Aug 30

Caleb Illustrates Our Trivial Worries!

Caleb - coopCaleb, our baby in the family who is almost 3 years old, was worried.  Caleb had a long nap so he was amped up before bed on Wednesday night.  Amanda was talking to him about the next day going to coop with the older kids and him going to his classes.  The week before he had not done well, crying and not wanting to leave Amanda’s side.  But he had been upset that he didn’t get to stay with his friends and get his snack.  So he was jumping around in his room telling his friends not to leave.  He didn’t want the teacher leaving and he wanted to make sure he got his snack.

We got him up and let him relax a bit by watching a show, but he kept worrying about the next day.  He would count off his classes on his fingers and what he was going to be doing.  He would ramble on about his friends and his snack.  We couldn’t make sense of most of it, but he was worried and excited.  We finally got him to sleep around 11:00 after having to make him not get out of bed.

The coop the next day went wonderful for him.  He stayed in class without crying, got his snack, and none of his friends ran out on him!

As parents, we knew his worries were needless and unprofitable, but in his mind it was real.  Remind you of anything?  It is like Amanda asked me, “How often does God think the same about us as our parent?”  We fret and worry, staying up late, or waking up early with things on our minds, when God is thinking “this is no big deal!”  God wants us to trust him, but it is tough for us immature kids to do that isn’t it?

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  (Matthew 6:30–33 ESV)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/caleb-illustrates-our-trivial-worries/

Aug 26

What I Wish Everyone Knew about Worship

worship.001You want to start a discussion, or maybe I should say an argument, then get off on the topic of worship.  People have strong convictions about worship.  Worship is quite possibly the hardest thing we as mere mortal humans ever try to do!  Worship is so connected to our faith and what we do in service to God.

If I could share a message about worship with everyone, I would want them to know these three things about worship from God’s word.

  1. Worship is about God.  This basic thought is so revolutionary and counter-cultural from our present world.  The world says worship is about the experience and how it makes you feel.  It is human-centric, while the Bible says worship is to be God-centric.  Worship is directed toward God.  In its basic Biblical meaning it is offering reverence, devotion, and homage to God.  Jesus says the Father is seeking true worshippers to “worship him” (John 4:23). What motivates worship is a knowledge of God and what He has done for us (Mat. 4:10)!  Worship is a response.  If you don’t want to worship, then there is something lacking in your love of God!
  2. Worship must be in spirit and in truth.  Jesus says that true worshippers will offer worship in both spirit and truth (John 4:24).  By spirit, Jesus means that our worship should be offered with the proper heart and emotion.  Our worship is offered in the power of the Holy Spirit with a contrite attitude and broken heart.  Our heart loves and our mind is attuned to the acts of devotion we are offering.  To worship in truth means to worship in a real and genuine way.  This involves our actions in worship.  Our worship must be according to His truth or His will (John 4:24; Mat. 15:7-9).  Worship isn’t about what man wants, but it is about what God has commanded!  We don’t just get to choose what acts, we offer to God, but we offer acts prescribed in His word. Thus, we should pray, preach, sing, give, and commune in the Lord’s Supper with God each Lord’s day.¹
  3. Worship changes you!  You become like what you worship (2 Kings 17:15)!  If you focus on the idols of our culture like success and fortune you will become like them.  If you focus on God, you will become loving, holy, righteous, and merciful.  Though worship is about God, it has a tremendous reciprocal affect of shaping the worshipper.  It shapes their identity, promotes love of one another, calls us to holiness, strengthens our souls, and inspires us to greater levels of faith and service.  True worshippers, who experience God, leave changed and molded into being more like God!

There is so much more to this important topic of worship, but these three foundational points should be the basis for all knowledge and growth.  Let us be reminded and help everyone to learn these great truths.

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¹  It wasn’t the scope of this short post to give Biblical proof for each of these acts of worship, but if you need such for personal study please contact me in the comments.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/what-i-wish-everyone-knew-about-worship/

Aug 25

Protecting Your Church from Lawsuits

With the Supreme Court’s recent decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States churches must consider protecting themselves and their staff.  Churches that hold to the Biblical doctrine that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman find themselves at odds to many in our culture.  The concern is that same-sex couples will desire to use church facilities and beseech church staff to officiate at weddings.  This leads to the fear that when these requests are made and declined that accusations and lawsuits will result.

While much of this is only speculation at this point, it does seem prudent for churches, Christian schools, and ministries to take precautions to ensure their beliefs are upheld and they have legal protection.

We at Seven Oaks Church of Christ in Mayfield, Kentucky recently wrote and revised a couple of documents to help provide us protection.  Following the guidance and legal counsel taken from the Alliance Defending Freedom group and their free brochure “Protecting Your Ministry (part 1 and 2)” we constructed a Statement of Faith and revised our Building Use Policy.  I found this document by ADF, which was given to me, to be extremely helpful and informative.  It is free and accessible at their website.

We produced a Statement of Faith which gives a brief overview of our core beliefs and contains clear statements regarding our church’s position on marriage, gender issues, and sanctity of life.  While we want to be clear that this Statement of Faith is not a creed or document that in any way supersedes the authority of Scripture, we believe this document will help provide a written statement of our church’s position on these important issues.  It will also help to provide a concise statement for those who are desiring to learn about our church’s beliefs.  You are welcome to read our Statement of Faith

Next, we revised our Building Use Policy which has been in existence since 2006.  The policy is primarily used when folks want to use the building for a wedding.  We included statements in the policy regarding approved weddings ceremonies and made references to any functions being consistent with our church’s Statement of Faith and moral teachings.  You can read it as well —Building Use Policy- Updated 2015.

Both of these documents seek to provide protection for the church legally and for the staff and property of the church against lawsuit and being used in a manner inconsistent with our beliefs.  I would encourage your church family to consider taking the time to formulate similar documents.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/protecting-your-church-from-lawsuits/

Aug 19

Who Needs Encouragement to Wait on Jesus?

Dawn of Eternity 2 by Waiting on the Word at Flickr

Dawn of Eternity 2 by Waiting on the Word at Flickr

In the last post I wrote about Jesus being Lord, though our world is messed up!

In this post, I want to follow with a thought on who needs encouragement to wait on Jesus in hope!

The New Testament writers often encouraged us to wait on Jesus in hope.  We get so wrapped up in our modern lives, that we tend to neglect longing and waiting on Jesus.  Yet the NT says that Christians are to be waiting (Rom. 8:21-25; Gal. 5:5; 1 Thess. 1:10; Heb. 9:28; James 5:7; 2 Peter 3:12-14).

What people specifically need encouragement to wait in hope!

1.  Those who need vindication!  In Revelation 6:9-11, the souls martyred cry out “How long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”  Those who are victimized and ostracized because of their faith wait in hope for Christ’s vengeance.  Our brethren undergoing persecution in Nigeria, Ukraine, and other countries today must wait in hope!  Those that have been shamefully and unethically treated by friends or family must wait in hope for God’s vengeance.  We are not to seek revenge, but wait on God’s retribution (Rom. 12:19-21).

2.  Those who are suffering!  So many faithful Christians are hurting.  It maybe cancer, which seems to affect so many families, or a rarer disease like ALS or MS.  Suffering can be a great trial of faith and perseverance.  When our mind and body deteriorate, we must wait on the Lord in hope!

3.  Those who miss loved ones!  But all suffering is not physical, much is also emotional and grief oriented.  For those who are aching for a dear loved one who has gone on to the Lord’s side, they wait in hope!  For parents who have buried young children, or the spouse who lost their best friend, they wait in hope.  The years left on earth can seem like an eternity before that reunion, but our spiritual eyes tell us they are but a moment compared to the endless ages of eternity.

4.  Those who long for Jesus!  The New Testament writers spoke so much about anticipating and longing for Jesus’ return because of their great love for Him. They didn’t fear or dread His coming, but it was an anticipated event that would usher in heaven and complete fellowship with Christ.  Jesus promised to return and take us to be with him so we could always be in His presence (John 14:1-4).  Heaven is not so much about the what, but the who!

Are you a part of the “those” I just wrote about?  If not, you should be!

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Visit the Audio Resources Page to listen to a sermon on this theme called “Waiting on Jesus”

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/who-needs-encouragement-to-wait-on-jesus/

Aug 18

Jesus is Lord, Even Though Our World is Messed Up!

Tthrone by teslacoilshough the Apostles and early Christians were a persecuted lot who endured difficult times, they were bold and courageous.  They lived like they knew a secret and held a conviction that others did not!  Their motivation was the belief that “Jesus is Lord.”  This is the message that they proclaimed on Pentecost.  It is the message that Paul carried throughout the Gentile world.  It is the overriding theme of Revelation, when John wrote to 7 beleaguered churches who were facing persecution.

Do we truly believe this today?

Maybe there is no “truer” verse for our emotional feelings than Hebrews 2:8.

“Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.”

Did you read that –“At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.”  Jesus is Lord.  He is in control, but so much in the world is not yet under His authority.

At present we see a world filled with sin and suffering.  Death rips a hole in families.  Children get cancer.  Wars rage across the world.  Poverty, poor sanitation, and starvation plague our world.  Loyal spouses are betrayed through unfaithful lovers.  Drunken drivers kill the innocent on our roadways.  Churches split and fuss over buildings and preachers.  Our hospitals and funeral homes are prominent in all of our towns.  Countless hordes live with depression and emptiness.

At present we do not see all things in subjection to Him!  But we as Christians know the secret!  We know the truth!  God is on his throne!  Jesus is Lord and Christ!  He is the head of His Church.  Thus, we live differently today because Jesus is Lord.  We live lives of holiness and hopefulness.  We find peace in the midst of chaos.

We believe that the present is not an indication of who is truly in charge!  We wait and long for his return and the end when he makes all things right and everything is under subjection to Him! (Heb. 2:8-9; 1 Cor. 15:23-28)

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For a sermon on this theme see the lesson “Waiting on Jesus” in the Audio Resources.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/jesus-is-lord-even-though-our-world-is-messed-up/

Aug 16

10 Lessons on Parenting from a Small Family Farm

Adam Faughn, a fellow blogger and preacher, asked me to write a guest post for his site A Legacy of Faith.  He assigned the interesting topic of “10 Lessons on Parenting from a Small Family Farm.”

Adam wrote a post for me this past week on “3 Ways To Turn Off Guests at Worship.”

Check out the post I wrote about the Farm on his site at this link.

http://www.faughnfamily.com/10-lessons-parenting-small-family-farm/

10 lessons from a small family farm

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/10-lessons-on-parenting-from-a-small-family-farm/

Aug 13

Don’t Constantly Compare Yourself to Others!

Generation by Gregor Varl at www.freeimages.com

Generation by Gregor Varl at www.freeimages.com

We don’t want to be judged by others, yet we can be guilty of constantly comparing ourselves to others.

We go through our days holding up measuring sticks to ourselves based on what we assume about others.

We think things like this . . .

  • We are the same age, yet they look much younger and skinner!
  • I do the same job they do, yet they have a nicer car and a bigger house.
  • I should of gotten up earlier, like them.  OR I am doing better than them, I got up early and made it to work an hour early.
  • I may not be that strong of a Christian, but I am much better than them.
  • I go to church on Wednesday nights, which makes me better than half the church!
  • I couldn’t talk to an elder about my problem, they are such wonderful Christians, and I am so embarrassed with my life.

Paul spoke to this issue when he wrote, “But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding” (2 Cor. 10:12).  He is writing about how the false teachers were judging themselves by one another, instead of Christ.

When we compare ourselves with others, we generally obtain an inaccurate measurement.  We then make one of two assumptions.  We think–they are better than us or we are better than them!  Isn’t that true?  Truthfully, we are often comparing ourselves so we can either feel good or bad about ourself.  It creates jealousy of others and also fosters an unhealthy and unrealistic view of ourselves.  I am not suggesting all comparisons are wrong. We are social beings and some healthy comparisons are needed.  We can even gain motivation and insight from comparing ourselves to others, but we must be careful.

So what is the right approach?  Guard yourself against constantly comparing yourself against others.  Find contentment and peace in who God created you to be.  You are unique and special.  You are the only one living your life!  Paul tells to not compare ourselves to others, but constantly be seeking to grow into “mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).

You can always find someone that does better than you, just as you can always find someone that does worse than you.  Don’t spend all your time looking and fretting about either category.  Focus on your own ability and responsibility before Christ.  Go be you!  It will make your life more productive and your joy more full! 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/dont-constantly-compare-yourself-to-others/

Aug 12

3 Ways to Turn Off Guests at Worship

3 Ways to Turn off Guests.001Guest Post Introduction:  Adam Faughn

This is a Guest Post by a fellow blogger Adam Faughn.  Adam has been blogging for many years and does an excellent job.  You can read his blog as well as other family members’ posts at their site “A Legacy of Faith.”  Check out their website as they have all kinds of great resources available.  Adam is the preacher at the 9th Avenue Church of Christ in Haleyville, Alabama.

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Every congregation wants to have guests. Some are just passing through the area traveling, some are visiting family or friends, and some are lost souls from the community who are looking for something.

I don’t know of a congregation of God’s people anywhere that does not want guests to come back, especially those who are lost and in need of the saving message of Jesus. Because of that, I do not know any congregation that intentionally does things to turn the mindset of guests away from the church.

However, too often, we can do things unintentionally that can turn off guests and make then at least question whether they want to return or not. Often, they are small things, and often they are done with a good heart, but these things can still turn guests away. While there are many, this post will share just three to get your mind started.

1.  Referring to them as “visitors.” We have “visitor’s cards,” “visitor’s centers,” and even “visitor’s parking” at many congregations. All of this is well-intentioned, but “visitor” implies that you are just passing through and not planning on staying. You may have noticed that, earlier in this article, I kept using the term “guests.” That is the mindset we need to have. Being a guest means you are welcome, honored, and we want you to stay.

2.  Singling them out. If you are going to have name tags, ribbons, or other wearables for guests, by all means, expect your members to wear something, too! Also, having guests stand so that everyone knows they are there is embarrassing. Instead, find a way that is unobtrusive, such as just giving everyone 60-90 seconds to greet everyone around them before services begin, instead of singling out guests only.

3. Not inviting them anywhere else. When we lived in Nashville, it was more customary for someone to invite a guest to a restaurant. Maybe where you live, it is to your home for lunch. But it could be something simpler, such as inviting them to sit with you at Bible class, or to come to your house later in the week for a glass of lemonade. Invite guests to study the Bible, or to class, or to….something! The invitation to anything speaks volumes about how you value this person’s interest.

Again, there are countless things we can do that make a guest’s time with us at worship uncomfortable (we didn’t even talk about the ever-unpopular “you’re sitting in my seat” comment), but these three are enough to get your mind started. How do you personally treat guests in worship? How is your congregation handling these very special individuals who choose to worship with you?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/3-ways-to-turn-off-guests-at-worship/

Aug 09

Apologetics Lessons – Our “6 Questions” Seminar with Eric Lyons

AP logoOn July 31 – August 2 we were blessed to have Eric Lyons with us for the weekend.  We called the seminar “6 Questions.”  Eric addressed 6 of the most relevant and important questions in our world today.  Eric is a great speaker, tremendous student of God’s word, and a faithful friend to my family.

Are you aware of the good work and tremendous resources of Apologetics Press?  If you are in need of sound Biblical scientific information you should check out their website and books.  Dave Miller, Eric Lyons, Kyle Butt, and other AP employees also speak frequently throughout the country.  This is a good work.  Their website receives over 2 million visits annually.  They also have great resources for children including Bible School curriculum, Digger Doug videos, and age-appropriate books.

You can listen to Eric’s lessons answering these six questions by visiting the Audio Resources page.

Is the Bible Accurate and True?

Why is there Pain and Suffering?

What was the Real Jurassic World Like?

Is Evolution a Fact of Science?

Is Satan real, and if so, Why?

Why should I believe in Jesus?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/apologetics-lessons-our-6-questions-seminar-with-eric-lyons/

Aug 06

Reasons I Love Preaching

Reasons I love preaching.001I am a first generation preacher.  I never really planned or expected to be a preacher.  I was lead that way through a series of events which I wrote about yesterday.  I am thankful to be a preacher.  I tend to think preachers can exaggerate in their own minds the difficulties and burdens of the profession.  I know many good brothers have undergone much hardship and  mistreated, but overall preaching is a great work!  We need to be careful about always bemoaning its stresses and challenges, lest we harm the work of Christ and hinder others from entering this noble work.

Here are some reasons I love preaching!

  1. You get to study!  I enjoy studying.  In fact, I enjoy studying more than putting lessons together. Many times I have enjoyed the research and learning, but find it work to organize and communicate it to others.  In preaching you are paid and expected to study God’s word and other relevant sources.  This is a powerful blessing!
  2. The brethren!  You get to work with the greatest people on the planet.  Your brothers and sisters in Christ will love you and care for you.  They want what is best for you and seek to encourage you.  Your fellow Christians become close friends and family members.  They love you as you love them!
  3. Open doors!  Being a preacher, because of cultural reasons, opens lots of doors to discuss Jesus, help people’s marriage, and minister to the grieving.  Preaching gains you an entrance more readily into peoples homes and hearts.
  4. The opportunities for your family.  While many preachers have sacrificed their family because of the business of the work, preaching affords opportunities for families to work together in the service of the church.  My children work and help me around the office and in visitation.  My wife is one of my biggest teammates and partners in the work.  We go together as a family to visit, attend lectureships and speaking engagements, serve during work nights, and offer hospitality in our home.  I think it is a blessing for kids to grow up as preacher’s kids!
  5. The thrill of preaching!  Most preachers like the public preaching aspect the most.  It is why we typically got into the work.  I certainly agree with this sentiment.  I get excited when I have a lesson I am thrilled to present and believe will change people’s lives.  Preaching is exciting.
  6. The opportunity to lead and cast a vision.  I like looking into the future and dreaming.  I enjoy casting a vision and encouraging others to come on board and help make it happen.  I like planning and organizing future ministries and the direction of the church.
  7. The opportunity to counsel and minister.  It is a blessing to be able to help folks that are going through hard times.  A minister can point people to Jesus and the hope of the gospel.
  8. The blessing of helping people benevolently.  While this is often a challenging area, certainly not fun, it is great to have the support of a congregation and in-place ministries that help others who are in need.  While many may not change, or even be thankful, some do and it always makes an impact on my life.
  9. Being counted amongst the fraternity of preachers.  Friendship amongst preachers is special.  You can understand and encourage each other in your own unique ways.  I am glad I count so many as friends and brothers.
  10. I have a great office!  Ok, i was wanting this to be a list of 10, but on these hot summer days when I work out at the farm on Monday sweating buckets, I am thankful I can go to a cool office the rest of the week!

Why do you love preaching?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/reasons-i-love-preaching/

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