Pastor Ken a.k.a. PK
I've been in active ministry for the past 31 years. I've been credentialed with the Church of God for the past 19 years. I was raised as a PK (Preacher's Kid) and still choose to wear that label as "Pastor Ken." I've been happily married to Miss Debbie for going on 35 years and Father to Sam for going on 23 years. I LOVE what I do and I'm sold out to Who I do it for. I pray this blog becomes an additional tool of ministry for those on the journey of faith.
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Psalm 71:8 has been part of my devotion this morning. It was so impactful to me that I just felt led to share it this morning so let's take a look at the Scripture.
8 Let my mouth be filled with Your praise And with Your glory all the day. Psalm 71 NKJV
How much attention do we pay to our everyday conversation? Do you ever get caught up in a conversation around you and before long you think to yourself, "Did I really say that?" Or maybe the talk around us is about other people and their faults and before long we catch ourselves joining in.
James chapter 3 deals with the "untamable tongue" and compares dealing with it to a bit in a Horses mouth or the rudder of a ship. In both instances they are meant to control what would otherwise be uncontrollable. With the Horses bit, it is an outside influence being interjected or infused into the situation and with a rudder, it is influence that comes from something that is already within. James goes on to say that the lack of effort to deal with it is comparable to a Forest Fire. What happens in a Forest Fire? Not only does it destroy the very things that started it but it also destroys much of the innocence around it.
How much attention should we pay to the words we daily say? Using James' analogy let's take a look at it. Bridles with bits and rudders on ships have the same purpose. They are what is used to help take you to a destination. Without a bit in a Horses mouth, the Horse will go wherever it chooses. Without a Rudder on a Ship the Ship, no matter how magnificent, is at the mercy of the wind and currents. So I guess the answer to the question is actually another question. Where do you want your words to take you?
No, I'm not talking about the destination of Heaven that we all plan to make, although uncontrolled words could put a dent in the plan. Rather, I'm talking about the destinations that occur in this life. Have you ever been around someone that seemed to never have a good word to say? Complaint and discouragement seem to be all that they have to serve up and sometimes it seems that they take a morbid pleasure in doing so. As a rule I attempt to avoid those types of people. Not because I think I am better than they are. But because I realize that the words of my mouth are the meditations of my heart.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. PSALM 19 NKJV
When you are surrounded by constant negativity, it doesn't take long until you begin to be pulled down that same path and that is not the destination in this life that I choose. I believe the "abundant life" that Jesus promised is for those that choose His presence in EVERY area of our lives and our conversation is a huge area that can either get us there or prevent us from going there. It takes a continual "God awareness."
Developing a God awareness is a discipline worth undertaking. It's not easy, great things generally aren't. But it is worth every effort made toward it. It means that I talk as if He is present in every area of life and the truth is, He is. Or at the very least, He wants to be but He won't stick around long surrounded by talk that does not edify.
So what's the trick? There isn't one. It takes a conscious and deliberate effort but Psalm 71:8 tells us how to go about it.
When my mouth is filled with praise:
~ I can't speak badly of others
~ My thoughts tend to flow in a positive way
~ My desire becomes aligned with God's desires for me
~ I see others in the same way that God sees me
There is additional blessing attached to it as well. His glory surrounds us. You can't have a bad day when He is there.
If you have read this far then I would urge you to begin each day, praying Psalm 19:14 and then at the end of day, take note of your conversations throughout the day. Ask God to help you clearly and objectively and be honest before Him. If you fail, don't give up, simply repent and look for a new opportunity the next day, where "His mercies are new." If you begin to put this into practice I promise you that the rudder of your ship and the bit of your mouth will begin to direct you to a deeper walk in God's presence and that my Friends, is worth the journey.
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As a Pastor there are times when you hear some incredibly funny things from people that are probably well meaning but in some cases completely insensitive to who they are talking to. An example of this is a phrase of criticism that we Pastor's often hear about ourselves or other Pastors from people that like to wrap complaint in a sort of spiritual blanket, if you will. What is that phrase? (thanks for asking)
"I'm just not being fed!" Occasionally, we will hear it of ourselves or our own efforts but most often we hear it about other Pastor's and their efforts. Either way it is usually preceded with a statement like, "Don't take this personally" or "Don't take this the wrong way." I really haven't figured that one out and wonder, occasionally, how it might be received if it went toward that individuals life's work. Let's say, for example, that you own or are a Cook in a Restaurant and your Pastor comes into where you work and orders and entrée and at the completion of his meal, he looks at you and says, "Don't take this the wrong way but that meal wasn't worth eating!" Sounds harsh, doesn't it? And in fact, it is, especially to those that are doing their best to bring a Rhema Word from God each week.
So why am I writing about it? No, I haven't endured the experience in recent years but I have had it happen to me and I have been on the hearing end of it, regarding others. I'm not looking to grind an Ax or settle a score. I've learned through the years to "grin and bear it" but I admit that when it occurs it is a hurtful situation.
I'm writing about it because I want to address the mindset that it comes from. That mindset is one that has bought into the ideology, that seems to be prevalent today, that "all things God" are here to serve me and make me feel better. While servitude is one of the greatest components of true Christianity, it is one that is widespread, meaning that we all should have the hearts of servants, one toward another. The "serve God to get" model is one that I believe is weakening the very heart of the Church today. One that is taking us away from the strengthening, encouraging and yes, even occasionally chastising power of God's Word into some sort of "Game Show" idea in which if we don't get what we want, we simply change the channels.
It's not that serving God is some pain filled, torturous existence in which we prove how holy we are by how much we suffer. Nope, that is the complete other end of the spectrum and one that is also abused on occasion. Rather, it is in the fact that if I am willing to submit to biblical preaching and teaching, even when it doesn't make me want to dance, jump and shout, I grow into a person and dare I say, even Christian, that is able to walk through the pain filled moments of life with the certainty that God is on my side.
Every so often I tell the IT crowd that "if I don't occasionally upset you, step on your toes and possibly even make you mad at me, you should send me packing." It's not that I'm angry. It's not that I believe it is sin to feel good or be happy. It's not that I think grumpy people are just more holy. No, not at all. It's just that I believe that as we grow in grace and in God, we find more of ourselves that need to be confronted with the truth of His Word. Not in a condemning and woeful way but in a way that helps us to realize that the closer that we get to God, the more of our self begins to fall away. Singer, David Crowder said it like this, "When our depravity meets His divinity it is a beautiful collision."
Growing in God means:
* That I realize that every preached word is vital to who I am to become.
* That I realize that it won't always be accompanied by a "feeling."
* That I realize that when the preached or taught word doesn't seem to speak directly to me, I can accept that there are others in need and I become an encourager and up-lifter to them, WHICH IS ACTUALLY WHAT THE CHURCH IS SUPPOSED TO BE.
Several years back I was approached by a person that I had known for quite sometime and they needed to "unburden themselves." (They did not attend my Church but I knew where they did attend.)
Of course this "unburdening" began with the statement that I am speaking of. "I'm just not being fed and I am spiritually starving" I knew the Pastor at the Church they were speaking of and knew him to be an excellent Preacher, more on the teaching side than us "feeling driven" Pentecostal's like to hear but One that I knew worked to hear from God and delivered his heart. After pointing out several positive things that had been done in this Church and sharing my belief that they had an excellent Pastor, I quickly realized that this person was not seeking advice but rather someone to justify their feelings. At that point I felt that further advice on my part would be received as an intrusion so I changed gears to find the true heart of the person.
I said, "Well, such and such Church is within 45 minutes of where you are and I'm hearing that they've really got it going on there!"
The response I received was the exact one that I was expecting. "That would be an hour and 1/2 total driving, I can't do that!"
Instead of poking the Hornets nest I quickly disentangled myself from the conversation, realizing just how ignorant that person now thought that I was.
Although I did not say it that day, I wondered how applicable the statements made to me were? I wondered if they were physically starving, how long of a drive would be "too long" in order to eat? I wondered if they were physically starving, how picky they would be at what was served? I wondered if they were actually spiritually starving or were they just carnally spoiled?
Before anyone casts stones, let me tell you whereof I speak. I pastored a Church for the better part of a decade in which I drove one hour each way (w/o traffic) to do so. I'm not looking for a medal or even recognition but pointing out that I wasn't asking someone to do something that I wasn't willing to do myself.
Jesus promised that "those that hunger and thirst for righteousness, shall be filled." Maybe it is time that we focus upon Him and not our likes and dislikes. Maybe it is time that we realize that most Pastor's set a table for us each week in accordance with Jesus' promise. Maybe the shift of our focus should change from "what am I getting?" to "What can I do to help?" As a Pastor I can promise you that those will be refreshing words to yours.
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Looking back over the past year I give praise to God for another awesome year at Indian Trail. In our weekly average attendance we have increased by almost 10 people over 2013. In the last quarter alone we are averaging 75 each week!
In just our weekly tithe average we are up over $700 per week from 2013. That is an incredible jump that we give God the praise for. It also reflects the teaching that occurred during the year of God honoring the faithful giver.
While numbers are certainly not what it is all about, I give thanks to God for an incredible year both in attendance and finance.
While I am as proud as I can be of the increase there are things that actually move me more.
In Missions we supported the work in Columbia of Wayne Wozniak with some very generous giving that paid or is paying the tuition of several Columbian students that are attending Bible College with the intention of becoming Pastor's to their own people.
In Home Missions we supported the Milwaukee, WI work of David Price. David and crew are now in the process of securing a new building as they have grown to the point of overcrowding his home that they have been meeting in.
We provided several military bible sticks for our Armed Services through donations to "Faith comes by Hearing." It warms the heart to know that there are Soldiers out there listening to the Word of God as a result of our donations.
Just this last week we were able to take Christmas gifts to Mom's and children at Mutual Ground Women's shelter so that disrupted lives could enjoy the peace of Christmas.
We took a leap of faith this year and hired our Family Life Pastors, Tim and Dana Stege. While we have already witnessed the benefits of this leap, I believe that 2015 will be the year that really brings IT into a new day.
More than all of that, we have witnessed Souls that have made new commitments to Christ and some that have renewed their commitment. I've been thrilled to watch lives change as the power of the Gospel brings us into new life. I've witnessed the broken being put back together, the hurting find healing and the lost finding their way back home. Considering all of this, it has been a tremendous year.
But I also believe that we stand on the horizon of our tomorrow and that what we have witnessed so far will pale in comparison to what 2015 is going to bring. God is challenging me to do more than ever before and as His servant I extend the challenge to you. I believe 2015 is going to be of critical importance, not just to IT but to the body of Christ around the world.
The Fields are white with harvest. May we be faithful to reap what God has sown. Happy, Christ-filled New Year, Everyone!
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Here we are at the time of year again that seems to divide Christians into 2 separate camps. One camp states that we should have nothing to do with Halloween as it is the "Devils day" and participating in it will align us with him. The other Camp takes the opposite approach daring to suggest that our Enemy cannot be allowed "a day" and that withdrawing from it gives him carte blanche for an entire 24 hour period.
You may fairly be asking at this point, "which camp do you fall into?" Since we are planning a "Fall Festival" which I would have no objection to calling a "Halloween Party" you may guess that I fall into the latter. Personally, I don't believe that I fall into either and if you will allow me the privilege of your continued reading, I will further explain.
I believe that Halloween and all that it entails, becomes a perfect time to let our light shine in unique ways. Hiding at home with our lights turned out, hoping to avoid the "evil night" does not do that for me. Nor do I believe a complete boycott of the day does anything to show the love of Christ to our communities.
Some may say I'm "riding the fence" on the matter and I guess that is their prerogative but I believe we, as Believers, should approach Halloween the same as we do any other day. Has there been an increase in the celebration of the evil of the day? Absolutely, all that it takes is a trip to basically any store to see the increase in all things bloody, gory and "Halloweenish." So what is our best approach?
I try to follow the example of Jesus, when He came into the evil World. I don't see where He went about pointing out all of its evil. I don't see where He went about boycotting the events of the day He lived in. I don't see any place in which He told those of us that would believe on Him to withdraw our light from this world because there might be particular days that are just too evil.
I do see where that everywhere He went, he was doing good. I do see where the worst of the worst, went out of their way to follow and hear Him as He taught. I also see that with the exception of the religious rulers of the day, Everyone that encountered Him, encountered love like they had never known before. In fact, the scripture states that the world will know we are followers of Christ by our love.
Basically, everywhere that Jesus went, you see Him establishing the connection of relationship and if we truly follow Him, shouldn't we do our best to follow that example? What does that have to do with Halloween? I'm glad you asked! :)
How about instead of taking a "position" on the day that will either cause us to be viewed as weird or tolerant, we take the day and make it what it is? Which is, another day to attempt to establish connection with those that Jesus died to save. Regardless of whether or not you allow your children to "trick or treat" (which I have NO problem with) why don't you buy excess candy to give away?
In fact, instead of waiting for them to knock on your door, maybe set up folding chairs in your driveway for weary Parents to take a load off, maybe break out the Grill and give away hot dogs, brats and Hot chocolate or Coffee. Instead of handing out "tracts" that attempt to condemn Parents for allowing their children to participate in the "Devils Day" why not hand out invitations to your Church as they eat the food you have prepared for them?
Maybe it's time for our communities to view our Homes and Churches as safe places to be, where they will find the love of Christ manifested toward them at all times instead of a place where our light's are turned off in hopes of keeping them away on "evil days."
Jesus said that the Fields around us are ready to be harvested. No where have I read where we are to take a day off. And for those that may be ready to crucify me for encouraging Christians to take part in Halloween, I suggest that you take a look at the origins of the Easter Egg hunt and no, I won't be boycotting Easter, either. We are supposed to be the reflection of Christ in this world. Let's shine the mirrors up for Halloween. Be blessed!