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Saturday, January 31, 2009

A little self disclosure
I think God gives us children to teach us about our relationship with Him.  I was recently addressing my kids about thier lack of regard for their mother and I and our home.  My perception is/was that they live as if we (their mother and I) are there just to enable them to do what they want.  That we will pick up after them, fix what they break, right what they wrong, over look what should be called out.  I was upset with what I perceived to be disrespect.  Why can't they see what we see?  Why don't the value the priviledge they experience?  Why don't they respect the permission to use what isn't theirs?  It struck me as arrogant and self centered.

Before I get too many angry responses.  My kids are expceptional and "Yes" I am biased.  Everywhere but within our 4 walls, I take pride in my kids.  98% of the time within our walls I take pride in our kids.  I was having a "parent of teenage children" moment.  (Can I get an "Amen" from the parents of teenage children!)

I think God used this moment in two ways.  First, we ended up having a great conversation in which I was able to verbalize one of the greatest challenges of being a human being.  That is working through being self centered to being other oriented.  This is a life long project (maybe longer).  Second, it became a message God intended for me as I replayed our conversation.

Why don't I see people the way God does?  Why don't I make the decisions God would make?  I do I misuse and exploit what He has given me for my benefit?  Why do I pray like He is there just to grant my wishes?  Answer:  Self centered arrogance.

When I want what God wants more than I want what my sinful nature wants, I will see and decide and use and pray and relate the way He wants me to.  The issue is my center.  The issue is my focus.  The issue is my priorities.  My kids aren't thinking about me.  They are thinking about themselves.  I'm not thinking about God and God's agenda.  I'm thinking about me and my agenda.

I needed my kids.  I needed them to show me where I need to mature.  God doesn't waste a moment.  He uses them all for our benefit.  My prayer is use all my moments for Him.
2:14 pm est 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Taking One For The Team
Why do I, as a pastor/leader, expect that if I am obedient to God's call that all will go well with me and the people God has called me to?  That is a silly expectation.  Look at Jeremiah.  He was given instruction by God to prophesy.  He did what God asked him to do (at risk to his own life).  Read his Journal in Lamentations 3.  Jeremiah was feeling God's punishment of Israel.

The thing I perpetually under estimate is the human priviledge of free will.  As a Pastor/Leader, I can do exactly, all that God has commanded of me and still (as a result of the decisions of the "flock" I lead) face the wrath of God.  Talk about taking one for the team!  We (leaders and followers, pastors and parishioners) are a family, a building, a body, and as such inseperable.  I can no more set myself apart from the people I lead than I can disconnect my arm from by torso (without considerable pain and diminishment).

Think about your Pastors/Leaders.  What you do (your level of obedience) has a direct impact on them.  If God disciplines you, they feel it.  If God punishes you, they are punished.  I don't mean just in empathy.  I mean they get the same treatment as the collective body.  If God withdraws His blessing from the people, it is withdrawn from the Pastor/Leader as well.  We are inseperable.

What each of us does matters.  Our willingness to be obedient matters.  Our commitment to discipleship matters.  It matters to us, to those watching our witness, and to those called to lead us as well.

In John 14, Jesus says that if we love him we will obey his commands.  I submit that your love for Jesus, for those He has called to lead you, and for yourself is demonstrated in your/my/our obedience to God's Word.
3:49 pm est 

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Where Have We Been?
Jeremiah 50:6
"My people were lost sheep, whose shepherds let them stray and run wild...they wandered from mountain to hill, forgetful of their fold."

I have been critical of the institutional church.  It has lost its way, its effectiveness, and its power.  It is losing its place in American society.  I have blamed it/them.  I need to blame me as well.  Here are a couple questions to ask yourself, that I asked myself:

"How long is it until you notice someone at church is missing?"
"How long is it until you call to check on them?"

Here's the argument I would have offered to those questions:  "I have my circle, my sphere of influence.  If everyone did their part, everyone would be covered."  Or I could have said..."Everyone needs to be accountable for themselves.  If they need something, they should ask."

The truth is, I wasn't as concerned about who wasn't there as I was about what I was doing.  The truth is, I let busy-ness become the master I served.  The truth is, I am conformed to the image of this world.  Every excuse I would offer for not calling on my brothers or sisters is based on some aspect of our culture or this world... my schedule, my job, my kids schedule, the pace of life, my self centeredness.  The truth is I don't care about those people enough to call on them.  Shame on me.  Shame on us.

If they (the people of this world) will know we are Christians by our love, how do we show them them love?  Wait for them to come to us?  Rely on casual contact organized by the institutional church (that means Sunday Services)?  Do we care about people the way Jesus did?  Enough to leave our space and go find them, be with them, share in their lives?

I was issued this challenge this week by God.  He did it through a couple brothers who do love me enough to enter into my world, to seek me out, to come find me.  I am grateful that God loves me enough to not let be me mediocre, or allow me to be less than the full measure of His Son, Jesus.  I am grateful that my brothers love me enough to tactfully yet clearly help me see where I am not measuring up.  God loves you that much too.

I am praying for God to transform me.  I need to renew my mind.  I need to see people as God sees them.  I need to care enough to call.  I need to love them.  That's what Jesus would do.  I don't want to be responsible for letting the "...sheep stray and run wild...".  I have been forgetful of the fold, no wonder the "Sheep" are forgetful of the fold.  No wonder the institutional church is losing its battle in America.

The next verse in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 50:7) tells us what to expect as a result of not being good shepherds... "All who came on them devoured them; their enemies said, 'we incur no guilt, because they have sinned against the Lord, the Lord who is the true goal and hope of their forefathers.'"  This verse is as clear a picture of what is taking place in America as any and its my fault, our fault.

Pray with me.  Pray for me.  It is God whose will must be done.  It is love for Him that should drive us.  It is love for His creation, Man, that should be at the forefront of our agenda.  It is going to be hard but it is what I believe we are, I am called to.
9:27 am est 


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