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!




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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.


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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.


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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."