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Archive for the ‘Mens Ministry’ Category

Here I am after midnight and I’m all wound up. I’ve been working for the last two days on the Iron Men Conference and I really believe it’s going to be good. Iron Men was very special in my life for almost 6 years. Every Wednesday our group met. But, the church grew so large, that I couldn’t do it any longer. Here’s a picture of the last day of Iron Men.

As I’ve been preparing and working on the conference for August 3rd, the Lord has touched my heart and I’m excited to see what He’s going to do to encourage other men and their sons, friends, coworkers, buddies, etc. It will be at 6:30 in the MPBC Reach Center. You can click her to register (so we’ll have enough refreshments): http://www.mpbc.ws/signuptable/ We’ve got over 150 signed up now!

I’m staying by myself at a small condo on Beech Mountain that a friend has allowed me to use. I’ve only done this twice in my 13 years of preaching. I need to do it more often. But, I feel guilty for not being at home helping out. But, I knew I needed to get away for a couple of days to really lock in on what the Lord wants for the men.

I’ve not budged other than to go to a small store and by some bologna, salsa, a couple of peaches and pizza. I know! Not very healthy! But, I did get on an elliptical last night for 30 minutes.

Look what I saw from my window. See the four deer…

I mentioned going to the local store. It’s Fred’s Mercantile. It’s truly an old-timey General Store. Well, right in front of it…this caught my eye.

That’s an official NOAA weather collection rain gauge. How about that! I’ve never seen one of those. Pretty cool, huh!

Beech Mountain is such a pretty place…

I snapped that picture with those gorgeous Black-Eyed-Susans on the way back from Fred’s (with my bologna in hand). Ha! That’s Ski Beech in the background. It’s amazing! It was 89 degrees when I left home. It was 81 degrees in Boone. Oh…can you tell I was driving through Boone…

And then I got to Beech and it was 73 degrees. Amazing! A full 16 degrees cooler at the elevation of 5,500 feet. My house is 1,300. Boone is 3,300. Truly phenomenal what elevation does to the temperatures. Speaking of temps… It’s going to be cooler for the rest of the summer according to the Climate Forecasting System Model.

No more “Dog Days” of summer for us! By the way, I learned something about “Dog Days.” They aren’t what you think. According to Brad Panovich, weather forecaster from Charlotte, here is a correct understanding of “Dog Days:”

“The dog days of summer are upon us, and you might think that they have something to do with hot and humid weather. Well, that isn’t exactly where the term originated from. The dog days of summer are actually July 3rd through August 11th.  

The Heat of 2 stars?

Those days are the 20 days before and 20 days after the “Dog” star Sirius rises and falls in conjunction with the sun. Sirius is the brightest star in the constellations Canis Major. The ancient Romans believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and humid weather. During the time between July and August, the “dog” star rising with our sun made the ancients think the heat of two stars where making us hotter. In modern times we know that there is no heat generated from this very distant start, but the term stuck. So even in modern times, we consider the hot and muggy time of the summer between late July and mid-August as the dog days of summer.” http://wxbrad.com/dog-days-of-summer-arent-what-you-might-think/ 

You learn something new every day!

You know, I’ve only been gone two days. (I’ll be heading back today, Thursday), but I still miss my family. Truly, I’m a family man. I really love being with my bride, children and grandchildren. So, I’ve sent them several texts…including this one of me blowing a kiss.

Yes, I’m goofy! I know it! Last week we went up on our little mountain, Rendezvous (elevation 2,400 feet) for a picnic… (And yes, it’s noticeably cooler up there than at my house at 1,300 feet, even though we are only a 3 minute drive from the bottom of the mountain. It’s about a 10 minute drive up a gravel road to the gate.

That’s looking back southwest toward my home, just beyond CC Hayes Road. Gorgeous!

Speaking of gorgeous… Kandace and Clark have picked their venue for their wedding next April.

That’s Fussell Farm in Wilbar, NC. http://www.fussellfarmvenue.com.  www.facebook.com/fussellfarmvenue/  It’s about 15-20 minutes from our house and it’s absolutely stunning! It’s a smaller venue and Kandace and Clark will be inviting folks who have meant a lot to them in their lives and has made a direct impact on their lives. I hope folks will understand that not everyone we know can be invited. We’re so excited for them!

Well, it’s 12:30 am and I’m tired now. I guess I’ve finally wound down. So, I’m going to hit the sack. I’ll be back at it shortly!

Blessings to you all!

Kevin

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As human beings we are prone to get weary. That’s why we need sleep. Sometimes I lament that fact. I had a co-worker tell me years ago, “I’m still trying to figure out what to do with that 5 1/2 hours every night that I waste sleeping.” I laughed when he would say it and found myself saying, “You know, there’s some truth in that.” Or so I thought.

Truly, years ago, I though sleep was a colossal waste of time. Why did the Lord make it to where we would spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping. Think about that. 1/3 or our lives (on average) is spent in a bed sleeping. Does that seem like a waste to you? Why do we need sleep? Why did the Lord make it to where we would absolutely conk-out after a long day of work? Why not keep working? Why not live this life (as brief as it is) and go, go, go 24-hours per day?

Well, there are perhaps many reasons for why the Lord made us to rest, but the chief reason (in my humble opinion) is because He rested. He created the universe and all that exists in it in 6 days and then rested. Think about our culture. We have an “end” to the week that we call a “weekend.” And what are we to do? Rest. But, so often we don’t. We pack so much into the “weekend” that we wear ourselves out.

I’m chief of sinners here. In fact, for me, my weekend is not the typical weekend. Sunday is work day for me. Believe me…preaching three services is a challenge…but, I love it and I’m grateful to have the strength and the health to do it. So, after almost 13 years of ministry, I’ve started trying to take Fridays off, so I can truly have a “weekend.” Yet, there’s many weeks I don’t get a Friday off, or a Saturday for that matter. There is truly very little consistency in my weeks. I can’t really count on having a day off, unless I’m on vacation…and even then…depending on the severity of the situation, I might be “working” even then. After all, during a typical week, people get sick on Fridays and Saturdays too. There are weddings to do and funerals. No, I’m not complaining. I’m just admitting that we all get weary at times.

Therefore, I’ve learned through the years that if my family is going to have some part of me, I’ve got to try to squeeze in the time somehow. That’s a challenge, but a necessary challenge.

Are you tired today? Weary? When is the last time you rested? When is the last time you took your foot off of the gas and rested. (I’m saying this to myself as well.) Rest is good. Rest is necessary and rest will make us better people. Rest!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, “Don’t Give Up.” I pray it’s an encouragement to folks not to give up in the mundane of life.

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytyaG45aHl6P2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Hey, hey…I’m excited about this:

It’s our upcoming Men’s Conference on Friday, August 3rd at 6:30 pm here at the church. For 5 1/2 years we had a group of men that met for lunch on Wednesdays at noon to study Scripture. It was wonderful. 

Unfortunately, as the church continued to grow and approach 500 people, it became utterly impossible to keep up the pace. Remember the word from earlier: Weary. I was big-time weary. Yes, it was a very difficult decision, but I had to stop. Without knowing it, the group of about 30 men (who consistently came…even though at times we could have 50+) became like another church. Many of the men were from MPBC, but many weren’t and they seemed to gravitate to me for counseling, insight, etc.

I miss it. I truly do. But, I know I did the right thing for me, the church and my family. However, I believe there will be another group like this one day. It won’t be me leading it, but I believe there will be a time when this group begins again. Stay tuned on that. 🙂

In the meantime, we’re going to seek to bring men and boys together on August 3rd for a time of encouragement, challenge and fellowship. I really believe it’s going to be fantastic! We’re going to have an all-male Praise Team and I’m going to share a couple of messages under the theme of “Men of Another Sort.” I believe when all is said and done that evening, we’ll have men and sons who will be glad they came and experienced a renewal in their lives.

Would you pray for me and for the conference? I’d greatly appreciate it! And would you invite men and boys to come? Come from all over! This is for all…not just for MPBC. You can click here to sign up for the conference:

http://mpbc.ws/signuptable/

You don’t need a ticket to get in…but, we’re seeking to get a number so we’ll know how many will be attending for our refreshments. Please pass the word. Copy and paste that link above and share it…would you please! Thanks so much!

One last thing… Tonight we finish up our VBS. It’s been a great week and I’m excited that we’ll be sharing with the children under the theme “Game On,” this message from Leah Church.

As many of you know, Leah is my niece and she plays basketball for the UNC TarHeels. She just completed her freshman year. She is an amazing talent and she has an amazing testimony. We’ll be sharing this video tonight with the children and it’s excellent. I thought you might like to see it or share it with your family as well.

Kevin

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One of the questions I’m asked the most is by parents. It goes like this: “Pastor, I’m so afraid my child will walk away from the Lord when they get older, what can I do?”

Well, first of all, their concern is valid. Studies continue to show that 70% or more of children who have been raised in Christian homes, will walk away from the faith by their 20th birthday.

That thought still jolts me.  Why does this happen?  Why do we lose children, even though they grew up in a “Christian” home?  Well, one of the primary reasons is because of the pagan culture we live in today.  We live in a culture that is in total opposition to what the Bible teaches about life and living, and our children are immersed in that culture. We know we can’t keep our children in a bubble…yes…they must be protected and nurtured…but, they are going to be exposed to the pagan forces of this world in ways that we’ll never be able to totally control.

So, what does the Bible say about raising children in a way that we will not lose them?  I’m glad you asked!

Deuteronomy 6:4-15

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.

I believe there are five things that we must understand if we don’t want to lose our children.

#1 We must worship God without rivals

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Deut. 6:4

What are rivals today?  Well, I’ll give you what I think the number one rival is.  Now this is strictly my opinion and I guess since it’s my blog…that’s what we’ll go with…ha!  I sincerely believe the #1 rival of God in our children’s lives (and ours too for that matter), is too many activities…i.e., sports, classes of all kinds, running every night of the week, etc.  Now please understand I have nothing against any of these things. My kids are involved in all sorts of things. But, there has to be a balance. We can’t be gone every night of the week and expect to raise Godly children. There must be time to teach the things of God.  Can I be bold?  I’ve learned that for most of us…when we were kids and we win trophies at 12, that most of the time by the age of 40 they end up in the basement or attic or the landfill.

When we are never with our kids except for running them to and fro from this thing to that…then guess who is raising our kids?  Not us!  It’s the teachers, coaches, etc.  Is this ok?  Perhaps, you might say…”They are good people.”  But, guess who’s responsibility it is to raise our children?  Parents… That’s you and me!

#2 We must build homes on God’s Love

5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Deut. 6:4-6

Love is a decision.  It is a decision of the will…a choice we make, however, it is not void of emotion or feeling…men, nor is it led by just emotion and feelings, ladies.  You’ve heard the man who says, I don’t need to tell her I love her, once at the altar was good enough, if I change my mind, I’ll let her know.  While that may be funny…it’s certainly the wrong philosophy!

What emotion does your children see you exhibit toward the Lord?  I tell you, I try to make my kids blush at least once per week as I love and dote on my wife in front of them.  Nothing out-of-place or wrong here…just hugs and kisses that make them say, “Aw daddy!”  But, they love it.  They feel secure when they see that I show love and affection for their mother and it models it for their future marriages.  By the way, where do you think children learn to love God?  From us!!!  If we get mad and walk out on each other, then it teaches the kids that God made do the same to them.

#3 Teach them diligently (Impress it on them)

7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Deut. 6:7

We do what we call ROP (Rite of Passage) at our church. https://www.amazon.com/Rite-Passage-Home-Church-Christ-Centered/dp/1893729958/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

It’s a Scriptural program.  Why do we need ROP?  Well, when does a young person become an adult?  Well, we don’t seem to know.  So, we, the church want to help.  But, it’s not the churches job to do the work of raising everyone’s child.  The Bible tells us that parents are responsible for raising the children…not the schools, coaches, teachers or, again, the churches.

But, it goes deeper than that.  We say it’s the job of parents to raise the children, but do you know who Moses was talking to specifically here?  He’s using the masculine singular in this passage in Deut. 6?  And that means the Lord is principally talking the Fathers and tells the Fathers it’s their responsibility to lead.  You say this is Old Testament.

Well, Ephesians 6:1-4 tells us something very important…particularly look at verse 4.

1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” 4Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Who’s the direction given to?  The Fathers!  Do you see that?  It’s the Father’s job to lead out in the training and instruction of the Lord! It’s not that the mom’s aren’t involved. Of course they are! In fact, mom’s often are the ones who have the greatest impact on a child in many ways. Yet, the dad’s are to set the tone and be INTENTIONALLY INVOLVED. Boy have we missed that in our culture!  Please hear my heart.  It’s not the church’s job to disciple your children.  Anything the Bible tells you to do that I, as a Pastor or the church, does for you, in essence, serves to cripple you and impair you from doing your job.  I or other pastors are simply crippling you and ultimately, (speaking for myself), I’m being disobedient to the Word.

Have you ever thought about this?  What we make our children crave, love and desire is more important and has more impact on their lives than what we make them learn?  You may need to read that again.  What do your children crave and desire?  If it’s not God and the things of God, then you have a priority problem in your home.

# 4 Mark your home as God’s territory

8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.  Deut. 6:8-9

I encourage people to place verses of Scripture on their bathroom mirrors, the walls of their houses in frames, etc.  Even make smells in your house mean something.  Pictures on the walls should depict your home as marked territory of God.  As believers in Christ we should say, “I’m not going to have anything in my house that doesn’t point to Jesus and show that we are His children.”  Make it a goal to touch all the senses of your children in your home.  We have food from a CrockPot many Sundays because of the hectic pace of the day. Pam puts the food on and it cooks while we’re gone and the children associate the smell of food from the CrockPot very often with the Lord’s Day.  Isn’t that neat?

Another example is the use of a Bible…an actual Bible that you read from in your home. Then pass that Bible down to your kids. I’ve done this with my Bibles as I use them and wear them out. Each of my four kids have an old Bible of mine now. I’m working on the grandchildren now. I pray those old Bibles mark their minds that Daddy (Papa for the grands) loves the Word of God…and loves them!

#5 Keep your prosperity in check

10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.  Deut. 6:10-15

This is simple.  Our children don’t want things…they want you!  Did you see what happened?  The people got all the stuff and they forgot God.  It’s happened in America too.  By the way, you’ve seen the poster that says, “He has the most toys in the end wins.”  Well the truth is, “He who has the most toys in the end still dies!”

As another side note, (this is for the ladies who may be reading this), it’s ok to want to and have the desire to spend your time raising your family.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  This used to never be questioned.  75 years ago…when this nation had a lot less…all the mommies stayed home and took care of their families.  Now look at what we have?  We’ve gotten “wealthy” and prosperous with our two-income families (trying to have it all) and look at the moral decay of our nation.  Now, don’t misquote me and say that just because women have gone en masse into the workforce over the last 75 years that is the reason why the country is sliding into moral decay.  But, I promise you…isn’t hasn’t helped.  It is God’s ultimate and first purpose for a mom to be able to manage and care for her home as the first priority.  If you can work outside the home while making your home the first priority…then that’s wonderful. But, the home is to be the first priority. The Bible tells us so.

3Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.  Titus 2:3-5

By the way, it’s ok to come home from work at quitting time too, dads!  One of our biggest problems is that we’re like hamsters running on a wheel.  We are all running around crazy and are worn out and tired and beat to death.  I just read a statistic last week that said kids, when asked what they wanted most from their parents, wanted them to not be so stressed out and tired all the time.  That’s pretty amazing.  Of all the things they could have wanted and that’s what crept to number one.

One last thing…do you know what else the study revealed.  It was simply…this:  If you were to ask your child if they could trade more of Dad and Mom in the home for more house, more vacations, more stuff, more gadgets and trinkets (those are my words for what was said to be “material possessions”), what do you think the kids would say they wanted?  They said, “No.  I’d take more mom and dad.”  Don’t believe this is true?  Just ask them.  They want you!  I promise.

I’ll say it this way…

At the end of your life, the most important thing that you will leave to those you love is the memory of simply being with them. It won’t be the houses, cars, money, material stuff… No, it will be you. Just you. And the truth is: that’s what matters the most to the ones you love most now…today…at this very moment. So, think about that as you pursue life and remember that people are more important than things…every time!

So, how do we make sure we don’t lose our kids to the world?  We must:  #1 Worship God without rivals, #2 Build our homes on God’s love, #3 Teach them diligently, #4 Mark you home as God’s territory and #5 Keep your prosperity in check.  I’d add one last thing…pray, pray, and pray some more…for all you are worth!  We’re in the battle of a lifetime for our children.  Let’s not lose them!  The statistics are stacked against us!  But, we can do all things through Christ and we’re more than conquerors…but, we better prioritize our lives and be INTENTIONAL if we want to have our kids in the percentage who will remain faithful and serve Christ.

Happy Birthday to this lovely young lady…who is now a teenager today!!! Amazing!!! I love you with all my heart Clara!!!

Here is this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday. It fits the topic of today’s post quite well.

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A Fresh Outpouring!

The Lord has really been doing some pretty awesome things in my life lately. I’ve been watching and learning through the life of King David. What an up and down life he had. Catastrophe after catastrophe, tragedy after tragedy marked the life of this man described as a “man after God’s own heart.” How could this man be described in this way? He was a man of war. A man of blood. A man of murder. A man of adultery. He was powerful, killing Goliath. Yet, weak. He couldn’t even keep his family together.

Oh, Absalom! How David longed for the son who killed his half-brother. Why? Because his half-brother raped his sister, Tamar. What did David do? I read 2 Samuel 13 carefully. Verse 21 says, “he was very angry.” I read verse 22 and expected action. A family meeting. A pow-wow. Something. Nothing. Okay, maybe verse 23. Nothing! Nope, verse 23 says Absalom allowed his hatred and anger to fester in his heart for “two full years.” Samuel was clear on that. “Two FULL years.” Not close to two years… Not 18 months. No…24 months of hatred! Why didn’t David do something?

Absalom would plot the death of his half-brother, Amnon and see that he was killed. Tragedy! Ultimately, this hatred and animosity would run from Absalom’s heart from his half-brother to his father. He would seek to take the kingdom from David until his long hair got hung in a tree while seeking to escape on a mule. Joab, David’s general would drive three javelins through his heart. More tragedy!

David go back! David!!! David, think back to the moment you learned of the rape of your daughter by your son. Yes, you were angry! Yes, you were distraught. But, you did nothing (at least Scripture is silent from all I can see). Dad, we have to act when we know something is wrong. We have to speak up. I know you want peace. I know you don’t want to deal with it, but you must, or you might just lose your family! Am I being melodramatic! No. I don’t mean to be. But, you tell me…where do family split-ups start? They start somewhere, don’t they! And then the holidays come and it’s either awkward or well…they don’t show up.

It takes work to be part of a family. It takes being humble enough to take a knee and wash people’s feet. Even the feet of our family members. Those are the hardest feet to wash, folks. And you know that’s the truth. Family can thrill us or kill us. Do you know what I’m talking about? I think you do.

I’m grateful that I don’t have to deal with this in my family. I’m grateful that we are all together and solid. That doesn’t mean we always agree on everything. That would be absurd. Who agrees on everything? But, we have agreed to work through stuff and to talk. Always talk. When the talking stops, it’s over.

I heard it said earlier today, “Hope begins when you are standing in the dark, but then you look up and see the light.” Are you standing in the dark…look up. See the light. Look to the Lord. Forgiveness and love can overcome anything. Will it be easy? Nope! But, I bet if David could go back, he’d address the situation with Amnon and Tamar and Absalom.

Do the hard things and watch how God will use our families to shape us and mold us into the people He wants us to be! Love, forgive, give, sacrifice, swallow hard and do the hard thing. Yep, that about covers any relationship. Let’s hit those again:

Love

Give

Sacrifice

Swallow Hard and do the hard thing!

Let’s see, come to think of it…isn’t that what Jesus did?

I love this article by Andrew Seu Peterson of World magazine, https://world.wng.org/2016/09/forgive_those_debtors

Here’s a beautiful excerpt that will rock your world. It did mine!

…human forgiving is supposed to imitate God’s own manner of mentally removing transgression as far as east is from west (Psalm 103:12) and of tossing the offense into the sea of forgetfulness, then when we forgive-but-don’t-forget, we never give a chance to the other person to change.

Relations become frozen. You see a person who was a jerk to you 10 years ago, and you think as he approaches, “Oh, there’s that jerk.” But he may not be a jerk anymore. If he has the Holy Spirit in him, assume that he is not. Start in with that assumption. God has been dealing with him in many ways since you last interacted. Give your brother a clean slate every day. You know you want one too.

Christianity should be all about believing in and hoping for change—not only for ourselves but for other people. “Love believes all things. Love hopes all things.” Freezing our opinions based on past interactions gunks up the works and brings the life of the church to a grinding halt. We file brothers away in the file of “foolish,” or “proud,” or “liar,” and give them no chance to surprise us with their new growth.

That’s beautiful!

Well, we had a great time at Thanksgiving with family at my mom and dad’s. Everyone was together. Bless Kim’s heart for taking the picture. 

Here’s the one with Kim…

Took some time to go to the creek with the kids.

Clara wanted to build a monument to remind us that we had been here…

How cool is that. I saw this while we were down at the creek…

Does that remind you of Psalm 1?

1 Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

That’s good stuff! You know that picture of the tree and that little monument remind me of what’s important in life. What are we going to build of our lives in this stream of time? Where are we going to plant ourselves? The truth is…it will soon enough be gone. So we better plant well and build well and enjoy the journey!

I must say that I’m enjoying the journey these days. The Lord has blessed immensely. The kids are doing great and the grandkids! We’ve seen 7 saved at church in the last three weeks. We’ve got six to baptize on Dec. 31st. God is good! Please keep blessing us Lord! It’s all of you! I’m praying and believing that this fresh outpouring of His Spirit will continue. Would you join me? Would you ask the Lord to bless you with a fresh outpouring of His presence? Not a fresh outpouring of money or a new job or promotion. No. Just a fresh outpouring of His presence. Isn’t that better? I believe it is and I bet you do too. There is nothing greater on the face of this earth than to be in the presence of God. Can I get an “Amen!?!”

I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’m going to Chapel Hill with the family to watch Leah play for the Lady TarHeels. In the last game I saw Leah play, she nailed at three-pointer at the buzzer before the end of the first half. Here’s a picture of that…

Talk about concentration! Proud of that young lady! She’s played in all three games since she’s bounced back from her foot injury earlier in the year. That’s amazing for a Wilkes County girl from Purlear, NC. This is the University of North Carolina! It still blows my mind! God is good!

Get this…Kandace is going to be singing the national anthem at the game tomorrow at 3 pm against Hartford. It’s kind of old hat for Kan. She’s sung at the Grand Ole Opry and in front of 8,000 people at FaithFest. I think she can handle it. (But, I’m still praying for her and super proud of her for the opportunity and the gift the Lord has given her to sing.) God is good!

You can watch the game tomorrow afternoon by clicking on the link below the picture:

http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3228060/hartford-vs-north-carolina-w-basketball

Looking forward to a great time!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “The #1 Thing Parents Can Do to Ensure Their Kids Are Faithful Christians When They Grow Up”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytzaHZqM3A5P2F1dG9wbGF5PXRydWUmYnJhbmRpbmc9dHJ1ZSZlbWJlZD10cnVl

I missed getting you last week’s TMT. In case you are interested, it’s here: “Should Christians Stop Quoting the Bible?”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytjaHcyZDJqP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Enjoying the journey!!!

Kevin

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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

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

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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