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."


Risk and Change

True story--Church consultant Bob told how he had spent the previous 15 years at one of the largest and most innovative churches in the country. He noted now open to change the church was in its early days. But when the church grew to multiple thousands in a short period of time, it became almost impossible to get them to consider any big change. Everything was too risky or too expensive. Or there was too great a chance of losing a lot of members. The result? They talked issues to death and just made incremental changes, never considering anything significant.

Just the opposite of this mentality is a church that I have followed for a few years. Outreach Magazine has classified Granger Community Church as one of the most innovative and fastest growing churches in America. Their mantra has become, "What does God want?" before asking how much it costs or how many people they will lose.

I love the following statements their senior staff team composed. These statements reflect their approach to decision-making and long-range planning.

  • We will not be the team that is afraid of risk.
  • We will not be the team that doesn't listen to the voice of God because we are too tuned in to the whining of people.
  • We will not be the team that leads a church so big and flabby that it is impossible to move.
  • We will not be the team that misses the wave of God's Spirit because we are conducting a risk management assessment ad nauseum.
  • We will not be the team that keeps waiting for the right time to lead the church to the next challenge.

Admittedly, our staff team is a little gun shy right now. But my prayer is that God will give us this kind of courage while at the same time be caring shepherds that will lead the church family on the journey.

"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, April 7, 2009

Sick Preaching

These days you never know what the word "sick" means. Sick usually is not a good thing. However, if a student or 20-something says, "Pastor Ken, your message was sick today," I'm going to hug him because that was a huge compliment.

But going back to the traditional definition, last Sunday I woke up sick. I tossed and turned all night. I just figured it was all my muscle aches from practicing softball on Saturday because, believe me, I was in pain. But I got up Sunday morning and was going over my message and began to wonder if I was running a fever. Sure enough it was 100 on the button.

What to do? I don't recall ever having to call in sick on a Sunday morning in all my years of ministry. (I think maybe I had to carry my in-labor wife to the hospital on a Sunday morning.) I wasn't about to do so Sunday. Anita tried to convince me otherwise. I alerted Pastor Rick just in case. So, yes, I showed up for church on Sunday sick.

It never ceases to amaze me how God works. When I feel the worst or when I know I'm not as prepared as I should be, that's when God seems to work the best. There's a word for that--it's called grace.

Sunday was an awesome day of worship. Yes, the resurrection of our Lord sure makes a tremendous impact on the past. My past is forgiven. And I believe Sunday, the Spirit was truly moving as people moved forward to lay their past, their hurts, habits, and hangups at the foot of the cross.

I love it when God shows up. May it be every single time we gather.

"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 2, 2009

JOURNEY THROUGH PSALMS (8)

I know you've heard the truism, "You're either in a season of trials, coming out of a season of trials, or getting ready to head into some trials." When I did my prayer journal through Psalms some months back, I was certainly smack in the center of a season of trials. Today, I believe I'm coming out of the season. Why do I tell you this? As a reminder that my prayer journal reflects what was going on in my life some months back. Here is Part 8.


91. God, I trust in you completely for my protection. You promised to care for me, rescue me, and even throw a party for me. God, may it be! Thank You.


92. God, thank You that I can fall asleep at night thinking of your faithfulness. And when my alarm goes off, may I awake each morning with praise and thanksgiving to You.


93. God, you rule from on high. The storm winds and rains of Ike are nothing compared to Your powerful arm.


94. Where would I be without You, O God? When life is tough, calm me down and cheer me up.


95. Creator of this great universe, God who set the bright moon in the sky and brought a fresh cool morning, I bow before You in worship.


96. Wow! Great Psalm, Father. You enjoy hearing new songs. There aren't enough praises that are adequate to describe just how great You are. How I need to tell everyone in Chapin and to the ends of the earth all about Your wonders.


97. God, You rule. And that's worth shouting about!


98. Lord, with all the bad going on in our world, I trust Your promises that one day You will set things right.


99. Obama, McCain, Gates, Turner, Bryant, Manning, Jeter--pretty big names. But You, O God, tower above them all.


100. Lord, may my approach to worship (as well as every member of CBC) be filled with laughter, singing, praise, and thanksgiving.


101. Lord, I feel the frustration of David. How long before You show up? Although my sin is great, I'm doing the best I can.


102. Lord, Your timing, although it baffles me, is always perfect. You are sovereign over everything. Long after I'm dead and gone, CBC will be thriving. Still, Lord, I cry out for a quick return to spiritual vitality and growth at Chapin Baptist.


103. O God, there is so much to praise and thank you for--you saved me and forgave me. You know me inside and out. Your love is everlasting. You are sheer mercy and grace.


104. Lord, you know I'm not a good singer. But let me sing to you as long as I live. And may my singing be pleasing to You.


105. Father, Your hand was upon the people of Israel. No matter what happened, Your plans could not be thwarted. Your hand remains upon Your church. May Chapin Baptist be a strategic part of Your kingdom plan.



"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 1, 2009

HOW'S YOUR P.M.A.?

P.M.A.? It stands for positive mental attitude. So, how is your P.M.A.? I'm not sure where the following story originated or I would give credit. But it's a great story. I hope it speaks to you like it did to me.

There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. "Well," she said, "I think I'll braid my hair today." So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. "Hmm," she said, "I think I'll part my hair down the middle today." So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. "Well," she said, today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail." So she did and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head. "Yeah!" she exclaimed, "I don't have to fix my hair today."

Attitude is everything. Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle. Live simply. Love generously, care deeply, speak kindly...leave the rest to God. Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.

"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 (7)

Beginning with Psalm 71, here is the continuation of my prayer journal through each chapter of Psalms.

71. God, don't turn me out to pasture when I am old. As I approach the retirement years, keep me fresh. Make my vision strong. Give me joy and energy in serving You.

72. Give me a heart for the poor and down and out. May I see underresourced people as You see them.

73. Lord, when my mind is cloudy and I'm not seeing the big picture...when I'm jealous of those who seem to have it made...may my worship experience in Your house be a fresh encounter with You every week.

74. Father, You own the day and You own the night. You own Chapin Baptist Church. Please make Yourself known in a powerful way.

75. May Your presence and power at Chapin Baptist be so manifested that Your works are all people talk about.

76. Lord, I know You watch my every move. So, keep me close to you in all I say, think, and do.

77. Father, sometimes I feel like Asaph and wonder if You've left me hanging out to dry...if you've shelved me. But deep in my heart I know better and remind myself that You're still in charge and doing well.

78. Father, thank You that my three sons all have a personal relationship with Christ. May they pass on the faith to their children and grandchildren. Produce through my family many generations of faithful leaders for the kingdom.

79. "Pull us out of this mess...do what You're famous for doing." Father, that's my prayer also.

80. Father, smile Your blessings upon the people of Chapin Baptist Church.

81. Father, I long to sit at Your table and feast on your freshly baked bread that is spread with butter and rock-pure honey.

82. God, everything belongs to You and You have the whole world in Your hands.

83. Lord, sometimes I feel like there are those who want to see Chapin Baptist fail and that people snicker and gossip when the name Chapin Baptist comes up. Lord, make Yourself known to the community through CBC.

84. Lord, may every experience I have in Your house of worship be such a fresh encounter with Christ that I wouldn't swap it for a 7-day cruise.

85. Lord, give Chapin Baptist a fresh start with winds of Your blessings. Restore a spirit of laughing and singing.

86. What a fresh, upbeat, positive way to start my morning, O Lord. You are awesome. There is none like You. This day, I put my full trust in You.

87. May we see the day, Lord, when the word is out that people are getting saved and lives are being transformed at Chapin Baptist Church.

88. Lord, for some months it seems that you have been silent. I don't understand why because I have sought to follow Your will. When will You breakthrough?

89. Lord, no matter what my circumstances are, I want to sing of Your love and tell everyone how faithful You are.

90. Father, may Your loveliness rest upon us. Give us affirmation that we are following You. Confirm Your work through us.

"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."