Kraig Lowell Pullam

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

Archive for the month “July, 2014”

God’s Standard of Measurement

measurementImagine if a person decided to take a sheet of paper and tear it in half; and then attempted to measure one of the torn sheets. With a tape measure, it measures at 4 ½ inches. With an office ruler, it measures at 4 9/16 inches. Checking it with an Engineer’s scale, it measures around 4.58 inches.   Careful measurement with a steel scale under laboratory conditions reveals it to be 4.577 inches. But there is a more accurate standard. In Washington, at the Bureau of Standards, there is a platinum bar that is used as the standard meter for all measurements in the United States. It is approximately 39.37 inches long. This bar is kept in a high vacuum at a constant temperature. An argument about the measurement of any object must be settled, ultimately, by comparison with the standard meter in Washington. If the standard platinum yard says the sheet is measured at 4.5774 inches, that is it. If your bar differs from the one in Washington, it is in error. If your bar is exactly the same as that in Washington, you can say that your bar is without error. But it would be wrong to say that the measure in Washington is without error, for that mean that you are constituting yourself the judge—measuring the Washington meter by some other standard that is above it. We must come to the conclusion simply that the Washington meter is the ultimate standard, and that it cannot be judged.

God has given us His Word. It stands as the only infallible and indisputable rule of faith, precept and practice. Our lives are tested by its truth. All of our thoughts and philosophies are tested by the Word of God. If we find a human thought that is opposed to what is set forth in the Bible, we are called to renounce that human notion and deem it as in error. If we find that the human thought is in agreement with what is set forth in the Bible, we say that the human thought is truth. Every little particle of human thought must be judged by the entire revelation of God’s truth. But the Bible stands alone as the final court of appeal.

Isaiah 40:8 speaks powerfully toward this end: “The grass will wither, and the flowers will fade, but the Word of God will stand forever.”

God’s Gratuity

Rev. Thgrace3omas Spurgeon was a 19th Century Reformed Baptist preacher, most notably known as one of the two non-identical twins of the great Rev. Charles Hadden Spurgeon. Following the death of C.H. Spurgeon, Thomas followed his father in the pulpit, pastoring there for about 15 years at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in London. A notable preacher in his own right, I came across some inspiring words about God’s grace. And while it is free, this in no way diminishes the eternal fact of how much it cost. Today, these words bless me, when I reflect on salvation, my eternal security, His pardon and God’s gift to me through Jesus Christ, and His love that held Him to that rugged cross.

Thomas Spurgeon said…

“Salvation by grace is appropriated by faith. Grace is the fountain, but faith is the channel. Grace is the life-line, but faith is the hand that clutches it. And, thoroughly and finally to exclude all boasting, it is declared that the salvation and the faith are both the gift Of God. ‘And that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.’ That salvation is God’s gift is evident. ‘The gift of God is eternal life through Christ.’ The free gift, The gift of grace, The gift of righteousness—these phrases determine the fact that salvation is itself a Divine present to man. ‘Salvation,’ cried C. H. Spurgeon in the great congregation, ‘is everything for nothing! Christ free!—Pardon free!—Heaven free!’ Thanks be to God for a gratuitous salvation!”

 

Sunday Reflections

Faithfully, the Lord gave us another day of corporate Christian worship and fellowship!

After a month away from my two oldest boys, Kai & Kaden, we were reunited this past weekend.  The gang is back together!  The baby, Karter, was elated to have his two brothers back on board.  For the past few years, our boys have spent the month of July in Corpus Christi with my Mom & Dad.  The break has always proved to be refreshing and much-needed.  I’m glad to have them back!

I went to bed Saturday night/early Sunday morning, settled to go in a different direction than my preparation yielded the week prior.  For most of the week, I had been studying through Acts chapter 1, with the intention of starting a series through the Book of Acts.  Finally, on Saturday night, I determined to simply go with something else I had previously prepared that I hadn’t had the opportunity to preach.  I try my best to prepare 1 or 2 additional messages a month, in hopes of building a library of new sermons in situations like this.  Therefore, I literally had 15 or so sermons on my device, ready to preach;  and I had narrowed it down to the one that seemed to stand up, asking to be preached!

But on Sunday morning, I just could not get the Book of Acts out of my heart.  I had to preach it or die!  I spent the morning simply praying and thinking through how to communicate all that I had studied.  For me, it is always best for me to write out my sermons, from start to finish.  But in this case, I had to pull notes from here and there and just sort of bring them all together, and pray that the Holy Spirit would sort through all of the notes, scribbles and various highlights from my studies on the introduction and first few verses of Acts.  The downside is that the length of my sermon turned out to be about 50 minutes.  I suppose the personal comfort for me is in the fact that most of my introductions to a book are longer, because there is just so much information I feel needs to be shared to lay the groundwork for the entire book.  The upside, I think, is that the Lord saw me through and did not let the message flop.  I personally know that it could have been much more effective in it’s presentation and format; but I think it went well enough to do the introduction of Acts justice.  Here is a brief outline of the sermon….
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Subject: Debilitating the Power of Complacency
Text: Acts 1:1-8

I. IF WE ARE GOING TO DEBILITATE THE POWER OF STAGNATION, THERE MUST BE DIVINE PLACEMENT (vs. 1)

II. IF WE ARE GOING TO DEBILITATE THE POWER OF STAGNATION, THERE MUST BE DELIBERATE PREPARATION (vs. 2)

III. IF WE ARE GOING TO DEBILITATE THE POWER OF STAGNATION, WE MUST PRACTICE HIS PRESENCE (vss. 3-7)

IV. IF WE ARE GOING TO DEBILITATE THE POWER OF STAGNATION, WE MUST REST IN HIS PROMISE (vs. 8)

a. A people who are committed to follow Christ’s Commission (Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:8)

b. A people who resolve to finish the work Christ has started in you. (vss. 9-11)

c. A people who are committed to giving life to dead situations. “presented Himself Alive”

d. A people who impact lives in undeniable ways “Infallible proofs”

A Call to Biblical Literacy

I am concerned.

My concern stems from the growing trend of Biblical Illiteracy within the confines of the Christian Church. Permit me to clarify and debunk the notion that all Christians should be seminary-trained, academically-astute and emotionally-reserved. I am convinced that there is a distinction between being educated and trained over against being a student and steward of God’s Word. A seminarian who has no knowledge or desire to delve deeply into God’s Word beyond the textbook is merely an “educated fool.” In contrast, however, I strongly believe that the growing trend of simply not knowing what the Bible means by what it says is flooding the church and Christian community more than ever before.

In a world where Christians have access now to rapid informational technology through a smartphone, shouldn’t we know more? We have the ability to surf the net and download sermons and sermon helps and illustrations; where YouTube and Streaming technology has given us the ability to listen to sermons and studies from start to completion. My father used to tell his preaching comrades, “In a world with all of this technology, a preacher has no excuse for not preaching.” He was not attempting to lower the standard of sound and consistent study; but simply reminding us that the tools and information is readily available and there for the asking.

Tragically, we are doing a poor job; and it shows.
– It shows in the church community through our quotes, concepts and ideologies.
– It shows in ‘gospel’ music.
– It shows in how we misquote the scriptures.

It starts with the preacher! With age should come maturity. I’ll be a little older in a few weeks. And one of my goals going forward is to make God’s Word as clear as I possibly can; and communicate what He means in the clearest manner I can, consistent with sound doctrine, biblical truth and a God-centered Christology.
How can we possibly approach such a tall feat?

1. Spend time with God in prayer.
Nothing of eternal significance can happen without prayer. Prayer is the channel to which we turn in order to establish a connection and frequency with God that diminishes all of the strange noises we keep hearing in our worldly ears. I encourage myself and everyone to take time and learn the art of Kneeology. Of course, there is always the temptation to miss our time with God, in lieu of schedules, jobs, people and responsibilities. But God is merciful and gracious. As soon as we finish all of that, He is still waiting to hear from us and talk to us.

2. Spend time in the scripture.
It is important to read the scriptures devotionally. It is also important to read the scriptures systematically. When one reads the scripture systematically, one should spend quality time asking God to speak to them. After all, it is His book; and He knows the exact meaning of what He wrote, what He said or why He allowed it to be a part of the historical canon.

3. Spend time studying the scripture.
One can spend time in the scripture, and even plan a great outline of sermon ideas and scheduling. But reading the scriptures and studying them are two sides of the same coin. One should ask several questions when studying the scriptures (these are just my views, in the moment. I’m sure there may be others I fail to spotlight):

1. What is God saying in this text?
2. What is God saying to the recipients in this text?
3. What does it MEAN to the recipients in this text?
4. What does this mean to God in the text?
5. What are the major doctrines and themes in this text?
6. What does the scripture say that affirms this text?
7. What is the tension in the text?
8. Who is the antagonist, subject, protagonist, etc. in this text?
9. Where am I (and the human race) in this text?
10. How am I to live out the principles, message and truth communicated in this text?

4. Spend time reflecting and living the scriptures you’ve read.
The greatest sermon many will ever preach will require no words. Much of theology is biography and autobiography. As a preacher of God’s Word, I should be trying to live right, even if I fail to hit the mark every time. Others are watching me; but most importantly, GOD is watching me; and He will honor the one who seeks to follow His Word.

5. Spend time integrating the scriptures into the overall arena of your world.
Every Christian should have a way they see and view the world. I wear glasses because I don’t have perfect vision. The Bible, for the Christian, is our spectacle, because we have worldly views with our imperfect eyes. We should view every hot topic, crisis, issue, problem, disagreement, controversy through the lens of God’s Word.
When we do this, I believe it will lead others around us to build on the firm foundation of God’s Word; and we can empower and equip others and ourselves in becoming strong couriers of God’s truth. This, in turn and result, will lead to a Biblically Literate people who aren’t intimidated or phased by any wind of doctrine.

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My experience at the EK Bailey Preaching Conference (A Short Synopsis)

I have had three pastors in my lifetime. My first pastor was my father, Rev. William Lanier Pullam. Not only did I come to Christ under his ministry; but I grew to love God’s Word and acknowledged my call to proclaim the gospel while under his pastoral ministry. At the age of 18, I left Corpus Christi, Texas and journeyed to north Texas, settling in Dallas. As a student at Dallas Baptist University, I searched for a church. Admittedly, I was just looking for some great preaching. I visited Dr. Bob Wilson of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Christ, Dr. C.A.W. Clark of the Good Street Church, Rev. Frederick Haynes of Friendship -West and several others. Due to my lack of maturity, I gravitated to the larger congregations that provided a more electrifying experience in worship. T.D. Jakes, in 1997, was new to the city; and the church climate began to shift somewhat. In retrospect, I probably would have done well to take advantage of those ministries I had some connection with personally, such as my uncle, Rev. Lloyd A. Pullam or Dr. R.L. Sanders, or even my grandfather in the ministry, Rev. A. L. Kennon or Dr. C.B.T. Smith. Admittedly, I struggled to find the right place. Eventually, I happened upon the Concord Church. It was there I fell in love with the preaching of Dr. E.K. Bailey. Eventually, I joined! Visiting first at their Polk location, I was one of the new members of their new location, joining under Dr. Bailey’s ‘Lordship Series.’ Because of my preaching schedule in those days, I wasn’t much of a ‘regular attender’. Nonetheless, the ministry of Concord and Dr. Bailey had a profound effect upon my life and ministry. I am indebted to the ministry of Dr. Bailey; and how God shaped me in my early 20’s under this great ministry. Upon graduating college, my new wife and I journeyed to Houston and eventually joined Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, and Rev. Harvey Clemons, Jr. became my pastor. Over the past couple of years I have had the opportunity to attend the E.K. Bailey Preaching Conference. For me, it has been a time of enrichment and refreshing. On this past week, July 7-11th, pastors and ministers from around the country gathered to be sharpened and empowered by some of the nation’s brightest and gifted pastors and pulpiteers. I first attended this conference in 1996, prior to my senior year of high school; and my second year of preaching. During my first time at the conference with my father, I had the rare opportunity to eat with Dr. Bailey and meet one of my lifetime favorite preachers (Dr. Manuel Scott, Sr.) and Dr. A. Louis Patterson, Jr. Last week’s conference served as an encouragement to me – being overwhelmed with the challenges of a busy schedule, being bi-vocational, pastoring a small, growing congregation; and finding a way to ultimately be a great husband and father. My greatest challenges recently have been organizing my preaching schedule (planning my preaching), re-structuring my study time and devotional life, along with moving our congregation to move toward the cutting edge of media, networking, branding, discipleship and growth. These are tremendous challenges for me!!!

* How can I grow to be a better disciple, preacher, communicator & pastor?

* How can we brand our congregation in Victoria in a way that is distinctive & impactful to the surrounding community, both now and in generations to come?

* How can we create a platform that communicates our message, preaching and educational resources via the web, social media, etc.?

* How can we be the strongest disciple-making congregation we’ve ever seen up close and personal?

I have been asking myself these overwhelming questions for the past several months. Interestingly, the conference has clarified for me how God will accomplish these things in 2014-15. I am praying now that God will give me wisdom, our people receptive hearts, our leaders willing hands and a vision that is willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary to move our congregation to the next level. Bryan Carter, Dr. Bailey’s successor, led a discipleship course that literally revitalized my understanding on how to build a strong church through Christian education and Christian learning. E. Dewey Smith, that pastor of the House of Hope in Georgia, further clarified how best to be a 5-star ministry. I plan to take our congregation through this study very soon, in the next few months. The preaching of Steven Lawson, Bryan Carter, H.B. Charles and William H. Curtis have simply strengthened and renewed my commitment to being a clear communicator and consistent expositor or God’s Word. To be sure, I have a long way to go. And if you are reading this blog, please pray for me – that God will give me structure, clarity, vision and rest, in order to accomplish those things that will ultimately enhance His kingdom. Note: While I came back inspired and with great ideas, I returned home tired and physically fatigued. I need to learn how to rest!

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