The feel of the fall season is increasingly evident with schools back in session, football and other fall sports seasons underway, early signs of the changing colors of nature, and cooler temperatures – all about us, we sense that we’re entering into autumn - or fall as we call it in the country. There is a certain reassurance, at least for me, during the fall season. Life seems to return to a more regular pattern after months of summer vacations. Our children and grandchildren are back in school, and families generally settle into more normal routines of life.

 One important question comes to mind as we move beyond Labor Day and into September and October. What are our priorities during the fall season of the year? It is relatively normal for participation in the life of the church to suffer some during the summer months due to vacation schedules and the many other activities that are so prevalent in today’s culture. But as we move back into a more regular schedule with the coming of fall, what will be our priorities?

 Will our Christian faith be an area of renewed emphasis and priority in the fall? As we get back into a more regular pace and schedule of life, will we make church and our service to the Lord an area of strong commitment? Did we back away from serving the Lord during the summer months? Did we let other activities and priorities take precedent over serving Jesus Christ and ministering to others in His name? Where will Jesus Christ be placed in the allocation of our time, talent, and resources as we move into September and October and then into the winter months of 2019-2020?

 Regardless of the season of the year, there are many things competing for our time and our attention in today’s world. We live in noisy times – our days are busy and cluttered with a great deal of busyness – we take little time to catch our breath and relax – we often take too little time to spend with our families – and we certainly fail to spend time with God. Will we change these habits in fall 2019? Let’s commit to each other and to God that we will spend more time with Him, that we will be more faithful in our worship and participation in the life of His church, and that we will reach out and minister to our community and world in His name.

 

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

For the past 25 years, I have served as pastor of Saloma Baptist Church located about five miles north of Campbellsville, Kentucky. My initial sermon at SBC was the first Sunday in 1994, and the previous Sunday I had completed a successful six-year tenure at another Baptist congregation in a nearby Baptist association. My stated intention was that I was taking a break from pastoral ministry and would be available for pulpit supply and possibly short-term interim pastorates. I had no thought of becoming pastor at Saloma as I made that first visit to preach more than 25 years ago.

 After a Sunday or two, Deacon Larry Marcum approached me about becoming the interim pastor. After speaking to my wife and spending some time in prayer, and having enjoyed my initial contact with the members there, I agreed to become the interim pastor with the understanding that the search for a pastor would continue. Within a few weeks, Deacon Marcum approached and asked me if I would consider a call to serve as the pastor of Saloma Baptist Church. Although I was still reluctant, I agreed to enter into a time of prayer and consideration. As He often does, God surprised me when He led me to become the pastor of SBC, and I am now beginning my 26th years as pastor of a congregation and fellowship of believers in Jesus Christ who are faithful to the calling that God has placed before us.

 God has blessed our years together. During our years together, I have had the opportunity, through the leadership of the Holy Spirit, to minister to a number of people and have been involved in all phases of their lives. I have celebrated with families in the birth of babies born who are now young adults and who now have children of their own. I have been blessed to baptize many believers into the fellowship of the church and to hear their professions of faith, to preside at weddings in their families and to stand at the bedside of many who have been sick. God has used me to offer words of comfort to those whose loved ones have passed into eternity. Many have turned to me with the heartache of daily living and the struggles of family life – others have rejoiced in living in the hope of Jesus Christ.

 We have participated in building expansions and facility upgrades, purchase of new musical instruments, purchase of additional land, implementation of a ministry team model, updated our church constitution and bylaws, coordinated Green River Lake Ministry for 23 years, funded 14 water wells in Zambia, provided 40-50% of our budget in support of missions for the past 20 years, provided multigenerational/intergenerational ministry opportunities and involved our children and youth in the full life of the church, provided directed financial assistance to numerous national and international mission trips involving our church members and others outside our church, moved beyond the four walls of the church building into the community in doing ministry and mission, engaged in multicultural and reconciliation ministry by engaging with and joining African American and Hispanic congregations and ministry organizations, become one of the strongest church supporters of Christian higher education at Campbellsville University, adopted a CU sports team (bass fishing team), participate regularly in several outreach events in the community, support a wide array of Christian ministries and missions with a relatively equal level of support for local-state, national, and international levels, place great emphasis on Christian education (Sunday School, topical Bible studies, Vacation Bible School, etc.), provide direct support for Partners in Development (missions work of Lonnie and Fran Turner in Zambia with support of a number of activities there including the aforementioned water wells), etc.

 I am thankful for the 25 years that God has blessed our pastoral ministry at Saloma Baptist Church. I praise God for the loving support of my wife, Cathy, and my family. The deacons and members of Saloma Baptist Church have been, and remain, very support and very active in ministry and mission. And as we move into the future, I pray that we will remain committed to the main thing as we “minister to our community and our world in the name of Jesus Christ…” I’m excited about what lies ahead in our work together at Saloma Baptist Church and in cooperation with the other Baptist churches, and churches of other denominations, as we meet the challenges of each day and seize the opportunities for ministry that lie before us. May we remain committed to the cross and resurrection and transforming power of Jesus Christ! May we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all with whom we come in contact and may we minister to the “least of these” in the name of Jesus Christ!

 

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

As this column is written for our church website and to be distributed among the Saloma Baptist Church website, the reality of the passing time of time is very much evident in my mind. We are nearing the end of another school year with high school and college graduates preparing to step out into new chapters of their young lives. Some will continue their educations while others pursue careers or take some time off from school while entering into the work force.

 We are calling upon all the members and friends of our church to join us in a season of prayer for these young men and women as they move forward in their lives. We need to pray for their relationships with Jesus Christ, that they will seek and follow the Lord’s good and perfect will for their lives, that they will dedicate their lives to Christian servant leadership in whatever work or career path they feel called to pursue, and that they will become people of love, compassion, humility, and grace.

 There are many positive attributes among the so-called Generation Z’ers who are the up and coming generation – they demand genuineness among those who are their seniors, they accept diversity as a reality of 21st century life, they are open to change and innovation, technology is a part of their daily life, accountability and transparency are expected, and problems and issues need to be addressed and solved in their minds – not just studied and ignored. If given a cause and the opportunity and means to be involved, they will respond to the challenge.

They do not accept “pat answers” and “empty phrases” and do not tolerate “the same old thing…” They expect answers and can be impatient when delay in response occurs. Some of them have limited attention spans because of their dependence on technology, smart phones, tablets, iPads, etc. As the church, we have both tremendous opportunities and challenges in engaging Generation Z with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 While the message of the Gospel remains the same, the way we do things must respond and innovate with the rapidly changing culture around us. This generation has more knowledge than any other generation in history – they face more challenges and demands on their time and attention than any other generation in history – they read and hear more things than any prior generation that can undermine their faith if we as Christian leaders and church family simply sit back and “rest on our laurels…” They display an enthusiasm and energy that is desperately needed in the church of 2019. We must become more relational in our ministry with all generations – but particularly with Generation Z. This is a Biblical model of ministry – Jesus was relational in his approach to ministry. So must the 21st century church be. We need to listen, observe, and learn from the younger generation – from the graduates of 2019 – they have a lot to say, a lot to offer, and they will respond to the call to ministry when given an opportunity and the chance to serve.

 Join us in congratulating the class of 2019, in praying for them, and in engaging them in the mission and ministry of the church of Jesus Christ!

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

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