Archive for the ‘Rite of Passage-Book’ Category

It’s another year in the books. I told you last week that by this time next week I’d have pictures of another group of Young Adults who participated in our annual Rite of Passage. Well, here you go:

Isn’t that a fantastic group!! We had three that couldn’t make it to the Banquet on Saturday night (when this picture was made), so we had 14 in all. I’m ecstatic! Here’s some more pictures from the weekend.

The “Baton Pass…”

Here, the parents are preparing to pass the “baton of faith” to their young adult. Why? Because the young adult has to “own” their “own faith.” It can’t be their parents or someone else’s. It must be there’s and that’s what ROP does. It pushes them to “own” their faith. Here’s a picture of Emma Golds. Isn’t she just beaming!

I love that! Here’s another shot of some of the Young Adults holding their batons up high!

I’m so proud of these young adults and I’m proud of that young lady dressed in blue on the far left in the picture above. That’s Clara and that’s child #3 of mine and Pam’s who has been through this process.

(This was taken right before her violin recital in Winston-Salem last week.)

Andrew will be #4 next year. But, I don’t make them do this. I talk with my kids about what it means to be a Christian. I talk with them about what it means to own their own faith.

You see, it’s hard to grow up as a “pastor’s kid.” The expectations are unreal! People place responsibilities and demands on my kids that they would never dream of placing on their own. That’s the cold, hard truth. And that’s why a lot of “pastor’s kids” walk away from the faith. They are treated with a different set of rules than anyone else’s kids.

Now, please don’t get me wrong… Pastor’s kids should be held to a high standard, but there isn’t a passage of Scripture that says they are to be held to a higher standard than your kids. They are to be held to the same “Christian standard” in 1 Timothy 4:12. There isn’t a passage of Scripture for pastor’s kids that’s any different from anyone else. Paul told Timothy that an Elder (or Pastor) must: “manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive.” (1 Timothy 3:4) But folks, that’s true of any home, is it not? Every Christian home should seek to raise “submissive” children. Even Jesus was submissive. At the age of 12 the Bible describes that…

And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. Luke 2:51

So, when you see my kids…you are simply looking at children who are being raised in a glass box with expectations that are off the charts… Therefore, if you get a chance…pat them on the back for bearing up on the pressure. No, my kids aren’t perfect. But, they are following Jesus and I’m tickled to death about that and I praise His name for His mercy on them and for their desire to swallow hard and follow Him.

Oh by the way, I didn’t show you this picture of me and Charlotte from the beach. I love this picture…

Ain’t she a cutie-pie! She loved making sand castles with Christmas trees on top!

Here was our family picture from the beach…

We take a family photo each year. My, my, my how the kids have grown! And now I’m watching my grand babies grow! I’m a blessed man!

Speaking of my children and grandchildren… Katy wrote a new blog post this week that truly sums up so much of life. I leave you with it this week…


It’s funny because I’m not really sure if she picked it up from me or someone else, but Charlotte has picked up a new phrase. It’s one of the dozens she learns every week in this season of tremendous brain development and learning, but this one has stuck out and surprisingly has become of help to me.  She now says it many times a day as though God spoke it to her to comfort me. The first time happened like this….
I was having a rough day. Everything was getting on my nerves and all the mess and stuff to do was crowding out my joy. To make matters worse, I dropped something on the floor in the kitchen and food spilled out everywhere. Charlotte (2 and a half years old) was sitting in her seat waiting for me to deliver lunch to her empty plate. I let out something like, “Dad gum it!” There was a pause and then she calmly respond from her seat behind me “Oh Mommy! It’s okay though!”
It’s okay though. It hit me. How funny it is that my young daughter is so quick to remind me that this really isn’t a big deal, but me in all my adult-ness, blew it out of proportion. That’s when I realized that I do that a lot. Little stuff can make me so overly upset and aggravated. The actual big things that are more than just inconveniences seem crippling because I blow the LITTLE things out of proportion.
You know what I mean.
You have to wait and the doctor’s office longer than you wanted.
A rock cracked your windshield.
It rained on your new shoes.
You caught a cold before a presentation.
The potty training toddler peed on your carpet.
Your teenager absent mindedly locked his keys in the car.
You know.
But if those things cripple us and plummet us down the spiral of despair then what could real trauma do to our hearts? Cancer, Bankruptcy, Fire, Murder, Kidnapping, Death etc. What then?
That’s when it dawned on me that Charlotte is right. This little mess is okay. It’s not a big deal, because when things ARE a big deal I want to remember all that was actually good in my life and how even in the things that really are not okay, that God is good.
When Satan tempts you to blow the minor things out of proportion, remember that he is trying to get you and I to spend our whole lives selfishly focusing on ourselves. He wants us to think we don’t have enough to give, that we are too young or old or busy to help, he wants you to think that you have it so bad. But we don’t. I pray even if I do have it rough…. really rough one day, that I will look up and thank God anyway and be thankful that I tried really hard not to “major on the minors” when I had the chance.
Enjoy the flowers. Feels the breeze. Remember, it’s okay though.




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There’s certainly a lot going on in the world. The news is littered with trials and troubles and problems. I think about and pray about how the Lord might use me during “such a time as this.”

Think about our world. Problems. There are problems everywhere. But, isn’t that life, folks? Isn’t like about dealing with problems. Problems: not enough money, not enough time, not enough health, not enough patience, not enough gas in our tanks to enjoy life…instead…we just endure it. Is that what God intended? Just endure this life? Surely there’s more.

I believe there is. Jesus said, “I am come that you may have an abundant life and live it to the full” (John 10:10). What does, “abundant” mean? According to http://www.blueletterbible.org it means: “exceeding some number or measure or rank or need.” I’m glad of that! Jesus wants to give us a life on this earth…yes…a sin-filled earth that exceeds measure and need. That’s good! That means that even in this crazy world, we can enjoy the journey. Even with the debates about immigrants and refugees…we can enjoy the journey. Even though work may not be perfect, your health may not be perfect, your kids may not be perfect, you and I can still “exceed some number, or measure or rank or need.” I don’t know about you, but that comforts me!

I’d like to post some articles I’ve read this week that are really good. Two from folks who are near and dear to me. First, my daughter Kandace. She wrote this beautiful blog about music. I want to post the entire article here because I think it’s that good and because I’m big-time prejudiced about my daughter and I believe (like I do the rest of my family) that she’s the best thing since sliced bread. 🙂


Monday, February 6, 2017

The Power of Music

 Music is a powerful thing. Music has been a part of my life for as long and as far back as I can remember. I remember sitting in Dad’s car as a little girl and listening to classical music. He always said it made a person smarter. I remember my first piano lesson and how I hated it and Mama telling me that I would learn an instrument and learn it well so I had better find one that I liked and stick with it (it wasn’t the piano) 😃 I remember Daddy would sometimes pull out his old tape of instrumentals composed by Michael W. Smith and he would have us close our eyes and try to imagine seeing heaven for the first time. I remember singing my first solo at church when I was about 6 years old. And from the time that I was about 4 or 5 until I was 14 Mama and Daddy would sing a hymn to me before bed every single night.

One of my earliest memories of actually feeling the Lord’s presence in my life very much involved music… I was about 5 or 6 and we were singing the song “Shout To The Lord” one Sunday morning at church. We always showed a video during the song of different things in nature…. One of the things on the video was waves crashing in the ocean. I remember standing there, singing along, and when the waves part of the video came on the screen I felt the Lord speak into my spirit and say “Do you see that? I made that. And this music. Those notes that make up this song? I made that too.” I came home from church that day and told Mama that when we sang “Shout To The Lord” I felt Jesus.

That’s the especially beautiful thing about music. Still to this day when I hear those songs by Michael W. Smith I remember thinking about heaven. Or when I hear certain hymns I think about being little and the feeling of peace, safety and contentment I felt as I laid in my bed, in my little pink bedroom, with Mama and Daddy sitting on both sides of me singing those old songs with such rich and meaningful lyrics. Music has a way of embedding itself in our minds and bringing back memories, thoughts and feelings…. and for me, it has and always will be a source of peace and comfort. I have this thing that I do when I’m feeling afraid or overwhelmed. I sing. I usually sing a hymn or a worship song and I’ll sing it until the feeling passes. After the car accident I was in back in December I had dreams about it for about 3 weeks. Almost every single night I would wake up in a sweat after dreaming about the crash in slow motion over and over again. Every night that I had a dream about it I would turn on my light and sing “It Is Well With My Soul” or “Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus” and slowly, but surely the fear would dissipate and I would go back to sleep.

I love when I’m onstage on a Sunday morning or Wednesday night and I close my eyes during a song and listen to all of the voices around me. I love that God is using something so near and dear to my heart to bring people closer to Him. I love when people say that something I have sung or played has made them feel the presence of Jesus in their lives. There is nothing else like it. I am so thankful for the power that music carries. It has brought me out of many a dark place. I encourage you, the next time you’re at church, to close your eyes during one of the songs and just listen to the voices around you. It truly is a powerful thing.


“Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn— shout for joy before the Lord, the King. Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”Psalm 98

Pretty good, huh? I’ll say so!

And if I might brag (albeit humbly) on her a little more… Check out this song she wrote herself.


I also want to link to our Daily Devotion page to a devotion that our Ministry Assistant, Caleb Triplett wrote earlier this week about raising children. It’s near and dear to my heart, because we’re getting ready to embark upon our 10th class of Rite of Passage participants at the church. It’s crazy to think it’s been 10 years, but it has. For 10 years we’ve been seeking to raise the bar of expectations for our young adults. In fact, on this blog, you can click on: “Adult-Centered Youth Ministry” and see a ton of articles on the subject. You can also click on: “Rite of Passage-Book.”

Well, the upshot is this: our kids will rise to our level of expectations and that’s true of their spiritual lives. I know we all have goals of what we want our kids to do academically and vocationally and even athletically, but what about spiritually? Caleb’s devotion addresses that very well.


Here’s some pictures from of our Sportsmen’s Banquet last week.


We had over 400 folks come and participate. Do we love our community at MPBC? You better believe it! Here’s Amanda Eddins helping Andrew shoot a bow.


Amanda is an amazing teacher and she is quite a markslady herself!


Don’t you just love that picture. Desi and her son, Jace taking care of making sure all our folks had plenty of soft drinks and water! Yes, we love our community and gave them a wonderful meal, music and most importantly, Jesus!

And you see, that’s important. We’ve got to give people help in one hand…but, Jesus in the other and a lot of churches are moving away from that. Today, they only offer the “social gospel.” Just feed people and that’s it. Well, if that’s all you do and that person dies without Jesus, they’ll go to hell with a full belly, but what have we really accomplished? Give ’em food and clothes and love…but, for Pete’s sake…give them Jesus!

People are asking me: “Is winter over?” Well, it’s certainly been an anemic winter if you like snow. What a roller coaster. From low 40’s for highs to mid-70’s within just a few days. It was a high of 43 yesterday and Sunday it’s supposed to be 74! Is that crazy or what?

As far as the snow goes…there’ll be nothing for the rest of February. But March is always the wild card. It’s possible we could see one more snow, but the odds are slim. It’s been a La Nina winter and they never bode well for snow. We’ve had right at 8″ for the year, which is below the 12″ average for our area. Yet, the forecasters said it would be a “slightly below-average” to “average” year. So, we’re pretty much on track for that. We’ll see how it all turns out. In the mealtime…enjoy the roller coaster ride! 🙂

The grandkids are growing…

Evelyn rolled over this week. She’ll be three months old tomorrow. Here’s the aftermath from Facebook…


I’m a proud Papa!


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I love to garden. Anybody who knows me is well aware of that fact. I’ve been gardening for years and it is very therapeutic for me, not to mention that it saves a lot of money on the grocery bill. A few years ago, Clara, Andrew and I were planting the garden. It’s a process that usually takes one day each spring. We lined off the garden by making rows in the soil and then we planted our seeds. Usually, we plant mostly green beans, cucumbers, pumpkins and corn. They kids worked so hard helping me. When we were finished that evening, Clara was so excited! (She was like 5 or 6 years old at the time.) She exclaimed, “Daddy, I can’t wait till tomorrow morning to go pick all the beans and corn!” Clara didn’t understand. She thought the process of the seed turning to plant, turning to blooms, turning to fruit happened overnight. I wish it did, but as we all know, it doesn’t.

Gardening takes time and so does making disciples. Many people want to have families that have children who are followers of Jesus…but this just doesn’t happen overnight. It took Jesus three years to teach, train and equip his followers. Yet, they still struggled mightily. Peter comes to mind immediately. After three years of intense time with him, Peter denied even knowing Jesus three times. He even called down curses upon himself. Jesus never gave up on Peter. Peter was slow to learn, just like so many of us. If anyone could attest to the fact that making disciples is a long and hard process, it would be Jesus.

Raising a family is much like riding a roller coaster. There will be many ups and downs. We get to choose our attitude and how we will respond to those ups and downs. Still, it is easy to get impatient and tired of the tedious work. Earlier today, I shared my weekly: “Two Minute Tuesday” about how there are just 168 hours in a week. None of us get any more or any less time. It doesn’t matter if one is rich or poor, we all get the same amount of time. There are 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week and that equates to 168 hours per week for each of us.

The point of my video today is that we don’t have much time to get the job done of raising a Christ-centered family. If we are going to deliver to our children a faith in Christ that is rock solid, we must guard our time like a precious treasure and use it wisely. Here’s the video in case you haven’t seen it. It’s an object lesson that’s pretty neat… I’m using water and Cheerwine to make my points. 🙂


Here’s my fear: The American Dream dominates most Christian homes. Most people see the American Dream as the pursuit of happiness and getting all the gusto out of life one can. So, we pack our schedules with all the activities we can afford in pursuit of happiness and the American Dream. Many families are seldom home at night during the week. They are constantly on the move. There are after-school activities, ball practices, extra-curricular classes, dance lessons, music lessons, tutoring, etc. The list can go on and on. Believe me…with school starting back yesterday…it’s “wide open” for many families.

If you ask one of these family members how they are doing in about 6 weeks, they will likely say, “I’m tired.” Sure they are tired. They are running from pillar to post and are utterly exhausted. Why? Because it is exhausting to pursue the American Dream. Is there anything inherently wrong with this pursuit and all of these activities? We all want our children to be well-rounded. But, we must ask ourselves this question. When are we supposed to disciple the children? When do we become students of the Word of God? When do we, ourselves, have time to become disciples so that we can in turn make disciples, if we are running around all over the place, all the time? That’s precisely the problem. If we are never together for more than a few minutes here and there, we can’t and we won’t make disciples.

Some quick questions: Do our children have to have it all? What are we saying to our children when we’re gone all the time? How are they establishing their identity? Is it in what they do (their activities) or who they are? Often I hear parents describe other people’s children in this way. They will say, “I know her. She’s a cheerleader at the middle school.” Or perhaps this way: “He’s the point guard on the basketball team at the high school.” They are known as the cheerleader, the basketball player, the dancer, the piano player, the smart kid, etc. We establish in the minds of our children, unknowingly, that they must be identified by whatever they participate in to actually “be somebody.: It is easy to see why we do so. It’s because of this pursuit of happiness and the fact that we equate happiness and our identity with going and doing and getting all we can out of life.

Many have become so enamored by the idea of the American Dream that they equate their success with it. These false, pagan ideals bombard us at every turn. They are in the grocery store check-out line. Those skinny beauties on magazine covers that say, “You can have it all if you look like me.” Commercials and billboards flash before our eyes flaunting the “good life.” They say things like: drink this, buy this, or have this and you’ll be happy. Americans today buy lottery tickets by the millions just hoping and praying they can hit the jackpot and get rich; then all their dreams will come true. But we Christians are wiser than those who pursue such frivolity, aren’t we? We can have our cake and eat it too! We can have it all, (the big house, nice cars, vacations, new clothes, nice TVs, the latest gadgets), and still raise our children right, can’t we? As long as they are well-educated, accomplished and well-liked, then all is well or is it?

How does this often work out in our culture today? We’re so busy. Often the schedule for a family is dictated by the kids’ activities. We have to look on the refrigerator at the schedule to see if we can do anything.

Now don’t get me wrong. I think it’s wonderful for our children to be involved in extra-curricular activities. Mine are. But, we are constantly asking: “How much is enough?” But, it’s not just sports and outside activities. We push our kids so hard to make the good grades don’t we. I get it. Parents (myself included) love speaking about how well our children are doing in school. There is certainly nothing wrong with academic success. I graduated at the top of my class in high school and in college. But, we must remember the words of the Apostle John when he said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4). Can we say that? Does our desire for academic or athletic success for our children eclipse this standard written by John? Let’s never forget that God does not have a room in heaven for our children’s diplomas and trophies. I can hear the words of the 12-year-old Jesus again. Can you hear them? He said he had to be about his Father’s business. What about our children? What or whose business are they about?

You know, we push our children academically and athletically. We want them to be the best they can possibly be in these areas. But what about spiritually—do we push them spiritually? Somehow, we have tied our children’s success, and in many cases, their identity, to how well they perform on the field, dance floor, court or classroom. We push them to get scholarships and get high grades in school. Then what? They graduate with a degree and get a job and start making money. Does that bring happiness and fulfillment? Jesus said we should seek the kingdom of God first and then everything else we need will be added to us (See Matthew 6:33). We might say we believe this for our children and we may even tell them that, but what do our actions show?

Folks, we must count the cost. We really cannot have it all. We may have to choose. Do we want our children to make straight-A’s or take some time to learn the Word of God and make B’s? Would we be willing for our children not to be on the travel team, even though they may be good enough, so they can be in church and have time to be involved in more spiritual training? There is a cost and a huge price to be paid if we desire to raise Godly children. It doesn’t happen by osmosis.

You know, I’m the first to admit that it’s so easy to get tangled up in living vicariously through the successes of our children, especially if they can do things we were unable to do as a child. But, it shouldn’t be an “all or nothing proposition.” We must find a balance for sure. But, we must choose wisely and remember, whatever it is that we make our children crave is what they will desire for the rest of their lives.

Hey can I ask another set of questions: If we were to ask our children about their goals in life, what would be their response? What would their answers reveal? What do they crave? What kind of legacy are we passing down to our children? Is it the American Dream, or a Christ-honoring life? Is a little Jesus here and a little Jesus there good enough?

No, an occasional rain shower or just a little bit of sun will not make a garden grow and be bountiful. A garden needs enormous amounts of sun, water and fertilizer to grow. Yes, it is wonderful that we take our children to church. However, the church house was never intended to be the place where parents drop of their children to be discipled. That job must be done in the home by the parents.

You see, mom and dad, we live in a culture today that is making our children very sick, not literally, but sin-sick. They are inundated with worldviews and philosophies that are so pagan and anti-God that it is staggering to the mind. In many schools children are taught from the first grade that their ancestors are monkeys. They are fed a steady diet of pop culture through TV, music, video games and every other form of social media. Even in a controlled atmosphere, they are contaminated every day by a mixed up world. So, a little bit of Jesus (a prayer over a meal and being dropped off for a couple of hours at church), simply won’t work! They need more, much more. They need Jesus and the Word of God to be flowing through them like an IV-drip at the hospital.

If you have ever been around a hospital, you have seen plenty of IV bags hanging from little metal stands on rollers. If the patient is sick enough, he must take that IV bag of medicine everywhere he goes. If he takes a walk down the hall, the IV goes too. The patient must receive a constant flow of his or her medicine and when the IV bag runs out, the monitor on the rolling stand signals an alarm. It beeps and beeps until the nurse comes and replaces the used bag with a new, full bag of medicine. Likewise, we must be constantly pumping Christ’s teachings and the Bible into our young people from a very early age to counteract the influences and worldviews of evolutionary thinking and secular humanism going into them. As good as most of our schools are in America, (we’ve got some fantastic ones here in Wilkes County), these schools and their teachers cannot and will not be able to teach our children about Jesus Christ. It’s illegal. Therefore, parents, as good as our coaches and instructors may be, it’s quite simply not their responsibility to teach our children the Bible and the principles of Scripture. It’s our job!


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I love this picture…


That’s my granddaughter on her daddy’s lap in church. Can you tell she is paying attention. That’s a six-month old sport fans! You tell me that a child can’t learn to be in church. Sure they can. You want to know when kids learn? When we expect them to learn. Too simplistic. It’s really not that hard.

Parents train their children to learn in their homes and the same is true in church. Truly, from the moment a child is born and entrusted to his or her parents, the job of teaching and training that child begins. We teach our children things as elementary as holding a fork or drinking from a cup and progress to how to handle money and become responsible. We don’t wait to teach children how to hold a fork until they are eight or nine. The same is true for our children spiritually. We must begin teaching them when they are very young.

Have you ever asked yourself if the first church 2000 years ago had a nursery? What did Jesus do when He taught? When Jesus taught and delivered his sermon on the mountain, did he teach just the parents? Did Jesus tell Peter, James and John to take the children down to the bottom of the hill and play with them or have a children’s church, so he could teach, without distraction, at the top of the hill? Did Jesus do this on any occasion? Not that I can find in Scripture. How about the Apostle Paul? In the Ephesians 6 passage he addresses the children in verse one and then just three verses later the fathers. Were the children siphoned off somewhere else when the letter was being read to the believers in Ephesus? No, without question children were included in the church meeting and they were physically present.

This fact seems almost strange in our day and age when, in many churches, we send our children off to “Children’s Church” to eat snacks, color and watch videos. Yet, as we study the Scriptures, we can’t find any verses in the entire Bible where the children were pulled out of the meeting. It would have been completely unorthodox to do so. There is never a time or an instance in Scripture when the children were separated from the parents/family when the people of God met together. At this point, I’m reminded of Jesus and his rebuke of the disciples for not allowing the children to come to him recorded in Mark 10:13-14:

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”

I know for many churches, the idea of having young children in our services is very counter-cultural. Many church leaders and members say the children are too noisy and disruptive and people can’t worship the Lord. Yet, when we say these things, we are much like the disciples when they tried to shoo away the children. Consequently, in our day, we have lost the blessing of the full body being together in the meeting. Sadly, we have become comfortable with some of the body missing. How have we gotten to this point? The Church wasn’t this way in the New Testament or even 40 to 50 years ago. It has happened, because it’s convenient. Many years ago, it would have been unheard of to have a nursery in the church. Ask someone who went to church in this nation in the 1950s or 1960s. There were very few, if any nurseries in our churches, until well after WWII, when many women entered the workforce. Yet today, we would rather not be bothered with children, ours or someone else’s, because they may make noise in the service or can be disruptive. However, pulling the children out of our meetings was simply not a normative practice in Scripture.

Think about it. When we go to a restaurant, there is not a place for the children to go sit and eat by themselves with people to help them cut up their food and feed them. So, what do we do when we go out to eat and order food for our children? We go through the process and the inconvenience of cutting their food for them into bite-size portions. We teach our children how to behave in a restaurant. If we go to the movie theater, there isn’t a section of the theater where we send the children to watch the movie with other children, while someone else watches them for us. No, we take care of our children and teach them how to be quiet and listen during the movie. We help them through these seasons of their lives. I call these times seasons because they will quickly pass and we’ll wonder where the time has gone. The same is true at ball games, concerts, recitals and the like. We are with our children and we help them at each of these events. We teach them. So, why do we hesitate to do so at church? We can just as easily help the children digest the meeting or service, just as we would help them with cutting their spaghetti into bite-size pieces at a restaurant or even at a meal at home.

We should want our children to experience being in the presence of the Lord, being taught by a shepherd in the church. I know that I want my children to experience everything in the meeting of our people at church. Children miss so much when they are in a room somewhere watching a video, eating snacks. They miss seeing the body worship together. My children experience seeing people raising their hands in praise to the Lord as they lift their voices in song. They get to hear testimonies of those who have come to Christ at the end of our services. They see people weeping under the conviction of the Holy Spirit at the altar. They see fathers praying over their families. They get to hear the Word of God taught by men whom the entire church trusts to teach them. Why shouldn’t the children hear this teaching corporately as well? Why should this job be handed off to someone else in another place in the church? Certainly, there are always reservations. Children are messy. They talk out loud. They cry and make noises. Well, you name it and they’ll do it. Yet, over time something wonderful happens. They learn. Yes, they learn to listen and be still and, oh do they listen! They are sponges taking in all that the body gets to see and hear. Those experiences will stay with them for a lifetime.

Let me show you this six-month old again…


I’ve shared this before, but it’s been a while. When we brought Andrew, our son, home from China he was 3 1/2 years old. We got him home to America on a Thursday and we had him in church on Sunday. He couldn’t speak a word of English. In fact, he could barely speak any Chinese. He had never been out of the orphanage in China until two weeks prior to meeting us. He had never been in a car, a bus and certainly not on a plane. He was taken out of everything he knew and thrust into a brand-new, frightening world. He had club feet and numerous other health issues that had not yet been addressed. Yet, we had him in church on Sunday, four days after his arrival in the U.S. and if that wasn’t enough, we had him on the front row! (That’s where my family and I sit in church every Sunday).

Do you want to know how he did that first Sunday? He was terrible! No, he was worse than that. He was absolutely awful! He talked out loud! Broken Chinese at that! He crawled on the floor, under the chairs, on us; you name it, and he did it. Was it embarrassing? Yes. And the same was true when we brought Clara home as a one-year-old, three years earlier. But, thankfully our church welcomes children and understands this behavior as being a part of the learning process. The next Sunday Andrew struggled again, but he was learning. Slowly but surely, he was learning how to act as we taught him. By the fourth week, you couldn’t even tell he was in the building. Literally in just one month, you couldn’t even tell he was there. What happened? He had been trained and taught to know what to do and how to act in church. Certainly children will have moments of restlessness, (I know some adults who are like this too :)); however, we all adjust and acclimate over time.

It’s true that a child will learn anything in life, when we make up our mind and decide to teach them. It doesn’t matter if they are three years old and from a foreign country. It seems around the age of four years old, most parents don’t have a choice but to train their child to be a part of the church. Most churches tell parents their children can no longer come to the nursery at that age. So, it seems many children learn to behave in church at age four, unless there is a children’s church. If there is children’s church, they get a few more years segregated from the body until they must learn to be a part of the church family. Yet, at some point in time, we teach the children what to do in church. Sooner or later they learn. Children are a blessing of a growing church, not a nuisance.

I am grateful for a church that is literally willing to suffer for the children. I’m grateful for my granddaughter’s church, Parkview Baptist, in Morehead City, NC. They allow Charlotte to be with them. Thank you Pastor David Mills!

Yes, a church should allow families to worship together as a part of the one family. Churches have the opportunity to tell the body, (a family of families), that all are welcome at the Lord’s Table, even our youngest. I know for many reading this, seeing church life in this way is a total paradigm shift and would be a significant change in philosophy, church culture and practice at your church. But, I promise you what I’ve described to you embodies biblical patterns that can successfully be integrated in the fabric of any church if we’ll take the risk of being biblical versus convenient. 🙂


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I love this:


(L-R) Jonah Horton, Jonah Brooks and Michael Davis. I have confidence in those young men!

Those three young men just completed this year’s Rite of Passage (ROP) here at the church. It’s always a privilege to watch another group come through. We’ve seen 66 young adults go through ROP since 2008 at the church.

What is ROP?

It’s simply a tool from Scripture, which points to a journey that is designed to move our children from childhood to young adulthood. It’s a “raising of the bar of expectations.” Because children will rise to our level of expectations as adults. Seldom will children reach further than our expectations of them.

The model for ROP comes from Luke chapter 2. Remember Jesus in the Temple? He was 12 years of old and yet, He knew exactly where he was headed in life and the ultimate purpose and goal of His life. He said, “Didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business?” Yes, at 12 years of age, He knew exactly what He was to be doing. He was confident in His mission in life. And so, if Jesus is our example in all things, (and He should be), then He is certainly our example for 12 year olds.

Thus, there was a transition in Jesus’ life at the age of 12. He knew He had to be “about the Father’s business.” We learn from Luke 2 that Jesus was submissive to His parents and the Bible says that He “grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and men.” And so we follow Jesus’ here at MPBC. Therefore, at the age of 12 (and up to age 18), you can participate in our annual ROP. It’s a way of marking time and saying, “We believe in you as a young adult and we have confidence in you in Christ.”

I wrote about this extensively in my book:


I’m very proud of the young men who completed ROP this year! It gives me great encouragement and hope for the Millennial Generation and let’s me know that the sky is not falling, contrary to Chicken Little.


You see, things are changing in the way we look at young adults and Christianity in this country. There is soon going to be a “weeding out” of the fake versus the real.

I read an article recently (Found here: http://www.millennialevangelical.com/millennials-are-leaving-the-church-they-faked-caring-about-as-kids/) that shared the truth that Christianity (according to polls) is declining in America, but here’s why:

Back in the day, it was “culturally savvy” to call yourself a Christian. It had cultural value—there were benefits to being a “Christian” in American society. As a result, a lot of people called themselves “Christians” who didn’t actually possess true, convictional Christian faith. These people are called “nominals,” or people who are Christians in “name only.”

Today, a number of years after “back in the day,” it is definitely not culturally savvy to be a Christian. People don’t like Christians in most parts of the country. It costs a lot more social currency to be a Christian than it used to. As a result, many of the people who called themselves “Christians,” simply because it was more beneficial than costly to do so, are starting to check “none” on the list of faith options on social surveys. So, you could say, nominal Christianity is declining, but you cannot say Jesus is losing followers.

Christianity may be “losing ground,” but only because it was ground it never really occupied in the first place. American Christianity is bleeding, there’s no doubt about that. As one lets blood from a wound to prevent infection, so the American church must willingly release the nominal Christians whose unbelief in the lifeblood of the church makes them enemies of it.


Blogger Matt Walsh has this to say about Christianity. The title really caught my eye:


“Maybe Christianity In America Is Dying Because It’s Boring Everyone To Death”

What is said here is powerful and without question is controversial (in some circles), but it’s something that needs to be said. I’ve cut and pasted a good chunk of the article here because it needs to be said:

…some 70 percent of us might “identify” as Christian, but how many actually subscribe not to Christianity, but to Convenient Christianity? (Convenientanity, if you like.) How many are the type who call themselves Christian but don’t consider the Bible to be a particularly authoritative document? How many are in the group who see Christianity as nothing more demanding or complex than the 30 second life lessons speech Bob Saget gives to one of the Olson twins at the end of each Full House episode? How many believe that morality and faith can be severed from each other? How many believe in a Christianity that doesn’t include the existence of sin or Hell? How many are relativists? How many are prosperity gospel proponents? How many say they’re Christian but only because they’ve convinced themselves that Jesus loves gay marriage and abortion?

And what happens when you don’t factor these Convenientists — members of the Church of Convenience, proponents of Convenientism — into the equation at all? Are we still at 70 percent? Not hardly. What’s the real number? Forty percent? Thirty? Ten? Less? I don’t know, but it’s depressing, whatever it is.

So while everyone offers their own diagnosis of the cause of this catastrophe, this is mine. The light of the Faith grows dimmer in this culture because of that…kind of Christianity, generally. The lame and bored kind. The flavorless, tame brand.

Every branch of the Faith has become infected by it, and if we want to understand why Christianity is not out winning souls and conquering the culture, look there. Yet many of our fearless leaders, pastors, and pundits think this is, rather than the disease, the remedy. It’s the same remedy they’ve tried for half a century. As the problem gets worse, they don’t change the medication, they just keep upping the dosage. They tell us that in order to bring the sheep into the fold — especially the millennial sheep — Christianity must be as un-Christian as possible. It must be stripped it of its truth, of its sacredness, of its sacrifice, of its morality, of its tradition, of its history, of its hardships, of its joy, and whatever is left will be enough to, if not engage and excite people, at least not scare them away.

And that’s been the strategy of the American church for decades: just try not to scare people. They put on this milquetoast, tedious, effeminate charade, feigning hipness and relevance…

There are still plenty of Christians who desire the true faith, but they are mostly ignored or scolded by the very people who should be leading them. And the Convenientists, of course, find no happiness in their secular Christianity, nor do they find it in secular secularism. Even if they don’t know it, they yearn in the pit of their souls for the true message of Christ, but they rarely hear it. And when they do hear it, there are a million competing voices, many from inside the church, warning them that if they go down this road it might involve changing their behavior and their lifestyle, which is a total hassle, man.

Often that’s enough to dissuade any further investigation. And that’s how we ended up here. That’s it. That’s the problem. It’s plain as day, yet every time this conversation comes up, we’re told that Christianity is declining because Christians are too religious, too bold, too outspoken, too moral, and too firm in their beliefs. That’s the conventional wisdom, but as we’ve seen a thousand times over, the conventional wisdom of an unwise society should never be taken seriously.

If the faith is to regain lost ground in this country, it will only happen when Christianity is presented and understood as what it is: a warrior’s religion. A faith for fighters and soldiers. CS Lewis said it best (as usual):

Enemy-occupied territory–that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.

There. There it is, explained more compellingly in two sentences than many pastors can muster in a lifetime of sermons. This is frightening, militant language, but it’s exciting, it’s exhilarating, and it is, most importantly, accurate. As Christians, we are fighting a war against the Devil himself. We are advancing against the darkest forces of the universe, and we march with God by our side. And all the while, all around us, on a dimension invisible to mortal eyes, angels and demons and supernatural forces, both good and evil, work to defend or destroy us.

That’s how you stop the “decline” of Christianity in America. Tell people the truth. The truth, that’s allMove them. Love them. Make them feel anger, and fear, and longing, and sadness, and happiness, and hope, and determination. All of these things. These are all a part of our Faith, because our Faith is everything. As Chesterton said, “there is more in it; it finds more in existence to think about; it gets more out of life.” Yes, Christianity gets more out of life. And whatever it gets might not be comfortable, convenient, or relaxing, but at least it isn’t boring. And best of all, it’s true.

Well said!

So, I’m hopeful and I’m confident there will be a sifting of Christianity in America and the wheat will be left and the chaff will blow away. What’s left will be strong, courageous and profoundly faithful to Jesus Christ.

And it’s this generation that will do hard things, like end abortion. This video is five minutes long and it’s powerful. It’s a video of young people who could have been aborted but weren’t. It’s amazing…

My Generation Will End Abortion, https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ylD7ajPflqo

I must tell you that my kids aren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I am proud of my children. Kandace is graduating from high school this weekend at the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem.

She finished teaching her last clogging class last night. Here she is when she started (left) and then on the (right) is where she walked out of studio last night.

She said this:

From my first day of dance to walking out of the studio tonight on my last. So bittersweet. I can’t believe it’s over. So many memories were made here. Time really does fly. 💜


She sure has grown up. Here she is with her dance teacher, Tonya Wentz:
She’s now passing the baton to Clara…
I am so thankful for Kandace and for Clara and for these two:
I bet this next picture will make you say, “Aw!!!!”
I love Josh! What a phenomenal man he is!
Katy has been so busy being a mom that’s she’s not had time to blog much. But, she did the other day and here’s an excerpt:
…what I am saying is: don’t sweat the small things of life… and small things are usually material things. It sounds so simple, but it’s hard to apply to life. So. Here I am admitting that maybe I can’t make baby food all natural and do cloth diapers and cook and clean, pack to move home and a million other things and then wonder why there isn’t time to just sit beside the hubby on the couch or maybe write once in a blue moon or even touch that keyboard I haven’t hardly glanced at in months. Just maybe life is going to pass me by and what will I be able to say? Boy, I sure got all those clothes washed and look how much money we saved making baby food? None of that will matter. Time. Time will matter and what I did with it. Did I make a difference? And I used to think only “differences” could be made on extravagant mission trips or on big stages…. Ahh, that was a foolish thing to think. The biggest differences are made not from podiums or classrooms. They are made right at home.
So here I sit in my little home (only to be home for two more months) and savor each moment for what it is: a precious gift only given once. That is precisely why I shall stay home with my Rosebud as she grows never to leave her, for she is my legacy and a legacy can only be made with a whole lotta time, effort and love. I may not be good at this mommy thing all the time, but it’s right where God placed me and that helps me know… He thinks I’m good enough for the job.


And just so you’ll know…she’s now sitting up on her own…



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Often I believe many parents today just cross their fingers and hope everything works out with their kids. I believe this is true spiritually perhaps more than any other area of life. We push them hard in the school and in they gym, but spiritually? Not so much.

Just take them to church. Drop them off. They pray a prayer at some point around 8 or 9 and get baptized and off we go. The rest is gravy on the potatoes. Not so fast. Are you sure they know Christ? 100% sure they are born again, regenerated followers of Christ?

Hey parents, if we get everything else right (good grades, good athlete, good education, well-rounded, etc.) and miss that one, then we’ve really blown it. The other stuff I mentioned is temporal. It’s going to vanish and yet their soul is eternal.

I bring this up because of the article I saw a few days again. Did you see it? It was a Wall Street Journal story profiling twin brothers who followed separate spiritual paths — one to become an Anglican bishop, the other a Catholic priest. Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Theological Seminary said this is a travesty because they grew up Baptists. Take a look: http://baptistnews.com/faith/theology/item/29880-mohler-says-churches-to-blame-when-youth-leave-the-fold

I bring this up because it reminds me why I wrote my first book: Rite of Passage.


We’ve got to have a way in our homes of pointing our children to Jesus, not just a church service. We’ve got to be intentional about instilling the teachings of Scripture into their lives. If we don’t make time to do this IT WILL NOT HAPPEN. It’s all there in the book.

But, most won’t take the time to read it. In fact most people don’t read. Why am I telling you this? You read! Thank you! Yet, most don’t read and they won’t take the time to invest in their child’s eternity. They invest in the transient…that which will soon pass away.

If you read the article about the two boys (above) you’ll see that their parents basically dropped them off at church and let them decide what they wanted to do. It was like picking out ice cream at the grocery store freezer section. I’ll take THAT RELIGION! Scary! But, if we aren’t careful, we’ll do the same thing, except the religion’s name will be: sports, academics or good looks. Ouch! I’m sorry. I just had to say that. I’m a preacher. I can’t help myself. 🙂 As the old black preacher says, “If you can’t say, ‘Amen,’ then at least say, ‘Oh my.'” Amen Brother!!

By the way, did you know since we’ve been doing Rite of Passage (ROP) here at the church since 2008 and we’ve had over 70 participants in those 7 years and I can report something rather dramatic and amazing to you. According to various statistics from Barna Research Group to Lifeway Christian Resources to Pew and Gallop polls, between 80-92% of teenagers will leave the faith by their 20th birthday. Yet, because of the emphasis we place on intentionally imparting Christ to our teens here at MPBC we have seen a total reversal of that percentage. Is ROP 100% guaranteed to work? No. But, I’ll take an 80% success rate over and 80% failure rate any day, wouldn’t you?

Here’s the proof. Pardon the quality of the pictures, but I just ran downstairs below my office in snapped these pictures (of the ROP participants through the years):

ROP 2008

ROP 2009

ROP 2010

ROP 2011

ROP 2012

ROP 2013

ROP 2014

Isn’t that a phenomenal group!! I’m so proud of these young adults and their families. You see, we (the church), don’t do this for them. No sir. We only come alongside the families to place an intentional emphasis on raising Christ-centered young adults. The job is for the parents to do…not the church.

We’ve just started this year’s ROP work and we’ve got five more (all young men this year) to go through and we’re excited to keep adding to the numbers. Again, I’m not saying that ROP is foolproof and guaranteed. Nothing is 100% with creatures who have “free will.” Yet, I am convinced when churches and families come together to emphasis the importance of Christ-centeredness in the lives of our young adults, then we’ll have a much greater opportunity of seeing success.

I pray that we’ll teach our kids to have a love for the word of God like these dear believers in China:


Maybe your young adult is having a hard time believing and trusting in the Bible. Well, watch this 2 minute 25 second video with them and I promise you it will help and encourage.


Maybe your kids are just spending too much time in front of screens. Here’s how you can tell…


While we are on the topic of children did you know how beneficial music lessons can be to your kids? You say, “Wait a minute. You were just talking about all the things that get in the way of spiritual stuff.” No I wasn’t. I was saying we must be intentional about things that are eternal. I’m not saying that sports is bad. I’m not saying making good grades are bad. I did both. I was the most valuable player on my high school basketball team, all county and I graduated #1 in my class in high school and in the College of Business at Appalachian State University. So, please hear me… There is nothing inherently wrong with sports and academics. But, if you have small children or grandchildren, you might want to read this:


Psychological studies continue to uncover more and more benefits that music lessons provide to developing minds. One incredibly comprehensive longitudinal study, produced by the German Socio-Economic Panel in 2013, stated the power of music lessons as plain as could be: “Music improves cognitive and non-cognitive skills more than twice as much as sports, theater or dance.” The study found that kids who take music lessons “have better cognitive skills and school grades and are more conscientious, open and ambitious.” And that’s just the beginning.

Here’s the full article: http://mic.com/articles/110628/13-scientific-studies-prove-music-lessons-were-the-best-thing-your-parents-did-for-you

Talk about development and growing up. Check out the growth of Charlotte from birth to three months. Amazing!!

Charlotte stages

Truly amazing!!

I’ve got to show you the Lego cake that Andrew and I made (actually I didn’t do much…Pam did A LOT more than I did) for the cake auction to raise money for Mexico/TX Missions.

Lego Cake-Andrew

Pretty cool, huh? 🙂

Pam is so creative. She is the genius behind everything in our house. And we didn’t just cross our fingers in making that cake. It took intentionality and hard work. 🙂

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For years now I’ve been preaching, teaching, writing and blogging about the importance of raising Christ-Centered young adults and children. Sometimes I feel like it falls on deaf ears.

Do you ever feel that way?

You try and try and try and yet, it feels as if you are barely making a dent?

Sometimes that’s how I feel? I get a bit discouraged from time to time. Just being honest. After all…it’s my blog, right? Am I allowed to be honest? Or am I supposed to be all “pastoral” here too?

I mean people listen and hear the Word of God for weeks and weeks…months and months and…even year after year but they won’t heed the Word of God and then they come to me in a crisis and won’t me to fix it. Think about the audacity of that. Months and months…even years of doing it “my way” (as Frank Sinatra used to sing) and then they want me “the Pastor” to snap my fingers in a counseling session and make it better. Well, I love Jesus and I believe He walked on water, but I can’t! I’m not Him.

Do you know what I do? I just point them right back to the Word of God that they’ve been hearing with deaf ears. I will not back down from teaching the Word of God and using it to help lives. Why? It’s supernatural and it’s all we’ve got. And it’s all we need. All I can do is hope people will become “doers” of the Word and not “hearers” only.

So, I continue to teach and preach because God has told me to. I can’t help it. I’m just mule-headed and stubborn enough to do it and that’s how God made me.

This past weekend I spoke at the North Carolina Homeschool Conference in Winston-Salem.

NCHE Conference

I taught with all I had! And you know what. There were some really good folks there. They wanted…no…check that…they were hungry for how to go about teaching and training their children to follow Christ. You see homeschooling is more than just a method of education, it’s truly a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle where Pam and I have total control and total stewardship of our children. Scary? Yep. Yet, that’s the way God set it up. It’s my job to teach and train my children. In fact, I’m mandated in Ephesians 6:4 to do so.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

I’m to bring up my children in the discipline and instruction OF THE LORD. That’s what the Bible says. As a father that’s my job to educate my children in the ways of the Lord. The rest is fluff. But, that line of thinking will just about get you killed in this “education is everything” society we live in today. Education trumps God. Just look at what we value in our homes. We’ll pick Dancing with the Stars, The Voice and American Idol over talking about the Bible.

I loved what speaker Todd Wilson shared in the keynote on Saturday morning. He had four points…

Todd Wilson

#1 Home is the best place on earth. #2 Parents are the best teachers of their children. #3 Each child is a masterpiece and #4 Relationships with our kids come first.

It was powerful, humorous and blessed my heart. As a man who preaches and teaches at least three times every single week, sometimes I get dry. Man oh man…I was fueled up and reinvigorated this weekend. I was reminded that it is my job to train my children in the ways of the Lord in all facets of their lives.

I want to follow Psalm 78 and be the faithful father and not the stubborn father.

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

I am to teach my children to set their hope in God…not a diploma and not getting a high paying job. Life is not about the American Dream. Think about it. Share the Gospel in China and what do you tell them to hope for? Share the Gospel in Ethiopia with people who live in a hut with a dirt floor and what do you tell them to hope for? Are they going to get rich and live comfortably like all of the Americans chasing the DREAM?

Are American Christians really teaching their children to love and desire Jesus or love and desire money, success, material possessions and a comfortable lives? I’m passionate about this. I see it over and over and over again. We SAY one thing and DO another (even in Christendom). We sing songs about our love for Jesus, but live like He’s a nuisance who cramps our style. We often treat Him as a cosmic therapist to make us happy or as a divine butler to bring us stuff.

Lord forgive us and Lord help us to teach our children. Help us to spend time with them. Help us to teach them when we sit down, lie down, rise up and walk along the way (Deut. 6:7). But, in order to do this…we’ve got to be around them. They’ve got to be in our presence in order for us to do so.

Here’s three of my lovely ladies…

The ladies

We had a wonderful time. And Clara got her one of her favorite things…

Clara and Krispy Kreme

Oh the simple things in life. That’s what really matters…

It’s listening to my daughter singing with Andrew Greer this past Sunday.

Kandace and Andrew Greer

It’s seeing Andrew on a “one wheel” tractor that his grandpa refurbished…

Andrew on one wheel tractor

Those are the things that really make me smile.

So what if they don’t make a million dollars? So what if they don’t live in two-story house with four bedrooms and two baths? So what if they live in a mobile home or even 7,000 miles away on the mission field? What really matters…I mean REALLY matters is that they know Jesus and make Him known.

I teach my children all the time that ALL education and ALL learning is really about God Himself. Jesus is the preeminent One. He holds everything together. So, when we’re teaching our children biology, we are teaching them how God put the body together. When I’m teaching Kandace the quadratic equation, I’m teaching her how precise and absolutely succinct our Heavenly Father is in mathematical precision. When we teach about civics and government, I point out the three branches of government in our republic and liken them to the Trinity. When we are teaching about persecution and suffering, I give my children those experiences by taking them to third-world countries on mission trips. I teach my children to do hard things and I’m not necessarily interested in them having it “better” than I had it. What’s “better” about “comfortable?” Was the Apostle Paul comfortable? How about Stephen or the prophet Jeremiah or Jesus on the cross?

Oh I’m passionate and I don’t apologize for it. I’m tired of mediocrity in Christendom and lack of committed dedication. I’m ready to see people put their money where their mouth is and convictions where their time is mostly spent.

If you are a parent, what do you really want for your children? What do you desire? What would be your greatest joy for your child to accomplish? Would it be something in academics or athletics? What about spiritually?

I thank God every day for the privilege of being with my children and for being with them a lot! And so does Pam! We love them and desire to give them our very best.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 4

So, I’ll keep on preaching, teaching, writing and blogging. Maybe I’m deluded. Maybe I’m over the top. Maybe I’m off my rocker. But, at least I’m passionate, right? 🙂

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