s no mistake and that would be a great tweet. 🙂

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Here We Go…

Here we go…

It’s come to this. These 9 folks will decide if gay marriage is to be legal in all 50 states by the end of June.

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The US Supreme Court has said they will hear the case in April and decide by June. Can I make a prognostication? They will say: “Gay is Okay.” Expect to see that as the headlines in the newspapers by early July. Why do I think this way? Simple. Because of the makeup of the court. Look above. First row…going left to right.

Justice Thomas will vote against gay marriage, so will Scalia, and Roberts. Kennedy will vote for gay marriage (he’s the swing vote) and so will Ginsburg. Back row. Sotomayor and Breyer will vote for it, while Alito votes no, with Kagan rounding out the yes votes. So that’s 5 to 4 FOR Gay Marriage.

Let me tell you why I believe Kennedy will be the deciding “yes” vote for gay marriage. First of all, the four conservative justices aren’t going to budge and the four liberal judges aren’t going to budge. They are dyed in the wool. Done deal. Kennedy has bounced around through the years as the one “moderate.” Yet, it’s different when it comes to this issue. Here’s why.

Now there are just 14 states in which same-sex couples cannot wed. The court’s decision to get involved is another marker of the rapid change that has redefined societal norms in the space of a generation.

The court will be weighing in on major gay rights issues for the fourth time in 27 years. In the first of those, in 1986, the court upheld Georgia’s anti-sodomy law in a devastating defeat for gay rights advocates. But the three subsequent rulings, all written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, were major victories for gay men and lesbians. Thus, in its most recent case in 2013, the court struck down part of a federal anti-gay marriage law in a decision that has paved the way for a wave of lower court rulings across the country in favor of same-sex marriage rights.

The way has been paved by what you just read in bold above. Kennedy will go with the liberals on this one. It shouldn’t surprise you that Attorney General Eric Holder said the Obama administration would urge the court “to make marriage equality a reality for all Americans.”

Here we go! By mid-summer gay marriage will be considered a civil right for all Americans and if you are on the opposite end of that stance, you will be labeled a hate-monger and bigot. So be ready and be prepared to lovingly give a reason for your hope.

Let me give you some reasons (contrary to what the Supreme Court will say).

Check out this site: http://suchweresomeofyou.org

It’s excellent. Read the accounts of folks who have been delivered from the homosexual lifestyle by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Bible records in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Did you see the word “were” over and over in verse 11. Homosexuals CAN be delivered by the power of Jesus Christ just like the idolater, adulterer, thief, greedy person, and drunk. There IS deliverance or the word of God is a lie and so is God.

At the website listed above you will find a documentary that was inspired by the above passage of Scripture that declares that in Jesus’ day there was a population who had been so transformed by their relationship with Him that they were no longer “same-sex attracted” or at the very least, actively homosexual. They had found such a measure of healing from the brokenness and strongholds associated with what we now call homosexuality that they no longer considered themselves homosexual, nor did they act in that way.

“Such Were Some of You” features interviews with a “cloud of present-day witnesses” who testify to the same life-transforming power of Jesus Christ. They describe the development of their same-sex attractions, what the gay lifestyle was like, what their conversion process was like, and the various ways that Jesus has brought healing to their broken places. “Such Were Some of You” lays out the facts about healing homosexual confusion and rejoices in the reality that Jesus Christ can heal anyone from anything while providing grace for the journey.

But, as I said earlier, if you ascribe to the truth of God’s word that there is deliverance from the gay lifestyle, you will be blasted. If you don’t believe me, check out this 2 1/2 minute video clip from Richmond, Virginia.

http://www.fox8live.com/clip/10934328/billboard-in-richmond-claims-nobody-is-born-gay

Did you see how stunned the people were? Even the news reporter seemed stunned that anyone could possibly say there is deliverance from homosexuality. You see, when the Supreme Court is done this summer, it will be “Katy bar the door, trouble is in store.”

Folks I’m with Peter Mead, who wrote an article about the Word of God and preaching titled: “Great Preaching Leads to Godly Change. See article here: http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/preaching-teaching/243224-great-preaching-leads-godly-change.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=clpastors_newsletter&utm_content=12/4/2014+10:20:50+AM

He says this:

Call it heart, call it values, call it appetites, whatever. The gospel transforms a life from the inside-out, from the heart outward. It takes the Spirit to plant an appetite (a relish) for Christ in the affections of someone. This is where I feel relieved of the pressure to bring about transformation, but also the incredible privilege of my position as preacher. I don’t twist arms to conform to behavioral standards for the sake of church conformity. I do present Christ and the Gospel in all its wonder and majesty and sweetness, and I do so absolutely dependent on God to bring about transformation.

Biblical preaching transforms lives, but it occurs from the inside out. Anything more superficial will tempt me into acting like a mini-god pressuring mini-gods into self-moved determination, and that just smacks of a fallen world perspective on the whole thing. God’s Word invites us to trust Him, we should do the same.

Amen Brother! You hit the nail on the head. We want to see people changed. We want to see people delivered from their sin, not be excused of it. I don’t want a drunk to stay drunk by saying everything is okay with how they are living anymore than I would want a man to continue to commit adultery against his wife and me say, “It’s okay…you were born an adulterer, you can’t help yourself, so go ahead.” Oh how that is a smack in the face of the life-giving and life-changing power of the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ.

At some point people have to seek their identity in Christ. They don’t define themselves by saying, “I’m gay.” They define themselves by saying, “I’m a follower of Jesus. ” It’s all about identity. If you seek to continue to identify yourself by your sin, (no matter what it is), then you have likely not been regenerated and born again in Christ.

Oh, I pray that we, as believers, will not cave in to the culture, the Supreme Court, or even a friend or loved one who says they were born gay. I pray we will give them the life-altering Gospel of Jesus and watch the transformation.

11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Before I go…I’ve got to share couple of things that happened last week.

First, we lost a family pet. A wonderful, lively, out-going cat named Oreo. It just about crushed the kids, but the Lord used it to help us rejoice in the time we had together. Do you remember losing a family pet when you were a kid? It can be gut-wrenching. He was so sick…

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This is Kandace and Clara at the vet. Andrew, Pam and I were behind them. We had to say goodbye. He was only two years old and was eaten up with lymphoma. Thank you Lord for blessing us with such a wonderful, loving, cuddly, crazy, rambunctious cat. We’ll miss him, but in the “missing,” we’ll be grateful for the time we had with him.

Now for some lighter news. Just a few quick Papa and Charlotte pictures from the past weekend. Josh and Katy were in town. Check out this precious little girl…

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I love this next one. It shows why I am convinced the Scriptures teach that the meeting or gathering (we call it worship service) should include children.

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She is watching me on the screen above her head. Josh is holding her and Pam said, she kept craning her head to see me and she just stared and stared at me on the screen. Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” I’m so thankful MPBC sees the undeniable truth of the entire body (family) being together in the meeting/gathering/worship.

One last one. This was up at mom’s, where we had lunch in her dining room. Isn’t she just adorable?

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I know, I know… I’m a doting grandfather… But, I just can’t help myself.

For the winter-weather fans out there, the pattern is finally changing. Haven’t seen it yet? 66 degrees today? Well, it’s coming. By next week at this time you’ll be shivering and don’t be surprised if there is a bit of the white stuff on the ground. 🙂

 

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