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Archive for the ‘Mens Ministry’ Category

Do you struggle with focus? Are you doing what you are supposed to be doing? Do you know what that is? Do you understand God’s will for your life?

I’ve written extensively about these topics in the past and I’ll not go into the details again here. However, you can simply type “God’s will” into the search box above and see past posts. Yet, I bring up those questions of “focus” to focus us on what’s important.

What is important in your life? Perhaps these (in no certain order):

  • Family
  • God
  • Health
  • Money
  • Relationships

All of these areas require focus, do they not? You and I have to be focused, for instance, on not overspending if we want to see that we don’t end up out of money and broke. Do you check your bank account often? I do. I do that so that I stay focused and I can invest money where it’s needed the most and can be used for eternal things. I’m trying to be focused.

Let’s take another area of life. Let’s pick “Family.” Are you focused? How is your relationship with your spouse? Your children? It’s mostly going to be a function of time. Yep…time. It’s impossible for us to grow our relationship with anyone unless we spend time with them. I think you’d agree. So, do you talk? Do you communicate with your family? Do you have “down time” where you can chat with your family members? If we don’t make time to do so, it will never happen. The truth is: we DO NOT have time to develop relationships in our lives…we have to MAKE TIME! It’s got to be intentional.

So, how is it with your kids, mom and dad? How is it going for them in their lives? Do you have teenagers? The only way you are going to really know how things are going with them is to spend time with them and verbally talk. Oh, I know you can read their tweets and see what they post on Instagram. But, it’s got to be more than that! If that’s how you communicate, then you are no more to them than an acquaintance who happens to live in the same house.

I read an article recently about why our kids walk away from them faith. It’s excellent. http://theaquilareport.com/why-christian-kids-leave-the-faith/

Bottom line: we’ve got to be spending intentional time. Focused time. If you look at your children’s lives and you ask yourself: “Do I really know what’s going on inside of their heads?”, and the answer you got in return is a bit fuzzy, then you need to take time to go to their room tonight and sit down and say, “How’s it going?” It’s that simple. Once they say, “Fine.” Ask it again and add the word “really.”

How’s it going, really?

Try it. It works. Why? Because they’ll see you care. They’ll see they are more to you than just their kid that you hope doesn’t flunk out of school, or gets into trouble or might embarrass you. They will see that you really do care. And let me add this. Prepare to lose sleep. Why? Because you are worried about them? No, not necessarily. You’ll lose sleep because once you get them talking, they will talk your ears off. They will literally share their heart and how they feel with words and emotions that run the gamut of their feelings and that will TAKE A WHILE. That might mean that a conversation you start at 10:45 pm doesn’t end until 12:30 am, but it will be worth every minute of it, I promise you!

Will you be tired the next day? Probably…but, even in that…the Lord will give you energy that sleep can’t give and He’ll do the same for your child. He is faithful and His mercies are new each morning!

I love my children. I know you know that. But, I just have to say it again! I dearly love my children! I’m so grateful and thankful for them and their unique personalities and idiosyncrasies and little quirky ways. I love the fact that they put up with a dad that makes a lot of mistakes and fumbles and bumbles around trying to be a good daddy, but often ends up being a babbling goofball. I’m grateful for a fantastic wife and mom, who already does the things I’ve mentioned (very well, I might add). But, it’s the dad’s who so often struggle with spending the intentional, concerted time with our children. Dads, can I get a witness?

We long for peace and for serenity and that’s why we’ll often sweep things under the rug or just hope difficulties go away. Why? Because we aren’t good at multi-tasking and we don’t want any more on our plates than we already have. So, it’s easy to stick our heads in the sand and the next thing you know…we don’t have a relationship with our children that’s any closer or vibrant than one of their acquaintances. That’s sad. But, it’s happening in many of our homes.

Dad, think about your children. Think about how they look (even if they are adults now). Think about clasping your hands on their cheeks and looking them in the eyes and saying,

“Let me look at you. Let me remember how you look. Let me look into your eyes and see your heart and know how I can love you, pray for you, support you and encourage you. Let me be here for you. Let me know what I can do.”

I dearly and I mean dearly love these people and so I’m bound and determined to stay connected with them and to intentional love them.

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Of course this includes my new granddaughter Evelyn. A new family picture forthcoming soon! 🙂 May we never allow our lofty goals for our children to interfere with simply recognizing that they are OUR children and are a gift from God.

By the way, some have asked: “What about the Weather? What’s the latest winter forecast?” Well, I’ll link to my good buddy Joe Bastardi for the latest on winter. Click the link below and then click on “Saturday Summary.”

http://www.weatherbell.com/#premium

Here’s what the forecast calls for in the next two weeks… This is Dec 8-13th.

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That’s cold air folks and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bit of ice or snow during that period of time. No, I’m not saying a huge storm. But, with the jet stream finally shifting and the Gulf of Mexico finally opening for business and injecting moisture this way…well…you heard it here first. 🙂

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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NOTE: MPBC FOLKS, you’ll be getting the full report tomorrow night during the service of what’s listed below…

Through the years I’ve had people ask me, “Why do you go all the way to Texas to minister to Hispanics? Why don’t you do it right here?” Well, the answer is a bit trite, but it is the truth: God told us to…

Just as Peter was led to Joppa to raise Dorcas (Tabitha) from the dead and he would later go to Caeserea to share the Gospel with a Gentile, centurion soldier, Cornelius… Just as Philip would leave an area of revival to go and share the Gospel with a eunuch from Ethiopia. Just as Jesus would share with Zacchaeus in a tree and a Samaritan woman at a well and a man with a withered hand outside a synagogue… So, we must do the same and follow their example and go share the Gospel.

What’s the example I’m speaking of?

Most often in Scripture we see the Gospel transferring from person to person. Yes, there was a great revival at Pentecost, (3,000 saved in one day) but throughout the Epistles, you see the Gospel traveling mostly from person to person and from household to household. Lydia and her entire household was saved. So was the Philippian jailer’s. Do you see the pattern? Without question, spreading the Gospel can be done by mega churches and mega crusades, but it is most often done by sharing one on one or with households of people.

That’s why we go to Weslaco, Texas. That’s why we walk across the street or over to the next cubicle. But, there is more than just sharing the Gospel. There is the mandate to “make disciples.” Remember this…

Matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Disciple-making takes time and it’s not easy. It’s a “roll up your sleeves” proposition. Therefore, it’s just easier to stay in our cocoons of safety and not do it. (Sadly, I’m speaking from experience here.) It’s much easier to write a check or fund a ministry than it is to actually care enough about people to do anything.

Back to the question. Why do you go all the way to Texas to do ministry? Why not just do it here in North Carolina? Well, Jesus gave us this command and His final directive before He ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives…

Acts 1:8

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

I had a man say to me one time, “Before we go anywhere else we need to share the Gospel with everyone in our Jerusalem.” I told the man (kindly) that he was wrong. Jesus was teaching that we must do it all. We must do ministry and share the Gospel in our Jerusalem, (Local) Judea, (State), Samaria (Nation), and to the end of the earth (World). We do it all at the same time…

  • Local
  • State
  • Nation
  • World

If we didn’t do ministry (all-as-you-go-style), we’d never share the Gospel beyond our local communities. We’ll never be able to totally cover our neighborhoods or towns. So, we go as the Holy Spirit directs and do all that we can as we go.

I don’t know if I’ve ever shared with you how the Lord brought us to Texas and Mexico. Years ago, back in 2008 I met a local doctor at our county hospital and he had just returned from doing work in Texas and Mexico. He shared with me and I was so intrigued, I asked him to come to the church and share. He did on a Sunday night about a month later and the church was hooked. So, off to Mexico and Texas we headed in 2009.

This is an aerial view of the mission house (green roof) and the house in front of it (bottom left), which we call the “front house,” where a missionary named Harold Ward and his wife lived.

Weslaco Mission House

Mr. Ward and his wife retired to Texas where they bought that green-roofed building, which was a cantina (bar). He turned it into a place where mission teams could come and live for a week and do work in Mexico building churches for those whose congregations couldn’t afford to do so. This is a screen shot of the old website that was used to describe the work.

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As you can see, the mission house was named after Mr. Ward and it was called, “The King’s Ward.”

I couldn’t find a picture of that 2009 team. If anyone has a copy, can you email me please? Here’s a picture of the 2010 team.

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We went into Mexico and help to build a church for a small church called El Laurel. That’s the pastor, Oscar Martinez to the right.

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As you can tell they were meeting in the front yard of their home. This was their home…

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In the last six years, we’ve gone from this…

3 Progresso Early Stages

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…to help them build this:

14 Progresso

This is the inside of what they call the “Temple” with one of our June teams from last year.

el-laurel

As you might remember, the mission house went up for sale three years ago and MPBC raised over $90,000 and bought it. Can you believe we bought two houses, three vans and trailer for just $90,000? God is good! But, over the last year or so there has been a transition in the work in Mexico because of the danger from the drug cartels.

There is a tremendous amount of corruption in Mexico. It’s hard to trust the government or even the police for that matter. So, we did not take our team in last week. We stayed in Weslaco and really poured our hearts and lives into this church.

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That’s Jason Church to the right. He’s the pastor of “Church of No Walls.” He and his wife, Katie, left their home here in Wilkes County 3 years ago to go to Weslaco (sight unseen) and become missionaries to the people of Weslaco, Texas. They now have two precious boys, Caleb and Wesley.

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The church has grown rapidly under Jason’s leadership and direction. Jason loves people. He’s a soul-winning machine.

Here he’s praying with a man in a rest home we visited.

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This picture really gets me…

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Here he is with Brent Edmiston praying with a young man named Isaiah. Isaiah has a tough life and doesn’t have a male (father) in his life. Jason is that man. He has a passion for the people of Weslaco.

Kandace shared about the darkness of this town from our MPBC Team site on her blog and on Facebook. Here’s the links:

http://kandace098.blogspot.com/2015/06/texas-mission-trip-2015.html

https://www.facebook.com/pages/MPBC-Texas-June-2015-Team/1443431869295397?fref=ts

Here’s an excerpt of her description of the conditions there:

There aren’t many places that you can go to in America where someone has never heard of Billy Graham or where in the local Walmart there are books with 7 steps on how to overcome Satan’s hold on your life. But, that’s what you’ll find in Weslaco, TX. There is an oppression there that you can feel very deeply. These people desperately need someone to put their hope in (Jesus). 

Jason and Katie have done a great job teaching the Bible and showing love. The people are just so in need of someone to care and love them. I can’t count how many times I thanked God on the trip that Jason and Katie are there to help these people. They finally have a steady place to go to get love and encouragement. So many relationships were formed and made stronger this past week. It was so encouraging to know that when we left, the people have Jason and Katie there to continue this work. 
The Church of No Walls is bursting at the seams. I know God has great things in store. Please pray for Jason and Katie as they continue to try to reach the adults and children in the community. I am so excited to see what God does in Weslaco, Texas. He has already started a great work! 

Here’s the church where we were eating with them in the Mission House last week.

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We were spread out in the dining hall, kitchen, and game room. We used the men’s and women’s sleeping quarters for counseling rooms. It was wonderful! Many, many lives are being touched.

I want to show you a note that one of the teenage girls left for me on my bunk in the men’s quarters. She didn’t know who would be getting it and that’s why she addressed it: “Dear Reader.”

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Now folks, if that don’t light your fire, your wood is all wet! 🙂

Here’s a letter from this young girl’s mother. Her name is Vanessa and she just gave her life to the Lord about 3 weeks ago. Jason and Katie led her to Christ and one of her sons (she has four children total) made a profession of faith Friday night at the celebration service at the mission house. There’s a total of three pictures showing Vanessa’s letter.

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Isn’t that powerful!

As I’ve mentioned, the growth of the church is so pronounced that we have started investigating renting a building on Texas Blvd (which is main street) in Weslaco.  We are sensing the Lord is in this next step. A building will give the church greater legitimacy versus meeting in a house in a residential area. At this point, the members of the church don’t have enough money to rent a building on their own, so we (MPBC) will have to help support them until they can do so. Yet, our fundraising has been so good over the last year that we should be able to do so with little problem.

I’ll conclude by showing you two of my favorite pictures from the trip.

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Those are some of the girls’ and ladies’ feet from our team and the ladies in Wesalco. That’s the body of Christ folks! And how about this picture of the men and young men…

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Again, that’s the body of Christ in action.

Why do we go?

We go because I ran into a doctor at Wilkes Regional Medical Center 8 years ago and the Lord has directed us from there. We go because Jesus said to go and make disciples of all nations. And that’s why we’ll be sending people to the Philippines in October and China in January. We go because Jesus said:

Acts 1:8

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

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Who Has Access To Your Brain?

Who are your mentors? Who is helping to guide your life and thinking?

What is a mentor?

The dictionary says a mentor is: an experienced adviser and supporter: somebody, usually older and more experienced, who advises and guides a younger, less experienced person.

You might say, “I don’t have a mentor.”

We all have mentors? We might not think we do, but we most definitely do. They are the folks who help shape the grid in our minds from which we make decisions and how we view the world.

We are all copiers, we are all mimics, we are all imitators… Here are two examples…

We all know that who you pattern your life after is going to mostly likely be who you turn out to be in great measure. You and I are marked by our mentors. You and I are marked by the patterns we choose to follow…your heroes, your examples…they mark you.

I’ve been teaching a lot on mentors lately. One of the greatest mentor relationships was the Apostle Paul as a mentor to Timothy. Timothy was at Paul’s side off and on for around 20 years. He was learning, learning, and doing more learning. Timothy had been marked by Paul with his convictions.

Watch what Paul told Timothy in his last letter before his head was cut off…

2 Timothy 3:10-11

10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.

Paul listed 8 things that he modeled for Timothy:

  1. Teaching
  2. Conduct
  3. Aim (purpose)
  4. Faith
  5. Patience
  6. Love
  7. Steadfastness
  8. Persecution/(Willing to Suffer)

Now I want you to picture one of your best friends in your mind. Now ask yourself how well they are living their life before you in regard to:

  1. Teaching (what they say)
  2. Conduct (how they act)
  3. Aim (their purpose or passion)
  4. Faith (are they godly)
  5. Patience
  6. Love
  7. Steadfastness
  8. Persecution/(Willingness to Suffer)

It has been said that “Imitation is the key to education.” Christian education is likeness education. This is what Jesus said:

Luke 6:40

40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.

He is teaching you? Who has access to your mind? Who is directing your mind? Are they a good influence or bad influence?

Here’s a great influence on my life:

Dave, Kan, Me

That’s Dr. David Black. Kandace and I got to have lunch with him today in Wake Forest, NC near the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been a mentor for me many years now. I’m grateful for how his biblical insights have shaped my thinking. So, I’m grateful to be able to follow his:

  1. Teaching (what they say)
  2. Conduct (how they act)
  3. Aim (their purpose or passion)
  4. Faith (are they godly)
  5. Patience
  6. Love
  7. Steadfastness
  8. Persecution/(Willingness to Suffer)

Thanks Brother Dave for being a mentor to not only me, but to hundreds of students at SEBTS and people like me through your blog. I hope to be a positive mentor and encourage folks like you do. That’s certainly a role I take seriously as a pastor/elder.

Are you a mentor? You bet you are! If you are a parent or grandparent you are for sure. If you are a teacher, boss or an owner of a business or a coach, you certainly are. You get the picture. Who are you leading? You might take a look at the list above again. I certainly am.

I had a wonderful time with Kandace today as we travelled to Wake Forest together. She is blessing to me beyond measure. I pray I’m being a good mentor to her as her father. Yet, I humbly admit that I fail daily; but I love her with all my heart. Therefore, I am going to take a look at that list one more time.

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Why is forgiving so hard?

I have been contemplating that question this week. In our weekly men’s group called “Iron Men” we’ve been studying the lives of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We’ve moved to chapter 45 in Genesis and it’s the familiar account of where Joseph reveals himself to his brothers. It’s powerful!

Genesis 45

1 Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, “Make everyone go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. 3 And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.

4 So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.  6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Genesis 45 is in my opinion one of the most beautiful pictures of forgiveness outside of the story of Jesus, as any found anywhere in the Bible. It ranks up there with the prodigal son and Hosea’s buying back Gomer. I have come to the conclusion that perhaps the most significant issue in the Christian life is FORGIVENESS. Bold statement, huh? But, think about it. Aren’t we almost constantly confronted with the need to forgive? If you are married, you know this is true. 🙂 If you have children, you now this is true! If you work with difficult people (who aren’t like you), you know this is true!

I believe forgiveness must be the norm for our lives or we will not grow in Christ. But, we know this already don’t we? We know we are to walk the second mile and turn the other cheek and to forgive 70 x 7. But are we?

You are either a forgiving person or a bitter and resentful person.

You see I’m absolutely convinced that forgiveness is the nucleus of the Gospel. If you don’t forgive, then you really don’t understand the Gospel. The Gospel is all about forgiveness. There is no Gospel without forgiveness.

Can I make another bold statement? If you store up bitterness and won’t forgive, then you CAN NOT be right with God. For you are either storing up bitterness every day or you are constantly learning how to forgive. There is no in between. Yes, you may have learned to hide unforgiveness and bury it, but eventually it will come out and before it does, it’s probably going to make you sick. Bitterness will eat you up!

For many people, and this might include you, they have found themselves at the end of their relationship quota. They just can’t let anyone else “in” to their life because they simply can’t store up any more bitterness. There is no more room in their soul for another broken relationship, so they just push people away and they are much like this guy…

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See that tortoise? He’s tucked his head in and he ain’t comin’ out! Is that you? Are you closing down on people? You just don’t let anybody else in because you can make no more room in your soul for anymore bitterness. Don’t go there! It’s a trap of Satan! Forgiveness is not optional. It’s commanded in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Jesus said if you will not forgive, then your father in heaven will not forgive you. (Matt. 6:14-15)

But, why is it so hard?

Let me share three myths that make it hard.

Myth #1 Forgiveness requires forgetting.

Some say, “Yeah, since I can’t forget, then I guess I haven’t forgiven.” Can you tell me where that’s found in the Word of God? Is that 2 Hesitations? 🙂

Joseph remembered what his brothers had done to him, but he simply chose not to hold it against them. He said: “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.” You see he remembered. But, then he said: “…And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here.”

Folks, we can’t forget. Don’t you know when humans start forgetting stuff that they’re malfunctioning? We were not created to forget. We can’t do what the Creator created us NOT to do. We all have memories. John Calvin says, “Forgiveness is a gift of sheer liberality that has nothing to do with forgetting.” Forgiveness is simply the canceling of a debt.

Suppose you and I went to a meeting together and as you are leaving the parking lot, you hit my car. I come out and look at it and I say, “Don’t worry about it. I forgive you.” But, what if three days later, I sent you a bill in the mail? That’s not forgiveness is it? Forgiveness is when you remove your right to payment. It’s when you remove your right to make the other person pay for what they did to you. You write “Cancel” on the bill.

Who do you need to forgive? Could you write their name on a piece of paper and then write: “Cancel” on top of their name? You see, I meet people all the time in my counseling who are being controlled by people who are not even around. They’re dead. Are you allowing someone from the grave to control you because you haven’t forgiven them? Maybe they’re not dead…but, they live three states away. You’ve got to forgive. Why?

Holding on to unforgiveness is like you drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.

Did you know that person who hurt you deeply is not even thinking about you? I remember a man who said to me: “My Dad was bad to me, so I’m not going to send him a birthday card.” I said, “Well, he probably wasn’t expecting one anyway!” He smiled and said, “You’re right.” It takes a lot of mental and emotional energy not to forgive, you know that don’t you? It will wear you out! Yet, many are simply using up a ton of mental energy and that person who hurt you is not even thinking about you. They might not even know the fullness of what they’ve done. And it doesn’t matter.

Joseph hadn’t forgotten what his brothers had done to him when they sold him into slavery and faked his death, but he’s not bitter. How is this possible? Verse 5 says it:

5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.

See those four words in italics? “For God sent me…

Joseph sees the hand of our sovereign God! When you understand the sovereignty of God, you can forgive. He said, “God sent me here.” God allowed that hurt and pain to happen to you. It’s part of the process He’s allowing to sanctify you. Joseph saw that God had sent him to Egypt, not his brothers.

Let’s look at what happens when we don’t forgive a “Believer” in Christ and an “Unbeliever” in Christ.

Not forgiving a BELIEVER:

If you and I don’t forgive a believer, then we are basically making them pay for what they did. But, remember, their sins have already been paid for on the cross. So for you not to forgive a believer is to mock what Jesus did on the cross and say to Him that His death may have been enough to forgive YOU, but you require just a little bit more to forgive your brother or sister in Christ. Yikes!

Not forgiving an UNBELIEVER?

What happens to the unbeliever when they die? They will go to hell and pay for their sin forever, right? So if you don’t forgive the unbeliever who has hurt you, then you are requiring hell plus something else. It’s called the “Hell Plus” method. Maybe hell plus a few weeks of the silent treatment will warrant you to forgive? That’s ridiculous. But, that’s how we think sometimes.

But, remember, God allowed that hurt…that pain…that sorrow in your life. He allowed it. He’s sovereign.

You see if we don’t forgive, we are hypocrites. We can come to church and praise God for forgiving us and we can sing about His forgiveness and how we just can’t believe He could “save a wretch like me.” But, hold your horses…if you sin against me…well that’s another thing entirely. I can’t forgive that!

But, wait a minute, weren’t you a sinner too? Didn’t Christ forgive you even while you were still a sinner (Romans 5:8). So for YOU, the sinner, forgiveness IS available, but not for the person who hurt you? Are your sins somehow in a different category? You deserve forgiveness, but people who sin against you don’t? Is that how it works? Of course that’s not biblical at all.

Here’s another myth about forgiveness…

Myth #2 They’ve Got to be Sorry!

You say, “I deserve forgiveness because I’m sorry! They’re not sorry! They need to be sorry! They hurt me so terribly! They don’t deserve to be forgiven until they’re sorry and they tell me they’re sorry!!”

That’s a marriage killer, right there! So many couples come to my office and one spouse says to the other: “If you were really, really sorry you wouldn’t keep doing it!” Well, let’s analyze this one. You sin against me and keep sinning over and over against me and it seems that it’s just undoable. But this is what life is, isn’t it. Those we are close to in a relationship will sin against over and over again. And you say, “They’re not really sorry.” Can I ask a question? Just how much “sorry” does it take? You and I can never be SORRY enough to stop sinning. The process of stopping sinning is called sanctification. It’s a process.

Do you believe that a person can be “sanctified by sorry.” You and I can’t make a sin stop because we are sorry enough. If that were the case Jesus died for nothing. We might say that we are sorry and that the sin in our lives will stop, but most of our sins aren’t new. Have you committed a “new sin” today? I doubt it. We commit the same sins over and over against God, and yet you expect forgiveness from Him don’t you?

Only God’s Spirit can stop us from sinning…

Myth #3 Forgiveness Can Only Happen If They Ask For It

Can I remind you that Joseph’s brothers didn’t even know it was Joseph. They hadn’t seen him since he was 17 and he’s now 32 years old. He’s got a shaved head and he’s speaking Egyptian. They didn’t ask Joseph for forgiveness, yet he forgave them anyway.

Does a person have to ask you for forgiveness to receive it from you? If that’s the case, I guess that means it’s okay for you to punish them until they ask for forgiveness…until they get enough “sorry” to ask you for forgiveness. Because after all, if you are not punishing them then that’s forgiving them, right?

Joseph forgave and his brothers didn’t ask. Jesus forgave and He cried out on the cross, “Father forgive them…they don’t know what they’re doing.”

So in the world do we do this? How do we forgive? By the grace of God dear friend! It’s the supernatural work of God in the believer. Joseph understood that the greater story is being written by God. You see, God poured out his wrath on his son because he wants you near to Him. You spit on Him and hated Him in your sin and He came anyway. How could He do that? THAT’S THE GOSPEL! That’s LOVE! Love=Forgiveness.

Get it? We can forgive because we’ve be forgiven. But you say, “They don’t deserve it! They don’t deserve to be forgiven!” Dear one, don’t you understand that we deserve worse than anything that person who hurt you could do to you. Why? Because you and I deserve Hell. God forgave you because the debt was paid by His Son, Jesus. He paid it all…all to Him I owe…sin had left a crimson stain…He washed it white as snow. God wrapped Himself in flesh crushed your sin so you could be set free. This is your hope! This is your confidence.

This is the Gospel and it’s called: FORGIVENESS.

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I read this last article last week and it blew my mind.

Steve Nash battling ex-wife in court

Updated: May 30, 2013, 5:21 PM ET

Associated Press PHOENIX — Former Phoenix Suns star Steve Nash is fighting to keep his ex-wife and three children from moving to California, where he now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Arizona Republic reports Nash and Alejandra Amarilla Menrath divorced in late 2011, and their settlement doesn’t include child support. The couple has a young son and twin 8-year-old daughters. Nash pays for the children’s private education and health insurance through his employer. He made $8.9 million this season and is scheduled to make $9.3 million and $9.7 million in the next two NBA seasons. Menrath needs permission from a Family Court judge in Phoenix to relocate the children. If she’s allowed to move, attorneys say it’s possible she could petition a court in California to get more money from Nash.

Oh my!! This guy makes $9 million per year and doesn’t want to take care of his kids. This is so sad and it’s becoming epidemic in America. It’s the “state of men in America.” Men used to take care of women and children. As the Titanic sunk, the cry was “Women and children first!”

Not today! Today over 70% of all children born to black women are born with no father in the home. The problem is not much better in the Hispanic community and cohabitation is rampant. Today men are having children by multiple women and they treat them as “notches on their belt.”

But, there are still some good men out there. Here’s one…

That’s Corporal Josh Isaacs. Yep…and he’s my son-in-law. He’s a man of honor and courage. He was being honored with his new rank of Corporal.

But, I want you to notice something that I am seeing more and more. See all the ladies? Why is it that we have to have our mothers and daughters to take care of us? You say, “That’s old fashioned thinking!” No it’s not. The Bible teaches “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:25. Many men aren’t “giving themselves up” for anything today.

I’m burdened about the lack of men in our communities and churches today. Do you want to know why there are so many women who are now preachers in our churches in America? The men aren’t willing to do the work. Women are good-willed and they will do what the men won’t do. Am I down on men? No. I am one. But, I’m like Paul. He told the Corinthians…

1 Corinthians 16:13-14

13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.

Act like men! Did you see that? Act like men! Unfortunately many men don’t have a clue how to act like men, because all the men are out playing and making money and still acting like boys. So, women are raising boys and these young men have no masculine influence in their lives. Oh that men would step up and be men! Steve Nash ought to do whatever it takes to take care of his children.

Yet, in our churches, we have no ministries to men. We spend big bucks on children and youth ministry and we do the same for women’s ministry and Beth Moore Bible studies. But, what about the men? Men are missing in action in our churches and it’s a tragedy. That’s why I really push our Iron Men ministry. We meet on Wednesday’s at 12 noon and we talk about issues related to men. Men need other men. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another.”

If you are a man and you are reading this, I want to ask one question.

Are you doing your duty to your family or are they getting the leftovers?

So what’s your priorities sir? What really matters?

Where are the men? Let me show you one.

Valedictorian surprises graduation crowd, draws cheers

Roy Costner throws out approved speech, says prayer…

UPDATED 8:36 AM EDT Jun  04, 2013
Roy-Costner-speech
Image courtesy YouTube
PICKENS  COUNTY, S.C. —A school district under pressure to keep prayer out of  meetings and gatherings got an unexpected delivery from one high school  valedictorian Saturday, at Clemson’s  Littlejohn Coliseum, Liberty High Valedictorian Roy Costner IV took his speech  to the podium, and in front of the crowd, tore it up. John Eby, Pickens County  School District spokesman, said, “They write their speeches. They send them to  someone on staff to have them approved.” But Costner clearly had something else in mind. After speaking for a few  minutes, he thanked his parents for leading him to the Lord at a young age, and  then he said, “I think most of you will understand when I say, ‘Our Father, who  art in heaven…” as he began to recite the Lord’s Prayer. Much of the crowd broke  into tentative applause that then grew into cheers that nearly drown out  Costner’s voice as he continued the prayer.
  • To watch an excerpt from the speech on YouTube, click here.

Costner finished, pointing  his finger in the air for emphasis, saying, “For Thine is the kingdom, the power  and the glory, forever and ever. Amen,” followed by more cheers and  applause. To read more: click here…

Praise the Lord for men like Roy Costner IV! There is still hope! Oh that more would stand and act like men like Costner!

I’m raising a young man.

2012-08-20 002

That’s Andrew and he’s looking up to me and counting on me. I’m not going to let him down! I’m going to take up the fight…

13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

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I’m constantly thinking of how I can teach my children about the Lord. The Scripture, Ephesians 6:4 rings in my head like a bell:

“Father’s do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

So, I want my kids to KNOW the Lord! It’s my job to teach them and to teach them in a way that they truly KNOW Him and not just know about Him. Al Mohler says, “Our most fundamental beliefs about God determine everything else of importance about us. If our beliefs about God are not true, everything we know and everything we are will be warped and contorted by that false knowledge – and this fact points to a huge problem. The culture around us has its own concept of God, and it has little to do with the God of the Bible.”

And this is so true. Will my children follow the Lord? Will yours?

I want my children to have a proper understanding of God. How does this happen? It happens by teaching them about the God of the Bible and putting a priority on that in my life. It matters more to me that my children know Jesus Christ than make good grades, get a good job, make a lot of money or live comfortably. I don’t want me kids to suffer…but, if hard times come…they come at the hand of God and at His providence. Why is it that we think we are giving our kids a good life when we give them everything and they don’t know how to work or sweat or wash their own clothes?

And something else is happening in my mind that I must tell you. I’m concerned that perhaps we are no longer teaching our children and our people about the God of the Bible. Could it be that we have made up a version of God who suits our own needs?

Theologian David F. Wells says, “We have turned to a God that we can use rather than a God we must obey; we have turned to a God who will fulfill our needs rather than to a God before whom we must surrender our rights to ourselves. He is a God for us, for our satisfaction, and we have come to assume that it must be so in the church as well. And so we transform the God of mercy into a God who is at our mercy. We imagine that he is benign, that he will acquiesce as we toy with his reality and co-opt him in the promotion of our ventures and careers.”

So, who is God to our children? Can they articulate who God is and what He teaches? If so, what “God” will they articulate? Will it be a view or a version of God that suits them or the God of the Bible? I’m amazed at the blogs I read today by very educated people (even trained in seminaries) who postulate ideas about God that are so unbiblical that it makes my head spin. They are making a god who suits their ideas and “educated” theories and hypotheses.

There is truly a crises in the knowledge of who God, the God of the Bible really is. Many essential truths have been almost lost entirely in our politically correct culture. Carrie Underwood says, “My God loves all people and He is ‘for gay marriage.'” Really? That’s what Carrie Underwood says about “Her God.” Does she own God? Does He answer to her? I think not. Yet kids (especially young girls) hear this “view” of God and now that viewpoint of God becomes their “god.”
Tonight I talked to Andrew by himself for a while about God. I asked him, “Andrew, who is God?” He said, “He made the earth.” I said how do you know? He said, “In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1” I said, “That’s right, son!” He has an accurate view of God as Creator. We talked for about 20 minutes as we walked around outside together. I showed him a dogwood tree and I asked him, who made this tree? He said, “God.” I showed him pollen leaking out of a white pine and I burst it with my finger and I said, “Smell.” He said, “Ah! It smells like Christmas!” I said, “What happened at Christmas?” He said, “Jesus came.” Kandace was with us and we walked over to some Virginia pines and I shook a branch and the pollen came down in a powdery shower. God’s creation at it’s best!
Take a look at this…
Photo: The Dogwood's blooming. #dogwood #beautiful #spring #thecross
Kandace took this picture. It’s a dogwood flower, of course. I told Andrew about the legend of the dogwood. I told him it was just a story…but, the dogwood flower does remind us in spring of Jesus and His death and resurrection.
It was a good discussion with Andrew and Kandace this evening. (Pam and Clara were at church helping get things going with some neat ladies, Gena Hodges and Lori Jennings for our upcoming Flag Football League.) My point is that I desperately want to teach my children about the God of the Bible and not for them (or me for that matter) to make up a god that suits my needs, ignoring who He really is…revealed in His Word.
Speaking of children, Focus on the Family has put out this:
“Ten Reasons Kids Leave the Church,” by Jim Daly
It’s quite interesting…click here for the article
Here’s one of the reasons…
They got into church, but the church never got into them. Many young adults may have been taken to church by their parents, but the church wasn’t integrated into the fabric of their lives. Church was a Sunday event, not something that impacted the everyday realities of their lives.
This is exactly what I’m talking about. We’ve got to get “God into them.” We’ve got to impact their everyday reality. But with the fast-paced lives we live, there is far too little time to do so. Thus, we run from event to event, practice to practice, game to game for little trophies that will end up in basements and attics in boxes within 20 years. We put stickers on the backs of our cars of all the teams they play on or dance for so that everyone will know our kid is an athlete. We brag on Facebook and at the office about the wonderful grades our kids make and how “smart” they are. But, what if they die and don’t go to heaven? What if they are so athletic and so smart and end up at an Ivy League school or get a Division 1 scholarship, but can’t cope with the world…can’t communicate with adults…can’t comprehend the fact that life still ends one day for the most athletic and smartest of them all.
Now, I know what I’m talking about. I graduated at the top of my class in high school and college. I was the most valuable player on my high school basketball team that was one of the most successful in school history. I got a college basketball scholarship. I did all of those things! But, here’s the truth…none of it matters in the scheme of eternity. Is it ok to do these things? Of course…yes…but, I see way too many families who have made these things “god.” How do I know? Because it takes one to know one. I was there. I did all of those things. But, there has to be a balance to life. We’ve got to find it. For most…we are way out of balance to things that are confined to this earth (temporal) and not eternal.
It’s been said, “Whatever our kids can’t get enough of is their god.” It’s also been said, “Whatever we allow in moderation, our kids will take to excess.” So, what are we teaching our children about God or some other “god?”
I don’t want Carrie Underwood’s god. I want the God who revealed Himself in the pages of Scripture, the Bible…and it’s my duty to teach my children about Him.
Psalm 78:1-8
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, 3 things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

5 He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, 6 that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, 7 so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; 8 and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

I like that in verse 7…”so that they should set their hope in God.” They should set their HOPE IN GOD. Not sports, not grades, not a good paying job, not “finding” Mr. Right/Ms. Right. No…that they set their hope in God…Jehovah God of the Bible…

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