Kraig Lowell Pullam

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

Archive for the category “Pastoring”

’21 Reflection

Well….

It has been four months since last blogging on February 8, 2021. In February I was excited about the year, blogging weekly, hesitant about the covid-19 vaccine, excited about new relationships, sad about the ending of old ones, but overall optimistic about 2021.

Following that week, DFW experienced a major snowstorm. Amid the accidents, deaths, power outages, and the like, I was trying to navigate through my own challenges and storms. In the strangest way, I have experienced some great losses but even some greater gains.

If there is anything we continue to see in the midst of a continued pandemic are people’s true colors. I’ve found myself saying to myself over and over again, in the midst of the world’s anxiety, people lashing out at others, cutting off others, and the like, ‘Man…that is not them’ or ‘They are acting out of character’ or ‘That’s not the person I/we know’. Here’s the truth – the person who shows up when the rubber meets the road, or when there is a crisis or victory, is really who they are. We think that some people are acting out of character when, in reality, that is who they were the entire time.

Being in the church world, and in the world in general, it’s going to happen to you and I. And as strange as it seems, you will and I will sometimes be the antagonist. Let’s face it – we are not always our best selves. There are times when we simply weren’t all that impressive to God and others, and the others who were around in your not-so-impressive state determined that was the sum total of YOU, and kept that permanent snapshot of you in their mind and narrative.

This blog may seem vague and akin to a maze probably because on one hand it is. I cannot be detailed because it simply applies to so many dynamics in my life in 2021 that it seems almost surreal (yet liberating). On the other…I need those of you who read this to apply it to YOUR experience in your own life, now or when you need it later (because you will!)

I guess that brings me to the first lesson I’ve learned thus far this year – God is teaching me to be quiet and be still. Ecclesiastes 3:7 says, ‘there is a time to search and a time to count as lost, a time to keep and a time to discard, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.…’ Quite a number of times, I’ve found the Spirit of God restraining me when I wanted to speak up. Don’t get me wrong, I have fumbled on this a number times; but I’ve certainly grown here. Cowardice has NEVRR been apart of my disposition. That is – the Inability to say what I need to say because I’m scared of what somebody thinks has never been one of my problems. So this is a new arena for me; and I do fail from time to time. What I’ve learned is to fall, and then get back up and do it again. You’ve heard the saying: ‘nobody can misquote silence.’

The second thing I am learning is to stop making so much effort trying to explain yourself to people who are committed to misunderstanding you. Without any pun intended, this point needs no explanation. But I can say that my GREATEST critics today (without exception) are those I’ve invested the most time, energy, explanations, sit-down discussions, defended the most, given pleas for their understanding, all to no avail. While I do not regret having a good heart; I shake my head for wasting my time. What it has done is cause me to find the root as to why I sought approval and validation from people who I knew weren’t buying into me fully at the beginning, and felt the need to try and win them over anyway. Here’s the sad reality – most people will tell you what they think you’re worth or what you represent for them at the first meeting. You chose to either prove them wrong or affirm their warped and twisted psychology of you by suppressing your intuition and by attempting to supply their toxic need. It’s called CODEPENDENCE.

Third, God is teaching me to ride with the people who ride with you. During the pandemic, I have seen a number of mutual friends, church people, colleagues, family members, etc…. where they have fallen out with one another, but remain my friends. They both will tell me why I shouldn’t trust or like the other. I always say the same thing – ‘they didn’t do anything to me’. Now to be sure…I do have some relationships where: if my friend doesn’t mess with you, neither do I. However, that isn’t blanketed. There are times where I wait to see who shows me the character the other proclaims. So often…I have found that both parties have issues. I have even found that both parties have valid points. Then there are times where the other showed ME who they really were. This hurts, especially if I defended said church member, family member or friend. I strongly believe in the statement: In God we trust, everybody else we thoroughly investigate.

God is also teaching me that even some of the people who ride with you are only riding with you to hear your plans only to undermine them. It’s just a fact – some people hug you to find out where they can stab you. It is also a fact that some people remain in your circle just to find out your strategy and your business. Not everyone in your corner is on your team; and many people who are smiling in front of you are not clapping for you. In like manner, just because people are NOT applauding for you, doesn’t mean that they are your enemies. Some people just aren’t your flavor and you are not theirs. Be okay with that. But here is what I am learning: you do need some Judas’s in your camp sometimes to fulfill God’s purpose in your life; but make sure they aren’t in your inner circle. You will never reach your full potential when the people in your cabinet aren’t rooting for you. I have a friend who put it this way: some people are on the front row of your life; and you need to determine who is on the second row, etc. And then you need to find out who doesn’t even deserve to be in the auditorium. Which brings me to another lesson I’ve learned in this season…

Finally, I am learning that you must be okay with some closing acts. It’s so hard to say goodbye. It really is. We so desperately want to hold on to the things and people who’ve made us smile, laugh, cry tears of joy, created memories with and the like. On one side, please know that if you are trying to hold on to a reality that they are not, then what are you really holding on to? An illusion? They didn’t feel the same; and so you owe it to yourself to move on. On the other side…if those smiles, laughs, and tears of joy came with misery, lofty expectations you could never reach, fear of approval and being liked – you need to look at the entire picture, not just your selective snapshots of the good. Maybe you’re addicted to abuse, mistreatment, the fear of abandonment, or not being enough. And I guess I should ALSO say – if you don’t let the wrong people go, the right people can and will never enter your life. I can think of many examples in scripture of how God’s new beginnings came after some necessary benedictions. Learn the blessing of having some funerals.

I could go on and on, but here is what I wish to plant into the orbit of my own blog – learn from your experience(s), and allow God His providential right in using those experiences to make you better, stronger and wiser. Allow God the opportunity to shape snd mold you into a more refined and better image of your true self.

It is also important for you to determine that the people who don’t like you, hate you, mistreat you or betray you may have done those things because of their own deficiencies or personal struggles that have nothing to do with you. Quit taking it personal. We are all on a journey; and we all need space to grow, learn, fall, get back up, say we are sorry and experience forgiveness.

Amid all of my losses and struggles (as many of you reading) I have experienced some of my greatest blessings and miracles in 2021.

I am praying for you; and that second half of 2021 even exceeds the previous.

What about you? How has God been blessing and challenging you in 2021? If this blog is a blessing to you, please subscribe and share with others. I would love to hear from you.

Blessings,

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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. 

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!!!

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.

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.

Day 11

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Prayer will…

  • Open the doors that will altar the course of your destiny.
  • Pull the covers off of the enemy’s antics; and clarify your focus.
  • Connect you to a remnant of intercessors whom God will use to impact eternity, and overthrow the kingdom of darkness.

Within our congregation, we began a prayer campaign called the 20 Days of Prayer, on February 5. We are now on Day 11. I cannot say how long I’ve been leading my church (wherever I’ve been) into a period of corporate prayer during some part of the first quarter of the year. But it has never failed to renew my spiritual focus.

These 20 Days of Prayer in our church have, in itself, given me new life and a greater sense of purpose. I am sure it has done and is doing the same for our parishioners.

This year…I’ve implemented a couple of changes that have deepened and intensified this time for me:

1) Jumpstart our days of prayer with a Prayer Institute.

2) Implement a Wednesday weekly, 15-minute prayer call at 6am.

Prayer Call each Wednesday in February at 6am….

Call-in number: 605-472-5649

Access Code: 266809

3) Commit 1 hour to privately/personally pray on our daily emphasis, outside of my regular prayer time.

4) Put legs on my prayers, as God speaks. I’m excited about what God is doing behind the scenes in our congregation, to make our congregation greater.

Today, as a congregation, Shiloh is praying for all of the endeavors of Shiloh this year; that God would bless our efforts, and the work of our hands.

I’m praying for the Lord to give us a heart, mind and spirit to work and execute His plan, power, purpose and provision for optimum results and impact.

God has revealed so much to me personally as we’ve refocused our attention on the priority of prayer. It even seems surreal when you commit to “JUST PRAY”, the things God will say to you as you tune in your spiritual ears to Him. When you renew your spiritual focus, He will show you things you’ve missed because of daily routine, perfunctory tasks, constant challenge and the like.

When we do it His way (fasting and prayer)….it is so refreshing.

On another note, yesterday we received word of another senseless at a high school in Parkland, Florida. 17 are reported dead. This breaks my heart, as I think of my own children, family members and the precious young people I Pastor. May the Lord call ALL of us to our knees in PRAYER. The only way things begin to change in this regard is through prayer, repentance and then action. Otherwise, the senselessness will continue.

May you find the strength you need now, to make it through. I pray you will find joy for the journey.

January in Retrospect

God be praised for 2018! And thank Him fully for the Month of January.

January began COLD in North Texas. After a festive Christmas enjoyed by family, the last Sunday of December left many parishioners our way at home. I left home that Sunday morning at 8:40am; and arrived at church at 10am…. considering Shiloh is approximately 15 miles from my home, the timeframe gives light on how much ice was on the road. Interestingly, I did not expect anyone to show up; and yet we had a good number. Because of the inclement weather, we had to cancel our New Year’s Eve service for 5pm. Nevertheless, we entered 2018 grateful because we did not receive any reports of accidents from our members or family.

In the second week of January, we began to gear up for the installation of my brother, Rev. Kevin Lanier Pullam, at Fort Worth’s Pleasant Mt. Gilead Baptist Church, in the historic Como area of our city. While our schedules have limited our personal time together, I am extremely elated to not only have he and our sister, LaTonya, in town; but to have him as leader of a church many of us have grown to know and love. PMG installed him in a grand fashion; and God’s providential plan for both Pastor and People coming together were evident and clear. I am praying for days and years of fruitful and productive ministry.

On the 14th of January, I presented my first Vision Plan to our congregation. It is a 20 page document that entails my vision for 2018, a short synopsis of where we’ve been, proposed budget and important dates for the year, along with speakers and our annual focus. I was glad to see the Vision Plan warmly received by our people.

Beginning the 22nd of January, a couple of ministers were able to travel with the president of our national convention, Dr. Samuel Tolbert, and Dr. G. V. Clark (my state president) for both a cohort with President Tolbert and also as a delegation to the midwinter board of the Progressive National Convention. It served for us as a busy week. However, the convention and our work was held in Nassau, Bahamas. What a place to do the work of ministry. This time really gave us an opportunity to hear the vision of Dr. Tolbert; gain some leadership nuggets and wisdom from both he and Dr. Clark; and also a refreshing time to fellowship with the other pastors, Rev. Kennedy Young and Rev. Ricki Ferrell.

I came back home with helpful insights on how to enhance my own ministry and leadership; and also grateful to have met some great people in Progressive; and also the Rev. Jesse Jackson, whom they honored in one of their services.

During the last week of January, I journeyed to Austin, Texas to serve as evangelist for the Stewardship Institute at Mt. Zion MBC. Incidentally, Dr. George Clark is the pastor there. Again, I was humbled and grateful for the opportunity to not only preach on the subject of stewardship for 3 nights; but just to fellowship and spend time with Dr. Clark. Pastor Clark is 86 years of age; but he is one of the most innovative, energetic, wise and disciplined men I have ever known. As an extra bonus…he was very good friends with my Shiloh predecessor, Pastor Albert Chew, Jr. I love hearing the stories of Rev. Chew told from his friends and family; because it’s the closest I can get to a man who left me the mantle of leadership in such a place as Shiloh. Since I never knew him personally, it makes me feel like I know him for myself.

I am grateful for a wife and a church who daily entrust me with the wisdom to discern when I need to stay, and when I must go and do ministry. I think the Lord has always given me discretion in the Pastorate to discern when I need to be home; and when I need to spread my wings. I am also thankful for accountability partners who keep things in perspective for me; when I am away and wish to be home. I have literally seen the results of some of the sacrifices I made in late 2016 and 2017 as a new pastor. At this juncture, Shiloh is stronger than I anticipated it would be at this point, with us together as Pastor and People.

I am praying for wisdom, help and anointing as we continue to move forward and move ahead in ministry. Thankful to have a couple of weeks at home before I am away again.

I would love to hear from you. If this blog is a blessing to you, please share with others. Blessings!

Sunday Reflections

God be praised for a blessed Lord’s Day at the Shiloh MB Church!

It is quite difficult to think it is now November and the year 2017 is steadily coming to a culminated close. October has been a busy month, by any human standard. I am hoping to spend the first half of this month pulling together a workable/tentative outline of 2018’s calendar at Shiloh. Truly, I am excited about what lies in store for us in the coming year, while also praying for wisdom, clarity and patience as we chart new territory in areas of ministry that are new for both myself and our congregation.

On Sunday I began a new Preaching series entitled THANKFUL.

I preached through 1 Thessalonians 5:18, using as a sermon subject “The Anatomy of Gratitude”. I am amazed when I reflect upon how the Eternal chooses to use us irrespective of our apparent inefficiencies. Like Paul, I am the ‘least of them…’. Even still, He took my short week and limited preparation to display to this preacher how He can use us on scraps, quick exposition, Sunday morning note-writing and intensified prayer. I wasn’t ready; and yet, GOD chose to reveal His loving embrace upon His vessel, and smile on His message and His people. I’m grateful.

If the Lord says so, we will continue next week to explore the subject of Thanksgiving. To get a head start, I am trying to work my way through the exposition of Luke 17:11-19. However, I want to deal with the positive side of THANKSGIVING and not the negative…the 9 ingrates who failed to return and tell Jesus thank you. From my preliminary study, I am ruling against it; but it is up to the Lord and what He says in the next 24 or so hours. I may switch to the exposition of Acts 16:25 or somehing else. Prayerfully, it will be resolved no later than Monday evening. Nevertheless, I am convinced that it is my desire, if the Spirit permits, to preach something narrative. On the 3rd Sunday, I am planning to do an exposition of Psalm 103. We shall see!

Grateful for the 3 who made decisions following the message, including 2 by Christian Experience (including a minister) and one as a candidate for baptism. God be praised!

I had a productive meeting with our ministry leaders following our morning service. Looking forward to working with them in 2018.

I was saddened to learn, while eating with my family after church, of a mass shooting in Texas, at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. At present, there are over 25 who are reported as fatalities. The pastor was away on Sunday, but his 14 year old daughter was present, and is reported as one of those who were slain. I could not even imagine the devastation. There is something to consider when a shepherd must minister to others; never forgetting that the minister also needs consolation and comfort. I am lifting in prayer this pastor, his family and the families affected in this community and congregation. What a senseless act.

In other news, I was excited, as many others, to see the Houston Astros win the World Series. This is great for the City of Houston. In addition, my Cowboys pulled off a win against the Kansas City Chiefs. My brother, Kevin, and his wife attended the game. I love him dearly, and will learn to forgive him for getting to the AT&T Stadium before me. Even still, God is good!

I would love to hear from you; and ask that you would share this blog with others, if it is a blessing to you. May the Lord bless your week, in the name of Christ our Lord!

Sunday Reflections

Well….God be praised for another Lord’s Day.

October has come and it is almost over. Since my last blog, there have been a few notable milestones. For one, my eldest biological brother, Kevin, was elected to serve as the next Pastor of Pleasant Mt. Gilead MBC in Fort Worth. Not only did he follow the Pastoral personality of Rev. Larry J. Mouton; but also stands in the place where my beloved friend and mentor, Dr. R. L. Sanders, served for many years as Pastor. How grateful I am that God has chosen Kevin to serve there. I am praying for this marriage between pastor and people; and that the Lord will grant His favor, direction and provision in what is prayerfully the beginning of a long-standing heritage in the making.

The Lord also blessed us to celebrate one year as the Pastor of Shiloh. I grow to love our people more and more each day. It is comforting and empowering to know they love us. I’m looking forward to greater things occurring; and pray to one day look back on the work, and provide a paradigm on how to faithfully and steadily lead a congregation to growing greatness amid a changing community, an epic legacy and a larger than life predecessor.

A pastor’s first year (particularly following a long-tenured pastor) can make or break a church and even his personal calling. I intentionally took a few days off to do nothing but pray, bask in God’s presence, initially view the calendar for 2018, reflect on what actually took place this past year and….REST.

For sure….the calls, pressing demands, emergencies and life altering situations didn’t stop. In fact, they were awaiting me on the other side. But nothing fell. Everything got done. And…I am excited about our future.

This past Sunday I concluded a Series I entitled: Fake News: Trumping the Lies We’ve Been Told.

Because of my need for a break, I’m not sure I enjoyed this series as much as I anticipated. I took the general idea from Kerry Shook, a Pastor in the Houston area. I liked the creativity of the “Fake News” connecting to pop culture…but did my own play on the words. Kerry Shook and I are completely different preaching types, along with our contexts; therefore our preaching content was nothing alike. It really forced me to step out of my comfort zone. In addition, I also have been going to the pulpit without a manuscript or my iPad, and minimal notes. God is faithful.

I am looking forward to continuing our study through the Book of James that we began over a month ago. This Wednesday our plan is to conclude the first chapter.

Beginning in November, I’m looking forward to kicking off our Sunday Preaching Series entitled: THANKFUL.

In others news, the LA Dodgers and Houston Astros are in the World Series. At this moment, the series is tied 2-2. I love the Astros. To date, it is the only professional team I’ve enjoyed attending quite a few of the games. This is a very surreal moment, however it turns out.

I would love to hear from you; and have you share your thoughts and share this blog with others. May God bless and keep you!

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