Tuesday, April 29, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH 1 KINGS (PART 2)

12. Jereboam recognized the unifying power of genuine worship.

13. True prophets must discern and be cautious against competing voices.

14. God will not tolerate disobedience.

15. Observation: The kings of Judah--a few were godly and effective. The kings of Israel--all were wicked.

16. What an awful legacy King Omri left. He set new records for evil. His was "such an empty-headed, empty-hearted life."

17. The woman had to bring the last of her food to Elijah (symbolic of presenting everything to God) before God multiplied the flour and water.

18. Two details often overlooked in the story of Elijah and Mt. Carmel: the role of Obadiah who had walked with God since a child; and the purpose of the showdown on the mountain was to give the people of Israel a chance to repent.

19. God speaks mostly through the quiet moments.

20. Things were going well for Israel until Ahab took matters in his own hands. Leaders must seek the wisdom of God in everything.

21. Ahab was the most wicked king ever. Yet God responded favorably to his repentance.

22. I love the prophet Micaaiah's words when urged to give a crowd-pleasing response: "As surely as God lives, what God says, I'll say."

"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."


Sunday, April 27, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH 1 KINGS

Yes, I've been reading my Bible each day. But I've fallen behind on sharing some of my quiet time nuggets. Before I get into the chapter by chapter mode, as you read this book, it is important to remember that having a king was not God's idea. It was the people's. But He allowed it. God did not delegate His sovereignty to the kings. They were to represent His sovereignty. That plan didn't work wll at all. Even the bright spots (David, Hezekiah, Josiah) were not very bright. 1 and 2 Kings is one story of failure after another. In spite of all the messes, God still used the kings to accomplish His purposes. Here are some thoughts from each chapter in 1 Kings (part 1).


  1. David, on his deathbed, worshiped and prayed.

  2. A father's deathbed charge to his son: follow the ways of God.

  3. Solomon's request is a prayer I frequently pray. "Give me an understanding heart to I can lead your people."

  4. I think Solomon would have done quite well on the SAT (even the new verision).

  5. Solomon's wisdom carrried over into his business decisions and foreign policy.

  6. God let Solomon know that more important than building the temple was to live a life of obedience to HIm.

  7. Thank the Lord for all the Hirams in our churches--craftsmen who use their gifts for God's kingdom

  8. The glory of God filled the Temple of God" (v. 11). My prayer is that God's glory will fill our place of worship every Sunday.

  9. We need Hirams (ch. 7) in our churches but not with the attitude he displayed in chapter 9. Or was he justified? Did Solomon short-change him?

  10. A chapter describing the extravagance of wealth Solomon displayed. It is easy to take our eyes off God with such lavish living (as evidenced in ch. 11).

  11. Wealth brings sexual temptations. And it is difficult for wealthy people to stay focused on God. Solomon succumbed in both cases.


"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, April 24, 2008

SOME THOUGHTS ON GIVING

The other day Tyler asked me a question that probably every believer has wondered about. He knew his income tax refund would be coming soon. So, he asked, "Am I supposed to tithe that check?" The rationale is, "If I already tithed my salary, then realistically that refund has already been tithed."

I really appreciated his question because it gave me an opportunity to teach him some important lessons on giving. His question really is no different from the ever-present "gross or net" question. If you think about it, at the root of these questions the thought process goes something like this: "How little can I give and it still count in God's eyes?" I know that may come across tough, but be honest. Isn't that what we're trying to do when we ask those questions?

Instead, we should always be looking for ways to give more. The Proverbs writers says, "A generous man will himself be blessed." Trying to figure out the bottom threshold of giving does not constitute generosity. Income tax refunds are an excellent way to give more. The incentive almost every American will receive in another month or so ($600, $1200 for a couple)--isn't that a great way to demonstrate generosity? I know George W. wants you to go buy stuff with it. But I say look for opportunities to give first and then spend.

As gasoline approaches $4 a gallon, every family is scrambling trying to figure out what adjustments need to be implemented to make ends meet. Unfortunately, many see the tithe as discretionary; so they decide to cut back on giving. From God's perspective, he never qualified options on when we should reduce our giving. The tithe is valid even if gas hits $10 a gallon.

The wrong question is: Lord, how much do I have to give? The right approach is: Lord, show me more ways I can give. That's the heart of the generous person. And that's the one who truly will live a blessed life.


"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, April 17, 2008

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SCHEDULE CHANGE

With the proposed fall schedule changes before us, one of the questions I've been asked is: Is any other church doing what we're proposing? That's a great and valid question. The easy answer to the question is: I don't know of any other church. But let me qualify my answer.

As the staff prayed and dialogued about needed changes, we never studied other churches' schedules to duplicate what they were doing. What we did learn from other churches, however, is that those experiencing the most growth had simplified their programs and ministries into three or four key areas. Common among each of them was a simple approach of asking their members to do three things: attend worship, get in a small group, and find a place of service. That's what we're asking our Chapin Baptist members to do--encounter, engage, express.

Only one out of four Baptist churches experienced ten percent total growth over the last four years. On the Southern Baptist spectrum of churches, about one-half of one percent experienced ten percent growth for three consecutive years. So when it comes to learning growth principles, evidently our fellow Baptist churches are in the same boat we are.

My curiosity got the best of me; so I spent some time this week perusing the websites of America's 25 fastest growing churches as reported in Outreach Magazine. Check it out at http://outreachmagazine.com/docs/top100_2007_fastest.pdf. In fact, I wish someone would check out 26-100 to note trends. Here are some of my observations.

  • 9 of the 25 had at least a two-hour window between the starts of consecutive services. Only a couple had a window of time less than 90 minutes between services. This tells me that most of their worship venues last 75-90 minutes. One of the churches met just on Saturday nights, 5-9 (evidently a combination of discipleship training and worship).
  • With the exception of one, high emphasis on small group involvement was evident. Most promoted home groups. Some promoted off-campus and on-campus groups. The ones that gave the most details stressed that the groups were in the range of 8-12 people. One said 4-20. One even gave a breakdown of the time: fellowship (15-45 min), Bible study (45-60 min), prayer (15-30 min)
  • Only a couple offered different styles of worship. The predominant style was edgy contemporary. Thomas Road Baptist does traditional and probably a couple more do so. But it was hard to tell from the websites.
  • This one blew me away. 19 of the 25 offered "morning" worship at a time after 11. In addition a few others offered duplicate services on Sunday evening. Of course, many do Saturday night as well. One of the most commons times was 11:30.

So, back to the question. Are any churches doing what we are proposing? Yes, many. In most of the 25 fastest growing churches, when you add the time in worship to the time in small groups, it easily adds up to at least 3 hours.

Here is the biggest difference. Most of the other churches do worship and small groups on different days. What makes our proposal seem overwhelming is that we still provide people the option of doing both worship and small groups on Sunday mornings. I believe in the future we will see more and more of our people opting for small groups outside of the Sunday morning time frame.

I encourage the church family to keep praying for a groundswell of unity and support of our vision of helping people connect with God and become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

"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, April 10, 2008

TOWN HALL FOLLOW-UP

First, I want to thank all who showed up for our Town Hall meeting last Monday. We had around 170 present which I think was an excellent turnout. The purpose of the meeting was to explain the vision behind our proposed schedule changes next fall. Originally, we had planned a church-wide meeting for May. But there was a lot of misinformation floating around; so we moved the date up so that the church family could be fully informed.

I thought we had an excellent meeting. We heard concerns ranging from the need for the 30-minute window of fellowship to the difficulty of preschoolers staying at church for that length of time to the future of fundraising dinners on Sunday to the rationale behind 9:00 instead of 8:30.

I've never led a schedule transition that everyone unanimously said, "Praise the Lord. When do we start?" I believe we all can see how adding more time for worship and small groups can enhance our spiritual development. More singing, more opportunities to hear faith stories, more creative elements, more praying, more time for teachers to teach--these are great benefits to the vision.

But altering our accustomed time to get up and be at church on Sunday can be unnerving. As I shared on Monday night, as you pray, seek the face of God. Ponder the thought, "Could God actually be leading us to higher ground? Is He in this proposed changed?" Try to look outside your own preferences to those we are trying to reach for Christ. Believe me, we would never dream of making these changes unless we believed that by doing so we would be positioning ourselves for greater kingdom growth.

Last Monday was a great example of how a church family can come together, hear the vision of the pastor, ask meaningful questions, share concerns, and do all this in a spirit of love, humility, and unity. God does not want this family divided. We share our concerns and then we earnestly pray for God's will to be revealed and accomplished both for the congregation as a whole and for each individual member.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting more info about the vision. Pass the blog link to your fellow members and encourage them to read.

Go to www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Sunday, April 6, 2008

UNBELIEVABLE WEEKEND

I've taken a two-week hiatus from the blogging world. The first week I believe I was recuperating from all the Zimbabwe posts. It takes a lot more time when pictures are added. Last week I took off to prepare for Kenny and Jamie's wedding.

If you've done the wedding thing with your children, I think you will agree with me that it's impossible to put into accurate words the emotions parents go through. I admit that for much of last week my emotions got the best of me. I'd think of the wedding and the tears would flow. I'd be cleaning up Kenny's room and the tears would flow. Get this--Anita, Tyler and I on Thursday night went to the Waffle House for supper. Earlier in the week she told me that she was having a "moment". As we sat in the fancy dining booth, I said to her, "I've had a bunch of moments today." She probed me for 1.5 seconds, and right there in the Waffle House, the tears started coming again. If I'm not careful, this blog might send me into another moment.

Why all the emotions? It's hard to put into words. But I think it is a combination of a bunch of things--my oldest child getting married, the tough journey Kenny went through to be where he is today and a church family that stood beside us and him during the dark days, empty nesting, knowing that Tyler's best buddy is moving out, knowing that God answered the prayers we began praying 27 years ago--mix all those factors together and out comes a bundle of emotions.


But do you know one of the primary causes of the emotions parents experience when their children get married is the realization that the time clock keeps ticking. It forces you to ask yourself, "Where did the time go?" Wasn't it only yesterday we were making the 90 minute drive from Melissa, Texas, to Fort Worth to have our first child? Wasn't only yesterday our pre-schooler was stomping around in his genuine Texas cowboy boots? Wasn't it only yesterday we were moving back to SC to become pastor of Chapin Baptist Church?


It's events like weddings that remind us what Psalm 91 says: "Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be and that my life is fleeing away." But it's also events like these that prompts you to search your soul to discover what the most important values in life are.


In spite of last week being a very emotional one, my heart flows with deep joy and gratitude. Anita and I have received a beautiful daughter-in-law, someone who's in love with Jesus, and someone who will make Kenny a wonderful life mate. We're getting ready to add another daughter-in-law next month. We're still praying for Tyler's mate-to-be. And on top of these blessings, I get to spend the rest of my life with the beautiful mate God provided me with almost 32 years ago.

If you don't understand the emotions, evidently you haven't stood beside your son at the altar or walked your daughter down the aisle. Your time will come. When it does, give me a call and let me know if I'm off my rocker or not.

By the way, here are the two who have made our hearts swell. They're on a Western Caribbean cruise. I know they're having the time of their life.



"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."