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It’s up to $1.5 BILLION!!

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Got your lottery ticket yet?

Not me.

I won’t be buying any. In fact, I don’t want any. (Someone gave me a lottery ticket one time, and after I got home I tore it up and threw it away.) Why? Because I do not want to be lured into anything that could be detrimental to others. Truly, the lottery is killing a lot of poor families. There are folks who buy lottery tickets (because they are addicted to gambling) versus food for their family. That’s so sad.

Somebody asked me the other day, “Pastor, what if someone won the lottery and wanted to pay off the building debt with their tithe?” I said, “I would politely say, ‘No thanks.'” Why? Because in my heart and mind, that’s money that was won by gambling. The person then asked, “Preacher, don’t you think people put ‘dirty money’ in the offering plate every week?” I said, “Yes…but I don’t know that it’s ‘dirty money.’ With the scenario you just described, I’d know about it.” Now, that’s a personal preference and I can’t be dogmatic about it.

In fact, as I said in my “Two-Minute Tuesday” today, I don’t believe buying a lottery ticket is a sin, but I do believe it “feeds the greed” within us and places our trust on man and not God.

According to The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, here are three (3) interesting facts about state lotteries.

  1. In 2014 lotteries took in $70.1 billion in sales. That’s more than Americans in every state spent on books, recorded music, video games, and tickets to sporting events and movies.
  2. In five states, people spend more than $600 dollars per person per year on lottery tickets: Rhode Island, South Dakota, Massachusetts, West Virginia, and Delaware.
  3. The poorest 1/3 of households purchase 1/2 of all lottery tickets.

The Bible is clear:

Hebrews 13:5

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Proverbs 10:4

A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

1 Timothy 6:17

…nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.

As for me…I’m going to store up treasures in heaven where moths and rust won’t destroy and thieves won’t break in and steal. Jesus said, “You can’t serve God and money.” The Bible says: “Godliness with contentment is GREAT gain.” And “If a man doesn’t work…let him not eat.” So, that’s my take on the lottery.

Here’s the video. (You’ll note when I cut the video, which I actually taped on Monday, the jackpot was only $1.3 billion):

When are we going to have a scene like this:

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Well, most of the weather prognosticators thought we would have had some by now. The El Nino was so strong that it overwhelmed December and it’s been slow for the pattern to change. But, it finally flipped last week. We are now firmly in a “Negative” pattern, which is code for COLD. The problem is (as always) getting the moisture synced up with the cold. That’s the hard part. We had plenty of moisture, but no cold air. And now we’ve got the cold air, but the moisture is limited. Will the two come together? Well, that will mean that the northern jet stream  will need to buckle south and provide the cold air at the same time the southern jet stream sends moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Again…it’s all timing.

What I’m seeing is the two weeks we’re going to be close, but probably no cigar (as the old saying goes). We’ll be a bit too warm (even though this weekend might be a closer call than some are now saying). But, I do believe as we move toward the end of the month and into February that we’re finally going to see wintry precipitation. But, here’s the truth. The pattern for the remainder of the winter, (once it sets up), normally persists throughout the rest of the winter. So, whatever happens in the next 3 weeks will tell the tale. Personally, I still believe we’ll see some snow, but the biggest chance looks to be February. Remember it snowed three times last February in the winter I called “Delayed but not Denied” and we could be in for a repeat performance. We’ll see.

Please be in prayer for these lovely ladies…

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That’s (Left to Right), Kristie Cothren, Michele and Julianna Cordray, Lakyn and Melanie Parrish, Jennifer Spencer, Tabitha Garza and Kandace and Pam Brown. 9 strong! And they’re in China right now helping minister to some really, really needy orphans and workers. Please lift the up to the Father, will you? They are living in pretty tough conditions. It got down to almost 40 degrees in their rooms the other night because there was no power. I Facetimed (is that a word?) with Pam and Kan this morning (which was about 9 pm their time…since they are 13 hours ahead) and they were doing well. They were tired and getting ready for bed. The food is kind of rough and the beds are hard as bricks. But, that’s mission work, folks and they’re used to that. But, nonetheless, thanks for the prayers.

How am I doing? Peachy! I’ve got wonderful help. Katy is a fabulous cook and my mom and dad are nearby and I’ve had tons of offers from others (probably many of you reading this). So, thank you, thank you, thank you! And get this! I’ve not even had to fix country ham and scrambled eggs yet (my specialty). 🙂

And I have a wonderful ministry assistant…

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My love to you all!

Kevin

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Off to the Philippines

See this map…

Cainta.10

See the city beside of Manila that Cainta? That’s where I’m headed for the next week and a half. To be specific that is Cainta Rizal, Philippines. Here’s a bigger map of the Philippines. You’ll see it’s beside of Malaysia.

phil-MMAP-md copyAnd finally, here’s a map that will show you how small the Philippine islands are compared to the rest of the world. See the orange arrow (bottom-right).

eb9eb4511cea47ab33a33bc3e606ea68You’ll see how close the Philippines are to the Equator.

It’s hot there. It will be around 90 degrees with oppressive humidity and a good chance of rain most days while we’re there.

I’m not the only one going. Kandace is going as well as my dear friend and fellow pastor Dale Jennings. Pastor Dale has been many times and is leading the trip. This is my and Kandace’s first trip. I’m going to be looking and praying to see if the Lord might want us at MPBC to ramp up the work there. There is so much to be done. There are less than 2% Christians there. Yet, 90% of the people will tell you they are Christians because they are Catholic. Yet, most are cultural Catholics (don’t attend mass) and have no relationship with Christ anyway. But, they’ll tell you they are Christians. (Sounds like America doesn’t it?)

Here’s the crazy thing. We are going to get to go into the schools and even talk to government officials about Jesus. Isn’t that amazing! The thoughts of doing something like that here in America is…well…you’ve got a better chance of flapping your arms and getting to Mars than you do talking about Jesus in a public school in an “Assembly” setting or going to the local mayor’s meeting and sharing John 14:6. We’ve sunk so far as a nation. Yet, for now…we have open doors to the Philippines and thousands of teenagers. On Monday of next week we will be speaking at Star of Hope High School, Repsci High School and Nageayong High School. On Tuesday, the 20th we’ll be sharing with 4,000+ students at M.I. Santos High School.

I’m going to tell you who will likely make the greatest impact…

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…that young lady in the purple. Kandace will tremendously impact those young adults with her testimony and story of how you can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. She’s also going to be singing. They’ll love her! (Sorry, I couldn’t help but get a picture of Charlotte thrown in there to boot :)).

On Wednesday we’ll be going to three different prisons in Cainta, Pasig and Taytay sharing with the inmates, army and prison authorities.

If I may back up a second. On Saturday we’ll be speaking at an Evangelistic Crusade at 8 am at an Elementary School. And then that afternoon we’ll be at the church (Shekinah Glory Baptist Church) sharing with about 8 churches, their pastors and members. It will be a time of encouragement for these churches. On Sunday 9 am, we’ll be having a crusade at the church where I will be preaching and Kandace singing. Later in the morning, I have the privilege of sharing with the adults, while Dale and Kandace share with the young adults and students. That night I’ll be preaching at their 25th Silver Anniversary Celebration of the existence of Shekinah Glory Baptist Church.

We’ll head back on Thursday, October 22nd, arriving back in Charlotte around 10 pm that night. It will be in the wee hours of Friday the 23rd when we arrive back home to Purlear.

Can I ask you to pray for us? There are around 100 million people in the area where we will be ministering. Again, 90% are Catholic, 5% Muslim and Cults and less than 2% Evangelical Christian. Pray for stamina and strength. On Monday and Tuesday particularly we will be speaking over and over again as the students are brought in at about 30-45 minutes until we run through all students of the schools. We go to bed late and get up early. We are 12 hours ahead. So, when it’s 8 am here, it’s 8 pm there. Pray I can handle the flight. The older I get, the less I like being on a plane. I’m not made for a plane at 6’6″ tall. Thankfully, Pastor Dale got us a bulkhead seat (an exit row) for the 13 hour 10 minute jaunt from Detroit to Tokyo (the longest leg of the journey). Thank you Dale! And yes, when he told me, I kissed him on top of the head!!! (He’s getting used to that and smiles and tolerates my silliness!)

Pray for our families back home as we will miss them. Pray most of all that we might say something that would be used by the Holy Spirit to save lives. Pray for boldness. Strong stomachs (eating strange food), good health, decent rest and no “Satanic wrenches” thrown into things.

Thank you for doing so and I’ll update you when I get back. If we have some kind of internet connection, I might try to put out a quick update if I can via the net. So, check back here next week. I love you all!

Kevin, Kandace and Pastor Dale

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Things are changing faster and faster… Or at least that’s the way it seems to me.

Let’s see, we’ve got a lady running for the White House who has allegedly broken federal law with a private email server circulating Top Secret information (being investigated now), while another lady was led from a Court House to jail because she believes in the Biblical definition of marriage.

One gets to run for President…

One now has a rap-sheet…

Amazing! Sometimes I feel like I’ve fallen asleep and I just need to wake up from this bad dream. Do you feel that way? It’s enough to make your head spin.

Well, I’m more focused than ever. I’m more focused than ever to be a pillar and buttress for the truth! We’ve sat on the sidelines for far too long and watched it come to this. Who would have dreamed that we’d live in a nation where Christians would go to jail because they actually believe in the Bible and use the Bible and the principles found therein to make decisions.

You see, the truth is this. The homosexual agenda is not about the ability to marry. At the root of the agenda is to shut down and shut up anyone who disagrees with them. It’s not about tolerance. Tolerance? Are you kidding? We tolerate everything known to man in this country except for Christians. We tolerate Beyoncé and Miley Cyrus dancing naked on stage while we buy tickets for our teenagers to watch them. We tolerate babies being dismembered and their body parts sold for profit by a group that uses our tax money to do so. Everyone tolerates everyone and everything except for Christians. Christians… Oh, I’m sorry, you are free to believe what you want to believe and teach what you want to teach, but don’t you dare bring it into the public square. Don’t you dare bring your religious understanding and Christian worldview to your job. No sir! You leave that stuff at the house and at church. We don’t tolerate or accept anyone telling us we can’t do what we want to do with our bodies, our relationships, our wedding cakes or our wedding pictures. You ARE going to celebrate our lifestyle! You WILL issue our marriage licenses and you’re going to like it or you will be fined, lose your job or been thrown in jail!!!

Please, please…somebody wake me up! I’ve got to be living on Mars. This can’t be happening here! But it is! It’s happening right before our eyes. And what happens in the next few weeks and months will determine the destiny for this nation for the next 100 years. You and I are living in one of the most important seasons of time in the history of our nations. What happens next with religious liberties will determine how your children and grand children will live the rest of their lives.

Part of that is what the Presidential candidates are going to do with this. From what I’ve heard: Huckabee, Cruz and Carson have been staunch supporters of the Kentucky Clerk, while Trump, Christie, Fiorina and Kasich have publicly said the Kentucky Clerk should have just given in and done her job and signed the marriage licenses. Well, the detractors are dead wrong! Dead wrong! Because that makes her complicit. We make accommodations in this country for Muslims to have prayer mats at GITMO, but we can’t make an accommodation to have a lady’s name taken off of a simple form! Come on Governor Steve Beshear! Step up to the plate like you did when you changed the form a few months ago to remove “husband” and “wife” and call it “spouse” and “spouse.” Oh…I’m sorry…you are a flaming liberal and that would go against your tolerance position. This poor lady is now receiving death threats because you have no backbone sir.

So folks, while we’re worrying about the stock market, planning our next vacation and getting our whole foods at the market, our children might one day stand before a tribunal and have to swear allegiance either to the government or to Christ. Many of us will likely be long gone by then, but I want you to think about it now. Because what you and I do or DON’T DO over the next several weeks will tell the tale. Are you ready? I hope you are. You’re going to have to have a strong backbone. You are going to have to be like Peter and John who stood before their highest court, the Sanhedrin and refused to back down. They said, “You decide if we are breaking the law, but as for us…we will continue to preach Jesus” (my paraphrase). Here’s the account from Acts 4. This is now here… It’s happening in America:

Acts 4:13-21

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.

Do you have that kind of courage? I hope you do, because that’s what it’s going to take going forward. There’s a “new normal” in the land and Christians who hold to the tenets and principles of Scripture are no longer welcome in the public square! If you are a Christian and you want to work in the public square, YOU NEED NOT APPLY!

I described in detail what’s led to this in my video from Tuesday, “Who’s Going to Jail Next?”

Yes, I’m focused. I’m focused on teaching and preaching the Gospel. I got these two emails from two men earlier today that blessed my heart. One was a prayer…

My wife and I visited Mt. Pleasant on Sunday… It really encouraged me to hear the Word preached in the way that you did. So many people in this day and time try to put a politically correct spin on Gods word and don’t want to call out sin for what it is. Thank you!

And here’s the prayer that was emailed to me…

Dear Heavenly Father,  I want to thank you for my pastor.  I am thankful you have placed the conviction in his heart to preach the word of God and only the word of God.  I appreciate the spiritual warfare he is willing to confront daily from me, my family, and the rest of our church as the shepherd he is.  I know very little of the ridicule and criticism he faces almost hourly but can gather it can be overwhelming just from some of the comments and jealous remarks I hear at work when people find out I attend MPBC.  Thank you for strengthening his resolve to not buckle under the pressure and to preach the way you have designed him to preach.  I am thankful for all I have learned under him and how you have used him to grow my faith although I still fall so short of where I feel I should be at this point.  God, I pray for protection for him and his family as Satan cannot be happy about his boldness.  God, I pray that you place him on my heart more often to pray for him.  He needs the prayers more than any human can probably comprehend.  Give him rest and comfort in you.  Strengthen him each night during the few hours of sleep he gets so that his body is able to sustain what is needed for the work ahead.  We love you God.  Thank you just doesn’t seem adequate enough.  In thy name I pray.  AMEN

Oh, my heart has been blessed. Thank you Lord!

So, may I encourage you not to lose focus even though there are detractors. Sharpen your focus on what God has called you to do. Don’t get pulled to the right or to the left. Knuckle down.

That’s what the Weather Channel has figured out. They got away from their focus and they started running all of this “reality TV” and they are tanking. So, they are getting back to doing what you would think the Weather Channel ought to be doing: COVERING LIVE WEATHER. You see, I’m not interested in “Fat Guys in the Woods.” I’m wondering if it’s going to be snowing in my woods. And so, they’re revamping the whole network…

http://money.cnn.com/2015/09/09/media/weather-channel-sam-champion/index.html

I’m focused on preaching, teaching, equipping and holding up the Word of Truth of Jesus Christ to the world!

And that’s what we did Sunday…

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My prayer is to be described like Peter and John were described…

Acts 4:13

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 

Onward we march soldiers!

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Walking and Praying

I’ve really had prayer on my mind and heart the last 5 weeks perhaps like no other time in my life. I realize that my prayer life has little fervency and thus, I’d never know power in my life like Elijah. Remember, he prayed and it didn’t rain for 3 1/2 years and he was a man just like us James 5:17 tells us.

We’ve let Satan convince us that we can’t expect anything great from God, so we pray nothing little prayers. We pray in our strength, ability and reasoning. Thus, no power! No miracles. No lives being saved. Country going down the tubes. And we wonder why. We shouldn’t wonder. I shouldn’t wonder. We have not because we ask not. 100% of the prayers we don’t pray won’t get answered. Simple concept, right? And we know all these things, but we still just go through the motions when we pray. We do it out of duty and there is little feeling or burden behind our prayers.

Oh that I would come to the Lord like the little old lady before the judge. She didn’t let up. But, I had. I had gotten to the place of just going through the motions. Have you? This isn’t a guilt trip. It’s just asking us to take a “prayer inventory.” No condemnation. Just like with an annual physical…we need to know our prayer blood pressure. For most of us, it’s bottomed out at 60 over 30.

As a pastor/elder and as a husband/father, I’m done with allowing Satan to lull me to sleep in a lethargic, unexpectant apathy. Therefore, I shared with the church last Sunday that I’ve decided to go the way of the Children of Israel as they circled Jericho, I’m circling my house and the church asking God to cover my family in His presence… Shake us and give us a burden for the lost and seek to get us out of our desire for comfort, pleasure, entertainment and ease into a fervent, expectancy. Lord knows we need this and our country needs this. So this is now me…

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Crazy? Probably to most! But, walking and praying has made me intentional and focused like never before. I’m praying out loud and I’m crying out to God. I feel an intense urgency. This country is going down the drain spiritually. Everything is upside down. What was once deemed good is now deemed bad and what was once deemed sin, is now lauded, accepted and  seen as normal. Our only hope is to cry out to the Lord of heaven and ask Him to change us and have mercy on us.

Folks, we must be salt and light and dispel the darkness. We are running out of time and I am not ready to give up. I’m not ready to dig a hole in the sand and say, “Well, that’s just the way it is. We’re just marching toward the end times. There’s no hope. Just accept it. Get ready for prison.” Well, I refuse that line of thinking. Before I go down…I’m going to go down to my knees and boldly come before the throne of God asking for His mercy, grace and love. I’m praying for the sleeping giant of the Church to wake up and once again go and make disciples of all nations…including this one.

Here’s today’s, 2-Minute Tuesday video on the subject…

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I’ll have to admit to you, after the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states, I started buying into all that I was seeing and hearing from many Christian circles. What was that? Two words: DOOM/GLOOM. But, I’m encouraged that this is the very thing that was needed for the Church. We needed a wake-up call and I believe it’s working!

Let me tell you three things that I saw from the Supreme Court decision that encourages me. Yes, I said, “Encourages me…”

In one key paragraph, Justice Kennedy makes three major declarations about the importance of protecting religious freedom.

#1 Kennedy made it indisputably clear that those with religious affiliations may live in accordance with their conscience regarding marriage. Here’s what he said: “Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.”

#2 Kennedy affirmed that this protection (above) is granted by the First Amendment. He also recognized that the view of marriage as a sacred union between one man and one woman has been long-held by many Americans, validating traditional marriage as a legitimate viewpoint. Here’s what he said: “The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.”

#3 Kennedy upheld a vital aspect of America’s political and cultural tradition by recognizing the importance of free debate, an activity which is totally central to our nation’s foundation. Here’s what he said: “In turn, those who believe allowing same-sex marriage is proper or indeed essential, whether as a matter of religious conviction or secular belief, may engage those who disagree with their view in an open and searching debate.”

Those three points greatly encourage me. And they should you as well. Why? Because Kennedy recognized the strong protections recognized by the First Amendment for religious organizations and people like me (a pastor/elder).

One other note from the majority opinion as it was written stated this: “…as we deal with the implications of the decision— no matter what happens, religious liberty is a fundamental right that is respected in our country and must be held inviolate.”

The Liberty Institute’s CEO, Kelly Shackelford said this: “Some people think, this case was the end of the battle. This is really the very beginning of the battle as to religious freedom, and I think it’s a battle we can win, and we will win.”

Encouraged? You should be! 🙂

Hey…staying on the subject for a moment… This ought to be a great movie: Audacity… http://www.audacitymovie.com Anything that Ray Comfort does is excellent. This trailer really piqued my interest.

And for those who are being hit with tough questions and you’re wanting answers to help friends, family and neighbors in a loving and kind way…this really helped me. I’ve bookmarked it. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2015/07/01/40-questions-for-christians-now-waving-rainbow-flags/

See this picture…

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This means Josh, Katy and Charlotte are home! Woohoo!! We moved them in on Saturday. It’s a joy having them here and seeking the Lord for a job for Josh. It’s wonderful being on the roller coaster ride with the Lord at the controls. We can throw up our hands and relish in the journey because He knows how it ends. God is good and I praise Him in advance for all that He will do in the future.

And one of the joys in all of this is that I get to take part in all of it by walking and praying fervently to our loving and merciful Heavenly Father! Awesome!! 🙂

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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.

missions4theking.com copy

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.

mexico-2010-002

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.

mexico-2010-027

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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Hurry Up and Wait

Hurry up and wait. That’s what’s happening in our household right now. Bags are packed (as good as they can be), just waiting on the call from Katy that Charlotte is coming (our first grand baby). Nothing is happening yet. Charlotte is due to arrive one week from today, but we know God is in total control of her actual arrival. So what do we do? Hurry up and wait.

That’s okay though. It’s exciting and such a blessing. Some of you are in a “hurry up and wait” mode on hearing back from the doctor to see if you have cancer. That’s excruciatingly gut-wrenching. Some of you are in a “hurry up and wait” mode to see what’s going to happen at work (to see if you still have a job). Some of you are enduring health problems, marital problems, financial problems, children problems and it seems all you can do is “hurry up and wait.”

It’s okay. God has you. If you are His child, you can rest in His timing. Remember Lazarus? It seemed Jesus was four days late. Nope! He was right on time to perform a miracle and give His Father the glory. So, we hurry up and wait. We trust the Lord’s timing, even in our suffering. We know that He will sustain and His grace is sufficient (better word is: “ample”). So, let not your heart be troubled. Trust in your Heavenly Father. He will deliver you. He is your rock and fortress. He is your strong tower. He will provide for you. He loves you so much He died for you.

By the way, you know that God is in a “hurry up and wait” mode. He could send Jesus back right now. But, He’s waiting. He’s waiting because He is long-suffering and patient and extends more time to this season of grace so that people might be saved outside of the backdrop of His wrath (The Tribulation). So, praise His name that He’s willing to hurry up and wait too.

So, while you wait…pray. Pray and read His Word. There is something powerful in those two acts (Word and prayer). But, if you are to the point in your life that you can’t do either one of those, then it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to allow those hot balls of ache and pain to come from your tear ducts and burn your cheeks. Just cry. Cry out to God like David and say, “How long O’ Lord!” He can handle it. He has been there. And after your cry. Sleep. Rest. And when the morning comes…you’ll see that His mercies (which are new every day) will come with the dawn. It’s going to be okay. You’re going to be alright.

See this player…

Leah shooting

That’s my niece Leah Church. I’ve told you about her before. She’s a dead-eye shooter. She plays for the Carolina Cougars Homeschool team out of Winston-Salem. They are crushing teams right now. Leah is 16, but plays like she’s a college sophomore. She’s averaging around 25-points per game.

I went to watch her and her team play last Friday night. They played Forsyth Country Day School and they obliterated them. That’s Leah passing the ball below…

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I thought before the game started (during warm-ups) that FCD had a shot. Wrong. The Cougars walloped them by almost 40 points! Leah had 30.

I love this time of year because I’m a basketball fan. I always have been and I always will. About every other week I dream of playing basketball. Crazy? Maybe. But’s it’s the truth. I love the feel of a basketball in my hands. I love the way it feels when I shoot it and it strips the net. Crazy, I know! But, it’s in my blood and it’s in Leah’s. I see it.

What’s in your blood? Maybe it’s music or singing or playing an instrument? Maybe it’s dancing or cooking or building or hunting? Isn’t it cool how God gives us these wonderful things to fill our lives with joy?

Here’s another joy…

Tables

This was the “Festival of Tables” at church Saturday night. We had close to 200 ladies come and be involved in a wonderful time of fellowship and inspiration. Us fellas got to prepare the food and “wait” on our wives and daughters…

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These three guys really did a yeoman’s job.

IMG_1776That’s Kevin Bounds in the red shirt. He prepared the meal. Grilled chicken, asparagus, twice-baked potatoes, salad, roll and cheesecake for dessert (see them preparing those above). Awesome! On the left is Claude Sturgill. They don’t come any better than Claude. You talk about a servant of the Lord and a “worker!” Wow! And in the middle is Steve Walter. He’s another “salt of the earth” servant.

We all had a blast! And let me tell you something. Next year, we are bringing in IV’s. For what? For those ladies. They drank over 400 cups of coffee (decaf). They must be camels. So, next year… IV bags of coffee at each table. 🙂

How are you enjoying the cold weather? I told you it was going to be a rough winter. It will warm back up some by the weekend and particularly into early next week, but it’ll cool back down to seasonal temps by Thanksgiving and beyond. I still believe we’ll have snow on the ground in Western NC (the foothills and Piedmont) before Christmas. The pattern is hinting at that already.

Speaking of snow… Christmas music is starting to crank up on the radio stations and I heard this one over the weekend. Do you know it?

Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!It doesn’t show signs of stopping
And I’ve bought some corn for popping
The lights are turned way down low
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!When we finally kiss good night
How I’ll hate going out in the storm!
But if you’ll really hold me tight
All the way home I’ll be warmThe fire is slowly dying
And, my dear, we’re still goodbying
But as long as you love me so
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

See this man with Clara and Andrew?
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That’s Woody Buchanan. He’s the General Manager and President of Granite Hardwoods in Granite Falls, NC. I worked for Woody the last 3 1/2 years of my business career. He was the best boss I ever had. Without question he taught me more about life through the way he managed his business than anyone I’ve ever met. He’s one of the most generous and gracious men I’ve ever known.
Woody taught me how to love people and do the right thing even when it hurt. However, he also taught me not to be afraid to let people go when they weren’t a good fit for the operation. I lived in fear of losing people and losing sales, so I often held on to people too long. Why? I was afraid I couldn’t find someone better. (That’s what a lot of women do…they “settle” because they don’t think they’ll “find” someone better.” Truth is…they don’t have to find anybody. God is in control of that.) Well, I learned the hard way on a couple of occasions and Woody kindly gave me enough rope to hang myself. And then he picked me back up and said, “Okay, what did you learn.” Man, do I miss that man! I love Woody Buchanan.
I try to drop by his office from time to time just to thank him for encouraging me and helping me. When he bought The Hardwood Company (of which I was General Manager), he could have drained me  dry (after purchasing the company) and cut me loose. But, he didn’t. He saw in me more than just a worker. He saw I could be more. Little did I know that he was actually training me for the ministry. God knew exactly what He was doing when He orchestrated the sale of the company to Woody.
I look back now and I’m thankful for my 3 1/2 years with Woody. That’s about how long the apostles had with Jesus. Now, don’t get me wrong, Woody is no Jesus…but, he does know Jesus and he taught me how to know Him better too. Thanks so much Woody! I’m eternally grateful!

 

 

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Four things to share with you tonight.

Predictions…fasting…preacher’s kids and Ebola.

#1 I saw this earlier today and I had to take a double-take.

Bush's prediction

Then President, George W. Bush, made this comment on July 12, 2007. Talk about eerie! Wow! Almost prophetic, wouldn’t you say?

I must tell you that I have been praying for our current President, Barack Obama. He has a ton on his shoulders. His speech last night still leaves many questions. Comparing the job of addressing ISIS to our work in Somalia and Yemen. Well, that didn’t comfort me much. I’m praying for peace, but I know there won’t be peace until Jesus returns. Say what you want about George Bush, but what you see above in that quote has come to fruition. There is no denying that now. May God help us all!

#2 So, we’ve been praying and fasting at church. We started on Sunday and I’m telling you it’s been a powerful week. I’ve been overwhelmed with emails, texts and personal testimonies of how the Lord is working in hearts and lives to bring renewal to many souls. Last night we broke the fast with breakfast. Get it “break” “fast.” Every morning when you eat, you are breaking the fast from not eating during the night. Cool huh?

Yep, breakfast for supper is what we had to break the fast. We had bacon, eggs, sausage, gravy, biscuits, country ham, cooked apples and grits! It was awesome! The men of the church cooked the meal. Way to go guys! “Delicious” was the word of the night!

We had a huge crowd! I’m estimating over 300 people attended. That’s huge for a Wednesday night crowd in any church, much less a country church in Wilkes County, NC.

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Here we are holding hands and singing. It was such a sweet time together. We studied Scripture, sang and prayed. When we prayed, we sought to repent before the Lord. Why? Because that’s the only way the human soul can be renewed: Repentance. In the past during the Great Awakenings in this country revival broke out when there was repentance. After repentance comes the experience of sensing the glory of God.

You see, sensing the glory of God is not something you can schedule. But, you can yearn for it, cast a vision for it, desire it and crave it. No, you can’t program the glory, but you can plead for it. It’s easy to talk about sensing the glory of God through revival, but it’s another thing to experience it. Romans 15:7 is powerful:

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Why are we here? We are here to glorify God! This foundational truth is echoed by the Westminster confession: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” The 5th of the Reformational solas is: Soli Deo Gloria, meaning: “to God alone be the glory.”

I want to see the glory of God. Do you? I want our church…no…I desire to see the church of Jesus Christ desire to bring God glory. In order to bring God glory, we must be gospel-centered. What does that look like? What is a gospel-centered church? Are you sure you want to know? It might not match up with what you think or even like.

A gospel-centered church teaches and preaches the Word of God. And when it does, it will not be considered the “nicest church” in town. It will not be the most popular church in town. It will not be politically correct. It will be hated and even despised. It will be “run down” by other churches as being too____________. You fill in the blank. A gospel-centered church seeks to be holy and has a hunger to love all people not for what they are in their sin, but what they can become cleansed of their sin.

God help us as we continue this journey. We are looking forward to a wonderful time of celebration on Sunday. I wrote the sermon today. I believe it will be encouraging. Tomorrow is barbecue chicken cooking time! 4:15 am… As my dad says, “Better sleep fast son!”

#3 Speaking of Dads and sons. I read a great article by John Piper’s son, Barnabas. Man oh man do pastors’ kids have it tough. They live in a glass box. Here’s a couple of paragraphs from his book…

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Everyone in church notices the pastor’s kids. People don’t think about noticing them, it just happens. I grew up as a PK, the son of John Piper, and even I notice PKs. It’s almost impossible to avoid. They’re like the first children of the church. Don’t think you notice them? Here’s what it looks like. You know things about their personal lives you don’t know about any other kid in the church… You make comments about their behavior to them or to anyone else.  You expect them to speak out in Sunday school, to pray, to lead. You have a tacit standard for them as PKs. You hold them to a higher standard than their peers in church, and you’re not even trying to do so.

What you might not realize is how this makes PKs feel. They feel like people are always watching. The fact that you know personal things about them makes them hyper aware of you watching, listening, knowing. They feel like there is no room for mistakes. People watch them. People tell them how to act. People have a much higher standard for them. What pressure!

Can I tell you that I don’t have a problem with people having a high standard for my children, but what if you placed that same standard on your children or grandchildren? Not fair? You’re right. I agree! Let’s help all of our children. Let’s love them as Christ loved them. Yes, let’s hold them to a high standard. Anyone who knows me knows I believe we should live as “salt and light.” We should do exactly as Jesus said…

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 

One last thing before hitting the sack…

#4 Please pray for God’s mercy to break this Ebola epidemic.

Health workers remove the body of Prince Nyentee, a man whom local residents said died of Ebola virus in Monrovia

International agencies and governments are struggling to contain the world’s worst epidemic of Ebola since the disease was discovered in 1976. The hemorrhagic virus has killed at least 2,296 people in West Africa. The nation of Liberia has said they are afraid this could potentially wipe out their nation. See this map:

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That’s Liberia on the west coast of Africa. Can you imagine that country’s people disappearing off the globe? That’s 4.2 million people. That’s how deadly this virus. Please, please pray for the Lord to intervene and pray for all of those workers who are trying to care for the sick.

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