Oct 31

Taking Off Your Mask?

by eskimOjO at www.freeimages.com

by eskimOjO at www.freeimages.com

Today is Halloween 2014.  Many people will wear a mask of some sort for their costume.  These are physical masks, but people also wear masks all through the year.  In fact, all of us are guilty at times of wearing masks to hide ourselves.  Adam and Eve immediately tried to hide themselves from God when they sinned.

Why do people wear masks in life?

  1. For protection and safety.  Many wear a mask because they fear others.  When we carry deep emotional wounds and scars it is difficult to allow our true self to be known.  We don’t want to open ourselves up to more hurt and pain.  So we wear a mask pretending to be someone we are not.  We fear judgment and rejection.
  2. We want to deceive.   The families in Genesis illustrate this mask.  Abraham and Sarah lied about their relationship.  Rebekah and Jacob deceived Isaac.  The brothers deceived their father Jabob when they sold Joseph into slavery.  When we lie, we are creating a deception.  We are wearing a mask and hiding the truth.
  3. Because of the expectations of others.  Some people are trying to live up to an expectation set for them by a parent, grandparent, or spouse.  This can often have positive effects, but it can also cause people to act like someone they are not.  They end up living their life for the other person.  They are hiding their true self.
  4. Because of the desire for sinful pleasure.  Sin loves to be in the darkness.  Satan will convince us to keep our sins secret.  To act like a “good Christian” while enjoying our fleshly pursuits.  Many people are wearing a mask when it comes to addictions to drugs and pornography.  Some wear a mask for months as they hide an affair from their spouse.

What should you do with your mask?

We all need to honestly consider what mask we are wearing and to what degree. When we discover we are wearing masks we need to be willing to do three things.

  1. Quit denying you are wearing a mask.  You have to admit your dishonesty.  You have to admit your burden.  You have to be willing to make peace with who you are and stop hiding your soul.
  2. Determine to be transparent and vulnerable.  Do you have any truly intimate relationships?  Family or friends which you can trust to share your sins, heartaches, and struggles.  You have to swallow your pride and quit being a poser and let people come along side you and walk with you.  Vulnerability is really a dependence and trust issue.  You can’t make yourself vulnerable to everyone, but choose wisely and have some friends you can trust.
  3. Depend on God.  Ultimately we have to come to grips with who we are before God.  We must come to accept God’s abounding grace and mercy.  It is easy to not even be open and honest about our relationship with God.  We try to wear a mask before God.  Yet, God can see right through it!  Ultimately the mask we want to wear before this world is the mask of Christ.  We find peace and acceptance in Him.

So this Halloween take off more than a costume, take off your masks and let your true self and your needs be known. You don’t have to hide any longer!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/taking-off-your-mask/

Oct 30

What Would Your Wife Say?

Leo Tolstoy and wife Sofia at their 48th Anniversary

Leo Tolstoy and wife Sofia at their 48th Anniversary

If your wife wrote a journal or spoke about your love and service to her, what would she say? 

Leo Tolstoy, the great Russian writer, tried to follow the teachings of Jesus, especially the Sermon on the Mount.  Yet, he failed miserably to live out what he preached.  His marriage was certainly not what God would have desired, and his faith and actions resulted in her having bitter feelings.  Here is what she wrote about him as a husband.

“There is so little genuine warmth about him; his kindness does not come from his heart, but merely from his principles.  His biographies will tell of how he helped the laborers to carry buckets of water, but no one will ever know that he never gave his wife a rest and never—in all these thirty-two years—gave his child a drink of water or spent five minutes by his bedside to give me a chance to rest a little from all my labors.”

One time after being concerned for his safety when he was out in a storm he returned to her crying and upset.  His reply was, “So what if I went out?  I’m not a little boy, I don’t have to tell you.”  She felt anger with him, saying, “I devote so much love and care to him, and his heart is so icy.”  

Sadly, Sofia Tolstoy is not the only wife who could say such about her husband.  But more importantly would your wife say such?  I know you may have your defenses and excuses, but is she bitter about your love and service to her?

The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to tell husbands to nourish and cherish their wives as Christ does the church (Eph. 5:29).  Husbands are to love their wives, which clearly involves serving and helping them in their tasks.  If you are not helping and serving your wife to make her life easier and communicate your love, then just expect her to be embittered toward you.  She will not feel loved, nourished, and cherished. She will feel used and unappreciated. 

What would your wife say?  Now do something today to serve your wife! 

——————-

Sources:

The Jesus I never knew you – by Philip Yancey – p. 138

Website – http://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/jun/02/sofia-tolstoy-diaries

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/what-would-your-wife-say/

Oct 27

How to Be a Great Lectureship Speaker

by gozdeo at free images.com

by gozdeo at free images.com

The title is certainly audacious.  You may even think a bit vain and arrogant.

I certainly am not claiming to be a great lectureship speaker.  In fact, I have only spoken at a few lectures.

But I have listened to hundreds of lectures over the years at various events in our brotherhood.  I have spoken to lots of preachers about lectures.  There is always one typical common denominator, in what I think and what I hear, that makes a speaker successful at a lecture.

It is not a dynamic presentation.

It is not wonderful illustrations.

It is not thorough research and tremendous scholarship.

It is not a great powerpoint.

It is not a wonderful transcript.

It is not a handout.

 

Important!

All of these things can add to the presentation, but the one thing that will make a lectureship speaker successful and a “great lectureship speaker” is if they speak about their assigned topic!

I understand that various approaches can be taken to a given topic.  Yet, often what the attendee expected, is not what they received.

The general rule still exists in most attendees minds – a speaker is successful when they deliver the information they went to hear.  It is hard to choose which lecture you attend.  Typically there are multiple ones you consider attending with various competent speakers.  So you choose to go to a lecture because you want to learn about the topic.

Nothing is more disappointing than getting in the lecture and the speaker not staying on the topic.  This frustrates lectureship planners to no end.  Speakers need to consider seriously their assigned topic and stay on it.  Even if they think something else is more interesting, pertinent, or makes for a better presentation.  They should adequately deal with their assigned text, topic, or question.

If you want to be a great lectureship speaker just do your best to consider how the attendee will read and understand your topic and then present information about that topic in your lecture.  And please if the topic is a question — answer the question; at least share your opinion.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/how-to-be-a-great-lectureship-speaker/

Oct 23

Spiritual Status Updates

If your spiritual life had a page with status updates like your social life has a Facebook page what would be your status?

Social media is so popular today and has a place in connecting family and friends to one another. People typically will put their “status” periodically on their page which shares these thoughts with all of their friends. What if you were forced to write a short statement giving your “spiritual status?”

Here are some possible “spiritual” status updates that you would read from your friends, but what would yours be?

“Haven’t been to church in a while, I am slipping back into the world.”
“Know I need to be baptized, I just can’t make that commitment.”
“I have sin in my life that I need to repent of and confess to the church, but my pride is holding me back.”

“I need to be rededicated to the Lord and His church, but fear and pressure from the world is holding me back.”
“I am passionate for Christ. It is amazing what God has done in my life.”
“I love the Lord and His church, but I need to love lost souls more.”
“I am saved, but my prayer life is not where it should be.”
“I go to church, but my heart is not in it. I need revival.”
“I have let trials and the failures of others discourage my walk of faith.”
“It is time I step up in my faith for the sake of my family and my soul.”
“I haven’t read the Bible in over a month.”
“I am confused spiritually, I need to study and seek truth from God’s Word.”

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/spiritual-status-updates/

Oct 21

Sexual Abuse: What the Church Can Do!

Sad and Scared by lilgoldwmn  at freeimages.com

Sad and Scared by lilgoldwmn at freeimages.com

When was the last time you heard a sermon on sexual abuse?  We preach against illicit sexual activity, but what about our concern for the victims of abuse?  Yet 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are victims of child sexual abuse.¹ Some even suggest a higher number.

Jesus quoted from Isaiah when he said, “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.”²  Sexual abuse is so bad because it not only affects the body, but also wounds the spirit and breaks the heart.  It produces guilt, shame, and hurt.  It distorts the image of a loving God.  It creates an inappropriate self-image and makes future relationships more difficult.

What can the church do?

  1. Discuss the subject!  Just because we don’t talk about it doesn’t mean it is not there.  Our pulpits should have lessons on the subject.  Use the text of Amnon and Tamar or Lot and his family.  We should discuss the subject in teen and adult classes.  We need to talk about it in our homes especially warning our children.
  2. Help the abused.  Whether the abused is a rape victim, young child, or an adult, the church must have a heart for the abused.  We must help the abused person to place the blame where it belongs–on the abuser!  They must learn to take responsibility to control their response to the abuse.  Often child sexual abuse manifests itself in adults’ lives years laters and hinders their well-beiing, happiness, and relationships.  The church should be there to provide love, counsel, and support for the abused.  We need to support childrens’ homes and brotherhood ministries that work with this great need.
  3. Don’t treat the abused as lepers.  When Christians are friends to the abused, they don’t treat them differently or like they in someway brought the abuse on themselves.  We should treat them with love and respect.  They need understanding and support.  We need to come along side them in their pain and walk with them in Christ.  Sometimes all they need is your presence, attention, and a hug.
  4. Create a safe environment for people to seek help.  It is believed that much sexual abuse is never reported.  Often the reason people don’t share sexual abuse is because it accuses someone who in many cases is a “good” person or even a relative.  We need to provide avenues for people to be able to privately speak to church members.  Leaders need to be approachable in their demeanor.  Youth ministers and Bible class teachers need to reassure the kids of their love and concern.  In order to provide this safe environment there must be humility, openness, trust, and a dependence upon the grace of God.
  5. Recognize that all members have a role in exposing darkness.  This is not just a ministry for the preacher or the elders, but one for all  all church members.  All members can share the love of Jesus with the hurting around them.  Every member can be courageous and speak out when there is a need.  Church members that have experienced abuse, can not only find help for their hurts, but offer help and strength to others.

What suggestions would you add?

—————————

¹   http://www.victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/child-sexual-abuse-statistics

²  Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18-19

The idea for this post and many of the thoughts came from a lecture by Ed Lee at Polishing the Pulpit 2014.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/sexual-abuse-what-the-church-can-do/

Oct 19

Remember Your True Citizenship

By Kolobsek at freeimages.com

By Kolobsek at freeimages.com

It is election time again which often creates a wave of interest in the political and moral direction of our nation.  Our nation certainly seems to be declining morally and our political leaders are certainly contributing to this decline.  Christians should vote and seek to elect officials who will respect God and His word.

Yet, we as Christians need a regular reminder that our true citizenship is with the Kingdom of Christ.  

The theme of citizenship is used by the Apostle Paul to strike a cord with the Philippian brethren.  Roman citizenship was a very real and vital part of their lives. They were granted the status of a Roman colony which meant they had the right to be governed by Roman law and were exempt from direct taxation. Octavian (Augustus) and Mark Antony had defeated the forces of Cassius and Brutus near Philippi.  He gave the city a special title and sent retired veterans to live there. Deep Roman patriotism existed in the city.  The Roman language, dress, customs, and ceremonies made up the culture of the city.

Thus when Paul writes to them he uses the term for citizenship on two occasions.

Phil. 1:27 – “let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” – The term used to translate “manner of life” means “to live as a citizen.”   the ESV Bible gives a footnote – “only behave as citizens worthy.”  Paul was saying, just like you believe you must live worthy of your Roman citizenship with its duties and responsibilities, so you should to a higher degree in your service to Christ.

Phil. 3:20 – “But, our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Here Paul uses the same root word he used in 1:27 and directly states that they now have a greater citizenship in heaven.  They value their Roman citizenship and their freedman status, but as Christians they have a far greater loyalty and privilege of being citizens of heaven.

We should value our citizenship in the nation we reside.  We certainly have many reasons to be grateful to be citizens of America, but we must always remember we are citizens of a far greater Kingdom.  King Jesus demands our loyalty and allegiance above any earthly kingdom.  This heavenly citizenship should shape how we live!

Be thankful for your heavenly citizenship today!

——-

Source – http://dkiel.com/GreeceTurkey/Philippi/Philippi.html

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/remember-your-true-citizenship/

Oct 14

Buy Your Kids an Alarm, and Take Away the Cell!

digital clock by iprole at freeimages.com

digital clock by iprole at freeimages.com

You can purchase a simple digital alarm clock for $9.33 at Amazon.  This may be the best money you can spend for your kids, if you are allowing them to keep their cell phones at night because it is their alarm!

4 in 5 teens say they sleep with, on, or beside their cell phone every night.¹  The actual statistic is 84% of teens keep it with them through the night.²  70% of teens admit to hiding their online behavior from their parents.³  Teens receive hundreds of texts through the day and often receive them into the night.

Here are some reasons why you should consider taking the phone and buying an alarm.

  1. Sleep deprivation.  Teens need sleep.  They have busy schedules with school and sports.  How much sleep is lost because of checking social media and texting?  Many teens admit to texting during the night.
  2. Constant social pressure.  If a child has their phone all through the night they have constant access to bullying, social pressure, and influence from peers.  Peer influence and pressure is so prominent during awake and present hours at school, why should parents want to allow it to persist during the night hours?
  3. Give your kids a “boundary” and an “out.”  Surveys reveal that kids actually like having cell phone rules and boundaries.  It helps create discipline for them, when they know they need it.  Studies have shown that sleeping with the phone and having it’s constant presence increases psychological problems and anxiety.  It hinders family time, self-awareness, and personal development.  It often keeps kids from getting their school work accomplished on time.  Also, when parents set the boundary, it gives the teen an “out.”  They can tell others, don’t call me or text me after 9:00 p.m., as I don’t have my phone.
  4. The dangers of privacy with the phone during the night.  Would you allow your unsupervised teen to go out in New York City at 11:00. Yet when we consider the dangers of the internet from bullying, pornography, gambling, music, sinful influences, and predators it is not tremendously different letting them keep their phone all night.  Their room provides some privacy.  The parents and others are asleep.  With the opportunities and dangers of the internet, YouTube, Netflix, FaceTime, Snapchat, and other apps it is simply too much temptation for a Christian teen to face.  Parents should be sure they have their wifi filtered, but even then, teens can access the internet through their cellar data.
  5. The incredible threat and temptation of pornography.  The internet is saturated with porn.  The numbers are staggering.  For example, in 2013 a study was done that said porn sites get more traffic per month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined!   We all know the hormones are raging as children experience puberty and begin to be curious about sex.  Don’t let their phone be their primary instructor!
  6. So you can monitor the phone. A final reason is so that the parents have access to the phones nightly.  The teen knows that his parents will have his phone each night.  This will affect how they use it and allows the parents to regularly check out what the phone is being used for during the day.

What are your thoughts?  Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts?  What other reasons would you add?

———————

Note – I owe the idea of this post to Adam Faughn’s podcast on the topic “Smartphones and Kids” with Chad Landman.  It can be accessed at this link and is well worth your time.

¹  http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/blogs/teens-sleeping-cell-phones-clear-and-present-danger

²  http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/17/opinion/robbins-cell-phone-teens/

³   http://www.mcafee.com/us/about/news/2012/q2/20120625-01.aspx

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/buy-your-kids-an-alarm-and-take-away-the-cell/

Oct 12

Don’t Leave These Up to the Church

The local congregation is wonderful and plays a necessary role in the life of the Christian.  The church provides Bible instruction, fellowship, worship, accountability, and overall edification.  But sometimes, I think we can leave our discipleship and spiritual growth solely up to the church in our attitude and mindset.  Here are some things that you should not leave solely up to the church! 

  1. Your Bible knowledge.  Bible classes are short!  Sermons are focused on application and exhortation typically.  You have a responsibility to read and study the Bible on your own.  “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”¹  If you want to truly grow your faith, you need to be in the Word daily.  You need to read good faith building books.  Don’t depend on the preacher and Bible class teacher to provide all of your Bible knowledge.
  2. Your kids’ faith development.  Whether the church has a great education and youth program or not, you must not leave your child’s faith development to the church.  The church can be a tremendous help in teaching your children about Jesus; but you must not leave it all up to them.  Parents should be the primary instructors of spiritual values and morals.  It seems many parents feel they have done their job by taking their children to church, when the church does not have the primary responsibility, but the parents (Eph. 6:1-4).
  3. Your Christian service for the Lord.  Churches have a responsibility to organize ministry opportunities for Christians.  Church leaders must equip the members for the work of ministry.²  But a Christian’s service should not be limited to what is done in organized ministries by the local congregation.  A disciple’s service is much broader, and should not be limited to church programs.  Christians should look for opportunities each day to serve the Lord; whether at work, school, or home.  In some ways I feel the church’s abundance of programs has hindered personal service.  You don’t need a visitation program to visit, an evangelism program to evangelize, or a benevolent program to serve the poor.  Jesus instructed disciples to be about this work everyday through the opportunities God provides.
  4. Your loyalty and faithfulness to the Lord.  When you became a Christian at baptism, you made a covenant with the Lord to be faithful and serve him for the rest of your life.  You have a responsibility to be loyal to His church.  All kinds of things can happen in the local church that discourage you.  You may not like the preacher’s sermons or the elders’ decisions.  Sin may destroy the family of a youth minister or deacon.    You may even be mistreated or not be in the “in” clique from your perspective.  Sadly many folks become unfaithful when they have a problem in the local church.  You have a responsibility to be active in the church, to serve and worship the Lord as a part of His body. Don’t let problems cause you to lose your soul!

What else would you add to this list?

———-

¹  Romans 10:17

²  Eph. 4:12

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/dont-leave-these-up-to-the-church/

Oct 08

8 Roots of Domestic Violence

light network stop violenceOctober is Domestic Violence Awareness month.  The Light Network which produces a number of great podcasts providing solid Bible teaching and encouragement is seeking to bring awareness to this topic in the church.  They have several podcasts on the topic this month and are coordinating a blog hop. They are asking various writers to contribute posts on the topic.  You can see all the other posts at this link. I encourage you to check out the other ones and their weekly podcasts.

Domestic violence could be compared to the leaves of plant above ground which is seen.  The plant’s existence above ground indicates that there is more to it below ground.  So it is with domestic violence when it is finally exposed and seen by all, it also represents some major roots below the surface that caused and produced the violence. Our criminal system is focus on the outward acts, as we also often are in the church.  If we are going to affect real and sustained change in the person, and eliminate the violence, we must address the root causes.  Jesus does this all through the sermon on the mount, when he takes outward acts and then goes to the heart that produces the acts.

Here are 8 root causes of domestic violence that we should consider.  We must address these causes to help prevent, and also stop violence.  

  1. Anger - So often connected with violence is uncontrolled anger.  Jesus calls us to self-control and quick reconciliation.  Too many allow their temper to be an excuse for sinful behavior.
  2. Fear –  Anger is often motivated by fears.  With domestic violence, it is often the fear of losing a relationship or of not having control that causes the violence.  The fear of not being able to get another relationships, support oneself financially, or looking bad in public all play a part in this issue.
  3. Poor examples - The Bible speaks of sins and punishment for sins being passed on to the third and fourth generations.  So much of domestic violence comes from people not having good examples as they grew up and then falling back on these poor examples.  Even though an abused child determines never to do this to their children, when they become a parent, they often know no other way.
  4. A lack of valuing other people –  Jesus taught us to love other people.  He teaches husbands to cherish and nourish wives.  Wives are supposed to love and respect husbands.  Fathers are not supposed to provoke children to wrath.  Yet, all of this involves seeing the intrinsic value in other people. So much violence comes, like it did in the book of Judges, because there is an unhealthy respect and value for other people.  In Judges we see women mistreated and abused by the Jewish society.  Jesus saw the value and worth in lepers, women, and Samaritans.  We should see the value and worth of every person!
  5. A lack of self-love – Jesus and Paul both assumed that we would love ourselves.  When we do not love ourselves it creates all kinds of problems.  Much of domestic violence finds its roots in low self-worth issues.  Men, who feel they don’t have what it takes to be the husband and father they need to be, resort to threats, power-plays, and force to gain a psedo-respect.  Women, who don’t feel lovable and valuable, get out of one abusive relationship, only to quickly find themselves in another, or even back in the same abusive man’s arms, because they inwardly don’t feel they deserve to be treated differently.
  6. Alcohol and drug abuse –  The roots of much violence are connected with the stimulants put into our bodies that make us impaired and irrational.  Often before the violence can be stopped, treatment and help must be received for a drug addiction.
  7. Hypocrisy – Domestic violence lives in the darkness.  It lives under the pretense of privacy and family business in many “good Christian homes.”  Yet it will one day be exposed just like all sins.  Often it comes out within this lifetime.  It is sin, and needs to be exposed to the light of the gospel, but it will not be, if everyone stays quiet and lives in the hypocrisy.
  8. Failure by the church and Christians to teach and know God’s will - A final root to this sin is the lack of clear teaching on these roots, domestic violence in general, and a godly marriage.  The church must confront these sins, be an advocate for the innocent and abused, be a source of strength and protection for the hurting, and a lighthouse to lead those in dark.

Which of these 8 do you think is the most prominent root of domestic violence?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/8-roots-of-domestic-violence/

Oct 03

Boxtrolls – A New Cartoon with a Homosexual Agenda

Image from Boxtrolls Trailer by Laika

Image from Boxtrolls Trailer by Laika

The new release PG-rated cartoon Boxtrolls has a clear message, “Families come in all shapes and sizes.”  It is about an orphaned child who is raised by boxtrolls.  It is made by the same production company, Laika, which introduced the first openly gay cartoon character in ParaNorman.  The trailer for the movie is pretty blunt in its descriptions of families.  Stating that some families have two fathers, while some two mothers.

You can watch it here. (I tried to embed it on my site, but could not so you will have to click this link to go  and watch.)

The producers included the song “Some Kids” by Loch Lomond as the second song in the credits which has these lyrics, “”Some kids have a mother and a mother/Some kids have a father and a father/Some kids have no one at all/ … We should be glad for the families we have/And reach out to those who are on their own.”

The movie doesn’t openly explore the them of gay parents, but wants it to be understood by children that families come in all shapes and sizes.  In fact, that seems to be the idea of “boxtrolls.”  Boxtrolls are these out-of-the-mainstream characters that have been marginalized from society.  They are encouraged to come out of the box and let their true selves be known.  They don’t need to hide behind the box any longer.

The CEO of the company said, “The Boxtrolls are a very loving community that have been marginalized by the lies and distortions of others. It doesn’t take someone who’s got a Ph.D. to recognize that of course there are metaphoric elements to the message in our movie.”¹

While children may not pick up on the homosexual metaphor or the push to accept all types of families, Christian parents should still have a concern.  Though the movie may have some entertainment value and be overall just a fun show, we must understand the danger in this agenda.  Christians must continue to understand that us and our children are being pushed a secular, worldly agenda that subverts Biblical truth.  God wants us to love all people and certainly have concern for orphans and the marginalized of society.  But He certainly does not approve of the view that all families are acceptable and equal.  God designed the family system based on the committed love of a man and woman bond in holy marriage (see my post on The Christian and Homosexuality).

To learn more about the movie and the homosexual theme and other issues check out the well-written review at Plugged-In.com.

———-

Quote taken from Plugged-in Review

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/boxtrolls-a-new-cartoon-with-a-homosexual-agenda/

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