Thursday, March 26, 2009

LESSONS FROM THE DEATH OF A FRIEND

Recently, I learned that a dear friend in the ministry passed away. Phil Childress and I met at Clemson. He was one of the first guys I ever discipled. I can still remember sitting in his dorm room going over his weekly schedule. He claimed he didn't have enough time to keep serving in Campus Crusade. I "busted" him because he had blocked out every weekend as fun time. So, no wonder he had no time to be in a Bible study and lead another one. He was too busy having fun.

We grew in Christ together. He was in our wedding back in '76. God called him into the ministry as well. We were in Southwestern Seminary together. And later I was in his wedding in Arkansas. Phil stayed in Texas where he served on staff at FBC, Oakcliffe. Then he and some others branched out and planted a new church in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

We would talk occasionally and catch up on family and ministry. Several years ago he stopped by and we spent the day together. He was bombarding me with questions about CBC and ministry in general.

For many months he had been on a liver transplant watch. When the time came, he received the transplant. But one complication after another took his life. His passing hit me hard.

If there is one thing God has taught me (or rather reminded me) in his passing is the importance of making disciples. It was through Campus Crusade that I learned how important it is to pour my life into a handful of people to help them reach their fullest potential in Christ. Knowing God used me in Phil's life brings me great joy. How did this discipling process happen? We studied the Word together; we did ministry together; we prayed together; we dreamed together....

Isn't that how disciples are still produced? Phil's passing has caused me to do some soul searching. Who am I discipling? Who am I studying God's Word with? What emerging leaders do I need to invest time with? What seasoned leaders do I still need to connect with?

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (3 John 4). How true! May making disciples forever be a top priority in my life.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH PSALMS (6)

Right now my daily readings in the Bible are taking me through Jeremiah (which I will blog eventually). David's psalms and Jeremiah's writings have a lot in common. They hit the extremes of emotions from doom to hope and from depression to joy. I think we all can relate because we are all human just like they were. Here is part 6 in my prayers through Psalms.

56. Father, it is comforting to know that you record every tear that I shed and every toss and turn in my bed.

57. Cover the earth with your glory. Lord, we sing a song in church with those exact words. Please cover Chapin Baptist Church with your glory.

58. Lord, never let me slip into a bitter spirit that wishes harm upon those who seem to oppose me.

59. Father, you are powerful enough to bring healing and resolution. You are dependable. I can count on You. I'm watching You because the battle is Yours.

60. I admit, Lord, that I've had the same question David had: "You aren't giving up on us, are You?" Please don't. Turn Your church around.

61. Just as David prayed for long years of good kingship, I pray that you will still provide me with many more years of effective leadership at Chapin Baptist.

62. God, I know where my help comes from. It comes from You and You alone.

63. Father, when I'm in our weekly worship, help me drink in your strength and glory and not be so caught up in all the professionalism of ministry.

64. O God, forgive me for allowing difficult circumstances to turn me into a "doomsday" pessimism. When I start feeling this way, prompt me to praise You, for in praise I will regain a positive heart.

65. Lord, I've been so busy and caught up in the pressures of the season. Help me discipline myself to take some time for silence because silence is a form of praise.

66. Thank You, Father, for being the God who listens when I pray. Even though sometimes it seems that answers are a long time coming, I know You're listening.

67. God, would you please smile upon Chapin Baptist Church? Mark us with Your grace and blessing.

68. God, reading this psalm reminds me that You are in complete control of this universe. You are in charge of the nations, you are in charge of Chapin Baptist Church, and You are in charge of my life. I am in good hands.

69. Father, may Your church never stumble because of me. Please rebuild Your work at Chapin Baptist.

70. God, You are mighty. You are mighty. You are mighty. When it seems You are absent, remind me of this eternal truth.

"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, March 9, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH PSALMS (5)

Here is part 5 of my prayer journal through Psalms. I handwrote these prayers some months back. I'm passing them on to you to get a glimpse that pastors are human beings also.

41. God, you know everything about me, inside and out. As undeserving as I am, you always allow me to stand tall before You.

42. God, my eyes are fixed on You. The trying days are hard. But I am confident that my smiles will return and that there will be many opportunities for praise.

43. Through this season of trial, Lord, guide me straight to the place of worship so that I can have an encounter with you.

44. Along with the psalmist I also wonder sometimes, God, where you are when I need you the most. In my heart I know You're there. I just wish we could get the season of discord behind us.

45. Lord, may my joy in ministry and in all of life be like that expressed at the grandest of all weddings.

46. Lord, no matter how tough the battle may be, I know I can run into Your loving and protecting arms.

47. When I worship, remind me that I am singing to You and that I should sing with every ounce of my lungs.

48. Lord, may I never lose sight of the vision of reaching the emerging generation with your story.

49. Lord, thank you for the reminder that riches and fame are far overrated, that they are temporary and mean nothing in light of eternity.

50. Lord, this psalm reminds me that You created and own everything, even my offerings to You. What You desire most from me is the sacrifice of praise. Teach me to praise You more.

51. Father, I feel like in the past several weeks my pride has been shattered, which is a good thing (though painful). In my humility I am learning more what it means to truly worship.

52. When I get caught up in ministry stuff, remind me, O God, of Your mercy. May I never lose sight of what Your Son did on the cross.

53. God, shape me into that one man You are looking for, the one who will be totally bent on living out Your purposes.

54. Lord, it grieves me that there are those who oppose me, who desire that I pack my bags and leave. I trust You to handle this situation in such a way to bring the greatest honor to You.

55. With recent pressures, I feel like David wanting some peace and quiet, wanting wings to fly away like a dove. Since I'm unable to get away, Lord, may my times alone with You be the refuge I long 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."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Where Did Mark Get His Material?

For those who like to dig a little deeper in God's Word, here is a challenging question. We are studying the Gospel of Mark. Where did Mark get his material for writing the gospel? The dictation theory simply states that Mark (and every biblical writer) got his material straight from God in dictation fashion. God spoke it, Mark wrote it, and now we have it in our Bibles. Very few people hold to this view.

Now, keep in mind that what I'm about to blog to you in no way minimizes one's belief in the inspiration of Scriptures. I believe that every verse from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:20 is God-breathed, fully inspired. But God chose to use human beings, each with their own personality and background, to write the Bible.

Most New Testament scholars believe that Mark's gospel was the first one written and that Matthew and Luke borrowed from Mark. There are tons of evidence to support this view. But where did Mark get his material?

We don't know for sure. But there is evidence that Mark had a very close relationship with Peter. Who could have provided more first-hand information about Jesus' ministry than Peter? So, many believe that Mark got much of his material from his close friend Peter.

Interestingly, Mark introduces us to Simon (Peter) in the first chapter. He is the first disciple mentioned. In the whole gospel, he used the name Simon six times, Peter eighteen times, and Simon Peter once. Mark has more references to Peter in proportion to length than any other Gospel. This fact might show interest in Peter; but it doesn't provide evidence that Peter was his source of information. We will have to leave this issue unsettled.

By the way, did no one challenge me on my Revelation citation above? Just checking your Bible knowledge. The last verse of the Bible is Revelation 22:21 (not 22:20). And, yes, I believe verse 21 is inspired also.



"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."


Too Nice for Your Own Good



Many of you know that last spring I started using spare time to sell used books on Amazon. Why? To fulfill my REACH pledge and to pay off some debts. Anyway I picked up an interesting title at a thrift store--Too Nice for Your Own Good: How to Stop Making 9 Self-Sabotaging Mistakes by Duke Robinson. I confess that I sold it before I read it, but not before scanning through the book because the title intrigued me.



So, I can't actually recommend the book. But it sure looked intriguing. Are all your relationships in perfect condition? I didn't think so. I got convicted just reading the chapter titles. Anyway here are the 9 things Robinson discusses:

  • Trying to be perfect
  • Taking on too much
  • Not saying what you want
  • Suppressing your anger
  • Reasoning with irrationality
  • Telling little lies
  • Giving advice
  • Rescuing others
  • Protecting those in grief

If any of you read it, let me know if the content is as good as the headings.


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, March 4, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH PSALMS (4)

As I continue to post my prayers through each Psalm, remember that these are reflections from my reading through The Message Bible. I believe it was last fall when I read through Psalms and journaled these thoughts. In some, you can see that I'm being uncomfortably transparent.

26. Lord, remind me throughout the day how important it is to bless you.

27. God, You are my Teacher. As I read Your Word, let it completely change the way I think. I want my life to be dominated by God-thoughts.

28. Sometimes it seems you're not listening when I pray. But deep down, I know that's not true. I guess I long to see great things in my timing instead of waiting patiently for your timing.

29. Strength and peace--God, grant both of these to me because fatigue and a troubled heart have been unwelcomed guests lately.

30. Father, turn my nights of crying into days of laughter. Turn my lament into dancing.

31. God, I run to You for dear life. Thank You for hiding me in Your care. Be my guide to lead me through rocky ground.

32. God, thank You for fresh starts, clean slates, dissolved guilt, and constant reminders of Your love.

33. Lord, in the midst of heart-wrenching trials, remind me that You are all that I need. I am depending on You.

34. Wow! God, this psalm makes me feel it was written just for me. From a ministry perspective this disciple is in big trouble. But, still, I know You are with me.

35. Father, David seemed to have a vengeful spirit against those who tried to do him in. Lord, certainly, I want You to be the one in charge of any vengefulness. Don't let bitterness of any kind take root in my heart.

36. God, Your love is beyond measure and greater than I can comprehend. I am eager to run under Your wings.

37. Thank You for Your promises. You promised in this psalm that if I open up completely to You, You'll do whatever needs to be done and that You will validate my life in the clear light of the day. I claim this promise.

38. With some of the struggles going on in the church, this psalm really spoke to me today. There are many who stand in opposition. Lord, I wait for you. I'm so ready for better days. Don't dump me. Act quickly, Lord, so I can see better results of pursuing Your vision.

39. Lord, I'm not bold enough to pray like David did. His prayers seem borderline blasphemous to me. But I confess, I do feel this way at this stage of my journey. Instead of praying, "Give me a break," I pray that You will give me a breakthrough.

40. Lord, I know You can use me. Do Your work through me in ways You've never done before. And, Lord, will you not delay? Breakthrough.

"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."