Tuesday, September 23, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH NEHEMIAH

Nehemiah is one of my favorite books of the Bible. It is filled with principles for becoming an effective kingdom leader. Here are some takeways from each chapter.

  1. Nehemiah had a great burden for the city of Jerusalem. Do I have a similar burden for Chapin? He also interceded to God on behalf of his people. How often do I do the same?
  2. Nehemiah was a great visionary. He developed his strategy first behind the scenes. Then he went public. He reminded the people of the terrible condition the city was in, painted a picture of a brighter future, then motivated them to join him in the work. Whenever a solid vision is cast, there will be opposition.
  3. It's easy to read through the long list of names in chapter 3 and miss a very important truth--the fact that every family played a role in the rebuilding project. That's why the project was a huge success.
  4. How Nehemiah handled criticism is remarkable: he faced it head on; he took it to God in prayer; he kept the vision alive; he encouraged the workers; he defended himself and all the workers. Every viable work of the kingdom will produce a realm of critics.
  5. More great qualities of Nehemiah, the leader--confronted and corrected oppression; extremely generous; didn't seek financial gain from his endeavors.
  6. Two more leadership insights. Effective leaders turn to God in prayer when criticized or intimidated. Criticism dies out when critics see that the vision keeps moving forward and becomes successful.
  7. {Disclaimer: I wrote these thoughts a few months ago, but am just now posting the blog. I'm not riding a soap box...just posting how God spoke to me on this particular day.} What if the best fit for a position is a family member? Nehemiah put his own brother in a prominent role. I wonder if the people complained of nepotism.
  8. Nehemiah's great leadership wasn't just in the construction project. When the wall was done, he prioritized celebration, worship, and the public reading of God's Word.
  9. Are Christians today any different from the Hebrews of old who chose to wander far from God? Where would we be without the patience and steadfast love of God?
  10. Although we mostly remember the book of Nehemiah as the story of the rebuilding of the wall, it is also a story of genuine national spiritual revival.
  11. Thank the Lord for volunteers. They are heroes and should be applauded.
  12. I love the description of the exuberant celebration of worship. The verses state the quality would have made David and Solomon proud.
  13. Nehemiah had gone back to Babylon but asked for permission to return. Upon return, he discovered the people had backslidden. He confronted the problems head-on.

"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, September 21, 2008

Who Stole My Church?

I read 30-40+ books every year. Sometimes I'll give a strong recommendation; other times a "don't bother" recommendation. And then there are times I state that every member ought to head down to Lifeway or to the Amazon website and make a purchase. That's the thrust of my recommendation for Gordon MacDonald's Who Stole My Church?
In light of the major transitions we have gone through this year, I wish every single member of our church would take the time to read this one. I wish I had read it twelve months ago. My thanks to Pastor Steve Little for starting the spark to get the message of this book out to the church family.
Who Stole My Church? is a fictional story about a church trying to address all the changes going on in the world and how those changes affect how we do church. The subtitle is What to Do When the Church You Love Tries to Enter the 21st Century. During a series of discovery-type meetings led by the pastor of this New England church, participants raise questions about whatever happened to singing from the hymn book, Sunday night services, revivals...and the list goes on and on. Finally, during this initial meeting one of the participants remarks, "I'd like to know who stole my church?" That's the sentiment of many church members all across America (Chapin included).
The book helped me understand the hearts of people and why change is so difficult. It also gave me hope that transitioning a church to reach emerging generations is indeed possible. It also convinced me how important it is to bring people to the table to listen and to talk.
Yes, the book is a made-up story. And the way things pan out in the New England church may seem like storyland material. But every long-time member of any church, any teenager, any pastor, or any newer member can find himself/herself in the story. The parable is that accurate and powerful.
So, go NOW and get the book and start reading. Many of our members have read the book. It could be you could borrow one. But beware, if read with an open mind, God might decide to mess with you a little. That's what makes it a great book. What are you waiting on? Go get a copy.


"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, September 11, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH 1 TIMOTHY

Here are some learnings from my recent read through The Message Bible from 1 Timothy. In 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, Paul is mentoring Timothy and Titus on how to be effective leaders for Jesus.

  • 1:1--Just like Paul, God has given each of us a "special assignment".
  • 1:2--Timothy was Paul's son in the faith. How many children in the faith do I/you have?
  • 1:12--God went out on a limb when He entrusted to me the ministry of Chapin Baptist Church.
  • 1:15--Jesus came to this world to save sinners. If that was His focus, what should be the focus of CBC? Of my life?
  • 2:1--First things first--PRAY!
  • 2:4--I know Calvinists have an answer for 2:4. But how can God want everyone to be saved and then not give him/her the freedom to choose to be saved?
  • 2:7--Recently I preached that Jesus' main focus was reaching the lost. What was Paul's main focus? The same--getting the gospel to the lost. Obviously, the church should have the same focus as Jesus and Paul.
  • 3:1-7--A great list of qualities every church leader should model.
  • 3:12--If a leader in the church is having marriage problems, he/she should focus on making the marriage stronger and consider the church position as second-level priority.
  • 4:4--Everything God created is good. However, I must admit I wonder about roach bugs.
  • 4:7-9--My workouts at Crooked Creek Park are helpful. But a disciplined life is much better. It equips me for today and for eternity.
  • 4:11--God values young leaders.
  • 4:12--Teach other believers by the way you live.
  • 4:14--Whatever gifts God has given me, I need to keep sharp and fresh.
  • 4:16--I should never let anything divert me from what God has called me to do.
  • 5:8--How well do I care for the needs of my family? Paul says neglecting family is worse than not being a believer.
  • 5:9-10--Very interesting--the qualifications Paul puts on which widows to assist--those over 60, married once, and a reputation of helping others. Helping out with children is listed. Great verse for children's ministry.
  • 5:16--If a church member falls into sin, the church not only has the right to confront but is exhorted to do so in the Scriptures.
  • 5:17--Be careful of putting people in leadership positions too soon.
  • 6:9-10--Focusing too much on money will negatively impact your walk with Christ.
  • 6:18--Instead of going after wealth, we should go after God.
  • 6:18-19--Generosity is the pathway to true riches.

"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."

Monday, September 8, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH EZRA

Here are some takeaways from my recent read through Ezra in The Message Bible.

The story line--After the fall of the nation and the destruction of Jerusalem and years of living as a dispersed people, the king of Persia allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem to re-establish the nation. They were led by Ezra. This was one of the several times in history that the people of God almost became extinct. Ezra brought revival by two primary means: worship and the Word of God.

  1. Another evidence that God oversees even pagan rulers. He prodded Cyrus, king of Persia, to let the Jews return to Judah to rebuild the Temple.
  2. Among the thousands returning to Jerusalem, the list includes a few names we will hear more about as we read through the Bible--Nehemiah, Zerubbabel, and Mordecai.
  3. First things first--the returned Jews set up an altar for worship before they laid the foundation for the new Temple. Some people believe they can't worship unless they are inside a sanctuary building.
  4. Criticism and antagonism can easily destroy morale and hinder the work of God.
  5. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah preached during this part of Jewish history--during the days of the rebuilding of the Temple.
  6. It is amazing how meticulously governments kept written records of business decisions.
  7. Ezra was an awesome, influential leader of God's people. Three things summarize his success--the studied the Word of God; he lived the Word of God; and he taught the Word of God.
  8. Fasting played a major role among the people of God, especially before major events and key decisions.
  9. Ezra's brokenness and shame about his people's sin should serve as an example for any leader.
  10. It is music to a discouraged leader's ears when he hears his people say to him, "Get up. Take charge. We're behind you. Don't back down."

"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, September 4, 2008

TAKE THE RISK


I just finished reading and doing a summary for Christian Book Summaries of Dr. Ben Carson's newest book Take the Risk. It's an excellent read. It's not a dig-in study type book; but there are enough takeaways to make it worth your read.


Carson is a world-renown brain surgeon out of Johns Hopkins. The book is filled with personal stories of risky surgeries he has performed and how he decides whether or not to take certain cases. His faith in God is apparent throughout the book.

He has developed a formula called the Best/Worst Analysis (B/WA) to help him make decisions. Here is the formula in a nutshell:

  • What is the best that can happen if I do it?

  • What is the worst that can happen if I do it?

  • What is the best that can happen if I don't do it?

  • What is the worst that can happen if I don't do it?

All of life is filled with risk. We are entralled to read stories and watch TV programs where people risk their lives doing things. On the other hand, we are obsessed with risk and are afraid to do anything that involves risk. Carson makes a strong case that all of life is filled with risk; and we will never accomplish anything significant unless we are willing to move forward with calculated risk.

The famous doctor ventures into other arenas to demonstrate how the B/WA can be helpful in making decisions. He gives examples in the arena of parenting, the workplace, government, etc. His ideas of curing the national debt were mouth-opening. Let me just say that his idea involves completely doing away with money and establishing a non-cash based sytem and a flat-rate taxation of every citizen. It's wild! He has spoken with the President and Congressmen, and they all agree that his idea would probably work. Buy the book and read this section for yourself.

The book is not just for ministers. Anyone would do well to make the purchase and jump in.

"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, September 3, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH 2 THESSALONIANS

Here are some takeaways from my recent read in the Message Bible from 2 Thessalonians.

1:2--Two great things about God: He gives me everything I need and He makes me everything I am to be.

1:3-4--Paul was a good encourager.

1:5--All the troubles we go through now are designed to make us fit for the kingdom.

1:5-10--We must never forget that our existence on earth is temporary and that one day God will settle up.

1:11--What a great prayer! "God, fill my good ideas and acts of faith with your energy so that it all amounts to something."

2:3--The Message refers to the "man of Lawlessness" as the "Anarchist".

2:6-8--Today the Anarchist (same as Antichrist) works behind the scenes. One day he will be let loose fully.

2:6-8--It's comforting to know that God is always in control. The Anarchist "will be let loose"; don't forget that it is God who will be letting him loose.

2:15-17--Another great prayer to pray for others (or for yourself): "May God put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, and enliven your speech."

3:1-2--Paul had two prayer requests: that there would be a huge response to the gospel and resuce from those trying to destroy them.

3:2--Not all so-called "believers" are truly believers

3:3--Great promise--God is faithful and He will protect us from evil

3:6-9--All leaders should lead by example. Moreover, every believer has a role to play and should do it.

3:14-15---All of us would do well to follow Paul's instructions to talk to people face-to-face when there are problems. Instead, we tend to gossip or do nothing because we are afraid to confront.

"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."