Kraig Lowell Pullam

My thoughts. My reflections. My journey…. On pastoring, preaching, leading & learning.

During this Season…

What a season this has been for ALL of us.  

It is hard to fathom that we have been in the midst of a worldwide pandemic since March of 2020 (6 months ago and counting).  To say that our world has changed would be an understatement.  

In the midst of it all, I think there will be some good to come out of this season.  On the positive side, I would like to assume society is becoming more sanitized, germ-conscious and aware of our environment and space.  On the negative end, I think we will become even more anti-social, guarded and socially-distant in the days and years to come.  It doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore, to think of a world where humans colonize to other planets, where everyone wears space suits, helmets with purified air, and a reality where there are no hugs or external fellowship; and where ‘social distancing’ now has a name.  

The primal factor in my moving to Dallas Fort Worth was to lead the people of Shiloh in Fort Worth. That being said…my life naturally began to revolve around them for over three years (at the beginning of the pandemic). So it is quite natural to initially have felt a sense of ‘lostness’ not being able to interact with, visit or ‘fellowship’ with the people who’ve become my family. In the strangest way…in all of my years of pastoring, I have never felt ‘closer’ to my congregation during this season of life and ministry. For this, I am grateful. Of course, there have been some with whom have been unable to connect. But calls and cards have been a godsend.

So many people are anxious, fearful, confused and frustrated in the midst of this pandemic and Covid-19.  I thank God for media and technology; but in some way, the media has had it’s way of pushing people mentally into overdrive.  Even worse, most are not aware.  To be sure, it seems that people, and the world, have gone absolutely mad, crazy and out of control.  This seems even strange to write, when it seemed as if we were the aforementioned before 2020, and would’ve been so sure it couldn’t get any worse; atleast not so quickly.  Even in churches, there is a great divide.  There are some who think it is too soon to open (with many experts saying there will be a second wave during flu season) and others who are saying, ‘We do everything else, and go everywhere else.’  Add to this, the political debate we’ve forced upon wearing masks or not.  Leaders, it often seems now, are in a lose-lose situation, in whatever decision they choose to make.  

One thing I am sure this pandemic has done in most settings – be it with our family, in our friendship circles, in marriages and relationships, in the world or in church, and any interpersonal way – people have shown their true selves and their actual motives.  Guess what? So have we!  

As a Pastor, it is one of my tasks to not only encourage my parishioners and family and friends; but to encourage and lift other leaders and pastors.  Philippians 4:6 encourages us not to ‘be anxious’ about anything; and Galatians 6:9 instructs us to ‘be ye not weary in doing well.’  Joshua chapter 1 in it’s entirety is always an encouragement, and it a chapter I have been lead by God’s Spirit to read daily.  While this season is a wonderful opportunity to grow, focus on God, become more Christlike and centered on God’s Word; and to become more serious about what concerns God, I am afraid many of us are missing the opportunity, letting the moment pass us by.  It is so important to use every moment during this ‘waiting room experience” as an opportunity to grow, focus, search the depths of your own soul, cherish every moment and person and to make yourself better and stronger.  

This has been my goal and also my prayer.  While I felt the results of others’ anxiety and ‘busyness’, and experienced the loss of my Aunt (Janice Pullam) since my last blog, and some whom I know who’ve experience illness and their own loss, I believe God is refining me.  In the midst of challenge and change, God has blessed me to enroll back in school, and begin preliminary work for my Ph.D.  I have continued to write; and shape my thoughts for publication in the future.  God has also used this season to gradually break me out of my fear of being on camera, and all that entails. He is certainly challenging my nerves and my patience with others and compassion for people.  I am also grateful and humbled that God would see fit to allow me to celebrate 4 years of Pastoral ministry at Shiloh on the 4th Sunday of this month.  While it has not gone without it’s fair share of challenge (particularly in 2020 and during this pandemic), I am clear that it was God Who led me to beloved Shiloh MBC in Fort Worth; and He will order every step, with joy for the journey.  Certainly….I appreciate every member of Shiloh who knows and believes that Shiloh is Christ’s church; He will keep it; and God has called us to love, lead and live like Jesus Christ in our own lives.  

I’m wondering – what have you learned during this pandemic?  How has God grown you durning this season?  

Please like this blog, follow us; and share with a friend.

Be Encouraged. 

Sunday in Retrospect

God be praised for another Lord’s Day.

Admittedly, I am ready for this pandemic to be over. More recently, I’ve found myself wondering if the pandemic will ever end. Maybe I’ll look back upon this blog, grateful for the challenges 2020 presented; and smile at how we made it through this time, thankful for the vaccine created; and overwhelmed at all of the blessings that emanated from this time in all of our lives. Of course, with all of the news, opinions and rumors…from the spikes in new cases to the notion this may last two years to the hypothesis which says this is the ‘new AIDS’…people are drawn to fear, cynicism and anxiety. That being said…I miss my parents; my brothers; and my Shiloh family.

I’ve been preaching to a crowd of ten or less for about three months now. The early days of my pastoral ministry were full of empty chairs, a few amens; and quiet moments following the preaching event. You would think I, of all people, would be in my element; and at home in such an environment. The issue is, for me, I fell in love with the PEOPLE of Shiloh; and not the place. The place is beautiful and prestigious. Built in the 60’s, it is dated, but there is a regal flair about our church facilities. But the people of Shiloh – I can write a book about the uniqueness of our members. As I have contemplated the past few years about how we can grow, build a state of the art College ministry to attract the students of TCU and Texas Wesleyan; and expand our men and women and couples ministries to galvanize and facilitate ministry to ‘families’, I often wonder where will we find those persons who will ‘click’ and ‘stick’ to 1) such an eccentric pastor (I admit I am special. But so was my predecessor, so most of the members accept me) 2) such a unique, eclectic group of great people. I conclude that God will do it. I am seeing Him placing us in a position to move us to that reality.

Leading up to Sunday was both challenging and unusually peaceful and empowering. Somehow, what I had been wrestling with for some time in my own life, God gave peaceful reassurance that He would be with me and stand by me. Actually…not that He is with me; but that I am with Him.

We celebrated our high school graduates!!! I look forward to the month of June because every year we celebrate them on the 2nd Sunday of this month. For many years, Pastor Acie Jefferson, who pastors in Houston, would share with the graduates an uplifting message. This year, I was led to get someone local; and also someone who had ties to our congregation; Rev. Michael Green, from Concord Church, in Dallas. Because of the pandemic, things changed. I encouraged our Minister of Youth (now in charge of Graduate Recognition) to preach. He implored me to speak to our graduates. Lord knows I’ve been talking so much during this pandemic that it has seemed so hard to remain fresh; and especially relevant to these young people. He suggested that this year is different; and in the midst of a worldwide crisis, they need to hear from their spiritual leader. Now I don’t know if he was just trying to get out of speaking; but I accepted the challenge. I have preached every Sunday since the pandemic started; and taught every Wednesday night. As strange as it seems, I’ve enjoyed it! Though it is quite tedious; and I pray God’s people are being blessed…I am grateful that our people keep returning.

I shared from Psalm 105 and talked about God’s promises. It is a passage I preached from once before probably over 10 years ago. The one thing I have learned during this season (something I thought I’d mastered) is that there are many surprises with technology. Going live is really GOING LIVE. This has really been a work in progress for us. The real MVP in our church is a man who leads the media ministry in our church. The Lord placed him upon my heart after first arriving; because of his spirit. God has given me the gift of discernment (it is one of my spiritual gifts); and I knew instinctively that he was loyal, passionate, teachable and an emblazoned leader. In addition, a Prarie View A&M Grad (I’m’ partial to PV alumni; my great grandmother attended and taught there many years ago). He has worked very hard to make sure our media goes and continues. Shiloh should be so very proud of him. While people thank me for working hard to get our streaming going, and moving us into the 21st century – he’s the guy who took it, ran with it – in the midst of having a full-time job; and his own things going on. I will always have his back.

That being said…we wanted our visit with our graduates to surprise them the day before, added. On my way to church, I was informed that the video presentation would not be ready following praise and worship, as we had planned and worked on for about a month; and more than likely, it wouldn’t be ready at all. How I was able to focus on my message; in addition to some important things I needed to follow up on with our church; plus ending the note with telling our members, the graduates; and their visiting families who were tuning in – ‘oh by the way…we don’t have a presentation. But thanks for watching!’

God knows me. That’s what I do know. He knew I had something pressing on my heart; and He ALSO knew I wanted to make the day special for our graduates and also appreciate the hard work the media and our Minister of Youth did. Any feelings of not sharing what I knew I needed to share were placed aside not only by conviction, and communicating with our members; but because I couldn’t end the service. It was almost as if God was saying to me literally, ‘You won’t get out of this. Share what I told you to share.’ God’s reassurance is so overwhelmingly peaceful. When I finished sharing what He told me to share; I looked up….and the video was ready.

I already try to look for a lesson in every blog. Maybe the lesson here is that we trust God’s process. It is so very important to move when God says move; and remain still (and quiet) until God says move ahead. It is so dangerous for us to get ahead of God. It is even more dangerous to speak out of turn, when God says to keep silent. God really will fight every one of your battles – in your family, your ministry, your work environment and anything else. If you remain obedient; prayerful; walk with integrity and do right by God and love people – God will place a hedge around you; and he will also expose the antics of the adversary.

In what ways have you seen God’s hand at work in your life during this pandemic? What have you done to make it through this season? I would love to hear from you. Please comment, share and subscribe. Blessings to you this week!

2020 MidYear Review…

If you’ve never read any of my blogs since 2008 or so, I’d encourage you to atleast read the one before this one.  I would also encourage you to subscribe; as well as share this blog with someone you may know.  My blogs (when I do write) are intentionally candid, transparent and brutally honest.  As a ‘church kid’ I do still remain subtle and try to remain ‘politically correct’, to protect the innocent, the faint of heart; and most importantly, the people I love; and my church.

That being said….

If you take the time to read my last post back in January…there is a glimmer of excitement, hope and relief.  Contained therein, there is an unspoken sense of ‘I’ve been through the storm and rain; and 2020 is going to be an exciting year.

For ALL (or most) of us….I sure seemed off.  This has been some kind of year.  I’ve seen so many memes referencing 2020; and how rough this year has been, from ‘Can we just skip the 2020 album, and go to the next 2021 track’ to so many others.  My favorite has been the meme I saw by one of my friends I’ll call ‘CBB’.  She is a former member of our church; and she never disappoints with the memes.  The meme is entitled, ‘If 2020 was a slide’. The slide is a cheese grater!

For me….as I wrote my last blog, I knew God was leading me to make a decision in my own life and ministry; that I had prayed so many times about, over a couple of years.  I’d promised the Lord that I would move in His time; and no matter what anyone said, I would move on His timetable.  As I wrote the last blog, I didn’t even know if I’d be bold enough to obey God; or how my decision would effect anyone involved.  What I did know is that I feared God, more than anyone else.  My intention is not to go into details regarding any of that.  My intention is to say to you – after I moved in the direction God instructed me to move, I traveled to Jacksonville, Florida for the Southern Baptist Pastor’s Conference, held at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville.  The conference was empowering, enlightening; and the things I learned and the people I met simply made the time there seem like things were just coming together.  I had never been to SBC’s Pastor’s conference held at First Baptist Jacksonville.  My father had been while I was in high school; and Jerry Vines and Mac Brunson (their previous pastors) were two of my favorites.  But it is just a plethora of encouragement, insights and empowerment.

Lord knows I needed it.  2019 (so I thought) was a rough year…just dealing with a suprising loss in our church family.  One brother we lost was such a major encouragement to me personally.  He was not a deacon or a trustee.  He wasn’t an usher or a Sunday School teacher.  He was just a ‘regular guy’ from Louisiana, retired from Delta Airlines; and just supported his new pastor.  He had been on oxygen for a couple of years; and had been struggling through that; having good days and bad days.  But I just admired how he would make his way to Bible Studies on Wednesday nights; how he would help with our security and safety personnel; and he never left church without talking to me.  One Sunday I was in the foyer greeting parishioners as they departed; and he was waiting (as usual) for me to finish.  Finally, he said he’d see me on Wednesday night.  A day or so later, he was gone.  I never shall forget doing something I advise no pastor (especially a professional chaplain) to do.  There in the hospital, in front of his wife and daughter, I broke down and cried like a little baby.  As some know, I am not a crier.  Little did I know that God was preparing my tear ducts for 2020.  I miss him so much; and he will be one of the first men I look for, after I see Jesus.

During my time in Jacksonville, my father met me there; along with a dear friend of my family, whom I call my uncle.  Being an alumnus from Dallas Baptist and Southwestern Seminary, it was also a joy to see quite a few old colleagues, professors, classmates, etc.  I was unsettled by the brewing tensions 2020 would bring; but excited about pleasing God.

I did something I don’t normally do, in 15 years of pastoring – I stayed over Sunday.  I visited my friend, H.B. Charles’ church (Shiloh in Jacksonville).  After church, I spoke to one of my best friends, Bertrain Bailey; and we shared our Sunday experiences, as we often do.  Of course, I didn’t have much to say.  I hadn’t preached; and I had only heard reports of the great time our people had back at home as Shiloh in Fort Worth.  As we spoke, Bertrain tells me, ‘Man…I’m seeing on the news that Kobe Bryant just died.’  My closest friends know I have always been a Kobe fan; and would always argue that he was better than the inimitable Michael Jordan.  As a matter of fact, my intention was to name my youngest son Kobe; to no avail.  I told him, ‘Don’t play like that.  We don’t play about Kobe.’ He said, ‘No dude, I’m seeing this on the news.’  From there…It has been a blur.

Kobe was, in fact, killed, along with others, in a helicopter crash; and the world rocked.  Without even settling down long enough, we were hit by the Coronavirus Pandemic.  And most recently, the injustices of the killings of unarmed black men and women; and the outrage that now ensues.  If things could get no worse – with family members who have fallen ill, members of my church losing family members, etc; the shocking loss of Pastor Manson B. Johnson of the Holman Street Baptist Church, has dealt another devastating blow.

Here is my summation to this blog…just in case you think the world revolves around your little worries; God knows how to allow a world of bigger problems to eclipse what you are facing.

To be sure, the things in my world continue to move on and move forward.  It is my prayer that God will continue to show Himself faithful, in the midst of any challenge any of us may face, individually or in this world.  Never forget the words of 1 Peter 5:7, which says, “Casting all your care upon Him; for he cares for you.’

Nobody told you that the road was going to be easy.  If they did, they lied to you! As long as you live this life, and seek to make an imprint, there will be challenges along the way.  It is so important to:

1. Remain Prayerful
2. Trust God (In God we trust, everyone else we thoroughly investigate)
3. Follow His Word
4. Walk with Integrity
5. Write everything down, including your story
6. Treat people right
7. Let God fight your battles

The good news is – if you’re reading this blog, you made it through some of the worst times in human history!!!  Just think – we get to live in this time.  And God is so gracious to allow us to experience it.

Be encouraged as you go throughout this process.  May you find joy on your journey!

Handling Stress

2019 was a very challenging year for me. In my estimation, it was probably the most challenging for me in ministry and personally.

Everything that could go wrong, almost did (I am very careful to say ‘almost’, because things could’ve always been much worse).

As I look back over my life, the end of a decade has typically been challenging for me. In early 1999, a relationship that meant very much to me officially ended. While it ended in 1998, I felt the effects of its dissolution; and trying to pick up the pieces the following year. To say it devastated my life would be an understatement. To this day, I know that it was only by God’s love, Grace and providence I made it through that.

In 2009, I was pastoring my first church. We were struggling to remain afloat. We went to a new location the previous year; and there was not a favorable response to the change. I couldn’t understand it, because it was the nicest building we’d ever worshipped in. Only years later did I realize some fundamental things that contributed to what I was experiencing, which I won’t share in this post. Added to the stress of a struggling church that couldn’t afford to support itself, let alone me and my family, I was completing my Master of Divinity degree in Biblical Languages at Southwestern Seminary. And if things could not get any worse, Dee and I had a miscarriage in May of that year, and another several months later.

Even years after, I can naturally see how those situations grew me; but still find it hard to see why God didn’t answer some of my prayers (keep me in that relationship or let me child/children live). I just know it shaped me into the man I am. However, I do live with scars; and I have a limp.

At the beginning of 2019, I made a post on my Facebook social media page…

It was a noble, sincere and faith-filled post. It had nothing to do with ANY one person, and it certainly had nothing to do with any of my obligations (family, church, friendships, etc). It was a general post!

Someone said that if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. Satan heard it; and God permitted him to use anything and anybody to stress me out, INCLUDING MYSELF. In fact, myself more than anyone else.

As a consequence, I became someone I did not know and did not like. Because of my youth in 1999, I learned how to not always lash out at those close to me as I did when I was only 19 (atleast the ones who weren’t lashing out at me), and because of everything that went on in 2009, I learned to suffer silently, put on my ministry face, be Pastoral, preach and do my job….

I allowed my perceptions of people’s issues to become personal for me. I allowed the problems and mistreatment of people I love and care about to stress me out, especially because I wanted to fix the situation. I even became stressed over loved ones and friends who felt I wasn’t giving them enough or calling them enough. I allowed other people’s fights (whether family or in church) to become my burden and problem. If a member left because of a divorce or conflict with someone else in our church, it hurt me and I took their leaving as personal. Even more…it causes me to see that I hadn’t fully confronted some of the truths and lessons God was trying to teach me in 1999 and 2009. Little did I know that my loss in 1999 and my challenges in 2009 were equipping me for the struggles I’d experience in 2019; that I may have 2020 Vision.

While I could make this post a Part 1 of a 3-part series, I’ll just express my few reflections here.

1) God has never promised that life or people or situations would come without friction.

2) God can handle people and things better than you.

3) Things and people will only have as much power as you give them.

3) Embrace the fact that many of the things, and people, that you are stressing about, probably aren’t stressing over you. These aren’t fabricationals.

5) Whether the problems or people are temporary or permanent, give it to God, show compassion, forgive yourself and then let if go.

6) Be thankful and grateful for the people, especially the God, you stress out continuously…who are patient, loving and present in your life.

This year…I will not abandon my intention. But I choose to believe I can determine its place in my life.

I pray for each person who is struggling today; and already stressed out in 2020. No matter what occurred yesterday, may you realize God’s overwhelming love for you; His purpose for your life; and use whatever energy for stress, toward fulfilling God’s promises in your life.

I hope to do that by sharing my story in the blog. Please subscribe and also share. Also…I would love to hear from you in the comments. Blessings!

Three Years in Retrospect

 

img_7334My blogs have been few and far between these days.

I could not go into another Lord’s Day without chronicling the past Lord’s Day celebration. Last week, God blessed us to celebrate three years together as Pastor and People at the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.

I am beyond grateful for the People of Shiloh!!!

The journey thus far has been joyful, amid the natural challenges any congregation experienced along the way. I am sure I have said it more than once – that I have never fathomed Pastoring in Ft. Worth, let alone a church like SMBC. This is not a negative notion at all; but just one of life’s curve balls providentially thrown in my direction. In just one example, my father and mother have been married for over 51 years. She was only 16; and he was 19 years of age. God forbid something should ever happen to my father first. But I contend that no sane man, in his right mind, could ever realistically fill the shoes of a man who has so met the challenge, that I have never even seen my mother pump gasoline into a tank. In like manner, no aspiring young preacher (who has any sense) would initially dream of following a Pastor who has literally set the bar and pastored one congregation for 57 years. It can almost seem that he is doomed for failure. I have always said that this is a recipe for disaster; and that any preacher who does it is a fool. But God….

Three years ago I didn’t know what to expect. It is often said that, at a good church, it will take a leader 5 to 7 years to become THE PASTOR. That is at a good church. While many laypeople are taken aback by this notion, it is actually true. I have yet to determine if that number is greater when considering the tenure of my predecessor. My greatest challenge was trying to get settled while also learning the people and my environment. The culture was changing at Shiloh. Unfortunately, as the new guy, I didn’t know it. It took me some time to learn my congregation, her history, the people who comprise our church, the issues, the strengths, the weaknesses, along with how I fit into making our congregation better; and grow and move forward. In fact, it has taken me three years!!!

In the first three years, the major challenge for me has been patience, by far. God has done a major job on me in the area of just being patient – with myself and even with others. More than this….others being patient with me. The people of Shiloh have been patient with me. With any given (and new) relationship, what keeps us going and flourishing is our love for Christ and our love for one another. We are forever called to love one another; and I pray each day that we walk together until we realize God’s vision for us together.

It is always refreshing to have my friend Rev. Parish Lowery and our sister church, Greater Friendship MBC with us for Pre-Anniversary; and my father with us on Anniversary Sunday. They both did a stellar job of sharing with us God’s Word.

How I thank the Lord for Brenda Jordan, who chaired our celebration this year. The tributes each week were inspiring and touching; and my wife and I enjoyed going through and reading the wonderful notes and seeing the gifts and expressions given by the Shiloh members. It was beyond encouraging.

My personality is always upbeat. But on the day of the celebration I was overwhelmed by who wasn’t there in the room with us. My Uncle, Rev. Lloyd A. Pullam, went home to be with the Lord this past May. He is the one who told me about Shiloh. He was very proud of my being called there. And he is the one who assured me that Shiloh was a good church; and would become great one day once I had ‘a few funerals.’ I miss him so very much. And I shall never forget the seeds he planted in my even realizing the plan God has for me for the remainder of my ministry.

If there are any members of Shiloh who may read this…I LOVE YOU!!! I thank you for your support; and I cherish your prayers and your presence. The best is truly yet to come!!!

Farewell, Servant…

fullsizeoutput_5a00I have never fully dreaded the idea of attending the homegoing of a family member.  When my mother in law’s brother, Marvin Small, passed away…I felt it slightly.  But I never will forget the last time I saw him outside of our local neighborhood grocery store, sitting in his car….Uncle Marvin gave me a look of farewell.  I felt a sense of closure.  I eagerly gathered up the strength to be there for the extended family who had become my own, and our young son, Kai, who grew to know and love the quiet uncle who lived a few houses down the street from us.  I slightly dreaded attending that funeral; but this is different.  

My Uncle Lloyd is gone.  The tears I shed just even writing those words are hard to explain, especially for a man who never, ever cries; not even really much when my grandfathers passed away.  Getting the news from my first cousin this past Monday….upon hanging up the phone, I cannot explain the feelings that overtook me in that moment.  My father’s only living brother; the patriarch of our family….now gone.

Growing up with hearing problems, I used to think he was the visible twin of the invisible God because it seemed as if everyone called him “Lord!”  My brothers called him “Uncle Lord!”  And my own father called him “Lord!”  I determined he was somebody important!  

Over time, not only did I learn the difference between Lord and Lloyd, but I grew to appreciate his ubiquitous presence at monumental events.  As I grew, I would learn that DFW was not some hop, skip and jump from the Sparkling City by the Sea.  And yet….he was at my first sermon, there for every milestone event in the life of our family; and could always be heard in any setting….especially church.  

People loved to hear him sing “I Won’t Complain” and “My Soul Has Been Anchored.”  But to hear him sing “Because He Lives” was my favorite.  He sang it in March of 1994, at my first public sermon, during the invitation.  

Behind the scenes…he gave me a heads up on approaching a young lady from Houston I had been admiring at his church, who would eventually become my wife.  Behind the scenes…I called him in the Fall of 2015 to ask him about a church in Atlanta, and he instructed me to, rather, submit my inquiry and information to Shiloh in Fort Worth…a church I knew nothing about; and the place where I now pastor; and hope to retire.  My first 5-day revival, as a teenager, was at his church, St. Emmanuel, in Denton.  Surprisingly, amidst the poor sermons I preached, he’d invite me back a few times afterwards.  Eventually, he influenced Pastor R.L. Sanders to preach me each year in revival in Fort Worth.  In time, that led way to preaching in Oklahoma for many years for Pastor J. A. Reed, Jr.  When he was healthy, Uncle Lloyd would attend those revivals, even the ones in Oklahoma, regularly and nightly.  

Several years ago…Uncle Lloyd had a stroke.  Eventually, this led to his retiring from Pastoring.  It did not alter his mind; but it did slow him down.  I could see some changes in his life.  But I never saw him waver on his call and his love for God.  I am certain he wondered why God wouldn’t have healed him completely.  I am also sure, like anyone, it was challenging to depend on others to do for him what he once did for himself.  I would confide in him my wish for him to capitalize on what he had been left with, by God.  But I personally would ask God often to give him more years, more time, and healing.  

The last time I saw him…I felt I saw a glimmer of hope.  For the first time in a long while, he didn’t go to sleep on me.  He was talking and smiling; and sounding like his old self.  He perked up when talking about George McCalep, as we always did; and about his ministry that he had been planning to launch and expand.  It was like old times.  We talked about barbecue, Shiloh, and family.  

I finally expressed to him that I was leaving to head back to Keller.  And he said to me, “Before you leave, will you pray?”  I prayed with my Uncle.  I didn’t pray for healing (I honestly felt that God was answering that prayer).  I simply thanked the Lord for the journey.  I thanked the Lord for His peace.  I thanked Him for my Uncle.  I thanked the Lord for Aunt Janice, their children, grandchildren, friends and family.  I asked the Lord to let us all know beyond a shadow of any doubt that He is God and God all by Himself.  After our prayer together, I told him I love him and I would see him soon.  

My dread of attending my Uncle’s home going is not because of any regret; but it is in the fact that I just wished he had more time.  This loss has taken me to a new, somber, unexpected place.  It is hard to believe I will never hear his voice alive, on this side, again.  It is so hard to believe that the man who was always present for us (even after his stroke)….now rests in the arms of our Savior.  But somewhere through here there is a lesson about submitting to the will and wisdom of God.  All of our steps are ordered, including his and mine.  When our work is completed, until the final chapter….God will have the last word.  I thank the Lord for my Aunt Janice, who never wavered on fulfilling the vows “for better or worse; in sickness and in health….till death do us part.”  She is to be commended and applauded for all she has done.

My Uncle will be missed by many.

Oh, I’m certain he wasn’t perfect.  But I am certain he is in the presence of my Savior…..healed, whole, lifting up both of his hands, walking, SINGING, shouting, crying, rejoicing and worshipping. 

Uncle Lloyd in now in the presence of the LORD!

I’ll see him soon….but not yet!

 

Celebration of Life for Reverend Lloyd Anthony Pullam will be as follows:
Viewing on Friday, May 17th from 12-8pm
People’s Funeral Home
1122 E Mulberry Street
Denton, Texas 76205

Funeral Service on Saturday, May 18th 11am
St Andrew COGIC
608 Lakey Street
Denton, Texas 76205

 

Sunday Reflections

God be praised for another Lord’s Day, on Mother’s Day!

While it has been quite some time since I’ve last blogged, my schedule has moved at a quicker pace.  When first arriving at Shiloh in September of 2016, I would tell people that I expected things to slow down and get back to ‘normal’ within the coming year.  2016 has come and gone; and so has 2017 and 2018.  Now I have come to accept the rapid speed as my new normal.

I love it!

As a consequence, my prayer life has intensified.  My devotional formation has become the staple of my entire bent toward sanity.  With a growing congregation, growing sons and a 19+ year marriage….how I thank God for this journey!

Our Sunday began with continental breakfast with Mom’s!  A couple of our members, Roberta Sherman and Sharon Jones, led the way in making this fellowship a success.  They went over and above in showing love and appreciation to all of our mothers.

The 2nd Sunday of each month is our Children and Youth Sunday.  The children, youth and young adults led us in worship; and also did a special presentation for the mother’s present.

I made an attempt to share from Deuteronomy 32:11-12 and entitled the message “Parenting Like an Eagle”.  I am one of the preachers who would consider Mother’s Day one of the hardest days to preach.  Since I’ve been pastoring, I have always looked back on Mother’s Day, wishing I had done a better job with the sermon.  While I had difficulty in the delivery of the sermon, I do think I communicated the truth contained in the text; and believe God’s people were ultimately helped.  I am grateful for the family who came forward to become a part of our congregation.  The Lord is about to expand Shiloh in ways we have never seen.  I am humbled and honored that He would allow me to be in the midst of what He is about to do!

It is an honor to lead God’s people; and it is an even greater honor to Pastor and Shepherd a people I love, and enjoy being around.  I am well aware that the Lord did not have to lead me to a place such as Shiloh.  I don’t take it for granted; and I pray that God continues to sustain us, expand us and keep us together.

I am looking forward to taking a break within the next few weeks.  Praying for all students who are closing out this school year; and for teachers who are preparing for a short time of rest and renewal.

Integrity versus Perfection

img_1087Living in the public square and the fishbowl of Pastoral ministry, I have often felt the pressure of being dissected by others.  As a PK (aka Preacher’s Kid), this comes with the terrain.  Even more, being the “kid” of a man and minister (William Lanier Pullam) who could do no wrong to me as a Christian, husband, father, spiritual leader and friend to others, in a small town where everybody knows everyone…could often be a challenge.  I’ve met countless PK’s who developed a sense of resentment, even anger, towards the church and church leaders because of the display of hypocrisy, duplicity, inconsistency and the like exemplified by people in the church.  This breaks my heart.  On the one hand it breaks my heart because the church can be such a ‘messy’ place.  Church people, in the scripture, are likened to sheep.  Sheep get dirty.  Tragically, we often fail to comprehend our ‘sheepish’ comparison and reality.  On the other hand, I think that we subconsciously lift people to a standard that they can never realistically attain.  It is really a standard upon which only Christ can be seated.

I began blogging in 2006.  And over the course of the past twelve years (particularly the past several) I have blogged less and less.  For me, writing and blogging has been cathartic; and it has been a way for me to process my thoughts and to shape direction in my own life.  But, as my life moved more into a public light, I felt as if my quest for integrity became stifled.  It would irk me to blog about something; and then the next several days become aware of how my life did not reflect what I had written about.  After a while, I no longer knew what to write about…so enamored in how I might contradict what I’d said…if just a minuscule deviation of my words or thoughts.

Then I read that the definition of perfection is “without blemish”.  Interestingly, those who are in Christ are “without blemish.”  But the key difference in what tormented me and what the scripture says about being unblemished is crucial: one is built on LAW; and the other is settled in GRACE.

The law tells us to “Do.”  Grace informs us it is “Done!” 
The law teaches us that we have missed the mark; and grace reminds us that Christ has won the race and settled the debt.

In Psalm 17, David asks the Lord to vindicate him, and to protect him from his enemies and foes.  I find it interesting that David uses as his collateral to God’s answering his prayer is his integrity.  Really? David?  The notorious rebel of the Old Testament?  It is then that we must understand that integrity is not perfection.  It is exposing one’s self before the sovereign Lord; and giving God a heart of surrender.  We often quote David as being, “A man after God’s heart.”  Kenneth Ulmer has said, “The issue was never David’s heart.  It was the heart that David was running after.”  I contend!

We will fail.  We will make mistakes.  We will be imperfect.  Integrity understands this where perfection cannot.  Integrity also gives permission for others to fail, make mistakes and be imperfect.

Granted…this is not a license to live a double-faced, reckless, ungodly life.  We should want, more than anything, to walk the lives that we talk.  As Christians, spouses, parents, disciples and leaders…this should be our aspiration.  It is my sincere hope and prayer to live in a way that reflects the character of Christ (amid my own imperfections), in a way that ultimately points to God’s glory.

I don’t need to be perfect; because Jesus was; and because He is.  You don’t either.  His grace is sufficient where the law and man’s standard falls way too short.  Live in this truth and act like you’re free…because you are!

Celebrating 2 Years at Shiloh

I’m reflecting upon the place we were two years ago. On the 4th Sunday of September ‘16, I felt life had come full circle. Certainly in ministry. All of the questions I had about my peculiar journey in ministry to the challenges and obstacles along the way in my education; to the friendships and relationships both forged and razed; to the unusual opportunities given throughout the years – for once, it made sense. God knew what He was doing all along.

Fast-forward, 2 years later…and I see how that day has kept me from then until now. I could not have prepped myself for the amazing victories and the astounding challenges that were sandwiched between my “then” and my “now”. Only my loving Father could have sustained me through it all. Please note…this is not any subliminal writing suggesting I went through hell. It is a declaration of one who now fully lives in his purpose.

God elevated me to a new level…that I’m convinced was a combination of 5 elements: His grace, my faithfulness, my integrity, a strong devotional life and His faithfulness. It certainly had little to do with my ability or gifts. God (as He had done in many years prior to 2016) just continued to opens doors for me that would’ve never been possible without Him. From moving to higher visibility, a national stage to being able to be a greater blessing and facilitator of blessings to others…it has led to a place of peace, being able to live in my purpose, to glorify God, exalt Christ, share my faith and bless others. With new levels, come new challenges and moments of persecution. While I have known this to be true for many and even for me through the years, I never knew it could be 10 times more intense than I could’ve realized 3 years ago. But somehow, while envy, jealousy, being misunderstood, being misquoted, days away from my family, being taken advantage of, has sometimes been overwhelming. I am beyond grateful that most of that has come from outside of our congregation. But God seems to always replenish and renew the strength of those who run to His well and drink deeply. He has faithfully done that!

Several months ago…I was sitting in the blue chair in my study at the church. Some have asked me why I still have it. Others have admitted to leaning back in the chair and they’ve fallen. The chair is old. Loud. Scratched up. Torn. But I’ve never fallen in that chair. Out of every item in the office, that’s the item I love the most. When I walk into that office, the first thing I look for is not my degrees on the wall, or to see if someone left me something on the desk. I look at my chair. It belonged to my predecessor, but I admit that’s not the reason why I love it. It just feels good-I love how it comforts me when I sit down-but that’s not why I love the chair. I love it because it’s mine. I love it because it’s the place where I sit.

It may be loud and squeaky…but it is where I sit.

It may have some bumps and scratches…but it is where I sit.

It may break down tomorrow, but today…it is where I sit.

How I thank the Sovereign for calling me to serve in a good vineyard. It didn’t have to be so. I’m humbled that He did. And if He permits, I pray to serve long and faithfully as the spiritual shepherd of such a great church, until the day I pass the mantle on to the next man who I will serve and call my Pastor.

Sunday Reflections

It is Monday.

While most Monday’s for any Pastor privately unveil his vulnerabilities and fatigue, for me it also reveals God’s power in clay pots and flimsy vessels.

Following 2 Saturday funerals, my day began as the guest preacher of Grace Tabernacle Baptist Church, where the Pastor is Rev. Roy E. Brackins. Grace was celebrating their 31st church anniversary; and it was an honor to share with these precious people. Pastor Brackins is both a gifted preacher and an outstanding Pastor; and he has been very kind to me.

The past Lord’s Day was Pentecost Sunday. For several years, I’ve inconsistently sought to atleast familiarize myself with the liturgical calendar, beyond Christmas and Easter.

In January, I spent the month in a series on Giving. In February, I preached a series on Prayer. In March, my preaching focus each week was on Christ’s sacrifice leading up to the resurrection.

My intention was to begin a series on ‘Breaking the Huddle’ in April. It is now the middle of May, and I have not started that series. The Lord has simply lead me to deal with other passages over the course of this past month and some weeks. I am a living witness that even when we as Pastors put together an annual preaching schedule, the plans can often change.

I found myself, yet again, preparing my notes for Breaking the Huddle from a passage tucked away in Matthew 17:1-8. God then led me to deal with Acts 2 in the surrounding story of Pentecost. The sermon title was “The Spirit’s Filling”. I attempted to deal with the formula, the fallout and the freedom surrounding the filling.

I trust that God was pleased with the sermon; and accepting of our worship on a rainy morning. Grateful for our 2 baptisms.

On this Monday, I am admittedly drained. For any Pastor, we must remain encouraged and learn to guard our space and take care of our temple. The work, expectations and being misunderstood is often overwhelming and overrated. But we must remember that we are not in this because it’s easy or comfortable; but we’ve been chosen and commissioned to be a “prisoner for Christ.” Every church member should pray for his or her Pastor; and every Pastor should lift their fellow-Pastors up as well.

Sadly, the Rockets lost to the Warriors last night in game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. This makes the series 2-1.

How was your Sunday? I would love to hear from you.

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