Apr 22

An Inspiring Story of Sharing in the Pain of Others

Francis van der Lugt

Francis van der Lugt

Syria has been embroiled in a horrible civil war with over 100,000 killed in the conflict.  2 million have fled Syria as refugees to neighboring nations.  3/4 of these refugees are women and children.  The city of Homs has been a place of unspeakable violence for the last two years.

In Homs, Francis van der Lugt, was a 75 year old Dutch priest who had come to live and work in Syria for the last 5 decades.  He had ministered to the people of this area for years.  He was a former student of psychology before coming to Syria in 1966.  He organized yoga workshops and hiking trips to create opportunities for the citizens.  He really loved the land and the people.  He was a community leader and sought peace during the recent violence.  He refused to leave Homs, despite the violence. 

In one of his most recent video interviews he stated these words:

“The same way I shared with these people their treasures, I also want to share with them their fear, pain and death. Sharing requires presence, being close, to move from fear to peace, from sadness to joy, from death to life. . . He said we love life, and we love to live. We don’t want to die in a sea of pain and death.”

He converted a room in the monastery to a bakery for local families of any religion to have bread, because many were without food.  But in April 2014, a masked gunman entered the monastery.  He ordered the priest to sit in a chair.  He shot him twice.

This is an inspiriting and instructional story for us.  Though I sincerely disagree with his doctrinal beliefs, I applaud this man’s attitude of service.

I believe his statement “sharing requires presence” nails what Jesus wants us as His disciples to be doing in our daily lives.  He wants us to ‘come along side’ those who are struggling, suffering, and lost and walk with them in their pain and show them a better way!

This is what Jesus chose to do for us.  He chose to fully be present and share in the sufferings of humanity (Phil. 2).  This is what Paul did for his converts (2 Cor. 1:5-7).  This is why God established elders or shepherds in the local church to lead them as a part of the flock (1 Peter 5:1-6).  This attitude is manifest by all successful local ministers who share in the lives of the members.  This is the attitude of soul-winners who minister to the hurting in their paths.

Is this your attitude? Is it mine?  Are we fully present in sharing the hurts, conflicts, and fears of those in our circle of influence, or do we run away when the suffering starts?

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Sources:

http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=304041833

http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/syria-dashboard/

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/07/dutch-priest-shot-dead-homs-syria

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/an-inspiring-story-of-sharing-in-the-pain-of-others/

Apr 17

Curbing Our Desires, So We don’t Get Choked!

Summer Weeds by rogojel at www.freeimages.com

Summer Weeds by rogojel at www.freeimages.com

Homework, softball, soccer, basketball, 4H, Boy Scouts, Girl scouts, tennis camp, piano classes and the list goes on-and-on of activities of our kids today.  

Adults are not much better.  We have housework, yard work, community service clubs, shopping, Facebook, golf, sporting events, TV shows, and Crossfit.  

We are so busy!  An herein lies one of the Devil’s greatest weapons on our souls!

Jesus in speaking about the plant amongst the thorns said this, “but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word and it proves unfruitful” (Mark 4:19).  This verse screams at our generation.  This is why the church across America is struggling with involvement and workers.  It is the reason we don’t know the Bible as well as previous generations.  It is the reason we are not as close to Jesus and struggle with apathy and worldliness.

We are choking our spiritual lives because we do not have the nutrients of the Word of God.  Why do we not?  Because we are feasting on the cares of the world and have desire for other things!

Notice Jesus did not say that our desire is for “sinful” things.  He says “other” things.  The enemy of the best is often the good!  What we are chasing and spending our time upon may not be sinful.  It may even be good and wholesome, but it still takes our time, energy, and devotion.  It still prevents us from taking in the Word.

The end result of our misplaced desires is unfruitfulness.  We still exist.  We may still have faith and live in the church, but we are unfruitful.  We are not living up to our potential in Christ, because we have an inadequate diet.

So we must curb our desires, so we don’t get choked!  Most all of us struggle with this at some level.  We must constantly be assessing our schedules and time management to see if we are choking out God!

What desires do you need to curb in your daily life, so you don’t choke out the word in your life?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/curbing-our-desires-so-we-dont-get-choked/

Apr 15

Farm Report #2 – Learning Patience

The Back Pasture and Barn

The Back Pasture and Barn

Last October we bought a farm.  I shared why in a post in November that many of you read.  I want to occasionally give updates on how our new home and farm plans are coming.  I will call these posts “Farm Reports.”  I numbered this #2 since it is following the post back in the fall.

The predominant lesson we have learned thus far has been patience! 

James uses farmers as an example of patience in James 5:7-9. We are not an example yet, but are learning what James meant!  We are just learning that typically things don’t happen very fast.  We anticipated that we would get stuff done much faster.  We thought our home would likely sell quicker.  We figured we would get some work done during the winter.  But, it seems that before you can accomplish one goal, you have to do some other things first.  We have made some progress on repairing the barn.  We still don’t have electricity and water, but have the process going and are approved for a new pole and service.  I have learned a ton about fencing, but haven’t really done any fencing!  We got a tractor and several implements.  We have been able plow up a garden spot and 3/4 of an acre for a sweet corn plot.  But it seems to rain every few days!  We are about 90% complete with the house plans.  We basically know what we want and will be ready to go when our house sells.

The challenge is balancing our desires with the time, opportunity, and other responsibilities that we have.  The kids are active in sports most Saturdays, church work is busy, and running daily homelife with four small kids is a full-time job.  So we are learning to balance all of these interests.  All of this has emphasized our need for patience.  Often there is much good that comes from waiting and not forcing things.  The weather is out of our control.  We must learn to work in rhythm with the weather, others, and your family.  Typically, things go better when you wait and pray, rather than act and regret!

For me, it often means not putting unrealistic pressure and expectations on myself and what I want to get accomplished.  This goes for my ministry and also with this farm endeavor.  You have to keep your priorities in line.    A long term expectation and goal must be kept in sight.

Everyone we take out to the farm, says the same thing, “This is beautiful and has lots of potential, but a whole lot of work, how will you do it?” We try not to look at all the work that could be done, but focus on what we can do now.

I think that is what James is trying to get us as Christians to do as well.  Be patient as we wait for the coming of the Lord.  Keep the longterm goal in mind, but do what you can now to make a difference.  

What has this long winter taught you?

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Apr 13

Email Subscription Updated!

Over the last couple of weeks I have had problems with my blog posts coming out by email.  I apologize to you if you have not received some of the posts.  You may wish to check the website for recent posts you did not receive.

If you are reading this in your email you should notice that it looks different.  I still may change it somewhat as we go forward, but I think it also improved the looks too.

I am currently at 66 subscribers.  Please share with others that might be interested.  You can easily sign up at the top right portion of the website at www.JoshKetchum.com.  With this new service there is no verification, so it should also be easier.  Because some have had difficulty getting subscribed.

Most importantly,  thanks for reading and encouraging me in this blog.  I appreciate your support.  

Will you subscribe?  Just fill out the form at the top-right of this page with  your name and email address and you will be subscribed!!  Thanks,

Josh

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Apr 11

The Irrationality of Adultery!

Train Collision in Poland  4-3-12

Train Collision in Poland
4-3-12

It is irrational for two trains to be driving on the same track headed directly toward each other to think they will not hit, yet this is the exact thoughts of an adulterer!

The affair will come out!  You cannot remain in both relationships for long! 

The famous story of David committing adultery with Bathsheba illustrates the irrationality of adultery (2 Sam. 11).  Here is a brief account of the story in case you don’t know it.  David, who should have been in battle with his army, sees a beautiful woman on a neighboring housetop.  He has her brought to his palace.  He commits adultery with her.  She discovers she is pregnant.  He then sets out to hide his sin.  He has her husband, Uriah the Hittite, brought back from the battle.  Uriah, due to duty will not go into his wife, so David has Uriah put to death by ordering the other troops to withdraw from him when he is at the frontline of the battle.

David was not thinking rationally. Consider David’s irrational thoughts:

  1. David ignores the obvious evidence of time!  Uriah, the wife of Bathsheba, was off in battle.  David commits adultery with her.   It would have taken several weeks for her to realize she was pregnant.  There would have been time in Uriah to travel home from the battle.  Uriah might possibly of noticed that she was pregnant.  Secondly, he certainly would have considered the baby when it was delivered much earlier than when he came home from battle.
  2. David does not consider his prominent leadership position and all he could lose.  He was to be an example to God’s people, yet he is taking one of his servant’s wives.
  3. David foolishly thinks he will not be discovered.  Did David think that all the other townspeople did not notice?  When the baby comes out early and has features like David didn’t he think it would be a problem?
  4. David miscalculates key factors in his plan to cover his sin.  His plan to hide his sin hinged on Uriah going into his wife and then not knowing she was pregnant.  He was basically counting on Bathsheba to lie and raise this child as Uriah’s.  Yet, Uriah is a duty-bond man who will not enjoy the pleasure of home, while the ark of Israel and army of the Lord are in battle.
  5. David thought he was above the rules and not accountable.  He thought he could have his fling and then cover it up.  When his first attempt didn’t work, then he gets dirty and murders Uriah in a deceitful plan.  All of this is a picture of a man who is prideful and believing he is not accountable to the rules.
  6. David inconceivably underestimated the knowledge and holiness of God.  David knew the Lord.  He walked with Him.  He knew he was all-powerful and all-knowing.  Yet, he forgot him during this episode.  Maybe, he thought God wasn’t that interested in who he took to bed.  Or he thought he had done so much good for God, that he was entitled to a few infractions.  Possibly he just forgot about God’s holiness.   Did he really think he could hide the sin from God?

We are thousands of years removed from when David walked Jerusalem, but the same irrational thought patterns listed above describe everyone who is involved in adultery.  It doesn’t make sense!  It is not about love, it is about lust!  It is about selfishness, happiness, and entitlement.  It is irrational and not thinking soberly.

David ended up hearing “you the man” and it all came out and he was punished severely (2 Sam. 12).  So adulterers today here “you the man” and are punished severely.  Don’t go down this path!  We have to be on guard everyday to prevent such irrational thoughts in the moments of lust, pride, and seduction.  

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*Thanks to my wife who gave me the idea for this post as she has been studying the life of David.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/the-irrationality-of-adultery/

Apr 08

There is a Difference in Loving and Supporting

Helping Hands by winjohn from Freeimages.com

Helping Hands by winjohn from Freeimages.com

We must act in love towards all people¹, yet we must also submit to truth².

I fear that sometimes we go too far under the umbrella of love.  The Bible teaches that there should be some boundaries on our love for others.  Put simply–there is a difference in loving and supporting.  Often this duty of love is used as a reason for supporting some sinful practice.

2nd and 3rd John demonstrate there must be boundaries to our love.  John emphasizes loving others in his gospel and epistles³.  John reminds his readers that they are to love one another.  They are to walk according to His commandments in love.

To one group In 3 John, he compliments the Christians who have “supported people like these” who are “fellow workers of the truth” (v. 6).  He is speaking about them financially supporting Christian preachers and sending them on their journeys.  These workers have “testified to [their] love” (v. 5-6).

Yet, in 2 John 10 to another group, John says, “if anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.”  He earlier stated, “everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God” (v. 9).

Notice the lesson we learn when we compare John’s writings.  Some folks are to be supported and financially assisted, while others are not to be greeted as brothers, invited into our homes, and supported financially.  What makes the difference?  Whether they abide in the teachings of Christ or not!  Love for others does not demand we support wrongdoing!  Love demands we do what is in the best interest of others, are kind to them, and offer God’s love and word to them.

This principle can be difficult to apply, but we must apply it in the church today.  I fear it is becoming a neglected principle as tolerance as become so prominent.

We must apply this truth as we deal with sexual sin of others.  If a couple is living together in open rebellion to God’s truth, we must love them, but not support them in this behavior.  If a member is openly gay, we must love him, but not support him.  If a marriage is not acceptable in God’s sight, we must not support it, under the pretense of love.  Support may not only be in financial assistance, but it can be in our attendance, approval, fellowship, and words.

We must apply this truth in regard to the teaching of others.  This is the issue in 2nd and 3rd John.  As individuals and churches we must not support by our words or money a missionary, group, or organization that teaches false doctrine.  They may be doing good work, but if they do not abide in Christ we cannot support them.

There are lots of ways this principle can be applied.  Many times its application is difficult, especially when it involves our own family members.  We often want to help others, and we think that it will be an opportunity to win them back to Christ.  But we must be careful, lest we take part in their wicked works.  I believe John is also writing and speaking primarily about Christians.  So we must consider whether the person is a brother or sister in Christ.  Yet, this principle certainly has broader application than just within the church.

I know this is often a tough issue for me and our church family.  Do you think we are struggling to follow this principle today in the church and in our families?  

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References

1 - Mat. 5:43-48, Rom. 13:8

2 - John 8:32, 2 John 3-6

3 - John 13:34-35, 14:15,21-24; 1 John 3:11-18; 4:8-11

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/there-is-a-difference-in-loving-and-supporting/

Apr 04

Walk 4 Water – Will you sponsor me?

walk4waterA few weeks ago I wrote about the blessing of water.  The statistics are staggering at the amount of death and suffering daily across the world because of the lack of safe drinking water.  The post made me aware of the problem and why there is such a push to drill wells.

Then I went to Broadway church of Christ in Paducah to preach and learned they were hosting a Walk 4 Water event on Saturday, April 19th.  This is an event which goes to sponsor the drilling of wells by Healing Hands International.  Participants walk 4 miles, because this is the average amount walked by people in developing nations daily to gain water.

People at Seven Oaks jumped on the idea of participating in this walk and we formed a team.  We are asking for $4 support or more.  Both Amanda and I will be walking and raising funds.  Come-on $4 is not much.  You can do at least that!!

You can help sponsor us or any Seven Oaks team member at the following links.

Walk 4 Water Website to learn more – http://www.hhi.org/walk4water/

The Paducah Event Site –   http://www.hhi.org/walk4water/paducah-ky-2014

Our Seven Oaks Team Sitehttp://www.hhi.org/walk4water/team/54

My page to sponsor me - http://www.hhi.org/walk4water/walker/1528

You can also send me a check or cash for this effort and I will take it the day of the event.  

Thank you for reading and your sponsorship!! 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/walk-4-water-will-you-sponsor-me/

Apr 03

My Selfie Zoo Tour

I am not a selfie kind of picture guy, until I went to the St. Louis Zoo this past Monday.  I took my first one early that morning when I was holding a scared Caleb on the carousel and I wanted to take a picture.  Our tenderfoot got tired of the ride pretty quickly, so he hung with me.

IMG_0003

Our day got off to a bang rushing to make it to the carousel which is free for the first hour.  Austin got tripped up by the wheel of the stroller I was pushing and I took him out.  But he recovered fast!

IMG_0005After the Carousel we rushed to the children’s zoo entrance  because it is also free admittance the first hour.  The first stop was the goats.  Landon was pumped.  He for some reason thought it was cool to brush the goats fast and to brush their bottoms and back legs!  For some reason, bet you can’t figure it out, the goats would not stand still for Landon, but were so calm and pleasant for Brooke!  This was a tough selfie to take, plus I had to explain to another visitor that I didn’t need them to take our picture, even though I was obviously having trouble taking my own!  On the way out of the goats, Brooke tripped over my foot and fell down hard.  2 kids taken out in the first hour (way to go Dad!).

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This was a tough one!  I was airing up the stroller tires while the kids played on the playground.  It didn’t work, the tube was bad, so I got a little extra exercise for the day.

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Me and Austin with the Elephants.  There was a baby elephant which I took traditionally for you to see as well.

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These were my favorite ones!  I am so lucky to have this girl in my selfie everyday!!  This was at our picnic lunch in Forrest Park just outside the zoo. If you go, be sure and park there, if you can because it is free and is a beautiful park.

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Here we go showing off our silly side!

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Anybody see Caleb?  He is the one under the blue hood!

IMG_0018And Caleb with the hood off showing his sweet face.  We are obviously too uncool for Austin — 9 year olds!  We had to force him into this one!

IMG_0026

This is me and Brooke with the gorilla statue.  Speaking of seeing the gorillas, we had one scare us all.  He was planted beside one of the glass viewing areas.  We were literally right next to him, except for the glass.  He starts to get up and throws his arms and body at us slamming the glass and making a threatening face.  Caleb cried and we all jumped.  He got us!

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Brooke gets two pictures because the trip was all connected with her birthday which is Sunday.  She will be seven years old.  She is so sweet and precious and has her dad around her finger!  We love her.  This picture was in the underwater tunnel of the sea lions.

Hope you enjoyed my selfie tour of the zoo.  Other than me being in all the pictures, I bet it was enjoyable.  If you don’t like these, just wait till I post the pictures from Amanda’s camera of me trying to take the selfies!  

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/my-selfie-zoo-tour/

Mar 29

Staring at the Greener Grass

From Flickr, Creative commons License by sean dreilinger

From Flickr, Creative commons License by sean dreilinger

What is it about the grass in the next pasture that always looks so much better to the animals?

They will risk cuts and electrical shock to get some of the grass. But are we much different as humans?

Amanda and Brooke are reading the book Sarah: Plain and Tall.  The setting is pioneer days on the prairie.  Sarah is from back east.  She loved the beach and her life back east.  She comes west to meet a man who put an ad in the paper for a bride after his wife passed.  Sarah comes out to try it for 30 days.  She ends up staying, falling in love with the man, and enjoying the life out west.  She accepted her new found life.

Let’s put Sarah in today’s culture.  Could she have found contentment staring at beach pictures and girl shopping trips to the big city each day on   Facebook?  Would our culture have her convinced that she deserves to be happy and get what she wants, rather than focus on family?  

Amanda made a wise observation:  “The grass may always be greener, but if you don’t see it, you don’t know it is so much greener.”  Social media has many advantages, but one of the worse aspects of it is our inability to detach from the social pressure it creates.  I really feel for teens in this regard!  People put their best image, truly a created image, on Facebook that shows the best of their life.  How many marriages are out there that if you judged from Facebook, you would think they are great, but they are really deeply troubled?  Let’s be real, our pictures and status updates make us look better than we are!  We go do a family photo shoot and it is filled with whining, fussing, and threats; yet somehow a few of the pictures turn out good!

We are constantly seeing what looks to be “greener grass.”  The seeds of an affair are sown, when people start looking at other men and women and thinking how much better they are than the one they have at home!  The shackles of debt are put on when we are constantly trying to have what others have, because we think everyone else has these things and are happy!

Maybe the secret is to stop looking so much!  The grass may really be greener (i.e. better than yours) but this only breeds discontent and jealousy.  Maybe instead of staring at the other grass, we should start tending our own field and responsibilities.  We may just be like Sarah and discover we may not have a beach, but we have a wonderful family on the plains.

(Many of us may literally need this post this week, when we are seeing pictures all week of our friends on the beach during Spring Break!)

“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”  (James 3:16)

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/staring-at-the-greener-grass/

Mar 27

Old Contacts Just Keep Popping Up!

I have been out of Freed-Hardeman as an undergraduate for 16 years.  I loved my time at FHU, it was so much fun.  I learned so much, grew in my faith, and matured as a man.  I honestly don’t have many regrets from my time there.

But there were lots of friends and contacts over my 4.5 years in undergraduate and even more years in graduate education.  I know I often played favorites and was at times judgmental regarding the “coolness” of a fellow student.  It may have been social, athletic, spiritual, academic, or lifestyle factors that influenced how I treated others or engaged others. Now, the purpose of this post is not to confess poor treatment of others, though if I wronged anyone from those years, please forgive me.  Honestly, I believe overall I did a good job of being kind, warm, and accepting.

But the point of this post is to encourage young people (hopefully, some will read this), and us older folks now to remember that you never know how present relationships will come back to you later in life.  

This truth has been impressed upon me so much over the last 10 years.  It is so neat how many folks I didn’t have a close relationship with at FHU or run with very much have come back into my life through the church  or business in the last 10 years.  Many of these people I have needed and have been a blessing to me.  They are the youth leaders, deacons, preachers now in the church and you don’t want a bad reputation from years in the past.

We have members of the church here and throughout this county that were in school with me at FHU.  Many are active in business and the church and those friendships are real blessings.

I guess the point is that you are sewing seeds of kindness and goodness now into relationships.  Do as Jesus taught us to the highest and the lowest in your estimation.  Treat others as you want to be treated.  Your actions now will impact your future.  The kindness you show very well may come back to bless you later.  The reputation you maintain will either harm or bless your future.  This truth is one reason why your personality, character, and kindness will take you farther in life than any degree you get in college.   

By the way, for all the FHU friends I took skiing on my boat over the years — I don’t have a boat anymore and if you want to pay a little ski trip back, I am waiting for your call.  But be aware, I have multiplied, now I come in a package of 6!  Haha!!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/old-contacts-just-keep-popping-up/

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