Jun 22

The Benefits of an In-State Mission Trip!

I preach for the Seven Oaks Church of Christ in Mayfield, Kentucky.  Kentucky has several counties that have only one church of Christ.  Now that my kids are getting older, I wanted to lead a group, with the help of my wife, to one of these congregations this year to preach a meeting and hold a VBS.  I was late in the planning of the trip, but it came together for us to work with the Menifee County Church of Christ in Frenchburg, Kentucky.  The Menifee County church is a small struggling church of less than 20.  The work has been going on for around 20 years.  The county is small with a total population of just over 6000.

We had a group of 21 from 7 Oaks go.  Our summer youth intern went with several of our teen group.  We had three families go and take their small children as well.  Plus, we had some single adults.  All in total, we had a great group of hard working Christians.

We left on Wednesday and returned on Sunday afternoon.  We were blessed to stay at a youth camp operated by the Rolling Hills Church of Christ in Mount Sterling, Kentucky.  The camp worked as a great home base for eating and lodging needs.  We worked with Randy and Cathy Imel who have served the church there almost 17 years.  Randy and Cathy are a wonderful family who faithfully serve the Lord despite the difficult work of growing the church in this area.  They were so kind, loving, and hospitable to us.  We all were encouraged by their love and loyalty to the  Lord.

Randy and Cathy Imel

We spent Thursday and Friday door-knocking the town and county.  We were able to easily do the populated areas and much of the rural neighborhoods.  The ladies prepared for VBS while the teens and kids practiced their VBS skits.  One of our men, who is an electrician by trade, repaired the lights for the church.  I preached the gospel on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  The VBS went from 10 to 2 on Saturday.  We had three skits, crafts, lunch, and games.

The Benefits of an In-State Mission Trip

  1. It allows for folks that may not want to fly or have the time for a longer trip to go on a mission effort.
  2. The cost is substantially less because of travel distance and time away from home.
  3. It helps practice evangelism in a similar context as back home, which will hopefully help evangelism be easier back home.
  4. It helps open our eyes to the world we live in close to our home.  We were able to experience poverty and a surprising different culture here in our own state.  We came back more appreciative of our area and grateful for the strength of the church in our community.
  5. It allows for a wider range of people to go on the trip.  We had from 4 year olds up on our trip.  We had whole families and we had a group of teens.  It really was not possible to take a group with the dynamics of ours on a long trip.
  6. It encourages a struggling church.  We were able to provide a free VBS and gospel meeting for this very small church.  It helped expose our group to a mission church and to experience its challenges first hand.

We were very blessed by this trip.  We are grateful for the Menifee County Church of Christ hosting us and appreciating our efforts.  We pray the trip will continue to produce glory to God.

Sunday Morning Worship

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/the-benefits-of-an-in-state-mission-trip/

Jun 20

New Issues for Today’s Parents

Our kids playing!

Parenting has always been tough.  Great Biblical heroes struggled to be good parents.  David was a great king and psalmist but failed in numerous ways as a parent.  Samuel and Eli both had rebellious sons who brought shame to their legacy.  Jesus even pictures God the Father as having a rebellious son in the parable of the prodigal son.

But parents today face new challenges that previous generations did not face.  Here are a few issues that parents today must intentionally determine to manage in order to raise faithful Christians and responsible adults.  

  1. Phones – The cell-phone revolution has had dramatic effects for our culture.  Research says the average age of kids getting their first smartphone is 10.3 in 2016.  Texting is the primary form of communication used by adolescents and teens.  Smartphones allow access to the internet, social media, and games.  The same study reported 24% of kids are allowed unrestricted private access to the internet.¹  Parents must set guidelines to protect their children from exposure and too much phone usage.  They must teach the child self-discipline and train them how to use the phone for when they will leave their home.
  2. Media Exposure –  Kids growing up today are exposed to far more media than any generation before.  There are more TV channels and ways to view shows than ever before.  The onslaught of streaming services like YouTube and Netflix make media access unlimited.  But it isn’t just the amount of media parents must battle, but it is the filthy quality of so much of the media that parents must combat.
  3. Sports Participation – The current generation of kids are being raised with more opportunities and expectations of participation than ever before.  Most parents feel like they are not being a “good parent” if they don’t have their child involved in sports and extracurricular activities.  Youth sports has moved from local recreation or backyard fun to travel teams that involve higher levels of skill, cost more money, and go year-a-round.  Sports can fill up the family calendar and often become a direct competition for involvement in the local church.
  4. Homosexual Agenda – Over the last 20 years the homosexual movement has gone mainstream.  Gay characters fill the movies and TV shows.  Gay celebrities and sports stars are lauded as heroes.  The Supreme Court has allowed gay marriage to stand in this nation.  More frightening than this is the agenda’s emphasis upon adolescents to consider their sexuality.  Kids are encouraged, while they are going through the difficult years of puberty, to consider they may be gay.  Kids, who are searching for an identity, often find one though the homosexual sub-culture.  Add this to the cultural emphasis on tolerance and acceptance and you have a real challenge for parents raising kids today.
  5. Gender Issues – The issues our culture is experiencing in regard to gender identity conversations is shocking.  Past generations never considered the need to intentionally teach a child they were a boy or a girl.  But now with transgender issues on the rise nationally and people being able to choose the bathroom of their gender identity rather than biological sex parents must deal with this topic.  Parents must emphasis what it means to be a man or a woman.

While it may seem I haven’t offered much help to Christian parents in this article, but simply listed the new issues those raising children today are facing, I hope this realization is helpful.  Parents today must WAKE UP!  We are facing key issues that past parents didn’t face.  Key issue that we didn’t face growing up.  Parents today must step up to the plate!  We must determine to intentionally wade into these issue with our children and guide them through these challenges with the aid of God’s word and His church.  We cannot set back and let the culture take the lead with our children.

——————–

¹  https://techcrunch.com/2016/05/19/the-average-age-for-a-child-getting-their-first-smartphone-is-now-10-3-years/

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/new-issues-for-todays-parents/

Jun 01

Have We Turned Shepherds into Fences?

Copyright Trevor Littlewood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The Bible speaks often about shepherds.  God is the Shepherd of Israel, who is the flock of His pasture (Ps. 23; 95).  Jesus describes himself as the “good shepherd” who knows his sheep and leads them to an abundant life (John 10).  Elders or overseers of the church are described in the New Testament as Shepherds.  They are to lead, feed, and protect the flock of God which they oversee (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-5).

But we fail to grasp this ancient image in our present culture.  When was the last time you saw a shepherd?  I mean a real shepherd who stood in a field all day and lead sheep across the countryside to water and fresh pasture.  I sometimes will call myself a shepherd because I have a small herd of sheep on our farm.  But I don’t truly shepherd them.  Instead, I use a modern form of shepherding called fences.  We use wire or electric fencing to keep our sheep within their boundaries.  We supply them their water in a trough and provide food for them within the fence.  The fence does the job of the shepherd for the most part.

As I thought about modern shepherding with fences, it occurred to me that we can do the same thing with elders in the church.  We can make them into fences.  Here are some ways we make shepherds into fences:

  • When we make them into a ruling board of directors who legislate from afar.
  • When we expect them to bring the water and food to us, and if we don’t like it we complain and may even break out and go to another pasture.
  • When we look at their leadership and authority as confining and restrictive, rather than for our good.
  • When we strip them of a personality and make them into a stereotype or group without a face that is slandered or misunderstood.
  • When we view them as aloof, distant, and unconcerned about our personal needs.
  • When we don’t see them as real men seeking to love Jesus and willingly offering their best, not perfection, to the Lord.
  • When we forget their role is tied to a relationship with us and our duty is trust and support.

We may not understand the ancient shepherd image, but we can surly understand the modern fence image.  Let’s not make our shepherds into fences. Elders need to work regularly to not see their work as a fence, simply standing guard from a distance bringing the sheep water and food.  Elders must realize their work is about being among the sheep.  They must live with them.  They must be in the pasture with them leading, feeding, and protecting.  Their work is about being an example.  A fence is not an example, it is only a boundary.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/have-we-turned-shepherds-into-fences/

May 30

Farm Report # 10: A Busy Winter!

We have had lots of activity on the farm the first 5 months of the year.  Here are a few significant things!

  1.  We bottle fed two lambs!  We named them Lewis and Clark.  Unfortunately after about 4 weeks, Clark died very suddenly.  He was always a little weak, but he seemed to be doing well.  We struggled this winter with some odd sickness in our sheep.  We consulted with our vet and had one treated, but lost 8 or 9 lambs or ewes this winter.  We lost two of our best mommas and several young lambs.  But after spring came and they got out on fresh pasture things seem to have improved.  Lewis is thriving, though he is closer to us and than the sheep, and refuses to join the herd.  He is a funny lamb!

2.  We got a new horse!  Let me introduce you to Daisy. Daisy is a beautiful paint horse we received free from some friends.  She is so sweet and loves people.  She is gentle and a good riding horse.  She just needs to be ridden more than we do.

3.  We have had three calves born and are expecting one more.  We got one extra!  Our young heifer we purchased last August from a family in TN, gave us a surprise calf.  Apparently their bull had made contact with her, without them knowing.  She was only about 14-15 months old when she gave birth.  But thankfully it has worked out and she gave us a nice little bull calf.  An extra bonus for this year.  We also had to bottle feed Judy’s calf because she had an utter problem.

This is Judy with her calf!

4.  Brooke got some rabbits.  Brooke has wanted rabbits for a long time.  So we built a hutch for them one day in a few hours using some material left around the farm.  I am sure we will have more rabbits than we need soon enough.

5.  The big news this winter was dad bringing his backhoe and a friend’s bulldozer over to clear and level much of the farm.  We gained probably about 4 more acres of pasture.  We cleared a bunch of overgrown brush filled with sapling trees and kudzu.  We pushed in a large ditch in the front so we have more pasture and we can cross to our front field without having to get on the road.  I have been working hard trying to prevent erosion.  We really appreciated all the hard work that dad, Joe Bob, and Jonas did.  We even got Amanda on the tractor doing some work.  We built up our front yard several feet by our house and lowered a hill that kept you from seeing the house.  The increase in pasture has helped make our rotational grazing easier this spring and will accommodate more animals.  Thanks so much Dad! 

6.  Finally, we have continued to enjoy the beauty of the farm.  It seems we are getting more settled and are able to enjoy the process and not feel so overwhelmed with the work load.  

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/farm-report-10-a-busy-winter/

May 25

7 Biblical Principles Not About Marriage That Will Transform Your Marriage

by hisks from www.sxc.hu

So often when we study the Bible regarding marriage we look to the classic texts.  Passages like Genesis 2, Matthew 19, and Ephesians 5. Those are great texts on the topic, but the whole Bible shares principles that are helpful for this most foundational of all relationships.  Here are seven Bible principles I have chosen from Scripture that will transform your marriage.

  1. Both partners are sinners  (Romans 3:23).  Marriage is tough because people are flawed.  Each person will make mistakes.  We struggle with insecurity, jealousy, guilt, greed, lust, and selfishness.  We are often deceived by sin and act impulsively giving into our fleshly nature.  We must give our spouse grace and understand they are not perfect; we certainly should understand our need for them to extend grace to us.
  2. Your thoughts shape your love (Prov. 23:7; Phil. 4:8; Ex. 20:17).  As a man thinks, so is he!  We must choose each day to think good about our spouse.  We should adopt a mindset of gratitude and joy.  A mindset that says I am the luckiest guy in the world to be married to her.  Consciously choosing to think well of your spouse and focus on their positive qualities greatly impacts your marital happiness and success.
  3. The golden rule still applies in marriage (Mat. 7:12).  Jesus’ basic relationship rule is to treat others as you would like to be treated.  This principle shapes our behavior and actions toward others.  But for some reason we often neglect to see how it also applies to our spouse.  When you are frustrated and upset with your spouse, challenge yourself to follow the golden rule!
  4. Bitterness will flavor everything in a marriage (Heb. 12:15-17).  The Hebrew writes says that we should see to it that no “root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble.”  Bitterness lies below the surface, like the root of the plant.  The outgrowth of it in our marriages involve harsh communication, anger, and a closed heart.  We must not let bitterness from past wrongs and hurts live within our marriage.  We must work out our problems and extend forgiveness.  If bitterness is allowed to take root it will influence all of our marriage till it eventually overtakes it.
  5. Greed destroys a union (Mat. 23:25; 2 Peter 2:3; 14; Mat. 6:24).  Greed harms a marriage because it causes money to be prioritized over the spouse.  When one or both partners focus on material gain and profit, it strains the relationship.  It regularly creates excessive debt and requires over-working which hinder the closeness of the marriage.  Many couples have ruined their marriage because they were greedy!
  6. Look up and out (John 4:34-35).  Jesus, in speaking about a spiritual harvest, encourages his disciples to lift up their eyes and see that the fields are white unto harvest.  While we need to focus on our marriage, we also need to lift up our eyes to the needs of others.    When a couple chooses to not be wrapped up in their own problems, but intentionally work together to serve others, they often draw closer together.  They are able to put their individual lights for Christ together and shine brighter!
  7. Do all for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31: John 17:1-4).  Our marriages are about the glory of God. Satan desires to destroy every marriage, because it hinders the glory of God. Spouses must realize that more is at stake with their marriage than their personal happiness.  Quite literally the glory of God in the world is at stake.  We must deny ourselves and our own glory, yielding to God’s greater purpose and glory through our marriage.

The Bible contains many more Biblical principles that can transform our marriages!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/7-biblical-principles-not-about-marriage-that-will-transform-your-marriage/

May 23

Considering Past, Present, and Future Leaders!

by Svilen Millev at freeimages.com

The magnificent book of Hebrews is drawing to a close.  But before the writer puts down his pen, he offers three instructions for  Christians and their leaders.  In studying these instructions, I noticed that you can make application for three time stages.  Please consider your relationship to each of these leaders you have had in your Christian walk.

  1. Past Leaders “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” (v. 7).  The church likely had past leaders who had become martyrs for the faith.  They had good leaders who had departed for eternity.  He was reminding them not to forget their example.  Their influence still carries own despite their death.  They should consider their teaching of the Word of God and be encouraged by the outcome of their faith.  They won the race and made a difference in this world through their faith.  We must not forget our leaders!  We must imitate!  Each of us should pause and reflect upon past leaders we have had that have blessed our lives.
  2. Present Leaders“Obey your leaders and submit to them for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.  Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (v. 17).  Christians are instructed to obey and submit to their leaders.  We should realize the blessing in having shepherds who watch out for our souls.  Our attitude toward present leaders should be to constantly compare them to past leaders, nor to criticize their every decision, but to obey and submit to them.
  3. Future Leaders“Greet all your leaders and all the saints” (v. 24).  While maybe only a simple salutation, this instruction to greet leaders can be applied toward future leaders.  The concept of greeting involves being welcoming, warm, and friendly to new leaders.  A Christian should realize that they will have leadership turnover through their lifetime.  They shouldn’t be prejudice to new leaders because they are young, new, or different.  We should greet them in the Lord.  We should honor them for their role and position they assume.  When a church gets a new preacher, a new elder, or new daacon the members should welcome them and greet them positively.  The new leader will need acceptance and encouragement as he assumes the awesome task.

Let me encourage you to consider your leaders–Past, Present, and Future.  Remember the past ones, obey the present ones, and greet the future ones with love.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/consider-past-present-and-future-leaders/

May 04

Your Child is Special, But Not for the Reasons You Think!

There is an unspoken rivalry existing in our world today.  None of us want to admit it, but we all think our kid is the best.  Ask our classroom teachers and our coaches.  They run into parents weekly that have a distorted view of reality when it comes to their “special” child.  Secretly we all believe our children are the best, and truthfully, better than others.  We look for evidence to justify our beliefs.  So, we focus on their awards, accomplishments, and unique qualities.

But we need to remember, from the perspective of God, they are NOT special because . . .

  • They are smarter than others and win academic awards.
  • They are stronger than others and score more goals.
  • They are prettier than others and have better clothes.
  • They come from a wealthy established family in town.
  • They are your child!

In truth, they are special and unique because . . . .

  • God sees them as special.  God created every child that exists.  Each child is made in the image of God and crowned with glory and honor (Gen. 1:26-27; Psalm 8:5).  God loves children and bestows significance upon their protection and nurturing in his word.  When you consider the diversity of children across our community, you realize that each one is different, but special.  God created them all after his image.  This makes them special!
  • Jesus treated children as special.  In Mark 10, a story is told about children coming to Jesus, and the disciples trying to stop them from getting to Jesus.  Jesus stopped his disciples and encouraged the children to come to him.  The Bible says, “he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them” (v. 16).  Jesus valued children and demonstrated that love for children, and all humanity, as he died for them on the cross (John 3:16).
  • They have a soul.  An eternal spirit or soul is what makes every human different and special.  Each child will live in eternity forever and ever in one of two places;  heaven or hell.  Jesus warned us about causing little ones to sin (Mat. 18:5-6).   We must take our training of children seriously, because their soul is at stake.
  • They have a divine purpose.  The psalmist describes children as “arrows in the hand of a warrior” (Psalm 127:4).  Paul said that we are his “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Eph. 2:10).  Children are endowed with gifts and talents, which they have a responsibility of using for the glory of God.  God has a great purpose and mission for their life.

We need to be reminded of why our children are special, so we will not allow the world to define it.  If we focus on what they do and accomplish as reasons why they are special, then we set them up for disappointment when they fail.  Their worth should not come from their deeds, but from their intrinsic value bestowed upon them by God!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/your-child-is-special-but-not-for-the-reasons-you-think/

May 02

Faith is Trusting in the Unseen Promises of God!

What is faith?  We hear the term faith used so very much today.  From discussions about different types of faith to ones’ personal faith.  The term certainly has different meanings depending upon context and usage.  But a basic understanding of the term is needed to cut through the chaos.  Recently, I have been studying the book of Hebrews, which teaches us much about faith.  The Hebrew Christians are considering giving up their faith in Jesus and returning to the Jewish system of faith.  The writer of Hebrews extols how Jesus is far better than the old Jewish system.  He encourages these struggling saints to endure!  They are not to shrink back from following Christ, but rather are to “have faith and preserve their souls” (Heb. 10:39).

The writer then launches into a long chapter with many illustrations from past heroes of the faith (ch. 11).  This chapter is sometimes called the “Hall of Fame” of Scripture.  But God is not trying to pick out the greatest performers through the years to grant them an honor by being enshrined in a “Hall of Fame.”  Rather, God is trying to teach us what it means to live by faith.  His basic message is that faith means trusting in the unseen promises of God.  He has spoken throughout the epistle about the promises of God.  God’s promises are certain and dependable.  They are an anchor of our soul that help us to persevere.  These Hall of Fame members trusted in God’s promises, though they were unseen.  They were yet future and not in reality yet, but they lived and acted as if they were certain.

For example, Noah was warned by God about the flood, which involved future unseen events, but he responded with reverent fear constructing an ark for the saving of his household (v. 7).  Abraham left his home and followed the leading of God to an unknown land and trusted God would make from his offspring a great nation (v. 8-19).  Moses endured the afflictions of Egypt by keeping his eyes on Him who is invisible (v. 27).  The writer continues to discuss other heroes of faith.  But the point is the same; faith means trusting in the unseen promises of God.

This is the kind of faith God wants us to have.  A faith that is assured of the truth of his promises and lives everyday based upon those promises, though they are unseen.  This is a faith that will endure or allow us to “run the race that is set before us.” (Heb. 12:1-2).  Do you live trusting in the unseen promises of God?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/faith-is-trusting-in-the-unseen-promises-of-god/

Apr 30

10 Simple Ways to Show Your Wife You Choose Her!

from Freeimages.com – Paris by Luca de Luca

This is a post for all you guys out there!  I know most of you rarely read a blog post.  But I am glad you are reading this, even if you are just doing it because she told you too!

It is hard to stay focused on being a husband!  We are selfish with all of our pursuits, responsibilities, and interests.  We neglect to show our wife the care and love she deserves.  We still need to pursue her and let her know everyday that we choose her.

Here are some ways you can show her you choose her.

  1. Pick her up some $5 flowers at Wal-Mart.  You waist $5 all the time on some food for yourself.  So stop by and pick her up some flowers just to let her know how much you love her.  They will last a long time and will not take much of your time to purchase.
  2. Offer to blow dry her hair the next time she takes a night shower.  I am not talking about styling her hair.  I am talking about drying it so she doesn’t have to go to bed with wet hair.  Let her relax with a book or check Facebook while you dry it.
  3. Drop by Happy Hour at Sonic and get her favorite drink and take it to her.  If you can’t make the happy hour rate, then fork out a little more dough and surprise her.
  4. Vacuum out her vehicle.  If you have kids, the inside likely stays filthy, you may even have french fries still in there from 2016.
  5. Cook her supper, or for you non-cookers out there, text her about 4:00 and say I am picking up supper for us tonight.  
  6. Massage her shoulders, or whatever else is hurting her!  How many times do you hear about her neck hurting or her sore feet, but you do nothing about it?  Show her you care, by relieving some of her pain!
  7. Leave her a note she can find.  Tell her how much you love her and how thankful you are for her.
  8. It is spring, and she is probably wanting to work in the flowers or plant a garden.  Volunteer to help her and don’t be complaining the whole time about how she wants to do it.
  9. Hold her hand!  When was the last time you reached over while you were riding somewhere and held her soft hand!  Guarantee you she will be thrilled when you do this simple act.
  10. Say a prayer for her beseeching God’s protection, guidance, and love.  One of our jobs as Christian men should be to fight for our wives and family in prayer against spiritual forces of darkness.  Pray for her!

You don’t have to do all these things this week, or you may be Super Husband and knock them all out of the park.  You may have a way better list of things you could do to show your wife you choose her!  Remember love is demonstrated through the small acts we do everyday.  Now go give some love!  You know it will come back to you and bless your marriage!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/10-simple-ways-to-show-your-wife-you-choose-her/

Apr 28

500 Posts!!!

I just realized that the last post, How About a Ladies’ Night? was my 500th post.

Pretty crazy that I have written 500 posts!  I started in November of 2012.  I have slowed down some over recent months, but I still enjoy blogging and plan on continuing to use it as a medium to encourage Christians, share insights on faith and life, and spread the gospel.  My goal is still to “Seek the Reign of Jesus in our lives.”

Thanks for reading, subscribing, and encouraging me in this work.

To 500 more!  I think I can do it, if I can just get one more!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/500-posts/

Older posts «

» Newer posts