As this blog is prepared, we are still officially in the winter season and actually facing a forecast of accumulating snow. However, the feel of spring is in the air with various flowers blooming – daffodils, crocuses, and even some tulips. We have witnessed some of the wettest months ever, and many people have experienced unprecedented flooding levels. March Madness is almost upon us as well with basketball tournaments underway and the college rivalries intense. Meanwhile in Washington and Frankfort, the political debates and discourse reach feverish levels and sometimes seem to be reaching new levels of division and attack.

 In the midst of all the above change that is in the air, there is also a very important season of the year at hand as well that really transcends all else. On Wednesday, March 6, which is known as Ash Wednesday in the Christian faith, we officially begin the Season of Lent. Lent, which is traced to the fourth century church, runs from Ash Wednesday through Holy Week and concludes on the Saturday prior to Easter Sunday, which is observed this year on Sunday, April 21. Traditionally observed in the “high church” or liturgical tradition, Lent is receiving more attention these days in many Baptist and evangelical churches. As stated in “The Seasons of Lent,” the word Lent “comes from the old English word ‘lencten,’ which means ‘spring’ – when the days lengthen and new life springs forth. It is a time when we anticipate the victory of light and the light of Christ over the darkness of sin and death. It is, according to C.S. Lewis, a season of ‘happiness and wonder that makes you serious.’”

 Lent is a season in the Christian calendar with an invitation to all believers to draw closer to the Lord and meditate on Him. It is a time of prayer and preparation leading up to Easter. Some people will spend time in this season in self-examination and repentance. In some traditions, Christians enter into a period of fasting on certain during Lent – giving up certain food, drinks, or other pleasures. Other traditions focus on helping the “least of these” (Matthew 25) by acts of giving, serving, and sharing with those in need. In sum, the Season of Lent is an excellent preparatory time in which believers are called to periods of prayer, penance, repenting for failures of the past, and focusing on God’s grace. Lent is a time to prepare for Easter and to live the resurrected life in Jesus Christ to which we are called.

 We as Baptist Christians certainly can benefit by taking time to learn about the practices and traditions of other Christian groups. While we don’t need to do something just for the sake of doing it, or simply imitate the practices of others, the meaning and observance of Lent can enhance our understanding of the passion and suffering of Jesus Christ at Calvary and His ultimate resurrection on the “third day…”

 This year we are offering a devotional guide for your use during Lent – and we have extra copies available to share with others in the community. “Journey to the Cross” is the title of the devotional guide published by Christianity Today. There is a theme for each week leading up to Easter that will help direct thoughts, personal worship, and prayer. These guides may be used for individual or group study. You are encouraged to take one and use in your own personal and family study – and to share with others.

 Daily prayer, repentance, study, and contemplation of the meaning of this season of the year, will give us deeper understanding and appreciation of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Join us in this journey during the months of March and April.

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

As we move into the new year of 2019, many commentators will raise questions such as, “What will happen in 2019? Will we see further tensions between the leading military and economic powers in the world? Will the American economy slip into a recessionary period? Will the stock market go up or down? Will political divisions continue to increase?” These are only a few of many important questions that come to mind as we look forward and seek to anticipate the major events and trends of 2019?

 How should we as Christians face a new year and the combination of opportunities for ministry and mission and the many challenges we will face as we seek to fulfill the good and perfect will that God has for each of us individually and collectively? While the secular world will spend a lot of time and energy in making predictions as to what lies ahead in 2019, those of us who walk daily in the faith of Jesus Christ should be strengthened by the reality of what we know by faith and as a result of our relationship with Jesus Christ. In these uncertain times, as least from a worldly perspective, we as believers are able to live each day as a new day of hope and opportunity in Jesus Christ. While we may not know with certainly specific events of 2019, we are certain that Jesus Christ is with us each step and each day; that God is in charge; and that Jesus Christ will return some day for his church.

 Please take time to consider the truth in the following scripture references that are offered as we move forward in 2019:

  • “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

  • “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him” Psalm 98:1.

  • “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” Romans 8:18.

  • “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” Isaiah 43:19.

  • “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” Ephesians 4:22-24.

  • “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” Jeremiah 29:11.

  • “Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:23-24).

  • “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” (1 Peter 1:3).

 Let’s live 2019 as people of faith and hope because of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

The months of November and December promise to be a very busy time – in the life of the church, in the home, in the schools, and certainly in the community at large. It is very easy to lose sight of the meaning of the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas with the hectic and exhausting schedules that most of us experience. While it may seem like something we say every year (and, yes, we do usually say it), why don’t we do something differently this year? Why don’t we commit to ourselves and our families that we will spend less money on each other, give the difference to worthy Christian causes that help people in need, and slow down enough to enjoy time with our family and friends and to spend more time with God in prayer, study, worship, and service? This would be a wonderful thing to do in 2018.

 Thanksgiving is a civil holiday – technically a secular holiday observed on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. The day, at least in the English tradition, has its roots in the English reformation. In the United States, we can trace the modern Thanksgiving holiday back to a 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts and to a similar event in 1619 in Virginia. The early settlers to the United States observed days of fasting and thanksgiving. President George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide Thanksgiving celebration marking November 26, 1789 as a day of “thanksgiving and prayer.” On December 26, 1941 President Franklin Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress officially making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday of November.

 We are well aware of the traditions of Thanksgiving – family gatherings, turkey and dressing, special church services, families traveling to parents and grandparents, great food and family fellowship, football and early basketball season, etc. Thanksgiving often gives us more time to enjoy our families and to enjoy a couple of days off from work – as compared to the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. Thanksgiving should also be a time in which we give thought to the bounty of the blessings that God has imparted to us – over the past year and over the course of our lives. It is a time to appreciate how truly blessed we are individually and collectively – and we need only compare our situation to that of others – particularly those in other countries around the world – to better understand how truly blessed we are.

 Then we move into the Advent season – a time of preparation and anticipation for once again observing the coming of God into the world in the form of His only begotten Son, Jesus, who was born of a virgin in Bethlehem, who became the God-man – the Incarnation or God becoming flesh – Immanuel or God with us – so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

 Christmas is more than the giving of material gifts, more than snow and Christmas glitter, more than Rudolph and Santa, more than “chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” Christmas is the celebration of the “Christ of Christmas.” It is that time of the year that we once again prepare our hearts and minds for pondering the meaning of the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago – when we once again are reminded that God has intervened in the course of human history by becoming man and living a human life – and then sending “His only begotten Son” to Calvary to die a sinner’s death so that we might have eternal life. He arose from the grave on the third day, ascended into heaven, and will return for His church someday!

 Let’s take this this season to give God all the praise, honor, and glory that He – and He alone – merits! He is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Savior and Lord, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, and the Messiah! Praise the Lord!

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

The months of September-October are the official end of summer in early to mid September and the full range of fall weather in October. This is my favorite season of the year as we experience the cooler nights and warm days, the beauty of the multi-color display we will see as the leaves change, the first frost of the season, and a very comfortable season to enjoy God's creation in its vast splendor. There is a return to something of normalcy in our family lives as our children and youth return to school, colleges and universities are in full operation, and we settle into a new season of church-related ministries and activities. Again, fall is an exciting and enjoyable time - at least in my life, I have always considered it my favorite season of the year and a time to meditate upon the majesty of God's creation.

Fall 2018 brings some important upcoming activities for our church and community. From September 9-12 at Campbellsville University's Tiger Stadium, 7:00 p.m. nightly, the "Heart of Kentucky Go Tell Crusade" will be held. Evangelist Rick Gage and others will be preaching each evening, and there will be uplifting worship services each evening. We express a word of appreciation to the local crusade committee who have been working for almost a year to prepare for the crusade. There are several members of Saloma Baptist Church who are involved in different crusade committees. We budgeted a generous donation in our annual budget to help defray the costs. Several individuals in SBC have made generous donations to the crusade. And we have been active in praying for the crusade for several months. And we are asking that our church members invite others - especially those who are unchurched and without Jesus Christ in their lives - to attend. There are many in the community and region who will not come through the doors of a local church at this point, but they may be willing to come to a football stadium on a September evening to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ being proclaimed. There have been two other community crusades - one in the 1990's and one in 2008 - that resulted in literally hundreds of people coming to first time decisions for Jesus Christ - and hundreds of others who renewed their walk with the Lord. During the weeks following the crusade, there will be great need for follow-up and discipleship of new believers in Christ - so pray for that phase of the ministry and may be ready to do our part.

These months also bring other points of emphasis to Saloma Baptist Church. We have finished our summer mission project which raised funds to purchase two donkeys for a village in Zambia and to provide 100 chairs for a pastor there to use in his church. From September 9-30, we have our Season of Prayer State Missions and the annual Eliza Broadus State Mission Offering. Then in October we will observe Global Hunger Sunday on October 14 and raise funds during the rest of October for the Global Hunger Fund. 

We are again sponsoring the Campbellsville University Bass Fishing Team and will host them in our October 7 Worship Service followed by a meal and fellowship hour with them. Coach Pete Hedgepath, one of our own, is doing a great job with the team - as evidenced by the recent national championship by Nick Ratliff. We are called to pray for these college students on a regular basis, to let them know of our love and our support, to support Coach Pete and pray for him, and to approach this as another outreach ministry opportunity for Saloma Baptist Church.

In closing, let me acknowledge another successful year of Sunday morning outreach at Saloma Baptist Church. This was our 22nd year, as best I recall, for coordinating the ministry - we took it over when a local ministry organization announced they could no longer do it. A special word of thanks once again to Deacon Mike Forbis and Associate Pastor Jason England for their help with this ministry. The services are held each Sunday morning, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, at 9:00 a.m. at the Green River Lake State Park campgrounds. We had excellent participation by several other churches and groups this year. We are thankful for this ministry and the thousands of people who have heard the Gospel proclaimed and shared through music, praise, prayer, preaching, creative ministries, etc. over the years. We look forward to another great year in 2019.

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

As this blog is prepared for the months of July and August, we are experiencing our warmest and most humid weather of the summer. Temperatures are in the mid-90's with a heat index in the 100 plus range. For those with respiratory issues and concerns, these temperatures and level of humidity made it difficult to be outside for extended period. As one who grew up in a farm house that had no air conditioning and who worked on the farm during summer, I often look back and then in consider all the modern conveniences that we enjoy in 2018 - and especially in such hot, humid weather, we are blessed by air conditioning in our homes, cars, offices, church buildings, and most businesses where we do business. The modern conveniences, that make life more comfortable and bearable, are in many ways wonders of modern technology and the ingenuity of humanity. 

We have made many advances in science and technology that enhance the quality of our daily living. Look around your house and make note of all the devices that you have that provide man conveniences that earlier generations did not have. And then consider all the devices that we have that are strictly for personal entertainment and benefit. In most American homes today, every family member has his, or her, own computer, smart phone, tablet, television, etc. We have become a culture that is seemingly attached to our devices - we even have devices like "Alexa" who can place orders for us. There is discussion of drones delivering Amazon orders to the residence of the customer. We can order most anything now and have it delivered to our house within 24-48 hours. The list of modern conveniences goes on and on.

However, the more change that modernity brings our way, and the more chaos we observe in the world, there remains one thing that is every constant. That is the love of God and His grace as expressed in the crucifixion and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. The more advances that are made, the more the mystery and sovereignty of God are apparent. The deeper we go in science and medicine, the more complex and amazing life really is. As our concept of space and universe expand, we observe the expanse of the universe and the complexity of the galaxies - with no scientific explanation available to tell us how it all came about. Dr. Frances Collins, the scientist who headed the human genome project, has stated that the more he learned about the genetic structure and framework of the human species, the more evident it became to him that there is a creator and higher power - and that it is God. Praise God!

As a pastor, I see the multiple miracles of God everyday.. There is the miracle of human life, the miracle of creation, the miracle of how lives are changed in Jesus Christ! I have the opportunity to lead a congregation where Jesus is the head of the body, and where He is using a wonderful group of people in ministering to our community and world. I witness the changes in the lives of people as they determine God's good and perfect will. Boys and girls, men and women being saved by Jesus Christ and giving them abundant and eternal life. Beloved, that is the greatest of miracles! And it is a miracle that science and technology will never explain! Amen!

 

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

We have made it through the last burst of winter weather here in southern Kentucky, and spring has finally become apparent. As this blog is prepared, dogwood trees are blooming as have redbuds - two of the true signs of spring. Tulips are blooming as are many other trees and flowers. Leaves are coming forth on the trees, and our lawns are having to be mowed at least once a week - if not more with all the recent rain we've had in our area. Spring has come forth - the beauty of God's creation in this season of recreation and renewal - is daily evident for those of who are of the Christian faith. It's certainly a great time to be alive and to enjoy the blessings of the beauty of God's creation.

During the next few weeks, we will go through another annual ritual and series of events. Students of all ages will be graduating and moving to the next level of their education or moving out into the real work of work, paying taxes, etc. if they're finishing high school and college. On Sunday, May 20, we will be honoring the graduates in our church family with special presentations during our 11:00 a.m. Worship Service immediately followed by a reception in their honor after the morning worship. We are very proud of all of our graduates at all levels of education and wish them the very best in the days ahead and pray that God will guide and protect them. It is truly a blessing to see our children and youth grow up and to become Christian servant leaders. When we see such young people crossing the stage to receive their diploma, we know that this is one more significant step in their lives and a move to more independence. And it is a reminder that the ministry we do in the life of our church and in our homes is hopefully providing them with the spiritual foundation and formation in Jesus Christ that will guide them all their lives.

Then we move into the month of June - vacations begin, young people have summer jobs, our Green River Lake ministry on Sunday mornings is underway (our 22nd-23rd year of coordinating the lake ministry and outreach), we launch our summer mission project (further details forthcoming), and families are often busy with travel and summer outings. Please pray for our summer outreach ministries such as that every Sunday morning at Green River Lake. Beginning on Memorial Day weekend and continuing through Labor Day weekend, hundreds of campers will hear the Gospel preached, songs of praise sun, and prayers offered. Seeds will be planted in the name of Jesus. Several churches and Christian groups are helping us this year. On Sunday, June 10, we will move our Sunday School and Worship to the lake - with a picnic gathering and fellowship. The weekly worship service will be held on Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time at the amphitheater area at the Green River Lake State Park campgrounds. Pray for all those who will be leading this effort, and for Bro. Jason England, Deacon Mike Forbis, and me as we coordinate this ministry.

All that we do at Saloma Baptist Church should be - and that is always our goal - done in the name of and for the cause of Jesus Christ. Our mission is to minister in His name to our community and world. Even during the spring and early summer months, we must be about His mission and ministry in our church family, our homes, our community, and around the world. Join us anytime at SBC - a warm welcome awaits you - and you are always welcome.

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

We are in a special season of the year when we begin to see the signs of spring, the period of daylight is longer, we have switched to Daylight Savings Time, and we move through the Season of Lent. This is my favorite time of year. The beauty of the spring season reminds us that God is the creator of all things and that He sustains that which He has created. The signs of spring are everywhere - flowers are bursting forth in bloom, trees begin to bud and form leaves, and the grass is growing and reminds of the renewal of life. It is a special season of the year.

We are also in the period that brings our attention to the essence of our Christian faith. The Season of Lent directs our attention to the events of the passion of Christ - His final days of earthly ministry, His denial and abandonment by His own followers, His arrest and trial, and His crucifixion on "The Old Rugged Cross" at Calvary. It is, finally, the season in which we come together on Easter Sunday (which is April 1 this year) to celebrate that the Tomb is empty - that He is alive - that Jesus arose on the third day - that He truly arose!

These historical facts - that Jesus died on the Cross for the redemption for our sins and that He arose from the dead on the third day and that the tomb is empty - should direct our every thought and deed. We are people of the Crucified and Resurrected Lord. There were many others crucified on crosses during the days of the Roman empire - it was the most excruciating form of capital punishment - but there's one major difference in the case of the crucifixion of Jesus - He arose from the dead. And it is His intention that we live as people of the Resurrection - each and every day - not just on Easter Sunday - but every day of our lives.

May we be people of the Resurrection - in word and in deed!

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

We are looking forward to what lies ahead in 2018 as we work together at Saloma Baptist Church in ministering to our community and world in the name of Jesus Christ. Although it seems that each year passes by more quickly - probably a sign of getting older, the new year is a time of renewal in many ways. The new year reminds us that we will have new experiences and opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A new year affords us the chance to begin anew and to correct our mistakes and failures of the past year as we go about serving the Lord. The new year reminds us that with each passing day, the sins of our past are forgiven and forgotten as a result of the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Do we get the message God is sending us as we begin 2018 and move forward in serving Him and in serving others.

The post-modern world (forgive my use of that over-used phrase - no other description of these times come to mind as this blog is written) brings many challenges our way as people of faith. And 2018 will be no exception. There are days when it seems that we are falling further and further behind in terms of impacting the world for Jesus Christ and our beliefs are less acceptable and mainstream than in previous eras of history. Increased secularism and humanistic influences abound, and many of our Christian values and beliefs are scoffed at by "mainstream" culture. What are we to do? Are we to react militantly and defiantly? Do we raise our voices and try to scream louder than those who choose to oppose us? That seems to be the strategy that some in some leadership circles seem to choose. But it is what Jesus would do? What would He have us to do in 2018?

Returning to the more positive tone of my opening paragraph above, it seems to me that Jesus would have us to anticipate opposition, as believers have throughout the 2,000 years of the Christian movement, and react to it with grace and humility. Yes, there are times when we have to take a strong stand and not back down in terms of what we believe and how our beliefs are to be reflected in our actions. But in general, Jesus would have us to react with love, humility, and grace. The words of Paul in Colossians 3:12 remind us: "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." James 3:13similarly states: "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom."

In 2018, let's move forward with a positive, loving, compassionate, humble, gentle, patient, and kind spirit and attitude. May we live each day for the Lord - fully, joyfully, hopefully, and humbly. There will be many opportunities to do His work - and there will be multiple challenges along the way. Let's do the work of the Lord in unity and love, taking it one day at a time, and ministering to all people (regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, language, or economic status) in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. May your 2018 be blessed!

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning