The Link

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I’m happy to share some good links that I have found this week. I think you’ll enjoy these articles. Enjoy your day in God’s Grace (Rom 5:2)!

Powerful Testimony of Sportscaster James Brown – James Brown explains his incredible 74-pound weight loss – and his explanation is totally unexpected. You’ll enjoy reading this powerful testimony and his ultimate motivation for losing all his weight. This is worth your two minutes to read it.

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
– Isaiah 40:28

The Gospel as Simple as 3-2-1 – This video posted by Justin Taylor from the Gospel Coalition gives a simple explanation of the Gospel using the numbers 3-2-1. John Piper said this is the video he would show all his unsaved friends.

Not Sure Where You Want To Vacation? – This is a link from ExploreBranson.com and includes some gorgeous pictures of the Ozarks. If you have never visited us in the Ozarks, these pictures may convince you that it would be a good idea. Branson offers family fun for everyone. When in the area, stop by and say hi to us.

If you love country music… – This is a must-see video that you will enjoy featuring 30 of the most famous and award winning country music stars and classics. This video was made in honor of the 50th annual CMA Awards. If you like video production, this is an amazing feat. Plus, if you’re from West Virginia, you’ll really enjoy this one.

Rental Car Help – Have you ever wondered if it is a good idea to prepay for the gas in your rental car. This article provides you six reasons why prepaying for gas is never a good idea.

9 Reasons Why to Celebrate Wedding Anniversaries – In case you missed this recently, here are 9 reasons why to celebrate wedding anniversaries – and none of them are to stay out of the doghouse or off the couch. I think you’ll be challenged to consider some key thoughts regarding faithfulness in marriage.

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Pastor Kevin’s Blog | Walking together through life as friends in Christ sharing wisdom along the journey

© 2017 PASTORKEVINSBLOG.COM

Characteristics of a GOOD Fisherman

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If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well. This general life principle provides guidance to all of us. This, no doubt, is also true to fishing.

If you are going to fish, of course you want to know the characteristics of a GOOD fisherman.

Recently at our 42nd annual trip to Kentucky Lake as an extended family, we all sat together and discussed the question, “What are the characteristics of a good fisherman?” The answers varied.

  • Patient
  • Persistence
  • Determination
  • Have the Right Equipment
  • Know Your Target
  • Know Your Surroundings
  • Use Proper Bait
  • Practice
  • Understand the Process
  • Put in the Hard Work
  • Have a Right Attitude
  • Anticipation
  • Enjoy the Process
  • Fish Legally
  • Have the Right Timing
  • Committed Resources

To catch good fish is not easy. Anyone can grab a pole and some bait and try. However, it takes skill, education, practice, and persistence to become a GOOD fisherman.

Jesus understood this.

Jesus chose fishing as one of his primary metaphors to capture the discipleship process. When calling Peter, James, John, and Andrew, Jesus says, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:17; Luke 5:1-11). When challenging these men, primarily Peter, to become fully devoted followers, Jesus called them from fishing for fish to fishing for men.

Jesus further described the discipleship process in three aspects: going, assimilating, and teaching (Matthew 28:19-20). Although not directly referring to fishing, it is certainly true that you cannot be a GOOD fisherman without first going to a body of water with the intention of catching fish.

The characteristics of a GOOD fisherman of fish also apply to becoming a GOOD fisherman of men.

  • Fish legally – follow the rules. A GOOD fisherman understands and submits to applicable regulations for a particular body of water. This is also true to fishing for men. We must fish God’s way. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:7). People do not receive eternal life or become followers of Jesus Christ by creating their own ways or following their own rules. The only way to obtain eternal life is through Jesus.

 

  • Use Proper Bait – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A GOOD fisherman uses proper bait to catch the particular species desired. The message of the Gospel draws people to follow Jesus Christ. The story of the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus is the message of the Gospel for sinful mankind. Jesus willingly chose to sacrifice His life in order to provide eternal life for us. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…For if by one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. …For if by one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1-21).

 

  • Have the Right Equipment – the Word of God. A GOOD fisherman has and uses the right equipment for the occasion. Likewise, a GOOD fisherman of men uses the right equipment. The Bible teaches that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). The only way to have faith is through the declared propositional truth of the Bible.

 

  • Understand the Right Presentation – a spirit of grace. A GOOD fisherman understands how to present the bait or lure to the fish. Often the weather, water conditions, and species demand a particular presentation in order to catch fish. In fishing for men, we must also present the compelling message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ appropriately. The Gospel demands compassion, love, and a spirit of grace. We speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). In the process we choose our words wisely, choose the timing of our conversation wisely, and choose the particular aspect of the Gospel to highlight wisely.

 

  • Have the Right Attitude – go with anticipation. A GOOD fisherman fishes with anticipation of catching fish. It makes it extremely hard to catch fish without the right attitude. This is also true to catching men. We share the Gospel with anticipation of God using our meager efforts to draw people to Himself (John 6:44). As we seek to present Christ to others, we recognize that ultimately God is the One who draws people to Himself. So regardless of the person, we share Christ resting in God’s grace and mercy to bring salvation (Ephesians 2:1-10). Only the Spirit of God can do the work of salvation in another person’s heart (John 16:8).

 

A GOOD fisherman actually fishes.

It is not enough to just talk about fishing, learn about fishing, or desire to fish. To be a GOOD fisherman, you must actually do something. You must wet a hook – engage in the process of fishing. Peter and the other disciples understood this when Jesus told them to cast their net on the right side of the boat (John 21:6). They caught an incredible amount of fish – impossible though unless they had been willing to actually cast the net. Likewise, we all must cast the net as GOOD fishermen of men. Your neighbor, coworker, family member, or anyone with whom you come into contact need the message of Jesus Christ for salvation. Opportunities are everywhere. We must take advantage of those opportunities and lovingly share the great news of the Gospel.

Join the Conversation

What other ways can you think of that correlates well the ideas of being GOOD fishermen of fish and men?

Pastor Kevin’s Blog | Walking together through life as friends in Christ sharing wisdom along the journey

© 2017 PASTORKEVINSBLOG.COM

Generational Father’s Day, a Heritage of the Lord

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On this Father’s Day, I want to encourage and challenge the men I know, as well as rejoice over God’s grace in my own life. My Dad and my Grandad have both been my heroes growing up. I am grateful God allowed us to grow up with both men active in our daily lives. Whereas many children of ministry parents, including my own, do not get to live close to family or grandparents, we had the privilege of living in the same town as both sets of our grandparents. My one grandfather died when we were very young; however, my Grandad Carson only lived about ten minutes away from us and we saw each other often during the week. I had the privilege to watch Dad and Grandad as they worked, played, worshipped, parented, and husbanded. I appreciate in greater words than pen can write what I observed and learned.

Over the years Psalm 71:16-18 have been three of my favorite verses. There is an incredible challenge here for each of us as fathers.

16  I will go in the strength of the Lord God;
I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.
17  O God, You have taught me from my youth;
And to this day I declare Your wondrous works.
18    Now also when I am old and grayheaded,
O God, do not forsake me,
Until I declare Your strength to this generation,
Your power to everyone who is to come.

The psalmist here emphasizes three elements that challenge each one of us as fathers.

First, he recognized God as his teacher. Now we know that God literally does not teach us in a classroom; however, through God’s Word as it gets applied in life’s circumstances, God teaches each of us. In this psalm, the author has lived a life close to the Lord. He has observed God’s ways and recognizes God’s kindness as His protector and sovereign Lord. He has enjoyed sweet communion with God since childhood. As a middle-aged man, I can look back and say with this psalmist, I know God and have been taught by Him. I do not know Him as much as I desire yet; however, I have today to keep learning Him.

Second, he committed to declaring God’s wondrous works and God’s power to his generation and those that are to come. His goal was simple – declare God. God’s character and His words are worthy of our worship. I hope to do the same. As a Christian since childhood, I can say like this psalmist that I have been taught from my youth. I have heard both my Dad and Grandad regularly teach from God’s Word in formal settings and of course in daily life. I have watched them as they lived it out when it was convenient and when it was not. I am grateful for my examples and teachers.

Third, our commitment cannot just be to our generation, we must live life in the present with an eye for the future. Yes, it is vitally important to live today with those around us for God’s glory. We cannot fail in daily living. The psalmist is concerned that although he has lived consistent throughout his life to this point, that somehow now as an older man he will be unfaithful. Why? Because he understood the necessity of today and also the hope of the future generation. He saw the bigger picture than what was immediately in front of him. He understood that what is said and done matters to more than just oneself. He recognized the importance of being a leader. He depended upon the Lord to grant him the strength to be faithful to his generation and also to the next. He recognized that although leaving a physical inheritance – no matter the size – is important, it is more important and absolutely necessary to leave a heritage of loving and serving God. I am so grateful that I have had the privilege of that kind of heritage myself, and certainly recognize this as the gift of the Lord. I desire to leave that same kind of heritage to my children and their children as well.

What then is our challenge today men on Father’s Day?

  1. Live life with God as your teacher. Read the Word. Study the Word. Memorize the Word. Go to church. Be around other godly men. Read good theological literature that helps you apply God’s Word in your life. Soak up God’s Word until it consumed you. Have men push and challenge you on how you live it. Be consistently learning from God.

 

  1. Share what you learn with others. As you love and learn God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Spirit, make sure that you share it with others. Do not neglect the privilege and responsibility of living an outward faith – a walk with the Lord. Your faith was never meant to be private. Live it. Live it consistently around people – at home, at work, at play, at church. Share it regularly.

 

  1. Consider the heritage you leave for this generation and the next generation. Your children are watching you know. They see. They learn. They know what is important to you and what is not important to you. They get you more than you know. You will be known for something. If the future, your children will laugh and tell stories about you. In the future they will sit around and remanence. For what will you be known? What heritage will you leave? When you die, may your family never wonder about your walk with God. I often tell men to live life today so that when you near death your family will not wonder if you will go to heaven.

This Father’s Day I am grateful for my godly heritage. God’s grace in the likeness of a Dad and Grandad is marvelous and undeserved. I commit myself to leaving the same kind of heritage by God’s grace.

Join the Conversation

What about you today father, will you commit yourself to leaving that kind of heritage?

9 Reasons Why To Celebrate Wedding Anniversaries

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Today we celebrated with our parents their 50th wedding anniversary – the Golden Anniversary. This is a special day for any family; however, every anniversary is worth prioritizing and celebrating. Over the years at times I have done well with celebrating my own anniversary, and disappointingly, there are times I have failed to appreciate the day for what it is worth. Let me give you 9 reasons why you should celebrate wedding anniversaries.

1. Covenant Faithfulness. Marriage is a life-long covenant of companionship between a man and a woman, created in the image of God, which results in unity for the purpose of dominion under God. This beautiful and serious marriage covenant has two aspects – both horizontal and vertical: a promise to each other and, as a couple, a promise to God. The ceremony includes the exchanging of covenant promises, with witnesses, and an official. It involves an agreement between a man and a woman to hold fast to one another, by the grace of God, as husband and wife during their earthly lives. Each anniversary celebrates another year of covenant faithfulness – not perfection as a couple but faithfulness to a promise made with each other and God.

This is a component of marriage that helps make us more like God. One of God’s greatest attributes is His covenant faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-24). Throughout the Bible God’s covenant faithfulness is celebrated – from Genesis with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, throughout Israel’s history, highlighted in Ruth, and ultimately celebrated in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Marriage is a visible, physical, temporal covenant that pictures, embodies, and points to the eternal covenant between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:22-33). As we stay faithful to our earthly spouse, we choose to be covenant faithful and shower our spouse with blessings like our God. This is the covenant faithfulness celebrated every anniversary.

2. Powerful Grace. Powerful grace indeed! Every marriage thrives off of grace. Grace is the oil that keeps the marriage running. In God’s kindness He provides grace that is new every morning. It is powerful grace that is empowered by the Spirit (Ephesians 1:19-23). It is necessary grace that is required because we are sinners and sufferers. Life in a broken world is not easy. Life with another sinner striving for unity and faithfulness is also difficult. However, God provides sufficient grace that is always up to the challenge (1 Corinthians 10:13). This is the grace celebrated every anniversary.

3. Forgiveness in Christ. A personal relationship with God begins with eternal forgiveness from God to the believer through the personal work of Jesus. As followers of Christ, we forgive people as we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13). Marriage creates a context where both spouses have the privilege and responsibility to forgive each other often. We sin. We offend. We fail. As we live and these offenses occur, it requires that forgiveness is requested and received, needed and granted. This is the forgiveness celebrated every anniversary.

4. Commitment to Glorifying God. God desires for all followers to glorify Him daily in everything (1 Corinthians 10:31). Marriage becomes the proving ground where these decisions are determined and demonstrated. Our lives include many ups and downs, unexpected turns, and mountain tops and valleys. On this journey, as couples, we regularly must choose to glorify God in all these moments together. Sometimes we nail it perfectly; sometimes we fail. This is the commitment to glorifying God celebrated every anniversary.

5. Progressive Sanctification. Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives. Life’s most significant process – progressive sanctification – takes place in the rich environment of marriage. Two sinners. One covenant. A life full of opportunities to grow in Christ together. Marriage, this special and distinct inseparable relationship provides companionship along the journey of Christ-likeness (Ephesians 5:25-32). This is the sanctification process celebrated every anniversary.

6. Lifelong Companions. When we make our marriage vowels, we begin making a life together – learning to love each other as we weld two individual lives together as one. We commit to each other as we commit to Christ. We recognize we are in this for life. Not a blind chance but a deliberate choice. Not convenience but obedience. Not how the cards fall but a covenant. Not about compatibility but a welding of two lives together. We are lifelong companions. Two friends choosing to stay in the boat together regardless of the heavy winds, waves, or tempestuous sea. This is the lifelong companionship celebrated every anniversary.

7. God’s Sovereignty. Just as specifically as God gave Adam and Eve to each other, God uses our own personal choices to give us our spouses. As we choose each other on our wedding day, God providentially and lovingly works out His plan. God uses the occasion of our marriage to provide for us our lifelong companion. The couple has not been given the authority to dissolve the marriage (Matthew 19:6). Separation only becomes appealing as a husband or wife looks at self and not God’s purpose for “us.” Therefore, the couple must avoid selfishness in order to not make separation appealing in life. Instead, the couple embraces the similarities and differences, the strengths and weaknesses, and the moments of delight and disappointments as part of God’s plan. This is the sovereignty of God celebrated every anniversary.

8. Building and Celebrating Memories. Each anniversary means another calendar year has transpired. Twelve months. Four seasons. Good days. Not so good days. Sometimes horrific days. Good times. Bad times. Holidays. Work days. Weekends. Vacations. Life. Memories have been built as days have been lived. The contours of life change as these moments apply pressure, make impressions, and provide wrinkles. This is building and celebrating of memories celebrated every anniversary.

9. Continued Love. From the first conversations, through the length of the engagement, to the wedding day, love drives the process. Immature love changes to a mature love. Imperfect love remains imperfect but steadfast. Even though we understand Christ’s perfect love, none of us can ever live up to the ideal. Instead, we strive to love better and remain steadfast in it. Biblical love for your spouse is based on God’s love for you and must be practiced out of a desire to honor the Lord. For the husband, love means that a husband gives his life for his wife, just as Christ gave His live for the church (Ephesians 5:25-33). For the husband and wife, we together seek to imitate the love of Christ with each other. This is the continued love celebrated every anniversary.

Regardless if this is your 50th anniversary, 70th anniversary, 16th anniversary, or 1st anniversary – whatever the year it is for you – this is an important celebration. We celebrate together with you all the energy and effort it takes to live life together as lifelong companions committed to the love and glory of God.

Pastor Kevin’s Blog | Walking together through life as friends in Christ sharing wisdom along the journey

© 2017 PASTORKEVINSBLOG.COM

 

“You’ve been here all night?”

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I’ve recently been sitting up with a dear friend overnights. This sweet friend suffers from brain disease and has lost both short term and most long term memory. Although I help during the night when needed, most mornings I am greeted with the same innocent smile and question, “You’ve been here all night?”

While this dear saint sleeps, arouses briefly, and occasionally needs help, I am watching, waiting for a call for help, observing the normal signs of life like breathing, and preemptively serving necessary needs. Although the night has been busy from my end, each morning I’m met with a new surprised look and question, “You’ve been here all night?”

I can’t help but think of us as a people with God. Most days it is we who have spiritual amnesia and forget that God is with us every day and every night. As followers of Christ, we know that God never sleeps nor slumbers; He never leaves us (Psalm 121; Joshua 1:9). Christ is with us always (Matthew 28:20). The Holy Spirit seals and empowers us as we are indwelt by Him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God perfectly does those things – and so much more for us – that I so imperfectly do for my friend. He is watching, waiting for a call for help, observing and supervising the normal signs of life, and preemptively serving our every need. Friends, He is there.

How convicting, and yet still comforting, to consider the fact that God loves, serves, and helps us even when we functionally are oblivious to His presence. In our most desperate moments, He is there. When we strive to live independently of Him, He is there. As we cry out, He is there. As we are busy doing our own thing, He is there. When we are afraid, He is there. When we misperceive the danger around us and are carefree, He is there. When our hearts are broken and we are so low, He is there. On our happiest day, He is there. Friends, He is there.

So whatever you are going through today, this is great news! God’s faithfulness to you does not depend upon your faithfulness to Him. In fact, God is faithful to us in spite of the fact that He knows we will not be faithful to Him. God is faithful to us when nothing we do or say deserves it. In our most holy moments and in our most unholy moments, God is with us. Friends, He is there.

How do we respond to such wonderful, yet convicting, news?

First, stop and thank God for being with you today. This may be the first time today you have considered Him; however, He has been waiting and is ready to hear you. He has been busy doing everything necessary to keep your world together while you have also been too busy to pay attention to Him. Take time now to just pause to pray and be grateful because friends, He is there.

Seek to stay aware of His presence the rest of today. You can set an hourly chime on your phone, place a note somewhere you won’t miss it, or tie a string around your finger – okay, maybe not that one, but do something that will specifically remind you of His presence throughout your day. When you consciously consider His presence, just breathe a sigh of relief, put a sweet smile on your heart, and welcome Him into your thoughts. “God, it is so nice that You are here with me right now,” for friends, He is there.

Furthermore, rehearse in your mind all of the blessings God provides for you today. Whisper them back to yourself. If you are where you can’t whisper, then just reflect on them. If you are alone, say them out loud. “God, I am forgiven of my sins today because of Jesus Christ. I stand in righteousness having the power of sin broken because of Christ. I am not alone but instead enjoy You now because of the sacrificial death of Jesus. You give me confidence of Heaven in the future and strength for this world around me today.” Carefully consider all of the ways that God blesses you and voice them. Friends, He is there.

To God, “You’ve been here all night?”

God says, “Yes, and all day as well. I will never leave you or forsake you.”

May God be praised because friends, He is there.

Join the Conversation

What are other ways that you practice remembering and celebrating the presence of God?

Pastor Kevin’s Blog | Walking together through life as friends in Christ sharing wisdom along the journey

© 2017 PASTORKEVINSBLOG.COM