Sunday, November 30, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH JOB (PART 3)

The word processor for the blogging site is not too user friendly. I can't figure out how to start with a number different from 1. So let's go with bullets as I continue to share with you some learnings from my recent read through Job in the Message Bible.

  • 22. Eliphaz--Round 3--Basically he says, "Job, get right with God and He will make things right with you."
  • 23. I love how Job expresses his obedience to God. He didn't just obey. He treasured God's advice.
  • 24. The evildoings in Job's day sounds like what's going on today.
  • 25. Bildad--Round 3--He reminds Job that no one, no matter how righteous he is, can stand before God perfectly innocent (that is, except through Christ).
  • 26. Job's sarcasm toward his "helpful" friends adds a little humor. By the way, laughter is good therapy when things aren't going well.
  • 27. One thing that bothers me about Job is his reluctance to admit that he's a sinner. This is probably due to a concept of sin in his day as external behavior and not matters of the heart.
  • 28. How does someone gain wisdom? By fearing the Lord. How does one gain insight? By shunning evil.
  • 29. Job recalled the good days when everything was great. All of us are just one phone call or one doctor's report away from things drastically changing.
  • 30. We criticize how Job's friends counseled him. But how would you have counseled him?
  • 31. Oh, that we all would hate sin and refrain from ungodly living like Job did.
  • 32. Elihu, a fourth friend, is younger than the other three. The custom in those days was that the young, out of respect for the wisdom of their elders, never spoke before the older men were done speaking.
  • 33. Elihu makes a lot of sense. He says God always answers one way or another.
  • 34. God can never do wrong. We need to remember that when trials come and disaster rages.
  • 35. Elihu asks Job, "No matter how much you sin, will it matter to him?" No, sin doesn't change God. But, yes, sin does matter to Him.
  • 36. When we suffer, it is critical that we learn from it (v. 15).
  • 37. Bottom line for Elihu is that he thinks Job was out of line for accusing God of being unfair to him. God is unfair to no one.
  • 38 and 39. God speaks now. Great, great, great chapters for anyone who nees to be reminded who is in charge of everything.
  • 40. If you want to expand your knowledge of the mountain goat, deer, donkey buffalo, ostrich, horse, and hawk, read this chapter (seriously).
  • 41. God uses sarcastic humor to get His point across to Job. He invites Job to swap places with Him since it sounded like he knew everything.
  • 42. Honest confession before God starts the healing process and restores one's relationship with God.

"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, November 20, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH JOB (PART 2)

In the last blog I shared some introductory insights into this great Old Testament book. Now let me share a gleaning from each of the chapters.

  1. Verse 21 is one of the greatest proclamations of faith in the Bible. After losing everything, Job's first words were, "Blessed be the name of the Lord."

  2. I wonder how many spouses have been successful in leading their mates to turn away from the Lord.

  3. Job asks a question that is still prominent today: What's the point of life when it doesn't make sense?

  4. The first speech by Eliphaz suggests that Job must have done something wrong to have gone through the losses he did.

  5. "If I were in your shoes...." People suffering like Job usually don't need advice. They just need friendship and compassion.

  6. Job is brutally honest in expressing his disappointment in his friends.

  7. He is also brutally honest with God--"Don't you have better things to do than pick on me?"

  8. Bildad's turn--full of advice. He believed Job's woes had to come about as a result of sin.

  9. Job asks one of the most pertinent and profound questions ever asked: "How can mere mortals get right with God?"

  10. Job, why don't you tell us how you really feel?

  11. Job's friends meant well, even though a comfort, they really weren't.

  12. Job speaks tons of wisdom when he can say in the midst of his suffering that God is sovereign over the universe.

  13. Job has two requests for God: God, back off the trials. God, give me an audience so I can ask you some questions.

  14. One of his questions is still being asked today--one of life's ultimate questions: If we humans die, will we ever live again?

  15. Much of what Job's friends say is accurate. It's just that they act like they have life all figured out.

  16. Job relentlessly gives his friends, God, and the earth a tongue lashing.

  17. Job's mood seems to move from anger to desperate brokenness: "My spirit is broken, my days used up."

  18. Bildad, Round 2--He's a bottom-line kind of guy. Very simply, he says, "It is the wicked who go down."

  19. Even though Job has suffered pain, rejection, and hopelessness, he makes one of the most profound statements in the book--"Still, I know that God lives."

  20. Zophar's speech reminds me of someone who is more hipped up on analyzing a crisis instead of being a friend to one in a crisis.

  21. Job raises the age-old question: Why do the wicked prosper and the good suffer?

"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 JOB

I'll spend a few blogs talking about some of my learnings from my recent read through the book of Job out of The Message Bible. Before blogging chapter by chapter, here are some initial thoughts I gleaned from Eugene Peterson's introductory comments.

Why is this book so important to us? First, because Job suffered in the same areas we do--family, personal health, and material things. Second, because he took his questions to the top--to God Himself. It is suffering when we are trying to do everything right that angers us and causes us to question God.

It is important to remember that Job does not seek to get rid of the problem by getting rid of God. Nor does he explain suffering. Nor does he tell us how to live to avoid suffering. It is a mystery, and he comes to respect the mystery. Job finds himself in a greater mystery--the mystery of God--and how suffering can bring a person into the presence of God in a state of worship--full of wonder, love, and praise. Real faith can't be reduced to spiritual platitudes. It is refined in the fires and storms of pain and suffering.

When dealing with and ministering to friends going through suffering, we must not try to fix them or provide "simple" answers to their "why" questions. We must keep in mind that we don't really fully understand their problems. They may not want our advice. Followers of Christ may actually suffer more. So instead of trying to prevent suffering (which we can't anyway), we should enter the suffering as much as we are able and look around for God. We need to quit feeling sorry for people who suffer and instead look up to them, learn from them, and join them in protest and prayer. Shared suffering can be life-changing. Reading Job prayerfully helps us face the questions that arise when things don't turn out as we planned or hoped for.

"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 12, 2008

MEGA CHURCH IN CHAPIN?

"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."

The term "megachurch" has become a new vocabulary word that most people recognize. I'm not sure what qualifies a church to be a mega one--but I believe the most recent definition refers to churches that average at least 5,000 for weekend worship. Over the last year or so, I've had people ask me, "Are we trying to become a megachurch?" Actually when the questions come my way, I know they mostly stem from hall talk with the notion that "Ken is just trying to make our church a megachurch."

So are we trying to be a megachurch? First of all, get real. I'm not saying it can't happen. God can do anything. But to move from 600 to 5000 in a small town like Chapin--WOW! Second of all, man, that would be awesome because if we ever became a megachurch, it certainly wouldn't be me doing it. Only God could do something like that.

Here's the deal. I want our church to reach as many people for Christ as possible. I want us to reach as many new families moving into the community as possible. I want to reach as many people in the surrounding areas of Little Mountain,Prosperity, Newberry and Irmo as possible. I want our church to make as many disciples as possible. I want our church to begin as many new ministries as possible. I want our student ministry to reach as many high schoolers from Chapin Mid Carolina, Newberry, and Dutch Fork as possible. I want our children's ministry to be so ablaze that we attract young families by the hundreds. I want our senior adult ministry to be so contagious that older adults are coming by the droves. It doesn't matter what they look like, how they dress, what their past was like, how much money they make, where they live, what color they are, or how many piercings they have over their body, I want our church to reach as many as possible.

There is a huge myth out there about megachurches that they are weak in doctrine, that they water down the gospel, and that they are impersonal and do very little outside the walls. Simply not true. If interested, why not purchase a recent book called Beyond Megachurch Myths? Check out the facts. One of the things that really impresses me about megachurches is that most plant other churches. And as they plant other churches, their church continues to explode with growth as well.

When it comes to church growth, don't ever limit what God wants to do. How large will Chapin Baptist ever become? I don't have a clue. But I want to be as faithful to God as I possibly can to allow Him to use me to grow the church as large as He wants it. And should we decide to plant additional churches in the future, I think that is awesome.

Why would anyone want to limit the size of a church? Do we grow to 1,000 and then say no more? No, we keep doing all we can to reach as many as we can. And then we do all we can to help every person grow deep in his/her faith and to equip them to become fellow servants of the gospel. That is my prayer...not just for Chapin Baptist, but for every local congregation in Chapin.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH TITUS

Here are some gleanings from my recent read through the book of Titus from The Message Bible.

  • 1:3--God has entrusted the gospel to me. Am I being a faithful steward of what He has entrusted?

  • 1:5-9--After 2000 years this is still a relevant checklist by which to measure church leaders.

  • 1:15-16--Hypocrites in the church is not a new thing. There were folks in Paul's day who claimed to know God but whose actions demonstrated otherwise.

  • 2:1-6--Great picture of a discipleship process with desirable outcomes, covering male and female and young and old.

  • 2:1-6--I believe churches today, including CBC, would be healthier if older couples mentored younger ones.

  • 2:11-14--God calls each of us to pull away from a godless, indulgent life to a God-filled and God-honoring life.

  • 3:3-8--What a difference it makes when Jesus steps into our lives.

  • 3:14--Paul made sure that providing for the needy was a central focus of his ministry.

"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."


THOUGHTS FROM ELECTION DAY

My presidential candidate didn't win Saturday. With the economy in the shape that it is in, I don't think any Republican candidate could have been victorious. The people of America have spoken, and we have a new president. History happened on Tuesday night with the election of our first Black president.

I know that what I'm about to say may not be popular with some folks, but it's how I feel. I'm not one of those in the camp that believes our whole country is going to fall apart now. If I'm not mistaken, our country has been on a slippery slope for some time. The United States is still my country, and I will love it and support it till the day I die. And, yes, Barak Obama is MY new president. And because he is MY president, I will pray for him like the Bible teaches me to. Why wouldn't I?

At 11:00 on election night I don't believe God was up in heaven saying, "Oh, no! What happened? How did this slip under My radar screen?" No, God is in control of the universe. He oversees who sits on thrones and who rules the nations. Nothing surprises Him. Daniel 4:32 says, "The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes."

To me, the most important question is not what will happen to our country under the leadership of a new president. I'm more concerned with what the church of Jesus Christ is going to do to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (regardless of who's in the White House). No matter what happens on the political scene, we followers of Christ have an opportunity to make a difference in people's lives by sharing the love of Jesus Christ. I wonder what our nation would be like if everyone who claimed to be a Christ-follower allowed God to break his/her heart for the spiritual condition of our nation. What if every believer knelt before God and pleaded with Him for spiritual awakening? That's when we will really see a difference.

Bottom line--politics and government don't provide the hope and answers we're looking for. Only Jesus does.

"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."