Praying for the Victims of Michael

Praying for the Victims of Michael

After opening my front door, I surveyed my property. Pine limbs littered my lawn. Fortunately, our lights flickered but never went out for any significant amount of time.  Realizing I would spend a few hours cleaning up minor debris, I thanked God for our safety.

Returning inside, I turned the television to the Weather Channel. Only to see images of complete devastation. One reporter stood in front of a long line of overturned train cars blasted by the storm. Another asked the camera to pan to see buildings that appeared as a pile of broken matchsticks. The panhandle of Florida lies in ruin. People’s lives and livelihood lay in shambles. My heart aches.

Honestly, I planned to introduce a new type of post today, but I was prompted to write this instead. We need to pray. So, what should we pray for?

  • Thank God for those who escaped harm’s way.
  • Pray for those who are waking to a season of bereavement.
  • Pray for those whose homes and businesses are destroyed.
  • Pray for those who do not have power or utilities.
  • Pray for those who are in need of rescue.
  • Pray for rescuers, first-responders,  and linemen.
  • Pray for government agencies and non-profit agencies to quickly assess and administer aid.

Again, please take a minute out of your day to pray for the victims of Hurricane Michael. Go volunteer in some capacity or give to a charitable organization. We must come together in moments of crisis! Here are some organizations you can donate to:

 

eye of the storm image from outer space

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Broken SYATP18

Broken SYATP18

On September 26, at the break of dawn,  students will gather at flagpoles across the nation to cry out to God. This student-led movement began in 1990 with ten students, and it has grown to millions. God is still moving among the youth of this nation. He has not forsaken His people. Their ministry style may differ from the generations before them, but their message is one of hope. The Good News of Jesus Christ still has the power to change lives today.

Tomorrow, I am privileged to share at Citizens Christian Academy’s SYATP gathering at 7:00 am. Will you gather with us? If not with your physical presence, be encouraged that prayer works anywhere!

 

 

 

A Full Heart on Friday

It’s Friday evening. I am tired and sweaty. It’s been a long week, but my heart is refreshed. So, I decided to let my joy spill over into your lives. Saying “God is great” seems inadequate. Yet, I can think of no other way to express my feelings at the moment. I am overwhelmed by the grace afforded to us.

img_0811To understand my joy, I must take you to the first time I entered the gym at Citizens Christian Academy. In 1999,  I went there with some friends to watch a basketball game. I was a grungy teenage skater that was running from God. I donned a care-free exterior, but I struggled with low self-esteem, anger, and depression.

img_0810

However, today I walked into the same gym at 7:30 a.m. and shared the hope of Christ with the FCA Huddle. I am humbled God has allowed me to speak into the lives of the Middle and High School students. I would have never imagined this life. God is great! 

A few hours later, the same gymnasium transformed into a sanctuary. Over 100 elementary students, filled the room with songs of praise to the Savior of the world. I witnessed these kids raise their hands in worship to the King of kings and the Lord of lords. God is great!

img_0802

In the afternoon, I had a blast playing Bible Battle Royale with my Middle Schoolers in my classroom.  Then I was amazed by how much my High School class learned about the doctrine of the Trinity. God is great!

God’s grace transformed a depressed teenage boy into a vessel to carry His message. I couldn’t earn this and I don’t deserve this grace, but He has lavished it on me. You never know where God’s grace will take you! If you’re running from Him, why not surrender and find out? God is great! 

 

 

 

 

Echoes in the Hills of Alabama

Echoes in the Hills of Alabama

“What were you doing in Birmingham, Alabama this past weekend?” 

People are curious. I assume their curiosity was piqued by the dust being blown off my cobwebbed Instagram account. (I am trying to get with the times.) A steady stream of posts of my son and myself ranging from our stop at the Huddle House for breakfast to us standing with Rick Burgess and Andy Blanks in the foyer of The Church at Brooks Hills. Its no wonder why people were interested in what the Bounds boys were up to.

So, what were we doing? We were growing closer to God and each other! At Christmas, my wife gave us the wonderful gift of tickets to the Make Ready Weekend held at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL.  Make Ready is an “interactive discipleship weekend for fathers and their children.”1 Honestly, I have never been to an event quite like this one.  The goal of this weekend was to see “dads and their children embrace the roles God has called them to and grow closer in Christ as a result.”2The event was sponsored by YM360, Iron Hill Press, and Burgess Ministries.

Make Ready featured a great lineup of speakers. Rick Burgess, from the nationally syndicated Rick and Bubba Show, was the punch-in-the-gut-challenge-you-to-commit-to-discipleship preacher and Andy Blanks, publisher and founder of YM360, was the nuts and bolts how-to teacher of the event. My legal pad overflowed with quotes and ideas concerning discipleship as I gleaned from these two men.

However, my favorite portion of this event was the Dad/Student sessions. The rubber met the road in these small settings. The Make Ready Weekend Event Notebook provided was more challenging than anything. In one section of the notebook, we studied Ephesians 6:1-4, which states,

Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.  “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise:  If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. Ephesians 6:1-4 (NLT)

Can you imagine a dad sitting across from his son asking him to share how he may have “frustrated him” instead of empowering him in the Lord? It was difficult to be open but freeing when all our cards were on the table. We found liberty in our relationship to share.

This liberty was not only found by us but by several more. After lunch and our discipleship session, I walked around on the campus seeing multiple holy huddles. Around every corner, a dad and child(ren) were gathered studying and praying together. It was a fantastic sight to see!

This weekend was amazing! I heard some excellent preaching/teaching, I even got to get my picture taken with Rick and Andy, but I have to say my favorite memory was captured at breakfast during one of our discipleship session in the photo below.img_0027-1

Rick and Andy thank you for this moment. I am, and will ever be grateful, for you helping me to refocus on the most important ministry in my life, being a dad. A shout out of appreciation to Iron City Worship for preparing our hearts with song, to The Church at Brook Hills for allowing us to gather in their facilities, and to all those behind the scenes.  Also, thanks to my amazing wife for being a huge Rick and Bubba fan and getting us tickets for Christmas. God bless you all! Finally, my request to God is may the tear-filled prayers, which were uttered in the hills of Alabama echo throughout the land and turn the heart of fathers back to their children.

img_0062

 

 

 

 

  1. Make Ready Event Notebook
  2. Ibid, 4

Hello, I am the Substitute Teacher for Today…

“Hello, my name is Kevin Bounds, and I will be your substitute teacher today.”

Okay, to be honest, I never thought my vocal chords would ever vibrate to the rhythm of those words! However, God has a funny way of surprising us, doesn’t He? Today, I experienced one of those “I never thought I would have this experience” moments.

After receiving a call from Citizens Christian Academy, I wondered what a pastor with a Bible and theology degree would have to offer a High School literature class. Also, what would the student be like? (Oh, no! Would I reap the fruit from seeds sown in my past for being a torment to subs in my formative years?)

To my surprise, I quickly learned the 11th-grade class was reading one of my favorite novels, which I read in Mr. Starbuck’s English class years ago. A book about Greasers, Socs, switchblades, and Corvairs. Yes, it was S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. In fact, this brush with High School literature makes me what to reread Ponyboy’s story.

Next, in the 9th-grade class, we looked at Ralph Waldo Emerson and transcendentalist literature. Yes! Of course, I know I am running the risk of revealing my inner nerd, but I thoroughly enjoyed this topic! Although this was a literature class, I got to share a bit of Emerson’s theological presuppositions that informed his writing.

All in all, it was a great experience. The kids in my class were well behaved and respectful. I realized, people had instilled in these teens good Christian morals, character, and the importance of pursuing a solid education. Honestly, I am looking forward to returning tomorrow.

Have you ever had an “I never thought I would have this experience” moment? I would love to hear it. Or maybe you’re a proud CCA Alumni or parent, please feel free to comment below and share.

 

My Hope for these “Divided States of America”

 “And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:”
Matthew 12:25 (KJV)

As I ponder the plight of the American political system, the above-quoted verse came to my mind. Honestly, I know we are in deep trouble in this nation (and have been for some time). We are polarized. We are fighting and bickering over candidates with no moral bearings. Both are power hungry demagogues that are saying whatever they think the voters want to hear. Both have behaved deplorably in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Do you think either candidate can fix our situation? Sadly, I am not optimistic.

This post is not to provoke debate on which are the lesser of two evils but to share my heart. If you do not like what I am about to say; please understand I stand with you. Americans have left the God of the Bible and are now worshiping at the altar of patriotism. We have been blessed by God (despite ourselves). However, we have not utilized this blessing to glorify the one true God. Instead, we worship our military might and economic accomplishments. We have become slaves to a corrupted notion of freedom. A false freedom that says no one can give me orders. A false freedom that does not recognize the gravity of statements like, “Only God can judge me.”

Please do not misunderstand, I am an American. I love this nation, but I think our time is running out. I feel like one of the prophets of old as they witnessed the moral depravity in their time. (If you do not think our situation is severe; look at who millions are squabbling over in this election!) There was a time for repentance, but it was not heeded. There was a point of no return and judgment fell. Could we be at such a point? Sadly, I am not optimistic.

Please know that I hope my pessimism concerning the political turmoil is unfounded. This post is not to persuade anyone to join one campaign over the other. I have written this to share my heart. I have witnessed family fights and frayed friendships during this election season. Do you really think that we will not face these people again after November? Ironically, the United States are no longer united.

On the other hand, there is an optimism I possess. Although I was born in the land of the free and the home of the brave,  my hope is not found in her borders. I belong to a kingdom that is not of this earth, which is not subject to the whims of mankind. This kingdom will never fail. This is the reason, even though, my hearts aches for my beloved homeland I look to the horizon with hope.

The discord in America has forced my eyes to the heavens. I cast my eyes to where my help comes from during these perilous times. Although elected officials may fail me, my Lord has a stellar track record of victory. Do you have this confidence? Are you a part of the unshakable kingdom of Christ? I believe this question is more important than whose name is on the ballot or even who wins the White House.

I remind you of this; one will win, but what then? Have you alienated everyone around you with political propaganda? Whoever wins will most definitely inherit a polarized nation with a great number of opponents. Will you pray for them? The only hope we have in this land is in unity. This saving unity is found in one nation under God (the God of the Bible). What will you do to make this possible?

In conclusion, America is doomed unless we turn from our idolatrous relationship with self. We cannot be the United States and divided at the same time. It will not work. Have we run our course in history? To be honest, I do not know the answer to my question. However, my prayer is for God’s mercy, and God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.