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Archive for the ‘Teens’ Category

Transformation

Check this out. Can you tell the difference? Look closely behind the playhouse and swing set.

Yep, that big oak is gone. It was a white oak to be exact. I counted the rings and as close as I can count, the tree was around 105 years old. It was a tree that’s on our neighbors property and he has been thinning out some of the bigger/older trees. Needless to say, it makes a big difference on the amount of shade. But, thankfully, we’ve still got some trees on our property that will provide some shade.

I share this to speak of: TRANSFORMATION. Wouldn’t you say that a transformation has taken place with that tree being gone? I would. Driving up my driveway and looking at that tree line for the last 17 years and seeing many of them gone…well…when you first see it…it’s a big staggering.

Let me ask you a question. Have you been transformed? Has Jesus Christ changed your life? Can you tell a difference in the “before and after” since your profession of faith in Him? The Bible says:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

If someone encounters Jesus Christ and His Spirit invades that life…I promise you…that life will change. As sure as lit dynamite causes an explosion, Jesus Christ is in the business of transforming lives.

This week I shared in my Two-Minute Tuesday this question: “Why Young People Ask: Does the Gospel Really Transform People’s Lives?” I say “Young People,” because I’m finding more and more that many tell me, “I’ve not seen a difference in _____________ life, even though they say they are a Christian.” Those type of comments are sobering to say the least. Can someone see a difference in my life? Can they tell I’ve been changed, transformed, regenerated, born again, made new? You pick the description. But, can people see a difference?

That white oak is now gone…

There is a huge difference!

You see, when the Holy Spirit invades the human life, a cleansing takes place and it’s like a tree man cutting down a massive oak. You’ll be able to tell a difference when you look at that place in the forest. It’s as plain as the nose on your face.

So, how do people see us? How do they see us react when we are being misused, mistreated, maligned, misquoted? How do they see us when we’ve been cut off in the parking lot at the grocery store? How do they see us act at ball games, concerts, etc? Do they see a transformed life? Believe me…I ask myself this question all the time. What do people see in me? Do they see the flesh: KEVIN or do they see: JESUS?

The Roman Christians were encouraged:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:1-4

Jesus wants us to walk in the newness of life… After all…we’ve died to ourselves and we’ve taken up our cross and following Him, right? But, how often do we have to take up the cross? Daily. Yep…daily! Now this doesn’t mean that we are “saved daily.” No…that’s a one-time event. But, in the process of our sanctification (being made holy), we have to choose to deny ourselves DAILY. And that means we must lean into Jesus. We must trust Him and not ourselves.

Truly, if young people don’t see a transformation in our lives… If we aren’t “practicing” what we preach, then they’ll run from us like a kid being chased by a bee. Honestly, kids can see through hypocrisy. They can tell if there is a difference in how we act at church versus home. They see the “true” us…not, the “fake” us that we show the world as we try to make everyone think we’re better than we really are. Ouch! I need to go back and read that again! That’s for me!

You know it’s easy to fall back into the old way of thinking/living. We can choose to go back. We can even play in the woods where the tree once stood. But, if we’ve been born again…it won’t be the same. We’ll see the hole in the ground and realize… NO WAY! I’ve changed! I’m not coming back to this!

Transformation is a powerful thing! I’ve seen it happen in many lives. I’ve seen it in my family. I’ve seen it in the church. I’ve seen it in people who I thought “Man…it’s going to be tough for them to ever be saved…they are so far gone.” Yet, BANG! God invades and they surrender to Jesus and the transformation takes place…life a caterpillar to a butterfly! Transformation! Truly, being born again is a miracle and I’m so grateful!

As mentioned…here’s this week’s TMT:

https://subspla.sh/bsdz289

Kevin

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Are you growing spiritually? You either are or you aren’t. There isn’t any middle ground. There is no standing still. Are you growing in your faith? How about your children? Are thy growing spiritually? Mom and Dad, it’s your responsibility that they are growing spiritually. Please don’t think that God has given the Church the responsibility to disciple your child. That’s your job. The Church is to equip ALL the believers in “works of ministry.” There are no special “groups” in Scripture. So, how are things spiritually with your children?

The Two-Minute Tuesday was about that very subject this week. Take a look: “Are Your Kids Spiritually Healthy?”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytkaDhueTVuP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Regarding this subject of children/kids, we often have families come to the church and as they are learning about the church, sometimes they’ll ask: “What about ‘Children’s Church,’ ‘Youth Group,’ etc?” I tell them, we don’t have those. We keep everyone together, just as you see in Scripture.

My daughter, Katy, blogged about this not long ago:

https://careercalledhome.wordpress.com/2018/06/16/children-in-the-church-service-why-and-how-its-for-the-best/

Not long ago, we had a family with several children come to the church and the mom and dad told me how excited they were that we didn’t split their family up as soon as they hit the doors of the church. They were so pleased that we worship as a “family.” Yet, people hear this and they say, “That’s great! But what do you do about the teenager who come to church who has no parents with him. What do you do for him?” Or they’ll say, “Hey, it’s great you have families in your church and dad’s who lead their homes well, but there are some dead-beat dads out their today, so what are we supposed to do with the kids of those kinds of dads?”

Well, most churches have asked that question and have come to the conclusion that they must be a substitute where the dads are not getting the job done. Thus, before we realized it, the Church was handling the training for all dads, Christian and non-Christian alike. But, this is a problem. For the past 30-35 years, the Church has undertaken a role that was never intended for the Church to do in the first place. Instead of getting our hands dirty in the hard work of teaching and training, and “adopting” into our families young people who don’t have a family in the church, we often want to take the easy way out and hire someone (a youth pastor) to do it for us.

Yes, we can simply “adopt” these young people into our families. This means inviting them to sit with of our family during service and making them feel they are accepted and belong. Problem is…in many churches today, the youth are never in the service with the “adults.” This is tragic! Paul instructed Titus to teach the elders in Titus 2 that the old should teach, mentor, the young. How can we do this if they are never with us?

Through the years, Pam and I have “adopted” several young adults into our family. One of which is now our son-in-law. We have tried to model and exhibit what a biblical family is to look like. We plug them in to our family life and we try to show them what a Christian family looks like. The most important part of this process is simply to show them love.

Christopher Schlect, in his book, Critique of Modern Youth Ministry, says it this way:

“Ministering to children of unbelievers need not be as difficult as it seems. These children should be drawn to associate with Christian families that will take them in and mentor them while at church, thereby showing those children the family model as illustrated in the Word of God. Invite them over for dinner, where the Biblical model of the family can be exhibited.”

state-of-youth-ministry

I believe it is time to get young people out of these church “game rooms” and get them plugged into our churches and get them on the mission field of life. We need to see our young adults as capable of “being about the Father’s business.” We need to expect them to step up to the level of a teenage apostle or Timothy or David.

Does offering more concerts, camps, lock-ins, pizza blasts, zip-lines, ski trips, and the like stand to give us spiritually mature young adults? No, not if that’s all we give them. A steady diet of activities and fun is not what they need or want. Our society’s youth orientation has bred little more than young adults hyped up on the junk food of entertainment and fun, yet they are starving to death and dying for answers to the difficult and tough questions of the day. Our young people sit in our churches week after week and we see them, but are they really there? Are they really engaged? Do they want to be at church or are they just coming because they have to or because they’ve been lured by the fun and games? Doesn’t our focus need to change?

If you think about it, of all the programs in churches which one is most commonly the largest and well-funded? The answer: youth programs. It seems that evangelical churches, and many mainline churches, began breaking out the youth in their congregations about 30-35 years ago. In fact, there is a feeling in Christendom that you aren’t doing too well as a church if you can’t fund and hire at least a part-time youth minister of some sort. But, what do youth ministries do? Many of these programs, if not managed carefully, can breed immaturity because they hinder younger people from associating with and learning from their elders. Paul told young Timothy to “flee youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22). Yet, it is common to take the young adults on an outing at night and youth pastors have to station chaperones throughout the church bus to make sure everyone is being nice. Is that something we should have to be doing with adults in the church? There should never be a youth function in a church in which everyone, young and old alike, cannot participate.

You see, when we totally separate our young adults from the rest of the church body, we are setting them up for an identity crisis. They don’t know who they are apart from their friends and buddies in the youth group. They know nothing of the functioning of the church, as a whole, outside of their youth room. After all, they have their own culture and music, geared to their own tastes. So, by the time they are 18, and we tell them they must leave the youth groups, they are sent to the “grown up” church where, in some cases many have never been. It is culture shock to say the least!

Despite all of this, some may think that we are trying to take the fun out of the lives of our young adults. Some say, “They’ve got to be kids. Let them have a little fun.” Please understand, I am not against anyone having fun, but is this the role of the church? Are we supposed to set up our churches to be centers for having fun? Somehow I believe we have mistakenly come to believe that teenagers are entitled to more fun than anybody else in the church. We may believe we must put something fun on the calendar every week or two, certainly monthly, so they can have a good time. Let me ask you this question: Do we owe any group in the church a good time? Truth is: Many youth ministries seem to be run like a cruise ship. We hear things like, “When’s the next event? When do we get to eat pizza and hotdogs?” Have you ever wondered why there is such a high turnover rate with youth ministers? They burn out after two or three years of this kind of activity planning.

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Can youth groups be a negative influence on our young people? Yes, some (not all) can. Unfortunately, I believe, (and this is certainly without meaning to), they can become a place of peer-driven frivolity. You see, when we place our young people in these peer-driven groups where the spiritual maturity is usually very low, and yet we desire for them to grow spiritually…we need to ask ourselves… “How?” How can they grow spiritually in these environments? The truth is…most of the time, youth pastors are trying to administrate some sort of crowd control versus being able to really teach. Unfortunately, our young people tend to find their identity in their friends and that can include youth groups. For them, it’s so easy to find their identity in what they wear, drive or have. Some young people have their entire identity wrapped up in the type of clothes they wear, cell phone they carry and who they are dating. This same mentality often transfers into our youth groups and can even be fed within the youth group.

Through the years, I’ve become more and more dismayed that many churches  no longer mix their young people with their adults in any way. They keep the youth in their own rooms, as far away from everyone else in the church as possible, in case they get too loud or rowdy. These rooms often have painted-tie-dyed walls…

youthroom2NEW%20copy

…posters, road signs and leftover sofas from our basements. These rooms are “play rooms” of video games and places to simply “hang out.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some youth rooms I’ve seen look more like arcades. Some churches have even given their youth their own building, where they come for an entertainment smorgasbord anytime they want. Is this the structural model we really believe is going to grow mature, solid, faith-filled, Christ-centered, young adults? You sure won’t find this model in Scripture. We must stop kidding ourselves. The numbers, the surveys, and the statistical data do not lie. Many of our young adults continue to abandon their faith and will continue to do so unless we change our strategy and return to the Biblical model, where the church body worships and does life TOGETHER!

Churches should work to promote cross-generational interaction as Paul admonished Titus to teach the elders in Titus 2. In separating the youth from the church body at large, we are in essence saying, “Unlike adults, they can’t handle the weighty things of Scripture.” Thus, it seems okay for us to give them a driver’s license at 16 and put them behind the wheel of a 3,500 pound vehicle and turn them loose on our highways. We expect them to learn algebra, chemistry and calculus. Certainly, they can study and learn Scripture as well. Yes, our young people need to be with adults and be trained…older to younger. In fact, they will graduate from high school and college and go to work in environments with people of all ages. Only in our schools and churches are our young adults segregated by age.

What’s the role of the Church regarding our young people? Well, the Church is certainly here to help and partner with the family to grow our young adults in the way of the Lord. We are to equip all the saints (believers) for works of ministry. Yes, we are to partner with the family in training our young adults…yet, we don’t do the job for the parents. The church’s vision must shift from a consumer-driven focus, regarding our young people, to a partner-driven focus. In other words, the church must stop seeing itself as a vending machine of fun activities to give young people or children something to do to keep them out of trouble. As parents, we must stop seeing the church as a place where we drop off the kids to let the youth pastors train them or give them a little “faith development.”

We must stop thinking the church building and its programs are the conduits through which the gospel is spread. The gospel is spread through people, not programs. What programs existed in the first church? None that I know of with the exception of meeting together to fellowship, break bread, study the gospel and pray (See Acts 2:42-47). Afterwards, they left their homes and went out into the community and shared Jesus. The gospel must travel house by house through the community in the same way it did 2,000 years ago. And in the meantime, let’s continue to worship together and grow spiritually TOGETHER, just as the Bible teaches.

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This week’s Two-Minute Tuesday “Is a College Degree Still Necessary?” seemed to resonate with a lot of people. As of today, it’s been viewed close to 4,000 times. That’s a lot folks! And that’s a lot of folks, folks! 🙂

Here’s why I believe it resonates. It’s because intuitively we know it’s true. A college degree is NOT necessary for everyone. Take a look:

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytuNDdrenRxP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Not that you need more information…but, even those who go to a university today…well…they aren’t getting the degree that you and I got (on average).

Tucker Carlson asks a similar question:

Watch the video here (4 minutes+)

The point of all of this is not to be down on college. No. I’ve got a degree and I’m grateful for it. But, the truth is…my college degree did very little to prepare me for my business career. I learned more working for my dad in his business by far. College degrees are over-rated. They are a “foot in the door” proposition. They were very necessary 30 years ago. But today? Today there are millions of jobs unfilled because no one wants to get their hands dirty. Masons, electricians, welders, mechanics, assisted living care-takers, construction workers. On and on I could go.

Therefore, I decided a long time ago that my kids weren’t going to be placed in anyone’s “cookie cutter.” Pam and I decided we would Proverbs 22:6 them. Train them up in the WAY THEY SHOULD GO. We find out what God wants to do with them and how He has molded them and let them flourish in that. Figuring out how they are bent… Like a paper clip. Try to take the bend out of the clip…and you’ll break it.

Andrew is bent differently than Clara and Kandace differently from Katy. They are all different. And you get that. So, we spend time and money to train Andrew with an apprentice, Barry Pybas…

And Clara for her dance and violin…

Yes, amazingly, Clara just finished another year of violin Tuesday evening in Winston-Salem! Indeed, it’s a lot of travel to Winston for lessons and concerts, but it’s how our girl is “bent” (Proverbs 22:6). So, we train her in her gifting. Her teacher is on the right, Katherine Wiley, Piedmont Suzuki Studio.

Am I finished when Andrew and Clara grow up? Nope! Because I have the privilege of helping to pray for and encourage these two precious souls!

And so, the work continues. 🙂

Kevin

 

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

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

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

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-15

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

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

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

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

#1 We must worship God without rivals

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

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

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

#2 We must build homes on God’s Love

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

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

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

#3 Teach them diligently (Impress it on them)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

# 4 Mark your home as God’s territory

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

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

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

#5 Keep your prosperity in check

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll say it this way…

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

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

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

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

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Hard Work!

“If a man won’t work, let him not eat.”

Is that in the Bible? Yes, it sure is!

It’s found in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3. Here’s the context:

10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13

Work.

How hard do you work? I’m sure you work hard. We all think we hard. And the truth is, the majority of people I know do work hard.

I was raised to work hard by parents who expected it and grandparents (on both sides) who expected it. From working in a chicken house, rolling a wheelbarrow loaded down with manure, to hoeing a garden in 95 degree heat, to weed eating around a million trees (well, maybe not a million). 🙂 Point is: I’ve never known anything but hard work and it drives me absolutely crazy when I see able-bodied people not working hard. When I see people with their hand stuck out, but that same hand will not wield a broom or a shovel, well…I struggle.

“If a man won’t work, let him not eat.”

Yes, it’s one thing if someone can’t work. But, it’s totally another thing if they’re faking it because they’re lazy.

Proverbs 10:4 A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

I’ve tried to teach these things to my children.

That’s the family walking back to the vehicles after another cleaning job. Yes, we’ve been cleaning offices for over a decade. Every week. 52 weeks per year for 13 years to be exact. We now take the grandkids. It’s amazing. When we started, we didn’t have Clara or Andrew. We clean toilets, windows, vacuum, sweep, dust…you name it. And it’s good for us! It’s good for the kids. It’s teaching work ethic.

The kids have chores at home and I bet yours do too. Chores are good and it teaches a good work ethic. The kids know how to wash clothes, load the dish washer, fold clothes, sweep, dust. You get it. We’re not running a Holiday Inn… We’re running a household and it takes everyone working to make the Brown and Isaacs Economies work.

At the end of the day…we reward the kids. We reward them with a good vacation. You know, Disney. It’s takes about 3 years of saving…but, boy…let me tell you something…we work hard…but, we play hard. It’s good to work…but, it’s good to play. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” You know that proverb, don’t you?

I also believe the way we work will be the way we live our relationships. If we are taught to work, we’ll work through problems in life. We’ll work through things that life throws at us and we’ll pray and with the Lord’s help we’ll overcome.

I’m thankful for work! I’m thankful that work wasn’t part of the curse. Adam worked in the garden naming the animals before the curse ever occurred. Did you know we’ll serve (work) in heaven? We sure will and it won’t feel like work. Here’s the verse I’m thinking of… It’s found in the last chapter of the Bible…

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. Revelation 22:3

You say, “Where’s the work?” Well, it’s the word “worship.” Did you know the Greek word used there is: latreuō.

What does it mean? According to blueletterbible.org:

  1. to serve for hire

  2. to serve, minister to, either to the gods or men and used alike of slaves and freemen

Folks, that looks like “work” to me. How about that? In fact the footnote in blueletterbible.org is this: in the New Testament, to render religious service or homage, to worship.

Therefore, when we work, we are actually “worshipping?” Isn’t that wonderful!! What a blessing to work!! What a joy to serve the Lord!!

Kevin

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Let me tell you something… The Lord designed homes to have a mom and a dad. If I ever believed that, I believe it even more after Pam was gone for 2 weeks. She and Clara returned from China this past Saturday night and what a reunion it was!

They landed in Charlotte about 9:30 pm and we got home about midnight. But, it took forever to go to sleep because we were so excited to see one another! What a joy! And another reminder to me that I’m a blessed man to be married to Pam. She’s wonderful! I really mean that!

Now, I almost hesitate to say what I’ve said because I know a single mom might read this and say, “Thanks a lot Kevin! I’m having to be mom and dad!” And that’s why I hesitated to write: “Families need a mom and a dad.” I know there are families that are doing quite well with the circumstances you’re living under. Honestly, my heroes are single moms and dads. I don’t know how you do it! You are amazing people! For me, I need my wife, particularly for my children. You see, there are things that my girls need that I can’t give them. Sometimes, a daughter and yes, a son, needs their momma.

Now, we didn’t have any major problems or issues…all went really well while Pam and Clara were gone…other than freezing to death (more on that in a moment). But, my point is that the Lord designed the home to be made up of a father, mother and children. That’s His design, not mine. He’s the grand designer and He knows what works best. This is why I counsel couples who are considering a divorce (and they have children), to hang in there and keep working. Because here’s the cold-hard truth…you’re going to work hard no matter what. You’re either going to work hard to save your marriage or you’re going to work hard to figure out who gets the kids on Christmas morning and on their birthday and on vacation. Yes, either way you’re going to work…so, why not work on the marriage and seek to put the effort into it on the front end and save the marriage versus getting out calendars and arguing over dates.

Yes, they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. I guess that’s true to a degree… But, I know absence of Pam makes me appreciate her even more!

Speaking of family. We had this one snapped at Christmas. This is how it all started… This was the original foursome…

In case you are wondering…yes…my dad is an inch taller than me. But, if you’ll look closely, I’ve got long legs. 🙂

Here’s a picture of the grandkids…

Isn’t that good?! (Again, this was minus Clara.)

And here’s a picture of my family on Pam’s side… (again, minus Pam and Clara.)

I’m so thankful for all my family! We’re very blessed!!

Something else we’re blessed with (all of us) is heat and a roof over our head. This past cold snap sure made me thankful for that. It was so cold. We were at our below zero 3 mornings during the 8-day snap. Creeks, like Lewis Fork Creek, were almost frozen over.

It’s going to go down as one of the longest cold snaps ever in our area and in many areas in the southeast and mid-Atlantic. I talked about it during the Two-Minute Tuesday this week… “Has the Record Cold-Snap Been Due to Climate Change?”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytrcGp0Y2ZqP2F1dG9wbGF5PXRydWUmYnJhbmRpbmc9dHJ1ZSZlbWJlZD10cnVl

The Lord is good… We baptized 7 people on the last day of 2017! What a celebration! Listen, these people are genuine souls! I can’t say 100% that anyone is saved… Only God knows that. But, we talk to people at length before baptizing them. And so, I can tell you that in my heart, I’m convinced these 7 are genuinely, born-again, followers of Christ! Each of them gave me permission to share what I’m about to share (which I also shared on the 31st).

That’s Kristie Bryan (below). She’s a jewel. A wife and mom (her husband, Trey is with her), and a fabulous CRNA at Forsyth Medical Center.

Here’s what Kristie said:

“I was baptized at the age of 8, but through the years I began to have doubts and I just didn’t feel like some of my actions truly reflected what a Christian should be. There have been many nights that I woke up upset at the conflict that was in my heart. Pastor Kevin’s service [11.12.17] touched me that morning and I was led to talk to him. After I prayed to God with Kevin to be saved, I felt an immediate weight lifted and was more sure than ever that I would be in God’s kingdom someday.”

That’s Terry Walsh (below). We’d been praying for him for years. He was holding back…but, the prayers of his wife and mom and many folks in the church brought the conviction of the Holy Spirit to his heart and he walked the aisle on Sunday, November 12th and raised his hand before all the congregation and said, “I’m ready to be saved!” Praise the Lord!

That’s Dylan Kilby (below). Here’s a young man who was honest enough to say, “I had gotten into sin and that caused me to doubt my salvation and I’m nailing it down. I’m going to live for Jesus!” Now that’s a man, folks! It takes a man to admit that before a church. Dylan is married to a precious young lady, Josie…and they are going to have a great marriage.

Here’s what he said:

“I was living in sin without any remorse. I had said the prayer and thought I was good but I did not change. But I thought that was all you had to do to be saved. But the week after the total eclipse I was laying in bed and I felt a power of guilt come over me for all the sin I had been doing and I hit my knees and called upon Jesus Christ with all I had in tears to save me from this pain and sin that I was in and he did. He saved my soul from it all. He is lord of lords and king of kings I have felt his power and strive to become as close to him as I possibly can… I changed for sure this time I’m trusting in him alone to get me out of this doubt and the Bible is becoming more clear to me… Thanks pastor Kevin for the night you talked to me about doubt. You really helped me hold my head up and keep pouring it out to Jesus.”

Powerful!!!

That’s sixth grader, Isaiah Lewczyk (below).

He came forward on Sunday, November 12th at the end of the service and said, “I’m not afraid to make the journey.” (I had been saying that during the message.) He’s already been selected to be the Chaplain of the Jr. Beta Club at his middle school. What a fantastic young man Isaiah is and will be! He’s got a fabulous family and they are raising him in the Lord!

That’s Josh Farmer (below). Josh had gotten to a place in his life that he wasn’t sure he was saved.

Here’s what Josh said:

“When things were going good I thought I was going to heaven when I died, but when things were going wrong, there was doubt in my mind. That message with the blind beggar [11.12.17] was a mirror image of myself. While I listened to you, I realized I thought I was saved but I simply wasn’t. That’s when I decided it was time and enough was enough.”

Folks, the truth is, so many people in the South make a profession of faith when they’re kids (because they are scared of going to Hell…and that’s a good reason…but the truth is…it’s not till later that you can tell if they really got saved…looking for fruit). Josh nailed it down with me after the service on November 12th. (Can you tell the Lord was moving in a powerful way that day!!)

That’s John Edwards and Kristen Testerman (below). John is seeing Kristen’s mom, Sherrie. And amazingly…the Lord has been doing some powerful things.

John grew up with a Methodist background and had been christened as a child. However, since he’s been coming to the church with Sherrie, he said the Lord had really changed his life. Here’s what he wrote me…

“I was simply lost.. I wasn’t receiving the truth. My attendance had dropped off to nothing and for years I didn’t attend church anywhere… I was feeling ashamed of myself and missing a lot of fulfillment… I was invited to your church… and from day 1 the Lord was speaking to me. Every service after the message, I felt was directed to me. I began to learn more than I ever had. I physically felt forgiveness, a load was lifted from my heart. I knew the Holy Spirit was in me and I love it. I look forward to every day that I share with God. Thank you.”

Isn’t that wonderful! God is good!

Here’s what Kristen said:

“When I saw 8, I went through the general steps of being saved. I repeated a prayer in VBS, walked in front of the church, and got baptized. After that I went on mission trips and did things with the church, but in my heart, I knew I wasn’t saved. I believed in God, but I knew that I wouldn’t be going to heaven if I kept living the way I was. I got to a place where I was empty and I tried to fill that emptiness every way I could. On Thanksgiving I realized that I needed Jesus. So, I nailed down my salvation and I surrendered. Getting baptized is just me showing the world who is in control of my life.”

Folks, this is powerful stuff! And I pray it has blessed and touched your heart to read these testimonies. If for some reason, you aren’t a believer or you aren’t sure you are a believer in Christ, please contact me. I’m here to help! Email: kevin@mpbc.ws.

Kevin

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Suicide-The Newest Fad

Is that title provocative or what? Yet, it’s the truth. Suicide is becoming a fad in our culture. More and more young people, particularly, believe it’s the way out of the problems. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among 10-24 year olds.

I was watching a documentary on this the other day and I saw where one of the counselors being interviewed, (about helping a High School address a recent suicide), said, “We don’t recommend having memorial services for the deceased so that the high schoolers can attend.” The reporter asked why? The counselor said, “Because there is too much ‘glorification’ of suicide right now. If these kids know that the whole school is going to stop and weep over them…well…it’s something glamorous…and we don’t recommend it to school guidance counselors.” That makes total sense to me.

As a pastor, one of the most troubling things I deal with is the subject of depression and suicide. Truly they go hand-in-hand. It’s deep and dark depression that leads to suicidal thoughts and ultimately the act of suicide. Let me say this: I’m not trained to handle suicide. I tell folks this all the time. If you want to talk and you want me to share with you and listen to you and encourage you…yes, please come see me. But, I’m not trained in the brain. I don’t understand all of the nuances of how the mind works. Therefore, I never want to say or do anything that would lead to more harm.

You see, I believe there is a balance in working with people. You (I’m speaking of myself) have to know yourself and what you can handle and are capable of handling. I, as a pastor, feel I can handle marriage counseling, financial counseling, family counseling, behavioral counseling (to a point). But, when it gets to be issues of someone is on the phone and they’re on a ledge about to jump…no…don’t call me first…call 911 first. I’m not trained to talk people off a building rooftop. The same is true with drug addiction. That’s over my head.

Honestly, I didn’t believe this way when I started out pastoring 12 years ago. I thought I had to have all the answers. I thought, “There paying me to have the answers.” I realized that wasn’t true. I realized there are issues that I’m not equipped to handle and I’m a better pastor to admit that versus trying to make it look like I know what I’m talking about. That’s nothing but blatant pride! So, I’m honest with people. I’m candid with people. I try to lower their expectations. I’m not a miracle worker and I don’t have a magic wand.

Here’s the truth. By the time a lot of people call me for counseling, they’ve already made up their mind. Let’s take marriage counseling for instance. What I’ve seen through the years is that one or both of the spouses has already given up and they simply agree to counseling to check it off the list so that they can tell everyone that they “exhausted all possible avenues,” including counseling. The truth is: I can tell in the first 15 minutes if one or both have already given up. That’s tough when that happens, because then it will only be a miracle from the hand of God that can save the marriage. Only God can change the human heart. I can only do so much and the same is true of you.

Today’s Two-Minute Tuesday is: “Exit: The Appeal of Suicide.”

https://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/q9puzbu

The movie is excellent. It’s about 37 minutes long, but it’s not something I can show in church (with our children). However, if you know of anyone who is in that dark place or dealing with depression or suicide, I would encourage you to pass along this website:

http://www.theexitmovie.com

Without question, we all go through seasons of time in our lives that are very dark and very difficult. I think of the Apostle Paul when he said that he was “so burdened beyond his strength.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-11

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

Verse 9 said he felt “the sentence of death” on his life. Maybe you have been there. Maybe you are there. Know that you are not alone. Know that you are loved and are valuable to God. He loves you so much, He sent Jesus to die for you…to save you…so that you might have eternal life.

Jesus, Himself, would cry out on the cross in His grief and anguish. He, too, felt such terrible stress and pain in the Garden of Gethsemane that He literally sweat drops of blood. He’s been there. The writer of Hebrews says:

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

Jesus loves us and He is able to bring meaning, purpose and hope into the life of each and every soul that will come to Him. He says:

28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I know in my own life of almost 50 years the there is no one or nothing that can give strength, power, purpose and meaning outside of Jesus Christ. Anything else is counterfeit and won’t last. If you need help, get help. Talk to a Christian counselor or pastor or trusted Christian friend.

The most important thing for those of us who are trying to help and encourage people is to know that we don’t have to have all the answers. We just need to be there and listen. Just be a shoulder for others to lean on.

I think of the first century church. There were no counseling services like we have today. It was just Christians helping Christians and the Holy Spirit to comfort, teach and guide. I believe Peter said as much in:

2 Peter 1:3-11

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I do believe there is a place for professional counseling, (I’ve already said that), but I believe the greatest Counselor is the Wonderful Counselor and that’s the Lord Jesus Christ, who operates in our lives through the Holy Spirit. If you are struggling today in any way…look to Christ. Bow your head and pray right now. Call on the name of the Lord! He’s waiting and He loves you!!

Kevin

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