Kraig Lowell Pullam

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

Archive for the category “Random Thoughts”

He’s Looking At You

Over the course of this past week, I have had the opportunity to fellowship with several Pastors and Leaders within Shiloh and in the city of Fort Worth. This has been a tall feat; but ultimately the rewards of such have outweighed and minimized the task altogether. But I must admit…the highlight of my week began on the 2nd Sunday. While in my office, talking to several church leaders before the start of Worship, the phone rang in my office. I answered!  Someone asked, “Hello, is the new Pastor of Shiloh preaching this morning?”  My response: “I believe he is. If he is not preaching, I’ve not received the memo!”  As it so happens, the person asking the question happened to be the assistant of one of my preaching heroes, Pastor Isadore Edwards. He is the Pastor Emeritus of the New Rising Star Baptist Church of Fort Worth; having served there as Pastor for over 40 years. He and my predecessor, Dr. Albert Emmit Chew, Jr. were very good friends. Interestingly, I’d learned a few weeks earlier that Pastor Chew helped to found New Rising Star, and was responsible for Pastor Edwards’ going there and serving as Pastor there. As I had heard around town…Pastor Edwards wanted to hear me preach; and had intentions of stopping by Shiloh to hear me. He wasted no time!  As service began, he came in with several preachers, sat on the front row and quietly listened in as I preached. 

My Sermon for the day came out of Romans 15:1-7. The title: Let’s Stay Together. 

For some reason, God has wasted no time leading me to deal with some very intense passages of scripture during the opening weeks of my time at Shiloh. This sermon was about unity and living in harmony as fellow-believers, amid our varying distinctions, preferences and ideologues.  I was on-edge regarding the message.  The presence of Pastor Edwards, I admit, intensified my internal tensions and prayers. 

Earlier in the week, I received a call from one of the deacons at New Rising Star, stating Pastor Edwards enjoyed the message, and his affirmation that I was a gifted student of God’s Word; and that he would like to have lunch. I was informed that Pastor Edwards, who is now 90, has good days and bad days; and that he may not talk much, but still has his memory and enjoys good fellowship. 

As we dined together, I had an interesting discourse with Pastor Edwards. 

I told him how pleased I was to have had him in service; and admitted to him I was nervous, after listing him as one of my favorite preachers growing up. That’s not hyperbole. He was, and still is!!!

Here’s what followed….

Him: Why were you nervous? Me: Because as I was preaching, I could look out right in front of me, and see you. Him: Can’t you see Jesus in front of you while you preach? Me: yessir, but I’m not looking at him physically. Him: You can believe He’s looking at YOU!

I was floored and speechless!  He got me!!!  Jesus is looking at me. 

Whether it is my character; my witness; my preaching or leading God’s Precious people; leading my family or my personal devotion – He is looking at me!!!

In the midst of his seasoned years and waning strength, God used Pastor Edwards, to reassure and afffirm His all-seeing eye is on me, as it was on Pastor Edwards’ old friend, Pastor Albert E. Chew, Jr. God knew exactly what I needed, when I needed it most; and I am grateful for the angels (messengers) He sends along the way, to remind me of His constant presence in my life and ministry. 

Enjoying the Process (Pastoring)

I began pastoring my first church in March of 2005. At 26 years of age, married with a 2-year old son, I had absolutely no idea what it took to pastor or lead a congregation. Because I had been preaching since the age of 15; and the youngest son of a pastor…I thought I knew. But Bible College and seminary training did not prepare me for what I would encounter at 26. The Lord blessed me to preach almost every Sunday for four years, where I served as the Minister of Christian Education. My pastor let me preach each Sunday to the people in his congregation during the early service there. But my four years of preaching did not quite prepare me for what I would experience in pastoral ministry. Too often we can make the mistake of thinking we can handle certain functions because it either looks easy, or it seems as if we have all of the appropriate answers for any given situation. Even now, Donald Trump’s rhetoric will change regarding some of his promises if he were to receive the vote of the American people and actually become the President of the United States. This same truth applies to Hillary Clinton as well. 

 

By far, pastoring has been one of the most difficult tasks in my own life. Being the husband of D’Ani seems easy. Being the father of Kai, Kaden and Karter….well, that’s another story. But I digress!

 

Going back to my first pastorate…it was a new church! The pressure of starting a new work (specifically, a ‘cold start’) is second to none. It is one thing to start a new church that is branching off from another congregation (either a split or from a sponsoring church), it is something altogether different to start from scratch. No money. No building. No sponsors. No members! Just….a dream…

 

As I reflect, I would have done quite a few things differently. If I had pastored my SECOND church FIRST, I would have saved myself some of the trials I faced along the way; and I would have become more appreciative of the things that come with a new ministry that you are forced to endure in the old. It being my first church, and the church I started…it became my baby. Consequently, I didn’t give away enough of the ministry to others. I carried the bulk of the burden, particularly financially, upon myself and my family. When the church struggled, it fell upon me and my family. This, of course, is the price we pay for ministry. The ultimate hurt is when the church does well; and some wonder why those who’ve sacrificed are benefactors of that blessing. Ultimately, I should have been doing better financially, already finished seminary and prepared to carry the finances of the church, with or without anything in return. Ultimately, I loved Cornerstone in a way that I will never adequately describe; and the people of Cornerstone loved me and my family in a way that cannot be put into words. Not a day passes that I don’t think about and have fond memories for, “My First Church.” 

 

In my second pastorate…I was at a different place in my life: 6 years later; over a decade-long marriage; 3 children…seminary degree complete; nice chaplaincy job in Houston. Things were better for us personally. I was learning so much in the chaplaincy about pastoral care, ministering to hurting people and specializing with those who were mentally ill, along with a specialization in AIDS/HIV patients…my preaching and my ministry to the people to whom I was pastoring was transformed. In a real sense, the issues I would encounter in my current pastorate paled in comparison to the many of the issues I’d faced in the hospital (at Ben Taub in Houston). AGAIN….I am certain I’ve made mistakes along the way. I often wonder how effective I’ve been as a bi-vocational and commuting pastor. I have often wondered how many more relationships I could have cultivated in the city and at my own church had I not been on the road, or been so busy in my travels. At other times, I am amazed at how God has blessed our congregation; and how far we’ve come spiritually and in many other ways, since my arrival over 5 years ago. The challenges I had in my first pastorate were different from the challenges in my current. My greatest challenge (as I reflect) has been being an agent of change. In an older congregation, especially Baptist…not everyone is welcoming toward change. This is just a reality. As strange as it seems…I knew this by the time I came into my congregation at Mt. Salem. I knew (as I do now) that change must be gradual; and that patience is a powerful virtue. For example, I waited an entire year before starting a praise team. When I eventually did, I didn’t call is a ‘praise team.’ I called it the “A.L. Randon Ensemble”, named after the longest-tenured pastor of our church. The term “praise team” can be threatening to some who know nothing but choirs in the “old church”. And, for the same demographic, ‘praise team’ and ‘praise dance’ are one and the same. 

 

Over the years, I’ve gradually implemented change….at a much slower rate than I either have wanted or anticipated. But the most important thing (atleast in my context and in light of our church’s history before I arrived) that the Holy Spirit impressed upon me was for UNITY to remain in our congregation. For this to occur, I could not and cannot have one generation competing against another. This would have brought in a busload of new, young people. Because of my experience, I know how to get that demographic in the building… But I will never forget my pastor telling me that much of pastoring is about the “managing of many personalities”. In this instance, it is not just about gaining new people; but about resisting the need to damage the faith of some mother in the church who has been apart of the same congregation for 50 years. Make no mistake…change MUST occur. And I am not suggesting that any given pastor should stunt their growth to cater to the midget-mindset of an individual who is centered on self and convenience. I am simply saying that pastors should be sensitive in not burning bridges to get to the next town. In this case, PEOPLE are our bridges! 

I know that my blog is long and it seems as if I am rambling. But there is a method to my madness. I do have a point. In a few weeks I will celebrate 38 years of life. My point is: ALL of this has been a part of my journey. I would not have been as sensitive to the feelings of others at Mt. Salem if I had not gone through some of the backlash of not consulting anyone and just moving, at my first church. I would have not been as prepared for the journey personally and in my own financial life for my second church, if I had not gone through some of the financial struggles in starting a church in my mid-20’s while in seminary, after leaving my job at a church to start that new work in ministry. 

 

Here’s my ultimate point: ENJOY THE PROCESS. And LEARN from the process. LEARN to manage WHERE YOU ARE with gratitude and humility. Don’t take for granted that God is at work. EVERY SINGLE THING has led me to where I am at this very moment. God has blessed me tremendously! 

 

Spiritually – I’m growing.

Domestically – I am married to the woman of my dreams, with 3 healthy boys who are active, smart and growing in their knowledge of Who Christ is.

Financially – I’m not a millionaire; but I have everything I need, and much of what I desire (I don’t desire much!)

 

Ultimately…I am enjoying the process! My encouragement to someone reading this blog is for you to enjoy the process as well. Stop listening to the voices of the enemy. I have this voice that likes to remind me of much I have not accomplished at 37. “You’ve done this and you’ve been there….BUT…”

Get this: I am where God wants me to be. My job is to do the BEST with what I am given; and to remain faithful; and to BLOOM where I am PLANTED. I am doing that; and I am grateful!!! This is my continual prayer for me, my family and for you. 

 

My Dad’s Day of Birth!


Today is my father’s day of birth! He is 67 years old. I am grateful to God the Father for giving me the best “Daddy” in the WORLD! Not a single day goes by that I don’t examine the course of my life and use my father as the example and epitome of what it means to be a servant, lover of people, man of integrity, companion to my mother and spiritual leader. From a very young age, I’ve been a ‘Daddy’s boy’. I admired my father so much that I would get into his things (especially his books) just to have something that belonged to him. (Sidenote: 1) that didn’t always go so well 2) I’m now reaping the consequences of my actions through my own sons.) Long before I started preaching, he would let me ride with him to the local post office and Lifeway (then called “The Baptist Bookstore”). I loved to be around my Dad!!!! Even when I became a teenager and went through the period where he would ‘get on my nerves’, I still admired him, respected him and even wanted to be in his presence. He is a great man. Anyone who personally knows him would agree. He is a great Pastor. He is an awesome son. He is an exemplar of a husband and father. He has lead by example; and for that I am grateful.

I remember all of the moments of ‘correction’ he infringed upon me. It hurt me more emotionally than it did physically; because I knew that I had let him down and disappointed him. I also remember how he lovingly listened to me, prayed with me, sent me back to pray some more when I was struggling at 15 on the divine call to preach God’s Word. I remember how he would express his disappointment when I would make mistakes along the way. I also remember how he delicately, lovingly and spiritually walked with me when I made a relational mishap at only 19 and he (along with my mother) became an anchor in my time of storm. That was one of the darkest moments in my life; and he walked with me and became my cheerleader! I remember during that time, he sent me a ‘cassette tape’ in the mail. I put it in my Mitsubishi Eclipse to play; and he had recorded for me Donnie Mcklurkin’s “Stand.” Not only did that serve for me as a ‘kairotic’ moment; but God used Him to give me hope and peace during a very difficult time in my life. In turn, through every life victory…he has been there. Thank the Lord there have been more victories than defeats!!!

Unfortunately, I have not been the best son in the world, in many regards. While I haven’t burdened him with rebellious, embarrassing or traumatic life-decisions, events and actions, I haven’t always been the best at communicating my love in ways that can be felt and always heard. I am often ‘troubled’ by the fact that he gives more to me than I give to him. It seems that I could never outgive him; and that he will never be more prouder of me than I am of him…no matter where I travel, to whom I preach, how much I come to think I know, how great my wife and children are or what degrees and achievements may hang on the wall. But make no mistake. If I were standing in the presence of the Queen of England; and the President of the United States calls; and my Dad calls…..my father’s call is much more important. The President would have to wait. I love him! I respect him! And in my book….there is no greater man who has ever walked the earth, after Jesus Christ.

I don’t know how life will all work out. In fact, those who read my blog don’t know either. We have plans. But our plans are often thrown off course and cast into the river of history. My dad could outlive my entire immediate family and myself. That’s quite possible, as healthy as he is! But should the time come where I see his life eclipsed by the setting sun; and he sticks his platinum sword in the sand of time…my heart will inevitably break; and I will cry. My preaching would not be the same. My heart would not be the same. But at some moment, in some way….I will smile; and thank my Heavenly Father for counting me worthy to be the baby son (even though he wanted a girl!) of the greatest person born on May 28, 1949.

I can only pray for many more years of health, peace, joy and victory for my Dad…and the GREATEST year of life for him at 67!! Happy Birthday Daddy!

My Take on Bill

 In 2010, I almost named my baby son Kosby Lowell. 

There you have it from the jump. Without secret or hesitation, like many, I grew up in the nineties on The Cosby Show.  Invariably, as with Seinfeld, The Bernie Mack Show or The Jamie Foxx Show, one could not dispatch the show from its namesake and lead figure. In fact, Bill Cosby was essentially one of the leading pioneers in this sort of autobiographical kind of satirical humor in PRIMETIME America; particularly crossing over to every culture, race and creed. Bill Cosby single-handedly, with his stellar cast, became a household name. I, like many, couldn’t wait for Thursday to arrive!!! In a real sense, Mr. Cosby personified a charicarization of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “American Dream”.  The Huxtables cleverly and compellingly enchanted America and persuaded the nation, possibly the world, that Malcolm’s “Nightmare” had diminished and Black America could live, work and dream as they pleased. 

Tragically , and often unfairly, segmented society will often trip on the paradigm and make the picture interchangeably synonymous with the person. In all fairness, The Cosby Show was an autobiographical reflection of Cosby’s own life. Camilla was Clair. Bill was Cliff. The four kids were his own son and three (3) daughters. But what if the story wasn’t about his own life at all?  Would his personal life taint a person’s sacred view of Cliff?  I do not know. What I do know is that this scathing truth prevails in Christendom, for sure. 
On the one hand, we cannot expel the message from the messenger. Conversely, the church can unfairly crown the Christian Leader with an unattainable standard that only Christ can comfortably reach. 

Since 2014, Cosby has been accused by over 50 women of either rape, drug facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery, child sexual abuse, and/or sexual misconduct, with the earliest alleged incidents taking place in the mid-1960s. After an October 2014 comedy routine by previously unknown comedian Hannibal Buress casually accusing Cosby of inappropriate sexual behavior went viral, earlier sexual assault allegations against Cosby became more public, prompting many female accusers to come forward. In the wake of the allegations, numerous organizations have severed ties with the comedian, and previously awarded honors and titles have been revoked. Cosby and his lawyers have repeatedly denied the allegations, calling the allegations discredited. Most of the acts alleged by his accusers fall outside the statutes of limitations for legal proceedings. Today,  December 30, 2015, numerous civil lawsuits against Cosby, as well as a single charge of aggravated indecent assault in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, remain pending.  He was arraigned today. 

I would like to make a few observations, as this is clearly not going away. 

1) As the husband to a woman I love, a mother I cherish, two goddaughter who I pray for daily and countless women to whom I minister, I am very sensitive to the cries of these woman. I am not naive enough to think that sexual harassment is mere fiction. Worse still, as with the “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004,  often the woman is villainized while the man is given a pass of fidelity. As with the woman caught in adultery in scripture (John 8:1-11), the brother is conspicuously excused and exempt. This is unfair and inequitable. 

2) As a man living in what Maya Angelou calls “these yet to be United States”, I cannot help but ask “Why now?”  Okay….I can hear someone shooting me down. 50 women? Speaking out since 2014? I’m just saying!

3) As a Christian who is a pastor, I think this should lead us to ask a few questions. Let’s face it…Leaders fail. Some fail more and more often than others. I often wonder if the church does a good job of 1) restoring those who’ve fallen 2) given enough thought to preserving the message and legacy of spiritual leaders after they have fallen from grace. 

Focusing on my last point, I have seen it go in both directions. There are churches that will turn a blind eye to a leader’s alleged (or confessed) in descretions. I know of a Bishop who was accused of several improprieties, and there seemed (it may have been done privately) to be no form of discipline, counseling, repentance, etc. on the other hand, I’ve seen draw it measures taken in churches where the leader is not only removed; but any semblance of trace of their ministry in that congregation is obliterated, stripped down, sanitized and thrown into the wilderness with the nameless creatures in the 2004 movie “The Village.”  

Is this right?  If Billy Graham is discovered to have been a murderer years ago, should all of his honors, medals, books, sermons be destroyed?  I can go on and on all day. But I will stop here and simply ask, at the end of this year, that we pray for spiritual leaders and their families. The stakes are high, and the Devil is busy!  

I am praying for Cosby, his accusers, those who admire him and are effected by his influence. I do not claim to know him personally; and would like to give him the benefit of the doubt, as I do the same for these accusers. But let us also consider the spiritual underpinnings of how this connects to the church and how we respond to someone who is accused, guilty, innocent or all of the above. 

Ultimately, God’s grace extends toward us all. What are your thoughts?  

What One Great Preacher Taught Me About Books!

  I have a confession.

Confession is good for the soul, but it is terrible for the reputation. So as I confess, I shall attempt to make my confession neat. 

To be sure, I stand on the shoulders of some giants in the faith who have shared my ministry. Some of whom I’ve know personally who’ve played a significant role in my development up close. Conversely, there are many more whom I’ve both met and never met who’ve, in the words of my friend and brother Pastor H.B. Charles, Jr., “mentored me from afar.”  

From a distance, I’ve been a faithful student of E.K. Bailey (who was, in fact, my college pastor; but I didn’t know him as well as I would’ve liked), Ralph Douglass West, I, Manuel Scott, Sr., O. S. Hawkins, Joe Ratliff, Mac Brunson, Melvin Von Wade, Isadore Edwards, Warren Weirsbe, Jasper Williams, Jr. and the like. Many of these preachers were my idols. 

But personally… I stand on the proverbial  shoulders of my father, William L. Pullam, my uncles, Monty Francis & Lloyd Pullam, and the natives of Corpus Christi, my hometown, such as James R. Miller and Cleophus LaRue. In my own young mind, these preachers could do no wrong when it came to the craft of preaching and in Minsitry. Beyond my hometown, I owe of debt to John (Pop) A. Reed, Jr., E. Thurman Walker, Earl Jackson and my own Pastor, Harvey Clemons, Jr. 

But there is one preacher who has had a profound effect upon me.  I literally think of him almost daily. To be honest, he crosses my mind almost every time I pick up a book. He has touched my life and ministry in ways that I cannot adequately describe. Here is my confession…it haunts me that I never really had the chance to tell him how much. Dr. R. L. Sanders pastored for many years the Pleasant Mt. Gilead Church in Fort Worth, Texas. I would preach for him in their youth revival for quite a few years in my teens. And he was always very kind to me. 

What I loved about Dr. Sanders most is that he loved books. No…. He LOVED books!!!  Growing up, I fell in love with books. My dad, his father and paternal grandmother all loved books as well. I have it honestly. I can rightfully say that my love for books has been proven. Now I get it. A lot of preachers love books. But I don’t just love books because of what’s inside of the pages; but I love the shape, feel, smell, touch, texture and personality of each and every book!  Growing up I relished my dad’s library, at church and especially at home. His best books were at home in his study. I later discovered that preachers can often get sticky fingers and books, at church, can mysteriously disappear. Just saying. My dream in life was just to have almost as many books as my dad. I stopped counting my books a few years ago, around 8500 books. My wife seems to think I have my dad beat. I now wish to catch up with Al Mohler one day… But I will always relish my Dad’s library. R. L. Sanders had a great (and huge) library. Let me share a few things Dr. Sanders shared with me about books…

1. Books are our friends. Dr. Sanders talked about books like they were people. He knew their personality, temperament, mood, highs, lows and the like. While I am not sure he read every book that surrounded his library from wall to wall; he could literally give me a summary and the gist of every book I would ask about. As with our friends, we should familiarize ourselves with them and know who they are. This is also true with our books!

2. Read anything and everything.  I will never forget the day I saw Dr. Sanders picking up a medical book and a psychology periodical in a used bookstore he took me to. After seeing my puzzled look, he affirmed that he reads anything he can. He told me that day, if he sees a book talking about a sheep or a goat, he can learn something in that book about people and theology. That blew me away!  Today….I’ve just begun reading “Why I left Jihad” by Walid Shoebat. I couldn’t help but think about Dr. Sanders, as always, when I pick up a book that doesn’t consist of scripture or a sermon. But I have already begun to gain insight into the mind of a terrorism, simply reading the words of someone who has been there. I have Dr. Sanders to thank for that. 

3.  Many of the gold mines of preaching are in the old writers and in old books. Dr. Sanders would drive me around Fort Worth, and show me how to find the good books and writers. He taught me how to look for certain things and which writers and publishers had what. He loved M. R. Dehaan, Arther Pink, Greschem Machen and a few others. He is the one who first told me to never pass up the old minister’s manuals; and to study their words, illustrations, etc. 

4. One of the greatest investments you will ever make is in your personal library. The only thing that makes many preachers great preachers are better libraries. That’s it. Resources change everything. And it is even better when we allow God’s Spirit to call to our remembrance the resources that will enhance any given text and truth that we are attempting to communicate to hearers. 

I thank God for Dr. Sanders; and the indelible mark he has left upon my minsitry that cannot be erased. While I cannot talk to him now and reassure him of his lasting impression upon me; I can, in turn, 1) express my appreciation to those respective others who’ve touched me who are still around 2) honor his legacy. 

Thank God for Dr. R. L. Sanders!  I miss my old friend. How I wish I would’ve talked to him more before he moved upstairs. But I know this – I will see him again; and his memory still lives on!

My Thoughts

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It has been some time since I’ve last blogged.  Four months to be exact!  Since blogging back in April, my world and our world have not failed to keep on moving.

  • More unarmed minorities have been killed by law enforcement officers.
  • Crimes against those who protect us have tragically resulted.
  • Gay marriage has become the law of the land, getting its stamp of approval from the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that same-sex partners have a constitutional right to marry, sweeping away state bans on gay unions and extending marriage equality nationwide.
  • Bruce Jenner has become Caitlyn Jenner.
  • Floyd Mayweather defeats Manny Pacquiao.
  • Bobbi Kristina, the only daughter of Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston together, has died.
  • Kermit & Miss Piggy have broken up. (I can’t make this up!)
  • Ashley Madison (a Canada-based website who promised discreet encounters to those in committed relationships) broke their promise and were hacked! (note: Ed Stetzer predicts that 400 pastors will resign this coming Sunday because their names surfaced in the hack)
  • Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are running for POTUS!

On a personal note, I have just been taking some time away from blogging.  To be perfectly honest, I have no excuses.  Yes, I have growing sons who’ve consumed my Summer, preparations for making my printed publication a reality (long overdue), attempts to begin Ph.D. work (now halted), 15 year anniversary trip with my wife (check), the list goes on and on.  But I am discovering excuses are relative and they are inexcusable.

An old friend of our family, the late George O. McCalep, would commit an hour each day to just write.  He would sometimes find himself unclear on the direction of his writing matter…but he would write unencumbered by any distractions.

I love to write.  My biggest obstacles are procrastination, writer’s block and wanting things to be perfect.  The more I live, the more I am convinced that God gives many of us with limited ability more ALONG the WAY than He does before we start.  So that is my renewed commitment….to just start writing!

I am now 37 years of age!  Going into five years of pastoring the Mt. Salem Church, 15 years of marriage, my eldest son on the brink of being a teenager, approaching 22 years of preaching….I’ve seriously been evaluating where I am in ministry; and where God is taking me.  I can honestly say that I’ve viewed people’s attempts to see what’s next of what God has in store ahead, sometimes, as vain and narcissistic.  But the older I become, the more I realize it is necessary; and something I’ve actually been doing all of my life.  I don’t have time to waste!  It is my prayer that God grants me many years of life… But I am more interested in making my life count.  My focus is to leave my mark, and be as much of an original as I can, rather than a cheap imitation of someone else’s life, ministry and legacy.  That is where I am!  That is my focus!

Currently, I have been preaching through the Psalms.  At the beginning of the Summer with Psalm 1, I am now on Psalm 8.  My focus is to complete Psalm 8 in the morning, and then move forward.  What began as our “Summer in Psalms” may continue for a while.  I’m enjoying the challenge and the luxury of some predictability in my preaching preparation.  I love leaving one verse and going to the next.  In ways, for me, it is much easier but also more of a challenge.  I love it!

I am praying for every Pastor who leads God’s people; and every proclaimer who shares God’s Word faithfully, consistently and accurately.  This is no small endeavor.  Leaders are being attacked.  I’m not necessarily referring to those leaders who were hacked.  But good men and women who are just trying to serve the Lord, love their families, do right by God and His people….they are being attacked; and they are discouraged.  My prayers are with them, as well as those who are guilty of failing and falling.  I pray we never fail to realize that Shepherds BLEED, and healers are often WOUNDED.

May God faithfully reveal His grace and strength to them and all who need His care!

Please share your thoughts and subscribe to my blog.

Hello

There has been some time since I’ve last blogged. I called myself taking a break from my series in the Book of Acts and, as a result, a break from blogging. This has undoubtedly contributed to a heightened level of inner-stress when I consider that writing is cathartic and I thrive on structure. At any rate, here I am!

The fall has been quite busy, with 2 of our sons being in sports, trying to become more proactive in my workout schedule and trying to sort through some other things going on in church life, ministry and work.

Recently, I had a significant loss very close to our family. This loved one has always been near and dear to me, though we didn’t have the relationship where we talked every day. In some ways, our relationship would be complicated and superfluous to explain. In most way, she was just a spirit who crossed paths with the Pullam family in more ways than one; and I she had always been kind to me personally; and a loving spirit. Not only this – but people who have been and are close to me were also close to her. As a consequence, my heart was heavy in the shock of it all; and empathy towards those who were and are affected. She will be missed tremendously. Her homegoing celebration was just that – a celebration. A year ago, my paternal grandfather went Upstairs on the day before Thanksgiving. A few weeks ago, with her passing the day after Thanksgiving… this time of year solidifies itself as a time of reflection and perspective for me.

This past Lord’s day I preached “The Kind of Faith the Moves God”, from Luke 1:26-38. My hope in the coming week is to pick up in verse 39 and following.

Beyond this, I am trying to prepare for 2015; and looking forward to some great things happening!

Grateful for Fourteen Years Together…humbly praying for many More!

IMG_3415Today is D’Ani & I’s 14th Wedding anniversary!

1998 was a difficult time for me.  I found myself in an unusual place.  Due to my own bad decisions, left to deal with a ‘broken heart’, I heard the Devil laughing at me.  After going through a 5-year, on again/off again, relationship, dealing with one disappointment after another; and left to try and pick up the pieces, deal with public humiliation and embarrassment and the pain of betrayal, somewhere I gave up on God and on love.  Yes, I was not perfect.  Did I enter into a relationship that God revealed, time after time, the person was not the one He had for me?  Yes again!  But there was still pain, nonetheless.  Eventually, in those coming months, somehow, I moved on and I let it go.  It was rocky at first; and I thought I could never breathe again.  In fact, I pleaded with God to ‘make it work’.

He would not!  

He said no!

And when I wouldn’t take no for an answer, He made things so clear to me that what I thought I wanted, didn’t want me; and I really didn’t want that relationship as much as I thought I did.

And still….I heard the Devil laughing at me!

During that time, I went through such a dry period in life and ministry.  I wasn’t called on much to preach at many places during early 1999, it seemed.  Everything got so quiet.  I was alone.  I didn’t realize until later, I was alone “with God.”  I remember going to hear one of my preaching mentors speak in the Dallas area, and he asked me if I was okay, because I had lost quite a bit of weight; and he thought I was sick.  I was probably depressed and didn’t know it.  I found myself in Arlington, Texas both ashamed and alone.  The only wisdom I could come up with was to improve myself.  This is the period where I learned how to awake every morning at 4am and pray for an hour.  I began to journal and rediscovered my love for studying God’s Word.

Interestingly, through the course of that year and following, I found a refreshing place in my relationship with Christ.  I had recovered the joy of my salvation in Him.  But one thing had not changed – I was done with love.  Admittedly, I was never the guy who dated one girl to the next.  I never was the person to just hang out with a girl for the fun.  If I didn’t see her potentially being my wife or wife material, I got bored very quickly.  Inherently, I still wanted a wife.  BUT….I just knew I could never trust again, and especially love as innocently and vulnerably as I once did.  Maybe I was ‘damaged goods.’

But THEN….something happened!  I saw a girl that struck my eye.  I had seen her ocassionally, singing in the choir where my Uncle Lloyd Pastored in Denton, Texas.  But…I wasn’t the kind of guy to go to church looking for a hookup; and while I thought she was ‘cute’, I looked and moved on.  But one day, I worked up enough nerve to ask my cousin Constance, and a few other people about her.  Constance told me her name was ‘D’Ani’.  When I heard her name, I fell over!   It was the most beautiful name I had ever heard; or so I thought!  Then, I was informed that one of my older cousins had tried to talk to her, and was unsuccessful.  This sort of discouraged me, because he was smoother and cooler than me, and was admired by many young ladies.  So I blew it off for a while!  Someone else had told me they had heard that she was pretty serious with a guy she had been dating since high school in Houston.  So, I just knew I didn’t have any chance whatsoever.  I have always been pretty laid back and shy when it came to approaching a person of the opposite sex in my single days; so these were simply inquiries.

Then one night, at a musical honoring my mom the day before my father’s pastoral anniversary, she was there!  I’ll never forget what she had on, how she looked and how she wore her hair.  And I also just couldn’t resist.  I just HAD to say something to her!  For the first time in my life (and last) I walked up to a young lady without any mediator or filter and I spoke, not just to say hello, but to express my complete adoration for her.  So, after church was over, I walked up to her, and said the dumbest thing I ever said to any woman in my life, “So….is it true you’re engaged?”  I was so nervous I really don’t remember her exact response.  Plus, she seemed to be distracted and surrounded by quite a few people.  Then, it got even worse, much worse.  I said, “Well, I guess I’ll have to settle for second best.”  My mind and memory went blank after that.  My attempts to be cool, smooth or debonair had completely failed.  Then (it gets worse) I WALKED AWAY!!! I did all but run away….like a disappointed kid runs off stage at a talent show when he is embarrassed.  I just knew whatever inkling of hope I may have had to know that girl, that was gone too.  Period!

There are other little details I could mention, but the main detail happened the next day (Sunday) when I was expressing my disappointment and despair to one of my friends, who was an associate minister at her church, where my uncle served as Pastor.  He walked away; and the next thing I knew, before they left, he handed me her email address.  Emails, at that time in 2000, were sort of a big deal.  He said that he would ask for her number for me, but I was too scared! An email was fine.  I had an AOL account at my apartment (remember the ones that would use your phone line?), so I felt comfortable emailing her.

I couldn’t resist.  I left as soon as I could from Corpus Christi to get to Arlington, Texas where I lived to email “pink twirler”.  A day or so later, she emailed me back.  I still have those emails and exchanges somewhere.  Eventually, that week, we talked on the phone….for hours and hours (6, to be exact!).  In time I learned that her own relationship had been going through some serious challenges and transitions.  She was a senior at Texas Womans University; and had been praying for God to show her if that relationship was in His will.  Interestingly, she was so distracted the night of the musical honoring my mom because she had lost her promise ring from him during the service.  She was looking for it everywhere and couldn’t find it.  I promise, I didn’t take it!!!  Those seemed to be red flags for her regarding her relationship with the guy she had been dating.  I could literally tell a hundred stories of how God brought us together; and how God was speaking to me, speaking to her, and speaking to both of us together.  I have absolutely no doubt that D’Ani was tailor made for me.  There was no way I would have even entertained a relationship so serious and so pure during such a time in my life.

We started dating in April of 2000, got engaged in May and married in August of 2000, a few months later.  Sounds crazy, huh?  There are many ways, I can look back and see how someone may have thought we were.  She had graduated from TWU, but hadn’t passed her dental tests.  I didn’t have much of a job, a struggling preacher, and was a junior/senior at Dallas Baptist University.  I had absolutely no resources to support myself, let alone a wife.  But God….  D’Ani and I’s story is laced, through and through, with nothing but the grace, faithfulness and goodness of God.

She is my gift from God.  And all of the things I went through before her coming into my life, made me appreciate her even more.  I am so humbled when I think of what I pleaded with God to do; and that when God said no, I thought He didn’t love me….because He didn’t give me the person I wanted.  But a couple of years later, He gave me MORE than I ever even knew possible for me.  He gave me Dee.  And I could have never asked for a greater gift, after Calvary.  God actually didn’t give me what I thought I wanted BECAUSE He loved me.  He wanted me to have the BEST He created JUST FOR ME.

It is my humble prayer that I will always make her smile, laugh, be proud to say I am her husband and ‘Daddy’ to her boys.  It is my prayer that HE would keep me healthy, strong and able to give my life to making her the happiest woman on earth.  It is also my prayer that if I should go before her in this life, that she would never doubt the love I have ever had for her; that her needs will always be met; and that our sons will love and protect her all of her days.  In the meantime, I want to be her dream maker – whatever she dreams, I am her to make it come true.

Consequently, I did hear the Devil laugh at me in 1998.  But GOD had the final say!!!

And I can honestly say, that because of My Dee, I am the man, pastor, husband and father I am today.  I am no longer a boy, but a man. I am still kind of a struggling preacher, but God has brought me a long way.  Because of her support, I graduated the following year with a Bachelors and later with a Masters.  When I told her I was starting a church in 2005, she was the first to join.  When I told her years later I felt a call to go to a 140 year old struggling congregation that was and hour and a half from our home, she was the first one in the car (before me!).   She has supported me, through it all!  She is the “wind beneath my wings!”

And now….the Devil gets to hear me laugh!

Happy Anniversary Dee…. I love you to the moon, infinity and beyond!  I am praying that the Lord will faithfully give us 14, 25 and 50 more!

Philippians 1:6

Hello

comp7150This is my new blog site!

While I have been blogging for quite a few years now (check out my old   link!); I have always sought to blog like the bloggHeros in the bloggeSphere who blog every day and, in some instances, several times daily.  I’m trying this new portal and taking ‘baby steps’ with all of the new features and tools.  My goal is to one day blog EACH day but, for now, I am simply hoping to acquaint myself with WordPress, it’s many different looks, etc.  

I invite you to join me on this journey as I seek to clearly communicate and prayerfully journal my thoughts about life, scripture, the things I read beyond the scripture, pastoring, husbandry, fatherhood and anything else that chronicles my unique journey.  

In Romans 8:5-6 Paul says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”  In like manner, I hope to provide a platform that would ultimately furnish a spiritual outlook on my life’s journey that will, in turn, encourage you inyour own.

May God bless you as He gives you joy in the midst of your own journey.  Please visit here soon, and feel free to share your thoughts.

Blessings!

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