Thursday, October 8, 2009

Blog Hiatus

Just wanted everyone to know that I am going to take a break from the blogging world for a while. Although I enjoy blogging and hope to return, right now there is no definite target date. I appreciate all those who have taken time to read. Thanks for all the feedback through my months of blogging what God has been doing in my world. You’re a blessing.

"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 28, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH JEREMIAH (2)

Here is part two on my journal chapter by chapter in Jeremiah.

11. Churches today sometimes do what the disobedient people of Judah did. If the sermons hit home a little too hard, they plot, "Let's get rid of the preacher."

12. What preacher can't relate to Jeremiah and share the feelings of "what's the use"? We preach our hearts out and people don't respond.

13. People can turn from sinful lifestyles. But the longer they wait, the less likely it will happen. And God withholds His judgment for only so long.

14. Jeremiah's plea with God is my prayer for CBC--"Don't quit on us! Don't walk out and abandon your glorious Temple."

15. What a great comfort to know that God is at my side, defending and delivering.

16. No matter how bad things may get, this chapter reminds us there there is always hope because God is always in charge.

17. The Sabbath must never be considered as just another day. God has very strong feelings about this.

18. Discrediting preachers is not a new phenomenon.

19. Preachers today think they're breaking new ground when they use a prop or object to illustrate a sermon. Jeremiah was a champion at ojbect lessons. In this chapter, it is a clay pot.

20. Take a look at verses 14-18 and you'll read the words of someone deeply depressed, perhaps even suicidal. But he kept talking to God. And that's the key to pulling out of depression.

21. The anger God displayed against Judah--could He ever display the same level of anger against the church? How angry is He now?

22. Verse 9 explains why God brings judgment on His people--becuase they walked out on His covenant. Today, that is still the reason He brings judgment.

23. Reading this chapter is daunting for preachers. It reminds me how important it is for me to make sure I'm teaching God's words and not my own.

24. Lord, give me a heart to know you--just like you gave your people in exile.

25. 70 years of exile--that's about as measurable of a prophecy as you can get. And it was fulfilled accurately just like the rest of biblical prophecy.



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Thursday, September 24, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH JEREMIAH (1)

Did you know Jeremiah is the longest book in the Bible? But you thought Psalms was the longest? Count all the words yourself and see. I'm taking Dr. Huey, my seminary OT professor, at his word.

Jeremiah's life and his book are one and the same. We live in very troubling times. What we're going through is nothing new. During these times we like to find wisdom, strength, and help through someone who has been there and who has a biblically-based worldview. Jeremiah is that person.

The main message of the book--If you don't change morally, God will let you crash. In a way Jeremiah was a failure because he didn't receive the results he wanted. But he was a success because he did what he had to do.

Here is my chapter by chapter journal, reading through the Message Bible.

  1. It still amazes me to ponder that God had plans for me long before I was ever born.
  2. It's not a wise thing to walk out on God.
  3. Jeremiah preached a scathing message to Judah and Israel--outright calling their sinful rebellion prostitution--leaving the true God for makeshift gods. Certainly there is a scathing message to today's church as well.
  4. God never goes back on His Word, whether it's about judgment or blessing.
  5. Sometimes God needs to do some pruning of His people to get their attention.
  6. Verse 10 really hit me. God says, "I have something to say. Is anybody listening?" I wonder what He has to say about Chapin Baptist. And are we listening?
  7. A worship center is just a building unless God shows up. And God shows up only where people are willing to do a thorough spring cleaning of their lives.
  8. Oh, that every pastor (me especially) would be heartbroken and grief stricken over the spiritual sickness of His people.
  9. There is one acceptable basis for bragging--that you know God, period.
  10. God loves to be worshipped. It is His very nature to be worshipped. Look at verses 6-7.

More to come from Jeremiah.



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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Blessed Life

A month or so ago I finished reading The Blessed Life by Robert Morris. My son Kevin gave it to me months ago. He received it at Newspring Church in Anderson where he was attending while living in the upstate. It's an excellent read. Morris, founding pastor of Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, is now pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado where Ted Haggard served before his moral fall.

The Blessed Life is a book about achieving financial results God's way. It is loaded with biblical teaching and application. If you don't like for people to use the "T" (tithe) word, you better not open this book. But if you really wonder what God says about money, if you really wonder why you may be struggling financially, if you really wonder if God still blesses people financially today, or if you really wonder how you can live a blessed life, then pick up the book and start reading.

I recently gave a copy of the book to Rick Jones, our church administrator. He swallowed it whole, reading it from start to finish in just a few days. Newspring Church and other churches have mass distributed the book to their members as a part of their series of stewardship Sundays.

If you're skeptical about what the Bible teaches, pick up the book and read some of the personal stories coming straight from Morris' personal experiences. The stories will blow you away.

Here are several bullets among hundreds that I could pull from the book to give you a taste.

  • Poor stewards lose resources. Good stewards receive more.
  • We will never see God's miraculous power given to poor stewards.
  • Practically everyone is a cheerful getter. God wants us to be cheerful givers.
  • Giving is not a get-rich-quick scheme; it is a lay-down-your-life challenge.
  • Being blessed means having supernatural power working for you.
  • Tithing means giving to God before you see if you're going to have enough.
  • You reap after you sow.

Once again, The Blessed Life is a great read. Grab a copy 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."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH 2 PETER

Here is my journal from my read through 2 Peter from the Message Bible.

Chapter 1

  • Greatest invitation I have ever received is the night my pastor Cort Flint invited me to give my life to Christ.

  • The Bible's promises are my tickets to participate fully in the life God has designed for me.

  • God expects every believer to grow to full maturity in Christ.

  • Will the people of CBC be fully equipped to keep moving forward after I retire/die?

Chapter 2

  • If you're a church leader earnestly seeking to follow the will of God in your life and in His church, there will always be those who are out to "get you."

  • God is the one who will bring antagonists to His judgment seat. Let Him do His work His way without trying to be the judge yourself.

  • Just because antagonists are "loudmouths, full of hot air" doesn't mean they aren't dangerous. They are.

Chapter 3

  • God is delaying His final judgment and Christ's return in order to give more people the opportunities to repent. He doesn't want any lost. Nor should we.

  • To establish the new heaven and earth at the end of time, God must get rid of the old.

  • Live as if Jesus is coming back today. In other words, live holy lives.

  • Two things I need to grow in: grace and understanding 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, September 17, 2009

If You Could Start a Ministry...

We had a great session last night with the young leaders' class Anita and I are facilitating. We watched Jim Mellado's interview with Catherine Rohr from the Leadership Summit. Catherine gave up a lucrative salary in New York to go to Texas to begin Prison Entrepreneurship Program. I've witnessed her testimony twice live and twice on video. I get choked up every time.

After the video I asked the class this question: If money and other factors were no obstacles, what ministry would you like to start? We went around the circle, and it was stirring to hear the responses, many of which were stemming from their own personal experiences. Here are some of them:

  • Sports clinics/coach at Dept. of Juvenile Justice
  • Rehab center for drug addicts
  • Support group for parents who have had children to die
  • Helping women who have been released from prison to get back on their feet
  • Program to help veterans access all the benefits that are available to them
  • Helping young couples with financial planning and budgeting

I should have written them all down. The neat thing about this discussion is that I could tell each of them was feeling a stir in their hearts. And they kept going back to the first week's talk on holy discontent. It is evident God is moving in their lives and that transformation is taking place.

This class is one of the big highlights of my week.

"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."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Do You Have "IT"?

In our leadership class Wednesday night, we watched a message by Craig Groeschel titled "IT." "IT" really struck a chord. We've all been to churches that had "IT"; and we've been to churches that don't have "IT." In the message Groeschel identifies four things that are common in churches that have "IT."

  1. They have laser focus. To reach people no one is reaching, we must do what no one else is doing. And to do what no one else is doing means that we cannot do what everyone else is doing.

  2. They see opportunities where others see obstacles. You have everything you need to do what God wants you to do.

  3. They are willing to fail where others choose to play it safe. What has God called you to do that you're afraid to attempt?

  4. They are led by people who have it. It is easy to become a full-time pastor and part time follower of Jesus. It is time to let God break your heart again.

If you don't have "IT" what are you going to do to get it?

Great discussion after the video. We talked on a personal level (Do I have "IT"?) and we talked on the church level (Does CBC have "IT"?). I see God working in the lives of these young, emerging leaders. I love it!



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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH ISAIAH (4)

Here is the final segment of my chapter by chapter journal through Isaiah from the Message Bible.

46. God will keep carrying me when I am old and gray. I'm appreciating this promise more and more these days.

47. Don't ever think that sinful behavior escapes the notice of God.

48. God is always refining us--for His own sake He puts us through the fiery furnace.

49. Verses 5-6 really spoke to me in an area of personal ministry struggle--just caring for the flock is too small a task. God wants us to go global because we are to be a light to the nations.

50. What is the number one thing that keeps us from the blessings of God? Sin. Not God. But our sin.

51. Why should I fear when life seems to be tanking? Have I forgotten that God is in control?

52. Sharing the good news of salvation is always a beautiful thing.

53. The most powerful prophetic description of Jesus' suffering. And to think that God had the cross in mind all along.

54. "Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big!" I believe that is God's message today to every local congregation.

55. God's Word won't return void. You've probably quoted that verse before. Do you know where in the Bible it is found? Right here--Isaiah 55:10-11.

56. God designed His house to be a house of prayer for all people. We focus on the "prayer" but forget "all people."

57. God wants us to run to Him for help. But our cries for help must come from genuinely repentant and committed hearts.

58. Is Sunday a business as usual day for you? You'll never be free to enjoy God with that kind of pace.

59. "There is nothing wrong with God; the wrong is in you."

60. In this chapter God gives a glimpse of what heaven will be like.

61. Jesus quoted the first verses of Chapter 61 in His first recorded sermon in Luke 4.

62. I love the celebrative spirit of this chapter--"Look! Your Savior comes."

63. Coming back to God with repentant hearts is a beautiful, yet heart-broken experience.

64. It's hard to believe a God would work on my behalf, the sinner I am.

65. If wolf and lamb will graze in the same field one day, I wonder if the same will be true for a Tiger and a Gamecock.

66. I think one of the things that angers God the most is surface worship, worship from people whose lives are not sold out to Him.

"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 ISAIAH (3)

Here is part 3 of my chapter by chapter journal through Isaiah from The Message Bible.

31. What a great promise in verse 3. God always does what He says.

32. Days of deep trial cause lots of tears. Keep weeping in grief until God pours out His Spirit.

33. God asks us to raise our standard of living--and He's not talking about money.

34. All the evil in our world...God allows it all. He allows nations to bring judgment upon themselves.

35. No matter what you're going through, there is cause for hope because God is present. He's on His way to make things right.

36. There will always be forces from the outside seeking to destroy/discourage the people of God.

37. Quick summary--You've got a lot better chance of victory when you let God fight your battles.

38. God told Isaiah to tell Hezekiah, "I have my hand on this city." That's my prayer for Chapin--that God's hand would be on our city.

39. Hezekiah was a great king...but showing his foreign guests all the treasures in the palace? Not too bright.

40. I never grow tired of reading this whole chapter, especially verses 27-31. One of the most comforting chapters in the whole Bible.

41. God has a firm grip on me and won't let go. Very assuring and comforting words when the load is great.

42. Great promise in verse 15. God will be my personal guide when I don't know the way. He will lead me through unknown country.

43. Another big chunk of great promises. When I'm in over my head, God will be with me. When I'm between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end.

44. I love this section of Isaiah--filled with words of comfort and encouragement. Verse 22--God has wiped the slate of my sins clean. Hallelujah!

45. God ALWAYS does what He says.


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Sunday, September 6, 2009

I Love This Kind of Week

You've heard me say it many times. If it were not for changed lives, I don't think I could stay in ministry. There is nothing that excites me more than seeing God change lives.

Last week was one of those weeks when God reminds me why I'm in ministry. Sunday night Pastor Steve and I had a great experience teaching Starting Point. Of the 14 who participated some indicated that they had committed their lives to Christ.

Monday morning I received a call from a member indicating that God was transforming his life. He shared with me some of the specific changes he was making, including taking some stuff off his computer that shouldn't be there.

Later Monday afternoon I had the opportunity to lead a young woman to Christ. She had been hooked on drugs and alcohol for years. She had come to the point that she knew she was longing for more in life. It was like she was hearing the good news of Jesus for the very first time. I love it!

On Wednesday nights I'm enjoying facilitating a leaders' class of young couples. Each couple seems eager to grow deeper in their walk with Christ and be equipped to lead His church. I've already begun to see some life transformation.

Changed lives--that's what it's all about. God, please keep that fresh in my soul every day!


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Thursday, September 3, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH ISAIAH (2)

Here is part 2, chapter by chapter journal through Isaiah.

16. Pride leads to downfall to nations as well as to individuals.

17. When a crisis hits, "things" really don't impress us as much.

18. God sometimes has to prune to accomplish His purposes.

19. Another Eugene Peterson specialty regarding God's judgment on Egypt. They will be like "hysterical school girls screaming...."

20. Sometimes God asks us to do things we don't understand (as in He asked Isaiah to walk around naked). Laugh all you want, but God really asked him to do it and he did--symbolic lesson that Egypt would be laid bare and judged. (I wonder if I would be obedient on this one.)

21. When you're going through dark days, hang on. Morning will come.

22. Not every day is celebration day. There are occasions when mourning is the proper response.

23. When we think of prophecy, we think of the amazing prophecies of the coming Messiah. We tend to forget that the Bible also has prophecies of God's judgment on wicked nations in the Old Testament, each one fulfilled just as described.

24. Why will the nations be judged? Because God says so. Period.

25. God likes for us to show Him off. He loves to hear the words: "This is our God."

26. Churches need to do a better job of "throwing wide the gates" so that more people have access to the good news of Christ.

27. What evidences do you show that God has removed your sin?

28. How does God measure? Two key qualities: justice and righteousness.

29. We Christians know how to say the right things, but do we really mean them?

30. Strength comes from settling down and completely depending on Him. Ouch! Does this mean I don't have to fix everything?

"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, September 1, 2009

My Name Will Be Pops





I know many of you heard the great news we received last weekend. Kevin and Erin are expecting. Translated, Anita and I will be grandparents for the first time. Due date is in April. Anita has been pumping for this since spring of 2008 when Kevin and Kenny were married. I've been pumping for it to; but I've kept it on the inside.

Kevin and Erin were very creative in telling us. Anita was suspicious; I was dumb (typical male). They invited us to dinner along with Erin's parents, Waring and Tami. Before dinner, Kevin mentioned that they had stopped by the Rivalry shop and bought us something for the upcoming football season. He handed Anita a bag and Tami a bag. Inside was the cutest Clemson infant outfit. Dumb me I still didn't get it because I couldn't tell what Anita had pulled out of the bag. But when she started screaming, it became obvious very quickly.

I know they will be great parents (as will Kenny and Jamie, and Tyler and ??).

Several years ago Kenny started calling me Pops. Kevin and Tyler picked up on it. So for me, I want my grandchildren to call me Pops. I guess I have a choice in this matter.

Thank you for sharing our joy. Pray for a healthy pregnancy and delivery.



"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, August 30, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH ISAIAH (1)

Here are some things I picked up in my read through the book of Isaiah from The Message Bible. Too long of a book to do in one blog. One of my favorite books of the OT.

Isaiah is a book about salvation. It is like a symphony that repeats three common themes: judgment (ch. 1-39), comfort (ch. 40-55), and hope (ch. 56-66).

  1. As wicked and sinful as God's people may become, He is always ready, willing, and able to forgive and wipe the slate clean.
  2. I love Peterson's paraphrase early in the chapter: "He'll show us the way He works so we can live the way we're made." That's what I want--to live the way He made me to live.
  3. Unfortunately, some of Isaiah's descriptions of the condition of the hearts of God's people resemble the hearts of Christians today.
  4. Three adjectives to describe someone touched by God--holy, alive, precious.
  5. People can live as wickedly as they so desire. But God always has the final say.
  6. One of the greatest chapters in the Bible. Reading it never grows old. "Lord, here am I, send me" should be a prayer every Christian prays.
  7. Ongoing debate--is it okay to ask God for a sign? God challenged King Ahaz to ask for a sign. It's interesting, however, the previous verse stresses the importance of faith.
  8. No matter what happens in my life and in this world, the last word is always Immanuel.
  9. Reading the prophetic words about the coming Messiah in verses 6-7 never grows old.
  10. Beware of using the first person pronoun as if "I" can do this or that. Arrogance certainly will lead to a downfall.
  11. God's reign on earth blows my mind--all is at peace. Kids crawling over rattlesnake dens; no animal or human will kill or hurt.
  12. When we sing in worship, we should raise the roof.
  13. God is sovereign over every kingdom. He will use one wicked country to destroy a "good" country if He so chooses.
  14. Satan's fall from heaven is in this chapter. Notice how many times Satan says, "I." Pride was his main problem.
  15. Isaiah is not just about judgment of God's people--but about His judgment of enemy nations as well.

"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, August 26, 2009

Emerging Leaders

I've been looking forward to this evening for a few months. In my years of ministry one of the most fulfilling things I've done is to spend time with young, emerging leaders. It's been a while since I've led such a class (no fault but my own). But tonight I have around eight couples who've said yes to the challenge to take part in an eight-week journey on Wednesday evenings.

One of the things I'm doing this time is including a few "older" couples to encourage and mentor the younger ones. This is one of those no-brainers I should have done a long time ago.

There will be no fill in the blanks and no homework (although we may end up reading a book together). My plan is to show a video from one of the Leadership Summits and then talk about it. If you're familiar with the Summit, you know how jam packed these events are. Tonight I'll show Bill Hybels' "Holy Discontent" message.

One thing I've discovered about equipping young leaders is that the time hanging out together in class is just as valuable as the content. Don't get me wrong. You better have something that interests them enough to come back. But the relationship building aspect is huge.

That's it for today...except to say that I'm ready for some football!

"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, August 16, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH 1 PETER

I promise I know the books of the Bible by heart. But somehow I skipped over 1 and 2 Peter in my blogs. I blog an OT book, NT, OT, etc. Anyway I need to back up a little and write on some insights through my 1 Peter read from the Message Bible.

Chapter 1

  • We all should be "on assignment by Jesus."
  • Believers have everything to live for and a future. And the future begins now.
  • Faith is proven to be genuine during times of suffering.

Chapter 2

  • Are there areas of my life where I need to invite God to do a clean sweep?
  • If you're a Christian, you have a "before and after" story to tell. So tell it every day and everywhere.
  • This world is not my true home.
  • Lord, let me know when I need to speak up and defend and when I need to shut up and let you make things rights.

Chapter 3

  • Great words for couples. Be a good husband. Honor your wife. Be a good wife. Respond to his needs. If things aren't right at home, your prayer life will be messed up.
  • Christ coming to this earth was not an afterthought. God had it planned all along.
  • Believers should love one another as if our lives depended on it.

Chapter 4

  • Think like Jesus thinks.
  • Suffering positions us to have the freedom to pursue what God wants and not what we want.
  • Be quick to give a meal to the hungry--the verse says nothing about whether the person is deserving or not.
  • Love goes a long way. Love as if life depended on it (I believe I just said that in chapter 3).

Chapter 5

  • As a pastor I must never lose sight that sheep must be tenderly led and not bossily told what to do.
  • God takes great delight in just plain, simple people.
  • The devil loves to catch you napping. He's always ready to pounce on you.
  • God always has the last word.Peter had key people around him to multiply his ministry--like Silas and Mark.

"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, August 13, 2009

Lake Baptism

It's that time of the year. Every August our friends at Macedonian Lutheran Church allow us to use their lakeside picnic and worship area to conduct an evening worship service. I'm not sure how many years we've done this; but it's always a highlight. Our first services of this nature were at Dreher Island State Park. I'll never forget the terrible thunderstorm that unloaded on us one year. That was the quickest baptism I've ever seen.

The lakeside setting is a beautiful environment to gather with God's people to eat, worship, and fellowship. Of course, the highlight is taking the Lord's Supper together and then walking to the shore to witness the baptism of those who have given their lives to Christ. This year we have around 20 who are scheduled to be baptized. Those 20 are spread fairly evenly among children, students, and adults.

What a joy it is to see these men, women, boys, and girls give their lives to Christ and follow through with believer's baptism, a significant step in their spiritual journey of life transformation.

Let's pray for a great event on Sunday evening. And while you're at it, pray that we will be spared any stormy activity. I hope to see you there.

"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, August 10, 2009

Gleanings from Song of Songs

I had a hard time finding my journal from Song of Songs. I knew you wouldn't believe me if I were to tell you that I lost it (esp. on this particular book). Anyway, I found it. Remember, I'm reading and journaling from the Message Bible by Eugene Peterson.

Our culture today specializes in a loveless sex. Some never think of love when they think of sex. Others never think of sex when they think of love (more holy). The Song of Songs integrates the two and provides a biblical basis showing the beauty of sex when it is expressed in its God-ordained way (between husband and wife).

Peterson wonders if Solomon wrote these words since he was obsessed with women, speculating instead that maybe someone dedicated this book to him. (I still think Solomon is the man.)

  1. Love needs to be expressed verbally (women loved jewelry 3000 years ago; I guess some things never change).
  2. As wildly in love with each other this couple is, they recognize they must protect themselves against the "foxes" that can destroy a marriage.
  3. In a healthy marriage spouses speak highly and positively of their mate to their friends.
  4. Please forgive the sarcasm--but with all the scents this woman was wearing, she wouldn't be welcome in any doctor's office.
  5. "What's so special about him?" All of us married folks should be able to answer this question about our spouse (and it better be a quick answer).
  6. The man in this romance speaks for every other married man I know when it comes to speaking of his relationship with his wife--"I'm in over my head." I believe we all married "above" us.
  7. Whew! It's getting hot in here with this R-rated stuff!
  8. My paraphrase of 8:4--If you're not married, don't have sex. And don't put yourself in a position where you're tempted to have sex.

"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, August 4, 2009

Axiom (3)


Here is my third and final blog from Bill Hybels' Axiom. I look forward to hearing Hybels later this week at the Leadership Summit (thanks to CIU for the free ticket).
Axiom 46: Sweat the Small Stuff--It doesn't matter what the best-selling book says, you better sweat the small stuff. Be careful of saying you're just a big-picture person. Small stuff includes taking time to write personal notes of thanks and encouragement, returning phone calls, replying to email. I wonder how many times I've had a church member say something like this: "I signed up for more information and no one contacted me." No matter who you are and how busy you are, you better sweat the small stuff. Or else it will come back to haunt you.
Axiom 68: Read All You Can--Hybels tells of a senior leader at Willow Creek who came to him with a major leadership crisis. She was caving in from the pressures of changes in her leadership responsibilities. After talking for 90 straight minutes, Hybels interrupted her and said something like, "This is 101 leadership stuff and you are a 501 or 601 leader. Tell me three leadership books you've read in the last 12 months." She couldn't think of a one. Leaders have a responsibility to become the best leader they can be. And one of the most effective ways of constantly getting better is through reading. Read all you can. Read when you feel like it and when you don't fell like it.

"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, July 30, 2009

Axiom (2)



I'm posting a few blogs from Bill Hybels' book Axiom.

Axiom 16: Six by Six Execution--I liked this one so much, I've started to practice it and have challenged our pastors to do the same thing. Basically, this axiom asks the question, "What are the six most important challenges I can focus on over the next six weeks?" There is nothing magical about six weeks. What this principle does is help you get targeted and focused on the things that will bring the greatest return. In our staff meeting this Monday, we plan to share with each other the six challenges we will focus on.

Axiom 49: Is It Sustainable?--I guess we all learn this axiom the hard way. Any ministry idea that is proposed should pass a couple of obvious criteria. First, does it advance the kingdom of God? Second, can we effectively launch it? These two are all well and good. But the third question is one I have learned the hard way. Is it sustainable? Sometimes ministry ideas fail because they are unsustainable. What makes this difficult is that sometimes the idea appears to be sustainable, only later to find out that it actually is not. For example, the Edge service we started a few years ago. Great idea for the kingdom. We launched it; but we were not able to sustain it. On the positive end, Clothe-a-Child. Good idea for the kingdom? You bet. Could we launch it? Yes. Sustainable? So far, so good.

Axiom 62: Never Beat the Sheep--Wow! When problems arise in the church, the leader's natural reflex is to beat the sheep. "If they would have just...." Or, "If they could only get it...." If things aren't going well, the leader needs to put down the stick and ask himself, "Have I served the sheep well?" I've been asking that of myself a lot lately. As Hybels writes, "A word of loving admonition every once in a while might be appropriate, but put the stick away. Permanently."


"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, July 28, 2009

Beach Reading--Axiom

Outside of great time with family, one of the things that I enjoy the most about vacation is sitting on the beach or by the pool reading. One of the books I gulped during the week was Bill Hybel's Axiom. It's the best leadership book I've read in a while. I encourage every leader to pick up a copy and read it. I love the length of chapters (2-3 pages). I'll probably take 2-3 blogs and pull some of the leadership axioms that stood out to me.

Axiom 7: An Owner or a Hireling: Paul owned the vision God gave him even though he faced much persecution because of it. He didn't take a hireling approach to what God called him to do. The greatest determinant of whether followers will own a vision is the extent to which they believe the leader owns it. If the leader sacrifices for the vision, the people will also. If you are half-hearted about the vision, that's the heart the people will have.

Axiom 10: The Value of a Good Idea: Even though CBC is going through some seasons of struggle, through the years God has done a marvelous work. And whatever successes we've enjoyed can point back to a good idea. The first mission trip to Brazil, a good idea. Clothe-a-child, a good idea. Starting the Child Development Center, a good idea. "Leaders traffic in idea creation. The best leaders I know are ferociously disciplined about seeking them out and incredibly committed to stewarding them well." We need to be reminded that to have one breakthrough idea, you have to allow for hundreds of mediocre ideas.

"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."




Saturday, July 18, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH 1 JOHN

Here are some gleanings from my read through 1 John.

God and Love cannot be separated. If you want to deal with God the right way, you have to learn to love the right way. If you want to love the right way, you have to deal with God the right way. In John's three letters he shows how Jesus provides the full and true understanding of God. And Jesus shows us the mature working-out of love. With all the various belief systems in Ephesus (where John was headquartered), John had a full time job keeping Christians focused on the real Jesus and His way of love.


  • 1:4--Helping others find true joy should be a leading factor in generating joy in us.

  • 1:5--Any message I deliver should certainly come from Christ. It must be His message.

  • 1:7--True community comes from believers walking in God's light.

  • 1:9--One of the greatest verses in the Bible. Genuine confession of sin leads to God's forgiveness and cleansing.

  • 1:10--To say that we have no sin shows how ignorant we are.

  • 2:1--Jesus solved the sin problem.

  • 2:6--Do you live like Jesus did? That's the litmus test on if you really have an intimate walk with God.

  • 2:15--Love for the world squeezes out love for the Father.

  • 3:1--I'm a child of God--that's awesome!

  • 3:2-3--Here's something else that is awesome. One day I will see Jesus and I'll be just like Him. That's double awesome!

  • 3:14--What is the evidence that you are saved? Love for others.

  • 3:16--God calls us to love others sacrificially.

  • 4:10--Sin damages my relationship with God. But thankfully God loved me and sent Jesus as a sacrifice to clean away my sin.

  • 4:11-12--God's love for me should motivate me to love others.

  • 4:21--Christ's command is simple. Loving God includes loving people. You must do both.

  • 5:11-12--One of the simplest, yet profound statements in the Bible--"God gave us eternal life, the life is in his Son."

  • 5:13--Yes, you can be absolutely certain that you have eternal life.

  • 5:14-15--One of my favorite prayer promises.


"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, July 14, 2009

Jesus Shines Brightly

I apologize for getting slack on my blog posts. For the 58th time, I will try to do better.

In my last blog I posted some thoughts about how tragedy brings out the best in God's family. Of course, I was referring to the tragic deaths of Parker and Haley Hewitt. Let me follow up.

As you know the services for these two precious children were held at our church last Friday. What an emotional day it was. Yet in the midst of the indescribable grief Jesus shined through. (or is it "shone" through?) Either way you know what I'm talking about.

Jesus shined through with our staff and volunteers. We knew there would be overflow crowds. And we were right. The worship center, Pointe, and fellowship hall were filled to capacity. Pulling that event off required many, many volunteers and much coordination. I was very proud of our church staff and our entire church family. Those outside our church family saw the great ministry you provided. And many have told me personally how impressed they were at your servants' hearts. My special thanks goes to my assistant Debbie Darnell. Logistically, she was the driver that pulled this thing off.

And certainly Jesus shined through with the service itself. Only God could have given me the strength I needed to pull that off. I can't tell you how many people told me before the service they were praying for me. In our church-wide prayer time the night before, we spent the entire hour praying for God to shine through. The worship led by the CBC and REFUGE musicians was awesome. God's presence was powerful.

But one more thing--Jesus certainly shined through Craig and Crystal. I wish you could have seen them during the entire service. Yes, they cried. But more significantly, they worshipped. They sang every song with hands lifted to God. During the solo music, their lips formed every word as Mike and Doug sang.

Their road to recovery will be long. But because of God's grace, they will make it. And Jesus will continue to shine through. And my prayer is that the lessons our church family has learned through this tragedy will linger for many, many years to come.

"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, June 30, 2009

When a Church Is at Its Best


For those in our Chapin family, we all are stricken with grief this week over the tragic automobile accident that took two young lives from us. For those outside our CBC family who read my blog--Craig and Crystal Hewitt, a beautiful young couple in our church, model husband-wife, model mom-dad, are grieving the loss of their two precious children--Parker (5) and Haley (3), both killed instantly on Monday morning.


I've been in Augusta most of the week ministering to the family. Not a one of us can imagine the pain they must be going through. I've always had a high respect and fond love for Craig and Crystal. But I'm telling you this week has increased that love and respect a thousand-fold. Only God could be giving Craig the strength and level-headedness he is displaying as he makes decisions while caring for his wife who is still hospitalized and will be having spinal surgery on Wednesday morning.


Crises always bring out the best in us. Not that we ever want to face tragedy. But I'm telling you that the people of Chapin Baptist Church are shining brightly during this tragedy. I am very proud of our church family. I'm very proud of our church staff. The road of healing for the Hewitts will be long and hard. But I am confident they will make it because of their faith, because of their family bonds, and because of their spiritual family at Chapin Baptist.


Funeral arrangements are still pending. But most likely we are looking at early next week to conduct services at our church. Debbie is doing a great job keeping us informed via email. Pray. Pray. Pray.


One lesson I think we all learn in tragedy--we are shocked into reality of the things that matter most in life and the things that really don't matter much at all.


Pray for me. This has to be one of the toughest assignments in all my years of ministry. But I know my assignment pales in comparison to the assignment God has given Craig and Crystal. Cover them with your prayers.


I love 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, June 24, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH ECCLESIASTES

Here is my chapter-by-chapter journal through Ecclesiastes that I wrote at the end of 2008. This is a book about trying to find meaning to life through money, sex, power, adventure, and knowledge. Sounds like a recent publishing release, doesn't it? Apart from God we are totally incapable of finding meaning to life

  1. It is humbling to know that I can strive to be successful; but when I'm gone, I won't be remembered.
  2. Reminds me of the bumper sticker-"I'm out spending my children's inheritance." Solomon wonders about the validity of hard work and making lots of money if all you're doing is leaving it to others after you die.
  3. This chapter reminds me of a common way people mishandle the Scriptures. Just because Solomon says something doesn't mean he's right--just because "it's in the Bible." He says everyone--man and animal alike end up as dust; so we should just live it up. I don't think that's the philosophy of life God intended for us.
  4. One life principle Solomon had a great grasp on--the importance and value of meaningful relationships.
  5. Don't worry about how long you will live. Just live every day to the fullest with great joy. Every day is a gift.
  6. If you need an encouraging word, stay away from Chapter 6. Solomon must have eaten too many tacos the night before. He may have been a wise man. But I wouldn't want him counseling my children at this stage of his journey.
  7. What did Solomon mean by, "Crying is better than laughing"? We learn more about life, and our spiritual roots go deeper in life's trials versus life's pleasures.
  8. I disagree with Solomon's assessment that you can never figure out the meaning of what God is doing. Certainly His ways are beyond mine. But I believe we can understand and even join Him in what He is doing.
  9. Seize life! These are great words of exhortation. How do we seize life? One way is to relish life with your marriage partner. I'm eternally blessed by a wife that I enjoy doing life with.
  10. Here's a great rule for life: Never use your tongue to degrade people.
  11. I love this chapter. Enjoy every day to the fullest. Follow the impulses of your heart. Be a blessing to others.
  12. Although Solomon has presented some questionable statements, his final analysis hits the bull's eye: "Fear God. Do what he tells 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."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Leading Children to Christ

Last week Virginia Wallace, our Director of Children's Ministry, shared some exciting news with me. We have about 25 kids that have made spiritual decisions recently and want to take the next steps of baptism. That's awesome news. But she really got me pumped up when she told me about a new ministry she is implementing to counsel with these children.


When a child makes a decision for Christ, Virginia and her staff will plan a meeting of the children with their parents. The parents will be trained a very simple way that they can lead their children to Christ. The training materials have proven to be successful in many other churches. Sometimes the parents themselves end up receiving Christ through this process.


As I shared in my sermon on Father's Day...there is no higher calling of a Dad than to disciple his children. What our children's ministry is implementing is a giant step forward in helping dads and moms assume responsibility for their children's faith journey. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE talking to children about Jesus and leading them to a decision to accept Him into their hearts. But what excites me more is the ability to equip parents to lead their children to Christ. Can you think of anything more moving than to hear someone say, "My dad/mom led me to Christ"?


Way to go, Virginia! As we implement this process, let's pray that every parent will respond and that families can be spiritually transformed as a result.



"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, June 18, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH JAMES (PART 2)

Here are the rest of my journal entries in my read through the book of James.

  • 2:18--2008 Chapin translation--"You take care of the GoodWorks project, I'll go to the Bible study--not good. It's all about application."

  • 2:18--Faith is not faith unless it is working. Separate faith from works and you get a corpse.

  • Ch. 3 (sorry, I didn't write down the specific verses from here on out)--

  • Those who teach are held to higher standards.

  • How I use my tongue is my choice. Will I use it to edify, encourage, and bless, or will I use it to tear down, gossip, and curse?

  • What does it take to be a man/woman of wisdom? Holy living, getting along with others, gentle spirit.

  • Ch. 4 and 5--Quarrels start because people want their own way.

  • Flirt with the world and you'll become God's enemy.

  • The best way to get on your feet is to get down on your knees before the Master.

  • Dabbling in sin will destroy you.

  • When Christians argue and fight, God is the one who takes a beating.

  • If you know the right thing to do and don't do it, it's sin.

  • I must be cautious of complaining against someone because a far greater complaint could be lodged against me.

  • Make it a habit to always speak the truth. That way you never have to remember what you said.

  • Pray, pray, pray.

  • Don't ever give up on someone who has wandered from 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."


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH JAMES

Here are some thing God taught me in my recent reading through the book of James. This book is a brutal reminder that churches are filled with sinful people. Pastor James deals openly and honestly with the issues. Known as "camel knees" for the calluses formed on his knees for his many hours/years of praying, James teaches that prayer is foundational to wisdom.

  • 1:2-4--Trials from every side are gifts from God. I need to let God do the shaping in my life that He wants to do.

  • 1:9-11--Great insights on prosperity, especially in light of the economic downturn. Prosperity can disappear overnight.

  • 1:13-15--Interesting take on temptation. Doesn't come from God. According to these verses, the temptation comes from within us. We become victims of our own lust.

  • 1:19-21--Key to spiritual growth and maturity. Let God landscape you with His Word.

  • 1:22-24--Another key--applying the Word.

  • 1:26-27--True religion--reaching out to the poor and rejected and staying clean from the corrupt world.

  • 2:1-7--Racial prejudice and neglecting the poor are two things God hates. We should too.

  • 2:8-13--I'm grateful God is sending Black and bi-racial families to our church. And I am grateful that we have built (not completely there yet) a culture of love and acceptance.

  • 2:8-13--If I don't commit adultery but I do show favoritism to the rich, I'm crazy if I think the two balance out. No, I'm a man guilty before God.

  • 2:17--"God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense." In other words, it's all about application.



"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, June 16, 2009

People Who Have Mentored Me (2)

In my last post I listed the people who have mentored me through the years. I'm eternally grateful to each one. In my years of ministry there are well-known leaders who have had great influence on how I think and do ministry. Some of these I've met. Some I've never met. Only one do I know on a personal level. But through their writings and conferencing, they have made me a more effective pastor/teacher/leader.


Leading the list is John Maxwell. I had never heard of John. But back in the mid 90s when I was going through a ministry crisis, a brochure "happened" to appear on my desk advertising a leadership conference in Atlanta he was leading. I jumped on it. And it was a life-changing experience. No one has helped me more in the realm of being a leader than Maxwell. And I'm still learning from him.


Rick Warren has become known as America's pastor. Years ago I attended a 3-4 day Purpose Driven Church conference sponsored by the SC Baptist Convention that Rick taught. My only claim to fame with Rick is that he was in one of my evangelism classes in seminary. Rick has helped me (and tens of thousands of pastors) understand the importance of building a church around the five purposes of the church.


Through the teachings of Bill Hybels God has helped me believe that the local church still is the hope for this world. He has helped me to see that worship can be done with excellence and that a church can become "mega" without watering down the gospel.


Reggie McNeal is another influencer in my life. Reggie is a personal friend. We graduated with our Ph.D. side by side way back in 1986. Reggie has challenged me to think outside the box. He has helped me to understand that God's idea of a church is not necessarily counting heads and dollars on Sunday morning. Instead, God has called us to be missional.


Perry Noble, pastor of Newspring in Anderson, has helped me to see that God can grow a huge church even in a small town atmosphere, like my hometown of Anderson. His bold preaching and down-to-earth personality can serve as a model to every pastor.


Well, these are a handful of mentors. There are others such as Erwin McManus, Andy Stanley, Bill Easum, and Leith Anderson. By God's design I am a learner. I try to soak up everything I can from these guys to become the man of God and leader for God that He has called me to be.



"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, June 15, 2009

People Who Have Mentored Me

One of the leaders of Campus Crusade at Clemson back in the 60s started a Clemson Campus Crusade for Christ Facebook group. What a great way to re-connect. Howard, the guy who got this thing going, asked how we found our way to CCC while in school. Who influenced us? Who mentored us. His question got me reminiscing about those who have been great mentors to me. So, let me take a couple of blogs and tell you about friends and family who have mentored me and then well-known leaders/authors who have mentored me.


I would be remiss if I didn't start by talking about my mother and grandmother. They both had a huge godly influence in my formative years. My mom who made sure I was fully engaged in church and who modeled how to get along with people. My grandmother who taught me the importance of prayer and digging in the Word. It was my grandmother who, after I publicly announced my call to ministry, informed me that she had prayed every day of my life that God would call me to preach. (I didn't have a chance!)


Charlie Edmonds was my Royal Ambassador teacher for years. He would pick me up every Thursday evening to take me to RAs. He'd pick up several guys along the way. We all rode in the back of his pickup truck (it was safe back then). He modeled patience and consistency.


Lee Taylor is a fellow I grew up with in Anderson. We both went to Clemson. He got his life in spiritual order before I did. He invited me to a CCC Bible study that he led. That was a key turning point in my life. Lee discipled me faithfully.


Charles Fant was my best friend in high school. We were roommates for four years at Clemson. He actually is the one who talked me in joining him by going to Lee's Bible study. He has been a great influence in my life for many years.


And then there was C.W. Farrar. He pastored FBC of Landrum, SC, for many years. I'm not sure where his passion began, but he took a lot of interest in many of the Clemson Crusaders and mentored us. I was on the path to becoming a career staff person with CCC. But I remember C.W. very vividly planting the seed in my mind, "You know, Ken, the world needs some good pastors." The second sermon I ever preached was in his church on a Sunday night. It was on 1 Timothy 4. Later that night I remember him sitting down with me and critiquing the message. The next day he took me to Columbia where we stayed a couple of days for the state evangelism conference. He was one of the two pastors who officiated our wedding back in 1976.


Who has mentored you through the years? Maybe a better question is: Who are you mentoring?



"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, June 7, 2009

Graduation Day



Hallelujah! What a great day Saturday was as our whole family gathered at Carolina Coliseum (no Gamecock snides, please) for Tyler's graduation. Needless to say Anita and I are very proud of our honor graduate. Tyler will be attending Midlands Tech next year as he continues to explore God's calling in his life. He certainly wants to stay in the area right now because he's excited about being a part of the REFUGE band. Here are some shots from Saturday. (As you can tell I haven't invested a lot of money into camera equipment. Mine is the kind you carry in your pocket)


T-Man with his two beautiful parents



My mom Doris, Anita, Tyler, me, my sister Bess, and my nephew Ross






Tyler and his girlfried Laurel


We enjoyed a trip to Texas Roadhouse after the ceremony.

My how the time does fly. It seems only yesterday that we were trekking down to Baptist Hospital where Tyler was born about fifteen minutes after arrival. Enjoy your family to the fullest.

"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, June 3, 2009

Church Vitality

The most recent issue of Outreach magazine focuses on church health and vitality. One of my favorite writers, Bill Easum (Sacred Cows Make Gourmet Burgers; Go Big: Leading Your Church to Explosive Growth) wrote an article called "Vital Signs." I try to read anything Bill writes. Whether he's writing a book or a brief article, he never sugar coats stuff. That's why I like him.


He states that church health boils down to six traits: biblically grounded, culturally relevant, exists to transform lives, mobilizes and equips the laity; a community built on trust; structured to grow disciples.


Ouch! The problem, he cites, in most churches is that one or more of these traits is lacking or absent. Or it could be that the church doesn't know how to measure these traits. Easum takes each trait and offers a brief synopsis of how a church can measure it. Ouch again!


I'll mention the first two in this blog, then finish it up in a second one.


1. Biblically grounded: I thought of the six that maybe we did pretty good on this one. But the measuring question Easum poses got me wondering if we do a good job of this or not. He says the way this trait is measured is by observing how decisions are made. Here is the measuring rod: "Do prayer, discernment, and the scriptures guide your leaders in their decision making?"


2. Culturally relevant: CBC tries to be. But then again do we? Easum talks about the importance of exegeting the community and then making sure that all ministries evolve out of that exegesis. Here is the measuring rod for this trait: "Do all of your ministries have their origin in the hopes, dreams and needs of the surrounding community of nonbelievers?"


3-6 next time.

"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."

Church Vitality (2)

Bill Easum states that good church health boils down to six traits. I posted the first two in a previous blog (biblically grounded, culturally relevant). Here is the continuation of his thoughts.


3. Exists to transform lives: Easum notes that this is the easiest trait to measure. How many adults are getting baptized, and how many spiritual giants are being discipled and sent into significant arenas of ministry? Also, are leaders disappointed if a week goes by without someone giving his/her life to Christ?


4. Mobilizes and equips the laity: Is 80 percent of the congregation engaged in some type of weekly or monthly ministry? And, is the staff's role primarily to equip others for ministry versus doing ministry? Then Easum asks a couple of probing questions. "Who does most of the ministry at your church--the staff or the laity? When people need their spiritual needs met, do they go to their small group instead of the pastor?"


5. A community built on trust: To measure this trait, observe how quickly, without much fuss, decisions can be made; new ministries can be established; and the expected behavior of the leadership. "Can any one or two people in the congregation derail something that most people want to see happen? Do you trust your leaders when they make a decision, even if it is controversial?" (Admittedly, we have digressed in this trait. And our staff pastors are determined to regain a high level of trust with the congregation.)


6. Structured to grow disciples: Mormons grow so rapidly because they are structured for growth. "Does your church eat, sleep, and dream about making disciples?"


I firmly believe we are in the beginning stages of a new day. We all long for a vitally, healthy church. These six traits provide us with a helpful measuring stick as we move forward.



"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, June 1, 2009

More Dog Stories Coming

Last weekend was filled with key events. It started with our trip to Chapin High School for Class Day--the day where the seniors leave their last will and testaments. Back in 2002 Kevin SURPRISED us with a Boston Terrier puppy we named Bruno. Bruno has provided me with a wealth of sermon illustrations. I still have a scar to prove it.

Friday, Tyler willed us another brand new puppy--a Golden Retriever. The boys had already given him a name. So I look forward to including Jimbo in some upcoming sermons. Maybe I can blog some pictures.

Later that Friday we were able to surprise Tyler (he knew it was coming but didn't know when) with a 2004 Tacoma pickup to replace the beat up 1994 truck that got him through high school. (We've got the old one for sale if you know anyone interested.)

On Saturday evening Anita and I came to the Southern Gospel concert at the church. Man, our people have talent! How humbling, however...after it was over. I had about 15 people with the gift of encouragement (including Anita) remind me that I am the odd man out when it comes to pastors being able to sing. I hate to admit it; but I agree.

Sunday was eventful as well. If you missed our worship, you missed a great experience as our student ministry led the services. Stuart's message was powerful; and the students who prayed, sang, played in the band...were exceptional.

While we were worshipping, REFUGE (the church Kenny is planting) was having a red-letter day. They had their first baptism service (13 baptized I believe) and their highest attendance ever (88)! God's hand is upon them.

Sunday afternoon was Kevin and Erin's first wedding anniversary. And we also celebrated Doug's 24th birthday.

And one final highlight was the Baccalaureate service at the Methodist Church. I had the assignment of preaching. I chose a text in Acts 17 in which I challenged the graduates to become "troublemakers" for Jesus. Spasmo Kelly, on his way to the platform to introduce Cadie Lee, who shared her testimony, tripped over the first platform step and fell flat on my face. Check with Mayor Stan if you want a picture of that to use against me in the future. Anyway we had a good laugh and moved on. (But oh the damaged pride.)

A lot of excitement for one weekend. But what a great one it was!

"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, May 28, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH PROVERBS (CONT'D)

Here are the rest of my learnings from the book of Proverbs.


16. Verse 13--I'm grateful that God has placed some men in my life who love me enough to tell me the truth.
17. The "acceptable" sin in church seems to be gossip. But Proverbs would beg to differ.
18. Amen and amen to verse 22. "Find a good spouse, you find a good life...." I hit the jackpot with the spouse I found. Anita is the best!
19. Helping the poor is a value taught all through the Bible. Verse 17 teaches that helping the needy is like loaning to God. He will repay. So helping those on the margins of society is a kingdom investment.
20. Verse 18 is a great leadership verse. The leader needs to seek counsel from others, set the agenda, and get all the help he can get.
21. More good leadership principles: Make sure God is controlling the direction of the vision (v. 1). Always be ready for the worst, and trust God to bring the victory (v. 31).
22. This chapter introduces thirty "sterling principles" to live by. I've never tried counting them out, but The Message Bible separates and numbers them. They go through Chapter 24. Examples: Don't take advantage of the poor. Don't hang out with angry people; don't gamble.
23. Anita and I are extremely proud of how our three sons have turned out. All three are uniquely gifted and they love Jesus--that's the main thing. And we pray they stay on the "straight and narrow." (verses 22-25)
24. To work through a church crisis requires strategic planning. To be victorious requires a lot of good counsel.
25. There is a lot of value in doing positive things to your enemies (verse 21-22).
26. More picturesque truths about gossip. Listening to it is like eating cheap candy (v. 22)
27. Proverbs has a lot to say about friendship. Verse 10 tells me not to bail on a friend when things are tough for him. The corollary is important too. If I'm going through tough times, I trust my friends won't bail on me.
28. My prayer--Lord, help me lead your people down the right path (v. 10).
29. The effective leader always reports the good things God is doing. If the people can't see the positive things, they will stumble (v. 18).
30. The leader must never allow emotions to get the best of him (verses 32-33).
31. Yes, a good woman is hard to find. But, thank God, I found one...and the best one at that!




"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 PROVERBS

The book of Proverbs is a reminder that the Bible is not just about how to get to heaven. It is also a book on how we're supposed to live on earth. Wisdom, which goes beyond knowledge, is the word used to describe how we should live on earth. Below are nuggets from my recent read through Proverbs (one per chapter--hard to narrow it to one).


  1. Verse 7--Living right always starts with God, bowing to Him and learning from Him

  2. Verses 20-22--It is the one who walks straight that will be on the receiving end of God's maximum blessings.

  3. Verses 5-6--Two of my most favorite verses. How I need to practice what they teach! How I need to listen for God's voice in everything I do and everywhere I go.

  4. Verse 23--Another of my favorite verses--So many of the problems I face in life are my own heart problems. I need to keep vigilant watch over my heart.

  5. Verse 18--The key to a healthy marriage is to enjoy to the fullest the one you married.

  6. Verses 32-33--Adultery is a brainless act and self-destroying. It will ruin your reputation.

  7. Verse 25--After vividly describing how a man falls into the trap of lust and adultery, the writer provides a solution that protects the man from falling--don't even stroll into her neighborhood. Stay away, run away from even getting close to a compromising situation.

  8. Verse 17--If I earnestly seek wisdom, I will find it.

  9. Verses 9-10--If I want to live the life God designed me to live, it begins with fearing Him.

  10. The storms of life expose the difference between good and wicked people. One is not fazed, the other is destroyed.

  11. My favorite chapter so far. Filled with practical, godly advice: integrity, generosity, character, hard work, kindness, self-control, servanthood. Read it for yourself.

  12. Lots of stuff on the tongue. Verse 18 is my favorite. "Rash language cuts and maims, but there is healing in the words of the wise."

  13. Verse 24 is excellent wisdom for parents. Failure to discipline children is the same as failure to love them.

  14. Two reminders stuck out to me: (1) The mark of a good leader is loyal followers. (2) What makes a country strong is devotion to God. Avoiding God makes a nation weak.

  15. I'm grateful for leaders who provide wise counsel for me. They help lead me to success.


"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."


God Was Moving!

The short week (Memorial Day) put me behind in all the things I needed to accomplish. I should have posted this earlier, but I can't let it pass. Last Sunday was an awesome day of worship.

God blessed my socks off before the service even started when one of our senior members called me over to where she was seated. Then she began to tell me how when she was a teenager, she couldn't go to camp because her family didn't have the money to send her. Then she told me how she had a piggy bank where she always inserted pocket change. After a while those piggy banks can accumulate a good bit of money. So she was ready to break hers open. And guess what she said she was going to do with the money. She was going to give it to the student ministry so that she could help someone go to camp. That is absolutely awesome!

And I could sense a great spirit in our worship services. The tribute to our veterans was fabulous. I wish you could have been seated at the front to see the many tears dripping down the faces of the men and women. Many thanks to Woody Wagers for helping plan this service.

I appreciate the many positive feedbacks I've received from my message. I believe the people of Chapin Baptist are ready for a new day. It is time to put the past behind us. We will learn from our mistakes and failures. But we press on. God has great things in store for us. Let's focus on how we can excel in our love for one another as we strive together to impact our city for Christ.

God was moving. May that be our experience every Sunday!

"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, May 21, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH HEBREWS

Here is my chapter by chapter journal through the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews reminds us that "religion" is a bad thing. Back then the problem with religion was that it was Jesus-and-Moses or Jesus-and-angels. Today the problem is Jesus-and-education or Jesus-and-Buddha.

  1. We often forget that Jesus has always existed. Through Him, God created the world. He perfectly mirrors God. He is God.
  2. When Jesus died, He destroyed the Devil's hold on death and freed us from the fear of death.
  3. The people of God were not allowed to enter the Promise Land because they turned a deaf ear to God. God, may that not ever be today. May we always listen and follow.
  4. When I go through difficult seasons, it sure is comforting and encouraging to know that Jesus walked the same roads. And I can go straight to God's throne and know I can talk to Him.
  5. One of my onging prayers is that every CBC member will become mature, solid-food Christians.
  6. God expects every Christian to move out of the shallow waters and get out into the deep waters of spiritual maturity.
  7. What makes Jesus different from all the other priests? His priesthood is eternal. He doesn't have to offer sacrifices for His own sin. He gave Himself as a sacrifice, once and for all.
  8. The new covenant through Jesus Christ makes it evident that God is not after religious duty and behavior. He's after the heart.
  9. 9:23-28--among the most powerful verses in the Bible. Excellent explanation of the sacrifice of Jesus and why He died on the cross. What makes Jesus different from all the rest? Just read it for yourself.
  10. Eugene Peterson (The Message Bible) gets an A+ for his explanation of what Jesus did on the cross. In the verses 11-18 paragraph, he writes, "It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people."
  11. In the "heroes of the faith" chapter, I want it to be true of my faith what is said about Moses. His faith wasn't detracted by obstacles. Instead, "He had his eye on the one no eye can see, and kept right on going."
  12. Great section on God's discipline. Never fun. But if you let God do His work, there is a handsome payoff.
  13. 12:18 hit home with me. I have no doubts about the direction I'm going and why. But it's hard. And I need as many praying for me as possible. My greatest desire is to live well before 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."


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Million Dollar Quotes

Here are some thought-provoking quotes I've come across recently in my reading. No comments. Just chew on them.

  • "If you study the statistics, the typical modern American is much more likely to be exposed to a new religious insight or doctrine at the mall or the movie multiplex than in a traditional sanctuary. This is how modern Americans spend their time, spend their money and make their decisions. Day by day, they have evolved into mass-media disciples." (Terry Mattingly in Pop Goes Religion.
  • The world of entertainment and mass communications--through television, radio, contemporary music, movies, magazines, art, video games and pop literature--is indisputably the most extensive and influential theological training system in the world." (George Barna & Mark Hatch, Boiling Point)
  • "The church is only the church when it exists for others." (Mark Buchanan)
  • "We stop thinking about the lyrics of a song after hearing it thirty times. That has profound implications when it comes to worship. If we aren't careful, we stop worshiping in spirit and in truth and start lip syncing. Maybe that's why the Psalmist exhorts us eight times to sing a new song." (Mark Batterson)
  • "A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." (George Bernard Shaw)
  • "Give me a person who knows little theology but wants to learn as he or she goes. A person who wants to live it, a person who wants to make a difference in society--and that person will change the world." (Bob Roberts, Jr., Glocalization)

"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, May 12, 2009

Are Matthew and Levi the Same Person?

When I started the sermon series on the Gospel of Mark, I indicated I would blog about some of my learnings that don't make it into the Sunday messages. I have always "heard" that Levi and Matthew are the same person. But are they? Was Levi one of the twelve disciples?

Here is the issue. In Mark 2, Jesus calls a tax collector named Levi, son of Alphaeus, to follow Him. In the next chapter, Mark lists the twelve disciples by name; but he doesn't mention Levi (3:17-18). Matthew 9:9 mentions that someone named Matthew was called by Jesus from his tax-collecting booth. And his name appears in the list of disciples in all four gospels.

There is also a James listed in all four gospel lists, and he is identified as the son of Alphaeus (same Dad's name as Levi's). The father's name was listed probably to distinguish him from James, the son of Zebedee.

So what's the solution? We can't be certain because the evidence is not definitive. One explanation is that the tax collector was known by two names--Matthew and Levi, much like Simon was also known as Peter. If this is the case, then Mark uses the name Levi, and Matthew uses the name Matthew.

Another solution is that James and Levi were brothers--sons of Alphaeus. Or maybe there are two dads named Alphaeus. (See how this can get confusing?) Or maybe James and Levi are the same person since they both have Dads named Alphaeus. If that is the case, then both Matthew and Levi were tax collectors. This is not a far-fetched explanation. In fact, some ancient texts use the name James instead of Levi in Mark 2:13-17. If this is the case, then Levi was a Christ-follower but just not one of the Twelve.

So, are you utterly confused? What do I think? Just my opinion...but I believe Levi and Matthew are the same person (although I don't understand why Mark would call him Levi in chapter 2 and Matthew in chapter 3. The joys of digging into God's Word. We may not know all the answers. But the Bible is an endless treasure hunt. I love it!

"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, May 7, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH PSALMS (FINALE!)

Drum roll...Here is my last entry on my journey through Psalms.

136. Your love, O Lord, never quits. Your love for me has been evident from my earliest childhood memories through today. And I know You will love me tomorrow too. Thank You.

137. Lord, I long for the days when CBC was clicking on all cylinders. The body was unified. Great things were happening. Restore us, please.

138. I echo David's prayer--Keep me alive in the angry turmoil. Finish what You started in me. Don't quit on me now.

139. God, You are all-knowing, all powerful, and everywhere present. Search my heart through and through. Point out anywhere in my life that I have gotten off track. Break me in any area where I need to be broken. And lead me exactly where I need to go.

140. God of mercy, Strong Savior, protect me during any conflict I face. Minimize and squelch anyone who stands in the way of Your kingdom advancement.

141. Father, may my times alone with You and may my times of corporate worship always be like sweet incense rising to You.

142. What a beautiful picture this psalm portrays when David was at one of his lowest points. Father, I long for the day soon when "your people will form a circle around me and you'll bring me showers of blessing!"

143. Father, wake me up each morning with the sound of Your loving voice, and may I go to sleep each night trusting in You. Teach me how to live to please You.

144. Lord, send a great harvest at Chapin Baptist. Fill our church with huge flocks.

145. God, You are great and most worthy of praise. You are the God who does what He says, who answers my prayers, who gives me a fresh start, and who is super-generous.

146. Lord, when we face budget cuts, it is very easy to focus on praying for You to send those with financial means to our church. But, Lord, remind me also that You are the God who takes the side of orphans and widows.

147. God, I know You are not impressed with big churches, titles, square footage, and portfolios. But You are impressed with those who fear You. They are the ones who can depend on Your strength.

148. Almighty God, You spoke and the world came into existence. Through Your word You set everything in its place.

149. Hallelujah! What an awesome way to start off a psalm. Lord, I need to introduce more aspects of my life with Hallelujahs--when I begin to write a sermon, before a meeting, when I get out of bed, when I get into bed, when I step into the door from work. May all of my life be one big Hallelujah!

150. What a great way to end this marvelous book of the Bible--Praise! May all my worship, may all our worship result in genuine, vibrant praise.


"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."


Do All Dogs Go to Heaven?

Last Saturday night Anita and I had the awful experience of deciding to put to sleep one of our dogs. Friendly, our Brittany Spaniel, was 14. We came home from shopping on Saturday and noticed that she couldn't get her breath. She had short spells like this before. But this one she couldn't overcome. We took her to the emergency clinic, and after hearing various options of procedures that may or may not work and seeing the huge price tag just for the first stage, we both decided it was time to euthanize.

Kenny and Tyler came down and saw the shape she was in and agreed that she was suffering too much. Anita, Jamie, and I stayed in the room and watched the procedure and cried our hearts out.

If you've owned dogs, you know they become a part of the family, don't they? We knew this day would come; but we still weren't prepared for it.

Believe it or not, one of the common questions I'm asked is: Do dogs go to heaven? According to the movie, all dogs go to heaven. But my official response can be summarized in three words: I don't know. On the other hand, my personal opinion says there will be dogs in heaven simply because heaven is such a wonderful place. And dogs provide us so much joy on earth. So, why wouldn't God allow them to be in heaven?

If our pet dogs go to heaven, I believe Friendly will be there. She had her salvation experience very early. When we installed Invisible Fence...well, let's just say it was a drastic, overnight conversion experience for her. Before Invisible Fence, she was headed toward the "weeping and gnashing of teeth" place. But after the Fence, she was a changed dog. She was low key and never bothered anybody. She'd bark at passersby and dig up flowers and knock the gutter extensions off the main units. But to my knowledge she never bit anyone or attacked other dogs and she was very easy to get along with. So, maybe she will be in heaven. I hope so.

Do dogs go to heaven? Will there be sex in heaven? Are the streets really made of gold? Will heaven actually be on earth? Will we see loved ones in heaven? Let me close by telling you the best book on heaven I've ever read is by Randy Alcorn. It's called...Heaven. Read it for yourself. I promise you it will change some of your long-held perceptions. It answers all these questions and a bunch more. In fact, after reading it, you may even say, "God, why do you still have me here? I'm ready to go!" Check it out.

"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 30, 2009

A Stunning Senior Moment

Senior adults are special people. Their love for Jesus and their faithfulness to His church teach us a lot about what it means to be a follower of Christ. This morning our deacon wives fed them breakfast as one way to say thanks for all they do. Also our senior adult pastor Philip Vaughn did a great job preaching from Mark 2, the story of the men who brought their paralytic friend to Jesus. It was a great day of worship.

One of our former members who moved back to California, Matt Westlake, sent me this email last fall. It's called "Stunning Senior Moment." Here's how it goes.

A very self-important college freshman, attending a recent football game, took it upon himself to explain to a senior citizen sitting next to him why it was impossible for the older generation to understand his generation. "You grew up in a different world, actually an almost primitive one," the student said, loud enough for many of those nearby to hear.

He continued, "The young people of today grew up with television, jet planes, space travel, man walking on the moon, our spaceships have visited Mars. We have nuclear energy, electric and hydrogen cars, computers with DSL, BPS, light-speed processing...and," he paused to take another drink of beer.

The Senior took advantage of the break in the student's litany and said, "You're right, son. We didn't have those things when we were young, so we invented them. Now, you arrogant young man, what are you doing for the next generation?" The applause was resounding.

I love senior adults.

"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 PSALMS (10)

This one and one more....I believe!

121. God remind me that strength and help do not come from the church. It comes from You. You are my guardian, my strength, and my protector.

122. May every Sunday at Chapin Baptist be a day filled with joy among Your people.

123. Lord, sometimes I feel that we have been kicked around. God, display your mercy. To You alone do we look for help.

124. Father, thank You for not abandoning us. I long for the grip that has been on Chapin Baptist to be broken. Set us free like birds in flight.

125. Lord, may my trust in You be like a rock-solid mountain that will not move.

126. God, restore happiness to Your people. Bring rain to our drought-stricken lives. May we once again be the positive talk of the community.

127. Lord, thank You for Kenny, Kevin, and Tyler. You have given Anita and me three special gifts. Watch over them. Use them for Your kingdom. May they always walk with God.

128. Lord, You have given me a good life. You've blessed me with an excellent wife and three wonderful sons. Now You've added two beautiful daughters-in-law. May I enjoy these blessings to the fullest.

129. Lord, recently I have felt kicked around. But with Your power and presence I know that these circumstances cannot keep me down.

130. Lord, there have been points in my recent journey that I feel the bottom has fallen out of my life. Forgiving God, God who redeems, I wait upon You. Have mercy.

131. Lord, thank You for the quiet You provide my soul when the waters are troubled. I know I need to be content in good times and bad. But, Lord, I'm not content with where Chapin Baptist is today. And I don't believe You are either. Stir among us, O God.

132. Father, there may be no greater promise than the one You gave to David when You told him one of his blood line will always sit on the throne. But your promises to me are just as true and valid.

133. Unity is a beautiful thing that brings great honor to You. God, please restore this unity to Your church at Chapin Baptist.

134. Lord, it is hard to imagine the way we bless You could ever match how You bless us. But elevate our worship to the point that every participant is bringing a blessing to You.

135. Lord, each morning as I walk outside to get the paper, I look up and witness Your greatness. Whether clouds or a sky full of stars, they all testify just how magnificent You are.

"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, April 29, 2009

Getaways at Home

Every staff pastor loves to get away for a few days in a retreat/conference setting just to get refreshed, challenged, and re-ignited. The conferences I have attended through the years have been life-changing for me. But when the economy spirals downward and budgets shortfall, we're not able to get away as much as we'd like.

Thankfully, technology allows us to tap into learning environments from our home base. Don't get me wrong...there is something special about experiencing a conference in the flesh. There is something special about literally getting away for a few days of learning and growth.

Anyway, let me share a few quotes from the recent Innovation conference in Dallas (quotes gathered in my office getaway conference).

  • "I've noticed an interesting quality in leaders...that is, they are absolutely, completely, willing to fail....They're willing to try things that others have never tried."
  • "The only thing standing between you and the next level of ministry success might be a failure, where you learn something. Don't be afraid." (Craig Groeschel)
  • "We've pimped the second commandment. We define neighbor as 'someone like us'...When Jesus said to love your neighbor, He wasn't saying to love someone just like you." (Dave Gibbons)
  • "When you look at your church...how much [money] goes toward innovation?" (Dave Gibbons)
  • "If the church doesn't change, we are going to die. All over the country, churches are closing their doors because their people are unwilling to change." (John Jenkins)
  • "If we continue to do what we've always done, we will never get what we've never had." (John Jenkins)
  • "First Baptist Glenarden has grown from 500 to 10,000 people since they made the switch from 'doing church work' to 'doing the work of the church.'" (John Jenkins)
  • "Innovation is not a sound bit, is not a gimmick, is not a stroke of luck. Sustainable innovation is imperative because of the Gospel. It's a reflection of the nature of God, who from the very beginning has been about creation and renewal." (Nancy Ortberg)
  • "We have to get better at inviting the next generation [leaders] onto our team." (Nancy Ortberg)

"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 23, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH PSALMS (9)

I know you're ready for me to get out of the Psalms blogs. I understand. But I want the journey transcribed from my terrible handwritten pages. So, I may as well pass the journal on to you as well. Bear with me for just a few more.

106. Lord, may I never forget how your hand has been upon my life all through the years. When my pathway is difficult, remind me that Your presence which stayed with me in the past will sustain me now and in the future.

107. God, I call out to you with a heavy and desperate heart. Bring my ship to safe harbor. Heal me up so that I can once again go out into the deep waters where significant kingdom growth happens.

108. "Every cloud's a flag to Your faithfulness." Lord, remind me of your faithfulness every time I look into the sky.

109. Lord, please step in and do a miracle. Demonstrate that You are at work.

110. Father, I praise you for your Son Jesus. I lean on the promise that You are always true to Your word.

111. Lord, I give you praise for Your great works, Your splendor and beauty, Your generosity, and Your miracles.

112. May my home be filled with those who live upright lives. And may my home be filled with Your favor and blessings. And may we show our thanks to You by demonstrating generosity to others.

113. Everywhere I go may praise be on my lips from the time I get up till the time I go to bed.

114. Lord, keep me ever mindful of Your presence around me. Remind me that You are in charge.

115. Lord, this psalm reminds me of Warren's words that begin The Purpose Driven Life--"It's not about you." Lord, it's all about You, not me. May my life be a 24/7 sacrifice of worship to You.

116. God, I know that in spite of difficult circumstances, You are gracious and compassionate. You shower me with blessings.

117. Lord, You are always faithful. I give You praise. May I allow Your love to take over my life.

118. God, You are my only refuge. I feel hemmed in from every side. Grab me, O Lord. Rescue me with Your everlasting love.

119. Lord, in Your great love revive me, so I can alertly obey Your every word. I'm your servant--help me understand what that means. Invigorate my soul so I can praise You well. Use Your decrees to put iron in my soul.

120. In the midst of trouble I cry out to You, O God. Give me discernment with those who smile on the outside, yet whose hearts are divided.


"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."