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.



"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, 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!



"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, 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.


"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, 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!


"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 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."