Dec 06

The Tragedy of Running Out of Fuel!

Running-on-empty by Daino_16 at www.freeimages.com

All tragedy is sorrowful and heart-wrenching, but it seems especially such when it could have been avoided.  The loss of 71 lives in the crash of a chartered airline carrying a Brazilian soccer team to Bogota, Columbia is so terrible because it certainly could have been avoided.  The Wall-Street Journal ran an article about the miscues that doomed the flight.  One of the biggest miscues, and what ultimately spelled the doom of the flight, was not having enough reserve fuel.  It is required that airplanes have at least 30 minutes of reserve fuel.  The distance was on the edge of the plane’s range, but they chose to not stop for refueling because the plane was running late and the airport available did not have lights and it was after dark.  Recordings have played for listeners the urgent pleas of the pilot for the airport to clear way for their landing because they were low on fuel.

This story is so sad, but also so amazing.  How do you run out of fuel in an airplane?  I get nervous when my car gets low of fuel, and it doesn’t fall out of the sky when it hits empty.  Yet, many people can do the same thing with their spiritual life.  The flight ended 8 miles short of its destination out of a 2,000 mile journey.  How many Christians fall away close to the finish line?  The most important destination for us is making it to heaven, yet some fall short of their destination, even though they have been faithful for years.  They don’t finish strong!  They yield to temptation.

The hard thing about the Christian life is living it for years.  Growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus through the ups and downs of life.  Christians can run out of fuel too!  The book of Hebrews was written to encourage Hebrew saints to keep going in the faith.  The fuel of our faith is worship, prayer, fellowship, Bible study, and service.  We must not run out short of our destination.  We must be faithful until death (Rev. 2:10)!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/the-tragedy-of-running-out-of-fuel/

Dec 02

How Your Diet Makes You Different!

Robson Oliveira at free images.com

Robson Oliveira at free images.com

If you are on a special diet you face the reality that you have to eat different than before, and chiefly, eat different from other people.

If you have to go on a sodium-free diet or are diagnosed a diabetic and have to watch your sugar intake, you are aware of the difference the special diet makes.

My wife and children eat a special diet.  They are gluten-free which is a big difference maker.  But some of them also are dairy-free and our youngest has an egg-allergy.  One of the things that makes a special diet so hard is being different from everyone else.  You can’t fit into the norm of society’s eating habits.  You don’t want to be different, but you always are different.

Ethnic foods create differences that are easily observed.  You could travel to a land where the people may look very similar to you, but you could tell they were very different when you sat down to the table with them.  When I have travelled the world, I recognized my differences because of the food.

All of this is pretty basic stuff that we all can agree upon, but you probably don’t realize the full extent of your uniqueness, or weirdness, until you are the one who is different with a special diet. Until you are the traveller looking at that fish head thinking how am I going to not offend them, or you are the gluten-free child at the pizza party, or the diabetic who can’t eat the desserts at the ice cream supper!  It is at that point that the true difference hits you.  Your diet is also a daily reminder of your commitment and your difference.

Now I have written all of this to make a point, this it seems to me is one of the chief reasons God gave Israel dietary laws.  The Jews are famous for not being able to enjoy BBQ or Catfish like we enjoy in the Southern US.  They were forbidden from eating all kinds of animals.  God gave them two chapters of lists of food regulations (Lev. 11; Deut. 14).  Over the centuries people have debated why God gave these laws to the Jews.  Why were some animals chosen as clean and other unclean?  After studying and teaching on this topic, it seems to me the purpose involved the distinctive nature that diets create.  Their diet shaped the identity of the Jewish people.  It made them unique amongst the nations.  It was a way of always creating a difference between them and the Gentiles.  It was a daily reminder of their calling and purpose.

We are free from these food restrictions through the gospel of Christ, but the lesson from them and the distinctive nature and identity that diets create is still a powerful truth for us.  We are to be different. We need daily reminders that our identity and purpose is different from those we live and work with in this world.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/how-your-diet-makes-you-different/

Nov 30

VidAngel – A Great Family Entertainment Resource

vidangelI have wanted to write about VidAngel for several months.  VidAngel is a great online streaming movie service that allows you to filter the content of the movies.  That’s right, you can take out foul language, sex scenes, violence, and other inappropriate content.  You get to choose what content you want to take out before you start the movie.  It shows you how much time this takes out of the movie.

We don’t watch many movies, but when we do we have been thankful for VidAngel.  It is easy to use and only costs $1 for standard definition or $2 for high definition.  You have 24 hours to watch the movie.  You can watch it through their APP on a tablet, through a web browser on a computer, or through a Roku device.  They have a great selection of movies.

Just go to www.vidangel.com to get started.

Help Save Filtering!!

Like with most good things, VidAngel is being sued by Hollywood movie companies claiming the service is illegal.  This lawsuit could actually mean the end of the service and the opportunity to purchase filtered movies.  You can help keep filtering available by signing the petition and spreading the word.  Here is a video you can watch explaining the issue.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/vidangel-a-great-family-entertainment-resource/

Nov 24

Happy Thanksgiving

HAPPY THANKSGIVING 2016!

img_2933

We are blessed and thankful for the Lord’s many blessings.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/3742-2/

Nov 22

How to Make Church Announcements Better

By Alan Luckow - at www.freeimages.com

By Alan Luckow – at www.freeimages.com

Announcements are legendary in churches.  You know the period of time where a man gets up and tries to share some important news for the whole church, which seems easy enough, but it is known for all types of mistakes.  The number one complaint about announcements  is that they take too long.  A second notorious quality of announcements are their mistakes, bumbling, and misinformation.  What might surprise you is that I find announcements harder to deliver than a sermon.  They are not easy, but they are important.

Here are some suggestions to make announcements more effective at your congregation.

  1. Do them at the end of services, not the beginning.  This is my opinion, but it seems to help the energy level of worship if you begin with a brief welcome and get on to worship.  Some churches can spend 5-10 minutes making announcements and it is like the song leader has a big job ahead just getting everyone focused and enthused again.  If you do them at the end of services it helps people remember the meeting they are supposed to attend.
  2. Use all available means to share information without verbally saying announcements.  Most churches can use their print bulletin and powerpoint slide show before services to disseminate information.  We email out our bulletin each Friday and make it available in print form at worship.  We can also send emails and texts to the congregation.  Have a bulletin board or volunteer station where people can visit for more information on a subject.
  3.  Have a prepared announcement sheet for the presenter to use.  It expedients the announcements and helps the presenter stay focused when he has a sheet prepared by the office with the announcements that need to be read.  This helps keep them short, because there are guidelines set for what can make it on these announcements.  We try to only announce things that are happening or need attention this week.  We do not read or go through a prayer list, since that is listed in the bulletin.  Only needed updates or key events happening soon are allowed.
  4. Use the same person to do announcements every week.  I know this goes against the tradition of many churches, but it really helps.  It allows everyone to know who makes announcements so if they have a pressing issue they can see him.  He can know the elders guidelines and wishes on what needs or should be announcements.  You don’t want to be in situations where just anything can be announced, because if it is not approved by the elders, then you have to find a way to correct the mistake.  Find one man who does well, is not wordy and is able to speak clearly and concisely.
  5. Try to keep the announcement time to one person.  Nothing takes the air out of a crowd like a parade of people getting up to make their special announcement.  There is a time and place for special announcements, but it should be rare!
  6. Preachers should not use their sermon time for announcements.  If you are a preacher, don’t start every week with announcements for events.  The time at the start of the sermon can be the most effective time to make an announcement, but it should be rarely used.  The preacher’s job is to preach and use that time to capture his audience’s attention for his sermon.

What suggestions would you make for making announcements more effective at our congregations?

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/how-to-make-church-announcements-better/

Nov 16

8 Challenges of Being a Preacher’s Wife

In an earlier post I wrote about six challenges church leaders must face.  Number two on that list was the role of the preacher’s wife.  I promised to do a separate post discussing the unique role and challenge the preacher’s wife faces.  These thoughts come from a lecture series I did at Polishing the Pulpit in August.

The role of the preacher’s wife is unique because the congregation has expectations, often unspoken, for her even though she does not get paid and is not employed by the church.  Ruth White wrote, “The preacher’s wife is the only woman I know who is asked to work full-time without pay on her husband’s job, in a role no one has yet defined.”  It is also certainly the case that the ministry of the wife will significantly impact the preacher’s effectiveness in the local church.

Mother-Infant from SermonCentral.com

Mother-Infant from SermonCentral.com

Here is a list of eight challenges I discovered from my research.

  1. Deep loneliness.  Many preacher’s wives lack close friends, are away from family, and don’t have much time with their husband.  Thus, they struggle with intense feelings of loneliness.
  2. Always being an outsider.  A preacher’s wife often struggles to break into closer circles of female friendship.  It makes her feel vulnerable and different from the other ladies because of her role or background.  She doesn’t have the shared history of those who have been there a long time.  It can seem like it is about what she does, instead of who she is.
  3. Managing unrealistic and unfair expectations for what she should be.  Like the preacher, the wife will also deal with unrealistic and unfair expectations for the role that some church members want her to play.  Maybe she doesn’t feel capable to teach other ladies in Bible class, but the previous minister’s wife taught the ladies’ class and she is expected to do so or bitter feelings exist because she does not.
  4. Having little voice or decision in matters that deeply affect her and her husband.  The preacher’s wife is rarely consulted on the direction of the church and even with issues related to their family’s ministry.  She has to learn about it after the meeting has taken place.
  5. Always feeling like she is overshadowed and not recognized.  Preacher’s wives live in the shadow of the most vocal and visible man in the church.  She does so much to help him succeed, but most all the recognition and praise is directed to him.
  6. Feeling like she takes a backseat to others and church work in the life of her husband.  A wive can often feel like church members take priority.  How many wives have missed out on a planned evening with their husband because of a church situation or visit that had to be made?  It can feel like the church can have her husband at any time, but she and the kids are the exception.
  7. Bearing the burdens of the husband which he puts upon her.  Ministers can dump their stress and criticisms on their wife.  When he is struggling, he shares his problems and burdens with her, but where does she turn?  The husband can vent his problems to her and go on, while she spends days worried and concerned about it.
  8. Feeling like she sees a different man in the pulpit than what she sees at home.  Another struggle of wives, that is a symptom of a marriage problem, is when they feel their husband is not living the life he proclaims in his teaching.  There is a measure of this with all preachers, as all of us fall short of living the gospel fully, but it is a real problem when the wife feels he is being a hypocrite.

The preacher’s wive can make or break her husband’s work and service to the church.  She can help him to be successful or drive him out of ministry.  The church must recognize the unique challenges to the role of the preacher’s wife and try to encourage her in her work and service to the Lord.

I would like to encourage you to take time now to email, message, or send a card to your preacher’s wife to let her know you appreciate the work she does and the role she fills.

————

Check out my post on this preacher’s wife!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/eight-challenges-of-being-a-preachers-wife/

Nov 16

What Would You Be Thankful For If You Lost Everything?

Lone Ranger by Jake J at www.freeimages.com

Lone Ranger by Jake J at www.freeimages.com

It is Thanksgiving time!  For most of us that means food, football, and fun!  We reflect and offer thanksgiving for all the abundant blessings that God has given us.

But what would you be thankful for if you lost everything?  Imagine if it was all stripped away, what would you have left?  This may seem so hypothetical and depressing you don’t even what to consider it,  but it happened to one man in the Bible.  Job lost his wealth, property, children, and reputation (Job 1-2).

We think of the pilgrims celebrating the first thanksgiving because of their harvest with plenty of food, but we forget it came following a difficult winter wherein thirteen of eighteen married women died.  Three of thirteen children perished and four entire families lost their lives.

What would you have to be thankful for if you were Job or experienced a difficult winter like the pilgrims?  Consider these items and ask do they belong to you?

  1. People who sincerely loved you.  Job still had his wife, who may have encouraged him to curse God and die out of a sincere love of hating to see him suffer so harshly (Job 2:9-10).  He had three friends who travelled from their homes and sat with him for seven days in silence (Job 2:11-13).  When tragedy strikes you find out who your friends truly are and are mightily grateful for each one of them.
  2. The truth of God’s holy Word.  If you lost everything you would look for some bedrock foundational principles you could depend upon, because the frailty of this life was so evident.  The Word of God would mean so much to you as it presents great promises of God.  it offers assurances of God’s love and His steadfast endurance.
  3. Prayer. Job’s friends offer no true comfort to him, so he moves to petitioning and venting his complaints to God.  He questions, accuses, and makes requests of God.  If we lost everything, our prayers would be raw with emotion and need.  But we would be thankful we could lay our burdens at God’s throne.
  4. Hope.  Job lacks much hope for life after death.  He did not have the revealed hope we understand from the New Testament.  Today, we understand our suffering is not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us (Rom. 8:18).  Hope is described as the anchor of our soul (Heb. 6:19).  We have great hope today because of the gospel.
  5. Heaven.  Job didn’t have a clear knowledge of heaven like we enjoy from the New Testament.  Yet, he plead for a Redeemer and desired to see God (Job 19:23-27).  If we lost everything, we would still cling to the hope of the restoration of all meaningful things in heaven.  The book of Job ends with Job being restored to his former state of wealth and blessings (ch. 42).  This ending patterns the Christian’s own ending in heaven.  Heaven is the last word when it comes to our hope, faith, and blessings.

What would you have to be thankful for if you lost everything?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/what-would-you-be-thankful-for-if-you-lost-everything/

Nov 10

Six Challenges Church Leaders Face

Ministers and church leaders along with their families face some unique challenges.  Here are six challenges they face and the success of their ministry is often determined with how they handle these.

church-leaders-001

  1. The fish bowl complex.  Leaders must not only face the normal trials of life, but must do it as the church looks on.  Many times the watching seems to have a judgmental spirit.  This puts pressure on ministers to have the “ideal” family.  This can cause church leaders to feel like they are pretending for the sake of the church when there may be real trouble in their lives.  It seems that church leaders should resist fighting against the “fish bowl” complex, but should embrace the opportunity to display Christ for the church and world.  The leader and his family must work at being real and transparent, rather than hiding all their challenges and trying to be “perfect.”
  2. The role of the wife.  The church leader’s wife is in a unique role herself.  She often must carry her own burden’s along with her husbands.  She may struggle with deep loneliness and lack close confidants.  Churches often put unrealistic and unfair expectations on her regarding her role and work.  [Be looking for an upcoming post on this challenge specifically]
  3. Unreasonable expectations.  Ministers face the challenge of trying to live up to the expectations of an entire congregation, which isn’t remotely possible.  Elders and their families face unreasonable expectations for all they are “supposed” to be doing when they may carry a full-time job and have a family.  This area is especially challenging when unreasonable expectations are placed upon the children of a church leader.
  4. Lack of close friends.  Surveys reveal that most preachers and their families do not feel they have a safe place to turn for marital advice within their church.  The minister and his family often feel like an outsider to the locals who grew up in the area.  If the church leader is in a paid position there is a different relationship that exists that often hinders close friendships.  There is a fear of getting too close with individuals or a segment of the church because of the accusations of playing favorites or being cliquish.  Ministers should be intentional in trying to develop close friendships within the church and with other preachers in the area.
  5. The need to establish boundaries.  Most church leaders say they do not spend enough time with their families. They struggle with conflicting loyalties in their lives.  They love their work and want to be loyal to the church, but often feel like this is in tension with their loyalty to family.  Leaders must learn to draw boundaries regarding their work load, time, and family.  Busyness is not a virtue!  Paid ministers must recognize that it is a calling, but it is also a job that cannot become your whole life.
  6. Dealing with anger and bitterness.  Though not often discussed, church leaders can become angry and bitter toward the church or individuals who have treated them poorly.  Jonah is an example of a preacher who didn’t want to give people the grace God offered because he didn’t like the people.  Preachers today can follow in the same mindset because we are so angry with the way the church has treated us, we have trouble extending God’s grace to them.

What other challenges would you add to the list that church leaders face? 

[This post was taken from content delivered at Polishing the Pulpit 2016 by myself – See those lectures for more information]

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/six-challenges-church-leaders-face/

Nov 06

Career Choices: Leaving Secular Work for Ministry

[Note:  This is a special guest post from Lance Leavens.  Lance is the involvement minister and Deacon with the Piedmont Road Church of Christ in Georgia.  He is married to Susan and has four daughters.]

Lance and Susan Leavens

Lance and Susan Leavens

Not all decisions carry the same weight or consequences.  Some are more important than others.  Three years ago I made the most significant career decision of my life.  I made the decision to leave a successful secular career for a career in ministry.  I want to share some things I’ve learned in making this change. The thoughts shared will fall into two categories: General thoughts about working in ministry and specific thoughts pertaining to things I’ve learned that I wish I would have better understood as a member.

General Thoughts:

  • Ministry is about people.  Specifically, it is about impacting people’s spiritual lives on a daily basis.  This can be done in many different ways.  It is a blessing to be able to focus so much time on the spiritual well being of people.  I love being able to work with people on a daily basis.
  • Ministry produces spiritual growth.  By the nature of the job, a minister spends more time in Bible study.  The growth that comes from dedicated and routine time in God’s word is indescribable.  I have grown more spiritually in the last three years than at any other point in my life.
  • Ministry can be enhanced by previous secular work experience.  Many skills and lessons are transferable from secular work to ministry work. My time spent in secular work has helped me far more than I could have imagined.  It has helped me relate to people and for people to relate to me.
  • Ministry needs dedicated men.  There is such a need for dedicated men who love the Lord and love souls.  I am continually impressed by the faithful men I meet currently working in ministry.  I am also constantly humbled by the fact that God can use someone like me to potentially help others.

Specific Thoughts:

  • I wish I would have better understood the importance of visitation.  I am always impressed at the impact a visit seems to have on a person.  It may be a hospital visit, a shut in visit, a member visit or any other type.  Visitation can have a positive impact on relationships maybe more than anything else a person can do.
  • I wish I would have prayed more for my elders.  In ministry, I have seen more of what elders do and go through than I ever had before.  Even seeing what I have, I recognize there is so much more I don’t see or know about.  These Godly men sacrifice so much in their duties as Shepherds.  They need and deserve our prayers and support.
  • I wish I would have been more mindful of the needs of my ministers.  I never took the time to stop and think about the needs of the minister.  It is the greatest job in the world.  It can also be a lonely job at times.  Ministers have personal struggles, family struggles, marriage struggles, etc. just like everybody else.  They need people to lean on and support them too.  I wish I would have developed closer friendships to help be a support to them.
  • I wish I would have been a better Bible student.  I was a good bible student but I could have been better.  I wish I would have taken advantage of resources like World Video Bible School, Apologetics Press, Polishing the Pulpit, and other resources.  There are so many ways to grow as a Bible Student and the end result is so rewarding.

I can’t write this without mentioning the fact that the decision to leave secular work was extremely difficult.  I was worried about money, health insurance, retirement, etc.  If you are contemplating a career switch to ministry work, you may have these same worries.  If I am honest, I have had and continue to have moments where I worry about those things.  However, my faith has grown tremendously in the past three years and  I am constantly amazed at how the Lord provides.

There may be some who will read this that are considering making this same type of career change.  Others will read this who have no desire to work in ministry.  Regardless of which category you fall in, I hope you will find this article beneficial. The key is to remember that the Lord needs faithful Christians in ministry and in secular work.  Our responsibility is to be faithful to Him whatever the situation.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/career-choices-leaving-secular-work-for-ministry/

Nov 04

Our Duties with the Election

by Kristen Price at free images.com

by Kristen Price at free images.com

I don’t know if you have heard, but Tuesday is election day (sarcasm intended!).  I know many folks will be ready for the day to pass.  There is also much trepidation and concern about the future.  Let me remind you of a few of our duties as Christians that surround this day.

  1. To be good citizens.  Our duty is to submit to governing authorities (1 Peter 2:13; Rom. 13).  I believe we have a responsibility to vote and choose, as best we can, officials that will support Christian liberty and virtues.
  2. To pray for our elected officials.  Whether our candidate wins or loses, we have a responsibility to pray for our officials (1 Tim. 2:1-3).  Paul said to pray for them, while also praying that we may lead a peaceful, godly, quiet life.
  3. To remember God is sovereign.  We must always remember our hope is not tied to a candidate, party, or even the government as a whole.  Our hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ.  God sets up and deposes of leaders according to his sovereign will.  Our faith trusts God is in control, even when it may not appear so to us.  God is on His throne (Rev. 4-5)!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/our-duties-with-the-election/

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