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Archive for the ‘Missions’ Category

Traditions…

We all have them. What are traditions? They are patterns for living. We have just come through the Thanksgiving Holiday Season and you lived by your traditions. You had places to go and people to see and food to eat. Those traditions bring comfort to the human heart. Here was a Thanksgiving meal we had at my mom’s. We did this the day after Thanksgiving.

We like tradition and that’s because we like routine. Think about your routine in the morning or when you go to bed. Don’t you have a routine? Sure you do. We all do. I like routine. I always have and I love traditions…particularly at the Holidays.

Next up… Christmas and the tradition at MPBC with our Christmas Candlelight Spectacular (CCS).

It’s going to be wonderful! Check out the children’s costumes that Evie and Charlotte were recently trying on and modeling…as dressed by Katy and Josh at their home.

Now tell me those aren’t the cutest costumes ever!! And the kiddos will be wearing these at the CCS, December 15-16. We’re going to have fun and activities for the kids on Saturday night and Sunday nights at 5 pm when the doors open. The presentation of the spectacular will start at 6 pm. We’ll have hot chocolate and hot apple cider too! We’re even going to have a photo booth. So, bring the family and get the special Christmas photo made! And perhaps most exciting for the kids is the fact that it’s going to snow! Yep…we’ll make it snow inside the building and it will be a joy!

Here’s today’s Two-Minute Tuesday that’s all about it!

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLyt5OXRoNWZxP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

I hope you will make plans to come! So, don’t forget to go online and reserve your spots for the Saturday evening or Sunday evening performance. Go here:  http://mpbc.ws/signuptable/

When you arrive, we’ll check your name off the “Reserved List” and your spots inside will be reserved. Now, if you choose to come on Sunday morning the 16th to either the 8:45 am or 11 am service…you will NOT need to reserve seats.

Traditions! They are wonderful and we hope you will make Mt. Pleasant part of your holiday traditions going forward and come and be with us this year and the years ahead!

Kevin

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FaithFest 2018

It’s a neat time of year. School is starting back…Summer is winding down. Faithfest is happening this week and I’m excited to see what the Lord is going to do. It’s so wonderful to have something of Faithfest’s caliber in our small town.

Casting Crowns and Mandisa will be in Wilkesboro! That’s pretty amazing! What a blessing! And I’m a bit biased… I’ve got family leading out in this thing. Craig Church is my brother-in-law and FF was/is his brainchild.

Craig of course is the founder of Craig Church Ministries. It’s CCM and a bunch of other folks that pull this off for us. Many thanks Craig!

Our Church Praise Team will be performing Thursday night at the Pre-FaithFest Concert…

Our Praise Team should be up around 8:10 pm. This will all be at the Wilkes Communications Pavilion in Wilkesboro. This is going to be a treat! Here’s the full line-up for Thursday night:

It’s going to be a lot of fun and the weather…oh my…the weather is going to be impeccable! It should be in the mid-60’s with very little humidity by 6 pm Thursday night! Wow! Thank you Lord! And the weekend is going to be just as good! Highs in the upper 70’s and a light breeze. Here’s the full lineup for Saturday at the Watson Stage on the campus of Wilkes Community College:

And in case you are hungry…there will be plenty to eat on Saturday! Food Vendors galore:

Yum!!

Will you please pray? Pray that the Lord will move in the hearts and lives of the thousands who will be there. We’re expecting 10,000+ and prayerful for more! And certainly with a crowd that size, there will be people there who do not know the Lord. Pray for lives to be changed and souls saved! Pray for Jason Crabb…

He’ll be sharing the Gospel around 6:35-7:05 Saturday night. Please pray! I can’t wait to see what the Lord does! Thank you Jesus for your many blessings!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “Screen Time: How Much is Too Much?”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLys2NDYzYndxP2F1dG9wbGF5PXRydWUmYnJhbmRpbmc9dHJ1ZSZlbWJlZD10cnVl

Kevin

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I’m asked often, “What is the reason your church has grown so much?” I respond, “Well, first of all, it’s not MY church.” I say that in a kind way…because folks don’t mean it in a negative way. It’s just the way we talk about churches. But, then I hasten to say, “All I can say is the Lord has chosen to have favor on us and bless us.” Yet, now I add this: “But, the truth is I do believe I can point to something that we’re doing that’s pretty much a guarantee of the Lord’s blessings… GOING! Going and sharing the Gospel. Missions.”

I am convinced the Lord blesses churches who “gather for the going.” My job as a pastor/elder is to “equip the saints for the works of ministry” (Ephesians 4:11-16). Honestly, many churches tithe to themselves. Most of what they do is inward focused. Yet, Jesus told us to: “GO and make disciples of all nations…” So, we “gather for the going.” That’s got to be the goal. Why? Because Jesus’ command (not suggestion)…but command…is to GO!!

Last night we had a mission fundraiser called our “Cake Auction.” We raised over $7,000 for the mission work we’ll be doing this year. It was a fabulous time of fellowship and laughter and joy of being together and loving on one another and knowing that every dime that was raised will go to sharing the Gospel!

It’s always a blast making the cakes. Andrew made a cake all by himself (well…with a wee-bit of help from his momma) and it was delicious!

Check out this cake made by the Jason and Kristina Shropshire family. Can you figure it out…

Yep, it’s the “Lion and the Lamb” cake, representing the fact that Jesus is the “Lion of Judah” and the “Lamb of God.” I’ve been using that in the messages from Matthew 24-25 and Revelation. See this from our website:

Pretty awesome! We had some fabulous cakes and a WONDERFUL time!

Next up is our Soccer League that begins on Saturday! We have close to 200 kids signed up and about 50-60% of those (in my estimation) are in families that don’t have a church home. Would you pray for us as we kick off on Saturday? The weather looks to be perfect! Thank you Lord!

But, don’t get used to it. What? Yep, I believe after a brief “mild-up,” we’ll see cooler than normal temperatures lasting into the last 2 weeks of the month and probably into the first half of May. It’s really been a roller coaster ride. And this past winter proves that. See this graph…

I know it’s kind of “busy,” but you get the gist. We had a warm December overall. Yet, it snowed 7″ on December 8th. Then January was cold and February felt like “Spring had sprung.” However, March smacked us in the face. More snow. Huge flakes…

April will be much cooler than normal. Yep…big time roller coaster ride! Watch out for Sunday! There will be tons of potential in the atmosphere for bad storms. You’ll see this in the Plains today and then moving to Alabama and Georgia tomorrow and Saturday.

Someone asked me a few days ago: Do you do Spiritual Gifts tests for your members? I said, “No, because that’s between the person and the Lord. I see no spiritual gifts test in Scripture.” And what do you know…just a couple of days later I saw that Dr. David Black, professor of Greek and New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary posted this on his blog http://www.daveblackonline.com:

9:50 AM “In your opinion, what’s the best book on spiritual gifts?” A student asked me this question after my NT class yesterday. That’s easy. Kenneth Hemphill’s Spiritual Gifts: Empowering the New Testament Church. That said, I cautioned my student to be aware of two things: (1) the lists of NT gifts are not exhaustive, and (2) none of the gifts is defined per se. Then I asked him this question: “What, in your thinking, is the difference between a ‘natural ability’ and a ‘spiritual gift’?” I had a reason for asking him that question. You see, in the end I think there’s very little difference between a so-called natural ability and a spiritual gift.

When you become a follower of Jesus, two things happen. First, you acknowledge that every one of your so-called “natural abilities” is really a gift from the gracious hand of God. And secondly, you now employ those gifts in His service and for His glory alone. One of the gravest dangers of doing a spiritual gifts inventory on people is that it can all too often produce carbon copies of a stereotypical archetype. Instead, let’s ask people, “What do you love to do? What is your passion in life? What is it that you do that causes you to feel God’s pleasure?” Psychologists call this “self-discernment,” but for Christians, self-discernment is always connected to our relationship with God. The more we become like Jesus, the more we become authentically ourselves. What incredibly important theology. The path to self-fulfillment is simply discovering who our Creator designed us to be. (Side note. Here’s a quick test to determine if you’re doing the rightthing with your life and not merely a good thing. Do the satisfactions of your work outweigh the stresses? If your vocation is born out of a relationship with Jesus, then it will be a pleasure both for you and for others. After all, Jesus said, “My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” So what are we complaining about?)

Our chapel speaker on Tuesday drove this point home. “Don’t waste your life! Don’t bury your God-given talents!” It’s simply too costly. So let’s give people the freedom to be what God wants them to be. The best we can do is give them Jesus, not a book about spiritual gifts. I have no confidence in Dave Black but I have every confidence in my Savior. He is utterly dependable, and if we look to Him, He will guide us in the right path for our lives. Trust me, no one wants to follow a fraud. Be who you are, the real you, the person God created you to be. The church is for real people with real families who lead real lives. And always remember the theology: Our true self emerges only from our uniqueness in Christ.

Amen Dr. Black!

So often I hear people say, “I can’t get plugged into my church.” Well, I don’t mean to be crass, but that’s your fault. It’s your church! Look and see what the church is doing and get involved. The reason you don’t feel plugged in is because you haven’t plugged in! Listen, people do what they want to do. If you have a heart to serve, you’ll serve. If you don’t, you won’t. So, plug-in! Go! Get moving!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday. Yes, yes, I know it’s NOT 2 minutes. I’m sorry. They usually never are! But, I try to keep them under 4 minutes…wink, wink. 🙂 This week’s TMT is about the task of not losing our kids. Should we teach them the 10 Commandments? Yes. Should we tell them there are 66 books in the Bible: 27 in the New Testament and 39 in the Old Testament? Yes. Should we teach them about David vs. Goliath and Daniel in the Lion’s Den and Jonah in the great fish? Yes. But, we must do more. We must give our young people a reason for their hope, beyond just memorizing facts and hearing wonderful stories. We must 1 Peter 3:15 this deal if we’re going to have young people who embrace the faith. Tell me…what do you see?

Take a look at this to find out…

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLyszd3l6cGpkP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

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Did that title grab your attention? If it did, then I did my job. I am an old marketing guy, remember that. Thus, I know that the title of a sermon, article, blog post, tag line, etc. must be catchy in order to grab and lure people to read your stuff.

This is why we exist. What am I talking about? The Church. I’m talking about the Church of Jesus Christ. So, do you know why we exist? We exist to go and share the Gospel. These are our marching orders:

Matthew 28:19-20

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.”

Sadly, 51% of church goers have no clue that what you just read is the Great Commission.

That’s so sad that I can’t even comment on it. My question is: Are you going? I ask myself: Is our church going? If not, why not? We’ve got to be “going” folks…in everything we do! I’m talking about seeing your life, your marriage, your career, your home, your hobbies…EVERYTHING as ways to leverage the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the life of others. Use what you have and where you are to reach people. And here’s the thing…if it’s not happening in your church, then you should go somewhere that is reaching out.

The truth is: most churches “tithe to themselves,” as I’ve heard it stated. They give to themselves in how they spend money. They do stuff for them…not, the people outside the walls of the church.

Believe me…I think about this a lot. As a pastor, I think about, “Kevin, what are we doing as a church to reach people?” In other words, I’m thinking about what the motive is in each ministry and program of the church. And here’s the truth: If it’s not reaching people for Jesus, we need to ask ourselves…why in the world are we doing it?

Now, I say all of that to say how thankful I am for MPBC. No, our church isn’t perfect…far from it. Because we have non-perfect people attending it. But, I do believe we have a desire to reach people. And as I look at our annual church calendar, I see that in the things that we plan and do. We are trying to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus and we seek to bring them into the body and train them for works of ministry. In other words, it’s my job to teach and equip people to be Gospel-sharing people. We’ve got to be making disciples. And that must start in our homes and then spoke out into the world into every area of our lives (work, hobbies, buying groceries, you name it).

This past weekend we had 1,307 people go through the doors to watch and experience our annual Passion Play. It was incredible! The weather was tough in that we were dodging snow flakes and sleet, but we were able to do three of the four showings. And we still had 1,307 people! Crazy!

Now, anyone who knows me at all knows that I don’t have people repeat a prayer after me and then “crown someone saved” by snapping my fingers and doing that kind of invitation. But, like the Apostle Peter at Pentecost, I give people an opportunity to pray in their own words and receive Jesus and then follow-up with us (the Elders/Pastors of the church). With that said, we had in the neighborhood of three dozen people who made professions of faith with triple that of folks who said they were believers, who prayed to recommit their lives to a closer, more dedicated walk with Jesus. That’s astounding! Truly it was and is amazing to see how the Holy Spirit moves when the depiction of all that Jesus did for us is displayed on a stage.

Here are some of the pictures of those scenes and the preparation and work that went into the play.

I can’t tell you how much this brings our church together to attempt to do something for the Lord that’s much bigger than all of us! It involves over 180 people. It brings wonderful camaraderie.

Praise the Lord for all that He accomplished!

What’s next? Our Community Easter Egg Hunt this Saturday at 2 pm.

Yep! We’re hiding 10,000 Easter Eggs and we’re going to use it to share the Gospel. We’ll start out in the church, where we’ll gather everyone up to share the resurrection and then to the field to hunt those eggs. The truth is: there will be a lot of folks who will bring their kids to hunt Easter Eggs with candy in them that perhaps would never come to church the next day, Easter Sunday, for service. So, we GO! That’s right…we GO and get outside of the walls and compel them to come in…even with Easter Eggs.

What’s after that? Our Soccer League (Saturdays from April 14th through May 19th).

Again, folks might bring their kids to play soccer and hear the Gospel on a field, who may never come to a church service. That’s “GOING” and that’s reaching out. And it’s a ton of work and it takes a ton of people to pull all of this off. I’m so thankful for a church that wants to GO! Again, we’re not perfect…but, we’re trying and we’re praying the Lord will continue to have favor on us and anoint these efforts for His kingdom and His glory.

Might I say that we also have another team heading to Mexico/Texas this Saturday. They are going to be placing the windows in the second floor of the church in Progreso, Mexico and sharing the Gospel in Weslaco, TX. Pray for them, would you please!

I celebrated my 50th birthday yesterday and the day before, 3.27, we celebrated the fact that 12 years ago was “Gotcha Day” in China for this little girl:

Look at her now…

Where has the time gone? Thank you Lord for our dear, sweet Clara! You ordained it that we would have the privilege of raising her! What a blessing!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, “You Can’t Be Neutral About This…”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytjNW42MzZ3P2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

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We know God is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. We know that He is Sovereign over all. We know that He has a plan for all of our lives. And we know His will is perfect for our lives. But, how often do we really feel like we’re “in the will of God?” My great-uncle once told me, “Kevin, I feel like every now and again I my life sweeps across the will of God, but all too often, I didn’t realize it until I was out of His will again.” You’ll get a hearty Amen from me on that! It’s not that I feel I’m walking in the path of sinners, but it’s kind of like hitting a golf ball. You’ve really got to tag that little ball in the sweet spot of the club before it will really take off. You can be close to the sweet spot, but still shank it right into a pond.

Well, I believe I’ve witnessed the will of God quite a bit lately. Three examples I can give you that I really believe I’ve seen the hand of the Lord moving and working. And they just happened to all occur on the same weekend.

Many of you know I went to Texas and Mexico over the weekend of January 20-21. Andrew went with me. He’s a joy to be with (and I mean that…not just because he’s my boy…but, he truly is a good kid). This is us on the plane…

God’s beauty…

He loved the Mexican “Coca Cola.” Honestly, they do seem to taste sweeter and are more stout! 🙂

Andrew was so inspired being in Mexico that we’ve pulled out our Rosetta Stone and he’s learning some more Spanish.

We were there for this…

Can you make that out?

  • Baptist Church
  • Mount
  • Pleasant
  • MPBC
  • Fund Independent

They renamed their church after our church to thank us for the 9 years of work we’ve done to help build the church. What a joy!

This is Pastor Oscar and his wife Miriam and their boys, Oscarito and Eli.

What a wonderful family! Pastor Oscar and Miriam were planted by this couple…

Pastor Lupe Garcia and his wife. They are from Rio Bravo, about 45 minutes away. Oscar and Miriam went to Progreso on faith and saw the need for a church there. Progreso is a border town and there are tons of US visitors. The need for a church was great and Pastor Oscar said he’d go.

It was a great service!

This is the original group that grew from Pastor Oscar and Miriam’s work.

Oh how I love these people! We had a great time of celebration afterward upstairs (what we have helped build over the last three years)…

See those holes in the walls? We’ll be helping to put windows in those holes and to stucco the walls and ceiling. Lot’s to do this “mission season.” It’s gratifying to see all of this. It’s also gratifying to see MPBC here at home who loves people so much that we’re willing to work, raise money, sacrifice and give for the work of the kingdom and our brothers and sister in Progreso. Thank you MPBC! I believe it’s one of the main reasons the Lord has blessed us so much as a church.

Well, that’s #1. Blessing #2…

See these people…

That’s Pastor Jason and Katie Church and their wonderful boys, Caleb (beside of Jacob), Wesley (beside of Andrew) and Liam (on the end of the table next to Katie). What a wonderful family! They’ve been in Weslaco for almost 6 years. They have been serving the Lord in building a church called “Church of No Walls” and being the caretakers of our properties (MPBC) in Weslaco, for teams to come down and work in TX/MX from our church and others. They’ve done a fantastic job!

We’ve been praying for Pastor Jason and their church! We’ve helped to establish a storefront church on Texas Blvd, (Main Street), Weslaco.

They’ve been working so hard to grow the church and reach the people of Weslaco. We’ve been praying with them and for them as they seek to reach the community. Now take a look at this church…

That’s New Life Baptist Church on 6th Street in Weslaco (two streets over from Main Street). See this man with Jason…

That’s Pastor Manny Portillo. Pastor Dale Jennings and I Skyped with Pastor Jason and Pastor Manny several weeks ago. Pastor Manny is the current pastor of New Life Baptist Church. Yet, Pastor Manny came to Pastor Jason (they’ve known each other for several years) and said, “Jason, I believe the Lord has told me to come ask you to come and lead the church: New Life Baptist. You see, Manny is also a chaplain for Hospice and his job is so busy that there are times he is called out on Sunday mornings and can’t preach at the church. He is unable to keep office hours or really be there for the people. Pastor Manny knew of Jason’s work and Manny went to his leadership and said, “I believe Jason is the man for our church.”

The leadership met and take a look…

Jason is now serving as one of the pastors along with the Music Pastor, Steve Chamblin. This is pastor Steve…

The church was one of the first four churches established in Weslaco. This sign is outside of the church…

Here’s some of the old history photos of the church in the early 1920’s-30’s…

Unfortunately, over the years, the church had dwindled down to just six people. Those six knew they had to do something. They asked Pastor Manny to help them and he did. He along with those good people grew the church as far as they could take it. But again, Pastor Manny’s job keeps him so busy that he can’t do all that he wants to do and needs to do. So, Pastor Manny and New Life is looking to Pastor Jason to help the church to go to the next level.

Well, I was there and I saw just how much the people love Pastor Jason and Katie and their family!

Jason is filling the pulpit now…

Katie is part of the Praise Team…

Jason is keeping office hours four days a week from 9 am – 2 pm. Here’s his office…

Now someone is at the church to help meet the needs of the people. Talk about a shot in the arm to the church! What a blessing! And oh…the church is so nice. Those six folks sacrificed so much to keep it all going. And there is no debt on any of the buildings or property!

It’s beautiful!

It can hold over 400 people…

Here’s the kitchen…

It has a large field…

A beautiful gym with stage (I took the picture from the stage).

They had a movie night last Wed. night in the gym and showed the film via a screen from the stage. I was able to attend Sunday School and hear the people gush over Pastor Jason and all he is doing for the church.

I know that at least three, possibly four of the people in that SS class were of the original six that I mentioned earlier. But, here’s what I’m really thankful for…

Lives are being touched…

What a blessing! And in case you are wondering, nothing changes with the work with MPBC. We see this as a God-send! We are excited as a church (MPBC) to partner with New Life. And New Life is so excited to have Church of No Walls and their folks join them. The New Life folks said they see MPBC as another way of reaching people in the Weslaco area! Oh how I love seeing God’s hand! He’s working folks! Believe me! It’s amazing to see! Brothers and sisters in North Carolina, Texas and Mexico working together!

Blessing #3…

Andrew and I go to the airport on Sunday after church and lunch to prepare for our trip home and I’m so excited to listen to my niece, Leah Church and the Carolina TarHeels play Duke. At the airport I was able to get wifi and watch the final quarter (and the eventual overtime) on my phone. Andrew and I were going nuts! Carolina was down to the Blue Devils by 19 points, but came all the way back to tie. Leah was popping three-pointers all over the place. She ended up with five three’s for the game and she hit two monster 3’s in overtime to ice the game.

I was so happy that I was almost crying! (Actually I did wipe away a tear or two.) Why? Because Leah has worked so hard to get to this point in her life.

And she gave all the glory to Jesus Christ. You can read about that here in this article in the Daily TarHeel. It’s a great article about Leah and team and the huge comeback that was truly amazing! It’s titled “Take Me to Church.” (Gotta love that title!)

http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2018/01/church-wbbside-0121

What a fantastic and amazing weekend Andrew and I experienced. All in God’s amazing timing!

This week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “What Happens When Things Go UNRESOLVED.”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytod3MzczZ2P2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

I also want to tell you how thankful I am for this young lady…

I can’t believe I’ve got another daughter in her 20’s! Kandace turned 20 on Sunday! Man am I feeling old! I’m so proud of this young lady!

She loves her family…

and the Lord…

and she works hard at her job at Cook’s…

for her students at the dance studio…

and she’s a pretty fantastic lady any way you look at her! I’m a blessed man!

Happy Birthday Kandace! I love you with all my heart!

Kevin

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Compel Them To Come

Take a look at these pictures from over the past weekend…  Our Christmas Candlelight Celebration…

Yep, it’s snowing…

Over the four services (Saturday night and the three on Sunday) we packed in 1,546 people! Did you notice the joy on the little boy’s face above? Yes, it “snowed” inside the building. Can you believe that? What a joy to the see the faces of the children and even the adults!

You see, we publicized that it was “going to snow” inside our building on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and to everyone we knew. Why? Here’s why… Luke 14:23, “And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.” Do you know who said that? Jesus. Jesus Christ said that. “Go get ’em!” That’s what compel means. Tell people that it’s a necessity that you be here! And 1,546 people showed up!

And we sang about Jesus, did drama about Jesus and I preached about Jesus and many, many hands were raised indicating their desire to be prayed for as they seek Jesus and salvation. (No, I don’t have people repeat a prayer after me…that’s not in Scripture…but, I do quote Scripture…the Roman Road…and I tell them to pray in their seats and call on the name of Jesus like a drowning man in the ocean, that’s Romans 10:13…and if they were truly sincere and genuine…then, according to the Bible they can be confident of their salvation.) How many were saved? Only in eternity will we know. Dozens of hands went up throughout the four services…so, I praise the Lord for what I believe He’s continuing to do in people’s lives.

Truly, people have to wrestle with salvation. Here in the Bible belt, so many people make a profession of faith when they’re young…yet, it’s very difficult to tell if a person is truly a follower of Christ until they are put under pressure. So, I’m not one to snap my fingers at a service and “crown people saved.” But, I’m convinced many were and I believe more will be in the days and weeks ahead. Seed takes time to grow.

The point is: we must compel people to come to Jesus. I see that more and more every day of my life. And the real impetus in all of this is not to invite people to Jesus like you are going to give them an extra pillow for their head. No…we invite people to come to Jesus so that they won’t end up in Hell. Jesus said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus wants to save people from Hell and judgment. Yes, I know those aren’t popular subjects, but it’s the truth and the reality of why Jesus came to the earth. He is “Emmanuel, God with us” to save us from our sins…which means to save us from the penalty of sin, which is Hell. That’s more than enough reason to COMPEL people to come to Jesus, don’t you think? It is for me.

During the service, we sang a song called, “Offering.” A man named Paul Baloche wrote it. Here’s some of the lyrics…

I was sitting in the back as we sang it.

I was overwhelmed by the song. It was that song that helped give me assurance that I was supposed to leave the business world and go into the ministry. Truly, this song was part of my calling to the ministry. I remember being in our prayer chapel in December of 2005 and we were singing that song. I was standing on the piano side of the room and I ended up leaning against the railing surrounding the piano and I just wept. I knew God was calling me to preach and I surrendered to that call.

As we sang that song on Saturday night, I was reminded, yet again, of the privilege I have to preach and teach the Word of God. Thank you Lord! Here’s the song…

Yes, next week is Christmas! May we offer to Jesus our gift… the gift of our lives to Him. From my family to yours…

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday:

http://subspla.sh/vwh4wyk

Kevin

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It’s Complicated

Honestly, I’m still getting over the jet-lag and waking up at 4 am, as my body adjusts from the 14-hour time difference from the Philippines. What a trip! Wondering where the Philippines is in the world? See here:

The Philippines is made up of 7000 islands and has 103 million people (slightly less than Japan’s 127 million). It’s predominately Roman Catholic. Very few understand what it means to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s why we go. The Filipino people love Americans because we helped liberate them from the Japanese in WWII. The things the Japanese did to the people of the Philippines (particularly the women) were so heinous, that I’ll not mention them here.

General Douglas MacArthur said he would return to the Philippines to liberate them and he did.

He is highly revered in the country and so are these…

See to the left? That’s a Jeepney. They are replicas of the American Jeeps from WWII turned into their “taxi cabs.” We loved riding in them. 

They are a bit tight for me! Being 6′ 6″ has it’s disadvantages traveling, believe me!

Truly, we were on the go from the moment we landed.

The thing that really sticks out the most in my mind from the trip is something Pastor Dave DelaPaz said to me. He said, “The life of a Filipino is complicated.” I said, “Complicated, what do you mean?” He said, “Well, hard…difficult.”

Let me show you what he means…

See all of that traffic? There are no street lights or stop signs. It’s first come, first serve and it’s CRAZY! People are up all the time. They never go to bed. If you look out the hotel window (where we stayed at 2 am) the streets are full of people and the sidewalks thick with folks. It’s amazing!

You see, the traffic is so bad that it takes forever to get anywhere. Our hotel was about 4 miles from the church and it took a minimum of 30 minutes to get there. Sometimes 45 minutes. The airport was 10 miles away and it took 1 1/2 hours (minimum). Can you imagine? It’s nuts! So, folks have to get up at 4 am to go to work if they live far from their job. College students I met get up at 2:30 am to go to classes. They ride a Jeepney, then what’s called a tricycle. See that picture above? See the little vehicle with the number 33 on it and there’s a white one beside of it? Those are tricycles. They carry 2-4 people. Some folks have to take a train, as well. Then, they have to do it all again to get back home. Often arriving home at 8 pm…literally needing to go to bed right then, so they can get up in 5 hours and do it again. COMPLICATED! You better believe it. I’ll say: “UNREAL!”

Truly, I came to the realization on this mission trip just how hard the Filipino people have it trying to make a life for themselves. They are seldom together as a family to eat meals together. They often just pass each other in a blur to survive. It sounds a lot like America doesn’t it? Maybe that’s where they learned it. In the constant striving to attain more and more…we actually have less and less. Less and less of what? Each other. That’s right. We don’t have relationships much anymore. We’re so busy that when we are together…we’re distracted by the smartphones, television, social media and Netflix. Families don’t spend much time together. It’s sad, but true. And what are we reaping from all of this activity? I’ll let you decide. (Hint, a whirlwind…emptiness.)

I’m praying for myself and my own family in our lives of busyness. I’m praying for my church and my own relationships. Might we slow down and actually “see” one another. Sometimes I just take my children’s faces in my hands and I say, “Let me look at you.” I want to look into their eyes and see their faces. They are so precious to me. Oh, Lord, help me to slow down! I don’t want to miss what’s important.

It’s like Sunday at church. I got out of the rut of the routine. I posted this on Facebook on Monday:

Some Sundays aren’t routine. I hate to use that word, “routine,” but the truth is, for most of us, going to church and worshiping the Lord can become just that, routine and old hat. I’m just as guilty of that as anyone. However, yesterday was different. The Lord really did speak to hearts and we saw (I’m convinced) 5 genuine professions of faith in Jesus Christ.

That’s right: Five! In fact, one man gave his life to Christ whom we’ve been praying for many, many years. Seeing him walk down the aisle with that smile on his face was worth it all. Truly, I’ve come to believe that numbers aren’t everything. I’m the first to admit that. I know MPBC has grown a lot over the last decade, but that’s truly immaterial to me (numerically speaking). Days like yesterday, when lives are being redeemed from Satan’s kingdom to God’s kingdom, is truly what Jesus desires. After all, “He came to seek and to save that which is lost.” Praise His name for all that was accomplished.

Now, I know that every Sunday won’t be this way. I’m realistic about that. But, having a taste of what the Lord can do has given me an increased burden to seek Him in prayer and with faith that I hope there can be many more Sundays like yesterday. Thank the Lord for all of our churches that are seeking to bring people to Jesus. We are God’s army and I praise the Lord for my brothers and sisters in Christ spread throughout the world.

Who needs your prayers today to be saved? Who is literally hanging in the balance between heaven and hell? Pray for them. Pray that the Lord will move and believe that He will do so. And you know what…believe that this Sunday could be the day that they make that walk into God’s kingdom!

I think being in the Philippines helped me to see the need to slow down, even in how I was preaching. So, on Sunday, I asked our folks to bow their heads as I shared the plan of salvation. I asked them to raise their hands if they wanted to be saved or weren’t sure they were saved (after giving a quick…but, detailed explanation of salvation). Hands went up everywhere during all three services. No, I didn’t have them repeat a prayer after me. How, can a person possibly know if someone is sincere that way? You can’t. But, I asked them to raise their hand so I could know how to pray and so that the Lord would see their hearts. All of this, (as I shared above), ultimately culminated in 5 people coming forward either at the invitation or afterwards to the side room we have set up as “Guest Information.” Praise the Lord! Slowing down. Yes, that helps to “uncomplicate” life, wouldn’t you say? Yes. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Much of the living conditions of the Filipinos is very difficult.

Many live in shacks. Yet, the government is beginning to tear these down to build more roads…

Again, very complicated.

We were able to share the Gospel in a whirlwind of ways. They are wonderful at promoting what we do…

We shared with hundreds…no…literally several thousand people while we were there. I was even able to share the Gospel with the government officials in a town called Tay Tay last week. View here:

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/media/mi/+2zxyg7s

It was an amazing experience to share about Jesus being “The Life” with government officials. Can you imagine trying to attempt that in America? Forget it. Even though we were founded on Biblical principles, we are no longer allowed to mention the name “Jesus” in government settings. So sad. Here’s a few pictures from Tay Tay…

Notice how they cover their hearts when their National Anthem is being played. No kneeling in the Philippines…I can guarantee you that!

I was even able to speak about Jesus in a police station with officers in a town called Pasig City…

We were able to speak in the schools…

That’s Kandace and Clara singing.

That was about 700 students. Here’s another 250…

We spoke under covered basketball courts all over the place. (They love basketball…there’s not much land…so pretty much forget football, soccer and baseball.)

Pastor Dale even spoke in a McDonald’s that was rented to share the Gospel…

Kandace and Clara sang there too…

And we fed the people in McDonald’s…

And at the basketball courts…

Feeding stomachs and souls…

We went anywhere and everywhere! And the reactions were precious…

People raising their hands to be saved…and then, coming forward…

Then, talking to counselors… This is pastor Dave’s wife, Ethel…

Kandace and Clara sang and sang…

I shared with children on the ground…

Kandace shared with the girls…

Pastor Dale taught they boys…

Pastor Dale and I shared in the prisons…

Look at how those men are packed in there. See the ladies at the top left?

We taught in the church at night (Shekinah Glory Baptist Church). I love mentoring and training…

What a joy!! We love the dear people at the church…

The girls have made such wonderful friends!

Might I say that we’re considered giants in the Philippines. Look how much taller Clara and Kandace are…

Is that crazy or what? Speaking of crazy…

Yep…that’s a python! We’re crazy! Kandace was the brave one first…

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, eating, standing, child, food and indoor

What a wonderful time…

And a beautiful country…

I’m a blessed man!

Thank you Lord for the privilege to go share the life-saving Gospel! Thank you for the privilege to do that here in America. Thank you for that privilege to do that everywhere we go!

Thank you to a church (MPBC) who allows us to go. And for funding mission work so that we can help these pastors to share the Gospel in the Philippines…

And really…when you think about it…sharing the Gospel…well, it’s not that complicated. 🙂

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “Wearing Ourselves Out Trying To Relax.”

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/media/mi/+9655fs8

Kevin

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