Feb 02

What I Wish Everyone Knew about Jesus

Jesus.001This post is a part of a series I write on “What I Wish Everyone Knew . . . ”  Check out the other posts.

Most everyone has heard of Jesus!  But most of what people know about Jesus has come from family and pop culture.  Most haven’t really explored who the real Jesus is by reading the Gospels.  If I could share a few things to everyone about Jesus, here are some of the things I would want them to know.

  1. Jesus called people to change. Today, Jesus is often portrayed as an all-accepting person who turns a blind eye to our sinful condition.  Jesus throughout the gospels called people to change!  It was Jesus who said He did not come to bring peace but a sword.  It was Jesus who said his teachings would divide families.  It was Jesus who said unless you repent you will perish.¹
  2. Jesus came on a mercy mission to seek and save the lost.  Jesus came to rescue sinful humanity.  He came to be the “Lamb of God” who takes away the sin of the world.  He proclaimed this after he sought the disreputable tax collector Zaccheus.  Jesus acted out of his deep passion for mankind.  We see his love and mercy all through the Gospel stories, and ultimately it is displayed in his willingness to say, “not my will, but thy will” to His Father as he agonized over the cross.²
  3. Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected the third day triumphing over sin and death. Everyone needs to know the story and significance of Christ’s death and resurrection.  Paul proclaims this as the heart of the gospel.  The cross is the power of God!  Our own hope of salvation and resurrection are directly tied to the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection.  The true horrific nature of sin is seen in Christ’s death. The immeasurable measure of God’s grace and love are displayed most clearly in the cross when one understands he died in their place!³
  4. Jesus established His church through the power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.  Jesus came to establish his assembly of people dedicated to his work on the earth.  We commonly call this the church.  He came to build his church.  He announced the church (kingdom) was at hand throughout his ministry.  He trained the Apostles to establish the church and carry on His work.  The church was established on earth through the preaching of Jesus on the day of Pentecost. Some 3,000 were baptized into the church, or body of Christ.  The church has continued to grow and expand since that day.  A Christian is a member of his church and must be active and faithful to it.  It is Christ’s body on earth and constitutes a brotherhood of believers who help the Christian on his journey to heaven.¹¹
  5. Jesus strengthens believers today, intercedes before God on their behalf, and is returning to take us home to Heaven.  Christians do not serve a dead Lord, but a risen Savior.  Christ strengthens and guides his disciples today.  He acts on their behalf before the throne of God as a great High Priest.  He is our advocate and intercessor.  He understands and gives aid to his followers.  He will return one day to usher in the great day of judgment,  destroy the world, and take his church home with him to heaven.  Christians don’t fear his return, but long and anticipate this glorious day.²²

This is what I would want everyone to know about Jesus.  I hope this little morsel of information would inspire a greater hunger to know and serve Jesus.  And certainly don’t take may words about Jesus solely for yourself, but go and read the stories about Jesus called the Gospels in the New Testament.  You will fall in love with Jesus and your life will never be the same.

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¹  Matt. 10:34-39; Luke 13:3-5

²  Gal. 1:4; John 1:29; Luke 19:1-10; Mat. 26:26-42

³  1 Corinthians 15; Romans 1:16-17; 1 Cor. 1:18-31; 2 Cor. 5:19-21

¹¹ Matt. 16:13-19; Acts 2; Ephesians 1:20-21

²²  Phil. 4:13; Heb. 2:8-18; 4:14-16; 1 John 2:1; 1 Thes. 4:13-18; 2 Pet. 3; Rev. 22

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Jan 31

Spreading Your Wings Over Her

Love in the Sunset by kidultchia at www.sxc.hu

Love in the Sunset by kidultchia at www.sxc.hu

God created a marvelous being when he created woman.  Men who stay frustrated  with “complicated women,” often miss the beauty of the mystery and depth of women.  God gave so much to this world when he created the feminine heart.

At the core of a woman’s soul is the desire to be loved, long for, and cherished.  “The world kills a woman’s heart when it tells her to be tough, efficient, and independent.”¹  She was created for relationship and desires someone to protect and prize her highly.  Women flourish when enveloped with safety and security!

Ruth was a beautiful woman open to all the dangers of her day.  She had lost her husband.  She chose to be faithful to her mother-in-law and to her God.  She pictures the heart of many women when she says to Boaz, “spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer” (Ruth 3:9).  Earlier Boaz had spoken of her coming to take refuge under the wings of God (2:12).  He seeks her protection while she is in the fields from the young men.  The context of the Old Testament involves the custom of the near kinsman redeemer who had the responsibility of providing for the widow, but Ruth’s statement is universal of wives.  They want to have their husband’s protective wings and love spread over them.

Paul told husbands to “love their wives as their own bodies” and to “nourish and cherish” them (Eph. 5:28-29).

This is why husbands harm their wives so greatly when they fail to protect them.

We can fail to protect our wives when we . . .

  • Give in to the world’s standards of beauty making our wives feel ugly!
  • Allow others to gossip and tell lies about them without coming to their defense.
  • Refuse to accept their perception and reality by constantly telling them they don’t understand or they should see it our way.
  • Allow the kids to be disrespectful of their mother.
  • Fail to support the discipline they have placed upon the children.
  • Don’t pray for and with them regularly.
  • Refuse to take the lead in financially supporting our home.
  • Use harsh words to break their spirit.
  • Treat their needs as frivolous and silly, but expect them to meet ours.
  • Aren’t there for them in time and attention, because we are off pursuing our own goals and hobbies.

These are all ways we can make our wives feel unloved, unvalued, and unprotected.  On our wedding day, we pledged to love and protect them.  This doesn’t just mean in the case of an intruder at night, but it means by loving and caring for their heart and soul.

———————

¹  – Wild at Heart by John Eldredge – p. 17

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/spreading-your-wings-over-her/

Jan 27

Review of “12 Years a Slave” Book

12 Years a Slave book

12 Years a Slave book

I recently listened to  the audiobook 12 Years a Slave.  The book which was turned into an award winning movie was a fascinating audiobook.  I have not seen the movie.  I am sure there are some changes with the movie, but the book was really interesting.

The book is a memoir from 1853 of a free black man living in New York who was kidnapped, sold into slavery, and lived 12 years as a slave in Louisiana.  Here are some of my thoughts and lessons from the book.

  1. Slavery was terrible.  I have a history degree, and have studied slavery at various times, but this was an eye-opening journey into the daily life of a slave.  The fear of the white slave owners could be seen so easily in the book.  There abuse, constant threatenings, and beatings are hard for our modern minds to understand.  It is not surprising it took so long for the civil rights’ movement and more equal treatment of blacks across the south to take place, because of the deeply entrenched racist views.
  2. The descriptions of life in the 1840s and 1850s in Louisiana was fascinating.  As you may know, I grew up on a farm and have a small farm now.  So to learn about farming practices in the mid 1800s on a cotton and sugar plantation was interesting.  From the food they ate, to the cotton field practices, it is a remarkable first-hand account.  I also enjoyed his recollections about slave culture, for example how they celebrated Christmas and observed the sabbath of Sunday.
  3. The role of faith was insightful in the book.  Solomon Northup, the author and enslaved man, reflected often on God in the book.  He had a deep faith in the Bible, God’s sovereignty, and prayer.  Hearing his thoughts about God existing alongside such rampant injustice and suffering were faith building, and demonstrates how the general view of God has changed so much in our present culture.  He also reflected on the faith of his masters.  One of his masters was a Baptist preacher whom he described with such high terms and believed  his character and gentleness were shaped by the Lord.  While another master was active in his church, but used Scripture and his beliefs to abuse and mistreat the slaves.
  4. The book caused me to be grateful for the great blessing of freedom and opportunities that I enjoy.  You can’t read the book without thinking about how you would handle such injustice and mistreatment.  He was ripped away from his wife and kids and made to brutally toil as a slave.  He longed for freedom and ached for his fellow slaves who never knew freedom.  I am thankful I am free and I can be with my family!

I listened to the book through my local library using their Overdrive service.  You can learn about how to do this at this post.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/review-of-12-years-a-slave-book/

Jan 26

Shoveling Snow and Church Work

snow shovel by st. Mattox at freeimages.com

snow shovel by st. Mattox at freeimages.com

You want to know how your preacher often feels?

Go shovel snow to clear your driveway, knowing that the work is only temporary, to understand what he often feels like.  

I know it sounds pessimistic, and even maybe a little heretical, but emotionally ministers regularly wonder is their work making any longterm difference.  Is the work we are doing really making an impact, or is it just temporarily  dealing with a problem?

I was speaking to a minister once who had done church work his whole professional life when he accurately said, “looking back over my time of doing church work, I have to believe that much of the things I did really didn’t make much of a difference.”  He was busy.  He was working hard.  He had good intentions, but many of his efforts seemed to not produce a significant impact.

What impact do most sermons or classes make?  What about the bulletin or a specially planned meeting?  Or the visit we drive an hour to make or the funeral that takes all weekend?

Don’t misunderstand me please, I believe in the activities of ministers.  I believe in the power of one sermon, the necessity of well done Bible classes.  I see the usefulness in a good bulletin article.  I recognize the value in a well organized ministry like a visitation or youth program.  But I also am realistic and seasoned enough to also know much of what ministers do doesn’t have a longterm impact.  They are just needed at the time, like that snow that has to be cleared off the parking lot, so we need someone to stand up and preach on Sunday morning.

I write these things not because I am discouraged or feeling like my work is not significant.  I write them to help others better understand church work.  Young preachers need to understand this brutal truth, because if they think everything they do will reap a long-term impact, they will be burned out before they reach year five.

This is why when ministers do see long-term impact, be it from one sermon or two hundred, it fuels their fires!  This is why we remember the one soul that was reached, while trying not to be too downtrodden about the 10 who still haven’t responded.

So the next time this winter you shovel some snow, remember that is how your preacher often feels about his work.  And preachers, let’s remember ultimately that it is not our duty to produce a harvest with every work, but it is our job to keep shoveling, keep working, and trust the Lord to make the longterm impact.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/shoveling-snow-and-church-work/

Jan 22

Don’t Be Content with Losing!

 ** This Sept. 22, 1927 file photo shows Jack Dempsey going down on one knee during his heavyweight title fight against Gene Tunney, in Chicago. www.imgarcade.com

www.imgarcade.com – 20s sports

Don, a retired friend of mine, was telling me about his father who boxed in taverns of Illinois in the 30s.  He said he wanted the money, so he would take a fight knowing he was going to lose.  The winner got paid $5 dollars and the loser $3.  He took the fight, covered his face, and figured he would lose.  But he knew $3 was plenty of money to take a girl on a date!

Put succinctly, he took a beating to get paid!

As I thought about this story, it reminds me of our lives.  We become content with losing.  We go into our challenges figuring we will lose, but we are satisfied with the outcome.  We are content with getting loser’s pay.  We are content with taking a beating.

For example:

  • Churches can be content with losing when it comes to their decline in attendance and ministry.  They blame it on people not loving the truth or the young people who moved away.  They are content with losing!
  • Preachers can be content with losing when we just do our “job” of preparing sermons, but aren’t willing to get out there and seek to do evangelism or minister to the hurting.
  • Marriages can be content with losing when they have decided they will never be close or have the marriage they desire.
  • Christians are content with losing when they have minimal involvement with the church and rarely read their Bibles, not trying to grow and develop in their faith.
  • Workers are content with losing when they do the minimal asked of them and bring no ambition or care to their workplace.

I know I can be content with losing at times.  The most important thing is trying to win!  It is about “pressing toward the goal.”  Striving for more, rather than being happy just taking our beating and getting paid $3.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/dont-be-content-with-losing/

Jan 19

The Spark that Burns So Many Relationships

Fire & Spark by Gabor Palla - www.freeimages.com

Fire & Spark by Gabor Palla – www.freeimages.com

You are likely familiar with James’ discussion of the tongue in chapter 3 of his epistle.  I want to draw your attention to one verse from that section.

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.”  (James 3:6 ESV)

In studying this passage, I was struck by one greek phrase translated in the ESV as “course of life.”  The phrase involves two key words.  The first, trochos, refers to wheel or cycle.  The next is genesis which refers to our origins and birth.  Thus, it is well translated “course of life.”

James is saying the tongue interrupts, disturbs, and destroys the whole cycle of life.  The tongue messes up every stage of life for humanity  Though broader, James is certainly saying our tongues destroy and reek havoc on our family relationships.

Our little tongues, which we often give so little thought to, are the sparks that burn our life down.   The miserable and broken family relationships can often be tied directly to the work of the tongue.  Hurting innocent children are usually wearing burns from parents tongues.

Unless we learn to control our tongues, our whole wheel of life will be on fire!  

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/the-spark-that-burns-so-many-relationships/

Jan 14

A Fun, Random Way to Choose Your Bible Class Text

by juliaf from www.sxc.hu

by juliaf from www.sxc.hu

The Bible class teacher called me about 6:00 in the evening.  Bible study started at 7:00.  He had a severe stomach ache and was not going to be able to make it to Wednesday night Bible study.  He was our men’s class teacher and I volunteered to cover the class.  To be fair, I could have dismissed the class to the auditorium, but we enjoy the weekly meeting of men.

I didn’t know what to teach.  I have hundreds of sermons and Bible classes on file that I could of pulled, but nothing seemed to jump out at me.

I wanted us all to be in the same boat.  I wanted us all to explore a passage together, truly seeking to work through it as a class without an expectation that the teacher had a “lesson” prepared that would fill the time.

But what text?  How could I get us all to come to the text with excitement and intrigue?

I began by explaining my substitution role and then asked one man to pick a number between 1- 4.  I asked another man to pick a number between 1-20.  The men didn’t know, but these numbers were determining our text. 

I limited the book choices to the gospels (numbers 1 – 4).  The second number selected determined the chapter we would study.  Two brothers picked 3 and 18.  So we studied Luke 18.  It just so happened that I had actually preached from some of this text on Sunday morning, so we had some familiarity with the passage recently.

We then proceeded to read the text and discuss it.  I would ask for observations or ask questions from the text.  We had a lively discussion and all seemed to be more engaged than normal.

While I wouldn’t recommend this practice on a regular basis, as there is no substitute for study and preparation, I do think this technique helped us all engage a passage and hopefully taught younger students of the word how to read and investigate a Bible passage from the start.

Give it a try sometime, when you get asked to fill in at the last minute, or when you want the whole group to receive a message from God together.  

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Jan 13

The “Why?” is Answered in the “Yet”

the answer to the why is in the yet.001We live in a world with a tremendous amount of suffering. With social media and global news services informing us daily of the trials and tribulations of others.  Another family lost a precious child, another mother gets breast cancer, a drunk driver kills an innocent motorist robbing a family of a father.  Natural disasters strike across the globe claiming thousands.  Millions live in extreme poverty and even struggle with starvation and lack of healthy drinking water.  Sometimes, these events are not someone else, but ourself and our own family!

Even Christians struggle with jealousy, lack of zeal, division, moral sin, and false doctrine.

When these things strike close to our own lives we cry forth, “Why?”  We intuitively wonder, “Why me?  Why my child? Why my spouse?  Why my church?”  We struggle to understand.

I find one answer to the why in Hebrews 2:8.  In fact, it is a verse that gives great comfort and strength.

The writer of Hebrews is making the point that everything is in subjection to Jesus.  He is the King of kings, and Lord of lords.  He includes this incredible statement, “At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.” 

Read that closely and slowly.  It is a statement that answers the “why” and gives us comfort and hope.  God knows that at present there is tremendous unfairness, suffering, and wrong!  But as Christians we trust in the little three letter word – “yet.”  We live differently today because we believe Christ is the Lord.  We choose to submit today, which is what all of creation will do one day!  We live with the knowledge of the greatest truth ever told, Jesus is Lord!

The answer to our “why” is that everything is not in subjection to Jesus;  other people, satan, the evil world, and even the rules of nature.  

So what do we do in the meantime?  We focus on Jesus, “who for a little while was made lower than the angels . . . crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9).  It is this Jesus, who “is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:18).

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, understanding the answer is in the “yet.”  

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/the-why-is-answered-in-the-yet/

Jan 08

How A Load of Trash Spoke Love

IMG_0509As you likely know we have recently moved into our new home.  The inside is mostly settled, but the outside has still be filled with trash from the construction.  Boards, siding, bricks, cardboard, and paint cans littered the yard.  Add on top of this all of the outdoor items from our old house like a grill, trampoline, paver stones, wood, and swing and you get the picture that our yard was pretty messy.

I have been wanting to work on getting these items done, but have not had the time with work and other home projects.  We have enjoyed some beautiful days, but the yard stayed a mess.

So imagine my surprise when I arrived home last evening at dark to find the whole yard cleaned and organized. The full trailer of outdoor items had been unloaded and filled with trash.  Amanda and the three older kids spent the afternoon cleaning, organizing, and working hard in the yard.  They did this as a surprise to me.

Amanda said it felt so good to do this for me as an act of love and kindness.  I greatly appreciated it and Amanda loved having the work done too.  After all of the clean ups we have done in building the house, we finally feel like the yard clean up is done.

So to you it may look just like a load of trash, but to me it speaks love, care, and generosity.

Thanks Amanda and kids!  You are incredible!!

Don’t underestimate the power of service in showing your spouse love.  A side benefit is the joy you receive through serving.

IMG_0510

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Jan 06

Top Ten Posts of 2015

Top Ten Key Showing Best Rated In ChartsHere are the top ten posts visited on Life in the Kingdom in 2015.  Thanks for reading and sharing with others.

  1. How God Blessed Us to Pay Off a $338,000 debt in One Week
  2. I am Going to Do Better
  3. Instrumental Music Debate:  How Should We Respond?
  4. Your Facebook Attitude
  5. Boxtrolls: A New Cartoon with a Homosexual Agenda
  6. What I Wish Everyone Knew about the Church of Christ
  7. New Church Camp Week For Homeschool Students 
  8. How I Preach with My iPad Mini
  9. Where Are You on Sunday Nights?
  10. The Shocking Site of our Phones on the Table

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