I’m not too far into this journey and I already find myself at a crossroads. I dove head first into the blog world and discovered many new and exciting things. Two things in particular stand out. First, I discovered that I love blogging. I finally found a medium where I can throw together all my choice forms of expression into one location. Second, I found out that there are people out there making a living blogging. There are ways to make money with your blog and there’s even a guy out there who is not shy about sharing that he makes 6 figures from blogging professionally.

What is it about money that lures us in. Even those of us who feel like we could do so much if we had financial freedom are not free from subtle temptations. I have to be honest… When I think of all the people I could help if I had unlimited resources I can’t help but ALSO dream about that brand new house or that awesome home theater. Or that dream family vacation. So who’s to say that I really could handle a bunch of money if God threw it my way. I’m not living sacrificially now. Why would God give me more if I’m not using what I have now for His Kingdom?

Anyway, that’s a side point. I’m not talking about getting rich (which, by the way, I think we are ALL rich) I was talking about a crossroads. When something crosses our path that awakens a desire in us, we stand at a crossroads. Ideally we let the cross street whiz us by because we are dead focused on our current course. We are hitting all the green lights. But sometimes we roll to a stop and start looking around at other roads. Or we get enough of a glance at the road sign to make a impulsive turn off course.

I am tempted here. Tempted to chase a new career path that will give me many good things. What would be bad about working from home and spending more time with my family? What would be wrong about paying off all our debt and having hundreds of dollars a month to hand out to those in need? What if I could influence thousands of people for God and impact thousands of families? I can’t deny that right under the surface lies selfish ambitions. I could have lots of money… I could be famous… I could have thousands of people tell me how great I am….

I started this blog because I am seeking the Kingdom of God and wish to share my journey. This side street sounds a lot like taking my life back into my own hands. It sounds a lot like I think I can handle resourcing my own ministry and God can bless it if He wants or just watch as I make it happen.

So where do I go from here? Stay the course. I didn’t start this blog to make it my job. Maybe that’s what God has for me down the road. Until then I will continue to chronicle my family’s journey into the Kingdom. Shoot. I don’t even know if anyone is reading this anyway…

Ok, so what about those ads on the side? So far they are not bringing in a significant amount of money. I’ll keep a couple up to cover the cost of the blog. And I do want to support and endorse some companies I use.

What about you? What crossroads have you found yourself at? Are you at one now? Leave a comment.

I’m still young enough that I remember when the internet made it’s way into the home offices of my friends and I.  I can’t remember if it was American Online or Prodigy, but I remember being at my friend’s house when his family was one of the first to get online.  He was able to chat with other people on his computer and it was completely unreal.  He would click his mouse, then we’d hear a phone dialing followed by weird hisses, buzzes and tweets coming from the back of his computer as his modem connected.

In a short time we’ve come a long way.  The internet is everywhere and part of our everyday lives.  It’s pretty darn amazing and has made the world a tiny place.  Though the internet provides great things in our lives, most of us are aware that it also poses a great threat.  Wherever you go online, you are only a click away from danger.  There is a need today more than ever to protect our children from online predators (be it people or companies who push their ads in front of us) as well as accidently stumbling onto content we don’t want them to experience.  This goes for us parents, too – especially Dads who are very susceptible to the dangers of online content.

I have tried a number of filters and blockers and one that I now use, and am endorsing here, is Safe Eyes.  Safe Eyes has offered satisfactory protection online.  It has great features and control.  It comes highly rated by many reputable sources.

Internet dangers will continue to grow.  This is why I have an ad for Safe Eyes.  If you click on it it will take you to their website where you can read more about their products and the reason they exist.  Any commissions I receive through this will go back into this ministry.  Don’t be ignorant of Internet dangers!

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PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
Hey, fellas.  I don’t want to miss the opportunity to address this because most of us aren’t talking much about it.  If you are finding yourself trapped in a cycle of secret surfing, let me tell you a few things.  First of all, you’re not alone so don’t be afraid to face it.  Second, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s not a big deal because it IS.  Men have gone down this road only to find their marriages wrecked and their lives in ruin.  Even if you perceive your internet viewing as harmless, you are playing with fire.  If you are surfing onto sites in secret, you need to do something about it.  A good place to start is www.xxxchurch.com.  This is actually a great resources for husbands AND wives.  Here is another good resource from a man whose life was ruined by his internet use but then restored.

Steven Curtis Chapman talks about the loss of his daughter and the inspiration behind his new song, Heaven is the Face.  My wife and I were in agreement that we don’t know how anyone gets through an ordeal like his family suffered through.  It’s a testimony of God’s grace that they are able to heal and move forward.  It’s the hope we have in Heaven because of what Jesus has done that we are able to move on.  Steven – thank you for sharing your heart with us.  I know you will minister to many who have gone through similar pain and grief.

Warning to the sensitive: You might need to watch with tissues.

It has come to my attention more than one time recently that I have not had to suffer the loss of a close loved one.  There are three people I work with who’ve each lost family members close to them: siblings, parents, spouses.  Fortunately I have not had to go through such a loss.  I can’t imagine the pain one must go through.  What about you?  How have you dealt with loss in your life?  Comment below.

PREFACE
I am not trained in Theology.  I am not an expert on this stuff.  But I’ve had a serious relationship with God for a good 20 years. He is leading me and my family on this journey.

(Hopefully) This post will be a summary of what my thoughts are about the Kingdom – the main ideas that are driving this blog (and my life).  Christians who come to this site and see the title up top may think, yeah, the Kingdom, I get it.  But don’t let that phrase pass you by.  I used to. God has been showing me that “The Kingdom” is much more than a Christian-y saying.
NEW CREATION
The Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven was one of Jesus’ main points.  It was one of his top sermon topics.  I’ve been a Christian my whole life.  I grew up going to church on Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night.  Yet this one fundamental, very important truth, was not pounded into me like now I wish it had been.
When we become Christians, everything changes.  Well, it’s supposed to.  When we become a Christian, the Bible says we are a new creation.  The Bible says our citizenship is in Heaven.  The Bible seems to be telling me that when I gave my life to Jesus and accepted his payment for my sin and all that, everything changed.  Not changed from pink to red.  Not changed from sad to happy.  But changed from red to a circle.  (huh?)  That’s just it.  I think I’ve missed it.  We change completely.  We’re not just a new version of our old self.  We are in a new category.  Our old self no longer exists and we have been created again from scratch into a completely new entity.  We aren’t erased from the page and redrawn.  Our paper is burned in the fire and we are created as a sculpture from a fresh block of marble.  Our old identity is no more.  We have a new identity.   
I’ve been in ministry for over 5 years now.  We spend a lot of time, we pastors, trying to figure out how to get people into the church.  We seek God for wisdom and try to figure out how to change lives – how to reach people.  Through these kinds of thought processes, and through my own personal growth, God has been showing me more and more every day that my life does not reflect this truth of being a new creation.  In reality, it’s more like I kept my old life and tried to convert it to Christianity.  This is a fundamental problem.  I kept my life
What I think has happened is that I don’t see myself too much differently than if I weren’t a Christian at all.  The Bible says to not conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  So it’s all about our mindset – our perspective – how we see ourselves.  And until recently, I’ve allowed American culture to shape my perspective and identity.  So I asked myself, what do I do to change that.  For me, the answer has been The Kingdom
COUNTER CULTURAL
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the Kingdom.  And I think God has guided me to create this blog to share what He’s showing me.  Why? I’m not sure. You tell me.  Joel Comiskey, in his brand new book, The Relational Disciple, writes:

“Often believers in the church see themselves as individuals first, Americans second, and Christians third”

This is helpful to explain what I’m talking about.  Perhaps the thought process goes something like this: Hi, my name is Ben.  I am an American who is a Christian.  So we see ourselves as Christians within the frame-work of an individualistic American existence.  Could it be that we have built our Christian faith on an individualistic American mindset?  There are many who would agree – and have written books on the topic.  Nonetheless, that’s what God is showing me.  In Christ, there is no Jew, no Gentile, no male, no female, no American, no individual, no protestant, no Catholic.  When we become Christians, labels like “American” no longer carry any significance.  I’m starting to learn that there’s a lot of worldly kingdom stuff that holds no significance to someone who identifies himself as part of a God-Kingdom.
A few years ago a good friend of mine was catching me up on his life.  He said that his family had achieved the American dream and he was now trying as fast as he could to get out of it.  My thinking is along those same lines.  A few months ago, I wrote in my journal, “The pursuit of the American dream leads away from Jesus”.  Perhaps that’s where I have truly been heading.  I’ve been tricked.  I’ve been lied to.  I have not embraced my new identity – my TRUE identity.
I am a Citizen of God’s Kingdom and wordly stuff holds no significance to my life (well, at least that’s what I hope some day will be my life-guiding principle – I’m not there yet!)  I know many Christians have thought about this stuff.  I have too, on and off, for a number of years.  But how many of us actually do something about it and make the necessary changes in our lives.  I feel like I’m now ready to start facing those changes.  To abandon it all (little by little!)  To, as the Bible puts it, die to myself.
Let me try to summarize my thoughts here.
SUMMARY
God is leading me and my family to finally fully embrace our citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven and finally renounce our citizenship in a worldly (self-centered) kingdom.  God is helping us (my family) to see ourselves primarily and exclusively as members of a spiritual Kingdom and community where Jesus is Lord (in charge).  This might (and probably should) cause us to live in a way that is contrasting to our culture which, consequently, should not be a concern to us anyway.
So, if this makes any sense to you, then God’s grace is on you!  I’m still sorting it out.  This is mostly new to me.  But I really think I’m on to something!  I feel like I look up and God is looking at me with a proud look in His eyes that says “YES!  You are getting it!”
I will close with some bullet point thoughts that I hope to explore more in depth in future posts.
  • In the Kingdom, there is only significance in the spiritual, not the physical.
  • In the Kingdom, relationships are the most significant part of life.
  • In the Kingdom, I must see my wife and myself as one and my family as one.  I am my family.  My family is me. (Similarly, I am one with Jesus)
  • In the Kingdom, my (or our, meaning, my family) resources belong to God and are given to us to use for His purposes 
  • Parenting is an act of stewardship and the family is the context in which my children will learn how to live and love in the Kingdom of Heaven
  • I must see all people as spiritual beings (souls) who will live forever somewhere – and God is actively seeking to bring them into His Kingdom through people like me
  • There is no “I” in the Kingdom (well, yeah, there is an ‘I’…you know what I mean!) – I’m not sure how to say it –  there is no emphasis on individual identity.  Emphasis is all given to the King and the collective group is His people.
  • I have no right to my life – meaning, I must give up my dreams, my plans, everything.  God is in charge and I live as though I really believe that!
  • I must expect people to think I’m kind of radical – and I must receive my value and validation from God, not people.
  • In the Kingdom, my primary concern is serving others.  And (as Charles Stanley said) God takes full responsibility for a life that is fully devoted to Him. In other words, I don’t need to worry about my (or my family’s) needs being met – God will take care of that.  We just need to seek His Kingdom.
So, that’s what www.benchilcote.net is all about.  Yes, there will be videos, songs, creative projects.  But the real deal is my family’s adventure in being fully devoted to Jesus.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Or, better yet, join us!

This blog and my debut song, “In Good Hands” marks the launch of my hobby music career! I just entered a new chapter in life with the birth of my 3rd child on the same day I turned 30.  With the coming of our 3rd, I knew my extra time would be even more limited.  I have had many creative ideas in the works with no definite plans to finish any of them.  I decided to actually complete a project and put it out there in the event this is the last chance I have for a while to devote time to such a project.

As the years come, I hope to release more projects and discuss them on this website.  Until then, I plan to share my thoughts about life, being a pastor, a dad, a husband, and many of the other things I think about.

In the music widget up top you can stream my song in its entirety.  However, if you like the song, consider supporting a local artist by purchasing it (it costs less than a dollar!).  I wouldn’t mind at least covering the cost of distribution and copyrighting 🙂  Also, if you find any of my music worth sharing, please do so.  I have found “In Good Hands” to be a meaningful song to hum to my infant while holding him.

Finally, I’d love your input and feedback.  Leave me a comment.  I’d love to know your thoughts.

-Ben

The Video

About the Song

This song was a tribute to a man that was (and is) beloved by many. At our church, we went through a rough time in losing our senior pastor. Howard Brammer stepped in as our interim senior pastor. He originally was asked to stay for a number of months but ended up with us for a full year. For his going away dinner, our media director, Brent Thurston, and I worked up this video. I had the crazy idea to have Howard rap and Brent animate it Jib-Jab Style. I had always wanted to write a rap. I can now cross that off my list. Although, I’d really like to write another. All in all, I spent well over 40 hours on the project. Both Brent and I felt we could have done more with more time, but you do what you can! The lyrics are mostly inside jokes and things we knew about Howard.

My name is Ben Chilcote. I have a wife and 3 kids. I am ordained and have worked in full-time Christian ministry since 2004.  I’m an artist, musician and have many other varied and perhaps unusual interests.

Above all, I’ve had a serious relationship with Jesus for most of my life and I continually asking Him how this world – and my life – is supposed to work. Recently He has opened my eyes to His Kingdom and I have began a journey of life transformation.

I feel like God has given me a gift of influence, which I must steward strategically and responsibly.  Through my creative projects and blog posts on this website, I hope to share the things that God is teaching and showing me.  I trust they will be valuable in building up others who are also seeking a life of obedience under the leadership of Jesus.

Sometimes I think I must be crazy.  However, I trust I will find out I am not and that God is faithful.

I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me at benchilcote@gmail.com