Jan 28

Who Gets the Credit?

Success Way by Dinny at freeimages.com

Success Way by Dinny at freeimages.com

Who gets the credit?

This question is seldom vocalized, but often unconsciously on the mind of everyone.

Sports teams struggle with the question.

Church leaders struggle with the question.

Preachers secretly ask themselves, “will I get the credit?” when this succeeds.

Elders just wonder why the preacher gets the credit and they get the blame!

Husbands and wives have many fights over this issue.  Typically it is more along the lines of “Why didn’t you give me credit?”

Church members leave and go to another church because they asked the question, they felt they should be the answer to the question, yet they were overlooked.  They were under-appreciated.

Diotrephes, of John’s 3rd epistle, knew the answer to the question.  It was himself who deserved the credit, and when others didn’t answer it properly he put them out of the church.

I am reminded of a story about a lion going through the jungle asking various animals who is the greatest in all the land.  The monkey said, “You are oh king of the jungle.”  The lion turns to the zebra, who answers likewise to the question.  Finally the lion turns to the elephant.  He asks the elephant, “Who is the greatest in all the land?”  The elephant promptly picks up the lion with his big trunk and slams the lion to the ground.  The lion dusts himself off and looks up to the elephant and says, “well, you didn’t have to be upset if you didn’t know the answer.”

I often find myself asking the question in some form, “Who gets the credit?”  It all revolves around selfishness and jealousy.  It is the same issue the disciples were fighting over during Jesus’ ministry.  It is the same issue most churches fight over regularly.  It is the issue that causes problems for most families.  It is pride, plain and simple!

Michael Hyatt in one of his podcasts said, “a real leader isn’t focused on who gets the credit, but on making a difference.”  This is the attitude that Christians should have.

Jesus said, “Whoever would be first among you must be your slave.”  (Mat. 20:27).

May God help us to stop ourselves when we are asking ourselves these questions.  Help us to focus on making a kingdom difference, rather than ourselves getting the credit.  


Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/who-gets-the-credit/

Jan 25

5 Practices that Will Change Your Family

This was a Haiku Deck presentation I created for a lesson last night.

The presentation shares 5 Practices that will change your family in 2015.

How is your family doing on these habits?  Pick an area to do better in this year.


Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

If the above show does not work, click this link.  It will take about 30 seconds.


You can listen to the sermon on this topic in the audio resources under the same title.  Preached on Jan. 25, 2015.



Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/5-practices-that-will-change-your-family/

Jan 22

Using Discussion Groups in Bible Class

small groups in a classroom

Used from “poortrainer.com”

When I was an education major at Freed-Hardeman University we learned the teaching technique of breaking a class into groups.  I enjoyed this method of teaching then and have used it ever since in Bible classes.

How I do it.

I typically divide the class into groups of about 4-6 people.  I ask them to select a leader by pointing to a person when I count to three or I assign a leader.  I have a prepared handout with the information I want the group to go through which I hand to everyone in the group.  I will give them a time expectation and encourage them to balance their time across all the questions.  I usually will ask each group leader to share with the class a brief summary the last few minutes of class.

What are the blessings of this approach?

I do it for the following reasons:

  • It promotes fellowship.
  • It helps the class get to know one another better.
  • It develops leadership.
  • It allows for discussion by those who do not normally discuss in a larger class setting.
  • It forces students to have to think and really consider the topic.
  • It allows the teacher to learn from the different perspectives presented.
  • It allows more material to be covered with different groups having different topics and then all sharing their summaries.

Evertime I do this, which is typically in my men’s class of 20-30 men, I am jokingly accused of not wanting to teach!  While this is not the reason I do it, it does sometimes makes for an easier week for the teacher.  But significant preparation should go into the handout.  The key is developing good questions (see my post on this topic.)  So I primarily use groups about once a quarter, because they help me accomplish my Bible class teaching aims.

What are some ways to use this approach?

  • Text Discussion:  Assign a group a text or several texts from the Bible and have them discuss its meaning and application.  Make sure you have good questions to stimulate their discussion.
  • Topic Discussion:  Assign a topic to the group with some practical questions.  Share Biblical verses that relate for the group to read and consider.
  • Problem Solving:  Give the group a problem and ask them to come up with Bible verses or principles that should be used to deal with the problem, and require them to come up with an approach to the problem.  This technique is effective in leadership classes.  Make the group become “elders” or a “committee” who have to deal with a church problem.
  • Research:  Give the group some information and ask them to study and discuss the information being prepared to share their main findings with the larger group.  For example, you can do this with the Roman or Jewish worlds of the New Testament.
  • Reconstruct the story:  This idea can be challenging and you don’t want to embarrass people, but you can do a group project where each group must reconstruct the story from their memory without using a Bible.  I did this one time with the book of Ruth.
  • Ministry / Church Ideas:  You can use the groups to discuss the ministries and work of the local church.  New ideas and ways to revamp existing ministries can come from this approach.  This is a good way to find out what people are thinking and ways they want to serve.
  • Service Projects: Have a service project that the groups are responsible for completing.  We have done this with Magi Boxes from Healing Hands where the class is divided into groups who decide how many boxes they want to do and get the supplies to make the gift boxes.

Have you used small discussion groups in Bible class?  What benefits have you seen?  What other ways can they be used?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/using-discussion-groups-in-bible-class/

Jan 21

Maybe The Best Thing I Have Done for My Ministry

It is hard to say what is the best thing I have done to enrich my ministry.  I have attended various lectureships, received a graduate degree, and read many books. I am blessed by reading ministry related blogs and listening to podcasts.  While all of these continue to enrich my work, maybe the best thing I have done over the last four years is meeting weekly with another minister to translate the original languages.

It started through me randomly mentioning to Jim Savage, a local counselor, that I was taking a graduate Greek readings class.  I told him how I needed to take the Hebrew language classes to finish my M. Div.  It was this conversation that led to the suggestion of us getting together and reading some texts together.  

From this inauspicious beginning came a great blessing to my life and ministry.  Jim and I have been getting together most weeks and reading the original text since the Fall of 2010.  We simply work through a passage by reading it in the original language; each taking a verse and then translating it.  For those that don’t know Jim, he is about 30 years older than myself and much more educated and wiser.  He attended Harding Graduate school, got a doctorate from Hebrew Union in Cincinnati, and completed a second doctorate in counseling.

The time has served several functions for me over the years.  It has been an enriching devotional experience for me, when I am able to connect with the text without the aim of lesson preparation.  But it has also been a mustard seed producer for many sermons, Bible classes, articles, and posts.  We don’t translate the text with the goal of getting a lesson, but discover lessons while translating the text.  Finally, Jim has been source of encouragement and wisdom for me through the years.  Sometimes, we wouldn’t get much text translated, but have some tremendous dialogue.  I have also used the time to sharpen some written articles like the article I had published in Restoration Quarterly on the Goel Custom in Ruth or a chapter I wrote once on forgiveness.

Though we do very little work outside of the hour-and-half we spend translating we have covered a lot of material over the years.  We read through Mounce’s Graded Greek reader and the Pratico and Van Pelt’s Hebrew Graded reader which contain numerous key passages of the Old and New Testament.  We have translated Jonah, Ruth, 1 John, Philippians, and many other sections.  For almost one year we did nothing but work with my introduction to Hebrew class.

I am sharing this post to encourage other ministers to develop some habit like this one.  It has been one of the most enriching things for my ministry.  Now you may be thinking, I don’t know greek and certainly not hebrew.  Well, I don’t know them very well either!  I have had some training, but I have also invested in Accordance Bible Software.  The software will parse and define the words for me when I don’t know them, which is often!

You may say, well what difference does it make to do it in the original language.  First, let me say that if you can’t do this in the original language get together with another brother and read the English text together.  But if you work a little, using the original language will open up a whole new world of discovery.  By using the original you are able to see patterns in the text, notice word plays, and get a better feeling for the meaning and intent of the words.  Plus, when you are forced to look at a passage in the original, you are forced to slow down, examine, and not skip over because of familiarity.

So if you had greek in college, but haven’t used it in years, let me encourage you to pick it back up.  Invest in a Bible software program, find a friend who reads some greek, and start working through the text together.  It may be the best thing you do for your ministry!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/maybe-the-best-thing-i-have-done-for-my-ministry/

Jan 18

Has Country Music Gone Drunk and Party Crazy?

acoustic guitar by bubbelsI grew up listening to country music.  While I was driving a tractor though the summer it was a big chunk of my listening. I still listen to it some, but overall our family’s radio dial isn’t on country music anymore.

One of the biggest complaints I have is the amount of songs that focus on partying and getting drunk, not to mention the ones that are focused on sex.

I know what you are thinking–country music has always gone hand-and-hand with alcohol.  While there is some truth to this; country songs in the 80s and 90s did have lots of alcohol references.  But I think it has changed significantly in the amount and type of references.  It is no longer just a passing reference, or a focus on the bottle being an answer, but many songs are about binge drinking or extolling the glory of alcohol.  “The old guys were regretfully drunk,” says songwriter Adam Wright, “The new guys are proud to be drunk. There’s a little bit of a different spin.”¹

I went through Billboard’s current top 25 Hot Country songs and found that 5 of them were expressly focused on this theme.  One of the songs, “Sun Daze” has the line, “I want to wear my favorite shades and get stoned.” The top 25 has songs titles like “A Guy Walks into a Bar,” “Neon Lights,” “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey,” and “Drinking Class.”

Over the last few years other songs have been popular like “Bartender,” “Drunk on a Plane,” “Cold One,” “Sunshine and Whiskey,” “Day Drinking,” “Rum,” and the most appalling song, “Beer with Jesus.”

Not only has this preacher noticed this trend but the industry itself has observed this trend with some concern (check out this article:  Does Country Music Need Alcohol Intervention?).  This music appeals to the “party crowd.”  Radio station owners don’t like so many alcohol-themed songs. In fact, the industry has tried to move back from so many of these songs as the industry was out of balance.¹

I assure you I have no power or influence in the country music industry to stop this type of music.  But Christians should be aware of this trend.  I think it reflects the binge drinking, party atmosphere of much of our worldly culture.  We should guard our children against this type of music.  I remember when I grew up, “rock” or “heavy metal” music were the scorn of the church, but country music was overall considered pretty safe.  While this may not have been the case then, it certainly is not now!!

I will close with a story from a fellow father of young children at church.  He said he was listening to the radio one day going to work and counted like 10 songs in a row that he would not want his young girls to hear.  They were all about drinking or improper sexual relationships.  The rest of us need to join him and turn the radio off if this is the type of music the country industry is going to produce!


¹  http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/6193478/country-music-alcohol-intervention

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/has-country-music-gone-drunk-and-party-crazy/

Jan 13

Have We Confused People in our Use of the Term “Gospel?”

GospelI believe we are often misleading in our use of the word “gospel” in the church.

We will typically say the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  It is the good news of His coming, dying, and being raised for our salvation.  But then when we teach Galatians 1:6-9 regarding people perverting the gospel and turning to another gospel, we  define it in a much broader way.  In applying this passage we see those who are not following overall New Testament teachings as being guilty of perverting the gospel.  Thus, those who teach salvation at belief alone through he sinner’s prayer, have women in public leadership roles, or add instruments of music to their worship without New Testament authority are perverting the gospel.

We speak of “gospel” preachers and “gospel” meetings.  Many, including myself,  have even used an evangelistic teaching method focused around “obeying the gospel” and teach that the term is a reference to baptism.

We are critical of those who want to reduce the gospel down to simply the “death, burial, and resurrection” so that other matters are secondary and not as necessary to obey or follow.  I heard a speaker one time argue that the farther the issues were from this central theme the less they were binding and authoritative for churches today.  The Lord’s Supper and baptism are close to Jesus’ DBR (death, burial, resurrection) but other issues like worship, women’s role, and church leadership are farther, and thus not as binding on local churches from different times and cultures.

As I recently studied Paul’s teachings to the Galatians in 1:6-9, I made the observation that how one defines or reads the term “gospel” greatly impacts their convictions.  Many only consider the DBR of Jesus, while others consider the whole NT document as the gospel.

After the sermon my wife, who is my best sermon critic and life-time church member, said “it is confusing, we shouldn’t say the word means two things, all my life I have heard it refers to the DBR.”

After this study, sermon, and discussion, it is my contention that we should be more consistent in our usage of the term “gospel.”  I think we can actually harm the understanding and obedience to the gospel by referring to it as simply the DBR of Jesus.

So what is the Gospel?

The gospel is the message about Jesus’ atoning death and victorious resurrection (1 Cor. 15:1-5, Gal. 1:4).  But it is also the message of Jesus.  The gospel accounts tell the “gospel of Jesus Christ.”  The Sermon on the Mount and the rest of Jesus’ teachings are certainly a part of the gospel.

The gospel is also what the Apostles taught as they received inspiration from Jesus.  Paul says in the context of Galatians 1 that he received his gospel directly from Jesus Christ (v. 11-12).  The gospel Paul spoke of was not limited to just the DBR of Jesus, but clearly involved the truth of salvation by faith separate from works of the old law (Gal. 2:2-16).  Paul called it the “gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24) and the “gospel of salvation” (Eph. 1:13).  Thus, all of the New Testament message is the gospel.  It is the message about and of Jesus Christ.

The gospel is to be obeyed (Rom. 10:16; Gal. 5:7; 1 Pet 4:17, 2 Thess. 1:7-9).  Obeying the gospel certainly involves being united with the DBR of Jesus in baptism (Rom. 6:3-6), but it is not limited to baptism.  This is obeying the gospel, but so is obedience to any other Biblical teaching and command.

I would suggest that the gospel is very similar to other NT terms like “the faith” and “the truth.”  It refers to a core body of teachings given in the NT writings which Christians are to follow.

Paul’s Warning in Galatians 1 is about exchanging the true gospel for a counterfeit one.  When we transpose our beliefs for the true gospel we are guilty.  This is serious business which means a forsaking of God and brings us under the judgment of God.

I have said all of this to encourage us in the church to be more consistent and precise in our use of the term “gospel.”  We are inconsistent when we define it often as the DBR of Jesus and then in other contexts speak of those who are perverting the gospel.  Our use of this term, may be one reason why some of our number, especially youth, have opened themselves to false doctrine, because they see the gospel Paul speaks of as only talking about the DBR of Jesus.  In their view, as long as you believe in that, everything else doesn’t really matter that much.

***To listen to my sermon visit the Audio Resources Page and listen to the sermon “A Perverted Gospel” from 1-11-15.

What are your thoughts?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/have-we-confused-people-in-our-use-of-the-term-gospel/

Jan 11

Have a Missions Class

purchased / copyrighted photo

purchased / copyrighted photo

Is your church involved in missions?

When was the last time you had a Bible class studying missions?

At Seven Oaks we didn’t know if we had ever had a class on missions.  We are currently having a class open for any to attend on Sunday mornings.  It is aimed at those primarily involved in our work in El Salvador.  But the class has been a great blessing.

I actually did a graduate internship on missions which involved teaching a class on missions back in 1999.  I had some good resources on missions from the class and the internship.  I believe the class would be a great blessing for any church.

Here are some topics you could cover in the class:

  • The God of Missions
  • The Great Commission
  • Paul’s missionary efforts
  • Missions in the Restoration movement
  • The Goal of Missions
  • The Local Church’s role in missions
  • Various Types of missions
  • How to support missions and missionaries.
  • Short-term team missions
  • Challenges of missions
  • Current fields and reports from missionaries the church is supporting
  • Cultural issues and geographical studies related to your mission field
  • Leadership and missions

What other topics would you suggest?

Since our class has a partial focus of preparing for the El Salvador mission team we spent December in general missions studies regarding the God of missions, the church’s current mission efforts, and the goal of missions.  In January, we are discussing working together as a team and the individual’s role on the team.  In February, the class is going to target the work in El Salvador.  We are using a team of teachers to teach the class.

If you would like some of the resources, a bibliography, or copies of our lessons I would be glad to share what I can with you.  Just leave a comment or send me an email.  

Give it some thought, but I know your church would be blessed by studying missions.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/have-a-missions-class/

Jan 07

Every “ONE” Counts Ministry

One Dollar by darrendean

One Dollar by darrendean

In 2014, the Seven Oaks Church of Christ did a new benevolent ministry. This ministry proved successful and I wanted to share it with others.  The idea is certainly not original to us and has been done by other churches in various forms.

We simply asked every individual in attendance Sunday morning to give a $1.  We then take the number in attendance and give it to someone in need or a worthy cause.

The elders decided it would be easier just to budget the money.  There was an estimate based on the average attendance and the number of Sundays.  This did significantly increase the budget so we really did depend on folks to give their $1.

We put a deacon over the ministry who works with a team each week to disperse the monies.  We asked our church members to make referrals of those to help. The program recipient for the week had to be referred by a church member.  If possible the church member will then get the check and take it to the person.  We include a form letter explaining the ministry and inviting the recipient to church.

This year we gave out over $13,500 in aid to our community.  The money can also be used for special service projects, a visiting missionary, or anything deemed worthy.

We kept the names of the recipients anonymous from the general membership, though we did run a blurb in the bulletin sharing what the money went towards without any names.  But we have received many thank you notes from recipients that were printed in the bulletin.

Through 2014, we were able to help numerous fire victims, cancer patients, accident victims, our own members with gas, food, Christmas gifts, and other necessities.  We helped a tremendous amount of people and they were all connected with our members and were all situations of real need.

We basically did not do any other benevolent ministry, except our food pantry.  In years past we had done a Give Away Day and also helped those who applied with bills and other items.  This ministry helps us obey the teachings of Jesus in helping the poor and others with immediate needs.  It creates opportunities for evangelism and outreach of our own members.  Plus, we have received very good public relations from this ministry. Our community has appreciated and been astounded at this work and our members have been very supportive.

We are looking forward to more good works with this ministry in 2015.


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Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/every-one-counts-ministry/

Jan 06

Socks in the Laundry and 15 Years of Marriage

IMG_0333What is it with socks in the laundry?

They go in a pair and come out a single!  With 12 feet in our household we have lots of socks.  The concept seems pretty simple though.  You put the dirty socks in the laundry and clean socks come out in the dryer.  Somehow it seems only one makes it through the process.

Who knows where the other sock ends up; someone suggested they turn into tupperware!  I agree because there is always a ton of tupperware ready to  come flying out of the top cabinet and hit me in the face and scatter all over the floor.

We made the monuments decision to throw away all the accumulated socks. We started laundry again and in less than a month we already have a bunch of single socks again.

While I have been trying to deal with keeping socks a pair, I celebrated my 15th anniversary.  I think a lot about marriage.  My own marriage most and then trying to help and encourage other people’s marriages.

You may think I am weird, but I think marriage is like a pair of socks going into the laundry.  You start out as a pair when married, but then the world hits you.  It throws you around, intermingles you with all kinds of other people, throws cold water in your face and puts intense pressure like heat on you.  In short, the world does everything to pull you apart and divide you.  Satan uses all of his devises to split you up!!

As I reflected on my 15 years with Amanda I realized that we are closer now than ever.  But it is because of our intense desire to stay together–I don’t just mean stay married, I mean stay connected emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  Thanks in large part to her passion for  close friendship relationship we are tight.

But marriage is a lot like socks going into the laundry.  The natural pull is for you to be separated–to grow distant, aloof, involved in personal pursuits, and frustrated with the other.

The only way you can stay together is through intentionally working on it everyday.  Waking up and thinking: How can I serve?  How can I win their heart?  What is going on in their world? When can we be together and just talk?

Hummm, I guess this is what God meant when he said a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave [be joined, glued, bonded] to his wife and become one flesh. (Gen. 2:24)

BTW – Thanks Amanda for clinging to me for the last 15 years.  I look forward to many more! I love you!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/socks-in-the-laundry-and-15-years-of-marriage/

Dec 28

Top 10 Posts of 2014

Top Ten Key Showing Best Rated In ChartsWell 2014 is coming to an end and I appreciate all who have read posts this year.  I especially want to say thanks to all who are subscribed through email and those who share posts on Facebook. 

Here are the top 10 posts for 2014 based on number of views.  I will try to do a second post later on my favorite posts from 2014.

1.  What I Wish Everyone Knew about the Church of Christ - 8-14-14 –  This post was read way more than any other post I have ever written.

2.  In Only a Week – 6-5-14

3. Boxtrolls – A New Cartoon with a Homosexual Agenda – 10-3-14

4.  Now What . . . Life After an Affair - 9-28-14

5.  Government Religious Restrictions Come to New Pathways Home in Kentucky – 7-16-14

6.  Should Christians Discourage Belief in Santa Claus? – 12-11-14

7.  Dr. Kent Brantly and Risky Faith – 8-5-14

8.  Should Christians Support the Nation of Israel? – 8-19-14

9.  Farm Report #4 – Failed But Succeeded – 7-27-14

10.  Why Your Children Should Visit a Nursing Home – 4-2-13

Once again thanks for reading.  By the way if you are not subscribed to get every post in your email inbox you can do so at the upper right side of the page.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/top-posts-10-of-2014/

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