Thursday, January 31, 2008

WORSHIP WISHES

On Monday at the beginning of our staff meeting we switched things up and went into the worship service to pray. Our next two Sundays will focus on the theme of worship and how we can encounter the living Christ when we worship on Sunday mornings. To begin the prayer time, I asked them to fill in the blank: When it comes to worship, I wish....We ended up in some great extended discussion.

Here are some of the things our pastors wish when it comes to worship:

  • That everyone could experience it
  • That everyone would participate in it
  • That we had more time for our worship services
  • That everyone would understand that worship is 24/7 and not just a Sunday thing
  • That everyone would experience worship everyday
  • That everyone came spiritually prepared for worship
  • That we would see more life transformation
  • That Michael would exhort us more (like he did in a couple of our services last Sunday)
  • That everyone would understand that worship is not about us (it's about Him)
  • That all would understand that worship is not about the style of music
  • That everyone called to lead in worship (speakers, vocalists, musicians) each week would stand in awe of God as they lead
  • That parents would model what it means to worship
  • That the lifestyle of every worship leader would reflect the life of Jesus Christ
  • That everyone would enter the glory of God as we worship

These were just spur of the moment thoughts but very profound. Our earnest desire is that God would use us to create an environment that would allow every participant to encounter the living Christ every Sunday. Pray for us.



"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."


Thursday, January 24, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH GALATIANS

Here are some things God impressed upon me during my recent quiet time reading through Paul's letter to the Galatians.

  • God does not coerce us to behave in a certain prescribed way. He is a personal Savior who sets us free from within to live a free life.
  • The main issue in the Galatian churches--old school religious leaders tried to put a damper on freedom in Christ and tried to corral Christians back into a life of rules and regulations.
  • My primary call comes from God and not Chapin Baptist or the Southern Baptist Convention.
  • God wants everyone to be rescued from the old way of living.
  • Probing reminder for me: when I preach, do I get my messages from God?
  • Paul lovingly, but openly, rebuked Peter for his hypocritical behavior.
  • Christianity is not a bunch of rules to live by. Otherwise, Christ died needlessly.
  • If you think you can work your way to heaven, look at 3:10. If you're anything less than perfect, you'll never make it. In fact, you're cursed.
  • 3:13-14--One of the great theological truths of the Bible. Jesus became a curse on the cross.
  • 4:4--Great Christmas verse. At exactly the right time set by the Father, Jesus came to this earth.
  • I long to have the shepherd's passion of Paul, the desire to see people become like Jesus.
  • I am free but I should use my freedom to serve others.
  • One sentence summary of the Bible--Love others as yourself.
  • Read 5:18-23 in the Message Bible for a fresh take on a familiar passage. For example, in the fruit of the Spirit list, "joy" is rendered "exuberance about life."
  • Whatever your call in life is, it should include a life of serving others.

"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."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

INNOVATIVE TRANSITIONS





I just finished reading a new release by Dale Galloway and Warren Bird. The book presents a snapshot of fifteen churches that have experienced signficant growth and had to work through a wide variety of transitions for that growth to occur. It was a fresh read in that most of the churches described were not of the "mega" variety. I enjoy reading about and learning from Saddleback, Willow, Mosaic, etc. But it was nice for a change to read about churches more like ours that have seen great things happen for the kingdom.



The pastors of the churches in this book were part of Dale Galloway's mentoring program through the Beeson Institute. I was reading the book while in Charleston for Kenny's back surgery and, lo and behold, there was a chapter about my best buddy Jody Flowers at Chapin United Methodist Church. Jody's done an excellent job transitioning that church. They are reaching many people for the kingdom. I had to give him a call from Charleston to rag him a little because he didn't tell me, his accountability partner, that his church was going to be featured.



Here are a few takeaways from the book:

  • I always enjoy hearing how pastors of growing congregations prioritize their time. One pastor said 90% of his time is: serving as God's prophetic voice, casting vision for how God's people can find their role in God's vision, and pouring himself into the lives of leaders who will develop other leaders.
  • When one pastor asked John Maxwell what was the key to growing a church, he responded, "You are the key." So my prayer must always be, "God, what do you want to grow in me."
  • Churches are born to grow.
  • Every church is in constant transition. Without constant change it will slowly die.
  • Some churches get members to sign a pledge card each year indicating how they plan to serve.
  • One church included on the pledge card: "I plan to pray ____ minutes per week for the ministries of our church."
  • If you want to know whether your church is declining or moving toward the future, graph the attendance of your children's ministry over the last five years, and you will know.
  • People will leave your church when you don't make changes. Other people will leave when you do make changes.
  • Some people will always want to go back to Egypt to the way things used to be--no matter how bad Egypt was. Sometimes you have to let people go to another church in order to keep leading others into the promised land.
  • If you are the leader of a church, you will spend one-fourth of your time managing conflict.
  • People oppose what they don't understand. Vision must be explained over and over again.
  • We must be willing to fail. But we cannot sit on our hands while the world goes to hell.
  • Do not expect all ministries to pay for themselves.
  • Just because the Holy Spirit leads you doesn't mean things won't be messy.
  • One church's membership covenant is that each member will invite five or more people a year to the worship service or to be part of a small group.
  • One pastor noted if it were not for the traditional services, they wouldn't have enough money; if it weren't for the contemporary services, they wouldn't have a future.
"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 1 SAMUEL (CONT'D)

Here is part 2 of my recent quiet times through 1 Samuel:

  • 16. Verse 7 is one of the great verses of the Bible. We tend to look at a person's outward appearance. God looks at the heart. This chapter also includes a verse indicating how the Holy Spirit empowered David for the rest of his life.
  • 17. The story of David and Goliath reminds me how one person with courage for God can make a difference.
  • 18. Here is a good case of jealousy when it is apparent that God's anointing is on someone else and not on you.
  • 19. One thing I don't understand. At this point, did Saul know that David had been anointed as his successor? Every word of the Bible is God-breathed. But sometimes I wonder about the purpose of including stuff that happens in this chapter--weird prophesying, a naked Saul, etc.
  • 20. David and Jonathan--the beauty of a genuine friendship, one sincerely willing to die for the other.
  • 21. It seems David compromises his faith and integrity through lying and deceiving. No mention of God in this section.
  • 22. Saul--a picture of one who has completely lost his ability to discern right from wrong.
  • 23. David can teach us a lot about waiting on God and not trying to take matters into our own hands.
  • 24. David's integrity shines. He would not kill Saul even when it would have been easy to. He trusted God to handle his situation in His own way and in His own timing.
  • 25. Abigail--a proactive woman who stepped in and pleaded with David to spare her family in spite of her foolish husband. Double reward--family was spared; she becomes David's wife.
  • 26. David's faith in God's providence. Also verses 19-20 express belief in life after death.
  • 27. David instigated many raids, killing everyone in the city. Nothing is said of God. Just wondering if David led this or if God led David to take this strategy.
  • 28. Saul--portrait of a desperate man and what happens when we live a life of disobedience.
  • 29. David's plans to fight with the Philistines against Saul don't come to fruition (probably divine intervention). I wonder what would have happened if he had fought against his own people.
  • 30. In the deepest of trials David found strength in his trust in God.
  • 31. The book fittingly ends with the death of Saul and his sons (including Jonathan). David's spiritual journey was up and down; but he passed the "waiting on God" test.

"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, January 16, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH 1 SAMUEL

Here are some takeaways from my recent quiet times through 1 Samuel. It's long so I'll divide it into two blogs. The numbering system represents the chapter.

  • The time frame of 1-2 Samuel represents the midpoint between Abraham and Jesus (1800 BC-1000 BC-4 BC)
  • The four main characters of 1 Samuel (Hannah, Samuel, Saul, David) remind us what it is like to be human and how God works out His plan of salvation through us.
  • The 1-2 Samuel story is framed by prayer: Hannah's at the beginning and David's at the end.
  • Originally these two books were one. But scrolls could only be so long; so, it was divided into two.
  1. Hannah took her deep burden to God, prayed, got up with a peace in her heart. When God answered, she lived up to her vow.
  2. Eli is a sad picture of a distraught father who had lost control of his sons.
  3. The story of Samuel's call from God never grows old. Although Eli had many faults, he seemed to be an excellent mentor for Samuel.
  4. Reminder of how the ark of the covenant ended up with the Philistines
  5. The story of the ark reminds us that God must not be treated as a trophy or rabbit's foot. He is One who cannot be manipulated.
  6. God expects respect. He is to be feared. Never approach Him with a flippant attitude.
  7. If you want to come back to God, you must do some serious house cleaning.
  8. Samuel's sons turned out to be wicked leaders. Makes you wonder what kind of father he was. But, remember, he didn't have a good model (Eli) growing up.
  9. The story of Saul's call from God reminds us that great things for God are not necessarily planned ahead of time. They just happen in the normal flow of daily life.
  10. As soon as Saul was publicly announced as king, critics emerged. He ignored them.
  11. When the Holy Spirit empowers a person, he/she can do far beyond human capabilities.
  12. One sign of Samuel's greatness is that he prayed for his people even though they had hurt him deeply by asking for a king.
  13. Beware of taking God's affairs into your own hands.
  14. What courage Jonathan had to go up against the Philistines alone with his armor bearer. What foolishness Saul had to make crazy military decisions. The people lost respect for him.
  15. Saul could have been one of Israel's finest. But with great arrogance, he insisted in doing things his own way.

"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, January 9, 2008

BLOGGING FROM CHARLESTON

Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008

Kenny and I are in Charleston for his big surgery day on Thursday. Anita will be joining us on Thursday. We came down today for his pre-op. Many of you have called, texted, and emailed to let us know of your prayers. We are very grateful.

His surgery is not till 5:30 pm. And he has to start fasting tonight at midnight. Something doesn't make sense here. If someone has surgery at 7 am, they have to start fasting at midnight. Seems like a 5:30 surgery would require mabye a 10 am fast.

Anyway, to abide by the rules, Kenny wanted to make sure his final meal before surgery was a good one. So I took him to Hyman's, the famous seafood restaurant on Meeting Street. If you've never been there...it's quite an experience. Autographed portraits of famous people who have eaten there. Small brass plates embedded in the tables to indicate who had sat at that table. We sat at the table where some of the New York Knicks ate. And where else in the world do you know where everyone is served a bowl of boiled peanuts when you're seated? I could tell the woman sitting across from me had no clue what those "things" were. She finally picked one up and snapped it in half--a sure sign that she was a rookie.

I almost forgot to tell you about the food. Absolutely great. I had Caribbean Jerk Mahi, shrimp and grits and deviled crab. If you're in Charleston, check it out.

Back to the reason we are here--Kenny has been having lots of lower back pain for several months now. No shots or other treatments have worked. So his orthopedic in Columbia referred him to a surgeon at the Southeastern Spine Institute. On Thursday afternoon he will have a spinal fusion. He will be in the hospital for a couple of days. We hope to be home on Saturday.

Pray that the surgery will be a complete success for the long haul. And pray that the post-surgery healing and rehab will go well. And while Kenny is recuperating, why don't you give James Clonts a call and find out how you can pitch in while Kenny is out?

Your love and support for my family are greatly appreciated. And don't forget--make sure you're in worship this Sunday. It's going to be an awesome day. I will start a two-part series called Money Management 101. One more thing not to forget--pray for your church. Pray that 2008 will bring with it unprecedented growth and life change.

"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."

Thursday, January 3, 2008

NEW YEAR RAMBLINGS

I hope everyone had a Christ-filled Christmas and your new year is off to a good start. I vote for January 2 to be a paid holiday. Do you agree?

Anyway I took some time off and returned to the office on Wednesday. So it's full-steam ahead. Here are some ramblings from my life over the last few weeks.

  • If you missed the Christmas program led by our worship teams a few weeks ago...well, let's just say you missed an overtime touchdown. WOW! Michael Cathey set the bar at new levels. What an awesome partner to work with.
  • Speaking of overtime, I know all of you were thinking of me when Auburn scored their overtime touchdown to whip my Tigers. It's just a game. It's just a game. It's....
  • Kenny and Jamie, Kevin and Erin, Tyler, and my nephew Ross went to the Chick-Fil-A bowl. Long trip home.
  • Anita got to do some shopping with her future daughters-in-law.
  • We thoroughly enjoyed the Trans Siberian Orchestra at the Colonial Center. High energy. A concert to remember.
  • Joy of all joys, I picked up a bug on Christmas afternoon and ran a fever for a few days. Great way to spend a vacation.
  • I'm currently writing a book summary of Lee Strobel's The Case for the Real Jesus. If you're into apologetics, this is a great book. Very informative and helpful. Strobel deals with a lot of the recent objections skeptics have raised against Christianity.
  • Speaking of book summaries, check out www.christianbooksummaries.com to see some of the summaries I have written.
  • This Christmas was a little different in that Kenny and Kevin had to share time with their future in-laws and their families. Things change when your children marry, don't they?
  • We met some friends in Charlotte one day during the break. Friends from seminary that we haven't seen in years. That was a great trip!
  • Jade, Kevin's German Short-Hair Pointer, was up to her mischief behavior again. It wasn't football tickets this time. It was a Fed Ex package from Coldwater Creek containing a top Anita had ordered for Christmas. Thankfully, our great neighbor, Dan McDaniel, spotted her tearing into the box and retrieved it before she got hold of the top.
  • Since my dogs are becoming famous, I guess I need to take pictures so you can see these precious jewels for yourself.
  • Through the years my best prayer partner has been Anita. But I confess we have let that prayer time slip. So we decided to renew the commitment for 2008. Prayer is critical for the health of any family.
  • This Sunday I will preach a "state of the church" message. Pray for me. And pray that 2008 will be a banner year for Chapin Baptist.
  • The church finished 2007 on a very positive note. We ended up meeting 99 percent of our budget requests for the year. In December, we made up a lot of deficits so that we ended the year in the black. I wish every Chapin Baptist member trusted God enough to bring the tithe each week. Can you imagine the work for the kingdom we could do if everyone followed the biblical teachings on money?
  • Right now--will you pray for me and the others who will be doing a mission trip to Zimbabwe in February. Pray that we will be spiritually ready to serve in whatever capacity we are asked to serve.
  • Think 3 E's--encounter, engage, express. You will be hearing a lot more about the 3 E's in the coming weeks.
  • Class 101 moves to Sunday morning at 9:45 this Sunday. Now it is called Starting Point. If you have met families visiting the church, point them toward Starting Point.
  • One final thing--I have a team of partners who pray for me every day. I keep this team informed by mailing a prayer letter each month. Would you consider being a part of the team? Shoot me an email (ken@chapinbaptist.com) if interested.

2008 is going to be a great year! Thanks for reading.

"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."