Pastor John Chowning - Saloma Baptist Church

We are in the midst of celebrating the birth of the Christ of Christmas more than 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. The birth of Jesus is a monumental intervention by God in the course of history as He sent His only begotten Son (John 3:16) so that we might believe in Him and have eternal life. It is only through faith in Jesus Christ that we are saved from the penalty of our sins and that we have eternal life. 

Much of our Christmas observances in the United States has become secularized and commercialized. Many businesses depend upon this season of the year to make their business profitable. In the name of not offending others, we have removed the word "Christmas" from our celebration outside the church resulting in phrases such as "Happy Holidays and Winter Festival." In many ways, the "Christ" of "Christmas" is no longer at the heart of the celebration.

At Saloma Baptist Church, we place Jesus Christ "front and center" in our Advent and Christmas observances. In addition to the worship and Bible study emphases of the season which focus on the Good News of His birth, we seek to reach out into our community and world in the name of the Christ of Christmas. It is our goal to share the Good News with those around us and to support the spread of the Gospel throughout the world.

We do this in several ways. The SBC WMU prepares and shares fruit baskets with shutins and families undergoing particular difficulties at this time. We participate in the Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree program whereby we purchase gifts, on behalf of the incarcerated parent or guardian, for children in Taylor County whose parents are currently in prison. We collect new and gently-used toys in support of the local Fire Department's Toy for Kids Christmas ministry. We distribute Christmas buttons in the local community that announce that Jesus is the "reason for the season." We are giving away copies of Janet Denison's Advent devotional guide titled "Christmas - In the Name of Jesus." And we are raising funds, sponsored by the WMU, for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering that will go to support Baptist global missions.

Certainly, the Advent and Christmas season is a time to spend with family, to give and receive gifts, to decorate our homes and church sanctuary, and to worship together in celebrating the Good News of "Immanuel - God With Us!" However, it is even more a time in which we have a unique opportunity to share with our community and world this message:  "Joy to the world, the Lord has come!

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AuthorKaleb Chowning

John Chowning, Pastor

The month of November is often a time when many churches place an emphasis on stewardship as the new year approaches. It's a time when many congregations consider their financial need for the coming year, prepare a budget, and then promote the concept of stewardship with emphasis on the giving of our tithes and offerings in support of the ministry and mission of the church. And of course, we know that stewardship is more than giving of money. It is a lifestyle and recognition of the fact that all we have is granted to us by God. Stewardship involves the giving back to God a due portion of our time, talents, and resources in service to Him.

This brings us to the importance of thanksgiving. A few weeks ago, my sermon was on the the fact that expressing thanksgiving to God is therapeutic for us as we recognize how truly blessed we are.

One of my favorite verses, Psalm 100:4, speaks to giving thanks:  "Enter his gates with Thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." We are called to give thanks to God - and to give praise to Him for all He has done for us. How long has it been since you truly gave thanks and praise to God?

The psalmist concludes that chapter in Psalm 100:5 with these words:  "For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." You can depend on God's love which remains constant through all situations and circumstances. He is truly faithful in all times.

Praise God! During the month of November, and throughout the year, may we give thanks and praise to God for all He has done. Consider the many blessings we have been granted. The Lord has saved us and given us abundant life. Let us give thanks in all things - let us display "thanksliving" in our daily walk.

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AuthorKaleb Chowning

Pastor John Chowning

It is often said that we live in perilous times, and I suppose that in many ways this is quite true. The Apostle Paul spoke of this in 2 Timothy 3:1, "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come." In verses 2-4, Paul lists a number of the characteristics of so-called perilous men. In verse 5b, he said:  "And from such people turn away!" So, we may conclude that perilous times will be characterized by perilous living among perilous men (and women).

Are things worse in 2016 than in any previous period of history? Certainly a strong case can be made for this argument by considering that the world could be destroyed several times over with the nuclear capabilities that the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, Israel, North Korea, and possibly other nations now have. The ongoing threats of the North Korean dictator are sufficient to trouble our nation's leaders and those of other leading nations around the world. There are other problems around the world as well - hunger, poverty, human trafficking and slavery, pornography, all types of addiction, and corrupt leaders.    

The world is beset by "wars and rumors of war..." In our own nation, we see moral standards and values declining, marriage having been redefined just in the past year or so, rampant drug abuse and addiction, violence in our streets, increased volatility of race relations, political corruption, etc. It seems that people are turning away from God and our Christian worldview is increasingly the minority perspective even in our part of the world.

What does all of this mean? Are we living in the final days of history? Is the Lord about to return? Are things worse now than every before? There are no absolute answers to these questions. The one certainty is that the Lord will return - we just don't know when. 

While a case can be made that perhaps we are in the final stages of history and that the Lord is about to return, we have absolutely no way of knowing this for certain. The Bible is very clear that we will not know the day or the hour of the Lord's return. Every period of history, since the Lord ascended into heaven and promised his followers that he would return some day, has had similar problems and issues. The early church yearned for the Lord's return and reflected the challenges of living a Christian life in an increasingly hostile world. An argument can be made that the 21st century is comparable to the first century in terms of certain conditions and forces in play.

My conclusion is that our times bring some unique challenges to the Christian way of living. However, I don't necessarily agree that things are worse now than ever before, because each and every era of history has experienced a number of challenges, and the Christian faith has attracted opposition from the very beginning of our faith more than 2,000 years ago. It is increasingly apparent that we are living in some exciting times when we take a global perspective and see how the Holy Spirit is moving around the world - in places like China, parts of India, Cuba, etc. And even here in the United States, there are signs for renewal and revival.

The bottom line is that we should always be prepared for the Lord's return. The Lord may return this very day - are we ready if he comes? And the Lord may calls home to heaven today - are we ready if he were to call us home? Meanwhile, we are called to be people of hope who are daily going about the mission and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. And we should always be prepared!

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

Pastor John Chowning

Our local community has recently experienced a rash of drug overdoses resulting in at least one, and maybe two, deaths. A large number of emergency calls were made reporting overdoses in the community. The scourge of substance abuse and drug addiction is rampant in Campbellsville-Taylor County as well as across the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the United States. All segments of society are impacted by drug and alcohol addiction and abuse. It is no respecter of race, creed, religious affiliation, economic and social status, or political party - there are virtually no families who haven't been impacted by this crisis. We see young lives being destroyed and some snatched away into eternity because of drug abuse and overdoses.

Numerous public policy initiatives have been implemented over the past 30-40 years - including the so-called War on Drugs, drug education programs in our schools, expanded drug treatment programs, addiction recovery programs in churches, mass incarceration of drug traffickers and drug users, etc. And despite all of these and other well-intended efforts and the expenditure of literally billions of dollars, both public and private funds, there seems to be no end to this cancer that is "eating away" at our community and culture.

The latest rash of overdoses in our community apparently resulted from the flow of heroin laced with fentanyl from Detroit, Michigan. This seems to be a very deadly and addictive combination. Heroin has become the "drug of choice" for many involved in the drug culture due to the cheap price. Efforts to control other drugs, such as pain pills, have increased the street prices of those drugs and resulted in heroin becoming the cheapest option. There are many other opioid derivatives that are increasingly prevalent and dangerous that we hear about almost weekly.

What can we do? First, we must strongly support our law enforcement as they work to contend with drug traffickers and suppliers. That is an ever changing challenge no doubt, but we must support law enforcement in these endeavors. Secondly, we must support a multitude of treatment options and show Christian compassion and concern for those who are addicted and seeking to recover. We must also support their families and encourage Christian recovery treatment options that include the best of medical and psychological treatment methodologies.Third, we must acknowledge that there are no easy solutions, and that we must be engaged in fighting this problem on a daily basis. It is not going away anytime soon. As already noted, we move from one drug of choice to another regularly which is governed by forces beyond our direct control and influence. Fourth, we must be willing to help and encourage those who are suffering from these and other addictions. As Christians, we must show compassion, share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those who find themselves caught up in the drug culture, and do all we can to help support and encourage those who are in recovery.

Fifth, we must insist on education programs that share with our children and youth the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse as well as the dangers of other addictions. That begins in the home among family members and extends from there into the church, school, and community. We must recognize those characteristics that make certain individuals more vulnerable and get them the help that they need at the earliest point possible and provide them with support as possible. But we have to help people understand that they are ultimately responsible for what they consume and how they treat their bodies - and remember that our body is the "temple of the Holy Spirit" as the Bible tells us.

Sixth, we must pray, pray, pray, pray!!! And we must speak out - prophetically and with love, grace, and compassion. We have lost too many lives to this ravage on our community and culture. We must be people who are "the light of the world and salt of the earth" as Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.

There are several pastors in the community who are coming together for prayer and collaboration on what more can be done by the Christian community. And we pray that there will be further resolve among all sectors of the community - political, educational, civic, faith, law enforcement, judicial, etc. - to reclaim our community for Jesus Christ and abate the damage, darkness, and death of the drug culture. Please join in this effort!

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

John Chowning, Pastor

The summer months seem to have passed so very quickly - perhaps it's my age that makes it seem that time passes much quicker than when I was much younger. The month of August brings the opening of our local area schools. Once again, our children and youth will return to the classroom and a more regular schedule. Families settle into the regularity and routine that school brings. And summer vacation comes to a close. 

We need to be supportive of and involved in our local schools - both public and private. Our church has supported Ky Christian Academy for more than two decades via our annual mission budget. We have a number of church members who are public school teachers and staff. And of course, our children and youth are enrolled in area schools. All of us pay school taxes in support of our public schools. 

What more can we do? First, we should be involved in the lives of our children and youth who are enrolled in school. We should pray for them; we should encourage them; we should help them take advantage to get the very best education possible. Many young people are in need of love and encouragement. 

Second, we should encourage and pray for our teachers and others involved in education. A word of appreciation from us will mean a lot for those who are dedicated teachers and workers. Most men and women who are teachers are doing it as a call to service and ministry. 

Third, may we pray for the safety of all involved in our schools. We pray that the 2016-2017 school year goes smoothly and safely in every respect. 

And, finally, we can say a "good word" about our schools. There's a lot of negativity in our culture. Educators are sometimes blamed for the ills of our culture. In reality, our teachers are too often the sole positive influencer in the lives of many children. So I choose to say a positive word about our teachers and educational staff! 

May God bless and keep safe our students, teachers, and all involved in our area schools during the 2016-2017 term. And may we minister to them in the name of Jesus Christ. 

 

 

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

by John E. Chowning

Sunday, July 10 is being observed across the country as Pray Together Sunday sponsored by the National Association of Evangelicals, of which your pastor is a member. NAE is asking churches of various denominations across America to pray for a "reset" and in the belief that Jesus changes everything. As stated on the NAE website, "He (Jesus) offers us a reset - restoring us to our original design - and he can reset this generation."

Pray Together Sunday will also kick off the week leading us to "Together 2016," a national campaign to bring one million people to the National Mall for a day of worship and prayer on Saturday, July 16. Visit Reset2016.com to learn more about supporting or attending Together 2016.

Saloma Baptist Church will join with numerous other congregations across American on Sunday, July 10 to pray for Together 2016 and to pray that God to work in and through our nation. We are challenged to pray with other churches on Sunday, July 10. As stated in materials for Pray Together Sunday, "What is one million people in different churches of different denominations across the country joined together one Sunday in prayer? What is we all asked Jesus to change our hearts and our nation? Will we ask Jesus to reset our nation?"

We are encouraged to pray for the plans and preparations for the July 16 Together 2016 gathering in Washington on the National Mall - for those who will be speaking, for those who will lead in worship, and for all who will be praying on that day in our nation's capital. We are encouraged to pray that "Jesus will be the only agenda."

The goal is for a "reset" at all levels - a reset in our personal relationship and walk with Jesus Christ, a reset for the local church and the ministry that we are called to do in our community and world, a reset for the larger Body of Christ to work together in unity of purpose and spirit and to bring Jesus to bear upon our world, and a reset for our nation in these very challenging and uncertain times.

We are praying for a reset of our nation to Jesus. And we are asking God for another Great Awakening in the United States and in our world because, "Jesus changes everything."

Join us in prayer for a reset!

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

John Chowning, SBC Pastor

Summer 2016 is here! Schools are out of session, and our young people are enjoying a two month break from the daily grind of school and engaging in academic study. Many families will be traveling for much-needed vacations. Others will be active with other summer activities such as softball and baseball. Farmers will be in the midst of busy and productive seasons that "make or break" their year. So, summer is always a very busy and enjoyable time.

We have a busy summer schedule at Saloma Baptist Church. In addition to our ongoing Sunday and mid-week services and activities (and please make regular church attendance and participation a key part of your summer schedule), we will be involved in the weekly Sunday morning Green River Lake State Park Ministry. Thanks to all those who are involved with this mission - our 21st year - and please join in prayer for the opportunity to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We have a tradition of having a summer mission project to keep us focused on the importance of global missions. We will once again be working to raise mission funds for our 12th water well in Zambia - in support of the work there of Lonnie and Fran Turner. All age groups in the church are a part of this mission project including the children during our upcoming Vacation Bible School.

Vacation Bible School is scheduled for July 15-17. Bro. Jason England and the VBS Team certainly welcome the participation of all children, youth, and adults in this very special ministry. There are servant leadership opportunities for youth and adults - and the children of all ages are encouraged to participate as students. Bible study, music, recreation, fellowship, crafts, refreshments, etc. are part of VBS. Support of our summer mission project - the water well for Zambia - is part of VBS.

Bro. Jason England and others in our church will be involved in Audience 1 Sports Ministry. This Christian ministry provides Christ-centered sports events for children and young people. Many lives are being touched through Audience 1. This ministry's influence has become regional with hundreds, actually thousands, of people being impacted by the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the venue of sports. Several of our SBC members and families are involved in this ministry and our church is one of the strong supporters. Pray for Audience 1!

We are also celebrating our church's 65th anniversary this summer. Our annual Homecoming Celebration will be on Sunday, August 28. This will be a wonderful way to end the summer with an old fashioned day of worship, fellowship, food, praise and worship, etc. as we give God praise for the rich history and legacy of our church and as we anticipate the continuing opportunities - today and tomorrow - to minister to our community and world in the name of Jesus Christ.

Yes, Summer 2016, is upon us, and it is a busy time. Let's make this a Christ-centered summer - one in which Jesus Christ pervades all that we do!

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning

On the second Sunday of May each year, we pause to celebrate Mother's Day. This is certainly the case at Saloma Baptist Church as we gather on Sunday, May 8, and once again honor the mothers of our church family.

The writer of Proverbs spoke of the characteristics of a "noble wife/woman of character" in Proverbs 31:10-31.  Verse 10 reads as follows:  "A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies." He adds in verse 26 these words:  "She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue." Finally in verses 30-31, the writer concludes, "a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."

I think of those strong women in my own life who certainly epitomize what the wisdom writer shares in Proverbs 31. I think of my late maternal grandmother, Dollye Elliott Brockman, who lived to age 94 and was a strong Christian influence to four generations of our family. While she lived a simple life and was a homemaker, she was a strong influence for all who knew her and was in many ways the strong driving force who insisted that chidren and grandchildren would get good educations, serve the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and live Christian lives. I think of my late mother, who passed away at a much younger age - 63 years old, and she was a strong Christian influence for my brother and me, insisted that do our very best in school, to attend and finish college, and to grow up to be hard working men. She was a wonderful mother and wife.

And I am certainly blessed to be the husband of Catherine (Cathy) Pence Chowning, for soon to be 45 years (in August of this year). She truly is the essence of a "wife of noble character" as the writer of Proverbs discussed in chapter 31. She is a strong Christian, outstanding mother and grandmother, hard working professional in the healthcare industry, and faithful servant for the Lord. I have been truly blessed by the Lord bringing us together and giving us a wonderful life together. I praise God for and honor her during the month of May! In all areas of her life, she expresses the sentiment that the Proverbs writer expressed in chapter 31 about what it means to be a "woman/wife of noble character."

And, yes, God has blessed us with three beautiful daughters and three beautiful and smart grand-daughters (and, yes, I note that we have a great son and great grandson, but this is about the women in my life).

I firmly believe that God uses the women in our lives to do His kingdom work and ministry. I firmly believe that God has blessed my own ministry with strong support and encouragement by the women in my life. And I praise God for the women of Saloma Baptist Church - those who have gone home to be with the Lord and for those who remain in our midst - who are helping move our church forward in kingdom mission and ministry!

Join me in saying thanks to the women in our lives during the month of May and expressing a prayer of thanks to God for the many ways in which He is using them to advance His kingdom.

Pastor John Chowning

Saloma Baptist Church

May 2016

 

Posted
AuthorKaleb Chowning