The month of December is a busy time for most all people and especially for those of us who are believers in Christ and participants in the life of a local church. Here at Saloma Baptist Church, we have a very busy schedule of special services, cantata practices, outreach ministries, and special emphasis on the central message of Christmas – which is the Advent of Jesus Christ into the world. He is the Incarnation – the God in the flesh; Emmanuel – God with us; the Lord of Lords and King of Kings; the Son of Man and the Son of God; and our Savior and Lord.

We invite you to join us in our 2017 celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and as we seek to share the Good News of His birth and its profound meaning for us more than 2,000 years later! We have several ministry, mission, and outreach opportunities which have at their core, the goal of sharing the Christ of Christ with our community and world and ministering to others in the name of the Babe of Bethlehem. We will be glad to share more information on these opportunities – just contact us at salomabaptistchurch@windstream.net or call us at 270-789-0082. And you are encouraged to attend our special services that are listed on our website home page and in the website’s monthly calendar.

We also encourage you and your family to take time, during this season of the year, to observe your own Christmas celebration in such a manner to help you to better understand the true meaning and the spirit of the season. We lose sight of the true message of Christmas with our hurried schedules and excessive commercialization of the season. As has been said, and allow me the freedom to paraphrase: “We buy too many gifts with money we really don’t have for people who don’t always appreciate what we give them and who don’t need what they receive…” Take time to read the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus with your family. Spend time as a family in basic family activities centered on the Christmas season.

You are encouraged to join a growing number of individuals who are choosing to minimize such gift giving and taking that amount of money and giving to a “good cause that serves other…” As believers in the Christ of Christmas, the Babe of Bethlehem, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we have the opportunity to take those funds and direct them to Christian nonprofit organizations who are serving others in the name of Jesus Christ. There are any number of outstanding organizations, in our community and globally, that are in need of more resources and who provide different ways of sharing meaningful information of where your donations will go. One practice that our family has adopted is the giving of a monetary gift to such a mission or ministry organization in the name of each family member – and then including in a card a description of where the funds are going. For example with the Baptist Global Response group that we support in our church mission budget, you can donate a certain amount of money to provide animals, or other items, for families in other countries – to help sustain those individuals and families who receive the gift. Let us know if you are interested in further details on BGR or other such gifting opportunities.

Finally, please support our Christmas mission projects at Saloma Baptist Church – Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for global missions, Toys for Kids, Prison Fellowship Angel Tree that provides gifts of toys and clothes to local children whose parents are incarcerated, fruit baskets for shutins, etc. And reach out to those in your own family and neighborhoods who are alone and in need. And do it in the name of Jesus! Let’s give to others this Christmas season in the name of Jesus just as God gave us the greatest gift of history as expressed in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.

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AuthorKaleb Chowning

The months of October and November are an important time for us at Saloma Baptist Church. During October, our Brotherhood coordinates our annual Global Hunger Fund Focus beginning with Global Hunger Sunday which is Sunday October 8. 

The recent series of natural disasters, including hurricanes, earthquakes, and 500-1,000 year floods in our own country and nearby countries, as well as other disasters around the world, remind us how truly vulnerable many people are relative to food issues and hunger. In some areas, food shortages are a way of life and in other areas, the people are simply one drought or sudden natural disaster away from starvation. 

Undernourishment is particularly acute in many areas of the world including our own country. Around the globe in the course of a year, millions of children and others of our most vulnerable people, die as a result of hunger - malnutrition and outright starvation. 

The Baptist Global Hunger Fund is one way that we can be part of solutions. Every penny donated goes directly to hunger relief ministries. In our case, we forward our donations to our friends at Baptist Global Response (BGR). BGR then directs funds to various ministry and mission points around the world where food relief is provided for the neediest and most vulnerable of people. The Good News of Jesus Christ is also shared with the recipients, and we receive reports annually of several thousand people who come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord as a result of Baptist-sponsored Global Hunger Mission’s Work. 

We will provide Global Hunger Fund offering envelopes. Many of our members collect change during the year and bring in donations during October and November. Donations of all amounts are encouraged and appreciated. 

As Jesus taught in Matthew 25, one of the tests of our faith is how we treat “the least of these...” As we attend to the needs of the least of these, so do we minister to and serve our Lord Jesus Christ. 

This period culminates with the annual observance of Thanksgiving on November 23 as we gather with family and friends. Most of us will enjoy bountiful meals and fellowship with family and friends. We need to make it a time of truly giving thanks to God for all He has done for us. An important expression of Thanksgiving is by our sharing with those who are less fortunate - donations to Global Hunger Fund, donations to our local Food Pantry (which our church supports through quarterly missions find donations as well as periodic collection of canned food), support of disaster relief efforts as we have done recently for the Hurricane impact areas, sharing with those in our own community who are less fortunate and hungry, etc. 

Reach out and touch others in the name of Jesus during this season of the year! You will be blessed and you are fulfilling the teaching of Jesus. 

 

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

The months of August and September are an interesting and time of transition for most people. We generally witness the end of summer vacation with our children and young people returning to regular school schedules. Our weather patterns, over the course of the two months, will run from likely hot, humid weather during the "dog days of August" with cooler temperatures in September more associated with the fall season. Most families will have already taken their vacations and will be settling into more regular schedules and routines.

During this season, we will enjoy the early days of marching band seasons - for those of who have family members involved in marching band. The baseball season is still in full play, and those league rankings are beginning to take shape heading into the league playoffs and ultimately the World Series in October. And high school and college football begin in late August and pick up support and interest into September. How many of us have spent cool September evenings watching our favorite high school football team play?

What does all of this have to do with the church? It means that our families will, as usual, be very busy with school, sports, and such activities. But it also presents an opportunity for the church to be more responsive and more involved in the lives of our children, youth, and families. It's a time in which we can take an interest in the activities of our families outside the "four walls" of the church, to better understand the many activities in which families in 2017 are involved, and to prayerfully search for ways to make our ministry and mission more relevant and more engaged in the lives of our church family and the larger community.

Sometimes, those of us involved in the leadership of the church fail to do what we encourage our members to do - that is to avoid compartmentalizing our Christian walk and to have a line of separation between the Christian and spiritual elements of our lives and the more secular and material areas. But perhaps part of this is due to the fact that those of us in leadership in the church don't show enough interest in the lives outside the church of our people of all ages and that we don't display ourselves how to integrate our faith into all areas of life - beyond the "four walls" and into the highways and bi-ways of life. We seem to only consider as important those things going on inside the walls and programs of the church.

During the next two months, let's take our Christian faith into the community and beyond. Let's show up where other people are; let's ask our children and youth about their school and activities; and let's show our Christian values and concerns are applicable and meaningful to life in general and in the lives of our people specifically.

We are challenged to live our faith daily and to live it beyond the four walls of the church building and the confines of our home. Jesus went into the community - I speculate that if he were around today, he would probably attend the football games and marching band competitions of His people and that of those people who are not a part of His church. Let's get out in the community and beyond and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ in word and in deed!

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

The summer of 2017 is in full swing with area schools closed until early August. Many families are going on vacation during the summer months and will spend a good bit of time with the children and youth playing baseball, softball, and other summer activities. Warmer temperatures are likely during June and July, and many young people will enjoy spending time at the local swimming pools or at Green River Lake. Summer is always a special time for the children and youth as well as the entire family.

One constant remains in play during the summer months. The church remains open and involved in a lot of different missions and ministries. Vacation Bible Schools are a traditional and important ministry of many churches - our Vacation Bible School 2017 is scheduled for July 7-9, and we certainly invite children in the community to attend and participate. VBS remains a primary summer ministry for churches like Saloma Baptist Church, and during 35 years or so of pastoral ministry, it has been a joy to see children to come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord during VBS. We have witnessed unchurched families to come into the church during VBS. So, we take our VBS mission and ministry very seriously at Saloma Baptist Church.

There are increased number of activities and "opportunities" competing for the attention of the families of all churches. Many of these are very positive activities, but they sometimes compete with the church for the attention and dedication of otherwise dedicated church members.

Vacations are great - trips to the lake and pool are fun - sports teams and athletic competition are important - but do we place more emphasis on these and other things than we do on our relationship with Jesus? That's something to ponder during the summer 2017.

Yes, God doesn't take a vacation. He's available 24/7/365. 

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

The month of May is one of my favorite months. Perhaps it's because, in part I was born on my mother's birthday - May 3! So, May always begins with some sense of celebration for me - giving God praise for life and another year of abundant life in Jesus Christ. 

For those of us growing in Kentucky, May brings, on the first Saturday, one of the world's premiere sporting events - the Kentucky Derby. Even for those of us who have no involvement in, or knowledge of, thoroughbred racing, we take time to read about and watch the actual "Run for the Roses." There's a sense of pride, as Kentuckian, in our state being at the center of the nation's attention. 

On the second Sunday of May, May 14 this year, we celebrate Mother's Day. We should give thanks to God for our mothers and grandmothers and for Godly women in our lives. Cathy and I are both blessed by having had Godly mothers. 

And there's graduation or commencement time. Most students, who have reached certain milestones in their educational paths, graduate during the month of May. This year is no exception. Our church will honor our graduates on Sunday morning, May 21. 

This year is the 48th anniversary of my high school graduation- same for Cathy - we were both members of the class of 1969. On one hand, it seems like along time ago. But in many ways, it also seems just yesterday. Time passes quickly. 

Then on Memorial Day - which is May 29 - we give honor to those men and women who have given their lives in service in the defense of our nation. And we honor the memory of those loved ones who have gone home to be with the Lord. 

May is a month of transitions in many ways. It's a month of consequential observances and acknowledgement of milestones in the course of our lives. We should enter each day of May - as well as throughout the year - with faith, hope, and anticipation. Each day should be a day we live to the fullest and a day to consider with thanks and praise of how blessed we are. Every day is a day of consequence and is a gift from God. 

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

The month of April is a wonderful and exciting time of year. We witness the full array of God’s creative hand as spring bursts forth with new life as flowers bloom and trees display various shades of green. Temperatures are generally nice – cool evenings into early mornings with warmer temperatures during the day. April is a time that we transition into more outside activities, softball and baseball, and thoughts of summer vacation begin to come to mind. We are generally positive and upbeat about life in spring and our energy levels seem to increase.

April 2017 also brings the celebration of the most sacred events of history – the passion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. From Palm Sunday into Holy Week, we are reminded of the course of events that culminated the approximate 33 years of life of Jesus on earth and that brought to an end his three years of earthly ministry. During this three year period, Jesus called in action His 12 original disciples, spent time preaching and teaching, challenged the religious establishment of the day because of their hypocrisy and self-righteousness, reached out to the masses of people and ministered to all rather than the few, and prepared for His ultimate sacrificial death on Calvary.

At Calvary, we witness “love in action.” It is the love of God as manifested in the sacrificial death of “His only begotten Son” (John 3:16) – it was the intervention of God into the course of human history that was necessary because of the sin of humanity. Jesus died a horrible death on “The Old Rugged Cross.” Why? He died on the Cross because of your sin and my sin! And His was a voluntary death because of His love and grace.

But then on the third day, as the women went to the Tomb to anoint His broken body as was the custom of the day, they found that the tomb was empty. How could this be? Had His body been stolen? No, Jesus was alive! He arose from the dead! The tomb was empty!

More than 2,000 years later, we live in the Resurrection! We are people of the Resurrection! The Resurrection Power is in us through the indwelling presence of Jesus Christ through the living power of God’s Holy Spirit.

He’s alive – how is that truth impacting our lives today? Does our Christian witness truly reflect the Living and Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ?

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

John Chowning, Pastor of Saloma Baptist Church

We are now officially in the Season of Lent during the month of March and into April. Lent, which has traditionally observed in the high church, or more liturgical Christian traditions, is receiving more attention in recent years among Baptists and other evangelical Christians. The Season of Lent, which began in the fourth century church, runs for some 40 weekdays beginning with Ash Wednesday (March 1 this year), running through Holy Week, and concluding on Saturday before Easter. Easter Sunday for this year is a bit later on Sunday, April 16. As an aside, please note that the six Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Easter are not counted as part of the 40 days.

In the early church, Lent was a time of preparation and study for those who were to be baptized into the church on Easter Sunday. An entire body of believers was called to this period of preparation, and many who had been away from the church for whatever reason, were encouraged to return to the church community during this season.

The number 40 relates to a number of events in the Bible – in particularly it relates to the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness as He prepared for His three years of earthly ministry and resisted the temptations of Satan.

Today Lent is observed by many Christians as a time of prayer and preparation leading up to Easter. Some will spend time during this season in self-examination and repentance. In some traditions, Christians enter into a period of fasting on certain days during Lent – giving up certain food, drinks, and other types of enjoyment. Other traditions focus on helping the “least of these” (Matthew 25) by acts of giving, service, 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 can benefit by taking time to learn more about the practices of other Christian groups. While we don’t need to do something just for the sake of doing it, or to simply imitate the practices of others, the meaning and observance of Lent can really enhance the depth of our understanding of the passion and suffering of Jesus Christ at Calvary and His ultimate resurrection on the “third day…” One way of observing Lent at Saloma Baptist Church is through the daily use of our Lenten Devotional Guides, titled “Empowered: A Guide to Experiencing the Power of the Holy Spirit,” written by Dr. Jim Denison. Daily prayer, repentance, study, and contemplation of the meaning of this season of the year, will give us deeper understanding and application of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

John E. Chowning, Pastor
Saloma Baptist Church

February is the shortest month with only 28 days except in Leap Year when there are 29 days. It's a month of transition - moving from the coldest days of winter with hints of spring in the air. It's not uncommon, at least in Kentucky, to experience snow and zero temperatures one weekand signs of spring the next week - all during the month of February.

But more than anything, many people think of "love" during the month of February. Valentine's Day is observed annually on February 14. Also known as Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, the holiday emphasis originates from a Western Christianity liturgical feast honoring early saints by the name of Valentinus. By the 14th century AD, the holiday had evolved to a time for romantic expression, and by the 18th century AD, it became a time when gifts, such as flowers and cards, were presented to others as an expression of love and romance.

For those of us in the Christian tradition, it's fitting and proper for us to share small gifts as expressions of our love to our spouses, children, grandchildren, and close friends. But it's also a time that we should give consideration to the greatest expression of love in all the course of human history - i.e., the gift of "God's only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him (Jesus) will not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). That, my friends, is the ultimate expression of the inexplicable love of God the Father in the form of God the Son and with the indwelling presence of God the Holy Spirit!

"This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us" (1 John 4:9-12).

During February 2017, and in all times, may we show the love of God in all that we do.

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning