Kraig Lowell Pullam

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

Archive for the month “May, 2014”

Sunday in Retrospect

imagesWhat an awesome day this has been!

Today our congregation celebrate 142 years of life as a local church.  The history of the Mt. Salem Baptist Church is quite unique.  Beginning in 1872, many significant events took place.  In that year, Yellowstone National Park became the world’s 1st national park, Bloomingdales Department Store opens, the nation’s first black governor took office and the worlds first international soccer game took place.  It was a great year!

And it is also in that year that a small group of churchgoers decided to start a church (May 19, 1872) in Indianola, Texas.  A few years later, a terrible storm destroyed much of the town.  Forcing many churches, families and businesses to move, the Mt. Salem Church found a new home in nearby Victoria, Texas.

We had two excellent worship celebrations today; and two awesome preachers blessed us in the sharing of God’s Word.  To date, it has been our greatest day of celebration in a church anniversary since I’ve served as pastor.

Both preachers had a common theme – God’s desire for us to appreciate the past while also reaching toward the future.  Everything shared and said were simply affirmations, verifications and confirmation of what God has either communicated to me personally or I’ve shared with a congregation this year and last concerning God’s plan and vision for our congregation and His plan for us to reach our community, city and world.  Our morning guest shared from Acts 1:8 and evening guest from John 13:34-35.  Both timely.

Also excited about some great opportunities and praying now for God to have His way in my life and in the life of our congregation!

Ruling by Obedience

Saint Henry IISteve Brown, distinguished professor of Orlando’s Reformed Theological Seminary, says ‘…Christ expects us to be faithful where he puts us, and when he returns, we’ll rule together with him.’  He communicates the story told about King Henry III of Bavaria who, living in the 11th century, grew tired of the pressures of being a monarch.  In an effort to make the unusual change, he made application to Prior Richard at a local monastery.  King Henry III of Bavaria simply asked to be accepted and welcomed as a contemplative and spend the rest of his natural life in the monastery.  Prior Richard retorted, “You Majesty….do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? This will be hard because you have been a king.”  Henry said, “I understand.  The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you.”  Prior Richard said, “Then I will tell you what to do.  Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you.”  Professor Brown reports that when King Henry died, a statement was written and read aloud: “The King learned to rule by being obedient.”

Faithfulness to one’s assignment and call becomes the key to ruling before many and prevailing among the masses.  If one plans to rule well, one must serve well.  Too often, one may want to rush to the place of elevation and exaltation without learning to serve well in the role of hardship, submission and humiliation.  Struggle and hardships are an inevitable reality in this thing we call ‘LIFE.’

– Grapes must go through the hardship of being crushed in order to produce wine.
– Wheat has to go through the struggle of being sifted in order to produce flour.
– Olives have to succumb to a process of pressure in order to produce the oil.

And every child of God must experience struggle, crushing, sifting, pressure and hardship if we plan to allow God’s work in us to come out of us.

What does this entail?

1) Embrace your call (You must spend the rest of your life fulfilling the plan God has for you.  As soon as you can, find your call and spend the rest of your days laying a brick on the foundation of your call, one day at a time!)

2) Sow seeds of service (Remember that you reap what you so.  God makes happen for you what you make happen for others.  Help somebody else build their dream and vision of what can be.)

3) Learn to submit to others (Christ said, ‘I came not to be served, but to serve others.’  Peacocks can only spread their wings for so long)

4) Follow the one who you think you are qualified to lead (The true test of whether or not you are ready to lead is if you’re prepared to follow…not only when leaders look like leaders; but when the leader shows you they are human.)

5) Learn to clarify, communicate and sale your vision Wherever you are becomes a great place to establish the anchor that will plant you into your future.)

6) Bloom where you are planted (Many focus on the ‘next level’ nd ‘destiny’ so much that they fail to plant seeds of greatest in the present.)

7) Stay when God says stay (Many people move because of inconvenience and often prematurely.  This is dangerous!)   I know many people who run away from where God intends for them to be (relationships, job, church, friendships, school) in an effort to attain something bigger, better, greater or more ideal, only to discover a dead end filled with closed opportunities.

8) Move when God says move (Many people overstay their welcome. This is just as dangerous as #7)  As with number 7, I know many who stay where God intends them to move away from.  Why?  Sometimes loyalty.  Or fear.  Or guilt.  Whatever it is…don’t allow yourself to get stuck.

Whatever God is telling you to do, He requires obedience.  In my own life, I think of many times I failed to move; and many times I failed to stand still.  But it is my prayer to hopefully encourage those who will read or hear – God’s plan for His children is powerful, special and worth following the instructions required to make it to the final destination.  May God bless you as you pursue His place for you; and reach the center of His will for your life.

Limitless in God’s Possibilities

ImageOpportunity. Achievement. Potential. Promise. All of these words are synonymous to a word that you should take to heart: POSSIBILITY! To me, it’s a horrible thing to wake up in the morning and realize you have absolutely nothing to look forward to. In a real sense, it makes life all the more miserable to wake up and say, “I don’t know what I’m going to do today.” What makes it far worse is not knowing what you are going to do with the rest of your life.

How can one make it just going through the motions, settling for the same-old thing the same-old way?

The reality is that life itself will turn some peculiar corners that will drive you crazy with its ups and downs, highs and lows, good days and bad days. But you must realize that God has sent you here for a purpose and a mission! Guess what—if God has sent you here for a mission and a purpose, it means that ‘all things are possible.’

I saw this very clearly on November 4, 2008 as President-Elect Barack Obama, II stood on stage in Chicago’s Grant Park and said the all too familiar chorus, “….all things are possible”. In a nation whose past is plagued by racism, slavery and injustice, America as a whole could see a tangible expression of a greater reality; that with God, all things are possible.

This brings to mind the words of Christ in Matthew 19:26 where it says, in summary, “…with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible…”.

As I prepare to insert these words into the blogosphere, I cannot begin to imagine the devastating toll and tremendous impact that life, circumstances and situations have dealt many a strange hand. There is comfort and consolation in knowing that God is in control of our circumstances; and there is one thing left for most (actually ALL) to do—TRUST HIM!

Proverbs 3:5 tells us to, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths”.

There are four things we need to remember through the words of Solomon in Proverbs 3.

  1. Trust God with everything.       Solomon says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart“. This is a clear call for your trust. The very Object of your trust is ‘in the Lord’. He is the Creator of the universe and the Sustainer of everything that exists. He desires to be the center of your life. That is why the nature of your trust resides, ‘In your heart’.       He wants your passion, your praise and your delight!
  2. Trust God above everything.  Solomon also says, “and do not lean on your own understanding“. If you are like me, you have many reasons to trust your circumstances that you see each day; rather than a God Who is infinite and does not show Himself to you in black and white. The reality is that God wants your mind and your understanding (Ps. 26:2; Isaiah 1:18; Matt. 22:37; Rom. 12:2; Phil. 2:5). Remember, in order for your circumstances to change, your thinking must change!
  3. Trust God in everything. Another thing that Solomon says in Proverbs 3:5 is, “In all your ways acknowledge Him“. Whether it is sickness, loss of a loved one, relational chaos, a wayward child, an addiction or living through hundreds of years of racial inequality in pursuit of the White House—trust God in everything.
  4. Trust God through everything. The final thing Solomon says in Proverbs 3:5 is, “and He will make straight your paths” (v. 6b) This is a promise of divine guidance; for He will direct your paths and order your steps!

Finally, since you have a mission and a purpose, you had better recognize that God and the world are waiting on you to do what you are meant to do. My question is, what are you waiting for?

Personal Challenge

 

ImageThere are not enough hours in the day to get everything done!  I am amazed when I think of how swiftly time passes these days.  There never seems to be enough time to get everything done!  I can honestly say at the age of 35 (and counting) that it seems like I was 15 last year, graduating from KigHigh School in Corpus Christi a month ago, marrying my wife, graduating from Dallas Baptist last week; and in my first pastorate, graduating from seminary just yesterday.  Literally!!!

Where does the time go?

To be honest….it doesn’t get any easier as the time goes.  Not long ago, I was listening to a preaching class conducted by one of my favorite preachers, Dr. William H. Curtis.  He stated that, for every pastor, when leaving the pulpit on Sunday, the next Sunday starts in 5 (FIVE) minutes!!!  Add to this, he says, funerals, church emergencies, family traumas in the church, weddings, meetings and the life.  I tend to agree!  This is the life of the Pastor!  The challenges are great, but somehow glorious.  There seems to be a splendid blend and mixture of the ingredients of both AGONY and ECSTASY!

This week, I look back and reflect on 5 years ago as I was preparing to walk across the stage with a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in biblical languages.  I have an itch to pursue my Ph.D. in Leadership in the coming year.  I also have a growing desire to buckle down and grow deeply as an expositor of God’s Word.  These are pursuits that pull and nudge me for which I ultimately attribute to a divine call that will not let me go.  While I feel old, the truth is I feel that God is preparing me for something that is beyond me that will consume the rest of my life.  What that is – I do not know.  Whether that is an expansion and continuance of the things I am already doing or something completely unconventional and new, I would be satisfied either way.  But, my preparation has always been a serious and somber task and pursuit.  The challenge deepens and intensifies – as I desire to be a great father, an amazing husband, the consummate leader, an outstanding pastor….not to mention being elected as the President of the congress in my association and Secretary of the Educational Board in my state convention.  Oh yes…and I’m a full-time Chaplain in one of the largest and leading hospitals in the city of Houston and the world!

My challenge is this – HOW CAN I DO ALL OF THIS?  Is it possible to excel in all of these areas and maintain my sanity?  Do I need to give some things up or away?  Would it be easier if I had a secretary?  Are there any pastors who can provide a remedy to excelling in all of these areas with ease?

Well….as this is my challenge, it is also my intent to tackle the challenge and to make adjustments where necessary.  Oh yes….add to this, I would love to blog on a daily basis!  Please pray for me as I pray for myself and all pastors, Christians and leaders who seek to discipline themselves in the areas of time and excellence in their respective fields and endeavors.  Philippians 4:13 rings clear: we can ‘do all things through Christ’ who gives us the ultimate strength.

What are you thoughts?  How are you managing your time?

Let’s Talk: Communicating with God through Prayer

Prayer_Team-700x1048prayer11Have you ever found yourself facing the struggles of life and saying to yourself, ‘Hey, I just can’t take it anymore!’? Life can run you down until you just don’t have any more strength. Just as our bodies need to stay physically fit in order to keep up our resistance, it is also true that we will break down spiritually, mentally and emotionally if we don’t communicate with our Creator. If you want to increase your intake of nourishment for your soul, you need to PRAY! In a real sense God says, ‘Let’s Talk!’

Prayer unleashes God’s power so that He is able to work in our behalf. Prayer opens the channels of God’s blessing. Prayer is how God accomplishes the things that He wants to see happen in our lives, and in the lives of others. Prayer opens new doors of opportunity for God to move in.

How do I pray?

In Philippians 4:6 it says, “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God.” Basically, prayer is simply talking to God just like you would talk to your very best friend.

God cares deeply about each and every one of our problems and is just waiting for us to come to Him with those problems. The Bible tells us over and over to constantly bring our problems to our Heavenly Father. Prayer is not to inform God of something which He may not be aware of or to try to convince Him to love us more. He already knows our needs and He has certainly shown his love. The purpose of prayer is to assist us in building our relationship with God.

Why should we pray?

Prayer unleashes God’s power so that He is able to work on our behalf. Prayer opens the channels of God’s blessing. Prayer is how God accomplishes the things that He wants to see happen in our lives. Prayer opens new doors of opportunity for God to move. In fact, you can view prayer like a door. You are on one side of a closed door and on the other side is God. But standing with God is all this incredible and unimaginable power. When you pray, it is you turning that doorknob and swinging that door wide open. It is at that moment when all that power can step through that doorway and work for God’s good, and for your good.

Since He respects our freedom of choice and free will, prayer enables Him to step into our lives. Interestingly, God has limited His power and ability in our lives to the importance that we place on prayer. Prayer gives God the permission (though He is sovereign) to do what He has been longing to do all the time. Even when we do not see anything significant occurring, God is still at work solving the problem. When there are apparently no answers, God is still is waiting for the proper time to give us the solution.

Look at these scriptures:

Psalm 55:22 – Throw every burden upon God.

Psalm 68:19 – Blessed be Our God who daily carries the load for us.

Psalm 56:9 – This I well know, that God is for me.

There are four basic steps involved in the proper way to pray.

1–Bring the problem to God’s attention. But always keep the problem God- centered and not problem-centered.

2–Supplication. The definition of supplication is—a very honest and clear confession that tells God that you need His help.

3–Focus on God and not on the problem. Keep in mind that our prayers are always to be God-centered.

4–Thanksgiving. You are thankful because you know the following about our great, mighty and glorious God.

  • That you can come to the Father with your problems anytime
  • That He is concerned about you
  • That He loves you
  • That He said that He would help you
  • That He will see you through this problem
  • That He has the power to solve this problem
  • That you trust Him 100%

God is just waiting for you to talk to Him, waiting for those few brief moments when you acknowledge Him, think about Him, and show Him some love and respect. Yes, your God is just waiting for you to talk to Him and He desperately wants to talk to you, not in words, but through your mind and your heart. God is going to bypass the vocal cords and the ear; and instead your heart will feel that gentle tugging, that urging, that pulling. Your heart and mind will know exactly what God is trying to tell you. Take the time this week to talk to Him.

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