Thursday, November 29, 2007

JOURNEY THROUGH 1 CORINTHIANS

I told you I had some catching up to do. So here are some gleanings from my recent read through 1 Corinthians.

  • This letter reminds me that for many, conversion does not automatically generate complete behavior transformation and that even Christians sometimes live like pagans.
  • God is great at choosing and using the "nobodies" of this world.
  • Can this verse be said of you/me? "The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives."
  • I can work extremely hard for Chapin Baptist Church, but I must remember that it is God who grows the church.
  • Ungodly behavior in the church must be confronted. The Message Bible says, "If necessary, clean house."
  • "Just because something is technically legal doesn't mean that it is spiritually appropriate." (Perhaps as in the controversial subject of drinking)
  • Marriage is a decision to serve the other.
  • Could my behavior/actions in any way be a stumbling block to others? Shouldn't I give that behavior up, even though essentially there is nothing wrong with it?
  • I want to run hard for the finish line. I want to be in top condition when I cross it. Therefore, sloppy living must be out.
  • I am not exempt, nor are you, from any moral downfall. Beware of self-confidence. The key is having God-confidence.
  • The Lord's Supper is a vital part of our spiritual journey and should never be observed in a half-hearted manner.
  • When every member of the body is using his/her special God-given gift, it is a beautiful thing.
  • The love list in chapter 13 always humbles me. This time what hit me was, "Love cares more for others than for self."
  • 14:39 is a great verse for preachers: "When you speak forth God's truth, speak your heart out."
  • Nothing I do for the kingdom is a waste of time. So every day I need to "throw" myself into His work.


"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."


JOURNEY THROUGH JUDGES

Yes, I've been reading my Bible each day. I'm just behind on my "journey" blogs. Here are some gleanings from my recent read through the Book of Judges.

  • The theme of the book could is the same as year 2007: People did what was right in their own eyes.
  • It is amazing how God uses corrupt people to accomplish His purposes (again true today).
  • Joshua (previous book) was a great, godly leader. Why didn't the generation after him not know God or the works He did for Israel? Christianity is always one generation away from being impotent.
  • Moving forward out of a disobedient spirit is not a wise thing to do.
  • Common pattern in the book: People rebel against God, God sends punishment through a foreign ruler, people cry out and repent, God raises a leader, enemy is defeated, people rebel, and the cycle repeats.
  • My favorite person in the book is Ehud. We left-handed people stick together.
  • My least favorite person is Jael. She kept me from making a 100 on an Old Testament test in seminary (30 years later and I still remember that).
  • The Song of Deborah is not your typical love song.
  • Gideon, like many today, blamed God for his woes instead of admitting his disobedience.
  • We must get rid of all other gods before erecting an altar to the true God.
  • Gideon, how many signs do you need? But aren't we the same way?
  • The key to Gideon's success--God's Spirit was upon him.
  • Did you notice that Gideon didn't argue when his army was cut to 300? What faith!
  • When Gideon learned about Midian's fear, he didn't wallow in pride. He got on his knees.
  • Gideon was in the middle of celebrating a great victory when he had to deal with a bunch of whiners who wondered why they weren't included.
  • Not long after the victory, they were back to their sinful ways.
  • Gideon had 70 sons--a busy man he was.
  • Abimilech demonstrates the dangers of a divided people.
  • I'm grateful that God forgives even when we fall into the same sinful traps over and over.
  • Jephthah--Don't make stupid, irrational vows to God.
  • English teachers would love chapter 12--Is it Sibboleth or Shibboleth?
  • Lessons for parents from Samson's parents: marital communication, praying for wisdom on how to raise our kids, and putting God first.
  • God set apart Samson, but he tried to do stuff in his own power.
  • Samson is the story of the tragedy of wasted potential.
  • Samson didn't know that God's Spirit had left him--how sad.
  • How could a husband give his wife to a bunch of sex-crazed men and then sleep through the night while they raped her? Is our culture any different?
  • It is not a pretty picture when believers fight each other.
  • Chapter 21 speaks to the issue of community--the people grieved at the thought that the tribe of Benjamin might become extinct.
  • The last verse of the book sums it all up--the people did what they felt like doing.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

MY THANKSGIVING LIST

I was home on Thanksgiving break from college one year and my Mom "ordered" me to do something that was bizarre. She told me to sit down and write a list of all that I'm thankful for. I have no clue what prompted her to do this. We always had Thanksgiving dinner together as a family. And overall, I'd say that our family was a grateful one.

I don't remember my mom asking me to do much outside of a chore here and there or run an errand every now and then. But when she told me to sit down and write out my thanksgiving list, something inside me knew that she was serious. I don't remember how I initially responded; but bottom line, I sat down and wrote out my list.

My mom has had tremendous spiritual influence on me throughout my life. And she continues to amaze me with her faith. But this is one lifelong takeaway that I'm extremely grateful for. I tell this story every time I teach Class 201. Why? Because taking the time to sit and write a thanksgiving list is a great discipline. It helps put your life in proper perspective.

For November 2007, here are some of the many things for which I am grateful:

  • For a mother who still inspires me
  • For a wife that I'm deeply in love with
  • For three special sons that I know will make a positive impact on God's kingdom
  • For two new women in my life, Jamie and Erin, the future Kelly girls
  • For a church family that is the best in the world
  • For Friendly, Bruno, and Jade who challenge my patience every day
  • For my accountability partner Jody who is not only a great friend and confidant but a true Tiger
  • For a mind that still enjoys learning
  • For a church staff that loves Jesus and longs to see Chapin Baptist explode in the number of lives transformed
  • For God's Word that speaks fresh truth in my life each day
  • For our government leaders, whether I agree or disagree with them
  • For the freedoms we enjoy in America
  • For soldiers who defend our freedoms
  • Above all, for a Savior who forgives me and who still has great things in store for me.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! I love each one of you!

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

DON'T STOP WALKING

I believe the "Just Walk across the Room" thrust was one of the most practical things we have done in recent memory. As I stressed throughout the series, "Just Walk" is not just another program where we can say, "Well, we're done with that now. What's next?" Not at all. "Just Walk" is about a lifestyle of pointing people to Christ.

Encounter, Engage, EXPRESS! One of the best ways we can express our faith is to walk across a room and strike up a conversation with someone. Leading someone to become a Christ-follower may be as simple as you taking a walk across the room.

I know God has used this study to help me be more conscious of opportunities. I find myself praying more for people who need Christ. I find myself praying more that I will walk across more rooms. Almost everywhere I go now, I'm praying, "Lord, I'm available. Just let me know if there's someone I need to talk to.

Many of you invited and brought friends to church with you last Sunday. That was awesome. Counting decisions is always difficult. My guess is that around 10 made genuine decisions to give their lives to Christ. I don't know what moves me more--someone making a decision for Christ or someone moving to the other side of the worship center to love on and encourage a friend who has just given his/her life to Christ. That's what happened in the 11:05 service. I almost lost it right then and there.

Many of you introduced your friends to me after church. I appreciate that very much. Make that a habit anytime you have a guest with you. Yes, I wish more members would have invited their friends. But I'm telling you...God was at work because most of the people you introduced to me were not active members in other churches who just happened to check out a new church for the day. Some invited friends; some invited clients; some invited work partners; etc. That was awesome.

Get in the habit of inviting others every week. On our end we will do everything we can to assure that their experience at Chapin Baptist is a positive one. We want everyone, members and guests alike, to be able to encounter the living Christ during every worship experience. God wants to use you. Don't stop walking now. In fact, look for an opportunity today to "just walk across the room."

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

NUGGETS FROM A COUPLE OF RECENT READS

Last week I blogged about my goal this year to improve my communication skills. I've read a number of books in this area since the beginning of the year. Listed below are a few nuggets from two recent reads.

One was The Articulate Executive by Granville Toogood (yep, that's his name). The book's subtitle is Learn to Look, Act, and Sound Like a Leader. Honestly, I thought the book was a bore. I felt like I was being talked down to. However, I guess his target audience is someone who has never spoken publicly. I was hungry for something new and fresh, but what I mostly got were reminders about introductions and conclusions in a talk, tone of voice, etc. I was even reminded to polish my shoes and always to wear knee level socks so that there is no danger that my white legs will show while sitting on the platform.

My greatest takeway from the book, however, was very helpful. Toogood calls it the 8-second rule. Here's how it works. After you have finished writing your speech/sermon/whatever, learn how to speak the essence of your talk in 2 minutes. Then get it down to 1 minute. Then get it down to 30 seconds. (I might not have the exact time elements accurate.) Finally, get your talk down to where you can say it in 8 seconds. If you can't say it in 8 seconds, then you have not done a good job capturing your main point.

That's a great discipline for sermon preparation. If I can' summarize my message in 8 seconds, then my main objective must not be very clear. The whole message should center around the 8-second synopsis. Andy Stanley says pretty much the same thing in his Communicating for a Change. He's a big proponent of the one-point sermon. He says if your sermon has three points, then you actually have three sermons instead of one.

The other book I found to be very interesting. It's called Words That Work by Frank Luntz. Its subtitle teaches a lesson that makes it worth the cost of the book: It's Not What You Say; It's What People Hear. Actually, I audio-read this one. It was helpful in giving me some updated insights into modern culture, such as future buzz words, things never to say, political words, etc. And it was a time to remininsce as Luntz reminded me of the top sayings in movies (like "Go ahead, make my day" and "Frankly, my dear, I don't (I better stop there)) and commericals whose jingles or one-liners are ingrained in our culture (like "Plop, plop, fiz, fiz" or "Snack, crackle, pop")

Luntz, for years, was a political strategist. Although he probably sways on the political conservative end, politicians from both parties have hired him as a consultant. He's very well-respected.

In one of the most insightful sections of the book Luntz offers a handful of buzz words and phrases that still have a future well-into the 21st century: imagine, hassel-free, lifestyle, accountability, results and can-do spirit, innovation, renew-revitalize-rejuvenate-restore-reinvent, efficient and efficiency, the right to, patient-centered, investment, casual elegance, independent, peace of mind, certified, all-American, prosperity, spirituality, financial security, a balanced approach, a culture of.

The book reminded me not to show off my vocabulary when speaking. Use words that you know people will understand. Keep it short and keep it simple. And, remember, it is not what you say that matters; it is what people hear.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."