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Archive for the ‘Missions’ Category

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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I sat in an office earlier this week and a lady asked me that question: “How are you doing that?” The question came because she knew I was a pastor and she knew about our church. She was lamenting the fact that her church wasn’t growing and they were trying really hard. My heart went out to her. Honestly, I’m praying she and her husband don’t burn out trying to do everything in their church. Yet, I pondered the question: “How are you doing that?” The “that” is “success,” or at least that’s the way I took it.  Honestly, I get that question quite a bit these days and I guess I still don’t have a very good answer.

Is MPBC perfect? No. No church is, but every church has fallible and sinful people (of which I’m chief). Interestingly, I just saw on Facebook where a lady told one of our members that she was no longer attending our church. And that’s okay. That’s why we have different churches, preaching styles, music styles, etc. Honestly, I’m okay with that. I used to take it personally when someone left the church, but I don’t any longer. I know the Lord has a plan for all of us and for where He wants us to be. We’ve not had many leave the church through the years, but it does happen from time to time. Nonetheless, it is true that the church has grown exponentially in the last 10 years and it is truly hard to explain. However, I heard years ago where a man said, “If you can explain it, then it’s probably not God.” I like that. Because I honestly couldn’t answer the lady with the “how” to her question.

For you see, a church can change the music style, put up screens in the sanctuary, the preacher can lose the tie and the pulpit can become a stool and an I-Pad, but that still might not change your church or make it grow. It might. But, it might not. Yet, as I’ve pondered the question for several days now, I’ve come to these four conclusions: #1 If you’re faithful to teaching the Word of God (I exegete and teach Scripture verse by verse through books of the Bible) and lifting Jesus up, that’s essential. #2 If you’re faithful to sing about Jesus, (you pick the style), and the words to the songs are Biblical and sound, that’s essential. Remember, Ephesians 5 teaches us to sing: Psalms, Hymns and spiritual songs. Do it all. #3 If you’re reaching beyond the walls of your church and being the hands and feet of Jesus (we call that missions), that’s essential. #4 If your congregation shows love for all people and are excited about coming to church, they’ll tell others (Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20), and that’s essential.

You might ask, “What about children’s church, youth group, nurseries, and other age-segregated programs?” My answer: they’re not essential. We don’t have them and it’s not slowed us down a bit. In fact, you can click on the “Adult-Centered Youth Ministry” tab if you want to see more about my Biblical understanding of the things just mentioned. But, the bottom line is something I’ve not even mentioned yet. What’s the glue to all of this? Drum roll please… THE FAVOR OF GOD. That’s right, the hand of God and His mercy and grace bestowed on a group of people for His glory. It’s about an often mis-used word: anointing. Yes, “anointing.” And no, I’m not going to go all Benny Hinn on you. The anointing of God is truly His unconditional blessing and favor that can’t be earned or “worked up.” It’s just His goodness on display. I’m so humbled to say that I’ve sensed that anointing in our church and all I can do is say, “Glory be to God!”

So, I looked at the lady in that office and I said, “I’ll be praying for you.” I asked her where she went to church and the pastor’s name. She told me both and I’ve been praying for the last few days for them. God can do anything! But, I did tell her this: God doesn’t necessarily desire for every church to “get big.” Yes, MPBC is averaging 600+ people for our three services, but that doesn’t mean the Lord desires every church to get that size. Honestly, there are times that people make disparaging remarks about the church because of our size. But, I can’t control the growth of our church anymore than I can control the direction of the Yadkin River. I can tell you this: I’m certainly not going to put a message on our church sign that says: “We’re full, don’t come!” And I’m not going to apologize that the Lord has chosen to bless us. Why is it that growth is good in every other area of life (watching our children grown, businesses grow, gardens grow, our favorite teams win), but it’s not spiritual somehow for a church to grow. Well, tell that to the first church after Peter preached on Day 1 and they added 3,000. Not 30, not 300… They added 3,000!

I hope I encouraged my sister in Christ by telling her to “keep on keeping on” and realize that she can’t do it all. And the goal is not to get BIG, but to be faithful…nothing more, nothing less and the rest is in God’s hands. There was just one Peter. There was just one Paul. But, the Lord used Epaphroditus and Aquila and Priscilla. He used a group of women (Luke 8) to fund the ministry of Jesus. On and on I could go. So, my advice: just be you. Be faithful to the Lord and seek Him first and just be you.

Well, let me tell you about next week. Honestly, I’m still recovering from the week’s work. The work in Mexico was H-O-T! And I mean HOT! It was 103-106 during the biggest chunk of the week. That made it in the 110-15 degree range for “real feel temps.” Yet, we got the work accomplished in Mexico (for the roof on the church) and in helping the “Church of No Walls” and Jason and Katie Church in Weslaco, Texas.

We couldn’t have completed the work on the roof or continued the work in Weslaco, without the work of the April Team:

And now for a collage of pictures… Enjoy!

  

I believe this picture says it all…

I mentioned earlier about how to grow a church. Those pictures above will do it.

I wrote a blog post 7 years ago in 2010 about why a mission trip can change your life. Check it out below. That post explains the very beginning of the work we were doing in Mexico and Texas.

https://dkevinbrown.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/why-a-mission-trip-can-change-your-life/

Several folks have asked me through the years why we don’t just stay in Wilkes County and do missions right here. Why go to China (which we just had a team return last week, as well…read all about it at Kandace’s blog: http://kandacebrown.blogspot.com/2017/06/china-part-2-orphanage_26.html)

We’ll be heading back to the Philippines in November. So, here’s my blog post to answer that question:

https://dkevinbrown.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/why-we-go/

Take a mission trip! Do it! It will change your life and change your church. If you would like to learn more about doing mission work in TX and MX, you can contact our missionary pastor, Jason Church at: forhisglorychurch.jc@gmail.com or on Facebook. The church Facebook Page is: Church of No Walls. https://www.facebook.com/churchofnowalls/ Jason can schedule house groups in the Mission House of up to about 30-32 people. He’ll plan and coordinate the work for you and train you on to bring a team to Texas. We only charge $125 per person for an entire week at our mission house. The biggest expense is the plane ticket (usually around $500-$600 per person). But, it’s amazing to consider that you can do missions in another country and our country this inexpensively.

Indeed, it was a great question I was asked earlier this week: How are you doing that?

Yes, thanks be to the Lord Jesus Christ for the privilege to serve Him and watch Him bless, even though we are undeserving!

Kevin

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Another summer is upon us and it’s in full swing in my world. This week is VBS and next week is off to Texas and Mexico. In the midst of that Kandace and 8 other ladies in our church are in China and there is the process of putting together the budget for next year, getting people in places to serve (Nominating Committee) and planning for the future. There’s never a dull moment.

Pray for us tomorrow night. We’ll have a ton of parents here and they’ll be watching their children and see what they’ve learned this week. I’ll be sharing the Gospel by way of the Three Circles.

It’s a fantastic way to share the Gospel and how the Lord delivers from brokenness all those who will repent and believe in His Son. If they will do so, they can be restored to God’s design for them. A perfect life? No. But, a life where His presence and peace covers us and provides for us strength and security for each day. Knowing God is the most unbelievable part of life. To actually call the God of the universe: “Father” is mind-boggling to me! But, that’s the offer to all those who will receive Jesus by faith, and choose to repent of their sins and follow Christ. It’s such a simple exchange. But, it’s so hard for so many. Satan has such a stronghold on their lives and their minds. Truly, salvation is a spiritual transaction and we must approach people by means of prayer as the greatest tool in our sharing the Gospel… Yes, a good approach (like the Three Circles above) is necessary…but, the essential thing is prayer.

So, I’m praying already about who will be here tomorrow night. I’m praying the Holy Spirit will speak to hearts as they watch the Three Circles. I love this presentation of it from a student at Appalachian State University.

How cool is that! So, pray for us tomorrow night around 7:30 pm, as I share the Gospel.

I checked the weather forecast for Weslaco, TX. When we land on Saturday it’s supposed to be 101 degrees. Yikes! We’ll be seeking to pour the roof of the church next week. That will finish the project. It’s hard to believe we started working on this project five years ago. Praise the Lord that it will be complete (Lord willing and there are no issues).

This is how it looks as of today…

We want to get that roof on next week! But, we also want to minister to the people of Weslaco, TX. We have been going to Mexico since 2008 and it’s been a wonderful journey to watch children who were very little, who are now grown and continuing to follow the Lord. It reminds me of the Apostle Paul has he went back to the same towns on his missionary journeys to care for the people and to encourage them. That’s what we seek to do as well. Pray for our team of 26 as we head down on Saturday. Thank you!

My goal is to upload pictures on Facebook throughout the week as much as I can. I’ll look forward to reuniting with Kandace as she will arrive back on the 23rd and we’ll arrive back on Saturday the 24th. It’ll be about 1 am or so before I hit the sack…but, I’ll look forward to hugging my girl the next morning before heading off to church to preach. Reuniting when you haven’t seen your family for a couple of weeks is bit like heaven if you ask me. What a grand reunion we will have there one day. How in the world does our Heavenly Father hold back from sending Jesus to come get us… I’ll never know. His love and desire for more to come to know Him before it’s too late must be the overriding desire of His heart. Otherwise, it would be: LET THE REUNION BEGIN.

Here’s this week’s Two Minute Tuesday. Senator Bernie Sanders really put his foot in his mouth last week. See here, why he doesn’t understand the claims and teachings of Jesus at all. Also see  why the Senator doesn’t even understand our Constitution. How does a man like this ever get elected? It’s beyond me. And on top of that…he was almost the Democrats choice! YIKES! It’s gotten almost 4,000 views as of this afternoon.

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

Here’s last week’s TMT on “Judging.”

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/lnz5z6z

Kevin

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